"Stalin's War of Extermination", by Joachim Hoffma

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 22 Nov 2002 15:25

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:

Mr. Mills seems to have a rather short memory.


Roberto, stop it or you'll go blind!


Is that a threat, Mills?

If so, you're welcome to come over here and give it a try any day.

michael mills wrote:I wrote that I had no idea what caused the mortality of FINNISH POWs in SOVIET hands.

The bits of my posts that you quoted were my thoughts on what caused the mortality of SOVIET POWs in FINNISH hands, the reverse circumstance.

I surmised that the reasons were the same as those that caused the mass mortality of the Soviet POWs in German hands, primarily logistical factors. An entirely reasonable conclusion.

J North had sneeringly asked whether I knew the reasons for the deaths of Finnish POWs in Soviet hands; I replied that I did not.


Let the audience judge what Mills' excuses are worth. The context:

Roberto wrote:
michael mills wrote:J. North wrote:

Incidentally, do you think the Finns who died in Soviet hands succumbed to logistical problems? I just wonder how objective a person you are.


I have no idea what caused the mortality of Finnish POWs in Soviet hands, so I have not ventured any opinion on that, as you will no doubt have noticed.


We have noticed that indeed:

michael mills wrote:So, the reasons for the mortality of Soviet POWs in Finnish hands were essentially the same as those for the Soviet POWs in German hands. In both cases, lack of sufficient food to withstand the wintry conditions seems to have played a major role. Obviously J. North is not claiming that the Finnish authorities deprived their Soviet POWs of food; the lack of food must have had other causes. Presumably the same causes that caused the lack of food for the POWs in German hands.


michael mills wrote: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 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.


Emphases are mine.

Mr. Mills seems to have a rather short memory.

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 22 Nov 2002 15:50

michael mills wrote:But the crucial point, which you ignore is, how many of those 17,000 survived Soviet captivity. Hoffmann claims that 90-95% of the Germans taken prisoner by the Soviets in 1941-42 perished ("Geschichte der Wlassow-Armee", p. 137: "Nicht weniger als 90-95 prozent der in die Kriegsgefangenschaft der Sowjetunion gefallenen Wehrmachtsangehoerigen sind in den Jahren 1941/42 zugrundegegangen, sofern sie nicht ueberhaupt schon bei der Gefangennahme ermordet wurden").


Na wunderschön.

"Hoffmann claims", citing what seems to be a secondary source.

Assuming that source is accurate, there goes Hoffmann's contention that Soviet policy in the first year of the war was to take no prisoners at all.

As to why so high a percentage of the prisoners died, do Hoffmann or his source give us any hint?

Could it be that one of the main causes of death was typhus and spotted fever, which IIRC victimized a large part of the prisoners taken at Stalingrad at the Beketovka transit camp within a few weeks?

Anyway, to conclude from however huge a mortality on a policy of the Soviet government to kill the prisoners or to let them die is speculation unless backed by an assessment of the causes of death and/or other evidence showing or indicating that the mortality was intended or at least not minded by the Soviet government.

These are the data from page 277 of the book Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century, by G.F. Krivosheev et al.

Period; Prisoners
22-Jun-41- 31-Dez-41; 10.602
01-Jan-42- 30-Jun-42; 6.683
01-Jul-42- 31-Dez-42; 172.143
01-Jan-43- 30-Jun-43; 364.881
01-Jul-43- 31-Dez-43; 77.742
01-Jan-44- 30-Jun-44; 256.415
01-Jul-44- 31-Dez-44; 948.530
01-Jan-45- 30-Abr-45; 1.305.344
01-Mai-45- 08-Mai-45; 634.950
Total until capitulation*; 3.777.290
After caputulation; 1.284.000
Total; 5.061.290

*thereof; thereof died
Germans 2.389.560; 450.600
Austrians 156.682; no data
Hungarians 513.767; 54.700
Romanians 201.800; 40.000
Italians 48.957; no data
Finns 2.377; no data
Others (French, Slovaks, Czechs, Belgians, Spaniards etc.)
464.147; no data
Total: 3.777.290; 545.300
Last edited by Roberto on 22 Nov 2002 18:06, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by j.north » 22 Nov 2002 16:53

I think I have a right to be suspicious that Hoffmann is on the one hand attempting to reduce the number of Soviets who died in German hands and at the same time coming up with figures of 1.11 - 1.185 million German POWs who died in Soviet hands. That's much more than other sources. Overmans, for example, gives 363,000 German pows dead in Soviet hands out of a total of 459,000 German pows who died in WWII. That's 5,000 in 1941 and 1942, 21,000 in 1943, 41,000 in 1944, 178,000 in 1945 and 118,000 thereafter. His arguments are weighty in this respect and even allowing for a margin of error, which we must do, that's a big difference. Some probably were executed, especially in 1945 and 1946, but I see no evidence of a policy of extermination especially when the figures you quote are so above and beyond mainstream opinion - I don't feel inclined to believe his conclusions.

It is interesting to me that you are quick to say that Soviets died through logistical problems whilst quoting sources saying that Germans were executed. Of course the Soviets weren't saints and did terrible things. But evidence has been presented on this forum of the German government's policy of starvation of Soviet pows, of the exploitation of Soviet and Polish pows for labour, of indiscriminate shootings on the march or in camp, of letting wounded or ill prisoners die, of special selection of defined categories for execution, of widespread brutality, of medical experiments on pows, and of deliberate exposure to cruel weather conditions. I don't see your problem in admitting that Nazi policies to Soviet pows were appalling, cruel and inhuman. Most people can say that both sides did bad things and not feel that they are betraying anyone. The evidence seems to me to suggestthat it was the Nazis who adopted genocidal plans against soviet pows, and not the other way round (and not the Finns or Romanians or Hungarians either). Gerlach, Streit, Streim, Otto, Keller all provide weighty evidence. Even when Nazi policies are contrasted to the policies carried out by a German ally - Finland - you can't bring yourself to concede. It's still down to logistical problems. Then you turn the argument around on its head, say that the Soviets executed german prisoners enmasse, provide 'claims' of overall casualties (without specific breakdowns or evidence), insist that Soviet policies against the German pows were the only cruel ones, that they were the baddies (and you don't bring yourself to forgive them and say that they have logistical problems).

It is quite apparent to me that you are taking a stance quite contrary to the weight of historical evidence and, to put it mildly, it is all a little strange.

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Post by michael mills » 24 Nov 2002 05:51

J. North, you are engaging in the same sort of distortions as your ideological co-worker Roberto.

You could at least co-ordinate with him so that you get your stories straight. This is what Roberto wrote a couple of posts ago, quoting Streit.

Of the 3,155,000 German prisoners who fell into the hands of the Red Army between 1941 and 1945, there died between 1,110,000 and 1,185,000, i.e. between 35.1 per cent and 37.4 per cent. [Footnote: Kurt W. Böhme, Die deutschen Kriegsgefangenen in sowjetischer Hand, page 151 and errata sheet]


Those figures are quite EXACTLY THE SAME as those given by Hoffmann. Hoffmann's contention is that the majority of those deaths occurred after the end of the war, since the greater part of the three million German soldiers who became POWs of the Soviet Union became so after the German surrender, or shortly before it.

Hoffmann further contends that 90-95% of German soldiers taken prisoner by the Red Army during 1941-42 did not survive to return to Germany. His explanation for that is that a large number of them were summarily executed.

