The enormous territorial gains of 1941 presented Germany with vast areas to pacify and administer. Some Soviet citizens, especially in the non-Russian republics, greeted their conquerors as liberators from Stalinist repression. But they were soon to learn that their new masters were every bit as repressive and brutal as the old. Nascent national liberation movements among Ukrainians and Cossacks, and other were viewed by Hitler with suspicion; some were co-opted into the Axis armies and others brutally suppressed. None of the conquered territories gained any measure of self-rule. Instead, the racist Nazi ideologues saw the future of the East as one of settlement by German colonists, with the natives killed, expelled, or reduced to slave labour.
Regions closer to the front were managed by military powers of the region, in other areas such as Baltic states annexed by USSR in 1940, Reichscommissariats were established. As a rule, the maximum in loot was extracted. In September 1941, Erich Koch was appointed to the Ukrainian Commissariat. His opening speech was clear about German policy: "I am known as a brutal dog â€¦ Our job is to suck from Ukraine all the goods we can get hold of â€¦ I am expecting from you the utmost severity towards the native population."
Russian soldiers in action
Soviet Northern fleet, attacking Nazi submarines in the Barents sea
Survivor of a Jewish ghetto in Russia, after Nazi retreat
Soviet Rocker projectors "Katyusha" [the Stalin organ] near Viborg, Leningrad front, 1944
Start of the Russian offensive operation at the Leningrad front, 1943
More Russian front pictures...