Drang nach Osten (German: [ˈdʁaŋ nax ˈʔɔstn̩] , "Drive to the East", "push eastward", "drive toward the East" or "desire to push East" ) was a term coined in the 19th century to designate 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 reflecting the Nazi Lebensraum concept.
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 Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades were religious wars undertaken by Catholic Christian military orders and kingdoms, primarily against the pagan Baltic, Finnic and West Slavic peoples around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, and to a lesser extent also against Orthodox Christian Slavs. The crusades took place mostly in the 12th and 13th centuries and resulted in the subjugation and forced baptism of indigenous peoples.
Germanisation 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.
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.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Ostsiedlung, in English called the German eastward expansion, 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, modern-day Romania in the east. In part, Ostsiedlung followed the territorial expansion of the Empire and the Teutonic Order.
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."
National Socialism, more commonly known as Nazism, is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party – officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party – in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar aims.
Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.
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.
Julian Klaczko was a Polish author, proficient in Hebrew, Polish, French, and German.
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 High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period of European history that commenced around 1000 and lasted until around 1250. The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and were followed by the Late Middle Ages, which ended around 1500.
The Rhineland is the name used for a loosely defined area of Western Germany along the Rhine, chiefly its middle section.
Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium and one of the communities, regions and language areas of Belgium. However, there are several overlapping definitions, including ones related to culture, language, politics and history, and sometimes involving neighbouring countries. The demonym associated with Flanders is Fleming, while the corresponding adjective is Flemish. The official capital of Flanders is Brussels, although the Brussels Capital Region has an independent regional government, and the government of Flanders only oversees the community aspects of Flanders life in Brussels such as (Flemish) culture and education.
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", which historically was 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) [ better source needed ], 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.
Pomerania is a historical region on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea in Central Europe, split between Germany and Poland.
Pan-Germanism, also occasionally known as Pan-Germanicism, is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify all the German 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 as 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 partially realized during the war, resulting directly and indirectly in the deaths of 9.4 to 11.4 million ethnic Slavs by starvation, disease, execution or extermination through labor, including 4.5 million Soviet citizens, 2.8 to 3.3 million Soviet POWs, 1.8 to 3 million Slavic Poles, 300 to 600 thousand Serbs and 20 to 25 thousand Slovenes. Its full implementation, however, 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 Teutonic Order State. 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.
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 racism, refers to various negative attitudes towards Slavic peoples, the most common manifestation being claims of inferiority of Slavic nations with respect to other ethnic groups, though most notably the Germanic peoples and Italian people. Slavophilia￼￼ is a sentiment that celebrates Slavonic cultures or peoples, and has sometimes taken on supremacist or nationalist leanings, but can also refer to an animus of appreciation, love for, or gratitude for Slavic peoples or culture. Anti-Slavism reached its highest peak during World War II, when Nazi Germany declared Slavs, especially neighboring Poles to be subhuman and planned to exterminate the majority of Slavic people. The persecution and systemic extermination of Slavonic persons in World War II for purely ethnic reasons has routinely been under-reported. Partly due to inability to differentiate political and resistance prisoners from those rounded up along the same lines as the Jews, and partly resulting from an anti-Communist sentiment of the West, the tendency of Western scholarship has been to downplay ethnic prejudice toward Slavic people and focus instead on Anti-Semitism, clearly the more profoundly emphasized German prejudice. Under the Generalplan Ost, an extermination plan written by the Nazis in 1941, approx. 31 of 45 million people of Eastern Europe of Slavonic heritage were to be executed or starved en mass through forced march into Siberia.
Gaue were the de facto main administrative divisions of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945.
German-occupied Europe refers to the sovereign countries of Europe which were occupied and civil occupied including puppet government by the military forces and the government of Nazi Germany at various times between 1939 and 1945 and administered by the Nazi regime. The furthest east in Europe the German Wehrmacht managed to occupy was the town of Mozdok in the Soviet Union; the furthest north was the settlement of Barentsburg in the Kingdom of Norway; the furthest south in Europe was the island of Gavdos in the Kingdom of Greece; and the furthest west in Europe was the island of Ushant in the French Republic.
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. The rationale for the term "Recovered" was the Piast Concept that these territories were 900 years ago part of the traditional Polish homeland. They had been part of, or fiefs of, a Polish state during the early medieval Piast dynasty. Over the centuries, however, they had become Germanized through the processes of German eastward settlement (Ostsiedlung) and political expansion (Drang nach Osten) and for the most part did not even contain a Polish-speaking minority. In addition, some regions, like Western Pomerania, were controlled by Polish kings for only about 50 years during the early Middle Ages followed by more than 800 years of German rule, making the argument of traditional Polish homeland rather based on nationalistic ideas than on historical facts. Nowadays the term Western Territories is more popular because of its ideological neutrality.
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.
Fritz Gause was a German historian, archivist, and curator described as the last great historian of his native city, Königsberg, East Prussia. Gause's most important work was his three-volume history of Königsberg, Die Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg in Preußen. He was connected to nationalist historic movement called Ostforschung
There were many areas annexed by Nazi Germany both immediately before and throughout the course of World War II.