michael mills wrote:Roberto blustered:
Like a raging bull running against my red cape.
Let's have a ball with the fellow.
michael mills wrote:
The contention that “the Quartermaster General of the General Staff of the German Army that, by the decrees of August 6, October 21, and December 2, 1941, to the Wehrmacht District Commanders, established food rations in quantities sufficient to maintain the life and health of all prisoners of war in the occupied territories” is nothing but a pious lie.
This is of course Roberto's normal methodology; where a statement is made that he does not like, he simply fumes that it is a lie, without giving any real proof for his accusation.
Nowhere does Roberto quote the three decrees referred to by the late Dr Hoffmann, so he has no way of knowing whether the food rations laid down therein were in fact sufficient to maintain life and health, as claimed by Hoffmann. For him to state that Hoffmann's claim was a lie is simply slander (which of course is Roberto's stock in trade).
Instead, Roberto quotes a passage from Streit, in which some figures for food allocated to a particular group of POWs are given. However, neither Streit nor Roberto tell us whether those figures, claimed to be at starvation level, were the prescribed ration or whether they were below it.
Mills obviously didn’t read my post carefully enough, or then he expects readers to be dumb enough to rely blindly on the crap he writes.
How Mills and Hoffmann can speak of sufficient rations for prisoners of war having been officially established when the General Quarter Master on 21 October reduced
the allotment by 27 percent (to 1,490 calories, according to Gerlach) at a time when he should have raised
it in the face of the oncoming winter, and on 13 November expressly condemned the non-working prisoners of war to death by starvation, remains the mystery of these sworn apologists of the Nazi system who, as I demonstrated in the post that Mills is now making a fuss about, conveniently ignore all evidence that doesn’t fit into their bubble - unless of course they think they can distort it so as to match their requirements.
It is true that, as Gerlach mentions on page 33 of Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord
, the rations established by the Commander of the Reserve Army on 6 August 1941 were "relatively high" – ca. 2040 calories for non-working prisoners and 2200 calories for working prisoners. These rations were sufficient under ideal conditions, according to Streit (Keine Kameraden
, pages 142 and 189) - assuming they were actually issued.
As Gerlach and Streit also point out, however, these rations could often not be issued due to the premises of the German food distribution system, which placed Soviet prisoners of war at the bottom of the ladder.
In other words, the POW's got the official rations when available – which due to the absolute priority given to the Wehrmacht , followed by the German home front and the local civilian population, was often not the case.
The consequences were such as described by Streit in the already quoted passage, translated from pages 131 and following of Keine Kameraden
[…]That the mortality at least in the area of Army Group Center soon exceeded a “normal” level must also be concluded from the food rations granted to the prisoners. The prisoners transported through the area of the District Commandant J for Prisoners of War, Colonel Marshall, in the rear area of Army Group Center, received daily rations of “20 grams of millet and 100 grams of bread without meat”, “100 grams of millet without meat”, “according to the work performed, up to 50 grams of millet and 200 grams of bread, if available fresh meat” – rations that with a nutritional value of 300 to maximally 700 calories were far below half the absolutely necessary survival minimum, and this at a time when a mass problem was not yet in sight. The consequences of this hunger ration were clearly recognized. The supply officer of a security division involved in the transportation to the rear called to attention
that the food rations (20 – 30 g millet, 100 – 200 grams of bread) are insufficient even for a march of 30 – 40 kilometers and it must be expected that a great part of the people don’t reach their goal due exhaustion.
How quickly this happened cannot be determined. In the activity reports of the quarter master of the commander of the Army Rear Area Center there is no indication about the health situation of the prisoners for the month of July; in August it is described as “generally satisfactory”, in September as “normal, partially […] good”. These indications are meaningless, as the standard of measure is not revealed. Already in September, however, the transit camp Molodechno recorded an increased mortality due to exhaustion and dysentery-like disease. At least for a time a daily mortality of one per cent was already exceeded. From a later report by the quarter master it results that the mortality already before the influx of prisoners from the battle of Brjansk (mid-October) was enormous – “on average only 0.3 per cent per day” – i.e. 10 per cent monthly.[…]
In October and November of 1941, as Gerlach points out, the policy was then changed from one of giving Soviet POWs last priority in the allocation of food supplies (which was a clear violation of international law already) to one of letting non-working prisoners of war – i.e. the overwhelming majority of the prisoners – starve to death, expressed most clearly in Wagner’s quoted directive of 13 November 1941.
