A Sonderweg through Eastern Europe? The varieties of German rule in Poland during the two World Wars

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History and Philosophy


The article challenges recent arguments about German relations with eastern Europe that stress pathological continuities, implying a new Sonderweg centred on German violence and expansionism in the region. It examines German policies towards Polish-speaking populations in the Imperial Government-General of Warsaw during the First World War and Nazi debates about whether to include the Polish city of Łódź in the Reich at the beginning of the Second World War. The article suggests that a key similarity existed in German imaginations of the region as an imperial space to be dominated, but that these imaginations competed with ideology, agency and contingency in both world wars. In uncovering key continuities and discontinuities between the two occupation regimes in Poland, it complicates arguments about the singularity and causality of a particular German mission in eastern Europe. [Article abstract]

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