SS State of Burgundy

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The SS state of Burgundy (German: SS-Staat Burgund) or Order-State of Burgundy (German: Ordensstaat Burgund; a historical reference to the State of the Teutonic Order) was a proposed state which the leadership of Nazi Germany hoped to create in certain areas of Western Europe during World War II.

History[edit]

The name "Burgundy" itself (derived from the Burgundians, an ancient Germanic tribe) is a vague term, geographically speaking. A wide number of different countries and regions throughout history have been referred to by this name or controlled by a Burgundy-based state.

The most outspoken proponent of re-creating a German-controlled Burgundian state was Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS. According to Himmler, Burgundy, which he called "an ancient economic and cultural centre", had been "reduced to nothing more than a French appendage, known only for its wine production". This plan entailed the transformation of Burgundy into a model-state nominally located outside of the Greater German Reich, but nevertheless ruled by a National Socialist government, and which would also have its own army, laws, and postal services. It was supposed to encompass French Switzerland (Romandy), Picardy with Amiens, the Champagne district with Reims and Troyes, the Franche Comté with Dijon, Chalons, and Nevers, Hainaut and Luxembourg (Belgium). It was also to have a connection to both the Mediterranean Sea as well as the English Channel. The capital and administrative seat was tentatively proposed as either Dijon or Nancy (Nanzig) as its capital.[1] Its official language was to become German, but would initially be also French.

Its government would be presided over by a chancellor, who was to be responsible to a representative of the German Reich who would receive the title of Reichsverweser. It was assumed that the Reichsführer-SS (Himmler himself at the time) would assume the second of these two offices, and that Léon Degrelle, leader of the Belgian fascists, would become its first chancellor. Degrelle himself was a notable proponent of the motion. His own objective in collaborating with the Germans during the war was to restore the Burgundian domain of Charles the Bold before his death in 1477 under his own rule.[2]

Whether these were merely the dreams of Himmler personally or, as he so claimed, enjoyed Hitler’s full support is inconclusive from the historical record. Hitler's own objective towards France was to eliminate it permanently as a strategic threat to German security. The 1940 campaign in Western Europe was in fact carried out entirely so that its western flank could be secured before Germany would commit its armies to conquering Lebensraum in the Soviet Union.[3] With this in mind, extensive plans were made so that France could be reduced to a minor state and a permanent German vassal kept firmly in the state of dependence that she had found herself in after the 1940 armistice and which it would thus have no further reason to fear.

At Hitler’s request a plan was produced after the fall of France in 1940 that would provide for the outright annexation into Germany of a large strip of Eastern France by reducing it to its late medieval borders with the Holy Roman Empire. This memo, produced by the Reich Interior Ministry forms the basis for the so-called northeast line which separated the 'forbidden zone' of German-occupied France from the rest of the areas under military control.[4] It proposed the deportation of its French inhabitants and the settlement of a million German peasants.[5] He considered these areas, as well as Wallonia to be "in reality German" and should therefore be re-integrated.[6]

In 1942 Hitler did mention that the former area of the Kingdom of Burgundy, which France "had taken from Germany in her weakest moment" would also have to be annexed to Nazi Germany after the incorporation of the forbidden zone, but to which areas he referred by this statement remains unclear.[7]

Brittany State[edit]

There were also proposals for an independent Brittany state.[7] Hitler himself mentioned this intention on at least one occasion to his military leaders,[8] but ultimately seemed to have taken little interest in the project.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Books: If Hitler Had Won. Time Magazine, Monday, Mar. 24, 1947.
  2. ^ Richard Landwehr, Jean-Louis Roba, Ray Merriam (2006). The Wallonien: The History of the 5th SS-Sturmbrigade and 28th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division. Merriam Press, p. 5
  3. ^ Norman Rich (1973). Hitler's War Aims: Ideology, the Nazi State, and the Course of Expansion. W. W. Norton & Company, New York. p. 146
  4. ^ Schöttler, Peter (2003). "'Eine Art „Generalplan West“: Die Stuckart-Denkschrift vom 14. Juni 1940 und die Planungen für eine neue deutsch-französische Grenze im Zweiten Weltkrieg." (in ger). Sozial.Geschichte 18 (3): 83–131.
  5. ^ Winkler, Heinrich August; Sager, Alexander (2007). Germany: the long road west. 1933-1990. Oxford University Press. p. 74. ISBN 0199265984.
  6. ^ John Frank Williams (2005). Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914-1918: the List Regiment. Frank Cass, 209
  7. ^ a b c Norman Rich (1974). Hitler's War Aims: the Establishment of the New Order. W. W. Norton & Company Inc, New York. p. 239
  8. ^ Janusz Gumkowkski and Kazimierz Leszczynski. Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe. Selections from Poland under Nazi Occupation. Retrieved 5 November 2010 [1]