Hans Günther - The racial elements of European history
THE RACIAL ELEMENTS OF EUROPEAN HISTORY
REMARKS ON THE TERM 'RACE,' ON THE DETERMINATION OF FIVE EUROPEAN RACES, AND ON SKULL MEASUREMENT
WE 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. But are not the people of Germany 'sprung from the old Germans'? How are these contradictions to be reconciled? For there can be no doubt that at first sight they are contradictions.
It is only by a careful examination of the term 'race' that a way out is found. Anyone who is going to deal with race questions must be on his guard against confusing Race and People (generally marked by a common language), or Race and Nationality, or (as in the case of the Jewish people) Blood kinship and Faith. 'Race' is a conception belonging to the comparative study of man (Anthropology), which in the first place (as Physical Anthropology) only inquires into the measurable and calculable details of the bodily structure, and measures, for instance, the height, the length of the limbs, the skull and its parts, and determines the colour of the skin (after a colour scale), and of the hair and eyes. Martin's excellent Lehrbuch der Anthropologie (Jena, 1914) may give the layman some idea through its size of the great number of individual measurements and determinations that has to be made before a human body has been anthropologically registered in all its details. Besides the inquiry into the bodily racial structure there is the inquiry into the psychological composition properly belonging to each race.
And what indeed is a 'Race'? The study of races and racial questions has suffered much harm through the circumstance that many of the books and other works that have been written about races (and so-called races), and, above all, books that have drawn, or sought to draw, general and philosophical conclusions from an examination into racial questions, have often said nothing to show what they really understand by 'race.' I had, therefore, in my Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes to go into details, which here are only summarized.
A race shows itself in an individual human group, which in turn only produces its like.
By an individual human group we are here to understand: a human group marking itself off from any other human group through its own peculiar combination of bodily and mental characteristics. Thus putting these two statements together, we reach the following result:
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.
From this we see at once that Ethnology yields hardly any example of such a true-breeding human group -- that is, a race -- appearing anywhere as one people, or with one form of language, of government, or of faith. In particular, most of the peoples of Europe show a mingling of the five European races, some, a mingling of only two or three of them; while Eastern Europe shows an even simpler mixture. What generally distinguishes the European peoples from one another, therefore, is, from the anthropological standpoint, only the proportions of the mixture of the races in each case.
In all the European peoples the following five races, pure and crossed with one another, are represented:
The Nordic race: tall, long-headed, narrow-faced, with prominent chin; narrow nose with high bridge; soft, smooth or wavy light (golden-fair) hair; deep-sunk light (blue or grey) eyes; rosy-white skin.The Mediterranean race: short, long-headed, narrow-faced, with less prominent chin; narrow nose with high bridge; soft, smooth or curly brown or black hair; deep-sunk brown eyes; brownish skin.The Dinaric race: tall, short-headed, narrow-faced, with a steep back to the head, looking as though it were cut away; very prominent nose, which stands right out, with a high bridge, and at the cartilage sinks downward at its lower part, becoming rather fleshy; curly brown or black hair; deep-sunk brown eyes; brownish skin,The Alpine race: short, short-headed, broad-faced, with chin not prominent; flat, short nose with low bridge; stiff, brown or black hair; brown eyes, standing out; yellowish-brownish skin.The East Baltic race: short, short-headed, broad-faced, with heavy, massive under jaw, chin not prominent, flat, rather broad, short nose with low bridge; stiff, light (ash-blond) hair; light (grey or whitish blue) eyes, standing out; light skin with a grey undertone.1
But how do we come to determine these five races for Europe?
A consideration of the ethnographical map shows remarkable correlations between the bodily characteristics there given. For instance, in England the areas of tallest stature are at the same time those of the lightest colouring; while in the north of France an area of lightest colouring is likewise an area of tallest stature, and at the same time of longest heads. Central and southern France show dark colouring and rather low stature, but the shape of the head varies, growing longer as the Mediterranean and south-west coasts are left; so that we are led to surmise that there are two long-headed races represented in France: a light, tall one in the north, and a dark, low one in the south; while in central France dark colouring, low stature, and brachycephaly are all correlated, and thus suggest a third race. In Germany likewise there is an area in the north-west of tall stature, light colouring, and longish heads, with narrow faces; and in the south-east one with tall stature also, but with dark colouring and rather short heads. In south-west Germany dark colouring points to low stature, short heads, broad faces. These correlations between characteristics are often so strong that when one characteristic increases in a district others increase or decrease in more or less the same proportion. The maps of the Norwegian district of Möre will make this evident (see Maps I-V).
