Reichskommissariat Ukraine in 1942
|Status||Reichskommissariat of Germany|
|Common languages|| German (official)|
|Government||Colony of Nazi Germany|
|Historical era||World War II|
|1 September 1941|
|10 November 1944|
|ISO 3166 code||UA|
|Today part of|
Part of a series on the
|History of Ukraine|
During World War II, Reichskommissariat Ukraine (abbreviated as RKU) was the civilian occupation regime ( Reichskommissariat ) of much of Nazi German-occupied Ukraine (which included adjacent areas of modern-day Belarus and pre-war Second Polish Republic). It was governed by the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories headed by Alfred Rosenberg. Between September 1941 and August 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Erich Koch as the Reichskommissar . The administration's tasks included the pacification of the region and the exploitation, for German benefit, of its resources and people. Adolf Hitler issued a Führer Decree defining the administration of the newly occupied Eastern territories on 17 July 1941.
Before the German invasion, Ukraine was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, inhabited by Ukrainians with Russian, Polish, Jewish, Belarusian, German, Romani and Crimean Tatar minorities. It was a key subject of Nazi planning for the post-war expansion of the German state. The Nazi occupation of Ukraine ended the lives of millions of civilians in The Holocaust and other Nazi mass killings: it is estimated 900,000 to 1.6 million Jews and 3to 4 million non-Jewish Ukrainians were killed during the occupation; other sources estimate that 5.2 million Ukrainian civilians (of all ethnic groups) perished due to crimes against humanity, war-related disease, and famine amounting to more than 12% of Ukraine's population at the time.
Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 in breach of the mutual Treaty of Non-aggression. The German invasion resulted in the collapse of the western elements of the Soviet Red Army in the former territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union. On July 16, 1941, Hitler appointed the Nazi gauleiter Erich Koch as the Reichskommissar for the planned "Reichskommissariat Ukraine", which was created by the Führer's decree[ citation needed ] on September 1, 1941. Originally subject to Alfred Rosenberg's Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, it became a separate German civil entity. The first transfer of Soviet Ukrainian territory from military to civil administration took place on September 1, 1941. There were further transfers on October 20 and November 1, 1941, and a final transfer on September 1, 1942, which brought the boundaries of the province to beyond the Dnieper river.
In the mind of Adolf Hitler and other German expansionists, the destruction of the USSR, dubbed a "Judeo-Bolshevist" state, would remove a threat from Germany's eastern borders and allow for the colonization of the vast territories of Eastern Europe under the banner of "Lebensraum" (living space) for the fulfilment of the material needs of the Germanic people. Ideological declarations about the German Herrenvolk (master race) having a right to expand their territory especially in the East were widely spread among the German public and Nazi officials of various ranks. Later on, in 1943, Erich Koch said about his mission: "We are a master race, which must remember that the lowliest German worker is racially and biologically a thousand times more valuable than the population here."
On 14 December 1941, Rosenberg discussed with Hitler various administrative issues regarding the Reichskommissariat Ukraine.These included a dispute over Koch's status and access to Hitler, manpower shortages over gathering the harvest, Hitler's insistence that the Crimea and much of Southern Ukraine was to be "cleaned out" (i.e., unwanted nationalities to be removed), and directly attached to the Reich as a district called Gotenland ("Land of the Goths") the renaming of cities such as Simferopol to "Gotenburg" and Sevastopol to "Theodorichshafen" (after the ancient Gothic King Theodoric the Great) and an adjustment to the border with Romanian-controlled Transnistria to remove overlooking of the shipyards at Mykolaiv.
Hitler decreed the creation of the Nazi Party organization Arbeitsbereich Osten der NSDAP for the new eastern occupied territories on April 1, 1942. This move had been bitterly resisted by both Rosenberg, who rightly feared that the transformation of the administration of the eastern territories from a state to a party bureaucracy would spell the effective end of the authority of his ministry (which was a state organ), and Heinrich Himmler, who rightly feared that an arbeitsbereich's establishment would be accompanied by the commissars becoming RVKs (commissars for war) and thus enormously empowered at the expense of the SS, which had already been steadily losing ground since late September the previous year, when the commissariat government began establishing itself with local commissars asserting control over the police in their territories, hitherto controlled by the SS. Himmler and Rosenberg's rearguard resistance soon collapsed in the face of pressure from Martin Bormann in Berlin, and Koch and Lohse in the field. Rosenberg at least managed to be appointed Reichsleiter ("Reich leader") of the new arbeitsbereich. Rosenberg later attempted to take such political power into the political section of the ministry to keep all party issues in his control, and prohibited the creation of organizations and any political activity in the East without his express authorization. Needless to say, he was entirely disobeyed.
Hoping that by joining forces they might regain some influence, Himmler and Rosenberg decided upon the appointment of Gottlob Berger, Himmler's power-political hatchet man and the SS's head of personnel, as Rosenberg's deputy, a move which in theory would give Rosenberg control over SS forces in the occupied Soviet territories under civil administration in return for his support for the SS in its power struggles. The partnership between Rosenberg and Himmler achieved nothing other than the exasperation of each other beyond endurance and Berger soon withdrew all cooperation. Koch and Lohse thereafter gradually reduced communication with Rosenberg, liaising with Hitler through Bormann and the party chancellery. Both also made a point of establishing strong SA organisations in their jurisdiction as a counterbalance to the SS. Given that many of the commissariat officials were active or reserve SA officers, the pre-existing grudge against the SS was resurrected by these measures and a poisoning of relations was guaranteed. As a last resort, the Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer (HSSPF) in Ukraine, Hans-Adolf Prutzmann, attempted to approach Koch directly only to be contemptuously abused and dismissed.
RKU was liquidated on 10 November 1944.
The Reichskommissariat Ukraine excluded several parts of present-day Ukraine, and included some territories outside of its modern borders. It extended in the west from the Volhynia region around Lutsk, to a line from Vinnytsia to Mykolaiv along the Southern Bug river in the south, to the areas surrounding Kyiv, Poltava and Zaporizhia in the east. Conquered territories further to the east, including the rest of Ukraine (the Crimea, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and the Donbas/Donets Basin), were under military governance until 1943–44. At its greatest extent, it included just under 340,000 square kilometers.
Eastern Galicia was transferred to the control of the General Government following a Hitler decree, becoming its fifth district (Distrikt Galizien). Former Soviet territory between the Southern Bug and Dniester rivers was also excluded from the Reichskommissariat Ukraine; this was given to Romania and named "Transnistria" or "Transniestra", governed from Odesa by Dr. Alexeanu, the Romanian Governor.
It also encompassed several southern parts of today's Belarus, including Polesia, a large area to the north of the Pripyat river with forests and marshes, as well as the city of Brest-Litovsk, and the towns of Pinsk and Mazyr.This was done by the Germans in order to secure a steady wood supply and efficient railroad and water transportation.
The Staatssekretär 'Secretary of State' Herbert Backe was personally nominated by the Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, Alfred Rosenberg. His ministry produced the "Instruktion für einen Reichskommissar in der Ukraine" for the direction of future administrators of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine.
"Die Reichskommissare unterstehen dem Reichsminister für die besetzen Ostgebiete und erhalten ausschliesslich von ihm Weisungen..." ( translat.: The Reich's Commissioners are subordinated under the Reich's minister for the occupied eastern territories and receive only orders from him) was the "Führer" decree for the administration of the new eastern territories, the Reichskommissars reported to the Eastern Affairs Ministry.
The capital of this German administration was in Rivne in Western Ukraine.
The German Administration gave the role of "Chief of Ukrainian Principal Commission" to Professor Wolodomyr Kubijowytsch, an early local supporter.
The civil and criminal justice local administration, apart from the local SS and Wehrmacht military justice branches, was staffed by "Parteien Chef", "Bailiffs", "Mayors", with supervision of German "Schoffen" (Advisers) and "Schlichten" (Arbiters) with ample legal powers. The most important cases or situations which affected "natural rights" of any "Aryan" subject, were managed in Rivne or Berlin.
The Wehrmacht introduced reforms in Ukraine allowing limited religious liberty. In January 1942, Bishop Polikarp Sikorsky of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church became the temporary administrator of church lands in the German-occupied Ukraine and he was granted the title of Archbishop of Lutsk and Kovel. He also had authority over Bishoprics at Kyiv, Zhytomyr (Bishop Hryhorij Ohijchuk), Poltava, Kropyvnytskyi, Lubny (Bishop Sylvester Hayevsky), Dnipro and Bila Tserkva (Bishop Manuyil Tarnavsky) by decree of the Civil German Administration of limited religious liberty in Ukraine. The German Administration also allowed Archbishop Alexander of Pinsk and Polesia to maintain the religious authority he wielded before the war and the same permission was granted to Archbishop Alexander of Volhynia.
The Reichskommissariat's administrative capital was at Rivne, and it was divided into six Generalbezirke (general districts), called Generalkommissariate (general commissariats) in the pre-Barbarossa planning. This administrative structure was in turn subdivided into 114 Kreisgebiete, and further into 443 Parteien.
Each "Generalbezirk" was administered by a "Generalkommissar"; each Kreisgebiete "circular [i.e., district] area" was led by a "Gebietskommissar" and each Partei "party" was governed by a Ukrainian or German "Parteien Chef" (Party Chief). At the level below were German or Ukrainian "Akademiker" ("Academics"—i.e., District Chiefs) (similar to Polish "Wojts" in the General Government). At the same time at a smaller scale, the local Municipalities were administered by native "Bailiffs" and "Mayors", accompanied by respective German political advisers if needed. In the most important areas, or where a German Army detachment remained, the local administration was always led by a German; in less significant areas local personnel was in charge.
The six general districts were (English names and administrative centres in parentheses):
The administrative position of the Krim Generalbezirk remained ambiguous. According to the original German plan it was to correspond approximately to the old Taurida Governorate (therefore including also mainland portions of Ukraine), and was to consist of two Teilbezirke (sub-districts):
Only the first of these saw transfer to civil administration in September 1942, with the peninsula remaining under military control for the duration of the war.Its administrator, Frauenfeld, played off the military and civil authorities against each other and gained the freedom to run the territory as he saw fit. He thereby enjoyed complete autonomy, verging on independence, from Koch's authority. Frauenfeld's administration was much more moderate than Koch's and consequentially more economically successful. Koch was greatly angered by Fraunfeld's insubordination (a comparable situation also existed in the administrative relationship between the Estonian general commissariat and Reichskommissariat Ostland).
Scheduled for incorporation into the Reichskommissariat Ukraine but never transferred to civil administration were the Generalkommissariate Tschernigow (Chernihiv), Charkow (Kharkiv), Stalino (Donetsk), Woronezh (Voronezh), Rostow (Rostov-on-Don), Stalingrad, and Saratow (Saratov), which would have brought the boundary of the province to the western border of Kazakhstan.In addition, Reichskommissar Koch had wishes of further extending his Reichskommissariat to Ciscaucasia.
The official German press, in 1941, reported the Ukrainian urban and rural populations as 19 million each. During the commissariat's existence the Germans only undertook one official census, for January 1, 1943, documenting a population of 16,910,008 people.The 1926 Soviet official census recorded the urban population as 5,373,553 and the rural population as 23,669,381 - a total of 29,042,934. In 1939, a new census reported the Ukrainian urban population as 11,195,620 and rural population as 19,764,601; a total of 30,960,221. The Ukrainian Soviets counted 17% of total Soviet population.
The Wehrmacht came under pressure for political reasons to gradually restore private property in zones under military control and to accept local volunteer recruits into their units and into the Waffen-SS, as promoted by local Ukrainian nationalist organizations, the OUN-B and the OUN-M, whilst receiving political support from the Wehrmacht.
The German Reichsführer-SS and chief of German Police, Heinrich Himmler, initially had direct authority over any SS formations in Ukraine to order "Security Operations", but soon lost it - especially after the summer of 1942 when he tried to regain control over policing in Ukraine by gaining authority for the collection of the harvest and failed miserably, in large part because Koch withheld cooperation. In Ukraine, Himmler soon became the voice of relative moderation, hoping that an improvement in the Ukrainians' living conditions would encourage greater numbers of them to join the Waffen-SS's foreign divisions. Koch, appropriately nicknamed the "hangman of Ukraine", was contemptuous of Himmler's efforts. In this matter Koch had the support of Hitler, who remained sceptical when not hostile to the idea of recruiting Slavs in general and Soviet nationals in particular into the Wehrmacht.
115th and 118th
In the civil administration of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories numerous technical staff worked under Georg Leibbrandt, former chief of the east section of the foreign political office in the Nazi Party, now chief of the political section in the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Leibbrandt's deputy, Otto Bräutigam, had previously worked as a consul with experience in the Soviet Union. Economic affairs remained under the direct management of Hermann Göring (the Plenipotentiary of Germany's Four Year Plan). From 21 March 1942 Fritz Sauckel had the role of "General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment" (Generalbevollmächtigter für den Arbeitseinsatz), charged with recruiting manpower for Germany throughout Europe, though in Ukraine Koch insisted that Sauckel confine himself to setting requirements, leaving the actual "recruitment" of Ost-Arbeiter to Koch and his brutes. The Todt Organization Ost Branch operated from Kiev. Other members of the German administration in Ukraine included Generalkommissar Leyser and Gebietkommissar Steudel.
The Ministry of Transport had direct control of "Ostbahns" and "Generalverkehrsdirektion Osten" (the railway administration in the Eastern territories). These German central government interventions in the affairs of the East Affairs by ministries were known as Sonderverwaltungen (special administrations).
The position of the Eastern Affairs Ministry was weak because its department chiefs: (Economy, Work, Foods & Crops and Forest & Woods) held similar posts in other government departments (The Four-Year Plan, Eastern Economic Office, Foods and Farming Ministry, etc.) with other supplementary junior staff. Thus the East Ministry was managed by personal criteria and particular interests over official orders. Additionally, they failed to maintain the "Political Section" at an equal level with more specialized departments (Economy, Works, Farms, etc.) because political considerations clashed with exploitation plans in the territory.
The Reichskommissariat Ukraine paid Occupation taxes and funds to the German Reich until February 1944 in the amount of 1.246 billion Reichsmark (equivalent to 4 billion 2009 €) and 107.9 million Soviet rubles, in accord with information composed by Lutz von Krosigk, the Reich Minister of Finances.
The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories ordered Koch and Hinrich Lohse (the Reichskommissar of Ostland) in March 1942 to supply 380,000 farm workers and 247,000 industrial workers for German work needs. Later Koch was mentioned during the new year message of 1943, how he "recruited" 710,000 workers in Ukraine. This and subsequent "worker registration" drives in Ukraine would eventually backfire after the Battle of Kursk (July–August 1943) when the Germans would attempt to build a defensive line along the Dnieper only to discover that the necessary manpower had been either recruited to forced labour in Germany or had gone underground to forestall such "recruitment".
Alfred Rosenberg implemented an "Agrarian New Order" in Ukraine, ordering the confiscation of Soviet state properties to establish German state properties. Additionally the replacement of Russian Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes, by their own "Gemeindwirtschaften" (German Communal Farms), the installation of state enterprise "Landbewirstschaftungsgessellschaft Ukraine M.b.H." for managing the new German state farms and cooperatives, and the foundation of numerous "Kombines" (Great German exploitation Monopolies) with government or private capital in the territory, to exploit the resources and Donbass area.
Hitler said "Ukraine and the East lands would produce 7 million, or more likely 10 or 12 million tonnes of grain to provide Germany's food needs".[ citation needed ]
The regime was planning to encourage the settlement of German and other "Germanic" farmers in the region after the war, along with the empowerment of some ethnic Germans in the territory. Ukraine was the supposed residence of ancient Germanic Gothic tribes; thus, according to Hitler, "Only German should be spoken here".The sending of Dutch settlers was charged to the "Nederlandsche Oost-Compagnie", a Dutch-German Company dedicated to encourage the colonization of the east by Dutch citizens.
The German civil administration met "Volksdeutsche" (ethnic Germans) in Mykolaiv, Zaporizhia and Dnipro. The archives of the Soviet census in 1926 counted them as 393,924 persons. The Soviets counted ethnic Germans in all Russia at 1,423,534, or 1% of the total population in 1939.
The administration took measures to protect Germans in the area who were entered on their Volksdeutsch racial list. They received special rights
In Ukraine the Germans published a local journal in the German language, the Deutsche Ukrainezeitung.
During the occupation a very small number of cities and their accompanying districts maintained German names. These cities were designated as urban strongholds for Volksdeutsche natives.Hegewald (Himmler's field headquarters and the location of a small, experimental German colony), Försterstadt (also a Volksdeutsche colony), Halbstadt (a German Mennonite settlement), Alexanderstadt , Kronau and Friesendorf were some of these.
On 12 August 1941 Hitler ordered the complete destruction of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev by the use of incendiary bombs and gunfire.Because the German military lacked sufficient material for this operation it wasn't carried out, after which the Nazi planners instead decided to starve the city's inhabitants. Heinrich Himmler on the other hand considered Kiev to be "an ancient German city" because of the Magdeburg city rights that it had acquired centuries prior, and often referred to it as "Kiroffo".
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.
Reichskommissar, in German history, was an official gubernatorial title used for various public offices during the period of the German Empire and the Third Reich.
Nazi Germany established the Reichskommissariat Ostland (RKO) in 1941 during World War II. It became the civilian occupation regime in the Baltic states and the western part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. German planning documents initially referred to an equivalent Reichskommissariat Baltenland. The political organization for this territory – after an initial period of military administration before its establishment – involved a German civilian administration, nominally under the authority of the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories led by Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, but actually controlled by the Nazi official Hinrich Lohse, its appointed Reichskommissar.
Erich Koch was a Gauleiter of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in East Prussia from 1928 until 1945. Between 1941 and 1945 he was Chief of Civil Administration of Bezirk Bialystok. During this period, he was also the Reichskommissar in Reichskommissariat Ukraine from 1941 until 1944. After the Second World War, Koch stood trial in Poland and was convicted in 1959 of war crimes and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment a year later.
