Generalplan Ost

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Generalplan Ost (GPO) or "Master Plan for the East", was a plan formulated by the Greater Germanic Reich for the genocide, extermination and large scale ethnic-cleansing of indigenous populations in Central and Eastern Europe. This included Eastern European Jews, Slavs and races deemed "sub-human" or "Untermensch".

This campaign of extermination preceded Nazi colonization of its Eastern holdings by Germanic settlers under the theory of Lebensraum or "Living Space", allowing the Germanisation of Nazi colonies and holdings in Central and Eastern Europe, such as the Reichskommissariats of Moskowien, Ostland, Ukraine and Kaukasien.

Most of the implementation of this barbaric plan for the fate of the indigenous populations was conducted by the Schutzstaffel (SS), through the Reich Security Office (RSHA) under Heinrich Himmler, which commissioned the work, oversaw the revisions and implementation of it across the occupied territories, that was conducted by Einsatzgruppen units.

It is one of the main plans that lay the groundwork for the starting situation for The New Order, specifically in the Eastern territories.


The plan, prepared in the years of 1939–1942, was part of Adolf Hitler's and the Nazi movement's Lebensraum policy and a fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (English: Drive towards the East) ideology of German expansion to the east, both of them part of the larger plan to establish the New Order.

More than economic calculations, ideological fanaticism and racism played a central role in Nazi regime's implementation of extermination programs such as the GPO. Hitler's doctrine of Lebensraum envisaged the mass-killings, enslavement and ethnic cleansing of Slavic inhabitants of Eastern Europe, followed by the colonization of these lands with Germanic settlers.

Although racist views against Slavs had precedence in German society before Hitler's rule, Nazi anti-Slavism was also based on the doctrines of scientific racism. The "Master Race" doctrine of Nazi ideology condemned Slavs to permanent domination by Germanic peoples, since it viewed them as primitive people who lacked the ability to undertake autonomous activities. Generalplan Ost then evolved from these racist, imperialist ideas, eventually formulated by the Nazi regime as its official policy during the course of the Second World War.


The program's operational guidelines were based on the policy of Lebensraum proposed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (drive to the East) ideology of German expansionism. As such, it was intended to be a part of the New Order in Europe.

Soviet POWs captured by the Wehrmacht were killed as part of the GPO. The plan also intended for the genocide of the majority of Slavic inhabitants by various means - mass killings, forced starvations, slave labour and other occupation policies. The remaining populations were to be forcibly deported beyond the Urals, paving the way for German settlers.

The plan was a work in progress. There are four known versions of it, developed as time went on. After the invasion of Poland, the original blueprint for Generalplan Ost was discussed by the RKFDV (Reich Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood) (German: Reichskommissar für die Festigung deutschen Volkstums) in mid-1940 during the Nazi–Soviet population transfers. The second known version of the GPO was procured by the RSHA from Erhard Wetzel in April 1942. The third version was officially dated June 1942. The final version of the Master Plan for the East came from the RKFDV ) on October 29, 1942.

The planning had included implementation cost estimates, which ranged from 40 to 67 billion Reichsmarks, the latter figure being close to Germany's entire GDP for 1941. A cost estimate of 45.7 billion Reichsmarks was included in the spring 1942 version of the plan, in which more than half the expenditure was to be allocated to land remediation, agricultural development, and transport infrastructure. This aspect of the funding was to be provided directly from state sources and the remainder, for urban and industrial development projects, was to be raised on commercial terms.

Phases and Implementation

Widely varying policies were envisioned by the creators of Generalplan Ost, and most of them were actually implemented by Germany in regards to the different Slavic territories and ethnic groups.

Attempts during Early War.

