Chapter III



THE descriptions that have been given1 by observers from various countries of the psychology of the Nordic race agree very well together; anthropological investigations on height, the shape of the head, and of the face, and so forth in relation to calling, and school performance, and on the bodily attributes of noteworthy men in the various European peoples, the details of which cannot here be gone into, all give a clear picture of the mental characteristics of the Nordic race.


In accordance with this picture we may take judgment, truthfulness, and energy to be the qualities which are always found marking out Nordic man. It is by a certain mastering of his own nature that he comes by his power of judgment and keeps it, standing as a free man over against himself, and still more over against the influence of others. He feels a strong urge towards truth and justice, and shows, therefore, a practical attitude, an attitude of weighing, which often makes him look cool and stiff. He is distinguished by a highly developed sense of reality, which, in combination with an energy that may rise to boldness, urges him on to far-reaching undertakings. Together with this he has a decided sense for competitive achievement, and develops a characteristic passion for the real, while passion in the usual meaning of the rousing of the senses or the heightening of the sexual life has little meaning for him. His inclinations are always towards prudence, reserve, steadfastness, calm judgment. Just as he himself quickly grasps the idea of duty, so he is inclined to demand the fulfilment of duty from those around him, as he does from himself; and in this he easily becomes hard, and even ruthless, although he is never without a certain knightliness. In his intercourse with his fellows he is reserved and individualistic, shows little insight, or at any rate inclination for insight, into the nature of others, but rather a certain lack of knowledge of mankind. This knowledge is much more something he has to win for himself than an inborn endowment. The gift of narrative, with a sense for describing events and landscape and a tendency to roguish humour, is common in the Nordic race. The disinclination to show his feelings often springs in the Nordic man from a remarkable depth of character, which cannot and will not express itself quickly and vividly in word and bearing. This disinclination may become a deep reserve, and then it is generally all the more the sign of a steadfast character, thorough truthworthiness, and a lively sense of honour. Fairness and trustworthiness are peculiarly Nordic virtues. His word once given after reflection he looks on as inviolable.


His imaginative powers are not easily roused, but rather show a calm evenness, while not lacking in boldness, and even extravagance. They lead him not so much into the boundless, as rather out of reality and back again into it. Hence comes the fitness of the Nordic race for statesmanlike achievements. Treitschke has called Lower Saxony 'the land of statesman-like heads,' and Bismarck praises in it 'the striving after the attainable.' Lower Saxony is just that German-speaking district where the Nordic race is most predominant. The sense for reality, the energy, self-reliance, and boldness of the Nordic race are one reason why all the more important statesmen in European history would seem, judging from the portraits, to be predominantly Nordic.


Nordic boldness easily rises in some Nordic men to such heights that they incline to foolhardiness, carelessness of their own good, levity, and prodigality, that strongly developed forethought which is generally to be found in the race becoming less prominent. The Nordic inclination towards a care-free life is also to be seen in the fact that the Nordic man seems to find it absolutely necessary to have times of joyous laziness or untroubled devotion to bodily exercise, wandering, or travelling. Town life, as such, seems to weigh on him far sooner than it does on the men of the other European races (except, perhaps, the Dinaric). The Nordic man (like the Dinaric) has a decided feeling for nature.


The dying out of the Nordic race (to be examined into more closely in Chapters XI and XII) is, however, brought about through the very fact that there is always a stream of Nordic blood flowing from the countryside into the towns, whither the Nordic man has always been, and always will be, led by his lust for competition, for culture, for leadership, and for distinction. The flow of population from the land whose more capable and energetic members rise by way of the middle class into the leading professions, is, judging by the appropriate anthropological investigations, at the same time a flow of the more Nordic element, which thus, along with the upper section of society, often shows a tendency towards a lowered birth-rate.2


Thus it is the very qualifications for leadership in the Nordic race that bring it down in the struggle for existence (for it is the birth-rate only that decides).


In its highest representatives the Nordic race has a certain extravagance, which is, however, generally kept from showing itself outwardly: a yearning towards the sublime and heroic, towards extraordinary deeds and works calling for a life's devotion. In Nordic men there is often to be seen, too, a peculiarly wide range of development in the mental life, taking within its grasp broad fields of action and knowledge; and at the same time a wealth of emotional life, from kindliness to ruthlessness, from otherworldliness to resolute, unswerving action, from the dogmatic to the open mind. All this is characteristic, too, for the women of the race in their highest representatives; this is symbolized by the maidenly, tender Krimhild, who becomes the ruthless avenger of her husband through her pride and wifely duty. It is only in the Nordic race, too, that the various expressions of human nature and striving in sustained activities and ways of life find this sharp definition; so it is with the figures of the statesman, the commander, the man of action, the thinker, the priest, the artist, the husbandman, of the good and the bad alike. All these figures receive the form and features which are peculiarly theirs from a certain characteristic Nordic restlessness, and the need for conquest which drives them on.


