Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder

Today a friend sent me a link to an interview given last week to The Economist by Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder, about Snyder’s "controversial" book Bloodlands.



It seems that the book is considered controversial because it shows the Nazi genocide of the Jews as part of a larger complex of state-organized mass murder, by both Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union, with a death toll far beyond the more than 5 million Jewish victims of the Nazi extermination campaign. This is apparently not to the liking of those who proclaim the uniqueness and incomparability of the Holocaust, and thus Mr. Snyder, as mentioned in the Economist interview, has been subject to "a really stinging attack" by Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and "a more measured one" by Yiddish scholar David Katz.

Statements like the following, which are available in the Amazon preview of Snyder's book, must be hard to take for who supports the uniqueness theory – and they probably also would be would be, albeit due to other reasons, for Jew-obsessed "Revisionist" gas chamber freaks if they should read them.

[Introduction, pp. ix/x]
The Holocaust overshadows German plans that envisioned even more killing. Hitler wanted not only to eradicate the Jews, he also wanted to destroy Poland and the Soviet Union as states, exterminate their ruling classes, and kill tens of millions of Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Poles). If the German war against the USSR had gone as planned, thirty million civilians would have starved in the first winter, and tens of millions more expelled, killed assimilated or enslaved thereafter. Though these plans were never realized, they supplied the moral premises of German occupation policy in the East. The Germans murdered about as many non-Jews as Jews during the war, chiefly by starving Soviet prisoners of war (more than three million) and residents of besieged cities (more than a million) or by shooting civilians in "reprisals" (the better part of a million, chiefly Belarusians and Poles).


[Introduction, p. xiv/xv]
Mass killing in Europe is usually associated with the Holocaust, and the Holocaust with rapid industrial killing. The image is too simple and clean. At the German and Soviet killing sites, the methods of murder were rather primitive. Of the fourteen million civilians and prisoners of war killed in the bloodlands between 1933 and 1945, more than half died because they were denied food. Europeans deliberately starved Europeans in horrific numbers in the middle of the twentieth century. The two largest mass killing actions after the Holocaust – Stalin’s directed famines of the early 1930s and Hitler’s starvation of Soviet prisoners of war in the early 1940s – involved this method of killing. Starvation was foremost not only in reality but in imagination. In a Hunger Plan, the Nazi regime projected the death by starvation of tens of millions of Slavs and Jews in the winter of 1941-1942.
After starvation came shooting, and then gassing. In Stalin's Great Terror of 1937-1938, nearly seven hundred thousand Soviet citizens were shot. The two hundred thousand or so Poles killed by the Germans and the Soviets during their joint occupation of Poland were shot. The more than three hundred thousand Belarusians and the comparable number of Poles executed in German "reprisals" were shot. The Jews killed in the Holocaust were about as likely to be shot as to be gassed.
For that matter, there was little especially modern about the gassing. The million or so Jews asphyxiated at Auschwitz were killed by hydrogen cyanide, a compound isolated in the eighteenth century. The 1.6 million or so Jews killed at Treblinka, Chełmno, Bełżec and Sobibór were asphyxiated by carbon monoxide, which even the ancient Greeks knew was lethal. In the 1940s hydrogen cyanide was used as a pesticide; carbon monoxide was produced by internal combustion engines. The Soviets and the Germans relied upon technologies that were hardly novel even in the 1930s and 1940s: internal combustion, railways, firearms, pesticides, barbed wire.


[page 412]
The count of fourteen mortal victims of deliberate killing policies in the bloodlands is the sum of the following approximate figures, defended in the text and notes: 3.3 million Soviet citizens (mostly Ukrainians) deliberately starved by their own government in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-1933; thee hundred thousand Soviet citizens (mostly Poles an Ukrainians) shot by their own government in the western USSR among the roughly seven hundred thousand victims of the Great Terror of 1937-1938; two hundred thousand Polish citizens (mostly Poles) shot by German an Soviet forces in occupied Poland in 1939-1941; 4.2 million Soviet citizens (largely Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians) starved by the German occupiers in 1941-1944; 5.4 million Jews (most of them Polish or Soviet citizens) gassed or shot by the Germans in 1941-1944; and seven hundred thousand civilians (mostly Belarusians and Poles) shot by the Germans in reprisals chiefly in Belarus and Warsaw in 1941-1944.


I for my part agree with these statements, insofar as they are in line with a message I've been trying to bring across in several blogs on this forum dedicated to or mentioning non-Jewish victims of Nazi state criminality.

Snyder's estimates of non-Jewish Nazi victims, incidentally, are more conservative than my own or those of German historian Dieter Pohl.

70 comments:

Sam said...

What kind of an idiot would write a book like "bloodlands" or at least the ridiculous comments i read here that Hitler was planning to kill tens of millions of Ukranians, Russians, etc
Maybe his next book should be that the British were planning to starve to death millions of Europeans during the 2 W. Wars. And why even stop there, starve to death the entire continent of Africa, india etc. That book would be a touch closer to reality than the Hitler nonsense.
We are so used to the WW2 mythology we stopped using our brains.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Well, you certainly stopped using yours, my friend. Must be the rage that takes hold of you whenever unpleasant facts about your idol are conveyed to the public.

And your "a touch closer to reality" - remark suggests that you're closer to mythology than you profess to be.

Snyder is not the first to write about the Nazis' mass starvation plan, by the way. See the blog One might think that …

Sam said...

I believe that there is no dispute that the British blockaded (incl. food supplies) continental Europe in both wars, resulting in many many deaths.
Now, do you think that we should extrapolate that the British were planning to exterminate the entire continent?
For some reason, any action by the Germans (bombings, expulsions, invasions etc) is translated as exterminations or intends of, while the same actions by the other side, even when multiple times worse (i.e. firebombing of cities), are "strategic", "trying to win the war", "separate the populations" "prevent future wars" etc

Sam said...

It also seems that for a while now there is a not so subtle effort to group together Hitler and Stalin, and this book is part of that effort.

Wasn't "uncle Joe" the west's ally for most of the war, who "liberated Eastern Europe".

Wasn't this war "Democracy's [and Totalitarianism's] finest hour" ?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

>I believe that there is no >dispute that the British >blockaded (incl. food supplies) >continental Europe in both wars, >resulting in many many deaths.
>Now, do you think that we should >extrapolate that the British were >planning to exterminate the >entire continent?

No, and that's not what is being done regarding the Nazi Hunger Plan, which was a documented plan to extract food supplies from the Soviet Union at the expected cost of tens of millions of lives (that expectation is also documented), and which was partially implemented in wiping out by starvation Soviet prisoners of war and the inhabitants of major Soviet cities, especially Leningrad. For details see the article linked to in my previous post.

>For some reason, any action by >the Germans (bombings, >expulsions, invasions etc) is >translated as exterminations or >intends of, while the same >actions by the other side, even >when multiple times worse (i.e. >firebombing of cities), are >"strategic", "trying to win the >war", "separate the populations" >"prevent future wars" etc

Is that so? Who claims that bombing of cities by the Germans was necessarily "exterminations or intends of"? They certainly didn't want to exterminate London and other British cities, just bomb the British to the negotiating table. They also waged wars in the context of which millions of non-combatants were murdered (mainly by starvation, followed by shooting, followed by gassing) for no other reason than being perceived as harmful parasites or useless eaters whose feeding would hamper the German war effort. But it's not like everything the Germans did in World War II had an exterminatory context, or like such was claimed by anyone.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

>It also seems that for a while now >there is a not so subtle effort to >group together Hitler and Stalin, >and this book is part of that >effort.

Hitler and Stalin are rightly seen as different sides of the same coin, even though the former was more efficient at mass killing. Anything wrong with that? Is Hitler supposed to have been an uniquely bad fellow who cannot be compared with anyone?

>Wasn't "uncle Joe" the west's >ally for most of the war, who >"liberated Eastern Europe".

Yeah, shame on the west. And so?

>Wasn't this war "Democracy's [and >Totalitarianism's] finest hour" ?

Theory and practive obviously differed, not only as concerns alliances but also as concerns the Allies' behavior in waging war. Read William Hitchkock's book Liberation, for instance. But does that mean its wrong to write a book about the people who were murdered in a certain region at the orders of Hitler and Stalin? I don't think so.

Sam said...

>Yeah, shame on the west. And so?

The West must have known even way before Yalta or Teheran that any alliance with Stalin in a war would have resulted in large part of Europe falling in Stalin's hand. I can not come up with a single scenario that this would have not happened, the British, Americans etc didn't have enough land forces to intervene in the East.

So was it better to give Hitler the German city of Danzig and perhaps the corridor, OR to give Stalin half of Europe. After a bloody war that resulted in tens of millions of deaths

Of course someone would say he would have wanted more, Lebensraum, etc. Just personally don't believe that.

If someone tries to understand this question maybe he/she will understand why History HAS to be written the way it is;"Hitler was more EVIL than Stalin"

And if I was a Jew (which I kind of am by family), I would be pissed off at Chamberlain, Churchill etc for pushing for a war that resulted in millions of deaths of my people.( "give him freaking Danzig")

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

>So was it better to give Hitler the >German city of Danzig and perhaps >the corridor, OR to give Stalin >half of Europe. After a bloody war >that resulted in tens of millions >of deaths

Stalin only ended up with half of Europe after the Red Army had repelled the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, and most of the tens of millions of deaths were Soviet citizens, the larger part thereof non-combatants, who were killed by the Nazi attack, Nazi occupation and Nazi scorched-earth policy.

>Of course someone would say he >would have wanted more, >Lebensraum, etc. Just personally >don't believe that.

You are free to believe what you like, but the Führer's own words (in Mein Kampf and in meetings with insider audiences, as opposed to public pronouncements which may be dismissed as propaganda) are quite clear as concerns his quest for "living space", to be taken from the Soviet Union and Poland.

>If someone tries to understand this question maybe he/she will understand why History >HAS to be written the way it is;"Hitler was more EVIL than Stalin"

Hitler was not more evil than Stalin. He was just more daring and crazy (otherwise he wouldn’t have attacked the Soviet Union) and thus more dangerous. He was also the bigger killer – 10 million murders in the "Bloodlands" vs. 4 million by Stalin, and most of them within just four years.

