Germanisation (also spelled Germanization) is the spread of the German language, people and culture. It was a central plank of German conservative thinking in the 19th and 20th centuries, during a period when conservatism and Ethno-nationalism went hand-in-hand. In linguistics, Germanisation also occurs when a word from the German language is adopted into a foreign language (for this purpose, the German language has a special word Eindeutschung in contrast to the general translation Germanisierung).

Under the policies of states such as the Teutonic Order, Austria, the German Empire, and Nazi Germany, non-Germans were often prohibited from using their native language,[1] and had their traditions and culture suppressed. In addition, colonists and settlers were used to upset the population balance. During the Nazi era Germanisation turned into a policy of ethnic cleansing and later into the genocide of some non-German ethnic groups.


Historically there are different forms and degrees of the expansion of the German language and of elements of German culture. There are examples of complete assimilation into German culture, as happened with the pagan Slavs in the Diocese of Bamberg (Franconia) in the 11th century. An example of the eclectic adoption of German culture is the field of law in Imperial and present-day Japan, which is organised according to the model of the German Empire. Germanisation took place by cultural contact, by political decision of the adopting party, or by force.

In Slavic countries, the term Germanisation is often understood to mean the process of acculturation of Slavic- and Baltic-language speakers – after conquest by or cultural contact with Germans in the early Middle Ages; especially the areas of modern southern Austria and eastern Germany to the line of the Elbe. In East Prussia, forced resettlement of the "Old" or "Baltic" Prussians by the Teutonic Order as well as acculturation by immigrants from various European countries – Poles, French and Germans – contributed to the eventual extinction of the Prussian language in the 17th century. Since the flight and expulsion of Germans from Central and Eastern Europe at the end of and after World War II, however, the process of Germanisation has been stopped or reversed in most of these territories.

Another form of Germanisation is the forceful imposition of German culture, language and people upon non-German people, Slavs in particular.

Historical Germanisation


Limes Saxoniae west border among Obotrites and Saxons

Early Germanisation went along with the Ostsiedlung during the Middle Ages in Hanoverian Wendland, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lusatia, and other areas, formerly inhabited by Slavic tribes – Polabian Slavs such as Obotrites, Veleti and Sorbs. Early forms of Germanisation were recorded by German monks in manuscripts such as Chronicon Slavorum.

The proto-Slovene language was spoken in a much larger territory than modern Slovenia, which included most of the present-day Austrian states of Carinthia and Styria, as well as East Tyrol, the Val Pusteria in South Tyrol, and some parts of Upper and Lower Austria. By the 15th century most of these areas had been gradually Germanised. The northern border of Slovene-speaking territory stabilised on a line from north of Klagenfurt to south of Villach and east of Hermagor in Carinthia, while in Styria it closely followed the current Austrian-Slovenian border. This linguistic border remained almost unchanged until the late 19th century, when a second process of Germanisation took place, mostly in Carinthia.

In Tyrol there was a Germanisation of the Ladino-Romantsch of the Venosta Valley by Austria in the 16th century.

Linguistic influences

The rise of nationalism in the late 18th and 19th centuries in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Pomerania, Lusatia, and Slovenia led to an increased sense of "pride" in national cultures. However, centuries of cultural dominance by the Germans left a German mark on those societies; for instance, the first modern grammar of the Czech language by Josef Dobrovský (1753–1829) – Ausführliches Lehrgebäude der böhmischen Sprach (1809) – was published in German because the Czech language was not used in academic scholarship. From the high Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 German had a strong impact on the Slovene language and many Germanisms are preserved in contemporary colloquial Slovene.

In the German colonies, the policy of imposing German as the official language led to the development of German-based pidgins and German-based creole languages, such as Unserdeutsch.

In the Austrian Empire

Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II (r. 1780–90), a leader influenced by the Enlightenment, sought to centralise control of the empire and to rule it as an enlightened despot.[2] He decreed that German replace Latin as the Empire's official language.[2]

Hungarians perceived Joseph's language reform as German cultural hegemony, and they reacted by insisting on the right to use their own tongue.[2] As a result, Hungarian lesser nobles sparked a renaissance of the Hungarian language and culture.[2] The lesser nobles questioned the loyalty of the magnates, of whom less than half were ethnic Hungarians, and many of these had become French- and German-speaking courtiers.[2] The Hungarian national revival subsequently triggered similar movements among the Slovak, Romanian, Serbian, and Croatian minorities within the Kingdom of Hungary.[2]

In Prussia

Polskie-nazwy śląskich miejscowosci z patentu Fryderyka II 1750
Polish names of Silesian cities in from a Prussian official document published in Berlin in 1750 during the Silesian Wars.[3]

Germanisation in Prussia occurred in several stages. The Old Prussians, originally a Baltic ethnic group, were Germanised by the Teutonic Knights. Germanisation efforts were pursued by Frederick the Great in territories of partitioned Poland. There was an easing of Germanisation policy in the period 1815–30, followed by an intensification of Germanisation and a persecution of Poles in the Grand Duchy of Posen in 1830–41. Germanisation ceased during the period of 1841–49 and restarted during years 1849–70. Bismarck intensified Germanisation during his Kulturkampf against Catholicism and Polish people. There was a slight easing of the persecution of Poles during 1890–94. A continuation and intensification of activity restarted in 1894 and continued until the end of World War I. It was the policy of the Kingdom of Prussia to seek a degree of linguistic and cultural Germanisation, while in Imperial Germany a more intense form of cultural Germanisation was pursued, often with the explicit intention of reducing the influence of other cultures or institutions, such as the Catholic Church.

