Generalplan Ost

The Generalplan Ost (German pronunciation: [ɡenəˈʁaːlˌplaːn ˈɔst]; English: Master Plan for the East), abbreviated as GPO, was the Nazi German government's plan for the genocide and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and colonization of Central and Eastern Europe. It was to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. The plan was partially realized during the war, resulting directly and indirectly in the deaths of around 9.4 to 11.4 million ethnic Slavs by starvation, disease, ethnic cleansing, mass murder, or extermination through labor, including about 4.5 million Soviet citizens,[1] 2.8 to 3.3 million Soviet POWs,[2]1.8 to 3 million Poles,[3][4][5] 300 to 600 thousand Serbs[6][7] and 20 to 25 thousand Slovenes.[8] Its full implementation, however, was not considered practicable during the major military operations, and was prevented by Germany's defeat.[9][10]

The plan entailed the enslavement, forced displacement, and mass murder of most Slavic peoples (and substantial parts of the Baltic peoples, especially Lithuanians and Latgalians[11]) in Europe along with planned destruction of their nations, whom the "Aryan" Nazis viewed as racially inferior.[12] The program operational guidelines were based on the policy of Lebensraum designed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (drive to the East) ideology of German expansionism. As such, it was intended to be a part of the New Order in Europe.[13]

The master plan was a work in progress. There are four known versions of it, developed as time went on. After the invasion of Poland, the original blueprint for Generalplan Ost (GPO) was discussed by the RKFDV in mid-1940 during the Nazi–Soviet population transfers. The second known version of GPO was procured by the RSHA from Erhard Wetzel in April 1942. The third version was officially dated June 1942. The final settlement master plan for the East came in from the RKFDV on October 29, 1942. However, after the German defeat at Stalingrad planning of the colonization in the East was suspended, and the program was gradually abandoned.[14]

Generalplan Ost
Master Plan for the East
Plan of new German settlement colonies (marked with dots and diamonds), drawn up by the Friedrich Wilhelm University Institute of Agriculture in Berlin, 1942, covering the Baltic states, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Crimea

LocationTerritories controlled by Nazi Germany
TypeGenocide and ethnic cleansing
CauseLebensraum, Heim ins Reich
Patron(s)Adolf Hitler

Development and reconstruction of the plan

The body responsible for the Generalplan Ost was the SS's Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) under Heinrich Himmler, which commissioned the work. The document was revised several times between June 1941 and spring 1942 as the war in the east progressed successfully. It was a strictly confidential proposal whose content was known only to those at the top level of the Nazi hierarchy; it was circulated by RSHA to the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (Ostministerium) in early 1942.[15]

According to testimony of SS-Standartenführer Dr. Hans Ehlich (one of the witnesses before the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials), the original version of the plan was drafted in 1940. As a high official in the RSHA, Ehlich was the man responsible for the drafting of Generalplan Ost along with Dr. Konrad Meyer, Chief of the Planning Office of Himmler's Reich Commission for the Strengthening of Germandom. It had been preceded by the Ostforschung, a number of studies and research projects carried out over several years by various academic centres to provide the necessary facts and figures.[15]

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1974-079-57, Berlin, Ausstellung "Planung und Aufbau im Osten"
Hess and Himmler visit a VoMi display of proposed rural German settlements in the East, March 1941.

The preliminary versions were discussed by Heinrich Himmler and his most trusted colleagues even before the outbreak of war. This was mentioned by SS-Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski during his evidence as a prosecution witness in the trial of officials of the Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA). According to Bach-Zelewski, Himmler stated openly: "It is a question of existence, thus it will be a racial struggle of pitiless severity, in the course of which 20 to 30 million Slavs and Jews will perish through military actions and crises of food supply."[15] A fundamental change in the plan was introduced on June 24, 1941 – two days after the start of Operation Barbarossa – when the 'solution' to the Jewish question ceased to be part of that particular framework gaining a lethal, autonomous priority.[15]

Nearly all the wartime documentation on Generalplan Ost was deliberately destroyed shortly before Germany's defeat in May 1945,[16][17] and the full proposal has never been found, though several documents refer to it or supplement it. Nonetheless, most of the plan's essential elements have been reconstructed from related memos, abstracts and other documents.[18]

A major document which enabled historians to accurately reconstruct the Generalplan Ost was a memorandum released on April 27, 1942, by Erhard Wetzel, director of the NSDAP Office of Racial Policy, entitled "Opinion and thoughts on the master plan for the East of the Reichsführer SS".[19] Wetzel's memorandum was a broad elaboration of the Generalplan Ost proposal.[20][18] It came to light only in 1957.[21]

Adolf Hitler, in his attempt to reassure sceptics, mentioned the world's indifference towards the earlier Armenian Genocide as an argument that possible negative consequences for Germany would be minimal in this case. In subsequent years, his declaration from Berghof has been referred to as Hitler's Armenian quote.[22][23]

