Drang nach Osten

From Academic Kids

Drang nach Osten ("Striving towards the East") is a term used in Germany's history that means the expansion of Germany, German states and German settlement, that led to the conquest of former Slavic and Baltic areas by Germany commencing during the Middle Ages until the end of World War II in 1945 when the Nazis were defeated by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.

German nationalists of the 19th and 20th centuries used the term. They saw this movement towards the East as a proof of German "vitality".

However, to those Slavic peoples who also used the German language and learned German concepts at the time, perceived the idea as a major threat to their national security. The idea, as put into practice, diverged from its historical roots.

A definitive halt to the idea of the Drang nach Osten came during World War II, after Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

Nevertheless, Nazi officials used it as grounds for the expulsions of 800,000 Poles from Warsaw to concentration camps after the defeat of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, which caused 200,000 deaths. The city of Warsaw with millions of inhabitants was ordered to be completely demolished on the personal order of Hitler. Himmler stated that the Poles had been an obstacle to German Eastern expansion for the last 700 years, and that the aim was to remove that obstacle permanently.

Decisions made at the Potsdam conference in 1945, especially as relating to the Oder-Neisse line, rolled back the practical results of the Drang nach Osten and redesignated German territories within the approximate Germanic borders of the year 1200 AD. On the other hand, the historical Slavic lands of Sorbs between Oder-Neisse line and river Elbe remained within the territory of Germany.

See also: Generalplan Ost


There is also a game called Drang Nach Osten!.

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