The Six Versions of the "Generalplan Ost" - Some B

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michael mills
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The Six Versions of the "Generalplan Ost" - Some B

Post by michael mills » 23 Nov 2005 04:32

Those of you who can read German may wish to check out this site:

http://lausche.tripod.com/planung.html

The 1996 MA thesis by Karsten Schulz "Nationalsozialistische Nachkriegskonzeptionen für die eroberten Gebiete Osteuropas vom Januar 1940 bis zum Januar 1943", presented at the Berlin Technical University Institute for Political Science, contains a detailed exposition of the various versions of the Generalplan Ost, as well as of other, competing plans for German rule over the conquered Soviet territories put forward by Rosenberg's Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, the German Labour Front, and some individuals.

It appears that there were six versions of the Generalplan Ost, which need to be carefully distinguished from each other in terms of what they actually propose. Four of them were prepared by the planning staff of the Reichskommissariat für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums (RKF), headed by Professor Konrad Meyer-Hetling. and two by the RSHA, specifically by Standartenführer Ehlich, head of Gruppe III B Volkstum of Abteilung III Sicherheitsdienst-Inland.

The six variants were:

1. The Generalplan of the RKF, dating from about January 1940. This is preserved in a document bearing the title "Planungsgrundlagen für den Aufbau der Ostgebiete", and deals only with the planned germanisation of the annexed western Polish territories (Danzig-Westpreußen, Wartheland, Zichenau, Suwalki, Ost-Oberschlesien).

2. Generalplan Ost of the RKF, dated 15 July 1941. The plan itself has not been found, and is known only from a covering minute from Meyer-Hetling to Himmler with the above date. Judging from material contained in the unpublished autobiography of Professor Meyer-Hetling, in addition to the annexed territories included in the Generalplan, it proposed German settlement in the east of the Generalgouvernement, thereby encircling the ethnic Polish population. The estimated settler requirement is 4.55 million persons over 30 years.

3. Generalplan Ost of the RSHA, dated toward the end of 1941 or the beginning of 1942. The plan itself has never been found, but its main points can be reconstructed from the detailed (and highly critical) commentary on it by Dr Erhard Wetzel of Rosenberg's Ostministerium, dated 27 April 1942.

This is the plan that is usually meant when the Generplan Ost is referred to in secondary literature. It is the plan that, judging from Wetzel's comments, proposed the resettlement in West Siberia of 31 million (including 5-6 million Jews) of the estimated 45 million non-German inhabitants of the specific areas designated for German settlement, over a period of 30 years. The plan calls for the settlement of 10 million Germans on the territory, consisting of Danzig- Westpreußen, Wartheland, Oberschlesien, Generalgouvernement, South Ostpreußen, Bialystok, the Baltic States, Ingermanland, Weißruthenien and some areas in Ukraine.

Wetzel is highly critical of the RSHA plan and clearly considers it infeasible, although he supports the concept of germanisation of territory and the deportation of population groups considered hostile to Germany. He proposes alternative actions, which are most probably to be regarded as representing the views of Rosenberg. There is no indication that this plan was ever given official approval in full by either Himmler or Hitler.

4. The Gesamtplan Ost of the RSHA. The existence of this plan can only be inferred indirectly; it is referred to in a letter of 12 June 1942 from Himmler to Ulrich Greifelt, head of the RKF. It also seems that certain of the comments made by Wetzel in April 1942 refer to this extended plan rather than the original RSHA plan.

The Gesamtplan Ost of the RSHA extended the area of proposed German settlement to the line Lake Ladoga - Valdai Heights - Briansk, and added as settlement areas Zhytomyr, Kamianets-Podilsk and parts of Vynnytsia.

5. The later Generalplan Ost of the RKF. This is known from a document of 71 pages dated 28 May 1942. In addition to the germanisation of the Polish territories annexed to the Reich, it proposes the establishment of three "borderlands" (Marken), Ingermanland, Narew-West Lithuania, and Gotengau (Crimea and Kherson province), and of 36 settlement bases, 14 in the GG, 14 in Ostland, and 8 in Ukraine. The period for the proposed resettlement is 25 years. The plan also gives a detailed estimate of the costs of the proposed ethnic German settlement, totals of 45.7 billion RM for the annexed Polish territories and 20.9 billion for the borderlands and bases, the greater part of which is to be raised by borrowing in the private capital market.

Nowhere does this plan talk of deporting any part of the existing non-German population to Siberia. Rather, it proposes the resettling of the population of land required for German settlement on alternative kolkhozes and sovkhozes within the area under German rule; the rationale for that mild treatment is stated to be the need to retain the cooperation of the native population. The previous method of "evacuation" is explicitly rejected. The desired level of germanisation will be reached when 50% of the population of the borderlands is ethnically German, and 25-30% of the population of the bases. The process of germanisation is estimated to take 25 to 30 years.

6. The "Generalsiedlungsplan" (global settlement plan) of the RKF. This is known from a preliminary draft dated 23 December 1942, written by Greifelt. There appears never to have been a final draft.