>And if I was a Jew (which I kind >of am by family), I would be >pissed off at Chamberlain, >Churchill etc for pushing for a >war that resulted in millions of >deaths of my people.( "give him >freaking Danzig")

The Poles were quick to realize that Hitler's demand for Danzig was but the first of further demands that would end with Hitler taking over their country - as he had previously taken over Czechoslovakia half a year after solemnly promising that after the Sudetenland he had not further territorial claims in Europe.

Sam said...

It would be a long discussion to discuss your comments, but i have 2 questions - I am not being facetious, I am really curious.

Is there a trained Historian that claims that Hitler was crazy, a madman?
Is there a trained Historian that claims that Hitler wanted to conquer the world?

those were the 2 big propagandas (not including soaps and gas-chambers) of WW2 (similar ones in WW1) but personally I have not encountered a single historian saying that, only in some popularized versions of WW2 History written by non-historians.

Sam said...

One more thing; I read parts of Bloodlands, this guy, Timothy Snyder, is more pathetic than I thought.

Just one example (there are many):
"[in 1942] Hitler announced [to the world, as it's implied by the context] his decision to kill the Jews ...".

And the Jews didn't get a whiff of it? And there are discussions "we should have known" because someone heard from someone that told someone that told the Jewish Congress that Hitler wanted to exterminate the Jews? What's the point of all that if Hitler announced it?

Our elite academia is churning out mythology, and it's growing by the day.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

It would be a long discussion to discuss your comments, but i have 2 questions - I am not being facetious, I am really curious.

Is there a trained Historian that claims that Hitler was crazy, a madman?
Is there a trained Historian that claims that Hitler wanted to conquer the world?

First question: in the sense of clinincally insane, not that I know, except perhaps towards the end of his life.
Second question: not that I know. Hitler's main aim was to build a colonial empire in eastern Europe.

>those were the 2 big propagandas >(not including soaps and >gas-chambers) of WW2 (similar >ones in WW1) but personally I >have not encountered a single >historian saying that, only in >some popularized versions of WW2 >History written by non-historians.

Soap was a propaganda claim (or better, a widespread rumor) never confirmed by evidence. Not so gas chambers.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

>One more thing; I read parts of >Bloodlands, this guy, Timothy >Snyder, is more pathetic than I >thought.

>Just one example (there are many):
>"[in 1942] Hitler announced [to >the world, as it's implied by the >context] his decision to kill the >Jews ...".

Sure you got the context right? Give me the page number, please.

>And the Jews didn't get a whiff >of it? And there are discussions >"we should have known" because >someone heard from someone that >told someone that told the Jewish >Congress that Hitler wanted to >exterminate the Jews? What's the >point of all that if Hitler >announced it?

A public announcement could have been dismissed as a rhetorical propaganda threat. Final judgment is reserved until I read the statement in its context.

>Our elite academia is churning >out mythology, and it's growing >by the day.

You seem to have an axe to grind with academia. Did they fail to recognize your genius, or what did they do to you?

Sam said...

thats exactly the problem that I have with the historians of that era: that I am just an everyday guy who spent a little time reading about WW2 (and wars in the 20th century in general) and it's quite obvious that mostly everybody who touches this era feels compelled to tells us some grandiose stories filled with nonsense

This expert in the Eastern European area, in his entire book doesn't mention "typhus" (as I can see from the index, or the parts I read about the camps) that killed hundreds of thousands and it was a constant menace in the camps and to all armies involved in the East. Or the German disinfection procedures in the camps and elsewhere to combat typhus.

And the 2 women who dug themselves out of the pits? (he forgot to mention the women who scratched their way out of the gas-chambers). [in the preface].

To end this exchange, and I honestly appreciate your feedback, most likely and unfortunately none of us will be around when all this nonsense packs up. I would give so much to be around to see this historian's, and many others, face when this happens.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

>thats exactly the problem that I >have with the historians of that >era: that I am just an everyday >guy who spent a little time >reading about WW2 (and wars in >the 20th century in general) and >it's quite obvious that mostly >everybody who touches this era >feels compelled to tells us some >grandiose stories filled with >nonsense

Or with what you, in your uninformed an irrelevant personal opinion,consider nonsense.

>This expert in the Eastern >European area, in his entire book >doesn't mention "typhus" (as I >can see from the index, or the >parts I read about the camps) >that killed hundreds of thousands >and it was a constant menace in >the camps and to all armies >involved in the East. Or the >German disinfection procedures in >the camps and elsewhere to combat >typhus.

Why should he? First of all, he's not writing about concentration camps, but about the people murdered outside concentration camps. Second, people are usually hit by typhus
when subject to precarious conditions of nutrition and hygiene, so the responsibility for their dying of typhus lies with who placed them under such conditions. Third, typhus was not a main killer in either concentration camps or prisoner of war camps or starvation areas. Most Soviet POWs who perished in German POW camps did not succumb to typhus but to starvation and exposure, which in turn was the result of a criminal policy of deliberate neglect.

>And the 2 women who dug >themselves out of the pits? (he >forgot to mention the women who >scratched their way out of the >gas-chambers). [in the preface].

I never heard of women who scratched their way out of gas chambers, and why should it be impossible that women not mortally wounded in a mass execution dig themselves out of a pit? If they are lying in the topmost layers of bodies and the soil cover is not too thick, that shouldn't be impossible. What page of the preface, by the way?

>To end this exchange, and I >honestly appreciate your >feedback, most likely and >unfortunately none of us will be >around when all this nonsense >packs up. I would give so much to >be around to see this >historian's, and many others, >face when this happens.

What "nonsense"? You seem inclined to put that label on whatever doesn't fit certain preconceived notions of yours.

And I'm still waiting for the page of the "Hitler announced to the world" quote.

Sam said...

Since Mr. Wiesenthal resurrected, decades after the war, the “5 million others dead” (it was 6 mil. at Nuremberg, but hey, it can’t be as many as Jews), there has always been a vacuum, vast contradictions, and confusion, starting with Mr. Wiesenthal himself, as to who are those mysterious millions and how and when they died (we all accepted it at face value anyways, we are conditioned for that). Mr. Snyder steps in with this book, many decades later, to fill that vacuum and fulfill Mr. Wiesenthal’s vision of history.

Many questions may arise from this version of history: Why didn’t they let the Jews also die of starvation (it’s cheaper) or vice-versa? Why didn’t Eastern Europeans write their own history a long time ago? Why didn’t Germans use their potentially war winning superior chemical weapons if they had so much disregard for human life (and it’s not that the other side were playing by any decency rules)? And many more.

Also, Anthony Beavor in “Stalingrad” paints a different picture of the struggle, typhus, the POW’s, etc

The entire Eastern Front became a vast dying place for many reasons; war, partisan warfare, expulsions and displacement, recriminatory killings on all sides, weather, disease, lack of food and medicine, housing, etc. War is an ugly thing.

Now, to have a top “historian” tell us that the Germans intentionally killed more than ten million, and were planning to exterminate tens of millions more, that’s absurd.
Even the Allies’ own propaganda during the war didn’t reach these heights. And these “historians” are unstoppable because everybody is afraid of “are you defending Hitler?”

Towards the end of the war, Winston Churchill proposed that they should send to each country as many Nazis to be executed as innocent people they had killed in those countries. Now, I can’t imagine that he had in mind to send to be killed about 4,000,000 Nazis to Poland, as many to the Soviet Union, 500,000 to Hungary, etc. (Not even sure there weren’t enough Nazis for all that.) Unless the poor fellow wasn’t properly informed that the Nazi bloodbath was about 100 to 1,000 times more than he thought.

Well, all and all, I guess I never quite grasped the meaning of “the winners write history” till I started reading about WW2.

PS : I will get you sometime those page numbers, I just don’t own the book, I go to the bookstore and read it. I don’t want to spend a dime on Mythology, unless it is clearly marked as such

Sam said...

... Well, all and all, I guess I never quite grasped the meaning of “the winners write history” till I started reading about WW2.

PS : I will get you sometime those page numbers, I just don’t own the book, I go to the bookstore and read it. I don’t want to spend a dime on Mythology, unless it is clearly marked as such

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Since Mr. Wiesenthal resurrected, decades after the war, the “5 million others dead” (it was 6 mil. at Nuremberg, but hey, it can’t be as many as Jews), there has always been a vacuum, vast contradictions, and confusion, starting with Mr. Wiesenthal himself, as to who are those mysterious millions and how and when they died (we all accepted it at face value anyways, we are conditioned for that). Mr. Snyder steps in with this book, many decades later, to fill that vacuum and fulfill Mr. Wiesenthal’s vision of history.

Actually Snyder's figures have nothing whatsoever to do with the 5 million the Wiesenthal sucked out of his fingers, a number that – as Peter Novick pointed out long before Snyder – made no historical sense as it was either too low (for all non-combatants killed by the Nazis) or too high (for those who, like the Jews, were targeted for extermination). German historians like Christian Gerlach and Dieter Pohl looked into the matter long before Snyder, and so did this writer – see my blogs One might think that …, 5 million non-Jewish victims? (Part 1) and 5 million non-Jewish victims? (Part 2).

Many questions may arise from this version of history:

Why "version of history"? Is there another with at least the same degree of evidentiary support?

"Why didn’t they" questions are hardly relevant, by the way. They belong to the kind of silly "arguments" brought up by people trying to deny or play down the facts because they are at odds with their preconceived notions, and you are increasingly coming across as being such a person. I'll answer your questions nevertheless, just for the fun of it.

Why didn’t they let the Jews also die of starvation (it’s cheaper) or vice-versa?

There's evidence that they didn't consider that solution "humane", especially for the worthy Aryan citizens who would be forced to watch the spectacle. Besides being more conspicuous, starving people to death in ghettos also required more space, if not more time. And starvation is usually accompanied by epidemics, which could spill over into areas whose population was not meant to die like flies. Reason enough to transfer the killing to a few isolated places in the middle of nowhere.

Why didn’t Eastern Europeans write their own history a long time ago?

Presumably because "Eastern Europeans" are a rather heterogeneous entity, consisting of several nations and more ethnicities that are not necessarily fond of each other, not to mention the fact that either of the ideologies responsible for mass murder in Eastern Europe has its supporters. Reason enough for an outsider being better suited to write the history of Eastern Europe under Stalin and Hitler.

Why didn’t Germans use their potentially war winning superior chemical weapons if they had so much disregard for human life (and it’s not that the other side were playing by any decency rules)?

Because their enemies also had chemical weapons and were presumably better prepared to use them in warfare due to their superior air power, I presume. It seems you forgot to think before asking that question.