The title of SS and police leader was used to designate a senior Nazi official who commanded large units of the SS, Gestapo and the German uniformed police (Ordnungspolizei), prior to and during World War II.
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Das Jahr 1941 wird, dessen bin ich überzeugt, das geschichtliche Jahr einer großen Neuordnung Europas sein!
The year 1941 will be, I am convinced, the historical year of a great European New Order.
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The Reichskommissariat Kaukasus, also spelled as Kaukasien, was the theoretical political division and planned civilian occupation regime of Germany in the conquered territories of the Caucasus during World War II. Unlike the other four planned Reichskommissariats, within the borders of the proposed Caucasus Reichskommissariat experiments were to be conducted for various forms of autonomy for "indigenous groups".
Reichskommissariat is the German designation for a type of administrative entity headed by a government official known as a Reichskommissar. Although many different such offices existed primarily throughout the Imperial German and Nazi periods in a number of different fields it is most commonly used to refer to the quasi-colonial administrative territorial entity established by Nazi Germany in several occupied countries during World War II. While officially located outside the German Reich in a legal sense, these entities were directly controlled by their supreme civil authorities, who ruled their assigned territories as German governors on behalf of and as direct representatives of Adolf Hitler.
The Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle or VoMi was an NSDAP agency in Nazi Germany founded to manage the interests of the ethnic Germans.
Subdivision of Polish territories during World War II can be divided into several phases, when territories of the Second Polish Republic were administered first by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, then in their entirety by Nazi Germany and finally by the Soviet Union again. Starting with the reform of 1946, the administrative division was returned to Poland.
Bezirk Bialystok was an administrative unit of Nazi Germany created during the World War II invasion of the Soviet Union. It was to the south-east of East Prussia, in present-day northeastern Poland as well as in smaller sections of adjacent present-day Belarus and Lithuania.
The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories was created by Adolf Hitler in July 1941 and headed by the Nazi theoretical expert and Baltic German, Alfred Rosenberg. Alfred Meyer served as Rosenberg's deputy. This ministry was created to control the vast areas captured by the Germans in Eastern Europe and Russia. It also played a part in supporting anti-Soviet groups in Central Asia.
The Reichskommissariat Niederlande was the civilian occupation regime set up by Germany in the German-occupied Netherlands during World War II. Its full title was the Reich Commissariat for the Occupied Dutch Territories. The administration was headed by Arthur Seyss-Inquart, formerly the last chancellor of Austria before initiating its annexation by Germany.
Reichskommissariat Turkestan was a projected Reichskommissariat that Germany proposed to create in the Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union in its military conflict with that country during World War II. Soviet historian Lev Bezymenski claimed that names Panturkestan, Großturkestan and Mohammed-Reich were also considered for the territory.
Wehrbauer, plural Wehrbauern, is a German term for settlers living on the borders of a realm, who were tasked with holding back foreign invaders until the arrival of proper military reinforcements. In turn they were granted special liberties. Wehrbauern were mainly used on the eastern fringes of the Holy Roman Empire and later Austria-Hungary in order to slow down attacks by the Ottoman Empire. This historic term was disinterred and used by the Nazis in WWII.
Reichskommissariat Don-Wolga, literally "Reich Commissariat Don-Volga", was a theoretical civilian occupation regime of Nazi Germany discussed during the early stages of German planning for its occupation of territories in the Soviet Union, one of several other Reichskommissariats. It is also referred to in German memoranda as simply the Dongebiet.
Chief of Civil Administration was an office introduced in Nazi Germany, operational during World War II. Its task was to administer civil issues according to occupation law, with the primary purpose being the support of the military command in the operational areas of the German Army. CdZ would pass his authority to a corresponding civil government after the territory in question became in the rear of the operating armed forces.
A German colony, the RKU constituted an important part of Adolf Hitler's Lebensraum and was completely deprived of autonomy or international status. Nazi plans called for the postwar unification of the RKU with the territory of the German Reich; most Ukrainians (considered unfit for Germanization) were to be resettled beyond the Urals to make room for German colonists. In fact Hitler was unable to inspire many Germans to colonize Ukraine. Despite ambitious plans only a few villages were cleared of their Ukrainian inhabitants and populated with Germans (both groups were resettled under duress). Those experiments were profoundly resented by the local population, which saw them as portents of German postwar intentions. Resettlement was also prevented by the German retreat and then by the formal liquidation of the RKU on 10 November 1944.
The RKU, officially established on 1 September 1941, was made up of Volhynia, Polisia, Right-Bank Ukraine, and part of the Poltava region.