The Nuremberg Trials were a sequence of trials during 1945 – 1949. In the course of these trials, 24 key Nazi leaders were charged with crimes against humanity. In defence, the Nazi leaders argued that they had simply followed orders of a superior and made decisions in accordance with the framework of their own legal system; this defence is labelled the ‘superior orders defence’. This defence was denied.

Interestingly, as an illustration of radical Islam, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) demonstrate this radical ideology. A study between these two ideologies brings to light many similarities in their philosophical worldview. This could be identified as the ‘Triad of Similarity’. The Triad consists of the following categories: the Superior, the Exemplar and the Source (SES). To the Nazis, the Superior and Exemplar was Adolf Hitler whilst the Source for which their philosophical perspective was derived was from the works of Friedrich Nietzsche. However, it has been said that the Nazis had misinterpreted Nietzsche’s philosophy and claimed that he was an anti-Semite, thereby justifying and building upon this philosophical foundation to further their agenda. This falsification made Nietzsche’s philosophy attractive to the fascist ideology. In comparison, the Superior for radical Islam is Allah, the Exemplar is Mouhammad and the Source of their philosophical (and theological) perspective is from the Quran, Hadiths (a collection of traditions containing sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and tafsirs (Quranic commentary).

This paper endeavours to identify the similarities between the philosophical ideologies between the Nazis and radical Islam and to identify the sources used to derive these principles. As a disclaimer, this paper does not imply nor assert that the actions of the Nazis and radical Islamic militants are justified. Nor does it assert or imply that the use of their sources was appropriately used without misrepresentation. Rather, this paper looks to give a descriptive account of the sources. Whether these sources are authentic, misused or reliable is not the topic of discussion. Rather, this paper seeks to inform the audience of the sources to which their ideologies derive to gain a deeper understanding for their justification.


radical ideologies, philosophical worldview, philosophical foundations, derivative sources

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