Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & documents

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
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Larrister
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 22 Jul 2010 12:57

The very next photo in the album shows people leaving a village, possibly Desna.
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Svetlana Karlin
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Svetlana Karlin » 22 Jul 2010 18:07

Larrister wrote:Hi Linkar

Thanks for the Russian personal account of villagers being turned out of their houses.
The photos I posted as you have pointed out most likely show forced evacuations.

Here's two from a Flak Rgt. 11 album which tie in with the theme of my other photos.
Photos taken in or near the village of Desna which is in the Bryansk Oblast, Russia.

Caption loosely translates as civilians being moved for their own safety. A Russian mother and children have only had time to throw on coats before being led away by a German soldier. Was this used as an excuse to remove villagers from their homes so that German troops could occupy them?

Larry
Hi Larry,

Thank you for the new pictures. Is there any information what year the pictures of Desna village were taken? The dates of the pictures could provide some explanation for the incident. From the ragged look of the clothes, it looks like it was later in the war, but I could be wrong.

Linkar
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 22 Jul 2010 23:34

Hi

The Desna photos were taken in 1943. The album covers the years 1941-43 and shows the occupation and fighting around the city of Orel where Flak Rgt. 11 were stationed.
There are many F R 11 graves photos which shows that they were in the thick of the fighting.
The album also has many "at the front" photos, photos of Orel, its buildings and its surrounds.

One of my favorite albums.

Maybe they did evacuate villages when the fighting came close. Did they really care?
Here's a photo taken in 1943 which shows a recently destroyed village at the front. Was this village vacant at the time.

Larry
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Svetlana Karlin » 22 Jul 2010 23:40

Bundesarchiv photos taken by the same photographer, Bruno Plenik, and dated June-August 1941. Wikimedia Commons descriptions state the area as Russland-Mitte, which makes Belorussia the most likely location.

Villagers reading a German poster.
PropagandaPoster.jpg
A girl at a well.
GirlWell.jpg
Village kids. Was it the soldiers who gave them the cigarettes?
SmokingKids.jpg
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 23 Jul 2010 01:49

From a Flak Rgt. 11 album.

View of a street in Orel, winter 1942.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 23 Jul 2010 01:59

This old man looks like he may have been given food which he keeps in his cap.
The soldiers may be making fun of him.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 23 Jul 2010 01:59

Kitchen perhaps.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 23 Jul 2010 03:34

Russian village.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Svetlana Karlin » 23 Jul 2010 09:45

Larrister wrote:Hi

The Desna photos were taken in 1943. The album covers the years 1941-43 and shows the occupation and fighting around the city of Orel where Flak Rgt. 11 were stationed.
There are many F R 11 graves photos which shows that they were in the thick of the fighting.
The album also has many "at the front" photos, photos of Orel, its buildings and its surrounds.

One of my favorite albums.

Maybe they did evacuate villages when the fighting came close. Did they really care?
Here's a photo taken in 1943 which shows a recently destroyed village at the front. Was this village vacant at the time.

Larry
Hi Larry,

In the picture of the kitchen the locals certainly look happy to work there. Close to the food! :)

The photo of a German soldier leading a local woman with children is an interesting one. First, the soldier is not armed. Second, the local family looks quite willing to follow him.

This looks like the period of September-October 1943, which matches the autumnal scenery in the photo. During that time German forces rapidly withdrew from Orel/Bryansk to the Dnieper. Hitler's orders were to destroy everything and evacuate as many locals as possible with the retreating troops, so the Soviet Army couldn't benefit from the liberated territories.

'From Stalingrad to Berlin. The German Defeat in the East' by Earl E. Ziemke:
On 13 September Kluge issued the warning order for a withdrawal to the Panther [a line of fortifications to be built along the Dnieper - Linkar] position ... Work on the Panther position would require 400,000 civilian laborers. Between 2.5 and 3 million persons would have to be evacuated to the West - this as compared to some 190,000 evacuated from the Orel bulge...

... In two and one-half months Army Groups Center snd South had been forced back an average distance of 150 miles on a front 650 miles long. Economically, the Germans lost the most valuable territory they had taken in the Soviet Union. In an effort at least to deny the Soviet Union the fruits of these rich areas Hitler had initiated a scorched-earth policy, but, in the end even that satisfaction was denied him. At the end of September Army Group Center reported that it had succeeded in evacuating no more than 20 to 30 percent of the economic goods in its rear area.

