Planning in the Third Reich would have been my preferred PhD topic. Presently, Germans, including the ‘Academy for Territorial Development’, deal with their history (1), but then it was too early. Here I discuss international literature on the ‘infamous crown jurist’ (Smeltzer, 2018, 591) of the Third Reich, Carl Schmitt, an apostle also of territorialism and populism. No sooner than Hitler had taken over, and he underscored ‘…the importance of unity for the national community…’ (Minca, Vaughan-Williams 2012, 758) not in a metaphorical, but in a concrete sense, by marking lines on the ground as ‘…a sort of material manifestation of how … the state … can identify itself…’ (Minca, Vaughan-Williams 2012, 759) A feature of what we now call modernity, at ‘…the heart of this new European spatial order was the concept of the border … which. … provided for political unity, an end to civil wars, and clear demarcations between jurisdictions.’ (op cit., 763) Against this backdrop, Schmitt was looking for a new spatial order for the German people: their – extended – Lebensraum, eventually leading to the ‘Generalplan Ost’: planners, some of retaining prominent positions postwar, foreseeing in the cleansing of vast areas to make room for the master race.
Schmitt eulogising the strong state went hand-in-hand with rejecting liberalism. The rule of law, freedom and equality were ‘…veiled liberal weapons used against the Prussian soldier-state, and by extension, against the essence of the German people.’ (Smeltzer 2018, 598) The state had to ‘…excise liberal elements and replace them with properly National Socialist conceptions of politics and law.’ (ibid) ‘[I]t was the “people, who exist without soil, without a state, without a church, only in the ‘law’ who would defend …. liberalism.‘ (op cit., 599) He aimed at the legal scholar Hans Kelsen as the ‘…Jewish jurist without a connection to the soil.’ (ibid). Chased from his university position, Kelsen would end up teaching in the US.
Barnes and Minca (2013, 671) see Nazi spatiality as ‘reactionary modernism’. Postwar, a somewhat chastened Schmitt talked in terms of spheres of influence, ‘…each associated with one of a select group of countries that include Germany. [Otherwise – AF] the worst fate that could befall the world would be the emergence of a political void, a “space less” global politics resulting from failing nation states.’ (ibid.) See here the resilience of territorialism. Witnessing its return to prominence now. Unsurprisingly, we see its companion, populism, also rearing its head.

(1) For more information in German see:

Barnes, T.J., Minca, Cl. (2013) ‘Nazi spatial theory: The dark geographies of Carl Schmitt and Walter Christaller, Annals of the Association of American Geographers , 103(3) 669-687.
Minca, C., Vaughan-Williams, N. (2012) ’Carl Schmitt and the concept of the border’, Geopolitics,  17, 752-772.
Smeltzer. J. (2018) ’“Germany’s salvation”: Carl Schmitt’s teleological history of the Second Reich’. History of European Ideas, 44(5) 590–604.

The illustration shows the. Generalplan Ost – Masterplan for the East – as shown at a postwar exhibition of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation)

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