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Schriftenreihe des Europa Institutes Budapest, Band 10:13–27.


Collaboration – Accommodation – Resistance


Let us begin with a few remarks regarding the extreme complexity of any discussion bearing on World War II collaboration, accommodation, and resistance, and the manner in which this complexity influenced the post-war remembrance of these phenomena. Later, in the second half of this presentation, I shall offer some sense of the contradictory ways in which Europeans remember the period of foreign occupation. Some of my contentions will undoubtedly strike the reader as wild generalizations, but at least they may stimulate further thoughts on the issues.

What is often forgotten is that collaboration, accommodation, and resistance occurred not only within but also outside the zone of Nazi rule in Europe. In fact, it would be interesting to try to compare the number of resisters to Nazism with the number of underground fighters who opposed other than the Germans. And it would be worthwhile to compare the number of those who collaborated with the occupiers inside and outside of the German orbit.

Because German occupation was only one of many foreign occupations at that time both official and popular reaction to Nazi rule should be seen in the larger context of a continent criss-crossed by conquering armies, all of which established authoritarian and usually cruel administrations. In addition to the German army, the occupiers included the Italian invaders in Albania, much of Greece, large parts of Yugoslavia and smaller sections of France. Also to be considered are the Soviet forces in eastern Poland, the three Baltic states, parts of Finland, parts of Romania, and after 1944, in all of Eastern and East Central Europe. Furthermore, in 1938 Poland took the Teschen region in Czechoslovakia and in 1941 the Finns occupied Karelia as well as other Soviet territories. Acting before and during World War II, the Hungarians annexed southern Slovakia, Ruthenia, northern Transylvania, and parts of northern Yugoslavia; the Bulgarians took southern Dobrudja, Thrace and Macedonia; and the Romanians occupied and annexed Transnistria in 1941 when they were allies of Germany, and northern Transylvania in 1944 when the Romanians were allies of the Soviet Union. Finally, Albania annexed the Kosovo region following the fall of Yugoslavia in 1941.

In all these lands, just as in German-occupied countries, the forces of occupation were met with a great many forms of collaboration, accommodation, and resistance. Resistance, in turn, led to retaliation, which in its ferocity often did not much lag behind the ferocity of German retaliation. But also, just as in German-occupied Europe, oppression and persecution were not always mere responses to resistance activity. Rather, terror was often a premeditated political act, independent of the presence or absence of a resistance movement. One of the best examples of such a premeditated act of oppression by a non-German occupation force was the Soviet mistreatment of Poles in eastern Poland between 1939 and 1941. Like the Germans in western Poland, the Soviets in eastern Poland aimed at a fatal weakening, through deportation and murder, of the Polish intelligentsia.1 No wonder, then, that Soviet rule in Poland led to armed resistance, one that well outlasted the war.

Similar examples abound. Consider, for instance, the Hungarian mistreatment of the Romanian population in northern Transylvania after 1940 and the Romanian mistreatment of the Hungarians in the same province in the fall of 1944. The latter mistreatment was marked, incidentally, by such excesses that the Soviet High Command was forced to expel the allied Romanian authorities and, to the relief of the Hungarian population, temporarily reassume Red Army rule in the region.2

In western and northern Europe, the German occupation forces responded mainly to provocation; when not threatened by resistance activity, the Germans in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France behaved correctly. The great exception was their murderous behaviour toward the Jews. In Eastern Europe, however, the Germans behaved abominably without any provocation. Similarly, the Italian occupiers generally respected the rules of war in Nice and the French Alpine Provinces; in Yugoslavia and Greece, however, they did not hesitate to terrorize the civilian population.3

During World War II, most countries were occupied, successively, by two mutually hostile powers. In the case of eastern Poland and the Baltic countries, there were three successive foreign occupations. Clearly then, any study of collaboration, accommodation, and resistance in Poland and the Baltic countries should place the problem in the combined German and Soviet contexts. Let us recall here that the very word “Partisan,” made famous by the Soviet and Yugoslav Communist fighting forces behind the German lines, was first used in World War II not by Communist guerrillas but by Lithuanian nationalists waging a guerrilla war, in 1940 and 1941, against the Soviet occupiers. When the Soviet troops withdrew from Lithuania, on June 23, 1941, the Lithuanian Partisans emerged from the forest and, often even without waiting for the Germans, killed Lithuanian Jews whom they accused of collaboration with the Soviets.4

The actions of both German and non-German occupiers were guided by political, economic, and ethnic considerations. The Germans favoured the Volksdeutsche in occupied Alsace-Lorraine but cracked down ruthlessly on suspected Communists and Francophiles in the region, even if they were German speakers.5 The Soviets generally preferred the Ukrainians, Belorussians and Jews to the Poles in eastern Poland but did not hesitate to shoot whoever they decided was a Ukrainian, Belorussian, or Jewish bourgeois nationalist.