The plan defines a "Volksraum" with seven settlement areas: Luxemburg, Lorraine, Alsace, Upper Carinthia, Lower Styria, Bohemia-Moravia and the Incorporated Eastern Territories annexed from Poland. To that is added an "Ostsiedlungsraum" divided into six future Gaus, Litzmannstadt, Krakau, Lemberg, Lublin, Warschau und Bialystock. The Baltic area is increased through the addition of Pleskau (Pskov) and Ingermanland (the latter atributed to Estonia), but is not considered part of the "Ostsiedlungsraum", for unknown reasons.

The plan proposes a future population of around 23.1 million persons in the settlement areas of the Volksraum and in the Ostsiedlungsraum, consisting of an existing ethnic German population of 5.3 million, a residual germanised native population of 5.4 million, and 12.4 million German immigrants. As the existing population is 36.3 million, of which 5.6 million are already German(Reich citizens, ethnic Germans, settlers) and 5.4 million are germanisable natives, the plan implies the deportation of around 25 million persons, although such a deportation is not explicitly mentioned.

The same applies to the Baltic area. Of a population of 7.2 million, of which hardly any are considered German, 2.1 million are considered germanisable; the remaining 5.1 million disappear. 3.1 million German settlers are required to bring the total population back up to 5.2 million.

Thus, the deportation of a total of around 30 million non-Germans out of the settlement areas of the Volksraum, the Ostsiedlungsraum and the Baltic area is implied in the plan.

On 12 January 1943, Himmler demanded the inclusion of the Baltic area, the Crimea and Tauria in the "Ostsiedlungsraum". However, the events surrounding the fall of Stalingrad put all further planning activity on hold.

With regard to the question of whether any of the above plans could have been implemented in reality if Germany had retained control of the conquered territories, the thesis has this to say:


Die Generalplanungen basieren auf erobertem Raum im Osten, setzen also einen gewonnenen Krieg oder wenigstens mit vermindertem militärischem Aufwand haltbare Gebietsgewinne voraus. Das war, vom Generalplan des Jahres 1940 abgesehen, nicht der Fall. Deshalb ist es nicht verwunderlich, daß die Planungen Utopien bleiben mußten. Ob sie tatsächlich realitätsferne Hirngespinste geblieben wären, wie Heiber meint #49, oder ob nach Wasser "zwingend angenommen werden [kann], daß für den Fall, daß das nationalsozialistische Deutschland siegreich geblieben wäre, die SS Heinrich Himmlers auch den 'GPO' - so utopisch er auch heute scheinen mag - in vollem Umfang realisiert hätte" #50, ist in solcher Absolutheit nicht zu entscheiden. Es ist eher zu vermuten, daß mit Veränderungen der Gesamtlage entsprechend weitere Modifikationen gefolgt wären.

My translation:

The global planning was based on conquered territory in the East, therefore they assume a victorious war or at least territorial gains able to be held with a reduced military expenditure. That was not the case, apart from the global plan of 1940. Thus, it is no wonder that the plans had to remain utopian. Whether they indeed would have remained pipedreams divorced from reality, as Heiber believes, or whether according to Wasser "it [can] be conclusively assumed that, in the case where National Socialist Germany had remained victorious, Heinrich Himmler's SS would have implemented the "GPO" also in its full extent - no matter how utopian it may appear today", canot be decided with absolute certainty. Rather it is to be supposed that, corresponding with changes in the total situaiton, further modifications would have occurred.


The Heiber referred to is Helmut Heiber, author of "Der Generalplan Ost", in: Vierteljahreshefte Für Zeitgeschichte, 6, 1958, pp. 281ff. Heiber was a very respected German historian connected to the prestigious Institut für Zeitgeschichte in MUnich; he died a couple of years ago.

If such an experienced historian as Heiber judges that the variants of the Generalplanost were all "realitätsferne Hirngespinste" (pipedreams divorced from reality) then his opinion should be given some weight, and not simply dismissed by some jumped up petty dictator on the Forum staff.


With regard to the question of whether any of the variants of the plan were officially approved and put into practice, the thesis concludes:

Es muß zur Kenntnis genommen werden, daß es keine endgültige, von Himmler akzeptierte Version gab, die eine Realisierung bereits hätte legitimieren können. Bis zum äußerst unwahrscheinlichen Beweis des Gegenteils durch einen entsprechenden Quellenfund muß also davon ausgegangen werden, daß die GPO die Planungsphase nie überschritten haben.

Ausgeblendet wird bei der Diskussion um Realisierbarkeit oder bereits erfolgte Teilumsetzungen weiterhin, daß Himmler "diesen Generalplan zu irgendeinem Zeitpunkt auch dem Führer übergeben" #23 wollte, das heißt, dessen Zustimmung bedurfte oder wenigstens darauf Wert legte.

Gegenwärtig wird die Bedeutung der Generalpläne eher überschätzt.

