Reichskommissariat is the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 designation for a type of administrative office headed by a government official known as a Reichskommissar
Reichskommissar , in German history, was an official gubernatorial title used for various public offices during the period of the German Empire and the Nazi Third Reich....

English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

: Reich Commissioner
Commissioner is in principle the title given to a member of a commission or to an individual who has been given a commission ....

). Although many different such offices existed primarily throughout the Imperial German
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and Nazi
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 periods in a number of different fields (such as public infrastructure
Public infrastructure
Public infrastructure is a general term often qualified specifically as:* Aviation infrastructure - air traffic control technology in aviation* Critical infrastructure - assets required to sustain human life...

, spatial planning
Spatial planning
Spatial planning refers to the methods used by the public sector to influence the distribution of people and activities in spaces of various scales. Discrete professional disciplines which involve spatial planning include land use planning, urban planning, regional planning, transport planning and...

, ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

, etc.) it is most commonly used to refer to the quasi-colonial
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 territorial units established by Nazi Germany in several occupied countries during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. While officially located outside of the German Reich in a legal sense, these entities were directly controlled by their supreme civil authorities (the Reichskommissars), who ruled their assigned territories as German governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

s on behalf of and as direct representatives of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...


The introduction of these territorial administrations served a number of purposes. Those established or planned to be established in Western
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and Northern Europe
Northern Europe
Northern Europe is the northern part or region of Europe. Northern Europe typically refers to the seven countries in the northern part of the European subcontinent which includes Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Finland and Sweden...

 were in general envisioned as the transitional phases for the future incorporation of various Germanic countries
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 outside of pre-war Germany into an expanded Nazi state. Their eastern counterparts served primarily colonialist
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 and imperialist
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 purposes, as sources of future Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 for German settlement
Generalplan Ost
Generalplan Ost was a secret Nazi German plan for the colonization of Eastern Europe. Implementing it would have necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing to be undertaken in the Eastern European territories occupied by Germany during World War II...

 and the exploitation of natural resources
Exploitation of natural resources
Main article: OverexploitationSome exploitation of natural resources is an essential condition of the human existence. This refers primarily to food production and necessities...


Another contrast was the level of administrative overhaul implemented in these two types. As in most other territories conquered by the Germans, local administrators and bureaucrats were pressured to continue their regular day-to-day operations (especially at the middle and lower levels) albeit under German oversight. Throughout the war the Reichskommissariate in Western and Northern Europe simply retained the previously existing administrative structure however, while in the eastern ones completely new such structures were introduced.

All of these entities were nonetheless intended for eventual integration into a Greater Germanic Reich
Greater Germanic Reich
The Greater Germanic Reich , fully styled the Greater Germanic Reich of the German Nation is the official state name of the political entity that Nazi Germany tried to establish in Europe during World War II...

 (Grossgermanisches Reich) encompassing the general area of Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 stretching from the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to the Ural mountains
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...

, for which Germany was to form the basis.

Western and Northern Europe

  • Reichskommissariat Norwegen
    Reichskommissariat Norwegen
    The Reichskommissariat Norwegen, literally "Reich Commissariat of Norway", was the civilian occupation regime set up by Nazi Germany in German-occupied Norway during World War II. Its full title in German was the Reichskommissariat für die besetzten norwegischen Gebiete...

     (German-occupied territories of Norway
    Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

    ); 1940-1945.
  • Reichskommissariat Niederlande
    Reichskommissariat Niederlande
    The Reichskommissariat Niederlande, literally "Reich Commissariat of the Netherlands", was the civilian occupation regime set up by Nazi Germany in the German-occupied Netherlands during World War II. Its full title in German was the Reichskommissariat für die besetzten niederländischen Gebiete...

     (German-occupied Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

    ); 1940-1945.
  • Reichskommissariat Belgien-Nordfrankreich (German-occupied
    Military Administration in Belgium and North France
    The Belgium and Northern France was an Axis-occupied territory that included present-day Belgium and the French departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais...

    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

     and Nord-Pas-de-Calais); 1944. Annexed directly into the Greater German Reich in December 1944 as the new Reichsgau
    A Reichsgau was an administrative subdivision created in a number of the areas annexed to Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1945...

    e of Flanders
    Reichsgau Flandern
    The Reichsgau Flanders was a short-lived Reichsgau of Nazi Germany established in 1944. It encompassed the present-day Flemish Region in its old provincial borders, so including Comines-Warneton but excluding Voeren...

    , Wallonia
    Reichsgau Wallonien
    The Reichsgau Wallonia was a short-lived Reichsgau of Nazi Germany established in 1944. It encompassed present-day Wallonia in its old provincial borders, so excluding Comines-Warneton but including Voeren...

     and Brussels
    District of Brussels
    The District of Brussels was a short-lived administrative polity created by Nazi Germany in 1944...