Phases of the plan and its implementation

Percentages of ethnic groups to be destroyed and/or deported to Siberia by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas.[24][25][11]
Ethnic group / Nationality Population percent subject to removal
Russians[26][25] 50–60% to be physically eliminated and another 15% to be sent to Western Siberia
Estonians[11][27] almost 50%
Latvians[11] 50%
Czechs[25] 50%
Ukrainians[25] 65%
Belarusians[25] 75%
Poles[25] 20 million, or 80–85%
Lithuanians[11] 85%
Latgalians[11] 100%
Generalplan Ost map.tiff
Europe, with pre-war borders, showing the extension of the Generalplan Ost master plan.
LEGEND: Dark grey – Germany (Deutsches Reich). Dotted black line – the extension of a detailed plan of the "second phase of settlement" (zweite Siedlungsphase). Light grey – planned territorial scope of the Reichskommissariat administrative units; their names in blue are Ostland (1941-1945), Ukraine (1941-1944), Moskowien (never realized), and Kaukasien (never realized).

Generalplan Ost (GPO) (English: Master Plan East) was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Central and Eastern Europe.[28] Implementing it would have necessitated genocide[24] and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale to be undertaken in the European territories occupied by Germany during World War II. It would have included the extermination of most Slavic people in Europe. The plan, prepared in the years 1939-1942, was part of Adolf Hitler's and the Nazi movement's Lebensraum policy and a fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (English: Drive towards the East) ideology of German expansion to the east, both of them part of the larger plan to establish the New Order.

The final version of the Generalplan Ost proposal was divided into two parts; the "Small Plan" (Kleine Planung), which covered actions carried out in the course of the war; and the "Big Plan" (Grosse Planung), which described steps to be taken gradually over a period of 25 to 30 years after the war was won. Both plans entailed the policy of ethnic cleansing.[18][29] As of June 1941, the policy envisaged the deportation of 31 million Slavs to Siberia.[15]

The Generalplan Ost proposal offered various percentages of the conquered or colonized people who were targeted for removal and physical destruction; the net effect of which would be to ensure that the conquered territories would become German. In ten years' time, the plan effectively called for the extermination, expulsion, Germanization or enslavement of most or all East and West Slavs living behind the front lines of East-Central Europe. The "Small Plan" was to be put into practice as the Germans conquered the areas to the east of their pre-war borders. In this way the plan for Poland was drawn up at the end of November 1939 and is probably responsible for much of the World War II expulsion of Poles by Germany (first to colonial district of the General Government and, from 1942 also to Polenlager).[30] After the war, under the "Big Plan", Generalplan Ost foresaw the removal of 45 million non-Germanizable people from Central and Eastern Europe, of whom 31 million were "racially undesirable", 100% of Jews, Poles (85%), Lithuanians (85%) [11][25], Belorussians (75%) and Ukrainians (65%), to West Siberia,[16] and about 14 million were to remain, but were to be treated as slaves.[18] In their place, up to 8-10 million Germans would be settled in an extended "living space" (Lebensraum). Because the number of Germans appeared to be insufficient to populate the vast territories of Central and Eastern Europe, the peoples judged to lie racially between the Germans and the Russians (Mittelschicht), namely, Latvians and even Czechs, were also supposed to be resettled there.[31]

Krychów forced labour camp 1940 (Krowie Bagno)
Prisoners of the Krychów forced labor camp dig irrigation ditches for the new German latifundia of the General Plan East in 1940. Most of them, Polish Jews and some Roma people, were sent to Sobibór extermination camp afterwards.[32]

According to Nazi intentions, attempts at Germanization were to be undertaken only in the case of those foreign nationals in Central and Eastern Europe who could be considered a desirable element for the future Reich from the point of view of its racial theories. The Plan stipulated that there were to be different methods of treating particular nations and even particular groups within them. Attempts were even made to establish the basic criteria to be used in determining whether a given group lent itself to Germanization. These criteria were to be applied more liberally in the case of nations whose racial material (rassische Substanz) and level of cultural development made them more suitable than others for Germanization. The Plan considered that there were a large number of such elements among the Baltic nations. Erhard Wetzel felt that thought should be given to a possible Germanization of the whole of the Estonian nation and a sizable proportion of the Latvians. On the other hand, the Lithuanians seemed less desirable since "they contained too great an admixture of Slav blood." Himmler's view was that "almost the whole of the Lithuanian nation would have to be deported to the East".[25] Himmler is described to even have had a positive attitude towards germanizing the populations of Alsace-Lorraine, border areas of Slovenia (Upper Carniola and Southern Styria) and Bohemia-Moravia, but not Lithuania, claiming its population to be of "inferior race"[33].