This, not the number of prisoners and not any transportation difficulties, was the key factor leading to the spectacular mortality of Soviet prisoners of war in the following months.
On pages 50 and following of Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord
, Gerlach writes (my translation):
The feeding of the prisoners was completely insufficient. The rations actually issued were considerably lower than the official allotments of slightly over 2000 calories, for non-workers since 21 October less than 1500 calories. This was due less to suppression by the camps’ personnel than to the use of replacement substances, for instance in the so-called Russian bread, and of spoiled food. But the rations were mainly reduced by the fact that their issue in the occupied Soviet territories always stood under the reservation of the food being obtained “out of the land”, often from the area where the respective camp was located – after satisfaction of the needs of the German troops.[emphasis mine]. […] As foreseen and further required in the regulations, the rations for working and non-working prisoners were indeed strongly differentiated. The prisoners considered as no longer able to work were often separated from the others, sometimes placed in separate barracks to let them die there. Not rarely extremely weak prisoners, who could no longer defend themselves, were simply thrown by the German camp personnel or at its instructions onto the corpse heaps or into the corpse pits, where they were squashed or froze to death during the night.[…]
michael mills wrote:Hoffmann's thesis is that, although rations sufficient to sustain the life and health of the POWs were prescribed in the three decrees referred to above, a number of circumstances prevented their being distributed in all cases, with the result that there was a mass mortality in the winter of 1941/2. Among these circumstances were the sheer number of prisoners captured, and the break-down of the German transportation system.
Hoffmann’s thesis amounts to the apologetic junk that members of the Wehrmacht High Command tried to sell in their defense after the war. That the number of prisoners was hardly an excuse becomes apparent from the German operational planning, which clearly foresaw such high numbers of prisoners. Streit, page 130, my translation:
[…]It has already been pointed out that the whole conception of the war in the East made higher numbers of prisoners of war in a shorter time than actually occurred expectable a priori. At least the masses of prisoners from the first two great encirclement battles of Army Group Center (Bialystok/Minsk, beginning of July, 323,000 prisoners and Smolensk/Roslavl, beginning of August, 348,000 prisoners) should not have presented any organizational problems, especially as it was not the first time that the Wehrmacht was confronted with huge numbers of prisoners – a consequence of the tactic of lightning campaigns and the encirclements of huge bodies of troops.[…]
As Gerlach points out on pages 44 and following of Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord
, even in the great encirclement battles of October 1941 the Germans captured less prisoners than in France in 1940, where in a similar period of time 1.9 million prisoners had been captured and by no means allowed to starve to death.
That transportation problems were also not a determining cause is shown e.g. by the fate of prisoners of war in the General Government, where – contrary to what was the case in the area of military operations of Army Group Center in the autumn of 1941 – such problems hardly existed. As Streit writes on page 189 of Keine Kameraden
[…]It must surely be conceded that even under “normal” circumstances, i.e. if the will had existed to do everything possible in order to save the prisoners, the feeding of the prisoners from the great encirlement battles of Kiev, Vyazma and Bryansk would have been extremely difficult and a high mortality would have been unavoidable: the weather, the roads and the railway connections made transportation and feeding extraordinarily difficult. The development of mass mortality in the General Government shows, however, that this mass problem was by no means the decisive factor. Among the 309,816 prisoners - 85 percent of those in custody in that area - who perished there until 15 April 1942, there were hardly any prisoners from the three encirclement battles, most of the prisoners had been taken before the beginning of September.[…]
michael mills wrote:It may well be, as Roberto claims, that German planning for the maintenance of POWs was based on over-optimistic assumptions about the duration of the campaign. In that case, the German authorities miscalculated, and found themselves with a disaster on their hands. But nothing that Hoffmann wrote in the passage cited by me is inconsistent with that fact.
Neither Hoffmann nor Mills seem to have bothered to ask themselves why the hell an army that, after all, had experience in the handling of enormous numbers of prisoners, made such “over-optimistic assumptions”, which strongly contrasted with the preparations that had been made for the handling of French prisoners of war the year before. Back then, as Streit writes on pages 187 and following of Keine Kameraden
, an order had been issued on 28 May 1940 calling for extensive measures in the face of the expectable high number of French prisoners. Insofar as the prisoners could not be transported by rail and had to march on foot, the troops and their supply trains were called upon to assist in the establishment of bivouac areas. Where orders to allocate enough food to the prisoner collection centers had not yet been carried out, the Army Group called expressly authorized such centers to help themselves by taking what they needed from army supply trains up to 10 % of the contents thereof on their own initiative.
