Lebensraum

Lebensraum

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was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, and an important component of Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany. In Hitler's book Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, he detailed his belief that the German people needed Lebensraum ("living space", i.e. land and raw materials), and that it should be found in the East. It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, or enslave the Polish, Russian and other Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 populations, whom they considered inferior, and to repopulate the land with Germanic peoples. The entire urban population was to be exterminated by starvation, thus creating an agricultural surplus to feed Germany and allowing their replacement by a German upper class
Elite
Elite refers to an exceptional or privileged group that wields considerable power within its sphere of influence...

.

Origins


The idea of a Germanic people without sufficient space dates back to long before Adolf Hitler brought it to prominence. Through the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, German population pressures led to settlement in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, a practice termed Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung
Ostsiedlung , also called German eastward expansion, was the medieval eastward migration and settlement of Germans from modern day western and central Germany into less-populated regions and countries of eastern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The affected area roughly stretched from Slovenia...

. The term Lebensraum in this sense was coined by Friedrich Ratzel
Friedrich Ratzel
Friedrich Ratzel was a German geographer and ethnographer, notable for first using the term Lebensraum in the sense that the National Socialists later would.-Life:...

 in 1901, and was used as a slogan in Germany referring to the unification of the country and the acquisition of colonies, based on the English and French models, and the westward expansion of the United States. Ratzel believed that the development of a people was primarily influenced by their geographical situation and that a people that successfully adapted to one location would proceed naturally to another. These thoughts can be seen in his studies of zoology and the study of adaptation. This expansion to fill available space, he claimed, was a natural and necessary feature of any healthy species.

Ratzel himself emphasized the need for overseas colonies, to which Germans ought to migrate, not for expansion inside Europe. Wanklyn, (1961) argues that Ratzel's theory was designed to advance science, and that politicians distorted it for political goals. Thus the concept of Lebensraum was picked up and expanded by publicists of the day, including Karl Haushofer
Karl Haushofer
Karl Ernst Haushofer was a German general, geographer and geopolitician. Through his student Rudolf Hess, Haushofer's ideas may have influenced the development of Adolf Hitler's expansionist strategies, although Haushofer denied direct influence on the Nazi regime.-Biography:Haushofer belonged to...

 and General Friedrich von Bernhardi
Friedrich von Bernhardi
Friedrich Adolf Julius von Bernhardi was a Prussian general and military historian. He was one of the best-selling authors prior to World War I. A militarist, he is perhaps best known for his bellicose book Deutschland und der Nächste Krieg , printed in 1911...

. In von Bernhardi's 1912 book Germany and the Next War, he expanded upon Ratzel's hypotheses and, for the first time, explicitly identified Eastern Europe as a source of new space. According to him, war, with the express purpose of achieving Lebensraum, was a distinct "biological necessity." As he explained with regard to the Latin and Slavic races, "Without war, inferior or decaying races would easily choke the growth of healthy budding elements." The quest for Lebensraum was more than just an attempt to resolve potential demographic problems: it was a necessary means of defending the German race against stagnation and degeneration.

Southwest Africa


During the first decade of the 20th century imperial Germany colonized Southwest Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

 and committed genocide against the local Herero and Nama peoples
Herero and Namaqua Genocide
The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa , during the scramble for Africa...

. Madley (2005) argues that the German experience in German South-West Africa was a crucial precursor to Nazi colonialism and genocide and that personal connections, literature, and public debates served as conduits for communicating colonialist and genocidal ideas and methods from the colony to Germany.

World War I


In September 1914, when victory in the World War seemed at hand, Berlin introduced a Lebensraum plan for postwar peace terms. The concept of Lebensraum was endorsed secretly by the Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917.-Origins:...

 and the rest of the German government as a war aim in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Documents discovered by the German historian Fritz Fischer
Fritz Fischer
Fritz Fischer was a German historian best known for his analysis of the causes of World War I. Fischer has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing as the most important German historian of the 20th century.-Biography:Fischer was born in Ludwigsstadt in Bavaria. His...

 have suggested that in the event of a German victory, one policy under discussion by the German government as part of its Septemberprogramm
Septemberprogramm
The Septemberprogramm was a plan drafted by the German leadership in the early weeks of the First World War. It detailed Germany's ambitious gains should it win the war, as it expected...

 was to annex a strip of Poland, and replace the population with Germans to set up a defensive barrier in the east. The population policy was never officially adopted nor put into effect. The significance of Fischer's discovery, as the Australian historian John Moses has noted, is that the goal of winning Lebensraum was already in German thinking long before 1933 and thus cannot be seen, as some German historians have argued, as solely Adolf Hitler's personal brain-child. The "September plan" was a proposal that was under discussion but was never adopted and no movement of people was ever ordered. As historian Raffael Scheck concluded, "The government, finally, never committed itself to anything. It had ordered the September Program as an informal hearing in order to learn about the opinion of the economic and military elites."

As the British historian A. J. P. Taylor
A. J. P. Taylor
Alan John Percivale Taylor, FBA was a British historian of the 20th century and renowned academic who became well known to millions through his popular television lectures.-Early life:...

 noted in his 1963 foreword "Second Thoughts" to his 1961 book The Origins of the Second World War:
The German Empire planned to annex territory in both Lithuania and Poland for direct colonization by German colonists after the forcible removal of the Polish and Lithuanian population. As early as April 1915, the Polish Border Strip
Polish Border Strip
The Polish Border Strip , also known as the Polish Frontier Strip, refers to those territories which the German Empire wanted to annex from Congress Poland during World War I. It appeared in some plans proposed by German officials as a territory to be ceded by the Kingdom of Poland to the German...

 plan against Poland, which was first suggested by General Erich Ludendorff
Erich Ludendorff
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg...

 in 1914, was approved as a German war aim by the Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg
Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1909 to 1917.-Origins:...

. The German historian Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 argued that the foreign policy of General Ludendorff, with its demand for lebensraum to be seized for Germany in Eastern Europe during World War I, was the prototype for German policy in World War II. Lebensraum almost became a reality in 1918 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The new Communist regime of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 concluded the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

 with Germany, ending Russian participation in the war in exchange for the surrender of huge swathes of land, including the Baltic territories, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

. However, unrest at home and defeat on the Western Front forced Germany to abandon these favorable terms in favor of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, by which the newly acquired eastern territories were agreed to sacrifice the land to Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, and new nations such as Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 or Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, and a series of short-lived independent states in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

.

The German historian Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 argued the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was the prototype for Hitler's vision of a great empire for Germany in Eastern Europe. Hillgruber wrote that:

Between the wars


The desire for Lebensraum was a key tenet of several nationalist and extremist groups in post-World War I Germany, notably the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

. As the American historian Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

 noted, German demands for territorial revision went beyond merely regaining land lost under the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, and instead embraced calls for the German conquest and colonization of all Eastern Europe, regardless of whether the land in question had belonged to Germany before 1918 or not Likewise, the British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper argued that the goal of overthrowing Versailles was only a prelude to seizing Lebensraum in Eastern Europe for Germany with no regard as to where Germany's 1914 frontiers had been. In Mein Kampf, Hitler was to write:
This was to be the unvarying aim of foreign policy.

Even the decline in the birthrate from the 1880s, contradicting claims of a vigorous and growing race, could not damp down demands for Lebensraum.

World War II


The official German history of World War II was to conclude that the conquest of Lebensraum was for Hitler and the rest of the National Socialists the most important German foreign policy goal. At his first meeting with all of the leading generals and admirals of the Reich on February 3, 1933, Hitler spoke of "conquest of Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanization" as his ultimate foreign policy objectives. For Hitler, the land which would provide sufficient Lebensraum for Germany was the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, which for Hitler was both a nation that possessed vast and rich agricultural land and was inhabited by what Hitler saw as Slavic Untermensch
Untermensch
Untermensch is a term that became infamous when the Nazi racial ideology used it to describe "inferior people", especially "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Gypsies, Poles along with other Slavic people like the Russians, Serbs, Belarussians and Ukrainians...

en
(sub-humans) ruled over by what he regarded as a gang of blood-thirsty, but grossly incompetent Jewish revolutionaries
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

. These people were not Germanizable
Germanisation
Germanisation is both the spread of the German language, people and culture either by force or assimilation, and the adaptation of a foreign word to the German language in linguistics, much like the Romanisation of many languages which do not use the Latin alphabet...

 in his eyes; only the soil was. Total extermination was not required only because Eastern Europe was regarded as having people of Aryan-Nordic descent, particularly among their leaders. No drop of German blood was to be lost or left behind for an alien race. Nazi leadership viewed that the conquest of Eastern Europe was historically justified: in fact, it was the Slavs who took these lands
Oium
Oium or Aujum was a name for an area in Scythia, where the Goths under their king Filimer settled after leaving Gothiscandza, according to the Getica by Jordanes, written around 551...

 from the native Goths by force, and thus Germany had the right to take them back.

In accordance with Nazi blood and soil
Blood and soil
Blood and Soil refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors, descent and homeland/Heimat...

 beliefs, it was to be turned into an agricultural breadbasket for Germany, and its cities destroyed as hotbeds of Russianness and Communism. Even during the war itself, Hitler gave orders that Leningrad was to be razed with no consideration given for the survival and feeding of its population. This would also ensure that blockades, unlike those of World War I, would not produce starvation in Germany. The use of it to feed Germany was to help eliminate Slavs by starving millions to death. Industry would also die off in this region. The Wehrbauer
Wehrbauer
Wehrbauer was a concept used by the Schutzstaffel of the Nazi Party to refer to soldiers designated as setters for the lands conquered during the German invasions of the the Soviet Union and Poland....

, or soldier-peasants, settled there would maintain a fortified line that would prevent civilization from arising outside their settlements to threaten Germany. Plans for western Europe were less severe, as the Nazis needed local cooperation and the local industry with its workers; furthermore, the countries were regarded as more racially acceptable, the assortment of racial categories being boiled down by the average German to mean "East is bad and West is acceptable." Nevertheless, plans for the future included the annexation of the Scandinavian countries, and also Alsace and Lorraine; Belgium and northern France would follow, while Great Britain might be annexed or kept as a puppet state. Italy's withdrawal from the war led to the addition of northern Italy as part of the territory to be annexed.

In Hitler's view, the idea of restoring the 1914 borders of the Reich was absurd as those borders did not provide sufficient Lebensraum; only a foreign policy that aimed at the conquest of the proper quantity of Lebensraum would justify the necessary sacrifices that war entailed. In Hitler’s view, history was dominated by a merciless struggle between different “races” for survival, and “races” that possessed large amounts of territory were innately stronger than those that did not. Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

 has expressed a Primat der Außenpolitik (“primacy of foreign policy”) interpretation of German foreign policy as opposed to the Primat der Innenpolitik ("primacy of domestic politics") thesis favored by some left-wing historians such as Timothy Mason
Timothy Mason
Timothy Wright Mason was a British Marxist historian of Nazi Germany.-Life and work:He was born in Birkenhead, the child of school-teachers and was educated at Birkenhead School and Oxford University. He taught at Oxford from 1971–1984 and was twice married. He helped to found the...

. Jäckel wrote that since Hitler regarded the conquest of Lebensraum as his most important project, and since that could only be accomplished through war, domestic policy comprised simply preparing the nation for the inevitable struggle for Lebensraum. The demand for Lebensraum was not just a Nazi dream. At the London Economic Conference
London Economic Conference
The London Economic Conference was a meeting of representatives of 66 nations from June 12 to July 27, 1933, at the Geological Museum in London. Its purpose was to win agreement on measures to fight global depression, revive international trade, and stabilize currency exchange rates.The Conference...

 of 1933, the head of the German delegation, the Economics Minister Dr. Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Hugenberg
Alfred Ernst Christian Alexander Hugenberg was an influential German businessman and politician. Hugenberg, a leading figure within nationalist politics in Germany for the first few decades of the twentieth century, became the country's leading media proprietor within the inter-war period...

 of the German National People's Party
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

, put forth a programme of German colonial expansion in both Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 as the best way of ending the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, which created a major storm at the conference. For being indiscreet enough to advance the claim to Germany's lebensraum at a time when Germany was still more or less disarmed, Hugenberg was sacked from the German cabinet by Hitler.

There are, however, many historians such as Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

 and Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

 who dismiss this "intentionalist" approach, and argue that the concept was actually an "ideological metaphor" in the early days of Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

.

Implementation



The practical implementation of the Lebensraum concept began in 1939 with Germany's occupation of Poland. In 1941, the German leadership decided that in ten to 20 years, the Polish state under German occupation was to be fully cleared of any ethnic Poles and resettled by German colonists. Ethnic Poles were cleared out of their houses so quickly that when colonists arrived, they found half-eaten meals on tables and unmade beds that small children had clearly been taken from. Ethnic Germans from the Baltic States were racially evaluated, with the highest rating being O Ost-Falle, the best classification, to be settled in the Eastern Wall. Colonisation incorporated 350,000 such "ethnic Germans" and 1.7 million Poles deemed Germanizable, including between one and two hundred thousand children who had been taken from their parents, plus about 400,000 German settlers from the "Old Reich".

Later, the ideology was also a major factor in Hitler's launching of Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 in June 1941. The Nazis hoped to turn large areas of Soviet territory into German settlement areas as part of Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

. Developing these ideas, Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

 proposed that the Nazi administrative organization in lands to be conquered from the Soviets be based upon the following Reichskommissariat
Reichskommissariat
Reichskommissariat is the German designation for a type of administrative office headed by a government official known as a Reichskommissar...

e
:
Name Area
Ostland
Reichskommissariat Ostland
Reichskommissariat Ostland, literally "Reich Commissariat Eastland", was the civilian occupation regime established by Nazi Germany in the Baltic states and much of Belarus during World War II. It was also known as Reichskommissariat Baltenland initially...

the Baltic States
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

, Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and adjacent parts of Western Russia.
Ukraine
Reichskommissariat Ukraine
Reichskommissariat Ukraine , literally "Reich Commissariat of Ukraine", was the civilian occupation regime of much of German-occupied Ukraine during World War II. Between September 1941 and March 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Reichskommissar Erich Koch as a colony...

The Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, minus East Galicia and Romanian-controlled Transnistria
Transnistria (World War II)
Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

, but extended eastward up to the Volga river
Volga River
The Volga is the largest river in Europe in terms of length, discharge, and watershed. It flows through central Russia, and is widely viewed as the national river of Russia. Out of the twenty largest cities of Russia, eleven, including the capital Moscow, are situated in the Volga's drainage...

.
Moskowien the Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 metropolitan area and most of adjacent European Russia
European Russia
European Russia refers to the western areas of Russia that lie within Europe, comprising roughly 3,960,000 square kilometres , larger in area than India, and spanning across 40% of Europe. Its eastern border is defined by the Ural Mountains and in the south it is defined by the border with...

, with the exclusion of Karelia
Karelia
Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

 and the Kola peninsula
Kola Peninsula
The Kola Peninsula is a peninsula in the far northwest of Russia. Constituting the bulk of the territory of Murmansk Oblast, it lies almost completely to the north of the Arctic Circle and is washed by the Barents Sea in the north and the White Sea in the east and southeast...

