When talking about genocide, the histories written in the decades after the Second World War focused almost exclusively on the Holocaust. Today, the tragedy that resulted in the death of over six million Jews is continually written upon and discussed so that the humanitarian issue of genocide may continue to stay in the past. It serves as an education, so that every generation develops a knowledge and understanding of the destruction that racial hatred can produce. However, genocide in the Second World War is not limited to the Holocaust. In the last thirty years, newly found documents have uncovered an operation conceived by the Nazi leadership that intended to murder ‘x million people’, a number later confirmed as approximately thirty million. [1] The Hunger Plan, had it been successful, would have been the largest genocide in human history.

While the Holocaust has been covered extensively by professional historians, the Hunger Plan has only recently begun to receive scholarly attention. Historians such as Alex Kay, Adam Tooze and Lizzie Collingham have all written books within the last decade discussing the evidence they have found about the operation.[2] While their works provide a fresh historical insight surrounding the operation, it can be concluded that there is still a serious amount of research that needs to be done on the Hunger Plan.

This additional research primarily concerns two main debates that have attracted particular attention amongst scholars. The first involves the motivations behind the formulation of the Hunger Plan as there is disagreement about the importance of the economic and racial factors that contributed to the formulation of the plan. Historians argue that it is not simply a case of one or the other, but that there is a hierarchy in which were more important in the conception of the plan. The majority of historians argue that it was economic factors that played the greater role. Christian Gerlach, for example, acknowledges that while there was a racial ideology behind the Hunger Plan, it came second to the bitter economic necessities of the operation. [3] Adam Tooze agrees concluding that the Hunger Plan’s intention to murder millions stemmed not from the principles of the racial struggle, but from the balance of food’.[4] Why these historians, and others like Alex Kay and Gesine Gerhard, have come to this conclusion is primarily due to the substantial amount of primary material that supports this line of argument.

While there is no explicit primary evidence that include the racial intentions of the operation, some historians have argued that racial motivations were at the core of Nazi thinking when the plan was conceived. Michael Burleigh, for example, believes that the underlying philosophy of the Hunger Plan was fundamentally murderous whatever economic rationalising gloss was put upon it.[5] Robert Cecil is another who argues the importance of racial motivations. Cecil believes that Adolf Hitler, who had total power in approving the Hunger Plan, was influenced heavily by its racist genocidal intent. Furthermore, he states that due to the prejudices that Hitler dogmatically conceived and adhered to against the Jews, Slavs and Bolsheviks, they must be regarded as having a significant influence in all his major decisions.[6] In an attempt to counter the issue of having no explicit evidence to strengthen their argument, Collingham raises the important point that the Nazi leadership was wary of leaving behind incriminating evidence. She explains that Herbert Backe, the Hunger Plan’s key architect, had himself warned, ‘clearly in case the enemy should hear of it, it is better not to cite the plan’.[7] With an argument on both sides, the debate about the motivations behind the formulation of the Hunger Plan is still clearly present.

The second debate relates to the overall failure of the plan to achieve its objective. While the plan successfully murdered millions of these peoples, it failed to achieve either of its apparent goals of fully restoring the food balance in Germany or in reducing the population of Eastern Europe by thirty million. Several main factors have been identified by historians in an attempt to understand why the Hunger Plan failed. Anna Bramwell, for example, states that the Nazi leadership hopelessly misconceived Eastern Europe in terms of food surpluses.[8] Another example is written by Alex Kay who believes that factors such as the influence of the black market and of civilian resistance were significantly important.[9] However, while each historian may explain a few factors that affected the failure of the Hunger Plan, there is not yet any work that looks to analyse all of the factors that affected this outcome. Therefore, there is obviously no agreement among historians as to the role of each factor in the ultimate failure of the Hunger Plan.

With regards to these two issues, it is evident that there is no consensus among historians. It is for this reason that this dissertation intends to make a more complete understanding of both issues. The first chapter of this dissertation will focus on the motivations in the formulation of the Hunger Plan, analysing the importance of both racial and economic motivations in the process of creating the operation. The second chapter will focus on the ultimate failure of the plan, addressing and analysing the main factors that led to its downfall in order to create a compendium of all those that affected its downfall. The final words will incorporate separate conclusions for each chapter before summarising the research project as a whole.

One way of creating a more complete understanding of a historical issue is to bring in new, unused primary materials. For this reason, this dissertation intends to bring in a number of new primary sources including books, letters and reports in order to create a more thorough understanding of the two issues covered in its chapters. A significant number of these sources have come from the Foreign Office and German Foreign Ministry collections within the National Archives in Kew, London. These sources have been personally translated by myself, with some excerpts additionally translated by a native German speaker. To my knowledge, almost all of these sources are unmentioned or unreferenced in the leading secondary literature discussing the Hunger Plan. The use of this secondary literature is another way of creating a more complete understanding of the two chosen issues, and so this dissertation intends to use this relevant material.


Chapter 1

 The Formulation of the Hunger Plan

On Friday 2 May 1941, a meeting between twelve and eighteen of the Nazi government’s high ranking officials was held in Berlin. The aim of the meeting was to finalise Germany’s foreign policy for the newly occupied eastern territories. The result was a memorandum that simply outlined that if the war was to continue in the east, the entire Wehrmacht must be fed from Russian land by the third year of the war.[10] In order to meet this target, these officials decided that the East should be divided into two areas. The first was the surplus area, which included the black earth region (i.e. the south, and southeast) and the Caucasus. This area was to continue to be cultivated, and its goods were to be extracted so that the army and German population may continue to be sufficiently fed.[11] The second was the deficit area, which compiled primarily of large cities, and would face a complete cut off of food imports.[12] The plan coolly calculated that, ‘x million people will doubtlessly starve, if that which is necessary for us (the German Reich) is extracted from the land’.[13]

The meeting of the Staatssekretäre, as it is now referred as, has made its way into the work of historians due to its new-found importance.[14] It is regarded as the date that the Hunger Plan was officially agreed upon by the Nazi leadership.[15] However, while this date is solidified in scholarly material, there is no such consensus amongst historians about the period building up to 2 May 1941, as what led these Nazi officials to this meeting and its resulting conclusions is still debated. The motivations that drove these men have been, as previously stated, categorised into two areas. These include those of a racial nature and those of an economic nature. In order to understand their influence, the context of the Hunger Plan needs to be explained.