In the same way, collaboration with the occupation forces was heavily influenced by ethnic and political considerations. Western Ukrainians, for whom Soviet rule had been a recent and highly unpopular experience, tended to welcome the German liberators in the summer of 1941; eastern Ukrainians, however, whose life in the Soviet Union had begun to improve in the late 1930s, at least as compared to the Stalinist collectivization drive and the great famine of the early 1930s, saw less reason to collaborate with the newly arrived Germans. In any case, German misbehaviour later drove many formerly sympathetic Ukrainians into the nationalist or Bolshevik partisan movements.6

One ought to harbour no illusions with regard to the behaviour of non-German occupation forces. A case in point are the much admired, democratic and plucky Finns whose atrocities in occupied Karelia during World War II later caused some soul-searching among Finnish intellectuals. What makes the Finnish case so interesting is that their soldiers tended to mistreat not only the Russians but also the Karelian population, who were linguistically and ethnically almost identical with the Finnish occupiers.7

If the nature of both German and non-German occupations was such as to make resistance activity unpopular and undesirable in some cases but nearly inevitable in other cases, what then was the main difference between German and non-German rule? The answer, I suggest, lies mainly in the existence of the Holocaust, a unique German project, unmatched by the atrocities committed by any other power. Not even the Soviets, who waged a war of extermination against the Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian intelligentsia, aimed at the extermination of all the Poles and all the Baltic peoples. The Germans, on the other hand, were determined to kill all the Jews. This, incidentally, makes Jewish resistance to the Germans also a unique phenomenon, for it involved people acting under an irrevocable death sentence. In all other cases, there could be some equivocation: collaboration, accommodation, and resistance were, to a large degree, a matter of personal decision.

One would think that the German Holocaust project against the Jews – the fact that a foreign power wished to exterminate a part of one’s own citizenry – would have been a major incentive for non-Jews to take up arms against the German aggressor. However, while there were many reasons why people rose up against Nazi power, the German extermination of the Jews was, unfortunately, the least of these reasons.


From all the above it should be clear that the dates, September 1939- May 1945, are not really applicable to the phenomena of collaboration, accommodation and resistance. The Italian occupation of Albania; the German occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia as well as the Hungarian and Polish annexation of parts of the latter country preceded the outbreak of the Second World War. The Austrian political, legal, ecclesiastic, and business establishments, as well as post-Munich Czechoslovakia, collaborated with the German authorities well before the outbreak of the war. Augustin Volosin’s so-called Sic guerrillas in Ruthenia resisted the Hungarian occupation forces as early as March 1939.8 More importantly, East European armed resistance to the Soviet occupiers continued for several years after the end of the war. From the point of view of the Polish Armia Krajowa (the Home Army) and the nationalist NSZ or National Armed Forces, 1945 was no ”Year Zero”. Rather, the major change of these guerrilla forces occurred back in 1944 when the Red Army entered Poland, that is, when the hopeful struggle against the weakening Germans was gradually replaced by the hopeless, but still bitterly fought underground struggle against the triumphant Soviets.

Finally as regards the Germans, among whom so few had opposed the Nazi regime, the year 1944 marked the beginning of their period of nearly limitless collaboration. I suggest that our investigation of World War II collaboration, accommodation, and resistance will remain forever incomplete unless we include considerations of German cooperation both with the Western Allies and the Soviet occupiers. It is, after all, remarkable, that there was no popular German resistance movement either under the Nazis or under the Allied and Soviet occupations. The much heralded Werwolves, young Nazis allegedly trained to cut the throat of Allied soldiers, existed mainly in Nazi propaganda and the imagination of some American commanders. The murder, in December 1944, by some youthful pro-Nazi German resisters, of three or four collaborationist German mayors in far western Germany, and the assassination, in March 1945, of Aachen Mayor Oppenhoff, remained isolated acts. Many months before the end of the war, while millions of German soldiers were still battling the enemy, German civilians in the occupied regions eagerly submitted to the Allied and Soviet invaders.9 We may indeed confidently state that, both during and after the war, no people outdid the Germans in hearty cooperation with their rulers. The Germans readily adopted the laws, political and economic practices, literature, music, fashion, even parts of the language of their enemies. At war’s end, the French shaved the heads of thousands of French women accused of “horizontal collaboration”.10 By the same token, the Germans could have shaved the heads of hundreds of thousands of their own women, at least in the Western zones of occupation.

