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Wolf 2017 - Negotiating Germanness. National Socialist Germanization policy in the Wartheland.pdf (569.15 kB)

Negotiating Germanness: National Socialist Germanization policy in the Wartheland

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posted on 2023-06-09, 05:49 authored by Gerhard WolfGerhard Wolf
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.


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Journal of Genocide Research




Taylor & Francis





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  • Centre for German-Jewish Studies Publications

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