Prior to the surrender of the 6th Army at Stalingrad in January 1943, there had been no mass-surrenders of German troops. The German POWs taken captive by the Red Army prior to the Stalingrad surrender must have been taken in dribs and drabs, during the course of the fighting (and their number was small, according to your own figures - 17,000 up until mid-1942). Therefore it is unlikely that there was at any time prior to January 1943 a large group of German POWs held in a prison camp who could fall prey to a sudden typhus epidemic, as happened with those taken captive at the Stalingrad surrender. That is one of the reasons why the high mortality rate of the prisoners taken in 1941 and 1942 was almost certainly due in large part to summary execution soon after capture. Hoffmann quotes quite a lot of evidence to show that the summary execution of captured Germans was a common practice in the Red Army.

Naturally, summary execution was far less likely when there was a mass-surrender of German troops, as at Stalingrad, or in 1944. The 90% mortality of the POWs taken at Stalingrad was primarily due to disease, starvation and exposure, not summary execution, and Hoffmann never claimed that it was.

Hoffmann does not by any means claim that summary execution was the main cause of death of the more than one million German POWs who died in Soviet hands. He only claims that it was a major cause of death of those taken prisoner in 1941-42, when numbers were relatively small, ie 17,000 tcaptured up to mid-1941, compared with the total of three million taken by 1945.

Nor did Hoffmann claim that logistical difficulties were the sole cause of the mortality of Soviet POWs in German hands in the winter of 1941-42. He contends that it was the main cause, but also specifically confirms the mass-executions carried out under the Commissar Order, and refers to ill-will on the part of some Germans in charge of prisoners, particularly in the camps in the Generalgouvernement and Germany itself.

By the

By the way, while reading the book "Stalin's Drive to the West" by Professor Richard Raack, I came across a very significant piece of information that you had conveniently left out of your comments about the mortality rate of Soviet POWs in Finnish hands.

That is, while Britain declared war on Finland, largely to please Stalin, THE UNITED STATES NEVER DID SO. That means that Finland was in an entirely different position from that of Germany. Not being at war with the United States, it was not blockaded by that country, and could therefore import food to feed itself and the prisoners it was holding. That was not an option open to Germany of course.

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Post by michael mills » 24 Nov 2002 06:09

Roberto wrote:

"Hoffmann claims", citing what seems to be a secondary source.

Assuming that source is accurate, there goes Hoffmann's contention that Soviet policy in the first year of the war was to take no prisoners at all.


The book "Geschichte der Wlassow-Armee" is by Hoffmann himself, published in 1984 by the Militaergeschichtliches Forschungsamt (a well-known neo-Nazi front organisation, of course!).

His source for the 90-95% figure is De Zayas, "Die Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle", page 277.

No doubt Roberto and J. North will bounce back with the claim that De Zayas is a neo-Nazi revisionist working for IHR etc etc. Well, if they think De Zayas' figures are wrong (and they may be; no historian is entirely free of error or bias) then it is up to them to demonstrate that.

And Hoffmann nowhere contends that Soviet policy was to take no prisoners at all during the first years of the war. He says that the summary execution of German soldiers taken prisoner was a wide-spread practice in the Red Army, incited by the vicious anti-German propaganda churned out almost from day one, and basically winked at by the Red Army commanders. However, he cites instances of Soviet intelligence officers complaining about the practice of summary excution, since it meant that the prisoners killed were not available for interrogation (he also gives examples of Germans taken prisoner being executed after interrogation).

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Post by Roberto » 25 Nov 2002 11:56

michael mills wrote:J. North, you are engaging in the same sort of distortions as your ideological co-worker Roberto.


Considering

i) Mills’ persistent and ever more thinly disguised attempts to whitewash the National Socialist regime, and

ii) the fact that he has never yet caught me at a distortion whereas I catch him at such activities all the time,

the above statement must be taken as an indication that Mills enjoys making a fool out of himself.

michael mills wrote:You could at least co-ordinate with him so that you get your stories straight.


Why, Mills seems to agree his stories beforehand with his ideological co-workers.

His opponents, on the other hand, simply write what they feel like writing, because none of them is committed to an ideological agenda like Mills is.

michael mills wrote:This is what Roberto wrote a couple of posts ago, quoting Streit.

Of the 3,155,000 German prisoners who fell into the hands of the Red Army between 1941 and 1945, there died between 1,110,000 and 1,185,000, i.e. between 35.1 per cent and 37.4 per cent. [Footnote: Kurt W. Böhme, Die deutschen Kriegsgefangenen in sowjetischer Hand, page 151 and errata sheet]


Errare humanum est, Mr. Mills, and someone who messes up all the time like yourself should not open his mouth too wide.

In fact I pointed out to Jonathan North, shortly after reading his last post, that Hoffmann’s figures are also quoted by Streit after Böhme, that they correspond to those of the Maschke Commission in 1974 and that Overmans himself, whose lower figure corresponds to the sum of individually documented cases of deaths in Soviet captivity, doesn’t dismiss the higher figures but considers the actual death toll to lie somewhere in between his figures and those of the Maschke Commission.

We’re all here to learn – except, obviously, for the likes of Michael Mills.

michael mills wrote:Those figures are quite EXACTLY THE SAME as those given by Hoffmann.


No need to scream, Mr. Mills. See above.

michael mills wrote:Hoffmann's contention is that the majority of those deaths occurred after the end of the war, since the greater part of the three million German soldiers who became POWs of the Soviet Union became so after the German surrender, or shortly before it.


The only thing contentious in this contention would be the issue made out of the fact that the majority of POW deaths occurred after the war, as if this would make the Soviet Union’s treatment of the POW’s look comparatively worse in regard to the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war by Nazi Germany.

Which is nonsense, of course.

A look at German policies towards Soviet prisoners of war suggests that, if more than 40 % of them eventually survived, it was because they were taken during the war and thus needed as a labor force and/or as auxiliaries for the troops fighting on the Eastern Front.

What we know about German policies and attitudes towards “sub-humans” in general and Soviet prisoners of war in particular suggests that the mortality rate would have been much higher than it was if it had not been for the wartime labor and combat needs. Wartime scarcity of means to feed the prisoners can hardly be invoked as a justification on the German side, for whatever scarcity there was resulted from the policy to recklessly exploit the Soviet occupied territories for the benefit of the German armed forces and home front and to feed Soviet POWs only with the leftovers of such exploitation, the resources obtained in the occupied territories going first to the Wehrmacht, then to the German home front, then to the Soviet civilian population and only thereafter to the prisoners of war, who thus often got hardly anything at all.

Furthermore, as Bräutigam pointed out in his cited memorandum of 25 November 1942, the food question, which up to then had strangely mattered only in regard to Soviet but not in regard to Polish, Serbian, French and English prisoners of war, ceased to matter when the Germans

…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.


The Soviet Union, on the other hand, was in dire straits during and for a long time after the war, the Soviet population itself being hungry to an extent that there are documented cases of Soviet civilians, who in the devastated western parts of the USSR were in their millions living in dugouts and caves years after the war’s end, begging food from German prisoners of war. German prisoners of war were treated no worse, perhaps even a little better, than other inhabitants of the Soviet prison and camp system, including postwar deportees from Ukraine and the Baltic countries and surviving Soviet prisoners of war branded as “traitors”. It would be interesting to compare the postwar mortality among German prisoners of war with that among other captives of the Soviet system.

Let’s now have a look at Mills’ post of Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:13 pm on this thread, where

michael mills wrote:After the surrender of the remnants of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad, the Soviets did start accepting captured Germans as POWs, and putting them in POW camps. Even so, most of the German soldiers captured during the war, as opposed to the large numbers taken prisoner toward the end of the war and after the German capitulation, did not survive Soviet captivity.


These are the figures of the Maschke Commission, courtesy of our former fellow poster POW:

a) 1941/42 175.000 men taken prisoner, thereof 95 % died, ca. 166,000 men
b) 1943 220.000 men taken prisoner, thereof 70 % died, ca. 154.000 Mann
c) 1944 560.000 men taken prisoner, thereof 40 % died, ca. 224,000 men
d) 1945 2.200.000 men taken prisoner, thereof 25 % died, ca 550.000 men

Year; Prisoners; Dead; Percentage
1941/42; 175.000; 166.000; 94,86%
1943; 220.000; 154.000; 70,00%
1944; 560.000; 224.000; 40,00%
Subtotal 41-44; 955.000; 544.000; 56,96%
1945; 2.200.000; 550.000; 25,00%
Total; 3.155.000; 1.094.000; 34,68%

The above breakdown shows that, if the Maschke Commission’s figures are accurate, Hoffmann is right in what concerns the years 1941 to 1944.

As to the year 1945, his contention is somewhat misleading in that a huge proportion of the 2,200,000 prisoners taken during that year are likely to have been brought in before what Mills calls “toward the end of the war and after the German capitulation” – according to Krivosheev, out of 3,224,294 Axis prisoners taken in 1945, 1,305,344 were brought in between 1 January and 30 April 1945 and 634,950 between 1 and 8 May 1945. Only by establishing the mortality among the former group can we determine the accuracy of Hoffmann’s statement that most German prisoners taken “during the war” did not survive Soviet captivity.

The Maschke Commission’s figures on the number of German prisoners taken seem to be somewhat on the high side in what concerns the years 1941/42. Krivosheev's figures on Axis prisoners taken during this time – 10,602 until the end of 1941, 6,683 until mid 1942 and 172,143 in the second half of 1942 – seem to be more accurate and are probably made up mostly of Romanians, Hungarians and Italians taken during the Soviet Stalingrad offensive in late 1942.

It should also be pointed out that the Maschke Commission first established the estimated mortality rate of the German POWs on the basis of various sources and then calculated the number of deaths by applying that rate to the estimated number of prisoners taken in each year, not vice-versa.

Rüdiger Overmans (Deutsche Militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg, chapter 4.2.5.3, my translation) wrote:[...]

Table 66: Deaths in Soviet custody by years

Deaths in Soviet captivity according to present study
1941/42 5,000
1943 21,000
1944 41,000
1945 178,000
1946 and after 118,000
Sum 363,000

Missing according to present study*
1941/42 134,000
1943 283,000
1944 719,000
1945 ca. 400,000
1946 and after -
Sum 1,536,000

* The number of missing in 1945 was estimated for the present study on the basis of the established fact that about two thirds of deaths during the Final Battles occurred in the East of Germany.

Deaths in Soviet captivity according to Maschke Commission
1941/42 166,000
1945 154,000
1946 224,000
1945 550,000
1946 and after included in 1945
Sum 1,094,000

Table 66, which differentiates the number of deaths by years, shows first the number of prisoners of war in Soviet custody and the missing on the Eastern Front, followed by the data of the Maschke Commission. According to the present study a total of ca. 363,000 German soldiers died in Soviet captivity – the sum of individually documented deaths. The approach of the Maschke Commission was another: they established, on the basis of various sources, the number of soldiers taken prisoner as well as the percentage of those who died every year.[emphasis mine] Although it is an estimate, it can be considered as well founded. When comparing the number of the missing established in the present study, ca. 1.5 million, with the difference in deaths considered by the present study on the one hand and the Maschke Commission on the other, it becomes visible that the difference, ca. 700,000 deaths, corresponds to about half of the number of missing. And it seems altogether plausible, although it cannot be proven, that half of those missing were killed in battle and the other half actually died in Soviet custody . Parting from this consideration the question arises how these ca. 700,000 cases are distributed temporarily. For this it is necessary to recall the conduction of military operations. In the first year, i.e. until ca. the middle of 1943, when the German armies were attacking, they were usually in conditions to recover their own dead in the conquered areas. This means that, at the beginning, the overwhelming majority of missing were taken prisoner and died in Soviet custody – out of the Germans taken prisoner at Stalingrad alone ca. 90,000 died rather soon in captivity. The more the initiative went over to the Soviet side and the more often large units were destroyed and taken prisoner, the greater the number of men killed in battle among those missing is likely to have been.[...]


michael mills wrote:Nor did Hoffmann claim that logistical difficulties were the sole cause of the mortality of Soviet POWs in German hands in the winter of 1941-42. He contends that it was the main cause, but also specifically confirms the mass-executions carried out under the Commissar Order, and refers to ill-will on the part of some Germans in charge of prisoners, particularly in the camps in the Generalgouvernement and Germany itself.


How generous of Mr. Hoffmann.

What he fails to tell us, of course, is that the “logistical difficulties” were due to the German policy to recklessly exploit the Soviet occupied territories for the benefit of the German armed forces and home front and to feed Soviet POWs only with the leftovers of such exploitation, the resources obtained in the occupied territories going first to the Wehrmacht, then to the German home front, then to the Soviet civilian population and only thereafter to the prisoners of war, who thus often got hardly anything at all.

He also omits the fact that in the autumn of 1941 there was a documented intention on the part of the German High Command to let the “non-working” Soviet prisoners of war starve to death.

michael mills wrote:That is, while Britain declared war on Finland, largely to please Stalin, THE UNITED STATES NEVER DID SO. That means that Finland was in an entirely different position from that of Germany. Not being at war with the United States, it was not blockaded by that country, and could therefore import food to feed itself and the prisoners it was holding. That was not an option open to Germany of course.


Why, and I thought the Brits also had a navy. :lol:

Even if that navy did not enforce a blockade against Finland – which seems unlikely – the difference between Germany and Finland that Mills makes so much of was not a big deal.

Germany may have been blockaded, but it didn’t suffer much from that blockade (on the contrary, the living standard at the home front was kept at peacetime levels until late in the war) because it had the agricultural resources of a whole continent at its disposal and because, on top of that, the Nazi government decided to recklessly exploit the occupied Soviet territories for the benefit of the German armed forces and the home front, never minding the starvation death of “umpteen million” people that this exploitation was expected to lead to.

Much worse of in regard to food supplies during the First World War than Nazi Germany would be during the second, Imperial Germany nevertheless managed to feed its Russian prisoners of war to such an extent that their mortality rate was only one tenth of what the mortality of Soviet prisoners of war would be in World War II.

What follows is my translation from Christian Streit, [i]Keine Kameraden. Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945[i/], Bonn 1997, page 10:

Beside the 2 million prisoners of war who were already dead when the memorandum quoted at the beginning [Rosenberg’s letter to Keitel of 28 February 1942] was written, another 1.3 million died until the end of the war - about 3.3 million of a total of 5.7 million Soviet prisoners of war (57.8 per cent) died in German captivity[emphasis mine].
A comparison with the fate of Russian prisoners of war in the First World War raises the question as to the causes of this enormously high mortality. Back then 1,434,500 Russians had been taken prisoner by the Germans. The mortality of Russian prisoners was 5.4 per cent and thus corresponded to the average mortality of prisoners in the custody of the Western and Central European powers, although it was higher than that of the other prisoners in German hands (3.5 per cent).[emphasis mine]

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Post by Roberto » 25 Nov 2002 12:04

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:

"Hoffmann claims", citing what seems to be a secondary source.

Assuming that source is accurate, there goes Hoffmann's contention that Soviet policy in the first year of the war was to take no prisoners at all.


The book "Geschichte der Wlassow-Armee" is by Hoffmann himself, published in 1984 by the Militaergeschichtliches Forschungsamt (a well-known neo-Nazi front organisation, of course!).

His source for the 90-95% figure is De Zayas, "Die Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle", page 277.


Another secondary source. Yet it is Hoffmann who “claims” …

michael mills wrote:No doubt Roberto and J. North will bounce back with the claim that De Zayas is a neo-Nazi revisionist working for IHR etc etc.


De Zayas ?

No link between the man and Mills’ brothers in spirit, for all I know.

michael mills wrote:Well, if they think De Zayas' figures are wrong (and they may be; no historian is entirely free of error or bias) then it is up to them to demonstrate that.


Where did I say the figures are wrong, Mr. Mills?

Roberto wrote:Assuming that source is accurate, there goes Hoffmann's contention that Soviet policy in the first year of the war was to take no prisoners at all.

As to why so high a percentage of the prisoners died, do Hoffmann or his source give us any hint?

Could it be that one of the main causes of death was typhus and spotted fever, which IIRC victimized a large part of the prisoners taken at Stalingrad at the Beketovka transit camp within a few weeks?

Anyway, to conclude from however huge a mortality on a policy of the Soviet government to kill the prisoners or to let them die is speculation unless backed by an assessment of the causes of death and/or other evidence showing or indicating that the mortality was intended or at least not minded by the Soviet government.


Better cool down, mate, and read what I wrote before making a fuss.

michael mills wrote:And Hoffmann nowhere contends that Soviet policy was to take no prisoners at all during the first years of the war. He says that the summary execution of German soldiers taken prisoner was a wide-spread practice in the Red Army, incited by the vicious anti-German propaganda churned out almost from day one, and basically winked at by the Red Army commanders. However, he cites instances of Soviet intelligence officers complaining about the practice of summary excution, since it meant that the prisoners killed were not available for interrogation (he also gives examples of Germans taken prisoner being executed after interrogation).


If that is so, Mills should apologize to his guru’s soul for his somewhat misleading rendering of Hoffmann’s writings. In his post of Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:13 pm on this thread,

michael mills wrote:The late Dr Joachim Hoffmann, in his book "Stalin's War of Extermination", presents a lot of evidence to show that the Soviet authorities followed a practice of summarily executing the German prisoners they took. That was the Soviet policy during the first year of the war, when few German prisoners were taken.


Emphasis is mine.

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Post by j.north » 25 Nov 2002 13:06

I find it amusing to be accused of ideological motivation.

On the one hand I am told that I have a veneration of Stalin's hitmen, and on the other I'm lambasted for showing that authorities in Finland's democratic government were humane.

Then I find that I'm in league with ideological co-workers (what ideology is it that I've signed up to??). Mr Mills, you don't know the first thing about my poitics so leave it out.

Of course Mannerheim's letter is humane; that food aid was distributed to the pows leading to improved conditionsand a reduction in the death rate. Hedidn't take those supplies and distribute them to Finns. The figures are for food actually distributed to camps after all. By suggesting otherwise I think you are just covering for being unable to find a single German document showing humanity of any kind.

And, yes, Molotov told lies. But it may well be that the Finns committed isolated atrocities. What is clear is that the Finnish government had no overall poicy of brutality. Sorry if that was too subtle an answer for you.

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Post by michael mills » 26 Nov 2002 12:33

Roberto wrote:


If that is so, Mills should apologize to his guru’s soul for his somewhat misleading rendering of Hoffmann’s writings. In his post of Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:13 pm on this thread,

michael mills wrote:
The late Dr Joachim Hoffmann, in his book "Stalin's War of Extermination", presents a lot of evidence to show that the Soviet authorities followed a practice of summarily executing the German prisoners they took. That was the Soviet policy during the first year of the war, when few German prisoners were taken.



Fair enough. I apologise to the memory of the late Dr Joachim Hoffmann, the former expert on the war preparations of the Red Army, for inaccurately reproducing his position on the summary executions of captured Germans.

I have now reread the relevant sections of his book (something I guess Roberto will never do), and am able to give a more accurate precis.

Hoffmann considers, on the basis of the evidence, that during the first few months of the war there was no Stalin order for the execution of captured Germans, and that the summary killings were local initiatives. On page 257 he writes:

Although similar actions can be proven in relation to the Army, Corps and Divisional Staffs, a "general order" for the shooting of prisoners does not appear to have existed during this phase of the conflict. The large number of such killings, which can be proven on the basis of testimony by Soviet officers, political officials, doctors, and soldiers as early as July 1941, were attributed by the Germans to "individual or special orders" of the various Soviet command agencies.


One reason for restraint was the residual influence of the ideology of class warfare, according to which ordinary German slaves were exploited workers, helpless pawns of their fascist leaders.

Hoffmann shows that a change came with Stalin's speech of 6 November 1941, on the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution, in which he proclaimed a "war of extermination" against the German occupiers (the source of the title of Hoffmann's book). Now all the German soldiers were regarded as "fascists", deserving extermination.

Hoffmann shows how on 10 December 1941, following Stalin;'s proclamation, the slogan "Proletarians of all lands unite!" was replaced by the slogan "Death to the German Occupiers", by order of the Chief of the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army, Army Commissar First Rank Mekhlis (that damned Tibetan Buddhist again!), by Directive No. 278.

Hoffmann also shows how Stalin's extermination proclamation was taken up by Soviet propaganda, especially by the odious Ehrenburg.

From pages 264-265:
"We have decided to kill all the German invaders", he proclaimed to the soldiers of the Red Army on December 3, 1941:

"We quite simply intend to kill them. The accomplishment of this humanitarian mission has now become the responsibility of our people. We are continuing the work of Pasteur, who discovered the anti-rabies vaccine. We are continuing the mission of the scientists who discovered the means of destroying deadly microbes".

"The Germans...... must be driven into the ground. They must be killed one after the other", he wrote on December 22, 1941, and on February 20, 1942, he reiterated: "You must wipe the Germans from the face of the earth".


(The reference by the Jew Ehrenburg to Pasteur and the destruction of microbes bears an ironic similarity to later words by Hitler that used exactly the same comparison).

Stalin's words were converted into an order by the Red Army high command. Hoffmann writes (p. 265):

The Commander-in-Chief of the West Front, General of the Army Zhukov, with members of the Military Council and Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR Bulganin, on December 14, 1941, jointly issued an order that contained slogans such as: "Not one Hitlerite bandit having invaded our country must escape alive.......our holy duty consists of taking cruel revenge.....and destroying the German occupier to the last man".


