Hitler's Monsters by Eric Kurlander

Hitler's Monsters by Eric Kurlander

Author:Eric Kurlander
Language: eng
Format: epub, azw3, pdf
ISBN: 9780300189452
Publisher: Yale University Press

Racial Resettlement after 1939

This mostly theoretical relationship between border science and racial empire became real in September 1939.58 The German invasion of Poland ‘formed a turning point in mentalities of death,’ observes Monica Black, as many existing racist and imperialist ideas ‘took on new and more urgent meaning’.59 The ‘aggressive war of conquest was transfigured; Germans set forth to win new land for light and life in the land of the demons [Utgard], the dark Empire of Bolshevism and world Jewry’.60 Nearly every Nazi leader, from Rosenberg and Darré to Göring and Hans Frank, joined in this border scientific project to remake race and space in the East. And yet Himmler and the SS’s central role in policing and resettlement, not to mention racial border science, gave them pride of place.61

As early as October 1939 Himmler’s subordinate, the classical archaeologist Hans Schleif, became trustee for all SS-Ahnenerbe activities in Poland. In this capacity he worked with Göring’s Main Trustee Office (Haupttreuhandstelle Ost or HTO) to obtain control over Polish and Jewish property. In November, Himmler, as Reich Commisar for Securing German Nationality (Reichskomissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums or RKF), began to take a personal role in the process. In December he instructed the Ahnenerbe to plunder private houses as well as Polish and Jewish museums and archives in search of historical and prehistoric sources that were important for ‘cultural historical purposes’, and to reconstruct the Germans’ role in the ‘historical, cultural, and economic build-up of the country’.62

Folklore and border science now merged seamlessly with Nazi policies of race and resettlement.63 The Nazi professor of Nordic religion and folklore, Bernhard Kummer, for example, gave a series of lectures in 1940 that made use of an old German folk song used by the Artamanen to sponsor eastern colonization.64 Beger was charged with studying the ‘life of the soul of the Central Asian race’ in order to differentiate ‘the borders of Germanic essence . . . thereby to purify’ the Aryans of Central Asian elements.65 And Himmler named the folklorist and historian, Heinrich Harmjanz, General Trustee in ‘recording and processing the entire material heritage of all resettled ethnic Germans . . . [and] all prehistoric and early historic and ethnographic issues in the new East’.66

In a September 1942 speech to the SS, Himmler explained that the great Central Asian leaders such as Atilla, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and Stalin were produced by mixing lost traces of Nordic blood with Turkic and Asiatic blood. This racial mixture made Central Asian peoples both exceedingly powerful and dangerous. In order to reclaim the ‘good blood’ and prevent Europe being overrun by Asiatics, Himmler concluded, these mixed-race ‘subhumans’ needed to be destroyed.67 Every individual had to go through racial assessment to prevent new ‘mongrel types from emerging in the territories that are to be newly settled’.68

One of the focal points for this border scientific policy of racial resettlement was the Polish Wartheland (Wolhynia), home of the prized spearhead of Kovel (discussed in Chapter Seven). As part of the process of building


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