Articles tagged with: Personal narratives

Aug31

Encountering violence and crimes in autobiographical narratives of Operation “Barbarossa”

Categories // War crimes

Gianluca Cinelli

Encountering violence and crimes in autobiographical narratives of Operation “Barbarossa”

On 22nd June 1941, the German armies overcame the Russian resistance on the river Bug and started to penetrate in depth in Russia in a drunken state of exaltation. The encounter with war was, according to published memoirs that account for those events, first of all an exploration of an unknown, hostile land. Passing from a victory to another, German soldiers advanced in a state of exaltation and self-confidence. Soon enough, though, the war became brutal: the campaign was not like the former ones in Poland and France: the loss were high and a general crisis of the Wehrmacht was avoided only by pouring more and more replacements in the decimated ranks. The first impact with such a brutal war of annihilation consisted in encountering the huge mass of Soviet POWs, in a horrific scene that recurs in many a narrative. It is rare to come across allegations directly written in diaries or memoirs. In general, the soldiers found it disturbing to show themselves in the garb of brutal and insensible killers, especially because they were fighting in a war largely justified by ideological hatred and contempt for the enemy, as well as by racial prejudice.

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