Untermensch (German for under man, sub-man, sub-human; plural: Untermenschen) is a term that became infamous when the Nazi racial ideology used it to describe "inferior people", especially "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Gypsies, and Slavic peoples including Poles, Serbs, Belarusians, Russians and Rusyns. Jewish people were to be exterminated in Holocaust while according to Generalplan Ost, most of the Slavs from East-Central Europe were destined to be removed from the European continent by the Third Reich through murder and ethnic cleansing.
Although usually considered to have been coined by the Nazis themselves, the term "under man" in the above mentioned sense was also used by American author Lothrop Stoddard in the title of his 1922 pamphlet The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-man. It was later adopted by the Nazis from that book's German version Der Kulturumsturz: Die Drohung des Untermenschen (1925). The German word "Untermensch" itself had been used earlier (not in a racial sense), for example in the 1899 novel Der Stechlin by Theodor Fontane (see below). Since most writers who employ the term do not address the question of when and how the word entered the German language (and therefore do not seem to be aware of Stoddard's original term "under man"), "Untermensch" is usually back-translated into English as "sub-human." A 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."] 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.
However, it is possible that Stoddard constructed his "under man" as an antipode to Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch (or superman) concept. Stoddard doesn't say so explicitly, but he refers critically to the "superman" idea at the end of his book (p. 262). 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 StechlinAs 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. Earlier examples of "Untermensch" include Romanticist Jean Paul using the term in his novel Hesperus (1795) in reference to an Orangutan (Chapter "8. Hundposttag").
Nazi propaganda and policy 
The term "Untermensch" was utilized 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 held by Heinrich Himmler. In the pamphlet The SS as an Anti-Bolshevist Fighting Organization, Himmler wrote in 1936:
- 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.
In the same publication Heinrich Himmler calls Russians an "Aryan people" (German: "in diesem gepeinigten arischen Volk") and goes on
- When you look at the Russian revolution you can see unnumbered parallels to the German revolution in 1918. There is just the one difference that mercifully God the Lord and that a merciful fate placed a rampart against Jewry and that in time -- in the year 1919 Adolf Hitler was called to work.
Another example for using the term "Untermensch," this time in connection with anti-Soviet propaganda, is another 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. 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 and Czech and seven other languages. The pamphlet states the following:
Just as the night rises against the day, the light and dark are in eternal conflict. So too, is the subhuman the greatest enemy of the dominant species on earth, mankind. The subhuman is a biological creature, crafted by nature, which has hands, legs, eyes and mouth, even the semblance of a brain. Nevertheless, this terrible creature is only a partial human being.
Although it has features similar to a human, the subhuman is lower on the spiritual and psychological scale than any animal. Inside of this creature lies wild and unrestrained passions: an incessant need to destroy, filled with the most primitive desires, chaos and coldhearted villainy.
A subhuman and nothing more!Not all of those, who appear human are in fact so. Woe to him who forgets it!
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."
This concept included Jews, Roma (Gypsies), non-Europeans (although black Africans, for example, escaped persecution due to being too small in numbers in 1940s Europe to be considered a racial threat) and some of the Slavic peoples (named as Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, Serbs, Czechs, and Slovaks).
Nazi anthropologists attempted to scientifically prove the historical admixture of the Slavs further East. However, they were forced to gloss over their findings which consistently found that Early Slavs were dolicocephalic and fair haired, i.e. Nordic, not to mention the large proportion of Slavic ancestry in Eastern Germany and Hitler's native Austria. The Nazis considered a large percentage of Slavs as Aryans, the concept of the Slavic people being "Untermensch" in particular served the Nazis for their political goals, it was mainly used as justification for their expansionist policy and especially their aggression against Poland and the Soviet Union in order to conquer Lebensraum, particularly in Ukraine. Early plans of the German Reich (summarized as Generalplan Ost) envisaged the displacement, enslavement, and elimination of no less than 50 million people who were not considered fit for Germanization from territories it wanted to conquer in Europe, Ukraine's "chornozem" (black earth) soil being a particularly desirable zone for colonization by the "Herrenvolk". See also Genocides in Nazi Germany and occupied Europe.
The European Writers' League (German: Europäische Schriftstellervereinigung), which was founded by Joseph Goebbels in Weimar in 1941/42 also had Slavic sections -- a prominent member of the Croatian section was Antun Bonifačić, a prominent member of the Bulgarian section was Fani Popowa-Mutafowa.
Who was considered Aryan by the Nazis can be seen by evaluating the so-called Aryan certificate. For the Greater Aryan certificate people had to prove that reaching back to January 1, 1800 "none of their paternal nor their maternal ancestors had Jewish or colored blood" (SS officers had to prove this reaching back to 1750).
See also 
- Aryan certificate
- Nuremberg Laws
- Racial hygiene
- Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles
- Stoddard, Lothrop (1922). The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under Man. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
- Losurdo, Domenico; translated by Marella & Jon Morris (2004). "Toward a Critique of the Category of Totalitarianism" (PDF, 0.2 MB). Historical Materialism (Brill) 12 (2): 25–55, here p. 50. doi:10.1163/1569206041551663. ISSN 1465-4466.
- Rosenberg, Alfred (1930). Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts: Eine Wertung der seelischgeistigen Gestaltungskämpfe unserer Zeit [The Myth of the Twentieth Century] (in German). Munich: Hoheneichen-Verlag. p. 214.