Why was there no serious German underground activity against the foreign occupiers? Some say it was because of the reasonable, even generous attitude of the British-American occupation forces. But, then, the British and Americans did not always behave reasonably and generously; nor would this explain the absence of resistance in the Soviet occupation zone where, on the contrary, Red Army terror is often cited as the reason for unconditional German submission. One also hears that the total military defeat of Germany put an end to any thought of underground Nazi resistance. But a hopeless situation does not always engender unconditional submission: witness the continued and completely hopeless post-war resistance, in Poland and the Ukraine, against the Soviet occupiers. Surely, the Germans had had no fewer fanatical patriots among them than the Poles or the Ukrainians. Decidedly, the German dilemma deserves further investigation.


Let us now turn our attention specifically to the German occupation which is, after all, one of the pivotal topics of our conference.

Again, it should come as no surprise that both active collaboration with and active resistance to the German occupiers were the work of small minorities. The vast majority of the population fell into a grey area between the two extremes. This generalization is accepted by all specialists in the field, although not yet by most European governments or public opinion. The trouble is that no matter how true the generalization leaves many questions open, especially with regard to the differing proportion of collaborators, accommodators, and resisters in Hitler’s Europe.

The problem stems from our inability to define the three phenomena clearly. A narrow definition of collaboration would be the volunteering of assistance to the occupying enemy forces, not for the sake of national, group, or individual survival, but to serve the cause of the enemy. However, this definition would exclude many people whom we normally regard as collaborators. Marshal Petain and Prime Minister Laval, for instance, worked with the Germans not for reasons of ideology or in order to help Germany win the war, but because they thought that, by collaborating, they would assure the survival of the French empire in the new German-dominated world order.11 Yet if we do not insist on a narrow definition of collaboration, how then can we distinguish it from the phenomenon of accommodation?

Worse still, the concept of collaboration runs into almost insurmountable definitional difficulties when we examine the actions of governments and individuals in countries not occupied by the German army. Collaboration was first legalized in the Fourth Hague International Convention of 1907, whose Articles 42-43 outlined the citizenry’s duty to obey enemy occupation forces so long as the latter abided by the terms of the Hague Convention and were able to control the occupied territory.12 The emphasis was clearly on occupied territory, and no one thought of legislating the duties and rights of people in a country allied to an aggressive great power. Yet, after World War II, thousands of people were tried and sentenced in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovakia, and Finland for having collaborated with the Germans not only when there was a German occupation but even when there were at most a few German soldiers in the country and the government was simply an ally of the Third Reich. Were those who worked for a sovereign government that was subservient to the Germans truly collaborators?

It is no less difficult to decide the relative guilt and innocence of different categories of collaborators. The volunteers in the Dutch, Norwegian, and Danish Waffen SS units are said to have been motivated less by ideological convictions than by the spirit of adventure, the appeal of ruthlessness, poverty, ignorance, family problems, or the lure of a legendary uniform.13 Ukrainian Waffen SS members served, or so they claimed later, in order to free their country from the yoke of Stalinism. Yet after the war, non-German members of the Waffen SS were punished far more harshly than, let us say, industrialists and businessmen who had derived enormous profits from their contribution to the German war effort.

Ultimately, it was the legislative bodies and the courts of justice which decided, after the war, who had and who had not been a collaborator. The trouble was that these institutions defined the term differently in every country, sometimes even in every court of justice. Certainly, however, the definition became narrower and narrower as the passions created by the war gradually faded. The Norwegian courts tried and severely sentenced Norwegian women who, as Red Cross nurses, worked in German military hospitals.14 Secret tribunals of the Polish underground tried and sentenced Polish conductors and musicians for performing in German orchestras. What’s more, the secret Polish courts also branded as collaborators those Poles who attended concerts at which German music was performed.15 French courts, on the other hand, acquitted high-ranking French police officers who had delivered thousands of Jews to the Germans. Some of these officers were then decorated by the government for resistance heroism.16

Depending on the issue, many people both resisted and collaborated with the Germans. In Poland, for instance, individuals, who were not members of the resistance, went out of their way to cause trouble to the Germans, but often they also helped the Germans to hunt down Jews.17 At the approach of the Americans in the summer of 1944, the Parisian police changed from collaborators to the vanguard of the armed fight against the Germans.

The resister who occasionally collaborated with the Germans and the collaborator who at a given moment started to resist the Germans was a European-wide phenomenon, which still awaits its historian. Thousands of important collaborators could honestly claim after the war that they had also been resisters; just as many former resisters were at least accused after the war of having been in the service of the occupation forces. The aspersion cast by Klaus Barbie’s defender on the pro-Allied loyalty of the French resistance leader Jean Moulin, at the 1987 Lyons trial, was just one of the myriad such accusations.18 Similarly, in Eastern Europe, many a Communist sentenced to death in the Stalinist show trials of the late 1940s and early 1950s, was accused of having been a Gestapo and/or a local fascist police agent. Mostly, these were false charges, yet they were based on the reality that, both before and during the war, the Communist parties were heavily infiltrated by police agents.

