Bundesarchiv_R_49_Bild-0138,_Polen,_Wartheland,_Aussiedlung_von_Polen OST patch Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-2007-0074,_IG-Farbenwerke_Auschwitz Germans in the Ost Renew German African colonies

Esther M. Zimmer Lederberg
Not a Supporter of Eugenics
Reichsgau Wartheland
(German Ost)

Germany's colonial expansion in the late nineteenth century encompassed not only Africa and the South Pacific, but Eastern Europe. 1, 2, 3 German settlements were created in Prussia in the late 1880s; Germany joined forces with those involved in trying to create an "independent Ukraine" in 1918; and in 1939 Germany established the Reichsgau Wartheland in areas that roughly corresponded to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and the Ukraine. (At various times historically parts of the Ukraine had been part of Poland, part of Lithuania, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, etc. Thus, there was already a precedent for the creation of a 'new' colony in these locations.)

Otto von Bismarck's Prussian Settlement Commission: 1886

In 1886, Otto von Bismarck established the ''Koniglich Preussische Ansiedlungskommission'' Royal Prussian Colonization Commission in the Prussian partition of Poland. In this decade thousands of Poles were evicted into Russia. 4 It also led to the colonization campaign in the East. The Commission was financed by 100 million marks, used to purchase large Polish land estates from members of the Polish szlachta (gentry), which were then broken down into many small parcels of farm land. These parcels were intended to subsidize German peasants in the Polish East. 5, 6, 7

The "Verein Forderung des Deutschthums in den Ostmarken" (the "German Eastern Marches Society") was establised in 1894, renamed the "Ostmarkenverein" (the "Eastern Marches Society") or the "HKT" or "Haktisten" after 1899. The "HKT" abbreviated "Hansemann, Hermann; Kennemann; and Tiedmann, Heinrich von. This was a propaganda effort to settle German peasants in Poland. 8 The basis of the propaganda was a focus on the healthy German volk (peasants) as opposed to the Polish peasants, who were referred to derrogatorily as the degenerate "Polacks". (The idea of "degeneracy" here is that the "Polacks" (and Jews) were viewed as filthy, backward, criminal or lazy subhumans who lived in Eastern Europe.) The German "type" of peasant who was intended to populate this new colony was envisaged to be a hard worker, likely to be found in a frontier setting. Appeals were made to the kind of frontiersman found in the U.S. 9 By 1914, the Eastern Marches Society demanded forced population movements and relocation of large groups of people, these proposals are pointed out as part of prehistory of genocidal measures employed by Nazism; similar population policies were envisioned in German Southwest Africa. 10

The image of the "degenerates" living in Poland were often of Polish women referred to as examples of "Slavic blackness". References were made to "black Kascha" or "black Bronislaw". "Blackness" referred to black eye color, black clothes, Gypsy-like appearance, dark skin, loose hair style (feminine seductiveness) vs the German "whiteness": blue eye color, blond or flaxen hair color, light skin, braided (contained) hair wrapped into a bun. This image of "seductiveness" was used because it was feared that the German population would be sexually diluted by miscegenation with the Polish natives. (This was the same problem that led to legislation banning intermarriage between Germans and indigenous people in the German colonies.) 11, 12, 13

Bundesarchiv_R_49_Bild-0138,_Polen,_Wartheland,_Aussiedlung_von_Polen OST patch Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-2007-0074,_IG-Farbenwerke_Auschwitz

Click to view

Click to view

Click to view

The fear extended beyond possible dilution of German racial purity, into dilution of German political power: mixed-raced children of Germans and Poles would inherit citizenship from their German parent, as opposed to the Poles being expelled from this idealic German colony. (This, too, later occurred in reality in the German South West African colony circa 1908.) 14, 15

The image of German frontiersman purity were based on a German environment that prized purity, cleanliness and organization, and well-managed farmsteads; as opposed to the "Polack" farmsteads that were viewed as being filthy, with dirty children in dirty, torn clothing, beset by pestilence, drunkeness, backwardness, laziness and criminality. Rural farmsteads were targeted, not the cities (which were viewed as places for degenerates such as Jews). This view of the "Polack" was referred to as "Polnische Wirtschaft" or the environment of a Polish Tavern. Popular literature ("Ostmarkenroman") based on this discription was well-known to Germans at this time. 16

German African Colonial Experience

Before World War I, Paul Rohrbach was the Settlements Commissioner in German South West Africa. Concerned with miscegenation, he is quoted as follows:

"In order to secure the peaceful White settlement against the bad, culturally inept and predatory native tribe, it is possible that its actual eradication may become necessary under certain conditions." 17
.
See     http://www.estherlederberg.com/Eugenics (Anecdotes)/Shark Island Extermination Camp.html

Germans Help Establish an Independent Ukraine

Independently of what was happening in German South West Africa, in 1918 the Germans had invaded the Ukraine while people like Symon Petliura and Anton Denikin (infamous anti-Semites) were also trying to establish an independent Ukraine. Rohrbach worked with Field Marshal Hermann von Eichhorn, commander of the German forces in the Ukraine, to install General Pavel Petrovitch Skoropadski as "Hetmann" of the Ukraine. 18

Nazi Ost (East) Colonial Expansion

During the Third Reich, German colonists from German East Africa and other former German African colonies were moved into Polish land "annexed" in 1939. 19 This new settlement area was called the Reichsgau Wartheland. Paul Rohrbach focused his worked upon this, then others put his ideas into action. (Generalplan Ost and expulsion of Poles, Gestapo-NKVD Conferences.)

The practices of forced labour and exploitive population policies of the German Empire were used in more extreme forms by Nazis. In 1942/1943 Nazi economists established the Togo Ost Society in the Ukraine, 20 bringing along agricultural models from Africa to Eastern Europe. Additionally German Africans were brought from eastern Africa to Warthegau. 21 As model pioneers they were to inspire European Germans to settle in Poland. 22

"... Hitler, Darre, and other Nazi ideologues played down overseas colonialism and concentrated instead on contiguous German settlements in Eastern Europe and especially Ukraine where the Aryan 'soldier-peasant' tilled the soil with a weapon at his side, ready to defend the farm from the 'Asian hordes.' As for the Ukranians whom the Nazis pejoratively branded 'Negroes,' Hitler remarked that the Germans would supply them 'with scarves, glass beads and everything that colonial people like.'" 23

The movement of German colonists displaced Poles (the indigenous population), Jews and Gypsies, who were considered inferior.

Germans in the Ost Renew German African colonies

Click to view

Click to view

Generalplan OST

Friedrich Ratzel developed the idea (expressed in his two-volume work, Anthropogeographie) of lebensraum. "Lebensraum" was interpreted as the racial basis for nationalist views of geographic expansion. Ratzel's views were combined with Social Darwinism. Nationalism, geographic expansion, and Social Darwinism laid the foundation for the destruction of "inferior races" by "superior races" such as the Aryans, and provided a basis whereby this destruction could be viewed as the moral expression of Nature. This view was promptly employed by Germany in its colonies, justifying genocide (for example, in Deutsche Südwestafrika and Deutsche Ostafrika during the Second Reich).

Ratzel's ideas were elaborated during the Third Reich to support the creation of lebensraum in Wartheland. This elaboration was based on the experience of military personnel such as Paul Rohrbach, who had served in the African colonies. Adolf Hitler was highly influenced by these views, and had no problem viewing the people of Poland, Ukraine (Lithuania, Latvia, Ruthenia) and Russia as effectively being "negroes" who could be exterminated and replaced by Germans.24, 25, 26

"Although no copies of either the first or the second GPO survive, we do have a detailed analysis of it [the second], dated April 22, 1942, by Dr. Erhard Wetzel, the expert on race issues in the Reichministry for Occupied Eastern Areas." It is as follows:
  • 31 million people to be resettled from the occupied eastern areas
  • 10 million Germans or "Germanic people" to be resettled in the East after the war, "to replace most of the native population from the area between Russia and Germany, estimated at about 45 million people, of whom 31 million were declared to be 'racially undesirable' and who were to be sent to western Siberia."
  • "About 14 million of the conquered people were to remain, but only to be used as slaves."
  • "Those deported would have included 100 percent of all the Jews, about 80 to 85 percent of the Poles, 75 percent of the White Russians, and 64 percent of the west Ukranian population."

"Given these percentages, it would have been impossible for any of these nations to survive as cultures or nations in any meaningful sense, so that these plans explicitly accept that all four of these nations would for all intents and purposes cease to exist. These plans in effect, therefore, called for nothing less than serial genocide."27, 28, 29


1   Robert L. Nelson Palgrave, "Germans, Poland, and colonial expansion to the East: 1850 through the present", Macmillan, 2009
.
"This incisive collection probes the history of colonialism within Europe and posits that Eastern Europe was in fact Germany’s true 'colonial' empire. Through a series of interdisciplinary essays ranging from 1850 to the European Union of today, this collection explores the idea that Germany’s relationship with Poland and Eastern Europe had many similarities to the practice of 'overseas' colonialism. As the contributing scholars aptly demonstrate, the history of Germany’s relationship with Poland contains all the trappings of the classic colonial encounter, from its structures of power and control, racism and cultural chauvinism, to the implementation of wholesale scientific experimentation in a 'lawless' environment."
.
2   Aleksei I. Miller, Alfred J. Rieber, "Imperial rule", Central European University Press 2005, page 50:
'The rule of Polish territories can be categorized as internal colonization, especially significant because it preceded external colonialism.'
.
3   Kristin Kopp, "Grey Zones: On the Inclusion of 'Poland' in the Study of German Colonialism." In Michael Perraudin, Jurgen Zimmerer "German Colonialism and National Identity.", Taylor & Francis 2009, ISBN 9780415964777, p. 35
.
4   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, p. 78
.
"This decade witnessed the massive eviction of thousands of Poles into Russia as well as the launching of Bismarck's internal colonization campaign."
.
5   Christopher M. Clark, "Iron Kingdom: the rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947", p. 580
.
6   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, p. 78
.
7   The majority of the Polish people are Roman Catholics, while the majority of the Ukrainian and Russian people are Russian Orthodox, thus the eviction of Poles into Russian would have caused much turmoil, even razzias. Consider the long history of religious antagonisms. Consider the poem by Taras Shrvchenko, "Haidamaky".
.
8   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, pp. 78-79
.
9   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, pp. 76-78, 80-82, 85
.
10   Helmut Walser Smith, "The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History", Oxford University Press, page 577, 2011
.
11   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, pp. 84-86
.
12   Tina M. Campt, "Other Germans, Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender, and Memory in the Third Reich", University of Michigan Press 2003, p. 43,
.
13   A German film about contemporary attitudes that is very popular in Germany is "Heimat - A Chronicle of Germany", Directed by Edgar Reitz, March 31, 1985. This film is about the village Schabbach, on the Rhine near the Hunsrueck mountains in Germany, through the years 1919-1982. German racial attitudes towards gypsies, "blackness", etc., are discussed in this film. Of course, to be acceptable to post-WWI Germans, the Holocaust and other issues related to 'ethnic cleansing' are barely discussed. Although this is not an academic reference, the way a people portray themselves in film, literature, music and art truly reveals how people view themselves. It is for this reason that all cultural aspects are studied when one studies history. Thus, this source is included here because it accurately portrays Germans as still harboring racist views. Another very revealing view of German racist attitudes still held, occurs in the film "Heimat" when American Black soldiers are shown leering at innocent German women. This brings to mind "The Black Disgrace on the Rhine", discussed by Ernst Rüdin of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry, in Munich, and used as the rationale for rounding up the "Rhineland bastards" and others for sterilization. See:
     http://www.estherlederberg.com/Eugenics (Anecdotes)/Bastard studies.html
.
14   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, pp. 79, 81-83, 86
.
15   See "Bridging the Second and Third Reichs in German South West Africa" in:
     http://www.estherlederberg.com/Eugenics (Anecdotes)/German South West Africa.html
.
16   Kristin Kopp, "Constructing Racial Difference in Colonial Poland", in Eric Ames, Marcia Klotz, Lora Wildenthal (Eds.), "Germany's Colonial Pasts", Univ. of Nebraska, 2005, pp. 76-96
.
17   Jeremy Sarkin, "Germany's Genocide of the Herero: Kaiser Wilhelm II, His General, His Settlers, His Soldiers", James Currey, 2011, p. 102
.
18   Hans-Joachim Torke and John-Paul Himka, "German-Ukranian Relations in Historical Perspective", Canadian Institute of Ukranian Studies Press, Edmonton, 1994 (review).
.
