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Title: The German army group centre and the Soviet civilian population, 1942-1944 : Forced labour, hunger and population displacement on the Eastern front
Author: Terry, N.
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis examines the impact of war on the Soviet civilian population in the territory of central Russia and Belorussia occupied by the German Army Group Centre between the years of 1942 and 1944. It focuses specifically on three interrelated policy complexes, namely the exploitation of civilian labour; agricultural requisitioning and civilian rationing; and finally practices of evacuation and population displacement. It investigates not only German planning and implementation, but also the Soviet civilian response as well as the German counter-response to civilian reactions. The thesis is based on primary sources drawn from the records of German military and civil authorities as well as postwar Soviet war crimes investigations. Manpower shortages created by strategic overstretch as well as the heavy casualties suffered on the Eastern Front led the German Army to practice not only the recruitment or forcible conscription of civilian workers for labour on the German home front as so-called 'Eastern Workers', but also to use civilian labour extensively at the front itself. Just as the German Army relied on civilian labour to fill out its ranks, so, too, did it apply the practice of "living off the land", drawing as much of its requirements for food and fodder from local resources as was possible, with destructive consequences for the food supply for the civilian population in the towns and in the combat zone immediately behind the frontline. Rations were therefore channelled to the working population, leaving dependants with little or no food. Food shortages led to many deaths from starvation as a result. To relieve the troops of the unwanted burden of feeding civilians regarded as unfit for work, but also to round up labourers, the German Army used forcible evacuation as its preferred solution to the problems of shortages of food and labour. This resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians from their homes, creating a chronic refugee crisis. This thesis concludes that by waging war on and with the civilian population, the German Army was able to prolong the war on the Eastern Front.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available