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Generalplan Ost (GPO) (Template:Lang-en) was a secret Nazi plan of genocide[1] and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the territories occupied by Germany in Eastern Europe during World War II. The plan, prepared in the years 1939-1940, was part of Adolf Hitler's own Lebensraum plan and a fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (Template:Lang-en) ideology of German expansion to the east.

Development and reconstruction of the plan

The body responsible for the drafting of this plan was the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt - RSHA), the security organ of the SS responsible for fighting all enemies of Nazism. It was a strictly confidential document, and its contents were known only to those at the topmost level of the Nazi hierarchy.

According the testimony of SS-Standartenführer Dr. Hans Ehlich (one of the witnesses in Case VIII before the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials), the final version of the plan was drafted in 1940. As a high official in the RSHA, Ehlich was the man responsible for the drafting of Generalplan Ost. It had been preceded by the Ostforschung, a number of studies and research projects carried out over several years by various academic centres to provide the necessary facts and figures. The preliminary versions were discussed by the SS head Heinrich Himmler and his most trusted colleagues even before the outbreak of war. This was mentioned by SS-Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski during his evidence as a prosecution witness in the trial of officials of the SS-Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt (RuSHA) (SS Office of Race and Settlement).

Nearly all the wartime documentation on Generalplan Ost was deliberately destroyed shortly before Germany's defeat in May 1945.[2][3] Thus, no copies of the plan were found after the war among the documents in German archives. Apart from Ehlich's testimony, there are several documents which refer to this plan or are supplements to it. Although no copies of the actual document have survived, most of the plan's essential elements have been reconstructed from related memos, abstracts and other ancillary documents.[4]

One principal document which made it possible to recreate with a great deal of accuracy the contents of Generalplan Ost is a memo of April 27, 1942 entitled Stellungnahme und Gedanken zum Generalplan Ost des Reichsführers SS ("Opinion and Ideas Regarding the General Plan for the East of the Reichsführer-SS") and written by Dr. Erich Wetzel, the director of the Central Advisory Office on Questions of Racial Policy at the National Socialist Party (Leiter der Hauptstelle Beratungsstelle des Rassenpolitischen Amtes der NSDAP). This memorandum is an elaboration of Generalplan Ost.[4]

Phases of the plan and its implementation

The final version of Generalplan Ost, essentially a grand plan for ethnic cleansing, was divided into two parts; the "Small Plan" (Kleine Planung), which covered actions which were to be taken during the war, and the "Big Plan" (Grosse Planung), which covered actions to be undertaken after the war was won, and to be implemented gradually over a period of 25 to 30 years.[4][5]

Percentages of ethnic groups targeted for elimination by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas[6][7]
Ethnic group Percentage subject to removal
Poles 80-85%
Belorusians 75%
Ukrainians 65%
Lithuanians 85%
Latvians 50%
Estonians 50%
Czechs 50%
Latgalians 100%

Generalplan Ost envisaged differing percentages of the various conquered nations undergoing Germanisation (for example, 50% of Czechs, 35% of Ukrainians and 25% of Belarusians), extermination, expulsion and other fates, the net effect of which would be to ensure that the conquered territories would be Germanized. In ten years' time, the plan effectively called for the extermination, expulsion, Germanisation or enslavement of most or all East and West Slavs living behind the front lines in Europe. The "Small Plan" was to be put into practice as the Germans conquered the areas to the east of their pre-war borders. In this way the plan for Poland was drawn up at the end of November 1939 and is probably responsible for much of the WWII expulsion of Poles by Germany. After the war, under the "Big Plan", Generalplan Ost foresaw the deportation of 45 million non-Germanizable people from Eastern Europe, of whom 31 million were "racially undesirable", 100% of Jews, Poles (85%), Belorussians (75%) and Ukrainians (65%), to West Siberia,[2] and about 14 millions were to remain, but were to be treated as slaves.[4] In their place, up to 8-10 million Germans would be settled in an extended "living space" (Lebensraum). Because the number of Germans appeared to be insufficient to populate the vast territories of Eastern Europe, the peoples judged to lie racially between the Germans and the Russians (Mittelschicht), namely, Latvians, Estonians, and even Czechs, were also supposed to be resettled there.[8]

While the Baltic nations like Estonians would be spared from repressions and physical liquidation that Jews or Poles were experiencing, in the long term the Nazi planners did not foresee their existence as independent entitites and they would be deported as well, with eventual denationalisation; initial designs were for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to be Germanised within 25 years, however Heinrich Himmler revised them to 20 years.[9]

In 1941 it was decided to destroy the Polish nation completely and the German leadership decided that in 10 to 20 years the Polish state under German occupation was to be fully cleared of any ethnic Poles and settled by German colonists.[10] A majority of them, now deprived of their leaders and most of their intelligentsia (through human losses, destruction of culture, and the ban on education above the absolutely basic level), would have to be deported to regions in the East and scattered over as wide an area of Western Siberia as possible. According to the plan this would result in their assimilation by the local populations, which would cause the Poles to vanish as a nation.[8] By 1952, only about 3-4 million non-Germanized Poles (all of them peasants) were to be left residing in the former Poland. Those of them who would still not Germanize were to be forbidden to marry, the existing ban on any medical help to Poles in Germany would be extended, and eventually Poles would cease to exist.

