Colonialism and the Expansion of the Third Reich in Poland: Discourses, Perceptions and Methods

Employees (IfZ):  Dr. Rachel O'Sullivan

The postdoc project examines the comparability, as well as the differences, between Nazi expansion in Poland and European colonialism. The project’s main aim is to analyse the resettlement of Volksdeutschen (ethnic Germans) in the Reichsgaue Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia as part of a large German colonisation project. Additionally, the project also analyses long-lasting colonial discourses which were preserved and developed in Germany, even after the end of the German Empire and its colonies. The research project not only questions where the colonial comparable elements relating to the treatment of Jewish and non-Jewish Poles lie, but it also investigates the colonial similarities present in the case of the treatment of ethnic Germans. As a result, it offers an examination of both the National Socialist exclusionary and inclusionary policies within a colonial framework. The project also explores whether colonial perceptions, idioms or language were used during the Third Reich to legitimize Germany's expansion and the treatment of the Polish population.

Deutsche Karte, ca. 1939 – 1941, die die deutschen Umsiedlungen in Polen als "die bisher großzügigste Umsiedlungsaktion der Weltgeschichte" beschreibt und die "kolonisatorischen Fähigkeiten" der Umsiedler beim Aufbau des Warthegaues hervorhebt, BArch R49 Bild-0705, CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons