Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Heinrich Himmler and the Nazi Millenium
Himmler had his own pet scheme for eastern settlement, which could be subsumed within the general thrust eastwards for lebensraum, but was quite distinct from the Generalplan Ost. All of the details are to be found in The Master Plan: Himmler Scholars and the Holocaust by Heather Pringle.
The Himmler Plan aimed at more than just lebensraum: it was a bizarre scheme for creating a rural idyll in western Russia, harking back to earlier modes of existence, and a more 'authentic' and Germanic way of life. By this, racially pure soldier-farmers would live in medieval-style German houses.
These ideas emerged in part from a work of 1929 by Himmler's close associate, Walther Darre, entitled Farming as a Source of Life for the Nordic Race. Himmler began to move towards a fuller elaboration of his plans with the foundation in 1935 of the Deutches Ahnenerbe Studiengesellschaft für Geistesurgeschichte, or Ahnenerbe for short, meaning 'something inherited from our forefathers. The Ahnenerbe scholars investigated a whole variety of things, from ancient house designs, 'Nordic' animal breeds and even, by Himmler's specific request, the sexual practices of the ancient German tribes! A model farm was also established at Mehrow to the east of Berlin, where some of the notions were tested.
It was after the invasion of Russia that Himmler began to look to wider horizons, working in collaboration with Konrad Meyer, a senior planner and agricultural scientist, on a scheme that could be presented to Hitler. This was called the Master Plan East. By this Himmler and Meyer envisaged the creation of three huge colonies. The first, stretching south of Leningrad, was called Ingermanland; the second, embracing chunks of eastern Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, was known in the plan as Memel-Narew-Gebiet, and the third, incorporating large parts of the western Ukraine and Crimea, was Gotengau.
All three of these areas were to be completely 'Germanised' within a twenty year period. All Slavs and the 'racially unwanted' were to be killed or enslaved, and the areas repopulated with small villages of German and SS settlers. Each village, Himmler told Felix Kersten, his personal masseur, "will embrace between 30 and 40 farms. Each farmer will receive up to 300 acres of land, more or less according to the quality of the soil. In any case a class of financially powerful and independent farmers will develop. Slaves won't till this soil, rather, a farming aristocracy will come into being, such as you still find on the Westphalian estates." The villages would be dominated by a manor house, occupied an SS or Nazi party leader, a little bit like the feudal lord of the manor. Such was Himmler's view of the Nazi Millenium