Internal colonization

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The term internal colonization was used to describe the parceling and settlement of estates in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, especially in the eastern provinces of Prussia .

root cause

It was a direct political reaction to the rural exodus that had occurred in these areas since the mid-19th century ; H. on the massive migration from rural areas. Proponents of the settlement movement blamed what they considered to be an unhealthy distribution of property , in which a large part - usually more than half - of the land was owned by large landowners . They therefore propagated a reduction in the proportion of large landowners and the targeted creation of family farms .


In the empire

The settlement movement experienced an expanded objective in the last quarter of the 19th century through the immigration of Polish farmers into the original Polish area of Greater Poland , which was annexed by Prussia with the partitions of Poland and administered as the provinces of Posen and West Prussia . It was feared that the areas would become “ Polonized ” and the settlement was declared a kind of national struggle. Accordingly, the first authority commissioned with the settlement was also created for these areas. The " Royal Settlement Commission for West Prussia and Posen ", established in 1886, came into being as a result of the law passed in the same year on the promotion of German settlements in the provinces of West Prussia and Posen . It was followed in 1890 by the law on the formation of pension goods , with which internal colonization in the true sense began. Since the state commission for West Prussia and Poznan was working too ineffectively, its tasks were transferred to provincial settlement companies in the other provinces , which were financed and controlled by the state, but otherwise operated privately . These include the " Pommersche Ansiedlungsgesellschaft " formed in 1903 and the " East Prussian Landgesellschaft " formed two years later . The general commissions, which were formed at the beginning of the 19th century to regulate the landlord and peasant relations, took over the supervision of the state. Nevertheless, the success remained comparatively low until the end of the First World War . On the island of Rügen , for example, only four districts with a little more than 1,000 hectares were settled during this time . The main reason was that one had to rely on the voluntary nature of the large landowners when letting settlement land.

In the Weimar Republic

On August 11, 1919, the Social Democratic government under Friedrich Ebert passed the Reich Settlement Act . As a result, the provision of land, if necessary by force, should be secured to a greater extent than before. In the provinces, land delivery companies were formed , which had to make at least a third of the area of ​​goods with more than 100 hectares available for settlement. In actual fact, however, the settlement only got under way on a larger scale around ten years later. It benefited from the agricultural crisis from 1929 onwards, which fell victim to numerous goods that were now foreclosed or sold by their owners.

In the Third Reich

Inner colonization reached its climax in the first years of National Socialist rule. It has now been incorporated into the blood-and-soil ideology of the Nazi regime . From then on one no longer spoke of settlement, but of the "new formation of German peasantry" (law of July 14, 1933). The settlers were now called Neubauer - a term that the occupying power and the German administration in the Soviet occupation zone also used when carrying out the land reform in autumn 1945.



  • Archives for Inner Colonization , 1908–1933; Ed. Heinrich Sohnrey
  • continued as: Neues Bauerntum , 1934–1944; Ed. And publisher as above
  • continued as: Journal for the entire settlement system , 1952–1955
  • continued as: Inner Colonization , 1956–1972
  • continued as: Inner Colonization, Land and Municipality , 1972–1981


  • Max Sering : The Inner Colonization in Eastern Germany. Leipzig 1908 (reprinted several times).
  • Kurt Mirow: The internal colonization of New West Pomerania and Rügen with special consideration of the pension laws, based on the special files of the state cultural offices in Greifswald, Demmin and Stralsund. Greifswald 1931.
  • Roland Baier: The German East as a social question. A study of the Prussian and German settlement and Poland policy in the eastern provinces during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic. Cologne / Vienna 1980, ISBN 3-412-04479-2 .
  • Wilhelm Abel : Guiding principles of agricultural and settlement policy. Hanover 1966.
  • Jan G. Smit: New formation of German peasantry. Internal Colonization in the Third Reich - Case Studies in Schleswig-Holstein. Kassel 1983, ISBN 3-88122-128-X .

Individual evidence

  1. Max Sering: The distribution of property and the emigration from the country. Speech given at the Royal Prussian State Economics College on February 11, 1910, Berlin 1910.
  2. Max Sering: The distribution of property and the emigration from the country. Speech given in the Royal Prussian State Economic College on February 11, 1910, Berlin 1910, p. 24 ff.
  3. ^ Karl-Heinz Salomon: The inner colonization on Rügen 1890-1945 and its effects on the property structure. In: Greifswald-Stralsunder Jahrbuch, Vol. 10 (1973), p. 145.
  4. ^ Reichsgesetzblatt 1919, p. 1249.
  5. ^ Reichsgesetzblatt 1933, I, p. 517.