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The Kings and the Pawns: Collaboration in Byelorussia during World War II

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Volume 15

War and Genocide

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The Kings and the Pawns

Collaboration in Byelorussia during World War II

Leonid Rein

458 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-776-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-047-4 $39.95/£31.95 Pb Published (September 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-043-2 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Rein provides an enormous quantity of detail making the book a slow read and a specialist’s study. It is, however, extremely valuable for an understanding of a less known Eastern European area of German occupation and has much to tell us about ethnic relations in the former Soviet Union and the Holocaust as well.”  ·  European History Quarterly

Rein presents the phenomenon of collaboration in Byelorussia in all its facets. His results are even more astonishing in that he could not use any archives or libraries in Byelorussia but instead relied on a broad basis of sources from archives in Germany, the USA and Israel. Without doubt, Rein’s study presents a new standard work on the history of national-socialist occupation of Byelorussia.”  ·  H-Soz-u-Kult

Rein’s thorough study of collaboration in Byelorussia is an important contribution to studies on collaboration, German occupation, and our understanding of the war Nazi Germany unleashed against the Soviet Union, but as the author himself explains, this is far from the final word on the subject... Rein’s text reinforces the fact that compared to Germany, which has opened its archives and continues to critically examine the Nazi period, the former states of the Soviet Union that suffered under occupation have a long road ahead of them.”  ·  Slavic Military Studies Review


For many years, the history of Byelorussia under Nazi occupation was written primarily from the perspective of the resistance movement. This movement, a reaction to the brutal occupation policies, was very strong indeed. Still, as the author shows, there existed in Byelorussia a whole web of local institutions and organizations which, some willingly, others with reservations, participated in the implementation of various aspects of occupation policies. The very sensitivity of the topic of collaboration has prevented researchers from approaching it for many years, not least because in the former Soviet territories ideological considerations have played an important role in preserving the topic’s “untouchable” status. Focusing on the attitude of German authorities toward the Byelorussians, marked by their anti-Slavic and particularly anti-Byelorussian prejudices on the one hand and the motives of Byelorussian collaborators on the other, the author clearly shows that notwithstanding the postwar trend to marginalize the phenomenon of collaboration or to silence it altogether, the local collaboration in Byelorussia was clearly visible and pervaded all spheres of life under the occupation.

Leonid Rein was born in Byelorussia (then part of the USSR) and graduated from Haifa University. While studying for his Ph.D. he received the Wolf Foundation’s student grant of excellence and his dissertation was awarded a prize by the Norbert and Lisa Schechter Foundation. He is currently a Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem (Israel), specializing in Nazi occupation policies, local collaboration, and the Holocaust in the Soviet territories.

Area: Central/Eastern Europe




Chapter 1. Collaboration in Occupied Europe: Theoretical Overview

  • Defining the Collaboration
  • Comparative Overview
  • The Background
  • The Nazi Attitude toward Collaboration
  • The Collaboration and Collaborators
  • Economic Collaboration
  • Police Collaboration
  • Collaboration in the Persecution of Jews
  • Military Collaboration

Chapter 2. Historical Background

  • General Information
  • Byelorussia between Two World Wars
  • “Reunification” of Byelorussia
  • The Outbreak of the War

Chapter 3. German Policies in Byelorussia (1941–1944)

  • The Eastern Policies of the Third Reich
  • Hitler’s Vision of the East
  • The Ostministerium and the Eastern Policy
  • The Wehrmacht and the East German
  • Visions of Byelorussia
  • Germans and Byelorussian Nationalists on the Eve of the Nazi Invasion into the USSR
  • The Nazi Regime in Byelorussia: From Invasion to Occupation
  • Local Self-Administration and Occupation
  • Agricultural Policies of the German Occupier
  • Labor Policies under German Occupation
  • The Outcome and Shift in Occupation Politics

Chapter 4. Byelorussian “State-Building”: Political Collaboration in Byelorussia

  • “Local Self-Administration”
  • The Byelorussian Popular Self-Aid Organization
  • The Union of Byelorussian Youth (SBM)
  • The Byelorussian Central Council

Chapter 5. The Cross and the Hooked Cross: the Church’s Collaboration in Occupied Byelorussia

  • Background
  • Rosenberg’s Influence
  • From Theory to Practice

Chapter 6. Ideological Collaboration in Byelorussia: The “Legal” Press as a Propagandist Tool of the Nazis’ New Europe

Chapter 7. Collaboration in the Politics of Repression

  • Collaboration in the Holocaust
  • The Extermination Process in Byelorussia

Chapter 8. Military-Police Collaboration in Byelorussia

  • The Beginnings
  • Local Auxiliary Security Forces: Strength, Structure and the German Attitude
  • Dogmatism vs. Reality: Byelorussian "Self-Defense" and the "Home Guard"
  • Strange Allies: Armija Krajowa and Germans
  • "Untermenschen" in SS Uniforms


Appendix: SS and Military Ranks

Index of Places
Index of Persons

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