The Defeated Nation

Self is very, very afraid for Ukraine. Especially after reading this section of Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich. Sure we all admire the Ukrainians’ pluck. But — if it’s ugly now, it’ll be even uglier for them at the end. The Russians have to be driven out, before they do their worst.

Over the course of the war Germany had transported about 7 million foreign nationals as forced labourers, including POWs, to the Reich territory, to replace the huge numbers of workers who had been sent to the front. These slave labourers had experienced an intensified form of hell during the last few weeks of the war, when they were ruthlessly maltreated more than ever before. The forced labourers still toiling in the factories were viewed with mounting concern by the Nazi regime. The more uncertain the situation grew the more fearful the German authorities became of an uprising among their slaves. The regime had always been more afraid of this than of German resistance, but now that feeling turned into panic. When, towards the end of the war, it seemed as if the forced labourers were unlikely to be of any further use, German law enforcement officers simply killed them en masse. Some of the massacres were perpetrated for fear of the prisoners’ revenge, but some were the product of an “apocalyptic habit.” The security forces wanted to take as many “enemies” as possible with them into death, even if their victims were defenceless and unarmed.

Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945 – 1955, p. 47

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