In 1939, Adolf Hitler explained to League of Nations High Commissioner for the City of Danzig, Carl J. Burckhardt, ‘I need the Ukraine, so that no one is able to starve us again, like in the last war’.[16] The starvation that occurred on Germany’s home front during the Great War had detrimental effects on the country’s war efforts, and Hitler believed that the conflict was lost due to Germany’s incapability to feed its population. After all, there was a deficit of 20 percent in terms of calorie requirements and 28 percent of protein requirements during the conflict, and this has been thought to have seriously hindered the German war effort.[17]  The poor state of German agriculture has taken the brunt of the blame for the country’s lack of food production. One of the main problems of the agricultural sector has been explained by Reich Minister of Agriculture (1933-1942) Richard Walther Darré. The rural exodus, he states, resulted in the ‘best blood’ from Germany emigrating from the countryside to the cities and abroad, and this left the land to be cultivated by ‘weaker’ families. Darré adds that from 1871 to 1925, the percentage of Germans living in communities with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants had dropped by 28.3 percent, which resulted in a decrease in the efficiency of German agriculture.[18]

Determined to prevent a future food crisis like that of 1917-18, the issue of food security became a high priority when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Their efforts included the passing of the Reichnährstand Law in 1934. Claimed by Darré as a great success, the law provided increased trading with both the Netherlands and Denmark.[19]

In August 1936, Adolf Hitler wrote in his memorandum on autarky that, ‘We (Germany) are overpopulated and cannot feed ourselves from our own resources… Germany must be brought politically and economically into a state of self-sufficiency’.[20] He adds further stating, ‘It is the task of the political leadership one day to solve this problem’. Hitler seemingly kept his word and provided the agricultural sector with the capital it needed. The Ministry of Agriculture rose in terms of its share of financial resources from the eighth largest ministry in 1933 to the fourth largest in 1944, with its budget rising seven times between 1934 and 1939.[21] This increased share of the government’s finances allowed for major policy aims such as increasing intensive peasant farming to be achieved.[22] Overall, these efforts ultimately brought Germany to a self-sufficiency level of 83 percent by 1938 in terms of food supplies.[23]

To the government’s dismay, their efforts to turn Germany into an autarkic society were simply not enough. The country was still too heavily reliant on foreign imports. On 20 October 1936, Germany imported 170,000 apples, 4,800 live geese, 25,000 live chickens and 30,000 slaughtered ducks from Yugoslavia, and large imports like this example had become a common occurrence in the Reich.[24] As the decade went on, Germany’s leadership calculated that even with land reform and an efficient agricultural sector, any hope of surviving a new war was futile due to her reliance on foreign imports.[25] Herbert Backe, Staatssekretär to Darré and future Reich Minister of Agriculture himself (1942-1945) had concluded that after one year of war, Germany’s wartime food reserves would be completely used up. It was finally understood that if Germany was to compete in a war, she would require more land than her current borders held, especially when considering that the Allies had a 7.5:1 ratio in terms of territory.[26] Unlike other world powers such as France and Britain, Germany could not rely on an empire of colonies to close its food gap, and acquiring such to try to do so was not a viable option. With overseas colonies off the table, looking East was the only viable option for the Germans.

With the idea of colonising Eastern Europe fixed in their minds, the Nazi Leadership decided that in order to reap the greatest amount of resources that they could from the conquered territories, they would need to formulate a concise plan. Herbert Backe was the man appointed to formulate such a plan, and by the spring of 1941 he had finalised his idea. In a letter to his wife on 8 April 1941 he wrote, ‘In contrast to the unspeakable pressures of the last months I see everything more clearly now. The decisions are made, success is assured in my view’.[27] By the 2 May 1941, the Hunger Plan was formed and ready to be implemented when the time came.

When reading this narrative, it is evident that economic concerns were ever-present in the formulation of the Hunger Plan. Due to the increased number of primary sources that have included them, these concerns have taken the forefront of relevant secondary literature. After being confronted with this evidence, a number of the already mentioned historians believe that economic concerns were considerably more important than those of a racial nature.

One source that solidifies the importance of these concerns is Backe’s Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum. Published in 1942, this report appears as an economic justification for the Hunger Plan. Upon looking at the first diagram within Backe’s report, one of the report’s main points is made evident. Figure 1 is a map of Europe in 1938, and shows each country’s percentage level of self-sufficiency in terms of food supply. If you look at western Europe you will see a mix of lower numbers with France being 83 percent, the Netherlands 67 percent and Belgium only 51 percent. If you look at eastern Europe, you see a completely different picture with no country east of Germany being lower than 100 percent self-sufficient, with some even being up to 121 percent.[28] This diagram tells us two important economic factors that effected the Hunger Plan. The first, and more obvious, is that there is an abundance of food supply in eastern Europe in 1938. Just by looking at this map, you can begin to understand why the Nazi leadership chose to look east to secure their food supply. The second concerns the western occupied territories. As is already known, Germany invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and France during the first year of the war. By taking over these countries, Germany was inherently affected by their respective economies. Backe himself stated in a letter to Darré that in order for wheat level in the third year of the war to be balanced, ‘the occupied territories must not take up more than 800,000 tonnes of wheat’.[29] This shows that the leadership knew that the poor levels of food supply that these countries possessed were now in their hands. This meant that the western Europeans’ feeding issues were now also the Nazi leadership’s.[30]

Backe’s study uses statistics and diagrams to convince his readers that the economic exploitation of eastern Europe was necessary for the Third Reich to thrive. From examining his work, it is evident that Backe would suggest that the Hunger Plan was driven primarily by economic concerns, rather than racial ones. However, while this source attempts to justify Germany’s economic worries, it was both written after the Hunger Plan was conceived, and written by an author with an unclear motive. Although it can be argued that Backe, as the main architect of the plan, would have an inside knowledge of the motivations in the formulation of the plan, it is unlikely that he would be comfortable sharing any motivations other than those of an economic nature. After all, he himself stated that any incriminating evidence must not be written, and so publishing any sort of racial motivations would be highly unlikely.[31]

The dissertation that Backe wrote in the early 1920s, may be a better place to look in order to understand the motivations, due to it being written prior to the Hunger Plan’s formulation.[32] In early 1941, the document was republished and distributed to Nazi officers as a piece of literature that provided both an economic rationale to the invasion of Russia and explanation of Germany’s policies on food security. The introduction of the document has certainly intrigued Gesine Gerhard who has observed that Backe did not mention mass starvation, but only described Russia as a key area to which Germany and Europe must find its resources.[33] Backe explains that ‘the Russian’ had failed to use its resources, and so it was now the correct time for Germany to make things right. Germany was to use Russia’s resources to feed Europe in the short term and to increase the productivity of Russia in the long term. This dissertation supports the argument that exploiting the East economically had always been a path that Backe believed Germany should pursue.

Backe was not the only member of the leadership who either helped formulate the Hunger Plan or had a say in its agreement. It is for this reason that historians have looked to primary material written by these other members in order to create a greater understanding of the true motivations behind the operation. Military leader Hermann Göring, has been quoted to have been a similar advocate to that of Backe, stressing the importance of economic motivations over those of a racial nature. When in a meeting at military headquarters on the 16th of July 1941, Göring stated, ‘we must first of all think about the securing of our sustenance, everything else can be dealt with much later’.[34] Among his audience was Adolf Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg and a few others of the Nazi leadership, and it is clear that he made firm his views that these economic concerns were of the utmost importance. Reich Minister of Propaganda (1933-1945) Josef Goebbels, is another who insisted that it was economic reasons that forced Germany to look east. He stated in 1942, a year into the invasion of the Soviet Union that, ‘grain and bread, for a full breakfast, lunch and dinner table’ was the main reason for the Germany’s conquering of the territory.[35] From these statements, it is easy to understand why many historians have agreed that, certainly in the public eye, these leaders believed economic concerns were of the utmost importance.[36]

Both the evidence from Backe’s studies and the thoughts of Nazi leadership help explain the need for an exploitation of the East. However, neither explain why the Hunger Plan needs to kill thirty million Slavs, Jews and Bolsheviks in order for it to be a success. A primary source that does explain the murderous nature of the Hunger Plan is the Economic Policy Guidelines for Economic Organization East.[37] Published on the 23rd of May 1941, this twenty-page document was written under the directive of one of Backe’s secretaries, Hans-Joachim Riecke. When explaining the economic situation of Russia, Riecke stated that in the period prior to the Great War, Russia exported a much greater amount of food than she did in the late 1930s. An example of such was her grain exports where instead of exporting over eleven million tonnes of grain annually as she used to, Russia was now exporting approximately one to two million. Riecke explains that this decline came as a result of both a reduction in production and from an increase in consumption. The guidelines insisted that due to both the increased population within Russian borders, and the increased percentage of the population living in urban areas (rising from 10 percent in 1914 to 30 percent in 1939), the food resources that she could export were drastically reduced.[38] The estimated number of twenty to thirty million that the Nazi leadership wished to rid of eastern Europe is, therefore, no coincidence, as this was the same number that the urban Russian population had grown since the October Revolution of 1917.[39]

The use of this source as evidence of the importance of economic concern in formulation the Hunger Plan is not limited to its ability to explain its genocidal intent. The document adds further that if Germany wished to both intensify the management and to harvest the produce of the surplus areas, i.e. those outside of the urbanised cities, she must be ready to deal with the consequence of such actions. The consequence was an unspeakable amount of famine that would result in the death of tens of millions. In fact, ‘any attempt to save the population there from starvation by using surpluses from the black earth zone can only be at the expense of Europe’s supply’.[40] This quote shows that if the Nazis wished to reap the Russian land of the 8.7 million tonnes of grain they needed, then it would be logistically impossible for them not to starve the local population.[41]

From looking at this chapter’s analysis of these primary sources, one can understand why some historians, such as Adam Tooze, have agreed on the interpretation that the plan’s genocidal intent stemmed from economic pressure. In fact, Tooze states that the racial targeting side of the operation, while obviously not coincidental, was simply an additional bonus in the Hunger Plan’s formulation that suited the Nazis’ and SS’ horrifying world view. [42] This interpretation takes most of the primary evidence about the operation, interrogates what it states, and finally comes to a conclusion that economic concerns simply outweighed racial concerns. While this interpretation is clean and succinct, it is difficult to believe that the formulation of the Hunger Plan is straight forward. When looking at alternative secondary literature, and at both new and already discovered primary documents, one can see a number of factors that object to this dominant view. Although some historians, like Tooze, address some of these considerations within their works, there is a tendency in the main secondary literature to overlook such factors.

One factor that has been commonly dismissed as a motive in the formulation of the Hunger Plan is the idea of ‘Blut und Boden’. ‘Blood and Soil’, as it translates in English, was a racial ideology that encompassed a number of ideas. One of the most prominent ideas was the belief that there was an inherent relationship between the blood of German citizens and the land that their forefathers once cultivated.[43] These forefathers were the Nordics, an ancient race of northern Europeans who had previously tended the land that Germany now partly occupied, and it was their history that the foundations of the ideology are built upon.

A key advocate of this ideology was Walther Darré, who employed its ideas in Nazi propaganda when he became Reich Minister of Agriculture in 1933. The ideology became the Nazi’s public policy when it came to agriculture with the ‘blood’ element relating to the racial theories they wished to instil and the ‘soil’ element relating to the agricultural goals they intended to pursue.[44] In terms of racial theories, there was an assumption that the ancient Nordic race was superior to other races, and that this was partly due to the close relationship they had with the soil they farmed.[45] It was also due to a ‘heroes and villains’ narrative that had been developed and published by numerous eugenicist thinkers such as Hans Günther[46], August Langbehn, and then eventually Darré. While the legends told stories of great Nordic societies, such as the Greeks, who developed ‘the perfect inner consciousness of freedom of the people of the Nordic race’, the stories also told of the evils these ‘heroes’ faced.[47] Racial impurity was one of these evils, and because Darré believed that the history of western Europe was the history of the Nordic race, he insisted that it was the duty of the Germans to fend off foreign blood, so that the noble Nordic principles may survive.[48] His feeling towards keeping Nordic blood pure is shown in his 1933 publication, Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordisch where he states, ‘all breeding progress rests only on the rejection of inferiority and the maintenance of proven blood’.[49]

Keeping the blood pure and out casting foreigners were not the only ideas of ‘Blood and Soil’. The ideology also believed in re-uniting the territories of former Nordic societies, specifically the Germanic tribes, and this is where the ‘soil’ element is partly introduced. It was Darré’s dream to re-unite the lost territories, drive out the supposed foreign invaders and restore the Nordic order of a peasant driven society in these once sacred lands. Darré stated in his book, Neuadel aus Blut und Boden, that only ‘by the removal of the less good, can one constantly build the better into the best. Only thus can one create, in time, perfection’.[50] He envisioned that one day, by the removal of foreign blood, Germany could re-establish itself as a proud noble race.

A conquering of territories, a destruction of foreign blood, and a re-establishment of pure blood, is a narrative that appears somewhat familiar. The old Nordic territories were parts of eastern Europe. The destruction of the foreign blood by crude methods in order to weed out the weak and pure, something that Darré believed was entirely necessary, could also relate to the populations targeted by the Hunger Plan.[51] After all, he himself wrote in 1931 that the eastern Europeans were the main threat to Nordic society,

‘The German people cannot avoid coming to terms with (the Eastern problem) … We look on with dumb resignation while the formerly purely German cities – Reval, Riga, Warsaw(sic) and so forth, are lost to our people. Why shouldn’t other German colonial settlements of past centuries -Breslau, Stettin, even Leipzig or Dresden- be next in line? The German people cannot avoid a life or death struggle with the advancing East. Our people must prepare for the struggle… only one solution for us, absolute victory! Furthermore, the concept of Blood and Soil gives us the right to take back as much Eastern land as is necessary to achieve harmony between the body of our people and geo-political space’.[52]

This three-step process provides evidence that, in Darré’s prolific opinion, an invasion, culling and settlement of eastern Europe was a future path that the Nazi government would need to follow. It would therefore appear plausible that the racial ideology behind ‘Blood and Soil’, had some sort of impact in the future formulation of a Hunger Plan that ultimately did its bidding.

While Darré helped form the ideology of ‘Blood and Soil’, he had only a minimal influence in the creation of the Hunger Plan. As already stated, Darré’s secretary, Herbert Backe, was to become the main architect behind the plan, and evidence would suggest there was one overriding reason for his rise in the Nazi hierarchy. Unlike Darré, Backe was a skilled technocrat, allowing him to outmanoeuvre his boss by appealing to the highest Nazi leaders’ visions.[53] While Darré strongly believed in the Nazi ideology of ‘Blood and Soil’, he was far from comfortable in carrying out what its ultimate goals required. Darré’s repugnance for genocide in its practical application allowed Backe to prove himself to Darré’s superiors.[54] By supporting the policies of the Führer, Backe was able to take the reins of the Ministry of Agriculture.[55] This would all suggest that genocide was an integral part of Nazi ideology, and that whatever the case, the vision of murdering millions of Slavs, Jews and Bolsheviks needed to become reality.