And many more.

Try to make the next ones more pertinent.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Also, Anthony Beavor in “Stalingrad” paints a different picture of the struggle, typhus, the POW’s, etc

I’ve read Anthony Beevor’s "Stalingrad", even quoted it in this blog. What Beevor writes about the Nazis' treatment of Soviet POWs, Jews and the general civilian population of the occupied territories doesn't differ in content or assessment from what Snyder writes.

The entire Eastern Front became a vast dying place for many reasons; war, partisan warfare, expulsions and displacement, recriminatory killings on all sides, weather, disease, lack of food and medicine, housing, etc. War is an ugly thing.

It sure is, and deliberate mass killing of non-combatants is the ugliest part of it.

Now, to have a top “historian” tell us that the Germans intentionally killed more than ten million, and were planning to exterminate tens of millions more, that’s absurd.

Actually it's a fact amply borne out by evidence that has been assessed by several (mostly German) historians before Mr. Snyder. Read my above-mentioned blogs, and please bear in mind that it's of no relevance whatsoever what you, based on nothing other than your ignorance and preconceived notions, proclaim to be absurd.

Even the Allies’ own propaganda during the war didn’t reach these heights.

The "even" is wrong here insofar as the Allies were rather careful with atrocity propaganda during wartime, due to their experience with false propaganda claims during the First World War. Their ugliest propaganda claims paled before the evidence of what had actually happened, discovered after the war. And if you had done some reading on the subject, you'd know that the Nazis crimes against Soviet POWs as well as the starvation of Leningrad’s civilian population, i.e. the Nazis' two biggest crimes after the genocide of the Jews, were already the subject of the IMT and NMT trials in Nuremberg. I suggest you start by reading the IMT's judgment.

And these “historians” are unstoppable because everybody is afraid of “are you defending Hitler?”

They might just choose another subject if they were afraid of something, which alone makes the above another of your hollow conjectures.

Towards the end of the war, Winston Churchill proposed that they should send to each country as many Nazis to be executed as innocent people they had killed in those countries. Now, I can’t imagine that he had in mind to send to be killed about 4,000,000 Nazis to Poland, as many to the Soviet Union, 500,000 to Hungary, etc. (Not even sure there weren’t enough Nazis for all that.) Unless the poor fellow wasn’t properly informed that the Nazi bloodbath was about 100 to 1,000 times more than he thought.

Or then he had members of the National Socialist Party as opposed to Nazi murderers in mind, but I have a hunch that you either have a mistaken recollection or are deliberately misrepresenting what Churchill said (it probably was about sending Nazi criminals to be tried in each country where they had committed their crimes, as per the "Statement of Atrocities" at the Moscow Conference.

Well, all and all, I guess I never quite grasped the meaning of “the winners write history” till I started reading about WW2.

You don’t seem to have read all that much about WW2 and the crimes committed in the course thereof, otherwise you'd know that it's mostly written by largely German historians rather than the "winners". And even the "winners" tried to give the top Nazi murderers a fair trial.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

PS : I will get you sometime those page numbers, I just don’t own the book, I go to the bookstore and read it. I don’t want to spend a dime on Mythology, unless it is clearly marked as such

Actually you seem to be rather fond of mythology in the sense of whatever fits your preconceived notions, while baselessly deriding as "mythology" what does not.

I’m enjoying the conversation, by the way. Resentful rhetorical polemicists like you are the target of this blog site, as you may have noticed. The more they ramble, the better.

Sam said...

This is a blood libel against Germany and it's people. Blood, as in tens of millions, upon tens of millions, upon millions, upon other millions. Shame on Mr. Snyder. People who lie to everybody, Elie Wiesel calls "sociopaths".

Some day, when current internal considerations cease to exist, Germany will speak up. If they still exist as a nation that is, based on the way they reproduce.

(If you enjoying this conversation, i'll give you some more interesting quotes of Snyder's book at some point)

Sam said...

Years ago, a much older Jewish friend (born and raised in Poland from survivor parents) told me "we Jews write history". To my objection "you are exaggerating, there are many non-Jewsish historians", he was very firm "it doesn't matter, TRUST ME, we Jews write history".
(it's a true story, you can choose to believe it or not)

At the time I took it as boasting or ethnic pride. Perhaps now I start to understand what he meant. I don't know if Mr. Snyder is Jewish or not, but as my friend said "it doesn't matter".

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

This is a blood libel against Germany and it's people. Blood, as in tens of millions, upon tens of millions, upon millions, upon other millions. Shame on Mr. Snyder. People who lie to everybody, Elie Wiesel calls "sociopaths".

Some day, when current internal considerations cease to exist, Germany will speak up. If they still exist as a nation that is, based on the way they reproduce.

(If you enjoying this conversation, i'll give you some more interesting quotes of Snyder's book at some point)


I was suspecting that you are nothing better than another "Revisionist" loony. Just wondering when you would reveal yourself.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Years ago, a much older Jewish friend (born and raised in Poland from survivor parents) told me "we Jews write history". To my objection "you are exaggerating, there are many non-Jewsish historians", he was very firm "it doesn't matter, TRUST ME, we Jews write history".
(it's a true story, you can choose to believe it or not)

At the time I took it as boasting or ethnic pride. Perhaps now I start to understand what he meant. I don't know if Mr. Snyder is Jewish or not, but as my friend said "it doesn't matter".


That Jewish friend, assuming he ever existed, must have been as full of shit as his interlocutor.

You forgot to write the term "survivor" in quote marks, by the way.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

By the way, isn't Snyder "blood-libeling" Russia as well, in your cloud-cuckoo-land? Or would that be Georgia because Stalin was Georgian? Much of Snyder's book is about the Ukrainian famine of the early 1930s and Stalin's purges in 1937/38.

Sam said...

hey, easy now, i thought you liked the conversation.

And what makes u think I am a ... whatever u called me because I said it's a blood libel against Germany. Over the years, i've heard Israeli leaders complain that this or that is a "bloody libel" if they were accused of "massacring hundreds" and "not killing in battle dozens", in Jenin as one example.

Do you think it's ok to multiply the German crimes? There is a good chance that Hilberg if he was around he would have not approved of Snyder's thesis as he didn't with Goldhagen's.

And I do have issues with the millions they throw around with Stalin's regime. He definitely killed many but I am skeptical of millions of intended exterminations of peasants (even Snyder says some numbers of other historians are exaggerations). Without knowing the story in length, mostly because there is not enough books or sites out there to read on, I believe that it was a forced collectivization that went awry, same with Mao's (guess now u can name me a ... Stalinist or Maoist)

Why do you have this blog anyways, to insult people who doesn't agree, in part or in whole, with your various postings? You can post all the same stuff without having it as a blog.

Sam said...

Maybe Hilberg is a "looney Revisionist" too...

And Snyder himself for reducing the 6 mil Jewish deaths to 5.4, and reducing Stalin's victims numbers ...

Or, maybe the problem is yours

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

hey, easy now, i thought you liked the conversation.

I do, which is why I encouraged you to go on rambling.

And what makes u think I am a ... whatever u called me because I said it's a blood libel against Germany. Over the years, i've heard Israeli leaders complain that this or that is a "bloody libel" if they were accused of "massacring hundreds" and "not killing in battle dozens", in Jenin as one example.

That wouldn't make your "blood libel" baloney look any better, just make those Israeli leaders another bunch of nutcases.

Do you think it's ok to multiply the German crimes?

Nobody is doing that, outside your fantasies. Snyder and other historians are conveying historical facts well known to historians that the public just happens to be less aware of than it is of the "unique" Nazi genocide of the Jews.

There is a good chance that Hilberg if he was around he would have not approved of Snyder's thesis as he didn't with Goldhagen's.

Hilberg was a level-headed fellow, and Goldhagen (who I also read) did produce a lot of nonsense. I don't think Hilberg would take issue with Snyder, though "uniqueness" freaks like Zuroff do. That's what I like about Snyder, he managed to piss off Zuroff's kind and yours at the same time.

And I do have issues with the millions they throw around with Stalin's regime. He definitely killed many but I am skeptical of millions of intended exterminations of peasants (even Snyder says some numbers of other historians are exaggerations). Without knowing the story in length, mostly because there is not enough books or sites out there to read on, I believe that it was a forced collectivization that went awry, same with Mao's (guess now u can name me a ... Stalinist or Maoist)

A skeptic is the last thing you are, my friend. Ignorantly rejecting what doesn't fit your bubble is not skepticism. And you don't read like you even bothered to check what books there are on the subject.

Why do you have this blog anyways, to insult people who doesn't agree, in part or in whole, with your various postings?

Not any people and not on account of disagreement. Just those phony "skeptics" proclaiming that their preconceived notions stand above historical research. Those I like to tell what I think of them.

You can post all the same stuff without having it as a blog.

Here the poet must have failed to express himself clearly, for I didn't understand what he's trying to tell me.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Maybe Hilberg is a "looney Revisionist" too...

And Snyder himself for reducing the 6 mil Jewish deaths to 5.4, and reducing Stalin's victims numbers ...

Or, maybe the problem is yours


There's no such thing as "the 6 million Jewish deaths". There is a range of estimates the lowest of which is around 5 million while the highest is around 6 million. Your rhetoric has a long white beard, my friend.

As to Stalin, estimates of the number of his victims have been reduced considerably from Cold War era conjectures as the archives of the former USSR allowed for a more accurate assessment. But then, who would expect an ignorant wisecracker like you to know that?

Sam said...

Not long ago, there was a conference in Moscow of Russian historians showing documents refuting the claim that Stalin intentionally wanted to exterminate Ukrainians, the same collectivization and suffering happened to Russian peasants. I don't know Russian, so I cant read the originals, but I don't see any reference in Snyder's book to those documents. Maybe his book was in print already, perhaps he could have added a leaflet or appendix.

In his prefix, Snyder lists his sources. I didn't see anything that is new that previous historians didn't have, so I don't know how he alone figured out that the Germans were planning to exterminate tens of millions more.

If he wrote in a book that the British exterminated millions here and tens of millions there and "if the British Empire lasted another 100 years, 150 more million people would have been exterminated", we would have laughed, and he would have been chased out of England. But in Germany, his book will be "well received" and "yep, we Germans were so bad, we were planning to kill the whole world".

