the forced adoption of 300,000 children -- 1/16/18
Today's selection -- from The Illustrated History of World War Two by Donald Sommerville. The Nazis discriminated cruelly against the non-Volk, the non-German races. But they also committed a massive, unintentional cruelty in the occupied territories by rounding up 300,000 children deemed "racially worthwhile" and taking them for forced adoption in Germany:
"Racism was the whole basis of Germany's rule in Europe. Everything was to be done and organized for the benefit of both Germany and the Volk -- the German race, as defined by Hitler and the Nazis. Within this system there were gradations. At the top were those like the Dutch or Norwegians, who were certainly regarded as second-class citizens but still worthy of some respect, and near the bottom were the Slavs, whose lives were valueless even if sometimes their labour was not. Jews were the lowest category of all.
"The way in which conquered territories were ruled naturally varied within this hierarchy. In Poland or the Ukraine Nazi cruelty, organized and led by the SS, was open and extreme.
"Near the other end of the scale were countries like Norway, where local Nazi sympathizers were allowed the appearance of a say in the government. (Norway's Vidkun Quisling has given the English language a word for just this sort of traitor and was executed for his treason after the war.) Finally, there were nations like France where a government at least not hostile to Germany was allowed to control all or part of the country....
|Kidnapping of Polish children during the Nazi-German resettlement operation in Zamość county|
"As the war proceeded Germany became increasingly dependent on foreign labour to keep its economy running. This included around 1.5 million prisoners of war and, by 1943-4, some 5 million civilians, most of whom had been forced to work in Germany and many of whom were treated as slaves. Roughly a quarter of the workforce in Germany in the later war years was made up of foreigners.
"The process started in 1939-40 when many Poles were brought to Germany as farm labourers. Later, in eastern Europe, men, women and many young children were simply rounded up and sent wherever it suited Germany. In Vichy France men were conscripted to do their national service in the German labour force.
"People of German descent (known to the Nazis as Volksdeutsche) were living in many places in eastern Europe; one of he most bizarre aspects of Nazi rule was the plan to reassimilate them with the Volk. Hundreds of thousands of people were to be brought back into the Reich. Many were transported from their homes in the Baltic States or western USSR, supposedly to be resettled in captured territories that were to become part of Germany proper. Most ended up among the millions of homeless displaced persons in central Europe after the war.
"Perhaps the most heartless aspect of this particular policy was the Lebensborn programme. As part of this plan to increase the German race, SS representatives toured occupied territories identifying 'racially worthwhile' children and taking them for forced adoption in Germany. Some 300,000 children are believed to have been abducted from their families in this way; 80 per cent of them never returned."