Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß

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Prof. Dr. phil. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß in 1936

Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß (b. 8 February 1892 in Offenburg, Grand Duchy of Baden, German Empire; d. 13 January 1974 in Huppert, Hesse) was a German philosopher, anthropologist, psychologist, Nordicist and race theorist who was influential in the Third Reich. His racial writings and theories gave him some influence, although sources disagree on the extent of this and what his views were. He may even be claimed to be one of the "fathers of Nazi racism", despite that, for example, in an article entitled “Are the Jews an inferior race?” Clauss concluded in 1933 that “There are no inferior races for science.” The leftist Wikipedia, which usually has negative articles on everything remotely "Nazi", unusually has no English article on him, despite his claimed influence. In the postwar period, he was banned from the "denazified" academia, but to some degree continued with research.


Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß was born 1892 in Offenburg in the Taunus region. He grew up in Freiburg, where he also studied philosophy, psychology and English and Scandinavian philology.

He was a student of Jewish philosopher Edmund Husserl and utilized his theory of phenomenology and applied to the study of race psychology, advancing a new theory and practice of the psychological study by observing gestures, movements, facial expressions, etc. to determine racial style (he simultaneously preached a rejection of Liberalism and egalitarianism, which he argued were foreign to the Germanic people). Clauß became a member of several völkisch organizations. He held his first lectures on the psychology of race in 1921-1922. The habilitation thesis of Clauß had stated anti-Jewish criticisms and caused a falling out with Husserl.

Clauss traveled to the Middle East with Margarete Landé from 1927 to 1931 disguised as a nomadic sheik to study the racial-psychological form of the Bedouins, reporting his finds in Als Beduine unter Beduinen. They ostensibly converted to Islam, possibly in order to gain the absolute trust of the Arabs.

In 1933, Clauss became a lecturer at the University of Berlin and also attempted to introduce his version of racial psychology into German education, both at the higher and lower levels. In 1933, he also became a member of the NSDAP and the German Faith Movement. His was only partly successful due to opposition from certain scientists within the NSDAP to his theories (although his work was very popular generally). By 1943 Clauss lost his job and was expelled from the NSDAP due to the fact that he had employed Margarete Landé, a research assistant of partial Jewish descent. His support of her is stated to have helped her survive the war. For this, he was named "Righteous Among the Nations". After his involvement with the NSDAP became known, this was withdrawn.

After the Third Reich fell Clauss continued his work, although he never achieved any significant amount of notice and support.[1]

Clauß's Race Psychology

Ludwig Clauss was particularly well-known among German National Socialists for arguing for the importance of a study of racial psychology and how each race possesses a particular Rassenseele or "Race Soul" (this term is used in a psychological sense by Clauss, not a metaphysical one).[2] [3] The "Race Soul" referred to the particular behavioral style in which certain collective personality characteristics were expressed by someone belonging to a particular race (which is linked with culture). [4]

Unlike most people of his time, Clauss believed that psychological race was separate from physical race, meaning that it was largely independent from genetics. The general theory he held was that psychological race developed over time and once established had enough force to shape the physical race, which is why the two usually corresponded. Using this theory, Clauss argued for the purification of foreign racial psychological influences from the German people through education and character-building; a sort of "re-Nordification" to ensure that Germans would be entirely Nordic, since race is primarily a psychological style and character and not just a physical type (as is evidently a key part of Clauss's thesis). However, this does not mean that Clauss considered physical type unimportant, since he believed that the ideal racial being is one in which psychic racial style would be perfectly congruous with the physical racial style which serves as a medium for these expressions. [5]

However, it is also notable that Clauss insisted that the concept of races being "superior" or "inferior" was false, and that "maybe God knows the hierarchy of races, but we do not." However, Liberal propaganda today claims that Clauss was a "Nordic supremacist," even though he clearly denounced that very position in his works. It is true that in his earlier works Clauss expresses Nordicist views, which also seem to partly infiltrate his later thought as well, but it is more important to realize that he eventually refused to see race in terms of "superior" or "inferior" traits, but rather simply as different psychological styles. [6]

Clauss's most notable works presenting his racial-psychological theory appear to be Rasse und Seele, ("Race and Soul") [7] Rasse und Charakter, ("Race and Character"), [8] and Die Nordische Seele ("The Nordic Soul"), [9] the first two of which are praised by Tomislav Sunic and which, along with other works, also influenced Julius Evola in his concept of a "race of the soul." [10] However, it should also be mentioned that this theory was actually very controversial in (National Socialist) Germany despite its influence and earned Clauss much criticism from other scientists who had more biologistic views. [11]

Quotes from Clauß

  • "From the beginning, the psychology of race clearly teaches us that each race finds ultimate value in itself... In the final analysis it is the only factor that determines racial-spiritual values. Every race bears within itself its own value system and standard of excellence; and no race can be evaluated by the standards of any other race..." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "The goal of science is to find laws that determine the mental and physical shape of each race. Only after the laws of each race are discovered can its inner value system be agreed upon... These value systems can be compared with each other: for instance the inner value system of the Nordic race with the inner value system of the Mediterranean race. Such comparisons are instructive because each thing in the world shows, in a clear fashion, what it is — if one sets it apart from other things that are different. But such value systems cannot be evaluated from a superior standpoint because there is no such standpoint..." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "The racial-psychological factor does not lie in such-and-such a characteristic, but rather in the manner in which these characteristics express themselves with each individual. The Heroism of the Nordic man and that of the Mediterranean man can be equally ‘great,’ yet each looks different, i.e. expresses itself in a different way and with a different gesture..." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "Some people understand this word as if the race (Nordic) can only be found in northern Germany. Both of it is not the meaning of the description 'the Nordic race.' The Nordic race is also a creator and a carrier of the German spirit in southern parts of the German national territory, whereas in other parts of northern Germany – similar to the Scandinavian lands (except for Nordic blood), live also non-Nordic races. A definition, which could be useful in psychology, will acquire the denomination 'Nordic' only when we manage to demonstrate the connection between the Nordic landscape and the lifestyle of that race. A psychologist should denominate races only according to the pattern which the process of his research brings under his eyes. To investigate into the psychology of races means first and foremost to discern the meaning of its bodily form (Gestalt). This meaning, however, can only be understood from its psychological form (Gestalt)." (Rasse und Charakter)
  • "One does not recognize the race of a human being based on the possession of specific characteristics, but rather in the style in which these characteristics are expressed." (Rasse und Charakter)
  • "It is true that Nordic men are capable of making judgments. No one denies that. No one denies, for that matter, that Nordic men occasionally eat, drink and sleep - it only seems doubtful that these characteristics would distinguish them from men of other races." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "One can be a dissipated or criminal person in a Nordic way - we can say without qualms: one can also be a real swine in a Nordic way." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "We have chosen to call a stylistic law that holds sway over the manner in which a given soul experiences things and thereby lends it a specific form [Gestalt], the racial law [Artgesetz] of this soul." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "It is the meaning of the body to be the manifestation of the soul" (Rasse und Seele)
  • "The racially authentic [artrechte] human being is not something that falls from the sky, nor does it grow out of the soil: whatever falls or grows is merely the stuff that must be fashioned by exerting one's 'own' will. Whether a racially authentic human being emerges in all its purity from this naturally-given, indigenous ground is a function of whether its 'own' will is directed at racially authentic values." (Rasse und Charakter)
  • "A one-sided somatological treatment of the doctrine of race would be more harmful than productive; for it could all too easily nourish the weeds of a bleak cognitive materialism and a fatalistic attitude." ("Rassenkunde im Unterricht an Mittelschulen")
  • "The individual human being is not simply determined by racial type; rather, he or she is also shaped by other types. He or she is, for example, also a typcial farmer, at typical man or typical woman, a typical female artist, et cetera. But all of these types, such as social role, are ultimately permeated by the typology of race." ("Der germanische Mensch")
  • "The concept of race as formulated by the natural sciences is no longer sufficient today for grasping the field in its entirety; it proves itself insufficient as soon as we attempt to apply it in the domains of the human sciences. The treatment of the 'racial issue' in the public life suffers greatly from this evil: People recognize vaguely and instinctually that 'race' must also have some meaning in the sphere of intellectual production, but to attain a clearer view they have no other instrument at hand than the concept of race as defined by physical anthropology and biology - that is, as defined by the natural sciences. This concept is just as useless in the realm of the human sciences ... as is a telescope, a microscope, or any other instrument employed in natural-scientific research." ("Rassenkunde im Unterricht an Mittelschulen")
  • "The style of the psyche expresses itself in its arena, the animate body. But in order for this to be possible, this arena itself must be governed by a style, which in turn must stand in a structured relationship to the style of the psyche: all the features of the somatic structure are, as it were, pathways for the expression of the psyche. The racially constituted (that is, stylistically determined) psyche thus acquires a racially constituted animate body [Lieb] in order to express the racially constituted style of its experience in a consummate and pure manner. The psyche's expressive style is inhibited if the style of its body does not conform perfectly with it." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "To say that the psyche 'lives' is to say that it lives in a specific set of surroundings, and these surroundings are part of the psyche just as the psyche is part of these surroundings. The meaning of all sur-roundings [Um-Welt] is precisely to be a world that 'surrounds' a psyche. Psyche and surroundings form an essential unity: the psyche is shaped and trained by the style of its surroundings, and the psyche, in turn, shapes and places the stamp of its racial style on its surroundings. It thus should be clear that the surroundings of a particular psyche are also structured according to a particular style: We call a set of stylistically structured psychic surroundings a landscape." (Rasse und Seele)
  • "It is not possible to discern who is Nordic by examining their hair, but only by studying the attitude of their soul. Anyone who can step outside himself, freely look himself in the face and accomplish something with himself as though this self were an object - such an individual is Nordic in this one decisive trait. Based on this attitude he can shape and conquer himself. Re-Nordification does not begin with people trying to change things in others, rather it begins as the solitary achievement of the individual shaping himself. Only by following the path of solititude can one arrive at Nordic community. Re-Nordification means that every individual must reenact upon himself the act of Nordic conquest through which the German Volk first emerged on German soil." ("Der germanische Mensch")