From page 266:
Upon the transfer of command, Yeremenko's order of the day, issued to the troops of the 4th Shock Army jointly with Member of the Military Council, Brigade Commissar Rudakov, and Chief of Staff, Major General Kurassov, read:

"I call upon all members of the Army to exterminate and destroy all occupiers to the last man in execution of the orders of our great political and military leader, Comrade Stalin".

According to the findings of the German General on Special Assignment with the High Command of the Army, in the Red Army, Stalin's words were generally "understood and interpreted...." to mean that "every member of the Wehrmacht - whether in combat, wounded, or captured - was to be killed. Captured documents and the testimonies of Soviet prisoners leave no doubt whatsoever that Stalin's words were to be considered an order. Thus, according to the testimony of a captured regimental commissar, "Stalin's order of November 1941" stating that "all prisoners of war..... are to be shot", was decisive in the treatment of German prisoners of war".


Hoffmann shows that there was a change to the interpretation of Stalin's speech in February 1942. On pages 271ff he writes:

It was not, however, humanitarian considerations that finally led to a new interpretation of Stalin's Order of Novemebr 6, 1941, but rather interest on the part of the command agencies, an interest that still existed during this phase of the war, as before, in obtaining enemy intelligence through prisoner of war interrogations. This was accompanied by an even more compelling interest in furthering the disintegration of the German army. After all, it was obvious that if German soldiers knew that they were going to be shot or mutilated after falling into Soviet captivity, the result would be a stiffening of German resistance. On November 6, 1941, Stalin left no doubt in the minds of the Red Army that all German invaders of the Soviet territory were to be "exterminated to the last man", and his words were interpreted accordingly. On February 23, 1942, Order No. 55 was issued by Stalin on the founding anniversary of the Red Army in his capacity as People's Commissar of Defence. His prior interpretation was now suddenly construed to mean something entirely different. Stalin now claimed, in particular, that the assumption that the Red Army would "fail to take German prisoners due to hatred for everything German..." was a stupid lie and a foolish slander" against the Red Army, which was now said to be imbued with feelings of respect for other peoples and races - a truly shameless allegation in view of the hate propaganda being propagated by Stalin himself on the Soviet side. Nevertheless, it was unmistakable what Stalin's words contained in Order No. 55 meant:

"The Red Army captures German soldiers nad officers and spares their lives if they surrender. The Red Army annihilates German soldiers and officers if they refuse to lay down their weapons....."

[There follows a section describing the issuing of orders by Zhukov and others prohibiting the shooting of prisoners, in accordance with Order 55, including the words "Comrade Stalin has never mentioned the shooting of enemy soldiers if they lay down their weapons, allow themselves to be taken prisoner, or voluntarily desert to us".]

The mere fact that the anti-German hate propaganda disseminated by Ehrenburg and others continued to rage without restraint reveals the deception. Stalin personally used ambiguous language in his order of the day of May 1, 1942, speaking of the duty to exterminate the "German" invaders - not "fascist" invaders - "to the last man, unless they lay down their weapons". Order of Stalin No. 130, also disseminated among the units of the Red Army in 1942, called for irreconcilable hatred from Soviet soldiers. The Germans had received information relating to an alleged Stalin "secret order" to take no more individual German prisoners but rather, only in groups, on the grounds of practicality. Soldiers offering resistance to the last, aviators, and s0-called "fascists", were also to be shot, as revealed by many reports that, in fact, mention the shooting of officers, National Socialist party members, or prisoners of war expressing "fascist" ideas. This was a clear counterpart to the shooting of commissars and political leaders partly practised by the Germans until the spring of 1942.

The Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle fuer Verletzungen des Voelkerrechts (Armed Forces Department of Inquiry for Violations of International Law) of the German High Command of the Wehrmacht, which evaluated the relevant material, considered the Soviet "change of course" initiated since February 23, 1942, to be a pure propaganda measure directed, in any case, at foreign countries. They observed, in September 1942:

"An incessant series of brutal violations of international law, not decreasing in the slightest degree. The methods and systems of Russian actions have remained the same from the beginning of the campaign against Russia until September 1942".



So, on the basis of the material adduced by Hoffmann, it is difficult to determine whether the Soviet Union had a policy of summarily executing cpatured Germans, as opposed to the practice, which certainly existed. Certainly, Soviet officers and soldiers in the field interpreted Stalin's call for a "war of extermination" as an order to execute captured Germans.

Stalin and the higher officers of the Red Army must have been fully aware that that was how Stalin's words were interpreted, since in February 1942 they specifically rejected that interpretation, and apparently prohibited the summary execution of POWs. Accordingly, from that date one can no longer speak of a centrally approved policy of summary execution. However, Hoffmann shows that the practice of executing prisoners, and the propaganda inciting it, continued well after the Stalin order of 23 February 1942.

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Post by Roberto » 26 Nov 2002 13:44

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:

If that is so, Mills should apologize to his guru’s soul for his somewhat misleading rendering of Hoffmann’s writings. In his post of Mon Nov 18, 2002 2:13 pm on this thread,

michael mills wrote:
The late Dr Joachim Hoffmann, in his book "Stalin's War of Extermination", presents a lot of evidence to show that the Soviet authorities followed a practice of summarily executing the German prisoners they took. That was the Soviet policy during the first year of the war, when few German prisoners were taken.


Fair enough. I apologise to the memory of the late Dr Joachim Hoffmann, the former expert on the war preparations of the Red Army, for inaccurately reproducing his position on the summary executions of captured Germans.

I have now reread the relevant sections of his book (something I guess Roberto will never do),


Read Hoffmann?

Not out of the question, although what Mills has shown us of the man, may he rest in peace, is enough to justify strong reservations as to his objectivity.

michael mills wrote:Hoffmann considers, on the basis of the evidence, that during the first few months of the war there was no Stalin order for the execution of captured Germans, and that the summary killings were local initiatives. On page 257 he writes:

Although similar actions can be proven in relation to the Army, Corps and Divisional Staffs, a "general order" for the shooting of prisoners does not appear to have existed during this phase of the conflict. The large number of such killings, which can be proven on the basis of testimony by Soviet officers, political officials, doctors, and soldiers as early as July 1941, were attributed by the Germans to "individual or special orders" of the various Soviet command agencies.


The following footnote I translated from Christian Streit's Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945 (1997 edition, footnote 155 to pages 108-109) may be of interest in this respect:

Otto Bräutigam wrote in his memoirs that in the late summer of 1941, upon his complaint about the bad treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, the Army High Command had replied that the Red Army treated German prisoners in the same way. When B. thereupon examined the collection of cases put together at the Army High Command, he came to the conclusion "that on the whole there were about 180 cases, of which several had obviously been reported by various entitities and were thus included in the collection several times". (Otto Bräutigam, So hat es sich zugetragen. Ein Leben als Soldat und Diplomat, Würzburg 1968, page 376. The files I examined confirm this impression. An "assessment of the enemy" by the Ic/AO of Army Group Center dated 10.3.1942, which the Wehrmacht High Command / Amt Ausl.Abw./Abw. II [Colonel Lahousen] communicated to the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, attributed the shooting of German prisoners of war to the "quickly spread knowledge of the misery of Russian prisoners of war": Federal Archives R 41/169, page 259.


michael mills wrote:Hoffmann shows that a change came with Stalin's speech of 6 November 1941, on the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution, in which he proclaimed a "war of extermination" against the German occupiers (the source of the title of Hoffmann's book). Now all the German soldiers were regarded as "fascists", deserving extermination.


