The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

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Cerdic
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The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Cerdic » 28 Nov 2013 17:59

I quote from Secret Nazi Plans for Eastern Europe by Ihor Kamenetsky
The people were denied the use of the railroads. The German
authorities erected road blocks and prevented the bringing of
foodstuffs to the cities by highway. The Security Police not only
stopped private efforts at securing food, even through the inevitable
black market operations, but they also conducted an
organized drive against all efforts of the local Ukrainian governments
to provide relief for the population. 23
p. 146
The artificiality of the famine is apparent from the SD
Situational Report of February 1942, which revealed that there
were some surplus foods in the General-Bezirk (district) of Kiev
-grain, leguminous foods, and cattle-"but they could not be
brought to Kiev neither immediately nor in the near future
because of transportation difficulties, fuel shortages, and the
condition of the road."31 The traffic problems apparently did
not exist for the transportation of Ukrainian foods and other
products to the German 32 cities. The volume of these exports
indicated the inadequacy and flimsiness of the technical excuses
given by the Germans. In a letter to Hitler, Erich Koch gave
the following summary of exports from the Ukraine up to the
end of June 1943:

[The following: Left hand number is the number of tons or pounds produced or procured. Right hand number is the amount of it that was delivered to the Army and the Reich]

Cereals 6,300,000 tons 3,300,000 tons
Legumes 350,000, , 100,000, ,
Butter 57,000 ' ' 50,000''
Potatoes 1,380,000 ' ' !500,000 , .
Honey and Jam 26,000 . , 25,000, .
Sugar 245,000 ' . 155,000, .
Cotton 5,000 '' 5,000''
Wool 7,000 ' ' 7000 ' '
Hemp and Flax 5,500 ' . 5,500
Drugs (medical herbs ) 1,500, . 1,500 . ,
Pigs 500,000 lbs. 420,000 lbs .
Sheep 410,000 '' 360000, ,
Eggs 680,000,000 . ,570,000,000, .

The ruthless German policy of exploitation is clearly revealed
by Koch's statistics. It was the policy of the Nazis to
starve not only the inhabitants of large cities but also the residents
of the countryside, which was not self-sufficient in food
and which from the economic standpoint could J be considered as a great asset .. .Such regions included the swampy, sandy
lands and the virgin forest province of Polissia. The inhabitants
of this province depended to a great degree for their livelihood
upon seasonal work. They were accustomed to work as agricultural
laborers during the summer in the neighboring wealthy
provinces of Volhynia and Podolia. The grain supply which they
earned during this time was an important food item for the long
winter.

This source of income was largely cut off for them in the
summer of 1941 by the German invasion which started around
the harvest time. As the winter approached, the only alternative
for the inhabitants of Polissia was to try to exchange their
meager resources in cattle, sheep, wool, and homemade textiles
for some grain in the neighboring southern provinces. It is
not surprising therefore that in the fall of 1941 long lines of
carriages, loaded with the exchange goods and people, moved
slowly on the few sandy roads of Polissia southward in a desperate
effort to acquire some grain for the winter.
When the Germans discovered this particular migration of
people and learned its true purpose they stopped the movement
abruptly and turned the unfortunate inhabitants of Polissia back
to their native forests to face the inevitable famine. 34
p. 147- 149

hackmon
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by hackmon » 05 Dec 2013 05:51

According to the historian Timothy Snyder, as a result of Herbert Backe (Reich Minister of Food) plan, “4.2 million Soviet citizens, largely Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians were starved by the German occupiers in 1941–1944.” Timothy Snyder: Blood-lands.. Europe between Hitler and Stalin. The Bodley Head, London 2010, p. 411
"The objective of the Hunger Plan was to inflict deliberate mass starvation on the Slavic civilian populations under German occupation by directing all food supplies to the German home population and the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front." Adam Tooze: The Wages of Destruction, Viking, 2007, p.669

Boby
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Boby » 05 Dec 2013 10:19

"The objective of the Hunger Plan was to inflict deliberate mass starvation on the Slavic civilian populations under German occupation by directing all food supplies to the German home population and the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front."
It was no "deliberate", but a possible consequence of it. German plans were to extract a lot of food for the Wehrmacht ("to live off the land") and for deliveries to the Reich.

