Pay please! 27 million dead in the Union of Soviet Republics

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The largest military operation in history began 80 years ago: With 3.6 million soldiers, Germany’s National Socialist regime launched the attack on the Soviet Union on a front length of over 2,000 kilometers. In the ensuing part of World War II, which ended with Germany’s surrender in 1945, 27 million Soviet citizens died, including 3.3 million prisoners of war in German camps. Between 7 and 10 million people died of starvation. From the beginning the war was planned as a war of extermination.

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The German-Soviet War took place mainly on the soil of today’s Ukraine and Belarus, because the original plan, until the onset of the Rasputiza Reaching Moscow failed. In Russia, as in Ukraine and Belarus, the “Great Patriotic War” plays an important role in the collective memory. So the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko uses the war as a Justification for his terrorist measures. Russian President Putin also uses the heroic narrative to distract attention from problems in his country.

In Soviet times, June 22nd was more of the feast day when it came to the Gratitude to previous generations went. Because every Russian family can tell who died in this war. In Germany, on the other hand, the attack on the Soviet Union is not of that particular importance. We perceive September 3, 1939 as the beginning of the Second World War, as when attack on Poland Germany and the Soviet Union made common cause and the latter fortified the Molotov Line. Only Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier achieved a historical appreciation of June 22nd with his moving speech in Berlin-Karlshorst. There he opened the special exhibition Dimensions of a crime. Soviet prisoners of war in World War II.

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The attack on the Soviet Union was a crime and not a crime Preventive waras is sometimes claimed. The war was deliberately designed as a war of annihilation by the National Socialist regime. Everyone involved on the German side knew that: soldiers had to 10 commandments for the warfare of the German soldier cross out in their pay books. With the Martial Law Enactment from May 1941 it was determined in the run-up to the war that crimes committed by members of the armed forces against the civilian population would not be punished. What happened in the Soviet Union was recorded by historians who followed the Red Army and Survivors interviewed.

They documented that War of extermination against the population: “They treated us all with the greatest contempt. They felt like demigods. Everywhere they said ‘yes, yes, we have taken this land for ourselves'”. The sentence by Adolf Hitler on the occasion of the siege of Leningrad is well known: “We do not go into the Russian cities, they have to die completely”.

The German-Soviet war ended with the surrender of the German armed forces in 1945 with the days of liberation from National Socialism. But the victory cost an incredible number of human lives. Expressed in numbers, a total of 10 million Soviet soldiers and 17 million Soviet civilians, mostly children, women and elderly men, died.


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