It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that it is this Nordic race that has produced so many creative men, that a quite preponderating proportion of the distinguished men in European and North American history show mainly Nordic features, and that in those people with less Nordic blood the creative men always come from a district where there has been, or is, a marked strain of this blood. The creative men of France come, according to Odin's investigations,3 from the districts of greatest height, longest skull, and fairest colouring; while, taking the class from which they spring, 78.5 per cent. are from the nobility, the official class, and the liberal professions with university education -- the classes, that is to say, which in numbers make up only a small part of the nation, but at the same time have relatively the most Nordic blood. An investigation into the prize-winners at the Paris exhibitions of painting proved also that the Nordic race is the richest in creative minds; while Woltmann's researches, Die Germanen und die Renaissance in Italien (1905) and Die Germanen in Frankreich (1907), bear witness to the same thing through the portraits alone. Galton's inquiries show that the Nordic parts of England have produced far more creative men than the less Nordic. The most Nordic district in the British Isles is Scotland, and 'the Scotch yield a particularly large number of the leading and pioneer men in England and the Colonies.'4 If, then, the Nordic race has always been especially rich in creative men, it is no wonder that the peoples with Nordic blood have always gone downwards when this blood has run dry; this will be shown in Chapters VIII to X. Röse has found, as a result of his anthropometrical investigations among German school children, workmen, employees, officers, employers, professors, etc., that 'the Nordic section of the German people is the main source of its spiritual strength.'5 This is true of all peoples with a Nordic strain.


The Nordic race seems to show special aptitude in the domain of military science owing to its warlike spirit, as also in seamanship, and in technical and commercial activities. In science it seems to incline rather to the natural sciences than to the cultural; in the arts it inclines particularly to poetry, music, painting, and drawing. The especially vigorous peasant music of Sweden, and the national interest taken in it, goes to show that the Nordic race is not, as has been assumed, less gifted in this direction, although the musical gifts of the Dinaric race may be more pronounced. Scandinavia, settled by the Nordics, had, as early as the Bronze Age, a musical development standing above that of any other part of Europe; this is shown by the perfection of the lures or bronze horns, mostly found in pairs, which could be used, therefore, two at a time for music in two-part harmony. The Danes and Norwegians assign to the twelfth century the inventors of polyphonic music, on which later (after A.D. 1200) the foundations were laid for the modern music of Europe. North-west Germany, where the Nordic race shows its strongest predominance within the German tribes, has the lowest criminal percentage. The figures for crime rise as we go east and south, that is, in the direction of the lessening of the strain of Nordic blood. In north-west Germany it is dangerous bodily wounding and fraud that are especially rare, in Scandinavia fraud and theft. Ploetz ascribes to the Nordic race 'a greater regard for the neighbour's person and property.'6 In outward appearance one is struck in all classes by the relatively greater personal cleanliness of the predominantly Nordic element, and their delight in bodily exercise. Ammon found in gymnastic associations and the like more Nordic blood always on the average than in the surrounding population. The greater proportion of the more Nordic elements in all open-air callings, particularly among coachmen, is striking.


This race is painted by all observers as passionate and excitable. It has less depth of mind and is easily aroused, and easily reconciled; loves strong, vivid colours, and vivid impressions of all kinds; tends to take a deep, often childish interest in its fellow-men (which must not, however, be long strained); takes great joy in the spoken word and in pleasing and lively movements; and is inclined to find suppleness and craft particularly worthy of interest and praise. With all these qualities the Mediterranean man looks on life with merry eyes more as a play, whereas the Nordic lives it more as a set task. The Mediterranean man is eloquent, often a skilled orator, not seldom he is (at least for the Nordic observer) talkative and somewhat superficial. His spirits are quick to rise, and quick to sink; he is very ready, too, to fall into hot strife, and forgives sooner than the men of other races; and with all this his lively feeling of honour does not forsake him, nor his ready self-expression in word and gesture. The mental energies are all turned rather outwards, in the Nordic man inwards.


The Mediterranean man is not very hard-working, often he is lazy; he likes to enjoy life the more. He is not very drawn to money-making; anyhow, he does not exert himself much over this. He has as little of the Nordic energy as he has of the industry and activity of the Alpine race; hence we have the lower dolichocephaly, that is, the stronger brachycephaly (Hither Asiatic and Alpine) of the upper classes in southern Italy.


