WW2's affect on Russia

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Grenadier1
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WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Grenadier1 »

I am currently writing my A2 History coursework, it is about the effect that WW2 had on the Russian people. The question is basically how x affect y so I have to analyse historical evidence etc.

Annoyingly being a Wehrmacht reenactor I have almost no information on the Soviet point of view. I was wondering if someone can recommend me any websites or books, or just give me some tips about writing the essay.

I am probably going to concentrate on the expierience of Soviet soldiers and civilians, so I will be looking at the Belurussian genocide, Ukrainian collaboration, and various battles, such as Stalingrad and Lenigrad.

If I can I might use some information from the German point of view, I seem to remember Guy Sajer describing Russian/Ukrainian villagers etc in 'Forgotton Soldier'.
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Gilhusen
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Gilhusen »

When the German army retreated from Russia, they basically destroyed every thing
Blew up phone lines
Ripped up railway lines
Destroyed houses
And so on,

The sages of Stalingrad and Leningrad which saw the deaths of over 1.5 million alone in Leningrad, crime wise, it was very high in the cities IE steeling things from bombed out houses and so on
Cannibalism was also a problem, so much that a Russian police even created a separate unit (Forgot the name) to deal with it and stop it within the city’s both from Russian, citizens and German soldiers

Hope this helps :)
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Hans Gowert
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Hans Gowert »

reading hitlers war in the east by paul carrol is a must

Botty
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Botty »

Can I suggest a different tack? Prior to WW2 the soviet union (better realise the difference between Russia and the soviet union in your research) was a shunned state with a poor economy. The people were getting increasingly unhappy with the state (witness the initial 'liberation' euphoria when the Germans came to many areas). The German invasion united the people and the victory elevated the country to a world power. Without the war would communism have lasted and would it have expanded world wide as it did?

Now that would be an argument about how events changed peoples attitudes you could really get your teeth into.
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waffen44
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by waffen44 »

There are plenty of books out there that you can choose from on various aspects of your topic.
Please forgive me but I can only remember the titles of these books and not the authors at the moment.

900 Days, Absolute war, Moscow 1941. There are many books from the Soviet soldiers perspective now on amazon, I would look there as a starting point. An interesting topic for sure, you could look at how the cossacks were affected, why some Ukrainians fought for the Germans and others for the Soviets. Don't forget about how the lives of people in Khazakstan changed when the people deported (Poles) arrived there.
best of luck.

TacAide
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by TacAide »

Gilhusen wrote:When the German army retreated from Russia, they basically destroyed every thing
Blew up phone lines
Ripped up railway lines
Destroyed houses
And so on,

Hope this helps :)
I rarely get involved in threads about WW2 atrocities but as this is an academic exercise by the original poster I feel that, in the interest of balance, it might be fair to point out that Stalin's Order 0428 , dated 17 November 1941, was intended to achieve a broadly similar result, that is the denial of resources to advancing enemy forces.

The Russian original of the document can be found in the Central Archive of the Russian Federation (Central’nyj Archiv Ministervo Oborony RF) in Podols’k, Fond 4, Opis’11, Delo 66, List 221.

It reads as follows:

Order of the Headquarters of the Supreme Command about the destruction of settlements in the area close to the front

