World War II
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World War II
the Holocaust

World War II
Occupied Territories

In the occupied countries the situation was very complex. In Norway, the occupied parts of Russia, Yugoslavia, France, the Netherlands the German administration was unpopular. However, the government of Denmark had not resisted the country's occupation at all; the King of Belgium had signed Belgium's surrender; Belgium remained under a Belgian administration, which, as Marechall H.P. Petain's VICHY-FRANCE was regarded a collaborating regime by the allies. Even in these countries, the majority resented the Germans as well as their own collaborating administration. Over time, resistance organizations were formed. As the Germans reacted harshly in case a single German was killed - no effort was undertaken to find the guilty person, but the entire adult male population of a village nearby was summarily executed as in LIDICE - the resistance movements in western countries (Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, later Italy) refrained from harming anyone wearing a German uniform. They performed acts of SABOTAGE instead, hid Jews or refugees, collected intelligence for the allies or targetted COLLABORATORS. The most infamous was Norwegian VIDKUN QUISLING
In Denmark the government advised the Germans that it was unwise to make it obligatory for Danish Jews to wear the YELLOW STAR. The royal family of the Netherlands had fled to England when the country was occupied. The Dutch coins, featuring the silhouette of the Queen, were withdrawn and replaced by wartime coins. Many Dutch drilled holes in the old coind, Dutch girls wearing them as necklasses, to express their solidarity with their Queen. Prince Bernhard, the queen's husband, was a German by birth, yet he had preferred to flee to England rather than live under German occupation. On his birthday, many Dutchmen wore a white carnation, his favorite flower (Anjersdag). In Yugoslavia, Russia and other eastern countries, the German occupation forces acted even more ruthless than in the west. Early in the war mass executions of Jews took place all over Ukraine. The PARTISANS acted evenly unrestrained, openly fighting the Germans.
The Germans tried to raise support from the occupied territories. They formed volunteer legions against bolshevism in France, Belgium, the Netherlands etc. The occupied territories were to supply the German war economy with raw materiel, products, FORCED LABOR.
In the final phase of the war, in the occupied territories the order was to destroy cities, to leave behind a devastated countryside rather than hand it over unharmed. In northern Norway, the receding German army pursued a SCORCHED EARTH POLICY. The commander of PARIS was ordered to blow up/burn the city; the governor of the Netherlands was ordered to blow up all the dykes. Paris was not destroyed; most of the Dutch dykes remained intact (the WIERINGERMEERPOLDER was flooded).

World War II, selected letters of German soldiers, from Feldpost Archiv, available in German and in English translation

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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