18th century

Following the partitions of Poland the Germanisation effort previously pursued by Frederick the Great in Silesia was extended to the newly gained Polish territories. The Prussian authorities settled German speaking ethnic groups in these areas. Frederick the Great settled around 300,000 colonists in the eastern provinces of Prussia. He aimed at a removal of the Polish nobility, which he treated with contempt, describing Poles in newly reconquered West Prussia as "slovenly Polish trash"[4] similar to the Iroquois.[5] From the start of Prussian rule Poles were subject to a series of measures against their culture: the Polish language was replaced by German as the official language;[6] most administrative positions were filled by Germans. Poles were portrayed as "backward Slavs" by Prussian officials who wanted to spread German language and culture.[6] The estates of the Polish nobility were confiscated and given to German nobles.[4][6]

Situation in the 19th century

After the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia obtained the Grand Duchy of Posen and Austria remained in possession of Galicia. In May 1815 King Frederick William III issued a manifest to the Poles in Posen:

You also have a Fatherland. [...] You will be incorporated into my monarchy without having to renounce your nationality. [...] You will receive a constitution like the other provinces of my kingdom. Your religion will be upheld. [...] Your language shall be used like the German language in all public affairs and everyone of you with suitable capabilities shall get the opportunity to get an appointment to a public office. [...]

The minister for Education Altenstein stated in 1823:[7]

Concerning the spread of the German language it is most important to get a clear understanding of the aims, whether it should be the aim to promote the understanding of German among Polish-speaking subjects or whether it should be the aim to gradually and slowly Germanise the Poles. According to the judgement of the minister only the first is necessary, advisable and possible, the second is not advisable and not accomplishable. To be good subjects it is desirable for the Poles to understand the language of government. However, it is not necessary for them to give up or postpone their mother language. The possession of two languages shall not be seen as a disadvantage but as a benefit instead because it is usually associated with a higher flexibility of the mind. [..] Religion and language are the highest sanctuaries of a nation and all attitudes and perceptions are founded on them. A government that [...] is indifferent or even hostile against them creates bitterness, debases the nation and generates disloyal subjects.

In the first half of the 19th century, Prussian policy towards Poles was based on discrimination and Germanisation.[8] From 1819 the state gradually reduced the role of the Polish language in schools, with German being introduced in its place. In 1825 August Jacob, a politician hostile to Poles, gained power over the newly created Provincial Educational Collegium in Poznan.[8] Across the Polish territories Polish teachers were removed, German educational programmes were introduced, and primary schooling was aimed at the creation of loyal Prussian citizens.[8]

In 1825 the teacher's seminary in Bydgoszcz was Germanised.[8] Successive policies aimed at the elimination of non-German languages from public life and from academic settings, such as schools. For example, in the course of the second half of the 19th century, the Dutch language, historically spoken in what is now Cleves, Geldern and Emmerich, was banned from schools and the administration and ceased to be spoken in its standardised form by the turn of the century.[9]

Later in the German Empire, Poles, together with Danes, Alsatians, German Catholics and Socialists, were portrayed as "Reichsfeinde" ("foes of the Empire").[10] In 1885 the Prussian Settlement Commission, financed by the national government, was set up to buy land from non-Germans and distribute it to German farmers.[11] From 1908 the committee was entitled to force the landowners to sell the land. Other means of oppression included the Prussian deportations from 1885–1890, in which non-Prussian nationals who lived in Prussia, mostly Poles and Jews, were removed; and a ban issued on the building of houses by non-Germans. (See Drzymała's van.) Germanisation in schools included the abuse of Polish children by Prussian officials. Germanisation stimulated resistance, usually in the form of home schooling and tighter unity in minority groups.

In 1910 Maria Konopnicka responded to the increasing persecution of Polish people by Germans by writing her famous song entitled Rota; it immediately became a national symbol for Poles, with its sentence known to many Poles: The German will not spit in our face, nor will he Germanise our children. An international meeting of socialists held in Brussels in 1902 condemned the Germanisation of Poles in Prussia, calling it "barbarous".[12]

Prussian Lithuanians

Prussian Lithuanians experienced similar policies of Germanisation. Although ethnic Lithuanians had constituted a majority in areas of East Prussia during the 15th and 16th centuries – from the early 16th century it was often referred to as Lithuania Minor – the Lithuanian population shrank in the 18th century. Plague and subsequent immigration from Germany, notably from Salzburg, were the primary factors in this development. Germanisation policies were tightened during the 19th century, but even into the early 20th century the territories north, south and south-west of the Neman River contained a Lithuanian majority.[13]

Polish coal miners in the Ruhr Valley

Due to migration within the German Empire as many as 350,000 ethnic Poles made their way to the Ruhr area in the late 19th century, where they largely worked in the coal and iron industries. German authorities viewed them as a potential danger as a "suspected political and national" element. All Polish workers had special cards and were under constant observation by German authorities. Their citizens' rights were also limited by the state.[14]

In response to these policies, the Polish formed their own organisations to maintain their interests and ethnic identity. The Sokol sports clubs, the workers' union Zjednoczenie Zawodowe Polskie (ZZP), Wiarus Polski (press), and Bank Robotnikow were among the best-known such organisations in the Ruhr. At first the Polish workers, ostracised by their German counterparts, had supported the Catholic centre party.[15] During the early 20th century, their support shifted increasingly towards the social democrats.[16] In 1905 Polish and German workers organised their first common strike.[16] Under the Namensänderungsgesetz[16] (law of changing surnames), a significant number of "Ruhr-Poles" changed their surnames and Christian names to Germanised forms, in order to evade ethnic discrimination. As the Prussian authorities suppressed Catholic services in Polish by Polish priests during the Kulturkampf, the Poles had to rely on German Catholic priests. Increasing intermarriage between Germans and Poles contributed much to the Germanisation of ethnic Poles in the Ruhr area.

