* war and social upheaval: World War II -- German occupation policies

World War II: German Occupation Policies--Race and Geography

Figure 1.--

Germans occupation policies varied geographically depending largely on the racial makeup of the occupied countries. German racial policies had a major impact. German occupation policies turned deadly in the East. They were geerally more correct un the West, butit should not be thought that the war-timepoiciesinthe West would have continued after the War had the Germans won the War. In line with Holocaust actions, Generalplan Ost, and the starvation plan. The goal was eliminate Jews (kiling procedures varied geogrhically, but not the outcome), and substantially reduce the Slavic population and convert the survivors to slave labor. The goal was to turn Eastern Rurope into a vast German colony. In the West, the goal was more economic and political. The Germans also wanted to exploit the economies and make political changes, but not to reduce the population--with the exception of Jews. The primacy of racial policies should not be neglected. Hitler persued deadly racial policies even when they interfered with the German war effort. The Ss had its imprint in the Holocausr and Generalplan Ost. The Ministry of Food and the wehrmacht was heavily involved with the Hunger Plan.

The Holocaust

The Holocaust was a crime without presidence in modern history. The NAZIs targeted the Jews for death camps. Many were killed by SS Einsatzgruppen in large-scale actions at first in Poland and than on a larger scale in the Soviet Union. Others Jews were concentrated in Ghettos for slave labor and eventual dispatch to the death camps. Tragically it was not just the Germans involved, but in many countries the local population led by Fascist groups were all to willing to participate in the robbery and killing. Jewish children were among the first to be killed by the NAZIs. They had no economic value which could be exploited. They also were the seed for the future of the Jewish people. The NAZIs also saw them as a force for future retribution if they were not killed. The NAZIs are estimated to have murdered over a million Jewish children. One can not forget the images of the starving Jewish children on the Warsaw Ghetto whose parents had been killed. A great body of litterature exists on the Holocaust including the experiences of the children.

Generalplan Ost

The SS Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA -- Reich Security Office) was the NAZI agency which drafted the Generalplan Ost (General Plan East). This was the NAZI blueprint for the most horendous crime ever envisioned in human history. The Holocaust directed at Europe's 11 million Jews was just one part of Generalplan Ost. The basic outline for Generalplan Ost was sketched out by Hitler in Mein Kampf. The invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia gave the NAZIs the first slice of eastern territory to begin their transformation of eastern Europe (March 1939). But the NAZIs considered the Czechs to be the most advanced Slavs. Anbd they needed Czech industry for arms production. So the Czechs were left with a pupet government and Germinization was put off least it disrupt arms production. Polandd was the next slize of the East. It was auch bigger slice and the Poles were Slavs that Hitler dispised. Himmler launched into aminization process in the EWartergau, but Frank protested with Himmler began dumping Jews and Poles in the General Government. So again Germinization and whole-scale deportations had to be delayed. Himmler and NAZI Party officials argued about Eastern policy. Himmler wanted to settle Germans in the East and to carefully select the existing populations for German blood. Some NAZI Party officials wanted to pursue a less biolgically oriented policy and to accept large numbers of the existing population which was anti-Bolshevik. The debate over Eastern policy raged in NAZI circles for 2 years. With the stunning success of Opperation Barbarossa (June 1941), Hitler finally decided. He essentially accepted Himmler's approach and SS planners began preparing Generalplan Ost. It was developed in secret. The principal area covered was the Sovie Union (including the Baltics), but Poland and Czehoslovakia was also included. Himmler and Heydrich was anxious to put it into operation. The major impediment to carrying it out was the Red Army.

The Hunger Plan

The German Hunger Plan (der Hungerplan) also called der Backe-Plan or Starvation Plan was a NAZI World War II food management plan. It is sometine called the Backe Plan because he plaed such an important role in planning and implementing the plan. Herbert Backe was an official in the Ministy of Food and evenually appointed to that post. The Ministry was responsible for the German rationing program. Actually there was no single centrally coordinated plan, but several separate if some times related operations. Germany's World War I experience encouraged the idea of using food as a weapon. Hitler was not the first in this arena. Stalin preceeded him by about a decade with the Ukranian famine (1932-33). We are not sure to what extent NAZI officials were aware of this. The NKVD did an efficent job of preventing details from leaking out to the West. And Western Socialists and Communists, including those in Germany did not want to believe the rumors. The desire to use food as a weapon. This combined with the NAZI regime's rush to acceptance eugenics theories as scientific fact resulted in a genocidal brew of genocidal policies. NAZI food policies were different than the Allied blockade policies which were designed to win the War. Part of Hitler's war objectives were the murder of millions of people which sometimes were given a priority over the war effort. The Hunger Plan was not a policy designed to help win the War, although sometimes presented as that. Many of the individuals killed were working in war industries supporting the German war effort. This actually impeeded the war effort as a labor shortage developed in Germany requiring the introduction of forced labor to man German war industries. Rather the killing of millions Jews and Slavs was a primary German war goal. Hitler asked officials in the Ministry of Food, the agency responsible for rationing, to develop a Starvation Plan, sometimes referred to as the Hunger Plan. The Minister was one of the chief advocates for eugenics in the NAZI heirarchy. The largest elements of the Hunger Plan were: 1) Occupation policies in Poland, 2) Ghetto policies, 3) Starvation of Polish and Soviet POWs, 4) Generalplan Ost. Scholars studying the Hunger Plan provide a somewhat varried list of its elements, largely because there was no single, well coordinated NAZI eff ort, but rather the work of various officials with similar objectives and values. These include besides Backe, Reicharshall Göring, Reichführer SS Himmler, SS Obergruppenf�hrer Heydrich, and Minister of Food Darré.


A counterpoint to the NAZI program of exterminating Jews and other groups considered to be sub-human was the Lebensborn program, a secret NAZI program to enrich German racial lines with pure Nordic Aryan blood. The Lebensborn program was a pet project of SS Reichsführer Himmler. The program was launched in Germany in a small way to encourage and assist German girls to give birth to racially pure children, even if they were unmarried. We have noted some difference of opinion about the Lebensborn homes. After the Germans launched World War II and occupied large stretches of Eastern Europe, they proceeded to kidnap thousands of children who were deemed to be Aryan. Himmler indicated that these children had to be Germanized or killed because he though Aryan populations outside of the Reich were a threat. The Lebensborn program also affected other countries such as Norway--albeit on a smaller scale. Estimates suggest that 0.20-0.25 million children, mostly Polish, were eventually involved in this program. Only a small number were ever returned to their parents.


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Created: 9:34 PM 11/1/2012
Last updated: 11:40 AM 4/16/2020