Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Critique of Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands

Yale historian Timothy Snyder’s book Bloodlands is all about murder – the murder of about 14 million people by the regimes of Hitler and Stalin in an area comprising "in today’s terms, St. Petersburg, and the western rim of the Russian Federation, most of Poland, the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine" (page 384), which the author calls the "bloodlands".



In policies meant to kill civilians or prisoners of war, Nazi Germany murdered, by Snyder’s count, "about ten million people in the bloodlands (and perhaps 11 million people in total)" , while the Soviet Union under Stalin murdered "over four million people in the bloodlands (and about 6 million in total). If foreseeable deaths resulting from famine, ethnic cleansing and long stays in camps are added, the Stalinist total rises to perhaps nine million and the Nazi to perhaps twelve." (Bloodlands, page 384). But foreseeable deaths resulting from famine, ethnic cleansing and long stays in camps are not included in Snyder’s count of 14 million murder victims, which is broken down as follows (page 411):

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 and 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.


Neither does the count include collateral casualties of combat actions or refugees who lost their lives trying to get away from advancing enemy armies, as Snyder points out on page 324:

In the final four months of the war, Germans suffered in one of the ways that other civilians had during the previous four years of war on the eastern front, during the advance and the retreat of the Wehrmacht. Millions of people had fled the German attack in 1941; millions more had been taken for labor between 1941 and 1944; still more were forced to evacuate by the retreating Wehrmacht in 1944. Far more Soviet and Polish citizens died after fleeing Germans than did Germans as a result of flight from Soviets. Although such displacements were not policies of deliberate murder (and have therefore received almost no attention in this study), flight, evacuation and forced labor led, directly or indirectly, to the death of a few million Soviet and Polish citizens. (German policies of deliberate mass murder killed an additional ten million people.)


and again on pages 410/411:

With a few exceptions, this is a study of the dying rather than the suffering. Its subject is policies that were meant to kill, and the people who were their victims. In a deliberate mass killing operation, mass death is the desired goal of policy. It is an end in itself or a means to some other end. The count of fourteen million people is not a complete reckoning of all the death that German and Soviet power brought to the region. It is an estimate of the number of people killed in deliberate policies of mass murder.
I therefore generally exclude from the count the people who died of exertion or disease or malnutrition in concentration camps or during deportations, evacuations or flight from armies. I also exclude the people who died as forced laborers. I am not counting people who died of hunger as a result of wartime shortfalls, or civilians who died in bombings or as a result of other acts of war. I am not counting soldiers who died on the fields of battle of the Second World War. In the course of the book I do discuss camps and deportations and battles, and provide figures of those killed. These are not, however, included in the final figure of fourteen million.


Snyder’s book has been called "path-breaking and often courageous" and "the most important book to appear on this subject for decades" by Tony Judt, quoted on the back cover of the edition (The Bodley Head London 2010) in my possession. The same back cover features a statement from Norman Davies whereby "This is a book that will force its readers to rethink history".

What exactly is supposed to be so "path-breaking" about this book? Does it provide any hitherto unknown evidence or information about Nazi or Soviet crimes? Maybe to the general public, but not (at least as concerns Nazi crimes) to who has read the works of historians like Götz Aly, Christian Gerlach, Christian Hartmann, Dieter Pohl, Christian Streit and others referred to in Snyder’s book, from whose research Snyder derived most if not all of what he writes about the Nazi starvation plan for the occupied Soviet territories, the criminal nature and purpose of the siege of Leningrad, the murderous treatment of Soviet prisoners of war and the Nazi occupiers’ exterminatory anti-partisan operations, especially on the territory of present-day Belarus. I presume that readers of detailed studies about the Ukrainian famine of 1932/33, the Great Terror of 1937/38 and other crimes of Stalin’s will also find little if anything in Snyder’s book that they didn’t know already.

Wherein, then, lies the merit of Snyder’s book? In my opinion it lies in his putting together in one volume the current status of research about the other crimes in the context of which the Nazis’ biggest and best-known single crime, their killing of 5 to 6 million European Jews, took place and must be studied and understood. It also lies in its frontal contextualizing of the Nazi Holocaust with Nazi crimes against non-Jews as well as Soviet crimes (apparently offensive to people like Efraim Zuroff, as mentioned in my previous blog about Snyder’s book), especially as it demonstrates (largely drawing on the research of the aforementioned German scholars, especially Gerlach) how the decision to implement the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" still during the war resulted from the Nazis’ failure to bring down the Soviet Union and implement a policy of exploitation and mass starvation foreseen to bring about the death of tens of millions of Soviet citizens. The Holocaust as a substitute for a much larger killing program essentially aimed at non-Jews (the downscaled partial implementation of which against the inhabitants of Leningrad and Soviet prisoners of war, or even against the latter alone, moreover killed more people than the Nazi extermination camps) must be a bitter pill for who sees the Holocaust as a uniquely evil crime not to be compared or contextualized with any other. Such frank contextualizing seems to be the reason why Snyder’s book has been attacked and is considered "controversial", and it is also the main reason why I consider it praiseworthy.

Less praiseworthy is the criterion of deliberate versus not-so-deliberate mass killing whereby Snyder decides what victims of Nazi and Soviet crimes to include or not in his 14-million estimate.

It is a fact that about 3 million out of about 5 ½ million Soviet prisoners of war were executed or succumbed to starvation, disease and exposure in German captivity. It is also a fact – ably demonstrated by Christian Gerlach in his books Kalkulierte Morde and Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord - that in the autumn of 1941 and in the winter of 1941/42 Soviet prisoners of war were purposefully allowed to die by high-ranking Nazi government officials (especially Hermann Göring) and Wehrmacht officers (especially General Quarter Master Eduard Wagner), and that this led to the most of the about two million deaths (out of about 3.3 million Soviet POWs taken) until the spring of 1942. But it is disputable whether the Soviet prisoners of war who perished in German captivity after that time (roughly one third of total deaths) fell victim to a policy of deliberate mass killing – in which, according to Snyder, "mass death is the desired goal of policy", "an end in itself or a means to some other end" – rather than to brutality, callousness and neglect resulting from the Nazis’ contempt for the "subhuman" Soviets. German scholar Christian Streit, author of the reference work Keine Kameraden. Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945, wrote the following about what became of Soviet prisoners of war after the mass dying of 1941/42 had ended (Keine Kameraden, pp. 244-249, footnotes only included where considered of particular interest, my translation):

The Development of Mortality 1942-1945

Although in the years 1942 to 1945 prisoners of war were constantly being transported from the eastern parts of the Wehrmacht High Command area for labor service on the territory of the Reich, the manpower shortage of the German war industry could not be done away with. It is true that the number of prisoners of war employed on the territory of the Reich increased from 487,535 in October 1942 over 505,795 in July 1943 and 594,729 in February 1944 to about 750,000 on 1 January 1945. When one compares this with the total number of prisoners who fell into German hands and with the total number of prisoners present at the respective times, however, it becomes clear that a great part of the transports only served to replace the losses that had occurred through death or work incapacity. The total number of prisoners had increased from 3,350,000 in December 1941 over 4,716,903 in mid-July 1942, 5,003,697 in January 1943, and 5,637,482 in February 1944 to 5,734,528 on 1 February 1945. The number of prisoners present in the Wehrmacht High Command and Army High Command areas, on the other hand, had grown from 976,458 in March 1942 to 1,675,626 in September 1942, but then dropped over 1,501,145 on 1 January 1943 and 1,054,820 on 1 May 1944 to 930,287 on 1 January 1945. While the total number of prisoners increased by 1,017,625 between July 1942 and February 1945, the number of those remaining in captivity in the same period dropped by 745,000 – despite all efforts to increase the number of workers.
The steady diminution of the number of prisoners was partially due to releases – almost exclusively of "auxiliaries" and volunteers for the "eastern troops". Until 1 May 1944 818,220 prisoners had been released in the Wehrmacht High Command and Army High Command areas; until the end of the war another 200,000 may have been released in the course of the efforts to strengthen the "eastern troops", so that in total one may count on about a million released.
What mainly decimated the number of prisoners, however, was the continuing extraordinarily high mortality of the prisoners, which in the winters of 1942/43 and 1943/44 and then from the summer of 1944 onward reached new peaks. Exact data cannot be provided here either. If one deducts from the total number of Soviet prisoners who fell into German hands those who were still in captivity on 1 January 1945 – 930,287 -, the estimated number of releases – 1,000,000 – and the estimated number of prisoners who got back to the Soviet side through escape or during the retreats – 500,000 –, there results a number of about 3,300,000 prisoners who perished in German captivity or were murdered by the Einsatzkommandos, i.e. 57.8 per cent of the total number of prisoners.
[…]
The mortality of Soviet prisoners between 1942 and 1945 can not be described in as much detail as the mass dying between October 1941 and March 1942, but more general statements are possible. In the period between 1 February 1942 and the end of the war, i.e. at a time when the value of Soviet prisoners for the German armament industry had been clearly recognized by many among the German leadership, there died about 1,300,000 Soviet prisoners. This leads to the assumption that the ideologically motivated priorities set for the war in the East in the spring of 1941 remained determining to a much higher degree than could be expected on account of the continuously repeated endorsements of the need to improve the working capacity and thus the survival chances of the prisoners by a better treatment.
From the available data about the development of the total number of Soviet prisoners as well as the numbers of prisoners in the Army High Command area, in the Wehrmacht High Command area and on the territory of the Reich it can be seen that, after relaxing in the early summer of 1942, mortality again increased sharply at the latest in August 1942. In the prisoner of war reports of the General Quarter Master for the Army High Command area the number of "other losses", which can be taken as an approximate indication about the number of deaths, was given as 19,535 for April 1942, 13,142 for May, 16,736 for June, 32,977 for July and 65,814 for August. On the whole the number of prisoners of war increased by 1,096,241 between 1.6.1942 and 1.1.1943. The number of prisoners in camps in the Wehrmacht High Command and Army High Command areas, however, increased only by 313,292. Even if one assumes that a higher number of prisoners were released as "auxiliaries" and that there were errors in the reports in the magnitude of several thousand, the difference of 782,949 necessarily leads to the assumption that deaths in this period reached a high six-digit figure. This can also be concluded for the already quoted Army High Command order of December 1942, in which it is mentioned that mortality has again "increased considerably".
The sources available for the Wehrmacht High Command area harden this assumption. Despite constant transports from the Army High Command area the number of Soviet prisoners in the Wehrmacht High Command area, according to the monthly reports of the prisoner of war department, steadily diminished between 1 October 1942 and 1 August 1943 – from 1,118,011 to 807,603. In August 1943 it slightly increased [to 811,663, as becomes apparent from a graph on page 245, translator’s note], but then continued to drop to 766,314 until 1 December 1943, which means that on the whole there was a reduction of at least 355,757. As in the Wehrmacht High Command area releases of prisoners did not reach a very high volume, the number of deaths in the Wehrmacht High Command area between 1 October 1942 and 1 December 1943 must have reached an order of magnitude of at least 250,000 to 300,000, especially as in this calculation the arrivals from the Army High Command area, which reached at least a six-digit number, are not taken into account.
The temporary sequence of the mortality becomes a little clearer through the numbers available for the territory of the Reich. Also here the data are insufficient for a more detailed description, as in the fewest cases something can be found out about the increase due to transports from the East. Drastically diminishing numbers make clear, however, that in the autumn of 1942 and in the spring of 1943 mortality was especially high. Thus the number of prisoners on the territory of the Reich dropped from 713,325 to 636,219 (minus 77,106 = 10.8 %) in November alone; in January 1943 the number dropped by 7,220, increased in February due to new transports, to again drop by 12,605 (1.88 %) in March and 22,028 (3.35 %) in April 1943 to 634,942. The lowest point was reached on 1 August 1943 with 623,999 prisoners on the territory of the Reich. From then on the number slowly, but continuously grew until 1 December 1944. The presence numbers are misleading also in this respect, however; while according to them the number of prisoners on the territory of the Reich increased only by about 50,000 from 630,000 to 680,000 between 1 July and mid-November 1943, the German coal mining industry alone received 88,790 additional prisoners in this period.
For the year 1944 the presence numbers on prisoners of war no longer allow for conclusions, given that in the effort to provide manpower to the German war industry and to evacuate the prisoners from the combat zones before the advancing Allies transports of prisoners were constantly rolling into the camps of the Reich. The high mortality of the Soviet prisoners did not diminish, however; on the contrary much speaks for the assumption that in the last months of the war it again increased considerably.
A minimum number results from the listing of the prisoners registered at the Wehrmacht Information Bureau. There only a small part of the Soviet prisoners were registered, the maximum being reached with 647,545 in July 1943. After this time obviously no additional prisoners were recorded. In the time from 18 December 1943 to 21 August 1944 the number of these registered prisoners diminished by 21,730 from 621,480 to 599,750. The total number of deaths must have been considerably higher, however.
Among the prisoners the consequences of constant undernourishment and excessive physical effort were now beginning to show. Sickness and mortality increased drastically after the turn of the year 1943/44. Some examples may prove this.
The Armament Command Dortmund remarked in its report for the first quarter of 1944 that the feeding difficulties due to lack of potatoes and vegetables had especially affected the working performance of the Soviet prisoners of war, the "eastern workers" and the Italian military internees, and that the sickness rate was up to 50 per cent: "Deaths due to undernourishment are on the rise. "
Interesting in this context is an examination report by the Counseling Hygienist at the Defense District Physician VI of 23 June 1944, which the commander of prisoners of war in Defense District VI, Düsseldorf, sent to the District Group Hard Coal Mining Ruhr. According to this report of the Soviet prisoners in Defense District VI at this time ten per cent were sick to the point of requiring ambulatory treatment and another 8 per cent to the point of requiring hospital treatment. The situation of Italian military internees ("IMIs") was little better. The high number of sick had led to prisoner hospitals being temporarily closed to new admissions. Most of the sick came from mining, which the reporting hygienist considered "all the more noteworthy as the mines receive […] the prisoners best qualified". In the second half of May, he wrote, "a slight reduction of the number of sick" had occurred, but

the arrival of sick, especially emaciated, completely exhausted Russians and Italians suffering from edema and lung tuberculosis continues to be a source of concern.