My translation:

It must be borne in mind that there was no definitive version accepted by Himmler which could have legitimated an implementation. So we must proceed from the position that, failing the extremely unlikely proving of the opposite by means of an appropriate discovery of a source, the variants of the GPO never went beyond the planning stage.

The discussion about practicability or partial implementations that had already occurred continues to mask the fact that Himmler wanted "to hand this global plan over to the Führer at some point in time", ie he needed the latter's agreement or at least saw it as important.

These days the tendency is to overestimate the importance of the global plans.


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Post by Prit » 23 Nov 2005 07:32

Fascinating stuff, Mike. Thanks for posting it!

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Post by David Thompson » 23 Nov 2005 13:20

Michael -- You said:
If such an experienced historian as Heiber judges that the variants of the Generalplanost were all "realitätsferne Hirngespinste" (pipedreams divorced from reality) then his opinion should be given some weight, and not simply dismissed by some jumped up petty dictator on the Forum staff.

What are you talking about? No one has "simply dismissed" Heiber's contentions in this thread. If there is any "pipe dream divorced from reality" here, it is your insulting and unfounded comment.

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Re: The Six Versions of the "Generalplan Ost" - So

Post by Andreas » 23 Nov 2005 16:29

Es muß zur Kenntnis genommen werden, daß es keine endgültige, von Himmler akzeptierte Version gab, die eine Realisierung bereits hätte legitimieren können. Bis zum äußerst unwahrscheinlichen Beweis des Gegenteils durch einen entsprechenden Quellenfund muß also davon ausgegangen werden, daß die GPO die Planungsphase nie überschritten haben.

Ausgeblendet wird bei der Diskussion um Realisierbarkeit oder bereits erfolgte Teilumsetzungen weiterhin, daß Himmler "diesen Generalplan zu irgendeinem Zeitpunkt auch dem Führer übergeben" #23 wollte, das heißt, dessen Zustimmung bedurfte oder wenigstens darauf Wert legte.

Gegenwärtig wird die Bedeutung der Generalpläne eher überschätzt.


It must be recognised that there was no final version that had been accepted by Himmler, which could have legitimised the realisation [of the plan]. Until the highly/extremely unlikely proof of the opposite by discovery of a relevant source it must be assumed that the GPO [plural] did not go beyond the planning phase.

Furthermore, the discussion on the practicability or partial implementation ignores that Himmler wanted to "submit this Generalplan to the Führer at some stage", meaning that he either required his agreement, or at the least thought it desirable.

At this time, the importance of the Generalpläne is rather overestimated.

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Post by michael mills » 23 Nov 2005 23:20

If members of the Forum staff dislike being described as jumped up petty dictators, then they should not act like jumped up petty dictators.

One way of acting like a jumped up petty dictator is to close down a thread as soon as an opinion backed up by material drawn from original German documents, which a particular Forum staff-member does not like, is introduced.

It so happens that my opinion is that the basic thrust of the different variants of the Generalplan Ost, namely the settlement of millions of Germans in territories conquered from Poland and the Soviet Union, could never have been implemented to the extent envisaged, at best only a very small part of it, even if Germany had not been defeated and had managed to retain control of those territories.

My opinion was based on my reading of original German documents containing the results of studies by Himmler's own planning staff, which demonstrated their own awareness that the concept of German mass-settlement in the East was contrary to socio-economic reality, the latter being that masses of Germans would not become available for resettlement since the post-war economic boom in Germany would soak up all available German manpower and even suck in foreign labour, and the inhabitants of a wealthy developed country like Germany could never be induced to leave it for an uncomfortable life in the undeveloped East. On the basis of that material, I called the Generalplan Ost a pipedream that could never have been implemented in reality.

The expression of my opinion seems to have sent one member of the Forum staff into a shield-biting berserker frenzy, in the throes of which he petulantly closed the thread in question. I am therefore quite gratified to find that my opinion coincides with that of the respected late historian Helmut Heiber, who produced one of the earliest published analyses on the Generalplan Ost.

An explanation for those who do not immediately understand the shield-biting reference:

When an ancient Norseman began to bite his shield, it was a sign that he was suffering a psychotic episode. There is a set of ivory chessmen found in the Hebrides, an area of medieval Norse settlement, showing one of the pawns biting his shield; that is explained as a sign of that individual's being in a berserker frenzy, a form of violent psychosis.

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Post by michael mills » 23 Nov 2005 23:31

Further to my previous message:

I have noticed that this thread which I had started on on the section of the Forum dealing with the War in the East has been transferred to the section Holocaust and War Crimes.

I started the thread specifically on the War in the East section, since it was there that the thread in which I had begun to post material on the Generalplan Ost was abruptly closed.

Those who are interested may wish to have a look at the locked thread "What awaited Russians....." on the War in the East section. They will then understand the context in which I initiated this thread on the Generalplan Ost.

That being said, my new thread is just as relevant to the section Holocaust and War Crimes, and I have no objection to its being situated there.

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Re: The Six Versions of the "Generalplan Ost" - So

Post by Acolyte » 24 Nov 2005 03:32

michael mills wrote:Those of you who can read German may wish to check out this site:

http://lausche.tripod.com/planung.html


Great website. Too bad it doesn't include maps of the different versions of Generalplan Ost.

