The preparation of Plan Ost was associated with Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS) Heinrich Himmler, one of the Hitler’s closest accomplices. In October 1939 Hitler appointed Himmler Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of German Ethnic Stock (Reichskommissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums; RKFDV), a position that authorized Himmler and the SS to define the fate of other peoples, including those of the Soviet Union. On June 24, 1941 Himmler assigned Oberführer SS Professor Meyer-Hetling, Director of the Institute for Agrarian Affairs and Agrarian Policy (Institut für Agrarwesen und Agrarpolitik) at the Berlin University, responsible for preparing a document on the resettlement of the peoples of East and Central Europe to free the land for making it populated by Germans in need of more living space. He was also appointed Head of the Committee for Resettlement in the occupied eastern territories.
The secret document called the General Plan Ost was submitted to Himmler on July 15, 1941. It included the relocation of 80-85% of the Poland’s population and 50% of the population of the Czech Republic. Besides, in 25-30 years it was planned to deport the native populations of the following countries: Lithuania – 85%, Belarus - 75%, West Ukraine – 65%, Latvia and Estonia – 50%. Overall at least 31 million people out of 45 million, who resided in the lands destined for German colonization, were to be deported or exterminated, they were considered to be unwanted people belonging to wrong races. Up to 840 million Germans were to populate the lands right after the defeat of the Soviet Union. Two waves of settlers (the first - 1, 1 million and the second - 2, 6 million) were to increase the population of the lands according to the plan.
The Russian people, meaning not only ethnic Russians but also other East European peoples making up the population of the Soviet Union, were given special attention by Nazi…
The further elaboration of General Plan Ost was written by Dr. Erich Wetzel, the director of the A. Rosenberg’s Central Advisory Office on Questions of Racial Policy of the Nazi Party. It was prepared and submitted to Himmler in June 1942. The paper said full elimination or weakening by all means of native people was required to ensure German superiority.
Following the offensive of advancing troops by the middle of November 1941 only special punitive formations like Einsatzgruppen (German for "task forces", "deployment groups") of the army groups North, Center and South exterminated over 300 thousand civilians in the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine. They were involved in mass murders and plundering till the end of 1942. According to the most cautious estimates, the death toll was over 1 million people.
Military, administrative and punitive actions structures were created for land “cleansing” and establishing “new order”. The territories adjacent to the front forward areas were ruled by German military administration headed by Major General Wagner, the army's Quartermaster General. The military administrations in the rear of army groups were headed by army generals and by the commandants of army rear areas. They had many garrisons, field, populated areas and city commandant’s offices at their disposal. There were guard divisions, patrol and police battalions and units of field gendarmerie. SS and police aided the commanders to guarantee security in the operational rear, including three SS divisions and a number of independent police detachments.
As Wehrmacht was moving east the Hitlerites were in a hurry to establish a system of civil administration in the captured lands. The Ministry of the East headed by Reichsleiter Alfred Rosenberg had Reich Commissariats at its disposal to rule the regions. In practice Germans had time to establish only two commissariats. Reich Commissariat Ostland led by a Reich Commissar (Gauleiter H. Lohse) was created to maintain the civilian occupation regime in the Baltic States, the northeastern part of Poland and the west of Belarusian Soviet Republic. The other was Reichskommissariat Ukraine headed by Erich Koch, the district leader of the Nazi party in East Prussia, established to include the larger part of Ukrainian Soviet Republic. With headquarters in Rovno (Rowne) it was divided into general commissariats: Volyn-Podolia, Kiev, Nikolaev, Zitomir, Dnepropetrovsk and Tauria. There were two more Reich Commissariats planned – Moscow to include the territory from the Russia’s western borders to the Urals and the Caucasus. The implementation of the plans was frustrated due to the turn of events unfavorable for Germany waging war against the Soviet Union. Reich commissars were responsible for civil administration of the regions. The commanders of occupation forces, including General K. Kritzinger (Ukraine), were given orders to provide support for Reich commissars’ political and administrative efforts and guarantee security in the occupied lands. SS and police top level officers were assigned to Reich commissars, for instance SS Obergruppenführer Hans-Adolf Prützmann (Ukraine). SS and police officials were assigned to regional general commissariats.
The Reich commissariats were at the stage of formation while the violation of territorial integrity and reshaping the borders of occupied Soviet republics was in full swing. On August 1, West Ukraine (Galicia) became part of General Governorate of German Empire established in October 1939 in the eastern part of Polish territory. On August 30 Germany transferred to the allied Romania the lands called Transnistria situated between the Dniester and Bug rivers (parts of occupied Vinnitsa, Odessa, and Nikolayev regions) and Moldavia. On September 1, the territories between Pinsk, Brest, Kamenetz-Podolsk and Mogilev became part of Reichskommissariat Ukraine. On October 20, it was added the regions of Vinnitsa, Cherkassy, Kiev and Zhytomyr. On November 15, the regions of Nikolayev, Kherson, Nikopol and Dnepropetrovsk also became part of the Reichskommissariat.
The counteroffensive of Red Army near Moscow made Nazi limit their appetite for land grabbing, but in the spring of 1942 they appeared to get the initiative and have new horizons open. Berlin went back to the plan Ost with an intention to perfect it. Dr. Erich Wetzel of the Ministry the Occupied Eastern Territories lambasted the K. Meyer’s plan. He submitted his remarks in the document Estimations Of And Remarks On The General Plan For The East of the Reichsfuhrer SS.
He supported the idea of colonizing Central and East Europe but he criticized the Meyer’s plan for significantly bringing down the population of the captured lands: Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States and Ukraine. In reality the population was not 45 but 60-65 million, the number of those who were to be deported to Siberia or exterminated was not 31, but 46-51 million. According to Wetzel, the plan’s weak point was absence of practical measures on native people’s deportation and settling the land by Germans. He came to conclusion that without total extermination or weakening by any means the biological nature of Russian people it was impossible to establish German power in Europe.
According to Himmler’s order, Meyer continued his work on the expansion to the east (mainly at the expense of Russian territory). In June 1942 the memorandum “General plan "Ost"— the legal, economic and territorial principles of the reorganization of the Eastern areas” was ready. This time it was not only the deportation of local population from the lands seized by Wehrmacht (in case of the Third Reich military victory its fate was pre-destined) but rather its settling by Germans and other peoples of German race.
After the defeat of the Soviet Union it was envisioned to create in the shortest possible period of time three imperial regions: Ingermanland (the Leningrad, Pskov and Novgorod regions), Gotenau (Crimea and the Kherson regions) and Memel – Narev (the Belostok region and West Lithuania). There were plans to build two autobahns to connect Ingermanland and Gotenau, up to 2 thousand km long each. One would go to Leningrad, the other – to the Crimean peninsula. According to Meier, 25 years and around 67 billion reichsmarks were required to build the roads in three regions to make 4, 85 million Germans settled down.
(To be continued)