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The master race (German: die Herrenrasse, ) was a concept in Nazi ideology, which holds that the Teutonic (including the Nordic peoples), one of the branches of what in the late 19th and early 20th century was called the Aryan race, represent an ideal and "pure race". It derives from 19th century racial theory, which posited a hierarchy of races placing Aboriginal Australians and "African savages" at the bottom of the hierarchy while Northern Europeans (Germans, Swedes, Icelanders, Norwegians, Danish, English and Dutch) at the top, and Southern Europeans (Spanish, French, Italian, and Portugese) somewhere in the middle.


The origins of the Nazi version of the theory of the master race were in 19th century racial theories of Count Arthur de Gobineau, who argued that cultures degenerate when distinct races mix. It was believed at this time that Southern European and Eastern European peoples were racially mixed with non-European Moors from across the Mediterranean Seamarker, while Northern Europeans remained pure. Proponents of Nordic theory further argued that Nordic peoples had developed innate toughness and determination due to the harsh, challenging climate in which they evolved. The racial ideal of these theorists was the tall, blond and blue or green eyed Nordic individual.

The philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the earliest proponents of the theory presenting a hierarchical racial model of history, attributing civilisational primacy to the "white races" who gained their sensitivity and intelligence by refinement in the rigorous north.

The highest civilisation and culture, apart from the ancient Indiansmarker and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste or race is fairer in colour than the rest and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmans, the Incas, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands.
All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention because those tribes that emigrated early to the north and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want and misery, which in their many forms were brought about by the climate.
This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature and out of it all came their high civilisation.

Nevertheless, such theorists usually accepted that considerable variety of hair and eye colour existed even within the racial categories they recognised. Contrary to a popular myth, the Nazis themselves did not discriminate against Germans who were not blonde or light-eyed, or had only one of these features. Adolf Hitler and most Nazi officials had brown hair and eyes and were considered to be "Aryans".

The postulated superiority of these people was said to make them born leaders, or a "master race". Other authors included Guido von List (and his associate Lanz von Liebenfels) and the Britishmarker racial theorist Houston Stewart Chamberlain, all of whom felt that the white race and Germanic peoples were superior to others, and that given the purification of the white race and German people from the races who were "polluting" it, a new Millenarian age of Aryan god-men would arrive.

Germanization between 1939 and 1945

Nazi policy stressed the superiority of the Nordic race, a sub-section of the white European population defined by anthropometric models of racial difference. The Nordic race was said to comprise of only the Germanic peoples (Germans, Norwegiansmarker, Danesmarker, Swedesmarker, Finland-Swedes , Estonia-Swedes, Faroese, Icelandersmarker, English, and the Dutchmarker). From 1940 the General Government in occupied Poland divided the population into different groups. Each group had different rights, food rations, allowed strips in the cities, separated residential areas, special schooling systems, public transportation and restricted restaurants. Later adapted in all Nazi-occupied countries by 1942, the Germanization program used the racial caste system of reserving certain rights to one group and barred privileges to another. In addition with their predominant religion and ethnicity per individual of that ethnic group or nationality. Listed from the most privileged to the least:

  • Germans from Germany (Reichdeutsche) - Nordic Germans are said most favorable, but all German citizens are in the top category.
  • Germans from outside, active ethnic Germans, honorary "Aryans" from axis European countries in Volksliste category 1 (see Volksdeutsche).
  • Other Germanic peoples closely related to Germans (Norwegiansmarker, Danesmarker, Swedesmarker, Finland-Swedes, Estonia-Swedes, Faroese, Icelandersmarker, English and the Dutchmarker) but treated as categories 1 and 2 in most privileges, especially pro-Nazi sympathizers.
  • Italians (particularly from regions north of Rome, e.g. Tuscany, Lombardy, etc.), Spaniards (particularly Basques) and Portuguese were treated as category 2 and 3, especially pro-Nazi sympathizers (e.g. Fascist Italy and Francoist Spainmarker diplomats). Some southern Italians were treated as least (Suspicion of miscegenation with African and Semitic peoples), but within the same category.
  • Celtic/Gaelic peoples of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  • French people in France (except German speaking Alsatiansmarker, and pro-Nazi French supporters in categories 2 and 3).
  • Highlanders (Goralenvolk): an attempt to split the Polish nation by using local collaborators.
  • Hungariansmarker, Estoniansmarker, and Finns (despite their non Indo-European origins), Baltic peoples (Lithuaniansmarker and Latviansmarker) and Romaniansmarker, Bulgariansmarker and Croatsmarker.
  • Ukrainians: Many were part of Waffen SS divisions (Galicia), while others were exterminated as partisans suspected in supporting


The term Aryan derives from the Sanskrit word (ā́rya) आर्य (meaning:Noble), which derived from arya, the original Indo-Iranian autonym. Also, the word Iran is the Persian word for Aryan(see also Iranian peoples). Balkh was the main city from which the Aryans moved to the other parts of Persia and Hindustan.(see also Balkhmarker). It remained as a key city for the spread of Aryan Civilization for several centuries (the name for the Sassanian Empire in Middle Persian is Eran Shah which means Aryan Empire ).