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Post by michael mills » 24 Nov 2005 04:37

There are no preserved maps showing the total area covered by the various versions of the GPO, although there are extant maps showing smaller areas, eg the areas proposed for German settlement in western Poland.

It is known that a large number of maps was prepared, in different scales, and showing areas of different sizes, since they are referred to in the documentation.

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Post by Qvist » 24 Nov 2005 12:46

If members of the Forum staff dislike being described as jumped up petty dictators, then they should not act like jumped up petty dictators.

One way of acting like a jumped up petty dictator is to close down a thread as soon as an opinion backed up by material drawn from original German documents, which a particular Forum staff-member does not like, is introduced.

It so happens that my opinion is that the basic thrust of the different variants of the Generalplan Ost, namely the settlement of millions of Germans in territories conquered from Poland and the Soviet Union, could never have been implemented to the extent envisaged, at best only a very small part of it, even if Germany had not been defeated and had managed to retain control of those territories.

My opinion was based on my reading of original German documents containing the results of studies by Himmler's own planning staff, which demonstrated their own awareness that the concept of German mass-settlement in the East was contrary to socio-economic reality, the latter being that masses of Germans would not become available for resettlement since the post-war economic boom in Germany would soak up all available German manpower and even suck in foreign labour, and the inhabitants of a wealthy developed country like Germany could never be induced to leave it for an uncomfortable life in the undeveloped East. On the basis of that material, I called the Generalplan Ost a pipedream that could never have been implemented in reality.

The expression of my opinion seems to have sent one member of the Forum staff into a shield-biting berserker frenzy, in the throes of which he petulantly closed the thread in question. I am therefore quite gratified to find that my opinion coincides with that of the respected late historian Helmut Heiber, who produced one of the earliest published analyses on the Generalplan Ost.

An explanation for those who do not immediately understand the shield-biting reference:

When an ancient Norseman began to bite his shield, it was a sign that he was suffering a psychotic episode. There is a set of ivory chessmen found in the Hebrides, an area of medieval Norse settlement, showing one of the pawns biting his shield; that is explained as a sign of that individual's being in a berserker frenzy, a form of violent psychosis.


The previous thread was closed for very clear and simple reasons, as stated on it - namely that it consisted of nothing more useful than you continuing to make the same wishful and distorted assessments on the basis of selective quoting and your own assumptions. Since you have taken up speculating about my frame of mind as I did so, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you and say there was no trace of frenzy of any sort involved, just loss of patience. Quite frankly, I find that taking task with these rants of yours isn't a particularly exhilirating or inspiring task, which a constructive disagreement can sometimes be. Rather they are usually a dreary sisyphean labor with little or no prospect of any useful result, for reasons that are probably clear to pretty much everybody, except possibly to you.

Throughout, your line of reasoning has been that GP Ost, being an "unrealistic pipedream", can not be taken as indicative of German intentions for the Eastern territories after the war, and that anyway, Hitler's conceptions in this field were more akin to British colonial rule in India, foreseeing German administration of local labor, not deportations. The claim that this assessment is supported by serious historiography is of course only possible if that historiography is read in the most selective manner possible.

There is nothing to indicate that the people who would have made the actual decisions after a victorious war - Hitler and Himmler - regarded the main outlines of the plans as unrealistic pipedreams. Himmler revised Hetling's schemes in a more ambitious direction. Hitler's conceptions were if anything even more ambitious, on the strength of the link you yourself posted, which contains among other things this:

Die Krim muß "von allen Fremden geräumt und deutsch besiedelt" #12, mit einem großen nördlichen Hinterland versehen und genau wie die Wolga-Kolonie, Galizien und das gesamte Baltenland deutsches Reichsgebiet werden. Das Gebiet um Baku ist zur Militärkolonie zu machen. #13

Die Newa soll die finnisch-deutsche Grenze markieren #14, Ost-Karelien und das Gebiet um Leningrad nach der Zerstörung der Stadt (St. Petersburg und Moskau müssen "vollständig vom Erdboden verschwinden" #15) den Finnen überlassen werden, die Kola-Halbinsel wegen der Nickelvorkommen an Deutschland fallen. Langfristig "müsse die Angliederung Finnlands als Bundesstaat [an das Reich] vorbereitet werden." #16


The Crimea to be completely populated by Germans, its Northern Hinterland, Galicia and the Baltics to be included in the German Reich, Baku a "military colony", the Newa to be the German-finnish border, Leningrad and Moscow razed off the face of the earth. Does this sound like British colonial rule in India? Consequently, while the practicability of the various schemes included in the evolving GP framework were discussed and drawn in doubt, it is clear that the main decisionmakers were thinking in similar, or even more ambitious, terms. As for Hitler's explicit approval of GP Ost, Schulz does seem to imply a different conclusion than Umbreit. But Hitler was himself advocating steps that were even more far-reaching. It is of course not possible to say with certainty what exactly would have been put into practice if Germany had won the war - that is a counterfactual scenario. But, what we do have is:

a) Concrete and fairly comprehensive planning for large scale German settlement in the East and for the treatment of resident populations
b) Adjustments of same by the head of the mainly responsible agency (Himmler)
c) Extensive discourse on the subject by the man with final authority (Hitler)

