It is unlikely that Hitlerite Germany would have been able to hold out against its opponents for so long if not to go over to its side, not only a number of European states, but also millions of people in the occupied countries. Their traitors were everywhere, but in some countries and regions their number was simply off scale.
They remembered about the police again
In May 2020, Russia will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. But, as they say, the war can be considered over only when the last dead soldier is found and buried. To these words regarding the war with Nazi Germany, one can add the fact that a huge number of war crimes committed by both the Nazis and the traitors who collaborated with them – residents and citizens of the states occupied by Germany – have not yet been investigated.
In 2019, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation resumed investigations against the Baltic, Ukrainian and Russian collaborators who acted under the command of the Nazis in the occupied lands of the Soviet Union and were distinguished by special atrocities against civilians. Thus, a criminal case was initiated on the mass murder of children in Yeisk (Krasnodar Territory). In 1941, an orphanage was evacuated to Yeisk from Simferopol. After the capture of Yeisk by the Nazis on October 9 and 10, 1942, the Nazis organized the massacre of children. In two days, 214 children from the orphanage were killed.
The execution, stunning in its cruelty, was carried out by the notorious SS 10a Sonderkommando, which operated at that time on the territory of the Rostov Region and Krasnodar Territory. This unit was commanded by SS Obersturmbannfuehrer (Lieutenant Colonel) Kurt Christmann. A university-educated man with a doctorate in jurisprudence, he was a staunch Nazi and served in the Gestapo during the war. The famous execution of thousands of Soviet citizens in the Zmievskaya Balka in Rostov-on-Don was the work of Kurt Christman and his henchmen.
In the early 1960s, Soviet counterintelligence identified and arrested several police officers who served in the Sonderkommando and participated in the massacres of civilians. In the fall of 1963, a trial of 9 former members of Sonderkommando 10a took place in Krasnodar. Buglak, Veikh, Dzampaev, Zhirukhin, Eskov, Psarev, Skripkin, Surguladze and Sukhov appeared before the court. All executioners were sentenced to death and carried out. However, the head of the Sonderkommando Kurt Christman himself lived quietly in Germany after the war, became a successful lawyer – one of the richest people in Munich. Only in 1980 was he arrested and sentenced to 10 years, and in 1987 he died, two months before his eightieth birthday.
Now Russian investigators have again raised documents on the crimes of the Sonderkommando. The main task is to identify and prove the guilt of other German servicemen who were involved in the murder of children in Yeisk, in the massacres of peaceful Soviet people in other cities and towns. It is clear that all these executioners have already died, but their descendants should also know what the true face of these “people” was.
In 2011, in Germany, a certain Ivan Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian policeman who served as a guard in the Sobibor concentration camp, was sentenced to 5 years. However, due to his advanced age, Demjanjuk was not imprisoned, and in March 2012, the 91-year-old former policeman died in a German nursing home in the resort town of Bad Feilnbach. And how many of these demjanjuk have remained unknown, and in fact on their hands is the blood of thousands of innocent people.
When Hitler’s Germany began to seize European countries one after another, in each of them there were many people who were ready to cooperate with the occupiers. Recently, the director of the Historical Memory Foundation, Alexander Dyukov, presented the “collaboration intensity index”, thanks to which we can now get an idea of where there were most of the people who collaborated with the Nazis.
Historians sampled the approximate number of traitors for every 10 thousand people in the countries whose territories were occupied by Germany in 1939-1945. I must say that these results can hardly surprise anyone – as many suggested, a scientific study identified several countries that were leading in the number of collaborators per 10 thousand people, overtaking all other occupied territories.
The average collaboration index in Western and Eastern Europe ranges from 50 to 80 people per 10 thousand people. Such indicators are in such different countries and regions as, for example, France and the RSFSR. So, in France, the collaborationism index was 53.3 people per 10 thousand people. And this despite the fact that the French served in the Wehrmacht, in the SS. But the majority of French citizens, as we can see, remained indifferent to the Nazi occupation. Although they did not actively resist her.
In the Soviet Union, the collaborationism index was 142.8 per 10 thousand people. Such an impressive at first glance, the overall figure became possible precisely because the collaborators of the Baltic and Ukraine were counted, who gave the bulk of the Soviet traitors.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, the figures are even higher – about 200-250 per 10 thousand people. This is not surprising, since the Dutch and Flemings are very close to the Germans in linguistic and cultural terms and they were accepted into the service without any problems, and they quite willingly went to it. In Lithuania, the number of collaborators was 183.3 per 10 thousand people – that is, significantly more than the average for the USSR, but also less than in the Netherlands and Belgium.