Widely varying policies were envisioned by the creators of Generalplan Ost, and some of them were actually implemented by Germany in regards to the different Slavic territories and ethnic groups. For example, by August–September 1939 (Operation Tannenberg followed by the A-B Aktion in 1940), Einsatzgruppen death squads and concentration camps had been employed to deal with the Polish elite, while the small number of Czech intelligentsia were allowed to emigrate overseas. Parts of Poland were annexed by Germany early in the war (leaving aside the occupied General Government and the areas previously annexed by the Soviet Union), while the other territories were officially occupied by or allied to Germany (for example, the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia became a theoretically-independent German puppet state, while the ethnic-Czech part became a "protectorate"). It is unknown to what degree the plan was actually directly connected to the various German war crimes and crimes against humanity in the East, especially in the latter phases of the war. In any case, the majority of Germany's 12 million forced laborers were abducted from Eastern Europe, mostly in the Soviet territories and Poland (both Slavs and local Jews).

One of the charges listed in the indictment presented at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer responsible for the transportation aspects of the Final Solution, was that he was responsible for the deportation of 500,000 Poles. Eichmann was convicted on all 15 counts.[11]

Civilian death toll in the Soviet Union

The Russian Academy of Sciences in 1995 reported civilian victims in the USSR at German hands, including Jews, totaled 13.7 million dead, 20% of the 68 million persons in the occupied USSR. This included 7.4 million victims of Nazi genocide and reprisals; 2.2 million deaths of persons deported to Germany for forced labor; and 4.1 million famine and disease deaths in occupied territory. There were an additional estimated 3.0 million famine deaths in areas of the USSR not under German occupation. These losses are for the entire territory of the USSR in 1946 to 1991 borders, including territories annexed in 1939-40.[12] The deaths of 8.2 million Soviet civilians, including Jews, were documented by the Soviet Extraordinary State Commission.[13]

See also


  1. Dietrich Eichholtz. "»Generalplan Ost« zur Versklavung osteuropäischer Völker"[1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hans-Walter Schmuhl. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, 1927-1945: crossing boundaries. Volume 259 of Boston studies in the philosophy of science. Coutts MyiLibrary. SpringerLink Humanities, Social Science & LawAuthor. Springer, 2008. ISBN 140206599X, 9781402065996, p. 348-349
  3. Joseph Poprzeczny, Odilo Globocnik, Hitler's Man in the East, McFarland, 2004, ISBN 0786416254, Google Print, p.186
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Robert Gellately. Revieved works: Vom Generalplan Ost zum Generalsiedlungsplan by Czeslaw Madajczyk. Der "Generalplan Ost." Hauptlinien der nationalsozialistischen Planungs- und Vernichtungspolitik by Mechtild Rössler; Sabine Schleiermacher. Central European History, Vol. 29, No. 2 (1996), pp. 270-274
  5. Madajczyk, Czesław. "Die Besatzungssysteme der Achsenmächte. Versuch einer komparatistischen Analyse." Studia Historiae Oeconomicae vol. 14 (1980): pp. 105-122 [2] in Hitler's War in the East, 1941-1945: A Critical Assessment by Gerd R. Uebersch̀ear and Rolf-Dieter Müller [3]
  6. HITLER'S PLANS FOR EASTERN EUROPE Selections from Janusz Gumkowkski and Kazimierz Leszczynski POLAND UNDER NAZI OCCUPATION
  7. The Baltic States: Years of Dependence, 1940-80 page 48 Romuald J. Misiunas,Rein Taagepera,Georg von Rauch University of California Press 1983
  8. 8.0 8.1 John Connelly. Nazis and Slavs: From Racial Theory to Racist Practice. Central European History, Vol. 32, No. 1 (1999), pp. 1-33
  9. Estonia and the Estonians (Studies of Nationalities) Toivo U. Raun page 161 Hoover Institution Press; 2002
  10. Berghahn, Volker R. (1999). "Germans and Poles 1871–1945". Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identities and Cultural Differences (Rodopi).
  11. Stefan Korbonski The Polish Underground State: A Guide to the Underground, 1939-1945
  12. The Russian Academy of Science Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk. Liudskie poteri SSSR v period vtoroi mirovoi voiny:sbornik statei. Sankt-Peterburg 1995 ISBN 5-86789-023-6
  13. A Mosaic of Victims- Non Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. Ed. by Michael Berenbaum New York University Press 1990 ISBN 1-85043-251-1)


  • Götz Aly & Susanne Heim (2003). Architects of Annihilation: Auschwitz and the Logic of Destruction. Phoenix. ISBN 1-84212-670-9.
  • (German) Helmut Heiber, Der Generalplan Ost, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 6, 1958.
  • (German) Dietrich Eichholtz, Der `Generalplan Ost' Über eine Ausgeburt imperialistischer Denkart und Politik, Jahrbuch für Geschichte, Volume 26, 1982.
  • (German) Roth, Karl-Heinz "Erster `Generalplan Ost' (April/May 1940) von Konrad Meyer, Dokumentationsstelle zur NS-Sozialpolitik, Mittelungen, Volume 1, 1985.
  • (German) Czesław Madajczyk, Die Okkupationspolitik Nazideutschlands in Polen 1939-1945, Cologne, 1988.
  • Template:Pl icon Czesław Madajczyk, Generalny Plan Wschodni: Zbiór dokumentów, Główna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Warszawa, 1990
  • (German) M. Rössler & S. Scheiermacher (editors), Der `Generalplan Ost' Hauptlinien der nationalsozialistischen Plaungs-und Vernichtungspolitik, Berlin, 1993.
  • Template:Pl icon Andrzej Leszek Szcześniak, Plan Zagłady Słowian. Generalplan Ost, Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, Radom, 2001.
  • Template:Ru icon The Russian Academy of Science Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk. Liudskie poteri SSSR v period vtoroi mirovoi voiny:sbornik statei. Sankt-Peterburg 1995 ISBN 5-86789-023-6

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