Operation Oldenburg (iii)

(German city)

This was the German plan for the economic exploitation of lands conquered in the east (spring 1941/summer 1944).

The plan was drafted by General Georg Thomas, head of the Defence Economy and Armament Office in the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, and then approved be Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, thus paving the way for the creation on 29 April 1941 of the Wirtschaftsstabes zbV ‘Oldenburg’ (Economic Staff Special Duty ‘Oldenburg’), which later became the Wirtschaftsstab ‘Ost’ (Economic Staff East).

In the Nuremberg trials of the major German leaders after the war there was a document known as the 'Green Folder' of Göring. This was the master policy directive for the economic exploitation of the conquered USSR. The implications of this document were the death by starvation of millions of Slavic people, something which was realised, in part at least, in the Holocaust, the neglect of Soviet soldiers captured by the Nazis which led to huge mortality rates, and the general expropriation of food located in the occupied areas of the USSR.

Following his approval of the 'Barbarossa' plan for the invasion of the USSR, Adolf Hitler instructed Göring to develop a plan for the future exploitation of conquered territory to the east of Germany. Under Göring’s leadership, the 'Oldenburg' (iii) plan was created to include the seizure for the benefit of the Third Reich all stocks of raw materials and large industrial enterprises in the territory between the Vistula river and the Ural mountains. The plan ordained that the most valuable manufacturing equipment was to be sent to the Reich and that which was not sent to Germany would be destroyed, and that the European part of the USSR would be economically decentralised and developed as an agricultural appendage of Germany.

The original plan was approved at a meeting on 1 March 1941, and in the course of the following months the plan was fleshed out in detail and finally adopted on 29 April. A headquarters was then created to co-ordinate the 'Oldenburg' (iii) plan, which in greater detail laid it down that territory to be occupied in the USSR was to be divided into five economic inspectorates, three of them attached to Heeresgruppe 'Nord' (Leningrad), Heeresgruppe 'Mitte' (Moscow) and Heeresgruppe ‘Süd’ (Kiev), one for the Caucasus (Baku), and one held in reserve, with 23 economic commandants as well as 12 offices.

It was on the basis of this plan that on 8 May 1941 that the 'Common Instructions to all Reich Commissioners in the Occupied Eastern Territories' was adopted.