... The people, influenced by Soviet propaganda promising that there would be no reprisals, sabotaged the evacuation to save their own possessions and to establish alibis that would be useful after the Germans departed. The only willing evacuees were the outright collaborators, those from some of the districts along the Donets who had had a taste of a Soviet "liberation" during the last winter and those who resided in the areas completely laid waste. The armies and economic staff organized caravans of civilians numbering all together about 600,000 persons, or one-tenth of the population."


Anatoliy Kazakov, a former partisan in the Bryansk area, in his book "During That War a Long Time Ago" describes how Germans, trying to eradicate partisans, destroyed villages in the area in the summer of 1943. The Bryansk Forests were packed full with refugees from the burned villages. It created huge problems for the partisan detachments. Their mobility was now impaired by having to take care of the non-fighting civilians, many of whom were their relatives and friends.

Knowing this, it seems that the woman had a good reason not to wait for the Soviets to come. She didn't choose to hide in the forests, either. My guess is that she had had an 'incriminating' involvement with Germans. It could be collaborating with them. It could be that the soldier, shown in the picture, had lived in her house, and might have even been in a relationship with her. There are numerous accounts of such cases.

Willy Peter Reese described his retreat from Bryansk to the Dnieper in the Fall of 1943 in his book, "A Stranger to Myself":
Ruined villages, debris and char marked out way. Behind us the last houses went up in flames, woods burned on the horizon, munitions dumps were blown up, and flares, shells, and bombs went up like fireworks into the night sky. By our side were other columns, occasionally the populations of evacuated villages with their carts and animals or else dragging their households on their backs. Old and young women, children, pregnant women, single men, barefoot, in ripped shoes, with sacking wrapped around their feet. We overtook herds of cattle and sheep.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 24 Jul 2010 00:15

Hi Linkar

Thanks for the very good information. My photos more than likely show the evacuation of civilians from their homes and villages and the destruction of those villages as described in the accounts you supplied.

Here is the caption which came with the woman and children photo and the civilians on the road photo.
Maybe you can provide a better translation.

Larry
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 24 Jul 2010 00:20

Here are two more photos from this series.
Another photo taken through the windscreen of a truck showing the smouldering remains of a village.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 24 Jul 2010 00:22

Flak Rgt. 11 (mot) wait on road while entire village in the distance goes up in smoke.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 24 Jul 2010 00:33

Linkar

I have several photos of kids with cigarettes and cigars. These were given to the kids by German troops. They also gave them alcohol as well. The troops got a great kick out of doing this, why, I don't know.

Here is an example.
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Svetlana Karlin » 24 Jul 2010 09:20

Larrister wrote:Hi Linkar

Thanks for the very good information. My photos more than likely show the evacuation of civilians from their homes and villages and the destruction of those villages as described in the accounts you supplied.

Here is the caption which came with the woman and children photo and the civilians on the road photo.
Maybe you can provide a better translation.

Larry
You're very welcome, Larry!

My translation of the photo captions with help of a dictionary:
I. Russian civilians retreat with us.
II. Endangered Russians are being taken to safety

I must admit my German is very basic and I studied it a very long time ago.

It's interesting that photos of kids with cigarettes and alcohol were so common. I was a bit puzzled by the photo I had, but now it's clear that soldiers entertained themselves in this way. Thank you for sharing the pictures!
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Re: Civilian life in occupied Soviet Union in photos & docum

Post by Larrister » 24 Jul 2010 09:55

Linkar wrote:
Larrister wrote:Hi Linkar

Thanks for the very good information. My photos more than likely show the evacuation of civilians from their homes and villages and the destruction of those villages as described in the accounts you supplied.

Here is the caption which came with the woman and children photo and the civilians on the road photo.
Maybe you can provide a better translation.

Larry
You're very welcome, Larry!

My translation of the photo captions with help of a dictionary:
I. Russian civilians retreat with us.
II. Endangered Russians are being taken to safety

I must admit my German is very basic and I studied it a very long time ago.

It's interesting that photos of kids with cigarettes and alcohol were so common. I was a bit puzzled by the photo I had, but now it's clear that soldiers entertained themselves in this way. Thank you for sharing the pictures!
It is my pleasure. :D

Here's more photos showing kids smoking and drinking alcohol. Some Germans seemed to get enjoyment out of treating
children badly and showing them in a bad way.

More photos showing children and adults being made fun of.
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