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The Unknown Eastern Front: The Wehrmacht and Hitler's Foreign Soldiers

The Unknown Eastern Front: The Wehrmacht and Hitler's Foreign Soldiers
Rolf-Dieter Muller

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When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa with his attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Wehrmacht deployed 600,000 troops to the Eastern Front. Their numbers were later swelled by a range of foreign volunteers so that, at the height of World War II, astonishingly one in three men fighting for the Germans in the East was not a native German. Hitler's declaration of the 'struggle against Bolshevism' reverberated throughout all of Europe - it attracted convinced fascists as well as non-Russian eastern Europeans seeking to regain their independence from the USSR. Many of these volunteers subsequently became involved in the atrocities of the Wehrmacht and the SS. Many historical accounts of the war in the East, the bloodiest struggle in world history, not only overlook the role of local helpers and thereby unwittingly play up to subsequent Stalinist propaganda; they also underestimate the importance of German-allied armies fighting on the Eastern Front.

Yet it was not just Eastern Europe which provided volunteer soldiers for the Wehrmacht - a number of men from occupied countries, such as France, Norway and Denmark also signed up as volunteers, as well as a small number from neutral countries. For the first time, this book tells the story of these men. Vilified by Hitler for their supposed failures, condemned and forgotten by their homelands for treason and collaboration, their involvement in the war has been largely ignored or swept aside by historians. Rolf-Dieter Muller here offers a fascinating new perspective on a little-known aspect of World War II.

Author Info

Rolf-Dieter Muller is Professor of Military History at Humboldt University, Berlin; Scientific Director of the German Armed Forces Military History Research Institute in Potsdam; and Co-ordinator of the 'The German Reich and the Second World War' project. He is the author of numerous publications on World War II.


'The Unknown Eastern Front demonstrates that history – especially of a highly sensitive issue like this one – is rarely about neat binary categories of black and white, good and evil.'
Roger Moorhouse, TLS

'In lifting the veil with which history has shrouded these men, Muller…has opened up a new vista on a largely forgotten, and sometimes deliberately neglected, but crucial aspect of recent history.'
Nigel Jones, Spectator

'...this is an important subject…[Müller] supplies full and useful detail on the contribution of all the different peoples who participated, with information on the numbers of soldiers and the tasks they were expected to fulfill.'
Richard Overy, History Today

'A definitive work'
Die Welt

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781780768908
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2014
Number of Pages: 320
Height: 228
Width: 155
Illustrations: 7 maps, 74 bw integrated

ISBN: 9781780760728
Publication Date: 29 Jun 2012
Number of Pages: 288
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 6 maps, 81 bw integrated illustrations

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