These "historians'" stories are like the New Testament. Every new Evangelist adds, decades later, a few more miracles to Jesus' roster.

It's this conditioning we grow up with that we accept anything that we are told dictators did or were planning to do, true or false, and then "march on to war". It's the same reason we bought, mostly uncritically, Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" while it turned out the guy didn't have enough parts to put a tank or two together.

And I can't find in your blog (maybe it's there but I can't see it) the relatively recent discovery of a mass grave of, perhaps as much as 2,000, Germans killed during their expulsion from the East (was in the NY Times). The early remains unearthed showed bullet holes in women and children's skulls. Later press releases say that maybe it was the typhus epidemics that killed them. Suddenly we remembered typhus.

What I meant about your blog, is you can make it into a website for people to read, not a blog, or perhaps you like to have a blog as long as the opinions expressed are the same or similar to yours.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Not long ago, there was a conference in Moscow of Russian historians showing documents refuting the claim that Stalin intentionally wanted to exterminate Ukrainians, the same collectivization and suffering happened to Russian peasants. I don't know Russian, so I cant read the originals, but I don't see any reference in Snyder's book to those documents. Maybe his book was in print already, perhaps he could have added a leaflet or appendix.

The author of these lines seems to have a personal grudge with Snyder (or perhaps it's me), and he obviously didn't read the book. Snyder doesn't argue that Stalin "intentionally wanted to exterminate Ukrainians" as such. Stalin's reasoning was more complex than that, as was the sequence of events and administrative measures leading to the starvation of millions, which Snyder reconstructs in some detail. Though Snyder qualifies Stalin's behavior as reckless and criminal, I don’t understand that he sees it as genocide aimed specifically at Ukrainians.

In his prefix, Snyder lists his sources. I didn't see anything that is new that previous historians didn't have, so I don't know how he alone figured out that the Germans were planning to exterminate tens of millions more.

Snyders refers to German historians like Gerlach and Pohl. Gerlach has done extensive research on the Nazi Hunger Plan and shows abundant evidence in the form of minutes of meeting and statements by high-ranking Nazi officials, such as quoted in the blog One might think that … and in the RODOH thread The Nazi Hunger Plan for Occupied Soviet Territories.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

If he wrote in a book that the British exterminated millions here and tens of millions there and "if the British Empire lasted another 100 years, 150 more million people would have been exterminated", we would have laughed, and he would have been chased out of England.

Rightly so, unless he produced evidence resembling statements like the following from high-ranking German officials, which are transcribed in the aforementioned thread:

Protocol of a meeting of the secretaries of state on 2.5.1941
Source: International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1948, Volume 31, page 84; my translation
«1.) The war can only be continued if the whole Wehrmacht is fed out of Russia in the 3rd war year.
2.) Due to this umpteen million people will doubtlessly starve to death when we take what is necessary for us out of the land.
3.) Most important is the collection and shipment of oil seeds and oil cake, only thereafter of grain. The available fat and meat will presumably be consumed by the troops.»


"Wirtschaftspolitische Richtlinien fr die Wirtschaftsorganisation Ost vom 23.5.1941, erarbeitet von der Gruppe Landwirtschaft"
(Guidelines of Economic Policy for the Economic Organization East, prepared by the Agriculture Group)
Source: Bundesarchiv/Militrarchiv, RW 31/144, my translation:
«[…]There is no German interest in maintaining the productive capacity of these regions, also in what concerns the supplies of the troops stationed there. [] The population of these regions, especially the population of the cities, will have to anticipate a famine of the greatest dimensions. The issue will be to redirect the population to the Siberian areas. As railway transportation is out of the question, this problem will also be an extremely difficult one. []
From all this there follows that the German administration in these regions may well attempt to milder the consequences of the famine that will doubtlessly occur and accelerate the naturalization process. It can be attempted to cultivate there areas more extensively in the sense of an extension of the area for cultivating potatoes and other high yield fruits important for consume. This will not stop the famine, however. Many tens of millions of people will become superfluous in this area and will die or have to emigrate to Siberia. Attempts to save the population from starvation death by using excesses from the black earth zone can only be made at the expense of the supply of Europe. They hinder Germanys capacity to hold out in the war, they hinder the blockade resistance of Germany and Europe. This must be absolutely clear.[…]»


Plus evidence that such policies were at the root of mass starvation in areas belonging to or occupied by the British Empire, like the mass starvation of Soviet prisoners of war was due to an express decision of General Quarter Master Wagner, supported by Göring, to let non-working Soviet POWs starve to death, or like the mass starvation of Leningrad’s population was due to a siege aimed at bringing about not the surrender of an enemy stronghold but the destruction of the city and its population (which is why a surrender of the city was not to be accepted even if offered, on grounds that there was no German interest in maintaining even a part of this large urban population).

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

IIRC, by the way, the Irish Potato Famine is largely blamed on criminal British government policies, and regarding the Bengal famine of 1943 there is also a discussion about the degree to which British government recklessness was to blame. Maybe my interlocutor is as ignorant about England as he is about Germany.

But in Germany, his book will be "well received" and "yep, we Germans were so bad, we were planning to kill the whole world".

Actually Gerlach's Hunger Plan thesis, well supported though it is, has met severe criticism from professional colleagues like his such as Christian Hartmann, who doesn't deny that the Nazis expected tens of millions to starve but disputes that they saw this as one of their goals rather than an inevitable by-product of their food exploitation policies. Gerlach, meanwhile, lost his job in Germany and is teaching abroad because he dared to demonstrate that some of those heroic plotters of the attempt on Hitler's life on 20 July 1944 were opportunistic mass murderers, including former commanders of Einsatzgruppen killing squads, who only turned against Hitler when they realized the war was lost.

These "historians'" stories are like the New Testament. Every new Evangelist adds, decades later, a few more miracles to Jesus' roster.

Empty rhetorical blather, from someone who seems to be fond of blathering.

It's this conditioning we grow up with that we accept anything that we are told dictators did or were planning to do, true or false, and then "march on to war". It's the same reason we bought, mostly uncritically, Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction" while it turned out the guy didn't have enough parts to put a tank or two together.

A comparison as inapt as one can think of, considering that the historical evidence of Stalin’s and Hitler’s crimes is abundant and has been researched and analyzed for decades whereas the claim of Saddam’s WMD's didn't died shortly after the US invasion of Iraq for lack of evidence.

And I can't find in your blog (maybe it's there but I can't see it) the relatively recent discovery of a mass grave of, perhaps as much as 2,000, Germans killed during their expulsion from the East (was in the NY Times). The early remains unearthed showed bullet holes in women and children's skulls. Later press releases say that maybe it was the typhus epidemics that killed them. Suddenly we remembered typhus.

This blog is about Nazi crimes because it is meant to confront deniers of such crimes, so one shouldn’t expect to find much about anyone else's crimes here. However, my fellow blogger Sergey Romanov has also taken on deniers of the Soviet killings at Katyn, and you will find at least one blog about crimes committed against Germans. A lot of information about crimes against Germans is also available in the following threads I opened on these threads of the RODOH forum:

Notes from a Land of the Dead
Red Army Crimes on German Soil 1944/45
The Fate of Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia
Father, shoot me
Carpet Bombing and Nuclear Bombs

My interlocutor’s "suddenly we remembered typhus" – babbling is taken note of as another signal of the cloud-cuckoo-land of perceived conspiracies or double standards he lives in – besides his strange conviction that typhus deaths tend to be unfortunate occurrences not to be blamed on who created the conditions leading to such deaths.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

What I meant about your blog, is you can make it into a website for people to read, not a blog, or perhaps you like to have a blog as long as the opinions expressed are the same or similar to yours.

Actually I enjoy discussing opinions different from mine and can do so very politely if those opinions are voiced in a proper manner and substantiated by evidence and good arguments – see for instance my long conversation with HLAPOT following the blog 5 million non-Jewish victims? (Part 2).

But a resentful fusser who starts out like this:

«What kind of an idiot would write a book like "bloodlands" or at least the ridiculous comments i read here that Hitler was planning to kill tens of millions of Ukranians, Russians, etc Maybe his next book should be that the British were planning to starve to death millions of Europeans during the 2 W. Wars. And why even stop there, starve to death the entire continent of Africa, india etc. That book would be a touch closer to reality than the Hitler nonsense.
We are so used to the WW2 mythology we stopped using our brains.»


is bound to catch my heartfelt contempt. Said fusser also seems to think that free speech means only his right to spout his nonsense at will, hence his pathetic whining about my supposedly not tolerating opinions that are not the same as mine. He should get used to the idea that free speech also means the right of others to tell him what they think about his nonsense.

Sam said...

From Snyder’s crucial “controversial” chapter The Economics of Apocalypse, p155

“In 1941 … the harvest was unusually good” (p181)

“…the starving Soviet Union in autumn 1941” (p 178)

So what happened between the harvest and the fall and there is no food around any more?

Did the German soldiers take all the food for themselves (there still should have been plenty of food around), did they ship it to Germany, or did they destroy it? Despite some rhetorical allusions to Germans needing the food (“feeding German children …soldiers” etc), Snyder stops short of asserting any of the above and he offers no hard data of any sort either.

Or, is it perhaps Stalin’s order early in the war, the “scorched earth policy”, to destroy everything in the German advance path including food, livestock, housing, factories etc etc anything that may help the German war effort? An order that was followed extensively in most places..

Unless I missed it somewhere (in which case I apologize), Snyder does not mention Stalin’s order at all or it’s effects, He finds space to read us diaries and poems, but he doesn’t think apparently that Stalin’s order was that important.

Beavor and others, mention it plenty; it’s a well-known historical fact.

So why does Snyder makes such a glaring omission? Is it because it does not fit with the story he is trying to tell?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

From Snyder’s crucial “controversial” chapter The Economics of Apocalypse, p155

“In 1941 … the harvest was unusually good” (p181)

“…the starving Soviet Union in autumn 1941” (p 178)

So what happened between the harvest and the fall and there is no food around any more?

Did the German soldiers take all the food for themselves (there still should have been plenty of food around), did they ship it to Germany, or did they destroy it? Despite some rhetorical allusions to Germans needing the food (“feeding German children …soldiers” etc), Snyder stops short of asserting any of the above and he offers no hard data of any sort either.

Or, is it perhaps Stalin’s order early in the war, the “scorched earth policy”, to destroy everything in the German advance path including food, livestock, housing, factories etc etc anything that may help the German war effort? An order that was followed extensively in most places.


