So, why was the Master Race supposed to be so... Masterful?

Everyone loves the Nazis, I know I sure do. In my book they easily beat out ninjas and zombies. But one thing that I never really had explained to me is how they got the idea in their head that the northern European peoples were some sort of master race.

Now I could see the Greeks thinking that, inventing western civilization and all. I could see the Italians thinking that, what with the Old Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire and the many contributions to the Renaissance. Hell, I could see the Jews thinking that, what with being the “chosen people” of the Abrahamic faiths.

But how did the Aryan peoples get this notion in their heads? There had to have been some justification for it. That is not the sort of thing that you make claim to, and base almost all of your philosophy on, without some reason. I remember reading about Hitler himself complaining about it saying “Our people were living in mud huts while the Romans were build massive works”. And he was right.

Yeah, Norse mythology is kinda cool, and blond haired blue eyed women are some of the hottest, but outside of that what did the Aryans ever do to deserve the title “Worlds Best”?

They invented Fanta.


To answer your title question, I think your lack of understanding of the matter comes from assuming that the Master Race = Germans. The master race was, in racist pseudohistory, the Aryans. Seethis Wikipedia discussion:

Still not as cool as pirates though.

The Nazis has some bizarre mythos going on. Some of them, particulary the Thule Society guys, believed in an ancient pan-germen domination of Europe destroyed and scattered the Romans(The Nazis weren’t particulary found of the catholic church). Pioneered by a guy named Guido Von List who was quite the conspiracy theorist.

By logic:

By definition, given a Master Race, the Master Race gets to tell everyone else what to do, and they have to do it.

The Nazis thought everyone should have to do what the Nazis told them to.

Therefore, the Nazis had to be members of the Master Race.

Someone once described the Germans to me as a “mongrel race”. They weren’t try to be insulting, it’s just that there have been so many different groups of people who have gone in, out, or through the area of Germany, that the notion of “racial purity” is highly suspect. They didn’t live in relative isolation for thousands of years, like some nationalities.

Who did in Europe, though? It goes to show the idiocy of this sort of racial pseudohistory. I’ve always sort of wondered how the Germans got it into their heads that they were Aryan - the Aryans certainly had an advanced culture, but there’s nothing to suggest that they ever made their way to Germany. “Aryan” refers to the Indo-Iranian people who ended up becoming Persians and part of the cultural heritage of India (“Iran” is related to the word “Aryan”.)

Does anyone know anything about how the Nazis decided that they’re Aryan?

Not even that. HA! They didn’t even do that!

This whole business of calling themselves “Aryan” had to do with the Indo-European language family. Most of the languages of Europe and the languages of Iran and northern India are related. The original speakers of the proto-language of this group apparently lived somewhere in Asia anywhere from southern Russia to Turkey or whatever around 4000 B.C. It’s much argued where they originally lived. There are also similarities in the mythologies of many of the mythological systems of Indo-European speakers.

However, the important thing to note is that Indo-European is not a racial or ethnic grouping. When the Indo-Europeans spread out, they intermarried with the peoples they conquered (or maybe they just controlled them in trading). There was a vague idea though in the nineteenth century and even in the early twentieth century that they were a “Master Race” who conquered much of Europe and nearer Asia and later degenerated and intermarried with “lower races.” Because one of the places they could have originated was Iran, some called them Aryan peoples. There was also a vague sort of idea in Germany that the people of northern European were the purest descendents of this Aryan Master Race. The Nazis thought they were reviving the conquering spirit of these people.

As you can see just from my summary, this whole notion is an incoherent mess. This didn’t stop the Nazis from basing their philosophy on it. This is explained in more detail in the Wikipedia entry that’s cited in fluiddruid’s post.

Actually, the other week I was looking through stuff on Aryans, and I didn’t understand where the connection came from. You explain it well, though. So the term “Aryan” was used at that time as a reference to the PIE culture, and not specifically in reference to the folks who actually called themselves that.

In fact, before WWII (and probably for a time afterwards), German linguists referred to the Indo-European language family as “Indo-Aryan”. The term “Indo-Aryan” was not coined by Nazis or anything – that’s just what the German linguists happened to call that particular family of languages at one time.

The whole master race nonsense doesn’t stand up to logical examination. But it presents a bunch of “facts” that sound convincing enough for anyone who wants to be convinced.

It’s like the blonde blue-eyed thing. As far as I know, the Nazis never explained why having yellow hair was a sign of superiority as opposed to brown, black, or red har. The logic just seemed to be “we’re the bestest people on Earth” and “we’ve got more blondes than those other people” so “blonde people are the bestest people.”

Another theory would be that they dominated the area by sheer numbers, as the result of them being the first to become farmers, and more specifically, to grow wheat, allowing this particular culture to feed much more people.

Yeah, it seems like the more recent theories I’ve heard have all focused on the idea that the PIEers just farmed everyone else out of Europe. Wendell (or anyone else knowledgeable), do you know anything about currently-held theories about the proto-Indo-Europeans? Which theories, basically, are generally considered plausible?

What you just laid out was the logic, basically. The idea was that blond hair and blue eyes were Nordic/Germanic Aryan racial traits, not that blond hair or blue eyes were themselves superior.

The Holy Roman Empire was German. I guess it sort of started with Charlemagne, so part of it started out as French, but after Charlemagne it was pretty much German.

Another thing to bear in mind is that Germanic peoples did take over much of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, but bear in mind that we call this time the dark ages.

The scary thing is that the “master race” thing was the MOST coherent and MOST science-based of the Nazis’ crackpot theories. You want nutty? How about the “Hollow Earth,” an idea that for some means that there are big holes at the poles where you can enter the paradise within and for others means that we are already living in there and what we call Earth is a bubble in an infinity or rock. Then there is the “World Ice Theory,” which most people give up attempting to explain.

A good, and not particularly insane through most of it, overview is Alan Baker’s Invisible Eagle. To his credit, Hitler didn’t buy into a lot of these things, showing he may have been an evil megalomaniac but he wasn’t CRAZY. However, he did let Himmler run with whatever crazy ideas entered his head and that he could believe all these often-contradictory things at the same time shows how wacky he was.


Charlemagne, like his merovingian predecessors, was a germanic king whose kingdom was centered in was is now north-eastern France, Belgium, etc… Though these frankish kings controlled most of “France”, that would then be rather called "Gaul"and divided in several areas (Neustria, Austrasia, Aquitania, etc…) sometimes united and sometimes not he was not “french”. France (and actually Germany too) would become a cearly distinct entity only some generations later…