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The eastern front in western culture

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by Not One Step Back, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    Every trek fan I have seen seems how should I put it... Lost.

    On a general note I hate series. They seem to dictate the pattern of peoples lives.

    Rest assured A-58 I shall look up these Rumenians err Romulans to see if you do me justice.
     
  2. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Slon;
    Honest first hand accounts-or even some fiction with both feet in the reality ala "War and Peace"- go a long way in bridging any cultural divides. The Soviet vets of The Great Patriotic War are finally having their say; even if the period of intense interest in "just what happened there?" is long gone ( ie. the 1950s/60s, when there was nothing but leaden Soviet propaganda from that side of the subject) . Here are a couple of my recent reads that do shed some light;

    Tank Rider, Evgeni Bessnov, Book - Barnes & Noble
    ?Hero for Two Nations? Exhibit Opened by Beyrle | Arts & Ideas | The Moscow Times
    These are some exciting times!
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  3. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I just like the original series that ran from 1966-70 before being cancelled. Being a kid, growing up during the space race era made this show all the better (neater) in my mind. All this new generation stuff that followed is utter and complete heresy.

    And I am NOT A TREKKIE by any stretch of the imagination.
     
  4. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I agree. Scary to think about but Soviet POW's parished at a quicker pace in 1941-42' then the victims at the height of the Holocaust.
     
  5. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Curious about that, some recent happenings in the baltic countries seem not to point in that direction. But then the German occupation is a thing of the past while the Soviet occupation lasted a lot longer and Russian influence is still sometimes an issue.

    In Italy the most quoted figures for ARMIR (Italian army in Russia) losses in the final battles are:
    230.000 total force.
    84 830 (official figure) losses in the retreat from the Don.
    50.000 deaths in the camps or in reaching them.
    25.000 (approximate) combat deaths.
    10.030 prisoners were released, last ones in 1954, non WIA/frostbite losses before little saturn were around 5.000 but I have no split between KIA and MIA, some of the returning POWs may have been from that period.

    The veterans association puts the total losses around 95.000 so raising the "after capture" deaths to 60.000, AFAIK no researchers has come up with a split for "camp" and "death march" losses.

    These figures were lagely exploited after the war by cold war propaganda that even created some false documents to implicate Italian communist leaders in the deaths.

    The final death ratio of ARMIR compared to the forces that fought the western allies, and some very popular books about the retreat, with Bedeschi's biografic Centomila gavette di giaccio selling around 3 million copies, go a long way to shape Italian opinion of the Eastern front.
     
  6. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    Well said TOS.

    I should have been more clear when speaking of German occupation. I was solely referrig to Western European countries
     
  7. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I don't think the Soviet Union has much to be proud of when it comes to prisoners. The country was full of political prisoners, (and others) before one German soldier set foot in the country pre-Barbarossa. And as for the camps themselves, how many inmates from Soviet prison camps wanted to stay in the country and settle permenantly post-war, as happened with German and Italian prisoners in every Western country. This would seem to me to be the very best indicator of the conditions in a Soviet prison camp.

    The same could be said when comparing nations as a whole. The measure of the worth of any national boundary is directly proportional to the number of people that are trying to get past it, whether to settle, (ingress), or migrate, (egress).

    This is primarily why The United States can still lay claim to being a society worth its salt. Simply because of the sheer numbers of people trying to get in....
     
  8. Not One Step Back

    Not One Step Back Member

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    no one here is saying that conditions in soviet prison camps were good. the soviets hated the Germans, and many treated POWS accordingly. What im pointing out is that the idea that the russians killed most german POWs in their hands is a myth.

    the germans launched a shocking war of extermination on their country. can you blame them for not being friendly?
     
  9. tali-ihantala

    tali-ihantala Member

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    I would agree that it is a Cold War thing. We hated the idea of communism probably just as much as fascism. There is also, I propose, the romantic aspect of German troops fighting valiantly against the overwhelming Soviet odds, kind of how in America the South has the "Lost Causers" who romanticize the heroic efforts of the agricultural South fighting the overwhelming odds of the industrialized north.
     
