In reviewing Herbert Backe and the hunger plan, we need to understand who Herbert Backe is and have a background of the hunger plan.
Herbert Backe in the Reichsministerium für Emährung und Landeswirtschaft (Ministry of Food and Agriculture–REEUL) is generally seen as the author of the NAZI Hunger Plan which as a result was sometimes referred to as the Backe Plan. He was a technocrat in Richard Walther Darré’s Mimistry. He became a powerful force in the Ministry even before he was finally appointed Minister (May 1942). Hitler appears to have more confidence in Backe than the original minister, Daree. Many of the NAZI war criminals are very well known. The Hunger Plan which may have killed 4-5 million people, mostly Soviets, was one of the great crimes of the War. It was one element of General plan Ost that was actually implemented. Despite conceptualizing and implementing on of the great crikes of history, outside historians specializing in NAZI history, Backe is virtually unknown. Backe was born in Georgia, at the time a Tsarist province. With the outbreak of World War I, Tsarist officials interned him as an enemy alien. He managed to escape and get to Germany during the Russian Civil War. He was at the time of World War II one of arising tier of young second level professionals in the NAZI Party. He was an advocate of invading and de-industrializing the Soviet Union. He wanted to demolish Soviet industry and eliminate the Soviet industrial work force. He thought that the Soviet Union should be turned back to an agricultural economy focused on producing what for Western Europe. This coincided with Hitler’s idea in Mein Kampf. There was no idea of taking control of Soviet industry which was substantial, but rather retuning the East to an area of peasant agriculture. Backe was critical of Stalin’s agricultural policy, which was to seize control of it through collectivization and use the agricultural harvest to finance industrialization. As a result, Soviet grain exports were only a fraction of Tsarist levels. This made Germany dependent of trans-Atlantic grain (American, Argentine, and Canadian). Backe wanted to end this dependence by seizing control of Soviet grain production. In Backe’s view this would create a continent Grossraumwirtschaft and an efficient division of labour, an industrialized Western Europe and a peasant-based agricultural Eastern Europe. This mean eliminating the unneeded urban population of the Soviet Union. Staatssekretär Backe took the lead role in this matter. Darré was apparently not informed of the Barbarossa planning. Darré was both the REFUL Minister and the Reich Farming Leader (Reichsbauernführer). After the launch of Barbarossa, Backe informed Darré that he received instructions that the Führer did not want planning conducted in the Ministry, but rather transferred as a Four-Year Plan task. This meant turned over to Reuchmarshal Göring who was Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan. Of course secrecy was a factor, but Hitler seems to have been concerned about Darré when it came to such a radical matter as the Starvation Policy. [Kay, p. 53.] The British was arrested by British forces (May 23, 1945). He was arrested along with other members of the short-lived Flensburg government, including Dönitz and Speer. The Americans held Bake and were preparing to try his for war crimes at Nuremberg in the Ministries Trial. Bake decided to commit suicide and hang himself in his prison cell (April 6, 1947).
There is an admittedly perverse but nonetheless logical ‘aim’ to a war of annihilation; it is to eliminate a potential adversary (and in Hitler’s fevered imagination an international Jewish/Bolshevik conspiracy) once and for all. Whether or not Operation Barbarossa was a pre-emptive strike has been extensively debated in another thread – I for one would not describe it as such. Rather it was an operation to destroy the Soviet Union as a political entity and to create a largely autarkic Greater Reich in which large tracts of Eastern Europe could be settled by new Aryan communities. Those were essentially the war aims in the East by the spring of 1941, in consequence of which those members of the indigenous population in the occupied regions that were not immediately required to meet those aims, were to be eliminated (killed or left to starve – Backe’s so-called Hunger Plan was approved by Hitler in February 1941).
This research will now explain how the Hunger Plan came about; seventy-five years ago, Nazi officials gathered at the Wannsee Conference to plan what they called the Final Solution—the systematic destruction of Europe’s Jews. The conference is infamous, not just for the brutality planned there but for the brazenness of the plan. But Wannsee was not the Nazis’ only conference to plot out murder. As Alex J. Kay writes, Nazis held another, lesser-known conference eight months earlier during which they planned the mass starvation of millions of Eastern Europeans.
