Historians divide over the question of how far “classic” European colonial experience in overseas empires provided the model for the Nazi empire in eastern Europe. Missing from arguments on either side of the debate have been the colonialists themselves. The Ukraine Project to enlist Dutch plantation companies for occupied Ukraine shows what happened when efforts were made to transfer traditional colonial expertise into the Nazi East. From the perspective of the project's proponents, there was indeed continuity between the two imperialisms. However, the company at the center of the project, the Deli Maatschappij, the ruling and tone-setting firm on Sumatra, saw no connection with its East Indies history and spurned all efforts to take it into Ukraine. Thus the Ukraine Project, despite its short-lived and failed history, complicates arguments from both perspectives and offers a trans-imperial history of a different sort than we are accustomed to encountering.
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