The lessons of war and occupation: The career of Hans Nagel, 1914-1945

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The development of German economic mobilization policies from 1914 to 1945 shows how the Germans learned from their experiences of war and occupation. When the Allied blockade effectively cut off Germany from foreign imports in 1914, the German military maintained its supply of raw materials through an economic control system set up by the Kriegsrohstoffabteilung (KRA), both domestically and in occupied territories. In the 1930s the model provided by the KRA influenced all the key architects of the Nazi economy. By 1941, a raw material control system modeled on the KRA linked the German economy with all the occupied territories in a surprisingly uniform organization. A crucial vector for the transmission of these ideas was the personnel of Georg Thomas’s military-economic organization. In successive deployments, first within Germany, then to annexed Austria and the Sudetenland, and finally to the Protectorate, Poland, and occupied Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, these men brought not only the lessons of the First World War but also the acquired experience of each successive invasion and occupation. This paper traces the career of military-economic officer Hans Nagel from the trenches of the First World War, to the educational division of Thomas’s organization and finally to his subsequent postings in Prague, Łódź, Brussels, and the eastern front. This example of personnel continuity from one war to the next, and from occupation to occupation, highlights how the Nazis saw and managed Europe as a unit, with local variations in radicalness. Nagel exemplifies a certain category of hitherto under-appreciated military administrator who traveled back and forth across German-occupied Europe as an expert, gaining experience, sharing ideas, and building connections, all in the pursuit of ruthless war aims.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGerman-occupied Europe in the Second World War
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781351385893
ISBN (Print)9781138501492
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Raffael Scheck, Fabien Théofilakis and Julia Torrie; individual chapters, the contributors.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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