In one of the darkest periods of European history, much of the European continent was under the direct control of the Nazi regime. Following its conquest and subjugation of nearly the whole of Europe, the Nazis sought to establish administrative rule over their vast territories. The problem facing them was that they did not have the man power or resources to effectively administer and police these newly conquered countries. The political leaders of the occupied countries also sought to adapt to their new circumstances. While a small percentage of the populations joined secret resistance groups, an equal part of the population turned to actively supporting their Nazi occupiers and acting as collaborators. The library’s new book, Hitler’s Collaborators, explains this part of history.
The collaborators joined with the Nazis for a variety of reasons; most just wanted some version of a say in their country’s future while under occupation. Others started puppet governments and actively sought to establish their own version of the Nazi party to curry favor with the Germans. In doing so, they gained a semblance of independent control over some areas of their countries. This freedom from direct German control came at an often terrible and unpopular price. Most, if not all, economic output was to be used to aid the German war machine. This would also mean that hundreds of thousands of men would be shipped to areas where they would be used as free labor for the Nazis. The worst to come were the collaborators who chose to aid the Nazis in turning over their own Jewish citizens in an attempt to appease the Gestapo.
In nearly every occupied nation, the Nazis were able to find thousands of volunteers to join the Waffen S.S. in its crusades to exterminate Jewish people and end Soviet Bolshevism. Many of these ardent volunteers were some of the last remaining soldiers defending Berlin in the final days of the war, as they knew they would be put on trial or executed as traitors to their own countries following the defeat of Germany. The day of reckoning for the collaborators would come at the end of the war, in which thousands were put on trial for aiding the Nazis. Many received prison sentences, and others had their citizenship stripped away. The guiltiest parties were tried for treason and executed.
Hitler’s Collaborators documents in stunning detail the motivations and degrees to which various collaborators sought to empower and/or retain some form of control over their countries while in service to the Nazi regime. This book will be immensely useful for anyone interested in learning what life was like in Nazi-occupied Europe.
*written by Matthew Beyer