The Info List - Hans F. K. Günther

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Hans Friedrich Karl Günther (February 16, 1891 – September 25, 1968) was a German physician, writer, and eugenicist in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. He was also known as Race Günther (Rassengünther) or Race Pope (Rassenpapst). He is considered to have been a major influence on Nazi racialist thought. He taught at the universities of Jena, Berlin, and Freiburg, writing numerous books and essays on racial theory. Günther's Short Ethnology of the German People (1929) was a popular exposition of Nordicism. In May 1930, he was appointed to a new chair of racial theory at Jena. He joined the Nazi Party
Nazi Party
in 1932 as the only leading racial theorist to join the party before it assumed power in 1933.[1][2]


1 Life and career 2 Racial theories 3 Influence on Hitler 4 See also 5 References

5.1 Bibliography

6 Further reading 7 External links

Life and career[edit]

Pages 34-5 of Short Ethnology of the German People. On the left page (right of two) there is an image of Josef Stalin
Josef Stalin
as representative of the Armenoid race
Armenoid race
while on the right page (bottom two of four) there are two images of Jews
from Germany and Austria respectively, described as "mainly Near Eastern", which is also known as Armenoid.

Günther was the son of a musician. He studied comparative linguistics at Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg, but also attended lectures on zoology and geography. In 1911, he spent a semester at the Sorbonne, Paris. He attained his doctorate in 1914. In the same year he enlisted in the infantry at the outbreak of World War I, but became sick and was hospitalized. He was declared unfit for combat, so to compensate for his inability to fight, he served with the Red Cross. In 1919, after the end of the war, he started his writing career. He wrote a polemical work entitled "The Knight, death and the devil: the heroic idea", a reworking of the tradition of German Pagan-Nationalist Romanticism into a form of "biological nationalism". Heinrich Himmler was very impressed by this book. In 1922 Günther studied at the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
while working in a museum in Dresden. In 1923 he moved to Scandinavia
to live with his second wife, who was Norwegian. He received scientific awards from the University of Uppsala
University of Uppsala
and the Swedish Institute for Race Biology, headed by Herman Lundborg. In Norway
he met Vidkun Quisling. In May 1930 he was appointed to the University of Jena
University of Jena
by Wilhelm Frick
Wilhelm Frick
who had become the first NSDAP minister in a state government when he was appointed minister of education in the right-wing coalition government formed in Thuringen following an election in December 1929. In 1935 he became a professor at the University of Berlin, teaching race science, human biology and rural ethnography. From 1940 to 1945 he was professor at Albert Ludwigs University. He received several honors during the Third Reich, notably in 1935 he was declared "pride of the NSDAP" for his scientific work. In the same year he received the Rudolph Virchow
Rudolph Virchow
plaque, and in 1940 the Goethe Medal for arts and science from Hitler. In March 1941, he was received as an honored guest for the opening conference of Alfred Rosenberg's "Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question". At the conference the obliteration of Jewish identity, or "people death" (Volkstod) of the Jews
was discussed[citation needed]. Various proposals were made, including the "pauperization of European Jews
and hard labor in massive camps in Poland"[citation needed]. Günther's only recorded comment was that the meeting was boring. After World War II, Günther was placed in internment camps for three years until it was concluded that, though he was a part of the Nazi system, he was not an instigator of its criminal acts, making him less accountable for the consequences of his actions. The University of Freiburg
came to his defense at his post-war trial. Nevertheless, even after Nazi Germany's fall, he did not revise his thinking, denying the Holocaust until his death. In 1951 he published the book Husband's Choice in which he listed good biological qualities to look for in marriage partners. He continued to argue that sterilization should remain a legal option, and played down the mandatory sterilization used in Nazi Germany. Another eugenics book was published in 1959 in which he argued that unintelligent people reproduce too numerously in Europe, and the only solution was state-sponsored family planning. Racial theories[edit] Günther's theories arose from the Nordicist ideology prevalent at the time. Eugen Fischer, the professor of anthropology in Freiburg, was an influential proponent of these ideas and had lectured at Albert Ludwigs University when Günther studied there. He wrote that a race could be identified in the following manner.

A race shows itself in a human group which is marked off from every other human group through its own proper combination of bodily and mental characteristics, and in turn produces only its like.[3]