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were to be deprived of their statehood, while their territories were to be included in the area of German settlement. This meant that Latvia and especially Lithuania would be covered by the deportation plans, though in a somewhat milder form than the expulsion of Slavs to western Siberia. While the Baltic nations like Estonians would be spared from repressions and physical liquidation (that the Jews and the Poles were experiencing), in the long term the Nazi planners did not foresee their existence as independent entitites and they would be deported as well, with eventual denationalisation; initial designs were for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to be Germanized within 25 years, however Heinrich Himmler revised them to 20 years.[34]

Die 'großzügigste Umsiedlungsaktion' with Poland superimposed, 1939
Nazi propaganda poster of the Third Reich in 1939 (dark grey) after the conquest of Poland. It depicts pockets of German colonists resettling into Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany from Soviet controlled territories during the "Heim ins Reich" action. The outline of Poland (here superimposed in red) was missing from the original poster.[35]

In 1941 it was decided to destroy the Polish nation completely and the German leadership decided that in 15–20 years the Polish state under German occupation was to be fully cleared of any ethnic Poles and settled by German colonists.[36]:32 A majority of them, now deprived of their leaders and most of their intelligentsia (through mass murder, destruction of culture, the ban on education above the absolutely basic level, and kidnapping of children for Germanization), would have to be deported to regions in the East and scattered over as wide an area of Western Siberia as possible. According to the plan this would result in their assimilation by the local populations, which would cause the Poles to vanish as a nation.[31]

According to plan, by 1952 only about 3–4 million 'non-Germanized' Poles (all of them peasants) were to be left residing in the former Poland. Those of them who would still not Germanize were to be forbidden to marry, the existing ban on any medical help to Poles in Germany would be extended, and eventually Poles would cease to exist. Experiments in mass sterilization in concentration camps may also have been intended for use on the populations.[37] The Wehrbauer, or soldier-peasants, would be settled in a fortified line to prevent civilization reanimating beyond the Ural Mountains and threatening Germany.[38] "Tough peasant races" would serve as a bulwark against attack[39] — however, it was not very far east of the "frontier" that the westernmost reaches within continental Asia of the Third Reich's major Axis partner, Imperial Japan's own Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere would have existed, had a complete defeat of the Soviet Union occurred.

The seizure of food supplies in Ukraine brought about starvation, as it was intended to do to depopulate that region for German settlement.[40] Soldiers were told to steel their hearts against starving women and children, because every bit of food given to them was stolen from the German people, endangering their nourishment.[41]

Piaśnica before execution
Execution of Polish intelligentsia during the mass murders in Piaśnica

Widely varying policies were envisioned by the creators of Generalplan Ost, and some of them were actually implemented by Germany in regards to the different Slavic territories and ethnic groups. For example, by August–September 1939 (Operation Tannenberg followed by the A-B Aktion in 1940), Einsatzgruppen death squads and concentration camps had been employed to deal with the Polish elite, while the small number of Czech intelligentsia were allowed to emigrate overseas. Parts of Poland were annexed by Germany early in the war (leaving aside the rump German-controlled General Government and the areas previously annexed by the Soviet Union), while the other territories were officially occupied by or allied to Germany (for example, the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia became a theoretically independent puppet state, while the ethnic-Czech parts of the Czech lands (so excluding the Sudetenland) became a "protectorate"). It is unknown to what degree the plan was actually directly connected to the various German war crimes and crimes against humanity in the East, especially in the latter phases of the war. In any case, the majority of Germany's 12 million forced laborers were abducted from Eastern Europe, mostly in the Soviet territories and Poland (both Slavs and local Jews).

One of the charges listed in the indictment presented at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer responsible for the transportation aspects of the Final Solution, was that he was responsible for the deportation of 500,000 Poles. Eichmann was convicted on all 15 counts.[42]

Civilian death toll in the Soviet Union

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1970-043-52, Russland, bei Minsk, tote Zivilisten
Mass murder of Soviet civilians near Minsk, 1943

The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission formed in World War II in order to investigate the Nazi crimes,[43] which was tasked also with compensating the state for damages suffered by the USSR,[44] reported 8.2 million Soviet civilian war dead,[45] (4.0 million in Ukraine; 2.5 million in Belarus; and 1.7 million in Russia) as the result of German occupation. These figures have been disputed outside of Russia. Some reports prepared by the Commission are now considered outright fabrications, such as the shifting of blame for the Katyn massacre perpetrated by the Soviet authorities themselves.[46][47] The losses were for the entire territory of the USSR in 1946 to 1991 borders, including territories occupied by the Red Army in 1939–1940. The commission reported figures of 2.4 million civilian losses in annexed lands included citizens of prewar Poland along with inhabitants of other states [48] occupied by the Soviet Union.[49] The overall statistics included Russian victims of Stalinist terror as well.[50][51]