If we are unable to define clearly the phenomenon of collaboration then, quite obviously, we cannot define accommodation and resistance either. The boundaries between the three phenomena are unclear; definitions are overlapping; major figures on the historical stage moved uncertainly from one group to another. It is best, therefore, to be satisfied with the knowledge that, even without a clear definition, all of us agree, in great outlines, on what it meant to be a collaborator and who was a true resister. None of us would accept, I trust, the post-war claim of Pierre Laval that he had been a resister. Nor would we consider the Hungarian Communist leader László Rajk a Nazi collaborator even though he enthusiastically admitted to such a crime at his 1949 show trial. It must also be mentioned that László Rajk’s brother, Endre, was a high ranking official in Ferenc Szálasi’s fascist Arrow Cross regime, and that, late in 1944, it was most probably Endre Rajk who saved the captive Rajk from execution. The Arrow Cross authorities later released László Rajk, a development which subsequently figured large at his show trial.19

Thus not even László Rajk’s case is crystal clear. How much more difficult, then, it is to decide the case of the engineers and workers at the Czech Skoda factory, for instance, without whose dedicated labour the German war machine would have been much, much less efficient? Were these engineers and workers collaborators, were they accommodators, or were they simply doing their job so as to keep their family alive and to help keep the Czech nation intact?

Or how about the Jewish owners of the enormous Weiss Manfréd works at Csepel in Hungary? The Csepel works and associated other plants, owned by Jews, produced tanks, guns, and fighter planes for the Germans throughout the war. Only following the German invasion of Hungary, in March 1944, did the owners surrender the Csepel Works and related plants, not to the Hungarian state but, by negotiating behind the back of the government, in a direct sale to the German SS. Through that sale, a very large part of the Hungarian heavy and armaments industry passed into German hands. The deal done, Baron Weiss and related families flew to Portugal, in Lufthansa planes, with the money and passports provided by the SS. Were these Jewish factory owners collaborators? Certainly, their tanks, guns, and airplanes helped to prolong to war. Yet their activities also allowed Regent Miklós Horthy to refuse, when confronted by Hitler in 1943, the introduction of the Final Solution in Hungary. When Hitler finally lost patience and ordered the invasion of Hungary in March 1944, it was already very late in the war. As a result, the Germans and like-minded Hungarians were unable to kill much more than about one half of Hungary’s 825,000 Jews.20


Members of the resistance movement usually devised more radical plans for the immediate post-war era than did the political exiles. In this respect, it didn’t really make much difference whether the exiles were a royal government in London or a group of East European Communists in Moscow. The domestic underground advocated revolutionary programs, the exile governments and groups tended to lay more emphasis on the restoration of order and reconstruction. In Eastern Europe, the Communist underground would have preferred to seize power immediately and to introduce drastic changes. Their hands were tied, however, by the exile Communists, acting under Stalin’s orders, who insisted on the preservation of antifascist coalitions and a wait-and-see attitude. A similar situation prevailed in France and Italy under Anglo-American occupation.

Following what they perceived as the corruption and fatal weakness of the pre-war regime as well as the crass treason of the collaborationist government, antifascists created the political myths necessary for building a new state and society: a “France pure and dure”, as the French resisters and Gaullists liked to say.

The myths were similar everywhere, not surprisingly, I would argue, since the end of the war also marked the triumphant return of Popular Front politics. Badly defeated in pre-World War II Europe, especially on the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War, Popular Front politicians saw a new hope in the resistance movement. While in the underground, they devised characteristic Popular Front programs for a socialist democracy, the nationalization of the great monopolies, workers’ participation in the running of the economy, the right to work, and a state-guaranteed social welfare system.21 At the end of the war, antifascist coalitions, made up of Communists, Socialists, radical bourgeois, progressive Catholics, and patriotic, anti-Nazi conservatives, assumed power nearly everywhere in what had been Hitler’s Europe. Even in Yugoslavia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Albania, where real power was in the hands of Communists right from the beginning (as opposed to Greece, where anti-Communists eventually achieved a monopoly of power), the fiction of an anti-fascist Popular Front was preserved. In other places, such as Czechoslovakia, Hungary, France and Italy, coalition politics remained the reality for about two years.

