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Thread: The Volkliste and the Volksdeutsche of Poland

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    The Volkliste and the Volksdeutsche of Poland

    I found my polish grandfathers world war 2 documents and it says he was a volksdeutsche most likely category 3 on the volkliste
    and a ''Schutzangehörige des Deutschen Reiches'' (Protect members of the German Empire).

    Category III: Persons of German descent who had become partly "polonized"

    and also in world war 2 my grandfathers father was a lieutenant in the German army. he was a volunteer NOT forced.

    My grandfathers parents both had polish first names and surnames but the Germans say they are ethnic Germans. how is this possible?

    And my grandfather came from Gniezno/Gnesen

    I am trying to work out how much German ancestry my grandfathers family had. any ideas?
    Last edited by prussianwolf; Saturday, July 21st, 2012 at 07:38 PM. Reason: forgot to write something

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    Not that surprising for bordering regions where some intermixing and cultural assimilation in both directions took place and the different ethnicities lived close to each other. Slavic surnames are not uncommon in Germany.

    Maybe they were of mixed ancestry, enough to be considered being of german descent while they also had some polish ancestry which injected the name. Surnames also could be changed to better blend in (maybe they lived in a polish majority area, did that and that's why they were considered polonized germans).

    In any case, the family name just represents a single ancestral line out of the many and alone isn't a good indication of ethnicity. If a single Pole migrated to the Rhineland in the early 19th century, then his descendants today would be mostly german as the individual admixture would have been reduced with each generation, yet the slavic family name would have been passed down.

    I guess to get a clearer picture of his composition/background, if you don't trust his classification as 'volksdeutscher' and his self-identification as german (since he volunteered), you would have to analyse the whole family tree in detail at least some generations further back.

    Where do your other grandparents come from by the way?

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    My grandfather we are talking about came from Gniezno near Poznan (Posen) and he married my grandmother who is Belarusian.
    That is my Fathers side


    My mothers side is Austrian and Northern Italian



    My great grandfather was a lieutenant in the German army in ww2 on the Russian front. how ''German'' did you have to be to be a lieutenant ?
    Im guessing he was in the Wehrmacht

    the document below is of my grandfather
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Volksliste 3 was for persons of partial polish descent who still spoke german and could be easily assimilated into the body ethnic/Volkskorper. This status was generally permanent and entailed the obligation to serve in the military. Instead of the full Reichsburgerschaft/Reichs Citizenship, they got the simple state citizenship. (In practice as opposed to legal theory there wasn't much difference) Military service was usually enough to acquire the higher citizenship.

    Category 4, in contrast, was considered "Auf wiederruf". Until revoked. Those were usually people who had some german ancestry, and sometimes only an ethnic german wife, but were linguistically and culturally almost indistinguishable from the rest of the poles. The german officialdom could also give this status to any gentile they chose if they thought that that person would be an asset to the german folk. Those people were state citizens with most of the rights but weren't required to serve in the military. However, they were required to learn german within 5 years and not to prove themselves to be asocial. Rob a liquor store, for instance, and you were a polack again. Theoretically if they managed to follow the rules and to learn german within the five year window, they became permanent german citizens. However, the war did not last long enough for that to take place. Full status could also be acquired through voluntary military service. Those people who still possessed this classification on May 8, 1945 are considered german citizens in the Bundesrepublik. Which is one reason why there are so many polacks with "german" passports.

    Prussian Wolf, you say that the documents say "most likely category 3 on the volkliste
    and a ''Schutzangehörige des Deutschen Reiches'' (Protect members of the German Empire). That would seem to mean that the final classification had not been made but that until it was this person was to be treated similarly to a german, ie allowed to live and work in the annexed territories and not deported to the General Government.
    Das Recht und die Gerechtigkeit haben nur selten miteinander etwas zu tun. Höchstens machen sie winki winki wenn sie aneinander vorbei gehen.
    The Law and Justice have only seldom anything to do with one another. At the most they wave at each other when they pass one another on the street.
    Niemals vergessen. Niemals vergeben.

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    @ Tom Schnadelbach

    I was told that all people in category 3 , 4 were Schutzangehörige des Deutschen Reiches and people in 1 ,2 became citizens of the Reich.

    Seeing my Grandfathers father was a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht (he volunteered at the start of the war) what category on the volkliste would that most likely put him in?

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    Quote Originally Posted by prussianwolf View Post
    @ Tom Schnadelbach

    I was told that all people in category 3 , 4 were Schutzangehörige des Deutschen Reiches and people in 1 ,2 became citizens of the Reich.

    Seeing my Grandfathers father was a lieutenant in the Wehrmacht (he volunteered at the start of the war) what category on the volkliste would that most likely put him in?
    Schutzangehörige des Reiches were in general persons from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia who were not given the german citizenship because they were of czech or other non german ethnicity. (I don't know if jews acquired "Protected" status but in this case they are irrelevant)
    As I said, since your ggrandfather's documentation said "most likely" Liste 3 and "Schutzangehörige", I can't imagine what else it could be except a temporary holding status.

    Since the documentation you have said "most likely", then it is open to question whether the other possibility than Liste 3 was either Liste 2 or Liste 4.
    Your ggrandfather was a Lieutenant. Since they were picky about who they made officers, it is quite possible that he was of the quality that would have otherwise been put into the "Liste 2" category. The thing that they were probably looking at was the name, but without further documentation it is impossible to determine with which status he ended up. The general practice was to grant full german citizenship to Volksdeutsche from wherever who did military service if that person wanted it. They didn't force the citizenship on anyone. It could be refused. I do not think that a hitherto polish citizen who became a german officer in WW2 would have chosen not to become a german citizen.

    I do not know your politics or how you consider yourself, but if that was my great grandfather, I would be very proud of him.
    Das Recht und die Gerechtigkeit haben nur selten miteinander etwas zu tun. Höchstens machen sie winki winki wenn sie aneinander vorbei gehen.
    The Law and Justice have only seldom anything to do with one another. At the most they wave at each other when they pass one another on the street.
    Niemals vergessen. Niemals vergeben.

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    thanks for the information. yes i think they were faced with a hard choice but they must of identified more with being Germans then Polish even tho they all had Polish first names and surnames. They made the choice they thought was right for them to survive.

    I don't have documents saying he is category 3 but I was told that all people who were a Volksdeutsche in category 3, 4 were all ''Schutzangehörige'' and the rest (1,2) became citizens of the Reich. Seeing his family volunteered that makes category 4 irrelevant so it must mean they (at least my grandfather) were in category 3 (most likely)

    My grandfather was also in the ''Hitler Jugend''. Would that also suggest he has an ethnic German connection?

    My grandfathers mother was treated well by the Germans much better then ethnic Poles. When her husband died on the Russian front she fled (Poznan) to go to Germany (Reich) voluntarily. After the war until her death in the 1990's she was always Pro German. ow would that suggest she has an ethnic German connection also? If she was a pure pole wouldn't she be treated like all the other poles?

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    Here are the categories:

    Category I: Volksdeutsche—Persons of German descent who had engaged themselves in favour of the Reich before 1939.

    Category II: Deutschstämmige—Persons of German descent who had remained passive.

    Category III: Eingedeutschte—indigenous persons considered by the National Socialists as partly Polonized (mainly Silesians and Kashubs)

    Category IV: Rückgedeutschte—Persons of Polish nationality considered "racially valuable", but who resisted Germanization

    Category V: Nichteindeutschungsfähige and Enemies of the Reich (jews, communists, gypsies and habitual gays)

    Quote Originally Posted by prussianwolf View Post
    I found my polish grandfathers world war 2 documents and it says he was a volksdeutsche most likely category 3 on the volkliste
    and a ''Schutzangehörige des Deutschen Reiches'' (Protect members of the German Empire).
    blue translate : "with German passport", e.g. citizenship

    Quote Originally Posted by prussianwolf View Post


    My great grandfather was a lieutenant in the German army in ww2 on the Russian front. how ''German'' did you have to be to be a lieutenant ?
    Im guessing he was in the Wehrmacht

    the document below is of my grandfather
    See above. No problem to become an officer, he even had German citizenship. Whether part-Polish or not didn't matter.

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    What exactly is ''Eingedeutschte''? in the context of the volkliste

    in WW2 times how much German ancestry did you need to have to be considered a volksdeutsche?

    My grandfathers mother was treated well by the Germans much better then how the ethnic Poles were treated. When her husband died on the Russian front she fled (Poznan) to go to Germany (Reich) voluntarily.
    After the war until her death in the 1990's she was always Pro German (would always sing German songs ect).

    would that suggest she has an ethnic German connection also? If she was a pure pole wouldn't she be treated like all the other poles? or does having a volksdeutsche husband change that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by prussianwolf View Post
    What exactly is ''Eingedeutschte''? in the context of the volkliste

    in WW2 times how much German ancestry did you need to have to be considered a volksdeutsche?
    There is a mixed race/tribe in Upper Silesia who are neither Polish, German nor Czech but all of them. They call themselves Silesians, the Germans called them "Wasser-Polen", they were not expulsed. The Third Reich gave them the choice of select their citizenship. German citizenship meant full rights , but also subject to conscription into the Wehrmacht.

    The same goes for the Kashubs in the corridor. Your grandfather was likely that as you said Gnesen/Posen which is either Reichsgau Posen or Danzig-Westpreussen. And he had or aquired German citizenship. Now, after the war many of them claimed to be Poles due to to the anti-German progroms, not only in Soviet Poland , but also in the so called "Free West". Who would blame him for referring to himself as "Pole" in BE-Australia? I don't.
    After all, Australia declared war on Germany twice (thereby following the UK) so your grandfather may well have claimed that he "really is Polish" and was "just forced to Germanize by the Nazis" , rather than admitting that he really was mixed German-Polish and gladly took German citizenship (because Polish citizenship meant to be below all other Aryans, including Ukrainians and Russians, thus below them. Poles were in the category "Aryan under probation" due to their bestialities against the German minority in 1939. Thus only Category V (jews, gypsies,non-Aryans, gays were lower than them) during the Third Reich) and even became an officer in the Deutsche Wehrmacht.

    So many Kashubs, Silesians, mixed people etc who were born in Congress-Poland (e.g. Polish Second Republic 1919-39) gladly took the German citizenship offer of the Third Reich , only to deny it 1945 and claiming that they were "forced" into it. That's all too human, just as in 1945 suddenly noone ever was a Nazi, "most" have been always against NS , or claimed to have been in the "resistance" (pre-1945: terrorists).

    Just as 1989 suddenly no one has ever been a Communist in Poland, the Soviet Zone of Ge or the larger Warsaw Pact Eastern European states.

    PS: The ID card of your grandfather clearly states: born in Poland and Catholic (Prussians are Protestant). Nonetheless he identified himself (despite being mixed and having a Polish last name) as German.
    Further on the ID card says about location: Warthegau (Gauleiter Greiser), which basically was the old Prussian province Posen-county.

    Warthegau

    ID card says: "Kreis Korotschin" (Korotschin county). On the bottom of the map, bordering Upper Silesia, dark-green (Posen) area.

    Further on his profession according to ID card was: rural worker

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