Bundesarchiv Bild 192-208, KZ Mauthausen, Sowjetische Kriegsgefangene
In eight months of 1941-42, the Germans killed an estimated 2.8 million Soviet POWs through deliberate starvation, exposure, and summary execution.[52]

The Russian Academy of Sciences in 1995 estimated that the World War II casualties of the Soviet Union included 13.7 million civilian dead, 20% of the 68 million persons in the occupied USSR.This included 7.4 million victims of Nazi policies and reprisals; 2.2 million deaths of persons deported to Germany for forced labor; and 4.1 million famine and disease deaths in occupied territory. To support these figures, they cited sources published in the Soviet era based on the work of the Extraordinary State Commission, there were an additional estimated 3 million famine deaths in areas of the USSR not under German occupation. These figures are cited in the official publications of the Russian government [53] This was disputed by the Russian historian Viktor Zemskov who maintained that the government's estimate for the civilian war dead is overstated because it includes about 7 million deaths resulting from natural causes, based on the mortality rate that prevailed before the war, and that reported civilian deaths in the occupied regions included persons who were evacuated to the rear areas. He submitted an estimate of 4.5 million civilians who were Nazi victims or were killed in the occupied zone and 4 million deaths due to the deterioration in living conditions.[54]

Timothy D. Snyder maintains that there were 4.2 million victims of the German Hunger Plan in the Soviet Union, "largely Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians," including 3.1 million Soviet POWs and 1.0 million civilian deaths in the Siege of Leningrad.[55] According to Snyder, Hitler intended eventually to exterminate up to 45 million Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Czechs by planned famine as part of Generalplan Ost.[56]