The Mediterranean man is very strongly swayed by the sexual life, at least he is not so continent as the Nordic (who need not therefore feel the sexual urge any the less). It is with the sexual that the lively Mediterranean wit makes play (the esprit gaulois shows a great deal of this), and sex is the object of his passionateness, of his feeling for colour schemes in dress, and of his quick rather than deep artistic gifts.


A disposition to cruelty and animal torture, a not unfrequent inclination to Sadism,7 may perhaps stand in relation to the stronger sexuality.


Taking de Lapouge's assertion that it is the spirit of Protestantism which is to be seen in the Nordic man -- a connexion pointed to on the whole by a comparison of the distribution of race and of faith in Europe -- we might say that Protestantism is bound to be something quite foreign to the Mediterranean, with his love of stirring oratory, of gesture, of bright colours, and of show.


The faith of the Mediterranean man is not so deeply rooted in conscience as with the Nordic; it belongs rather to the senses, is an expression of the joy of living and of the goodness of heart so often characterizing him. This goodness of heart shows itself first and foremost in the Mediterranean man in his love (which to the Nordic seems often exaggerated) for his children, and in general in the deep affection of the family life.


In public life the Mediterranean man shows but a slight sense of order and law, and a want of forethought. He is quickly roused to opposition, and is ever wishing for change; the south of France, predominantly Mediterranean, eagerly votes 'radical.' Mediterranean ferment (il voit rouge) stands opposed to Nordic restraint in social life also. Thus there is a tendency to lawless (anarchical) conditions, to secret plotting (Camorra and Maffia in Italy, Sinn Fein in Ireland, some of the features of Italian and French freemasonry), and to an adventurous life of robbery.8


The predominantly Mediterranean south of Italy (with Sicily and Sardinia) is characterized by a higher percentage of deeds of violence and murder; and Niceforo significantly calls a district in Sardinia, where the Mediterranean element is markedly predominant, the criminal district (zona delinquente).


The members of this race are characterized by a rough strength and downrightness, by a peculiar trustworthiness, by a feeling for honour and love of the home, by bravery and a certain self-consciousness.


It is these attributes which in the Great War made those men on both sides who came from predominantly Dinaric districts the best fighters on the south-eastern front. It is the Dinaric blood that makes the difference between the nature of the Bavarian and the North-German, and gives rise to the self-consciousness of South-German and Austrian Alpine districts.


The Dinaric man is characterized by a warm feeling for nature, a strong love of the home, and a spirit of creativeness in fashioning the surroundings to be the ordered expression of himself in houses, implements, customs, and forms of speech. He does not, however, turn his gifts so much to the vaster undertakings, to leadership in the most varied spheres of life, or to restless progress and strenuous competition. He lives more in the present than does the provident, foreseeing Nordic. The boldness of the Dinaric is rather one of bodily achievements; a real spiritual urge to conquest, such as often characterizes Nordic men, seems to be rarer. Characteristic of the Dinaric is an inclination to sudden outbursts, to quick anger, and to combativeness -- characteristics, however, which but stand out from the general level of a disposition that is on the whole good-tempered, cheerful, and friendly. But it is not mere chance that the predominantly Dinaric south-east of the German-speaking area (like the East with its East Baltic strain) is marked by a particularly high percentage of convictions for dangerous bodily wounding, and in general by a relatively high percentage of criminal convictions.


The Dinaric nature has a range of development decidedly narrower in every direction than that of the Nordic. The signs are wanting of any great mental acumen, or of stern determination. The spiritual outlook is narrower, though the will may be as strong. On the whole the Dinaric race represents a stock which is not seldom somewhat uncouth, with a rough cheerfulness, or even wit, and is easily stirred to enthusiasm; it has a gift for coarse repartee and vivid description, showing a decided knowledge of mankind and histrionic powers as a racial endowment. Business capacity, too, seems to be not rare. The gift for music, above all for song, is particularly pronounced. The predominantly Dinaric Alpine district is where German folk-songs most flourish.9 The gift of tongues, too, would seem more frequent in the Dinaric race. The sociableness of this race is a rough and noisy one; as between man and man it is generally sincere and upright. For mental capacity I would put the Dinaric race second among the races of Europe.10


There is likewise remarkable agreement among observers from the most different countries as to the mental equipment of the Alpine race.11