And they all point in exactly the same direction and have a fundamentally unitary basic vision: Large-scale settlement of Germans, Germanisation, deportation of large populations and a conscious disregard for the needs of the remaining population. And you are attempting, on the basis of the inherent insecurity of planning and the existence of debates about singularities in these schemes to make the case that this equates to British colonial rule in India, and would basically just have meant a different set of masters for the resident populations. Certainly, it would be interesting to discuss the nuances of the various schemes and the differences between the favored approaches of the various people involved. But that is not what you attempt to do, hence the ultimate worthlessness of a discussion which basically consists of little more than you trying to bend historical realities around your ideological pole and others reminding you what that reality was.

All in all, Schulz sums it up pretty well:

Es wurde in dieser Arbeit deutlich: Die vor und in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus verbreitete Ideologie von der Erweiterung des Lebensraumes nach Osten sowie der deutsch-germanischen rassisch-kulturellen Überlegenheit fand ihren klaren Ausdruck in allen entsprechenden Nachkriegskonzeptionen. Hinsichtlich der nötigen oder möglichen territorialen Reichweite dieser Expansion sowie vieler anderer Detailfragen herrschte jedoch bereits deutlicher Dissens.


Translation, as far as my linguistic prowess goes: One thing that has become clear in this work: The concepts of conquering living space in the East and and the notion of German/Germanic racial and cultural superiority (common in the time before and during the NS-period) found their clear expression in all the conceptions dealing with the period after the war. Regarding the desired or neccessary territorial extent as well as other questions of detail, there nevertheless remained clear dissensions.

What you are doing is focussing on those latter points of detail, pretending that the former point isn't there at all, and substituting for it your own white-washing notion of a more or less benevolent German rule in the East along the lines of British rule in India, a notion for which you have offered no backing, or responded to the many points brought up which clearly indicate the absurdity of this notion. This was one of the reasons why the former thread was going noweher, and was closed.

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Post by David Thompson » 24 Nov 2005 15:54

Let's drop any further personal remarks and discuss the subject at hand. It would probably be productive to define the issues so that the readers can see what are the areas of contention. As I see it, the questions to be settled are:

(1) Was there a long-term plan for the German occupation of the USSR?

(2) If so, what were its essential elements?

(a) What aspects were fixed and which were tentative?

(i) What were Hitler's plans for the area?

(ii) What were the competing proposals of Hitler's subordinates to carry out those plans?

(b) What tangible steps were taken to realize the policy objectives?

(3) Did the plan change during the course of the war? If so, how and when?

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Post by michael mills » 25 Nov 2005 02:06

A sensible suggestion. I will make some preliminary comments on each of the points.

1) Was there a long-term plan for the German occupation of the USSR?

What is meant here by "occupation"? If "settlement of a German population" is meant, then there was no plan covering the whole of the USSR. The theoretical settlement plans such as the six variants of the Generalplan Ost at their furthest extent applied only to parts of the western borderlands of the USSR, eg the region between Estonia and Finland, the Crimea and the Kherson Region, some areas in western Ukraine. Other plans that were not part of the GPO proposed the settlement of Scandinavians in the far north of European Russia.

It is noteworthy that none of the plans proposed German settlement in the Great Russian heartland. In fact, areas that were not really part of the USSR, such as Poland and the Baltic States, were more affected by the theoretical settlement plans.

If the meaning of "occupation" is to be understood as German rule or hegemony, then certainly there was an intention or concept of long-term German domination, but there does not appear to have been any concrete plan comparable to the theoretical settlement plans.

The four envisaged Reichskommissariate, Ostland, Ukraine, Moskau and Kaukasus, of which only the first two were established, appear to have been temporary stages rather than long-term territorial solutions. Various individuals had their own ideas on the future status of the reichskommissariate; Lohse, for example, seems to have believed that Ostland would become a sort of private fief for his family, to be inherited by his son.

On the other hand, Rosenberg, the German Government's ostensible theoretician in regard to the future ordering of the conquered Soviet territories, promoted the concept of breaking up the former Russian Empire into a number of puppet states under German hegemony, which would hold a rump Russian state in check. He appears to have regarded the Reichskomissariate as intermediate stages on the way to the establishment of such puppet states; thus the Reichskommissariat Ukraine would eventually become an autonomous entity under German domination, and the Reichskommissariat Kaukasus would eventually be split up into a number of ethnic units allied to Germany.

As is shown by Wetzel's comments of April 1942 on the first RSHA version of the GPO ( variant no. 3 in Schulz's analysis), which can be read as an exposition of a competing proposal favoured by Rosenberg, the resettlement of parts of various ethnic groups in West Siberia was not simply a dumping of racial undesirables, but rather a positive colonisation of the area for the purpose of strengthening the European area of settlement against a future challenge from the "Asian Idea", which Schulz interprets as Japanese westward expansion.