With Darré out of the picture, Backe was now fully in charge of food policy and could implement the murderous visions of his leaders, Himmler, Göring, and Hitler.[56] Backe’s content in overtaking his former boss and pursuing a path of genocide could be explained as a simple grab for power. However, there is evidence to suggest that Backe’s hunger to reach the top was primarily driven due to his hatred of the eastern people. The hatred that Backe held was unreservedly pure and his childhood hardships may have affected this attitude.[57] In the aftermath of the 1905 Revolution, Backe’s family’s brewery was gravely affected by economic turmoil. During the Great War, his family endured more economic hardship as the chaos that came from the outbreak of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 only caused more issues for their business. Backe’s bleak childhood experiences and the suffering his family endured during this period are both factors that may have influenced his future political radicalism and anti-Bolshevist stance.[58] This anti-Bolshevik view may explain why he was both content to murder millions of  eastern Europeans and why Soviet prisoners of war were the largest group of victims targeted by the Hunger Plan.[59] It must also not be forgotten that Backe was himself a proud member of the Schutzstaffel from 1933 onwards, which would solidify the view of his contentment towards mass murder. Overall, a claim could then be made that Backe was heavily affected by his personal views when formulating the Hunger Plan, and therefore it is possible that he may have been predominantly driven by his racial ideology.

While one may reject this line of argument and conclude that Herbert Backe was not driven primarily by a racial bias, one would struggle to come to a similar conclusion when looking at his all-powerful boss, Adolf Hitler. Upon reading any of the primary or secondary literature incorporating the life and work of Hitler, it would be extremely difficult not to be confronted by the overwhelming evidence that shows the obscene racial ideology he possessed. Hitler’s bias, combined with the complete power he possessed in the deciding the final conditions of the Hunger Plan, makes clear that if one wishes to assess the motivations behind the plan, one is obligated to analyse Hitler’s role.

A prime example of Hitler’s racial ideology that relates to the formulation of Hunger Plan can be found in his 1936 memorandum on the topic of autarky. In his opening paragraph he states, ‘the world has been moving with ever increasing speed towards a new conflict… Bolshevism, whose essence and aim, however, is solely the elimination of those strata of mankind which have hitherto provided the leadership and their replacement by world-wide Jewry’.[60] He then adds, when talking about Germany’s economic position, the point that, ‘we (Germany) lack foodstuffs or raw materials; what is decisive is to take those measures which can bring about a final solution for the future’.[61] When looking at the first quote, one can see that Hitler views the rise of Bolshevism, with its supposed Jewish leadership and principles, as the enemy of western Europe. It, like many other statements written by Hitler from as early as the 1920s, show the political radicalisation that Hitler had succumb to throughout his career.[62] It shows the deep anti-Slavic, anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semitic prejudices he passionately believed in.

From the second quote, an understanding of the relationship between these prejudices and the Hunger Plan can be formed. It explains that Germany lacks the resources needed to bring about ‘a final solution’, a phrase that is commonly associated with the Holocaust and its genocidal intent. It may therefore be making the suggestion that Hitler believed that only by securing more resources, could the Nazis achieve their ultimate goal of an eastern European genocide. With Backe’s plan offering both an incredible amount of resources and a culling of millions of the Nazi state’s enemies, it is plausible that Hitler saw the operation as the perfect way to implement his monstrous vision.[63] Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s second in command and Reichsführer SS, seemingly makes evident that this was the case. In a speech made in early 1941, Himmler stated that the purpose of the Russian campaign was to reduce the Slavic population by thirty million.[64]

As already explained, it was Hitler’s autocratic power that made him so important in the formulation of the Hunger Plan. Due to this absolute control, Hitler had the final decision in almost every policy that other members of the Nazi leadership wished to pursue. The Hunger Plan was no different, and this was well understood by Backe and the others involved in the operation. From this understanding, an argument can be made that Backe tailored the plan to suitably address the wishes of the Führer in order for it to become the government’s chosen policy. Backe knew that if he did not sufficiently address the ‘Jewish problem’, as Darré failed to when delivering his Bauertum (the agricultural manifesto he created for the NSDAP) to Hitler in April 1930, then Hitler was likely to reject his proposal.[65] Another example of Hitler’s racial concerns when discussing the policy in the East is shown in his conversation with the designated Reich Minister for Occupied Eastern Territories, Alfred Rosenberg. In his diary, Rosenberg wrote that, ‘the Führer then elaborated on the probable development in the East, which I will not write down today. But I will never forget that … The leader asked me … about the present Jewish share in the Soviet Union’.[66] While inexplicit, this entry would suggest that Hitler was heavily concerned with the presence of Jews within eastern Europe, something that was likely to be linked to his future murderous obsession.

Chapter 2

The Implementation of the Hunger Plan

By the time that the meeting of the Staatssekretäre concluded on 2 May 1941, the Hunger Plan had been finalised and its terms agreed upon. With Operation Barbarossa proceeding on the 22 June, the plan needed transfer from blueprint to reality. In the years and months that followed, Backe and his colleagues worked tirelessly to implement their murderous vision. From July 1941 to March 1943, the German Army took over 5.6 million tonnes of grain from Soviet soil, with another 1.2 million tonnes being shipped to Germany. Grain was also distributed to collaborators and overall, more than nine million tonnes of grains were taken during that time period.[67] The Nazi government also managed to starve to death between four to seven million Slavs, Jews and Bolsheviks through their exploits.[68]

While the Hunger Plan horrifyingly murdered millions of eastern Europeans and purged the land of what it could offer, it did not fully achieve its ultimate goal. It failed to both kill the tens of millions needed for it to succeed and to deliver the targets of food, oil and other raw materials it promised. As already mentioned, why the plan failed in its objective is the other main debate that historians have been discussing within their works. Whilst every piece of literature about this issue includes one, two or three factors that had a role in the Hunger Plan’s demise, a compendium of all the major factors has yet to be created. It is for this reason that this dissertation will create a compendium of these factors in an attempt to form a more complete understanding of the Hunger Plan’s failure. In order to achieve this, the following chapter will individually analyse all of the factors that are already mentioned within the relevant secondary literature, supplementing them with the new materials that I have found. In addition to this, some of these new materials will identify factors that have been unrecognised by historians, and these factors shall be further analysed in order to explain their influence in the demise of the Hunger Plan.

The unrealistic assessment of what was required to implement the Hunger Plan is one of the most popular factors that historians have chosen to write upon. Due to it being chronologically first, in so far as it was an issue that occurred prior to implementation, and as a result it has somewhat affected every other factor either directly or indirectly, many historians have chosen to use it as their main explanation for the plan. It therefore makes sense that this factor be the first that this chapter should address.

In January 1940, the Nazi government published an in-depth report looking at the economic potential of the USSR. This assessment explained a number of issues that the Nazis needed to know if they were considering to take over eastern Europe. It made essential points such as, ‘the proportion of arable land in the total area is relatively small, approximately 1:4 compared to the total area of ​​the rest of the zone’.[69] It also raised issues about the climate including that, ‘the precipitation is distributed temporally and spatially irregular’, as well as explaining that Russian land yielded two thirds less per hectare than the equivalent German land.[70] What this source ultimately showed was that Hitler’s vision of the East having ‘endless fields’ that ‘surge waves of wheat’ was entirely chimerical.[71] That if the East was to provide Germany with the food she needed, it would require a significant amount of resources, men and capital. From what proceeded after this report one can see that the Nazis did not heed the warnings of their investigation. By not addressing this document, or by simply ignoring it, the Nazi’s made a poor calculation in both how they should implement their plan, as well as what would be required to do so.

