Chamberlain, Houston Stewart

(1855-1927)
   racial theorist; his concept of Aryan supremacy was embodied in Nazi mythology. Born to an English admiral in a village near Portsmouth, he was sent to Versailles in 1856 (upon his mother s early death) for tutoring with a grandmother and an aunt. The sojourn had a lasting impact, for when he later studied in England, he felt awkward and foreign. Handicapped by a nervous disorder, he abandoned both England and formal study and, in their place, embarked upon nine years of European travel. After mastering German through friendship with the theologian Otto Kuntze, he completed a baccalaureate in 1881 in the natural sciences; however, graduate work in botany induced a nervous breakdown. During 1884-1889, while residing in Dresden, he formed an enthusiasm for German literature and art. A move to Vienna in 1889 to reembark on formal studies only revived his nervous disorder; after a year he abandoned the effort. In 1892 he finally turned to writing. In addition to articles and essays on Richard Wagner, he occupied himself with science, religion, history, and political issues. Relocating to Bayreuth in 1909, he became part of the intimate circle centered on Cosima Wagner. In 1916 he took German citizenship.
   Already a Germanophile at twenty-one, Chamberlain wrote: "My belief that the whole future of Europe—i.e., the civilization of the world—rests in the hands of Germany, has now grown to a firm conviction" (Field). But his security in the conviction was fragile. In Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899), the work that established his reputation, he presented the theory (not unique to him) that history is a struggle between races. Although the study was dismissed by scholars as the musings of a pseudointellectual, it aroused the interest of an insecure generation. Riddled with Wagnerian themes of Teutonic supremacy, Foundations became a favorite of the Kaiser; in later exile Wilhelm character-ized Chamberlain as a personality he could understand.
   Chamberlain called World War I a moral crime against Germany for which England was accountable. Weimar democracy was, he claimed, a hopeless ex-periment in romanticism. Among a group of self-appointed prophets that in-cluded Julius Langbehn, Eugen Dühring, and Paul de Lagarde, his ideas helped lay the foundation upon which Nazism was constructed. He is reputed to have proclaimed himself "enraptured with Hitler*" when the latter visited him in 1923 during his final illness.
   REFERENCES:Field, Evangelist of Race; NDB, vol. 3; Viereck, Metapolitics.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • CHAMBERLAIN, HOUSTON STEWART° — (1855–1927), racist, antisemitic author; British by birth, French by upbringing, German by choice. An enthusiastic Germanophile, Chamberlain settled in Bayreuth where he became friendly with richard wagner , whose daughter he married. Influenced… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Chamberlain, Houston Stewart — born Sept. 9, 1855, Southsea, Hampshire, Eng. died Jan. 9, 1927, Bayreuth, Ger. British born Germanophile writer. An admirer of Richard Wagner, he wrote a biography of the composer and several books on his works (1892–95) and later married Wagner …   Universalium

  • Chamberlain, Houston Stewart — (1855–1927)    Adolf Hitler was greatly influenced by Chamberlain’s The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899), a seminal work that synthesized German nationalism, Nordic racist theory, and anti Semitism to explain how the Jews threatened… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • Chamberlain, Houston Stewart — (9 sep. 1855, Southsea, Hampshire, Inglaterra–9 ene. 1927, Bayreuth, Alemania). Escritor británico germanófilo. Admirador de Richard Wagner, escribió una biografía del compositor y varios libros sobre su música (1892–95) y posteriormente contrajo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Houston Stewart Chamberlain — (* 9. September 1855 in Portsmouth, England; † 9. Januar 1927 in Bayreuth) war ein Schriftsteller, Verfasser zahlreicher populärwissenschaftlicher Werke, unter …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Houston Stewart Chamberlain — (September 9, 1855 January 9, 1927) was a British born author of books on political philosophy, natural science and his posthumous father in law Richard Wagner. His two volume book Die Grundlagen des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts (The Foundations of… …   Wikipedia

  • Houston Stewart Chamberlain — Para otras personas con el mismo apellido, véase Chamberlain. Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Serie Nazismo …   Wikipedia Español

  • Houston Stewart Chamberlain — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chamberlain. Houston Stewart Chamberlain Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855 1927), est un …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Houston Chamberlain — Houston Stewart Chamberlain Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chamberlain. Houston Stewart Chamberlain …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chamberlain — Chamberlain, Arthur Neville Chamberlain, Joseph Chamberlain, Joseph Austen Chamberlain, Owen * * * (as used in expressions) Chamberlain, (Arthur) Neville Chamberlain, Charles Joseph Chamberlain, Houston Stewart …   Enciclopedia Universal

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.