Untermenschen was the Nazi term for inferior races. In the Nazi racial hierarchy, set forth by Hitler, Himmler and several crackpot racial theorists, such as Alfred Rosenberg, Jews were considered to be the lowest race, to be indiscriminately exterminated. After Jews, Slavs were considered the next lowest race; it was the duty of the Germanic peoples to conquer land on which Slavs lived and incorporate it into the Reich. Slavs were to be kept alive only insofar as they could provide manual labor in service to the German Reich; in Nazi racial theory the Slavic peoples were slowly to be worked to death. Within the Slavs, Poles and Ukrainians that had lived under Austria-Hungary were considered superior to eastern Ukrainians and Russians, who were thought to exhibit Asiatic tendencies, due to the fact that they had been conquered by the Mongol hordes centuries previous.

It is important to note that in Nazi racial theory, which can be described as a particularly twisted version of Social Darwinism, it was not only the right, but also the moral duty of the “superior” Aryan people to conquer and destroy the “inferior” populations – and thus ensure the continued development of the human species.