See also


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  3. ^ "Polish Resistance and Conclusions — United States Holocaust Memorial Museum". Retrieved 2018-12-31. Documentation remains fragmentary, but today scholars of independent Poland believe that 1.8 to 1.9 million Polish civilians (non-Jews) were victims of German Occupation policies and the war. This approximate total includes Poles killed in executions or who died in prisons, forced labor, and concentration camps. It also includes an estimated 225,000 civilian victims of the 1944 Warsaw uprising, more than 50,000 civilians who died during the 1939 invasion and siege of Warsaw, and a relatively small but unknown number of civilians killed during the Allies' military campaign of 1944—45 to liberate Poland.
  4. ^ "Project InPosterum: Poland WWII Casualties". Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  5. ^ Łuczak, Czesław. "Szanse i trudności bilansu demograficznego Polski w latach 1939–1945", Dzieje Najnowsze, issue 1994/2.
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  8. ^ The number of Slovenes estimated to have died as a result of the Nazi occupation (not including those killed by Slovene collaboration forces and other Nazi allies) is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 people. This number only includes civilians: Slovene partisan POWs who died and resistance fighters killed in action are not included (their number is estimated at 27,000). These numbers however include only Slovenes from present-day Slovenia: it does not include Carinthian Slovene victims, nor Slovene victims from areas in present-day Italy and Croatia. These numbers are result of a 10-year-long research by the Institute for Contemporary History (Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino) from Ljubljana, Slovenia. The partial results of the research have been released in 2008 in the volume Žrtve vojne in revolucije v Sloveniji (Ljubljana: Institute for Contemporary History, 2008), and officially presented at the Slovenian National Council ([1]
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  30. ^ Tomaszewski, Irene; Werbowski, Tecia (2010). Code Name Żegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942–1945. ABC-CLIO. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-313-38391-5. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
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  40. ^ Berkhoff (2004), p. 45.
  41. ^ Berkhoff (2004), p. 166.
  42. ^ Korbonski, Stefan (1981). The Polish Underground State: A Guide to the Underground, 1939-1945. Hippocrene Books. pp. 120, 137–8. ISBN 978-088254517-2.
  43. ^ Berenbaum (1990).
  44. ^ Akinsha, Konstantin; Kozlov, Grigorii (2007). "April 1991 Spoils of War: The Soviet Union's Hidden Art Treasures". ArtNews.
  45. ^ Kumanev, Georgily A. The German occupation regime on occupied territory in the USSR. In Berenbaum (1990), p. 140.
  46. ^ Fischer, Benjamin B. (2008). "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field". CIA. Retrieved 10 December 2005.
  47. ^ Cienciala, Anna M.; Materski, Wojciech (2007). Katyn: a crime without punishment. Yale University Press. pp. 226–9. ISBN 978-0-300-10851-4.
  48. ^ Жертвы двух диктатур. Остарбайтеры и военнопленные в Третьем Рейхе и их репатриация. – М.: Ваш выбор ЦИРЗ, 1996, pp. 735-8. [Victims of Two Dictatorships. Ostarbeiters and POW in Third Reich and Their Repatriation] (in Russian). Quote: "2,411,430 in annexed territories including (1,538,544 from Poland: Stanislav 223,920; Volyn 65,440; Lviv/Lwow 475,435; Rovno 175,133; Ternopol 172,357; Lutsk 117,549; Brest 159,526, Horodna 111,203; and Polesskya 37,981) Lithuania: including Vilnius/Wilno 436,535; Latvia: 313,798; Estonia: 61,307; and Moldova: 61,246.".
  49. ^ Жертвы двух диктатур. Остарбайтеры и военнопленные в Третьем Рейхе и их репатриация. – М.: Ваш выбор ЦИРЗ, 1996, pp. 735-8. [Victims of Two Dictatorships. Ostarbeiters and POW in Third Reich and Their Repatriation] (in Russian). Quote: "2,411,430 in annexed territories including (1,538,544 from Poland: Stanislav 223,920; Volyn 65,440; Lviv/Lwow 475,435; Rovno 175,133; Ternopol 172,357; Lutsk 117,549; Brest 159,526, Horodna 111,203; and Polesskya 37,981) Lithuania: including Vilnius/Wilno 436,535; Latvia: 313,798; Estonia: 61,307; and Moldova: 61,246."
  50. ^ Davies, Norman (2012). Boże igrzysko [God's Playground]. 2 (Polish ed.). Otwarte. p. 956. ISBN 978-8324015566. To, co robili Sowieci, było szczególnie mylące. Same liczby były całkowicie wiarygodne, ale pozbawione komentarza, sprytnie ukrywały fakt, że ofiary w przeważającej liczbie nie były Rosjanami, że owe miliony obejmowały ofiary nie tylko Hitlera, ale i Stalina, oraz że wśród ludności cywilnej największe grupy stanowili Ukraińcy, Polacy, Białorusini i Żydzi. Translation: The Soviet methods were particularly misleading. The numbers were correct, but the victims were overwhelmingly not Russian, and came from either one of the two regimes.
  51. ^ Wegner, Bernd (1997). From peace to war: Germany, Soviet Russia, and the world, 1939–1941. Berghahn. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-57181-882-9.
  52. ^ Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners (p. 290) — "2.8 million young, healthy Soviet POWs" killed by the Germans, "mainly by starvation ... in less than eight months" of 1941–42, before "the decimation of Soviet POWs ... was stopped" and the Germans "began to use them as laborers".
  53. ^ Russian Academy (1995).
  54. ^ Zemskov, Viktor N. (2012). "О масштабах людских потерь CCCР в Великой Отечественной Войне" [The extent of human losses USSR in the Great Patriotic War]. Military Historical Archive (Военно-исторический архив) (in Russian). 9: 59–71 – via Demoskop Weehly vol. 559-560 (2013).
  55. ^ Snyder (2010), Bloodlands,p. 411. Snyder states "4.2 million Soviet citizens starved by the German occupiers"
  56. ^ Snyder (2010), Bloodlands, p. 160


Primary source

Further reading

  • Bakoubayi Billy, Jonas: Musterkolonie des Rassenstaats: Togo in der kolonialpolitischen Propaganda und Planung Deutschlands 1919-1943, J.H.Röll-Verlag, Dettelbach 2011, ISBN 978-3-89754-377-5. (in German)
  • Eichholtz, Dietrich. "Der Generalplan Ost." Über eine Ausgeburt imperialistischer Denkart und Politik, Jahrbuch für Geschichte, Volume 26, 1982. (in German)
  • Heiber, Helmut. "Der Generalplan Ost." Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 3, 1958. (in German)
  • Kamenetsky, Ihor (1961). Secret Nazi Plans for Eastern Europe: A Study of Lebensraum Policies. New York City: Bookman Associates.
  • Madajczyk, Czesław. Die Okkupationspolitik Nazideutschlands in Polen 1939-1945, Cologne, 1988. OCLC 473808120 (in German)
  • Madajczyk, Czesław. Generalny Plan Wschodni: Zbiór dokumentów, Główna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Warszawa, 1990. OCLC 24945260 (in Polish)
  • Roth, Karl-Heinz, "Erster Generalplan Ost." (April/May 1940) von Konrad Meyer, Dokumentationsstelle zur NS-Sozialpolitik, Mittelungen, Volume 1, 1985. (in German)
  • Szcześniak, Andrzej Leszek. Plan Zagłady Słowian. Generalplan Ost, Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, Radom, 2001. ISBN 8388822039 OCLC 54611513 (in Polish)
  • Wildt, Michael. "The Spirit of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA)." Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions (2005) 6#3 pp. 333–349. Full article available with purchase.

External links

Anti-Slavic sentiment

Anti-Slavism, also known as Slavophobia, a form of racism, refers to various negative attitudes towards Slavic peoples, the most common manifestation being claims of inferiority of Slavic nations with respect to other ethnic groups, though most notably the Germanic peoples and Italian people. Slavophilia is a sentiment that celebrates Slavonic cultures or peoples, and has sometimes taken on supremacist or nationalist leanings, but can also refer to an animus of appreciation, love for, or gratitude for Slavic peoples or culture. Anti-Slavism reached its highest peak during World War II, when Nazi Germany declared Slavs, especially neighboring Poles to be subhuman and planned to exterminate the majority of Slavic people. The persecution and systemic extermination of Slavonic persons in World War II for purely ethnic reasons has routinely been under-reported. Partly due to inability to differentiate political and resistance prisoners from those rounded up along the same lines as the Jews, and partly resulting from an anti-Communist sentiment of the West, the tendency of Western scholarship has been to downplay ethnic prejudice toward Slavic people and focus instead on Anti-Semitism, clearly the more profoundly emphasized German prejudice. Under the Generalplan Ost, an extermination plan written by the Nazis in 1941, approx. 31 of 45 million people of Eastern Europe of Slavonic heritage were to be executed or starved en mass through forced march into Siberia.

Expulsion of Poles by Germany

The Expulsion of Poles by Germany was a prolonged anti-Polish campaign of ethnic cleansing by violent and terror-inspiring means lasting nearly half a century. It began with the concept of Pan-Germanism developed in the early 19th century and culminated in the racial policy of Nazi Germany that asserted the superiority of the Aryan race. The removal of Poles by Germany stemmed from historic ideas of expansionist nationalism. It was implemented at different levels and different stages by successive German governments. It ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.The partitions of Poland had ended the existence of a sovereign Polish state in the 18th century. With the rise of German nationalism in mid 19th century, Poles faced increasing discrimination on formerly Polish lands. The first mass deportation of 30,000 Poles from territories controlled by the German Empire took place in 1885. While the ideas of expelling Poles can be found in German political discourse of the 19th century, these ideas matured into nascent plans advocated by German politicians during the First World War, which called for the removal of the Polish population from Polish territories first annexed by the Russian Empire during partitions and then by Germany. Before and after the 1939 invasion of Poland the Nazis exploited these ideas when creating their Lebensraum concept of territorial aggression. Large-scale expulsions of Poles occurred during World War II, when Nazi Germany started the Generalplan Ost campaign of ethnic cleansing in all Polish areas occupied by, and formally annexed to Nazi Germany. Although the Nazis were not able to fully implement Generalplan Ost due to the war's turn, up to 2 million Poles were affected by wartime expulsions with additional millions displaced or killed.

Gau Hamburg

The Gau Hamburg was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 in the German city of Hamburg. Before that, from 1925 to 1933, it was the regional subdivision of the Nazi Party in that area.

Gau Schleswig-Holstein

The Gau Schleswig-Holstein was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 in the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein, the Free City of Lübeck and parts of the Free State of Oldenburg. Before that, from 1926 to 1933, it was the regional subdivision of the Nazi Party in that area.

German occupation of Latvia during World War II

The occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany was completed on July 10, 1941 by Germany's armed forces. Latvia became a part of Nazi Germany's Reichskommissariat Ostland—the Province General of Latvia (German: Generalbezirk Lettland). Anyone not racially acceptable or who opposed the German occupation, as well as those who had cooperated with the Soviet Union, were killed or sent to concentration camps in accordance with the Nazi Generalplan Ost.

Hinrich Lohse

Hinrich Lohse (2 September 1896 – 25 February 1964) was a Nazi German politician and a convicted war criminal, best known for his rule of the Baltic states during World War II.

Hunger Plan

The Hunger Plan (German: der Hungerplan; der Backe-Plan) was a plan developed by Nazi Germany during World War II to seize food from the Soviet Union and give it to German soldiers and civilians; the plan entailed the death by starvation of millions of "racially inferior" Slavs following Operation Barbarossa, the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union (see Generalplan Ost). The premise behind the Hunger Plan was that Germany was not self-sufficient in food supplies, and to sustain the war and keep up the domestic morale it needed to obtain the food from conquered lands at any cost. It was an engineered famine, planned and implemented as an act of policy. This plan was developed during the planning phase for the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) invasion and provided for diverting of the Ukrainian food stuffs away from central and northern Russia and redirecting them for the benefit of the invading army and the population in Germany. The plan resulted in the deaths of millions of people. The plan as a means of mass murder was outlined in several documents, including one that became known as Göring's Green Folder, which quoted a number of "20 to 30 million" expected Russian deaths from "military actions and crises of food supply."