When, however, an ethnographical survey is taken too of individual countries or parts of countries, and the recorded characteristics (stature, shape of head and face, colour of skin, hair, and eyes) are set out in numerical tables, so that attention is directed not towards the local distribution of the population, but towards its grouping on the basis of its characteristics (it being looked on as a racial mixture uniformly distributed throughout its territory) -- when such a survey is taken, correlations among the characteristics are again found. Thus, to take an example, in north-west and west Germany among the taller element light colouring and long heads are found relatively far oftener, while among the shorter element this is the case with dark colouring, just as in the Norwegian district of Möre, and in northern and central France. In south-west Germany, as in the whole area from the eastern Alps as far as Greece, tall stature is the sign for dark colouring, short heads, and also for the characteristically cut-away back of the head, and the bold, outstanding nose. Finally, after a careful consideration of these correlated characteristics, we reach true, unspoilt pictures of the several races making up a given population. Even if members of the races are not to be found in all their purity owing to a long intermingling, the correlations, by making a definite picture of the related characteristics, would show which races have built up the mixed population in question.
Fig. 1 - Dolichocephalic Skull (Index: 72.9)
Fig. 2 - Brachycephalic Skull (Index: 88.3)
Fig. 3 - Narrow Face (Index about 93.5)
Fig. 4 - Broad Face (Index about 83.5)
However, this mingling has not yet gone so far in Europe and other parts of the world that we cannot find more or less clear ocular proof in certain areas of a strong preponderance of one or the other race. North-west Europe, especially Scandinavia, shows a certain homogeneity in its population which strikes even the careless onlooker with its definite combination of bodily characteristics: tall, fair, narrow-faced men and women, with long heads standing out over the nape of the neck. The Austrian Alps show likewise, even to a careless eye, a constantly appearing definite type described ethnographically as the Dinaric race; among Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Albanians, and Montenegrins it is even more striking. Spain and southern Italy show that they are settled by a relatively homogeneous population; and the same is true of North-east Europe, and of many small, mostly mountainous districts in Central Europe. Finally it is from the observation of such relatively homogeneous human groups in definite areas, when anthropology has first of all only determined the most important physical characteristics of each race, that other features, not yet submitted to measurement, are discovered; and the mental behaviour of such a relatively homogeneous human group may yield suggestions as to the psychological constitution of the race concerned.
We cannot here go into the methods of anthropological measurement. Martin's Lehrbuch der Anthropologie (1914), and the section on 'Technik und Methoden der physischen Anthropologie' by Mollison in the volume Anthropologie ('Kultur der Gegenwart,' Teil iii., Abt. v., 1923), may be mentioned here.2 The terms 'long-headed' (or 'dolichocephalic'), 'narrow-faced,' 'short-headed' (or 'brachycephalic'), 'broad-faced,' however, need a short explanation.
A skull is dolichocephalic (long) when its length from front to back (as it is seen from above) is considerably greater than that from side to side; it is brachycephalic (short) when the length from side to side is more nearly or almost equal to the length from front to back, or even (as is sometimes found) actually equal to it.
The greatest length and breadth of the head are measured (in a fixed way and with reference to fixed planes in the skull), and the cross measurement is then expressed as a percentage of the measurement from front to back; the percentage so found is called the Cranial or Cephalic Index.3
If a skull, therefore, is as broad as it is long, it represents very decided brachycephaly with index 100. If the breadth of a skull is 70 per cent. of the length this is said to be dolichocephalic (long) with index 70. An index up to 74.9 is dolichocephalic (long), from 75 to 79.9 it is mesocephalic (middling or medium), from 80 upwards it is brachycephalic (short).
The facial shape is laid down as the proportion between the height of the face and the bizygomatic diameter, the former being reckoned as a percentage of the latter. The height of the face is (speaking approximately) the distance between the bridge of the nose at the level of the ends of the interior hairs of the eyebrows and the lowest (not the foremost) point in the chin. The bizygomatic diameter is the extreme outward distance between the zygomatic arches (cheek-bones). The percentage number thus arrived at is called the (morphological) facial index. Measured on the skull, a facial index up to 84.9 is broad, from 85 to 89.9 it is middling or medium, from 90 upwards it is narrow. Measured on the living head the limits are taken lower (83.9, 84 to 87.9, 88).
A higher cephalic index, therefore, shows a shorter head, a lower one shows a longer head; while a higher facial index shows a narrower, and a lower one shows a broader face.
These definitions are important for the understanding of Maps II, III, VIII, IX, and XIII.
Footnotes for Chapter I
1 In the Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes I give other terms formerly and now used for the European races. The name Nordic comes from Deniker, the Russian anthropologist, as does the name Dinaric (after the Dinaric Alps, an area where this race is very prominent). The name Alpine comes from de Lapouge, Mediterranean from Sergi, East Baltic from Nordenstreng. Pöch, and the Austrian anthropologists who follow him, as also Kraitschek (Rassenkunde, 1923), call the East Baltic race the 'Eastern race' (Ostrasse), after Deniker's name race orientale.
2 There are remarks, too, on methods of measurement in the Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes. Sullivan (Essentials of Anthropometry, New York, 1923) gives a short account of the most important measurements.
3 Measurements made on the living head cannot be at once compared with those made on the skull; they must first be converted. Conversion tables will be found in the author's Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes.