by Prof. Slobodan Antonić – (Translated by Joran Velikonja)
In this article I will present the various plans that Germany had with the Serbs and Russians after the expected victory in World War II. Why do I fall back to history? We frequently perceive Hitler and Nazism as an aberration in Western history. But Hitler was, in fact, just openly announcing that in Europe he will do what the West has already done elsewhere. As we’ll see, Hitler took the extermination of the Native Americans as a model for the colonization of Slavic lands, Russia in particular.
“It would be best if Serbia just disappeared from the map” —as attested by Hermann Neubacher, that opinion was prevalent within the German leadership in 1941 (see here, p. 89). But we find the same opinion in The Manchester Guardian (as The Guardian was formerly called), in August 1914: “If it were physically possible for Servia to be towed out to sea and sunk there, the air of Europe would at once seem cleaner” (here; here, p. 53).
Actually, the only difference between Hitler and the English was Hitler’s brutally proclaiming to do—and he had done as much as he could—what others in the West were doing slower and more subtly, the things they didn’t yet dare to undertake or weren’t able to accomplish.
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Unlike the Kaiser, who wanted territorial expansion towards the Middle East and a redistribution of African and Asian colonies, Hitler’s primary goal was to colonize Slavic lands, from the Baltic to the Black Sea for starters and then onward to the Urals.
In Mein Kampf he writes that the Kaiser was mistaken in pushing Germany southwards. “When in today’s Europe we speak of new soil and land”, he wrote, “we primarily mean only Russia and the peripheral countries subservient to her. It appears that destiny itself wants to show us the way. […] The giant Empire in the East is ripe for its downfall.” (here; 44th unabridged German edition, p. 742-3; compare here, p. 118)
By the way, Hitler had adopted many concepts from the West. As J. Q. Whitman revealed in Hitlerʼs American Model (2017), race laws in the United States were the legal inspiration for the race laws in the Third Reich. In his book Hitler: The Definitive Biography (2014), John Toland showed how impressed Hitler had been with the system of Indian Reservations, the extermination of the indigenous peoples, the epidemics and starvation policies. According to Toland, when speaking to the German leaders, the Führer frequently “extolled the efficacy of the American extermination of the ‘red savages’ by starvation and in unequal combat” (here, p. 802).
“As a passionate reader of Karl May’s novels”, writes John Pool in his book Hitler and His Secret Partners (1997), “he would frequently refer to the Russians as redskins. He saw a parallel between his own efforts to occupy and colonize Russia and the conquest of the American West” (p. 272). He used to say that in the European East the Germans “had one single purpose: Germanization by peopling with Germans and treating the locals as redskins”. He even encouraged military officers to read Karl May and learn about all kinds of combat with the natives.
How did the Germans imagine their colonization of Russia and Eastern Europe?
The Generalplan Ost (1942) anticipated three types of agricultural estates to accomplish the colonization of Slavic lands between the Baltic and the Black Sea: individual (25-29 hectares; approx. 60-70 acres), intermediate (40-100 ha; approx. 100-250 acres) and large ones (250 ha; approx. 620 acres). The colonization was supposed to be carried out by some 6 to 12 million Germans, settled in areas from which 31 million Slavs would be banished across the Urals. The displacement would include 65 percent of Ukrainians and 75 percent of Belorusians, leaving behind 14 million Slavs, primarily as servants and unskilled workers (here).
The Plan foresaw an initial establishment of three settler colonies: in the Baltic (Memel-Narew Gebiet), in the Leningrad Oblast (Ingermannland) and in Crimea (Gotengau; see map here). Their foundation would have been Germanic farmers-warriors, living on family or collective estates, as in some form of a Military Frontier. Regional centers would have consisted of settler towns, 36 of them, numbering 20,000 inhabitants each, interconnected by a network of highways and railroad lines. The colonies were supposed to spread gradually, until they would merge into a unified whole.
The Slavs would have been exiled from their towns, whereas in the villages they would have been retained as farm hands. Slavic education wouldn’t have gone further than reading and writing (while also switching over to the Latin alphabet; here, p. 122). Hitler even thought that the Slavs should not be taught anything beyond the “knowledge of traffic signs, to be able to stay out of our way” (ibid.).
“Hitler liked to reiterate that the words Russia and Russian should be forbidden. Allowed are only Muscovy and Muscovites. After the victory of the Reich, the Muscovites will be simply driven onto their reservations, like the Indians in the USA” (here, p. 285).
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What would have happened to Serbia?
In his book The German New Order and South-East Europe (in Serbian: Nemački novi poredak i Jugoistočna Evropa), Milan Ristović describes the plans for Serbia. Generally, there were two plans in existence.
According to the first one, submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs in July 1941, two million ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) from Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia were to be amassed in the Danubian German state Prinz Eugen Stadt. [or Staat?] It would have stood sentry over communications along the Danube and, akin to the Military Frontier, barring access to the Lebensraum from the south and east (here, pp. 101-106; 362-363).
Pursuant to that plan, the Serbs would have been exiled from Belgrade, Smederevo and other places along the Danube. The Plan stipulates that the “Serbs have to be driven away from the Danube and out of Belgrade in order to stress their political insignificance and to prevent any new plots against Germany, the order in the Balkans and in Europe — a frequent historical occurrence” (ibid., p. 106).
Belgrade was chosen as the heart of the German Danubian state, as the strategic center of the river basins of the Tisa, Drava, Sava and Morava. It was to become the “fortress of the Reich” in the borderland (Reichsfestung Belgrad), with the specific task of safeguarding two economic resources of key importance for Grossdeutschland: the Djerdap Gorge (Iron Gates) and the mining complex in Bor (ibid., pp. 105-106).
The Djerdap Gorge was essential for navigation control on the Danube and as the place where the Germans intended to build the largest hydropower plant in Europe.
On 25 September 1941 Hitler proudly proclaimed that now the Germans had finally returned to “places which already witnessed the breakthrough of the Germanic-German race: we were standing at the Iron Gates, we had been in Belgrade, we had entered the Russian space” (276). Two weeks later he speaks enthusiastically of the Danube as the “river course of the future” (der Zukunftsstrom). It will connect Germany, via the Black Sea, with the boundless granaries of her future colonies around the Dnieper and Don, then with the oil wells around Baku (the pipeline reached ports on the Black Sea), as well as with coal mines in the Donbas (276) [].
Exhilarated by the conquests of Belarus and the Ukraine, Hitler then presents his vision of the future, in which the Danube is the main traffic artery of the Grossraum (the German economic space): “As big as it may become, the Danube-Main Canal cannot be built sufficiently large; of course, the Danube-Oder Canal should be added to it; thus, we will be getting an economic bloodstream of unheard-of proportions; Europe will be the land of unlimited possibilities” (276).
The Germans also worked out a plan (Grossprojekt “Eisernes Tor”) which anticipated the construction of a hydropower plant at the Iron Gates, “producing as much electricity as one half of all German power plants” (282). From the Iron Gates, electricity would have been transmitted to Graz and Vienna. Also foreseen was the “creation of one of the largest aluminum production facilities in Europe” due to the proximity of Romanian bauxite (Bihor Mountains) (ibid.). The Iron Gates Dam would be built by Russian prisoners and all construction was to be completed by 1947 (282-283).
The other key resource belonging to Serbia, was the Bor Mining Complex. It was the largest copper ore deposit in Europe, making Yugoslavia the top producer of copper on the continent in 1941 (here, p. 103). In 1943 the Germans were extracting up to 50,000 tonnes of ore per month (here, p. 354). Other Serbian ore resources, too, were of interest to the Greater Germanic Reich, such as lead mines (Trepča, Kopaonik, Avala, Ajvalija, Janjevo, Lece, Novo brdo i Rudnik) or antimony (40 % of European production: Krupanj, Zajača, Lisa and Bujanovac; here, p. 105).
So, all that had to be placed under control through the establishment of the Danubian German state, from which, as stated, the Serbs would have been displaced. Reichsminister Krosigk announced in 1942 the possibility of a new “Migration Period” (Völkerwanderung), with mass displacement—as he explicitly specified—of the Czechs, Poles and Serbs (here, p. 91).
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But Hitler himself was not thrilled with the idea of a Prinz Eugen Stadt [or Staat?]. He planned to recruit the required six to twelve million German colonists of the European East by including those same two million Danube Swabians (111-113; 363). He did not, in fact, consider the area of the Danube basin in the Balkans as part of the German “living space” (Lebensraum), but rather as merely a piece of the Germanic “economic sphere” (Wirtschaftsraum; 172-173).
Hitler actually perceived the Balkans as a “junkyard of small states” (Kleinstaatgerümpel), which only the Germans can rearrange and civilize (50-51). After the Reichʼs victory those staes, too, would be placed into a special vassal relationship of stepwise arranged semi-sovereign and pseudo-sovereign statelets, as was planned in Berlin (ibid.).
Europe outside the Reich was regarded as the German Grossraum (larger habitat), which—after the victory—would see the establishment of a “hierarchy of peoples/nations” (Rangordnung der Völker/der Nationen). Even Italians were aware that within that order only the Germans would be at the top. As early as 13 October 1941 Mussolini was saying that Italy, too, would be reduced to a colony and might be forced to cede to the Reich parts of her territory, such as Trieste (334).
The Balkan peoples, deemed anyway poorly suitable for assimilation (nichtumvolkbar; 83), would be at the bottom of the European hierarchy, whereas the Serbs, as the “sworn enemies of order” (361), would find themselves on the bottom rung—provided, of course, that they were not re-educated in the meantime (362) [].
That’s why the Serbs were treated as one of those peoples, along with the Russians and Poles, who “would have to remain under German dominion in the long run” (65). Unlike the vassal states, such as Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania or Bulgaria, which still had certain elements of independence, Serbia and Greece (the latter also perceived as a “problematic” country; 70), were occupied territories, where the administration was directly installed by the occupying power (360). Serbia was put under a particularly strict occupation regime (62,184 people were executed by firing squads; here, 116,264), while the Serbs across the border on the Drina were even worse off, having been mercilessly turned over to the Croatian genocide.
Still, even the “truncated Serbia” (Rumpfserbien; 285) probably would have become part of the European order in the end. But what would have been her fate?
The Germans didn’t really see the future European Völkerordnung as an order of states (Denken in Staaten), but rather as a system of commercial colonies (74-75; 161). The countries outside the Reich, especially those at the edge of the Grossraum, would be “advised” to “refrain” from developing their own “manufacturing of automobiles, electrical devices, locomotives, engines for transportation and industry, precision mechanics, chemicals, dyes…”, which would be under the exclusive authority of Germany. Others would have to stick to agriculture, mining and the coarsest processing of raw materials, “which do not require a particularly qualified workforce” (187). In order to absorb the agricultural labor surplus, industry would have to be developed in the Balkans, too, but it would be primarily linked with the exploitation of natural resources and only for the first phase of their processing (188).
As part of the de-industrialization idea, particularly with regard to the defense industry, 268 railway freight cars containing 4,488 pieces of machinery were hauled off to Germany from the Military Engineering Plant in Kragujevac, Serbia, in the course of 1941 alone! In March of 1943, 43 more freight cars were towed away, followed by another 37 in April. In the second half of 1943, 94 additional carriages with machinery were taken from Kragujevac, 96 freight cars with machinery from the Military Engineering Plant in Čačak, 88 freight cars from the factory in Obilić, 140 freight cars from the plant in Ravnjak close to Kruševac, 75 freight cars from the Military Engineering Plant in Lazarevac, 84 carriages from the “Vistad” factory, and so on. “This was the best organized looting of third-party property in recorded history” (here, p. 106).
The plan was to eliminate any competition to the Reich’s economy in all European vassal states, so as to ensure “absolute supremacy of German corporations” (here, p. 200). By way of example, the administration and use of the remaining industrial facilities in Serbia was handed over to the management of 29 major German companies with the entire production intended for the Reich, so that “almost nothing was left for the needs of Serbia and the Serbian public” (here, p. 108). Only the rail-road network enjoyed unlimited investment, but its primary role was to enable a more efficient exploitation of natural resources for the Grossdeutsches Reich (here, p. 188).
In addition to ores, large amounts of grain and lumber from Serbia were also hauled off to Grossdeutschland. As early as 19 June 1941 it was announced that farmers must cede for compulsory purchase all grain except 30 kilograms of wheat or 60 kilograms of corn per household member (here, p. 117). In 1942 Serbia was forced to deliver 320,000 tonnes of wheat, 600,000 tonnes of corn and 90,000 tonnes of oats, rye and barley (118). The “purchase” of all commodities was paid for with the money which Serbia had to remit as contribution for its own occupation (119-120), so that Germany was getting all goods from Serbia literally free of charge.
As a result of the export of lumber (but also due to insurgent activities), Serbia—although densely forested—was left with almost no firewood. In Belgrade they even contemplated “to log the Košutnjak park-forest and Mount Avala, in order to save the urban population from the approaching winter” (123).
But still, despite all that, it was assessed in Germany that, in fact, “the workforce from the South-East (of Europe) is the most valuable export commodity these countries can give us even now, but especially after the war” (here, p. 255). The Balkans was regarded as an “inexhaustible workforce pool” (257), able to provide to the Reich “more than three million workers”, of which number at least 1.5 million would be seasonal labor (up to ten months per year; 255). The war interfered with a more substantial export of manpower to the Reich and yet, from Serbia alone, 80,000 workers went (or were deported) to Germany (268).
Most interesting of all, this entire colonial order in Europe, designed for the unrestrained exploitation of markets, labor and natural resources, was supposed to be masked beneath the narrative of a “common European future” and a Europe “from Sweden to the Balkans” (352). In order to minimize the resistance of the vanquished peoples, it was recommended as early as 1940 to avoid the term “German large-area economy” (Grossraumwirtschaft) and to speak “always and only of Europe” (151). In the propaganda it was emphasized that “Germany does not seek to hold sway over countries”, the only ostensible goal being “an economically whole” Europe in which the peoples would “economically complement” each other (155). This “complementing” became reality after Germany tore down almost all intra-European (zwischeneuropäische) borders (288).
Hitler himself was actually a great European, except that he equated “European” with “pan-German” (31-32). The Germans, by the way, did not view the ongoing war in Europe as merely a war of conquest, but as a form of great economic restructuring. “This is not a war for throne and altar”, as Goebbels kept explaining (31 May 1942)—or rather it is not a war about who will govern over the peoples nor what their religion will be. According to the Reichsminister für Propaganda, this is “a war for raw materials” because we Germans “only want to cash in” (150).
It is clear that in such a system Serbia would have been but a marginal colony, no more than a German depot from which cheap labor, food and raw materials are taken as needed.
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I am sure that the the above text was triggering parallels with contemporary circumstances in the reader’s mind, both in the geostrategic []  and economic sense. Russia got away (for the time being)—although the West hasn’t given up its pretensions to dismember her as a nation and subdue her as a culture (patterned after the Vatican’s current formula of “consecrating Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary”). But today’s Serbia is clearly not too far from the position assigned to her by the Nazi Plan B.
Change of mindset, limited sovereignty, deindustrialization, a readily available source of auxiliary labor, cheap raw materials, a pliant market, unprotected workers, unpaid work of the “natives” (with subsidies to foreign investors)… All those things are of current significance even today and I have written about it all in my texts: To Understand What We Are, The Colonial Establishment in Serbia, Colonial Polyarchy, The Subservient Intelligentsia, Serbia — the “Territory” Grappled Over by Germany and Croatia…
Now, I would add to this only an insight into the current wave of mass exodus to Germany. The Germans, as they say, currently need 1.4 million workers and our people are in demand because they easily integrate and assimilate. But don’t you have the feeling that in today’s Serbia there appears to exist some hidden Ministry of Emigration and Propaganda to Depart for Germany?
Not only that the National Employment Service recruits workers and sends them to that country, but “employers from Germany and their local agents openly canvass pre-graduation highschoolers right in their classrooms, all with the consent of the education authorities”. By the way, who’s to blame that Serbia has as many as 17 medical school graduates annually for every 100,000 inhabitants whereas poor Germany has only 11.