As Streit points out, such an order, which did not give the German troops the absolute priority in regard to food supplies, was unthinkable a priori
on the Eastern front, not only for the NS leadership but also for the military command.
michael mills wrote:Roberto continues to trot out the leftist thesis
Remarks like this may have one or the other reader wondering if Mills doesn’t have a few screws loose – a piece of well-meaning advice.
michael mills wrote:that the mass mortality of Soviet POWs in the winter of 1941/2 was due to a German "policy of extermination".
Well, this is what the policies adopted by the Nazi government and the Wehrmacht High Command since October 1941 clearly point to, and they become clear enough in Wagner’s imperative statement of 13 November 1941 that non-working prisoners of war were to starve to death.
"Extermination" in the strict sense of the physical annihilation of all
prisoners of war is not what the "leftist thesis" contends, by the way. On page 188 of Keine Kameraden
, Streit writes the following (my translation):
[...]There can be no doubt that it was one [italic are Streit's] of the goals of the NS leadership in the war in the East "to weaken the Russians in such a way that they can no longer overwhelm us with the masses of their people". Hitler and Himmler by no means intended to kill the prisoners of war in their entirety (italics are Streit's) - except for the "undesirables". They knew that one would need them as slave laborers for the "Building of the East" [Aufbau im Osten]. A decimation of the prisoners as well as the civilian population by hunger, however, was seen by them as altogether desirable, given that in their opinion there were "far too many of them anyway".[...]
Gerlach also makes clear that the German policy from the autumn of 1941 onward was one of "selective
[my emphasis] murder of the majority of the prisoners through starvation" (Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord
, page 36, my translation) - the selection criterion being the extent to which the prisoners were able to work and to which their workforce was required.
michael mills wrote:However, the very letter from Rosenberg quoted by him disproves that thesis.
I knew Mills was prone to wishful thinking, but it seems that so far I underestimated the extent of that tendency.
michael mills wrote:Rosenberg was a senior member of the German Government, and the minister responsible for the occupied areas of the Soviet Union. If such a policy of extermination had existed, he would have been a party to it, and would therefore not have objected to measures designed to implement it, such as the starvation of Soviet POWs, but would have supported them.
Rosenberg was the Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, IIRC, and contrary to other Nazi officials he - from a certain point in time on, at least - pursued a policy of “winning hearts and minds”, which collided with that of other high-ranking Nazi officials and of Hitler himself.
Mills would have us believe that the Nazi government apparatus was a homogeneous entity where everyone had the same views and pursued the same goals.
It was not.
michael mills wrote:However, the letter to Keitel shows him protesting about the treatment of the POWs, in particular the failure to let the Soviet population provide food for the prisoners. Rosenberg specifically says: "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"; that in itself shows that it was not the goal of German policy to let the POWs die.
It was not the goal of German policy as understood by Rosenberg, that is.
Keitel obviously had another view of those goals.
So had Göring: File note on a meeting about economic policies and organization of the economy in the newly occupied territories with Hermann Göring on 8.11.1941
Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv, WI ID/1222
[…] Hinsichtlich der Ernährung bemerkte er [Göring], daß die Truppe ihren Bedarf an Konserven wesentlich einschränken müsse. Der Wehrmacht machte er den Vorwurf, dass sich im Gebiet um Minsk in den Wäldern noch grosse Viehherden herumtreiben, die aber wegen der Partisanen nicht geborgen werden können. Einsatz von Truppen sei unbedingt notwendig.
Das Schicksal der Grosstädte insbesondere Leningrads sei ihm völlig schleierhaft. In diesem Kriege werde das grösste Sterben seit dem dreissigjährigen Krieg sein.
Wenn das Getreide nicht abbefördert werden kann, soll dieses zur Schweinezucht verwandt werden. Ab 1943 verlange er eine Höchstausnutzung der Ukraine. Die Versorgung ganz Europas müsse dann sichergestellt sein. […]
[…] In regard to food matters he [Göring] remarked that the troops must significantly reduce their consume of conserves. To the Wehrmacht he addressed the reproach that in the area around Minsk there are still huge herds of cattle running around in the woods which cannot be collected due to the partisans. The deployment of troops was absolutely necessary.
