Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East

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Overview

On June 22, 1941, Germany launched the greatest land assault in history on the Soviet Union, an attack that Adolf Hitler deemed crucial to ensure German economic and political survival. As the key theater of the war for the Germans, the eastern front consumed enormous levels of resources and accounted for 75 percent of all German casualties. Despite the significance of this campaign to Germany and to the war as a whole, few English-language publications of the last thirty-five ...

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Overview

On June 22, 1941, Germany launched the greatest land assault in history on the Soviet Union, an attack that Adolf Hitler deemed crucial to ensure German economic and political survival. As the key theater of the war for the Germans, the eastern front consumed enormous levels of resources and accounted for 75 percent of all German casualties. Despite the significance of this campaign to Germany and to the war as a whole, few English-language publications of the last thirty-five years have addressed these pivotal events.

In Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East, Stephen G. Fritz bridges the gap in scholarship by incorporating historical research from the last several decades into an accessible, comprehensive, and coherent narrative. His analysis of the Russo-German War from a German perspective covers all aspects of the eastern front, demonstrating the interrelation of military events, economic policy, resource exploitation, and racial policy that first motivated the invasion. This in-depth account challenges accepted notions about World War II and promotes greater understanding of a topic that has been neglected by historians.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Integrating a variety of factors, Fritz (history, East Tennessee State Univ.; Frontsoldaten: The German Soldier in World War II) writes that the Eastern Front was fiercer than other theaters of war because Hitler saw it as an ideological/racial war that required the physical elimination of Jews, Communists, and Slavs to allow for Lebensraum and the exploitation of resources. He considers the German army as not as innocent as has been portrayed but complicit in the Holocaust and related atrocities; career German officers should have stood up to Hitler. Not based on primary research, this is a synthesis of many secondary sources. Fritz's aim is to study the German perspective on the Eastern Front, touching on the irony, paradox, and complexity of the war. The f├╝hrer, who did not always appreciate irony or complexity, is the main actor here. VERDICT Serious readers and specialists will most appreciate this book, owing to its analysis and extensive documentation.
From the Publisher

""Of all the hundreds of books on the Russian campaign, Mr. Fritz's is the first I have seen that demonstrates the nexus between mass murder and military operations."--Washington Times" --

""Stephen Fritz brought to his sources his considerable analytical skills and clarity of expression. The product is a very readable consideration of the European war's most important front, and one that expresses a new understanding of its causes and effects."--New York Journal of Books" --

""Fritz seeks to synthesize and build upon earlier scholarship while exclusively focusing on the struggle as seen from Berlin.... Ostkrieg will be a significant addition to any academic library."--Choice" --

""It is truly a magnificent work of military history integrating ideological, economic, political, and military dimensions of this theater of war."--Waterline" --

""Perfect for instructors and students."--Teaching History" --

""An ambitious and impressive synthesis of two vast and often mutually exclusive fields of scholarship: the historiography of the Holocaust and that of the war on the Eastern Front.... [it] should serve as the starting point for all historians and students of World War II interested in the relationship of war and genocide."--Journal of Military History" --

"Winner of the inaugural U.S. Commission on Military History's Brigadier General James L. Collins Jr. Book Prize in Military History" --

"We are given a superb vantage point from which to view how the Nazi regime's obsessions trapped Germany into ultimately fatal dilemmas. -- Historian" -- Geoff Haywood, Historian

""I found Ostkreig to be one of the most informative and spellbinding reads that I have experienced in a long time. This is a real page turner as I felt myself cheering for the Russian people in their struggle to just survive from day to day." -- The Lone Star Book Review" --

"We now have a comprehensive, clearly written and affordable study incorporating recent research on the Eastern front. European History Quarterly" -- European History Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813134161
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 9/8/2011
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 702,967
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 2.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen G. Fritz, professor of history at East Tennessee State University, is the author of Frontsoldaten: The German Soldier in World War II and Endkampf: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Death of the Third Reich. He lives in Johnson City, Tennessee.

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  • Posted September 21, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Superb study of World War Two's decisive front

    This is a splendid study of the Second World War’s crucial eastern front, where the Red Army inflicted 78.5 per cent of German military deaths. Hitler threatened on 30 January 1939, “if the international finance Jewry within Europe and abroad should succeed once more in plunging the peoples into a world war, then the consequence will not be the Bolshevization of the world and a victory of Jewry, but on the contrary, the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” Hitler projected onto the Jews his own exterminationist intent. The head of the Wehrmacht, Field Marshal Keitel, signed the final version of the infamous ‘Commissar Order’ on 6 June 1941, “2. Political commissars are the originators of barbaric, Asiatic methods of fighting. Thus, they have to be dealt with immediately and … with the utmost severity. As a matter of principle, therefore, they will be shot at once.” Fritz sums up that Barbarossa “was not only the most massive military campaign in history, but it also unleashed an unprecedented campaign of genocidal violence, of which the Holocaust remains the best-known example.” In October 1941, Hitler said, “It’s good when the horror precedes us that we are exterminating Jewry.” He also said, “We are getting rid of the destructive Jews entirely.” And “When we exterminate this plague, then we perform a deed for humanity …” In January 1942, he said, “I see only one thing: total extermination. … Why should I look at a Jew any differently from a Russian prisoner?” Fritz observes, “in 1942 the Soviet Union alone, even without the contributions of Great Britain and the United States, would once again outproduce the Reich in virtually every weapons category. In the key areas of small arms and artillery, the advantage was three to one, while, in tanks, it was a staggering four to one, accentuated by the higher quality of the Soviet T-34.” Fritz often praises Stalin’s role. He notes that Stalin’s iron will saved the Soviet Union from collapse in the autumn of 1941, and points out, “Stalin, too, feared that his namesake city might fall at any time but in his usual fashion averted a nascent crisis by quick and firm action.” Fritz notes, “As far back as the autumn of 1943, Hitler had planned to stabilize the eastern front in order to transfer troops west to defeat the Allied invasion of France. …The Soviets, however, had refused to cooperate and play their assigned role. Instead of sitting passively through the winter, the Red Army had launched a series of continuous offensives that had drained German resources and brought the Ostheer to the breaking point.” He points out, “The blow to Army Group Center, however, had been as spectacular as it had been swift. In a bit more than two months, it had lost almost 400,000 men killed, wounded and missing, making Operation Bagration a far worse disaster for the Wehrmacht than the comparable one at Stalingrad or even that of Verdun in the previous war.” Of the Vistula-Oder offensive of January 1945, Fritz writes, “in three weeks, the Red Army had won perhaps its most spectacular victory of the war.” Nazi Germany fought a war of choice, the USSR a war of necessity, which determined its strategy and tactics, which largely explains its huge losses. Fritz sums up, “Hitler also grossly underestimated the political and economic strength and resilience of the Stalinist system as well as the resources that would be necessary to win in the Soviet Union.”

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