Drang nach Osten (German: [ˈdʁaŋ nax ˈʔɔstn̩] , "Drive to the East", "push eastward", "drive toward the East" or "desire to push East" ) is a term coined in the 19th century to refer to German expansion into Slavic lands. The term became a motto of the German nationalist movement in the late 19th century. In some historical discourse, Drang nach Osten combines historical German settlement in Central and Eastern Europe, medieval (12th–13th-century) military expeditions like those of the Teutonic Knights (see Northern Crusades), and Germanisation policies and warfare of modern German states such as those that reflected Nazism's concept of Lebensraum .
In Poland the term Drang nach Osten was used in describing programs of Germanizing Poland,while in Germany the slogan was part of a wider nationalist approbation of medieval German settlement in the east and of the idea of the "superiority of German culture". The slogan Drang nach Westen ("Drive to the West"), derived from Drang nach Osten, was used to depict an alleged Polish drive westward.
The concept of Drang nach Osten was a core element of German nationalism and a major element of Nazi ideology. As Adolf Hitler said on 7 February 1945, "It is eastwards, only and always eastwards, that the veins of our race must expand. It is the direction which Nature herself has decreed for the expansion of the German peoples."
The first known use of Drang nach Osten was by the Polish journalist Julian Klaczko in 1849, yet it is debatable whether he invented the term as he used it in form of a citation.Because the term is used almost exclusively in its German form in English, Polish, Russian, Czech and other languages, it has been concluded that the term is of German origin.
Drang nach Osten is connected with the medieval German Ostsiedlung . This "east colonization" referred to the expansion of German culture, language, states, and settlement into eastern and Northern European regions inhabited by Slavs and Balts.
Population growth during the High Middle Ages stimulated movement of peoples from the Rhenish, Flemish, and Saxon territories of the Holy Roman Empire eastwards into the less-populated Baltic region and Poland. These movements were supported by the German nobility, the Slavic kings and dukes, and the medieval Church. The majority of this settlement took place at the expense of Polabian Slavs and pagan Balts (see Northern Crusades).
The future state of Prussia, named for the conquered Old Prussians, had its roots largely in these movements. As the Middle Ages came to a close, the Teutonic Knights, who had been invited to northern Poland by Konrad of Masovia, had assimilated and forcibly converted much of the southern Baltic coastlands.
After the Partitions of Poland by the Kingdom of Prussia, Austria, and the Russian Empire in the late 18th century, Prussia gained much of western Poland. The Prussians, and later the Germans, engaged in a policy of Germanization in Polish territories. Russia and Sweden eventually conquered the lands taken by the Teutonic Knights in Estonia and Livonia.
The term became a centerpiece of the program of the German nationalist movement in 1891, with the founding of the Alldeutschen Verbandes, in the words: „Der alte Drang nach dem Osten soll wiederbelebt werden“ ("The old Drang nach Osten must be revived").Nazi Germany employed the slogan in calling the Czechs a "Slav bulwark against the Drang nach Osten" in the 1938 Sudeten crisis .
Despite Drang nach Osten policies, population movement took place in the opposite direction also, as people from rural low-developed areas in the East were attracted by the prospering industrial areas of Western Germany. This phenomenon became known by the German term Ostflucht , literally the flight from the East.
A new Drang nach Osten was called for by German nationalists to oppose a Polish Drang nach Westen ("thrust toward the West").World War I had ended with the Treaty of Versailles, by which most or parts of the Imperial German provinces of Posen, West Prussia, and Upper Silesia were given to reconstituted Poland; the West Prussian city of Danzig became the Free City of Danzig. The Polish paper Wprost used both Drang nach Osten and Drang nach Westen in August 2002 to title stories about German RWE company taking over Polish STOEN and Polish migration into eastern Germany, respectively.
Drang nach Westen is also the ironic title of a chapter in Eric Joseph Goldberg's book Struggle for Empire, used to point out the "missing" eastward ambitions of Louis the German who instead expanded his kingdom to the West.
With the development of romantic nationalism in the 19th century, Polish and Russian intellectuals began referring to the German Ostsiedlung as Drang nach Osten. The German Empire and Austria-Hungary attempted to expand their power eastward; Germany by gaining influence in the declining Ottoman Empire (the Eastern Question) and Austria-Hungary through the acquisition of territory in the Balkans (such as Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Adolf Hitler, dictator of Nazi Germany from 1933–1945, called for a Drang nach Osten to acquire territory for German colonists at the expense of central and eastern European nations ( Lebensraum ). The term by then had gained enough currency to appear in foreign newspapers without explanation.His eastern campaigns during World War II were initially successful with the conquests of Poland, the Baltic countries, Belarus, Ukraine and much of European Russia by the Wehrmacht ; Generalplan Ost was designed to eliminate the native Slavic peoples from these lands and replace them with Germans. The Wehrbauer , or soldier-peasants, would settle in a fortified line to prevent civilization arising beyond and threatening Germany.
This was greatly hindered by the lack of German people who actually desired to settle in the east, let alone act as Teutonic Knights there.Settlements actually established during the war did not receive colonists from the Altreich , but in the main part East European Germans resettled from Soviet "spheres of interest" according to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, and such Poles as deemed Germanizable by Nazis. However, the Soviet Union began to reverse the German conquests by 1943, and Nazi Germany was defeated by the Allies in 1945.
Most of the demographic and cultural outcome of the Ostsiedlung was terminated after World War II. The expulsion of Germans after World War II east of the Oder-Neisse line in 1945–48 on the basis of decisions of the Potsdam Conference were later justified by their beneficiaries as a rollback of the Drang nach Osten. "Historical Eastern Germany"— historically the land of the Baltic people called Old Prussians who had been colonised and assimilated by German Drang Nach Osten—was split between Poland, Russia, and Lithuania (a Baltic country) and repopulated with settlers of the respective ethnicities. The Oder-Neisse line has been accepted to be the eastern German boundary by all post-war German states (East and West Germany, as well as reunited Germany) [ circular reference ], reneging on all plans to (re-)expand into or (re-)settle territories beyond this line. The Old Prussians were conquered by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century, and gradually assimilated over the following centuries; the Old Prussian language was extinct by the 17th or early 18th century. Henry Cord Meyer, in his book "Drang nach Osten: Fortunes of a Slogan-Concept in German–Slavic Relations, 1849–1990" claims that the slogan Drang nach Osten originated in the Slavic world, and it also was more widely used than in Germany.
Pan-Germanism, also occasionally known as Pan-Germanicism, is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify all the German speaking people – and possibly also Germanic-speaking peoples – in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland.
East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 ; following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.
The German concept of Lebensraum comprises policies and practices of settler colonialism which proliferated in Germany from the 1890s to the 1940s. First popularized around 1901, Lebensraum became a geopolitical goal of Imperial Germany in World War I (1914–1918) originally, as the core element of the Septemberprogramm of territorial expansion. The most extreme form of this ideology was supported by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and Nazi Germany until the end of World War II.
The Generalplan Ost, abbreviated GPO, was the Nazi German government's plan for the genocide and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and colonization of Central and Eastern Europe by Germans. It was to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. The plan was attempted during the war, resulting indirectly and directly in millions of deaths of ethnic Slavs by shootings, starvation, disease, or extermination through labor. But its full implementation was not considered practicable during the major military operations, and was prevented by Germany's defeat.
Prussia is a historical region in Europe, stretching from Gdańsk Bay to the end of Curonian Spit on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and extending inland as far as Masuria. The territory and inhabitants were described by Tacitus in Germania in AD 98, where Suebi, Goths and other Germanic people lived on both sides of the Vistula River, adjacent to the Aesti. About 800 to 900 years later the Aesti were named Old Prussians, who, since 997, repeatedly defended themselves against take-over attempts by the newly created Duchy of the Polans. The territory of the Old Prussians and neighboring Curonians and Livonians was unified politically in the 1230s as the State of the Teutonic Order. Prussia was politically divided between 1466 and 1772, with western Prussia under protection of the Crown of Poland and eastern Prussia a Polish–Lithuanian fief until 1660. The unity of both parts of Prussia remained preserved by retaining its borders, citizenship and autonomy until western and eastern Prussia were also politically reunited under the German Kingdom of Prussia. It is famous for many lakes, as well as forests and hills. Since the military conquest of the area by the Soviet Army in 1945 and the expulsion of the German-speaking inhabitants it was divided between northern Poland, Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, and southwestern Lithuania. The former German kingdom and later state of Prussia (1701–1947) derived its name from the region.
Germanisation, or Germanization, is the spread of the German language, people and culture. It was a central plank of German conservative thinking in the 19th and 20th centuries, during a period when conservatism and ethno-nationalism went hand-in-hand. In linguistics, Germanisation also occurs when a word from the German language is adopted into a foreign language.
