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Racial Science in Hitler's New Europe, 1938-1945 (Critical Studies in the History of Anthropology) (Paperback)

jan peczkis|Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Comprehensiveness of Nazi Racial Concepts and Practices. Slav-Exterminatory Implications of GENERALPLAN OST Recognized,

This work is an anthology of scholarly articles dealing with the practical, rather than theoretical, aspects of Nazi racial science. This is especially applied not only to the Germans, but also the Dutch, Norwegians, Danes, and, of course, the Slavs and the Jews.


The ideas of Charles Darwin played a major role in the development of the idea of the innate and immutable inequality of peoples. (e. g., Isabel Heinemann, p. 38). Many nations at the time believed in scientific racism, and practiced eugenics. However, this should not be relativized. Authors Weiss-Wend and Rory Yeomans write of the preeminence of Nazi Germany in the field of racial science. (p. 14).

A perusal of this book is more than sufficient to indicate, to the reader, just how seriously the Germans took their racism and how ardently they tried to make it a practical reality in all their policies. It also becomes obvious that Nazi racism was not something left to ideologues or propagandists. Instead, it was widely developed by German anthropologists and other scientists. The Germanization of eastern territories, involving racial selection and resettlement, was widely held by mainstream German academia, and not just its fringes, as has been argued after 1945. (Heinemann, p. 42).


A little clarification of terms is in order. When the Nazis spoke of the Germanization of a territory, they were not primarily referring to the transformation of locals into adherents of German language and culture. They were talking about a removal of the locals, and replacement of them, with ethnic Germans.

It has not rarely been alleged that, whereas Jews were unilaterally condemned by the Nazis, there were Poles who could redeem themselves, in the eyes of the Nazis, by undergoing Germanization. While technically and superficially correct, this “Germanization” was recognized for only some 4% of the Polish population. (Heinemann, p. 44). Nor was even that, strictly, speaking, a Germanization. It was a re-Germanization of Polonized Germans. Clearly, this “Germanization” was not some kind of act of mercy to even a few Poles. It was an outworking of Nazi racial ideology, intended to “recover lost German blood”.

Although the Nazi treatment of Jews as a whole, and of Slavs as a whole, was different, especially given the increasing military reverses of the Third Reich, the intended outcome was similar. This fact was brought out by Isabel Heinemann, whom I now quote:

Rather, tellingly, during the so-called RuSHA Trial (1947-48)---which put RFK officials and SS racial experts in the dock—the prosecution declared the forced population transfers and “Germanization”, as experienced by Josef Rembacz from Zamosc and millions of other individuals, “techniques of genocide [that were] neither so quick nor perhaps so simple as outright mass extermination…[yet] far more cruel and equally effective.” (p. 51).

The items in brackets are in Heinemann’s quoted statement.


What if Nazi Germany had won the war? The Slavs in the east would have to go. Heinemann discusses the December 1942 Master Settlement Plan (GENERALSIEDLUNGSPLAN), which was an expanded version of Master Plan East (GENERALPLAN OST). Although the fate of tens of millions of people (mainly Poles and other Slavs) was not elaborated, Heinemann points out that their physical extermination was an unambiguous implication of the plan. She comments, “Although none of the plans made it explicit, it is evident that for the racial experts mass death posed a necessary condition for the entire Germanization process.” (p. 49).
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