Transnational guerrillas in the ‘shatter zones’ of the Balkans and Eastern Front
in Fighters across frontiers
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This chapter studies transnational interplay in guerrilla movements on the Eastern Front and in the Balkans, where the interwar state system was pulverised by war, occupation and partition. In its Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union made abundant use of ‘useful foreigners’, whether they were international communist exiles living in Moscow, Balts, Poles or Bessarabians who had claimed Soviet citizenship, local fighters on the ground in occupied areas or deserters from the Wehrmacht. After Italy crashed out of the war in September 1943 tens of thousands of Italians escaped to join the Yugoslav partisans for fear of being rounded up by the Germans, while German communists in Wehrmacht disciplinary battalions deserted to join the Greek resistance and recover their anti-Hitlerian identity. Meanwhile, in Italy itself, Allied, former International Brigaders and Yugoslav POWs escaped from camps to join the Italian resistance to the Germans, a resistance which, far from being purely Italian was, internationally speaking, said one British POW resister, was ‘a very mixed bunch’.

Fighters across frontiers

Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48

Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames

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