I'd say that starvation in the occupied Soviet territories resulted from the combined effect of Stalin's "scorched earth" policy and German exploitation of food stuffs, the latter of which is amply documented by German historians like Gerlach and Rass, assuming that Snyder doesn't go into detail about it. And it's unlikely that the Soviets had much time to destroy or carry away foodstuffs after the harvest, as they were in fast and headlong retreat and mainly concerned with evacuating industrial plant. So I'd place the blame mainly on German exploitation policies. But please allow me to read what exactly Snyder wrote in the cited pages before judging the pertinence of your objections, rather than base my judgment on snippets quoted out of context by someone who is obviously desperate to score points against Snyder.

Unless I missed it somewhere (in which case I apologize), Snyder does not mention Stalin’s order at all or it’s effects, He finds space to read us diaries and poems, but he doesn’t think apparently that Stalin’s order was that important.

Beavor and others, mention it plenty; it’s a well-known historical fact.

So why does Snyder makes such a glaring omission? Is it because it does not fit with the story he is trying to tell?


Let's see if he indeed omits it, first of all. If so, the relevance of the omission depends on what the subject of Snyder's writing is. If it's Nazi economic planning and the foreseen effects of it, then Stalin's policies have nothing to do with that. If he's arguing that actual starvation in the Soviet Union resulted chiefly from German policies, he should at least have explained why he didn't consider the contribution of the Soviet "scorched earth" policy to be significant.

What parts of Beevor's Stalingrad did you have in mind, by the way?

And who are the "others" that "mention it plenty"?

Sam said...

Yes, please read it, to make sure I didn't overlook it. If I am right, I believe that Snyder should no doubt have mentioned it.

Beavor, I believe, mentions it not only of course for the first year but also for the second year of war "they forgot my directive", if I remember him correctly citing Stalin's words.

As far as others, not sure, perhaps Ferguson, I read many books over the last few years, often from libraries, and I am not trying to write a book so i don't keep notes, it's all for personal interest.

It sounds though that you seem a little disbelieving that other historians may have mentioned it.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Yes, please read it, to make sure I didn't overlook it. If I am right, I believe that Snyder should no doubt have mentioned it.

Beavor, I believe, mentions it not only of course for the first year but also for the second year of war "they forgot my directive", if I remember him correctly citing Stalin's words.

As far as others, not sure, perhaps Ferguson, I read many books over the last few years, often from libraries, and I am not trying to write a book so i don't keep notes, it's all for personal interest.

It sounds though that you seem a little disbelieving that other historians may have mentioned it.


What I'm not sure of is whether my interlocutor knows what he's talking about, for he doesn't come across as well-read on the subject. I remember that Stalin's "scorched earth" policy is mentioned by Christian Streit and Karel Berkhoff and that they dismiss it as a significant contributing factor to the starvation of Soviet POWs. Gerlach also writes about it in Kalkulierte Morde, IIRC.

As to Beevor, I recall his mention of Stalin's Order 0428 dd. 17.11.1941, which I quoted in the blog Kudos to Mr. Wilfried Heink …. I'll look up the book at home this evening to see what else he's got on the subject, together with Snyder's book.

Sam said...

And I take back the initial "idiot" comment. It was an overreaction "oh no, not another guy (like Goldhagen) to tell us that the Germans were umpteen times worse than we thought and it was already documented". And not that they are citing some new unearthed documents or discoveries that nobody knew before.

And then you hear it in emails and conversations, not even related to WW2, but about current politics like the EU "we can't trust the Germans, remember WW2, and it wasn't just the Nazis, all Germans ..." you get what I mean.

Also, so that you don't think I am one-sided, I feel the same even with individuals like Stalin and Mao, no matter how gross they were, I still expect the historians to be objective and not propagandists or biased, and do all the best they can to tell us what really happened. Of course, different people could see the same thing differently, but I would still expect some level of professionalism and objectivity, esp. from our "elite academia" historians.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

And I take back the initial "idiot" comment. It was an overreaction "oh no, not another guy (like Goldhagen) to tell us that the Germans were umpteen times worse than we thought and it was already documented". And not that they are citing some new unearthed documents or discoveries that nobody knew before.

And then you hear it in emails and conversations, not even related to WW2, but about current politics like the EU "we can't trust the Germans, remember WW2, and it wasn't just the Nazis, all Germans ..." you get what I mean.

Also, so that you don't think I am one-sided, I feel the same even with individuals like Stalin and Mao, no matter how gross they were, I still expect the historians to be objective and not propagandists or biased, and do all the best they can to tell us what really happened. Of course, different people could see the same thing differently, but I would still expect some level of professionalism and objectivity, esp. from our "elite academia" historians.


Of course. But you shouldn't assume that they lack such professionalism without reading their books, however fed-up you are with the e-mails and conversations you mention (which I as a German citizen wouldn't be happy about either, by the way).

For who like me has read Gerlach, Hartmann, Pohl, Streit and other German historians, Snyder doesn't provide anything so far unknown as concerns the Nazi regime. Still, I like the way he tries to convey the result of his colleagues' research to a broader audience not acquainted with it.

Sam said...

the part that I don't understand then why is this book considered "controversial" or, as it says in it's jacket "groundbreaking" ?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The book is considered controversial by people like Efraim Zuroff, who are put off by Snyder's addressing the "unique" Nazi genocide of the Jews in the context of other Nazi mass crimes as well as Soviet mass crimes. The book may be considered groundbreaking in that it is the first book in the English language that presents the Nazi genocide of the Jews in this context. If is not groundbreaking on account of revealing hitherto unknown facts, for there is little if anything in Snyder's book that his professional colleagues, especially the German historians I mentioned, have not covered already, some as far back as 1999 when Gerlach's Kalkulierte Morde (about the Nazi occupation of Belorussia) was first published, or as the first edition of Christian Streit's Keine Kameraden (about the Nazis' treatment of Soviet prisoners' of war) in 1978.

Much of what is written about Nazi crimes in Snyder's book is also covered in Beevor's Stalingrad, including the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war and the resulting death of most of these prisoners, and even the Nazi starvation plan with its tens of millions of predicted victims, which is mentioned on pages 15/16 of Beevor's book (on the other hand, I didn't find any references to Soviet "scorched earth" policies, beyond those I already mentioned, when I looked up Beevor’s book up to page 60 this morning). What Snyder writes on page 181 about attempts by Soviet civilians to feed Soviet prisoners of war (in this context he mentions an unusually good harvest in Ukraine in 1941, which doesn't contradict his earlier mention of a "starving Soviet Union" in the autumn of 1941 insofar as Soviet cities and areas depending on food supplies from Ukraine did starve because such food supplies were taken by German troops living off the land or sent to Germany) is covered in much more detail in Karel Berkhoff's book Harvest of Despair, about Ukraine under Nazi rule.

But then, Snyder makes no secret of the fact that he is essentially drawing on research done by his professional colleagues rather than his own. His merit remains that of trying to convey to a broader audience, in a synthesized (and thus sometimes simplified) manner, research finds that the general public, as opposed to the academic community and the relatively few readers of Gerlach and other German historians, is not yet acquainted with.

Sam said...

if I am not mistaken the jacket says "groundbreaking investigation", i guess they may mean that he read German historians. It's not a major point, any book jacket promotes the book.

As far as the controversial, it seems that you mean the controversy between Jewish scholars or groups. Where are all the other scholars to disagree? unless they all agree of course, in which case why didn't they write a book in English like that themselves before. And then you got ticket off at me and my Jewish friend because he said that "we Jews write history".

In any case, I don't want stuff like above to distract our conversation, it was silly of me to even mention it.

There is many interesting passages in Beevor's book (the "scorched earth" is there), and many problems and self contradictions in Snyder's thesis.

I can get back to you with all that if you care, or perhaps instead I should send letters to academics around the country, the president and dean's of Yale, even some of Snyder's students to see what they think.

Who knows, perhaps someone may even bother to answer me.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

As far as the controversial, it seems that you mean the controversy between Jewish scholars or groups.

No, the controversy is between scholars who consider the Nazi genocide of the Jews a unique event not to be compared to any other, and other scholars who don't think there's anything wrong about comparing and contextualizing the genocide of the Jews with other mass crimes committed by the Nazis or others. The former may be predominantly Jewish, but the latter, at least those I know, are not.

Where are all the other scholars to disagree? unless they all agree of course, in which case why didn't they write a book in English like that themselves before. And then you got ticket off at me and my Jewish friend because he said that "we Jews write history".

I didn't know scholars are supposed to write about Nazi and/or Soviet crimes, so even if Snyder were the first to address the subject from an "ecumenical" rather than a Judeo-centric perspective this wouldn't mean that other scholars have been idle. But actually the German scholars I mentioned wrote books contextualizing the Nazis' crimes against the Jews with the Nazis' other crimes. So have Snyder's English-speaking colleagues Adam Tooze, Alex Kay, Mark Mazower and Richard Evans, if I'm not mistaken. Beevor, as I understood his book, also sees the genocide of the Jews as part of a larger complex of Nazi crimes rather than something that stands out as unique and should not be compared or contextualized with any of the Nazis' other crimes. Snyder's book only differs from those of his predecessors in that it also brings Stalin's crimes into play and bunches up the 5 or so million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide with 9 million non-Jews murdered by Hitler and Stalin. Jews like Mr. Zuroff obviously don't write history, or then at least all the historians I mentioned escaped their control.

There is many interesting passages in Beevor's book (the "scorched earth" is there), and many problems and self contradictions in Snyder's thesis.

Maybe you can point out to me Beevor's "scorched earth" references other than the one I already mentioned. And please feel free to try explaining
a) what you consider Snyder's thesis to be and
b) how it is supposed to differ from Beevor's as concerns Nazi and Soviet crimes.
I don't see much of a difference between the two authors' assessment of the two dictatorships and their crimes.

Sam said...

A) Russian POW's:

Despite some fleeting references Snyder makes to war situations, I take his thesis to be clear and unmistakable: 3 plus million Soviet POW's died, not because of war realities (German advance, food shortages, weather, etc), not even because of some criminal negligence or utter disregard for human life, or a combination of the above, BUT because the Germans wanted to kill them either though starvation or shootings.

I can show passages from his book and also compare it to Beevor's but it will take me a little more time.

