In 1942 Germany, which sought to establish the Greater German Reich in Europe, dominated most of the continent. Austria and Luxembourg had been completely absorbed, as had the ‘General Government for the occupied Polish area’, which was established by a decree in October 1939 and was located in the centre of Poland. This puppet state was governed without any Polish representation and accounted for about a third of Polish territory and 45 per cent of the Polish population. Vast tracts of European territory had been seized and occupied by German forces. Some countries, such as Czechoslovakia, were forced to surrender before the war began; other countries, including neutral territories such as the Netherlands, were invaded and occupied, and their governments were subsumed or forced into exile. Civil administrations were installed in the Netherlands and Norway, while many other countries, such as France and Serbia, were under military administration. To the east, the remainder of Poland and Ukraine were subject to economic exploitation and were seen as sources of slave labour. The ‘Reichkommissariats’ were quasi-colonial territories, which lay outside the German Reich itself, but were governed by Reichskommissars, German governors who acted as direct representatives of Adolf Hitler. The intention was that ultimately all these diverse regions would be absorbed into the Greater German Reich, which would stretch from the North Sea to the Urals.
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