Intelligenzaktion (German pronunciation: [ɪntɛliˈɡɛnt͡s.akˌt͡sjoːn], Intelligentsia action) was a secret mass murder conducted by Nazi Germany against the Polish intelligentsia (teachers, priests, physicians, et al.) early in the Second World War (1939–45). The operations were conducted to realise the Germanization of the western regions of occupied Poland, before territorial annexation to the German Reich.

The mass murder operations of Intelligenzaktion killed 100,000 Polish people; by way of forced disappearance, the Nazis imprisoned and killed selected citizens of Polish society, identified before the war as enemies of the Reich; they were buried in mass graves at remote places. To facilitate the depopulation of Poland, the Nazis terrorised the general populace with the public, summary executions of selected intellectuals and community leaders, before effecting the expulsions of the general population from occupied Poland. The executioners of the Einsatzgruppen death squads and the local Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz, the German-minority militia, believed, or claimed, that their police-work was meant to eliminate politically dangerous people from Polish society.The Intelligenzaktion was a major step to implementing Sonderaktion Tannenberg (Operation Tannenberg), the installation of Nazi policemen and functionaries — from the SiPo (composed of the Kripo and Gestapo), and the SD — to manage the occupation and facilitate the realisation of Generalplan Ost, the German colonization of Poland. Among the 100,000 people killed in the Intelligenzaktion operations, approximately 61,000 were of the Polish intelligentsia, whom the Nazis identified as political targets in the Special Prosecution Book-Poland, compiled before the war began in September 1939. The Intelligenzaktion occurred soon after the German invasion of Poland (1 September 1939), and lasted from the autumn of 1939 until the spring of 1940; the mass murder of the Polish intellectuals continued with the operations of German AB-Aktion operation in Poland.

Intelligenzaktion Pommern

The Intelligenzaktion Pommern was a Nazi German operation aimed at the eradication of the Polish intelligentsia in Pomeranian Voivodeship and the surrounding areas at the beginning of World War II. It was part of a larger genocidal Intelligenzaktion, that took place across most of Nazi-occupied western Poland in the course of Operation Tannenberg (Unternehmen Tannenberg), purposed to install Nazi officials from Sipo, Kripo, Gestapo and SD at the helm of a new administrative machine.On the direct orders of Adolf Hitler carried out by Reinhard Heydrich's bureau of Referat Tannenberg along with Heinrich Himmler's SS-RSHA (Main Security Office), Poles from among intelligentsia and elites were rounded up, and executed without any due process by the SS-Einsatzgruppen in dozens of remote locations such as the forest massacres in Piaśnica and the cavernous Valley of Death. Starting right after the invasion in September 1939, with a second wave in the spring of 1940, these actions were an early measure of the German Generalplan Ost colonization.

Konrad Meyer

Konrad Meyer-Hetling (15 May 1901 – 25 April 1973) was a German agronomist and SS-Oberführer. He is best known for his involvement in the development of Generalplan Ost.

Operation Tannenberg

Operation Tannenberg (German: Unternehmen Tannenberg) was a codename for one of the extermination actions by Nazi Germany that was directed at the Poles during the opening stages of World War II in Europe, as part of the Generalplan Ost for the German colonization of the East. The shootings were conducted with the use of a proscription list (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen), compiled by the Gestapo in the span of two years before the 1939 invasion.The top secret lists identified more than 61,000 members of the Polish elite: activists, intelligentsia, scholars, clergy, actors, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or shot. Members of the German minority living in Poland assisted in preparing the lists. It is estimated that up to 20,000 Germans living in Poland belonged to organizations involved in various forms of subversion.Operation Tannenberg was closely followed by the Intelligenzaktion, a second phase of the Unternehmen Tannenberg directed by Heydrich's Sonderreferat from Berlin. It lasted until January 1940. In Pomerania alone, 36,000–42,000 Poles, including children, were killed before the end of 1939.


Ostforschung (German: [ˈʔɔstˌfɔʁʃʊŋ], "research on the east") is a German term dating from the 18th century for the study of the areas to the east of the core German-speaking region.

Traditional Ostforschung has fallen into disrepute with modern German historians as it often reflected Western European prejudices of the time towards Poles. The term Ostforschung itself remained in use in the names of some journals and institutes throughout the Cold War, but was replaced by more specific terms by the 1990s (e.g., the journal Zeitschrift für Ostforschung, established in 1952, was renamed Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung in 1994).

Since the 1990s, Ostforschung itself has become a subject of historical research.

Ostforschung was also the name of a multidisciplinary organization set up before World War II by Nazi German chief propagandist Albert Brackmann supporting Nazi genocidal policies, ethnic cleansing and anti-semitism. Brackmann and several other Nazi and nationalist historians and anthropologists co-ordinated Nazi German research on Eastern Europe, mainly the Second Polish Republic. The research conducted by this organisation, as well as the Ahnenerbe, was instrumental in planning of ethnic cleansing and genocide of local non-German populations in Generalplan Ost.