The “Staatssekretäre” conference was held on May 2, 1941 by a group of high-ranking ministers responsible for the logistics of the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Notes from the meeting reflect that attendees planned for the German military to commandeer food and resources from Russia during the invasion and occupation and that, in order for Germany to prevail, “X million people” would starve. Those statements, which Kay calls “alarmingly matter-of-fact,” demonstrate that officials were well aware of the costs of their decision to invade Russia. Rather than making provisions for the people whose territory they planned to seize, they intended for them to starve to death.
At the center of this strategy was a minister named Herbert Backe who was in charge of agriculture and food policy for the Third Reich. Backe and his colleagues analyzed which parts of the USSR produced food surpluses and which parts depended on others for food—aware at all times that the people from whom food was stolen would simply starve. They planned to seize oilseed, grain, and other commodities and take that food back to Germany, leaving more perishable fat and meat behind for German troops.
The notes show the Nazis’ acceptance of a military strategy intent on turning the Soviet Union from an industrial country back into an agricultural one. It also shows their blatant disregard of non-German lives. At the conference, notes Kay, “the mundane mixed with the murderous.”
After the meeting, Nazi officials filled in that ominous “X” with 30 million—three times as many people as they planned to murder during the Holocaust at the Wannsee Conference. But though the minutes of the May meeting were used as evidence during the Nuremberg trials, Wannsee has become more famous.
In the end, the Nazis’ plan to starve out Russia didn’t play out the way they expected. The German invasion of Russia was costly, bloody, and disastrous, and the military was unable to isolate enough of the Soviet Union to carry out their plan. There were two exceptions: The 900-day blockade of Leningrad that resulted in the starvation of hundreds of thousands of people and forced Russians to eat their pets and even one another, and the relentless starvation of millions of Soviet POWs under direct military control. These were unforgettable episodes in an infamously bloody war—yet nothing close what officials so coldly calculated in May 1941.
In the spring of 1941, Herbert Backe and the German Nazi’s had a plan to starve 30 million people, because they wanted more land for the Germans and more land to farm.
Herbert Backe as a German Nazi politician created a military strategy that would become known as the Hunger Plan. He worked directly for Adolf Hitler. He also directed all food supplies towards the Germans. He committed suicide 2 years after he was arrested.
The Hunger plan was a plan of food management. The overview, as stated in Nazi World War 2 : Hunger plan “occupation policies in Poland, Ghetto Policies, Starvation of Polish and Soviet POW’s”. The plan was to be put into action when Hitler announced to invade the soviet union.
Hitler directly asked Herbert Backe to create the starvation plan. Hitler said “Our guiding principle must be that these people have one justification for existence–to be of use to us economically. We must concentrate on extracting from these territories everything that is possible to extract.
Although this plan did not work out as it should have, it reflected very badly for the Germans, and just how many lives they were willing to take to win the war.
The Germans wanted to be a totally independent country. They starved their enemies to get more land, and they didn’t care how many people they killed. They were using food as a weapon, starving the enemies into submission. This plan wasn’t to win the war, but eliminate people.
It’s showed in the review that it seemed liked Hitler’s thirst for power through any means possible, made him vulnerable to several people on of which is Backe. Backe’s dislike for the Russian people came about as a result of his traumatic experiences during the First World War. Born in 1896 to German parents in Georgia, then part of the Russian empire, he was seen as an enemy alien in the Urals in 1914. When he was eventually repatriated to Germany after the war he was disgusted by the bitterness of the defeated Germans and shaken by his social decline into poverty. He supported his sick mother and three younger sisters by taking brown collar jobs, eventually working as a farm agent. He later wrote to his wife, ‘I realise that my tension and nervousness are a result of my development being distorted – hindered and destroyed: my hatred of the authors of this destruction [Russians] came about as a result of that.’
These is just one man and it is obvious by the reaction to the write up, there were other people that were of the same mind set in viewing the way the Nazis were set up against states they termed as enemy states. And also a terrible part without considering, the effects of their actions on people and the way these actions affect the world at large. It was a typical case of brutality from a mindless killer. It begs the question of how people were expected to live, children and women. It’s a classic case of when power is in the hands of a wrong individual, and the results of such a terrible move.
In reviewing Herbert Backe and the hunger plan, I have come to the conclusion that food is indeed a strong weapon in warfare, the effects food can have on warfare is very profound and will if used negatively will lead to devastating results.