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Ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche)
Nazi term for ethnic Germans living outside of Germany. They were not citizens of the Third Reich, i.e., they did not hold German or Austrian citizenship as defined by the Nazi term Reichsdeutsche (Reich Germans).
Pre-war Nazi Contact with Ethnic Germans
In 1931, prior to its rise to power, the Nazi party established the Auslandsorganisation der NSDAP (Foreign Organisation of the Nazi Party), whose task it was to disseminate Nazi propaganda among the German minorities living outside of Germany. In 1936, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (Ethnic Germans' Welfare Office), commonly known as VoMi, was set up under the jurisdiction of the SS as the liaison bureau for the Volksdeutsche, headed by SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Werner Lorenz.
Nazi Germany endeavoured to increase the number of Volksdeutsche in the conquered territories by a policy of Germanising certain classes of the conquered people, mainly among the Czechs, Poles, and Slovenes. The Nazis encouraged the offspring of Germans, or persons who had family connections with Germans, to join the Volksdeutsche. Those who joined enjoyed a privileged status and received special benefits.
The German Folk List
In October 1939, after the occupation of Poland, the governor of the Warthegau, Gauleiter Arthur Greiser, established a central bureau for the registration of Volksdeutsche - the Deutsche Volksliste (German Folk List), also known as the Volksliste, or DVL. At the beginning of 1940, distinctions were introduced to divide those registered in the Volksliste into four categories: The first consisted of ethnic Germans active on behalf of the Third Reich; the second, of other ethnic Germans; and the third and fourth, of Poles of German extraction (i.e., who had Germans among their forebears) or who were related to Germans. The German occupying authorities encouraged Poles to register with the Volksliste, and in many instances even forced them to do so. The Volksliste was introduced into Yugoslavia following the Nazi occupation. In the Soviet territories, especially the Ukraine, it was introduced along the same lines as in Poland.
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