Ideology and the Rationality of Domination

Ideology and the Rationality of Domination

Nazi Germanization Policies in Poland
Gerhard Wolf, translated by Wayne Yung
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Format: Hardback 19 b&w illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-04807-3
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Following the brutal invasion and occupation of Poland, the Nazis put measures into place: remove the Jews, bring in German settlers, and racially classify the rest of the population in order to separate Poles from ethnic Germans. Gerhard Wolf reveals an astonishing reality in which the plan met with massive resistance from various Nazi occupation institutions, especially when it came to deeming a majority of Polish citizens as "racially unfit." According to Wolf, the everchanging environment of the war meant this was a highly experimental process and emphasizes the formative aspects of Nazi policy-making and how key actors struggled to define racial criteria and determine whether they would have the desired effect. Students and scholars of the Polish occupation, the Holocaust, and Nazism will find new analysis of German imperialism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide in this important book.

Author Bio

Gerhard Wolf is senior lecturer in history at the University of Sussex.



The annexed areas in Poland became the scene of many machinations in which experts of the "race state" and representative of a traditional Germanization policy confronted each other. Gerhard Wolf pursues the tortuous and inconsistent implementation of National Socialist politics down to the local level, thereby giving much needed clarity to the complex debate about the significant of ideology of National Socialist rule.


Geoff Eley, author of Nazism as Fascism


Gerhard Wolf's excellent study illustrates how much National Socialist "ethnic politics" was shaped by traditional notions of belonging and exclusion. In the implementation of Nazi ideology, Wolf shows that politics could be both practical and principled. Here it becomes clear how a dynamic understanding of borders, which separated those who belonged from others who did not, could become a decisive instrument for the consolidation of German rule. This rule was legitimized and shaped by what we now call false nationalization.


Donald Bloxham, author of The Final Solution: A Genocide


Gerhard Wolf's real contribution is to pick apart the highly conflictual and polycratic process by which Nazi policies were formed, tracking both the long-running turf war between the Reich Interior Ministry and the SS Race and Resettlement Office in Berlin. Well-researched, clear, convincing, with real intellectual verve.


Nicholas Stargardt, author of The German War: A Nation under Arms, 1939-1945

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Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition



1. The German Quest for Polish Land

2. War: Projecting the "Lebensraum" Dystopia onto Poland

3. Consolidating Power: Reinforcing the German Occupation Regime through Population Policy

4. "Lebensraum": Population Policy in the Tug of War Between Racial Hubris and the Rational Demands of Power

5. Labor Deployment: Population Policy as a Tool of Exploitation and Assimilation




Index of persons