0428 17 November 1941
The experience of the last month has shown that the German army is badly prepared for war under winter conditions; it is lacking warm clothing, and due to the colossal difficulties that the upcoming frost has caused it, it is taking shelter in settlements in the area close to the front. The shamelessly arrogant enemy had counted on spending the winter in the warm houses of Moscow and Leningrad, but that was prevented by the action of our troops. On extended sectors of the front where they encountered tough resistance by our units, the German troops were forced to go over to the defensive and have taken quarter in the settlements located in a depth of 20 to 30 kilometers on both sides along the roads. The German soldiers generally live in cities, towns and villages, in peasant houses, barns, grain stores and bathing houses near the front, while the staffs of the German units take quarter in bigger settlements and cities, where they hide in cellars which they use as protection from our air force and our artillery. The Soviet population of these places is usually displaced and thrown out by the German occupiers.
To deny the German army the possibility of settling down in villages and cities, to chase out the German occupiers from all settlements into the cold of the field, to smoke them out of all living quarters and warm shelters and to force them to freeze to death under the open sky - that is an task not to be postponed, from the accomplishment of which the acceleration of the shattering of the enemy and the destruction of his army depends to a great extent.
The Headquarters of the Supreme Command orders:
1. To completely destroy and burn down all settlements in the rear area of the German troops in a depth of 40 to 60 kilometers from the main line of combat and 20 to 30 kilometers to the left and right of the roads. To immediately employ the air force to destroy the settlements in the indicated radius, to use artillery and grenade launchers to a great extent, as well as reconnaisance commandos, ski units and diversion groups of the partisans equipped with bottles filled with burning substances, hand grenades and explosives.
2. To form special units of 20 to 30 men each in every regiment for blowing up and setting on fire the settlements where the troops of the enemy take quarter. For the special units there must be chosen the fighters, commanders and political workers that are the most daring and strongest under political and moral aspects, to whom the task and its importance for the destruction of the German army must be explained in detail. Courageous fighters who distinguish themselves in daring actions for the destruction of the settlements where there are German troops are to be recommended for distinction.
3. In case of forced retreats of our units on this or that sector, to take along the Soviet population and in any case to destroy without exception all settlements so that the enemy may not use them. The special units formed in the regiments are to be primarily used for this.
4. To the war councils of the fronts and the single armies, to systematically verify how the tasks of destruction of the settlements are accomplished in the above mentioned radius measured from the front line. Stavka is to be given a special report every three days about how many and which settlements have been destroyed in the past days and by which means these results have been achieved.
The Headquarters of the Supreme Command
I. Stalin
B. Šapošnikov


Stalin Order 0428 was every bit as ruthless a “scorched earth” order as any other in history, expressing a criminal lack of concern on Stalin’s part about the effects this particular order would have on Soviet civilians. The order was made in the exceptionally harsh winter of 1941-42 and directly affecting hundreds of thousands of people. If the aim of the policy was to deprive the “nazi hordes” of food and shelter by destroying such food and shelter, we could speculate that hundreds of thousands of civilians who also relied on that same food and shelter died as a result - or perhaps no-one died – my guess is as good as yours.

But that’s not surprising as the records remain hidden and the written histories contain little detail of the consequences of this order – what is clear is that the population deprived of food and shelter was not evacuated by the Soviets.

I have said before that there is insufficient access to Soviet-era documents to assess the red army reaction to the inevitable peasant resistance to the “scorched earth” order. I cannot say for certain what occurred but it’s reasonable to speculate that widespread disorder would follow actions to enforce such an order.

Best of luck with the document.
Last edited by TacAide on Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Grenadier1
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Grenadier1 »

Thanks for the replies guys, I'll check out those books.
Botty wrote:Can I suggest a different tack? Prior to WW2 the soviet union (better realise the difference between Russia and the soviet union in your research) was a shunned state with a poor economy. The people were getting increasingly unhappy with the state (witness the initial 'liberation' euphoria when the Germans came to many areas). The German invasion united the people and the victory elevated the country to a world power. Without the war would communism have lasted and would it have expanded world wide as it did?

Now that would be an argument about how events changed peoples attitudes you could really get your teeth into.
That sounds interesting, I might have a think about this idea.

My intial theme was going to be 'Collaboration and Resistance' mainly focusing on those that fought the Nazis (e.g the Military and Partisans), and those that collaborated (such as in the Ukraine).
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waffen44
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by waffen44 »

There is a book that came out or was reprinted a couple of years ago that was a first hand account of a Soviet partisan in world war 2. I can't recall the title, but I think that it was published by pen and sword. It should come up when you search Soviet Union in world war 2. There was also a book written by a soviet war correspondant that came out about three years ago, it's pretty dry though.

Mayakovsky
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Mayakovsky »

Gilhusen wrote: The sages of Stalingrad and Leningrad which saw the deaths of over 1.5 million alone in Leningrad, crime wise, it was very high in the cities IE steeling things from bombed out houses and so on
Cannibalism was also a problem, so much that a Russian police even created a separate unit (Forgot the name) to deal with it and stop it within the city’s both from Russian, citizens and German soldiers
During Blokada, it wasn't a case of hordes of Hannibal Lecters waiting behind every corner. However, it did certantly happen and so as you say, a special unit of Militsya (regular police) hunted the cannibal groups down and dealt with them accordingly when they were caught.
TacAide wrote:
Gilhusen wrote:
But that’s not surprising as the records remain hidden and the written histories contain little detail of the consequences of this order – what is clear is that the population deprived of food and shelter was not evacuated by the Soviets.

