The Deutsche Volksliste (German People’s List) was an institution of the Nazi party whose purpose was the classification of the inhabitants of the territories occupied by Germany and in charge of administering and classifying the inhabitants of these territories during the Second World War in categories of Convenience, according to criteria systematized by Heinrich Himmler . The institution was first established in occupied western Poland . Similar institutions were later created in occupied France and Ukraine .

The Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) were people of German descent living outside Germany . Although Volksdeutsche did not possess the German or Austrian nationality, strengthening and development of their communities through the center and east of Europe was an integral part of the Nazi vision for the creation of Greater Germany (Großdeutschland) .

Nazi contacts with ethnic Germans before the war

In 1931 , before its coming to power, the Nazi Party established the Auslandsorganisation der NSDAP (Organization for Foreigners of the German National Socialist Workers Party), whose task was to spread Nazi propaganda among the German minorities living outside Germany . In 1936 , the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle, commonly known as VoMi, was created under the leadership of Himmler as the RKFDV of the German Schutzstaffel (SS) as the Liaison Committee of the German ethnic group and was headed by Werner Lorenz of the SS-Obergruppenführer .

The motivation for the creation of the list


According to the testimony of Kuno Wirsich;

The aim of the Deutsche Volksliste was that those people of German descent could join Germany after confirming their ancestry. 1

When Germany invaded Poland in 1939 , the western part of the country was annexed (basically the Danube / West Prussia, Wartheland, and Silesia), and the rest of the country was placed under the administration of the General Government .

The plan for Poland , as set out in the General Plan of the East , was to “purify” the new annexed regions to create a circumference of Germanization against Polish and Slavic influence. This meant the deportation of the Poles from these areas to which the General Government controls , and the settlement was with the German ethnic settlement from other places, including from the General Government area and within the borders of Germany before the war. 2

In order to advance its goal of Germanization, Nazi Germany tried to increase the number of Volksdeutsche in the conquered territories, especially those of the Czechs, Poles, Slovenes who had German ancestors. Therefore, the Nazis encouraged the Polish offspring of the Germans, or the Poles who had family connections with the Germans, to join the Volksdeutsche , they often used the application of pressure to force people to register. Those who joined enjoyed privileged status and received special benefits. The registrants were given better food, apartments, farms, workshops, furniture and clothing; Many of these goods were confiscated from Jews and Poles who were deported or sent to Nazi concentration camps .

The determination of who was an ethnic German was not easy, especially in regions where there were a large number of Poles, ethnic Germans and individuals of German ancestry who had been polonized. In these places, moreover, there was a wide movement of struggle against the invader, which impressed Himmler so much that he maintained that such resistance must be evidence of his quality of Nordic .

In 2006 , the German historian Götz Aly pointed out that Nazi applied policy was based on selection criteria developed by the French after World War I to expel ethnic Germans from Alsace . 3

Multiple categorization schemes

From the beginning of the German occupation of Poland , different categorization schemes were applied at the local level, which led to the confusion of categories. In October of 1939 , the governor of the Warthegau, Gauleiter Arthur Greiser , set up a central office for the registration of ethnic Germans or Volksdeutsche. At the beginning of 1940 , distinctions were introduced to divide those registered in the DVL into four categories: those of German origin who acted in favor of the Reich , other inhabitants of German origin but not involved with German domination, Poles of German origin and Polish-related Germans by marriage.

The solution of Himmler

Himmler’s solution to these confusing categorization schemes was a register called; List of the German People (Deutsche Volksliste or DVL) abbreviated in Volksliste, which established uniform and general application criteria. Although the Racial Office of the Nazi Party had already produced a similar record, also called the Deutsche Volksliste in 1939 , its criteria were different and in fact was one of the forerunners of the one designed by Himmler.

The Deutsche Volksliste classifies the Germans into four categories: 4 5

  • Category I: Volksdeutsche or ethnic German , restricted to anyone who was of German ancestry and, moreover, had engaged in actions to approach the German homeland, ie the Reich, before 1939 . 5
  • Category II: Deutschstämmige, that is to say, “of German descent”; Anyone who had German ancestors but would have remained passive in relation to an integration with the Reich. 5
  • Category III: Eingedeutschte, that is, “voluntarily gemanized”; was he who despite having a partially Polish origin by choice adhered to the German nation, applied especially Silesians and Kashubians . Those who refused to join this list were liable to be deported to a concentration camp. 5
  • Category IV: Rückgedeutschte meaning “Germanized by force”; Any non-German considered “racially valuable” who resisted Germanization. 5

Application in other countries

After the German occupation of Yugoslavia , the Volksliste was applied in that country.

Ethnic Germans were also recorded in the conquered regions of the Soviet Union ; Many of them were relocated to the General Government or parts of German-occupied Poland, and many served in the German army


At the end of the war, the Deutsche Volksliste archives remained in the local registry departments; Mostly in the Polish archives.

After the collapse of Nazi Germany, some Volksdeutsche were tried by the Polish authorities for high treason. Even now, in Poland the word Volksdeutsch is considered as an insult, synonymous with traitor.


  1. Back to top↑ Testimony of Prosecution Witness Kuno Wirsich, Nuremberg Military Tribunal , Vol. IV, p. 714
  2. Back to top↑ «Hitler’s War; Hitler’s Plans for Eastern Europe ‘ . Archive.is . Retrieved on April 16, 2016 .
  3. Return to top↑ retrieved from Götz Aly: The logic of horror – signandsight , article appeared first in Zeit , June 2006 [1] ; quote: “ … it was in fact invented the Republican France That selection criteria later used as the basis for the so-called” Deutsche Volksliste “(German ethnic list) in the areas of Poland Annexed by Germany In 1919, the population. Of the reclaimed Alsace region were classified into four groups: full, three-quarter, and half French, and Germans On this basis, Alsatians were accorded full, limited or zero civil rights. ), The French authorities ordered expulsion over the Rhine bridge.
  4. Back to top↑ «Chapter XIII – GERMANIZATION AND SPOLIATION» . Fundamentalbass.home.mindspring.com . Retrieved on April 16, 2016 .
  5. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Richard Overy , The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia , p543-4 ISBN 0-393-02030-4