Nazi racial policies in occupied territories

Subject: History
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 10
Word count: 2524
Topics: Race, Racial Inequality, Racism, The Holocaust, World War 2
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The Nazis took over Germany in 1933 and almost immediately following their attainment of authority over the country undertook several racial policies. These policies were aimed at promoting the racial purity of the German race in such a way that all other elements were eliminated from the general population. An example of one of the hallmarks of Nazi racial policies was the persecution of Jews with the aim of making sure that they were exterminated. Furthermore, there were attempts to ensure that such ethnic minorities as the Roma people were also eliminated from society because of the belief that they contaminated the German race. The Nazi German racial policies towards the Roma tended to be highly inconsistent because they involved situations where despite the Roma being technically Aryan, by Nazi standards, members of this community were persecuted by the Nazis. This paper seeks to make an analysis of Nazi racial policies in occupied territories with the aim of showing that these policies were inconsistent and did not reflect any coherent plan, but rather promoted the opportunistic nature of the Nazis. The analysis will reflect on the Nazi policies in occupied Poland, Russia, and Western Europe with the aim of analysing policies such as deportations, Germanization, extermination, and maintaining the established governments of occupied territories.

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Nazi policy was aimed at the creation of living space for the German nation. This is because it involved a situation where there were a number of initiatives put in place to ensure that there was the advancement of these policies in the most effective manner possible. However, there seems to have been a clash of ideas in such a way that brought about the incoherency in the process. The case of Nazi occupied Poland is an important one when it comes to making an analysis of the Nazi racial policies. The majority of the Polish population was Slavic and this was a race that the Nazis considered to be inferior to the Germanic, Aryan race. A consequence of this situation was that there was the intention of removing all Slavs from Poland in order to ensure that there was the availability of living space for the German population. This process was supposed to involve the extermination of the Polish population in such a way that made it possible for the German population to settle Poland without any interference from the natives. The policy only came about after the Polish government refused the three demands made to it by Nazi Germany. There seems to have been a need by Hitler to ensure that the Poles were punished for defying his demands. Furthermore, there was the expectation that once the Polish population had been massacred or exterminated, it would be much easier for the resettlement of the country to proceed without any hindrance.

The Nazis sought to bring about the establishment of a greater Germany, which would have occupied the whole of Eastern Europe. However, this process would not have been executed effectively because of the considerable lack of manpower that the Nazis had because of the on-going war. A policy which was considered was to ensure that all Slavs in Poland were pushed east of the Ural Mountains. This process can be considered to have been aimed to further the creation of living space for the German people. The deportation of people from occupied Poland to concentration camps began immediately following the Nazi takeover of the country and it involved Poles being forced to leave their homes, lands, and property and being sent either to concentration camps, or being pushed eastwards. It was conducted as part of a policy aimed at the Germanization of Poland where the Polish people were dispossessed. Furthermore, there was the advancement of a situation where there was a drive within Germany itself for the German population to resettle in the areas that had been vacated by some of the deported Polish population. These actions showed that the eventual intention of the Nazis was not clear because despite their stated aim of creating living space for the German people, they did not follow a consistent policy towards the Poles because while some were massacred, others were deported. The intention to push all Slavs east of the Ural Mountains can be considered to have been a vague policy to attempt to implement, especially in the midst of a war with the Allies.

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The opportunistic nature of Nazi policies can be seen through the way that they treated individuals from occupied territories who displayed Aryan features. The Nazis considered some of the Polish population, especially children, to have the potential of being Aryanized. These individuals were those that displayed those characteristics that were considered Aryan enough to warrant admission into the German race. A consequence was that a considerable number of the population, especially children, were forcefully separated from their parents with the aim of raising them as model Germans. It is likely that the process of Germanization is one that was aimed at assimilating those Poles that remained in Poland following the intended deportations. The individuals that displayed Aryan features were targeted for assimilation. A consequence was that a considerable number of children were kidnapped or forcefully taken away from their parents with the intention of achieving this objective. However, despite this process being considered an essential means of bringing about the assimilation of those Poles that remained into the German population, it is ironical that the Nazis failed to consider that these individuals were a part of another race. Instead, they intended to go against their own racial theories and policies in order to ensure that there was the Germanization of the remaining Polish population. It is fundamental that these policies were not set in stone, but rather depended on the areas that were occupied or the composition of the population. The Nazis seem to have promoted the idea that as long as individuals looked sufficiently German they were fit to join the German nation.

The Nazis seem to have taken the opportunity to shape the future of the occupied territories according to their racial beliefs. This process can be seen through the promotion of the policy of the eventual Germanization of the whole of Eastern Europe as part of the process of creating living space. This was a process that was supposed to have involved the mass extermination and deportation of the entire Slavic population in the area, which would eventually be integrated into Germany. The Nazis seem to have been divided concerning the best way through which to advance this cause because despite it being a part of their official policy, they did not act on it consistently. In countries such as Czechoslovakia, there were attempts aimed at implementing the Nazi racial policies through the massacre of villages whenever there was resistance against German rule. For example, when there was a level of resistance by Czech citizens in 1942, the Nazis decided to destroy Lidice, a small village outside of Prague in reprisal. Some of the population was not only massacred, but the remaining ones, including women and children, were sent to concentration camps or institutionalized. What remained of the village was razed to the ground and the houses and other buildings burnt and demolished. This action seems to have been part of the attempts by the Nazis to spread terror within the populations whose countries they occupied. It was aimed at destroying any resistance to Nazi rule by local resistance movements. These steps by the Nazis were aimed at eliminating the Slavic population, but were conducted in such a small scale that its effects would eventually be negligible.

