Review: German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945 by Alexander Dallin

Alexander Dallin, the son of the well-known Menshevik David Dallin, published this book in 1957. More than sixty years on, it is probably still the definitive text on the subject. The book is a master class on how to write history. It meets rigorous academic standards but remains readable — in fact, it makes for compelling reading. Dallin is in complete command of his material in German, Russian and other languages. And the topic is a vast one, ranging from German policies towards to the Soviet collective farms to the last-minute attempt, in early 1945, to launch a pro-Nazi Russian army under the command of General Vlasov. At times the book reads like a series of “what-ifs,” as the Germans bungle their way through the occupation of much of the Soviet Union. What started out in June 1941 as a brilliant military operation, in which the Germans captured vast swathes of Soviet territory, turned into a disaster for the Third Reich as they failed to exploit hostility toward the Stalin regime or the nationalism of non-Russian peoples. Supremely confident in their military victory, the Germans couldn’t have cared less what happened to the people in their way, or those who fell under their rule. Fortunately for the Soviet peoples and the world, they were arrogant and stupid at the same time, never seizing opportunities that presented themselves, thus dooming their occupation to last three years rather than the promised thousand year Reich.

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