By Frank B. Tipton, Robert Aldrich
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Extra resources for An Economic and Social History of Europe from 1939 to the Present
In Russia the German army was expected both to supply itself from the conquered areas and also to begin the development of those areas of sources of food, raw materials and labour. However, Hitler had told his army commanders this was to be 'a war of extermination'. Communist Party commissars serving with Soviet army units were summarily executed. The masses of Russian prisoners who fell into the Germans' hands were simply penned in huge fields fenced with barbed wire , where they began to die of hunger and exposure.
However, though output of armaments and capital goods rose, consumer industries and agriculture stagnated. Nazi ideology dictated that the racially 'inferior' nations of Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and the puppet state of Slovakia should produce only agricultural products and raw materials for consumption in the Aryan industrial heartland, but the exigencies of war forced their development into a pattern similar to that of Austria and Czechoslovakia. The Germans discriminated against Hungarian industry until 1941, when the need for all possible industrial output and for plants outside the range of Allied bombers began to influence policy .
Industrial output in Germany and the occupied territories had been declining since 1944 and now collapsed. Agricultural output had declined even more drastically due to the shortage of labour and diversion of resources into armaments . Distribution systems broke down completely and even the reduced supplies of food and industrial products were not available to those who needed them. Millions found themselves not only without food and shelter, but uprooted from their homes and forced to move. Across Europe, military decisions congealed into political structures.