  10. Gerard

    Gerard Member

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    Tomcat, I must respectfully disgree with your assessment of the Germans versus the Soviets. I am no Soviet Apologist, but whilst we dont know Soviet intentions for Germany and Western Europe during the late 30's, we do know the Germans intentions. As far back as 1924 we know Hitler intended to subjugate the Soviet Union and use her lands for Lebensraum. We know that the Germans considered the Soviets untermensch and that the population was to be treated harshly. We know that the Germans unleashed a war of annihilation against the Soviet Union. It was to be the modern equivalent of what Rome did to Carthage. On the Eastern Front neither side believed in the Geneva Convention and neither side gave any quarter. It is well known that if the German Army and the Nazi Party had treated the Soviets and her peoples with any compassion then the Communists were doomed. But years of Propaganda against the Jews, Slavs and Communists ensured that this would be an impossiblity. Documents emanating from the Communist Leadership tell of the panic amongst them as they struggled to find out if the Soviet Troops were resisting the Germans. The Ukrainians were staunchly anti-Russian, Collectivisation in the mid 30s had decomated that province. But Hitler appointed erich Koch, probably one of the most corrupt and evil Gauleiters to the province and within months, a population that had welcomed the Nazis iniitally became mortal enemies to them and their regime. And it couldnt have been any other way. Hitler's empire was bred on a diet of paranoia, hatred and rascism. It was his raison d'etre.

    when you say that in many ways the Soviets were worse than the Germans, I would respectfully disagree. We know that the Soviets stayed in Central Europe for 50 years, but consider what would have happened to the Soviets if the Germans had won. I do agree that the Soviet Union was a corrupt and evil regime also. But because of the cold war the German Generals did in their books what they couldnt do on the battlefields!
     
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  11. P.A. Mourier

    P.A. Mourier Member

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    Opinions change...
    I can assure you that, well into the 70's few Frenchmen admired the Germans more than the Soviets. Even among opponents to communism. Mauve because or a harsh 5-year occupation ?
     
  12. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    The Ukrainians were staunchly anti-Russian, Collectivisation in the mid 30s had decomated that province. But Hitler appointed erich Koch, probably one of the most corrupt and evil Gauleiters to the province and within months, a population that had welcomed the Nazis iniitally became mortal enemies to them and their regime. And it couldnt have been any other way. Hitler's empire was bred on a diet of paranoia, hatred and rascism. It was his raison d'etre.



    Gerard;
    Chauvenistic NAZI ideals also had a corrosive effect on the so called "Axis Allies"; Axis History Forum • View topic - The Romanian Army in ww2 most of whom came to detest the NAZIs. In Italy it was not until the country switched sides that much enthusiasm for fighting was shown-after all if you are allied to a power that considers you a junior partner at best-or an untermensch at worst- you will tend to become resentful. It is small wonder that Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and all jumped to the Allied side at the first opportunity. There were even large numbers of Polish soldiers fighting in the uniform of the USSR against NAZI on the Eastern Front; http://wapedia.mobi/en/Polish_Armed_Forces_in_the_East . Why? Well simply because Hitler was more abhorrent than his opposite number in Moscow.
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  13. Not One Step Back

    Not One Step Back Member

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    yes, i think that idea of the "civilised" german soldier making the last stand against the barbaric bolshevik hordes is strong in the minds of westerners. of course a large part of it is nazi propaganda and because we have more access to german sources in the west.

    that is what needs to change.people need to learn to distinguish between the soldiers and the tyrannies they fought for, on both sides. yes stalin was a monster, but the ordinary men of the Red Army deserve the wests enternal respect for defeating Hitler.
     
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  14. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    There was a time when I would have agreed with that, however having met in the neighborhood of 100 Wehrmacht veterans and around the same number of US vets over two decades I have formed an opinion more in line with the age old and conventional one that still persists. I've only had the opportunity to speak with 3 former Soviet veterans (and one Polish, fought w/Red Army) but have seen a few of them on various segements on TV as well and the stereotype still fits, albeit with one caveat: The Soviet Soldiers were normal men who were politically and nationalisticly motivated, but by being so and perpetrating the crimes they did made them the Red Horde who's image we are familiar with. So it doesn't matter how they got there, they were who we thought they were (Denny Green quote : ) ....)

    The Waffen SS vets I met are pretty much the same as the Red Army vets in most respects, the Heer, Luftwaffe, KM (and met a Romanian) vets are pretty much as one would expect from conventional history. They were ordinary people stuck in extraordinary circumstances and just did what they had to in order to survive.

    From what I have come to understand Red Army vets freely admit what they did and are uncomprimising if not proud of what we consider their attrocities.

    I still look at the end of WWII as justice in the West and victors justice in the East. The events and changes that have made Europe evolve into what it is today stands as a testament to that (to me anyway).
     
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  15. Schlagermeister

    Schlagermeister Member

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    I think a lot of it mostly is because the Soviet history is longer than that of the Nazis. For them, you have 12 years of horror. For the Soviets you have many decades of awful stuff.