This definition of "race" was used in Nazi propaganda.[4] Günther in his writings was quick to mark out the distinction between "race" and "Volk". He acknowledged that both the Germans and Jews
were not "races" in the strictest sense of the word but thought that it would cause no harm to refer to the latter as such in non-scientific popular racial works.[5] Similarly, he rejected the usage of "Aryan" and "Semitic" as racial terms (he argued they were only linguistic terms) and stated that regarding them as such would cause more problems in distinguishing between Germans and Jews.[5] Günther described in a chapter of one of his works "Racial Characteristics of the Jewish People" that Jews
belonged predominantly to the "Near Eastern Race".[6] He thought that Jews
had become so racially mixed that they could possibly be regarded as a "race of the second order".[7] He described Ashkenazi Jews
as being mixed of Near Eastern, Oriental, East Baltic, Inner-Asian, Nordic, Hamite, and Negro. and Sephardic Jews
as being mixed of Oriental, Near Eastern, Western, Hamite, Nordic, and Negro.[8] He believed that Jews
had different physical characteristics to Europeans.[7] Günther in his 1927 book The Racial Elements of European History outlined the differences between racial and linguistic definitions: quoteWe find, in general, the most confused notions as to how the European peoples are composed of various races. We often hear, for example, a 'white race' or a 'Caucasian race' spoken of, to which the Europeans are said to belong. But probably, were he asked, no one could tell us what its bodily characteristics are. It is, or should be, quite clear that a 'race' must be embodied in a group of human beings each of whom presents the same physical and mental picture. Physical and mental differences, however, are very great, not only within Europe (often called the home of the 'white' or 'Caucasian' race) and within each of the countries in it, but even within some small district in one of the latter. There is, therefore, no 'German race,' or 'Russian race,' or 'Spanish race.' The terms 'nation' and 'race' must be kept apart. People may be heard speaking of a 'Germanic,' a 'Latin,' and a 'Slav' race; but it is at once seen that in those lands where Germanic, Romance, or Slav tongues are spoken there is the same bewildering variety in the outward appearance of their peoples, and never any such uniformity as suggests a race. We see, therefore, that the human groups in question -- the 'Germans,' the 'Latins,' and the 'Slavs' -- form a linguistical, not a racial combination. The following consideration will probably be enough to keep racial and linguistical grouping distinct from one another. Is a North American negro -- a man, that is, speaking American English, a Germanic tongue, as his own -- is he a German, taking this term in its wider meaning? The usual answer would be: No; for a German is tall, fair, and light-eyed. But now a fresh perplexity comes in: In Scotland are found many tall, fair, light-eyed men and women, speaking Keltic. Are there, then, Kelts who look like 'Germans'? It is from Kelts (according to a still prevalent belief in south Germany) that the dark, short people of Germany come. Many of the ancient Greeks and Romans are described as like Germans. Fair, light-eyed men and women are not seldom met with in the Caucasus. There are Italians of 'Germanic' appearance. I have taken the anthropometrical measurements of a Spaniard with this appearance. On the other hand, there are very many Germans, men belonging, that is, to a people speaking a Germanic tongue, who have no Germanic appearance whatever.[9] Günther divided the European population into six races, the Nordic, Phalic, Eastern, Western, Dinaric and East Baltic. "Western" and "Eastern" were, in practice, alternatives for the more widely used terms "Mediterranean" and "Alpine". The "Phalic" race was a minor category dropped in many of his writings.[6] Günther in his book Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes
Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes
(Racial Science of the German People) categorized Germans as belonging to the Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, Alpine and East Baltic races.[6] In the book, he argued for Germans to avoid race mixing.[10] Opposed to the Nordics were the Jews, who were "a thing of ferment and disturbance, a wedge driven by Asia into the European structure."[11] Günther argued that the Nordic peoples should unite to secure their dominance. Although Günther seemed to admire Mediterraneans and Dinarics, as well as the highly praised Nordics, the East Baltic race was considered inferior in nearly every instance Günther mentioned it in his book, The Racial Elements of European History. Günther believed Slavic people to be of "Eastern race" separate from Germany and Nordics and warned about mixing "German blood" with Slavic one.[12] Among Günther's disciples was Bruno Beger
Bruno Beger
who, after an expedition to Tibet, concluded that the Tibetan peoples had characteristics that placed them between the Nordic and Mongol races, and were thus superior to other East Asians. Influence on Hitler[edit] Timothy Ryback, who examined the books retrieved from Adolf Hitler's private collection, notes that Hitler
owned six books by Günther, four of which were different editions of Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes.[13] These were given to him by Günther's publisher Julius Lehmann, who inscribed three of them. The earliest, a third edition from 1923, is for "the successful champion of German racial thinking," while the 1928 edition bears a "Christmas greeting." The 1933 sixteenth edition, with a detailed appendix on European Jews, shows signs of extended, sustained use. Lehmann dedicated it to "the trailblazer of racial thinking." Ryback notes that Hitler
included Günther's book on a list of books recommended for all National Socialists to read.[14] When newly appointed Thuringian Education Minister Wilhelm Frick—the first NSDAP
minister in government—appointed Günther to a chair in "Social Anthropology" at the University of Jena
University of Jena
in 1930 (for which Jena professors considered him unqualified), Adolf Hitler
and Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
demonstratively attended his inaugural lecture.[citation needed] See also[edit]

