Michael Ruse decides that Darwin had no impact on Hitler in this piece. He decides that Hitler couldn’t have been influenced by Darwin, because Darwin would have been appalled by Hitler.
Finally, when you turn to Hitler himself, the story is murky. To put the matter politely, he was not a well-educated man. There is no evidence he studied Darwin’s writings or much about them. At most, he was picking stuff up off the street or from the barroom or from the doss house where he lived in Vienna before the War. And when you look at Mein Kampf in more detail, the story seems less straightforward. Just before the apparently Darwinian sentiments quoted above, [“Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.”] he wrote: “All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning.” What he is really on about is the Jews. Darwin would have been appalled at such a connection.
Of course, Hitler could have been influenced by Darwin, regardless of whether Darwin would have been appalled by Hitler. The question of whether Hitler could have been influenced by Darwin in his thinking about favored races is not answered by Darwin being appalled by how Hitler implemented this idea. Many men have had a stern belief in the futility of life and been appalled when another man actually jumped off the bridge. The question of the consistency and logical end to an idea is not answered in this way. The logical end of a man’s belief may very well appall that same man, and he can hold both views simultaneously. The idea itself may very well be appalling, and it would only be logical that when carried out it would appall. But the question of whether the belief in question had purchase with another person is not refuted by reference to the emotion it may produce by anyone. Nevertheless, Ruse thinks it historically inaccurate:
There was a propaganda value, true. But genuine links are another matter.
And….Ruse doesn’t actually argue anything about genuine links, one way or the other….He just claims that Hitler was uneducated, and heard about Darwin on the street. Yet for this reason we should reject the Darwin/Hitler influence?
An actual historian would disagree, and seems to go into a little more detail on the subject than Ruse.