The number of deaths during the work in the mines itself had also increased considerably, the number of cases where inner diseases were the cause of death tripling between October 1943 and April 1944.
Another source shows that between 1 January and 30 June 1944 alone in the Ruhr mines alone 8,922 Soviet prisoners, eastern workers and "IMIs" were sent back to the camps as "definitively unfit for mining". Included in this number were 7,429 cases of tuberculosis and a number of deaths not mentioned. It must be taken into account that in the camps where these human wrecks "definitively unfit for mining" were taken the mortality was unequally higher.
This high rate of sickness and death was not only present in the Ruhr area. Armament Inspection VIIIb, Kattowitz, which in April 1944 insisted with the commander of the prisoners of war in Breslau that the workforce of Soviet prisoners of war in mining should be better taken advantage of through longer working hours, had to hear that "losses due to undernourishment and tuberculosis" in mining were "especially high". In July this armament inspection remarked that the health situation of Soviet prisoners of war was the cause of "serious concerns", which in August 1944 turned to "extremely serious concerns". In a letter yet to be examined in more detail, in which the Wehrmacht High Command’s prisoner of war department at the beginning of September 1944 complained to the Reich Coal Association about the "extraordinarily high consumption [sic!] of Soviet prisoner of war workers", the "losses" in Upper Silesian mining in the first half year of 1944 were given as 10,963. 818 prisoners had fled, 639 had died in the mines, 7,914 had been taken back to the base camps due to disease, and 1,592 had been taken to prisoner hospitals. The District Group Hard Coal Mining of Upper Silesia pointed out in a memorandum in this respect that the greatest part of the sick prisoners suffered from tuberculosis; according to reports of military entities there had been more than 4,000 Soviet prisoners with tuberculosis in Base Camp 344 Lamsdorf in July 1944 alone, of whom "according to the statements of the doctor treating them 500 to 600 were lost every week through death".
From the mentioned letter by the Wehrmacht High Command’s prisoner of war department of 4 September it becomes apparent that in the first half year of 1944 32,236 Soviet prisoners of war employed in coal mining had been reported as "losses" due to death or incapacity to work – 1,495 more than the number of new prisoners allocated to the Reich Coal Association in the same period. The Wehrmacht High Command’s prisoner of war department on the basis hereof calculated an "average monthly consumption of Soviet prisoners of war in hard coal mining of about 5,000 workers or 3.3 %". It seems, however, that Upper Silesian mining was not even on top, because the manager of the Reich Coal Association, Martin Sogemeier, on 8 December 1944 remarked in a letter to the District Group Hard Coal Mining for Central Germany that he had noticed

the losses of [Soviet] prisoners of war due to complete incapacity to work or death in your area to be far above the average of hard coal mining as a whole.

All available numbers provide no concrete indications about the scale of mortality. The high number of prisoners sick with tuberculosis, however, which as everything indicates still rose, seems to be a sufficient indication that most of the Soviet prisoners were at the end of their strength. Undernourishment over a period of months if not years, lack of vitamins, constant excessive effort, and a life in unhygienic, close quarters badly heated or not heated at all, had contributed to increasing their susceptibility for deficiency diseases, especially lung tuberculosis, to an extent that these diseases now spread like epidemics and led to death considerably faster and much more often than is normally the case with tuberculosis.


What we see here is the callous use of underfed prisoners in backbreaking work under miserable conditions of accommodation and hygiene, regardless of how many died – a situation similar to that of Nazi concentration camps and the labor camps of the Soviet Gulag. What we don’t see, in my opinion, is a policy of deliberate mass killing in the sense of Snyder’s above-quoted definition. If Snyder nevertheless included in his count the about 1 million Soviet POWs who perished between the spring of 1942 and the end of the war, he should also have included civilians who perished in Nazi or Soviet concentration or forced labor camps located in the "bloodlands". In this context it should be pointed out that the majority but not all Soviet POW deaths occurred on the territory of the "bloodlands". According to Streit (as above, p. 135), 72,000 out of 390,000 Soviet POWs on German Reich territory died in December 1941 alone.

As concerns the Jewish victims – Snyder counts 5.4 killed by the Germans, not including those killed by Germany’s Romanian ally -, one can also not say that all of them fell victim to a policy in which mass death was "an end in itself or a means to some other end". The Jews who succumbed to hardship in ghettos and camps before the Nazis decided to murder all of Europe’s Jews - i.e. before the middle or the end of 1941, depending on whether the decision for Europe-wide killing was already taken at the time when mobile killing squads started wiping out entire Jewish communities in the Soviet Union, or only at or after Hitler’s meeting with high-ranking Nazi party officials on 12 December 1941, as Gerlach argues in his article The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitlers Decision in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews – can hardly be counted as victims of a policy of deliberate mass killing, and neither can those who died of starvation and disease in Nazi concentration camps after Himmler called an end to the extermination program. According to Hilberg (The Destruction of the European Jews, 1985 Student Edition by Holmes & Maier New York – London, p. 252), Himmler decided in November 1944 that "for all practical purposes the Jewish question had been solved". The same author provided a chronological breakdown (Destruction, p. 339) whereby about 100,000 Jews died in each of the periods 1933-1940 and 1945. Mortality in the Warsaw ghetto was very high already before the German attack on the Soviet Union.

This takes us to the question whether Snyder’s break-off criterion of "deliberate mass killing" is workable and meaningful. Where does one draw the line between actions in which mass death is "an end in itself or a means to some other end" one the one hand, and on the other hand actions in which mass death is "only" a foreseeable and callously accepted consequence of policies implemented? And does it really matter, for the purpose of a regime’s historical and criminal indictment, whether and to what extent the killers meant to kill non-combatants as "an end in itself or a means to some other end" or simply didn’t care about how many non-combatants would be killed by their criminal actions? Both attitudes are criminal. Both qualify as murder, even if only the former can be considered first-degree murder. Applying the ampler criterion of non-combatants killed by criminal behavior, I arrived at an estimate of at least 12.5 million victims of Nazi criminal violence. German historian Dieter Pohl estimates the number of Nazi murder victims in this ampler sense at 12 to 14 million – without including, unlike Snyder and I do, the about one million deaths in besieged Leningrad.

Snyder himself doesn’t seem to be quite sure about the consistency of his criterion, as suggested by the excerpts from Bloodlands quoted hereafter (italics in the following quotes, like in the preceding ones, are Snyder’s).

Page 403:
The Germans deliberately killed perhaps 3.2 million civilians and prisoners of war who were native to Soviet Russia: fewer in absolute terms than in Soviet Ukraine or in Poland, much smaller countries, each with about a fifth of Russia’s population.


Page 404:
The lands of today’s Ukraine were at the center of both Stalinist and Nazi killing policies throughout the era of mass killing. Some 3.5 million people fell victim to Stalinist killing policies between 1933 and 1938, and then another 3.5 million to German killing policies between 1941 and 1944. Perhaps three million more inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine died in combat or as an indirect consequence of the war.


Pages 405/406:
About as many Poles were killed in the bombing of Warsaw in 1939 as Germans were killed in the bombing of Dresden in 1945. For Poles, that bombing was just the beginning of one of the bloodiest occupations of the war, in which Germans killed millions of Polish citizens. More Poles were killed during the Warsaw Uprising than Japanese died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A non-Jewish Pole in Warsaw alive in 1933 had about the same chances of living until 1945 as a Jew in Germany alive in 1933. Nearly as many non-Jewish Poles were murdered during the war as European Jews were gassed at Auschwitz. For that matter, more non-Jewish Poles died at Auschwitz than did Jews of any European country, with only two exceptions: Hungary and Poland itself.
[…]
Poland probably lost about a million non-Jewish civilians to the Germans and about a hundred thousand more to the Soviets. Perhaps another million Poles died as a result of mistreatment or as casualties of war.
[…]
Of the more than four million Polish citizens murdered by the Germans, about three million were Jews.


Page 501, footnote 6:
Filimoshin ("Ob itogakh", 124) gives an estimate of 1.8 million civilians deliberately killed under German occupation; to this I would add about a million starved prisoners of war and about four hundred thousand undercounted deaths from the siege of Leningrad. So, with both civilians and prisoners of war included, and very roughly, I would estimate 2.6 million Jews and 3.2 million inhabitants of Soviet Russia killed as civilians or prisoners of war.


Page 505, footnote 15:
The most significant German crime in Soviet Russia was the deliberate starvation of Leningrad, in which about a million people died. The Germans killed a relatively small number of Jews in Soviet Russia, perhaps sixty thousand. They also killed at least a million Soviet prisoners of war from Soviet Russia in the Dulags and the Stalags, These people are usually reckoned as military losses in Soviet and Russian estimates; since I am counting them as victims of a deliberate killing policy, I am increasing the estimate of 1.8 million in Filimoshin, "Ob itogakh", 124. I believe that the Russian estimate for deaths in Leningrad is too low by about four hundred thousand people, so I add that as well.


The 3.2 million Russian civilians and prisoners of war mentioned on pages 403, 501 and 505 include one million POWs of Russian ethnicity, one million Leningrad inhabitants and 1.2 million other civilians, thereof only 60,000 Jews. Of these civilians Snyder includes in his 14-million estimate only those killed in anti-partisan reprisals and killing operations, which according to Pohl (Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht, pp. 296/297) accounted for about 160,000 – 200,000 victims in the Wehrmacht operational area, of which the western fringe of Russia was only a part. Thus the overwhelming majority of these 1.2 million other Russian civilian victims belong to categories not included in Snyder’s count of 14 million murder victims (e.g. the Russian civilians in the area of the Battle for Moscow who froze to death after being deprived of their winter clothing and their homes by the German occupiers, as mentioned in Anthony Beevor’s Stalingrad) Yet here Snyder is counting them for the purpose of comparing the number of ethnic Jews and ethnic Russians deliberately killed under German occupation.

The 3.5 million victims of "German killing policies" in Ukraine between 1941 and 1944 may also include a significant number of people who were neither Jews nor Soviet prisoners of war and are also not included in Snyder’s figure of "seven hundred thousand civilians (mostly Belarusians and Poles) shot by the Germans in reprisals chiefly in Belarus and Warsaw in 1941-1944" (p. 411, see above quote). On the territory of Soviet Belarus, "some 1.6 million were killed by the Germans in actions away from battlefields, including about 700,000 prisoners of war, 500,000 Jews and 320,000 people counted as partisans (the vast majority of whom were unarmed civilians)" (pp. 250/251). That leaves just about 380,000 of the 700,000 civilian reprisal victims for Poland (thereof 150,000 Polish noncombatants killed during the Warsaw Uprising in August and September 1944, p. 308), Ukraine and the remaining Soviet territory, which means that a significant part of the about one million non-Jewish Polish civilians mentioned on page 406 as lost to the Germans or murdered by the Germans are not included in the breakdown of the 14 million murder victims on page 411.

Snyder could have avoided these inconsistencies if he had applied the criterion of non-combatant mass death as a result of criminal policies and actions, instead of his unworkable distinction criterion of "deliberate mass killing" in which mass death is not just a foreseeable and accepted consequence of criminal policies and actions but "an end in itself or a means to some other end". Counting deaths under the former, ampler criterion would also have brought him closer to a complete reckoning of all the death that German and Soviet power brought to the region covered by his study, which I think is what a history of the "bloodlands" should endeavor to achieve. [Edited on 27.04.2012 to replace broken links.)

82 comments:

Sam said...

I just happened to check today after a while to see if there are any new comments in the Snyder exchange, and I saw this - I read this post very quickly, interesting points, ll read it a little more carefully some other time.

Snyder's thesis about the Russian POW's also misses or is confused and contradicting as to who ordered it, when, when did it kick into effect, etc - anything that you would expect of a German policy. Also, he misses numbers as to how many died in different times, that may document a policy. He mentions somewhere at the end that all these are "counts", not estimates, if there are counts, the Germans I assume would have kept the records, as to who, when etc died.

Also, he leaves out what role Stalin's "scorched earth" policy and his refusal to accept (as a deterrent to surrender) that there are any Soviet POW's in German hands, important factors to my opinion when you dealing on how to feed millions of people (did the Red Cross try to help?).

Also, if I surmise correctly, he seems to suggest that Hitler had decided to kill "unwanted Slav populations" BEFORE he decided to kill the Jews, hmmm.

I read some more of his book incl. the Ukrainian famine, the guy got too many problems in every page turn, too many to discuss in a holiday season of joy and not "blood".

Sam said...

I thought I posted a couple of longer comments which I don't see ...

Just one point: If I surmise correctly, Snyder tells us that Hitler decided to kill "unwanted Slav populations" BEFORE he decided to kill the Jews, is that correct?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

I thought I posted a couple of longer comments which I don't see ...

Please try again. I'll track this thread to receive your replies by e-mail, so if they don't appear on the board I'll copy them over.

Just one point: If I surmise correctly, Snyder tells us that Hitler decided to kill "unwanted Slav populations" BEFORE he decided to kill the Jews, is that correct?

More or less, and like with most if not all of what Snyder "tells us", that's nothing new. In Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord, German historian Christian Gerlach writes the following (my translation, from the blog One might think that …):

The science of history has long concerned itself with the German extermination policy in the first years of the war against the Soviet Union. It was in a certain way the preamble of mass murders to an extent unknown until then. In order to make this development clear, it may be helpful to distinguish between two phases: had the NS regime suddenly come to an end in May 1941, it would have remained infamous mainly due to the murder of 70,000 sick and disabled in the so-called "euthanasia" action, of several ten thousand Jewish and non-Jewish Poles and of many thousand concentration camp inmates in the German Reich. Towards the end of the year 1941 the number of victims of the German policy of violence had grown by over three million people (not counting Red Army troops killed in combat) – thereof about 900,000 Jews, nine-tenths thereof in the occupied Soviet territories, and about two million Soviet prisoners of war. [Footnote: Further huge number of victims had until then been claimed by the German policy of alleged anti-partisan fighting (at least 100,000 people, mainly in Belorussia, Central Russia and Serbia) and by the hunger blockade against Leningrad with hundreds of thousands of dead.] Only in the course of the year 1942 the Jewish population of Europe became the largest group of victims of German extermination policy.

Sam said...

The above passage tells us when the Jews started becoming the largest victim, but I gather from Snyder that Hitler's DESIGNS of extermination of the Jews came AFTER his designs for extermination of Slavs, which I can see why it may upset many Jewish scholars.

I read some more of his book, ie the Ukrainian famine, Snyder has many problems, I believe, there too. Perhaps I should read it again, but at first reading I see some of the same internal contradictions, missing pieces, and forced conclusions as with his Russian POW thesis.

One quick thing re: famine, he refers to Vassily Grossman and Arthur Koestler as first hand eye-witnesses, who, as Snyders says, told us about the atrocities many years later. Why the delay? Wasn't Koestler a NY Times columnist?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The above passage tells us when the Jews started becoming the largest victim, but I gather from Snyder that Hitler's DESIGNS of extermination of the Jews came AFTER his designs for extermination of Slavs, which I can see why it may upset many Jewish scholars.

From what parts of Snyder's book do you gather that Hitler intended to exterminate (and not "only" decimate) the Slavs of the Soviet Union and Poland, and that the plan of wholesale extermination of the Jews only came up afterwards? I understand that there was already a plan to carry out the "final solution" after the war and that the failure to bring down the Soviet Union and implement the intended starvation plan led to the decision to implement the "final solution" right away.

I read some more of his book, ie the Ukrainian famine, Snyder has many problems, I believe, there too. Perhaps I should read it again, but at first reading I see some of the same internal contradictions, missing pieces, and forced conclusions as with his Russian POW thesis.

As I wrote in the blog, one should distinguish between the about 2 million Soviet POWs who died in 1941/42 (in regard to which a top-level decision to let them starve can be made out) and the other million who died between 1942 and the end of the war (regarding which there was no such decision but brutality and neglect out of contempt for the "subhuman" Soviets took its toll). It's murder either way, as I also wrote, and I don't consider Snyder's distinction of deliberate vs. not-so-deliberate killing very useful.

One quick thing re: famine, he refers to Vassily Grossman and Arthur Koestler as first hand eye-witnesses, who, as Snyders says, told us about the atrocities many years later. Why the delay? Wasn't Koestler a NY Times columnist?

IIRC he was also a faithful communist at the time, trying to convince himself that the horrors he saw were necessary for the greater good of mankind, and only opened up after he abandoned that viewpoint.

Sam said...

SLAVS:
“ [For] German planners … the intention was to kill tens of millions. “ …“Hitler … planned in advance to starve unwanted Soviet populations to death” (p162)
(“planned in advance” is in Italics in the original for extra emphasis.
No “decimation” here, loud and clear: killings
– “in advance” I assume means before June of 1941 and most likely as early as 1939, based on the “Hunger Plan”.
Also as I mentioned before, in his preface, he tells us that, had everything gone according to plan - war over by fall - 30 million Slavs would have been intentionally starved to death in the first winter.)

JEWS:
“By late 1941, the Nazi leadership has already considered, and been forced to abandon, four distinct version of the Final Solution” page 184
(Final Solution here as “resettlement”, in other parts of the book he also mentions it again, he also tells us later that in Dec. of 1941 Hitler announced his decision to kill the Jews)

So it is rather clear, that, according to Snyder, the decision to kill the Jews came AFTER the decision to kill “unwanted Slav populations”.
Apparently, the progress of the war - reaching the gates of Moscow but not outright winning it- forced Hitler to abandon the killing of the “unwanted” Slavs, at least in the grant scale it was envisioned, (don’t know why, since they were already in his hands), and instead he moved to exterminate the Jews (Snyder doesn’t quite explain it clearly either, since now the Germans had plenty of Soviet dumping grounds for Jews and could have worked them to death there as envisioned in Final Solution #4).

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

SLAVS:
“ [For] German planners … the intention was to kill tens of millions. “ …“Hitler … planned in advance to starve unwanted Soviet populations to death” (p162)
(“planned in advance” is in Italics in the original for extra emphasis.
No “decimation” here, loud and clear: killings
– “in advance” I assume means before June of 1941 and most likely as early as 1939, based on the “Hunger Plan”.
Also as I mentioned before, in his preface, he tells us that, had everything gone according to plan - war over by fall - 30 million Slavs would have been intentionally starved to death in the first winter.)


Unless the Slav population amounted to just 30 million, the objective was still decimation, not extermination. As early as 1939 is out of the question, for the earliest Hunger Plan document is the Protocol of a meeting of the secretaries of state on 2.5.1941. 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.


Try to do without the silly "he tells us that", by the way. What Snyder "tells us" is not only well-documented but was researched and pointed out by Gerlach ten years before Snyder's book.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

JEWS:
“By late 1941, the Nazi leadership has already considered, and been forced to abandon, four distinct version of the Final Solution” page 184
(Final Solution here as “resettlement”, in other parts of the book he also mentions it again, he also tells us later that in Dec. of 1941 Hitler announced his decision to kill the Jews)


All Jews of Europe, that is. The Jews of the Soviet Union had been systematically slaughtered since the summer of 1941. Hitler's go-ahead for extending the killing program to Polish, German and other European Jews is documented in Goebbels' diary entry of 12 December 1941, Frank's speech on 16 December 1941 and other references to Hitler's utterances - again, as pointed out by Gerlach long before Snyder.

So it is rather clear, that, according to Snyder, the decision to kill the Jews came AFTER the decision to kill “unwanted Slav populations”.

Correct except for the Soviet Jews, who started being wiped out several months earlier, and it was more a matter of anticipating something that originally was meant to be done only after the war's victorious conclusion.

Apparently, the progress of the war - reaching the gates of Moscow but not outright winning it- forced Hitler to abandon the killing of the “unwanted” Slavs, at least in the grant scale it was envisioned, (don’t know why, since they were already in his hands),

Mainly because you can't seal off whole cities and regions with just a few security divisions, as opposed to the millions of troops that would have been available for the purpose had the Soviet Union collapsed. Haven't we been there before?

and instead he moved to exterminate the Jews (Snyder doesn’t quite explain it clearly either, since now the Germans had plenty of Soviet dumping grounds for Jews and could have worked them to death there as envisioned in Final Solution #4).

Take millions of useless eaters to areas meant to be rid of useless eaters in order to free food supplies for the Wehrmacht and the Home Front? Hardly a good idea. Moreover use lots of transport space and other resources to move and resettle those millions, and burden rear area security with countless perceived potential subversives? A lousy idea, also considering that the "dumping ground" might not be in German hands for long. Better kill them. Killing was the easier, cheaper and safer way to get rid of them.

Sam said...

The 30 million intended starvations was just for the first winter, there were tens of millions more coming afterwards (Snyder, page ix)

I guess Gerlach, Snyder, or maybe you as well, are saying that had the Soviet Union collapsed by autumn, the German army would have surrounded and sealed Soviet cities and waited until all of their residents died. All that with the world and their own Germans citizens watching in apathy? (and no, we haven’t been there before). Gerlach also talks about the third year of year, not sure if that means the Soviet war, or since 1939)

And how do you starve to death 30 million in one winter? People those days stored food for the winter, definitely in the countryside, and likely even in cities? (I assume even more so this particular winter since the summer harvest was good) What would the Germans have done, go farmhouse-to-farmhouse and door-to-door to take away the food? Even Snyder himself at some later point concedes the impossibility of such a task. So his “had all gone according to plan … 30 million would have been starved to death in the first winter “ is pure nonsense if you ask me, and that’s if someone wants to be nice to the guy.

Sam said...

[I spent a little time over the weekend to see what other historians say (whatever it was available at the bookstore), all that follows contain some of their comments]

SEIGES of Soviet cities (more later on Leningrad specifically):
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Snyder can’t make up his mind if the Germans wanted to starve them to death or not really. (see Kiev)

FIRST LET'S HEAR IT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH, THE GERMAN LEADERS::

“Hitler declared that it was his firm intention ‘to raze Moscow and Leningrad to the ground, so as to prevent people staying there and obliging us to feed them through the winter. These cities are to be annihilated by the air force’. “(Evans, “The Third Reich at War”, p192)

“ The Kiev experience led Goering to state that it was more trouble than it was worth to occupy big cities especially as Germany would then be ‘responsible for the food supply’”
(“Hitler’s Empire”, p 174)

I also believe I read somewhere that ONE of the reasons Hitler did not want to go take on Moscow was that he didn’t want to have to deal with feeding the millions of it’s residents.

Are those above the same Hitler and Goering who wanted to starve to death millions of people in the first winter in Soviet cities if everything went “according to plan”? Would they have then loved to be ‘obliged’ and ‘responsible’ for the food supply? (Even the ‘annihilation’ by the air force didn’t happen, as we know)


Let’s see also what OTHER HISTORIANS say about the cities and the food situation in cities and in general:

“From August, things got worse still. The Wehsmacht was now entering areas devastated by the Red Army’s scorched earth tactics, and food was in short supply.” (Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire” How the Nazis Ruled Europe, p 174)

“ In fact the entire Soviet population was affected, not just the POW’s – especially in towns. Many urban areas had been devastated by the fighting, by sabotage, or by explosives that the NKVD planted to detonate after they withdrew” (“Hitler’s Empire”, p 173)

“[Soviet cities and towns] were deliberately starved of supplies by the German conquerors who requisitioned the bulk of foodstuffs for themselves, in a situation already rendered critical by the removal of large quantities of food by the retreating Red Army.”
(Evans, “The Third Reich at War”, p192)

“Soviet and Russian sources agree …that the Germans never wanted to take responsibility of a vast urban area with millions of people [Leningrad] …”, Chris Bellamy, “Absolute War”, p 357)


“Never did a population suffer so much from both sides in a war. Stalin [ordered] to ‘destroy and burn’ all houses and farms … to deny the enemy shelter. The fate of Russian women and children was not considered for a moment.” (Beevor, p 45)

“The Red Army polluted the wells during the retreat …Supplies that could not be used were rendered unusable. .. ‘poured gasoline over grain supplies’ .. ‘with phosphorus bombs .. they set the steppe on fire’ ..” ( Beevor, p 87)

[But the Cossacks, who refused to obey Stalin’s orders, had plenty of food -not just saddles per Goerring. Beevor, somewhere]

Sam said...

SEIGE OF LENINGRAD

As far as I can see, Snyder devotes a whopping 2 (two) and a quarter pages (from which half is taken by personal stories) to make his case that the Germans “deliberately” starved to death “about 1 million people” in Leningrad (pages: bottom of 172 to top of 175).

NUREMBERG TRIALS: Again as far as I see, in the verdict (and indictment) of the Nuremberg trials (the link you posted), the Germans leaders were NOT accused or convicted of starving to death a million people. Apparently, Snyder’s “deliberate” killing of 1 mil. thru starvation, was not considered by the Soviets and their allies a war crime or a crime against humanity.

SNYDER:
“…Hitler wanted the population of Leningrad exterminated…”
“The surrender of the city was not forthcoming, but had it come it would not have been accepted. The German goal was to starve Leningrad out of existence”
(Snyder, p 173)

OTHER HISTORIANS:

“[Stalin’s] lack of concern for the starving population was as callous as that of Hitler” (Beevor, “Stalingrad”, p37)

“ The fact that the two sides were content to let 3.5 mil. people starve and freeze to death is perhaps just another indicator of the ‘absolute’ nature of the war”, Absolute War, p 356)

“[The German plan was that] once [Leningrad] had been worn down by terror and hunger, a few passages were to be opened and defenseless people let out, and deported …” (“Absolute war”, p 356)

“Soviet and Russian sources agree …that the Germans never wanted to take responsibility of a vast urban area with millions of people [Leningrad] …”, Chris Bellamy, “Absolute War”, p 357)

“More civilians might have been evacuated …but that would have left the authorities to potential fatal accusations of defeatism” (Allan Warren, “WW2 A military history”, p 110)

“[The Soviets ordered that] negotiations with the civil population are not permitted. The Germans captured a copy, which was an absolute gift to their propaganda department. (Bellamy, p 367)

“Trains that may have been used to bring in extra food have been used to evacuate industry.
Firewood was harvested … every autumn. But by Sept. 8, when the city was cut-off, the annual wood-cutting had not begun. Two-and-a-half million people, a Russian winter, and none of the usual massive stocks of firewood...” (Chris Bellamy, “Absolute War”, p 359)

Sam said...

SIEGE OF LENINGRAD (continued)

Some other questions also arise from Snyder’s page:

a) since the Fins cut off Leningrad from the North and participated in the siege for a while, esp. the first dreadful winter with the most victims, should they also be held accountable for the deaths?

b) what were the Red Cross or other international relief organizations doing at the time? Did they try to help and were turned away - like in the case of Greece/British blockade?

c) As per Beevor, the Germans had clear air superiority until December Why not bomb the city to ruins and firebomb its citizens to charcoal, Dresden-style?

d) The ONE MILLION figure: Snyder in a footnote bases it on Western historians, and not on the 632,000 figure that the Soviets themselves provided. I understand why Snyder and other western historians wouldn’t wanna take too seriously anything that came from the Soviets (see Katyn, human soap factories, 4 mil. exterminated at Auschwitz and 3 at Treblinka, one-ball Hitler, etc), but why raise the number? Also, towards the end of his book Snyder says that these are “counts, not demographic estimates”. Who else besides the Soviets ‘counted’?

In any case, what were (or are) the international warfare conventions, if any, or human decency rules for sieges of cities? Is the army that holds siege supposed to feed you? If you are besieged do you fight it out to death, or are you supposed to surrender (like a surrounded army) to spare agony and death on your civilian population? If you really want to defend your city to the bitter end, are you maybe supposed to evacuate your civilian population? If not, is there always a clear distinction between civilians and combatants? ( “thousands of children fought and died in the ‘blockade’ [of Leningrad]… many joined the partisans” Absolute War, p 372)

I frankly don’t know the answers and I am not even sure there are any easy answers anyways, as often with war, especially a “total” or “absolute” war like this one.. Perhaps, maybe that’s why the Soviets didn’t consider the starvation of their Leningrad citizens a German war crime.

(and one small aside; what’s a sickle doing in Leningrad in a physicist’s home? [insert your insults here :- ) ] )

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

He must be quite something, this Snyder fellow, judging by how he keeps giving my friend Sam sleepless nights after I have already moved on to other subjects.

So let’s see what I can do for my distraught friend.

The 30 million intended starvations was just for the first winter, there were tens of millions more coming afterwards (Snyder, page ix)

I guess Gerlach, Snyder, or maybe you as well, are saying that had the Soviet Union collapsed by autumn, the German army would have surrounded and sealed Soviet cities and waited until all of their residents died.


Soviet cities and the northern forest region of Russia were dependent on food from black soil areas. If those essential food imports were diverted to the German army and the German home front, people in those cities and regions depending on food imports would have starved. Pretty simple, really.

All that with the world and their own Germans citizens watching in apathy? (and no, we haven’t been there before).

The Nazis wouldn't necessarily have cared about world opinion or that of their own people once they were victorious, would they? Besides, neither of the two would get to know much with the Nazis in control of information.

Gerlach also talks about the third year of year, not sure if that means the Soviet war, or since 1939)

Since 1939.

And how do you starve to death 30 million in one winter?

By giving cities and other food-deficit areas the Leningrad treatment, withholding the food supplies from agricultural regions that they need to survive.

People those days stored food for the winter, definitely in the countryside, and likely even in cities? (I assume even more so this particular winter since the summer harvest was good)

Farmers in agricultural Ukraine would not have starved and were neither intended to. Cities like Leningrad had central warehouses that the population depended on for food. Destroy them (as was done with the Badayev warehouses in Leningrad, burned down by German firebombs) or don’t allow food to get there, and the inhabitants will starve.

What would the Germans have done, go farmhouse-to-farmhouse and door-to-door to take away the food?

They very much did that in all occupied areas, leading to the so-called Kahlfrasszonen where many people starved. Not so much in agricultural regions like Ukraine, but certainly in regions depending on food imports from agricultural areas.

Even Snyder himself at some later point concedes the impossibility of such a task.

With the forces at hand as long as the Soviet Union had not been subdued, it was impossible. With the forces that would have been available had the Soviet Union collapsed, it would not have been.

So his “had all gone according to plan … 30 million would have been starved to death in the first winter “ is pure nonsense if you ask me, and that’s if someone wants to be nice to the guy.

I don’t ask you, and your hostility towards "the guy" is quite amusing. Sour grapes, or is it Snyder's talent in putting off Hitler-huggers and Jewish "uniqueness" apostles at the same time?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

[I spent a little time over the weekend to see what other historians say (whatever it was available at the bookstore), all that follows contain some of their comments]

SEIGES of Soviet cities (more later on Leningrad specifically):
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Snyder can’t make up his mind if the Germans wanted to starve them to death or not really. (see Kiev)


Please explain.

FIRST LET'S HEAR IT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH, THE GERMAN LEADERS::

“Hitler declared that it was his firm intention ‘to raze Moscow and Leningrad to the ground, so as to prevent people staying there and obliging us to feed them through the winter. These cities are to be annihilated by the air force’. “(Evans, “The Third Reich at War”, p192)

“ The Kiev experience led Goering to state that it was more trouble than it was worth to occupy big cities especially as Germany would then be ‘responsible for the food supply’”
(“Hitler’s Empire”, p 174)

I also believe I read somewhere that ONE of the reasons Hitler did not want to go take on Moscow was that he didn’t want to have to deal with feeding the millions of it’s residents.


He didn't want Moscow taken, for sure. He wanted it destroyed and its people wiped out. He even said something about a giant lake to be made where Moscow had been, IIRC.

Are those above the same Hitler and Goering who wanted to starve to death millions of people in the first winter in Soviet cities if everything went “according to plan”? Would they have then loved to be ‘obliged’ and ‘responsible’ for the food supply? (Even the ‘annihilation’ by the air force didn’t happen, as we know)

Everything going according to plan meant the Soviet Union collapsing - which, if I remember correctly, had not yet happened when those instructions re Leningrad and Moscow were given. Besides, by wiping out these cities through siege warfare – as opposed to taking them and then allowing their inhabitants to starve – the project could be given the semblance of a military action, which always looks a little better (or so Hitler et al may have thought).

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Let’s see also what OTHER HISTORIANS say about the cities and the food situation in cities and in general:

“From August, things got worse still. The Wehsmacht was now entering areas devastated by the Red Army’s scorched earth tactics, and food was in short supply.” (Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire” How the Nazis Ruled Europe, p 174)

“ In fact the entire Soviet population was affected, not just the POW’s – especially in towns. Many urban areas had been devastated by the fighting, by sabotage, or by explosives that the NKVD planted to detonate after they withdrew” (“Hitler’s Empire”, p 173)

“[Soviet cities and towns] were deliberately starved of supplies by the German conquerors who requisitioned the bulk of foodstuffs for themselves, in a situation already rendered critical by the removal of large quantities of food by the retreating Red Army.”
(Evans, “The Third Reich at War”, p192)

“Soviet and Russian sources agree …that the Germans never wanted to take responsibility of a vast urban area with millions of people [Leningrad] …”, Chris Bellamy, “Absolute War”, p 357)

“Never did a population suffer so much from both sides in a war. Stalin [ordered] to ‘destroy and burn’ all houses and farms … to deny the enemy shelter. The fate of Russian women and children was not considered for a moment.” (Beevor, p 45)

“The Red Army polluted the wells during the retreat …Supplies that could not be used were rendered unusable. .. ‘poured gasoline over grain supplies’ .. ‘with phosphorus bombs .. they set the steppe on fire’ ..” ( Beevor, p 87)

[But the Cossacks, who refused to obey Stalin’s orders, had plenty of food -not just saddles per Goerring. Beevor, somewhere]


So, what’s the poet trying to tell us here? That Soviet scorched-earth tactics (something he seems to be obsessed with) also contributed to the dire straits of the Soviet population and Soviet prisoners of war in 1941/42? Thanks, we know that. And it doesn’t change the fact that a leading Nazi official pointed out the following:

It is understood, of course, that there are difficulties encountered in the feeding of such a large number of prisoners of war. Anyhow, with a certain amount of understanding for goals aimed at by German politics, dying and deterioration could have been avoided in the extent described. For instance, according to information on hand, the native population within the Soviet Union are absolutely willing to put food at the disposal of the prisoners of war. Several understanding camp commanders have successfully chosen this course. However in the majority of the cases, the camp commanders have forbidden the civilian population to put food at the disposal of the prisoners, and they have rather let them starve to death.

The effects of Soviet scorched-earth policy on food supply cannot have been all that bad if the Soviet native population was "absolutely willing to put food at the disposal of prisoners of war". Presumably that was mostly the case in the agricultural regions where there was a food surplus before German requisitions took their toll. In the food-deficit regions that willingness must have been less marked – not because they were more affected by Soviet scorched-earth policies than the agricultural regions, but because they didn't have much food to start with.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

SEIGE OF LENINGRAD

As far as I can see, Snyder devotes a whopping 2 (two) and a quarter pages (from which half is taken by personal stories) to make his case that the Germans “deliberately” starved to death “about 1 million people” in Leningrad (pages: bottom of 172 to top of 175).

NUREMBERG TRIALS: Again as far as I see, in the verdict (and indictment) of the Nuremberg trials (the link you posted), the Germans leaders were NOT accused or convicted of starving to death a million people. Apparently, Snyder’s “deliberate” killing of 1 mil. thru starvation, was not considered by the Soviets and their allies a war crime or a crime against humanity.


The siege was mentioned as follows in Councellor Smirnov’s presentation on 19 February 1946:

In order to shorten any quotation from the Extraordinary Commission's report on Leningrad-although, being a citizen of Leningrad myself, I would like the Court to have an accurate picture of the sufferings endured by the great city as a result of the German fascist terror-I wit quote only general data regarding the German destruction and crimes in the city of Leningrad. The Tribunal will find this quotation on Page 345 of the document book, second volume. I begin the quotation:

"During the 900-day siege of Leningrad, when the German fascist invaders were in possession of its suburbs, they perpetrated countless atrocities on the peaceful civilians.

"The Germans dropped on Leningrad 107,000 demolition and incendiary bombs and 150,000 heavy artillery shells. Every minute throughout the siege each Leningrad resident was in the same danger as if he had been on a field of battle. Every instant he was threatened with death or mutilation. Bombing and artillery fire killed a total of 16,747 and wounded 33,782 persons."

I interrupt my quotation, omit the next page of my statement, and beg the Tribunal to notice Page 347 of the second volume of the document book, an excerpt from the diary of the German artillery men who shelled Leningrad. These notes are most crucial and cruel

I will now give figures of persons who died of hunger in Leningrad in the terrible winter of 1941-1942. I quote only one line: "As a result of the hunger blockade of Leningrad, 632,253 people perished."


Looks like the Soviets did consider the siege a crime against humanity. Not so their western allies, who reckoned that siege warfare, however horrendous, was in accordance with international law at the time (at the High Command trial before the NMT, IIRC, one of the judges remarked that he wished the legal situation was another). What these judges overlooked (or were not aware of at the time) is that the siege wasn't conducted for the purpose of forcing the city's surrender, which would have legitimized it under international law at the time. It was conducted for the purpose of erasing the city and its inhabitants. Surrender was not demanded and would have not been accepted if offered, according to express instructions from Hitler and the Wehrmacht High Command.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

SNYDER:
“…Hitler wanted the population of Leningrad exterminated…”
“The surrender of the city was not forthcoming, but had it come it would not have been accepted. The German goal was to starve Leningrad out of existence”
(Snyder, p 173)

OTHER HISTORIANS:

“[Stalin’s] lack of concern for the starving population was as callous as that of Hitler” (Beevor, “Stalingrad”, p37)

“ The fact that the two sides were content to let 3.5 mil. people starve and freeze to death is perhaps just another indicator of the ‘absolute’ nature of the war”, Absolute War, p 356)

“[The German plan was that] once [Leningrad] had been worn down by terror and hunger, a few passages were to be opened and defenseless people let out, and deported …” (“Absolute war”, p 356)

“Soviet and Russian sources agree …that the Germans never wanted to take responsibility of a vast urban area with millions of people [Leningrad] …”, Chris Bellamy, “Absolute War”, p 357)

“More civilians might have been evacuated …but that would have left the authorities to potential fatal accusations of defeatism” (Allan Warren, “WW2 A military history”, p 110)

“[The Soviets ordered that] negotiations with the civil population are not permitted. The Germans captured a copy, which was an absolute gift to their propaganda department. (Bellamy, p 367)

“Trains that may have been used to bring in extra food have been used to evacuate industry.
Firewood was harvested … every autumn. But by Sept. 8, when the city was cut-off, the annual wood-cutting had not begun. Two-and-a-half million people, a Russian winter, and none of the usual massive stocks of firewood...” (Chris Bellamy, “Absolute War”, p 359)


So, is Stalin’s contribution to the fate of Leningrad supposed to make Uncle Adolf look better, or what's the point of the above quotes supposed to be? To be sure, there's a difference of opinion among historians as to whether or not the siege of Leningrad was a crime against humanity. Dieter Pohl considers it debatable whether certain military measures leading to massive mortality among civilians must be considered crimes or were covered by international law as codified or customary at the time, and that this applies even to a case as extreme as the siege of Leningrad. Other historians (Christian Gerlach, Christian Hartmann, Jörg Ganzenmüller and of course your black beast Snyder) consider the siege a crime. Having read German documents that reveal the besieger’s intentions and what Ganzenmüller writes about the Nazis’ long-term plans for the Leningrad region, I agree with the latter position. According to Ganzenmüller,

This decision for genocide apparently motivated by need or by food policy, however, was in complete consonance with the National Socialist Germanization policy. For Leningrad belonged to an area of the Soviet Union that in the future was to be settled by Germans under the name Ingermanland. The General Plan East, a gigantic resettlement program worked out under the supervision of Reichsfhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, still in 1942 foresaw that the urban population of that region would have sunk from 3.2 million in 1939 to 200,000 in postwar times. The difference of three million people who thus disappeared on paper corresponded to the number of Leningrads inhabitants at that time.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

SIEGE OF LENINGRAD (continued)

Some other questions also arise from Snyder’s page:

a) since the Fins cut off Leningrad from the North and participated in the siege for a while, esp. the first dreadful winter with the most victims, should they also be held accountable for the deaths?


Actually one of the reasons why the city wasn't completely cut off (the other being Soviet resistance and counteroffensives) is that the Finns didn't advance beyond the pre-war Finnish-Soviet border, contrary to what the Germans wanted them to. Had they gone further and cut off Leningrad from the north, as the Germans wanted them to, the Soviets wouldn’t have managed to get food supplies into the city and evacuate civilians over the Ladoga ice road, which saved many lives. Everyone in the city would have died.

b) what were the Red Cross or other international relief organizations doing at the time? Did they try to help and were turned away - like in the case of Greece/British blockade?

Any idea how the Red Cross or other international relief organizations could have intervened in a besieged city in northern Russia they way they intervened or tried to intervene in Greece? Starvation in Greece was not just due to the British blockade, by the way – see this blog.

c) As per Beevor, the Germans had clear air superiority until December Why not bomb the city to ruins and firebomb its citizens to charcoal, Dresden-style?

Because they didn’t have the resources to do Dresden-style bombing, of course. That's why they chose siege warfare. If they had had the necessary resources, and if they had not been afraid of retaliation by who had better means than them, they would have gassed Leningrad, as pointed out by Ganzenmüller:

The use of the siege strategy as an instrument for extermination policy had the elementary advantage for the German side of being able to carry out genocide by merely doing nothing. On the other hand all plans that suggested an active murder of Leningrads inhabitants did not make it including the considerations of attacking the metropolis on the Neva with poison gas. For this the armys General Quarter Master Eduard Wagner had in December 1941 already calculated the required amount of combat gas. The attack was to hit not only the front of the defenders, but the whole inner city: umpteen thousands would have been gassed. The plans remained just that because fortunately neither enough ammunition nor artillery was available for such an attack. Furthermore there were basic objections to gas warfare on the German side: not the least Adolf Hitler himself, who as a soldier in the First World War had been temporarily blinded by a poison gas attack, feared retaliation by the enemy, especially the British, who were doubtlessly superior in chemical and biological weapons.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

d) The ONE MILLION figure: Snyder in a footnote bases it on Western historians, and not on the 632,000 figure that the Soviets themselves provided. I understand why Snyder and other western historians wouldn’t wanna take too seriously anything that came from the Soviets (see Katyn, human soap factories, 4 mil. exterminated at Auschwitz and 3 at Treblinka, one-ball Hitler, etc), but why raise the number?

I thought Hitler's one ball was first mentioned in a British ditty. Skepticism about the Soviet figure for Leningrad has nothing to do with not wanting to take seriously "anything that came from the Soviets" but with good evidence that the Soviets understated the city's losses, as they understated their overall wartime losses for a long time lest it become known how weakened the Soviet Union was and lest a slur be cast on the image of the great leader who had failed to protect his people from such a calamity (what the Nazis had done to non-Soviet peoples liberated by the heroic Red Army was a less sensitive matter, as you may understand).

The western notion that the Soviets understated their Leningrad losses actually predates Snyder by decades, going back to Harrison E. Salisbury’s 1970 book The 900 Days. Excerpts from Salisbury’s book can be read here.

Also, towards the end of his book Snyder says that these are "counts, not demographic estimates". Who else besides the Soviets ‘counted’?

Salisbury and other western researchers in the case of Leningrad, German historians like Streit, Gerlach and Hartmann as concerns Soviet prisoners of war. Soviet counting was on the low side in both respects, for the reasons explained above.

In any case, what were (or are) the international warfare conventions, if any, or human decency rules for sieges of cities? Is the army that holds siege supposed to feed you? If you are besieged do you fight it out to death, or are you supposed to surrender (like a surrounded army) to spare agony and death on your civilian population? If you really want to defend your city to the bitter end, are you maybe supposed to evacuate your civilian population? If not, is there always a clear distinction between civilians and combatants? ( “thousands of children fought and died in the ‘blockade’ [of Leningrad]… many joined the partisans” Absolute War, p 372)

Siege warfare is the cruellest form of warfare because it indiscriminately kills civilians in the most horrible way (by starvation), but at the time it was considered compatible with international law provided that it was preceded by a demand for surrender and meant to bring about that surrender and to end once surrender had been accomplished. None of these conditions for legitimacy were present at Leningrad, which is why some historians (rightly, in my opinion) consider it a crime against humanity (Ganzenmüller even calls it a genocide) rather than a military operation.

I frankly don’t know the answers and I am not even sure there are any easy answers anyways, as often with war, especially a “total” or “absolute” war like this one.. Perhaps, maybe that’s why the Soviets didn’t consider the starvation of their Leningrad citizens a German war crime.

Actually they did consider it a crime, as pointed out above.

(and one small aside; what’s a sickle doing in Leningrad in a physicist’s home? [insert your insults here :- ) ] )

The man may have had a farm background or been fond of farm-work at his dacha on weekends, big deal. But I agree that Snyder is too short on the siege of Leningrad and could have provided more harrowing examples of its horror. Salisbury does a better job in this respect.

Sam said...

At the warehouse in Leningrad, the Soviets dispersed the food after the first bombing. I am sure that's would they would have done if the German surrounded their cities and try to starve them.
Please read Snyder's Ch. 3 to see how he makes the case that that starvation was virtually impossible.

Sam said...

Why didn’t the Soviets hold their own separate trial about the starvation of Leningrad, as they did with Katyn?

So, a victorious Hitler, who as I understand was obsessed to ingratiate himself with England and America and be considered as an equal partner in world affairs, would have embarked in an unprecedented genocidal campaign after his victory?

As far as the German citizens watching in apathy, isn’t it the “willing executioners” line rehashed? From what I understand from many historians, the Nazis went thru a great deception and secrecy to hide from their own people the extermination of the Jews.

Or, are we really serious that all that killing would have been done in secrecy? Even the Ukrainian famine, behind the “iron curtain” and all, was known while it was happening.

“Hitler-hugers” and “uniqueness”, I am not sure if you referring to me, or historians like Beevor, Evans, Bellamy, etc or maybe even the western judges at the Nuremberg trials.

Sam said...

“Scorched earth” and “requisitions of food by the Soviets”: no obsession here, just that for someone like Snyder who refers to ‘starvation’ and ‘food’ about a hundred times in one chapter, and basically on that basis he constructs his thesis for the POWs, Leningrad, other cities, and future starvation of 10’s of millions, it would have been nice if he told his readers what else was happening with the food, even if he were to dismiss its significance. And since he tells us in this great passage of his, about Hitler’s policies enabling the mass rape of German women, perhaps he could have also made some case about Stalin’s policies enabling the starvation of his POWs, his besieged people, or his Soviet citizens in general. As we can see from the passages I posted, other historians did.

And perhaps he could have also mentioned Stalin’s refusal to be a signatory of international POW agreements, and even his refusal, as I understand, to accept that there were even any Soviet POW’s in German hands - as a deterrent to surrender. Or, maybe I am asking for too much.

You probably right, I am a little too obsessed with Snyder. Mostly because he is leveling some serious charges - which unfortunately may make their way into the public at large - of a planned, out of this world, genocide, that would have not only dwarfed the Jewish one but also would have surpassed all deaths of WW2, perhaps even the number of all deaths of wars and genocides in the 20th century combined. So, I am interested to see as to how a historian of his caliber constructs his arguments and theses.

So far, I find so many problems in his POW thesis (not just “not very useful”, as you said). If it was a ‘policy’, you can’t tell who ordered it, when, how, why, you can’t even tell when did it kick into effect (History 1.01). Even Snyder seems confused with all that. Throw in some major omissions – scorched earth, Stalin’s approach, logistics –, some lies/deceptions, and you get an agenda here or an intended target, not an honest historical analysis.
If I can’t shake my obsession with Snyder, I may post in the future some interesting passages from other historians and how they compare to his. (As far as ‘sleepless nights’, don’t get too excited)

Sam said...

( I am reposting this - I wrote it too quickly)
At the warehouse in Leningrad, the Soviets dispersed the food after the first bombing. I am sure that's what they would have done if the Germans surrounded their cities and tried to starve them.

Please read Snyder's Ch. 3 to see how he makes the case that that starvation was virtually impossible. And I am pretty sure he is talking after a victory by Germany.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Why didn’t the Soviets hold their own separate trial about the starvation of Leningrad, as they did with Katyn?

I didn't know they held their own Katyn trial, but I remember having read something about a number of German officers having been sentenced to hanging at a trial in Leningrad after the war. I'll check.

Anyway, whether the Soviets held trials of their own against criminals they could get hold of or not, what would that matter? A great many Nazi crimes never went to trial by the Soviets or anyone else. So what?

So, a victorious Hitler, who as I understand was obsessed to ingratiate himself with England and America and be considered as an equal partner in world affairs, would have embarked in an unprecedented genocidal campaign after his victory?

Evidence strongly suggesting that he had exactly that on his mind, your "why would he" considerations aren't exactly pertinent. And who said that Hitler – who was at war with Britain already – didn’t foresee a huge final confrontation with the Anglo-Saxon powers, which only ruthless exploitation of food and other resources from the Soviet Union would enable him to win? The "unprecedented genocidal campaign" would not have been an end in itself, after all. It would have been a means to secure resources needed by Germany to withstand the Allies' blockade and avoid what the Nazis dreaded most, a collapse of the home front such as had happened in 1918.

As far as the German citizens watching in apathy, isn’t it the “willing executioners” line rehashed?

I thought the "willing executioners" thing was about Germans in general hating Jews and wanting them to die, which is somewhat exaggerated. Watch in apathy they did as their Jewish neighbours were taken away and news about the mass slaughter in the east leaked in through frontline soldiers on leave and other sources. Why would they object to a ruthless exploitation of food supplies in the occupied Soviet territories that granted them a comfortable living standard, especially if not directly exposed to the local consequences?

From what I understand from many historians, the Nazis went thru a great deception and secrecy to hide from their own people the extermination of the Jews.

Not very successfully, though. Everyone in the annexed Polish territories and in the Generalgouvernement knew what was happening, and even in the Reich one had to have a "better not ask, better not know" attitude (which many people had) to remain blissfully ignorant.

Or, are we really serious that all that killing would have been done in secrecy?

Not with secrecy, but with more discretion in relation to who wasn't there than direct mass murder, especially as concerns the cause and effect relationship.

Even the Ukrainian famine, behind the “iron curtain” and all, was known while it was happening.

Actually the Soviets managed to largely conceal the fact that there was starvation at all, even from sympathetic observers they invited in order to "demonstrate" that there was no starvation. And if starvation itself could not be concealed, at least the causes could be obfuscated so as to blame it on circumstances other than criminal government policy. The discussion about the causes and the degree of criminal intent goes on to this day. Causes are harder to obfuscate when you shoot and gas people, though.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

“Hitler-hugers” and “uniqueness”, I am not sure if you referring to me, or historians like Beevor, Evans, Bellamy, etc or maybe even the western judges at the Nuremberg trials.

You didn't manage to show me how Beevor's assessment re the starvation plan and Soviet prisoners of war differs from Snyder's while I showed you Beevor citations (here and here) suggesting that both authors are on the same line.

Moreover neither of the sources you invoke started out like 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. And neither of them came up with anything like your "blood libel" remark. The "why didn't they this and that" – rhetoric is also familiar.

So please forgive me if sense a slight smell of rat here.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

“Scorched earth” and “requisitions of food by the Soviets”: no obsession here, just that for someone like Snyder who refers to ‘starvation’ and ‘food’ about a hundred times in one chapter, and basically on that basis he constructs his thesis for the POWs, Leningrad, other cities, and future starvation of 10’s of millions, it would have been nice if he told his readers what else was happening with the food, even if he were to dismiss its significance. And since he tells us in this great passage of his, about Hitler’s policies enabling the mass rape of German women, perhaps he could have also made some case about Stalin’s policies enabling the starvation of his POWs, his besieged people, or his Soviet citizens in general. As we can see from the passages I posted, other historians did.

And perhaps he could have also mentioned Stalin’s refusal to be a signatory of international POW agreements, and even his refusal, as I understand, to accept that there were even any Soviet POW’s in German hands - as a deterrent to surrender. Or, maybe I am asking for too much.


Did Snyder argue that the Nazis' failure to evacuate German civilians makes the Soviet mass rape of German women look any better, or why the outrage?

Stalin tried to agree with the Nazis on a bilateral adherence to the Hague Rules of Land Warfare in July 1941, by the way. Beevor writes about it, IIRC. A scorched-earth policy is considered no crime when you apply it on your own territory to deprive an invading enemy of resources, which is why German historian Max Domarus laughs at William Shirer's getting excited about Hitler’s scorched earth order for Germany in March 1945. And on the Soviet side it was mainly a about removing industrial plant and not nearly as effective as what the Germans later did in retreat, for time reasons already. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians were evacuated from Leningrad before the ring closed and thereafter over the Ladoga Ice Road, and the Red Army tried its best in several offensives to break the encirclement – read about it in Salisbury’s and Ganzenmüller’s books.

You probably right, I am a little too obsessed with Snyder. Mostly because he is leveling some serious charges - which unfortunately may make their way into the public at large - of a planned, out of this world, genocide, that would have not only dwarfed the Jewish one but also would have surpassed all deaths of WW2, perhaps even the number of all deaths of wars and genocides in the 20th century combined. So, I am interested to see as to how a historian of his caliber constructs his arguments and theses.

He could have done it better, if you ask me. But then, the German colleagues he refers to did that job, so if you want details you’ll find them there rather than with Snyder. You may start with the excerpts from Gerlach’s book in the thread The Nazi Hunger Plan for Occupied Soviet Territories.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

So far, I find so many problems in his POW thesis (not just “not very useful”, as you said). If it was a ‘policy’, you can’t tell who ordered it, when, how, why, you can’t even tell when did it kick into effect (History 1.01).

Actually I can give you the names of those mainly responsible for the mass starvation of Soviet prisoners of war in 1941/42: Hermann Göring and General Quarter Master Eduard Wagner. What either of them contributed to this crime and when the same "kicked into effect" you may read about in my translation of pages 30 to 56 from Gerlach’s Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord, pp. 30-56.

Even Snyder seems confused with all that.

How so?

Throw in some major omissions – scorched earth, Stalin’s approach, logistics –, some lies/deceptions, and you get an agenda here or an intended target, not an honest historical analysis.

Major omissions? Perhaps in the personal opinion of who thinks that "scorched earth, Stalin’s approach, logistics" somehow diminish the criminality of German policy makers, like he understood that Snyder's mentioning the Nazis' failure to evacuate German civilians is meant to play down the crimes of Red Army rapists.

And what "lies/deceptions" exactly are you talking about?

If I can’t shake my obsession with Snyder, I may post in the future some interesting passages from other historians and how they compare to his. (As far as ‘sleepless nights’, don’t get too excited)

Actually it's you who seems to be getting too excited here, my friend. Try to relax.

( I am reposting this - I wrote it too quickly)

Relax, as I said.

At the warehouse in Leningrad, the Soviets dispersed the food after the first bombing.

Source?

I am sure that's what they would have done if the Germans surrounded their cities and tried to starve them.

It didn’t prevent mass starvation in Leningrad, which wasn't much worse only because the Germans didn’t manage to cut off the city completely.

Please read Snyder's Ch. 3 to see how he makes the case that that starvation was virtually impossible. And I am pretty sure he is talking after a victory by Germany.

Unfortunately I gave the book to a friend yesterday, so you’ll have to comprehensively quote what makes you so pretty sure.

Sam said...

The question about the POW's is not German criminality or negligence, is whether the Germans DECIDED TO WHOLESALE KILL the prisoners (except perhaps some kept for labor) because they wanted to kill them, as Snyder argues.

The same question applies to the Ukrainian famine. Snyder here argues that after an initial phase of a failed collectivization plan, the INTENT WAS TO KILL the Ukrainians.

Same with the siege of Leningrad. Per Snyder, the intent was not some surrender, or victory, and we don't care what happens to the residents to achieve it, but TO STARVE THE PEOPLE TO DEATH, a purpose by itself.

His book is very clear about all the above over and over again: "deliberately", "intentionally", "Europeans deliberately killed Europeans", "surrender would have not been accepted", etc etc

I disagree with all 3 cases above.

You keep posting links (which I like, though I don't know how much time I have to read the long ones) of other historians who, as you say, make a better case. But, we are really talking about Snyder here, this is the book I am criticizing.

g2g to work now, I'll give you quotes of Beever, etc some other time

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The question about the POW's is not German criminality or negligence, is whether the Germans DECIDED TO WHOLESALE KILL the prisoners (except perhaps some kept for labor) because they wanted to kill them, as Snyder argues.

The Germans (especially Messrs. Göring and Wagner) decided to do just that - reduce the non-working POWs' rations at a time when they should have raised them for those POWs to survive - in the autumn of 1941. The consequence of this decision was an enormous increase in mortality, as demonstrated by Gerlach. Killing the POWs by starvation was not an end in itself but a means to an end (avoidance of ration reductions affecting German troops and civilians), but Snyder's criterion for deliberate mass killing covers that as well, as I quoted in the blog:

"In a deliberate mass killing operation, mass death is the desired goal of policy. It is an end in itself or a means to some other end."

The same question applies to the Ukrainian famine. Snyder here argues that after an initial phase of a failed collectivization plan, the INTENT WAS TO KILL the Ukrainians.

As an end in itself or as a means to an end (e.g. submission to the collectivization plan)? Both count as deliberate mass killing for Snyder, see above.

Same with the siege of Leningrad. Per Snyder, the intent was not some surrender, or victory, and we don't care what happens to the residents to achieve it, but TO STARVE THE PEOPLE TO DEATH, a purpose by itself.

"Purpose by itself" is not Snyder's criterion, see above.

The short-term purpose of starving Leningrad's civilians was to spare food supplies for German purposes, as Wagner put it so nicely in a letter to his wife:

"Now we first must let them fry in Petersburg, what are we to do with a city of 3 million that would only lie on our food supply wallet. Sentimentalities there will be none."

The long-term purpose was the one mentioned by Ganzenmüller:

"This decision for genocide apparently motivated by need or by food policy, however, was in complete consonance with the National Socialist Germanization policy. For Leningrad belonged to an area of the Soviet Union that in the future was to be settled by Germans under the name Ingermanland. The General Plan East, a gigantic resettlement program worked out under the supervision of Reichsfhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, still in 1942 foresaw that the urban population of that region would have sunk from 3.2 million in 1939 to 200,000 in postwar times. The difference of three million people who thus disappeared on paper corresponded to the number of Leningrads inhabitants at that time."

His book is very clear about all the above over and over again: "deliberately", "intentionally", "Europeans deliberately killed Europeans", "surrender would have not been accepted", etc etc

None of this means that killing was necessarily an end in itself.

I disagree with all 3 cases above.

Then you're crashing into an open door.

You keep posting links (which I like, though I don't know how much time I have to read the long ones) of other historians who, as you say, make a better case. But, we are really talking about Snyder here, this is the book I am criticizing.

Yep, I guess our interests in this conversation are different. You have a beef with Mr. Snyder, while I'm less interested in Snyder than in the events he discusses.

g2g to work now, I'll give you quotes of Beever, etc some other time

OK, take your time.

Sam said...

Recently, I watched a a couple of WW2 documentaries on the history channels, all recently made, "The last days of Hitler", "the Third Reich", etc.

The usual, I thought by now defunct, stuff is ubiquitous: Hitler's planned "world conquest", "Danzig was a city with a substantial German population[sic]", "the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia" etc

Imagine how confident we must feel about the 'good war' and the story we tell that we have to resort to lies and deceptions.

Imagine also how confident the Russians must feel about their version of history that they have to institute laws protecting it.

As far as Snyder, I did some reading of the Nuremberg trials - thank God for the web. The transcripts of the trials are enough to take down his nonsense. The "Green Folder", "Hunger Plan", et al, is all there, discussed. Even the Soviets in the height of their victor's justice and their now known lies and wild exaggerations, didn't dare accuse the Germans of the stuff that Snyder came up with.
(btw in a list of villages per country destroyed by the Germans i failed to find those Polish "milk" villages, and that "guards will be punished if they use their weapons too little" is there but has a totally different meaning, Evans gives it correctly).

We clearly have different opinions what constitutes history, maybe after all I should send that letter to various academics and students to test the spine of the profession.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Still obsessed with Mr. Snyder, my friend?

One might think he did you wrong.

What's particularly boring about your anti-Snyder rant is that you keep repeating your "stuff that Snyder came up with" - nonsense, as if I hadn't showed you repeatedly that Snyder comes up with nothing that hasn't been addressed in more detail by Gerlach and other German historians long before Snyder. Are you slow on the uptake?

The Nuremberg Trials did not produce a complete record of Nazi crimes or criminal intentions, the judges fell for Göring's claim that the Hungerplan was but the fantasy of some ministry loonies (actually, as Gerlach demonstrated, it was one of Göring's own favorite topics) and your "even the Soviets" rhetoric is rather tiresome. Even if they had had at their disposal the evidence about the Hungerplan and the siege of Leningrad that historians are aware of at present, the Soviets would not have been necessarily interested in accusations that implied revealing their government's failures and/or their country's losses and resulting weakness. It is known that they understated the number of victims of the Leningrad siege. On the other hand, they were keen about emphasizing and had no problems with exaggerating crimes against non-Soviet peoples then saved or avenged by the heroic Red Army on its international mission. Haven't we been there before?

If you were interested in the matters addressed by Snyder rather than in bitching about the fellow, I might ask you for the source of your list of villages and a quote of what Evans wrote. As it is, I suggest you take up your resentments with Snyder himself. Why don’t you write an Amazon review of his book?

Sam said...

I couldn't find any Polish villages destroyed by the Germans whatsoever, maybe I miss it.

POWS: this from the Nur. Judgement, an order ny the German High Command, early Sept:

"The Bolshevist soldier has therefore lost all claim to treatment as an honourable opponent, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.... The order for ruthless and energetic action must be given at the slightest indication of insubordination, especially in the case of Bolshevist fanatics. Insubordination, active or passive resistance, must be broken immediately by force of arms (bayonets, butts and firearms) . . . Anyone carrying out the order who does not use his weapons, or does so with insufficient energy, is punishable . . . Prisoners of war attempting escape are to be fired on without previous challenge. No warning shot must ever be fired.... The use of arms against prisoners of war is as a rule legal."

The entire passage means something completely different to me than what Snyder is implying, sort of "kill as many as you can". Evans does give it correctly, I don't have his text in front of me, but the gist is that the POW guards were given mixed instructions, in one hand "be ruthless to insubordination" or treaty them nice.

Anyways, to end this, thanks for the Amazon suggestion, not a bad idea.

Sam said...

... and I noticed you didn't comment on the documentaries that feed the public perceptions about WW2

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

I couldn't find any Polish villages destroyed by the Germans whatsoever, maybe I miss it.

Try the Wikipedia pages Pacification operations in German-occupied Poland and Nazi crimes against ethnic Poles, for a start. None of these pages (big surprise!) mentions Sam's black beast Snyder as a source.

"The Bolshevist soldier has therefore lost all claim to treatment as an honourable opponent, in accordance with the Geneva Convention.... The order for ruthless and energetic action must be given at the slightest indication of insubordination, especially in the case of Bolshevist fanatics. Insubordination, active or passive resistance, must be broken immediately by force of arms (bayonets, butts and firearms) . . . Anyone carrying out the order who does not use his weapons, or does so with insufficient energy, is punishable . . . Prisoners of war attempting escape are to be fired on without previous challenge. No warning shot must ever be fired.... The use of arms against prisoners of war is as a rule legal."

The entire passage means something completely different to me than what Snyder is implying, sort of "kill as many as you can".


Is that Snyder, or is it Sam's reading influenced by some irrational grudge against Snyder?

Evans does give it correctly, I don't have his text in front of me, but the gist is that the POW guards were given mixed instructions, in one hand "be ruthless to insubordination" or treaty them nice.

If I were interested in whatever Snyder's nemesis has got to say, I might ask him for a quote of what Evans wrote or where in the quoted passage about the Bolshevik soldier he thinks that Evans might have seen a "treat them nice" instruction.

... and I noticed you didn't comment on the documentaries that feed the public perceptions about WW2

That must have been because I consider TV documentaries a source not worth talking about or because Snyder's nemesis is boring the hell out of me.

Ruslan said...

There was no "deliberate starvation of Ukraine". Had he read the work of Tauger, Viola, Wheatcroft, Getty, and others, he would have known this.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

How do you know Snyder didn't read these authors? Have you checked his bibliography?

Sam said...

from the Nuremberg indictment:

"
...Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, and the Balkans (hereinafter called "the Eastern Countries")

G) WANTON DESTRUCTION OF CITIES, TOWNS, AND VILLAGES AND DEVASTATION NOT JUSTIFIED BY MILITARY NECESSITY
....
1. Western Countries:
...
2. Eastern Countries:

In the Eastern Countries the defendants' pursued a policy of wanton destruction and devastation: some particulars of this (without prejudice to the production of evidence of other cases) are set out above under the heading "Plunder of Public and Private Property

In Greece in 1941, the villages of Amelofito, Kliston, Kizonia, Messovunos, Selli, Ano-Kerzilion, and Kato-Kerzilion were utterly destroyed.

In Yugoslavia on 15 August 1941, the German military command officially announced that the village of Skela was burned to the ground and the inhabitants killed on the order of the command.

On the order of the Field Commander Hoersterberg a punitive expedition from the SS troops and the field police destroyed the villages of Machkovats, and Kriva Reka in Serbia and all the inhabitants were killed.

General Fritz Neidhold (369 Infantry Division) on 11 September 1944, gave an order to destroy the villages of Zagniezde and Udora, hanging all the men and driving away all the women and children.

In Czechoslovakia the Nazi conspirators also practiced the senseless destruction of populated places. Lezaky and Lidice were burned to the ground and the inhabitants killed.
"
so where are those Polish villages, or didn't anyone inform the prosecutors about those villages?

and this is the same indictment that contains this:

"About 1,500,000 persons were exterminated in Maidanek and about 4,000,000 persons were exterminated in Auschwitz, among whom were citizens of Poland, the U.S.S.R., the United States of America, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, and other countries."

Sam said...

Also wikipedia mentions the same numbers as Snyder (85% Poles, 50% Checzs, etc) "to be ELIMINATED from the SETTLEMENT AREAS" [my emphasis]
And Snyder clearly means killings, while wikipedia includes expulsions, assimilations, etc
Huuuge difference.

To make an analogy, a hair-brained historian (or one with an agenda) 60 years from now may write:

"Israeli leaders planned in advance to kill unwanted Palestinian populations. In one reduction 85% of the Palestinians were to be eliminated"

while a truer historian may say:

"Israeli leaders wanted to settle parts of the West Bank which they always considered Jewish, Judea and Samaria. 85% of the Palestinians in the settlement areas were to be pushed out"

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

so where are those Polish villages, or didn't anyone inform the prosecutors about those villages?

Snyder-obsessed wisecracker guessed right for once: not all information about Nazi crimes made it to the Nuremberg prosecution team or into the Nurembeg indictment. In Belorussia alone, as mentioned in a site from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus, hundreds of villages were wiped out with their inhabitants:

The following figures are further proof to the scale of crimes. The number of annihilated settlements with the inhabitants during punitive operations:
Unrestored Restored Altogether
186 442 628

The number of settlements destroyed together with only part of the inhabitants:
Unrestored Restored Altogether
325 4342 4667

In all: 5295.

Thus, over 5295 settlements were destroyed by fascists together with all or part of inhabitants during punitive action (out of 9200 settlements, burnt and annihilated in Belorussia during the Great Patriotic War). 243 villages were burned down twice, 83 villages thrice and 22 villages were burned down 4 times and more in Vitebsk region. 92 villages were burned down twice, 40 villages thrice, 9 villages four times and 6 villages five and more times were burned in Minsk region.

3% of all 5295 villages were destroyed in 1941. 16% � in 1942. 63% � in 1943. 18% � in 1944.


These villages are not mentioned in the Nuremberg indictment. But they are mentioned in Gerlach's detailed study of Nazi occupation policies in Belarus.

and this is the same indictment that contains this:

"About 1,500,000 persons were exterminated in Maidanek and about 4,000,000 persons were exterminated in Auschwitz, among whom were citizens of Poland, the U.S.S.R., the United States of America, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, and other countries."


So what?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Also wikipedia mentions the same numbers as Snyder (85% Poles, 50% Checzs, etc) "to be ELIMINATED from the SETTLEMENT AREAS" [my emphasis]

Yeah, they must be secret Snyder fans reluctant to reveal their source.

And Snyder clearly means killings, while wikipedia includes expulsions, assimilations, etc
Huuuge difference.


Not that it matters, but where exactly did Snyder state that all populations targeted by the Generalplan Ost (mentioned in another context in this blog) were to be killed? Snyder-obsessed wisecracker's rendering of sources usually leaves much to be desired. The term "liquidation" may necessarily imply killing, but the term "elimination" does not, in my understanding. Eliminating populations from an area may be done by either killing or expulsion.

To make an analogy, a hair-brained historian (or one with an agenda) 60 years from now may write:

"Israeli leaders planned in advance to kill unwanted Palestinian populations. In one reduction 85% of the Palestinians were to be eliminated"

while a truer historian may say:

"Israeli leaders wanted to settle parts of the West Bank which they always considered Jewish, Judea and Samaria. 85% of the Palestinians in the settlement areas were to be pushed out"


I suggest you take out the "kill" part and add "from the areas meant for Jewish settlement", to get a more appropriate "analogy". Then both historians would be saying essentially the same. Except, of course, in the reading of a hysteric who bears a grudge against the former.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

On the Wikipedia site about the Generalplan Ost one reads the following, by the way:

Generalplan Ost envisaged differing percentages of the various conquered nations undergoing Germanisation (for example, 50% of Czechs, 35% of Ukrainians and 25% of Belarusians), extermination, expulsion and other fates, the net effect of which would be to ensure that the conquered territories would be Germanized. In ten years' time, the plan effectively called for the extermination, expulsion, Germanisation or enslavement of most or all East and West Slavs living behind the front lines in Europe.

This goes under

Percentages of ethnic groups targeted for elimination by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas (my emphasis).

The Wiki authors obviously share my understanding whereby elimination from an area doesn't necessarily mean extermination.

Ruslan said...

"How do you know Snyder didn't read these authors? Have you checked his bibliography?"

If he had, he would have known that there was no plan to deliberately starve Ukraine. The human involvement in that famine can be likened to several other famines that have occurred either at the same time, since that time, or even before- both in the Russian empire and other empires. Yet these other famines are not called genocide or considered to be a crime, even when the government in question acted far worse than that of the USSR at the time.

20 years the archives have been open, and the Ukrainian nationalists can't produce even a scrap of paper which suggests a plan to starve Ukrainians or to use starvation as some kind of weapon.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Snyder's having read Getty, Wheatcroft et al doesn't rule out an assessment of events by Snyder differing from that of his colleagues.

And maybe you should read how Snyder describes the events that led to the Ukrainian famine, before turning your guns on him. Then you can decide if you consider his description of events to be accurate and to support the conclusion that government policies contributed to the disaster in such a way as to warrant an indictment of deliberate mass killing (he doesn't use the word genocide, by the way).

Sam said...

you crack me up Roberto. I used to take your insults seriously, but i realize now it's just a smokescreen when u run short of conversation. ( I still appreciate your opinion and knowledge anyways)

Perhaps u haven't read Snyder's book carefully to see what he says or implies about eliminations etc

I find it even more interesting your reliance in Soviet and Soviet satellite-states produced propaganda during and after after the war.

Somehow the western countries had the correct number of destroyed by the Nazis villages from day one after the war, or even during the war. But in Poland it grew from 0 to 200, etc etc. This isn't some later unearthed mass graves, people know if whole villages were destroyed.

Maybe that's why u didn't accuse me (or the fellow above) as "Stalin-hugger". Hugging Stalin and his propaganda is too close to home, then and now.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Poor Sam, he must have had another of his Snyder nightmares to come here again after more than a month and babble about "Soviet and Soviet satellite-states produced propaganda during and after after the war" (never minding that there are Polish and German studies about Nazi crimes against Poles including the destruction of villages that postdate the demise of the Polish communist regime and the Soviet Union by a decade or more).

Sam said...

Maybe you and I Roberto can meet in Poland this summer to find those 200 villages. (Snyder is invited too, he could bring his list of 'documented' "milk" villages)
The only thing I would appreciate if you can do in advance, is to get us official research permits from the Polish government ( I am sure you have enough connections to facilitate that), I don't want to end up in some jail there.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Actually I have no connections whatsover to the Polish government (Sam is again showing that he lives in a fantasy world) and no interest whatsoever in meeting someone who idiotically claims that what is not in the Nuremberg records didn't happen (which I presume applies not only to Polish villages such as mentioned here, but also, say, to Greek villages like Kalavryta, Distomo and Kommeno, among hundreds of destroyed villages in Greece that are not mentioned in either the Nuremberg indictment or the IMT's judgment.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

On the other hand, I might be curious to see what Snyder-obsessed Sam looks like and learn a little about what makes him tick.

So, Sam, if you should ever come to Lisbon, please let me know. You find my e-mail address in my profile.

Sam said...

Lisbon and Portugal is on my list of places to visit, hopefully some day.

I looked up the link about Greece, it contains a couple of specific places, and then " in the course of the concerted anti-guerrilla campaign, hundreds of villages were systematically torched and almost 1,000,000 Greeks left homeless"

I ve been to Greece and talked with people there, the specific places are known and, I believe, even documented by the Germans themselves, but the "100's of destroyed villages and a million left homeless", nobody ever mentioned. Greece by the way, I believe had about 4-5 million people at the time, perhaps even less, so a million homeless would have been noticed and talked about. And if we assume that an average village has about 300-400 people, I don't how the "million" came about. This is all completely bogus.

Somehow people can write whatever nonsense they want about the Nazi era, since no-one would complain or accuse them of fraud.

Unfortunately, fraudulent history about German crimes tends to undermine the credibility of real history about their war crimes.

And since you don't want to go to Poland, maybe you can list here or email me the Polish villages destroyed by the Germans because local women supplied "jugs of milk" to Soviet POW's. I can look them up in my next trip.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

I looked up the link about Greece, it contains a couple of specific places, and then " in the course of the concerted anti-guerrilla campaign, hundreds of villages were systematically torched and almost 1,000,000 Greeks left homeless"

I ve been to Greece and talked with people there, the specific places are known and, I believe, even documented by the Germans themselves, but the "100's of destroyed villages and a million left homeless", nobody ever mentioned. Greece by the way, I believe had about 4-5 million people at the time, perhaps even less, so a million homeless would have been noticed and talked about. And if we assume that an average village has about 300-400 people, I don't how the "million" came about. This is all completely bogus.