Written Works

  • Die nordische Seele. Artung. Prägung. Ausdruck (1923)
  • Fremde Schönheit. Eine Betrachtung seelischer Stilgesetze (1928)
  • Rasse und Seele. Eine Einführung in die Gegenwart (1926)
  • Rasse und Seele. Eine Einführung in den Sinn der leiblichen Gestalt (1937)
  • Als Beduine unter Beduine (1931)
  • Die nordische Seele (1932)
  • Die nordische Seele. Eine Einführung in die Rassenseelenkunde (1940)
  • Rassenseelenforschung im täglichen Leben (1934)
  • Vorschule der Rassenkunde auf der Grundlage praktischer Menschenbeobachtung (1934) [in collaboration with Arthur Hoffmann]
  • Rasse und Charakter, Erster Teil : Das lebendige Antlitz (1936)
  • Rasse ist Gestalt (1937)
  • Semiten der Wüste unter sich. Miterlebnisse eines Rassenforschers (1937)
  • Rassenseele und Einzelmensch (1938)
  • König und Kerl (1948)
  • Thuruja (1950)
  • Verhüllte Häupter (1955)
  • Die Wüste frei machen (1956)
  • Flucht in die Wüste (1960-63)
  • Die Seele des Andern. Wege zum Verstehen im Abend- und Morgenland (1958)
  • Die Weltstunde des Islams (1963)

External Links


  1. Richard T. Gray, About Face: German Physiognomic Thought from Lavater to Auschwitz, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004. Gray is a liberal who occasionally makes negative comments about the physiognomic racial theories he discusses and even tries to "disprove" racialist physiognomic theory by proposing the use of inherently anti-racialist physiognomies which he also describes (Gray's egalitarian endeavor is unsuccessful to a highly-educated modern racialist). He also expresses his concern over Clauss's theory, that it is more "insidious" and "ominous" that Gunther's theory because of its more advanced psychological nature; this could signify the theory's usefulness to modern racialism. Gray provides lengthy descriptions of the theories of Clauss which may be used as a tool to study Cluass's racial psychology while ignoring his bias. See Google Books About Face. Another source on Clauss's racial theory in English is Eric Voegelin's Race and State - Collected Works, Vol. 2 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997).
  2. Alfred Rosenberg's concept of Race Soul is both psychological as well as metaphysical (in the religious sense). See also: Spiritual Race.
  3. Other significant figures who argued for the importance of a study of racial psychology were: Fritz Lenz, Hans F.K. Günther, Egon von Eickstedt, and Rudolf Hippius.
  4. Tomislav Sunic, "Ludwig F. Clauss: Racial Style, Racial Character (Part 1)", The Occidental Observer, August 2011, <>. See also Part 2: <>.
  5. Richard Gray, About Face. According to Gray, "What Clauss essentially does is displace the entire conception of race from the domain of content, from issues of physical and psychic substance, into the realm of form: race expresses itself not in the substance of one's body or personality, but rather in the style in which one articulates these psychosomatic givens" (p. 287).
  6. Tomislav Sunic, "Ludwig F. Clauss: Racial Style, Racial Character (Part 1)."
  7. Ludwig F. Clauss. Rasse und Seele. Eine Einführung in die Gegenwart. München: J.F. Lehmann, 1926.
  8. Ludwig F. Clauss. Rasse und Charakter – das lebendige Antlitz. Frankfurt am Main: M. Diesterweg, 1936.
  9. Ludwig F. Clauss, Die Nordische Seele: Eine Einführung in die Rassenseelenkunde. München: J.F. Lehmann, 1932. This book has different editions, in 1923, 1932, and 1940. See also "Racial Soul, Landscape, and World Domination" by Clauss, a translated extract from Die Nordische Seele.
  10. Tomislav Sunic, "Ludwig F. Clauss: Racial Style, Racial Character" (Parts 1 & 2). Also, compare Clauss's racialism with Evola's: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3
  11. Although it is worth noting that despite his "fall from grace" in the later years of the Third Reich, Clauss's racial theories may be considered as having a more secure position and being more reliable than the typical purely materialistic racial theories because they can withstand the arguments of the now-dominant anti-racialist "science" much more efficiently (along with the racial theories of Alfred Rosenberg and Julius Evola).