Friday, November 23, 2007

There and back

To The West!
Ivanov V.S., 1943

Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter—with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command—and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad—that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness—for the present only in the East—with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?

The “Armenian quote” from a speech by Adolf Hitler to Wehrmacht commanders at his Obersalzberg home on August 22, 1939, a week before the German invasion of Poland.

Drang Nach Osten (German “Drive towards the East”) is a conception of German expansion on the eastern lands. The idea goes back to the campaigns of Charles the Great. The term was widely used in 19th century by the German intellectuals. But only in the 20th century it matured in the works of Karl Ernst Haushofer – a German geopolitician, who laid grounds for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany. Drang Nach Osten was an essential part of Lebensraum (or living space), needed for the growth of the German population, so that to create a Greater Germany. This living space should have been found in the East where the traditional inhabitants of Russia, Poland, Ukraine and other Slavic states had to be exterminated.

The poster shows a sign with Drang Nach Osten slogan, nailed to the tree by the Germans during their offensive. After fighting the Soviet territory back a Russian soldier knocks it down by the rifle butt. In the background Soviet fighters attack and artillery men fire field-guns. The Battle of Kursk (July 4 – July 20, 1943) heroically won by the Red Army led to massive counteroffensive. So the slogan on the poster forms exact antithesis to the Drang Nach Osten saying: “To The West!”

Check WW2 posters at allposters!