During the Weimar Republic, Poles were recognised as a minority in Upper Silesia. The peace treaties after the First World War contained an obligation for Poland to protect its national minorities (Germans, Ukrainians and other), whereas no such clause was introduced by the victors in the Treaty of Versailles for Germany. In 1928 the Minderheitenschulgesetz (minorities school act) regulated the education of minority children in their native tongue.[17] From 1930 onwards Poland and Germany agreed to treat their minorities fairly.[18]

Under the Third Reich

Germanisation in the east


The Nazis considered land to the east – Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia – to be lebensraum and sought to populate it with Germans. Hitler, speaking with generals immediately prior to his chancellorship, declared that people could not be Germanised, only the soil could be.[19]

The policy of Germanisation in the Nazi period carried an explicitly ethno-racial rather than purely nationalist meaning, aiming for the spread of a "biologically superior" Aryan race rather than that of the German nation. This did not mean a total extermination of all people in eastern Europe, as it was regarded as having people of Aryan/Nordic descent, particularly among their leaders.[20] Himmler declared that no drop of German blood would be lost or left behind for an alien race.[21] In Nazi documents even the term "German" can be problematic, since it could be used to refer to people classified as "ethnic Germans" who spoke no German.[22]

Inside Germany propaganda, such the film Heimkehr, depicted these ethnic Germans as persecuted and the use of military force as necessary to protect them.[23] The exploitation of ethnic Germans as forced labour and persecution of them were major themes of the anti-Polish propaganda campaign of 1939, prior to the invasion.[24] The bloody Sunday incident during the invasion was widely exploited as depicting the Poles as murderous towards Germans.[25]

In a top-secret memorandum, "The Treatment of Racial Aliens in the East", dated 25 May 1940, Himmler wrote "We need to divide Poland's different ethnic groups up into as many parts and splinter groups as possible".[26][27] There were two Germanisation actions in occupied Poland realised in this way:

  • The grouping of Polish Gorals ("Highlanders") into the hypothetical Goralenvolk, a project which was ultimately abandoned due to lack of support among the Goral population;
  • The assignment of Pomerelian Kashubians as Deutsche Volksliste, as they were considered capable of assimilation into the German population – several high-ranking Nazis deemed them to be descended from ancient Gothic peoples.[28]

Selection and expulsion

Germanisation began with the classification of people as defined on the Nazi Volksliste.[21] The Germans regarded the holding of active leadership roles as an Aryan trait, whereas a tendency to avoid leadership and a perceived fatalism was associated by many Germans with Slavonic peoples.[29] Adults who were selected for but resisted Germanisation were executed. Such execution was carried out on the grounds that German blood should not support non-Germanic people,[27] and that killing them would deprive foreign nations of superior leaders.[20] The intelligenzaktion was justified, even though these elites were regarded as likely to be of German blood, because such blood enabled them to provide leadership for the fatalistic Slavs.[29] Germanising "racially valuable" elements would prevent any increase in the Polish intelligenstia,[27] as the dynamic leadership would have to come from German blood.[30] In 1940 Hitler made it clear that the Czech intelligentsia and the "mongoloid" types of the Czech population were not to be Germanised.[31]

Under Generalplan Ost, a percentage of Slavs in the conquered territories were to be Germanised. Gauleiters Albert Forster and Arthur Greiser reported to Hitler that 10 percent of the Polish population contained "Germanic blood", and were thus suitable for Germanisation.[32] The Reichskommissars in northern and central Russia reported similar figures.[32] Those unfit for Germanisation were to be expelled from the areas marked out for German settlement. In considering the fate of the individual nations, the architects of the Plan decided that it would be possible to Germanise about 50 percent of the Czechs, 35 percent of the Ukrainians and 25 percent of the Belarusians. The remainder would be deported to western Siberia and other regions. In 1941 it was decided that the Polish nation should be completely destroyed. The German leadership decided that in ten to 20 years, the Polish state under German occupation was to be fully cleared of any ethnic Poles and resettled by German colonists.[33]

Bundesarchiv R 49 Bild-0705, Polen, Herkunft der Umsiedler, Karte
Origin of German colonisers in annexed Polish territories. Was set in action "Heim ins Reich"

In the Baltic States the Nazis initially encouraged the departure of ethnic Germans by the use of propaganda. This included using scare tactics about the Soviet Union, and led to tens of thousands leaving.[34] Those who left were not referred to as "refugees", but were rather described as "answering the call of the Führer".[35] German propaganda films such as The Red Terror[36] and Frisians in Peril[37] depicted the Baltic Germans as deeply persecuted in their native lands. Packed into camps for racial evaluation, they were divided into groups: A, Altreich, who were to be settled in Germany and allowed neither farms nor businesses (to allow close supervision); S Sonderfall, who were used as forced labour; and O Ost-Falle, the best classification, to be settled in the occupied regions and allowed independence.[38] This last group were often given Polish homes where the families had been evicted so quickly that half-eaten meals were on tables and small children had clearly been taken from unmade beds.[39] Members of the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls were assigned the task of overseeing such evictions and ensuring that the Poles left behind most of their belongings for the use of the settlers.[40] The deportation orders required that enough Poles be removed to provide for every settler – that, for instance, if twenty German master bakers were sent, twenty Polish bakeries had to have their owners removed.[41]

Settlement and Germanisation

This colonisation involved 350,000 such Baltic Germans and 1.7 million Poles deemed Germanisable, including between one and two hundred thousand children who had been taken from their parents, and about 400,000 German settlers from the "Old Reich".[42] Nazi authorities feared that these settlers would be tainted by their Polish neighbours and warned them not to let their "foreign and alien" surroundings have an impact on their Germanness. They were also settled in compact communities, which could be easily monitored by the police.[43] Only families classified as "highly valuable" were kept together.[44]

SN zamazávají český název Šumperk
Czech names erased by Sudeten Germans after German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938

