Himmler's Auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle and the German National Minorities of Europe, 1933-1945

By Valdiso Lumans | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
The Resettlement, I Italy, the Baltic States, and Poland

POLICY AND IDEOLOGY

Hitler's decision to resettle the Volksdeutsche appeared at first glance to be a reversal of Reich policy toward the minorities. Before 6 October 1939, it was assumed that his policy was revisionist, aiming to unite the Volksdeutsche with the main body of the Volk through annexations. This had been the case with the Anschluss of Austria, the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, the reincorporation of the Memelland, and the invasion of Poland. The resettlement program therefore came as a surprise. Those most astonished and perplexed by the Führer's apparent reversal were the remaining Volksdeutsche, most of whom had viewed his expansion to date as previewing their own annexation to the Reich. Few, if any, had expected Hitler to bring the Volk together by removing them from eir homelands and relocating them.

In one respect, Hitler's reversal was real. For years the Reich had discouraged Volksdeutsche emigration from disputed lands, since a reduced German population weakened German claims to these territories. By 1939, however, Hitler's diplomatic preparations for war had higher priority than revisionist claims based on the presence of German farmers. But emigration aside, the change in policy was more

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