Russians as Flak crewmen

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by ralphwiggum, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. ralphwiggum

    ralphwiggum Member

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    I've always heard that the Germans employed People of the Soviet Union
    on the Flak defenses:bazooka: Does anyone know how many were crewmen and how many were Tartars, Ukranians, White Russians etc?
    Thanks everybody for a Great site!
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Citizens of Ukraine, the Caucasus and the Baltic States volunteered by the millions to work for the German war effort. They served in every capacity from factory labor to machinegunners. Some almost certainly ended up in the huge Luftwaffe flak service. Nailing down numbers would probably require access to copies of historical Luftwaffe strength reports. Even then numbers won't be exact. Many hard pressed German units such as 6th Army recruited locals unofficially, in addition to Hilfswilliger who appeared on official unit strength reports.
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Ostarbeiter or eastern workers made up 3-5.5 million of the German workforce, some report numbers as high as 8.5 million.
    They consisted of Ukranians, Belarusians, Russians, Tatars, and ethic Poles from USSR territories.
    They initially did volunnteer in early 1942, lured by promises of plentiful food, good working conditions, and freedom. But when the word filtered back from Germany that the promises were lies, Germany had to fill their worker quotas with mass roundups.

    The east workers were required to wear a blue tag with OST on their outer clothes at all times, and were kept in camps under armed guard when off work. That doesn't quite sound like the way you would normally treat "volunteers"

    Even though they were taking 40,000 people a month from the Ukrain alone, Speer was constantly complaining about a shrinking " volunteer " workforce, so that speaks as to their treatment.

    Though some may have "volunteered" for Flak crews, it's not hard to reason out the why of that.

    After the war the former OST workers, all of them tainted by the initial volunteers, were all treated as traitors by the USSR. At the best they were sent to workcamps in Siberia.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    First hand accounts I have read paint a different picture.

    Ukraine was treated as enemy territory by the Soviet Union throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Intentional mass starvation, mass rape of women and mass deportations to die in the Gulag system were common. German treatment was gentle by comparison even if it was far from perfect. At the start of every Soviet offensive German labor recruitment centers were swamped with volunteers (especially women and teenage girls) desperate to avoid being "liberated" by the Red Army. Typically there were more volunteers then work positions inside Germany so recruitment centers could afford to be picky. During 1945 almost none of these workers voluntarily returned to the Soviet Union. Britain and the USA rounded them up at gunpoint and returned them to Stalin for a 10 year sentence in the Gulag system. According to Solzhenitsyn the survival rate was no better then 10%. Then you spend the remainder of your crippled life in internal exile.
     
  5. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    First hand accounts i've read paint a different picture from yours also.

    Yes the Soviets raped the Ukraine, in the 30's, the Ukrainians welcomed the Germans with open arms, but it didn't take long for the SS Eisengruppen and the German's policies on the treatment of eastern people to turn that around.

    The Germans were staving the Ukrainians too, by confiscating far too much of their farm produce, so surprise, you got people who hoped things would be better in Germany.

    I feel sorry for the Ukranians, they knew they were screwed no matter which side they chose. Then once they chose working in Germany just to maybe keep from staving, they knew what would happen once they were back under Soviet control.
    Painting the German treatment of the eastern people as in any way benevolent is a gross distortion of the facts. The Germans wanted them as a expendable workforce, and treated them accordingly.
     
  6. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It's been probably 10 years since I read Harvest of Sorrow, by Robert Conquest, about the Ukraine under Stalin, a horrowing book.

    About 2 years ago i got Harvest of Despair by Karel C. Berkhoff, about the Ukraine under Nazi rule, and it's no less depressing. As Reichskommissar for the Ukraine Erich Koch, once said "If I find a Ukrainian who is worthy of sitting at the same table with me, I must have him shot " The Germans wanted the Ukraine for Lebensraum for the master race, they only wanted enough Ukrainians left to sevice them.
     
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