Nazi Posters in Wartime Russia
How did Hitler's armies try and persuade the occupied populations of the Soviet Union to live with their new regime? British military historian John Erickson comments on wartime posters unearthed from the Russian archives.
In launching Operation Barbarossa on June 22nd, 1941, the invasion of Russia and the greatest land campaign in history, Adolf Hitler embarked not only on military conquest but also on an ideological crusade and the realisation of plans for long-range colonisation. The Soviet-German war, the 'Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-1945', proved to be far more than a series of battlefield encounters, gruelling and protracted though these were, emerging all too speedily as nothing less than a war of annihilation, (VernichtungsKampf ) coupled with yet another monstrous aspect, a war of racial extermination (Rassenkampf ) directed against the 'Jew-Bolshevik enemy' in particular and the Slav Untermensch , the sub-human, in general. The accepted rules of warfare were deliberately abandoned, the killer squads of the 'Action commands' (Einsatzkommandos ), were let loose on Jew, Bolshevik, prisoner and populace alike.