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Post Hitler and Minorities
Created by John Eipper on 09/13/17 5:22 AM

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Hitler and Minorities (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 09/13/17 5:22 am)

When commenting on my post of 11 September, John E wrote of Hitler denying the rights of ethnic minorities. (Granted, he wanted the Jewish people out of the Third Reich one way or another, but no nation wanted them; only Italy accepted several thousands.)

Are you sure?

Hitler agreed with Italy to accept all the people from Alto Adige who identified as German. (He was the only German or Austrian not to give Italy problems about this situation, from 1918 to the present.)  He agreed also to withdraw German minorities too far away from the Fatherland, such as the 60,000 Germans from the Baltic states taken by the USSR, 118,000 from former Polish territories taken by the USSR, plus 140,000 from Bucovina and Bessarabia.

In 1941, there were 577,000 Germans in Romania, almost 1,000,000 in Hungary, and 60,000 in Slovakia. Liechtenstein was entirely German. Luxembourg was German in the countryside, but the main towns were instead dominated by French-speaking people.  However, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg were of no interest to Hitler.

Very debatable was the situation of the Autonomous Bohemian Protectorate. You will not like this: the working and social conditions of the people inside the Protectorate improved with German influence (this alone would not have satisfied me). After the institution of the Protectorate, Italy should have broken the Pact of Steel. This possibility was discussed, but a decision was postponed. This was a mistake.

Generally the Axis powers gave satisfaction to the minorities. For instance, consider the union of the Albanians of Kosovo to Albania. For their part, the Ustasha wanted a Greater Croatia and finally Slovenia. But the Slovenes did not want to become Croatian, so they got an autonomous state united to Italy for the main part. This was also a great mistake. The northern part of Slovenia, with many Volksdeutsche, became part of the Third Reich. In the occupied territories of the USSR certain freedoms, as much as war conditions permitted, were given to the minorities--especially if they, due to their hatred of Bolshevism, agreed to cooperate against the Soviets.

Unfortunately in the war in the East, Nazi ideologists wanted to be involved and brought defeat.

JE comments: Nazi defenses of "minorities" was limited to the German diaspora, as well as useful ethnic groups sympathetic to German expansionism. Was there a single exception to this? The examples given above suggest that there was not.

Most of us are very uncomfortable with viewing Hitler as a defender of minorities.  Istvan Simon (next) has sent a forceful rebuttal to Eugenio Battaglia's post of September 11th.

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