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‘Rediscovering Homeland’: Russian Interpreters in the Wehrmacht, 1941–1943

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Communication, Interpreting and Language in Wartime

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Languages at War ((PASLW))


The German-Soviet War demonstrated that the invading language specialists could be of the same ethnic origin and cultural background as those being occupied. This was the case for a few thousand White Russian émigrés that served in the Wehrmacht. The murderous campaign unleashed in June 1941 offered them an illusory opportunity to continue their Civil War long since lost in 1920. In what roles and capacity were these recruits used? The bulk of sources for this chapter have come from Russian, Czech, and German state archives and libraries, and include contemporary letters, reports, and post-war memoirs. The contradictory experiences of the exiled Russians in German service broaden our understanding of the war on the German-Soviet front beyond the strictly ‘Nazi Germans’ against ‘Soviet Russians’ endeavour.

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  50. 50.

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  61. 61.

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  62. 62.

    Entry from 30 March 1942. Ibid.

  63. 63.

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  64. 64.

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  65. 65.

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  66. 66.

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  67. 67.

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  68. 68.

    A. Morelli [V. Levashov], ‘Na Rodine’. Chasovoi, No. 309, June 1951, p. 15. UNC-CH/Savine.

  69. 69.

    Ibid., p. 16.

  70. 70.

    A. Morelli [V. Levashov], ‘Na Rodine’. Chasovoi, No. 311, September 1951, p. 23. UNC-CH/Savine.

  71. 71.

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  72. 72.

    Some ROVS wartime reports with such sentiments are available at: K. M. Aleksandrov (2005), Russkie soldaty Vermakhta. Geroi ili predateli. Sbornik statei i materialov (Moscow: Iauza, Eksmo), pp. 512–29.

  73. 73.

    J. Hoffmann (1974), Deutsche und Kalmyken: 1942 bis 1945 (Freiburg: Rombach), p. 98.

  74. 74.

    W. Hubatsch (ed) (1983), Hitlers Weisungen für die Kriegsführung 1939–1945. Dokumente des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe), pp. 201–05.

  75. 75.

    B. Tromly (2016), ‘The Making of a Myth: The National Labor Alliance, Russian Émigrés, and Cold War Intelligence Activities’, Journal of Cold War Studies, 18:1, pp. 80–111, here pp. 83–84.

  76. 76.

    A. Polianskii, ‘Russkii Korpus v Serbii, 1941–1945 g.g.’, part IV, pp. 29–30. Arranged P(2) PL-POLIA. General Manuscripts Collection. BAR.

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Beyda, O. (2020). ‘Rediscovering Homeland’: Russian Interpreters in the Wehrmacht, 1941–1943. In: Laugesen, A., Gehrmann, R. (eds) Communication, Interpreting and Language in Wartime. Palgrave Studies in Languages at War. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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