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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Anthropology

Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit


The Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit was established at Krakau on April 20, 1940, as a German-dominated scientific and historical arm of the General Government of Poland, the puppet of the German occupation. The institute's purpose was to carry out pure research but with the view that its findings would be of practical value in developing a new order in Poland. Under E. Riemann, a section for investigating race and nationality studied the different nationalities of Poland. Of particular interest were communities of German descent, for the government intended to regermanize these people and, partially through them, establish the dominance of German culture in Poland.

Included are forms with biographical, genealogical, and medical data and physical anthropological measurements and observations largely concerning Ukranians, southern Poles, and Huzuls (Ruthenians). There are also outlines of crania, facial profiles, photographs, finger prints, and hair samples. Some materials relate to publications of the Institut für Deutsche Ostarbeit. The records do not appear to include material of a special branch of the institute that studied Jews.

Allied forces captured the records in Germany, and the Department of War turned them over to the Smithsonian in 1947. Related anthropometric instruments are in the Smithsonian's collections.

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