Question by "The_Enigma":
My question therefore is if the Nazi regime was so intent on just ethnic cleansing rather than mass murder, which they resorted to and were not forced to do, why did some sort of exportation started to any of the Greek Islands or to Norway? With the Vichy regime being in the Nazi pocket, why did no exportation take place to Corsica, Sardinia, or French North Africa or, prior to the British led invasion, French Middle East territories?
The general answer to this question is that the German Government envisaged a comprehensive solution to the "Jewish Problem" as not capable of implementation until after the end of the war it was engaged in against Britain, an end which of course it expected to be a German victory. In the meantime, its preference was to put that comprehensive solution on hold so that it could concentrate its energies on actually winning the war, which was the necessary precondition for the envisaged solution.
However, the German Government did undertake a number of small-scale steps that definitely fall into the category of "ethnic cleansing".
At the beginning of the attack on Poland, a Sipo unit called the "Einsatzgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung" under the command of Udo von Woyrsch was sent into Upper Silesia, where it began a campaign of terror against the local Jewish population. After the war, von Woyrsch testified that he had been given a secret assignment by Himmler, namely that of terrorising the Jews into fleeing eastward out of the part of Poland assigned to Germany under the appendix to the Moltov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Later in the campaign, other Sipo Einsatzgruppen operated in the area close to the San River, the demarcation line between the German and Soviet spheres under the afore-mentioned pact, with the object of forcing Jews in the area to cross over into the Soviet sphere.
For details on the anti-Jewish operations of the unit commanded by von Woyrsch and the other Sipo units, I recommend consulting the book by Rossino, "Hitler Strikes Poland".
In the period between 1 and 28 September, orders issued by Heydrich indicate a Sipo aim of concentrating all the Jews of western and Central Poland, the part assigned to Germany, in the area east of Krakow. At that time, the eastern boundary of the German zone was constituted by the Vistula and San rivers, and some historians have concluded that the German aim in concentrating the Jews of their zone close to that boundary was to push them en masse across it, as a form of "ethnic cleansing".
After 28 September, the German-Soviet demarcation line was moved eastward to the Bug River, under the terms of the Borders and Friendship Treaty of that day, thereby placing the Lublin district under German rather than Soviet control. From then on, the Lublin district rather than the area east of Krakow became the German Government's designated area for the concentration of the Jewish population.
In October 1939, the German Government openly proclaimed its intention of creating a Jewish "reservation" in the Lublin District, between the Vistula and Bug Rivers. Under its policy of "Volkliche Flurbereinigung" (redistribution of territory according to ethnicity), the German Zone of Occupation in Poland was to be divided into three strips, a western strip, which was to be populated by Germans, a central strip, in which the ethnic Polish population was to be concentrated, and an eastern strip, reserved for the Jews.
According to the openly proclaimed intention of the German Government, all the Jews of the territories then under direct German control (Germany, Austria, Czechia, western and central Poland), an estimated total of two million, was to be concentrated in "Lublin land". The concept of a Jewish reservation was widely discussed in the media at that time, and anti-German propagandists loudly proclaimed that this was a form of covert physical extermination.
However, the underlying German Government purpose was eventually to transfer the Jews concentrated in "Lublin land" into Soviet territory. That is shown by the fact that in the period until the end of 1939, individual German units were pushing groups of Jews across the demarcation line wherever they could. It is also shown at a higher, more official level by the two written requests made by Eichmann's office of Jewish emigration in January 1940 to Chekmenev, the Soviet official in charge of immigration, that the Jewish population of areas under German control be evacuated to Soviet territory under the German-Sovietagreement on population exchanges.
The German Government aim could not be achieved due to the Soviet refusal to accept the proposed transfer of Jews onto its territory.
The whole thrust of German Government policy towards the Jewish population in the parts of Poland that had come under its control indicates that its aim was "ethnic cleansing" through the expulsion of that population from German territory, rather than holding on to it for the purpose of physical extermination at a later time.
The policy of "ethnic cleansing" was entirely consistent with the policy of the German Government from 1933 onward, which was one of encouraging, and where necessary compelling, Jewish emigration from all territory under its control, first from the "Old Reich", then from Austria, finally from Czechia. Heydrich was in control of the program of emigration, ably assisted by Eichmann, and to that end both of them worked in close collaboration with the Wolrd Zionist Organisation and the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Once the policy moved on to "ethnic cleansing" by expulsion in Poland, Heydrich remained in control of that also.
However, Jewish emigration remained a policy option right up until October 1941, although opportunities for it were greatly limited due to the war situation. Small groups of Jews were permitted to emigrate, for example by travelling across the Soviet Union to Vladivostok, from whence they continued to various destinations.
The indications are that between August 1939 and July 1940, the German Government considered that the co-operative relationship established with the Soviet Union would be long-lasting, and that therefore a transfer of the Jewish population of the German-controlled territories, some two million persons, into Soviet territory would provide a long-term solution, since they would no longer be in contact with the German people and would be under the control of a friendly government.
The concept of a transfer of the entire Jewish population of Germany, Austria, Czechia and western and central Poland into the Soviet Union may sound bizarre to us today, given the post-war anti-Soviet attitude of the Jewish Establishment in the West, but in the inter-war period the Jewish Establishment was quite sympathetic to the idea.
In 1919, the Anglo-Jewish leader Lucien Wolf had proposed the mass emigration of the Jewish populations of the newly independent states of Eastern Europe, Poland, Hungary, Romania, into Bolshevik Russia, once the civil war there had ended, on the basis that the Bolshevik regime would be far more Jew-friendly than the East European states. (Wolf also predicted that if the Bolshevik regime in Russia were ever overthrown, there would be a massacre of the Jews on a vaster scale than had ever occurred before, a prediction that came true in 1941-42).
In the mid-1930s, elements in the Soviet Government declared their willingness to take in Jewish immigrants from outside the Soviet Union, especially from Poland, and resettle them in Crimea and/or in the new Jewish "national home" in Birobidjan. Negotiations were held with Agro-Joint, the branch of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee engaed in facilitating Jewish agricultural settlement in the Soviet Union, for the purpose of organising and funding that immigration, but eventually it came to nothing, partly because of the problem of financing the proposed resettlement, and partly because religious Jewish leaders were afraid that the immigrants would become atheists and assimilate, as so many of the Soviet Jews already had.
Given the above background, the German Government concept of a mass movement of the Jews of its territory into Soviet territory does not seem so hare-brained.
After the defeat of France in June 1940, the prospect opened of a movement of Jews into French colonial territories, as an alternative to the concept of a movement into Soviet territory, which had come to nothing because of the Soviet Government's opposition.
One small interim move was made in that direction late in 1940, when Eichmann organised a deportation of a small group of Jews from western German and Alsace-Lorraine into the Unoccupied Zone of France. That movement had not been approved by the French Government, which had not even been informed in advance, and was immediately opposed, with the result that no further such movements took place.
The actions undertaken by the German Government in 1939 and 1940 indicate that its Jewish policy at the time was one of "ethnic cleansing", not preparation for physical extermination. It took a number of tentative interim steps in the direction of pushing Jews out of its territory, but they did not continue because of resistance by the Soviet and French Governments respectively. The full implementation of an organised mass movment of Jews out of German-controlled territory therefore had to be postponed until after a successful conclusion to the war with Britain.