Nazism and race

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Nazism and race concerns the Nazi Party's adoption and further development of several hypotheses concerning their concept of race. Classifications of human races were made and various measurements of population samples were carried out during the 1930s.

The Nazis claimed to observe scientifically a strict hierarchy of the human race. Hitler's view towards race and people can be found throughout Mein Kampf but more specifically in chapter 11 "Nation and Race". The standard-issue propaganda text issued to members of the Hitler Youth contained a chapter on "the race of the German people" that heavily cited the works of Hans F. K. Günther. The text seems to address the European races in descending orders on the Nazi hierarchy, with the Nordic race (plus the subrace of Phalic) first, the Western (Mediterranean) race second, Dinarics third, Eastern (Alpine) people fourth, and finally East Baltics last.

Hitler made references to an "Aryan Race" founding a superior type of humanity. The purest stock of Aryans according to Nazi ideology was the Nordic people of Germany, England, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway. The Nazis defined Nordics as being identified by tall stature (average 175 cm), long faces, prominent chins, narrow and straight noses with a low bridge, lean builds, doliocephalic skulls, straight light hair, light eyes, and fair skin. The Nazis claimed that Germanic people specifically represented a southern branch of the Aryan-Nordic population. The Nazis did not consider all Germans to be of the Nordic type (which predominated the north), and stated that Germany also had a large "Alpine" population (identified by, among other features, lower stature, stocky builds, flatter noses, and higher incidences of darker hair and eyes). Hitler and Nazi racial theorist Hans F. K. Günther framed this as an issue to be corrected through selective breeding for "Nordic" traits. Hitler Youth propaganda emphasized the "Nordic" nature of Germans, with the text issued to all Hitler Youth members stating: "the principal ingredient of our people is the Nordic race (55%). That is not to say that half our people are pure Nordics. All of the aforementioned races appear in mixtures in all parts of our fatherland. The circumstance, however, that the great part of our people is of Nordic descent justifies us taking a Nordic standpoint when evaluating our character and spirit, bodily structure, and physical beauty."

As Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Finland participated in the invasion primarily to recover the territories it was forced to cede to the USSR after the Moscow Peace Treaty which ended the Winter War between the Finns and the Soviets. Military success quickly resulted in the Finnish occupation of Eastern Karelia. Because of their Finno-Ugric heritage, the Finns were initially classified by Nazi racial experts as a people unrelated to the other Nordic countries, in spite of a long history of political unity with Sweden. As a result, the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland was favoured at first over Finnish speakers for recruitment into the Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS because they were categorically considered part of the "Nordic race".

Owing to Finland's substantial military contribution on the northern flank of the Eastern Front of World War II, Hitler decreed in November 1942 that "from now on Finland and the Finnish people be treated and designated as a Nordic state and a Nordic people", which he considered one of the highest compliments that the Nazi government could bestow upon another country.

According to Gunther, the purest Nordic regions were Scandinavia and northern Germany, particularly Norway and Sweden, specifying: "We may, perhaps, take the Swedish blood to be over 80 per cent Nordic, the Norwegian blood about 80 per cent." Britain and southern Germany by contrast were not considered entirely Nordic. Germany was said to be 55% Nordic, and the rest Alpine (particularly southern Germany), Dinaric, or East Baltic (particularly eastern Germany). On the British Isles, Gunther stated: "we may adopt the following racial proportions for these islands: Nordic blood, 60 percent; Mediterranean, 30 percent; Alpine, 10 percent." He added that "The Nordic strain in Germany seems to be rather more distributed over the whole people than in England, where it seems to belong far more to the upper classes." Hitler echoed this sentiment, referring to the English lower classes as "racially inferior."

This page was last edited on 20 June 2018, at 21:56 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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