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The master race (German: die Herrenrasse, About this sound das Herrenvolk ) was a concept adopted as Nazi ideology which holds that the Aryan Races (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 Aryans (primarily Northern and Western Europeans consisting of Germans, Swedes, Icelanders, Norwegians, Danish, Irish, French, English and Dutch) at the top, and Southern Europeans (Spanish, Italian and Portuguese) somewhere in the middle.



Meyers Blitz-Lexikon (Leipzig, 1932) shows a famous German war hero (Karl von Müller) as an example of the Nordic type.

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 Sea, while Northern Europeans and Western 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 a 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 Indians 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.[1]

Nevertheless, such theorists usually accepted that considerable variety of hair and eye colour existed even within the racial categories they recognised. Contrary to 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 dark hair 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 British 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, Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Finland-Swedes [2], Estonia-Swedes, Faroese, Icelanders, English and the Dutch).

From 1940 the 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:[citation needed]


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 land/place of the Aryan[3](see also Iranian peoples). From the footsteps of the Pamir mountains and in areas in northern Afghanistan like Balkh (the main city of Zoroastrianism) the Aryans moved to the other parts of Iran and Hindustan.(see also Balkh). 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 Shahr which means Aryan Empire [4]).

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 India. 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 Hindu 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 which 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.

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 were commonplace in early-20th century fantasy literature.[5] 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.[5] 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. (Wings of the Night)

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Similar ideas are explored in science fiction.[citation needed] An episode of The X-Files is entitled Paper Clip. It presents the story of Nazi scientists saved by Americans after the war, during 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. ikewise, 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 York, against the Red Mongol Empire, a Chinese empire of the future which rules North America.[citation needed]

In Doctor Who, the Doctor's frequent enemies, the Daleks, consider themselves a master race who must purge the universe of all others; Terry Nation explicitly modeled them on the Nazis. In the recent Doctor Who story "The End of Time", the main antagonist The Master uses a device called the immortality gate to turn everyone on Earth (apart from Donna Noble, her grandfather and The Doctor) into a carbon copy of himself which he humorously calls "The Master Race".

See also


  1. ^ Parerga and Paralipomena, Volume II, Section 92
  2. ^ | Finns were not originally consider [sic] to be of Nordic race. Therefore the goal of the SS recruiment [sic] office was to recruit Swedish-speaking Finns (preferably National Socialists), whom they regarded as Nordic.
  3. ^ Wiesehofer, Joseph Ancient Persia New York:1996 I.B. Tauris
  4. ^ Wiesehofer, Joseph Ancient Persia New York:1996 I.B. Tauris
  5. ^ a b Don Herron, The Barbaric Triumph: A Critical Anthology On The Writings Of Robert E. Howard, Wildside Press LLC, 2004, pp.94-95.

Simple English

The Master Race was an idea used by Adolf Hitler and others to say that one race of people were better than others.



This idea mostly began in the 19th century. It is not a theory liked by any scientists today. It claims there is a hierarchy of races (or that some races are better than others). It was also claimed that at the bottom of the hierarchy were black-skinned people from Africa and Aborigines from Australia, while pale-skinned people with blonde hair and blue eyes from the north of Europe were at the top of the hierarchy.

Writers who began this idea

Arthur de Gobineau believed that cultures become bad when races mix. Arthur Schopenhauer liked with this idea. He said that the White race had become what it was though hardship and bad conditions in the North. Others who liked the theory were Guido von List, Lanz von Liebefels and Houston Steward Chamberlain.

"Aryans", Hitler's "Master race"

Hitler and his supporters, the Nazi party, took power in Germany in 1933. They were Social Darwinists[1], meaning they thought that one race was superior and would "win" over all the others. The Nazis made laws that were based on their ideas of race. They claimed that "Aryans" were the "master race", called Aryanization. They also made propaganda that blamed Jews for many things. German Jews were forbidden to own property, and were attacked and killed. When Germany invaded other countries in Europe, they also started putting people into concentration camps. This systematic killing is known as The Holocaust today.

To help increase the numbers of Aryans, the Nazis set up special homes called "Lebensborn".[2] These were for unmarried pregnant woman who were likely to have children that fitted with the Aryan ideal; blonde hair, blue eyes, and no Jewish ancestors.[2] Heinrich Himmler believed that this would help create the master race. He arranged for nine Lebensborn homes to be built in Germany, and another ten in Norway.[2]. There were also Lebensborn in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. About 20,000 children were born in these homes during the Third Reich.[2]

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