. 40
( 115 .)


Liulevicius, 118“29.

Cf. ibid., 106“7.

Werner Koster, Die Rede uber den “Raum”: Zur semantischen Karriere eines deutschen

Konzepts (Heidelberg: Synchron, 2002); Stefan Breuer, Ordnungen der Ungleichheit: Die
deutsche Rechte im Widerstreit ihrer Ideen 1871“1945 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchge-
sellschaft, 2001), 77“104; Uwe Puschner, Die volkische Bewegung im wilhelminischen Kaiser-
reich: Sprache “ Rasse “ Religion (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001).
Jorg Baberowski and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel

German “ethnic groups” and “language islands,” with the ultimate goal of
establishing “order,” producing ethnic homogeneity, and ascertaining attrac-
tive areas for German settlement.13 The very concept of “ethnic cleansing”
was contained in this semantic shift from “Land and People” to “Space and
Nonetheless, German occupational authorities during the First World War
acted within a legal framework. As dictatorial as individual measures may have
been, they maintained a sense of legitimacy and produced an effective legal
space. German occupation was structured according to German administrative
law, and, importantly, its stipulations applied to native Germans, as well. This
is one manner in which German occupation during World War I differed from
the occupational terror under the National Socialists.15
It must also be recalled that German soldiers on the Eastern Front never
directly experienced military defeat; in fact, Germany forced a punitive peace
treaty upon the revolutionary Bolshevik government in March 1918. While
imperial Germany began to collapse soon thereafter, and in November 1918
physically capitulated, these facts were simply not recognized in the East. The
situation among Russia, the Baltic countries, and Germany remained uncertain.
This uncertainty, combined with the incursion of Soviet troops into the Baltic
territories, led to the formation of volunteer units “ units that were originally
intended solely to support the withdrawal of regular German troops.16
These voluntary formations, the Freikorps, represent a critical link between
the realities of the First World War on the Eastern Front and the National
Socialist politics of conquest in Central and Eastern Europe after 1939.17

Guntram Henrik Herb, Under the Map of Germany: Nationalism and Propaganda, 1918“1945

(London: Routledge, 1997).
The Chairman of the Alldeutschen Verband (All German Union), Heinrich Claß, utilized this

term as well as the concept of “nationaler Flurbereinigung” (the redistribution/cleansing of ter-
ritory and people) in his propaganda for an annexationist foreign policy during the First World
War. For him, the concepts of “Nation” and “Volk” were interchangeable. Rainer Hering,
Konstruierte Nation: Der Alldeutsche Verband 1890 bis 1939 (Hamburg: Christians, 2003),
135. Cf. Hans Mommsen, “Der ˜Ostraum™ in Ideologie und Praxis des Nationalsozialismus
und der Holocaust,” in Von Weimar nach Auschwitz: Zur Geschichte Deutschlands in der
Weltkriegsepoche (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1999), 283“94, 285. The idea of a new
war and of an ethnic “Flurbereinigung” was formulated programmatically by Ewald Banse in
Raum und Volk im Weltkriege: Gedanken uber eine nationale Wehrlehre (Oldenburg: Gerhard
Stalling, 1932), 15“178, 401“3. The signi¬cance of expulsion and mass murder in the act of
“ethnic cleansing” is a topic developed further by Norman M. Naimark in Fires of Hatred:
Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth Century Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,
Werner Basler, Deutschlands Annexionspolitik in Polen und im Baltikum 1914“1918 (Berlin

[East]: Rutten & Loening, 1962). Hans Fenske, “Die Verwaltung im Ersten Weltkrieg. §7: Die
Verwaltung der besetzten Gebiete,” in Deutsche Verwaltungsgeschichte, vol. 3, eds. Kurt G. A.
Jeserich, et. al. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1984), 902“4.
Hagen Schulze, Freikorps und Republik 1918“1920 (Boppard am Rhein: Harald Boldt, 1969).

Robert G. L. Waite, Vanguard of Nazism: The Free Corps Movement in Post War Germany,

1918“1923 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1952).
The Quest for Order and the Pursuit of Terror 185

Established as anti-Bolshevik ¬ghting units, they had the tasks of both obstruct-
ing the further penetration of the Bolsheviks into the Baltic territories and pre-
venting the escalation of social revolution in Germany. But while Freikorps
troops in Germany worked with the revolutionary government, the Volks-
beauftragte, and helped to stabilize the government formed by the National
(constitutional) Assembly and thus ensured that a new, democratic order could
be established, Freikorps troops in the East served no discernible constructive
purpose. Military struggle was of the essence, without consideration for any
potential political ordering system and without any connection to an objec-
tive legality. Freikorps in the East became extremely brutal and violence-prone
civil-military units, driven by expectations that, at the end of the struggle,
they would receive territory of their own.18 The association of ¬ghting with
settlement determined their orientation. They utilized the concepts of “space”
and “race” in order to maximize their interests. They did not act according
to the political-social norms of the world from which they came; indeed, they
abandoned them. This attitude fundamentally distinguished their actions from
those of the imperial military and civil administration and foreshadowed SS
practices during the Second World War.19
Freikorps generally served as reservoir for militant individuals who thought
of their group experience as warriors, the Kampfgemeinschaft, as a model
of social ordering and supported the leadership principle (Fuhrerherrschaft).
Thus, they typically acted as point of reference for all those who opposed the
democratic and civil-society order of the Weimar Republic. The formation of
Freikorp units between the end of the First World War and 1920 also served as
the “socializing moment” for a cohort of youth that was unable to experience
combat during the war. The majority of these youth did not serve in Freikorps
units stationed in the East, in the Baltics, or in Silesia, but rather in units
operating within Germany proper. As such, their experiences provided them
with no practical knowledge of the people inhabiting Eastern Europe. They
were not personally familiar with Lithuanians, Letts, Poles, or White Russians.
They knew just as little about Jews in the East, many of whom had served in the
German military administration since 1915.20 Their experiences did, however,
provide them with a propensity for violence and a diminished respect for law
and legality.
In lieu of actual, concrete experiences with the cultural realities of Eastern
Europe, young Freikorps members adopted the ideological image of “the East”
wholesale. Only from the description of older Freikorps soldiers, those who
had served in the army, did they learn of the backward civilization that peddled

Liulevicius, 238“40.

Michael Wildt, Generation des Unbedingten: Das Fuhrungskorps des Reichssicherheitshaup-

tamts (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2002), 601“6.
Steven E. Aschheim, Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German

Jewish Consciousness, 1800“1923 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), 139“214;
Liulevicius, 117“20, 180“2.
Jorg Baberowski and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel

on in the wide expanses of the East. They heard of “disorder,” which referred
both to the confusing ethnic diversity of the East and to an everyday life
whose cultural norms the Germans could simply not decode. This image of
“disorder” was laced with tales of poor hygiene and of “¬lth.” On top of this
were descriptions of Bolshevik Commissars, who were often Jewish. Out of
this m´ lange of ideas and observations, the Freikorps developed an aggressive,
ideologically based ethnic-racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Bolshevik posture “ a
posture that merged with that of National Socialism in the early 1920s.
The experience of war in the East and the resultant collective imagining
of “the East” signi¬cantly in¬‚uenced German society, especially the academic
elite, during the interwar period. They built upon the ideological concepts of
the racial nation (Volkstum) and living space (Lebensraum) and legitimized the
proliferation of such ideas in the educational sphere.21 Indeed, the academic
discourse on race in the 1920s played an important role in the acceptance of
National Socialism by middle-class intellectuals.22
This environment was especially important for the development of two
trends. The ¬rst produced German “Eastern Studies” (Ostforschung) and the
ethnic-racial “Native Peoples and Cultures Research” ¬eld (Volks- und Kul-
turbodenforschung). These initiatives emerged out of the impulse virtually to
reconquer the East after Germany had lost large swaths of conquered territory
and was forced to relinquish its own territory in the East as a result of the peace
treaty.23 Secondly, this environment was formative for the mental and intellec-
tual development of young men, of students, who would later become the core
actors in National Socialist imperialism.24 Within this latter group, a consid-
erable number of Freikorps ¬ghters from the years 1918/19 were to be found.
The ¬rst trend resulted from the experiences of imperial expansion under
the peace of Brest-Litovsk, of military-political collapse with signi¬cant loss
of territory and the development of a resultant sense of national humiliation.
Public and academic debates in this milieu unleashed compensatory energies
that aimed to establish certain Eastern Central European territories as German
territories.25 This sentiment produced the academic discipline of Ostforschung
and the ¬eld of Volks- und Kulturbodenforschung.

