Constructing Germans in Total War


Hundreds of thousands of people became “German” during the Second World War, either through government policy or as they fled (or were transported) eastward. In some instances, people became marked as German, even when the German government no longer regarded them as such. This snapshot focusses primarily on occupied Poland and explores how Germanness was constructed and understood from below by different populations, including so-called Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) who leveraged their claim to Germanness to beneficial effect. It also examines Germanness from the perspective of Polish Jews, who saw their Polish neighbors suddenly switch loyalties and begin identifying as German. Polish Jews also watched as German Jews became less “German” (but still foreign) after arriving in occupied Poland in transports from Germany. People questioned the meaning of Germanness throughout “total war” and at its end, when civilians were assaulted by foreign soldiers and/or forced to accommodate them.


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  2. German Memory Construction after 1945: Redemption of the Military >