Nordic theory Aryan race


^ Steinweis 2008, p. 26. ^ Donna F. Ryan, John S. Schuchman. 2002. Deaf People in Hitler's Europe. Gallaudet University Press p. 19 ^ Gunther, Hans F. K., The Racial Elements of European History, translated by G. C. Wheeler, Methuen & Co. LTD, London, 1927, p. 3 ^ "You and Your People (Volk)" [Du und dein Volk]. 1940.  ^ a b Steinweis 2008, p. 29. ^ a b c Steinweis 2008, p. 28. ^ a b Steinweis 2008, p. 33. ^ Steinweis 2008, p. 32. ^ Hans F. K. Günther
Hans F. K. Günther
(1927). "REMARKS ON THE TERM 'RACE,' ON THE DETERMINATION OF FIVE EUROPEAN RACES, AND ON SKULL MEASUREMENT". The Racial Elements of European History.  ^ Yeomans & Wendt 2013, p. 38. ^ Anne Maxwell, Picture Imperfect: Photography and Eugenics, 1870-1940, p. 153 ^ Wulf D. Hund, Racisms Made in Germany, (2011), p. 19 ^ Timothy Ryback, Hitler's Private Library: The Books that Shaped His Life (New York: Knopf, 2008), 110. ^ Timothy Ryback, Hitler's Private Library: The Books that Shaped His Life (New York: Knopf, 2008), 69. Ryback does not cite a source for this list, which may have been a book list distributed by Alfred Rosenberg's Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur. See Jan-Pieter Barbian, Literaturpolitik im Dritten Reich: Institutionen, Kompetenzen, Betätigungsfelder(Nördlingen, revised edition 1995), p. 56ff.

Christopher Hale Himmler's Crusade: the True Story of the 1938 Nazi Expedition into Tibet
Bantam, 2004 ISBN 978-0-553-81445-3


Steinweis, Alan E (2008). Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674027612.  Yeomans, Rory; Wendt, Anton Weiss (2013). Racial Science in Hitler's New Europe, 1938-1945. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-4605-6. 

Further reading[edit]

Spiro, Jonathan P. (2009). Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant. Univ. of Vermont Press. ISBN 978-1-58465-715-6. Lay summary (29 September 2010). 

External links[edit]

Works by or about Hans F. K. Günther
Hans F. K. Günther
at Internet Archive The Works Of HFK Günther in German and English

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Louis Agassiz John Baker Erwin Baur John Beddoe Robert Bennett Bean François Bernier Renato Biasutti Johann Friedrich Blumenbach Franz Boas Paul Broca Alice Mossie Brues Halfdan Bryn Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon Charles Caldwell Petrus Camper Samuel A. Cartwright Houston Stewart Chamberlain Sonia Mary Cole Carleton S. Coon Georges Cuvier Jan Czekanowski Charles Davenport Joseph Deniker Egon Freiherr von Eickstedt Anténor Firmin Eugen Fischer John Fiske Francis Galton Stanley Marion Garn Reginald Ruggles Gates George Gliddon Arthur de Gobineau Madison Grant John Grattan Hans F. K. Günther Ernst Haeckel Frederick Ludwig Hoffman Earnest Hooton Julian Huxley Thomas Henry Huxley Calvin Ira Kephart Robert Knox Robert E. Kuttner Georges Vacher de Lapouge Fritz Lenz Carl Linnaeus Cesare Lombroso Bertil Lundman Felix von Luschan Dominick McCausland John Mitchell Ashley Montagu Lewis H. Morgan Samuel George Morton Josiah C. Nott Karl Pearson Oscar Peschel Isaac La Peyrère Charles Pickering Ludwig Hermann Plate Alfred Ploetz James Cowles Prichard Otto Reche Gustaf Retzius William Z. Ripley Alfred Rosenberg Benjamin Rush Henric Sanielevici Heinrich Schmidt Ilse Schwidetzky Charles Gabriel Seligman Giuseppe Sergi Samuel Stanhope Smith Herbert Spencer Morris Steggerda Lothrop Stoddard William Graham Sumner Thomas Griffith Taylor Paul Topinard John H. Van Evrie Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer Rudolf Virchow Voltaire Alexander Winchell Ludwig Woltmann


An Essay upon the Causes of the Different Colours of People in Different Climates (1744) The Outline of History of Mankind (1785) Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question (1849) An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races
An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races
(1855) The Races of Europe (Ripley, 1899) The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899) Race Life of the Aryan Peoples
Race Life of the Aryan Peoples
(1907) Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (1911) Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development (1916) The Passing of the Great Race
The Passing of the Great Race
(1916) The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy
The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy
(1920) The Myth of the Twentieth Century
The Myth of the Twentieth Century
(1930) Annihilation of Caste
Annihilation of Caste
(1936) The Races of Europe (Coon, 1939) An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus (1943) The Race Question
The Race Question


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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 14785619 LCCN: n50020323 ISNI: 0000 0001 1021 4852 GND: 118698923 SUDOC: 028502949 BNF: cb120326157 (data) NKC: nlk20030144