Ukraine was one area that the Nazi leadership placed too much blind faith. Whereas in 1926 over 80% of the Russian population were employed in the agricultural sector, by 1939 this number had reduced to just 50%.[72] In addition to this, the backwardness of the Soviet agronomy meant that the land was not being efficiently utilised to reap the greatest reward.[73] The eleven million tonnes of surplus grain the Nazis expected to export was now a fraction of what it was, and then to make things worse, that fraction was being shipped to the rapidly increasing urban population. Eventually, to the leadership’s credit, Backe ordered that these shipments be cut off. However, the poor harvest of 1941, and what has already been stated, made clear that the Ukraine could not live up to the leadership’s unattainable standards.[74]

The assessment the Nazi leadership made of Belarus was to prove just as doubtful. Unlike Ukraine, Belarus urbanization was less of an issue as 70% of the populations workforce still worked in the countryside at the start of the war. However, the Belarussian agricultural sector struggled with a number of other issues. Climatic conditions that included severe winters, a short growing season, low soil humus, poor soil tillage, and low use of manure and mineral fertilizers had all made Belarussian land unproductive.[75] As a result, yields were low, providing approximately half of what the same piece of German land could produce. As a consequence to these low yields, the Wehrmacht struggled to feed itself from the amount that the local producers could offer.[76] By failing to identify these issues, the Nazi leadership underestimated how much time, fertilizer and machinery would be required to increase the land’s fertility to an acceptable level.  Therefore, it can be argued that due to these poor calculations, the Nazis failed to efficiently cultivate Belarussian land, which subsequently aided in the ultimate failure of the Hunger Plan.

Food was not the only resource the Nazi struggled to harvest. The seizing of eastern European oil was an integral part of the Hunger Plan, without it both the Wehrmacht and the eastern administration would struggle to fuel all of its transport systems including tanks, trains and heavy goods vehicles. The oil fields in Romania were one area expected to produce a substantial amount of oil for both organisations. Evidence of this has been shown in a letter written by Reich Foreign Minister (1938-1945), Joachim von Ribbentrop in October 1942. The failure to secure Romanian oil is highlighted here, where Ribbentrop states,

‘The Romanian supply obligation for fuel oil was 35,000 t for September and October. Delivered in September are 29,235 t. This resulted in a delivery obligation of 40,765 t for October. Delivered until 18 October, however, only 6,000 t. Heating oil. These shortages in Romanian heating oil supplies have given rise to a serious situation, in particular with regard to the supply of fuel oil to secure supplies’.[77]

Ribbentrop wasn’t the only one threating about the fuel situation. In a ‘most urgent’ letter, Emil Wiehl, the Director of the Economic Policy Department of the German Foreign Office wrote, ‘Reichsminister Funk telephoned me just now to say that the Reichmarschall had told him yesterday in Karinhall, that he (Funk) must go on behalf of the Führer to Romania and Hungary, to discuss… above all the fuel issue’.[78] These new materials, written by Ribbentrop and Wiehl, provide evidence of the leadership’s pressing fear that Romania could not supply the Hunger Plan’s administration with the oil it required. These quotes also support the argument that due to German miscalculations, the Hunger Plan struggled to fully achieve its targets.

While the leadership’s unrealistic assessment is a critical factor in explaining the ultimate failure of the Hunger Plan, it cannot be the only one that historians consider. The failure of the Nazis’ logistical system played a role in the failure of the plan, yet has only been mentioned within one historian’s work.[79] Within his article, Alex Kay explains that the Nazi leadership planned to secure all of the main transit roads within eastern Europe. They concluded that if the Wehrmacht could feed themselves off the land, this would free up the roads to allow fertilizer, ammunition and oil to move efficiently up and down them. Backe stated in the general council that ‘the success of the harvest largely depends on its transport’, and he added further that traffic difficulties would also affect the oil seed supply.[80] This evidence suggests that the leadership knew how dire an inefficient logistical system would be for them, and so it can be assumed that if their fears were to materialize, it would have influenced the outcome of the Hunger Plan. Unfortunately for the Nazi leadership, the Wehrmacht failed to fully feed itself from the land. As a result the already limited roads and railways became packed and inefficient. This delayed both the importation of resources to feed and heat German civilians as well as the exportation of much needed fertilizer and oil needed to implement the Hunger Plan.

Securing a quick victory, as stated in Directive No. 21, was an integral part of Operation Barbarossa. The directive explained, ‘the German Wehrmacht must be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a quick campaign even before the conclusion of the war against England’.[81] The same quick victory was required for the Hunger Plan to be a success. As stated by Backe on 25 June 1941, ‘The exploitation of the new formerly Soviet Russian eastern territories requires the placement of a very large number of Germans for the management of Russian enterprises, registration of food and agricultural’.[82] In order to produce the large numbers of men needed to manage the Soviet’s land, Backe depended on a quick victory that would allow the German troops to be freed up from fighting and be deployed in the administration of the eastern territories.[83] However, a quick war was unattainable, and the men required to make the Hunger Plan flow were unavailable to be deployed. As a result, there was simply not enough manpower to seal off the deficit areas from their agricultural surroundings, making it impossible to locate, extract, and transport the surplus food that the population within these areas were getting a hold of.[84] By not having the man power to cordon off these areas, the Hunger Plan was unable to bring about the deaths of millions of people through starvation.[85] One must therefore conclude that the length of the war had a significant impact on the Hunger Plan’s ability to achieve one of its crucial goals.

Successfully implementing the Hunger Plan required, to the leadership’s dismay, a collaboration with the local population of the eastern territories. Workers were required for a number of jobs including harvesting crops, running workshops and extracting oil. However, the employment of the prisoners was in direct conflict with the Hunger Plan’s intended aims of shutting down all eastern industry, and either killing these workers or shipping them back to the Reich to be used as free labour. After all, Backe stated in a General Council meeting on 17 April 1940, that 400,000 Poles were needed in Germany for the Reich’s agricultural needs alone.[86] For those poised with implementing the Hunger Plan, the idea of either murdering prisoners or importing them back to Germany caused serious frustration.[87] In addition to recognising the issue of sending prisoners back to the Fatherland, the armaments inspector for the Ukraine, Major General Hans Leykauf angrily stated that,

‘if we shoot dead all the Jews, allow prisoners of war to die, dish out famine to the majority of the urban population, and in the coming year will lose a proportion of the rural population to hunger, the question remains unanswered: Who will actually produce economic goods?’.[88]

In an attempt to address these complaints, the leadership went against the Hunger Plan’s initial intentions and allowed exceptions for those sections of the population that were useful to the Germans. Railway workers, wagon drivers and road builders were to be fed the lowest ration scale of the army, while the rest were not to be fed at all.[89] Although they were on the lowest rations, the feeding of workers caused a number of issues for the Nazis. The first issue being that every ounce of food being used to feed workers, was an ounce that could no longer be used to feed Germans, in particular the Wehrmacht.