By August–September 1939 (Operation Tannenberg followed by the A-B Aktion in 1940), Einsatzgruppen death squads and concentration camps had been employed to deal with the Polish elite, whilst some parts of Poland were annexed by Germany early in the war outside the borders of the rump German-controlled General Government and the areas previously annexed by the Soviet Union before Operation Barbarossa

With the former Czechoslovakia, a small number of Czech intelligentsia were allowed to emigrate overseas, while the other territories were officially occupied by or Germany or her client states such as the Slovak State, which was a theoretically independent puppet state, while the ethnic-Czech parts of the Czech lands (excluding the Sudetenland) became a "protectorate" known as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

The GPO was partially attempted during the Second World War, resulting indirectly and directly in millions of deaths of ethnic Slavs by starvation, disease, or extermination through labor. The majority of Germany's 12 million forced laborers were abducted from Eastern Europe, mostly in the occupied Soviet territories and Poland. This plan however, would be continued to be worked on, after Germany's victory in the war.

The Versions of Generalplan Ost

The final version of the Generalplan Ost proposal was divided into two parts; the "Small Plan" (Kleine Planung), which covered actions carried out in the course of the war; and the "Big Plan" (Grosse Planung), which described steps to be taken gradually over a period of 25 to 30 years after the war was won. Both plans entailed the policy of ethnic cleansing, and by June 1941, the policy envisaged the deportation of 31 million Slavs to Siberia.

The Generalplan Ost proposal offered various percentages of the conquered or colonized people who were targeted for removal and physical destruction, with the net effect of which would be to ensure that the conquered territories would become German. In ten years' time, the plan effectively called for the extermination, expulsion, Germanization or enslavement of most or all East and West Slavs living behind the front lines of East-Central Europe. The "Small Plan" was to be put into practice as the Germans conquered the areas to the east of their pre-war borders. After the war, under the "Big Plan", more people in Eastern Europe were to be affected.

In their place, settlements of up to 10 million Germans were planned to be established in an extended "living space" (Lebensraum), as part of the GPO plan. This would be applied to the lands of the former Baltic, Ukraine, Belarusian SSRs, as well as the West Russian section of the Russian SFSR.

The GPO envisaged the establishment of settlements and "village complexes", each capable of hosting around 300-400 Germanic settlers. Because the number of Germans appeared to be insufficient to populate the vast territories of Central and Eastern Europe, the peoples which the Nazi theorists regarded as being capable of Germanisation and as racially intermediate between the Germans and the Russians (Mittelschicht), namely, Latvians and even Czechs, were also considered to be resettled there. Several Nazi scientists, many of whom were members of the SS, were involved in the planning of GPO. The programme delineated various settler-colonial policies to be undertaken by Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe over a period of 25 years; such as the establishment of new settlements, demographic engineering, construction of new centres, etc., after the planned liquidation of the native populations.

As early as the initial phase of Operation Barbarossa, when the Wehrmacht was advancing deep inside Soviet territories while facing little or no local insurrections, Adolf Hitler had contemplated the utility of anti-insurgency campaigns in advancing his Lebensraum program, as a way to reduce native populations.

Through the exploitation of anti-semitic sentiments which had persisted since the Tsarist period in the occupied territories, local collaborationism was also incited amongst the native inhabitants to assist Nazi Germany in implementing the Holocaust. These collaborationist bodies were viewed with suspicion due to the hardline anti-Slavic policy of German occupiers, and their Nazi sponsors largely used these groups as cannon fodder for German war efforts. Although there was no need for this during the Second World War due to German successes, this idea would be extensively explored during the West Russian War.

Germanization in the GPO

According to Nazi intentions, attempts at Germanization were to be undertaken only in the case of those foreign nationals in Central and Eastern Europe who could be considered a desirable element for the future Reich from the point of view of its racial theories.

The plan stipulated that there were to be different methods of treating particular nations and even particular groups within them. Attempts were even made to establish the basic criteria to be used in determining whether a given group lent itself to Germanization.

These criteria were to be applied more liberally in the case of nations whose racial material (rassische Substanz) and level of cultural development made them more suitable than others for Germanization. The plan considered that there were a large number of such elements among the Baltic states. Erhard Wetzel felt that thought should be given to a possible Germanization of the whole of the Estonian nation and a sizable proportion of the Latvians. On the other hand, the Lithuanians seemed less desirable since "they contained too great an admixture of Slav blood." Himmler's view was that "almost the whole of the Lithuanian nation would have to be deported to the East". Himmler is also described as having had a positive attitude towards Germanising the populations of border areas of Slovenia (Upper Carniola and Southern Styria) and Bohemia-Moravia in the GPO.

