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Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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European History


This dissertation functions as a social and environmental history of the National Socialist German Workers Party’s (NSDAP, Nazi Party) land reclamation policies and settlements. Studying shifts in labor and gender roles in the polders established by the Nazi regime expands historical discussions of Blood and Soil theories and their domestic implementation. By focusing on the experiences of the individuals selected to inhabit these Nazi-era polders, this dissertation traces the factors which contributed to the development of these model Nazi communities and the relationship between politics, society, and the environment. These polders provide a unique opportunity to examine local versus national conflicts regarding the legacy of Nazism and resurgence of neo-Nazism through an examination of the communities’ postwar memorialization practices, return of tourism, and efforts to reshape the local identity and memory.

In Nazi Germany, the creation of polders, such as Adolf-Hitler-Koog and Hermann-Göring-Koog, provide a pre-war example of the Nazi Party attempts to implement its Blood and Soil policies, which emphasized the need to acquire “living space” (Lebensraum) for racially pure Germans. Designed as model communities, these polders, defined as low-lying land reclaimed from the sea and protected by dikes, demonstrated the revitalization of Germany and showcased the ideal racial community (Volksgemeinschaft). These polders function as a precursor to the NSDAP’s genocidal expansion into eastern Europe, although both settlement policies represented attempts to realize Hitler’s ambition of creating a racially homogenous and territorially dominant Germany.


Available for download on Monday, February 01, 2027