World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Untermensch

Untermensch (German for underman, sub-man, subhuman; plural: Untermenschen) is a term that became infamous when the Nazis used it to describe "inferior people" often referred to as "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Roma, and Slavs (mainly ethnic Poles, Serbs, and later also Russians).[1][2] The term was also applied to Asians, blacks, and persons of color.[3]

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • Nazi propaganda and policy 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6

Etymology

Alfred Rosenberg ca. 1935

Although usually incorrectly considered to have been coined by the Nazis, the term "under man" in the above-mentioned sense was first used by American author Lothrop Stoddard in the title of his 1922 pamphlet The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-man.[4] It was later adopted by the Nazis from that book's German version Der Kulturumsturz: Die Drohung des Untermenschen (1925).[5] The German word "Untermensch" itself had been used earlier, but not in a racial sense, for example in the 1899 novel Der Stechlin by Theodor Fontane. Since most writers who employed the term did not address the question of when and how the word entered the German language, "Untermensch" is usually translated into English as "sub-human." The leading Nazi attributing the concept of the East-European "under man" to Stoddard is Alfred Rosenberg who, referring to Russian communists, wrote in his Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts (1930) that "this is the kind of human being that Lothrop Stoddard has called the 'under man.'" ["...den Lothrop Stoddard als 'Untermenschen' bezeichnete."][6] Quoting Stoddard: "The Under-Man – the man who measures under the standards of capacity and adaptability imposed by the social order in which he lives.

It is possible that Stoddard constructed his "under man" as an opposite to Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch (superman) concept. Stoddard doesn't say so explicitly, but he refers critically to the "superman" idea at the end of his book (p. 262).[4] Wordplays with Nietzsche's term seem to have been used repeatedly as early as the 19th century and, due to the German linguistic trait of being able to combine prefixes and roots almost at will in order to create new words, this development was even somewhat logical. For instance, German author Theodor Fontane contrasts the Übermensch/Untermensch word pair in chapter 33 of his novel Der Stechlin.[7] As a matter of fact, even Nietzsche himself used "Untermensch" at least once in contrast to "Übermensch" in Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (1882); however, he did so in reference to semi-human creatures in mythology, naming them alongside dwarves, fairies, centaurs and so on.[8] Earlier examples of "Untermensch" include Romanticist Jean Paul using the term in his novel Hesperus (1795) in reference to an Orangutan (Chapter "8. Hundposttag").[9]

Nazi propaganda and policy

Julius Streicher in custody at Nuremberg in 1945/6

In a speech in 1927 to the Bavarian regional parliament the Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, publisher of Der Stürmer, used the term "Untermensch" referring to the communists of the German Bavarian Soviet Republic:

It happened at the time of the [Bavarian] Soviet Republic: When the unleashed subhumans rambled murdering through the streets, the deputies hid behind a chimney in the Bavarian parliament.[10]

The term "Untermensch" was used repeatedly in writings and speeches directed against the Jews, the most notorious example being a 1935 SS publication with the title "Der Untermensch", which contains an antisemitic tirade sometimes considered to be an extract from a speech by Heinrich Himmler. In the pamphlet The SS as an Anti-Bolshevist Fighting Organization, published in 1936, Himmler wrote:

We shall take care that never again in Germany, the heart of Europe, will the Jewish-Bolshevistic revolution of subhumans be able to be kindled either from within or through emissaries from without.[11][12][13]

In his speech "Weltgefahr des Bolschewismus" ("World danger of Bolshevism") in 1936 Joseph Goebbels said that "subhumans exist in every people as a leavening agent".[14]

Another example of the use of the term "Untermensch", this time in connection with anti-Soviet propaganda, is a brochure, again titled "Der Untermensch", edited by Himmler and distributed by the Race and Settlement Head Office. SS-Obersturmführer Ludwig Pröscholdt, Jupp Daehler and SS-Hauptamt-Schulungsamt Koenig are associated with its production.[3] Published in 1942 after the start of Operation Barbarossa, it is around fifty pages long and consists for the most part of photos casting an extremely negative light on the enemy (see link below for the title page). 3,860,995 copies were printed in the German language. It was also translated into Greek, French, Dutch, Danish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Czech and seven other languages. The pamphlet states the following:

For Nazis the sub-humans were classified into different types; and while Jews were to be exterminated as a priority, whereas other sub-humans could be exploited as slaves.[15]

Historian Robert Jan van Pelt writes that for the Nazis, "it was only a small step to a rhetoric pitting the European Mensch against the Soviet Untermensch, which had come to mean a Russian in the clutches of Judeo-Bolshevism."[16]

The Untermensch concept included Jews, Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), and Slavic peoples such as Poles, Serbs, and Russians.[17] The Slavs were regarded as "Untermenschen", barely fit for exploitation as slaves.[18][19] Hitler and Goebbels compared them to the "rabbit family" or to "stolid animals" that were "idle" and "disorganized" and spread like a "wave of filth".[20]