(2) If so, what were its essential elements?

Adopting the intepretation of "occupation" as "German ethnic settlement", then the essential element was the pushing of the German ethnic frontier further to the East. That frontier was to represent a clear demarcation between the German people and other peoples, the land to the west of the frontier being a solid block of German ethnic settlement.

The envisaged movement of the ethnic frontier affected Poland far more than the USSR; all the variants of the GPO and other population policies had in common the aim that the western Polish territories annexed by Germany should remain an integral part of the Reich in perpetuity and be thoroughly germanised, in part through the settlement of Germans and in part through assimilation of a portion of the existing Polish population.

The incorporation of the Baltic States into the Reich also appears to have been an essential part of the concept of pushing the German ethnic frontier to the East, due to their connection to Germany in medieval times. The territory was to be germanised, again partly through German settlement and assimilation of part of the existing population.

There were suggestions for moving the ethnic frontier even further to the East, but they were not common to all plans, and of course were less feasible than the proposals for a more modest expansion. Thus, the core element of German planning with regard to the redrawing of ethnic frontiers in the areas east of Germany was the incorporation into the Reich of the western part of Poland and of the Baltic States and the thorough germanisation of the population of that territory, which might have been feasible, given the realistic number of German settlers available (mainly ethnic Germans withdrawn from various parts of Eastern Europe and concentrated in the above territory) and the theoretical degree of assimilability of the exisitng Polish and Baltic populations.

However, as stated, the above essential element does not really affect the USSR proper.

If we interpret "occupation" as German rule or hegemony, then the essential feature was that there should be an ethnically German ruling class permanently dominating the whole of European Russia politically and economically, and that any native states set up in accordance with Rosenberg's ideas would be under the control of German advisors or administrators. In Hitler's mind, British India furnished the model for that sort of structure.

The above two features would constitute the irreducible minimum of the German Government's concept for the future of the conquered areas lying to the East of Germany; movement of the German ethnic frontier eastward to incorporate Western Poland and the Baltic States, and the exercise of political and economic hegemony over the rest of the territory conquered from the USSR, envisaged as the territory west of the Urals.

(a) What aspects were fixed and which were tentative?

The one fixed element was permanent German political and economic domination over the whole area west of the Urals. The different types of practical measures to achieve that domination must be seen as tentative, since their implementation would depend on a number of variables that were not fixed and could not be predicted during the short period in which Germany actually was in possession of the territory in question.

For example, the various theoretical plans for establishing a permanent German population in parts of the conquered Soviet territories must be seen as tentative, since they depended entirely on the presence of several million Germans ready, willing and able to settle in those territories, which was by no means assured. Some of the background documents prepared by Himmler's planning staff refer to the "danger" that post-war economic expansion in a victorious Germany would absorb all available German manpower and indeed suck in foreign labour, something that did happen in historical fact, despite Germany's defeat, and would certainly have happened on an even greater scale if Germany had not been defeated.

(i) What were Hitler's plans for the area?

It is very difficult to distinguish his firm plans from the mere daydreaming which characterised a lot of his musings at the dinner table.

It would be reasonable to say that he envisaged a permanent German military presence in the area and the disarming of the native population. One of his main concerns was to ensure that there would be no military power apart from Germany west of the Urals.

Thus, centres of Soviet and pre-Soviet Russian military and political power such as Moscow and Leningrad were to be eliminated and their populations dispersed. Russian political, military and economic power was to be further weakened by excising various territories and either giving them to other states such as Finland or establishing them as exclaves of the German Reich.

It is also difficult to determine which of Hitler's plans expressed at various times were permanent, and which were variable, changing over time in response to changing circumstances. For example, even in the early 1920s he was speaking of the breaking up of Russia into smaller parts, so as to eliminate the Russian State as a military threat to Germany. Thus it would appear that the elimination of Russia as a single state structure was a permanent part of his thinking; but even so, there was a short period in 1939 and 1940 when, under the influence of Ribbentrop, Hitler seemed to accept the possibility of a long-term alliance between Germany and a de-bolshevised Russia as a Eurasian Bloc confronting the maritime powers Britain and the United States, which of course would have ruled out German conquest and settlement of Soviet territory, even if it had allowed for German supremacy.

Thus, the ideas expressed by Hitler once he had made the final decision to attack the Soviet Union were in part the realisation of long-held ambitions, but also a reaction to circumstances which had negated the Ribbentrop concept of a Eurasian Bloc.

By contrast, until 1939 Hitler did not express any idea of a conquest of Poland and the settlement of a German population on its territory. Indeed, he tried to draw Poland into an alliance with the concept of a joint conquest of Soviet Ukraine, with Poland taking the territory west of the Dniepr and Germany the territory to the east of it, including the industrial regions of the Donbas. Those plans of course ruled out any pushing of the German ethnic frontier to the east into Polish territory (and indeed Hitler did formally renounce German claims to Polish territory that had been German before 1918). If Hitler had achieved his goal of an anti-Soviet alliance with Poland, then the only possible expansion of the German ethnic frontier would have been into the Baltic States.

