'Sword and plough': settling Nazi stormtroopers in Eastern Europe, 1936-43
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AbstractMost histories of the National Socialist stormtroopers (SA) come to a close with the Night of the Long Knives in the summer of 1934. For the remaining eleven years of National Socialist rule, the stormtroopers are usually regarded as a peripheral 'nostalgic drinking companionship' of early Nazi activists who, apart from their involvement in the persecution of the Jews, did not wield much influence. In contrast to such views, this article argues that the SA remained an important mass organization in the Third Reich that not only helped to stabilize the Nazi regime within the boundaries of the German heartlands but also contributed importantly to German expansionist policies from 1935 onwards. My argument is developed in three stages. First, I assess the SA's contribution to the German settlement movement in the 1930s that was originally concerned with the 'inner colonialism', the population transfer within the existing borders of the German Reich in order to stimulate agriculture and economy in disadvantaged German regions, in particular in the northern and eastern provinces. Second, I concentrate on the analysis of the plans and initiatives of the so-called 'commissioner of the SA Chief of Staff for the placement of new farmers and matters of ethnicity' between 1938 and 1942. In a third and final part, I discuss these plans and the actual developments in the light of the expansionist Nazi policies of de-and reterritorialization during the war years, advanced in particular by the SS. Although the SA's extensive prewar ambitions in 'Germanization' suffered a serious backlash with the outbreak of the war, it still contributed in important ways to the formation of the Volksgemeinschaft in the occupied territories.