The fate of the major cities, especially Leningrad, was completely indifferent to him. [Translator’s note: the German term “schleierhaft” literally means “veilful” and may also be translated as “unexplainable”. Translating the term as “indifferent” (in the sense of “I don’t know what will happen to them, and I couldn’t care less”) was considered to better fit the context, however] This war would see the greatest dying since the Thirty Years War.
If the grain could not be shipped off it should be used for raising pigs. From 1943 onward he required a maximum exploitation of the Ukraine. The food supply of the whole of Europe must then be guaranteed. […]
Emphases are mine.
So had Secretary of State Herbert Backe, one of the officials responsible for the development of the Hungerplan
: Protocol of a meeting of the secretaries of state on 21.5.1941
Source: International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1948, Volume 31, page 84
[…]1.) Der Krieg ist nur weiterzuführen, wenn die gesamte Wehrmacht im 3. Kriegsjahr aus Rußland ernährt wird.
2.) Hierbei werden zweifellos zig Millionen Menschen verhungern, wenn von uns das für uns Notwendige aus dem Lande herausgeholt wird.
3.) Am wichtigsten ist die Bergung und Abtransport von Ölsaaten, Ölkuchen, dann erst Getreide. Das vorhandene Fett und Fleisch wird voraussichtlich die Truppe verbrauchen.[…]
[…]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.[…]
Emphasis is mine.
michael mills wrote:Rosenberg is castigating Keitel for not understanding German policy, which was obviously to avoid "dying and deterioration".
The same Rosenberg actually approved the above mentioned Hungerplan
, as Gerlach writes on page 17 of Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord
His letter to Keitel of 28 February 1942, on the other hand, suggests that he was among the first Nazi officials to realize that a change in policy was required when it dawned upon him that the war would not be won so easily and might not be won at all.
His approval of the Hungerplan
makes it seem doubtful whether he would have professed the understanding of “goals aimed at by German politics” expressed in his letter of 28 February 1942 half a year earlier.
michael mills wrote:Hoffmann, in his enumeration of the reasons for the mass mortality of the Soviet POWs, specifically mentions "human indifference, or even ill will engendered by political resentments, particularly on subordinate levels". The examples quoted in the Rosenberg letter, such as the refusal of POW camp commandants to let the local population feed the inmates, or the shootings of prisoners on the march, would definitely fall into those categories.
However, the difference between Hoffmann and the leftist historians is that the latter take the instances of "ill will engendered by political resentments" and present them as the main cause of the mass mortality, whereas Hoffmann sees logistical problems as the main cause, while not denying that "ill will" was a factor in some cases (as shown by the Rosenberg letter). In other words, the leftist historians, being ideologically driven propagandists, have selected from a range of causes those that fit their ideological agenda, which may be summarised as "four legs [=Soviets] good, two legs [=Germans] bad".
Propagandists like Mills like to accuse their opponents of their own fallacies, that’s nothing new.
Mills’ rhetorical verbosity, however, will hardly help him get over the fact that those he labels as “leftist historians” have convincingly demonstrated that the “logistical problems” invoked by Hoffmann as the main cause are but a lame apologetic excuse, because the main cause was a policy contrary to international law that first placed Soviet prisoners of war at the very bottom of the food distribution chain and in the autumn of 1941 was radicalized into a policy of selectively allowing those prisoners of war who were not able to work or not needed as workers for the German war effort – the overwhelming majority of the prisoners, that is – to starve to death.
Logistical difficulties there were, for sure, yet they influenced events not insofar as they kept the Germans from feeding their Soviet prisoners, but insofar as the Germans tried to solve them - within the premises of their policy of feeding the armed forces out of the occupied Soviet territories an keeping home front rations at peacetime level - by letting the “non-working” portion of the prisoners of war starve to death.
As Bräutigam pointed out in the already quoted memorandum of 25 November 1942 that Mills wisely chose to omit in his ramblings:
[…]Of primary importance, the treatment of prisoners of war should be named. It is no longer a secret from friend or foe that hundreds of thousands of them literally have died of hunger or cold in our camps. Allegedly there were not enough food supplies on hand for them. It is especially peculiar that the food supplies are deficient only for prisoners of war from the Soviet Unions, while complaints about the treatment of other prisoners of war, Polish, Serbian, French and English, have not become loud. It is obvious that nothing is so suitable for strengthening the power of resistance of the Red Army as the knowledge that in German captivity a slow miserable death is to be met. To be sure the Main Department for Politics has succeeded here by unceasing efforts in bringing about a material improvement of the fate of the prisoners of war. However this improvement is not to be ascribed to political acumen, but to the sudden realization that our labor market must be supplied with laborers at once. [b]We now experienced the grotesque picture of having to recruit millions of laborers from the occupied Eastern territories, after prisoners of war have died of hunger like flies, in order to fill the gaps that have formed within Germany. Now the food question no longer existed.[b][…]
Source of quote: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/USSR1.htm
Emphases are mine.