In tiny Luxembourg, the index was 526 per 10 thousand of the population. And here, too, it is hardly surprising, since the Luxembourgers are the same Germans, so they did not so much betray their duchy as simply served the new German Reich.
First by the number of policemen
But the real champions in terms of the number of collaborators are Estonia and Latvia. This is where the real forge of pro-Hitler elements was. In the Estonian SSR the number of traitors was 884.9 per 10 thousand inhabitants, and in the Latvian SSR – 738.2 per 10 thousand inhabitants. The numbers are impressive. After all, this is almost 10 times higher than in all other European countries. In fact, every tenth inhabitant of these Baltic republics was a collaborationist.
Considering that Estonia and Latvia have never differed in large populations, these figures look very plausible. Estonian and Latvian youth willingly went to the service of the Nazis, receiving uniforms, weapons, salaries, as well as the opportunity to mock the civilians of the occupied territories with impunity. Estonian and Latvian policemen committed atrocities not only in the Baltic states, but also in Belarus, Poland, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. Not particularly strong in battle, they proved to be unsurpassed punishers and executioners.
So, near the village of Zhestyanaya Gorka in the Novgorod region, an extermination camp operated, in which 2,600 people were killed. The massacres of Soviet people were carried out there by the punishers of the “Tailkommando” SD, staffed by policemen from Riga. Many of Hitler’s henchmen did not even incur any subsequent punishment for their atrocities, and today the authorities of Latvia and Estonia honor the few surviving SS men and policemen, presenting them as fighters for the “liberation of the Baltic from Soviet occupation.”
Of course, it is not worth explaining the Latvian or Estonian collaborationism with the alleged tendency of these peoples to betray. It must be remembered that Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania became part of the USSR just before the start of the war. A very significant part of the population of the Baltic republics did not just dislike Soviet power, but hated it. In Nazi Germany, she saw a natural ally and patron, to whom young and not very collaborators entered the service.
Considering that until 1917 the Eastern Germans played the leading role in the Baltic States, many of whom, however, honestly served the Russian Empire, the inhabitants of the Baltic republics still had a certain reverence for Germany and the German people. We can say that there was a kind of “return to the old masters.” By the way, the main ideologist of the Third Reich, Alfred Rosenberg, was also an Eastsee German, and he was originally from Estonia (Rosenberg was born in Reval, as Tallinn was then called, in 1893).
In Latvia and Estonia, SS divisions, auxiliary battalions, organizations like Omakaitse, a paramilitary structure that organized anti-partisan raids and guarded the Estonian borders from penetration of residents of the neighboring Leningrad region fleeing from hunger, were formed in Estonia and Latvia. Service in such structures was not considered something shameful. If family and friends turned away from the Russian collaborator, and after the war he was generally perceived as the most disgusting criminal and traitor, then in Estonia and Latvia service to Hitler was considered in the order of things. And now the governments of the Baltic states at the highest state level are engaged in the rehabilitation of their collaborators, not even embarrassed by the fact that Nazism is severely condemned in Germany itself.
Former SS legionnaires are perceived by the Latvian and Estonian governments as national heroes. And the investigations, which are now initiated by the Russian investigative bodies, are called upon to reveal the true face of these “heroes”. Indeed, among the few now living former SS men, there are definitely people involved in serious war crimes, including on the territory of the RSFSR, where the Estonian and Latvian formations sent here by the Nazis also operated.
The heroization of Nazism and collaborationism is taking place today in Ukraine. Meanwhile, unlike Estonia and Latvia, the Ukrainian SSR gives completely different indicators of collaborationism, on the whole, do not differ from the average European ones. And this is due to the fact that, strictly speaking, there were “two Ukraine”. Eastern and Southern Ukraine, Donbass and Novorossiya, gave us wonderful heroes – underground fighters, the same “Young Guard”, millions of Soviet soldiers and officers, partisans who fought with honor the Nazis. But in Western Ukraine, the situation with collaboration was practically the same as in the Baltics, which was also due to the peculiarities of the mentality of the local population, and the entry of Western Ukrainian territories into the USSR.
There is no doubt that finding out the number of traitors, establishing their names, and involvement in war crimes is a very necessary and, most importantly, timely task. There is no need to think that if 75 years have passed since the defeat of Nazism, then you can forget everything. As we can see, history comes to life today and countries such as Ukraine or Latvia, for example, are actively using the collaborators of the past in constructing modern political myths that are clearly anti-Russian in nature.