To make matters worse for the Nazi leadership, they soon realised there was a second issue. The lowest ration measurement did not provide enough calories for the back-breaking labour some prisoners had to endure, making death a worryingly common occurrence among workers.[90]  While this helped achieve the genocidal goal of the Hunger Plan, its significantly hindered the production and harvesting of resources from eastern Europe. As Alfred Rosenberg concludes, ‘the death of millions would hinder the administration and exploitation of the occupied territories’. [91] Therefore, had to do more to prevent these deaths if a successful exploitation of the land was to continue.

In a meeting on the 15 April 1942, Fritz Sauckel, the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment (1942-1945), concluded in a meeting with fellow Nazi leaders that, ‘the better they were fed, the greater the extent the services that could be extracted from them’.[92] However, sufficiently feeding the workers in order to obtain the greatest output would come at a significant cost. Therefore, the leadership had only two options. The first was to feed these workers more, which would result in a more efficient workforce, but come at the cost of rations cuts in the Reich, something that Backe wished avoid.[93] The second was to continue to feed the workers a maximum of 1200 calories a day at the expense of losing workers by the thousands to starvation, whilst also creating resistance amongst the locals as a result of such poor feeding. The leadership, fearing a loss of morale on the home front, decided on the second, and this resulted in the continuance of these serious implications. Therefore, one can conclude that the implications that occurred from collaborating with locals, including the cost of feeding workers, the inefficiency of the underfed workers and the death of workers, all played a role in the ultimate failure of the Hunger Plan.

As predicted, workers continued to die in their thousands. While one may argue that this suggests that the Hunger Plan was succeeding in terms of killing off the local population, the resistance these deaths created could not be counted as a success under any terms. Stiffened resistance caused a number of issues including uncontrollable black markets that allowed some of the population to continue to survive.[94] It also caused more civilians to attempt to escape to the country, many of whom were successful, and this allowed them to trade with farmers.[95] Citizens also chose to resist their murderous conquerors by growing food in their gardens.[96] Although resistance was sparked primarily from the Nazis brutal starvation policy, the day-to-day treatment of the local population also guaranteed non-co-operation.[97] While the order of the 11th German Army on 30 August 1941 tried to try prevent soldiers from mistreating the locals by stating that, ‘every case of looting and destruction of domestic enterprises is most strictly forbidden’, its efforts were to no avail. [98] This is evident from a number of sources which state that soldiers, from privates to high ranking officers, participated in wild looting, acting like it was their personal right to take whatever they wanted for themselves or their families.[99] From these materials, one can see that resistance only hindered the implementation of the Hunger Plan. While primarily affecting the operation’s genocidal goal, this resistance slowed down its implementation, and this was something that the leadership insisted on avoiding due to its costly implications.

Disobedience from soldiers and their officers was not limited to either looting or cold hearted brutality. On the contrary, when members of the Wehrmacht were kind there was uproar among the Nazi leadership due to the negative effect it had on the Hunger Plan’s progress. One sometimes forgets that not every man who enrolled in the Wehrmacht was a diehard Nazi sympathiser. In fact, many found the horrifying objective of the Hunger Plan too much to stomach.[100] One German military administrator in Russia showed his resistance to his superiors in October 1941 stating that, ‘the Russians are still here too, we never really considered. No, that is not quite right. Following the official instructions, we were… not supposed to consider them. But the war has taken a different turn…’.[101] The Nazi leadership had to deal with both those in charge, like this administrator who resisted by disobeying to follow certain paths, and those below, such as soldiers who would refuse to either execute prisoners of war or to stop feeding those who were starving.

Official instructions that tried to prevent soldiers and their officers from resisting the rule of their governmental superiors were common. They included the Directives for the Treatment of Political Commissars which was printed and distributed to hundreds of military units on the eastern front. Written by the Nazi leadership, this order was made to convince or threaten soldiers to adhere to their murderous policy. It stated a number of points including,

‘When fighting Bolshevism one cannot count on the enemy acting in accordance with the principles of humanity… it must be expected that the treatment of our prisoners by the political commissars of all types who are the true pillars of resistance, will be cruel, inhuman and dictated by hate’.[102]

Another point simply stated that, ‘every gram of bread or food that I give out of generosity to the people in the occupied territories, I take away from the German people, and my family’.[103] Even the quartermaster general in Ukraine had to ‘continually issue commands that troops were not to feed Russian civilians from the mess’ as it was becoming a regular occurrence.[104]

However, most of the leadership’s attempts to convince the military to continue to do what was required for the Hunger Plan to succeed fell on deaf ears. The guilt trips fed to them by the leadership were far less convincing than the sight of seeing a desperate prisoner beg to be shot, so that may no longer endure starvation.[105] These soldiers also knew that the punishment for either feeding prisoners or resisting to execute them was never severe, so they continued to disobey.[106] A number of members of the administration, after Hitler refused to evoke the Commissar Order even though it stiffened resistance and deterred many communists from changing sides, realised that those in power didn’t understand what was happening on the ground, and so they too resisted the orders they were given.[107] Committed by soldiers and their officers, the disobeying of a number of orders prevented the Hunger Plan from being implemented in the fashion that Herbert Backe and his superiors intended. The inability of the leadership to control those below them, made for a chaotic, piecemeal implementation of the Hunger Plan, ultimately resulting in less numbers killed and less resources harvested.

A factor that goes under the radar of almost every historian when discussing the ultimate failure of the Hunger Plan is the cost of feeding Germany’s dependents. Western Europe and the newly conquered, previously German territories both required aid in feeding their people, and this the responsibility for this feeding became the Nazi leadership’s. If looking at western Europe, one has only look again at Herbert Backe’s Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum.[108] While Germany achieved victory in the sense that they managed to conquer the Netherlands, Belgium and a large area of France, no victory was achieved in terms of improving her food balance. Instead they inherited even more mouths to feed, as these countries had failed to prepare their agronomies for wartime. Consequently, this resulted in a greater reliance on foreign imports. These imports ranged from cereals to livestock, and were commodities that the Reich could not afford to spare if the Hunger Plan was to succeed.

Reuniting the old Germanic kingdom has also been perceived as a victory for the Nazi leadership. After all, conquering the ancestrally tied land that Germany once possessed was always a target of the Nazis. However, with regards to food stuffs, the Nazis suffered from their exploits. In 1942, a report titled ‘Transfers for the German People’ was included in within Auswärtiges Amt Abteilung Gruppe Inland II. This report outlined the sums of transfers that the Nazi government were making to ethnic Germans within both the newly conquered countries and within allied countries.[109] Romania, Hungary, Czecho-Slovakia, Croatia and Denmark are all those stated to have received capital for feeding. From Figure 2, one can see the immense amount of funding Germany was pouring into these dependent peoples, coming to a total of over 25 million Reichsmarks in 1942.[110]

While it is evident, from looking at Figure 1, that all of the eastern European countries were more that 100% self-sufficient in foodstuffs in 1938, by 1942 the food. Situation of these countries had changed. For example, in Ostmark, while it had certain exports in dairy products, it showed greater dependence on foreign produce in almost all other foodstuffs, such as cereals, feed grains, livestock, especially pigs.[111] The conquered areas of Bohemia and Moravia had similar issues. Although the former Czecho-Slovakia was a large exporter of wheat, hops, beer, and sugar (the largest sugar exporter in Europe), fodder and pigs were essential imports.[112] For these reasons, the Nazi government still had to provide capital for their new citizens in order for them to buy the big-ticket items like meat producing animals. The precious capital that was being spent on these imports made the success of the Hunger Plan even more unlikely. With more mouths to feed, the operation’s failure was undoubtedly accelerated.

Unlike supplying ethnic Germans with food, when Germany traded with her allies she believed trade agreements would be a two-way deal. Unfortunately for the Nazis this was not always the case, as sometimes promises fell through. On the 18 July 1942, Wiehl wrote a report explaining an important trade agreement that was made with the Italian government regarding the supply of corn and bread. After talking to the Italian Minister of Agriculture (1941-1943), Carlo Pareschi on the 16 June, Wiehl stated that,  ‘I am convinced that the Italians have not been able to offer us the supply of large quantities, in view of their supply of bread, which is regarded as extremely serious. The grain stocks of Italy from last year’s harvest are almost completely exhausted, the new harvest will be available in larger quantities only in a few weeks, so that for the next few weeks there will be considerable stagnation in the Italian bread supply’.[113]

While Germany was able to hold up her end of the bargain, the Italians could not, and this caused serious issues for the German agronomy. Overall, 200,000 tonnes of wheat and 300,000 tonnes of corn were meant to be supplied from Italy, however, not one tonne made it to Germany.[114] The imports that the government were using to cover the failings in the Hunger Plan were falling through, and as a result the success of the plan was continuing to slip out of reach.

The final issue worth mentioning in relation to the failure of the Hunger Plan was the threat of a naval blockade of western Europe. As known, Germany was still heavily reliant on foreign imports, many of which came from overseas, to feed her population prior to the implementation of the Hunger Plan. When we consider the future issues that the Nazi government would have with importing from mainland Europe, one can see how vital these imports were to become. These imports were threatened in mid-1941, with an impending naval blockade that both the French and British were undertaking. In a private letter to Walther Darré, Herbert Backe wrote,

‘there is no doubt the danger of a direct hunger blockade on the part of the Netherlands. At worst, we are faced with the danger of the indirect blockade of Germany if, as a result of the onset of war and a continental blockade in Europe, our continent is put on its own in terms of nutrition policy’.[115]

It is evident from Backe’s letter that this blockade was a great threat to Germany, with the whole of western Europe being cut off and forced into the hands of the Nazi government for feeding. However, the importing of food wasn’t the only issue, with both fodder and fertilizer also being products that the Axis power relied on from foreign imports. When the naval blockade was emplaced, the supplies travelling into European ports dropped drastically. As a result, the Nazi leadership lost out on valuable supplies that were needed to effectively implement the Hunger Plan. Without them, the Germans were unable to efficiently cultivate eastern European land, care for their livestock, or ultimately feed their armies and population.


In conclusion, 2 May 1941 marks the date that the Hunger Plan’s final terms were agreed upon by the Nazi leadership. The period building up to this date is continually being scrutinised by historians as only a small amount of evidence about the operation’s formulation has been discovered. It is for this reason that historians have struggled to come to an agreement on the motivations behind the formulation of the Hunger Plan. In an attempt to create a more complete understanding of these motivations, the first chapter of this dissertation has tried to show all of the relevant primary evidence related to both economic and racial motivations. From looking exclusively at primary material, I believe that the Hunger Plan was primarily driven by economic motivations.

However, my part of my interpretation disagrees with the interpretation of Adam Tooze. Tooze has argued that the murdering of millions started not from the principles of the racial struggle, but from the food balance, and so the deaths were simply a compromise.[116] From the evidence that I have found, I would argue that racial motivations were not a compromise. My interpretation would be closer to that of Christian Gerlach, who argues that both racial ideology and economic calculation smoothed the way for ideas of liquidation, and that these motives rarely contradicted each other and then only in limited ways.[117] This argument realises that the Wehrmacht, the Schutzstaffel and the German population were all benefactors from the Hunger Plan’s potential exploits. While the Wehrmacht and German citizens received more food, oil and raw materials, the more radical members of the Nazi party were able to implement the racial cleansing that they had longed for. If Backe was the political tactician that he has been made out to be, then it would make sense that his plan tried to please each individual party that had a role in the either the agreement or implementation of the operation.

While in an overall interpretation I would argue that economic motivations outweighed those of a racial nature, I do believe what hasn’t been written down could potentially be as important as what has been written down. I would argue that the importance of racial ideology is unfairly dismissed by a number of historians due to a belief that because something wasn’t written, or has yet to be discovered, then one should not speculate. While I agree that speculation can be dangerous when writing a scholarly work, in the case of the racial motivations behind the Hunger Plan, I believe that it is wrong to overlook these motivations because not enough has been written. Considering that the leadership ordered for no material regarding the racial side of the plan to be written down, one should not overrule the possibility that racial motivations played a great role in the formation of the Hunger Plan. After all, the racial hatred that was harboured by those who formulated the Hunger Plan, heavily influenced the development of a number of atrocities, including the Holocaust.

In concluding the second chapter, there seems to be less need to look outside of what was written. In terms of historiography, many historians mention only a few factors when addressing the ultimate failure of the Hunger Plan. In an attempt to aid this, I chose to create a more complete compendium of all the major factors that had a role in such. Factors such as the threat of a naval blockade, the issues of resistance, and the lack of obedience within the Wehrmacht have all been revised, using new primary materials, to show their contribution to the Hunger Plan’s demise. The revision of such factors would support the views of recent historians, as most of historiography leans towards similar conclusions on these factors. However, there is a tendency within the relevant secondary literature to simply acknowledge factors rather than to explain why they were so important. In order to redress this issue, this chapter has aimed to provide a more in depth understanding of why the factors mentioned were so critical in the Hunger Plan’s ultimate failure. In addition to revising the works of others, this chapter aimed to show those factors that historians have overlooked when looking at what contributed to the failure of the operation. For example, the cost of feeding Germany’s population within her new borders has been unmentioned in any current historiography. From what has been shown, I believe their influences deserved to be included when analysing the outcome of the Hunger Plan.

In an overall conclusion, it can be stated that the Hunger Plan still requires more research. Whether looking at what motivated the plan into existence, or what contributed to its downfall, historians will continue to revise what has been written with what has recently come to be discovered. This dissertation has attempted to provide this revision; it has tried to create a more complete understanding of these two key issues that relate to the Nazis’ most detestable plan.



[1] Aktennotiz über Ergebnis der heutigen Besprechung mit den Staatssekretairen (2 May 1941)

[2] A. J. Kay, Exploitation, Resettlement, Mass Murder: Political and Economic Planning for German Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union, 1940-41 (Oxford, 2006).

[3] C. Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weissrussland 1941 bis 1944 (Hamburg, 1999), 31.

[4] A. Tooze, The Wages of Destruction. The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (London, 2006), 540.

[5] M. Burleigh, Ethics and Extermination: Reflections of Nazi Genocide (Cambridge, 1997), 94.

[6] R. Cecil, Hitler’s Decision to Invade Russia 1941 (London, 1975), 26.

[7] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 48.

[8] A. Bramwell, Blood and Soil: Walther Darré & Hitler’s Green Party (Buckinghamshire, 1985), 202.

[9] A. J. Kay, ‘Germany’s Staatssekretäre, Mass Starvation and the Meeting of May 2nd 1941’, Journal of Contemporary History, 41, No. 4 (2006), 700.