Popular Front politics required that the “People,” writ large, be acquitted of the charge of collaboration, and that guilt be assigned to a relatively narrow group of individuals. The old ruling elite were made responsible not only for collaboration and war crimes but also for the earlier military defeat at the hands of the Germans. Simultaneously, these vaguely defined old elite was said to be guilty of the political and economic troubles of the previous decades. It would be interesting to engage in a comparative analysis of precisely what social groups the European resistance held responsible for the tragedies of the past. We would probably find striking similarities. The courts of justice, the media, the parliaments, the political parties all argued that trouble had begun, if not centuries earlier, than at least after the First World War I, and that German occupation in World War II was a direct consequence of crimes committed [by national governments during] the interwar years.

Characteristically, those sitting in judgment over the Hungarian war criminals attempted to persuade the major defendants to accept responsibility for the mishaps of the entire post-World War I era. The prosecutor at former Prime Minister Lászlo Bárdossy’s trial very nearly implored the defendant to confess to illegitimate and irresponsible politics in the interwar and war years. Such a confession, the prosecutor hoped, would exculpate the people and help the cause of Hungary at the coming peace negotiations in Paris.22 The trouble was that as everyone in Hungary knew and as the leaders of the anti-fascist coalition sometimes privately admitted the majority of politically conscious Hungarians had preferred Germany to the Soviet Union. It is a tragic fact that a majority of Hungarians either did not object to the German deportation of the Jews or even lent a helping hand to Adolf Eichmann and the Hungarian gendarmes. Because in Hungary many among the antifascist political leaders were Jews of great bourgeois background, it was particularly painful for them to insist on the myth of the good people and of the bad old elites. They did it anyway, of course.

In the drive to rehabilitate the people and to provide evidence of the resistance as a widely shared popular movement, post-war regimes tended to transform the Jewish victims of the Holocaust into martyrs of the anti-fascist struggle. The French government did not wish to admit that the majority of those taken to the German concentration and death camps were not “French patriots” but Jews whom the French police had handed over to the Germans. In Soviet accounts, the Jewish victims of the Babi Yar massacre appeared as heroic Soviet citizens. During commemorative events, the Polish authorities made little attempt to indicate the specific slaughter of Jews at Auschwitz.

For many decades after the war, Communist regimes identified those killed by the Nazis and their local henchmen as “Martyrs of the working class movement, progressive patriots, and other victims of fascism”. The “other victims” were, of course, the Jews who, in Hungary for instance, may have constituted about 98 % of all those killed by the Nazis and the Hungarian fascists. In Italian political lore, the fascists became a small and despised minority and the nation as a whole the innocent victim of German brutality: witness the many post-war Italian films in which steely-eyed German soldiers callously gun down the kind but bewildered Italians!

The post-war myth ignored the grey area of accommodation. Even Jiâi Menzel’s highly enjoyable 1966 Czech film, “Closely Watched Train,” while ostensibly about little people trying to adjust to the conditions of German occupation, is in reality a paean to heroic resistance. The main character of the film, a young and insignificant railwayman, ends up by blowing up a German military train and dying in the process. This is all the more jarring as very few, if any, German trains were blown up by the resistance during the war in the Czech Protectorate.23

Post-war myths generally ignored the fact of multiple foreign occupations. If it was mentioned at all, it was only to turn the Soviets, for instance, into liberators, and the Hungarians, or Bulgarians into something worse than the Germans themselves. The past was obfuscated in every single country. The Danes, who could justly boast of having saved the lives of their few thousand Jews, nevertheless felt it necessary, in their official pronouncements and historical textbooks, to hide the fact that, by entering the Anti-Comintern Pact in November 1941, Denmark had legally become an ally of Nazi Germany; that the Danish economy had greatly profited from the war; and that German soldiers had longed to be stationed in Denmark, a peaceful and prosperous country. Even more serious rewriting had to be done by Soviet historiography in such cases as the Ukraine, where, official lapses of memory assumed truly monstrous proportions. It ignored the Soviet-created Great Famine of the early 1930s, the forceful Soviet annexation of western Ukraine (i.e., eastern Poland) in 1939; the deportation of over a million Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews from the Ukraine to Siberia in 1940 and 1941; the NKVD massacre of thousands of political prisoners in Kiev and elsewhere just before the arrival of the German army in June 1941; the Ukrainian massacre of Jews that accompanied or sometimes even preceded the arrival of the Germans24; the festive peasant delegations offering bread and salt to German tankmen in the summer of 1941; the thousands of young men who flocked into the Ukrainian legions of the Waffen SS; the massive Ukrainian participation in the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar; the Ukrainian guards in the death camps in occupied Poland; and the patriotic Ukrainian partisans who fought both the Nazis and the Soviets. In Soviet historiography all this became the “heroic struggle of Soviet Ukrainian men and women against the Hitlerite fascist aggressors and their local henchmen.”


