Publication Date

12-1-2007

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts in History

Abstract

The German Army, also known as the Wehrmacht, fought a brutal war on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. These soldiers, under the command of military officials of the Nazi state, vowed to destroy Bolshevism and Jewish populations. By examining letters from soldiers to family members on the German home front as well as letters from families to the men on the front lines, a better understanding of the motivations of war is revealed. Letters of these men and family members present insight into a vast area of research in German twentieth century history. An estimated 20 to 40 billion letters circulated throughout the German armed forces from 1939 until 1945. In addition to letters, Nazi propaganda and the Hitler Youth greatly contributed to the influx of anti-Semitic and anti-Bolshevik mindsets throughout the military ranks. Due to the events surrounding the end of the First World War, Hitler was successful in creating a vendetta against his European neighbors who betrayed Germany in 1918-1919. Revenge against Germany's enemies was constantly preached to the German population as well as soldiers serving in the Wehrmacht. These individuals would take their revenge against civilian populations and prisoners of war. The majority of German atrocities took place on the Eastern Front in Russia after the launch of operation Barbarossa in June 1941. The following research does not attempt to describe every German veteran of the Second World War; rather, it is important to realize that war is horrendous under any circumstance and the Second World War proved no different. Additional research, namely in Germany, is necessary in order to develop an even more detailed perspective of the average soldier of the Wehrmacht.

Disciplines

European History | History | Military History