[10] GFM 33/4828 C115 – Letter from Herbert Backe to Walther Darré (16 May 1941)

[11] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 49.

[12] G. Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics: A History of Food in the Third Reich [Kindle] (London, 2015), 906.

[13] Aktennotiz über Ergebnis der heutigen Besprechung mit den Staatssekretairen (2 May 1941)

[14] Kay, ‘Germany’s Staatssekretäre’, 685.

[15] Ibid, 690.

[16] L. Collingham, The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food (New York, 2013), 36.

[17] G. Corni, Hitler and the Peasants (Worcester, 1990), 156.

[18] Grundlagen, Aufbau und Wirtschaftsordnung des Nationalsozialistischen Staates (1936)

[19] W. Darré, Ziel und Weg: Der Nationalsozialistischen Agrarpolitik (17 April 1934)

[20] A. Hitler, Confidential Memo on Autarky (August 1936)

[21] Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 91.

[22] Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 201.

[23] GFM 33/2214 Serial 5071 – Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum (1942)

[24] GFM 33/2214 Serial 5071 – Vertrauliches Protokol (20 October 1936), 292313.

[25] M. Harrison, The Economics of World War II (Cambridge, 1998), 147.

[26] Ibid, 4.

[27] Gerlach, Nazi Hunger Politics, 1849.

[28] GFM 33/2214 Serial 5071 – Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum (1942)

[29] GFM 33/4828 C115 – Letter from Herbert Backe to Walther Darré (16 May 1941)

[30] Collingham, Taste of War, 35.

[31] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 47.

[32] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 1855.

[33] G. Gerhard, Food and Genocide: Nazi Agrarian Politics in the Occupied Territories of the Soviet Union, Contemporary European History, 18, No. 1 (2009), 57.

[34] Collingham, Taste of War, 38.

[35] G. Corni and H. Gies (eds), Brot, Butter, Kanonen: Die Ernährungswirtschaft in Deutschland unter der Diktatur Hitlers (Berlin 1997), 451.

[36] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 1841.

[37] Economic Policy Guidelines for the Economic Organization East, Agriculture Group (23 May 1941)

[38] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 1889.

[39] W. Benz, Hans-Joachim Riecke, NS Staatssekretär: Vom Hungerplaner vor, zum “Welternährer” nach 1945 (Berlin, 2014), 39.

[40] Economic Policy Guidelines for the Economic Organization East, Agriculture Group (23 May 1941)

[41] Benz, Hans-Joachim Riecke, 42.

[42] Tooze, Wages of Destruction, 538.

[43] Cecil, Hitler’s Decision, 28.

[44] Ibid, 282.

[45] C. Lovin, ‘The Ideological Basis of the Nazi Agricultural Program’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 28, No. 2 (1967), 284.

[46] Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 42. (Günther’s RassenKunde des Deutschen Volkes influenced Darré so much so that he told his wife to, ‘soak herself in one of Günther’s book so the children may be brought up Nordically’)

[47] W. Darré, Erkenntnisse und Werden (Goslar, 1940), 113.

[48] Lovin, ‘The Ideological Basis’, 284.

[49] W. Darré, Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse (Munich, 1933), 364.

[50] W. Darré, Neuadel aus Blut und Boden (Munich, 1930), 173.

[51] Lovin, ‘The Ideological Basis’, 285.

[52] Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 64.

[53] Gerhard, ‘Food and Genocide’, 47.

[54] Cecil, Hitler’s Decision, 33.

[55] Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 91.

[56] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 2011.

[57] Gerhard, ‘Food and Genocide’, 62.

[58] Ibid, 62.

[59] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 2011.

[60] A. Hitler, Confidential Memo on Autarky (August 1936)

[61] Ibid.

[62] T. Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (New York, 2010), 188.

[63] C. Hartmann, Operations Barbarossa: Nazi Germany’s War in the East, 1941-1945 (Oxford, 2013), 13.

[64] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 52.

[65] Bramwell, Blood and Soil, 77.

[66] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 47.

[67] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 1966.

[68] Snyder, Bloodlands, 168.

[69] FO 1031/208 – The Economic Potential of the USSR (January 1940)

[70] Ibid.

[71] O. Bartov, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945. German Troops and the Barbarism of Warfare (London, 1985), 74.

[72] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 48.

[73] Tooze, Wages of Destruction, 478.

[74] Collingham, Taste of War, 183.

[75] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 231.

[76] Ibid, 257.

[77] GFM 33/849 – Letter from Joachim von Ribbentrop (21 October 1942)

[78] GFM 33/4828 C115 – Report from Emil Wiehl (18 July 1942)

[79] Kay, ‘Germany’s Staatssekretäre’, 687.

[80] GFM 33/519 – Report from Herbert Backe (14 February 1940)

[81] Directive No. 21 Operation Barbarossa (18 December 1940)

[82] GFM 33/4828 C115 – Letter from Walther Darré to Herbert Backe (25 June 1941)

[83] Gerlach, Krieg, 29.

[84] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 2108.

[85] Kay, ‘Germany’s Staatssekretäre’, 699.

[86] GFM 33/519 – Report from Herbert Backe (17 April 1940)

[87] Burleigh, Ethics and Extermination, 191.

[88] H. Boog, Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion (Stuttgart, 1983), 1010.

[89] Collingham, Taste of War, 191.

[90] Gerhard, Nazi Hunger Politics, 1989.

[91] M. Mazower, Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe (London, 2008), 165.

[92] Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, 36 (Nuremberg, 14 November 1945 – 1 October 1946), 312.

[93] Collingham, Taste of War, 192.

[94] W. Benz, Der Hungerplan im “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941 (Berlin, 2011), 75.

[95] Collingham, Taste of War, 191.

[96] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 218.

[97] Burleigh, Ethics and Extermination, 94.

[98] Erikson and Dilks, Barbarossa, 246.

[99] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 263.

[100] Collingham, Taste of War, 192.

[101] Tooze, Wages of Destruction, 483.

[102] Directives for the Treatment of Political Commissars “Commissar Order” (6 June 1941)

[103] H. Boog, W. Rahn, R. Stumpf and B. Wegner (eds), Germany and the Second World War. The Global War. Widening of the Conflict into a World War and the Shift of the Initiative 1941-43 (Oxford, 2001), 1009.

[104] Collingham, Taste of War, 193.

[105] Gerlach, Krieg, 39.

[106] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 31.

[107] Mazower, Hitler’s Empire, 165.

[108] GFM 33/2214 Serial 5071 – Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum (1942)

[109] GFM 33/545 Serial 1257 – Auswärtiges Amt Abteilung Gruppe Inland II (1942), 338600.

[110] Ibid, 338623.

[111] GFM 33/2214 Serial 5071 – Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum (1942)

[112] GFM 33/2214 Serial 5071 – Um Die Nahrungsfreiheit Europas Weltwirtschaft Oder Grossraum (1942)

[113] GFM 33/4828 C115 – Report from Emil Wiehl (18 July 1942), 292290.

[114] Ibid, 292291.

[115] GFM 33/4828 C115 – Letter from Herbert Backe to Walther Darré (14 May 1941)

[116] Tooze. Wages of Destruction, 540.

[117] Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde, 227.