Woodruff D. Smith, Politics and the Sciences of Culture in Germany 1840“1920 (Oxford:

Oxford University Press, 1991).
Ulrich Herbert, “˜Generation der Sachlichkeit™: Die volkische Studentenbewegung der fruhen
¨ ¨

zwanziger Jahre in Deutschland,” in Zivilisation und Barbarei: Die widerspruchlichen Potentiale
der Moderne, eds. Frank Bajohr et al. (Hamburg: Christians 1991), 115“44.
Michael Burleigh, Germany Turns Eastwards: A Study of Ostforschung in the Third Reich

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Ingo Haar and Michael Fahlbusch, eds. Ger-
man Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing, 1919“1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005); Michael
Fahlbusch, “Wo der deutsche . . . ist, ist Deutschland!”: Die Stiftung fur deutsche Volks- und
Kulturbodenforschung in Leipzig 1920“1933 (Bochum: Brockmeyer, 1994).
Herbert, “Generation”; Idem, Best: Biographische Studien uber Radikalismus, Weltanschauung

und Vernunft, 1903“1989 (Bonn: Dietz, 1996), 42“130; Wildt, 72“142.
Andreas Hillgruber, “˜Revisionismus™: Kontinuitat und Wandel in der Außenpolitik der

Weimarer Republik,” Historische Zeitschrift 237 (1983): 597“621; Daniel T. Murphy, The
The Quest for Order and the Pursuit of Terror 187

Ostforschung was based on the ideological premise that not only did inter-
connected settlements of Germanic populations exist throughout Eastern Cen-
tral Europe, but that German remained the spoken language in these locales “
“linguistic islands,” as the research jargon called them. Broad swaths of
territory encompassing these settlements were deemed German “cultural ter-
ritory” and served as the ideological justi¬cation for the penetration of the
East.26 But it was National Socialism itself that produced the practical condi-
tions for Eastern expansion: an aggressive war that not only was planned but,
from the very beginning, incorporated the goals of “ethnic cleansing.” This
represents the one developmental trend that led directly from the experience of
war in the East to the realities of the National Socialist system.
The second trend in¬‚uenced the mentality and academic quali¬cations of
those who would later become the key implementers of National Socialist
imperialism. This group was primarily composed of the war generation, born
around 1890, and the so-called war children, born after 1900.27 These two
groups differed in that the older members were shaped by their participation in
war and the experience of the front, while the younger members knew only the
home front. They were not able to experience front life and, instead, compen-
sated for its absence through participation in the Freikorps. What united both
groups was their ¬xation upon the end of the war, a ¬xation that strongly in¬‚u-
enced their perceptions of the present and their imaginings of the future. They
understood the First World War as a fundamental rupture of their sense of
self and civilizations. The worldviews and structural norms of late-nineteenth-
century Germany were no longer valid. Society had fundamentally changed as
a result of the disintegration of class boundaries and mass impoverishment;
social stability had simply collapsed. The question of one™s place in society
and the meaning of one™s own existence presented itself anew with unexpected
sharpness. Accordingly, a cultural orientation with changed perceptions of
reality emerged in the postwar years. Tradition and cultural legacy no longer
constituted the de¬ning categories of this orientation; rather, it formed around
the desire for a new order with long-term sustainability.28 Where the future
was constructed, the old, the past, would have no meaning. “Space” (Raum)
and “people” (Volk) could be understood as eternal concepts without epoch-
speci¬c meaning, as could “soil,” “race,” and “art.” The idea that one could
construct an entirely new order from this basis enabled the ¬ction that a future
without the ballast of the past could be made possible. This world picture

Heroic Earth: Geopolitical Thought in Weimar Germany, 1918“1933 (Kent, OH: Kent State
University Press, 1997).
Herb, 49“94, 95.

Detlev Peukert, Die Weimarer Republik: Krisenjahre der Klassischen Moderne (Frankfurt am

Main: Suhrkamp, 1987), 91“111.
Lutz Raphael, “Sozialexperten in Deutschland zwischen konservativem Ordnungsdenken und

rassistischer Utopie (1918“1945),” in Utopie als Notstandsdenken, 327“46; Birgit Kletzin,
Europa aus Rasse und Raum: Die nationalsozialistische Idee der neuen Ordnung (Munster:
LIT, 2002), 54“109.
Jorg Baberowski and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel

emerged from the cultural destruction of the war and had a lasting in¬‚uence on
the spiritual climate of the 1920s. It was especially in¬‚uential in universities,
where it was absorbed by the war youth, those students born after 1900.29
Those students arriving from Freikorps duty present an interesting example.
They already thought in the categories of Volk, “space,” and “race” and they
integrated these categories into their concept of an overarching new order.


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( 115 .)