Reichskommissariat Ostland

Nazi Germany established the Reichskommissariat Ostland (RKO) in 1941 as the civilian occupation regime in the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), the northeastern part of Poland and the west part of the Belarusian SSR during World War II. It was also known initially as Reichskommissariat Baltenland ("Baltic Land").

The political organization for this territory – after an initial period of military administration before its establishment – was that of a German civilian administration, nominally under the authority of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories (German: Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete) led by Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, but actually controlled by the Nazi official Hinrich Lohse, its appointed Reichskommissar.

Germany's main political objectives for the Reichskommissariat, as laid out by the Ministry within the framework of National Socialist policies for the east established by Adolf Hitler, included the complete annihilation of the Jewish population, as well as the Lebensraum settlement of ethnic Germans along with the expulsion of some of the native population and the Germanization of the rest of the populace. These policies applied not only to the Reichskommissariat Ostland but also to other German-occupied Soviet territories. Through the use of Einsatzgruppen A and B with active participation of local auxiliary forces over a million Jews were killed in the Reichskommissariat Ostland. The Germanization policies, built on the foundations of the Generalplan Ost, would later be carried through by a series of special edicts and guiding principles for the general settlement plans for the Ostland.Throughout 1943 and 1944 the Red Army gradually recaptured most of the territory in their advance on Germany, but Wehrmacht forces held out in the Courland pocket. With the end of the war in Europe and the defeat of Germany in 1945, the Reichskommissariat ceased to exist.

Ostland should not be confused with Ober Ost, which had a similar role as an occupation authority for Baltic territories conquered by the German Empire in World War I.

Rudolf Batz

Rudolf Batz (10 November 1903 – 8 February 1961) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. From 1 July to 4 November 1941 he was the leader of Einsatzkommando 2 and as such was responsible for the mass murder of Jews and others in the Baltic states.

Schieder commission

Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe is the abridged English translation of a multi-volume publication that was created by a commission of West German historians between 1951 and 1961

to document the population transfer of Germans from East-Central Europe that had occurred after World War II. Created by the Federal Ministry for Displaced Persons, Refugees and War Victims, the commission headed by Theodor Schieder (thus known as the Schieder commission) consisted primarily of well-known historians, however with a Nazi past. Therefore, while in the immediate post war period the commission was regarded as composed of very accomplished historians; later, the assessment of its members, changed. Subsequently, the modern historians are debating to what degree the findings of the commission can be seen as reliable, and to what degree they were influenced by Nazi and nationalist point of view.

Motivated by the Lebensraum ideology, some of the historians themselves had played an active role in these war crimes. Due to its relative frankness, the final summary volume was suppressed for political reasons and was never finished.

Special Prosecution Book-Poland

Special Prosecution Book-Poland (German: Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen, Polish: Specjalna księga Polaków ściganych listem gończym) was the proscription list prepared by the Germans immediately before the onset of war, that identified more than 61,000 members of Polish elites: activists, intelligentsia, scholars, actors, former officers, and prominent others, who were to be interned or shot on the spot upon their identification following the invasion.

The Holocaust in Ukraine

The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in Reichskommissariat Ukraine during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany in World War II. Between 1941 and 1944 more than a million Jews living in Ukrainian SSR were murdered as part of Generalplan Ost and the Final Solution extermination policies.

According to Yale historian Timothy D. Snyder, "the Holocaust is integrally and organically connected to the Vernichtungskrieg, to the war in 1941, and is organically and integrally connected to the attempt to conquer Ukraine."


Untermensch (German pronunciation: [ˈʔʊntɐˌmɛnʃ], underman, sub-man, subhuman; plural: Untermenschen) is a term that became infamous when the Nazis used it to describe non-Aryan "inferior people" often referred to as "the masses from the East", that is Jews, Roma, and Slavs – mainly Poles, Serbs, and later also Russians. The term was also applied to Blacks, Mulattos and Finn-Asian. Jewish people were to be exterminated in the Holocaust, along with the Polish and Romani people, and the physically and mentally disabled. According to the Generalplan Ost, the Slavic population of East-Central Europe was to be reduced in part through mass murder in the Holocaust, with a majority expelled to Asia and used as slave labor in the Reich. These concepts were an important part of the Nazi racial policy.

Zamość uprising

The Zamość uprising comprised World War II partisan operations, 1942–1944, by the Polish resistance (primarily the Home Army and Peasant Battalions) against Germany's Generalplan-Ost forced expulsion of Poles from the Zamość region (Zamojszczyzna) and the region's colonization by German settlers.The Polish defense of the Zamość region was one of Poland's largest resistance operations of World War II.

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