Himmler's Role

Himmler's notorious policies in the GPO included the weaponization of schooling system in occupied territories to Germanize kids and indoctrinate them with Nazi doctrines. Special institutes for children in occupied territories were operated to separate kids who were categorised by Nazi authorities as "racially suitable" from the local inhabitants, wherein they were indoctrinated to be transferred to families in Germany. Despite the obstruction of German war efforts by the colonization policies and scorched earth tactics unleashed against native populations, Himmler dogmatically pursued the implementation of GPO programme and proposed the further expansion of Konrad Meyer's plan. GPO policies hindered the German economy from efficiently exploiting the resources from the occupied territories however, although this was not a big dent into the riches Germany won on the Eastern front.

However due to the extensive cost and impracticality, Nazi planners were forced to practically abandon the extermination campaigns of the GPO by mid-1943. From spring 1943, SS adopted the "Vernichtung durch Arbeit" (trans: "Extermination through labour") policy, which focused on exploiting natives in occupied territories as forced labor to aid German economy and industry. By late 1943, millions of captives were employed in slave labour camps across German-occupied territories. Instead of extermination as planned, the natives will be worked to death for the German economy.

Implementation by Region

As part of the GPO, Nazi Germany conducted its warfare in the Eastern Front as a colonialist campaign of plunder and slaughter, involving the unhinged looting of resources and wholesale terrorism against native populations. German occupation policies in Eastern Europe were characterized by genocide through "war of annihilation", and were ideologically driven by the Nazi racist doctrines and settler-colonial policy of Lebensraum. This was done through the Wehrmacht, when they implemented scorched-earth tactics throughout the region and forcibly expelled natives en masse to the east. Nazi officials would then chart out buffer zones intended to serve as future Nordic settlements.

Besides forcibly expelling the natives, another way was to starve out the native populations through the Hunger Plan. The Hunger Plan was Nazi Germany's strategy to forcibly starve around 31 to 45 million Eastern Europeans by capturing food stocks and redirecting them to German forces operating on the Eastern Front. Although this was not fully implemented, this idea of priortising German needs before the rest was extensively used by the new Reichkommissariat administration set up in Ukraine.


In 1941, the German leadership decided to destroy the Polish nation completely, and expected that, in 15–20 years the Polish state under German occupation was to be fully cleared of any ethnic Poles and settled by German colonists.

The Poles, deprived of their leaders and most of their intelligentsia (through mass murder, destruction of culture, banning education above the absolutely basic level, and kidnapping of children for Germanization), would have to be deported to regions in the East and scattered over as wide an area of Western Siberia as possible. According to the plan, this would result in their assimilation by the local populations, which would cause the Poles to vanish as a nation. This never happened as a result of the stop in advances by the Wehrmacht at the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan Line (A-A Line). However, this did not stop the Germans to implement their policies

Approximately two million ethnic Poles were subjected to a forced Germanization campaign as part of the GPO. According to the plan, by 1952, only about 3–4 million 'non-Germanized' Poles (all of them peasants) were to be left residing in the former Poland. Those of them who would still not Germanize were to be forbidden to marry, the existing ban on any medical help to Poles in Germany would be extended, and eventually Poles would cease to exist.

The Baltic Region

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were to be deprived of their statehood, with their territories to be included in the area of German settlement. Under these plans, Latvia and Lithuania's native population were earmarked to be deported in a milder form of expulsion. The Estonians would be spared repressions and extermination, however Nazi planners did not foresee the existence of Estonia as an independent entity, with their eventual deportation and denationalisation.

Despite German opposition to their attempts of state-formation, Baltic natives were classified as "superior" to Slavs in the Nazi racial hierarchy. Therefore, German authorities implemented a deeper scale of collaborationist policy in the Baltic society. Nazi collaborationists amongst the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian natives were given senior posts in the administrative bodies of the German occupation.

