Himmler's Auxiliaries: The Volksdeutsche and the German National Minorities of Europe: 1933-1945

Book review by Edna Boardman, Bismarck, North Dakota

Lumans, Vladis O. Himmler’s Auxiliarties: The Volksdeutsche and the German National Minorities of Europe: 1933-1945. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

This book tells of Hitler's long-term plans for the lands he planned to conquer and annex to Germany. Ethnic Germans--Volksdeutsche--wherever they lived in the world, but especially in all the countries of Europe--were objects of his attention. They, including ethnic Germans living in South Russia, would have a place in the new German Reich he was planning. The task of identifying them and bringing them back began early and was assigned to Heinrich Himmler.

Representatives would go to ethnic German Soviet communities that had not been deported by Stalin and, in 1941, proceed to register them and often bring them to Germany. Each family and each individual coming into Germany was evaluated for wealth (many owned land and other possessions), political viewpoint, and, with great care, racial characteristics. The examination was disguised as a health examination. Some were not deported back to Germany because they already lived in the lebensraum that Germany hoped to make theirs. It was an ambitious, very well organized undertaking and records or copies of the forms that were filled out still exist. Each person was assigned a reference number, which makes it easy to follow an individual from form to form. The persons most exhibiting Aryan characteristics were given choice land near Germany. These had the designation 100% discreetly scribbled on the form. Those who rated 75% or 50% or less were placed further to the east, where invaders were likely to attack first. Something that helped the registration was that the Volksdeutsche, to varying degrees, had maintained awareness of their Germanness. Many of the Volksdeutsch, especially if they were experiencing hardship and other pressures, including being blamed for Nazi excesses, welcomed the overtures from the exciting new Reich which was being created for them. Many attached themselves passively to the Third Reich. Small wonder that questions about loyalty grew up.

A presentation by Ted Becker, given at the 1999 Germans from Russia Heritage Society convention, was based on the information given in this book. He also had slides (not from the book) of examples of completed forms as used by Himmler's officials, with the percentage designation. He drew from microfilm held by the National Archives in the United States. Indexing is a problem, as there are thousands of rolls of film. Ted commented that the only enduring value of all this record-keeping is that genealogists have another detailed source to consult. The book has extensive chapter notes and a bibliography.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller