Minsk, July 1941

from Richard J. Evans’ The Third Reich at War, Part 2, Chapter 3:

The success of Operation Barbarossa meant that there were many more prisoners of war than the Germans could adequately handle.

In Minsk, a civil servant reported that a camp for 140,000 prisoners of war had been set up, “almost the entire male population of the city.” The prisoners “were guarded by a company-strong unit of active soldiers. The small size of the guard unit” meant that it could “only control the camp by using the most brutal level of force . . . some of the prisoners had been without food for six to eight days.”

Self knows this is war, this is history. But the book is also a very interesting study of human psychology: The prisoners descended into “apathy”: “they only have one obsession left, to get something to eat . . . ”

That word, APATHY: Self looks up the dictionary definition. QED becaue there is a big, fat, almost-a-foot-thick hardbound copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English in her cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

APATHY: lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern

*     *     *     *

“Over the whole course of the war,” Evans writes (p. 185), “German forces took some 5.7 million Soviet prisoners. Official German records showed that 3,300,000 of them had perished by the time the war was over . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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