The German army and National Socialist occupation policies in the occupied areas of the Soviet Union 1941-1943
During the Second World War, with the failure of the German invasion of the Soviet Union to maintain its momentum, large areas of captured Russian territory remained under German Army jurisdiction for the entire duration of the conflict; rather than being turned over to National Socialist civilian administrators. Evidence drawn from the files of two of the military government rear areas (KorOcks) is used in order to consider the institutional response of the Army towards this unanticipated problem. Methodological approaches associated with 'history from below' are combined with orthodox 'history from above' in order to reassess the findings of secondary literature on the topic. Particular consideration is given to primary data which describes the war from the perspective of the German soldiers who conducted policy on the ground. Initially, the controversial historical debate which has developed as to the Wehrmacht's role in the occupied areas is discussed and set against the wider background of the place of the armed forces within the Third Reich. The character and organisation of military government in the Soviet Union is then described so as to indicate the complex and difficult conditions under which the German troops operated. Following on from this, a range of diverse issues are discussed, including economic policy, anti-partisan warfare, the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, army relations with the civilian population, Wehrmacht co-operation with the SS, criminal behaviour amongst the German soldiers, and troop morale and fighting power. A number of highly critical interpretations of Wehrmacht activities are thus re-evaluated; especially those which emphasise the extent to which members of the German armed forces were influenced primarily by ideological considerations. Overall, while full regard is given to the weight of evidence which seeks to demythologise 'apologist' arguments that deny the calculated involvement of the German Army in the racial war of annihilation conducted in the East, equal attention is drawn to the varied responses and conduct of the German troops directly involved in implementing such policies. Accordingly, due regard is also given to the importance of social, socio- psychological and institutional factors in influencing individual and group behaviour within the Third Reich.