But we know that there was no massive famine, as many german planners and experts expected for 1941-42.

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Paul Lantos » 07 Dec 2013 04:09

Boby wrote:It was no "deliberate"
How is it not deliberate when the intentionally and electively took virtually all of the food from an entire mass population with foreknowledge that millions would certainly starve? It was elective because they could have decided against this policy, it was intentional because it was a direct function of policy, and the consequences were premeditated. Those seem to be the basic requirements for something to be deliberate.
Boby wrote:But we know that there was no massive famine, as many german planners and experts expected for 1941-42.
A few million Soviet POWs and inhabitants of Leningrad might differ with this assessment of what happened during the winter of 1941-2. Do they not count as victims of intentional starvation in the USSR?

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Boby » 06 Jan 2014 13:14

But it was just a consequence. The principal interest was food policy, not starving millions of persons. Note that in the recent literature the emphasis is placed in the intentional planing of starving those millions of people, regardless it were connected to the food policy or not.

So yes, there was an intention of extracting millions of tons of food. In this scenario, german planners predicted a massive famine, The question is:

1) How many food germans planned to extract both during and after the russian campaign
2) How many food received normally the so-called "deficit zones" (industrial areas around Leningrad and Moscow)
3) Was the difference between 1) and 2) so great to cause a famine?

Boby,

wingray
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by wingray » 06 Jan 2014 14:15

Boby wrote:But it was just a consequence. The principal interest was food policy, not starving millions of persons.
One could equally claim that there was no state induced famine in the USSR. The Soviets merely took food from the Ukrainian peasants to feed the city population and to export the food abroad. They didn't want to kill anyone. The fact that millions starved was "just a consequence".

The Germans starved to death millions of Soviet citizens and POWs, intentionally and deliberately, by taking all the food available and by preventing food from arriving.

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Marcus
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Marcus » 06 Jan 2014 14:34

Please stay on topic, this thread is for discussion on the famine in German-occupied Soviet Union, not the earlier Ukraine famine, treatment of POWs or anything else.

/Marcus

Cerdic
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Cerdic » 06 Jan 2014 17:20

Boby, this thread may be of use to you: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=11976 and David Thompson's post here: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 61#p604661

From the above sources and my OP, we know that a) The Germans planned to, and did, steal a large amount of food from the USSR and b) the Germans knew that this would cause millions of deaths.

Boby
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Boby » 06 Jan 2014 19:51

b) the Germans knew that this would cause millions of deaths.
No. They predicted millions of deaths as a consequence of extracting food from the "surplus zones" (Ukraine, the Caucasus, etc).

So we need to know:

1) food production levels
2) german intended extraction figures
3) "deficit zones" food imports

Since we don't know how many food they planned to extract, assuming automatically that this would cause a famine is wrong. Historians simply take at face value the May 1941 documents, without questioning it.

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Paul Lantos » 07 Jan 2014 04:30

Boby wrote:But it was just a consequence. The principal interest was food policy, not starving millions of persons.
At some point you need to ascribe blame for what was regarded as an acceptable consequence of their primary policy. It's not like it was a total accident. Futhermore, the Nazis created mass starvation multiple times over in multiple settings -- ghettos, POW camps, besieged cities like Leningrad and Sebastopol, I mean since when did concern for starvation ever create a moral ripple for the policymakers?

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Cerdic » 07 Jan 2014 16:49

Boby
No. They predicted millions of deaths as a consequence of extracting food from the "surplus zones" (Ukraine, the Caucasus, etc).
They had planned to steal food from the USSR after the invasion, and predicted that this would lead to millions of starvation deaths.

Whether the German predictions were right or not, the murderous intent is still clearly there.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Jan 2014 18:22

German occupation policy towards the occupied Slavic populations of the USSR seems to have been one of "malign indifference", rather than of premeditated slaughter.

The USA's Rand Corporation published a number of studies on German occupation policies in the USSR in the 1950s.

I have only seen the one on Romanian occupied Transnistria. Transnistria came off relatively lightly because the Romanians broke up collective farms and food production rose in 1942-43. By contrast, the Germans kept the collective farms in operation in the Ukraine, where production continued to lag.

Indeed, in a number of ways the Romanians, not then a byword for efficiency, appear to have administered Transnistria (largely populated by Ukrainians) rather better that the more efficient Germans administered Reichskommisariat Ukraine. This implies that the Germans were none too bothered about the fate of their own Ukrainians.

One result of the relatively cushy Romanian occupation, according to Alexander Werth, was that Odessa (capital of Transnistria) was treated relatively harshly by the Soviet authorities after liberation.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. Please note that Transnistria's Jews did not have an easy time under the Romanians.

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by little grey rabbit » 08 Jan 2014 05:20

Germany and Occupied Europe under Allied blockade oscillated between chronic food shortage and severe food shortage. This doesn't mean that the Germans don't bear a moral responsibility for their actions, but too often it is overlooked the difficulties that they operated under. If the harvest is not brought in, you don't get to eat anything.

Winter 1941-1942 was a particularly difficult time. War sweeping through Ukraine most likely interfered with the harvest, Soviets tried to evacuate food supplies and economically productive workers and sabotage or destroy food supplies and agricultural equipment they could not remove as they retreated. If the process of destruction was not as complete as was sometimes claimed, it was still considerable - they were certainly boasting about it at the time.

You can see through-out the occupied area of the USSR the acute stress they were under - Finnish run Soviet POW camps had death rates not that much less than the German ones. It was not merely because of malice that Hitler ordered no effort be made to capture Leningrad in September 1941.

From 1942 things began to improve, you can see the food deliveries to the POW camps in the Ukraine began to rise to the point where they claimed by June 1942 they were delivering 2400 calories/POW daily. Efforts were made to replace destroyed equipment - I have seen orders for the production of several thousand Holzgas tractors for delivery to the Ukraine. Sid's reference to a RAND study, in the absence of having read it, I don't find convincing. Certainly in the long run decollectivisation would lead to an increase in productivity, in the short term with extremely low staffed administration it would probably just have been disruptive. I am not sure the case is comparable with Transnistria which had only recently been collectivised, had strong cultural and linguistic ties with Romania and was comparatively small.

Ukraine was a region of agricultural surplus, there is nothing sinister about it exporting food. The problems the Germans had was due to the war economy they could offer no consumer goods and not much in the way of agricultural productivity goods in return. They could give paper money, but there was nothing for that paper money to buy. Britain had a similar problem with India, which it resolved by running up large debts - much to Churchill's fury.
The original quote conflates the situation in the winter of 1941/42, which was dire for the reasons I outlined, with the resumption of Ukraine's traditional role of food exporter after the next growing season.

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Paul Lantos » 08 Jan 2014 15:57

little grey rabbit wrote:Germany and Occupied Europe under Allied blockade oscillated between chronic food shortage and severe food shortage.
This food shortage was a problem of Hitler's own making that he chose to solve using utterly inhumane means -- it's not like famine somehow forced Hitler to send millions of troops into the USSR.
little grey rabbit wrote:From 1942 things began to improve
This has a lot to do with the fact that by 1942 Germany recognized that they were in a protracted total war, and they needed labor. This was not recognized in late 1941.

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Re: The "artificial" famine in the German-occupied USSR

Post by Cerdic » 08 Jan 2014 17:36

The German and European food situation was bad, no doubt about that. But with the exception of Greece (which AFAIK which partially a result of German/Italian/Bulgarian mismanagement) few people were literally starving to death before Barbarossa. See also here: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=84248

Even in the final months of the war when most supplies were cut off for Germans, one can see in contemporary videos that they looked reasonably well fed. This was also the case on the small island of Britain, where rationing ensured that everyone got something to eat.

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