Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part II

Dear Readers:

Still working the Crime before we get to the Punishment; continuing with this piece from Russian RT, commemorating the massacres of April 7, 1943 in Western Ukraine.  As we saw, the Nazis were highly cunning conquerors, worthy descendants of the Roman Empire.  Unlike Blanche DuBois who relied on “the kindness of strangers”, the Nazis relied heavily on the cruelty of strangers, or rather, of local collaborators.  Without such assistance, their strategy of genocide, and their plan to exterminate all of Europe’s Jews, would have come to nought.  The Ukrainian nationalists were particularly “helpful” in this regard.

One thing about this piece that opened my eyes, and we’ll get to that a bit later, but the Nazi government was not born pristine off a clamshell.  This was a regime that inherited the entire legacy of the Austro-Hungarian and Prussian governments, along with all the sophisticated tricks of the trade.  Governments in those days knew how to do actual politics, how to recruit spies and agents of influence.  It was nothing like today’s world, where we see clumsy CIA blunders and European governments floundering like retarded children.

The Horde Descends

Where we left off:  As the German army approached these towns and cities of the Western Ukraine, local thugs, sure of their impunity, launched randomized pogroms against the Jewish residents.  (Always being sure to photograph their violent crimes for posterity.)  Once the Nazis had settled in to these towns and regions as the Occupying government, the violence against Jewish civilians didn’t stop, but took on a more organized and systematic character.  As a first step, the new government separated Jews from the non-Jewish population.  They set up around 50 ghettos and up to 200 concentration camps on this territory.  Once the Jewish civilians were all herded into these specially-designated areas, then they could be destroyed methodically and with less publicity.

1983: Soviets opened memorial park in Babiy Yar

Up until August 1941 the Hitlerites and their local collaborators targeted primarily Jewish males of working age, and also members of the elite.  [yalensis:  Which makes sense, like any effective killer, they first took out the ones who could have posed some resistance.]  But within just a couple of months the scope had expanded to all Jews, including the elderly, women and children.  Without the younger males around to defend them, the latter cohorts were helpless.  Modern historians have established over 300 locations where Jewish civilians were executed en masse.  In Babiy Yar alone, probably the most famous of these places, around 150,000 individuals were slaughtered in a very short period of time.  And these people constituted only a tenth of the total of (Jewish) Holocaust victims in the Ukraine.  Holocaust-Deniers, by the way (silly as it is to debate them) cannot explain away places like Babiy Yar or claim that, e.g., gas chambers were actually delousing centers.  At Babiy Yar, people were just killed the old fashioned way:  Gunned down and buried in a pit.  No gas chambers needed there.

So, who actually pulled the triggers?  German Einsatzgruppen, for starters.  And the Sicherheitdienst (SD), Nazi death squads specifically responsible for eliminating civilian populations deemed as “racially inferior”, and also targeting political cohorts such as Communists and other “disloyal” elements.  That must have been some job description:  “The work is not overly dangerous, but you will still need to carry a gun.”

Okay, so how many psychopaths did the Germans have to hire to carry out such a huge slaughter of unarmed civilians?  There were around 120 such Sonderkommando teams, each team consisting of 20-30 men.  Doing the math:  that’s only around 3,000 men.  Once again, how can 3,000 men handle a crowd numbering into the tens of thousands, and kill them all?  It isn’t physically possible.  Unless….

They had lots of help from the local collaborators

This was the secret of the Nazis success.  These civilized Germans were so charming, they were able to convince others to do their dirty work for them!

Sonderkommando job description also included: “Must be able to dispose of corpses without vomiting.”

That sounds facetious and it is, but, in reality, the Germans and Austrians were masters of this Game of Thrones, originally devised in the ancient Empires of yore.  Historian Alexander Diukov again:  “The mechanism for selecting collaborationist cadres had been worked out by the Germans and Austrians as early as World War I.  Therefore, what we witnessed in this regard during the Great Fatherland War was nothing out of the ordinary.  Perhaps only in the scope of it.”

The Germans had carefully worked out their strategy of selecting Ukrainian collaborators, and picked them from three main groups:

  1.  People with whom the Germans were already familiar, who had previously assisted German intelligence agencies, even before the Nazis took over the government.  The Germans/Nazis never worked with people whom they didn’t know. [yalensis snidely:  The American CIA could certainly adopt a lesson from that book!]

On the Ukrainian scene, this rule applied to groups such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).  The OUN was well known to the Germans and employed by the Nazi government to help them govern the Ukrainian territory.

A convention of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

2.  The Nazis also selected helpers from among the ranks of POW’s.  This too was reminiscent of practices during WWI, when competing governments were able to turn each others POW’s.  [yalensis:  in Russia, the Bolshevik government was also pretty good at agitating the Russian Empire’s former POWs and turning them into Bolsheviks and Cominternists.]  In expertly working through the collaborationist candidates, the Nazis gave a preference to those from the Western parts of the USSR and also, paradoxically, to certain Muslim groups.  In other words, the Nazis closely examined a person’s national origins and political views before hiring them.

3.  The Nazis selected people of a compatible ideology.  Here again, the formerly underground OUN was perfection itself.  Plus royalist que le roi, as the French might say.  The Nazis gave these violent criminals a new life:  Brought them out of the underground, gave them guns, put them in charge, and let them have it, killing the people whom the Nazis deemed unfit to live in Hitler’s Glorious Reich.

[to be continued]

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