Research by WJU Professor Gives New Insight into Motivation of German Army during WWII


One local college professor has made the study of World War II’s Eastern Front the main subject of his research over the past few years. 

Wheeling Jesuit University associate professor of History Dr. Jeff Rutherford recently told a packed “Lunch With Books” at the Ohio County Public Library about a new wave of research on how the common German soldier behaved.

“Nazi ideology was important in that it helped frame the way that many of these soldiers understood the Soviet Union, and the people that they viewed there, people that they ran into,” Rutherford said. “But that the Army as an institution was not motivated purely by ideology, and what I came up with was this idea of ‘Military Necessity,’ the idea that the German Army would do whatever it needed to win the war.”

Rutherford added this concept of “Military Necessity” directly affected the behavior of German troops on the Eastern Front as the war progressed. 

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