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The Greater German Reich and the Jews: Nazi Persecution Policies in the Annexed Territories 1935-1945

Wolf Gruner
Jörg Osterloh
Translated by Bernard Heise
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 434
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  • Book Info
    The Greater German Reich and the Jews
    Book Description:

    Between 1935 and 1940, the Nazis incorporated large portions of Europe into the German Reich. The contributors to this volume analyze the evolving anti-Jewish policies in the annexed territories and their impact on the Jewish population, as well as the attitudes and actions of non-Jews, Germans, and indigenous populations. They demonstrate that diverse anti-Jewish policies developed in the different territories, which in turn affected practices in other regions and even influenced Berlin's decisions. Having these systematic studies together in one volume enables a comparison - based on the most recent research - between anti-Jewish policies in the areas annexed by the Nazi state. The results of this prizewinning book call into question the common assumption that one central plan for persecution extended across Nazi-occupied Europe, shifting the focus onto differing regional German initiatives and illuminating the cooperation of indigenous institutions.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-444-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)
    Wolf Gruner and Jörg Osterloh

    In early 2005 the President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, referred in an essay to “Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland” but failed to mention Nazi Germany’s responsibility for the camp, spark ing fierce protests in Poland.¹ Polish reactions looked very much the same when the President of the United States, Barack Obama, in a speech honoring Jan Karski in May 2012, described Auschwitz as a “Polish death camp.”² Of course, Barroso and Obama can hardly be suspected of harboring revisionist tendencies; even so, these examples reveal how references to the extermination camp have been beset by increasingly common and gravely...

  6. Chapter 1 Saar Region
    (pp. 13-38)
    Gerhard J. Teschner

    The territory designated as the Saar Region or Saarland after the end of the First World War did not previously exist as a political administrative unit. Most of the so-called Saar Basin had belonged to Rhenish Prussia and a smaller portion to the Bavarian Palatinate. Based on the supra-regional economic importance of the local coal mining and steel industries, the 1919 Peace Treaty of Versailles, which imposed a number of territorial losses on the German Reich, created the Saar Region as a territory with a special status. It consisted, on the one hand, of parts of the Prussian Regierungsbezirk (government...

  7. Chapter 2 Austria
    (pp. 39-67)
    Albert Lichtblau

    Austria played an important role in the persecution of the Jewish population in the Third Reich. On the one hand, it was the country that socialized Adolf Hitler and produced many of the extermination machinery’s protagonists; on the other hand, after the Anschluss in 1938, the region was the source of many important impulses for the radicalization of anti-Jewish policy.¹

    The collapse of the Habsburg monarchy as a result of the First World War had serious consequences for the Jewish population’s situation during the two decades prior to National Socialist rule in Austria. The organization of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s successor...

  8. Chapter 3 Sudetenland
    (pp. 68-98)
    Jörg Osterloh

    After the First World War, the world familiar to the approximately 3.2 million German residents of Bohemia and Moravia collapsed within weeks.¹ The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s disintegration was followed by their homeland’s incorporation into the Republic of Czechoslovakia. The provinces of German Bohemia and Sudetenland, proclaimed in October 1918, went unrecognized, and the desire to unite the territories with the Republic of German-Austria went unheeded. Instead, the Czech military marched into the German settlement areas. All German efforts in Bohemia and Moravia to claim the right of national self-determination as announced by President Woodrow Wilson failed. A request for a referendum...

  9. Chapter 4 Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia
    (pp. 99-135)
    Wolf Gruner

    As was the case with Germany, the end of the First World War, whose consequences dramatically changed the maps and power relationships of Central and Eastern Europe, also contained the seeds for later developments in Bohemia (Čechy) and Moravia (Morava). The new Czechoslovak Republic, founded as one of the successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, included most of the Czech and Slovak peoples, as well German, Jewish, Hungarian, Polish, and Ruthenian minorities.¹ The independence declaration on 28 October 1918 guaranteed equal rights and political representation for all population groups, including minorities. At the same time, by recognizing Jewish nationality, the...

  10. Chapter 5 Memel Territory
    (pp. 136-156)
    Ruth Leiserowitz

    The designation “Memel Territory” was coined in 1919 at the peace conference in Versailles, referring to the northern strip of East Prussia, bordered on the south by the Memel River and extending to the village of Nimmersatt (Nemirsate) on the Baltic coast. The territory had an area of 2,416 square kilometers and 141,000 inhabitants in 1919.¹ Article 99 of the Treaty of Versailles finally stipulated the cession of the Memel Territory from the German Reich¹ (see map 5.1). When the Reich government protested, the Allies responded with a letter signed by French Prime Minister George Clémenceau stating: “the region has...

  11. Chapter 6 Danzig-West Prussia
    (pp. 157-188)
    Wolfgang Gippert

    As in other territories annexed by Germany during the Second World War, the “solution of the Jewish question” in Danzig-West Prussia developed in a continuous process. It began with the successive deprivation of the rights of Jews, combined with pogrom-like excesses and expulsions, and culminated in their collective expropriation, deportation, and murder. Because of the region’s particular political-territorial situation in the interwar period—after 1918 in the course of reorganiz ing Central and Eastern Europe, Danzig (Gdańsk) was detached from Germany and proclaimed a “Free City” while most of West Prussia was allocated to the newly created Polish state—specific...

  12. Chapter 7 Wartheland
    (pp. 189-218)
    Ingo Loose

    The National Socialists took over government in Germany in 1933 with the claim that they would reunite those Germans living outside the national borders with the Reich within the foreseeable future. This could be accomplished either by resettling these Germans within the Reich or through military expansion. Hitler had already prophesied inMein Kampfthat he wanted to “take up where we broke off six hundred years ago” and once more redirect the “endless German movement” toward the East.¹ Neither new nor genuinely National Socialistic, such plans merely marked a continuation, albeit radicalized, of the traditions of the nineteenth-century Prussian...

  13. Chapter 8 Zichenau
    (pp. 219-238)
    Andreas Schulz

    Prior to the Second World War, approximately 1 million people, including around 80,000 Jews and only 11,000 Germans, lived in that part of the Warsaw Voivodeship annexed by the German Reich in October 1939 as the Regierungsbezirk of Zichenau (Ciechanów) (see map 8.1). The majority of the region’s population consisted of 900,000 ethnic Poles. Jewish history in Northern Mazovia reaches back to the first half of the thirteenth century. The oldest documentation of a Jewish religious community in the town of Plock (Płock)—one of Poland’s first Jewish communities—dates from 1237. In the early modern period, Jews increasingly settled...

  14. Chapter 9 East Upper Silesia
    (pp. 239-266)
    Sybille Steinbacher

    Fueled by nationalist motivations, civil-war-like conflicts between Germans and Poles prevailed since the end of the First World War in Upper Silesia, a region that was subject to the League of Nations. The German Freikorps quelled the first Silesian uprising at the end of August 1919; two additional uprisings, answered no less violently, followed during the next two years. The referendum mandated by Article 88 of the Treaty of Versailles and conducted in March 1921 under the supervision of an Inter-Allied Administrative and Plebiscite Commission decided in favor of the German Reich, but after the decision by the Council of...

  15. Chapter 10 Eupen-Malmedy
    (pp. 267-288)
    Christoph Brüll

    The League of Nations awarded the territory of Eupen-Malmedy—composed of the former Prussian-German Kreise (districts) of Eupen and Malmedy—to Belgium in September 1920.¹ While Kreis Eupen was German-speaking, the predominant population of the district town and its neighboring municipalities in the Kreis Malmedy spoke French and Walloon. In the southern part of the region, around the small town of St. Vith, which formed its own canton after the territories were integrated with Belgium, the population spoke German.

    In spring 1938 Hans Joachim Beyer, the director of the Arbeitsstelle für Auslandsdeutsche Volksforschung (special department for ethnic research into Germans...

  16. Chapter 11 Luxembourg
    (pp. 289-315)
    Marc Schoentgen

    From the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century, Jewish families and individuals settled only sporadically in Luxembourg (German: Luxemburg; Luxembourgish: Lëtzebuerg). A permanent Jewish presence developed only after the French Revolution and the region’s annexation in 1795 by French troops, when the foundations for the emancipation of the Jews were laid in the newly created Département des Forêts. After the Congress of Vienna, Luxembourg was linked through personal union with the kingdom of the Netherlands. The Grand Duchy became an independent state in 1839, even though it belonged to the German Confederation from 1815 to 1867.


  17. Chapter 12 Alsace-Lorraine
    (pp. 316-339)
    Jean-Marc Dreyfus

    Viewed in the context of the history of French Jews, the history of the Jews living in Alsace is both long and atypical. Archeological traces of Jewish life in this region reach back to the ninth century,¹ and the presence of Alsatian Jews persisted virtually uninterrupted over the course of centuries. At the time of the last expulsion of the Jews from the French kingdom in 1394, Alsace belonged to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Alsace became French (with the exception of the Free Imperial City of Strasbourg), yet Jews...

  18. Conclusion
    (pp. 340-370)
    Wolf Gruner and Jörg Osterloh

    In his analysisLingua Tertii Imperiipublished in 1947, the German-Jewish professor for Romanic languages Victor Klemperer—today mostly known for his impressive diary detailing his experiences in the Third Reich—wrote about the propaganda that accompanied the German annexations: “At solemn moments, both positive and negative, blood must of course be called upon. . . . [W]hen Hitler’s troops subsequently march into Austria the ‘hour of the blood’ has finally come. At which point the old Ostmark ‘has found its way home to everlasting Germany.’”¹ Behind this supposed voice of the blood, however, stood the tangible interests of power...

  19. Review of the Literature and Research on the Individual Regions
    (pp. 371-386)
    Wolf Gruner and Jörg Osterloh

    In the decades after the Second World War, the historiography in Germany initially developed along trajectories that were as divided as the nation itself. Efforts in the Federal Republic¹ and the GDR to grapple with the Nazi persecution of the Jews began in the 1960s, starting with the publication in the GDR of an important edition of documents on the persecution of the Jews in occupied Poland that also included the regions annexed by the Reich.² The period from the 1960s to the 1980s also witnessed the publication in both countries of the first isolated studies and documentations on the...

  20. Glossary
    (pp. 387-392)
  21. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 393-396)
  22. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 397-410)
  23. Index of Places
    (pp. 411-418)
  24. Index of Names
    (pp. 419-424)