Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2021

Department 1



The eastern front in the Second World War was one of unparalleled ferocity and brutality unseen on any other front during civilization’s largest and most destructive war. This work contends that in order to understand how the eastern front was such can only be understood through the lens of Nazi ideology and its long-terms goals for Lebensraum and the Greater Germany it sought to secure. The role of Nazi racial ideology and its belief in the inherent racial inferiority of the Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, along with totalitarian ideology viewing Soviet Communism as Nazism’s chief totalitarian rival are crucial factors that explain the distinctly brutal characteristics of the eastern front. How these factors translated into Nazi policies and conduct on the eastern front must also be analyzed with the contextualization of understanding Nazi racial and totalitarian ideology. Specific themes such as the treatment of civilians, Soviet and Polish POWs, the Holocaust, indoctrination of individual soldiers in Nazi ideology, and sexual violence as a weapon of war will be analyzed to offer a better understanding of the eastern front in the Second World War. Its distinct brutality can only be explained by Nazi ideology and attitudes toward the Eastern European and Soviet regions.


Written for HIST 418: Senior Research Seminar on Nazism