Former Soviet territories

In summer 1941, German Nazi-ideologist Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

 suggested that to facilitate the break-up of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 as a geographical entity, conquered Soviet territory should be administered in the following five Reichskommissariate:
  • Reichskommissariat Ostland
    Reichskommissariat Ostland
    Reichskommissariat Ostland, literally "Reich Commissariat Eastland", was the civilian occupation regime established by Nazi Germany in the Baltic states and much of Belarus during World War II. It was also known as Reichskommissariat Baltenland initially...

     (RKO) (The Baltic countries
    Baltic states
    The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

     and Belarus
    Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

    , extended eastward by including some parts of Western Russia) 1941-1944/45.
  • Reichskommissariat Ukraine
    Reichskommissariat Ukraine
    Reichskommissariat Ukraine , literally "Reich Commissariat of Ukraine", was the civilian occupation regime of much of German-occupied Ukraine during World War II. Between September 1941 and March 1944, the Reichskommissariat was administered by Reichskommissar Erich Koch as a colony...

     (RKU) (Ukraine
    Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

     minus East Galicia, Romanian Transnistria
    Transnistria (World War II)
    Transnistria Governorate was a Romanian administered territory, conquered by the Axis Powers from the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, and occupied from 19 August 1941 to 29 January 1944...

     and the Crimea
    Crimea , or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea , is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name...

    , but extended eastward up to the Volga); 1941-1944.
  • Reichskommissariat Moskowien (RKM) (Moscow
    Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

     metropolitan area and the rest of European Russia
    European Russia
    European Russia refers to the western areas of Russia that lie within Europe, comprising roughly 3,960,000 square kilometres , larger in area than India, and spanning across 40% of Europe. Its eastern border is defined by the Ural Mountains and in the south it is defined by the border with...

     minus Karelia
    Karelia , the land of the Karelian peoples, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance for Finland, Russia, and Sweden...

     and the Kola peninsula
    Kola Peninsula
    The Kola Peninsula is a peninsula in the far northwest of Russia. Constituting the bulk of the territory of Murmansk Oblast, it lies almost completely to the north of the Arctic Circle and is washed by the Barents Sea in the north and the White Sea in the east and southeast...

    , promised to Finland
    Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

    ); never fully established. German military advance halted in 1941/42.
  • Reichskommissariat Kaukasus
    Reichskommissariat Kaukasus
    Reichskommissariat Kaukasus , literally "Reich Commissariat of the Caucasus ", was the theoretical political division and planned civilian occupation regime of Nazi Germany in the conquered territories of the Caucasus during World War II...

     (RKK) (Southern Russia and the Caucasus
    The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

     area); never fully established. German military advance halted in 1942/43.
  • Reichskommissariat Turkestan
    Reichskommissariat Turkestan
    Reichskommissariat Turkestan , literally "Reich Commissariat of Turkestan " was the civilian occupation regime which the leadership of Nazi Germany proposed to create in the Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union in its military conflict with that country during World War II.-Background:Prior...

     (RKT) (Central Asia
    Central Asia
    Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

    n republics and territories); never established.

At Hitler's request the Turkestan
Turkestan, spelled also as Turkistan, literally means "Land of the Turks".The term Turkestan is of Persian origin and has never been in use to denote a single nation. It was first used by Persian geographers to describe the place of Turkish peoples...

 project was shelved by Rosenberg for the immediate future, who was instead ordered to focus on Europe for the time-being. Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 was determined to be a future target for German expansion
Drang nach Osten
Drang nach Osten was a term coined in the 19th century to designate German expansion into Slavic lands. The term became a motto of the German nationalist movement in the late nineteenth century...

, as soon as its armies would be ready to move further east after the consolidation of present victories in Soviet Russia. The interest in part of the area of Germany's major Axis partner, the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 (see Axis power negotiations on the division of Asia during World War II
Axis power negotiations on the division of Asia during World War II
As the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan cemented their joint military alliance by mutually declaring war against the United States by December 11, 1941, the Japanese proposed a clear territorial arrangement with the two main European Axis powers concerning the Asian continent...

), could have become a topic of discussion regarding their own contemporaneous establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was a concept created and promulgated during the Shōwa era by the government and military of the Empire of Japan. It represented the desire to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers"...


Additional units that were under discussion at different points in time include Reichskommissariat Don-Wolga
Reichskommissariat Don-Wolga
Reichskommissariat Don-Wolga, literally "Reich Commissariat Don-Volga", was a theoretical civilian occupation regime of Nazi Germany discussed during the early stages of German planning for its occupation of territories in the Soviet Union, one of several other Reichskommissariats...

, as well as one for the central and southern Ural
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...


External links

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