19   Jonathan Petropoulos, John K. Roth, "Gray zones: ambiguity and compromise in the Holocaust and its aftermath", p. 187
.
20   'Togo' refers to Togoland in Afica.
.
21   Jonathan Petropoulos, John K. Roth, "Gray zones: ambiguity and compromise in the Holocaust and its aftermath", p. 187
.
22   Jonathan Petropoulos, John K. Roth, "Gray zones: ambiguity and compromise in the Holocaust and its aftermath", p. 187
.
23   Jonathan Petropoulos, John K. Roth, "Gray zones: ambiguity and compromise in the Holocaust and its aftermath", pp. 187-188
.
24   "[Poles in Germany] were given a set of nine rules as to the 'duties of male and female civilian workers of Polish nationality during their stay in Germany. They were confined to their workplace and to their billets after curfew and excluded from using public transport except with special permission. They Poles were the first in Germany to be forced to wear a badge — a purple "P" sewn to all their clothing." See Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan (Eds), "The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective", Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 254
.
25   "In conversations with Martin Borman in 1941-42, Hitler frequently compared the German war on the Eastern front to the colonial wars. The Slavic world had to be conquered and colonized so as to turn it into a sort of "Germanic India," and its population had to be put down using methods of destruction comparable to those employed by the English in their empire and the Americans against the Indian tribes." See Enzo Traverso (Janet Lloyd, Trans.), "The Origins of Nazi Violence", The New Press, 2003, p. 70
.
26   "By extending his comparison of the Slave of the Lebensram to the Indians in the English colonies and the populations of Mexico before their conquest by Cortes, Hitler transformed them into non-Europeans. ... Conflating the Slavs with the 'savages' of colonial imagery also cropped up in other conversations about the methods to be adopted for the colonization of the East. Hitler suggested teaching them a 'language of gestures,' banning literature, and prohibiting instruction; the radio would suffice to provide the masses with amusement, 'as much music as they want.'" See Enzo Traverso (Janet Lloyd, Trans.), "The Origins of Nazi Violence", The New Press, 2003, p. 71-72.
.
27   Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan (Eds), "The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective", Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 255-256
.
28   "The Nazi General Plan Ost ... envisaged the German colonization of the territories extending all the way from Leningrand to the Crimea. ... The first stage involved evacuating — through the deportment or elimination of about 30 million to 40 million 'racially undesirable' (rassisch unerwünscht) Slavs; over the next thirty or so years, about 10 milion Germans and ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche, Deuthscstämmige) were gradually to be installed, to colonize the conquered territories and rule over the Slavs, who would be reduced to slavery (Heloten). The extermination of 'races' judged to be harmful, such as the Jews and Gypsies, was part of the overall plan and was to be completed during the conflict." See Enzo Traverso (Janet Lloyd, Trans.), "The Origins of Nazi Violence", The New Press, 2003, p. 68-70
.
29   The drive to create colonies in eastern Europe to create "living space" in Germany dated from medieval times. As noted by Henryk Samsonowicz in "Medieval Colonization in Europe (Towards a Summary)" (included in Jan Piskorski [Ed.], "Historiographical Approaches to Medieval Colonization of East Central Europe", East European Monographs, Boulder, distributed by Columbia University Press, 2002), "Theories about the creative influence of the settlers' superior culture on a backward and underdeveloped society and the positive effect of colonization on the farming of new territories, were used to support the historical justification for various political opinions and activities. ... Knowledge of the course and consequences of colonization was adapted to support political conceptions, and also occasionally ideological ones, about threats to a nation's cultural identity and values sustained by the autochtonous culture. Both these points of view were voiced where ethnic groups met, and — as in Poland, the Czech lands and Finland — international conflicts provoked the use of historical arguments. Research on colonization in medieval Europe was particularly exploited in the second half of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to justify the need for 'living space' in Germany, to demonstrate a superiority in 'cultural wealth' (occasionally by Germans over Slavonic countries, occasionally by the West over the East". At the same time colonization was used to justify 'eternal rights to settled lands' or prove the existence of immanent threat embodied by dangerous neighbours." (See p. 373.)

Back

© Copyright 2006 - 2018    The Esther M. Zimmer Lederberg Trust     Web Site Terms of Use