Ukie War: Denazification, how and by whom?



Roman Skomorokhov

To begin with: the word “denazification” was heard and this is what Ukraine will be waiting for. I was very interested in this term, because its implementation in the conditions of Ukraine is, as I assess it, a Mega task.

Before even thinking about what awaits Ukraine in the future, after the end of the special operation, it is worth plunging into history. In the history of the denazification of Germany and Austria after the Second World War.

I must say that I could not find any intelligible and detailed narratives on how denazification took place in the Soviet zone of occupation. Therefore, all conclusions will be drawn on the basis of how the British and Americans carried out denazification.

Entnazifizierung or denazification

This is a set of measures to cleanse the German and Austrian societies from the ideas of Nazism. It was carried out by decision of the Potsdam Conference, on the basis of the law on denazification.

Every resident of Germany and Austria who has reached the age of 18 was required to take part in the denazification procedure. In order to deprive those obliged to undergo the procedure of the temptation of evasion, food cards were issued upon presentation of a receipt confirming the submission of the questionnaire.

A questionnaire of 133 questions was developed, based on the answers to which and comparison with the archives that fell into the hands of the allies, a conclusion was made about one degree or another of the guilt of the respondent.

In total, more than 13 million questionnaires were filled out in the Allied area of ​responsibility.

Based on the data obtained, the respondents were divided into five categories:

  1. The main criminals.
  2. Criminals who have benefited from cooperation with the regime.
  3. Those who have committed crimes of minor gravity of guilt.
  4. Sympathizers of the Nazi regime.
  5. Innocent/rehabilitated.

Depending on the degree of guilt, the punishment was determined. The minimum was considered a fine, the maximum was the reburial of mass graves of victims of the regime or work in labor camps for up to 10 years to restore the country.

By the way, involving the population in reburials is still considered the most effective way of re-education. After all, these works were carried out in the territories of concentration, labor camps and death camps.

The degree of guilt was determined by the tribunals (Spruchkammer, “chamber of sentences”), consisting of Germans who were not tainted by serving the Nazi regime. The tribunal consisted of a chairman, a prosecutor and 2-3 experts. In total, 545 tribunals were created with a total membership of more than 22 people. The American and British administrations retained control over the tribunals.

The accused had the right not only to a lawyer, but those who fell into categories 1 and 2 could independently bring evidence that could mitigate their fate and transfer them to a lower category of guilt. Moreover, the defendants could even appeal against the verdict within one month after the pronouncement.

The Tribunals began hearing in June 1946. In total, out of 13 applications submitted, 199 people were heard in the tribunals. Practically – every fourth German who submitted the questionnaire.

However, the sentences handed down by the tribunals were much lighter than those handed down by the military administration.

This is clear. The Germans tried the Germans, for the tribunals there was clearly not enough competent staff with pronounced anti-Nazi views. No wonder that in 1946, out of almost 42 thousand cases considered by the tribunals in September, only 116 people were assigned to categories 1 and 2. The vast majority fell into categories 4 and 5.

These actions were later called “soft denazification.” It was quite clear what to find in Germany after the war about 10 thousand judges who were politically reliable in terms of antiNazism and had at least some experience.

In addition, the Germans were not at all eager to work in the tribunals and judge their own. By the beginning of 1947, according to statistics, almost 60% of judges and 76% of prosecutors were recruited from former members of the Nazi Party. Both the Americans and the British were well aware of this, but they had to put up with it.

Finding witnesses for the prosecution was a huge problem. Public opinion did not at all approve of cooperation with the tribunals and in private communication of the Germans was condemned in every possible way. But with the witnesses for the defense, everything was exactly the opposite, they were enough in abundance. Friends, neighbors, colleagues tried to give the accused the most positive characterization, if only because tomorrow someone would give them the same.

Well, the main thing that nullified most of the work of the tribunals was the fact that the accusations were based mainly on the data in the questionnaires. Hence, fraud, silence and outright forgery of data have become a mass phenomenon.

Naturally, all this gave rise to corruption among the staff of the tribunals on such a scale that criticism began from the Germans themselves. There was an unpleasant situation when those who were supposed to be punished fell into the nominal Nazi criminals. And they got off with fines instead of more serious punishments.

The Allies were dissatisfied with this course of events, but really could not do anything. All demands for tougher sentences were shattered by the fact that the Germans did not want to do this.

And then the Cold War began and the Americans, with visible relief, passed amendments to the Denazification Act in October 1947 and March 1948.

Can’t Prevent Drinking – Lead It

And here it began … The amendments gave the tribunals the right to re-qualify any accused, except for the 1st category, into minor “fellow travelers”. Naturally, this greatly reduced the duration of the proceedings and the total forgiveness of the “slightly stumbled” began.

By the summer of 1948, the allied administrations finally gave up and transferred all powers to the Germans.

Outcome? Of the 13,2 million Germans and Austrians interviewed, 613 people were found guilty, and 1600 of them were the main criminals. And many of those who were punished after serving them received the opportunity to re-occupy positions in the country’s administrative structures.