Following the ideas of Gobineau and others, the Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg claimed that these were a dynamic warrior people who originated in northern climates, from which they migrated south, eventually reaching Indiamarker. They were supposed to be the ancestors of the ancient Germanic tribes, who shared their warrior values. Rosenberg claimed that Christianity was an alien Semitic slave-morality inappropriate to the warrior Aryan master race and thus supported a melange of aspects of Vedic and Zoroastrian teachings, along with pre-Christian European paganism, which he considered to be distinctively Aryan in character.

In Nazi Germany, a so-called mixed marriage of an "Aryan" with an "Untermensch" was forbidden. To maintain the purity of the Germanic master race, eugenics was practiced. In order to eliminate "defective" citizens, the T-4 Euthanasia Program was administered by Karl Brandt to rid the country of the mentally retarded or those born with genetic deficiencies, as well as those deemed to be racially inferior. Additionally, a programme of compulsory sterilisation was undertaken and resulted in the forced operations of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Many of these policies are generally seen as being related to what eventually became known as the Holocaust.Also Uzbek people considered Aryans and "superior" race by Nazis

Fictional representations

Aryan master race ideology was common throughout the educated and literate strata of the Western world until after World War II. Such theories are commonplace in early 20th century fantasy literature. For example, the idea of Aryan humanity as the "master race" underlies much of the work of writers such as H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Howard's most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian, is supposed to have lived between the fall of Atlantis and the "rise of the sons of Arya" (i.e. the Aryans). In his story Wings In The Night, Howard also wrote,

The ancient empires fall, the dark-skinned peoples fade and even the demons of antiquity gasp their last, but over all stands the Aryan barbarian, white-skinned, cold-eyed, dominant, the supreme fighting man of the earth.

In other cases, while the phrase "master race" itself is seldom used, the inhumane and barbaric treatment of those not belonging to the "master race" in the fictional fascisms seems to imply that such an ideology is present. S.M. Stirling's Domination of the Draka is a fictional empire which is explicitly based on the "master race" concept. After World War I in the Draka universe, the Draka citizens adopt an ideology which calls for all non-Drakan humanity to be reduced to chattel slavery. The Chosen, from Stirling's previous General series portrays perhaps a more realistic look at the "master race" concept, including the consequences of such a policy on a society. The Chosen, who treat other peoples with contempt, calling them "animals", are eventually destroyed by their own slaves, the lowest of the low, despite the Chosen's superior weapons, training, and centuries of eugenic breeding. The fictional fascist "Freedom Party" that rules the Confederate States of America in Harry Turtledove's American Empire series of novels also echoes the concept.

The James Bond film Moonraker is another fictionalised account of a master race - the Adolf Hitler-like megalomanic villain Sir Hugo Drax pre-selected a diverse group of astronaut trainees to become the progenitors of a master race that will repopulate Earth after the planet has been nerve-gassed.

Similar ideas are explored in science fiction. An episode of The X-Files is entitled Paper Clip. It presents the story of Nazi scientists saved by Americans after the war - during the Operation Paperclip - and their connections with aliens, which led them to successfully create a superior race of alien/human hybrids. Another episode is titled "Herrenvolk", presumably referring to the same hybridization program. Likewise, in The Other Side, an episode of Stargate SG-1, the Eurondans are portrayed as white supremacists who have created a purified Nordic-like population, planning to annihilate other peoples, who they refer to as "Breeders" because of their indiscriminate breeding, in rejection of eugenics. In the original 1920s and 1930s Buck Rogers stories and newspaper cartoons, Buck Rogers in the 25th century fights for Aryan-Americans from the liberated zone around Niagara, New Yorkmarker against the Red Mongol Empire, a Chinese empire of the future which rules North America. In the Star Trek chronology, after World War III in the late 21st century, recovery is accomplished partly by the European Hegemony, an authoritarian state that arises in Europe.

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