Hawks, doves and Tote Zonen: a Wehrmacht security division in Central Russia, 1943

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Abstract

There is a long-standing historiographical consensus over the crimes perpetrated by the German armed forces (Wehrmacht) in the Third Reich, particularly during the devastating eastern campaign against the Soviet Union. This campaign saw mass brutality born of nazi ideology, military ruthlessness and cold economic calculation. Only relatively recently, however, has a literature begun to emerge which seeks to quantify and explain the diversity of conduct as practised by Wehrmacht units in the field. This article contributes to the emerging literature with a comparative case study of a Wehrmacht security division, a unit which fought in one of the eastern campaign's bloodiest settings, the anti-partisan campaign. It shows how diverse conduct, ranging from extreme ruthlessness to relative restraint, was shaped by an interaction of wider influences, conditions in the field and the perceptions of particular officers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2002

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Keywords

  • Wehrmacht
  • Central Russia

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