The Pirate Economy and the Hunger Plan
As we discussed earlier in the semester, much of the basis for the continued survival was their philosophy of a “pirate economy” as the Nazi war machine stretched across mainland Europe, they plundered both agricultural, mechanical, and human resources from the lands where the Wehrmacht rolled through. In the latter years of the war, however, this strategy became borne on the backs of the ethnic peoples of Eastern Europe as the Nazis attempted to make their way to Russia. According to Spielvogel, the Nazis enacted a measured campaign to plan mass starvation among the eastern front, as well as purposefully allowing 2 to 3 million Soviet prisoners to starve to death in the prison camps during that time. The sheer scope of the starvation campaign shows the Nazis’ trademark brutality when measuring the losses of millions of their captives versus feeding their own forces. In his book Bloodlands, historian Timothy Snyder estimates that the Hunger Plan involved “4.2 million Soviet citizens (largely Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians) [being] starved by the German occupiers in 1941-1944.” The Nazis’ strategy, to me, also is reflective of their typical lack of preparedness, in that they had absolutely no central planning, and no long-term strategy for what they would do, even if they had been successful in taking the Russian front. The Russian transportation infrastructure was totally lacking, so there wouldn’t have been any way to move food throughout the territory. (Tooze 2007, pp. 538-549)
Spielvogel, Jackson, and David Redles. Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History. 7th ed. :Pearson, 2014, p. 274
Tooze, Adam. The Wages of Destruction, Viking, 2007 pp. 538–549.
Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. Basic Books, New York 2010, p. 411.