, promised to Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 in 1941.
Kaukasus
Reichskommissariat Kaukasus
Reichskommissariat Kaukasus , literally "Reich Commissariat of the Caucasus ", was the theoretical political division and planned civilian occupation regime of Nazi Germany in the conquered territories of the Caucasus during World War II...

the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 region.


The Reichskommissariat territories would extend up to the European frontier at the Urals. They were to have been early stages in the displacement and dispossession of Russian and other Slav people and their replacement with German settlers, following the Nazi Lebensraum im Osten plans. When German forces entered Soviet territory, they promptly organized occupation regimes in the first two territories—the Reichskomissariats of Ostland and Ukraine. The defeat of the Sixth Army at the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 in 1942, followed by defeat in the Battle of Kursk
Battle of Kursk
The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

 in July 1943 and the Allied landings in Sicily put an end to the plans' implementation.

Historical perspective



In his book Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, Hitler notes that history is an open-ended struggle, and links the concept of Lebensraum with his own brand of racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 and social Darwinism
Social Darwinism
Social Darwinism is a term commonly used for theories of society that emerged in England and the United States in the 1870s, seeking to apply the principles of Darwinian evolution to sociology and politics...

. Nevertheless, historians debate whether Hitler's position on Lebensraum was part of a larger program of world domination (the so-called "globalist" position) or a more modest "continentalist" approach, by which Hitler would have sufficed with the conquest of Eastern Europe. Nor are the two positions necessarily contradictory, given the idea of a broader Stufenplan, or "plan in stages," which many such as Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 and the late Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 argue lay behind the regime's actions. Historian Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 suggests just such a compromise, claiming that while the concept was originally abstract and undeveloped, it took on new meaning with the invasion of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. He goes on to note that even within the Nazi regime, there were differences of opinion about the meaning of Lebensraum, citing Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann is a German historian, journalist and management consultant.- Life :Zitelmann studied history and political sciences at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate in 1986 under Prof. Dr...

, who distinguishes between the near-mystical fascination with a return to an idyllic agrarian society (for which land was a necessity) as advocated by Darré and Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, and an industrial state, envisioned by Hitler, which would be reliant on raw materials and forced labor.

What seems certain is that echoes of lost territorial opportunities in Europe, such as the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918, mediated by South African Andrik Fuller, at Brest-Litovsk between Russia and the Central Powers, headed by Germany, marking Russia's exit from World War I.While the treaty was practically obsolete before the end of the year,...

, played an important role in the Hitlerian vision for the distant future:
Racism is not a necessary aspect of expansionist politics in general, nor was the original use of the term "Lebensraum". However, under Hitler, the term came to signify a specific, racist kind of expansionism. Karl Haushofer was an acquaintance of Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess was a prominent Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s...

, Hitler's deputy. Haushofer had limited influence on Hitler's ideals. "Haushofer primarily provided the academic and scientific support for the expansion of the Third Reich." Haushofer ideas can be described by the expansion of heavily populated countries having the right to expand and gain land from less populated countries. This was his adaptation of Ratzel's Lebensraum.

Language


In Germany the word Lebensraum is usually not associated with Nazism nowadays. It describes the space where a creature lives, like the English habitat. For instance, the Lebensraum of deer is the wood. The Lebensraum of sharks is the ocean.

Spazio vitale


In Italian fascist thought, a similar concept was used to justify territorial expansion. However, the spazio vitale of Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 was not based on the genocide of the subjugated nations, but presented the Italian race as a "custodian and bearer of superior civilization", whose mission was to export the fascist revolution and "civilize" the territories conquered. The defeated nations would be subjected to Roman rule and protection, but were to keep their own languages and cultures. Fascist ideologist Giuseppe Bottai
Giuseppe Bottai
Guiseppe Bottai was an Italian lawyer, economist, journalist, and member of the National Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini.-Fascism:...

 likened this historic mission to the deeds of the ancient Romans, stating that the new Italians will "illuminate the world with their art, educate it with their knowledge, and give robust structure to their new territories with their administrative technique and ability".

The territorial extent of the Italian spazio vitale was to cover the Mediterranean as a whole (Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum
Mare Nostrum may refer to:*Mare Nostrum, the Roman term for the Mediterranean Sea, adopted by Italian nationalists and fascists.*Mare Nostrum , a Spanish-language novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez...

) and Northern Africa from the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 to the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. It was to be divided into piccolo spazio ("small space"), which was to be inhabited only by Italians, and grande spazio ("large space") inhabitated by other nations under Italian domination.

See also

  • Anschluss
    Anschluss
    The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

  • Expansionism
    Expansionism
    In general, expansionism consists of expansionist policies of governments and states. While some have linked the term to promoting economic growth , more commonly expansionism refers to the doctrine of a state expanding its territorial base usually, though not necessarily, by means of military...

     for expansionist ideas in other countries
  • Expulsion of Poles by Nazi Germany (1939–1944)
  • Generalplan Ost
    Generalplan Ost
    Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

  • Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
    Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
    The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was a concept created and promulgated during the Shōwa era by the government and military of the Empire of Japan. It represented the desire to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers"...

     of the Empire of Japan
    Empire of Japan
    The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

  • Greater Germany
  • Greater Germanic Reich
    Greater Germanic Reich
    The Greater Germanic Reich , fully styled the Greater Germanic Reich of the German Nation is the official state name of the political entity that Nazi Germany tried to establish in Europe during World War II...

  • Hegewald
    Hegewald (colony)
    Hegewald was a short-lived German colony in Reichskommissariat Ukraine near Zhitomir during World War II. Its purpose was to hold Poles and Ukrainian settlers who had been classified as Volksdeutsche for Germanization...

  • Hunger Plan
    Hunger Plan
    The Hunger Plan was an economic management scheme that was put in place to ensure that Germans were given priority over food supplies, at the expense of everyone else. This plan was featured as part of the planning phase of the Wehrmacht invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941...

  • Imperialism
    Imperialism
    Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

  • New Order (Nazism)
  • Manifest Destiny
    Manifest Destiny
    Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

  • Near abroad
    Near abroad
    In political language of Russia and some other post-Soviet states, the near abroad refers to the newly independent republics which emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and sometimes other nearby countries such as Finland and Mongolia....

  • Volk ohne Raum
    Volk ohne Raum
    "Volk ohne Raum" was a political slogan used in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. The term was coined by the nationalist writer Hans Grimm with his novel Volk ohne Raum...

  • Zamość Uprising
    Zamosc Uprising
    The Zamość Uprising refers to the actions by Polish resistance against the forced expulsion of Poles from the Zamość region under the Nazi Generalplan Ost...



Empire of Japan:
  • Hakko ichiu
    Hakko ichiu
    was a Japanese political slogan that became popular from the Second Sino-Japanese War to World War II, and was popularized in a speech by Prime Minister of Japan Fumimaro Konoe on January 8, 1940.-Outline:...

  • An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus
    An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus
    , was a secret Japanese government report created by the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Population Problems Research Center, and completed on July 1, 1943....



Fascist Italy
  • Fourth Shore
  • Greater Italy
    Greater Italy
    Greater Italy , or Imperial Italy , was an ambitious project envisioned by fascist Italy in which the objective was to create an Italian empire which would expand, in addition to the irredentist claimed territories , to additional Mediterranean basin territories...

  • Mare Nostrum
    Mare Nostrum
    Mare Nostrum may refer to:*Mare Nostrum, the Roman term for the Mediterranean Sea, adopted by Italian nationalists and fascists.*Mare Nostrum , a Spanish-language novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez...

  • Manifesto of Race
  • Spazio vitale
    Spazio vitale
    Spazio vitale was the territorial expansionist concept of Italian Fascism. It is similar to the German Nazi Party's concept of lebensraum...

    , the equivelant of lebensraum in Fascist Italy

External links