Many Ukrainians welcomed German troops as liberators

SS-Obersturmführer Gerd Bremer on the Azov Sea in the Ukraine
Men of the Leibstandarte SS pose with Ukrainian women in traditional dress 
The launch of Operation Barbarossa surprised the NKVD, whose jails and prisons in territories annexed by the Soviet Union were crowded with political prisoners. Immediately after the start of the German invasion, the NKVD and the Red Army commenced the execution of large numbers of prisoners in most of their prisons. Approximately two thirds of the total number of 150,000 prisoners were murdered. The NKVD undertook mass extrajudicial executions of untold numbers of citizens, and conceived, populated and administered the Gulag system of forced labor camps. During their hasty retreat the Soviets dismantled and removed industrial plants, conducted a scorched-earth policy - blowing up buildings and installations, destroying crops and food reserves and flooding mines. Almost four million people were evacuated east of the Urals for the duration of the war. The Soviets immediately began to execute German prisoners-of-war right after capture or a short interrogation. Numerous high level orders to this effect are on record. The Germans moved swiftly, however, and by the end of November virtually all of Ukraine was under their control. Initially, the Germans were greeted as liberators by the Ukrainian populace. In Galicia especially, there had long been a widespread belief that Germany was the Ukrainians’ natural ally for the attainment of their independence. Images: Troops from the SS-Division Leibstandarte SS welcomed as liberators from the yoke of Bolshevism by jubilant Ukrainian villages. Public domain.

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