German Atrocities During WW2: Part 1

The following images are not merely of the Nazi brutality in the concentration camps, but the series of articles cover the excessive bestiality of the Germans in Russia when they occupied the country during WW2

Brutal German soldiers killing Polish civilians ww2
 German soldiers shoot Polish citizens at Brochnia on December 18, 1939


That evening, regimental officers were told of certain 'special orders' affecting the conflict ahead. They included 'collective measures of force against villages' in areas where partisans were active. Soviet political officers, Jews and partisans were to be handed over to the SS or the Secret Field Police. Most staff officers, and certainly all intelligence officers, were told of Field Marshal von Brauchitsch's order of 28 April, stressing on what the relations between army commanders and the SS Sonderkommando and security police would be.

Finally, a 'Jurisdiction Order' clearly said that Russian civilians would have no right to appeal and no German soldiers would be held guilty for crimes committed against them, whether murder, rape or looting. The order signed by Field Marshal Keitel on 13 May was thus justified, 'that the downfall of 1918, the German people's period of suffering which followed and the struggle against National Socialism - with the many blood sacrifices endured by the movement - can be traced to Bolshevik influence. No German should forget this.'

A number of commanders refused to acknowledge or pass on such instructions. They were  those who were brought up in the best traditions of the German army and disliked the Nazis. Many, but not all, were from military families, the numbers were rapidly falling. The generals were the ones who had the least excuse. Over 200 senior officers had attended Hitler's address, in which he said the conflict ahead was to be a 'battle between two opposing world views', a 'battle of annihilation' against 'bolshevik commissars and the Communist intelligentsia'.

The idea of Rassenkampf, or 'race war', gave the Russian campaign its unprecedented character. Many historians now argue that Nazi propaganda had so effectively dehumanized the Soviet enemy in the eyes of the Wehrmacht that German soldiers hardly felt that Russians were human. This is borne out by  the almost negligible opposition within the Wehrmacht to the mass execution of Jews, which was deliberately confused with the idea of security measures against partisans.

Many officers resented  the Wehrmacht's abandonment of international law on the Ostfront, but only  a few expressed disgust at the massacres. The ignorance claimed after the war by many officers, especially those on the staff, is rather hard to believe when we see the evidence that  emerged from their own files. Sixth Army headquarters, for example, cooperated with SS Sonderkommando 4a, which followed the Army all the way from Ukraine to Stalingrad. Not only were staff officers well aware of its activities, they even gave troops to help in the round-up of Jews in Kiev and transport them to the ravines of BabiYar.

 It is hard to swallow that the German officers did not understand the essence of the directive of 23 May, which called for the German armies in the east to seize whatever they needed, and also to send at least seven million tons of grain a year back to Germany. The  orders were to live off the land. Nazi leaders very well knew what would happen to the civilians deprived of the Ukraine's resources. 'Many tens of millions will starve,' predicted Martin Bormann. Goering bragged that the population would have to eat Cossack saddles.

When the inhuman orders were prepared, in March 1941, it was General Franz Haider, the chief of staff, who bore the main responsibility for the army's acceptance of the harsh treatment of  civilians. 

Although a few army commanders were reluctant to distribute the instructions, several others issued orders to their troops which might have come straight from Goebbels's office. The most notorious order of all came from the commander of the Sixth Army, Field Marshal von Reichenau. General Hermann Hoth, who was to command the Fourth Panzer Army in the Stalingrad campaign, declared: 'The annihilation of those same Jews who support Bolshevism and its organization for murder, the partisans, is a measure of self-preservation.' General Erich von Manstein, a Prussian guards officer admired as the most brilliant strategist of the whole of the Second World War, and who privately admitted to being partly Jewish, issued an order shortly after taking over command of the Eleventh Army in which he declared: 'The jewish- bolshevik system must be rooted out once and for all.' He even went on to justify 'the necessity of harsh measures against Jewry.' There was little mention of this in his post-war memoirs, Lost Victories. The acceptance of Nazi symbols on uniform and the personal oath of allegiance to Hitler had ended any pretence that the army remained independent from politics. 'The generals followed Hitler in these circumstances', Field Marshal Paulus acknowledged many years later in Soviet captivity, 'and as a result they became completely involved in the consequences of his policies and conduct of the war.'