Another story is the open propaganda to emigrate, cultivated by, say, the daily Danas, in its column charmingly titled “Our People around the World”. It was already pointed out by Zoran Ćirjaković that this column had been “converted into a campaign for turning oneʼs back on Serbia”. The captions from the column speak for themselves: “Leaving Serbia wasnʼt easy, but it was essential”; “Despite all changes, life in Dubai is incomparably better than in Serbia”; “I miss Serbia, but Austria has offered me security”; “Itʼs not our fault, our system is rotten”; “We Serbs know how to get by and to gain respect”; “People from Serbia are accustomed to being more resourceful than ‘normal folks’”; “I bid adieu to this Serbia, but the love for the country still remains”…
“Along with the columns of numerous haters of this country”, notes Ćirjaković, “those shamefully spun testimonies of the escapees paint an image of Serbia as a repugnant, hopeless gas chamber in which no progress is possible”.
Thus the young migrant A. Kosanović, a political scientist, says that “a normal person canʼt bear the amount of horror and barbarism by the people who run things around Serbia” and that therefore “the average Serb has an extraordinary poverty of mind (?!), is in moral crisis and wracked by the tough life”. His colleague M. Pantić even argues that “in Serbia, everything has to be built from scratch (?!), thereʼs nary a meter of room to mend anything” (?!). And a similar campaign is spearheaded by Radio Free Europe (e.g. here).
Danas brags about being the Croatian ambassadorʼs favorite morning reading. Maybe thatʼs one of the reasons this paper will never raise questions such as: why two hundred Croatian companies are doing business in Serbia, whereas the number of Serbian ones in Croatia is — eight? And whether it is really necessary that our children learn from schoolbooks by Croatian publishers, eat Croatian meat products, indulge in Croatian confectioneries, drink Croatian water… — while the opposite, of course, is beyond imagination.
But Danas is surely the favorite paper of the German ambassador, too. On its pages, denkverbot is any topic that could awaken an ever so slight awareness of the colonial status in which Serbia finds itself, but even more so of the possible ways out of that situation (about some of which I have written here and here).
“The greatest success of (neo)colonialism is to convince people that it does not exist”. That’s why the first step towards emancipation is for us to understand the nature of the Atlanticist spirit, then to recognize the strategic interests of the West and to vow to ourselves, but also to each other, that we won’t allow them to be ousted from the Danube (so they could settle here some other, more suitable people); and no, we won’t allow to be treated, or to treat ourselves, as if we were — redskins.
Himmler had suggested, in his time, that the “Serbian people has grown out of rebellions over the centuries” and that with us one has to be forever on guard. Because no matter how defeated he may appear, “a Serb is always a Serb” (here, p. 90).
We only have to remain Serbs. Is that so much of a problem?
-  In other respects, too, the Danube was the main transportation route for bulk cargo (Massengüter) — oil, lumber, grain and ores, not only because back then the traffic network was less well developed, but also on account of the much cheaper fluvial transport as compared to road and railway traffic (here, p. 277; 286). For instance, all the oil from Ploeşti (Romania), the main European oilfield at that time (278), was transported to the Reich upstream the Danube. That’s why Hitler was saying that “to safeguard navigation, the Iron Gates have to be placed under the umbrella of the Wehrmacht and stay under it in perpetuity” (283). ↑
-  It is a fact that the Germans held Serbs in high regard as warriors and on that account were seeing them as a dangerous disturbance factor of their New Order. Hitler lamented that he tried to win over the Serbs “by promising them Thessalonica” and “demanding nothing of them”, only to burst out that “never before in his life was he as outraged as on March 27”, when it became obvious that “the Serbs were just a gang of conspirators” (89).“The Serbs, as eternal instigators of unrest, have to be cornered and suppressed as much as possible” was the dominant view in the upper echelons of the Reich, as attested by Neubacher (89). When in 1943 he suggested to Hitler to annex Montenegro to Serbia, the latter responded that the “Serbs (historically) have demonstrated their state-building power and far-reaching goals, all the way to the Aegean Sea”, and that “a people with such a political sense of mission” should not be allowed “to become dominant in the Balkans” (90). ↑
-  “A glance at the map of today’s European Union reveals its striking resemblance with the farthest reach of the German military forces during the First and Second World Wars, especially on the Eastern Fronts. The fact that some Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, already are in the European Union, doesn’t mean that there is room for other Eastern Orthodox nations, too. Their accession into the EU signifies the fulfilment of the old German strategic goal of exerting control over the Balkans. One also shouldn’t forget that these two countries, Serbia’s neighbors, were German allies in WW II, and Bulgaria even in the Great War”. ↑