For Poles who did not resist and the resettled ethnic Germans, Germanisation began. Militant party members were sent to teach them to be "true Germans".[45] The Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls sent young people for "Eastern Service", which entailed assisting in Germanisation efforts.[46] Germanisation included instruction in the German language, as many spoke only Polish or Russian.[47] Goebbels and other propagandists worked to establish cultural centres and other means to create Volkstum or racial consciousness in the settlers.[48] This was needed to perpetuate their work; only by effective Germanisation could mothers, in particular, create the German home.[49] Goebbels was also the official patron of Deutsches Ordensland or Land of Germanic Order, an organisation to promote Germanisation.[50] These efforts were used in propaganda in Germany, as when NS-Frauen-Warte's cover article was on "Germany is building in the East".[51]


On 6 April 1941 Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers. Part of the Slovene-settled territory was occupied by Nazi Germany. The Gestapo arrived on 16 April 1941 and were followed three days later by SS leader Heinrich Himmler, who inspected Stari Pisker Prison in Celje. On 26 April Adolf Hitler, who encouraged his followers to "make this land German again", visited Maribor. Although the Slovenes had been deemed racially salvageable by the Nazis, the mainly Austrian authorities of the Carinthian and Styrian regions commenced a brutal campaign to destroy them as a nation.

Bundesarchiv Bild 121-0723, Marburg-Drau, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler on the Old Bridge (Stari most) in Maribor, Yugoslavia in 1941, now Slovenia

The Nazis started a policy of violent Germanisation on Slovene territory, attempting to either discourage or entirely suppress the Slovene language. Their main task in Slovenia was the removal of part of population and Germanisation of the rest. Two organisations were instrumental in the Germanisation: the Styrian Homeland Union (Steirisches Heimatbund – HS) and the Carinthian People's Union (Kärtner Volksbund – KV).

In Styria the Germanisation of Slovenes was controlled by SS-Sturmbannführer Franz Steindl. In Carinthia a similar policy was conducted by Wilhelm Schick, the gauleiter's close associate. Public use of the Slovene language was prohibited, geographic and topographic names were changed and all Slovene associations were dissolved. Members of all professional and intellectual groups, including many clergymen, were expelled as they were seen as obstacles to Germanisation. As a reaction, a resistance movement developed. The Germans who wanted to proclaim their formal annexation to the "German Reich" on 1 October 1941, postponed it first because of the installation of the new gauleiter and reichsstatthalter of Carinthia and later they dropped the plan for an undefinite period because of Slovene partisans. Only Meža valley became part of Reichsgau Carinthia. Around 80,000 Slovenes were forcibly deported to Eastern Germany for potential Germanisation or forced labour. The deported Slovenes were taken to several camps in Saxony, where they were forced to work on German farms or in factories run by German industries from 1941–1945. The forced labourers were not always kept in formal concentration camps, but often vacant buildings.

Nazi Germany also began mass expulsions of Slovenes to Serbia and Croatia. The basis for the recognition of Slovenes as German nationals was the decision of the Imperial Ministry for the Interior from 14 April 1942. This was the basis for drafting Slovenes for the service in the German armed forces. The number of Slovenes conscripted to the German military and paramilitary formations has been estimated at 150,000 men and women. Almost a quarter of them lost their lives, mostly on the Eastern Front. An unknown number of "stolen children" were taken to Nazi Germany for Germanisation.[52]


Later Ukraine was targeted for Germanisation. Thirty special SS squads took over villages where ethnic Germans predominated and expelled or shot Jews or Slavs living in them.[53] The Hegewald colony was set up in the Ukraine.[54] Ukrainians were forcibly deported, and ethnic Germans forcibly relocated there.[55] Racial assignment was carried out in a confused manner: the Reich rule was three German grandparents, but some asserted that any person who acted like a German and evinced no "racial concerns" should be eligible.[56]

Plans to eliminate Slavs from Soviet territory to allow German settlement included starvation. Nazi leaders expected that millions would die after they removed food supplies.[55] This was regarded as advantageous by Nazi officials.[57] When Hitler received a report of many well-fed Ukrainian children, he declared that the promotion of contraception and abortion was urgently needed, and neither medical care nor education was to be provided.[58]

Eastern workers

When young women from the East were recruited to work as nannies in Germany, they were required to be suitable for Germanisation, both because they would work with German children, and because they might be sexually exploited.[59] The programme was praised for not only allowing more women to have children as their new domestic servants were able to assist them, but for reclaiming German blood and giving opportunities to the women, who would work in Germany, and might marry there.[60]


Litzmannstadt Ghetto plan
Kinder-KZ inside Litzmannstadt Ghetto map signed with number 15; where Polish children were selected.

"Racially acceptable" children were taken from their families in order to be brought up as Germans.[61] Children were selected for "racially valuable traits" before being shipped to Germany.[27] Many Nazis were astounded at the number of Polish children found to exhibit "Nordic" traits, but assumed that all such children were genuinely German children, who had been Polonised. Hans Frank exhibited such views when he declared, "When we see a blue-eyed child we are surprised that she is speaking Polish."[29] The term used for them was wiedereindeutschungsfähig—meaning capable of being re-Germanised.[62] These might include the children of people executed for resisting Germanisation.[20] If attempts to Germanise them failed, or they were determined to be unfit, they would be killed to eliminate their value to the opponents of the Reich.[27]

In German-occupied Poland, it is estimated that 50,000 to 200,000 children were removed from their families to be Germanised.[63] The Kinder KZ was founded specifically to hold such children. It is estimated that at least 10,000 of them were murdered in the process as they were determined unfit and sent to concentration camps. Only 10–15% returned to their families after the war.[64]

Many children, particularly Polish and Slovenian, declared on being found by Allied forces that they were German.[52] Russian and Ukrainian children had been taught to hate their native countries and did not want to return.[52]

Western Germanisation

In contemporary German usage the process of Germanisation was referred to as Germanisierung (Germanicisation, i.e., to make something German-ic) rather than Eindeutschung (Germanisation, i.e., to make something German). According to Nazi racial theories, the Germanic peoples of Europe such as the Scandinavians, the Dutch, and the Flemish, were a part of the Aryan master race, regardless of these peoples' own acknowledgement of their "Aryan" identity.

