NAZI Objectives in the East

Figure 1.-- These Ukranian boys have been given food by German soldiers, we think about September 1941. Hitler's vision was that the resources of the East would sustain the NAZI war effort and unlike World War I, could not be interdicted by the Royal Navy. Those resources proved to a a chimera. The Wehrmacht was able to live off the food seized in the East, but because of continued Soviet resistance there was very little left over to feed either the occupied population or ship back to Germany. And the NAZIs were unable to utilize the mineral resources or obrain the needed petroleum. To Hitler's surprise, Germany received more resources from the Soviet Unio before he launched the invasion. It would be the resources of the countries occupied in the West--especially France that supported the NAZI war effort. Click on the image for discussion of what see see here.

Hitler had three major objectives for invading the Soviet Union. He had political, militry, racial, and economic goals. Hitler made it very clear from an early point that the 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 attroicities. 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.


Hitler's political goal in the invasion was to destroy the Soviet Union as the only Communist state at the time. The War was despicted as an anti-Bolshevick campaign by civilized Europe. Hitler refused to make any concessions to the occupied countries about the future after the Soviet Union was destroyed. The Soviet populatin was to be cleansed of Communism. Wehrmacht OKW issued the Commissar Order (June 6, 1941). The order referring to "barbously Asiatic methods of fighting: instructed German soldiers to shoot any Red Army political commisars captured. Hitler's hatred of Communism is intersting in part because the NAZIs had so much in common with the Communists--toltalitarianism.


Hitler saw the Slavs as next to the Jews as the most serious "racial" threat to Germany. He and the NAZIs constantly harkened back to the Teutonic Knights and their struggle against the Slavs. The Soviet Union was the country with the largest Slavic population. It also had the world's largest Jewish population and in Hitler's mind there was a nexus between Bolshevism and the Jews. As a result, the campaign against the Soviets took on a racial dimension unlike any war ever fought in Europe before. The Einsatzgrupen were ordered to kill the Jews immediately. The resolution of the Slavic "problem" was to follow the successful completion of the War and to be conducted along with the Germinization of the conquered lands. The NAZIs thus 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. The NAZIs viewed the Asiatic people of the Soviet Union with even greater contempt than the Slavs. 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. NAZI propaganda triumphed the invasion as a European war against Bolshevism. This is not whjat Hitler said when speaking to NAZI officials. "Fundamentally, therefore, what matters is conveniently dividing up the gigantic cake so that we can first cintrol it, secondly administer it, and thordly exploit it." He cautioned that these plans must be kept secret for a time. "Neverthel;ess we can and will carry out all necessary measures--shooting, resettlement, an so on" [IMT, XXXVII]


The German invasions in many ways was a colonial war conducted for economic goals. And ecomonic goals very important. Germany was one of the most industrialized countries in the world. German indistry developed to nthe point that food had to be imported to feed indistrial workets. And Germany itself did not have domestic sources of important raw materials such as cotton for clothing or the many vital minerals needed by indistry. Even iron ore had to be imported. And other vital materials such as runner and petroleum had to be imported. While the war in the East was in part a colonial war, the major difference was that it was waged against another European power and a power that Hitler was to learn had the power to resist. A major reason in Hitler's mind were the economic resoures of the Soviet Union. This goal is described in Mein Kampf in some detail. [Hitler] Hitler felt that to grow ans prosper, Germany needed colonies to exploit, like the British. He also saw Germany's failure in World War I as resulting from the Royal Navy blockade which denied German food and raw materials. Germany was approaching starvation at the end of the War. He saw the resources of the East as both vast and secure, resources that the Royal Navy could not intersict. The East offered everything that Germany needed to support the German war industry indrfinitely. The vast grain fields of the Steppe offered the food that Germany needed. There were also extensive mineral resources and petroleum that the Germans needed to support the war economy.


Hitler. Adolf. Mein Kampf.

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

Nuremberg document NOKW-1692


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Created: 2:08 AM 3/2/2010
Last updated: 2:09 AM 3/2/2010