World War II: NAZI Plans for the Occupied East--Soviet Union


Figure 1.--This image is unidentified. It almost certainly was taken some where in the territories seized from the Soviet Union--perhaps the Baltics. It is somwhat unusual becaise it is a public hanging, a slow way to kill large numbers of people. We are unsure avout the circumstances. There are, however, several notable aspects to this attrocity. First, note the large number of people watching and the fact that they deem to be supporting the executions. Why else would the little boy be placed on his father's back. Note that armed guards to control the crowd is not present. Second note the man at left giving the NAZI salute. Third, note tat one of the people being hanged is a boy still in short pants.

The NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Radidly the Baltic Republics (occupied by the Soviets in 1940) and large areas came under NAZI control. The NAZIs employed the same ruthless tactics developed in Poland, but on a far larger scale. Heydrich in 1941 ordered the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) (SS Security Service) in 1941 to begin the necessary planning for the Germinization of occupied territories in the Soviet Union. The Reichs-Sicherheitsdienst (RSHA) (Reich Security Head Office). The initial report submitted in November 1941 by the RDHA estimated that 31 million peole should be "evacuated". The SS-RKF was ordered to extend its planning for the Germinization to the occupied area of the Soviet Union. [Padfield, p. 363.] There were differences of opinion within the SS and between the SS and Alfred Rosenberg's Ostministerium (Ministry for the Occupied East) over how to claim the East. There was agreement that large numers of Slavs had to be removed to Siberia. There were differences as to the extent to which forcible evictions should take place. Given the scale of movement involved, such discussions probably were not relistic. [Padfield, p. 363.] The NAZIs looked on the people of the Soviet Union in starkly racial terms. They were willing to work with the native Baltic population and some in the Baltics were willing to work with the NAZIs. The NAZIs were determined that the Slav population in Russia proper and the Ukraine would have to be substantially reduced. Some Slavs would be kept, at least for a while to serve as a slave population to do mannual labor, at least until the region could be Germanized.

Operation Barbarossa (June 1941)

The NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Radidly the Baltic Republics (occupied by the Soviets in 1940) and large areas came under NAZI control. The Red Air Force was destroyed within a few days. German Panzers cut off and surounded whole Soviet Armies. The Wehrmacht took huge numbers of Red Army soldiers prisioner. Most died in apauling conditions of German POW camps. Huge quantities of equipment were destroyed or captured. Foreign military analysts doubted if the Red Army could successfully resist the NAZIs. Many forcast a Sioviet collapse. Wehrmacht Highcommand thought that the Red army was a defeated force.

NAZI Objectives

There were three major aspects to the NAZI invasion of the Soviet Union. There were political, militry, racial, and economic goals. Hitler made it very clear that war in the East was to be like no other war fought by Germany. A Führer Degree issued in May 1941 before the invasion made German soldiers imune from prosecution for actions against civilians. The 3 million German soldiers to participate in the invasion were issued guidelines for the conduct of Barbarossa. The Wehrmacht ordered "ruthless and energetic measures against Bolshevistic agitators, guerillas, saboteurs, Jews, and total elimination of all active and passive resistance. [Nuremberg document NOKW-1692] Notice that this was guidelines issued by Wehrmacht OKW. After the war, the Wehrmacht attempted to blame the attrocities on the SS. There is ample evidence that the Wehrmacht was extensively involved in NAZI attricities. All of this had horific consequences for the Soviet people. No one know precisely how many Soviet citizes died in the War, but most extimates exceed 20 million people.

NAZI Operations

The NAZIs employed the same ruthless tactics developed in Poland, but on a far larger scale. Heydrich issued at order in the days leading up to the invasion that Jews, Asiantic "inferiors" Communist officials, and gypsies were to be killed. {Krausnick, pp. 363ff.] The most horific operations were conducted against the Jews. The Holocaust in the Soviet Union began nearly a year before the mass killings began in the NAZI death camps. The NAZIs with Barbarossa made no pretense of isolating and transporting Soviet Jews, their were military groups organized to kill Jews in large numbers where they found them--the Einsatzgruppen. German operations were not limited to Jews. Communist Party anf government officials were executed. Many villages were destroyed. Here we are not yet fully aware of what occurred. The NAZIs seized livestock and food supplies and shipped it back to Germany. We are not sure, however, who was responsible for the destruction of thousands of villages. The Soviets persued a scoarced earth policy. The Germans also destroyed many villages. Here I am not sure what the purpose was because this reduced the economic potential of the occupied areas. I think much of these destruction occurred after Stalingrad when the Wehrmacht began the long retreat west. This subject requires further investigation.

