This article is about the German administration of occupied Poland during World War II. For the German administration of Belgium during World War I, see General Governorate of Belgium. For the national-accounting practice, see Central government.
The basis for the formation of the General Government was the "Annexation Decree on the Administration of the Occupied Polish Territories". Announced by Hitler on October 8, 1939, it claimed that the Polish government had totally collapsed. This rationale was utilized by the German Supreme Court to reassign the identity of all Polish nationals as stateless subjects, with the exception of the ethnic Germans of interwar Poland—who, disregarding international law, were named the only rightful citizens of the Third Reich.
The administration of the General Government was composed entirely of German officials, with the intent that the area was to be colonized by Germanic settlers who would reduce the local Polish population to the level of serfs before their eventual biological extermination. The Nazi German rulers of the Generalgouvernement had no intention of sharing power with the locals throughout the war, regardless of their ethnicity and political orientation. The authorities rarely mentioned the name "Poland" in legal correspondence. The only exception to this was the General Government's Bank of Issue in Poland (Polish: Bank Emisyjny w Polsce, German: Emissionbank in Polen).
The full title of the regime in Germany until July 1940 was the Generalgouvernement für die besetzten polnischen Gebiete, a name that is usually translated as "General Government for the Occupied Polish Territories". Governor Hans Frank, on Hitler's authority, shortened the name on 31 July 1940 to just Generalgouvernement.
An accurate English translation of Generalgouvernement, which is a borrowing from French, is "General Governorate", as the correct translation of the term gouvernement is not "government", but "governorate", which is a type of administrative division or territory.