Does Hoffmann quote the text of the speech ?

michael mills wrote:Hoffmann shows how on 10 December 1941, following Stalin;'s proclamation, the slogan "Proletarians of all lands unite!" was replaced by the slogan "Death to the German Occupiers", by order of the Chief of the Main Political Directorate of the Red Army, Army Commissar First Rank Mekhlis (that damned Tibetan Buddhist again!), by Directive No. 278.


Somewhat less than surprising, considering that the leader of those German Occupiers had proclaimed a war of annihilation as early as 30 March 1941 and his commanders and troops had acted accordingly ever since.

Again, does Hoffmann give us the text of the directive in question ?

michael mills wrote:Hoffmann also shows how Stalin's extermination proclamation was taken up by Soviet propaganda, especially by the odious Ehrenburg.

From pages 264-265:
"We have decided to kill all the German invaders", he proclaimed to the soldiers of the Red Army on December 3, 1941:

"We quite simply intend to kill them. The accomplishment of this humanitarian mission has now become the responsibility of our people. We are continuing the work of Pasteur, who discovered the anti-rabies vaccine. We are continuing the mission of the scientists who discovered the means of destroying deadly microbes".

"The Germans...... must be driven into the ground. They must be killed one after the other", he wrote on December 22, 1941, and on February 20, 1942, he reiterated: "You must wipe the Germans from the face of the earth".


Why, finally he seems to be really showing something. A propagandist’s ramblings.

michael mills wrote: (The reference by the Jew Ehrenburg to Pasteur and the destruction of microbes bears an ironic similarity to later words by Hitler that used exactly the same comparison).


"Later" or "earlier" words, aside from the difference between a propagandistic rambler and a head of state ?

And Mills’ obsession with the Jewishness of certain unpleasant characters reveals a striking similarity between his mind and that of the Führer.

michael mills wrote:Stalin's words were converted into an order by the Red Army high command. Hoffmann writes (p. 265):

The Commander-in-Chief of the West Front, General of the Army Zhukov, with members of the Military Council and Deputy Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR Bulganin, on December 14, 1941, jointly issued an order that contained slogans such as: "Not one Hitlerite bandit having invaded our country must escape alive.......our holy duty consists of taking cruel revenge.....and destroying the German occupier to the last man".


From page 266:
Upon the transfer of command, Yeremenko's order of the day, issued to the troops of the 4th Shock Army jointly with Member of the Military Council, Brigade Commissar Rudakov, and Chief of Staff, Major General Kurassov, read:

"I call upon all members of the Army to exterminate and destroy all occupiers to the last man in execution of the orders of our great political and military leader, Comrade Stalin".

According to the findings of the German General on Special Assignment with the High Command of the Army, in the Red Army, Stalin's words were generally "understood and interpreted...." to mean that "every member of the Wehrmacht - whether in combat, wounded, or captured - was to be killed. Captured documents and the testimonies of Soviet prisoners leave no doubt whatsoever that Stalin's words were to be considered an order. Thus, according to the testimony of a captured regimental commissar, "Stalin's order of November 1941" stating that "all prisoners of war..... are to be shot", was decisive in the treatment of German prisoners of war".


Hoffmann shows that there was a change to the interpretation of Stalin's speech in February 1942. On pages 271ff he writes:

It was not, however, humanitarian considerations that finally led to a new interpretation of Stalin's Order of Novemebr 6, 1941, but rather interest on the part of the command agencies, an interest that still existed during this phase of the war, as before, in obtaining enemy intelligence through prisoner of war interrogations. This was accompanied by an even more compelling interest in furthering the disintegration of the German army. After all, it was obvious that if German soldiers knew that they were going to be shot or mutilated after falling into Soviet captivity, the result would be a stiffening of German resistance. On November 6, 1941, Stalin left no doubt in the minds of the Red Army that all German invaders of the Soviet territory were to be "exterminated to the last man", and his words were interpreted accordingly. On February 23, 1942, Order No. 55 was issued by Stalin on the founding anniversary of the Red Army in his capacity as People's Commissar of Defence. His prior interpretation was now suddenly construed to mean something entirely different. Stalin now claimed, in particular, that the assumption that the Red Army would "fail to take German prisoners due to hatred for everything German..." was a stupid lie and a foolish slander" against the Red Army, which was now said to be imbued with feelings of respect for other peoples and races - a truly shameless allegation in view of the hate propaganda being propagated by Stalin himself on the Soviet side. Nevertheless, it was unmistakable what Stalin's words contained in Order No. 55 meant:

"The Red Army captures German soldiers nad officers and spares their lives if they surrender. The Red Army annihilates German soldiers and officers if they refuse to lay down their weapons....."

[There follows a section describing the issuing of orders by Zhukov and others prohibiting the shooting of prisoners, in accordance with Order 55, including the words "Comrade Stalin has never mentioned the shooting of enemy soldiers if they lay down their weapons, allow themselves to be taken prisoner, or voluntarily desert to us".]

The mere fact that the anti-German hate propaganda disseminated by Ehrenburg and others continued to rage without restraint reveals the deception. Stalin personally used ambiguous language in his order of the day of May 1, 1942, speaking of the duty to exterminate the "German" invaders - not "fascist" invaders - "to the last man, unless they lay down their weapons". Order of Stalin No. 130, also disseminated among the units of the Red Army in 1942, called for irreconcilable hatred from Soviet soldiers. The Germans had received information relating to an alleged Stalin "secret order" to take no more individual German prisoners but rather, only in groups, on the grounds of practicality. Soldiers offering resistance to the last, aviators, and s0-called "fascists", were also to be shot, as revealed by many reports that, in fact, mention the shooting of officers, National Socialist party members, or prisoners of war expressing "fascist" ideas. This was a clear counterpart to the shooting of commissars and political leaders partly practised by the Germans until the spring of 1942.


The Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle fuer Verletzungen des Voelkerrechts (Armed Forces Department of Inquiry for Violations of International Law) of the German High Command of the Wehrmacht, which evaluated the relevant material, considered the Soviet "change of course" initiated since February 23, 1942, to be a pure propaganda measure directed, in any case, at foreign countries. They observed, in September 1942:

"An incessant series of brutal violations of international law, not decreasing in the slightest degree. The methods and systems of Russian actions have remained the same from the beginning of the campaign against Russia until September 1942".



Boy, what a bunch of hypocrites those folks at the Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle fuer Verletzungen des Voelkerrechts were!

Or didn't they know that their Führer himself had proclaimed a conventionless war before starting his attack and refused to abide by any rules of international law despite a Soviet proposal for bilateral adherence to the Hague Rules of Land Warfare in July 1941 and a legal opinion by the Amt Ausland Abwehr submitted in September of that year, whereby these rules would have to be applied as international customary law?

Nevertheless, the above passages are not as bad as what Mills has shown us of Hoffmann before.

If it were not for his weird “preventive war” thesis and his apologetic assessment of the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war by the Germans, Hoffmann’s book might even be worth reading.

michael mills wrote: So, on the basis of the material adduced by Hoffmann, it is difficult to determine whether the Soviet Union had a policy of summarily executing cpatured Germans, as opposed to the practice, which certainly existed. Certainly, Soviet officers and soldiers in the field interpreted Stalin's call for a "war of extermination" as an order to execute captured Germans.


I’m sure the late Hoffmann would accept that as an apology for Mills’ earlier misrepresentation.

michael mills wrote: Stalin and the higher officers of the Red Army must have been fully aware that that was how Stalin's words were interpreted, since in February 1942 they specifically rejected that interpretation, and apparently prohibited the summary execution of POWs. Accordingly, from that date one can no longer speak of a centrally approved policy of summary execution. However, Hoffmann shows that the practice of executing prisoners, and the propaganda inciting it, continued well after the Stalin order of 23 February 1942.


Well, that’s nothing new.

To make an ongoing “war of extermination” out of it is rather hyperbolic, however.

But then, an author wants his book to sell well, and a spectacular title certainly helps.

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Post by michael mills » 01 Dec 2002 01:25

Roberto wrote:

To make an ongoing “war of extermination” out of it is rather hyperbolic, however.



The title of Hoffmann's book is derived from Stalin's speech of 6 November 1941, which he does quote, at the very beginning, on page 7:

Well now, if the Germans want a war of extermination, they will get it (thunderous, long drawn-out applause). From now on, it will be our task, the task of the peoples of the Soviet Union, the task of all the fighters, commanders, and political officials of our Army and Navy, to exterminate to the last man all Germans having invaded the territory of our hoemland as occupiers (thunderous applause; shouts of 'Quite right!'; cheers). No mercy to the German occupiers! Death to the German occupiers! (Thuderous applause).


Hoffmann points out that Stalin's "war of extermination" actually began on 22 June 1941, with the massacre of political prisoners, at Lwow among other places, by NKVD forces prior to the Soviet retreat.

In the term "war of extermination", Hoffmann includes not only the summary execution of German POWs in Soviet hands (he does not include the mass mortality from disease etc), but also the massacres of political prisoners, the killings carried out by the Red Army in the territories occupied by them (both ordered and unordered), and the mass deportations of Germans and others.

Therefore, the title "Stalin's war of extermination" is quite justified. Hoffmann nowhere denies that the war waged by Germany in the Soviet Union also contained exterminatory elements, of Jews and others.


Roberto wrote:

Boy, what a bunch of hypocrites those folks at the Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle fuer Verletzungen des Voelkerrechts were!


Perhaps, but no more hypocritical than the Soviet judicial authorities who accused the Germans of crimes, and conducted show trials of them.

The Western Allies were also hypocritical to a certain extent, in their exclusion from consideration of any crimes committed by their own forces (although those were certainly greatly less than those of the German forces as a whole; nevertheless, crimes committed on the western front were not markedly different between the opposing forces).

Any office set up by a government engaged in war to investigate war-crimes will always concentrate on the offences of enemy forces and ignore crimes committed by its own side.

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Post by Hans » 01 Dec 2002 19:10

michael mills wrote:the Jew Ehrenburg

michael,

does your repeat emphasis of Ehrenburg's origin adds anything to the point you are making (that "Stalin's extermination proclamation was taken up by Soviet propaganda") or do you just want to feed anti-jewish ressentiments?

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Post by Roberto » 02 Dec 2002 10:33

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:

To make an ongoing “war of extermination” out of it is rather hyperbolic, however.


Let’s have that quote in its context:

michael mills wrote:Stalin and the higher officers of the Red Army must have been fully aware that that was how Stalin's words were interpreted, since in February 1942 they specifically rejected that interpretation, and apparently prohibited the summary execution of POWs. Accordingly, from that date one can no longer speak of a centrally approved policy of summary execution. However, Hoffmann shows that the practice of executing prisoners, and the propaganda inciting it, continued well after the Stalin order of 23 February 1942.


Roberto wrote:Well, that’s nothing new.

To make an ongoing “war of extermination” out of it is rather hyperbolic, however.

But then, an author wants his book to sell well, and a spectacular title certainly helps.


michael mills wrote:The title of Hoffmann's book is derived from Stalin's speech of 6 November 1941, which he does quote, at the very beginning, on page 7:

Well now, if the Germans want a war of extermination, they will get it (thunderous, long drawn-out applause). From now on, it will be our task, the task of the peoples of the Soviet Union, the task of all the fighters, commanders, and political officials of our Army and Navy, to exterminate to the last man all Germans having invaded the territory of our hoemland as occupiers (thunderous applause; shouts of 'Quite right!'; cheers). No mercy to the German occupiers! Death to the German occupiers! (Thuderous applause).


Hoffmann points out that Stalin's "war of extermination" actually began on 22 June 1941, with the massacre of political prisoners, at Lwow among other places, by NKVD forces prior to the Soviet retreat.

In the term "war of extermination", Hoffmann includes not only the summary execution of German POWs in Soviet hands (he does not include the mass mortality from disease etc), but also the massacres of political prisoners, the killings carried out by the Red Army in the territories occupied by them (both ordered and unordered), and the mass deportations of Germans and others.

Therefore, the title "Stalin's war of extermination" is quite justified.

Hoffmann nowhere denies that the war waged by Germany in the Soviet Union also contained exterminatory elements, of Jews and others.


How generous of Hoffmann, who conveniently ignores certain important differences between Hitler’s and Stalin’s wars of extermination, namely that the former included the following features:

- Certain segments of the Soviet population – representatives and functionaries of the Soviet government, Gypsies and Jews – were to be physically liquidated root and branch;

- Soviet prisoners of war were pronounced to be trash (“no comrade before and after”) before the outbreak of hostilities, the application of any rules of international law was rejected beforehand and as a matter of principle, certain groups of prisoners were systematically executed and in the autumn of 1941 the decision was taken to starve to death the “non-working” prisoners of war;

- The occupied territories were to be ruthlessly exploited for food supplies to allow the armed forces to live off the land and to enable the home front to enjoy food consumption as in peacetime, even though this exploitation was clearly foreseen to bring about the starvation death of “umpteen million” people;

- The inhabitants of the Soviet territories who were not to be liquidated, allowed to starve of expelled beyond the Urals were to be reduced to the status of Helots serving and living at the whim of their German masters.

Propaganda and rhetorical figures aside, it is rather hard to identify such plans for wholesale slaughter and enslavement let alone their execution in the Soviet conduct of the war, brutal and criminal though it also was.

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:

Boy, what a bunch of hypocrites those folks at the Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle fuer Verletzungen des Voelkerrechts were!


Perhaps, but no more hypocritical than the Soviet judicial authorities who accused the Germans of crimes, and conducted show trials of them.


Many of those trials - especially those whose findings are corroborated by documentary evidence from the German side and/or by the results of trials before independent West German courts - were not all that bad, and again we have a difference in degrees related to the fact that it was the Nazis, not the Soviets, who

i) staged an unprovoked attack on their opponent with the intention of annihilating it and liquidating, starving, displacing or enslaving its population;

ii) failed to propose a bilateral adherence to international rules on the conduct of warfare and instead categorically rejected any abiding by such rules.

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Post by michael mills » 07 Dec 2002 03:45

michael mills wrote:

the Jew Ehrenburg

michael,

does your repeat emphasis of Ehrenburg's origin adds anything to the point you are making (that "Stalin's extermination proclamation was taken up by Soviet propaganda") or do you just want to feed anti-jewish ressentiments?


The jewishness of Il'ia Erenburg is entirely relevant to an assessment of the role he played in Soviet anti-German propaganda.

He was the main producer of such propaganda, and gave it its essentially anti-German (ie ethnic) rather than simply anti-fascist (ie political) character.

The question is: Was Erenburg simply a mouthpiece for Stalin, simply repeating a line that was fed to him? Or did he invest the propaganda he was commissioned to produce with a particular type of ethnically-based hatred of his own? And if the latter, was that hatred related to his own Jewish origin and his self-identification as a Jew?

I believe that the evidence indicates the latter. Not only Erenburg's propagandistic activity, but various other activities of his during the war show that he interpreted the Soviet-German war as a racial conflict between Germans and Jews, in which he saw himself as playing a major role in saving his own Jewish people by whipping up hatred against the German invaders and thereby stiffening resistance to them, or, if his own people could no longer be saved, in inspiring a spirit of vengeance against the German people.

Some might think that Erenburg's role in inciting vengeance against the German people was justified, in view of the mass-destruction of his fellow Jews by the german invaders of the Soviet Union. That however is an ethical judgement that is a separate matter from the assessment of the reasons for historical events. My contention is that it was Erenburg's jewishness that formed his view of the Soviet-German struggle as a sort of racial conflict, and was the cause of the extremist nature of the propaganda he produced. In other words, if Soviet anti-German propaganda had been controlled by someone of different nationality, it would probably have been less extreme, not seeing the Germans as a totally demonic enemy.

The late Dr Hoffmann himself took the view that the viciousness of Erenburg's anti-German writings reflected the perverted nature of his personality, and that may well be correct. In other words, a different Jew, without Erenburg's perverted nature, might well have been less viciously anti-German, while still having a vested ethnic interest in inciting the greatest possible effort to defeat Germany.

It is likely that Stalin chose Erenburg to lead the Soviet propaganda campaign precisely because of the latter's Jewishness. That is, Stalin could trust Jews to be consistently and resolutely anti-German (given the rigidly anti-Jewish attitude of the Germans) in a way that he could not trust any other Soviet nationality. For that reason, he was prepared to tolerate the exterminationist nature of Erenburg's propaganda, as long as it suited his own purposes. However, in April 1945, once the war was almost at an end, and Stalin now had an interest in constructing a Soviet-controlled Germany that would be the powerhouse of his new East European empire, Erenburg's propaganda calling for the extermination of the German people became counter-productive, and Stalin suppressed it.

Stalin took the same attitude to other Soviet Jews during the war, setting up the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to oversee propaganda and incite action against "collaborationist" national minorities. For example, the Yiddish writer Peretz Markish, a member of the Committee, was the main instigator of the deportation of the Volga Germans; his idea was that the former territory of the Volga German ASSR should be used to settle displaced Soviet Jews. A few years after the end of the war, Markish, along with other members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, was put to death by the NKVD in an act of poetic justice (Erenburg survived, unfortunately).

As to anti-Jewish ressentiments, I do not think that the activities of members of particular ethnic groups 60 years ago, or even of entire ethnic groups, should be decisive in determining the decisions we make today. However, those activities should be fully taken into into account in writing the historical record. For that reason, the jewishness of Erenburg and similar persons needs to made clear, for the purpose of showing that Jews were not just passive, helpless victims during the Second World War, but also active participants, some of whose actions, such as the exterminationist propaganda of an Erenburg, contributed to the crimes committed during that war.

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Post by Roberto » 09 Dec 2002 20:28

michael mills wrote:
michael mills wrote:

the Jew Ehrenburg

michael,

does your repeat emphasis of Ehrenburg's origin adds anything to the point you are making (that "Stalin's extermination proclamation was taken up by Soviet propaganda") or do you just want to feed anti-jewish ressentiments?


The jewishness of Il'ia Erenburg is entirely relevant to an assessment of the role he played in Soviet anti-German propaganda.

He was the main producer of such propaganda, and gave it its essentially anti-German (ie ethnic) rather than simply anti-fascist (ie political) character.

The question is: Was Erenburg simply a mouthpiece for Stalin, simply repeating a line that was fed to him? Or did he invest the propaganda he was commissioned to produce with a particular type of ethnically-based hatred of his own? And if the latter, was that hatred related to his own Jewish origin and his self-identification as a Jew?

I believe that the evidence indicates the latter. Not only Erenburg's propagandistic activity, but various other activities of his during the war show that he interpreted the Soviet-German war as a racial conflict between Germans and Jews, in which he saw himself as playing a major role in saving his own Jewish people by whipping up hatred against the German invaders and thereby stiffening resistance to them, or, if his own people could no longer be saved, in inspiring a spirit of vengeance against the German people.

Some might think that Erenburg's role in inciting vengeance against the German people was justified, in view of the mass-destruction of his fellow Jews by the german invaders of the Soviet Union. That however is an ethical judgement that is a separate matter from the assessment of the reasons for historical events. My contention is that it was Erenburg's jewishness that formed his view of the Soviet-German struggle as a sort of racial conflict, and was the cause of the extremist nature of the propaganda he produced. In other words, if Soviet anti-German propaganda had been controlled by someone of different nationality, it would probably have been less extreme, not seeing the Germans as a totally demonic enemy.

The late Dr Hoffmann himself took the view that the viciousness of Erenburg's anti-German writings reflected the perverted nature of his personality, and that may well be correct. In other words, a different Jew, without Erenburg's perverted nature, might well have been less viciously anti-German, while still having a vested ethnic interest in inciting the greatest possible effort to defeat Germany.

It is likely that Stalin chose Erenburg to lead the Soviet propaganda campaign precisely because of the latter's Jewishness. That is, Stalin could trust Jews to be consistently and resolutely anti-German (given the rigidly anti-Jewish attitude of the Germans) in a way that he could not trust any other Soviet nationality. For that reason, he was prepared to tolerate the exterminationist nature of Erenburg's propaganda, as long as it suited his own purposes. However, in April 1945, once the war was almost at an end, and Stalin now had an interest in constructing a Soviet-controlled Germany that would be the powerhouse of his new East European empire, Erenburg's propaganda calling for the extermination of the German people became counter-productive, and Stalin suppressed it.

Stalin took the same attitude to other Soviet Jews during the war, setting up the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee to oversee propaganda and incite action against "collaborationist" national minorities. For example, the Yiddish writer Peretz Markish, a member of the Committee, was the main instigator of the deportation of the Volga Germans; his idea was that the former territory of the Volga German ASSR should be used to settle displaced Soviet Jews. A few years after the end of the war, Markish, along with other members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, was put to death by the NKVD in an act of poetic justice (Erenburg survived, unfortunately).

As to anti-Jewish ressentiments, I do not think that the activities of members of particular ethnic groups 60 years ago, or even of entire ethnic groups, should be decisive in determining the decisions we make today. However, those activities should be fully taken into into account in writing the historical record. For that reason, the jewishness of Erenburg and similar persons needs to made clear, for the purpose of showing that Jews were not just passive, helpless victims during the Second World War, but also active participants, some of whose actions, such as the exterminationist propaganda of an Erenburg, contributed to the crimes committed during that war.


Thank you, Mr. Mills, for so clearly exposing what makes you tick.

Do you attribute the same relevance, by the way, to Hitler's being an Austrian, Himmler's and Goebbels' being Germans, Stalin's and Beria's being Georgians, etc., or is ethnicity/nationality of world-historical relevance only when if comes to Jews, and are one individual's actions deemed by you to be emblematic of his ethnic/national group's behavior and attitudes only in that case?

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