It is difficult to say with any certainty whether Hitler's original proposal for the division of Ukraine between Germany and Poland included any concept of the settlement of a German population in any part of Eastern Ukraine. It may be that his later idea of German colonisation of Crimea, which he voiced openly once the German invasion of the Soviet Union had begun in 1941, formed part of his original plan for Ukraine. After all, the Crimea and the area to its north was seen by the Soviet Government in the 1920s as an area for colonisation, and opposing factions within the Bolshevik regime advanced competing settlement schemes; Tartar Bolsheviks suggested settling ethnic Tartar exiles repatriated from Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, while Jewish Bolsheviks suggested settling surplus Jews from Belorussia. So it may be that Hitler was influenced by such settlement proposals, and thought that the agricultural colonists might as well be German.

(ii) What were the competing proposals of Hitler's subordinates to carry out those plans?

This question pre-supposes that Hitler formulated plans which he asked his subordinates to implement.

In fact, the opposite appears to have been the case. Hitler seems to have only set very broad policy guidelines, which were in any case part of general National Socialist ideology. His subordinates formulated concepts that were their own, based on their own ideas, and then tried to gain Hitler's endorsement of them. In some cases there were clear contradictions between the concepts advanced by different subordinates, and quite often Hitler did not give a clear endorsement of one concept over a competing one, leading to a lot of uncertainty and chaos in the German administration of conquered territories.

For example, Rosenberg's concepts for the restructuring of the Russian area after the destruction of Bolshevism were not an expression of ideas given to him by Hitler, but rather ideas develped independently by him based on his own experience of growing up in Russia and also based on the ideas of Ukrainian nationalists and other refugees from Bolshevism.

Himmler's ideas were rooted in a romantic "blood-and-soil" ideology that arose in the 19th century, based on quasi-mythological interpretations of Germany's medieval past and the role that the German people supposedly played at that time. To some extent Himmler's racial ideas corresponded with Hitler's, but Hitler quite often mocked Himmler's more bizarre schemes, such as the concept of resurrecting the ancient German tribes and reorganising the German peasantry into tribal groups.

(Despite Hitler's mockery, some variants of the GPO prepared for Himmler included a tribal division of the German settlers, eg into Middle German Old Tribes and New Tribes, or Upper German Allamanni and Bajuvars, with different tribal groups scheduled to settle different areas in various proportions, as if those tribes still existed in reality. That shows the essential unreality pervading much of the planning for German settlement in the East.)

When it came to the restructuring of the conquered areas of theSoviet Union, Hitler generally gave precedence to Himmler over Rosenberg, despite the fact that the latter was officially the Minister responsible for those areas. That precedence gave Himmler more or less carte blanche to develop his schemes, even though Hitler may have been skeptical of some of them. It is likely that the reason for Himmler's being given precedence was his control of the security forces, which Hitler needed for the purpose of maintaining physical control over the conquered territories.

(b) What tangible steps were taken to realize the policy objectives?

With regard to the settlement of a German population, tangible steps were certainly taken in Poland. In the annexed western territories, eg in Wartheland, there were expulsions of ethnic Poles, and ethnic Germans brought from the Baltic States and Volhynia were settled in their place. There was an attempt to concentrate ethnic Germans scattered over various parts of Poland in the Zamosc region, but it failed due to strong armed resistance from the Polish nderground.

In conquered Soviet territory, very little of a tangible nature was actually done. There was a proposal to set up an ethnic German settlement area called "Hegewald" between Zhytomyr and Berdychev, where there were existing ethnic German colonies, and to concentrate ethnic Germans from more outlying areas there. A map of the proposed settlement area was produced by an SS Standartenführer Jungkunz; it shows a number of planned villages with inspiring names like "Reichstreu", "Heimkehr", "Neuheimat", "Arbeit", and "Fleiss". However, the settlement never really got off the ground.

There was also a plan to return to Lithuania ethnic Germans who had been evacuated from there in 1939 and 1940. In 1943, a map was prepared showing the planned return to points in Ukraine and the Crimea of ethnic Germans previously evacuated from the Soviet Union, in three separate treks. But nothing tangible was ever really done, in terms of actually settling ethnic Germans on the land.

(3) Did the plan change during the course of the war? If so, how and when?

The different variants of the GPO reveal changes in the direction of increasing unreality and impracticability, despite the very obvious attempts of Himmler's planning staff to maintain some sense of proportion.

After the defeat at Stalingrad, all planning for the post-war period was put on hold, in favour of the concentration of effort on the total war.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 25 Nov 2005 03:04

In the long term German population growth also needs to be considered:

Up to 1940

Germany 1871--41 million
Germany 1893--49 million
Germany 1913--65 million
Germany 1919--60 million
Germany 1937--68 million
GrossDeutschland 1940--80 million

The fall in 1919 represents 2 million military dead from WW1,0.5 million civilians over the norm died 1914-18,3 million subjects(not all German) lost by the Treaty of Versailles.

