Race, space, and the "Polish question" : Nazi deportation policy in Reichsgau Wartheland, 1939-1941 / by Phillip T. Rutherford.
Between the autumn of 1939 and the spring of 1941, the Nazi regime conducted a mammoth exercise in population policy devised to “Germanize” those regions of western Poland formally annexed to the Reich following the Polish campaign. Based on the conviction that any lasting conquest of Lebensraum for the German people necessitated the comprehensive “Germanization” of captured territory, this complex demographic project entailed two, interrelated, large-scale population movements: the mass expulsion of Poles and Jews from annexed territory and the mass resettlement of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans from eastern and southeastern Europe in their place. Through these actions, the so-called “incorporated eastern territories” were to shed their “foreign” character within a matter of years, a racial metamorphosis that would ensure their permanent integration into the German ethno-territorial nation-state. Most investigations of National Socialist population policy in annexed western Poland highlight either the bureaucratic mechanisms surrounding the repatriation and resettlement of ethnic Germans or the connections between Germanization schemes and the emergence of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” This dissertation reformulates the study of Nazi population policy by emphasizing the striking anti-Polish character of the crusade to Germanize annexed territory, specifically Reichsgau Wartheland, the province in which the campaign was most energetically waged. From September 1939 to March 1941, nearly half a million people were evicted from their homes in the incorporated territories and deported eastward to the Nazi-administered “Generalgouvernement.” The vast majority of these individuals were non-Jewish Poles. This dissertation seeks to explain why early Nazi deportation efforts were geared primarily toward the expulsion of non-Jewish Poles by investigating the evolution of deportation policy in Nazi thought and action between late 1939 and early 1941, as well as the foundation, development, and gradual “rationalization” of the elaborate deportation system established in Wartheland during the period in question. In doing so, it underscores the relationship between the Nazis' anti-Polish actions of 1939–1941 and the later annihilation of the Jews, examining in detail when, where, and how the National Socialists prepared and gained invaluable experience for their onslaught against the Jewish population of Europe.
Record last modified: 2018-04-24 16:01:00
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