Perhaps post-war myths were necessary for reconstruction and rehabilitation. In any case, the age of pretended innocence came to end rather quickly. In 1946-1947, the Cold War began. In September 1947, at the Szkarlska Poreba meeting of the Communist parties, a sharpened socialist struggle against imperialist aggression became official policy. Subsequently, or even before that date, the Popular Front governments ceased to exist. In France and Italy the Communists were thrown out of the cabinet; in Eastern Europe the non-Communists were arrested or forced into exile. Thereafter, it was no longer crucial for the governments and political parties to preserve the myth of wartime patriotic unity. In the East, Communist rule now rested on force but also, at least for a while, on a measure of popular support for the regime’s social experiments. In the West, consensus was built on democratic practices, rapid economic development, and such things as Franco-German reconciliation.

Meanwhile, too, the former resisters turned against one another. It wasn’t only Communists against non-Communists; it was also, as in France, those who approved of the Algerian or Vietnamese struggle for independence, and those who tried to suppress it; those who saw a freedom fighter in every armed opponent of a colonial or imperialist regime, and those who saw terrorists and bandits. This, incidentally, has become the biggest dilemma, in my opinion, of the memory of the war years. The French resisters who blew up German trains in World War II were celebrated as heroes, even though there might have been wounded soldiers or mostly civilians on that train. The Arabs who threw bombs, during the 1950s, into crowded Algerian cafes were often denounced as vile terrorists. Repressive measures taken by the Germans during the war were universally condemned, in time even by the Germans themselves. Yet former French resistance fighters tolerated or even ordered the imprisonment and torture of terrorists in Algeria and Vietnam. Were they criminals or brave men, those French paratroopers, or the American green berets? In 1956, revolutionary teenagers in Budapest lynched both the innocent and the guilty. For that they were beaten and executed in Hungary but abroad they were hailed as martyrs. Vietnamese guerrillas hid hand grenades in their peasant black pyjamas so as to be able to kill Americans. For this, they were lauded not only by their own countrymen but even by many Americans. The shadow of World War II resistance certainly lies across post-war terrorism.

Acting against hostage taking, one of the most debatable acts by any occupying power, the Geneva Convention of 1949 strictly forbade its practice. But in 1979, the “International Convention against the Taking of Hostages,” adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, introduced a number of exceptions to this general interdiction. Exempted were people fighting “colonial domination” and “alien occupation” as well as those opposing “racist regimes [i.e. Israel and South Africa] in the exercise of their right of self-determination?”25

Over time it became clear that wartime collaboration and resistance as well as the purges and retribution of the first post-war years formed a single historical unit; they were a fascinating episode, but only an episode, in European history. Official myths began to be challenged by such works of art as Marcel Ophuls’s 1970 film, “The Sorrow and the Pity,” Many countries, however, have still not begun the process of self-examination. Maybe it would have been better to be honest from the beginning and not to create any myths. But this would have been nearly unrealizable at that time. What is important, from our point of view, are the enormous ideological and political complications as well as the vast territorial and ideological extent of wartime European collaboration, accommodation, and resistance. Never before was Europe as a whole, including even the few neutral states, presented with the ethical dilemma of collaboration. Never before did so many people risk their lives in the struggle against the occupier. Never before did an entire continent attempt to deal with its own complicity and guilt, by trying in its courts hundreds of thousands, if not millions of defendants accused of war crimes and treason. Nor were so many myths created of national innocence as after World War II. These facts alone make our study worthwhile.




The Soviet occupation of eastern Poland is best described in Jan T. Gross, Revolution from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland’s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988). See also, Irena Grudzinska-Gross and Jan Tomasz Gross, eds., War Through Children’s Eyes: The Soviet Occupation of Poland and Deportations, 1939–1941 (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1981); Janusz K. Zawodny, Death in the Forest: the Story of the Katyn Forest Massacre (New York: Hippocrene, 1988); Allen Paul, Katyn: Stalin’s Massacre and the Seeds of Polish Resurrection (Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, 1996); and Keith Sword, Deportation and Exile: Poles in the Soviet Union, 1939–1948: Siberian Odysseys. (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1995).


There exists scarce literature on Transylvania during World War II and what there is is usually biased. For a choice example of such a bias, see Mihai Fatu and Mircea Musat, Horthyist-Fascist Terror in Northwestern Romania, September 1940-October 1944 (Bucharest, 1986). (In the language of Ceausescu’s Romania, northwestern Romania equalled northern Transylvania) The Hungarian side is presented, in a much more moderate tone, by Dániel Csatári, Forgoszélben. Magyar-roman viszony 1940–1945 (In the whirlwind: Hungarian-Romanian relations, 1940-1945). (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1968), and Elemér Illyés, National Minorities in Romania: Change in Transylvania („East European Monographs, CXII;” Boulder, Colo., 1982).