B) "Hunger Plan"

Similarly, with the German planned future "elimination" of 31 to 45 million people as he claims.

Here too there are some interesting comments in his book, even contradictions.

But before I show passages, correct me if I am wrong as I understand the "Hunger Plan" a.k.a in Snyder's book 'the planned killing of 31 to 45 million people'::

It sounds from Snyder's book that the relevant documents were more or less public documents ("distributed", "1000 copies", a Professor drafting them etc) , something like the American Congressional Budget Estimate if you will.

So Snyder tells us that there are no ambiguiies, it was a clear cut blueprint for extermination of 10s of millions, which begs the questions:
a) were the Germans really that stupid for distributing around genocide plans?
b) where the Allies and their Allies stupid as well for not plastering the documents all over the front pages of their newspapers, the Presidents or prime ministers not using them in their speeches against the Nazis etc.
c) and, as you said, I believe, Snyder is trying now to make that part of history known to the general public, why now? and why not since '45 or even before.

Nick Terry said...

"It sounds from Snyder's book that the relevant documents were more or less public documents ("distributed", "1000 copies", a Professor drafting them etc) , something like the American Congressional Budget Estimate if you will."

No, the paper trail was secret. A set of 'economic guidelines' (Wirtschaftliche Richtlinien) got distributed in secret among agricultural administrators deployed in the occupied Soviet Union. These guidelines were printed up but not published in an open-source sense. IIRC the Soviets captured some of these documents by 1942 and publicised them, but I may be muddling this up with the Reichenau order (which they certainly captured and publicised).

"b) where the Allies and their Allies stupid as well for not plastering the documents all over the front pages of their newspapers, the Presidents or prime ministers not using them in their speeches against the Nazis etc."

Captured German documents certainly were publicised by the Soviets. The British also knew about the expected harvest in 1941 and had intelligence on German economic exploitation in the occupied Soviet Union within a few weeks of the news reaching Goering. There were certainly comments in internal intelligence bulletins of the Ministry of Economic warfare, and some publicity in the press. The famine in Greece in 1941-2 probably attracted more attention and seemed 'more real' in the US and UK press because news from Russia was news from far away.

By 1943, at least one book, entitled Starvation in Europe (Made in Germany) was published, written by Boris Shub. Many other wartime publications took hunger in Nazi-occupied Europe for granted.

"c) and, as you said, I believe, Snyder is trying now to make that part of history known to the general public, why now? and why not since '45 or even before."

Actually the key documents were submitted at the main Nuremberg trial and have -PS numbers. The Hunger Plan has been a firm part of the history since the 1940s for specialists, is VERY well known in the former Soviet Union, is pretty well known in Germany, and is often taught at university level to history students. But it doesn't get as much attention at school level or in popular imagination as the 1932-3 famine under Stalin.

BTW the other thing about the Hunger Plan which is worth noting is how the numbers are close to those specified in the entirely secret Generalplan Ost, the SS blueprint for the Germanisation of Eastern Europe. The GPO is probably better known than the Hunger Plan.

Sam said...

Apparently there was even a book written in 1943 and yet such a contemplated mass slaughter still didn't make it to Stalins, Chhurchills, Roosevelts, Polish in exile leaders' speeches? Or a copy of the document in the front page of the NY Times? (Or maybe it did and I am not aware.).

I haven't heard anyone to this day saying "the Germans were planning to exterminate 30-40 million people" You don't even hear it from Polish people, who according to Snyder 80-85% of them would have been killed (wow, why even bother leave the 15-20% around?). As of a few years ago, tour guides at the Wannsee Villa told you that the Germans were planning to exterminate about 3 million Poles (imagine at the time I thought it was probably an exaggeration), perhaps they'll update their numbers now to 20 million or about.

Did the press or leaders everywhere not do a good job bringing it into the public conscience? Instead, every other time WW2 comes up you hear that Hitler wanted to conquer the world, which I personally haven't encountered in any historian's book.

[guess I got to read the Nuremberg trials section now to see what it really says].

Sam said...

On page xvii Snyder says that if the German war against the USSR has gone as planned, 30 million would have been starved [by the Germans] in the first winter, 10s of millions more ...

So if the Germans won in 12 weeks as planned, Snyder says there would have been tens of millions more dead in the first winter than with a brutal war going on, scorched earth, poisoning of wells, no homes for people, diseases spreading faster with concentrations of people in armies and POW camps, etc

Either I am naive or Snyder is hallucinating.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Apparently there was even a book written in 1943 and yet such a contemplated mass slaughter still didn't make it to Stalins, Chhurchills, Roosevelts, Polish in exile leaders' speeches? Or a copy of the document in the front page of the NY Times? (Or maybe it did and I am not aware.).

I haven't heard anyone to this day saying "the Germans were planning to exterminate 30-40 million people" You don't even hear it from Polish people, who according to Snyder 80-85% of them would have been killed (wow, why even bother leave the 15-20% around?). As of a few years ago, tour guides at the Wannsee Villa told you that the Germans were planning to exterminate about 3 million Poles (imagine at the time I thought it was probably an exaggeration), perhaps they'll update their numbers now to 20 million or about.

Did the press or leaders everywhere not do a good job bringing it into the public conscience? Instead, every other time WW2 comes up you hear that Hitler wanted to conquer the world, which I personally haven't encountered in any historian's book.

[guess I got to read the Nuremberg trials section now to see what it really says].


So what's the argument supposed to be? That the Nazis' plans for Eastern Europe didn't exist because nobody (other than a book author in 1943 and historians like Aly, Gerlach, Pohl, Streit, Tooze, Kay, Snyder and even our mutual friend Beevor) paid due attention to it?

I'd call that a rather silly appeal to incredulity. Whatever the reasons for it's not having been publicized when you think it should have been, the Hunger Plan is well documented, and so is the Generalplan Ost, through Dr. Erhard Wetzel's commentary mentioned here. "Why wasn't it talked about" - considerations are a feeble argument against documentary evidence, if they can be called an argument at all. Big catastrophes or related plans sometimes escape public attention, big deal. Not even the staunchest anti-Communist in the late 1930s knew anything about Stalin's purge that killed almost 700,000 people in 1937/38, and the Soviet famine of 1932/33 also caught little attention in the West, even though those were actually implemented mass murders. The Nazi Hunger Plan, on the other hand, didn't get beyond the conception stage, unless you consider the starvation of Leningrad citizens and Soviet prisoners of war an implementation of the Hunger Plan on a smaller scale (as German historian Christian Gerlach does). Both these mass crimes occurred within the context of the most devastating war in history, yet they didn't escape the attention of criminal justice at the IMT and NMT trials.

You should drop that "I haven't heard anyone to this day" - stance also for another reason. If lack of public divulgation is a feeble argument at best, your personal ignorance is no argument at all.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

A) Russian POW's:

Despite some fleeting references Snyder makes to war situations, I take his thesis to be clear and unmistakable: 3 plus million Soviet POW's died, not because of war realities (German advance, food shortages, weather, etc), not even because of some criminal negligence or utter disregard for human life, or a combination of the above, BUT because the Germans wanted to kill them either though starvation or shootings.

I can show passages from his book and also compare it to Beevor's but it will take me a little more time.


Do that, please. I'd like to see what passages of Snyder's book exactly you base your conclusions on, and from what passages of Beevor's book exactly you derive a different assessment.

As concerns the Soviet POWs captured in 1941, homicidal intent was demonstrated by Gerlach long before Snyder, see the excerpts from Gerlach's writings in the RODOH thread The Fate of Soviet Prisoners of War. Food shortages in the occupied Soviet territories (from which alone Soviet POWs were allowed to be fed, as the last in chain of priorities after the German armed forces, the German home front and the Soviet civilian population, and from a certain time on only if they were able to work) were mostly caused by German exploitation, and even where there were none (like in Ukraine after the 1941 harvest) the civilian population was mostly not allowed to feed the POWs despite its willingness to do so. The weather kills if no provisions are made to protect POWs against it, and most German commandants of POW camps didn't even try. Christian Streit's refutes these and other apologetic claims in his book Keine Kameraden and also addresses them in his article Deutsche und sowjetische Kriegsgefangene, which I translated here.

As concerns the Soviet POWs who perished after the spring of 1942, you may attribute their deaths to criminal negligence and utter disregard for human life, which is also what Snyder does if I understood him correctly. The difference only in the degree of intentionality – "I’ll treat them as I see fit no matter how many of them die" instead of "I’ll let them die".

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

On page xvii Snyder says that if the German war against the USSR has gone as planned, 30 million would have been starved [by the Germans] in the first winter, 10s of millions more ...

So if the Germans won in 12 weeks as planned, Snyder says there would have been tens of millions more dead in the first winter than with a brutal war going on, scorched earth, poisoning of wells, no homes for people, diseases spreading faster with concentrations of people in armies and POW camps, etc

Either I am naive or Snyder is hallucinating.


If the Nazis had won the war as predicted, they would have had three million troops available to completely seal off Soviet cities and other food-deficit areas, more completely than they had sealed off Leningrad (where the whole population would have starved in the winter of 1941/42 if the Soviets had not managed to keep open the Ladoga ice road) and without facing any military resistance. They could have repeated Stalin's Ukrainian famine of 1932/33 on a much larger scale. People are easiest to kill, by hunger or otherwise, when they are no longer able to resist.

Göring, incidentally, told the Italian foreign minister Count Ciano in November 1941 that within a year 20 to 30 million people would starve to death in Russia. He added that maybe this was a good thing, for certain peoples needed to be reduced (Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, pages 51 and following, transcribed and translated here).

Sam said...

and Churchill also said publicly that the German people should be sterilized so in 2-3 generations there wouldn't be any Germans left (Ferguson tells us that he was joking)

And Roosevelt replied to a comment that many Germans will die during their expulsions with "so?"

and an American commander said when asked what will happen to the Japanese-Americans, that they ll be send to the camps till they disappear from the face of the earth.

Why would the Germans, according to the Snyder's thesis (as in the Hunger Plan), wait for people to starve and leave, why not just kill them?