The Alpine man may be called reflective, hard-working, and narrow-minded. The two latter are the qualities which have struck most of those who have had to do with the Alpine, together with reserve, sullenness, mistrust, slowness, and patience when he is dealing with strangers. We have here a type which on the whole shows those very qualities that are generally found in the bourgeois, using this word for a mental outlook, not for a class. The Alpine man is sober, 'practical,' a hard-working small business man, who patiently makes his way by dint of economy (not of enterprise), and not seldom shows considerable skill in acquiring 'culture' and social importance. Since his aims are narrower and he lacks any real boldness in thought or deed, he often gets on better than the more careless, daring, and not seldom unselfish Nordic and Dinaric man. The Alpine man inclines to perseverance and to ease; he is circumspect, and likes to feel that his thoughts and ideas are not different from those of the generality. He 'believes in money' (Garborg), and 'worships uniformity' (de Lapouge). In predominantly Alpine societies the class distinctions have little importance; 'all are equal,' (Arbo), and have a liking for the mediocre and the ordinary, and discourage competition. 'Their inclination towards the democratic theory of equality is grounded in the fact that they themselves never rise above the average, and have a dislike, if not hatred, for greatness which they cannot grasp, (Ammon). Thus everything noble or heroic -- generosity, light-heartedness, open-handedness, broad-mindedness -- are essentially un-Alpine attributes. For this reason the Alpine man feels more at home in everyday, ordinary life.


His mind is turned to what lies near and at hand. This is seen, too, among the more spiritual of the race in a liking for contemplation, for the peaceful, sometimes 'sunny' watching of things near to hand, in a tendency to warm feelings towards those that do not stand out in any way.


In his religious life he shows himself to have warmer, if not deeper, feelings than the men of the other European races. He inclines to a calm piety cultivated in carefully hedged-in groups, a piety, however, which readily takes on a dull, narrow-minded, above all, self-righteous touch. These things, however, are more obvious in the Protestant Church and the sects than in the Catholic Church. De Lapouge attributes to the Alpine man a tendency towards Catholicism.


The Alpine man and his family make up a close, busy, selfish group. All individuality is foreign to him; in political life, too, he inclines to broad mass-organization. But, generally speaking, his outlook does not go beyond the narrower group of the family; it barely takes in his village, and does not include the district or the State. As he is wanting in the qualities of leadership, he must have leaders for his groups and mass-organizations. He is far removed from any warlike inclination, as also from any wish to govern or to lead. As it is his lot to be led, he is generally a quiet follower (although with a tendency to grumble and be envious) with but little love for his country.


Among themselves the Alpines as a rule make up peaceful, reasonable communities, living together mostly in contented comfort; they may become, especially after alcohol, confidential and clinging; when they are in drink (according to Arbo), this over-friendliness may even become offensive. The sexual life among them would seem to be less restrained than among the Nordics, not so fresh and healthy as it generally is among the Dinarics, nor so passionate as among the Mediterraneans, but more practical, as it were, and often more joyless.


With strangers the Alpine man is often mistrustful, uncommunicative, surly, sometimes slow and stubborn; he is seldom free from suspicion, seldom open and downright. In public life he often shows little trustworthiness, and has not a very strong disposition towards the exact fulfilment of his obligations. The Alpine child, too, is far less ingenuous and much quicker to learn from experience, watching others narrowly so as to gain its ends. The Alpine woman is even more given than the man to plodding industry and soulless toil. The Alpines show little or no sense of humour, or of jokes against themselves. 'They think they are being made fools of' (Arbo). There is always a mistrust of the stranger, that easily turns to dislike and hatred. One is struck in predominantly Alpine districts by the heaviness, and often the clumsiness, of the people moving in the streets, and by the greater lack of bodily cleanliness.


In any nation, the Alpine section (which is not that of the leaders, but of the led) will, by its plodding industry, temperance, and thrift, by a certain 'sober, sound common-sense,' most likely make up a peaceful bourgeois element, appearing in every calling and class (decreasing gradually as we go upwards); this is most clearly seen perhaps in the French rentier class, for the narrow, easily satisfied happiness of the rentier after a busy life is an essentially Alpine ideal. Fraud (?), blackmail, and threats would seem to be more frequent in the predominantly Alpine parts of Germany.


To the foreigner the men of the East Baltic race seem at first to be reserved, moody beings, heavy and slow, mistrustful and silent, apparently content to live on little, and ready to spend week after week in dull and dogged toil. Seen nearer, their mental life is found to be far more complicated. The East Baltic man, when his tongue has once been loosened among intimates, can change from his taciturnity to a lively flow of speech and wealth of words. He who seemed to be living so patiently and contentedly reveals a discontent that is never wholly lulled, and may grow to a boundless unrest. Above all, he reveals imaginative powers breaking out in all directions, and ever at work on a welter of images -- imaginative powers that often disclose themselves by the way in which conversation wanders off into vague, ever-changing plans for the future, and the craziest of notions.


