Yes, the Nazis had a lot of support in Hungary, Romania, the Baltics, Finland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Belarus. They played the nationalism card and went into those parts of the USSR promising those peoples independence. Of those, four are Orthodox, four are Catholic, and two are Protestant.
In Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Albania, the Nazis had little support and often much opposition. The first three are Catholic and the last three are Orthodox.
I’m not seeing any particular tendency of any particular religion to be more Nazi-supporting than any other.
In Poland, they probably just killed too many Poles. How many Poles would go along with that? Protestants never went over to Nazis too much for whatever reason. Maybe they’re too individualistic. Also Protestants have never been very antisemitic. That’s been more of a Catholic and Orthodox thing.
Many Ukrainians sided with the Nazis. In every country they went into, the Nazis recruited homicidal antisemites for the SS. They found no more than moderate support in most places, but in Ukraine, they were overwhelmed with volunteers.
Ukrainian SS units fought all the way over in Northern France, where they hatched a famous rebellion against the Nazis in 1944.
You see, to the Nazis, even the SS Ukrainians were just inferior Slavs, and the Germans treated them terribly. The Ukrainians didn’t appreciate it. They rebelled in Northern France and killed the 50 Germans leading their unit, only losing four men. Then they all went over to the French Resistance. The Resistance happily took them in even though they were former SS. Pretty weird. SS guys joining the resistance!
The Ukrainian SS in France didn’t work very well. A German officer said, “It’s hard to motivate Ukrainians to kill Americans for Germans in France.” They were simply not part of the fight over there.
A lot of Ukrainians became concentration camp guards. The famous guard Ivan the Terrible, Ivan Demjanjuk, was one of them. They even had a special name for the Ukrainians who worked in the camps named after the camp where they were trained.
Ukrainian nationalists also committed a number of massacres in Slovakia and Poland.
Villagers under their rule said they were worse than Germans. They said German soldiers at least had a basic civilized politeness about them. They were mostly just doing a job, and they seemed a bit bored a lot of the time. They didn’t tend to go in for gratuitous unnecessary violence. The Ukrainians seemed to enjoy being cruel for the fun of it.
Keep in mind that the German Army itself often did not commit ethnic massacres. That was usually left to the SS. The German troops didn’t really have the stomach for lining civilians up and slaughtering them. Originally, the Nazis had ordinary soldiers massacring civilians, but the soldiers were outraged at what they had done and wrote letters back home about how awful it was. There were a lot of PTSD cases and desertions.
That’s why they created the SS in the first place – because the ordinary soldiers were not capable of massacres like that. Soldiers may be killers but they’re not necessarily murderers.
A German general in Warsaw saved 3,000 Jews. The Nazis had captured 3,000 Jews and put them to work in a factory for a general. The idea was to work them for a few weeks until they could transfer them to camps. The general got wind that the SS were coming, and he called his Jewish workers around. He got up and simply said, “The SS will be coming in two days.” The workers got the message and they all took off. He didn’t stop them.
Later in the war the same general tried to save another few thousand Jews. This time he was caught and executed. I have a lot of respect for that man.
Understand that your average German soldier or officer was just a soldier first and foremost, a fighting man. They were not necessarily any more antisemitic than any other German. A lot didn’t have passionate feelings about Jews one way or the other.
Some of those Nazi nationalists in those other countries were worse than the Germans! The Germans were so outraged by the behavior of the Ukrainian UNO under Stepan Bandera that they put him in prison in Germany! The Romanian nationalists outraged the Germans when they hung Jews on meathooks in slaughterhouses. That was too much for the German Army. Germans, you know, they do have certain standards!
I saw an interview with a Belorussian man. He was talking about the Belorussian nationalist Nazi collaborators, whose heirs are now the Belorussian opposition that the US supports. He was alive in World War 2. He said that the Belorussian nationalists were going to come to their village of 10,000 people and kill everyone in it. The villagers went to the local Nazi commander and told him about it, and he was outraged. He stationed a unit inside the village to protect the villagers. I respect that man too. When you’re worse than Nazis, that’s pretty bad!
4 thoughts on “Support for Nazism among East European Nationalists”
Love hearing the other rarely spoken positive side of German NS soldiers. I always defend Slavs on racial boards. The Ukrainians do seem less humane than Germans during WWII though. Barbarians to the barbarians.
“Protestants never went over to Nazis too much for whatever reason. Maybe they’re too individualistic. Also Protestants have never been very antisemitic. That’s been more of a Catholic and Orthodox thing.”
I don’t think this is true at all. Nazi’s skewed Protestant in Germany. Remember, Hitler had to compete with the Pope’s influence and the two hated each other more and more as the war progressed. Also, Martin Luther was a rabid anti-Semite.
Nazism was biggest down south in the Catholic area. Show me one other Protestant country that went Nazi other than Estonia. And in South America, the countries that went Nazi were all Catholic too. Yes Martin Luther was an antisemite, but antisemitism never filtered down to the Protestant churches very much. Almost all of the pogroms in Europe were in Catholic and Orthodox areas. There has been antisemitism in Protestant countries, but it hasn’t generally been murderous.
I’m talking about within Germany.