The Italian presence in the Balkans during World War II is discussed among others, in Peter Broucek, ed., Ein General im Zwielicht: Die Lebenserinnerungen Edmund Glaises von Horstenau, 3 vols. (Vienna, 1980 and 1983), vol. 3; Teodoro Sala, “Guerriglia e controguerriglia in Jugoslavia nella propaganda per le truppe occupanti italiane (1941-1943),” Il Movimento di Liberazione in Italia, July-September 1972; and Ugo Dragoni, Fiaschi in Jugoslavia. Ricordi polemici della campagne di guerra, 1941-43 (Alessandria, 1983).


Lithuania’s anti-Communist Partisans figure large in Avraham Tory, Surviving the Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto Diary, edited and with an introduction by Martin Gilbert; textual and historical notes by Dina Porat (Harvard University Press, 1990); Frieda Frome, Some Dare to Dream: Frieda Frome’s Escape from Lithuania (Iowa State University Press, 1988), and István Deák, “Heroism in Hell,” The New York Review of Books, November 8, 1990, and January 31, 1991. See also, Leonas Sabaliunas, Lithuania in Crisis: Nationalism to Communism, 1939–1940 (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, Encyclopedia Press).


Relatively little has been written on Alsace-Lorraine in World War II. One of the best works is Lothar Kettenacker, Nationalsozialistische Polenpolitik (Stuttgart: Institut für Zeitgeschichte, 1971). Also, Marie Joseph Bopp, L’Alsace sous l’occupation allemande (LePuy: X. Mappus, 1945), a surprisingly good account of the occupation considering that the author wrote the book immediately following liberation. I am indebted to Mark Szorc of Columbia University for informing me on the Alsatian situation in World War II.


A good introduction to the Ukrainian situation is provided by Yuri Boshyk, ed., Ukraine During World War II: History and Its Aftermath (Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1986), and Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia, 1941-1945 (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1957).


On Finnish atrocities in Karelia, see Vaino Linna: The Unknown Soldier. Trans. From the Finnish (Helsinki: Werner Sodestrom, 1968). Also, D.G. Kirby, Finland in the Twentieth Century (London: C. Hurst, 1979).


The Hungarian occupation of Ruthenia (also called Carpatho-Ukraine, Subcarpathian Rus, Rusinsko, etc.) is discussed in C.A. Macartney, A History of Hungary, 1929–1945, 2 vols. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1957), vol. I, pp. 328–343, and Paul Magocsi, The Shaping of a National Identity: ’Subcarpathian Rus’, 1848-1948 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978), pp. 234–249.


On post-World War II German resistance/submission, see Perry Biddiscombe, Werwolf: The History of the National Socialist Guerrilla Movement, 1944–1946 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998).


On the shaved women of France, see Corran Laurens, “La Femme au Turban’: les Femmes tondues” in Roderick Kedward and Nancy Wood, eds., The Liberation of France: Image and Event. (Oxford–Washington: Berg Publishers, 1995), pp. 155–179.


There is an enormous literature on Vichy, Pétain, Laval, and the problems of French collaboration. Especially relevant here are Jacques Debu-Bridel, De Gaulle et le Conseil National de la Resistance (Paris: Éditions France-Empire, 1978); Rene Hostache, Le General De Gaulle, Jean Moulin at la création du C.N.R. (Paris : Les Editions La Bruyere, 1989); Roderick Kedward, Resistance in Vichy France: A Study of Ideas and Motivation 1942-1944. (Oxford University Press, 1995) and, by the same author as editor, Occupied France: Collaboration and Resistance, 1940-44 (B. Blackwell, 1985). Also, Roderick Kedward and and R. Austin, eds., Vichy France and the Resistance: Culture and Ideology (London: Croon Helm, 1985); Peter Novick, The Resistance Versus Vichy: the Purge of Collaborators in Liberated France. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968); Robert O. Paxton, Parades and Politics at Vichy: The French Officer Corps under Marshal Petain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1966) and, by the same author, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940–1944, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982).


Regarding the 1907 IV The Hague Convention, see W. Michael Reisman and Chris T. Antoniou, eds., The Laws of War: A Comprehensive Collection of Primary Documents on International Laws Governing Armed Conflict (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), pp. 232-233; Albrech Randelzhofer, ed., Völkerrechtliche Verträge, 4th ed. (Nordlingen: C. H. Beck’sche Buchdruckerei, 1994), p. 627; Lester Nurick and Roger W. Barrrett. “Questions of Guerrilla Forces under the Laws of War,” American Journal of International Law,. vol. 40, no. 3 (July 1946), pp. 563–583, and Kenneth Macksey, The Partisans of Europe in the Second World War (New York: Stein and Day, 1975), pp. 17–18.


