Countries That Almost Existed: SS State of Burgundy

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Adolf Hitler Heinrich Himmler
Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler meet at the Wolf’s Lair military headquarters near Rastenburg, October 13, 1943 (Ullstein Bild)

Burgundy, now a region in central France, has historically been all over the map of Western Europe. The medieval Kingdom of Burgundy straddled the Mediterranean coast. The Duchy of Burgundy, at its greatest extent, ran from the Low Countries in the north to Lake Geneva in the south. The Burgundian Circle was part of the Holy Roman Empire.

During World War II, SS chief Heinrich Himmler argued for the restoration of an independent Burgundy — outside the Greater German Reich, which would colonize the northeast of France, but under National Socialist rule.

Himmler imagined himself as regent. Léon Degrelle, the leader of the Belgian fascists, was supposed to become the state’s first chancellor.

SS Burgundy would encompass what are today the Champagne, Franche-Comté and Picardy regions of France, giving the state access to the English Channel, as well as French Switzerland and the Belgian provinces of Hainaut, Luxembourg and Nevers. Either Dijon or Nancy would have been designated as the capital.

It’s unclear how supportive Adolf Hitler was of Himmler’s dreams. Little serious planning appears to have gone into this.

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