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Nazi Occupation and Collaboration in Central-Eastern Ukraine: the "Generalbezirk Dnjepropetrowsk" (1941-1944)

by Simone Bellezza

Location: University Ca' Foscari - Venice
Department of Historical Studies
Specialization: European Social History from the Middle Ages to Contemporaneity
University degree: PhD
Tutors: proff. Alberto Masoero and Andrea Graziosi
Date
: 27 marzo 2007

This dissertation examines the structures of German civil administration and the collaboration obtained by them among the locals from 1941 to 1944 in the Generalbezirk Dnjepropetrowsk, the eastern district of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, corresponding to present Dnipropetrovs'k and Zaporižžja regions in central-eastern Ukraine. The focus of the analysis is on the relationship between the German personal sent to rule the occupied territories and the civil population of the region, made up of many different nationalities. The study recounts of both the Nazi occupations policies, made up of different aims and strategies, and the popular reactions, devoting special attention to the collaborators working in the administrative apparatuses.

Chapters

The first chapter is devoted to a recount of Ukrainian history in the Twenties and in the Thirties, based principally on the new historical literature.
The rest of the research was conducted on archival documentation found in many different archives: the Central State Archive of Supreme Ruling and Administrative Organizations of Ukraine and the Central State Archive of Civil Organizations of Ukraine in Kiev, the State Archive of Dnipropetrovs'k Region, the State Archive of Zaporižžja Region, the Berlin-Lichterfelde section of the German Federal Archives, and State Archive of Russian Federation in Moskow.

The second chapter recounts the events from June 22nd to the establishment of the civil administration of the Reichskommissariat für die Ukraine. The study takes into account the first Nazi orders, the framework of powers within Nazi leadership and the reaction of both Soviet population and army to the invasion; the last three paragraphs describe the structures and the personnel of the German administration and of the local Ukrainian administrations and includes a statistical analysis of the collaborators. The following chapters are devoted to the description of Nazi occupation policies in particular fields: the third to racial and nationality policy, the fourth to economic policy and the fifth to cultural and education policy.

The sixth chapter tries to portray the everyday life of civil population through the description of the activities of the churches, the hospitals, the charity associations, the legal and the black markets. The second part of the chapter analyses the popular reaction to the German occupation: although the popular mood at the end of the war was completely hostile to the Nazis, the population hesitated to take active initiative against the occupiers and usually was inclined only to passive resistance. Both the very weak nationalist and the little stronger communist partisans were quite isolated from the locals, as they both represented political ideologies distant or even hated by the population.

The conclusions contain an attempt to explain the popular incapacity to active reaction (a phenomenon noticed by other students of WWII in Soviet Ukraine such as Berkhoff, Kuromiya, Lower and Penter) through the success obtained by the Stalinist regime and in particular by what has been called, according to Martin's definition, "affirmative action empire". Eventually the author proposes a general reflection about the consequences of the occupation and the meaning of collaboration in eastern Ukraine, and tries to re-define the paradigm of collaborationism.

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