Biology classes in Nazi Germany schools taught about differences between the race of Nordic German "Übermenschen" and "ignoble" Jewish and Slavic "subhumans".[21]

The view that Slavs were subhuman was widespread among the German masses, and chiefly applied to the Poles; it continued to find support even after the war.[22]

As a pragmatic way to solve military manpower shortages, the Nazis utilized soldiers from some Slavic countries, firstly from the Reich's allies Croatia and Bulgaria[23] and also within occupied territories.[24] The concept of the Slavs in particular being "Untermenschen" served the Nazis' political goals; it was used to justify their expansionist policy and especially their aggression against Poland and the Soviet Union in order to achieve Lebensraum, particularly in Ukraine. Early plans of the German Reich (summarized as Generalplan Ost) envisaged the displacement, enslavement, and elimination of no fewer than 50 million people, who were not considered fit for Germanization, from territories it wanted to conquer in Europe; Ukraine's "chernozem" (black earth) soil was considered a particularly desirable zone for colonization by the "Herrenvolk" ("master race").[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ Revisiting the National Socialist Legacy: Coming to Terms With Forced Labor, Expropriation, Compensation, and Restitution page 84 Oliver Rathkolb
  2. ^ Gumkowski, Janusz; Leszczynski, Kazimierz; Robert, Edward (translator) (1961). Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe (Paperback). Poland Under Nazi Occupation (First ed.) (Polonia Pub. House). p. 219.   at Wayback machine.
  3. ^ a b c Reichsführer-SS (1942). Der Untermensch "The subhuman". Berlin: SS Office. Retrieved March 12, 2014.  Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. """Der Untermensch "The subhuman. Holocaust Research Project www.HolocaustResearchProject.org. Retrieved March 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b  
  5. ^  
  6. ^  
  7. ^  
  8. ^  
  9. ^  
  10. ^ "Kampf dem Weltfeind", Stürmer publishing house, Nuremberg, 1938, 05/25/1927, speech in the Bavarian regional parliament, German: "Es war zur Zeit der Räteherrschaft. Als das losgelassene Untermenschentum mordend durch die Straßen zog, da versteckten sich Abgeordnete hinter einem Kamin im bayerischen Landtag."
  11. ^  
  12. ^ Office of United States Chief of Counsel For Prosecution of Axis Criminality (1946). "Chapter XV: Criminality of Groups and Organizations – 5. Die Schutzstaffeln". (PDF, 46.2 MB). Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume II. Washington, D.C.:  
  13. ^ Stein, Stuart D (8 January 1999). "The Schutzstaffeln (SS) – The Nuremberg Charges, Part I". Web Genocide Documentation Centre.  
  14. ^ Paul Meier-Benneckenstein, Deutsche Hochschule für Politik Titel: Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Volume 4, Junker und Dünnhaupt Verlag, Berlin, 2. ed., 1937; speech held on 10th of September 1936; In German: "... das Untermenschentum, das in jedem Volke als Hefe vorhanden ist ...".
  15. ^ Quality of Life: The New Medical Dilemma, edited by James J. Walter, Thomas Anthony Shannon page 63
  16. ^  
  17. ^ a b "Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe".  
  18. ^  
  19. ^ Huer, Jon (2012). Call from the Cave: Our Cruel Nature and Quest for Power. Lanham, Maryland: Hamilton Books. p. 278.  
  20. ^ Sealing Their Fate (Large Print 16pt) by David Downing page 49
  21. ^ Hitler Youth, 1922–1945: An Illustrated History by Jean-Denis Lepage, page 91
  22. ^ Native Realm: A Search for Self Definition by Czeslaw Milosz page 132
  23. ^ According to Nazi policy the Croats were classified as more "Germanic than Slavic"; this was supported by the Croatia's fascist dictator Ante Pavelić, who maintained that the Croatians were descendants of the ancient Goths and "had the Pan-Slav idea forced upon them as something artificial".
    Rich, Norman (1974). Hitler's War Aims: the Establishment of the New Order, p. 276-7. W. W. Norton & Company Inc., New York.
  24. ^ Norman Davies. Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory. Pp. 167, 209.

Further reading

  •  

External links

  • Der Untermensch propaganda poster published by the SS.
  • Hitler's plans for Eastern Europe
  • "Die Drohung des Untermenschen" This is an example of the term "Untermensch" being used in the context of the Nazi eugenics programme. The table suggests that "inferior" people (unmarried and married criminals, parents whose children have learning disabilities) have more children than "superior" people (ordinary Germans, academics). Note that the heading is the subtitle of the German version of Lothrop Stoddard's book.
  • Der Untermensch: the Nazi pamphlet
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.