If a deliberately extermination plan with the Soviet POW's was at works Snyder doesn't explain how the almost other half survived in German captivity

He also doesn't say much to what happened to the German POW's, isn't part of his 'bloodlands' thesis? Somewhere at a later chapter he mentions, I believe, almost 400,000 dead, but no explanations that I saw on how how they died, etc. ( I like how he gives exact % s , not approximations of the POW dead, on both sides, who knows maybe everything was catalogued)

No little anecdotes either like the ones he gives about the other side like erasing whole Polish villages because Polish women were giving milk to the Soviet POW's [is Snyder serious?] or a German commander riding his horse and trumping to death POWs [did the commander kept trumping the people with his horse until they were dead? I can just picture it] Or the skeletal women in Leningrad about to mercy kill her daughter with a sickle [as a parent I seriously doubt that's how someone would end their child's life]
But who knows maybe those kind of stories happened

Anyways I ll get back to you with specific passages from Snyder and Beevor.

Even the small stories that Beevor recounts feel so much more real, pain, agony, joy, etc on all sides, you feel that you are there.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

and Churchill also said publicly that the German people should be sterilized so in 2-3 generations there wouldn't be any Germans left (Ferguson tells us that he was joking)

Obviously so, as no steps in that direction (let alone any that would compare to the Nazis' starvation of Soviet POWs and Leningrad citizens vis-a-vis the Nazi starvation plan) seem to have been taken. A politician's public statements may be dismissed as mere rhetoric. Not so insider planning not meant for the public eye, or private statements revealing a head of state's personal expectations (like what Göring told Ciano).

What publication of Ferguson's is this Churchill statement mentioned in, by the way?

And Roosevelt replied to a comment that many Germans will die during their expulsions with "so?"

And so? Nobody is arguing that the Western Allies were up to higher moral standards. But it's one thing to be callous about deaths in the course of expelling an ethnic group from war-torn countries in which it had become unwanted by siding with an aggressor, and another to plan the ruthless exploitation of a country to be attacked and conquered at the expected cost of tens of millions of starvation deaths among that country's population.

Where can I look up Roosevelt's reply or a reference thereto, by the way?

and an American commander said when asked what will happen to the Japanese-Americans, that they ll be send to the camps till they disappear from the face of the earth.

That idiot's blather, if accurately rendered (what's the source?) doesn't seem to have reflected government policy, as mortality among interned Japanese-Americans wasn't high IIRC.

Why would the Germans, according to the Snyder's thesis (as in the Hunger Plan), wait for people to starve and leave, why not just kill them?

Starving people to death is a way of killing them, if you ask me. Is the killing of tens of millions by shooting, gassing or other direct methods supposed to be easier or more advantageous under all aspects than starvation or expulsion, or where is this imbecilic question supposed to lead us?

The question is also irrelevant given the documentary evidence. For the expectation that tens of millions of people in the Soviet Union's food deficit regions would starve to death or have to emigrate to Siberia is not "Snyder's thesis", but something that is expressly stated in contemporary high-level German documents - which, by the way, reflect a stage of policy that preceded the Nazi extermination camps.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

If a deliberately extermination plan with the Soviet POW's was at works Snyder doesn't explain how the almost other half survived in German captivity

The other half survived because at a certain time the Nazis realized that they needed them as a labor force and couldn't afford to just let them die of starvation and exposure. If Snyder doesn't mention this (though I think he does), his colleagues Streit and Gerlach do.

He also doesn't say much to what happened to the German POW's, isn't part of his 'bloodlands' thesis? Somewhere at a later chapter he mentions, I believe, almost 400,000 dead, but no explanations that I saw on how how they died, etc. ( I like how he gives exact % s , not approximations of the POW dead, on both sides, who knows maybe everything was catalogued)

German POWs in Soviet hands were treated differently by the Soviet government than Soviet POWs in German hands were treated by the Nazi government. The Soviet government tried to keep these POWs alive as a labor force, though not always efficiently due to a number of factors including administrative corruption and incompetence. And that although it was much more difficult for the Soviets to feed POWs at a time when they could barely feed their own population, a situation the Germans never faced. For details see my translation of Christian Streit's article about German and Soviet prisoners of war.

No little anecdotes either like the ones he gives about the other side like erasing whole Polish villages because Polish women were giving milk to the Soviet POW's [is Snyder serious?] or a German commander riding his horse and trumping to death POWs [did the commander kept trumping the people with his horse until they were dead? I can just picture it] Or the skeletal women in Leningrad about to mercy kill her daughter with a sickle [as a parent I seriously doubt that's how someone would end their child's life]
But who knows maybe those kind of stories happened.


They certainly didn't fail to happen just because some bar-room wise guy (who with his belly full and fat thinks he knows how he "as a parent" would behave if he were in the process of starving to death and seeing his children in the same situation) professes his irrelevant personal incredulity.
If the evidence is solid, there's no reason to doubt that these events occurred.

Anyways I ll get back to you with specific passages from Snyder and Beevor.

Even the small stories that Beevor recounts feel so much more real, pain, agony, joy, etc on all sides, you feel that you are there.


Like this one from page 45 of Stalingrad, right?

«A German officer described how shocked he and his soldiers had been when Russian civilians had cheerfully stripped the corpses of their fellow countrymen. Yet German soldiers were taking clothes and boots from living civilians for themselves, then forcing them out into the freezing wastes, in most cases to die of cold and starvation. Senior officers complained that their soldiers looked like Russian peasants, but no sympathy was spared for the victims robbed of their only hope of survival in such conditions. A bullet might have been less cruel.»

Sam said...

Actually yes, this last story you mention DOES sound to me much more real than the Germans erasing whole villages because women gave milk to POWs, or the horse guy.
(As far as the woman with the sickle, ... forget that)

I lived in Europe for a while and heard stories of heroic resistance, German barbarism, even erasing of villages, and most of the time it turned out not only that they didn't happen but the Germans had never even been there, or the people who told them they were too young to fight or even to remember, and the villages looked as old as medieval castles.

It's a personal feel, anyways with these stories.

You keep asking me about books my source books, sorry I m not as organized as you. I read many books over the years, sometimes only chapters of interest ie the month before the war and the Danzig situation, perhaps because of some weird perversion in my part to see if that war could have been avoided.

btw, I really like "war of the world". Except Ferguson kind o lost me when he claims that Stalin was still disbelieving, even though he was told from dozens of sources about the pending invasion, because he trusted Hitler. It's a little hard to believe that the paranoid about everything dictator would trust that much a man he never met and, in many ways, a mortal enemy.

Sam said...

the more I read the passage from Beevor the more real it sounds: the brutality of war. And here are some "senior officers" complaining about their soldier's actions (contrary to Snyder's "bloodthirsty Germans" thesis). Same repulsions that American or British officers felt I am sure in instances in Normandy, Germany, vietnam, Iraq etc

(ps at times you are a little too quick with insults, it's ok I am getting used to it by now)

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Actually yes, this last story you mention DOES sound to me much more real than the Germans erasing whole villages because women gave milk to POWs, or the horse guy.
(As far as the woman with the sickle, ... forget that)

I lived in Europe for a while and heard stories of heroic resistance, German barbarism, even erasing of villages, and most of the time it turned out not only that they didn't happen but the Germans had never even been there, or the people who told them they were too young to fight or even to remember, and the villages looked as old as medieval castles.

It's a personal feel, anyways with these stories.


My friend still hasn't understood that his "personal feel" doesn't matter a thing. One wonders what "stories" he is talking about, and by what evidence or other criteria he determined "not only that they didn't happen but the Germans had never even been there". It must have been his "personal feel".

You keep asking me about books my source books, sorry I m not as organized as you. I read many books over the years, sometimes only chapters of interest ie the month before the war and the Danzig situation, perhaps because of some weird perversion in my part to see if that war could have been avoided.

Not with Adolf's objectives, which Adolf himself knew could only be achieved by force. It might at most have been postponed if the Poles had also bowed to Adolf's pretensions, starting with the "reasonable" quest for Danzig as an appetizer.

btw, I really like "war of the world". Except Ferguson kind o lost me when he claims that Stalin was still disbelieving, even though he was told from dozens of sources about the pending invasion, because he trusted Hitler. It's a little hard to believe that the paranoid about everything dictator would trust that much a man he never met and, in many ways, a mortal enemy.

My friend can’t help dishing up the irrelevant "hard to believe" argument. Actually Stalin's failure to heed warnings of a German attack goes down well with his paranoia, in that he considered these warnings a British attempt to drag the Soviet Union into the war. Additionally there was probably a refusal to admit to himself that his policy of waiting out the war and be strong at the end of it had been a disastrous failure.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

the more I read the passage from Beevor the more real it sounds: the brutality of war. And here are some "senior officers" complaining about their soldier's actions (contrary to Snyder's "bloodthirsty Germans" thesis). Same repulsions that American or British officers felt I am sure in instances in Normandy, Germany, vietnam, Iraq etc

Apparently my friend didn't read the last sentence of the quoted paragraph carefully enough, otherwise he would have realized that those senior officers were complaining not about their troops' brutality but about the troops not being properly dressed:

Senior officers complained that their soldiers looked like Russian peasants, but no sympathy was spared for the victims robbed of their only hope of survival in such conditions. A bullet might have been less cruel.

Emphasis added.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

And here's some more Beevor for my friend, quoted from the Penguin paperback edition of Stalingrad:

Pp. 15/16:

«What is particularly hard to assess in retrospect is the degree of initial ignorance at regimental level about the true programme, in which perhaps the cruellest weapon of all was to be starvation. Few officers saw the directive of 23 May, which called for the German armies in the east to expropriate whatever they needed, and also to send at least seven million tons of grain a year back to Germany, yet it should not have been hard to guess the basic outline, with the orders to live off the land. Nazi leaders had no illusions about the consequences for civilians deprived of Ukraine’s resources. 'Many tens of millions will starve,' predicted Martin Bormann. Goering bragged that the population would have to eat Cossack saddles.»

That's Beevor on the Nazi Hunger Plan, 11 years before Snyder.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Pp. 44/45
«German troops, most of them, no doubt, having fathers and sons at home, indulged in a sort of sick war tourism in Russia. An order had to be circulated which forbade the 'photographing of executions of [German] deserters', events which had greatly increased with the sudden decline in morale. And executions of partisans and Jews in the Ukraine – to judge from the audience shown in the pictures – attracted an even greater throng of amateur photographs in Wehrmacht uniforms.»