In German-occupied Lithuania, a civilian administration which controlled its internal security was tolerated. This semi-autonomous entity existed within the Reichskommissariat Ostland before it was folded into the administration. Such concessions were non-existent in the other regions such as Poland, Ukraine and Belarussia, where the Germanic occupation policy was characterised by full-blown colonization, exploitation of resources, state-terrorism and forcing natives into slave labour.

Original designs were for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to be Germanised within 25 years, although Heinrich Himmler revised them to 20 years.


In Belarussia, the RSHA's GPO program had categorised 75% of Belarussians as "Eindeutschungsunfähig" (trans: "ineligible for Germanization"); targeting them for ethnic cleansing or violent eradication. After forcibly expelling or exterminating an estimated 5-6 millions of its native inhabitants, these lands were then supposed to be handed over to Germanic settlers for implementing the Lebensraum agenda.

Child indoctrination institutions which hosted numerous Belarussian children forcibly were also opened, wherein kids categorised as "racially suitable" were prepared to be transferred to Germany. The first of these centres in Belarus was set up in Bobruysk.

Nazi anti-insurgency warfare conducted across occupied Eastern Europe was also used as an opportunity by German authorities to advance the objectives of GPO and Lebensraum settler-colonial agenda. In Belarussia, Wehrmacht and SS Divisions committed numerous massacres and unleashed state-terror indiscriminately against the native populations, in operations labelled as "anti-partisan undertakings"


Between 1941 and 1945, approximately three million Ukrainians and other non-Jews were mass-murdered as part of Nazi extermination policies implemented across the regions of Ukraine. In addition, between 850,000–1,600,000 Jews were killed by Nazi forces in Ukraine during this period, with the assistance of local collaborators.

Original Nazi plans advocated the extermination of 65 percent of 23.2 million Ukrainians, with the survivors treated as chattel slaves for the German economy. Before plans were abandoned due to infeasability, over 2,300,000 Ukrainians were deported to Germany and forced into Nazi slave labor.

Nazi seizure of food supplies in Ukraine brought about starvation, as it was intended to do to depopulate that region for German settlement. German soldiers were told to steel their hearts against starving women and children, because every bit of food given to them was stolen from the German people, endangering their nourishment. These policies would be expanded to the administrative level when Reichskommissariat Ukraine was established, with the grain grown in Ukraine shipped to the Reich first, before the native populations were considered.


Hitler envisioned the war in Eastern Europe as a campaign of annihilation, intending to culminate it with the decimation of the Russian state, its cities, and symbols of Russian culture in the event of a Nazi victory. In 21 July 1940, Hitler ordered German army commander-in-chief Walther von Brauchitsch to prepare a war-plan to eliminate what he described as the "Russian problem". In a meeting before Wehrmacht military commanders on 31 July 1940, Hitler announced his "final decision" to "finish off" Russia through the initiation of an invasion of the Soviet Union, which eventually became the infamous Operation Barbarossa.

During Operation Barbarossa, German soldiers ruthlessly perpetrated mass-slaughter of Russian prisoners of war as part of the GPO. Out of the 3.2 million Soviet prisoners captured by German forces by December 1941, approximately 2 million had been killed by February 1942, mostly through forced starvation, death marches and mass shootings.

As part of the implementation of the Generalplan Ost, the Nazi regime intended to organize the rounding up of approximately 80 million Russians and expel them beyond the Urals. Nazi bureaucrats estimated that nearly 30 million Russians would have died during the planned death marches to regions beyond the Urals, into Siberia. However, such plans were beyond the scope of reality, as the Wehrmacht stopped just after reaching the A-A Line.

Despite the scrapping of mass deportation prgrammes into the Urals, the Nazis would set up the same repressive and indiscriminate administrations in the new Reichskommissariat Moskowien, ethnically cleansing the region of undesirables, whilst introducing German settlers into the region. Native populations were either forced to flee, shot or deported to be chattel for the German economy.