That's my Sam – just because he hasn't been personally told about something, historical search to the contrary (Mazower, in this case) is "bogus" right away. And his reasoning sucks, as usual - the one million homeless need not have all have come from destroyed villages but may also have fled from yet undestroyed areas in fear of the occupiers' terror. The Deir Yassin massacre alone caused hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to leave their hometowns a couple of years later, IIRC.

Somehow people can write whatever nonsense they want about the Nazi era, since no-one would complain or accuse them of fraud.

Why, there are always wisecrackers like my friend Sam to open their big mouths, usually with nothing to show for their claims.

Unfortunately, fraudulent history about German crimes tends to undermine the credibility of real history about their war crimes.

Sam is beginning to take on a distinct smell of fish with his use of good old crackpot terminology like "fraudulent" and "real history". You don’t happen to be from New Zealand, do you, Sam? There's a "Revisionist" piece of garbage from there who sounds much like you. If you are identical with that fellow, I would very much like to meet you, if only for the pleasure of spitting in your face.

And since you don't want to go to Poland, maybe you can list here or email me the Polish villages destroyed by the Germans because local women supplied "jugs of milk" to Soviet POW's. I can look them up in my next trip.

The only such case I'm aware of is the one I read about in Snyder’s book, as the clown well knows. But it seems he's not completely unreasonable, judging by how he tuned down his rhetoric from "no destroyed villages in Poland at all because none are mentioned in the Nuremberg records" to his worn-out bitching about Snyder’s "jugs of milk" – account.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

PS: Sam's post that I responded to in my previous post didn't appear on the board for some reason, so I reproduce it hereafter from the e-mail notification I received.

Lisbon and Portugal is on my list of places to visit, hopefully some day.

I looked up the link about Greece, it contains a couple of specific places, and then " in the course of the concerted anti-guerrilla campaign, hundreds of villages were systematically torched and almost 1,000,000 Greeks left homeless"

I ve been to Greece and talked with people there, the specific places are known and, I believe, even documented by the Germans themselves, but the "100's of destroyed villages and a million left homeless", nobody ever mentioned. Greece by the way, I believe had about 4-5 million people at the time, perhaps even less, so a million homeless would have been noticed and talked about. And if we assume that an average village has about 300-400 people, I don't how the "million" came about. This is all completely bogus.

Somehow people can write whatever nonsense they want about the Nazi era, since no-one would complain or accuse them of fraud.

Unfortunately, fraudulent history about German crimes tends to undermine the credibility of real history about their war crimes.

And since you don't want to go to Poland, maybe you can list here or email me the Polish villages destroyed by the Germans because local women supplied "jugs of milk" to Soviet POW's. I can look them up in my next trip.

Sam said...

If you wanna meet so you can spit on my face, for whatever paranoias you may harbor, thanks but no thanks. If you wanted to meet for a healthy discussion I am all up for it.

I talked to a couple of older aged Greeks friends over the weekend, nobody ever even heard of the "1,000,000" homeless, they actually laughed and asked where did I read such a story. As a matter of fact they told me that everybody knows in Greece that people who lived in villages had it much much better that cities or towns during the German occupation, with the exception of course with the dozen or so villages that were destroyed in retaliations.

Now your analogy with the Palestinians, I doubt that there is any Palestinian who never heard of the events of the late 40s.

And let me ask you a question: should I also feel that I should spit on the face of people who tell massive lies, like Snyder's "German planned exterminations of tens of millions of people in the first winter alone", or this guy with the "million homeless in Greece"?

Sam said...

And no, I am not from New Zealand.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

If you wanna meet so you can spit on my face, for whatever paranoias you may harbor, thanks but no thanks. If you wanted to meet for a healthy discussion I am all up for it.

I talked to a couple of older aged Greeks friends over the weekend, nobody ever even heard of the "1,000,000" homeless, they actually laughed and asked where did I read such a story. As a matter of fact they told me that everybody knows in Greece that people who lived in villages had it much much better that cities or towns during the German occupation, with the exception of course with the dozen or so villages that were destroyed in retaliations.

Now your analogy with the Palestinians, I doubt that there is any Palestinian who never heard of the events of the late 40s.

And let me ask you a question: should I also feel that I should spit on the face of people who tell massive lies, like Snyder's "German planned exterminations of tens of millions of people in the first winter alone", or this guy with the "million homeless in Greece"?


People aren't telling "massive lies" just because Sam doesn't like what they write, with or without some acquaintance of his having supposedly confirmed his notions.

Especially not when there is documentation (also mentioned by Antony Beevor) whereby the Nazi Hunger Plan for the occupied Soviet territories was not "massive lies".

"Massive lies" is another of those smelly catchphrases, by the way. And the "I talked to some old folks and they told me this-and-that" - tale also has a long white beard.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Some more "massive lies" about the Nazi occupation of Greece (translations from German are mine):

Historian Hagen Fleischer, University of Athens (Sam mode on: "The guy is Greek, what did you expect? " Sam mode off):

«Not only Kalavryta, hundreds of Greek villages were flattened – an expression from the contemporary Wehrmacht jargon – by the Germans; in some also the women and children were brutally murdered.»

Martin Seckendorf, Die Massaker der Wehrmacht in Griechenland 1941 bis 1944 (Teil II).:

«After hundreds of villages had been destroyed and many thousand Greeks murdered, collaboration president Rallis feared that he would completely loose his credit with the Greeks, which was reduced anyway. In a letter to the German military commander he pointed out that under the pretext of punishment and retaliation measures against partisans "the destruction of Greece" was under way. In October 1943 alone over 1,000 Greeks had been killed in Epiros, the 1st Mountain Division’s operational area. Since the Wehrmacht’s entering the relatively small area in July 1943 more than 100 villages had been destroyed.»

Seckendorf, Die Massaker der Wehrmacht in Griechenland 1941 bis 1944 (Teil III und Schluß).:

«Many hundred villages and small towns were completely destroyed, a million Greeks homeless, only a quarter of the railways could still be used. All the ports, so important for the country, were heavily destroyed. An estimated 90,000 Greeks fell victim to hostage murders and other "punishment actions". Almost 58,000 Jews were killed. Total losses made up 7.2 per cent of the prewar population.»

Further "massive lies" can be found here.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

And no, I am not from New Zealand.

Just live there when not traveling Europe in search of "massive lies" about those poor maligned Germans, I guess.

Sam said...

I failed to find the 1,000,000 homeless figure anywhere.
Only this from your travel guide:"Thousands of civilians have been uprooted and just as many have died. " A much more reasonable phrase that could mean 5,000, 8,000, or 20,000.

For a guy who has a sharp nose, I am surprised nothing sounded fishy to you about one million homeless people that you never heard of before. Or about "whole villages erased" because of milk supplies to POW's. Or Snyder's Halloween stories (his book's release was perfectly timed btw) of women digging themselves out of graves, skeletons with sickles (was she also holding a hammer in the other hand?), etc

We all democratic and preach tolerance my friend, until the real test comes.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

After being shown further sources about hundreds of villages, Sam persisted in shifting the goalposts:

I failed to find the 1,000,000 homeless figure anywhere.
Only this from your travel guide:"Thousands of civilians have been uprooted and just as many have died. " A much more reasonable phrase that could mean 5,000, 8,000, or 20,000.


He obviously didn't read this quote in my previous post (emphasis added):

«Many hundred villages and small towns were completely destroyed, a million Greeks homeless, only a quarter of the railways could still be used. All the ports, so important for the country, were heavily destroyed. An estimated 90,000 Greeks fell victim to hostage murders and other "punishment actions". Almost 58,000 Jews were killed. Total losses made up 7.2 per cent of the prewar population.»

Maybe Mazower was also referring to the total number of homeless people left in Greece by the war and not only to the number of homeless due to the destruction of villages in anti-partisan reprisals. Maybe the Wikipedia author misunderstood what Mazower wrote. But that's as far as it goes.

For a guy who has a sharp nose, I am surprised nothing sounded fishy to you about one million homeless people that you never heard of before.

I had read little about the Nazi occupation of Greece before, so there was no reason to find anything "fishy" in related information sourced to a historian like Mazower.

Or about "whole villages erased" because of milk supplies to POW's.

From what I know about the Nazi occupation in Poland I don't consider such punitive measures so improbable as to question the related evidence, which I assume was checked by Snyder or his academic sources. The only indication I have so far against the accuracy of that account is Sam's wisecracking, anyway.

Or Snyder's Halloween stories (his book's release was perfectly timed btw) of women digging themselves out of graves, skeletons with sickles (was she also holding a hammer in the other hand?), etc

Two further accounts against the accuracy of which Sam provides no arguments other than his personal incredulity and his obvious aversion to Snyder, so why should I care?

The more Sam indulges in rhetoric and pseudo-arguments such as are used by fishy people, the more he will smell like them.

We all democratic and preach tolerance my friend, until the real test comes.

What's that, a threat?

Sam said...

The Greek story seems to be getting worse. Now we have “small towns … completely destroyed”. Which are those towns? And there must have been plenty of them to take up the slack for the “1,000,000 homeless”. Maybe Mazower is confusing things with the Greek civil war that followed WW2, there were many refugees (not ‘homeless’), and still, I don’t believe, there were many, if any, towns “completely destroyed”.

Sam said...

What Snyder really proves in his book, is that there is no 3, or 5, or 6, or 11 million ‘OTHERS’ innocents killed by the Germans. A million plus is his number, a tragically high number of innocent deaths, but not unreasonable, definitely many-many crimes were committed by the Germans.

But since it’s not anywhere near the numbers that have been thrown around for decades, and since Snyder can’t find anywhere else the rest, and he doesn’t want to appear as some Nazi lover or kooky revisionist or make the previous ‘history’ appear as a calculated concoction, Snyder stretches, omits, twists, picks and chooses, and distorts the facts to make sure that 4 more million known deaths (3.1 million POWs, and 1 million Leningrad residents/military/partisans in the tragedy of a classic wartime siege situation) fit his definition of ‘intentional’ and ‘deliberate’ killings.

Sam said...

Finally Roberto, since you seem quite allergic to words like ‘massive lies’, ‘blood libel’, ‘bogus history’ etc here is a more eloquent way of phrasing the same things:

“By repeating exaggerated numbers, Europeans release into their culture millions of ghosts of people that never lived. Unfortunately, such specters have power. What begins as a competitive martyrology can end with end with martyrological imperialism. The wars for Yugoslavia of the 1990s began, in part, because Serbs believed that far larger numbers of their fellows had been killed in the Second World War than was the case. When history is removed numbers go upward and memories go inward to all our peril.”
Snyder, “Bloodlands”, page 406


Snyder should have also added:
…ghosts of destroyed villages or towns that never existed or were never destroyed
…ghosts of women killed supposedly because they were women
…ghosts of scores of homeless people that never were
…ghosts of millions of ‘intentionally’ starved to death people
…speculative ghosts of tens of millions future killings
…ghosts of ‘madmen’ wanting to ‘conquer the world’

“UNFORTUNATELY, SUCH SPECTERS HAVE POWER … TO ALL OUR PERIL”
just as the man says

THAT POWER IS MAINLY THE REASON WHY THOSE SPECTERS WERE CREATED TO BEGIN WITH.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

The Greek story seems to be getting worse. Now we have “small towns … completely destroyed”. Which are those towns? And there must have been plenty of them to take up the slack for the “1,000,000 homeless”. Maybe Mazower is confusing things with the Greek civil war that followed WW2, there were many refugees (not ‘homeless’), and still, I don’t believe, there were many, if any, towns “completely destroyed”.

"I don't believe" is one hell of an argument, especially when coming from ignorant Sam rambling against historians he doesn't like.

Yeah, the 1 million figure probably includes refugees, i.e. not necessarily people whose homes were destroyed.

And no, it does not include the Greek Civil War.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Finally Roberto, since you seem quite allergic to words like ‘massive lies’, ‘blood libel’, ‘bogus history’ etc here is a more eloquent way of phrasing the same things:

“By repeating exaggerated numbers, Europeans release into their culture millions of ghosts of people that never lived. Unfortunately, such specters have power. What begins as a competitive martyrology can end with end with martyrological imperialism. The wars for Yugoslavia of the 1990s began, in part, because Serbs believed that far larger numbers of their fellows had been killed in the Second World War than was the case. When history is removed numbers go upward and memories go inward to all our peril.”
Snyder, “Bloodlands”, page 406


Snyder should have also added:
…ghosts of destroyed villages or towns that never existed or were never destroyed
…ghosts of women killed supposedly because they were women
…ghosts of scores of homeless people that never were
…ghosts of millions of ‘intentionally’ starved to death people
…speculative ghosts of tens of millions future killings
…ghosts of ‘madmen’ wanting to ‘conquer the world’

“UNFORTUNATELY, SUCH SPECTERS HAVE POWER … TO ALL OUR PERIL”
just as the man says

THAT POWER IS MAINLY THE REASON WHY THOSE SPECTERS WERE CREATED TO BEGIN WITH.


Sam's hollow and hysterical rambling brings Shakespeare to mind - "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" (Macbeth).

It seems that whenever poor Sam had a bad day, he lets off steam by blowing hot air Snyder's way. Isn't that so, Sam?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

What Snyder really proves in his book, is that there is no 3, or 5, or 6, or 11 million ‘OTHERS’ innocents killed by the Germans. A million plus is his number, a tragically high number of innocent deaths, but not unreasonable, definitely many-many crimes were committed by the Germans.

Are you hallucinating now, Sam?

Or are you about to reveal a "Revisionist" agenda?

But since it’s not anywhere near the numbers that have been thrown around for decades, and since Snyder can’t find anywhere else the rest, and he doesn’t want to appear as some Nazi lover or kooky revisionist or make the previous ‘history’ appear as a calculated concoction, Snyder stretches, omits, twists, picks and chooses, and distorts the facts to make sure that 4 more million known deaths (3.1 million POWs, and 1 million Leningrad residents/military/partisans in the tragedy of a classic wartime siege situation) fit his definition of ‘intentional’ and ‘deliberate’ killings.

Blah, blah, blah. As often explained (poor Sam is slow on the uptake), Snyder draws on the research of German historians like Streit, Gerlach, Pohl and Ganzenmüller, who have examined these complexes in detail.

Face it Sam, it's murder to bump off POWs or intentionally let them die of starvation, disease and exposure. And it's also murder to subject an urban population to the horrors of siege warfare not in order to bring about the capitulation of an enemy stronghold, but in order to get rid of that population.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

PS:

Sam's "numbers that have been thrown around for decades" presumably refers to Wiesenthal's unsubstantiated figure of 5 million non Jewish victims, which Peter Novick (as far back as 2000) referred to as "either much too low (for all non-Jewish civilians killed by the Third Reich) or much too high (for non-Jewish groups targeted, like Jews, for murder)".

