25 Operation Barbarossa was supposed to be quick and decisive, bringing a “lightning victory” within three months at the latest. Yet while the Red Army fell back, it did not collapse. Two weeks into the fighting, the Germans had taken all of what had been Lithuania, Latvia, and eastern Poland, as well as most of Soviet Belarus and some of Soviet Ukraine. Franz Halder, chief of staff of the German army, confided to his diary on 3 July 1941 that he believed that the war had been won. By the end of August, the Germans had added Estonia, a bit more of Soviet Ukraine, and the rest of Soviet Belarus. Yet the pace was all wrong, and 168 BLOODLANDS Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands : Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Basic Books, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central,.Created from usf on 2018-12-27 16:54:11.
the fundamental objectives were not achieved. The Soviet leadership remained in Moscow. As one German corps commander noted pithily on 5 September 1941: “no victorious Blitzkrieg, no destruction of the Russian army, no disinte- gration of the Soviet Union.” 26 Germany starved Soviet citizens anyway, less from political dominion than po- litical desperation. Though the Hunger Plan was based upon false political as- sumptions, it still provided the moral premises for the war in the East. In autumn 1941, the Germans starved not to remake a conquered Soviet Union but to con- tinue their war without imposing any costs on their own civilian population. In September Göring had to take stock of the new situation, so disastrously different from Nazi expectations. Dreams of a shattered Soviet Union yielding its riches to triumphant Germans had to be abandoned. The classic dilemma of political economy, guns or butter, was supposed to have been resolved in a miraculous way: guns would make butter. But now, three months into the war, the men car- rying the guns very much needed the butter. As the war continued beyond the planned twelve weeks, German soldiers were competing with German civilians for limited food supplies. The invasion itself had halted the supply of grain from the Soviet Union. Now three million German soldiers simply had to be fed, with- out reducing food rations within Germany itself. 27 The Germans lacked contingency plans for failure. The troops had a sense that something was wrong; after all, no one had given them any winter coats, and their night watches were getting cold. But how could the German popula- tion be told that the invasion had failed, when the Wehrmacht still seemed to be pushing forward and Hitler still had moments of euphoria? But if the Nazi leadership could not admit that the war was going badly, then German civilians would have to be spared any negative consequences of the invasion. Grumbling of stomachs might lead to the grumbling of citizens. Germans could not be al- lowed to make a sacrifice for the troops on the front, at least not too much, and not too soon. A change in domestic food policy might allow them to see the
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