Germanisation in these conquered countries proceeded more slowly. The Nazis had a need for local cooperation and the countries were regarded as more racially acceptable. Racial categories for the average German meant "East is bad and West is acceptable".[65] The plan was to win the Germanic elements over slowly, through education.[66] Himmler, after a secret tour of Belgium and Holland, happily declared the people would be a racial benefit for Germany.[66] Occupying troops were kept under discipline and instructed to be friendly in order to win the population over. However, evident contradictions limited the policies success.[67] Pamphlets, for instance, enjoined all German women to avoid sexual relations with all foreign workers brought to Germany as a danger to their blood.[68]

Various Germanisation plans were implemented. Dutch and Belgian Flemish prisoners of war were sent home quickly, to increase the Germanic population, while Belgian Walloon ones were kept as labourers.[67] Lebensborn homes were set up in Norway for Norwegian women impregnated by German soldiers, with adoption by Norwegian parents being forbidden for any child born there.[69] Alsace-Lorraine was annexed; thousands of residents, those loyal to France as well as Jews and North Africans, were deported to Vichy France. French was forbidden in schools; intransigent French speakers were deported to Germany for re-Germanisation, just as Poles were.[70] Extensive racial classification was practised in France.[71]

After World War II

In post-1945 Germany and Austria the concept of Germanisation is no longer considered relevant. Since the loss of the former German eastern territories and the Polonisation of these regions, the concept has lost its meaning. Danes, Frisians, and Slavic Sorbs are classified as traditional ethnic minorities and are guaranteed cultural autonomy by both the federal and state governments. There is a treaty between Denmark and Germany from 1955 regulating the status of the German minority in Denmark and vice versa. The north German state of Schleswig-Holstein has passed a law aimed at preserving the Frisian language.[72] The cultural autonomy of the Sorbs is enshrined in the constitutions of both Saxony and Brandenburg. Nevertheless, almost all Sorbs are bilingual and the Lower Sorbian language is regarded as endangered, as the number of native speakers is dwindling, even though there are programmes funded by the state to sustain the language.

In the Austrian federal state of Burgenland, Hungarian and Croatian have regional protection by law. In Carinthia, Slovenian-speaking Austrians are also protected by law.

See also


  1. ^ Interdiction of French language accompanied with fines and or jail, and destruction of any representation of France after the occupation of Alsace [1] Archived 2 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c d e f "A Country Study: Hungary – Hungary under the Habsburgs". Federal Research Division. Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  3. ^ "Silesian Digital Library". Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b "In fact, from Hitler to Hans Frank, we find frequent references to Slavs and Jews as 'Indians.' This, too, was a long standing trope. It can be traced back to Frederick the Great, who likened the 'slovenly Polish trash' in newly' reconquered West Prussia to Iroquois". Localism, Landscape, and the Ambiguities of Place: German-speaking Central Europe, 1860–1930 David Blackbourn, James N. Retallack University of Toronto 2007
  5. ^ Ritter, Gerhard (1974). Frederick the Great: A Historical Profile. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 179–180. ISBN 0-520-02775-2. It has been estimated that during his reign 300,000 individuals settled in Prussia. ... While the commission for colonization established in the Bismarck era could in the course of two decades bring no more than 11,957 families to the eastern territories, Frederick settled a total of 57,475. ... It increased the German character of the population in the monarchy's provinces to a very significant degree. ... in West Prussia where he wished to drive out the Polish nobility and bring as many of their large estates as possible into German hands.
  6. ^ a b c Andrzej Chwalba, Historia Polski 1795–1918 Wydawnictwo Literackie 2000 Kraków pages 175–184, 307–312
  7. ^ cited in: Richard Cromer: Die Sprachenrechte der Polen in Preußen in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Journal Nation und Staat, Vol 6, 1932/33, p. 614, also cited in: Martin Broszat Zweihundert Jahre deutsche Polenpolitik (Two-hundred years or German Poles politics). Suhrkamp 1972, p. 90, ISBN 3-518-36574-6. During the discussions in the Reichstag in January 1875, Altenstein's statement was cited by the opponents of Bismarck's politics.
  8. ^ a b c d Jerzy ZdradaHistoria Polski 1795–1918 Warsaw, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN 2007; pages 268, 273–291
  9. ^ Historism and Cultural Identity in the Rhine-Meuse Region, J. De Maeyer
  10. ^ "Bismarck and the German Empire 1871–1918". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Die Germanisirung der polnisch-preußischen Landestheile." In Neueste Mittheilungen, V.Jahrgang, No. 17, 11 February 1886. Berlin: Dr. H. Klee.
  12. ^ "All items for this edition of World News are taken from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), January-February 1902". Archived from the original on 8 December 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2005.
  13. ^ Valaitis, Lena; et al. (2010). Germans of Lithuanian Descent: Prussian Lithuanians. General Books, LLC. p. 102.
  14. ^ "Migration Past, Migration Future". Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  15. ^ de:Zentrumspartei
  16. ^ a b c "Ereignis: 1880, Polen im Ruhrgebiet – Deutsche und Polen (rbb) Geschichte, Biografien, Zeitzeugen, Orte, Karten". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  17. ^ ""Polen im Ruhrgebiet 1870 – 1945" – Deutsch-polnische Tagung – H-Soz-Kult". Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  18. ^ "njedźelu, 24.04.2016". Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  19. ^ Richard Bessel, Nazism and War, p 36 ISBN 0-679-64094-0
  20. ^ a b c HITLER'S PLANS FOR EASTERN EUROPE Archived 27 May 2012 at
  21. ^ a b Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p543 ISBN 0-393-02030-4
  22. ^ Pierre Aycoberry, The Social History of the Third Reich, 1933–1945, p 2, ISBN 1-56584-549-8
  23. ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p69-71 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  24. ^ Robert Edwin Hertzstein, The War That Hitler Won p173 ISBN 0-399-11845-4
  25. ^ Robert Edwin Hertzstein, The War That Hitler Won p289 ISBN 0-399-11845-4
  26. ^ Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 1957, No. 2
  27. ^ a b c d e "Chapter XIII – GERMANIZATION AND SPOLIATION". Archived from the original on 3 December 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  28. ^ Diemut Majer, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "Non-Germans" Under the Third Reich: The Nazi Judicial and Administrative System in Germany and Occupied Eastern Europe with Special Regard to Occupied Poland, 1939–1945 Von Diemut Majer, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, JHU Press, 2003, p.240, ISBN 0-8018-6493-3.
  29. ^ a b c "Lukas, Richard C. Did the Children Cry?". Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
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  31. ^ Hitler's Ethic By Richard Weikart p.67
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  35. ^ Nicholas, p. 206
  36. ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p44-5 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  37. ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p39-40 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
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  39. ^ Nicholas, p. 213-4
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  42. ^ Pierre Aycoberry, The Social History of the Third Reich, 1933–1945, p 228, ISBN 1-56584-549-8
  43. ^ Richard C. Lukas, Forgotten Holocaust p20 ISBN 0-7818-0528-7
  44. ^ Pierre Aycoberry, The Social History of the Third Reich, 1933–1945, p 229, ISBN 1-56584-549-8
  45. ^ Pierre Aycoberry, The Social History of the Third Reich, 1933–1945, p 255, ISBN 1-56584-549-8
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  47. ^ Nicholas, p. 217
  48. ^ Robert Edwin Hertzstein, The War That Hitler Won p137 ISBN 0-399-11845-4
  49. ^ Leila J. Rupp, Mobilising Women for War, p 122, ISBN 0-691-04649-2, OCLC 3379930
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  51. ^ "The Frauen Warte: 1935–1945 Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine"
  52. ^ a b c Nicholas, p 479
  53. ^ Karel C. Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule p44 ISBN 0-674-01313-1
  54. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p336, ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  55. ^ a b Karel C. Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule p45 ISBN 0-674-01313-1
  56. ^ Karel C. Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule p211 ISBN 0-674-01313-1
  57. ^ Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology p199 ISBN 0-396-06577-5
  58. ^ Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology p207 ISBN 0-396-06577-5
  59. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p255, ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  60. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas, Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web p256, ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  61. ^ Lebensraum, Aryanisation, Germanistion and Judenrein, Judenfrei: concepts in the holocaust or shoah
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  67. ^ a b Nicholas, p. 274 ISBN 0-679-77663-X
  68. ^ Leila J. Rupp, Mobilising Women for War, p 124–5, ISBN 0-691-04649-2, OCLC 3379930
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  72. ^ Friesisch-Gesetz at Wikisource
Albert Forster

