NAZI-Soviet Collision: The Bloodlands

Soviet peasant boys
Figure 1.--Throughout the famine in the Ukraine, Communist propaganda depicted the Soviet Union as a land of happy, well-fed workers and peasants. About a decade after the Famine, German armies entered the Soviet Union. People were no longer starving, but the peasants in the country side were still dressed in rags, testimony to how resources were seized from the countryside to finance and support indudtrialization. Boys in the city were dressed more like other Europeans. It must be rembered that images like this are what the Germans found in Belarus and the Ukraine and not what they created. Conditions would get much worse in the area occiupied by the Germans--especially the food situation. But the German soldiers were no longer taking as many photographs.

World War II historians do not commonly discuss how the leaders of the two countries (NAZI Germany and Soviet Union) conceived of national policies that coverged on Eastern Europe in general and the Ukraine in particular. One historian has focused on this in the area he calls the Bloodlands, the region of Eastern Europe that runs from the Baltics, through Poland, Belarus, and south to the Ukraine and eastern Romania. [Snyder] World War II ws an industrial war, but in large measure the agrarin policies of the Soviet Union and NAZI Germany lay at its heart. Here the Ukraine was especially important to both Hitler and Stalin and both deciced to pursue agraian policies premised on genocide. Agricultural policies were central to the plans fornulated by both leaders. Stalin in his First 5 Year Plan launched the rapid industrialization of what was still a largely peasant country. His plan conceived of financing that industrialization by seizing the land of peasant farmers which would allow him to divert resources from the country side to the expanding industrial cities. The peasabts would thus be allowed to keep less of the crops they harvested. Stalin combined this basic policy in the Ukraine. He was concerned about the Soviet Union's ability to hold ont this vital region because of the Ukranian nationalism and resistance to Soviet rule. He thus went even further in the Ukraine, creating a horrible famine to undermine Ukranian nationalism and resistance to Soviet rule. Stalin never spelled out his intentions fully. Hitler was more frank in Mein Kampf where he enuncisted Germany's need for Lebensraum. And this was the goal of Operartion Barbarossa (June 1941). The NAZI killing plan was more clearly detauled in Generalplan Ost. Hitler's agraian policy was also central to the NAZI regime and it also focused on the Ukraine. Hitler concerived that the answer to Germany's dependence on foreign food imports was an agrain policy based on seizing the East, murdering large numbers of the Slavic population, and finally exporting German farmers to rule over the enslaved Slavs that had been allowed to live. The NAZI plan was so horrific that the Ukranians even after Stalin's represive policies and policies turned against the Germans. It is no accident that the great bulk of World War II combat took place in the Bloodlands, about 90 percent of combat. In large measure World War II was fought and decided in this area after the deaths of millions of civilians. A tragic accident of history is here that the Jewish population of Europe was concentrated. And it was here that the killing phase of the Holocaust began.

Sources

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books: New York, 2010), 524p.






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Created: 7:25 AM 5/18/2011
Last updated: 6:47 PM 5/20/2011