The East Baltic man quickly changes to a confused, rambling dreamer, weaving endless tales, and full of plans; he becomes a visionary, and even in the tangle of his imaginative powers his characteristic irresoluteness and lack of any sense of reality can be seen.12 He cannot decide either for good or for evil, and so ends by leaving his surroundings as they were; he shows himself averse from all change, and at last puts everything into 'God's hands,' ending with a dumb belief, a belief very often of unrelieved gloom, in some destiny hanging over him. His disposition being such, particularly with its lack of resolution, the East Baltic man does not come very far even with all his industry, stubborn and determined though it often is. He can bear much suffering, privation, and oppression from those in power; and often shows great steadfastness. But there is a lack of any real creative power. Opposed to all individuality, and always cultivating a dead level of thought for all, the East Baltic man is generally a patient and long-suffering subject. He has a particularly lively sense of patriotism; but needs to be led. Well treated, he is a faithful, often a meek subordinate. To his neighbours he is usually helpful and hospitable; to his kinsfolk he is kind, not so much in word, as in deed; but even in his more intimate moments he never expresses himself decidedly or positively, but always with reservations. When he has to deal with strangers he is inclined to become cunning. He is very revengeful, and when he is after vengeance, he is far-seeing and remarkably crafty. He inclines to brutality in his sexual relations, and, indeed, to brutality in general. The German districts with most East Baltic blood have 'a heavy proportion of crime';13 So it is with East Prussia, Posen, and Silesia, particularly in respect of dangerous bodily injuries, and light and serious theft.

What is particularly striking about the East Baltic man is his quick change of disposition: he may have been in a violent rage with a man a moment before, then comes repentance, and he is ready for a boundless reconciliation, and to give himself up to every kind of self-reproach. He springs in a moment from dejection to unrestrained high spirits, from a dull indifference to fanaticism. After weeks of dreary toil he will often heedlessly squander all that he has earned. His boisterousness may turn to a blind lust of destruction. 'Nihilism' lies deep in the East Baltic soul. He seldom knows how to keep the wealth he has earned; riches make him extravagant and fond of show.

His mind is not capable of quick decision, but with all its slowness it is penetrating. He reads men well, and East Baltic writers generally show themselves to be very good observers of human nature, even though there is always a touch of something confused and vague in their pictures.14 A gift for the histrionic, particularly in the direction of a penetrating play of gesture, is often found in the race. It shows a peculiar gift, too, for music, especially by way of a certain indefinite evanescent world of sound. It has little cleanliness, whether personal or in the home.

To Chapter IV Part One

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Footnotes for Chapter III

1 They are set forth in the Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, Section 12.


2 This is true (according to Bryn's investigations) even for the so predominantly Nordic Norway (see Det nye Nord, vii., 3, Copenhagen, 1925).


3 Odin, La génèse des grands hommes, 1895.


4 Beddoe, 'Die Rassengeschichte der britischen Inseln,' in Polit.-anthrop. Revue, Bd. iii., 1904.


5 Röse, 'Beiträge zur europäischen Rassenkunde,' in Archiv für Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie, Bd. ii. and iii., 1905-6.


6 Ploetz, 'Sozialanthropologie,' in the volume Anthropologie ('Kultur der Gegenwart,' Teil iii. Abt. v., 1923). I myself, like Röse, have been struck in Sweden by how long things can be left without fear out of doors by day and night without being watched, or clothes can be left hanging unwatched in public buildings open to all.


7 Cp. the drawings from French comic papers in Avenarius, Das Bild als Narr, 1917.


8 Daudet in his tale of that name has drawn in the person of 'Monsieur Tartarin de Tarascon' an excellent picture of a Mediterranean man.


9 Many of the great musicians show a more or less strong Dinaric strain; so, for example, the Nordic-Dinaric Haydn, Mozart, Liszt, Wagner, Chopin, Bruckner, Verdi; or the mainly Dinaric Weber, Cornelius, Paganini, Cherubini (?), Tartini, and Berlioz. Nordic creative powers and Dinaric musical gifts often seem to meet in one person, as, too, in Nietzsche's case.


10 In accordance with observations given in chap. xiv. of the Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes.


11 Their statements are set forth in the Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, chap. xv.


12 Signs of a certain confused power of imagination can be seen in the Russian novel, and, above all, in the Finnish poem of the Kalevala.


13 Aschaffenburg, Das Verbrechen und seine Bekämpfung, 1923.


14 This is seen, too, in the Swedish 'Gösta Berlings Saga,' by Selma Lagerlöf, a work whose spirit may be called Nordic-East Baltic.