Albert Maria Forster (26 July 1902 – 28 February 1952) was a Nazi German politician and war criminal. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia (the other German-annexed section of occupied Poland) during the Second World War, the local non-German population of Poles and Jews was classified as sub-human and subjected to extermination campaign involving ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation. Forster was directly responsible for extermination of non-Germans and strong supporter of genocide of Poles which he advocated already before the war. Forster was tried, convicted and hanged for his crimes in Warsaw after Germany was defeated.


Barczewo [barˈt͡ʂɛvɔ] (German: Wartenburg in Ostpreußen) is a town in Olsztyn County, Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Poland. It is located 20 km NE of Olsztyn. The town dates its beginnings from 1325. Originally under the control of the Teutonic Order, the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466 brought the region into the Kingdom of Poland. The First Partition of Poland brought it back under the control of the Kingdom of Prussia.

The 19th century saw the rise of liberalism, nationalism, Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf repressions, and Germanisation directed against Poles. An organised resistance by the Polish population followed. After the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, the town once more became part of a Polish state under the terms of the Potsdam Agreement.

Billung March

The Billung March (German: Billunger Mark) or March of the Billungs (Mark der Billunger) was a frontier region of the far northeastern Duchy of Saxony in the 10th century. It was named after the family which held it, the House of Billung.

The march reached from the Elbe River to the Baltic Sea and from the Limes Saxoniae to the Peene River in the east, roughly the territory of present-day eastern Holstein, Mecklenburg, and parts of Western Pomerania. German expansion into the region of the Billung March was "natural" and the settlement "true colonisation." This can be contrasted with the military occupation of the Marca Geronis, the great march of Gero to the south of the Billungs.

The Billung March was formed in 936, when Otto I, Duke of Saxony and King of East Francia, made Hermann Billung princeps militiae (margrave, literally "prince of the militia"), granting him control of the border with rule over the West Slavic Obotrite tribes, including the Polabians, Warnabi and Wagri, as well as the Redarii, Circipani, and Kissini tribes of the Veleti confederation, and the Danes, who had repeatedly campaigned the territory. Major parts of the land of the Liutizi and the Hevelli laid beyond Hermann's sphere in the Marca Geronis.

The Slavs of this region were often mutually hostile and so no organised resistance was met. Nevertheless, in 955 the Obotrite chief Nako took the chance and allied with Hermann's nephews, the Saxon counts Wichmann the Younger and Egbert the One-Eyed in their domestic quarrel with their uncle. Their open revolt culminated in the Battle on the Recknitz, where the Obotrites were completely defeated by King Otto's troops.

