Negotiating Germanness: National Socialist Germanization policy in the Wartheland

Wolf, Gerhard (2017) Negotiating Germanness: National Socialist Germanization policy in the Wartheland. Journal of Genocide Research, 19 (2). pp. 214-239. ISSN 1462-3528

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Abstract

Given the crucial importance of the notion of Volksgemeinschaft in Nazi Germany, one might assume that there existed a common understanding about who did or did not belong to it. Before the war, the Nazis clearly prioritized the latter, with the Volksgemeinschaft taking shape in a process of excluding those deemed to be enemies of the people. When German troops crossed into Poland, the balance shifted. Conquering land that could only be turned into German living space when settled with Germans, the occupation authorities were suddenly confronted with the opposite. Establishing the German Volksgemeinschaft in multinational territories now meant sifting through the local population and separating Germans from Poles. One might have thought that it should be easy enough to answer what was a simple enough question: who is German in annexed Poland? It was not easy, however, as I will show by looking at the selection procedure set up by the provincial government in the Wartheland, the so-called German People’s Register. Given the polycratic nature of the Nazi regime, it was to be expected that this would quickly descend into a bitter dispute with rival power factions with rather different ideas about how to define Germanness. What is surprising, however, is that it was loyal behaviour and not, for example, ‘racial suitability’ that emerged as the primary criterion. Surprising, too, is the extent to which the native population subjected to this process was able to influence its outcome by using every opportunity to convince the provincial government of its German credentials.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for German-Jewish Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD History of Germany > DD084 History > DD121 By period > DD175 Modern, 1519- > DD201 19th-20th centuries > DD233 Revolution and Republic, 1918- > DD253 Hitler, 1933-1945. National Socialism
D History General and Old World > DD History of Germany > DD084 History > DD121 By period > DD175 Modern, 1519- > DD201 19th-20th centuries > DD233 Revolution and Republic, 1918- > DD253 Hitler, 1933-1945. National Socialism > DD256 Period of World War II, 1939-1945
Depositing User: Gerhard Wolf
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2017 08:11
Last Modified: 12 May 2017 16:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/67415

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