THE ILLUSION: Soviet Soldiers in Hitler's Armies by Jurgen Thorwald

THE ILLUSION: Soviet Soldiers in Hitler's Armies

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This study of the Nazi mobilization of disaffected Eastern Europeans during WW II covers the same ground, to the same effect, as Wilfried Strik-Strikfeldt's Against Stalin and Hitler (1973). Thorwatd reports that the book was written in 1950 at the request of the CIA as background for its collaboration with the Gehlen intelligence apparatus in West Germany. Thorwald's theme, like Strik-Strikfeldt's, is that German invaders were first ""hailed by the populace"" as liberators from Bolshevism, but Hitler's maltreatment of the local populations blocked efforts by individuals like Alfred Rosenberg to use. ethnic nationalism against the Kremlin. Those who fought with the Germans--and Thorwald's total of 700,000 seems high--were a mixture of anti-Soviet Cossacks, Ukrainians, Georgians and other minorities, plus detachments of anti-Soviet emigres and, at the very end, tens of thousands of concentration camp internees trying to survive 1944-45 by any means possible. The book's account of the chief anti-Bolshevik military figure, General Vlasov, shows him in Nazi uniform, fighting seldom, and begging arms from the Wehrmacht for his turncoat army. Thorwald gives few accounts of actual combat and never mentions the depravity of most of the units; he also claims that ""up to the spring of 1942, the German troops in the East. . . knew nothing of Hitler's neocolonialist plans""--this after the occupation of Europe and years of Lebensraum propaganda. Finally, Thorwald, like Strik-Strikfeldt, declines to point out that a ""humane"" Nazi policy toward the Ukrainians et al. would have contradicted the very purpose of the invasion: loot and enslavement, the book ends with anger at Anglo-American repatriation of these troops. Marginal.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1975
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich