Courtesy Reuters

Hitler's Fiasco in the Ukraine

WHOLE generations of Germans have been brought up to think of conquest of the Ukraine as offering the surest road to a more abundant German life. Bismarck toyed with the idea of an "independent principality of Kiev." Kaiser William II and Adolf Hitler both have tried to exploit opportunities to bring to reality their dreams of a Ukrainian colony which would serve as "breadbasket" for a greater German Reich.

It is a matter of record that Imperial Germany failed in its endeavor to exploit the wealth of the Ukraine. Neither before nor after the peace of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918), which turned that German-conquered territory into a nominally independent state under German overlordship, did it make any appreciable contribution to the German war economy. The German people found out that the Imperial High Command was sadly mistaken when it proclaimed that the worst was over now that their armies firmly held the Ukrainian granary.

What, now, has Hitler to show, after more than a year of occupation?

Complete data are not available, of course, but one good estimate is that Hitler may have got something like 500,000 tons of food grains from the Ukraine in 1941 -- a mere fraction of the total German consumption. A more detailed report compiled during the past summer by British economic experts is even grimmer. According to this source, the total food production of the Ukraine last year consisted of 200,000 tons of bread, 450,000 tons of potatoes, 40,000 tons of sugar beets, 120,000 tons of meat and 15,000 tons of fats. Even if the Nazis did reduce the local population to a starvation level, they could not have secured for themselves more than one-third, or at best one-half, of this. When the needs of the army of occupation had been met, there can have been no surplus whatever for shipment to the Reich. The same report forecasts a 40 percent reduction from those figures in the Ukrainian output of food in 1942.

Contrast with this the figures for 1937, the last year for which Soviet statistics

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