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The Partisan War

 

In 1941, when Germany attacked the Soviet Union, neither Red Army, nor the civilians had any reasons to dislike Germans. Nobody really liked the Stalin's order, and many people perceived Germans as liberators from communism. The first waves of the invading army, regular combat troops, were soldiers, who fought the Red Army, not the civilians. They were regular people, who were drafted in the army, and performed their orders. And you can find many examples how they found common language with the civil population of the invaded territories. But the Nazi ideology saw the Slavs as inferior race to Germans. The civil population of invaded regions of the USSR soon realized that they are viewed as "lesser beings". Germans began loosing the sympathy they had the first weeks and months.

And then, after the German combat troops, soldiers, came Gestapo, SS and punitive units. SS started "witch-hunt", public hangings, etc. In this light the whole concept of Nazi "liberation" looked different. After all the "deeds" of the SS, civil population did not have much good feelings left to the occupational regime.

If the Germans would not destroy the initial good will (and illusions many Russians had about the mission of the German Army) with the bad treatment of the civil population, they could have broad Russian support against the communist regime. But instead, Hitler proceeded with a ruthless anti-Slavic campaign, and Russian good will turned to the deepest possible hatred. People on the occupied territories began fighting back. At first there were unconnected spontaneous acts, like poisoning wells, exploding railroads, distributing anti-Nazi leaflets etc. On September 16, 1941, Hitler's chief of staff announced the notorious hostage order: Between fifty and 100 should be executed for every German death. It meant that even if nobody wanted to fight the Germans, a single provocation could start a vendetta-style cycle of revenge.

When the Nazi introduced hard punitive measures, the resistance grew dramatically and scattered individuals and groups organized themselves into a network of disciplined units. Partisan warfare was starting slowly, but then ran very fast. (It looks like Germans forgot Bismark's words, "Don't wage war against Russians, they harness horses slowly, but ride very fast") Germans retaliated to the civil population with unbelievable atrocity. It begot not just a partisan war, but a cycle of counter-atrocities. The harder Germans pressed, the harder the partisans fought back. Nazi didn't take into consideration the stubbornness of "inferior" Slavs, who just didn't want to accept the idea of their "inferiority". By 1942 partisans were already playing a significant role in the war.

The partisan war was particularly intensive in Belorussia. One in four people there died in the war. The partisans controlled significant areas in Belorussia. They were destroying the railroad tracks and hindered moving up reinforcements and ammunition for Wehrmacht. In Belorussia alone, 600 villages were erased to the ground, completely leveled. SS troops massacred entire villages: people were either shot or locked in burning churches.

SS was prosecuting the civilians, and the civilians were joining the partisans. They were leaving for the woods, so they could not be arrested. When the partisans were returning to their villages, they found their houses burned, friends and families murdered, women raped. Such a treatment of civilians encouraged fierce resistance. Even those who were not in partisans, after seeing what was being done to the civil population, joined the partisans.

By the end of 1942 partisans gained full control of large areas within the occupied regions. They grew their own crops, administered whole towns and villages, opened schools, some even proclaimed "Partisan Republics". People realized that Nazis can be beaten. Partisans at moments completely paralyzed German supply lines. "Subhuman" civilians took weapons and did more damage to the occupational force than anybody could expect at the beginning of the war.

It seems that Germans would be perhaps better off without SS. Then they would just have to fight the Red Army. The SS with their unbelievable and senseless brutality to the civilians triggered the Partisan War, and now Germans had to fight not just on the front, but everywhere. And the methods of SS didn't really rise the spirit of German Army. The acts of SS were an embarrassment for soldiers like Rommel or Guderian.

I could go on and on, but a few quotes from the Nazi commanders will say it all:
- "In battle, our troops can do as they please: hang partisans, even hang them head down or quarter them." General Jodl
- "When I was forced to give in a village the order to march against the Jewish partisans and commissars, I systematically gave the order to also kill the women and children of these partisans and these commissars. I would be a coward and a criminal with respect to our descendants if I allowed these hate-filled children of subhumans in the battle between human and subhuman. We always keep in mind that we are engaged in a primitive, natural and original racial battle." Himmler (head of SS)
- Another quote from Himmler: "By what means will we succeed in removing from Russia the greatest number of men, dead or alive? We will succeed by killing them, by making them prisoner, by making them really work and by giving back (certain territories) to the enemy only after having completely emptied them of inhabitants. Giving men back to Russia would be a great error."
- Erich Koch, Reich Commissar of the Ukraine, said that the lowliest German worker was "a thousand times more valuable than the population here"
- And one more quote from Erich Koch: "The goal of our work is in making Ukrainian work for Germany, we are here not to make these people happy..."

 

spm111@yandex.ru

 

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