P. 55
«The behaviour of many soldiers in Army Group Sout was particularly gruesome. Reichenau's Sixth Army headquarters issued the following order on 19 August 1941: 'In various places within the army's area of responsibility, organs of the SD, of the Reichsführer's SS and chiefs of the German police have been carrying out necessary executions of criminal, Bolshevik and mostly Jewish elements. There have been cases of off-duty soldiers volunteering to help the SD with their executions, or acting as spectators and taking photographs.' It was now forbidden for any soldiers, 'who have not been ordered by a superior officer', to take part in, to watch or to photograph any of these executions. Later, General von Manstein’s chief of staff passed the message to the Offizierskorps of the Eleventh Army in the Crimea that it was 'dishonourable for officers to be present at the execution of Jews'. German military logic, in another of its distortions of cause and effect, does not appear to have acknowledged the possibility that officers had already shamed themselves by furthering the aims of a regime capable of such crimes.»

P. 58
«The terrible truth, which very few officers could bear to recognize, was that the army’s tolerance or support for the Nazi doctrine of a 'race war' on the eastern front, exempt from normal military and international law, was bound to turn it into a semi-criminal organization. The failure of generals to protest demonstrated a total lack of moral sensibility, or of moral courage. Physical courage was unnecessary. The Nazis, in the earlier stages of the Russian campaign, would not have dared to do anything worse to a senior officer who objected than remove him from his command.»

P. 59
«For those who reached prisoner-of-war camps alive, the chance of survival turned out to be not much better than one in three. Altogether, over three million Red Army soldiers out of 5.7 million died in German camps from disease, exposure, starvation and ill-treatment. The German Army itself, not the SS nor any other Nazi organization, was responsible for prisoners of war. Its attitude was reminiscent of Kaiser Wilhelm’s remark in 1914 that the 90,000 Russians captured at Tannenberg 'should be left to starve'.»

Sounds very much like Snyder, doesn't it?

Please forgive me if I don't see much of a difference between Beevor's assessment of Nazi Germany's criminal policies and Snyder's. Maybe my friend failed to notice the above-quoted passages when enthusiastically reading Beevor. Or maybe he considers them to be about the "brutality of war" because they are from Beevor. I'm sure that if Snyder had written the same he would be castigated for expounding a "bloodthirsty Germans" thesis.

(ps at times you are a little too quick with insults, it's ok I am getting used to it by now)

That's good, because the trash you talk is bound to keep them coming.

Sam said...

The whole subject is getting more interesting than I thought, but I if you want me to stop talking "trash" we can end it.

Snyder tells us that it was in Sept that Germans were instructed to live off the land. Beevor it seems mentions May. Also, from Beevor's passage why "few officers" saw it. isn't t suppose to be an order?

Beevor's passage about killing Jews, partisans, etc I don't think it's related, at least directly, to the treatment of POW's.

There is also other type of passages in Beevor that indicate somewhat different things or at least confuse the issue. But please allow me a couple of days to put that together, again if you care.

As far as Stalin's dismissal of the impending attack, I believe Snyder has a better argument, that the Germans did not provision for a winter campaign and Stalin couldn't believe that that was possible (it's part of Surorov's thesis), but that could also be one of my stupid opinions.

Not long ago, I saw at some bookstore a compilation, published by the NYTimes, something like "100 years of NYT front pages", (a rather tall and wide book as you can imagine). One of the headlines, a couple of months before the war, was something like this "Hopes For Peace, Herr Hitler agrees to take Danzig only [and not the corridor], as long as there is a road connecting Germany with Danzig". (I assume something like West Berlin connecting with a roadway to West Germany. )
Apparently, that proposal must have been turned down.

Anyways, let's stick to Snyder's thesis,ie the POW extermination, etc
Or maybe we should stop, it doesn't seem that you care much for what I have to say.

Sam said...

.. call me whatever names you want, I just have a hard time believing that the Germans eradicated whole villages because Polish women were giving milk to Russian POWs. If Snyder claimed a half a dozen other reasons for the destruction of those villages that would have been another story, even as part of his 80-85% elimination of Poles it would sound more plausible.

The "bloodthirsty" comes from Snyder's book.

And yes, there are some lunatics like me around, that try to figure out if that war, god forbid, could have been avoided so tens of millions (incl. 5-6 m Jews) would have survived, and half of Europe didn't end up in Stalin's hands, Europe devastated, cold war, etc Not just as an alternative history (ie if we never let Hitler come to power, appeased him etc) but, perhaps, to understand why a next, even more devastating war may happen.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The whole subject is getting more interesting than I thought, but I if you want me to stop talking "trash" we can end it.

I'll leave that up to you.

Snyder tells us that it was in Sept that Germans were instructed to live off the land. Beevor it seems mentions May.

Beevor mentions the directive dated 23 May, 1941, which few officers knew about. Orders to the troops to live off the land, based on that directive, were issued at a later stage. Such orders are expressly mentioned by Beevor.

Also, from Beevor's passage why "few officers" saw it. isn't t suppose to be an order?

Few officers saw the directive on the basis of which the orders to live off the land were issued. The orders themselves, which Beevor also mentions, must have been widely known.

Beevor's passage about killing Jews, partisans, etc I don't think it's related, at least directly, to the treatment of POW's.

No, but I also quoted a passage that is only about the treatment of POW's.

There is also other type of passages in Beevor that indicate somewhat different things or at least confuse the issue. But please allow me a couple of days to put that together, again if you care.

I don't, but I'll leave it up to you if you want to continue.

As far as Stalin's dismissal of the impending attack, I believe Snyder has a better argument, that the Germans did not provision for a winter campaign and Stalin couldn't believe that that was possible (it's part of Surorov's thesis), but that could also be one of my stupid opinions.

Suvorov's claims may be stupid, but it's not improbable that absence of preparation for a winter campaign supported Stalin's belief that no German attack was imminent and warnings to the contrary were a British provocation.

Not long ago, I saw at some bookstore a compilation, published by the NYTimes, something like "100 years of NYT front pages", (a rather tall and wide book as you can imagine). One of the headlines, a couple of months before the war, was something like this "Hopes For Peace, Herr Hitler agrees to take Danzig only [and not the corridor], as long as there is a road connecting Germany with Danzig". (I assume something like West Berlin connecting with a roadway to West Germany. )
Apparently, that proposal must have been turned down.


That must have been because Hitler had lost all credibility by solemnly stating at Munich that he had no further territorial claims in Europe after the Sudetenland and taking over the whole of Czechoslovakia half a year later.

Anyways, let's stick to Snyder's thesis,ie the POW extermination, etc
Or maybe we should stop, it doesn't seem that you care much for what I have to say.


Now you hit the nail on the head.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

.. call me whatever names you want, I just have a hard time believing that the Germans eradicated whole villages because Polish women were giving milk to Russian POWs. If Snyder claimed a half a dozen other reasons for the destruction of those villages that would have been another story, even as part of his 80-85% elimination of Poles it would sound more plausible.

Many things happened that you or I may have "a hard time believing", so that's hardly a relevant argument. All that matters is the evidence. As to the projected elimination of much or most of the Polish population by expulsion to Siberia, Snyder's claim is supported by what becomes apparent from Wetzel's commentary to the Generalplan Ost. Plausibility considerations are a feeble argument against documentary evidence.

The "bloodthirsty" comes from Snyder's book.

Page and context?

And yes, there are some lunatics like me around, that try to figure out if that war, god forbid, could have been avoided so tens of millions (incl. 5-6 m Jews) would have survived, and half of Europe didn't end up in Stalin's hands, Europe devastated, cold war, etc Not just as an alternative history (ie if we never let Hitler come to power, appeased him etc) but, perhaps, to understand why a next, even more devastating war may happen.

Most of those tens of millions (including most of the 5 to 6 million Jews) died in the course or context of Hitler's war against the Soviet Union. With an eastern colonial empire being the most important of Hitler's projects and anti-Bolshevism plus anti-Semitism at the core of his ideology, it's rather unlikely that World War II in Europe (or at least the deadliest part of it, the Nazi-Soviet conflict) could have been avoided. Fortunately a next, even more devastating war is just as unlikely.

Sam said...

"Ruthlessness is not the same thing as efficiency, and German planning was too bloodthirsty to be really practical"
(Snyder page 166)

I think Snyder means here that the Germans (not the Nazis, "the Germans" as most of the time) decided on war moves, or policy in general, usually based on how many people they can kill here or starve there, and not on trying to win the war, survive the blockade, etc.

I also like that at a later chapter he practically blames the mass rapes of German women by Soviet troops on Hitler's refusal to evacuate his people from homes where they lived for 100s of years. But I let you find where that is.

He hit the nail on the head, on both counts above.

take care my friend

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

"Ruthlessness is not the same thing as efficiency, and German planning was too bloodthirsty to be really practical"
(Snyder page 166)

I think Snyder means here that the Germans (not the Nazis, "the Germans" as most of the time) decided on war moves, or policy in general, usually based on how many people they can kill here or starve there, and not on trying to win the war, survive the blockade, etc.


I think he just means that the starvation plan - which was not only a colonial depopulation program but also (and, as long as Germany was at war, mainly) a means to obtain foodstuffs from the Soviet Union in order to improve Germany's chances of winning the war - was too ambitious to be implemented in practice with the means at hand.

I also like that at a later chapter he practically blames the mass rapes of German women by Soviet troops on Hitler's refusal to evacuate his people from homes where they lived for 100s of years. But I let you find where that is.

I'll probably find this interpretation as far-fetched as your other interpretations.

He hit the nail on the head, on both counts above.

take care my friend


You too. Despite the differences (or because of them) it was nice talking to you.

tania said...

@ Sam, you made these comments powerfull then actual post. thank you!

- Tanya
Web Design Firm

Jhon said...

i am too late for this conversation should i start here?

- John Devis
Magento Themes

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Fire away.

electroniccigarette said...

A great novel for sure, really enjoyed reading as to what ever is shared in the post a lot... Well done... Keep posting stuff like this....

zhiges said...

What is that urge to say this is fake??

to stand out and be different? to what price? to what price should you hurt othr people just to have it make up for the times your dad did not show you enough attention?

Cause let me tell you THATS what this is. People like DAVID, who try so hard to not believe this or deny it.

you don't wanna believe the picture? good, you shouldn't. WHY DON"T YOU READ A FCKIN BOOK THOUGH??? see how many JEWS we're murdered. Read a historiocal book are you gonna deny all the witnesses, historical books written, physical evidence found? and for what to stand out different? All these pictures doubled, times ten would not resemble the number of people MOSTLY JEWS, murdered by the Nazi genocide strategies.