I would like to note that, in general, the task of denazification was to consider as fair as possible the largest possible number of cases of suspects and to assess the degree of their guilt. However, the program, although it assumed a tough approach, was carried out rather softly. This is primarily due to errors in the implementation of the denazification program.

The main mistake, many consider the mass nature of the program. The result was a massive purge on a national scale, quite comparable to the purges of the 20s in Soviet Russia. But the class war played its role there, and in Germany, on the contrary, the people who cleaned themselves played the role of slowing down the process.

With such a massive purge of the Germans, a second mistake occurred: the difference between party bosses and ordinary members of the NSDAP was practically leveled, which made it possible for the former to elude harsher punishment.

In general, it is worth noting that the Germans from the first wave of respondents were the most affected by the distribution. Often there were just those whose transgressions were minimal. But the former were punished more severely than those who pulled to the last and turned out to be right: over time, denazification became a milder procedure and those guilty of more serious crimes suffered less severe punishment than those who were in the forefront. Or they were not punished at all.

Initially concentrating on working with ordinary Germans, the tribunals were subsequently forced to arrange indulgences and amnesties, which generally undermined the essence of the denazification process itself.

However, if we look at the results of denazification in Germany and Austria as a whole, we can conclude that it brought its positive results, since the NSDAP, all Nazi organizations and departments were liquidated, laws adopted during Nazi Germany were revised and repealed , which clearly brought very real benefits to German society.

Back to the 21st century

In our time, a similar procedure is in store for Ukraine, if we correctly understand the goals and objectives of the special operation, voiced by Putin.

This raises many questions, ranging from who will carry out the denazification of Ukraine and ending with how and by what rules. And on what basis.

It is clear that many in Ukraine are not supporters of neo-Nazism, which has grown so rapidly in recent decades. Based on the results of my communication, I would say that they are in the majority.

However, the Nazis, who are allegedly not in Ukraine, are in Ukraine. And although there are few of them in relation to the usual normal inhabitants of the country, they are better organized. They hate Russians. They will hate those who cooperate with our representatives. Perhaps (and most likely, for sure), they will even interfere with the process of denazification. And they will do it in the style of the forties, when almost all over Ukraine, especially in its western part, Soviet workers, teachers and doctors were killed.

The fact that modern Nazis can start this shows at least how they prevented in some cities the issuance of humanitarian aid from Russia to residents of Ukrainian cities. Intimidating and threatening.

In general, it is worth considering the level of corruption in Ukrainian society. And to understand that at the end of the special operation, there will be no Nazis left in the country, just as there were almost no Nazis left in Germany after 1945.

Of course, today there is the Internet, which remembers everything, and just like that, many will not be able to escape retribution, but still there are still many more questions than answers.

  1. Who will accept the documents regulating the denazification of Ukraine?
  2. What bodies will be involved in the investigation of crimes in Odessa and Donbass?
  3. Whose court will judge the criminals?
  4. How long will denazification last?
  5. Who will be responsible for its implementation?

And so on.

Many questions, no answers. I hope that in the future they will appear, because if everything is more or less clear with demilitarization, then denazification is in doubt. Especially when you consider the territory in which this work will have to be carried out.

Here it is worth recalling that in 1936 the area of ​Germany was 540 square meters. km, and currently 857,5 sq. km. After the war, the area of ​Germany was considerably reduced in favor of other countries (France, Poland, Czechoslovakia), but these two figures give a certain idea of ​the place of the operation. The population in 357 was 385 million people.

The area of ​Ukraine is currently 576 sq. km, population – 604 million people.

As you can see, Ukraine is not the most convenient place to work. The population is spread over a territory somewhat larger than Germany, plus the population, to put it mildly, does not suffer from law-abiding. Plus localism, nepotism and other manifestations of corruption can easily complicate the work of those who will identify criminals.

And I am not even raising the issue of remoralization, that is, reverse brainwashing from the Nazi ideology. Until this moment, we still have to live and stock up on patience in full, because it will take more than a dozen years.

Today we can say with confidence that the allies practically managed to kill the ideas of Nazism in Germany, but it clearly did not work out with the punishment of everyone who deserved it.

It is difficult even to predict how things might turn out in Ukraine. The situation will be too difficult after the end of the special operation, there will be too many of those who openly hate Russia and those who will be loyal to our country. And those processes that may begin in Ukraine may be comparable to those that took place in the Ukrainian SSR from 1945 to 1951. Which I really don’t want.


These calculations are mere speculations, as it raises the fear that denazification in such a vast territory, with a population whose heads have been indoctrinated by Nazi ideology for many years, may turn out to be very difficult. And I really would not want to fail, because in this case all the sacrifices already made by Russia and which are yet to come will be in vain.


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  1. Wrong digits:
    It is worth recalling here that in 1936 the area of Germany was 540,857.5 sq. km, and currently 357,385 sq. km. After the war, the area of Germany was significantly reduced in favor of other countries (France, Poland, Czechoslovakia), but these two figures give a definite idea of the location of the operation. The population in 1946 was 65.93 million people.

    The area of Ukraine is currently 576,604 square kilometers, the population is 41 million people.

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