What was the reason for the Nazis to support certain ethnic minorities over the majority populations in the conquered territories?

For example, they supported Crimean Tatars against the majority of Russians in Crimea, Ukrainians and "mountainers" in Poland against Poles as well as Ruthenians in Carpathian Ukraine against Ukrainians. They also consistently supported various Turkic and Mongolic minorities against the Slavs.

Sometimes they supported totally scanty or improvised ethnic groups against numbered and established peoples.

What was the reason for such policy? Did not it harm the attitude towards the Nazis among the conquered population?

On some instances some ethic groups such as Karaites cited the laws of Russian Empire to receive privileges. Indeed, in late Russian Empire only Jews had deminished rights compared to Russians while most of Turkic, Mongolic native North peoples as well as Cossacks enjoyed privileges over Russians.

Was not the Imperial Russian law in essence the source of the Nazi ethic policies? Is there a connection? Or was it more a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend?"

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    they supported %ETHNOSNAME% against %ANOTHERETHNOSNAME% What does it really mean? Can you add some references to support statements like this? Nov 29 '12 at 14:05
  • @default locale it does mean that certain ethnicities enjoyed privileged status compared to general population. For example, in Poland there were shops specially for Ukrainians where they could buy better things and food. I think existence of such shops could very much enrage the Poles who were the majority.
    – Anixx
    Nov 29 '12 at 14:09
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    Question is too broad IMHO. You've managed to mention 13 different social/ethnic groups. That leads to the number of open-ended statements. Is there any chance that you would concentrate on specific privileges gained by specific ethnic groups? Nov 29 '12 at 14:18
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    "Divide and conquer" is one of the oldest strategies in the book. What's to know?
    – choster
    Nov 29 '12 at 15:55
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    I am assuming that none of the Nazis behind these decisions are still alive or willing to provide their reasons. Therefore this question can only be answered with opinion and speculation, which means it does not fit within our guidelines. If you'd like to reword it I will consider reopening. Nov 29 '12 at 16:34

Nope, there is no connection. The Nazis made up their own laws.

In general, when you set out to conquer a state, subverting it from the inside by inciting its minorities is a good complementary technique. (On the other hand, treating the conquered population like shit and less-than-human is not likely to lead to a durable conquest - that's why the Nazis failed in the end.)

Re: the Karaites. The only "privilege" they obtained was to not to be exterminated alongside the Jews. In a narrow technical sense that is a privilege, yes.

Also, what is the source for the statement that Mongols, Cossacks et al. had privileges over Russians in the Russian Empire? Sounds a bit surprising to me.

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    Is not relying on the majority usually a better tactic? Regarding Russian Empire, see the article "инородцы" ("aliens") in Brockhaus and Efron encyclopedy. It says that all non-Slavs considered "inorodsy" ("aliens") and that the inorodsy are devided into Jews and the others. The Jews have their rights restricted while the others enjoy some privileges compared to Russians (hunt rights, tax exempts, recruitment exempts and so on).
    – Anixx
    Nov 29 '12 at 14:16
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    This explain why the most loyal to the Tasr units were usually composed of the inorodsy and of the Cossacks, such as the Savage division, which were frequently used to suppress Russian revolutionary workers in big cities. Another example is the voluntary monarchist "Inorodcheskaya" division composed during Russian civil war of Asians by baron von Ungern.
    – Anixx
    Nov 29 '12 at 14:26
  • @Anixx that only means that Tsar army also used ethnic separation. By analogy, Cossacks and Russians were frequently used to suppress rebellion among Turks. Nov 29 '12 at 14:43
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    @default locale Russians were the most numerous in the army, yet they were not the most loyal and the most cruel. They often rebelled like in the 1912 rebellion of the sappers in Turkestan. Many Russian soldiers were former workers or peasants/serfs. Serfdom by the way was also limited to Russians only while among the nobility the majority were Germans.
    – Anixx
    Nov 29 '12 at 14:49

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