Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East. By Stephen G. Fritz
This terrific history was published in 2011, but I just came across it. At almost 500 words. Reading it is a project not to be taken lightly. But I expect this to be the history of the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia to be the standard for many years. It destroys the myth created after the ware by German generals that the German army fought a “clean” and that the crimes, murders and genocide were the work of the SS and the einsatzgruppen behind the lines. The army leaders were in it up to their necks, not only approving of the cleansing of Jews and other “useless eaters,” as the Nazis called them. But assisting in every way. Many individual soldiers participated, and most, seeped in years of Nazi propaganda that the Jews had stabbed Germany in the back in 19918 and, hard as it is to believe now, started WWII. Fritz’s book details not only the horror at the front in the largest war in history, but also the horror behind the lines, as the population was murdered, deported to be slave labors in Germany, or deliberately left to starve. Reports of soldiers shooting hundreds of Jews at a time were commonplace. The individual numbers are staggering. The author points out that while Britain and the US lost less than a million people combined, Russia and Germany combined lost 35 million. Eight of every ten German soldiers killed in WWII were killed on the eastern front. They inflicted four or five causalities on the Russians for every one they suffered, but compared to Germany, Russia’s manpower was functionally unlimited. In addition Russia outproduced the Germans in war material. With lend lease vehicles from the US, they became much more mobile than the Germans, who still depended largely on horse drawn transport, especially as their oil shortage worsened. Nor does the book neglect Russia\n crimes. It reports that something like 1.7 million German women were raped by Soviet soldiers, including 50% of the women in Berlin. Breaking these numbers down into individual human lives doesn’t bear contemplation. WWII and military history buffs won’t want to miss this book.
Post a Comment