Hermann was given a great deal of autonomy in his march and he is sometimes called the "Duke of Saxony", a title which was actually held by Otto, because of the great deal of authority the king delegated to him as his deputy. The disjointedness of the Germanisation of the eastern marches led to many centuries of warfare; the Roman Catholic Church, however, "more foresighted than the crown ... made use of the tithe in the colonial lands from the very beginning."Like the adjacent Northern March, the March of Billung was finally abandoned following the uprising of the Obotrites and Veleti in 983.

Ethnic nationalism

Ethnic nationalism, also known as ethno-nationalism, is a form of nationalism wherein the nation is defined in terms of ethnicity.The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that "nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry". It also includes ideas of a culture shared between members of the group, and with their ancestors.

While some types of ethnic nationalism are firmly rooted in the idea of ethnicity (or race) as an immutable inherited characteristic (for example white nationalism), often ethnic nationalism also manifests in the assimilation of minority ethnic groups into the dominant group (for example as with Italianisation). This assimilation may or may not be predicated on a belief in some common ancestry with assimilated groups (for example with Germanisation in the Second World war).

While in some cases the division between ethnic and civic nationalism is clear (France being the archetypal example of a national identity rooted in civic and linguistic nationalism), in other cases the division is less clear, for example with Turkish nationalism.

Germanisation in Poland (1939–1945)

Germanisation in Poland (1939–1945) was an intense process of Germanisation during World War II carried out by Nazi Germany in Occupied Poland.

Germanisation of Poles during the Partitions

After partitioning Poland in the end of 18th century, the Kingdom of Prussia and later German Empire imposed a number of Germanisation policies and measures in the newly gained territories, aimed at limiting the Polish ethnic presence in these areas. This process continued through its various stages until the end of World War I, when most of the territories were transferred to the Second Republic of Poland, which largely limited the capacity of further Germanisation efforts of the Weimar Republic until the later Nazi occupation. The genocidal policies of Nazi-Germany against ethnic Poles between 1939 and 1945 can be understood as a continuation of previous Germanization processes.

Germanisation of the Province of Posen

The Germanisation of the Province of Posen was a policy of the Kulturkampf measures enacted by German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, whose goal was to Germanize Polish-speaking areas in the Prussian Province of Posen by eradicating and discrimination of Polish language and culture, as well as to reduce the influence of the "ultramontanist" Roman Catholic clergy in those regions.


Lebensborn e.V. (literally: "Fount of Life") was an SS-initiated, state-supported, registered association in Nazi Germany with the goal of raising the birth rate of Aryan children of persons classified as racially pure and healthy based on Nazi racial hygiene and health ideology. Lebensborn provided welfare to its mostly unmarried mothers, encouraged anonymous births by unmarried women at their maternity homes, and mediated adoption of these children by likewise racially pure and healthy parents, particularly SS members and their families. The Cross of Honour of the German Mother was given to the women who bore the most Aryan children. Abortion was legalised by the Nazis for disabled children, but strictly punished otherwise.

Initially set up in Germany in 1935, Lebensborn expanded into several occupied European countries with Germanic populations during the Second World War. It included the selection of racially worthy orphans for adoption and care for children born from Aryan women who had been in relationships with SS members. It originally excluded children born from unions between common soldiers and foreign women, because there was no proof of racial purity on both sides. During the war, many children were kidnapped from their parents and judged by Aryan criteria for their suitability to be raised in Lebensborn homes, and fostering by German families.

At the Nuremberg Trials, much direct evidence was found of the kidnapping of children by Nazi Germany, across Greater Germany during the period 1939–1945.


The German concept of Lebensraum (German pronunciation: [ˈleːbənsˌʁaʊm] (listen), "living space") comprises policies and practices of settler colonialism which proliferated in Germany from the 1890s to the 1940s. First popularized around 1901, Lebensraum became a geopolitical goal of Imperial Germany in World War I (1914–1918) originally, as the core element of the Septemberprogramm of territorial expansion. The most extreme form of this ideology was supported by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and Nazi Germany until the end of World War II.Following Adolf Hitler's rise to power, Lebensraum became an ideological principle of Nazism and provided justification for the German territorial expansion into Central and Eastern Europe. The Nazi Generalplan Ost policy (the Master Plan for the East) was based on its tenets. It stipulated that Germany required a Lebensraum ('living space') necessary for its survival and that most of the indigenous populations of Central and Eastern Europe would have to be removed permanently (either through mass deportation to Siberia, death, or enslavement) including Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Czech and other Slavic nations considered non-Aryan. The Nazi government aimed at repopulating these lands with Germanic colonists in the name of Lebensraum during World War II and thereafter. Entire indigenous populations were decimated by starvation, allowing for their own agricultural surplus to feed Germany.Hitler's strategic program for world domination was based on the belief in the power of Lebensraum, especially when pursued by a racially superior society. People deemed to be part of non-Aryan races, within the territory of Lebensraum expansion, were subjected to expulsion or destruction. The eugenics of Lebensraum assumed the right of the German Aryan master race (Herrenvolk) to remove indigenous people in the name of their own living space. Nazi Germany also supported other Axis nations in pursuing their own versions of Lebensraum, including Fascist Italy's spazio vitale and Imperial Japan's Hakkō ichiu.

Luxembourg in World War II

The involvement of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in World War II began with its invasion by German forces on 10 May 1940 and lasted beyond its liberation by Allied forces in late 1944 and early 1945.

Luxembourg was placed under occupation and was annexed into Germany in 1942. During the occupation, the German authorities orchestrated a programme of "Germanisation" of the country, suppressing non-German languages and customs and conscripting Luxembourgers into the Wehrmacht, which led to extensive resistance, culminating in a general strike in August 1942 against conscription. The Germanisation was facilitated by a collaborationist political group, the Volksdeutsche Bewegung, founded shortly after the occupation. Shortly before the surrender, the government had fled the country along with Grand Duchess Charlotte, eventually arriving in London, where a Government-in-exile was formed. Luxembourgish soldiers also fought in Allied units until liberation.


