Ethnic superiority is a funny thing. Not ha-ha funny, but rather a queer sort of temperament, world view and modus operandi. Many nations and, especially in places where the population is largely heterogeneous, extreme nationalism devolves into ethnic superiority.1 Perhaps this ethnic superiority is most infamous in the case of the German Third Reich, wherein there was a state sanctioned ethnic ideal to the exclusion of all others, and ultimately the Final Solution.
In retrospect, and even to those who saw the horrors first hand, there was no excuse for it and the ethnic superiority in this case (and, as should be noted, in the case of Japan during the same period), resulted in among the greatest evils that humans have ever inflicted upon each other. Yet when viewing Germans, the ethnic superiority is something associated with Hitler, something associated with the Nazi regime. This is misleading.
After reading the Dr. Faustus of Thomas Mann, <Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist of Friedrich Nietzsche and most of Mein Kampf, plus a number of works on the German Empire created by Bismark through its end under Wilhelm II, I am struck by the overwhelming arrogance, and surety each of these works contains. While evident in the other works, Nietzsche is the most glaring example of this.
I am not going to analyze the philosophy, if for no other reason than I am tired and not properly suited to relate it back to any audience, however Nietzsche is convinced of his own superiority and that of the German Race. I do not imagine that Nietzsche would have liked the Nazis, let alone Hitler, but it would be interesting to think of what he would have said about him since their ideal ethnicity was one and the same, just as Wilhelm and Hitler shared the ideal of a powerful Germany, for which reason Hitler sent flowers to Wilhelm’s funeral.
By and large it is not that these men simply looked down upon other races or actively scorned them, but there is a seemingly natural underlying assumption that Germans were superior; this is not a moralistic judgment that many of the authors care to explain, it is simply so.
1 Not that ethnic superiority cannot create nationalism in heterogeneous areas and what is to follow could be said to be of this sort; my own view is that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two and I chose to start with nationalism because there is an unswerving loyalty that a nation is capable of creating even in ethnically diverse countries.