- Fontane, Theodor (1898). "Der Stechlin: 33. Kapitel". Der Stechlin [The Stechlin] (in German). ISBN 978-3-86640-258-4. "Jetzt hat man statt des wirklichen Menschen den sogenannten Übermenschen etabliert; eigentlich gibt es aber bloß noch Untermenschen, und mitunter sind es gerade die, die man durchaus zu einem ›Über‹ machen will. (Nowadays instead of a genuine good man, they've set up that they call the 'super-man.' But in actuality there aren't anything but sub-men any more. And now and then they're the very ones they're trying so hard to make into a 'super.') [From the translation by William L. Zwiebel]"
- Nietzsche, Friedrich (1882). "Kapitel 143: Größter Nutzen des Polytheismus". Die fröhliche Wissenschaft [The Gay Science] (in German). 3rd book. Chemnitz: Ernst Schmeitzner. "Die Erfindung von Göttern, Heroen und Übermenschen aller Art, sowie von Neben- und Untermenschen, von Zwergen, Feen, Zentauren, Satyrn, Dämonen und Teufeln war die unschätzbare Vorübung zur Rechtfertigung der Selbstsucht und Selbstherrlichkeit des einzelnen [...]. (The invention of gods, heroes, and overmen of all kinds, as well as near-men and undermen, of dwarfs, fairies, centaurs, satyrs, demons and devils was the inestimable preliminary exercise for the justification of the egoism and sovereignty of the individual [...]) [From the translation by Walter Kaufmann]"
- Jean Paul (1795). "8. Hundposttag". Hesperus oder 45 Hundposttage (in German). "Obgleich Leute aus der großen und größten Welt, wie der Unter-Mensch, der Urangutang, im 25sten Jahre ausgelebt und ausgestorben haben – vielleicht sind deswegen die Könige in manchen Ländern schon im 14ten Jahre mündig –, so hatte doch Jenner sein Leben nicht so weit zurückdatiert und war wirklich älter als mancher Jüngling. (Although people from the great world and the greatest have, like the sub-man, the orang-outang, lived out and died out in their twenty-fifth year, — for which reason, perhaps, in many countries kings are placed under guardianship as early as their fourteenth, — nevertheless January had not ante-dated his life so far, and was really older than many a youth.) [From the translation by Charles T. Brooks]"
- Himmler, Heinrich (1936 or 1937). Die Schutzstaffel als antibolschewistische Kampforganisation [The SS as an Anti-bolshevist Fighting Organization] (in German). Munich: Franz Eher Nachfolger. "Wir werden dafür sorgen, daß niemals mehr in Deutschland, dem Herzen Europas, von innen oder durch Emissäre von außen her die jüdisch-bolschewistische Revolution des Untermenschen entfacht werden kann."
- 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.: USGPO. p. 220. OCLC 315871222.
- Stein, Stuart D (8 January 1999). "The Schutzstaffeln (SS) – The Nuremberg Charges, Part I". Web Genocide Documentation Centre. University of the West of England. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- Heinrich Himmler, Die Schutzstaffel als antibolschewistische Kampforganisation (i.e. The SS as an anti-bolshevist combat organization), Franz Eher Nachfolger, 1936; In German: "Wenn Sie die russische Revolution betrachten, so können Sie ungezählte Parallelen zur deutschen Revolution des Jahres 1918 ziehen. Es besteht nur der eine Unterschied, dass eben ein gütiger Herrgott, ein gütiges Schicksal dem Judentum hier einen Damm entgegensetzte und Widerstandskräfte wachrief und zur rechten Zeit, im Jahre 1919, Adolf Hitler ans Werk gerufen hat.".
- 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 ...".
- Pelt, Robert-Jan van (January 1994). "Auschwitz: From Architect's Promise to Inmate's Perdition". Modernism/Modernity 1 (1): 80–120, here p. 97. doi:10.1353/mod.1994.0013. ISSN 1071-6068.
- "Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe". Northeastern University. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
- Curta, Florin (August 2002). "From Kossina to Bromley. Ethnogenesis in Slavic Archaeology". In Gillett, Andrew. On Barbarian identity: critical approaches to ethnicity in the early Middle Ages. Studies in the early Middle Ages. Volume 4. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. pp. 201–218, here p. 206. ISBN 978-2-503-51168-9. "... the local Slavs of the prehistoric period, as seen from the archaeological evidence, were fair haired people with elongated skulls"
- Coon, Carleton S (1939). "Chapter VI, section 7 "Iron Age Peoples"". The Races of Europe. New York: The Macmillan Company. "The evidence of literary sources makes the Slavs of nordic stature and pigmentation, that of osteology makes them the same in the metrical and morphological sense."
- Europa in Weimar - Visionen eines Kontinents, Hellmut Seemann, Angela Jahn, Thorsten Valk; Series: Jahrbuch der Klassik Stiftung Weimar, 2008; p. 402-405
- Quotation in German: "wer unter seinen Vorfahren väterlicherseits oder mütterlicherseits kein jüdisches oder farbiges Blut hat"; in: Isabel Heinemann. "Rasse Siedlung, deutsches Blut", Wallstein Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-89244-623-7, p. 54
|Look up untermensch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- 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