What did Hitler think of Iran?
December 11, 2009 8:38 PM   Subscribe

My mom seems to be under the opinion that Hitler and Nazi Germany were 'fans' of Persia/Iran, and that one of the reasons the Shah at the time changed the name of the country from Persia to Iran (meaning "Land of the Aryans"), was to appease Hitler. I can't find any evidence to support this claim. Can someone clear this up for me?
posted by tumbleweedjack to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you ask her where she heard this? Sounds like some Glenn Beck nonsense.
posted by chiababe at 8:44 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's rather the other way around - Aryan was the name of a racial group that lived in northern India/Persia, and through various convolutions, detailed in that Wikipedia page, the Nazis appropriated it to refer to Nordic people.

(Which is bizarre, but whatever.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:45 PM on December 11, 2009

(The Wikipedia entry on Iran also says that "Iran" was used to describe a political entity in that area as early as the third century - as near as I can tell, Persia is just what the Greeks called it.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:48 PM on December 11, 2009

The Name of Iran and the Reza Shah wikipedia entries might help you understand the context. They do not explicitly give the reasoning that your mother gives. There were concerns about Reza Shah.
posted by Houstonian at 8:50 PM on December 11, 2009

There's a whole wikipedia article on the name Iran. Persia was a name given to Iran by the Greeks and was seen as a Western name for the country. The change from Persia to Iran was sort of a post-colonial middle finger at a time when Iran was weak but resource rich. If Nazi Germany was a fan of Iran it was merely because they sat atop oil fields.
posted by geoff. at 8:52 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: It looks like your mom shares the opinion of Edwin Black.
posted by Houstonian at 8:56 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: See also the wikipedia entry on German-Iranian relations.
posted by gudrun at 9:02 PM on December 11, 2009

This sounds distinctly like a recapitulation of the notion that the Nazis were particularly enamored of or involved with the occult. As that wikipedia link indicates, and I think history clearly shows, the Nazis were neither much more nor much less influenced by the occult than any other political movement, although of course there were occultists among them.

It is, however, a sort of shadowy version of the true explanation of the origin of the word 'Aryan' as it was applied by the Nazis and others to 'white Europeans;' according to 19th-century ethnography and classical studies (much of which, like most academia, was centered in Germany) the sources of the white Europeans lay in the indo-European races, or Aryans, a few thousand years before. This is roughly true, but there are important advances which have been made in these studies, and it's now clear that the picture is a good deal more complex, so it really doesn't make sense any more to talk about an 'Aryan race.' All the same, though the argument your mother's making - that the Nazis were really into Iran - has a grain of truth, in that they called themselves 'Aryan' because they traced their lineage that way, the Nazis seemed to put more emphasis on the last few hundred years of 'Aryan' culture; I don't know if they had a particular reverence for Iran, but I don't think they did.
posted by koeselitz at 9:09 PM on December 11, 2009

Best answer: Iran wasn't seriously threatened by the Germans during the war. One of the two main supply lines for American Lend-Lease war goods to the USSR was across Iran. (The other was delivery by ship to Arkhangelsk, which was faster but much more perilous.)

If Iranians had wanted to appease Hitler, cutting off that supply line would have been much more effective. Leaving the supply line open and changing the name of the country doesn't seem as if it would appease anyone.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:37 PM on December 11, 2009

Response by poster: chiababe- we're Iranian- I've heard it since I was a child in the 80s. It finally occurred to me to check online.

Sounds like Edwin Beck is the source of that belief- that link is almost verbatim what my mom says! Interesting to read up on the history of Germany and Iran. Thanks.
posted by tumbleweedjack at 11:50 PM on December 11, 2009

On a sidenote, "Iran" means "Aryan", right? And it is said that the Aryans founded the first major civilization in what is now called Iran.

Plus, all that voodoo Olympic torch shit was started by Hitler at the Berlin games - torches, fire cauldrons, etc. The ancient Aryans worshipped the sun, which is where Hitler got his ideas about the Olympic torch from.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:02 AM on December 12, 2009

« Older Gift for a Bossa Nova Guitarist   |   Salary for an expert programmer in Boston? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.