Generalplan Ost

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Generalplan Ost
Master Plan for the East
Generalplan Ost Staatenkarte2.jpg
German map of Eastern Europe showing the plan of Nazi Generalplan Ost colonization. Burgundy line marks the greatest extend of the actual German military control. LEGEND: Plan of the 'second phase of settlement' (zweite Siedlungsphase). Lower left (red): Grossgermanisches Reich extending eastward to Reichskommissariat Ostland (upper centre), Reichskommissariat Ukraine (lower centre), and (never realized) Reichskommissariat Moskowien (upper right) as well as Reichskommissariat Kaukasus (lower right). In June 1942, Hitler toyed with the idea of renaming Berlin as 'Germania' (pictured here) in his "Hitler's Table Talk".[1] German Reichskommissariats (R.K.) are separated with dotted black lines.

Duration 1941-1945
Location Territories controlled by Nazi Germany
Type Ethnic cleansing and population transfer
Cause Lebensraum, Heim ins Reich
Patron(s) Adolf Hitler

The Generalplan Ost (German pronunciation: [ɡenəˈʁaːlˌplaːn ˈɔst]; English: Master Plan for the East), abbreviated GPO, was the Nazi German government's plan for the colonization of Central and Eastern Europe.[2] Implementation of the plan necessitated genocide and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale,[3] to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II.[3] Some of the plan was partially implemented during the war, resulting indirectly and directly in a very large number of deaths, but full implementation was not considered practicable during the ongoing war and was prevented by Germany's defeat.

The plan entailed the enslavement, expulsion, and partial destruction of most Slavic peoples in Europe, whom the 'Aryan' Nazis viewed as racially inferior.[3][4] The programme operational guidelines, prepared in the years 1939–1942, were based on the policy of Lebensraum designed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, as a fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (English: Drive towards the East) ideology of German expansion in the east. As such, it was intended to be a part of the New Order in Europe.[3]

Development and reconstruction of the plan[edit]

The body responsible for the drafting of General Plan East was the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) of the SS under Heinrich Himmler, who commissioned the work. The actual document was revised several times between June 1941 and spring 1942 as the war in the east progressed successfully. It was a strictly confidential proposal whose content was known only to those at the top level of the Nazi hierarchy; it was circulated by RSHA to the Ostministerium in early 1942.[5]

According to testimony of SS-Standartenführer Dr. Hans Ehlich (one of the witnesses before the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials), the original version of the plan was drafted in 1940. As a high official in the RSHA, Ehlich was the man responsible for the drafting of Generalplan Ost along with Dr. Konrad Meyer, Chief of the Planning Office of Himmler's Reich Commission for the Strengthening of Germandom. It had been preceded by the Ostforschung, a number of studies and research projects carried out over several years by various academic centres to provide the necessary facts and figures.[5]

Prisoners of the Krychów forced labour camp digging irrigation ditches for the new German latifundia of the General Plan East in 1940. Most of them, Polish Jews and some Roma people, were sent to Sobibór extermination camp afterwards.[6]

The preliminary versions were discussed by the SS head Heinrich Himmler and his most trusted colleagues even before the outbreak of war. This was mentioned by SS-Obergruppenführer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski during his evidence as a prosecution witness in the trial of officials of the Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA). According to Bach-Zelewski, Himmler stated openly: "It is a question of existence, thus it will be a racial struggle of pitiless severity, in the course of which 20 to 30 million Slavs and Jews will perish through military actions and crises of food supply."[5] A fundamental change in the plan was introduced on June 24, 1941 – two days after the start of Operation Barbarossa – when the 'solution' to the Jewish question ceased to be a part of that particular framework.[5]

Nearly all the wartime documentation on Generalplan Ost was deliberately destroyed shortly before Germany's defeat in May 1945.[7][8] Thus, no complete set of originals have ever been found after the war, among the documents stored in German archives. Apart from Ehlich's testimony, there are several documents which refer to this plan or are supplements to it. Although no copies of the actual full proposal have survived, most of the plan's essential elements have been reconstructed from related memos, abstracts and other documents.[9]