I have said before that there is insufficient access to Soviet-era documents to assess the red army reaction to the inevitable peasant resistance to the “scorched earth” order. I cannot say for certain what occurred but it’s reasonable to speculate that widespread disorder would follow actions to enforce such an order.

Best of luck with the document.
Nah - that's not really what happened. It was chaotic but Soviet civilians were indeed mass evacuated (approx 17-25 million between 1941 and 1942) from areas that were about to fall to the Germans - this is born out in records;

Prof G. A. Kumanev. The War and the Evacuation in the USSR. 1941 - 1942.

Based on the Extensive Uses of Materials from the Archives of the RF President and Other Russian Archives, the Article Considers the Soviet Leadership Actions on the Evacuation of Industrial Enterprises and Agricultural Equipment Eastward from the Soviet West Regions in 1941 - 1942.


And this as well - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tashkent-Statio ... 0801447399

Not to mention there's plenty of primary witness testmony from people who lived through it. Humanitarian reasons aside every pair of hands were needed to assist with the war effort.
Genosse Stalin grüsst euch!

TacAide
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by TacAide »

Mayakovsky wrote: Nah - that's not really what happened. It was chaotic but Soviet civilians were indeed mass evacuated (approx 17-25 million between 1941 and 1942) from areas that were about to fall to the Germans - this is born out in records;....

I don’t want to take this thread off track but will just point out that your response actually supports the point I was making and I will explain why.

While there are problems dealing with the demographics of the Soviet Union at any point in the first half of the 20th century, it’s generally agreed that in 1939 the Soviet Union as it was then, had a population of around 170 million. The area of the Soviet Union occupied during the first months of Barbarossa in 1941 was in excess of 1 million sq.km. Before the war this area was inhabited by an estimated 75 million people, or approximately 40% of the whole population.

Historians have debated the size of the wartime civilian evacuation for decades based on demographic records and current estimates range from 17 to 25 million evacuees or around 25% of population of the occupied areas. So I have no problem with the figure you quoted. The questions arise around the fate of the almost 50 million or so who were not evacuated and who remained in the rural and urban areas of the occupied territories.

I presume that there is no disagreement on the existence of the “scorched earth” order and that the “demolition units” and other elements left behind carried out the demolition work as they were instructed. That work included the destruction of agricultural machinery that had not been evacuated, cattle and grain stocks; the systematic destruction, burning and blowing up of the immovable infrastructure of all kinds, factory buildings, mines, residential areas and anything that would be of use to the occupying forces as listed or implied in Stalin’s order of November.

What we are not sure of is exactly how successful they were in carrying out their orders. There is to the best of my knowledge no published work on the actions in spite of the requirement that regular and detailed reports of their activity and the consequences of such, are part of the order.

Are we to believe that the “destruction units” and the partisans of the time did not obey orders from Stalin and did not file reports? I remain to be proven wrong on this but I believe they were successful and that the Germans did occupy an area in which the infrastructure, for the most part, had been substantially destroyed and was still inhabited by 50 million people. I further believe that the reports of the consequences of this action are in the archives and have yet to be critically examined.

There is a significant amount of material available from the reports of the Soviet 1942 "Extraordinary State Commission for ascertaining and investigating crimes perpetrated by the German–Fascist invaders and their accomplices, and the damage inflicted by them on citizens, collective farms, social organisations, State enterprises and institutions of the U.S.S.R.[1]“ (Russian: Чрезвычайная Государственная Комиссия – TschGK). No mention is made of the effects of the “scorched earth” order, probably because the commission limited its investigations to Hitlerite crimes.

It’s also entirely probable the “scorched earth” policy was a failure and was soundly resisted by the local population. In other words an embarrassing failure and is now covered up by Russian historians. Perhaps no one died as a direct result of Stalin’s Order, but it’s an interesting hypothesise.

That’s my final word on the matter.

Mayakovsky
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Re: WW2's affect on Russia

Post by Mayakovsky »

Well this was a puzzle!

On one hand you said the Germans occupied an area in which the infrastructure, for the most part, had been substantially destroyed, and then summarised it as a failure.

So after a few reads I picked up the gist of it which seemed to me;

"Yes, the Soviets enacted the scorched earth policy as Imperial Russia did against Napoleon before them, and yes it was successful, but it was really a very naughty thing to do and I bet lots of people were very cross about it."

So that being so, what it is I think you're trying to say is that it's possible to second guess what an average Russian babushka sitting in her cottage, in a village about to be overrun by the Germans, would think or do. Am I right? :)
Genosse Stalin grüsst euch!

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