A Pitiless War: The Eastern Front in pictures (1941-1945)

Fighting between Joseph Stalin's Red Army and Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany was defined by concentration camps across Europe, the death camps in the East such as Treblinka and Auschwitz, death marches, mass starvation and deportations, ghettos and the barbaric fighting across Eastern Europe and the heart of the Soviet Union.  An estimated 30-35  million died on the Eastern Front during the global war. 27 million of them were Soviet soldiers, prisoners of war and civilians. Millions more across Eastern Europe perished in the brutal occupations established from Poland to the Baltic States to Ukraine to conquered Soviet territory and millions more died in the Holocaust and Nazi's man-made famines to starve the population to death and pave the way for Lebensraum (living space). 

The Soviets - at times - were no better than their Nazi foes, deporting populations deemed 'disloyal' such as the Chechens to wastelands in Central Asia and starved German soldiers and dissidents for spite in gulags, vengefully cleansed German civilians living in Eastern Europe and perpetrated their own atrocities against men, women and children across the Front.  The fighting was truly pitiless. 

More men, women and children died in the Warsaw Uprising in Poland than the entire Lebanese Civil War.  In the Battle of Stalingrad alone, one and three quarter million people are believed to have perished. The Syrian War, a tragedy which has lasted longer than the Second World War, would have made up for only twenty-seven per cent of Stalingrad's total casualties, one  seven month battle of the entire conflict and the Eastern Front. Even during the Second World War, 'while the Normandy landings during the summer of 1944 did mark a major turning point in the war in Europe, we should remember that by the end of that year, 91 Allied division in north-west Europe face 65 German divisions across a 250-mile front, while at the same time in the East, 560 Soviet divisions fought 235 German divisions across 2000 miles.' (Lloyd Clark, Kursk, xvi) The War for the East was unprecedented in its inhumanity, its scale and its ferocity. It a traumatising collective experience which haunts the world, Germany and Russia to this day.

THE EASTERN FRONT IN PICTURES - Moscow, stalingrad & Kursk

Matthew C.K Williams