Masuria (Polish: Mazury , German: Masuren, Masurian: Mazurÿ) is a region in northern Poland, famous for its 2,000 lakes. Before the end of World War II, it was mostly inhabited by Polish-speaking (Masurian dialect) Lutheran Masurians and constituted a part of East Prussia. Masuria occupies much of the Masurian Lake District. Administratively, it is part of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship. Its biggest city, often regarded as its capital, is Ełk. The region covers a territory of some 10,000 km2 and had a population in 2013 of 59,790.

Pope Leo XIII and Poland

The relationship between Pope Leo XIII and Poland was marked by the German-led Kulturkampf, which led to the persecution of ethnic Poles in Prussia and German Catholics in Germany.

Potulice concentration camp

The Potulice concentration camp (German: UWZ Lager Lebrechtsdorf– Potulitz) was established by Nazi Germany during World War II in Potulice near Nakło in the territory of occupied Poland. Until the spring of 1941 it was a subcamp of Stutthoff. In January 1942 Potulice became fully independent. It is estimated that a total of 25,000 prisoners went through the camp during its operation before the end of 1944. It became notable also as a detention centre for Polish children that underwent the Nazi experiment in forced Germanisation.

Rani (Slavic tribe)

The Rani or Rujani (German: Ranen, Rujanen) were a West Slavic tribe based on the island of Rugia (Rügen) and the southwestern mainland across the Strelasund in what is today northeastern Germany.

The Rani tribe emerged after the Slavic settlement of the region in the 9th century, ranging among the most powerful of several small Slav tribes dwelling between the Elbe and lower Vistula rivers before the 13th century. They were one of the last to cling to their Slavic paganism, with the influence of their religious center at Arkona reaching far beyond the tribal borders.In 1168, the Rani were defeated by Danish king Valdemar I and his adviser Absalon, Bishop of Roskilde, resulting in the conversion of the region to Christianity. In the course of the 13th century in Pomerania, the tribe was assimilated by German and Danish settlers during the Ostsiedlung, resulting in a gradual Germanisation of the Rani. The Principality of Rugia remained Danish until 1325.

Sochy, Lublin Voivodeship

Sochy [ˈsɔxɨ] is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Zwierzyniec within Zamość County, Lublin Voivodeship. Germans murdered about 200 people on June the 1st, 1943 during the Germanisation of the region, which caused Zamość Uprising. Polish writer Anna Janko is a daughter of one of survivors, she describes the tragedy in her book Mała Zagłada.


Umvolkung (German: [ˈʔʊmˌfɔlkʊŋ]) is a term in Nazi ideology used to describe a process of assimilation of members of the German people (the Volk) so that they would forget about their language and their origin. As a neologism, it echoes Umpolung "polarity inversion", leading to an interpretation akin to "ethnicity inversion".

The term is also used to describe the "re-Germanisation" of the German people, after new Lebensraum was conquered and the German people who already resided there would become more German again. Of course, Umvolkung in the first sense was seen as a negative process during the Third Reich, while the second process was seen as desirable.


The Deutsche Volksliste (German People's List), a Nazi Party institution, aimed to classify inhabitants of German-occupied territories (1939-1945) into categories of desirability according to criteria systematised by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. The institution originated in occupied western Poland (occupied 1939-1945). Similar schemes subsequently developed in Occupied France (1940-1944) and in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine (1941-1944).

Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) topped the list as a category. They comprised people without German citizenship but of German ancestry living outside Germany (unlike German expatriates). Though Volksdeutsche did not hold German or Austrian citizenship, the strengthening and development of ethnic German communities throughout east-central Europe formed an integral part of the Nazi vision for the creation of Greater Germany (Großdeutschland). In some areas, such as Romania, Croatia, and Yugoslavia/Serbia, ethnic Germans were legally recognised in legislation as privileged groups.


The Wagri, Wagiri, or Wagrians were a tribe of Polabian Slavs inhabiting Wagria, or eastern Holstein in northern Germany, from the ninth to twelfth centuries. They were a constituent tribe of the Obodrite confederacy.

In the Slavic uprisings of 983 and c. 1040 under Gottschalk, Wagria was wasted and ruined. Many German towns and churches were destroyed and the region was largely depopulated. In 1066, the Wagri allied with the Wilzi in storming the line of Saxon burgwarden from Mecklenburg to Schwerin and into German territory as deep as Hamburg. Around 1090, the still pagan Wagri and Liutizi came under the sway of the Rani-born Kruto. Each tribe elected its own chief who was subordinate to Kruto. In 1093, the Christian Obodrites under Henry, aided by some Saxons and the local Low German population, defeated Kruto at the Battle of Schmilau near Ratzeburg. The Wagri were brought to tributary status once more.

The Christianisation of Wagria began under Unwan, Archbishop of Bremen, in the 1020s. Vicelin of Oldenburg, a Christian priest, first began to evangelise the Wagri and Wilzi with the permission of Henry, who was reigning from Lübeck, around 1126. In the years which followed Vicelin's mission, the Emperor Lothair II thoroughly encastellated Wagria and Canute Lavard and the Holsteiners invaded it and took Pribislav and Niklot, the Wagrian leaders, away in chains.

In 1142, Henry the Lion and Adolf II of Holstein divided the newly conquered Slav lands between them. Wagria with its castle of Sigberg went to Adolf, while Polabia with Ratzeburg went to Henry. The Trave divided the regions. There followed this division a great influx of German colonists. During the Wendish Crusade of 1147, the Wagri attacked recently founded colonies of Flemings and Frisians, but this is the last that is heard of their resistance to Germanisation.


Wyrzysk [ˈvɨʐɨsk] (listen) (German: Wirsitz) is a town in Poland with 5,263 (2004) inhabitants, situated in Piła County, Greater Poland Voivodeship.

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