Contaminated Science: The Contribution of German Spatial Research to the Genocide of the European Jews




The vast majority of the academic spatial researchers in Nazi Germany participated in the Holocaust and the genocidal “resettlement policy” by providing it with a scientific foundation and an intellectual justification. The Reich Working Group for Spatial Research (RAG), with its departmentalized organizational structure and regionally limited research practices, facilitated the academic support of the policies of extermination. Studies about social and economic problems in certain German regions were closely linked with the recruitment of German “settlers” for the occupied territories in East Central Europe. The spatial researchers thereby both offered academic “solutions” for economically weak areas and aggravated the already disastrous situation in Eastern Europe. After the war, the same practices of departmentalization offered a convenient path for West German scholars to exonerate themselves in the early years of the Federal Republic. This question about how spatial researchers participated in the murder of European Jews is closely linked with contemporary concepts of social order and the role of planning, ideas which came to influence an entire generation of German scholars and scientists in the mid-twentieth century.

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