Most likely a 100 million Germans lived in Europe in 1940 if you include those in the Tirol,Rumania,Hungary,the Baltics,the Volga etc.

I have seen no studies done of what the German population would have been now if Germany had won the war.

The current 2005 population figure is 82.4 million but this includes many postwar immigrants such as Turks etc.

Given 100 million Germanic people in Europe in 1940,and if fertility rates were the same as those of the late 1930s,perhaps 150 million German speakers would now exist in Europe if Hitler had been triumphant.

Whatever the best estimate an outlet East to cater for this large number would have been appreciated.

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Post by michael mills » 25 Nov 2005 04:14

Given 100 million Germanic people in Europe in 1940,and if fertility rates were the same as those of the late 1930s,perhaps 150 million German speakers would now exist in Europe if Hitler had been triumphant.


This rests on some very heroic assumptions, the same sort of illusions that Himmler had.

The rate of natural increase of the German population in the late 1930s was not especially high. It was higher than it had been at the beginning of the 1930s, but that was simply a recovery from an abnormally low birth-rate caused by the Great Depression.

It was still a lot lower than it had been in the last decades of the 19th century, when a rapidly developing German Empire experienced relatively high population growth, some 20% over the 12 years from 1871 to 1893. The increase over the next 20 years from 1893 to 1913 was 33%, showing that the rate of growth was already slowing down.

Growth during the 18 years from 1919 to 1937 was only 13%, showing the depression of the birth rate as a result of severe economic distress.

German demographers had been alarmed by the fall in the rate of increase of the German population since the end of the 19th century and advocated all sorts of pro-natalist policies, many of which were instituted by the National Socialist Government. But even the harshest tyranny cannot force people to produce children, and the hard demographic truth is that the more the prosperity and health of a population increases, the lower its reproduction rate as people have fewer children.

If Germany had not been defeated and had retained its hegemony over all of Europe and European Russia, the planned supranational division of labour between Germany and the nations under its rule would have resulted in greatly increased propserity in Germany, as in fact occurred after the War, and an inevitable fall in the rate of population growth.

So it is likely that the descendants today of the 100 million ethnic Germans of 1940 would not have been substantially greater in number, perhaps they would even have been less, given the demographic trends that have actually taken hold in Europe.

And given that the territory of Germany would have been substantially greater than it is today, it could probably have accommodated the entire 100 million, given that today's much reduced Germany can hold 80 million. Economic growth would have soaked up the labour power represented by a population of that size.

The total number of German-speakers may have been substantially more than 100 million, but that would have been due to assimilation of non-Germans, would would certainly have occurred if Germany had remained the hegemon of Europe, and was planned by the german authorities. Those German-speakers additional to the population of Germany itself could have remained living in their original homes, in Bohemia-Moravia, the former western territories of Poland, in the Baltic States, in Alsace-Lorraine, in what is now Slovenia.

There is no realistic demographic projection that would result in such a large population growth in Germany after 1940, sufficient to fuel a mass settlement of Germans in Russia.

Any assumption that produces a population growth of such size is simply unrealistic, and unjustified by historical experience. To posit such unrealistic assumptions constitutes a distortion of historical reality in order to make it fit an ideologically-based hypothesis.

To put it simply, there is no way a modern, developed, prosperous population could have experienced natural increase of 50% over the past 60 years.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 25 Nov 2005 06:27

Based on the Australian experience the population has increased from 7 million in 1939 to 20 million today.

Immigration has contributed at least 6 million to the 13 million increase.Natural increase(including the offspring of immigrants) accounts for the other 7 million.

Furthermore the postwar baby boom of 1946-64 would have been experienced most likely in a victorious Germany as well.

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Post by michael mills » 25 Nov 2005 12:35

Post-war Australia cannot be compared with post-war Germany.

Countries with large-scale immigration (and Australia's immigration was larger than that of most other countries, the total number of immigrants being equal to the 1939 population) tend to have above-normal rates of natural increase, since the immigrants are usually young and therefore raise the proportion of the population in the child-bearing ages well above what it would otherwise be.

Post-war Germany did not experience immigration on that scale. It did experience a large inward population transfer, but that did not have the effect of selective immigration in that it did not change the population profile, it simply increased the total population in all age-brackets, it increased the number of old people as well as the number of young people. As for the influx of guest workers, most of them went home; only a minority remained to contribute to population growth.

Germany would probably have experienced a post-war baby boom, as did most other countries with a similar socio-economic profile. But none of those other developed countries have increased their populations by 50% due to natural increase, and there is no reason to believe that Germany would have done so. And as I have pointed out, post-war economic growth would have soaked up all the additional population once the baby-boomers began to reach maturity in the late 1960s.

In order to assess the likely demographic development of Germany if it had not been defeated and had retained its conquests, it is necessary to use appropriate analogies, not those of countries in an entirely different situation.

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