During the tumultuous years leading up to and during World War II, Nazi Germany embarked on a series of aggressive expansionist policies rooted in the concept of Lebensraum, or “living space.” These policies aimed to create a greater German empire by acquiring and colonizing territories in Central and Eastern Europe. To achieve this vision, the Nazis developed General Plan Ost, a comprehensive scheme for the colonization and transformation of these regions. This article explores the ethnic groups targeted for expulsion by Germany under these ominous plans and the ideological motivations that underpinned them.
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Table of Contents
Overview of Lebensraum
The concept of Lebensraum formed a central tenet of Nazi ideology. It envisaged the territorial expansion of Germany into the Slavic territories of Central and Eastern Europe, driven by the notion of Drang nach Osten, or “Drive to the East.” The Nazis believed in the supremacy of the Aryan race and sought to establish dominance over the region, viewing Slavic peoples as inferior and disposable.
Overview of General Plan Ost
General Plan Ost outlined the systematic colonization and exploitation of Eastern European territories. This plan was divided into two main components:
1. “Small Plan” (Kleine Planung)
The “Small Plan” focused on the immediate annexation and Germanization of territories such as Poland and the Baltics. It involved the expulsion and elimination of undesirable populations, especially Jews and Slavs, through mass murder and forced labor. This plan was envisioned to last the duration of the war.
2. “Big Plan” (Grosse Planung)
The “Big Plan” envisioned long-term colonization and ethnic restructuring of the East. This involved the displacement, expulsion, and murder of vast numbers of indigenous people to make room for German settlers. It was a comprehensive scheme for the ruthless transformation of Eastern Europe. As of June 1941, the policy envisaged the deportation of 31 million Slavs to Siberia. This plan was envisioned to last 25 to 30 years after the war was won.
Ethnic Groups and Nationalities Targeted
Under General Plan Ost, several ethnic groups and nationalities were targeted for expulsion and elimination. The plan included target percentages of expulsion or elimination. These included:
The Jewish population, which faced systematic extermination in the Holocaust, was a primary target of Nazi persecution and expulsion. The target percentage was 100%.
Slavic nations, including Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians, were viewed as racially inferior by the Nazis and subjected to expulsion, enslavement, and mass murder. These target percentages ranged from 50 to 85%.
The Romani population was subjected to persecution, forced labor, and genocide. The target percentage was 100%.
Intellectuals and Political Dissidents
Anyone perceived as a threat to Nazi rule, including intellectuals, political dissidents, and members of resistance movements, was targeted for expulsion or execution.
Operation Barbarossa and “Judeo-Bolshevism”
Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, marked an ideological-racial war between German National Socialism and “Judeo-Bolshevism.” The Commissar Order, issued on June 6, 1941, just prior to the invasion, called for the summary execution of Soviet political commissars and Jews, further highlighting the genocidal intent of the Nazi regime.
The targeting of ethnic groups for expulsion and extermination by Nazi Germany under General Plan Ost represents one of the darkest chapters in human history. Driven by a toxic blend of racism, anti-Semitism, and imperialistic ambition, the Nazis subjected millions to violence, displacement, and death in their ruthless pursuit of Lebensraum.
Ethnic Groups Targeted for Expulsion by Germany Data
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Source: McNab, Chris. “Hitler’s Masterplan.” Editor: Spilling, Michael, Amber Books, 2011, Page 85
Other World War 2 Civilian and Military Death Data
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