Collaboration

There was considerable collaboration with the NAZIs in the early phase of the NAZI invasion. This was especially the case in the Baltics which probably should not be treated as a true part of the Soviet Union. (The three Baltic Republics were invaded and annexed by the Soviets in 1940.) Because of the brutal Soviet occupation and deportations (1940-41) the Communists were hated by most of the population. It was also true in the Ukkraine where the Soviets created a famine to force the people to submit and at the time of the invasion were involved in a campaign to destroy Ukrakian nationalism. We do not yet have few details on the extent of local collaboration with the NAZIS, but it is subject we hope to research in greater detail. Had the NAZIs not have comined their anti-Bolshevik campaign with a racial war gainst the Slavs it seems likely tht they could have hained considerable support from the Soviet population. NAZI racial policies toward the Slavs, however, quickly turned even the Ukranians against the NAZIs. Even so the NAZIs were able to organize a anti-Soviet Russian army to fight with them

Germinization

Heydrich in 1941 ordered the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) (SS Security Service) in 1941 to begin the necessary planning for the Germinization of occupied territories in the Soviet Union. The Reichs-Sicherheitsdienst (RSHA) (Reich Security Head Office). The initial report submitted in November 1941 by the RDHA estimated that 31 million peole should be "evacuated". (This was the NAZI term used in connectiin to with the killing of Jews.) The SS-RKF was ordered to extend its planning for the Germinization to the occupied area of the Soviet Union. [Padfield, p. 363.] There were differences of opinion within the SS and between the SS and Alfred Rosenberg's Ostministerium (Ministry for the Occupied East) over how to claim the East. Himmler and the SS had little difficulty with the Rosenberg's Ostministerium which had little infkuebce o\wiuth Hitler. The major impediment was the Party officials Hitler placed to oversee the conqurered regions. There was agreement that large numers of Slavs had to be removed west of the Urals to Siberia. There were differences as to the extent to which forcible evictions should take place and to what extent the existing population was salvageable. Himmler wabnted an essentially biological approach. Some of the Pasrty officials wanted to Germanize a substantial part of the existing populsation. Given the scale of movement abnd duslocatioin involved in Himmler's approach , such discussions probably were not relistic, at least while the War continued. [Padfield, p. 363.]

Holocaust

Hitler launched Opperation Barbarosa, his invasion of the Soviet Union, the largest military campaign in human history (une 22, 1941). Preparations were laid for murdering Jews as part of the invasion although the orders were less than clear. The NAZIs in 1939 had not yet worked out what was to be done with the Jews and this was still the case at the time of Barbarossa. As a result, while there were many killings, although on an disorganized and relatively small-scale level. Most Polish Jews were rounded up and forced into medievil gettos. The success of the Wehrmacht in 1939-40 had convinced Hitler and other NAZIs that they could do away with the Jews, although at the time Barbarossa began the territorial approach dominated NAZI thinking. There was no written document specifically ordering the slaughter of Jews. Some time in late-1940 or early-1941 must have ordered SS Commander Heinrich Himmler to prepare for mass killings with the invasion of the Soviet Union. Hitler did issue orders concerning the execution of political commisars, Soviet officials, and supporters. And the NAZIs viewed Jews as a central support for the Soviet state. Thus the wholesale killing of Jews commenced with Barbarossa. Some Einsatzgruppen began killing only male adult Jews, but this soon degenerated into what ever Jews that game within their grips. The NAZI genocide had not yet been perfected and large scale gas chambers were not yet operating at Chelmo and the other killing centers Auswitz. The SS created four Einsatzgruppen to accompany the Wehrmacht and kill Jews in large numbers. SD Commander Reinhard Heydrich was in overall command of these killing machines and he was known for his meticulous planning. Most of the Jews were shot. Full details are not available, but we know from the similarities in many of the killing actions that the Einsatzgruppen were well trained and procedures developed for maximum efficency.

Generalplan Ost/General Plan East

The SS Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA -- Reich Security Office) was the NAZI agency which drafted Generalplan Ost (General Plan East). This was the NAZI blueprint for the most horendous crime ever envisioned in human history. The Holocaust directed at Europe's 11 million Jews was just one part of Generalplan Ost. The basic outline for Generalplan Ost was sketched out by Hitler in Mein Kampf. The invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia gave the NAZIs the first slice of eastern territory to begin their transformation of eastern Europe (March 1939). But the NAZIs considered the Czechs to be the most advanced Slavs. Anbd they needed Czech industry for arms production. So the Czechs were left with a pupet government and Germinization was put off least it disrupt arms production. Polandd was the next slize of the East. It was auch bigger slice and the Poles were Slavs that Hitler dispised. Himmler launched into aminization process in the EWartergau, but Frank protested with Himmler began dumping Jews and Poles in the General Government. So again Germinization and whole-scale deportations had to be delayed. Himmler and NAZI Party officials argued about Eastern policy. Himmler wanted to settle Germans in the East and to carefully select the existing populations for German blood. Some NASZI Party officials wanted to pursue a less biolgically oriented policy and to accept large numbers of the existing population which was anti-Bolshevik. The dbate over Eastern policy raged in NAZI circles for 2 years. With the stunning success of Opperation Barbarossa (June 1941), Hitler finally decided. He essentially acceopted Himmler's approach and SS planners began preparing Generalplan Ost. It was developed in secret. Himmler was anxious to put it into operation. The major impediment to carrying it out was the Red Army.

Hunger Plan

The German Hunger Plan (der Hungerplan) also called der Backe-Plan or Starvation Plan was a NAZI World War II food management plan. It is sometine called the Backe Plan because he plaed such an important role in planning and implementing the plan. Herbert Backe was an official in the Ministy of Food and evenually appointed to that post. The Ministry was responsible for the German rationing program. Actually there was no single centrally coordinated plan, but several separate if some times related operations. Germany's World War I experience encouraged the idea of using food as a weapon. Hitler was not the first in this arena. Stalin preceeded him by about a decade with the Ukranian famine (1932-33). We are not sure to what extent NAZI officials were aware of this. The NKVD did an efficent job of preventing details from leaking out to the West. And Western Socialists and Communists, including those in Germany did not want to believe the rumors. The desire to use food as a weapon. This combined with the NAZI regime's rush to acceptance eugenics theories as scientific fact resulted in a genocidal brew of genocidal policies. NAZI food policies were different than the Allied blockade policies which were designed to win the War. Part of Hitler's war objectives were the murder of millions of people which sometimes were given a priority over the war effort. The Hunger Plan was not a policy designed to help win the War, although sometimes presented as that. Many of the individuals killed were working in war industries supporting the German war effort. This actually impeeded the war effort as a labor shortage developed in Germany requiring the introduction of forced labor to man German war industries. Rather the killing of millions Jews and Slavs was a primary German war goal. Hitler asked officials in the Ministry of Food, the agency responsible for rationing, to develop a Starvation Plan, sometimes referred to as the Hunger Plan. The Minister was one of the chief advocates for eugenics in the NAZI heirarchy. The largest elements of the Hunger Plan were: 1) Occupation policies in Poland, 2) Ghetto policies, 3) Starvation of Polish and Soviet POWs, 4) Generalplan Ost. Scholars studying the Hunger Plan provide a somewhat varried list of its elements, largely because there was no single, well coordinated NAZI eff ort, but rather the work of various officials with similar objectives and values. These include besides Backe, Reicharshall Göring, Reichführer SS Himmler, SS Obergruppenführer Heydrich, and Minister of Food Darré.

Ressistance


Assessment

We also have to assess how effective the German policies were. We know that politically they were a dissaster. They turned the Ukranians and others from a people willing to make common cause with the Germans to fight Stalinist totalitarianism to a hostile population. The Germans had occupied enough of the Sovie Union in 1941 that they could have recruited large formtions that could have addressed the in balance in population between Germany and the Soviet Union. Less clear is the economic impact. A major goal of the German invasion was to exploit the ecionomic resources of the Soviet Union. Here the orimary interest was the agruicukltural and raw materials. We do not yet know enough about the German occupation to assess how effective the occupation polices were. We do know that they were far below Hitler's expectations. Rather than obtaing huge quanyities of food, the food seized inthe East was barely sufficient to feed the invading Wehrmacht. And the Germans were unable to make much progress of brimning mines and other facilities on line before the Red Army began their drive East. The Germans actually got more raw materials from the Soviet Union before Barbarossa than afterwards.

Sources

Dallin, Alexander. German Rule in Russia 1941-1945: A study in Occupation Policies (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1957), 677p. The documents and informatin collected by Professor Dallin make this one of the most important studies of German occupation policies in the East.

Hitler. Adolf. Mein Kampf.

International Miliatry Tribunal (IMT). XXXVII, pp. 86 ff (221-L).

Krausnick. "Judenverfolgung" in Anatomie des SS-Staates.

Nuremberg document NOKW-1692

Padfield, Peter. Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (Henry Holt: New York, 1991), 656p.






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Created: January 7, 2003
Last updated: 11:26 PM 11/1/2012