    Mostly, this topic is like comparing two serial killers. Which murderer was "worse"--the one that murdered 73 before getting caught or the one who murdered 125?? Both were horrendous beyond description, but the Soviets have a lot more atrocities to hide because they lasted longer before collapse. I think because of that, they get the reputation (which, IMO, should be a worse reputation--there are many USSR sympathizers out there too, probably more than Neonazis, they just aren't vocal and seem to get more credibility somehow in the mainstream).

    Nazis: Holocaust. Soviets: 9 million or however many millions to be exact died in Ukraine starvation. Nazis: concentration camps. Soviets: Gulags. Nazis: Gestapo. Soviets: NKVD/KGB. For every Nazi crime there is a corresponding Soviet crime that is equally awful. But eventually you run out of Nazi crimes to Soviet crimes merely because the Nazis ended in 1945 and the Soviets not till the early 1990's.
     
  16. Schlagermeister

    Schlagermeister Member

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    This is quite the statement. What you should really be considering is how much farther would the Soviets have gone if the USA and Britain were not the equalizing powers that kept them from going past East Germany. It is very naiive to think that the Soviets would have stopped in the Berlin/East Germany region if they were unchallenged in the possibility of going more to the West.
     
  17. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The Soviets were keeping at home (a "home" condiderably smaller in Europe than the former Russian Empire thanks to Versailles) until Hitler started pushing his borders and it became apparent war was inevitable.

    After they won they respected the Yalta agreements on "areas of inflluence". You can call Yalta a "restraining infuence", to me it seems realpolitiks at it's worst and selling the Poles (the original cause of the war) down the drain, a "self determination" criteria would have probably recreated the 1938/39 borders so the Allies redrew the European map for the 101th time with the resulting "ethnic cleansing".
    Yalta was what was agrreed upon and the Soviets respected it, the post 1945 boundaries were not determined on the battlefield and I can't find a Soviet equivalent of that ****** Patton that wanted to continue the war.

    Communisms had may nasty aspects but racism and genocide were not one of them, it does make a difference. It's worst crimes were the failed agricultural policies that caused massive starvation, German looting did the same if not worse.
     
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  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm not sure I'd put it that way. Stalin didn't want to get in a war with the western powers (he seamed to have believed that time was on his side but knew the west at least had a chance of taking out the Soviets if aroused). On the otherhand he was sponsoring communist movements in many countries and active revolts in some.
    They may not have been written in the official documents but it's pretty clear that racism was indeed a significant factor in the Soviet Union. Genocide, at least some defitions of it, was also practiced as the Soviets tried to destroy the culture of a number of groups in particular religions.
    German looting did not do worse and it's not clear how much of the massive starvation was deliberate. There are certainly indications that it was used as a tool vs those who didn't go along with Stalin's dictates. Certainly race and religion were less important to the Soviets and any whiff of oppositoin to Stalin's will was more important but one can argue that that was a matter of degree and not a fundamental difference.
     
  19. Schutzstaffel1

    Schutzstaffel1 Member

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    I suspect the answer to this question lies in the psychological interpretation of the opposing forces in terms of their performance and the ultimate outcome. I do not believe for one moment that if Germany had been successful in the USSR, even if the troop mortality rate was as monumental as it was in their defeat, that this question would be asked; we simply would see it as another German victory that happened to be militarily expensive.

    Add to this that accounts are very often told from the perspective of the Germans because of their offensive stance in contrast to the defending soviets, plus innumerable tales of the ill-equipped aryans suffering the perniciously hard winter weather in their light uniforms and resorting to cannibalism; we, as readers, are by nature going to empathise and to an extent sympathise with these 'poor young men following orders from a crazed genious' to hold their ground to the death.

    This may be controversial but I also believe that despite the holocaust and other atrocities commited by the Germans, many people of today's generation(s) sense an ingrained disappointment that it all went so horribly wrong for Germany given their splendid earlier successes owing to Blitzkrieg, the likes of which had never been seen before. We all love great successes in any field; be them in sport, politics, whatever. It is debatable but likely that had Hitler got his timing right he may well have secured his precious lebensraum in Western Russia, while Stalin and his crownies would have been forced east. This for many enthusiasts of WWII is an exciting possibility, and further adds to the sense of sympathy felt for the Germans. It's the momentous 'what ifs' that somehow make this particular theatre a veritable Wagnerian traged
    y.
     
  20. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    This thread should be renamed to eastern front in American culture.
     
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