Many Russians Hoped That Hitler Would Free Them from Stalin

Many Russians Hoped That Hitler Would Free Them from Stalin

TO PUT IT BRIEFLY: ETHNIC RUSSIANS WERE MUCH LESS LOYAL TO THE SOVIET REGIME in their encounters with the German occupiers than historians have believed up to now. This is the story told by UiO researcher Johannes Due Enstad, who has recently published a book about the German occupation of Northwest Russia during World War 2.

Orthodox cross procession in Northwest Russia, 1942. That the Germans opened the churches closed by the Bolshevik was well received by a religious peasantry. Source: The Russian state archive for film and photo documentation, 3/261/5.

After World War II the Soviet Union created a grandiose history of how all the inhabitants of the Soviet Union were loyal to the regime and formed a common front against the Germans in the “Great Patriotic War”.

It has been common knowledge for a long time that this is an untrue story, because many Baltic and Ukrainian people despised the Bolshevik regime. At the same time, western historians have largely agreed that the ethnic Russians were loyal to the Stalin regime when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

According to Enstad, who is a post-doc at the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages at the University of Oslo, it is time to crack this myth apart. In a book recently published by the academic publishers Cambridge University Press, he addresses which side the people of Northwest Russia chose during the German occupation.