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The Nazis’ Foreign Experts:European Academics and Professionals and the SS’s “New Order”, 1939-1945

Final Report Summary - NAZI FOREIGN EXPERTS (The Nazis’ Foreign Experts:European Academics and Professionals and the SS’s “New Order”, 1939-1945)


This IEF project, hosted by the Chair of Contemporary and Recent History, Professor Ulrich Herbert, at the University of Freiburg, was carried out by one IEF Fellow. The project researched how young North-Western Europeans (from the Scandinavian countries, Holland and Switzerland) envisioned their countries’ economic and political relationship to Nazi Germany and the occupied Eastern territories and how these beliefs translated into concrete efforts to support the regime. Numerous studies exist that examine how the SS and young German scientists and academics began to radically transform Europe, often with genocidal consequences. However, this study was pioneering in its examination of the contributions of non-German European “experts”—geographers, engineers, historians, business managers and other young professionals—who worked with the SS to promote the incorporation of Western Europe into the German sphere and the brutal exploitation of Eastern European land and labor for their own benefit. The project build off the premise, supported by recent academic scholarship, that until 1942, the so-called Nazi New Order seemed a permanent, and to many a desired, reality in Europe. This transnational study was based on research in numerous archives in multiple European countries.

As described in the project proposal and Annex I of the project contract, the first 12 months of the project were to be dedicated to archival and secondary source research. While the timing and duration of archival visits varied slightly from the detailed timeline provided in the proposal, the research phase was fully carried out in the spirit of the proposal. While the IEF Fellow amassed a large amount of information in his database from these archival visits and secondary source readings, some collections contained fewer relevant documents than the preliminary investigations had led him to believe. Thus the amount of relevant information the researcher compiled is roughly 70% of the best-case-scenario outlined in the proposal.

The final deliverables, as outlined in the project proposal, were one or two top-level journal articles submitted and a manuscript prospectus and sample chapter of a monograph completed, as well as three public lectures, one general-audience article and research group and conference participation. In line with the proposal and Annex I, these deliverables were on track to be completed during the second half of the project. Given the fact that the fellow was offered a permanent position and thus had to terminate the research stay at the University of Freiburg 5 months early, the final deliverables were not completed as per schedule. Two drafts exist of the journal articles but they will require reworking before being submitted, something the fellow intends to do at the earliest convenience.