The Nazi–Soviet population transfers were population transfers between 1939 and 1941 of ethnic Germans (actual) and ethnic East Slavs (planned) in an agreement according to the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
The history of Pomerania starts shortly before 1000 AD with ongoing conquests by newly arrived Polans rulers. Before that the area was recorded nearly 2000 years ago as Germania, and in modern-day times Pomerania is split between Germany and Poland. The name Pomerania comes from the Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea.
Anti-Slavism, also known as Slavophobia, a form of xenophobia, refers to various negative attitudes towards Slavic peoples, the most common manifestation is the claim that the inhabitants of Slavic nations are inferior to other ethnic groups, most notably Germanic peoples and Italian people. Slavophilia, by contrast, is a sentiment that celebrates Slavonic cultures or peoples and it has sometimes included a supremacist or nationalist tone. Anti-Slavism reached its highest peak during World War II, when Nazi Germany declared Slavs, especially neighboring Poles and Russians to be subhuman and planned to exterminate the majority of Slavic people.
German-occupied Europe refers to the sovereign countries of Europe which were wholly or partly occupied and civil-occupied by the military forces and the government of Nazi Germany at various times between 1939 and 1945, during and shortly before World War II, generally administered by the Nazi regime. The German Wehrmacht occupied European territory:
The presence of German-speaking populations in Central and Eastern Europe is rooted in centuries of history, with the settling in northeastern Europe of Germanic peoples predating even the founding of the Roman Empire. The presence of the independent German states in the region, and later the German Empire and also in other multi-ethnic countries, such as Austria-Hungary, Poland, Imperial Russia, etc., demonstrates the extent and duration of German-speaking settlements.
The Expulsion of Poles by Germany was a prolonged anti-Polish campaign of ethnic cleansing by violent and terror-inspiring means lasting nearly half a century. It began with the concept of Pan-Germanism developed in the early 19th century and culminated in the racial policy of Nazi Germany that asserted the superiority of the Aryan race. The removal of Poles by Germany stemmed from historic ideas of expansionist nationalism. It was implemented at different levels and different stages by successive German governments. It ended with the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Recovered Territories was an official term used by the Polish People’s Republic to describe the territory of the former Free City of Danzig and the parts of pre-war Germany that became part of Poland after World War II.
German colonization may refer to:
"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 (1926). The novel immediately attracted much attention and sold nearly 700,000 copies.
Walter Kuhn, was an Austrian-born German folklorist, historian and Ostforscher. Prior to World War II, Kuhn belonged to the German minority in Poland. His academic work specialized in German minorities outside Germany, particularly in the area of Ukraine, especially Volhynia. In 1936, Kuhn moved to Germany to take a professorship at the University of Breslau. In 1940, he joined the Nazi party. During the war, he was involved as an advisor in various Nazi plans of ethnic cleansing aimed at Jews, Poles and their replacement by German settlers from further east. Kuhn continued his academic work post-war in West Germany, becoming a professor at the University of Hamburg and a recognized expert in the German Ostsiedlung. He retired in 1968, moving to Salzburg, where he died in 1983. Kuhn's post-war work was internationally recognized, but received some criticism from Polish scholars in particular.
Ostsiedlung was the medieval eastward migration and settlement of Germanic-speaking peoples from the Holy Roman Empire, especially its southern and western portions, into less-populated regions of Central Europe, parts of west Eastern Europe, and the Baltics. The affected area roughly stretched from Estonia in the north all the way to Slovenia in the south and extended into Transylvania in the east. In part, Ostsiedlung followed the territorial expansion of the Empire and the Teutonic Order.
Foreign races was a term used during the Nazi era to describe people who were not of "German or related blood". The term at first was used only by members of the Schutzstaffel, but later became used by the Reich police, justice system and state bureaucracy.
There were many areas annexed by Nazi Germany both immediately before and throughout the course of World War II. Territories that were part of Nazi Germany before the annexations were known as the "Altreich".
The intermittent Germanisation of Prussia was a historical process that resulted in the region’s inclusion in various German states. Originating with the arrival of ethnically German groups in the Baltic region, it progressed sporadically with the development of the Teutonic Order and then much later under the Kingdom of Prussia, which continued to impact the region with germanising policies generally aimed at enhancing state control. Ultimately, attempts at Germanisation peaked as the Prussian state transitioned into the German Empire, by which point the main target of reforms were Germany's Polish subjects, only to be halted by the outbreak of the First World War.