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Russian Popular Support for German Occupiers in WW2 Much Higher Than You Are Told

This article from our archives was first published on RI in March 2019

The great American novelist Mark Twain is famous for his pearls of wisdom that include, “a lie will travel the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.”  Thanks to the internet genuine historians continue to destroy the victors’ propaganda of World War II. As a result a more savvy generation can no longer be lied to about the West’s wars on the world. Everyone knows media lies about wars but only the foolish believe that WWII was an exception.

Palace historians claim that the struggle between Stalin’s Bolshevism and Hitler’s National Socialism (1941 – 1945) was a war between good and evil in which the Russian peoples stood as one against the Nazi invaders. Like much else this is just a half truth that creates the Big Lie.

The largest army in European history – the only army to exceed more than one million men under arms, was the Russian Army of Liberation (RLA) which fought for Hitler’s Reich against American-sponsored Bolshevism.

Russians were much less loyal to the Soviet regime than palace historians claim. This is the reality explained by University of Oslo researcher Johannes Due Enstad, who recently published a book about the German occupation of Russia during World War II.

After World War II the Soviet Union, assisted by Western propagandists, created a mythical history of how the peoples of the Soviet Union were loyal to the regime and formed a common front against the Germans in the Great Patriotic War. It has been common knowledge for a long time that this is an untrue story because many Baltic and Ukrainian people despised the Bolshevik regime.

In a book recently published by the academic publishers Cambridge University Press, Enstad addresses which side the people of Northwest Russia chose during the German occupation.

“North-West Russia can be seen as a Russian core area and had been part of the Soviet state since the Bolshevik seizure of Russia (1917 – 1922).  Nevertheless, people, especially the peasants, who accounted for 90% of the population, were much less loyal to the Soviet state than has been thought.”

In December 1941, six months after the start of the German occupation, people from Russian villages collected several thousand woolen socks, mittens and felt boots as Christmas gifts for the German soldiers. Inside one of the socks there was a note signed by a Russian by the name of Mikhail Nikiforov:

“I am sending these socks as a gift to the invincible German army and pray that you defeat the Bolsheviks so that they are eradicated forever, and also for a quick victory and a safe journey home”.

We can note that the Germans were wished a safe journey home. No-one wanted them to stay and take over the country. This shows there was some patriotism here, but this was primarily linked to the Russian fatherland and not the Soviet regime.

“Stalin was much hated by many peasants who had seen their lives go from bad to worse because of the collective farming the regime had implemented with great brutality,” Enstad explains. A source from the book puts it like this: “My forefathers were prosperous farmers (in Imperial Russia); the Bolsheviks made them into slaves and beggars”.

From 1929 onward, the farmers were forced into collective farms as slaves. Kulaks, affluent farmers, should be eliminated as a social class, according to Stalinist ideology.

During the period 1930-1933, there were more than 125,000 farmers in the North-west regions who lost their citizenship rights, were deported to Siberia or were shot. The policy also led to a disaster for the harvests; there were famines in 1936-1937 and during the winter of 1940.

In 1937-1938 the Great Terror arrived, where Stalin, in an unbelievably brutal fashion, acted to get rid of all who might be thought of or imagined as opponents of the regime. Given such a backdrop, it is possible to understand why so many Russians put their trust in the Germans. One good example is a letter written to Der Führer by the inhabitants of three small villages in the autumn of 1941:

“We give our most sincere thanks for liberating us from Stalin’s lackeys and collective farms. On the 10th of July the German Armed Forces, your Wehrmacht freed us from the yoke of the dammed communists, the political leaders, and the Stalinist government. We will fight against the communists together with your troops. We give thanks to the German Army for our liberty and ask that this message is delivered to our liberator Adolf Hitler.”

hitler-freedom-russians-1

Liberator Adolf Hitler.

When the Red Army fled from Northwest Russia, the farmers claimed their rights and dissolved the collective farms. Further south, in the fertile black earth region, the Germans maintained the collectives, so as to stay in control of the rich crops.

hitler-freedom-russians-2

Liberator Adolf Hitler.

In the North West region, where the earth was less fertile, they accepted the dissolution and introduced “semi-private” agriculture. According to Enstad, this German agricultural policy was the main reason why the positive attitude to the occupants lasted as long as it did.

During the winter of 1941-1942, there was famine and the population of Leningrad suffered greatly. However, behind the front line, and especially in the countryside, a large part of the population had better access to food than was the case prior to the German invasion.

“This was due to the private farms being more efficient and the fact that it was difficult for the Germans to control the agricultural production in detail”, says Enstad.

“Many sources interviewed after the war tell us that, in a material sense too, they (the Russians) were better off during the German occupation than during the years after the Germans were chased into retreat,” says Enstad.

Another reason for the relative popularity of the occupiers was the German policy on religion. The soldiers of the Christian Reich re-opened the churches the Soviet regime had closed, something which caused something close to a religious renaissance for the Russian Orthodox Church and a real revival movement in parts of the occupied areas.

“This shows that the Stalinist oppression of the church in no way managed to break the religiousness in the peasant populations. The Russian Orthodox faith was still a completely central part of their identity,” Enstad explains. He says that many priests openly supported the occupants and prayed for a German victory in their sermons. Enstad’s sources are in the main first-hand sources collected from German and Russian state archives.

German and Russian reports gave a totally opposite picture of the mood of the population, however, in Enstad’s opinion; there are good reasons to believe that the German sources were much closer to the truth.

“The Germans reported in a Prussian, matter of fact style, being open about both progress and setbacks. The Red partisans, however, reported using an idealised image of what was desired, exaggerated the number of Germans killed and generally expressed what Moscow wanted to hear.

Enstad also used diaries, memoirs, and interviews, conducted after the war, with people who experienced the German occupation of Northwest Russia. These sources also show that the Germans were given a much warmer welcome than both Soviet propaganda and western historians have claimed.

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