The main sources on foreigners in the Waffen SS are David Littlejohn, Foreign Legions

of the Third Reich,. 4 vols (San Jose: R. James Bender, 1987) and, by the same author, The Patriotic Traitors: The Story of Collaboration in German Occupied Europe, 1940–1945 (New York: Doubleday, 1975).


The purges in Norway are best described in Stein U. Larsen, “Die Ausschaltung der Quislinge in Norwegen,” in Klaus-Dietmar Henke and Hans Woller, eds., Politische Säuberung in Europa. Die Abrechnung mit Faschismus und Kollaboration nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1991), pp. 241–280. The affair with the nurses is on p. 268.


On the Polish resistance and German music, see Hanns-Werner Heister and Hans-Gunter Klein, Musik und Musikpolitik im faschistischen Deutschland (Frankfurt/M: Fischer, 1984); Czeslaw Madajczyk, ed., Inter Arma non silent Musae: The War and Culture, 1939-1945 (Warsaw: PIW, 1977), and Tomasz Szarota, Warschau unter dem Hakenkreuz: Leben und Alltag im besetzten Warschau 1. 10. 1939 bis 31. 7. 1944 (Paderborn, 1985). I am indebted to David Tompkins of Columbia University for informing me on German musical policy in occupied Poland.


The decorated French police officers are discussed in Richard J. Golsan, ed., Memory, the Holocaust, and French Justice: The Bousquet and Touvier Affairs0. (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1996).


Polish connivance in the Final Solution is one of history’s most controversial questions, marked by an almost incredible amount of prejudice and ill will. For a less than extreme Jewish view, see Ysrael Gutman and Shmuel Krakowski, Unequal Victims: Poles and Jews During World War II (New York: Holocaust Library, 1986); for its Polish equivalent,see Stefan Korbonski Jews and Poles in World War Two, (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1989.) More balanced accounts are, Jan Tomasz Gross Polish Society under German Occupation, 1939-1944. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979), and Antony Polonsky, ed., ’My Brother’s Keeper’: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust (New York: Routledge, c. 1990).


On the Barbie trial, see Alain Finkielkraut, Remembering in Vain: The Klaus Barbie Trial and Crimes Against Humanity (New York: Columbia U. Press, 1992).


The official Stalinist version of the Rajk trial is Rajk Laszló es tarsai a népbíróság elõtt (László Rajk and his accomplices before the people’s court), (Budapest: Szikra, n. d.). The best account of the East European show trials is by George H. Hodos, Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948–1954 (New York: Praeger, 1987)


On the Weiss Manfréd Affair, see György Ránki, 1944. március 19. (March 19, 1944) (Budapest, 1978), pp. 225-230; Elek Karsai and Miklós Szinai, “A Weiss Manfréd vagyon német kézbe kerülésének története” (The history of the German acquisition of the Manfred Weiss fortune), Századok (Budapest), 95, 4-5 (1961), pp. 680–719, and Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary, revised and enlarged edition (New York, 1994), pp. 514-524.


The program of the French Conseil National de la Resistance is reprinted in Novick, The Resistance, pp. 198–201. 22.


On the trial of Bárdossy, see Pál Pritz, ed., Bárdossy László a népbíróság elõtt (László Bárdossy Before the People’s Court), (Budapest, 1991), and László Karsai, “People’s Court and Revolutionary Justice in Hungary, 1945–46.” The paper was presented at the Conference on “Political Justice in Post-war Europe, “ Vienna, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Nov. 2–5, 1995.


On the Czech resistance, or the lack of it, see Vojtech Mastny, The Czechs Under Nazi Rule: The Failure of National Resistance, 1939–1942 (New York: Columbia U. Press, 1971). For a more positive view, see Frantisek Moravec Master of Spies: The Memoirs of General Frantisel Moravec (London: The Bodley Head, 1975).


The SS commandos in the Ukraine insisted that their and the Ukrainians’ massacre of the Jews in June–July 1941 were in retaliation for the massacres committed by the Jewish NKVD officers before their evacuation of Kiev and other cities. See the documents in Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Shmuel Spector, eds., The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads’ Campaign Against the Jews, July 1941-January 1943 (New York: Holocaust Library, 1989).


On the adventurous history in the UN General Assembly of the hostage question, see Reisman and Antoniou, The Laws of War, pp. 29–30, 300–302 et passim.