Wiesenthal’s figure indeed has little if anything to do with the actual record of Nazi crimes against non-Jews, as established by the research of mostly German historians long before Snyder’s book. See my blogs 5 million non-Jewish victims? (Part 1), 5 million non-Jewish victims? (Part 2) and Nazi persecution and mass murder of Jews and non-Jews.

Even the last of these blogs, incidentally, predates the publication of Snyder’s book by almost one year – and Dieter Pohl's book referred to therein was published over two years before Bloodlands. And what is more, Snyder’s estimates are more conservative than either Pohl’s or mine, as I pointed out in an earlier blog about Snyder's book.

Sam said...

I am glad you like Shakespeare Roberto, but I noticed that you didn't respond if it's ok to "release into society millions of ghosts of people that never existed".
It's not just Wiesenthal, it's also the Poles, the Soviets, and, as Snyder says, even the Serbs.
On the "OTHERS" look at wikipedia to see how confusion reigns supreme.

Sam said...

In Leningrad, Snyder offers no explanation, quote, or references for his “Hitler wanted Leningrad’s residents exterminated”. Not that it’s some well-established fact, Ferguson i.e. does not even mention Leningrad anywhere that I can find, and the only thing that I found in Beevor is that both “Hitler’s and Stalin’s policies were equally callous”. Other historians refer to offers to residents for safe passage out, turned down, I assume, out of heroism, patriotism, or fear for the authorities. And it’s still a mystery to me about the Red Cross or other humanitarian organization’s stand on the issue; Leningrad is a port city after all and till the water freezes in the winter (if it does), there must have been ways to get relief supplies to the residents.

Sam said...

Anyways, I am tired of this blog and I am sure you sick and tired of me.

I ll see you after Snyder's (or whoever else) next book "Bloody seas", on how the British planned to exterminate millions of Europeans through their Starvation of Europe Plan (aka blockade) and Indians. But I suspect this time we ll be on the same side argueing that this is all nonsense.

Sam said...

[this didn't show up so I am reposting]

Speaking about Mazower, here is a full passage from “Hitler’s Empire” ( I presume you don’t consider Mazower a “Revisionist” or a Nazi sympathizer)

“From August, things got worse still. The Wehrmacht was now entering areas devastated by the Red Army’s scorched earth tactics, and food was in short supply. As the weather worsened and turned the roads to mud, the huge numbers captured in the massive encirclement operations in September and October intensified the logistical strain. ‘The number of POW’s in Brjansk are increasing critically . . . and their transportation is not possible,’ recorded one unit in the field. A week later, things were more desperate still: ‘The POW problem grows even more serious . . . There are provisioning problems since the personnel in the transit camps cannot cope … To make matters worse, the rainy season is upon us hindering the use of lorries except on good roads, and the fact is that in the immediate vicinity of Brjansk there are no more food supplies to be obtained.’
By this point, rather than waiting for Berlin to organize long-range transportation, some commanders set up POW work units to search for provisions, enlisted the help of local villagers and reminded their own men of the need to treat the prisoners properly. But it was much too little, too late. The death toll rose inexorably….”
Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire”, page 163

Apparently then, according to Mazower
a) Stalin’s “scorched earth” policy did have a significant effect on feeding the POWs
b) it doesn’t sound that there is an order from Berlin or a general policy to starve the Soviet POWs
c) they even enlisted the help of local villagers to feed the prisoners (as opposed to erasing villages because they were feeding the prisoners)
d) weather, intense:logistical strains which Snyder fails to even mention

There are many other passages also in Mazower, Beevor, and other historians, regarding the POWs, logistics, weather, diseases, medicine, etc that paint a far more complex picture on the issue. Beevor also mentions that the Germans had a hard time raking care of their own “sick and wounded” because of the pace of the advance.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

One of Sam's tirades didn't make to the board, so I'll quote it after the e-mail notification I received before commenting it:

Speaking about Mazower, here is a full passage from “Hitler’s Empire” ( I presume you don’t consider Mazower a “Revisionist” or a Nazi sympathizer)

“From August, things got worse still. The Wehrmacht was now entering areas devastated by the Red Army’s scorched earth tactics, and food was in short supply. As the weather worsened and turned the roads to mud, the huge numbers captured in the massive encirclement operations in September and October intensified the logistical strain. ‘The number of POW’s in Brjansk are increasing critically . . . and their transportation is not possible,’ recorded one unit in the field. A week later, things were more desperate still: ‘The POW problem grows even more serious . . . There are provisioning problems since the personnel in the transit camps cannot cope … To make matters worse, the rainy season is upon us hindering the use of lorries except on good roads, and the fact is that in the immediate vicinity of Brjansk there are no more food supplies to be obtained.’
By this point, rather than waiting for Berlin to organize long-range transportation, some commanders set up POW work units to search for provisions, enlisted the help of local villagers and reminded their own men of the need to treat the prisoners properly. But it was much too little, too late. The death toll rose inexorably….”
Mark Mazower, “Hitler’s Empire”, page 163

Apparently then, according to Mazower
a) Stalin’s “scorched earth” policy did have a significant effect on feeding the POWs
b) it doesn’t sound that there is an order from Berlin or a general policy to starve the Soviet POWs
c) they even enlisted the help of local villagers to feed the prisoners (as opposed to erasing villages because they were feeding the prisoners)
d) weather, intense:logistical strains which Snyder fails to even mention

There are many other passages also in Mazower, Beevor, and other historians, regarding the POWs, logistics, weather, diseases, medicine, etc that paint a far more complex picture on the issue. Beevor also mentions that the Germans had a hard time raking care of their own “sick and wounded” because of the pace of the advance.

Of course Snyder forgets to mention any of that stuff.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

I am glad you like Shakespeare Roberto, but I noticed that you didn't respond if it's ok to "release into society millions of ghosts of people that never existed".

Why, is that hysterical crap supposed to be worth a response?

It's not just Wiesenthal, it's also the Poles, the Soviets, and, as Snyder says, even the Serbs.

The Serbs had this thing with Jasenovac, which actually killed "only" tens of thousands instead of hundreds of thousands. The Soviets actually understated their wartime losses and never published the numbers killed by the Nazis according to the Special Commission. As to the Poles, they used to claim three million non-Jewish victims but have reduced that to a more realistic 1.8-1.9 million IIRC, not all of them due to the Nazis.

On the "OTHERS" look at wikipedia to see how confusion reigns supreme.

Confusion reigns supreme inside your little head, my friend.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

In Leningrad, Snyder offers no explanation, quote, or references for his “Hitler wanted Leningrad’s residents exterminated”. Not that it’s some well-established fact, Ferguson i.e. does not even mention Leningrad anywhere that I can find, and the only thing that I found in Beevor is that both “Hitler’s and Stalin’s policies were equally callous”.

I suggest you look up the related German documents quoted in the thread The Siege of Leningrad and my translation of Ganzenmüller’s article.

Haven’t we been there before, by the way? You seem to have a distinct tendency to repeat yourself.

Other historians refer to offers to residents for safe passage out, turned down, I assume, out of heroism, patriotism, or fear for the authorities.

Never heard of that. What historians? German troops had orders to shoot down any civilians from Leningrad approaching the German lines.

And it’s still a mystery to me about the Red Cross or other humanitarian organization’s stand on the issue; Leningrad is a port city after all and till the water freezes in the winter (if it does), there must have been ways to get relief supplies to the residents.

If so, the Soviets would have got supplies to the residents other than via Lake Ladoga. This means that humanitarian missions depended on the besieger's permission, which would not have been granted as it would have gone against the purpose of the siege. Think before writing.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Speaking about Mazower, here is a full passage from “Hitler’s Empire” ( I presume you don’t consider Mazower a “Revisionist” or a Nazi sympathizer)

[Mazower quote]

Apparently then, according to Mazower
a) Stalin’s “scorched earth” policy did have a significant effect on feeding the POWs
b) it doesn’t sound that there is an order from Berlin or a general policy to starve the Soviet POWs
c) they even enlisted the help of local villagers to feed the prisoners (as opposed to erasing villages because they were feeding the prisoners)
d) weather, intense:logistical strains which Snyder fails to even mention


Smart-ass Sam apparently missed the words "some commanders" and "much too little to late" in Mazower's text. That some commanders showed the praiseworthy initiative of allowing civilians (who must have had sufficient food despite Soviet "scorched earth" policies) to feed the POWs was mentioned by Rosenberg in his letter to Keitel of 28 February 1942, where it was also stated that this commendable attitude was the exception and not the rule:

«The fate of the Soviet prisoners of war in Germany is on the contrary a tragedy of the greatest extent. Of 3.6 millions of prisoners of war, only several hundred thousand are still able to work fully. A large part of them has starved, or died, because of the hazards of the weather. Thousands also died from spotted fever. It is understood, of course, that there are difficulties encountered in the feeding of such a large number of prisoners of war. Anyhow, with a certain amount of understanding for goals aimed at by German politics, dying and deterioration could have been avoided in the extent described. For instance, according to information on hand, the native population within the Soviet Union are absolutely willing to put food at the disposal of the prisoners of war. Several understanding camp commanders have successfully chosen this course. However in the majority of the cases, the camp commanders have forbidden the civilian population to put food at the disposal of the prisoners, and they have rather let them starve to death. Even on the march to the camps, the civilian population was not allowed to give the prisoners of war food. In many cases, when prisoners of war could no longer keep up on the march because of hunger and exhaustion, they were shot before the eyes of the horrified civilian population, and the corpses were left. In numerous camps, no shelter for the prisoners of war was provided at all. They lay under the open sky during rain or snow. Even tools were not made available to dig holes or caves. A systematic delousing of the prisoners of war in the camps and of the camps themselves has apparently been missed. Utterances such as these have been heard: "The more of these prisoners die, the better it is for us".»

No, this is not Snyder.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

And this is also not Snyder, but General Quarter Master Eduard Wagner in Orsha on 13.11.1941 (my translation):

«Non-working prisoners of war in the prisoner camps are to starve to death. Working prisoners of war can in individual cases also be fed out of army supplies. Given the general food situation this cannot be generally ordered, however.»

The "general food situation" was that Soviet POWs were fed only from what was taken off the land, their priority in the distribution of such food ranking after 1 - German troops, 2 - Shipments of food to Germany and 3 – Leftovers for the local civilian population, according to Göring’s instructions.

There are many other passages also in Mazower, Beevor, and other historians, regarding the POWs, logistics, weather, diseases, medicine, etc that paint a far more complex picture on the issue. Beevor also mentions that the Germans had a hard time raking care of their own “sick and wounded” because of the pace of the advance.

Beevor also mentioned what I quoted here, including but not limited to the following:

«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'.»

You’re not only a dishonestly selective reader, my friend. You also have a short memory.

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

Anyways, I am tired of this blog and I am sure you sick and tired of me.

You’re sick and tiresome indeed. Your pathological obsession with Snyder, which causes you to rain into this blog every once in a while to bitch about the fellow, seems to be a case for seeking psychiatric assistance.

I ll see you after Snyder's (or whoever else) next book "Bloody seas", on how the British planned to exterminate millions of Europeans through their Starvation of Europe Plan (aka blockade) and Indians. But I suspect this time we ll be on the same side argueing that this is all nonsense.

That would depend on the evidence and on nothing else as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think one could expect the same of you, though,

Sam said...

If I showed up once in a while it's because this is not a job for me Roberto, as I now understand it's probably for you. A job to make sure nobody strays from some narrow line not only regarding the Holocaust which has been quite consistent since early on, but with everything else about WW2 that's been all over the map for decades.
A target number of dead, that's a good way to write history.

"Psychiatric assistance" like in the old Soviet Union for gays and anyone considered out of line?

and I ll be waiting for those names of the Polish milk villages or the many Greek towns "completely destroyed"

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

If I showed up once in a while it's because this is not a job for me Roberto, as I now understand it's probably for you. A job to make sure nobody strays from some narrow line not only regarding the Holocaust which has been quite consistent since early on, but with everything else about WW2 that's been all over the map for decades. A target number of dead, that's a good way to write history.

Poor Sam, now he's trying to get even for my remark about his Snyder obsession. And very lamely so.

There's no "narrow line" and also no "target number", as you well know. I'm open to any number and any argument that is compatible with the evidence. Unfortunately you produced much in the way of rhetoric and baseless appeals to incredulity but little in the way of such arguments. And no, I don't see refuting your nonsense as a "job". It's just that I have a personal aversion to such nonsense.

"Psychiatric assistance" like in the old Soviet Union for gays and anyone considered out of line?

No, psychiatric assistance like persons who seem to be obsessed with a certain idea or person, which keeps dragging them to a blog that has long gone off the front page whenever they have one of their vibes.

and I ll be waiting for those names of the Polish milk villages or the many Greek towns "completely destroyed"

That, you see, goes under rhetoric and is revealing of your dishonesty. The "Polish milk villages" I would call a straw-man, for IIRC (I don't have the book anymore) Snyder mentions but one instance in which a Polish village was destroyed as a reprisal for locals having fed milk to Soviet POWs. And the "many Greek towns completely destroyed" is a misrepresentation of Seckendorf's statement that "many hundred villages and small towns were completely destroyed".

Here you may read about an inhabitant of one of the Polish villages destroyed by the Germans in anti-partisan operations, by the way. And no, Szczecyn was not attacked because it's inhabitants had fed Soviet POWs. Neither were probably all but one of the other Polish villages destroyed, and even in that one I presume that the reprisal came after inhabitants had repeatedly been ordered not to feed POWs but kept doing so nevertheless, and that there were also other reasons behind the reprisal. But let’s Sam be happy with his ubiquitous "milk" straw-man, he has little else to cling to anyway.

From_Poland said...

According to a recent Polish book
http://www.poczytaj.pl/70672 440 Polish villages were subjected to German pacifications, half of them burned. Other authors give numbers around 800.

From_Poland said...

"Somehow the western countries had the correct number of destroyed by the Nazis villages from day one after the war, or even during the war. But in Poland it grew from 0 to 200, etc etc" - Who exactly said that no Polish village was destroied by the Germans?

Roberto Muehlenkamp said...

"Who exactly said that no Polish village was destroied by the Germans?"

Some fellow who for some reason holds an obsessive grudge against Mr. Snyder and thus made the nonsensical claim (among others) that no Polish villages had been burned by the Germans because none were mentioned in the Nuremberg Trial records.

Sylwia said...

I guess Gerlach, Snyder, or maybe you as well, are saying that had the Soviet Union collapsed by autumn, the German army would have surrounded and sealed Soviet cities and waited until all of their residents died. All that with the world and their own Germans citizens watching in apathy?
Watching in apathy? More than that! There would be Sams actively denying that such a thing ever happened.

Denying History said...

Snyder is a good overview of the time period, but his estimates can be questionable.