A drunken Polish peasant picked a quarrel with a German soldier and in the resulting brawl wounded him with a knife. The Germans seized this opportunity to carry out a real orgy of indiscriminate murder in alleged reprisal for the outrage. Altogether 122 people were killed. As, however, the inhabitants of this village, for some reason or other, apparently fell short of the pre-determined quota of victims, the Germans stopped a train to Warsaw at the local railway station (normally it did not call there at all), dragged out several passengers, absolutely innocent of any knowledge of what had happened, and executed them on the spot without any formalities. Three of them were left hanging with their heads down for four days at the local railway station. A huge board placed over the hideous scene told the story of the victims and threatened that a similar fate was in store for every locality where a German was killed or wounded

This image perhaps encapsulates neatly how the Germans under Hitler's influence felt about Jews

Germans killing Russian Jews in Russia


As an aside. The Russians were no less brutal. And not only towards the German soldiers. During the Battle for Moscow, Stalin had 8000 Russians killed for cowardice. The soldiers were told to hold their positions come what may. At minus 40 degree temperature. There were 'blocking detachments' in the Moscow front line. Their job? To shoot all deserters. Partisans in the countryside were given a free hand to kill anyone who was considered disloyal. The partisans misused these sweeping powers they had to exploit the common Russian people. Also in the fray were the partisans of other ethnic nationalities who exploited the people. In short, for a common Russian, life was hell.

 Removing shrivelled bodies in a concentration camp

 A resident of Weimar a town near Buchenwald concentration camp watches a pile of corpses after the Americans liberated the camp. The residents said they knew nothing.

Corpses of tortured inmates of Goosen concentration camp near Linz in Austria

 American generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton watch a pile of burned bodies at Ohrdruf camp

 A Jewish family is shot at Ivangorod in Ukraine

 Eisenhower watches the dead inmates of Ohrdruf camp after the Americans liberated it. As the Americans approached the guards shot the remaining inmates

 A German boy walks past a pile of corpses of inmates of Bergen Belsen concentration camp

 These Russian people were captured and shot dead by German forces at Memino near Leningrad

 The dead bodies of people who died of starvation at Dora-Mittlebau (Nordhausen) camp

 A Soviet partisan hanged by the Germans.  Photo found in the personal belongings of Hans Elman, a soldier of 10th company of 686th regiment of the German 294nd Infantry Division

 Two Ukrainian SS men watch a pile of bodies of women and children who were killed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

 Dead Russians in the prison yard at Rostov after the Germans left

Picture taken on 26/10/1941.  Location: Minsk, Belarus, USSR. Men and women of the Russian underground being hung for helping wounded Russian soldiers to escape.

Minsk. Belarus. October 1941. A young Russian girl about to be hanged.

Same place. While one of the teenage girl has been hanged, another is being readied.

The Germans used the Lenin monument in Occupied Voronezh as  gallows.

 October 1941. Kiev. Ukraine. Jews walk as dead bodies lie strewn on the streets.

Gatchina in Russia. The Nazi Germans looted much of the Gatchina palace collections of art, while occupying the palace for almost three years. The Gatchina Palace and park was severely burnt, vandalized and destroyed by the retreating Germans. The extent of devastation was extraordinary, and initially was considered an irreparable damage.

 October 1941. Kiev. Ukraine. Old women hurry past dead bodies of Russian POW. Eyewitnesses recall that while the prisoners were being driven on the streets of Kiev, the guards shot those who could not walk. The picture was taken 10 days after the fall of Kiev. German war photographer Johannes Hele, who served in 637th company of propaganda was part of the 6th German army that captured the capital of Ukraine.

 Russian partisans being prepared for hanging. 1941

After the work was done. 1941

 The body of Russian heroine Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya who was brutally killed by the Germans


Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya, alternatively Romanised as Kosmodem'yanskaya  (September 13, 1923 – November 29, 1941) was a Soviet partisan, and a Hero of the Soviet Union (awarded posthumously). She is one of the most revered martyrs of the Soviet Union.

