Turner 1 Lance Turner Hist 3210 04/12/2019 The Bloodlands and Their Effect on Total War The region that contains modern-day Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic states is known as the “Bloodlands.” It earned this sinister title because both Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler implemented policies of mass murder there. “...in autumn 1932 by Stalin, and autumn 1941 by Hitler” (Snyder, 387). Both the communists of the Soviet Union and the fascists of Nazi Germany had designs on the Bloodlands. One and the other both dreamed of an ideological utopia in the bloodlands. For the Nazi’s utopia meant lebensraum or living space full of ethnically pure Germans. For the Soviets utopia required a population loyal to the party, and the collectivization of farms. As these utopias were advanced, they were compromised by reality leading to genocide. (Snyder) How these two visions of utopia played in the bloodlands had great effect on the “age of total war.” The two competing visions lead to the end of the distinction between civilians and soldiers in war, The abandonment of the guidelines towards prisoners of war, and the systematic destruction of entire groups of people. During the Second World War, the bloodlands saw the end of the difference between soldiers and civilians over war. Millions of civilians were killed indiscriminately in the war. “Fourteen million is the approximate number of people killed by purposeful policies of mass murder implemented by Nazi Germany and Soviet Union in the bloodlands.” (Snyder, 409) Germany invaded Poland in the west on September 1, 1939 and swiftly defeated the Polish army. A short time later on September 17, 1939 the Soviet Union invaded from the east dividing Poland in half in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact; which had been signed in secret on August 23, 1939. Both the Soviets and the Nazis quickly began to eradicate the polish intelligentsia. The intelligentsia is a term for the educated political and cultural leaders of Poland in the 19th and 20th centuries. For the Soviet Union the intelligentsia threatened any control the
Turner 2 Soviets could claim in Poland because as cultural and political leaders the intelligentsia could convince the less educated classes to resist Soviet domination. The Nazis opposed the intelligentsia for the same reasons as the Soviets, but with the added conviction that the inferior Slavs could not be highly educated and the existence of the intelligentsia was an affront to their core beliefs. “In operation Tannenberg, Heydrich wanted the Einsatzgruppen to render ‘the upper levels of society’ harmless by murdering sixty-one thousand Polish citizens.” (Snyder, 126) The Soviets enacted similar orders in Eastern Poland. On June 22, 1941 Nazi Germany broke its non- aggression pact with the Soviet Union and invaded. As the Wehrmacht advanced across the bloodlines it committed mass murder towards civilians. The German idea of a ethnically pure
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