A principal document which enabled historians to recreate the full content of Generalplan Ost with great deal of accuracy was a review, published by Dr. Erhard Wetzel, director of the NSDAP Office of Racial Policy, which was released on April 27, 1942, and titled "Opinion and Ideas Regarding the General Plan for the East of the Reichsführer-SS" (Stellungnahme und Gedanken zum Generalplan Ost des Reichsführers SS). His memorandum was a broad elaboration of the Generalplan Ost proposal.[10][9]

Adolf Hitler, in his attempt to reassure sceptics, have quoted the world's indifference towards the earlier Armenian Genocide as an argument that possible negative consequences for Germany would be minimal in this case. In subsequent years, his declaration from Berghof (residence) has been referred to as Hitler's Armenian quote.[11][12]

Phases of the plan and its implementation[edit]

Plan of new German settlement colonies (marked with dots and diamonds), drawn up by the Friedrich Wilhelm University Institute of Agriculture in Berlin, 1942, covering the Baltic states, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Crimea.

The final version of the Generalplan Ost proposal was divided into two parts; the "Small Plan" (Kleine Planung), which covered actions carried out in the course of the war; and the "Big Plan" (Grosse Planung), which described steps to be taken gradually over a period of 25 to 30 years after the war was won. Both plans entailed the policy of ethnic cleansing.[9][13] As of June 1941, the policy envisaged the deportation of 31 million Slavs to Siberia, with 14 million permitted to remain.[5]

Percentages of ethnic groups to be destroyed and/or deported to Siberia by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas.[3][14][15]
Ethnic group / Nationality Population percent subject to removal
Russians (see, below)
Estonians [15][16] almost 50%
Latvians [15] 50%
Czechs [14] 50%
Ukrainians [14] 65%
Belarusians [14] 75%
Poles [14] 20 million, or 80–85%
Lithuanians [15] 85%
Latgalians [15] 100%

The Generalplan Ost proposal offered various percentages of the conquered or colonized people who were targeted for removal and physical destruction; the net effect of which would be to ensure that the conquered territories would become German. In ten years' time, the plan effectively called for the extermination, expulsion, Germanization or enslavement of most or all East and West Slavs living behind the front lines of East-Central Europe. The "Small Plan" was to be put into practice as the Germans conquered the areas to the east of their pre-war borders. In this way the plan for Poland was drawn up at the end of November 1939 and is probably responsible for much of the World War II expulsion of Poles by Germany (first to colonial district of the General Government and, from 1942 also to Polenlager).[17] After the war, under the "Big Plan", Generalplan Ost foresaw the removal of 45 million non-Germanizable people from Central and Eastern Europe, of whom 31 million were "racially undesirable", 100% of Jews, Poles (85%), Belorussians (75%) and Ukrainians (65%), to West Siberia,[7] and about 14 millions were to remain, but were to be treated as slaves.[9] In their place, up to 8-10 million Germans would be settled in an extended "living space" (Lebensraum). Because the number of Germans appeared to be insufficient to populate the vast territories of Central and Eastern Europe, the peoples judged to lie racially between the Germans and the Russians (Mittelschicht), namely, Latvians and even Czechs, were also supposed to be resettled there.[18]

In eight months of 1941-42, the Germans killed an estimated 2.8 million Soviet POWs through deliberate starvation, exposure, and summary execution.[19]

According to Nazi intentions, attempts at Germanization were to be undertaken only in the case of those foreign nationals in Central and Eastern Europe who could be considered a desirable element for the future Reich from the point of view of its racial theories. The Plan stipulated that there were to be different methods of treating particular nations and even particular groups within them. Attempts were even made to establish the basic criteria to be used in determining whether a given group lent itself to Germanization. These criteria were to be applied more liberally in the case of nations whose racial material (rassische Substanz) and level of cultural development made them more suitable than others for Germanization. The Plan considered that there were a large number of such elements among the Baltic nations. Erhard Wetzel felt that thought should be given to a possible Germanization of the whole of the Estonian nation and a sizable proportion of the Latvians. On the other hand, the Lithuanians seemed less desirable since "they contained too great an admixture of Slav blood." Himmler's view was that "almost the whole of the Lithuanian nation would have to be deported to the East".[14]

Whatever happened, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were to be deprived of their statehood, while their territories were to be included in the eastern area of German settlement. This meant that Latvia and especially Lithuania would be covered by the deportation plans, though in a somewhat milder form than the Slav—"voluntary" emigration to western Siberia. While the Baltic nations like Estonians would be spared from repressions and physical liquidation that Jews or Poles were experiencing, in the long term the Nazi planners did not foresee their existence as independent entitites and they would be deported as well, with eventual denationalisation; initial designs were for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to be Germanized within 25 years, however Heinrich Himmler revised them to 20 years.[20]

