Major Field: European History
Adviser: Christopher Browning
BA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2012
My dissertation thesis, “Cleansing the Wehrmacht: The Treatment of Social Outsiders in the German Military under the Nazi Regime”, asks if there was a concerted effort during the Nazi regime to “cleanse” the German military (the Wehrmacht) of social outsiders parallel to a program to purify the broader Volksgemeinschaft (“people’s community”), or whether the military deemphasized Nazi racial and social policy as it pursued other priorities. This project intervenes in an ongoing debate over how “Nazified” the military became during the National Socialist period. Historians have answered this question primarily in two ways, first revealing the great number of death sentences meted out to German soldiers for desertion and related offenses in comparison to the more lenient Allied military policies, and secondly by exposing the German military’s participation in atrocities, particularly on the eastern front. While recent research into the military’s complicity in the Holocaust has shed light on the great extent to which the Wehrmacht applied Nazi racial and social policies to subject peoples, less well known is how the military applied such policies to its own soldiers. This dissertation focuses on how the Wehrmacht dealt with soldiers considered “un-German” in the Nazi Weltanschauung, noting considerable differences between policy and praxis. It explores the treatment of two “social” categories of soldiers (homosexuals and so-called “asocials”) and two “racial” categories (Jews and Roma/Sinti). The treatment of homosexuals is developed as an in-depth case study to which the other three categories of soldiers are compared.