What Aryans Look Like (1943)

Nazi racial doctrine in pictures

In 1935, the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed in Nazi Germany. The basis of these laws, which paved the way for the Holocaust, was the Nazi belief in the superiority of the Aryan race. The National Socialists gave the title of honorary Aryan to people who were not officially Aryans but were considered as such for political reasons. These included, for example, the Japanese, with whom the Nazis cooperated geopolitically.

The Aryans themselves were also divided into different races. Nazi ideologist Hans F.K. Günther described six Aryan subraces around 1943: the Northern race, Western race, Eastern race, Dinaric race, Eastern Baltic race and Faalic race. The Northern race was considered the best race. Members of this race were the so-called “true bearers of the creative culture”. In a 1943 book, Hans F.K. Günther described the character of the Nordic Aryans as follows:

“A tenacious will, which dares to take risks, fighting spirit and perseverance of what is recognised as right, courageous sacrifice and contempt for death, pride and self-confidence have given the North Race peoples the power to impose their culture, which stems from the creative power of the North Race, on the subjugated peoples and to establish flourishing empires with North Race customs.”

In the above photo from 1943, a teacher’s assistant is being taught about the different Aryan races. The intention was of course that she would then tell German children about the supposed superiority of the Aryans.

Plates used to teach about the Aryan races in Germany:

Aryan race

The Aryan race is a distinction between people that stems from 19th-century racial theory and was especially propagated by the Nazis, who claimed that they were superior to other supposed races.

The term Aryans was originally used to refer to the Iranian peoples and the North Indians (Indo-Aryans) and the wider ethnic group to which these peoples belong. Since the Second World War, however, the term Indo-Iranians has been used, especially in the Western world.

In Europe, the term Aryan was a nineteenth-century term for the Indo-Germanic people who populated Europe from the east several thousand years before the beginning of our era. The term grew into a controversial designation on which the Nazis based their racial doctrine in the twentieth century.


The name Aryan is derived from the Sanskrit, Pali and Avestic word for noble or the spiritual. It is said to have been first used in the West by the German linguist Friedrich von Schlegel in the book Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (1808), but that is not substantiated here. On the contrary, the term Aryan was never used by him. The term originated with Herodotus and was brought up by the French orientalist Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, and from 1830 the term appears in German literature by Karl Otfried Müller, and from 1830 onwards it appears in German literature by Karl Otfried Müller.

The German philologist Max Müller identified the Caucasus as the cradle of Aryanism. An equestrian people who would have lived there would not only have invaded Europe but would also have stood at the basis of Persian and Indian culture.

Racial studies

Both Müller and Von Schlegel investigated the development of cultures based on similarities between languages. However, around their theories, in the course of the nineteenth century, Arthur de Gobineau developed a doctrine in which the Aryans were considered a race. This doctrine, Arianism, implied that the descendants of the Aryans (Europeans, Persians and Indians) were far superior to other peoples. In such theories, the Semitic race, considered inferior by its adherents, served as the ultimate opposite of the Aryans. This race included the speakers of Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic. Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, attributed such a high level of civilisation to the Aryan race that she described it as the root race of civilisation. However, Blavatsky did not ascribe any physical or moral superiority to any particular race. Modern Theosophy explicitly states that the term race in its literature is not to be identified with ethnic groups, but with civilisation. See also race theory. Yet, for example, the Thule-Gesellschaft, which became the occult source of inspiration for many high-ranking Nazis, based its work on the writings of the occultist Helena Blavatsky.


In the 20th century, the Nazis adopted these stories to support their racial doctrine. The blond, blue-eyed Germanic was presented as the Aryan in its purest form. The Nazi ideologist Gerhard Heberer took this glorification of the typical German even further by stating that the Caucasian civilisation that had until then been considered the cradle of Aryanism could ultimately be traced back to an even older civilisation that had arisen in Europe, roughly at the place that would later be known as Germany.

The British also used the mythical Aryan race to justify their rule over India. After all, they were white and thus the descendants of the Caucasians.

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