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August 11 , 2008

Unknown Eastern Front, The

The Wehrmacht and Hitler’s Foreign Soldiers


When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa with his attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Wehrmacht deployed 600,000 troops to the Eastern Front. Their numbers were later swelled by a range of foreign volunteers so that, at the height of World War II, astonishingly one in three men fighting for the Germans in the East was not a native German. _x000D_ _x000D_ Hitler’s declaration of the ‘struggle against Bolshevism’ reverberated throughout all of Europe - it attracted convinced fascists as well as non-Russian eastern Europeans seeking to regain their independence from the USSR. Many of these volunteers subsequently became involved in the atrocities of the Wehrmacht and the SS. Many historical accounts of the war in the East, the bloodiest struggle in world history, not only overlook the role of local helpers and thereby unwittingly play up to subsequent Stalinist propaganda; they also underestimate the importance of German-allied armies fighting on the Eastern Front. Yet it was not just Eastern Europe which provided volunteer soldiers for the Wehrmacht - a number of men from occupied countries, such as France, Norway and Denmark also signed up as volunteers, as well as a small number from neutral countries. _x000D_ _x000D_ For the first time, this book tells the story of these men. Vilified by Hitler for their supposed failures, condemned and forgotten by their homelands for treason and collaboration, their involvement in the war has been largely ignored or swept aside by historians. Rolf-Dieter Müller here offers a fascinating new perspective on a little-known aspect of World War II.
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