Third Reich in 1939 (dark grey) after the conquest of Poland; with pockets of German colonists resettled into the annexed territories of Poland from the Soviet "sphere of influence" during the "Heim ins Reich" action. – Nazi propaganda poster superimposed with the red outline of Poland missing entirely from the original print.[21]

In 1941 it was decided to destroy the Polish nation completely and the German leadership decided that in 10 to 20 years the Polish state under German occupation was to be fully cleared of any ethnic Poles and settled by German colonists.[22] A majority of them, now deprived of their leaders and most of their intelligentsia (through human losses, destruction of culture, the ban on education above the absolutely basic level, and kidnapping of children for Germanization), would have to be deported to regions in the East and scattered over as wide an area of Western Siberia as possible. According to the plan this would result in their assimilation by the local populations, which would cause the Poles to vanish as a nation.[18]

According to plan, by 1952 only about 3–4 million 'non-Germanized' Poles (all of them peasants) were to be left residing in the former Poland. Those of them who would still not Germanize were to be forbidden to marry, the existing ban on any medical help to Poles in Germany would be extended, and eventually Poles would cease to exist. Experiments in mass sterilization in concentration camps may also have been intended for use on the populations.[23] The Wehrbauer, or soldier-peasants, would be settled in a fortified line to prevent civilization reanimating beyond the Ural Mountains and threatening Germany.[24] "Tough peasant races" would serve as a bulwark against attack[25] — however, it was not very far east of the "frontier" that the westernmost reaches within continental Asia of the Third Reich's major Axis partner, Imperial Japan's own Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere would have existed, had a complete defeat of the Soviet Union occurred.

The seizure of food supplies in Ukraine brought about starvation, as it was intended to do to depopulate that region for German settlement.[26] Soldiers were told to steel their hearts against starving women and children, because every bit of food given to them was stolen from the German people, endangering their nourishment.[27]

Execution of Polish intelligentsia during the mass murders in Piaśnica

Widely varying policies were envisioned by the creators of Generalplan Ost, and some of them were actually implemented by Germany in regards to the different Slavic territories and ethnic groups. For example, by August–September 1939 (Operation Tannenberg followed by the A-B Aktion in 1940), Einsatzgruppen death squads and concentration camps had been employed to deal with the Polish elite, while the small number of Czech intelligentsia were allowed to emigrate overseas. Parts of Poland were annexed by Germany early in the war (leaving aside the rump German-controlled General Government and the areas previously annexed by the Soviet Union), while the other territories were officially occupied by or allied to Germany (for example, the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia became a theoretically independent puppet state, while the ethnic-Czech parts of the Czech lands (so excluding the Sudetenland) became a "protectorate"). It is unknown to what degree the plan was actually directly connected to the various German war crimes and crimes against humanity in the East, especially in the latter phases of the war.[citation needed] In any case, the majority of Germany's 12 million forced laborers were abducted from Eastern Europe, mostly in the Soviet territories and Poland (both Slavs and local Jews).

One of the charges listed in the indictment presented at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer responsible for the transportation aspects of the Final Solution, was that he was responsible for the deportation of 500,000 Poles. Eichmann was convicted on all 15 counts.[28]

Civilian death toll in the Soviet Union[edit]

