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On March 20, 1941, eight months after the start of Operation Barbarossa, an exhibition opened at the Prinzessinnenpalais in Berlin's Unter den Linden, which revealed the Nazi regime's project for the colonisation of the east. These plans had been drawn up by the SD, or Sicherheitsdienst, the general staff of the SS.

While a veil was drawn over the number of people who needed to be exterminated to make way for the new German settlements, exhibits showed the new, Prussian-style Angern, or model villages, that would be planted here and there, and the way that the newly-Germanised Warthegau in particular would become the country's new bread basket. 

There was to be the usual amount of patronage for those who fell in line with the system: a new time of gifts. The architects who designed the villages and the regional centre at Littmannstadt (the former Lodz) — which would require complete redevelopment — would profit most; but not just architects. There would be a need for all sorts of planners, economists, jurists and experts on Teutonic folklore to create a thoroughly brave new world. 

The graduates who produced these and other — generally lethal — plans are the subject of Christian Ingrao's book Believe & Destroy, a dense and slightly amorphous study based on a prosopographical analysis of 80 case histories of university-educated members of the SD. 

These men had ridden to power behind Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS. Originally Hitler's praetorian guard, the middle-class SS had stolen a march on the lowly, thuggish SA at the time of the Night of the Long Knives of June 30, 1934. Himmler slowly constructed his power-base by taking over control of regional police forces. Together with his second-in-command Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler recruited young graduates to construct an ideology that was to some extent based on the obiter dicta of Mein Kampf. The "artist" Hitler had left it to others to work out the finer detail.

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