The extermination of parts of the occupied populations was carried out to enforce the Nazi racial beliefs concerning the races that were deemed inferior. The handling of Polish leaders, it can be argued, is a pertinent example of the way that the extermination policies of the Nazis took place in an occupied territory. This is because it involved a situation where in 1940, there was an order given that all Polish leaders were to be arrested and executed. Such an action was undertaken with the intention of breaking any form of Polish resistance to German rule through the leadership of one of its political, intellectual, or religious authorities. The killing of the Polish leadership was conducted despite the belief among the Nazis that they were essentially made up of Germans. The major motivation for the killing was that because the Polish leadership was of German stock, they were serving the interests of a foreign people; hence the need to eliminate them. The result was that thousands of Poles ended up being massacred, but this did not stop resistance to Nazi rule and instead only intensified it.

Concentration camps, rather than being permanent solutions to the race problem of the Nazis, were created as a means of promoting racial policies in parallel to the Second World War. It is likely that the Nazis, if they had won the war, would have sought to bring about the complete extermination of the populations that they considered a threat to their agenda. The creation of concentration camps seems to have been an opportunistic move aimed at eliminating racial rivals. This exercise was conducted to ensure that there was not only the removal of resistance to Nazi rule within these populations, but also the furthering of the creation of living space for the German people. Concentration camps were extremely inhuman places where people were often used in experiments by German scientists while at the same time also being used as a source of free labour. Furthermore, these places were also used as places where mass exterminations were carried out. For example, it is estimated that about 6 million Jews lost their lives in Nazi concentration camps and this does not include the number of individuals from the population that were considered undesirable. The latter included homosexuals, Roma, and even Poles who were systematically executed in these facilities. Concentration camps were used to ensure that there was the elimination of individuals that were considered to be from inferior or corrupting racial stock. Moreover, in Nazi occupied Russia, it was common for people considered to be of Turkmen descent, especially those who displayed Mongoloid features, to be executed. A result of this situation was that there were attempts aimed at making sure that those individuals that did not look sufficiently Aryan were removed from the population and eventually ended up being killed. The definition of undesirable peoples was not made sufficiently, and this meant that any non-German person had the potential of becoming a victim of Nazi racial policies.

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There was a marked difference between the Nazi racial policies in the occupied Eastern Europe and those in occupied Western Europe. The inconsistency of Nazi racial policies can be seen in the more moderate manner that it treated the nations that it occupied in Western Europe. A pertinent example of such a situation is that of occupied Netherlands. The major intention of the Nazis was to ensure the eventual integration of the Netherlands into Germany because of the belief that the people of this nation were sufficiently Aryan to be treated with the same status as their German counterparts. Furthermore, all of those western European nations that had populations that were considered of Germanic origins were targeted for eventual integration into the Reich in order to ensure that all Germans or members of the Aryan race lived within the same nation. Thus, in occupied Western Europe, it was possible for citizens to enjoy the same privileges as their German counterparts because they were considered to be of the same race. Moreover, in Western Europe, rather than the native population being targeted by racial policies, it was the Jews who were the main victims, with a considerable number of them being taken to concentration camps. However, despite this being the case, some countries, such as Denmark, created underground movements whose aim was to resist Nazi occupation. A consequence was that these movements were instrumental in helping large numbers of Jews escape the persecution and extermination in concentration camps that their counterparts in Eastern Europe has to endure.

The Nazi racial policies in Western Europe aimed at the eventual integration of a number of countries into Germany rather than pursuing the mass extermination of local populations. A major racial policy that was applied in Western Europe was aimed at making sure that those Germanic peoples that were considered to have been partially contaminated by other races in their history were treated as dependencies. One such instance was that of France, which it is likely the Nazis wanted to make into a permanent dependency of Germany. This objective can be considered a direct contrast to that applied in Eastern Europe because in the latter, the major policy was the eventual extermination of almost the entire population. The way that the Nazis handled their occupation in Eastern and Western Europe was extremely different because of the different ethnic compositions of these regions. While in the East, the majority of the population was of Slavic origins, in the West, the population was of Germanic origins. The brunt of the racial policies of the Nazis was faced by the Jews, who were especially targeted in the occupied Western territories. It also involved the creation of considerable strife within the various groups within the population so that it would be possible to enforce Nazi rule without much of a challenge. In contrast, the racial policies in Western Europe were quite mild and this was to such an extent that in most cases, governments were left intact with Nazi officers in place to supervise them. The latter occupations did not seek to bring about any radical changes in society but rather sought to make it possible for the various Germanic peoples to become a part of a single nation. The achievement of this goal was sought through the achievement of pacification through peaceful means that appealed to a common Aryan heritage rather than through brute force that had the potential of alienating the occupied populations.

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The Nazi racial policies in occupied territories varied considerably and this may have been based on the prevailing circumstances on the ground at the time. These policies had to be implemented at a time when the Nazis were facing considerable challenges during the Second World War, meaning that very few resources could be dedicated to their implementation. However, despite these circumstances, there were attempts to bring about the realization of the racial policies that promoted the supremacy of the Germanic race over others. These attempts resulted in an incoherent number of policies that aimed at achieving the same goal. There was a failure to consider that each occupied territory had its own background and historical relations between the various races and ethnic groups within them; leading to the advancement of a situation where the Nazi racial policies ended up achieving mixed results. Therefore, the incoherency of the Nazi racial policies in occupied territories came about more because of the lack of prioritization in the German national policies during the war rather than the racial policies themselves.

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