The ZGram series on "Another World War Two Mystery continues. Here is Part II:
In the beginning, the good relations between the Wehrrnacht and the civilian population was doubtlessly also fostered by the orders issued by the Army leaderships. As an example, here are excerpts from those given by Field Marshal General von Manstein to his troops:
"Avoid being arrogant. True authority comes from superior achievement and exemplary bearing. Be just " the Russian hates nothing more than injustice..." And further: "Treat the Russian with calm and decency. Avoid suggesting that the German belongs to a better race than the Russian. The Russians, especially the Ruthenians, the (Ukrainians and the Byelorussians) are part of the same ethnic family as the Aryans. Treat the Russian women and girls the same as you would treat the German women and girls..." (Huttenbriefe Feb. /March 1997)
In the first half of October, an unexpected, early cold spell brought the German armies in the North and Central to a temporary halt. Temperatures dropped to -20 degrees, a catastrophe for the men and army vehicles for which they were not prepared. The collection of warm clothing, skis and the like, which was immediately begun in the Reich, barely made a difference. Tens of thousands of German soldiers suffered frostbite; the cooling systems of the tanks froze, making them useless.
Even though this act of nature provided the Soviets with an invaluable respite, the German march-in had taken place so quickly and successfully that Stalin resorted to a satanic plan to incite the population against Germans.
On November 17, 1941 he issued Directive No. 04218, also known as the "Torch-Men Order", which decreed that Russian partisans wearing German uniforms " especially uniforms of the Waffen-SS " "... shall destroy and set on fire all settlements where German troops are located, to 40-60 km from the main battle front, (namely) 20 to 30 km to both the left and right of the roads ... This incites the people's hatred of the Fascist occupiers and makes it easier to recruit partisans in the Fascists' hinterland. It is important to ensure that there are survivors that can report about the 'German' atrocities. Among the people the report is to be put about that the Germans set towns and villages on fire in order to punish the partisans."...(Source: Archives Series 429, Roll 461... 3/70 Fr. 6439568, Washington National Archives.)
No doubt this Stalinist plan must also be regarded as a reaction to the volunteer corps which were springing up, constituted of members of nations oppressed by the Soviet Union, as well as of Ukrainians and Greater Russians. These corps ultimately comprised more than one million members.
Tomorrow: Part III
Thought For The Day:
"If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians."
Back to Table of Contents of the Dec. 2000 ZGrams