Hans F. K. Günther

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Hans Friedrich Karl Günther
File:Hans F. K. Günther.png

Prof. Dr. phil. Hans F. K. Günther

Born February 16, 1891(1891-02-16) in Freiburg im Breisgau, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire
Died September 25, 1968 (aged 77) in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Nationality German
Known for University of Jena, University of Berlin, University of Freiburg
Occupation Eugenics
Northern League


Hans Friedrich Karl Günther (b. 16 February 1891 in Freiburg; d. 25 September 1968 ibid) was a German race researcher 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 be a major influence on National Socialist 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 1931 he was appointed to a new chair of racial theory at Jena. He joined the NSDAP in the following year.


Günther was the son of a musician. He studied comparative linguistics at Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg, but also listened to 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-Fascist Romanticism into a form of "biological nationalism". Heinrich Himmler was very impressed by this book. In 1922 Günther studied at the 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 and the Swedish Institute for Race Biology, headed by Herman Lundborg. In Norway he met Vidkun Quisling. In 1935 he became the professor of the University of Berlin, teaching race science, human biology and rural ethnography. From 1940 to 1945 he was the 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 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".

After World War II, Günther was placed in internment camps for three years. The University of Freiburg supported his release. 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 National Socialist 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

Günther's theories were influenced by 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 Ludwig University when Günther studied there.

Günther's racial scheme was very influential in academic understanding of human racial anthropology in the 20th century, especially in the German-speaking world. He divided the European population into six races, the Nordic, Phalian (Faelid), Eastern (Alpine), Western (Mediterranean), Dinaric and East Baltic. The "Phalian" race was sometimes subsumed in his writings into the Nordic grouping, approximating the modern concept of (Central)-Nordish.

Of these races, the Nordic was seen to be the most valuable, the "noblest", and the great creative force in history. Günther published evidence that Nordics were the founders of influential cultures across the world. Opposed to the Nordics were the jews, who were "a thing of ferment and disturbance, a wedge driven by Asia into the European structure." Günther argued that the Nordic peoples should unite to secure their dominance.

Among his disciples was 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.

After the war, Günther continued to write and submitted articles to the British journal Northern World issued by the Northern League of which he was a founding member.[1]


  • 1920: Ritter, Tod und Teufel
  • 1922: Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (12th Edition 1928, 14th Edition 1930, 16th Edition 1939)
  • 1924: Rassenkunde Europas, 3. Aufl. 1927
  • 1925: Kleine Rassenkunde Europas, 3. Aufl. 1929
  • 1925: Der Nordische Gedanke unter den Deutschen, 2. Aufl. 1927
  • 1926: Adel und Rasse, 2. Aufl. 1927
  • 1926: Rasse und Stil
  • 1927: Deutsche Köpfe nordischer Rasse (together with Eugen Fischer)
  • 1928: Kleine Rassenkunde des deutschen Volke (PDF); several editions
  • 1929: [Rassengeschichte des hellenischen und des römischen Volkes]
  • 1930: Rassenkunde des jüdischen Volkes (Racial Characteristics of the jewish People) PDF-Datei
  • 1933: Volk und Staat in ihrer Stellung zu Vererbung und Auslese
  • 1934: Die nordische Rasse bei den Indogermanen Asiens
  • 1934: Die Verstädterung, 3. Aufl. 1938
  • 1934: Frömmigkeit nordischer Artung
  • 1935: Herkunft und Rassengeschichte der Germanen
  • 1940: Formen und Urgeschichte der Ehe
  • 1941: Gattenwahl zu ehelichem Glück und erblicher Ertüchtigung
  • 1941: Das Bauerntum als Lebens- und Gemeinschaftsform
  • 1942: Bauernglaube. Zeugnisse über Glauben und Frömmigkeit der deutschen Bauern
  • 1951: Formen und Urgeschichte der Ehe; Die Formen der Ehe, Familie und Verwandtschaft und die Fragen einer Urgeschichte der Ehe, Gattenwahl
  • 1956: Lebensgeschichte des hellenischen Volkes, 2. Aufl. 1965
  • 1957: Lebensgeschichte des römischen Volkes, 2. Aufl. 1966
  • 1959: Der Begabungsschwund in Europa (under the pseudonym Ludwig Winter)
  • 1961: Entstellung und Klärung der Botschaft Jesu (under the pseudonym Heinrich Ackermann)
  • 1966: Platon als Hüter des Lebens
  • 1967: Vererbung und Umwelt
  • 1969: Mein Eindruck von Adolf Hitler

Translations into English

  • The Racial Elements of European History
  • The Religious Attitudes of the Indo-Europeans

See also

Further reading

External links


  1. The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund, By William H. Tucker, page 80