The contribution of the camp guards to the enormous mortality in the winter of 1941/42 must not be underestimated, for sure. As Gerlach writes on pages 848 and following of his book Kalkulierte Morde
[…]Together with the inhabitants of the encircled city of Leningrad, the prisoners of war were the only Soviet population group against whom the Hunger Plan developed at the beginning of 1941 could be carried out, as the Germans could effectively keep them from uncontrolled access to food. Thus rations that theoretically were higher than those of the Soviet civilian population in the cities led to a horrendous mass dying among the prisoners such as did not occur among the civilians. The same applied to the obtaining of fire material. The carrying out of the Hunger Plan towards the prisoners entered a new phase in September of 1941, at the same time as the genocide of the Jews in Belorussia, when new difficulties in the supply of the Wehrmacht and the German food economy came up. Previously vague ideas of underfeeding were replaced by a concrete strategy of annihilation by underfeeding. At the same time, insofar as can be deducted from the sources, the treatment of the prisoners in Belorussia also became more radical, especially the practice of shootings. The main responsibility for the sharper hunger policy lied with the civilian and military central authorities seated in Berlin and East Prussia, especially Göring, the Reich Ministry for Nourishment, the office Army High Command / General Quarter Master and the prisoner of war department of the Wehrmacht High Command. The camp commands often still showed the effort to improve the feeding of the prisoners, without being able to obtain enough food due to the lower priority given to this matter. The catastrophic accommodation at many places, which was the camp staffs’ own responsibility, the inhuman treatment and the completely emotionless reports about this unparalleled mass dying, however, show their participation in the death of the prisoners. These did not fall victim to anonymous forces, but the responsibilities can very well be delineated.[…]
michael mills wrote:Alert readers will have noticed that Roberto, being his usual slippery and devious self (his logo should be an eel rather than a dragon),
Careful with those alert readers, Mills.
Some of them may be awakening to the realization that Mills is but a blundering Nazi propagandist in urgent need of psychiatric assistance.
michael mills wrote:totally ignores the mortality rate of Soviet POWs in Finnish hands referred to by Hoffmann. No sane historian accuses democratic Finland of having a policy of "exterminating" the peoples of the East, yet one third of the POWs held by them died, no doubt due to the same factors that caused the mass mortality of the POWs held by the Germans.
That’s my Mills.
First thing, he takes Hoffmann’s contention at face value without even asking what Hoffmann, whose reliability also in regard to figures and ratios leaves much to be desired, may have got them from (some of our Finnish forum members may want to confirm or disprove Hoffmann’s contentions).
Then he postulates that “no doubt” the causes of high mortality in Finnish captivity were the same (conveniently ignoring that the mortality of Soviet prisoners in German captivity was much higher: ca. two million out of 3.35 million, or 60 % of the total, died in the winter of 1941/42, according to Streit, the proportion in some areas being even much higher).
Does he know anything about how the Finns treated their Soviet prisoners of war and why a proportion of them quite high, assuming that Hoffmann’s data are accurate (though much lower than the proportion in German captivity) perished?
Of course not.
He merely places a rhetorical “no doubt” in front of what he would like to believe, and to sell to readers he obviously considers rather gullible.
michael mills wrote:That fact in itself tends to support Hoffmann's thesis that the high mortality rate of Soviet POWs (which was limited to a short period, after which it fell to normal levels) was not due to a "policy of extermination", as claimed by the leftists.
If the mortality rate of Soviet prisoners of war in German captivity had not been much higher (see above), and if it was not for the evidence to German policies that emerged before the war and became more radical in the autumn of 1941 (lowest feeding priority for Soviet POWs, reduction of official rations on the eve of winter, statement that non-working prisoners were to starve to death and corresponding treatment, see above), the above contention might be arguable.
As it is, Hoffmann, may he rest in piece, comes over as an apologetic propagandist of the Nazi regime.
And so does Mills, who is invited to continue racing against my red cape and thereby make my day.