Kosmodemyanskaya joined the Komsomol in 1938. In October 1941, still a high school student in Moscow, she volunteered for a partisan unit. To her mother, who tried to talk her from doing this, she answered "What can I do when the enemy is so close? If they came here I would not be able to continue living." Zoya was assigned to the partisan unit 9903 (Staff of the Western Front). Of the one thousand people who joined the unit in October 1941 only half survived the war. At the village of Obukhovo near Naro-Fominsk, Kosmodemyanskaya and other partisans crossed the front line and entered territory occupied by the Germans. They mined roads and cut communication lines. On November 27, 1941 Zoya received an assignment to burn the village of Petrischevo, where a German cavalry regiment was stationed.

In Petrischevo Zoya managed to set fire to horse stables and a couple of houses. However, one Russian collaborationist had noticed her and informed his masters. The Germans caught Zoya as she started to torch another house. She was tortured and interrogated throughout the night but refused to give up any information. The following morning she was marched to the center of the town with a board around her neck bearing the inscription 'Houseburner' and hanged.

Her final words were purported to be "Comrades! Why are you so gloomy? I am not afraid to die! I am happy to die for my people!" and to the Germans, "You'll hang me now, but I am not alone. There are two hundred million of us. You can't hang us all."

The Germans left Zoya's

Zoya after she was hung

Zoya has become a legend in Russian history


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Quotes about war....

"War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man."
--Napoleon Hill

"We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide."
--Havelock Ellis

'Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."
--Mao Tse-Tung (1893 - 1976)

"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
--George McGovern

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
--Joseph Stalin

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
--Voltaire, War

In war, truth is the first casualty.
-- Aeschylus

"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery."
--Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
--Adolf Hitler

"To walk through the ruined cities of Germany is to feel an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization."
--George Orwell

"Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country."
--Bertrand Russell

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
--Francis Meehan

Snippets From History

German Soldiers in Russia: Part 1

Hubert Menzel was a major in the General Operations Department of the OKH (the Oberkommando des Heers, the German Army headquarters), and for him the idea of invading the Soviet Union in 1941 had the smack of cold, clear logic to it: 'We knew that in two years' time, that is by the end of 1942, beginning of 1943, the English would be ready, the Americans would be ready, the Russians would be ready too, and then we would have to deal with all three of them at the same time.... We had to try to remove the greatest threat from the East.... At the time it seemed possible.'

Battle for Berlin, 1945

'We started to fire at the masses,' says one former German machine gunner. 'They weren't human beings for us. It was a wall of attacking beasts who were trying to kill us. You yourself were no longer human.'


Berlin after it fell to the Russians, 1945

"Vladlen Anchishkin, a Soviet battery commander on the 1st Ukrainian Front, sums up the horror of the whole event, when he tells how he took personal revenge on German soldiers: 'I can admit it now, I was in such a state, I was in such a frenzy. I said, 'Bring them here for an interrogation' and I had a knife, and I cut him. I cut a lot of them. I thought, 'You wanted to kill me, now it's your turn.'
Read More


Dramatic Pictures: Battle For Stalingrad
"...Effective command no longer possible... further defense senseless. Collapse inevitable. Army requests immediate permission to surrender in order to save lives of remaining troops."
General Paulus' radio message to Hitler on January 24, 1943

"...Capitulation is impossible. The 6th Army will do its historic duty at Stalingrad until the last man, the last bullet..."

Hitler's response to General Friedrich Paulus' request to withdraw from the city


Points To Ponder....

The fall of France was shocking. It reduced France to virtually a non-player in the Second World War. The efforts of Charles de Gualle were more symbolic than material. But the martial instincts of the French must never be doubted. Under Napoleon they were a formidable military power. The French definitely have more iron in their blood then say, the Italians [I do not mean it in a derogatory sense. War never makes sense]


Bias Of Western Historians

Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany.

It can hardly be called mere 'resistance'! If it hadn't been for the Russians, Hitler would have made mincemeat of British forces in Africa and landed on British shores in no time. Hitler attacked Russia first because it had more land and resources than Britain. It is as simple as that.

Eastern Front: Bias Of Western Historians