1922-1941 1944-1956

Ukraine 1941-1944

On June 22nd 1941, German and allied forces invaded the USSR, taking Stalin by surprise. The Blitzkrieg and Kesselschlacht strategies resulted in the capture of large numbers of Soviet soldiers and the occupation of vast stretches of territory; by the end of 1941, most of Ukraine was under German occupation, the front just outside Moscow.
The German soldiers were followed by SS units which went from town to town, separating the Jewish population from non-Jews, and executing them. The 33,771 Jews of Kiev were executed and buried at Babi Yar.
The Germans succeeded in persuading the Ukrainian Galicia Division to fight, as an SS division, on their side. The parts of Ukraine assumed to be pacified were administered as Reichskommissariat Ukraine, with capital at Rivne. Hitler had the fertile, vast Ukraine in mind when he formulated his theory of "Lebensraum im Osten". The harsh German administration caused resistance; vast areas of the country were controlled by partisans. In retaliation for the c.46,000 Germans killed by partisans, the Germans executed Ukrainian civilians, at a rate of 100 Ukrainians for 1 German. Bessarabia and Transnistria were ceded to Romania.
Following the surrender of the German forces at Stalingrad on February 2nd 1943, the Soviet reconquest of Ukraine began; by 1944 the Ukraine (including the formerly Polish Western Ukraine, hitherto Czechoslovak Carpatho-Ukraine and the off-and-on Romanian regions of the Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia) was liberated. Those Ukrainians who had fought alongside the Germans, with their families, retreated with the German armies.
At the close of the war, Ukrainian units in Carinthia surrendered to the British, unaware that the Allies had agreed to repatriate their respective nationals. When informed that they were to be sent to the USSR in plombed waggons, a number of Ukrainians committed suicide; those who were sent back were not heard of again. One unit of Ukrainians marched all across Austria, crossed into Liechtenstein and surrendered to the local policeman; Liechtenstein did not surrender them to the USSR.

Stalin took revenge against those he perceived traitors - Ukrainian collaborators were executed or sent to camps in Siberia; the entire Crimean Tatar ethnicity was deported to Central Asia.
In the early stages of the war, entire Ukrainian factories had been disassembled, put on trains, transported to Central Asia and reassembled there - and their workforce had been relocated, too.
Ukraine had suffered severely from 4 years of war; the cities were severely damaged, the infrastructure too, in the countryside, livestock were scarce. Many had been displaced by the war, for instance those Ukrainians abducted to Germany as forced labour (Ostarbeiter); many others were disabled.

Articles Babi Yar, Reichskommissariat Ukraine, History of Kiev 1918-1941, from Wikipedia
World War II in Ukraine, from InfoUkes
Holocaust Bystanders - the Ukrainians, by Alexander imel
DOCUMENTS Historical Population Statistics : Ukraine, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
Ukrainian SSR, from World Statesmen
REFERENCE Paul Robert Magocsi, Ukraine, A Historical Atlas, Toronto : UP 1985 [G]
Kohut, Zenon E., Historical Dictionary of Ukraine, Rowman & Littlefield 2005, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 947.7 K79h
Michael O. Logusz, Galicia Division. The Waffen SS 14th Grenadier Division 1943-1945, Atglen PA : Schiffer Military History 1997, KMLA Lib.Sign. 940.54 L832g
Article : Soviet Union : Ukraine, in : Statesman's Year Book 1943 pp.1246-1248 [G]
Article : Ukraine, in : Americana Annual 1943 pp.721-722, 1944 pp.694-695 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 13th 2006, last revised on August 24th 2007

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