The Soviet Extraordinary State Commission formed in World War II in order to investigate the Nazi crimes,[29] which was tasked also with compensating the state for damages suffered by the USSR,[30] reported 8.2 million Soviet losses,[31] (4.0 million in Ukraine; 2.5 million in Belarus; and 1.7 million in Russia) as the result of German occupation. However, many reports prepared by the Commission are now considered outright fabrications, such as the shifting of blame for the Katyn massacre perpetrated by the Soviet authorities themselves.[32][33] The commission figures of 2.4 million losses in annexed lands included citizens of prewar Poland trapped along with inhabitants of other states occupied by the Soviet Union.[34] The overall statistics included Russian victims of Stalinist terror as well.[35][36] The Russian Academy of Sciences in 1995 estimated that the World War II casualties of the Soviet Union totaled 13.7 million civilian dead, 20% of the 68 million persons in the occupied USSR. This included 7.4 million victims of Nazi policies and reprisals; 2.2 million deaths of persons deported to Germany for forced labor; and 4.1 million famine and disease deaths in occupied territory. There were an additional estimated 3 million famine deaths in areas of the USSR not under German occupation. To support these figures, the Russian Academy of Sciences cited sources published in the Soviet era. The losses were for the entire territory of the USSR in 1946 to 1991 borders, including territories occupied by the Red Army in 1939–1940.[37] Russian historian Viktor Zemskov maintains that the Russian Academy of Science estimate for the civilian war dead is overstated because it includes about 7 million deaths resulting from natural causes, based on the mortality rate that prevailed before the war, and that reported civilian deaths in the occupied regions included persons who were evacuated to the rear areas. He submitted an estimate of 4.5 million civilians who were Nazi victims or were killed in the occupied zone and 4 million deaths due to the deterioration in living conditions.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andreas Hillgruber: Henry Picker. Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier 1941–1942, p. 182. Munich, 1968. (German)
  2. ^ "Der Generalplan Ost." Eine Ausstellung der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e Dietrich Eichholtz, »Generalplan Ost« zur Versklavung osteuropäischer Völker. PDF file, direct download.
  4. ^ Jill Stephenson (2006). Hitler's Home Front: Wurttemberg Under the Nazis. A&C Black. p. 113. Other non-'Aryans' included Slavs, Blacks and Roma and Sinti (Romanies). 
  5. ^ a b c d e Browning (2007), pp. 240–241
  6. ^ Sławomir Sobolewski. "Obozy pracy na terenie Gminy Hańsk" [World War II forced labour camps in Gmina Hańsk]., the official webpage of Gmina Hańsk. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Hans-Walter Schmuhl. The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, 1927–1945: crossing boundaries. Volume 259 of Boston studies in the philosophy of science. Coutts MyiLibrary. SpringerLink Humanities, Social Science & LawAuthor. Springer, 2008. ISBN 1-4020-6599-X, 9781402065996, p. 348–349
  8. ^ Joseph Poprzeczny, Odilo Globocnik, Hitler's Man in the East, McFarland, 2004, ISBN 0-7864-1625-4, Google Print, p.186
  9. ^ a b c d Robert Gellately. "Review of books". Vom Generalplan Ost zum Generalsiedlungsplan by Czeslaw Madajczyk. ISBN 3-598-23224-1. Der 'Generalplan Ost.' Hauptlinien der nationalsozialistischen Planungs- und Vernichtungspolitik by Mechtild Rössler; Sabine Schleiermacher. ISBN 3-05-002445-3. Central European History, Vol. 29, No. 2 (1996), pp. 270–274. Full review available with purchase on JSTOR. 
  10. ^ Anton Weiss Wendt (2010). Eradicating Differences: The Treatment of Minorities in Nazi-Dominated Europe. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 69. ISBN 1443824496. 
  11. ^ Stephen M. Streeter; John C. Weaver; William Donald Coleman. Empires and Autonomy: Moments in the History of Globalization. UBC Press. p. 181. ISBN 9780774858762. 
  12. ^ Churchill, Ward (1997). A little matter of genocide : holocaust and denial in the Americas, 1492 to the present. San Francisco: City Lights Books. p. 52. ISBN 9780872863231. 
