First coined in the late 19th century, the term Aryan was originally used to denote people of Western Asian and European descent. However, by the time Hitler came to power, the Nazis perceived the Aryans as a solely European master race – with the Germans representing the purest of them all.
According to Nazi propagandists, the Germanic Aryans were of Nordic descent, typically with blonde hair and blue eyes. Crucially, they believed that other races – such as those of Jewish and Slavic origins – were somehow diluting the pure Aryan bloodline.
Determined to protect what they perceived to be the purity of the Aryan race, the Nazis embarked on a systematic slaughter of anyone they thought to be inferior. However, they also needed to ensure a plentiful supply of “pure” Aryans to replace them.