  13. ^ Madajczyk, Czesław. "Die Besatzungssysteme der Achsenmächte. Versuch einer komparatistischen Analyse". [In:] Hitler's War in the East, 1941–1945: A Critical Assessment by Gerd R. Uebersch̀ear and Rolf-Dieter Müller. Studia Historiae Oeconomicae vol. 14 (1980): pp. 105-122 – via Amazon. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f Janusz Gumkowski; Kazimierz Leszczynski (1961). Poland under Nazi Occupation. Warsaw: Polonia Pub. House. OCLC 456349. "Hitler's Plans for Eastern Europe." Digitized selections from chapter The "New Order" in Europe: Generalplan Ost – via Internet Archive. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Romuald J. Misiunas; Rein Taagepera (1993). Georg von Rauch, ed. The Baltic States: Years of Dependence, 1940-80. University of California Press. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0520082273 – via Google Books. 
  16. ^ David James Smith. Estonia: Independence and European Integration. p. 35. ISBN 0415267285. 
  17. ^ Irene Tomaszewski; Tecia Werbowski (2010). "Labor camps – Polenlager". Code Name Żegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942–1945. ABC-CLIO. pp. 10–. ISBN 978-0-313-38391-5. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b John Connelly. Nazis and Slavs: From Racial Theory to Racist Practice. Central European History, Vol. 32, No. 1 (1999), pp. 1–33
  19. ^ Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners (p. 290) — "2.8 million young, healthy Soviet POWs" killed by the Germans, "mainly by starvation ... in less than eight months" of 1941–42, before "the decimation of Soviet POWs ... was stopped" and the Germans "began to use them as laborers".
  20. ^ Estonia and the Estonians (Studies of Nationalities) Toivo U. Raun page 161 Hoover Institution Press; 2002
  21. ^ Lynn H. Nicholas (2011). Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 194. ISBN 0307793826 – via Google Books. 
  22. ^ Berghahn, Volker R. (1999). "Germans and Poles 1871–1945". Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identities and Cultural Differences. Rodopi: 15–34. ISBN 9042006889 – via Google Books. 
  23. ^ Gerhard L. Weinberg, Visions of Victory: The Hopes of Eight World War II Leaders p 24 ISBN 0-521-85254-4
  24. ^ Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenberg and Nazi Ideology p190 ISBN 0-396-06577-5
  25. ^ Michael Sontheimer, "When We Finish, Nobody Is Left Alive" 05/27/2011 Spiegel
  26. ^ Karel C. Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule p. 45 ISBN 0-674-01313-1
  27. ^ Berkhoff, p. 166.
  28. ^ Stefan Korbonski The Polish Underground State: A Guide to the Underground, 1939-1945
  29. ^ Michael Berenbaum, ed. (1990). A Mosaic of Victims: Non Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis. New York University Press. ISBN 1-85043-251-1 – via Google Books, no preview. 
  30. ^ Konstantin Akinsha & Grigorii Kozlov. "Tracking The Trophy Brigade". Top Ten ARTnews Stories. ARTnews. Revealing the fate of thousands of artworks that disappeared into the Soviet Union after World War II. 
  31. ^ Georgily A. Kumanev (1990). "The German occupation regime on occupied territory in the USSR". In Michael Berenbaum. A mosaic of victims (ibidem). New York University Press. p. 140. ISBN 9781850432517. 
  32. ^ Fischer, Benjamin B. "The Katyn Controversy: Stalin's Killing Field" (Winter 1999–2000). Studies in Intelligence. Retrieved 10 December 2005. 
  33. ^ Anna M. Cienciala; Wojciech Materski (2007). Katyn: a crime without punishment. Yale University Press. pp. 226–229. ISBN 978-0-300-10851-4. 
  34. ^ Жертвы двух диктатур. Остарбайтеры и военнопленные в Третьем Рейхе и их репатриация. – М.: Ваш выбор ЦИРЗ, 1996, pp. 735-738. [Victims of Two Dictatorships. Ostarbeiters and POW in Third Reich and Their Repatriation] (Russian). Quote: 2,411,430 in annexed territories including (1,538,544 from Poland: Stanislav 223,920; Volyn 65,440; Lviv/Lwow 475,435; Rovno 175,133; Ternopol 172,357; Lutsk 117,549; Brest 159,526, Horodna 111,203; and Polesskya 37,981) Lithuania: including Vilnius/Wilno 436,535; Latvia: 313,798; Estonia: 61,307; and Moldova: 61,246.
  35. ^ Davies, Norman (2012). God's Playground [Boże igrzysko]. Otwarte (publishing). p. 956. ISBN 8324015566. Polish edition, second volume. To, co robili Sowieci, było szczególnie mylące. Same liczby były całkowicie wiarygodne, ale pozbawione komentarza, sprytnie ukrywały fakt, że ofiary w przeważającej liczbie nie były Rosjanami, że owe miliony obejmowały ofiary nie tylko Hitlera, ale i Stalina, oraz że wśród ludności cywilnej największe grupy stanowili Ukraińcy, Polacy, Białorusini i Żydzi. Translation: The Soviet methods were particularly misleading. The numbers were correct, but the victims were overwhelmingly not Russian, and came from either one of the two regimes. 
  36. ^ Bernd Wegner (1997). From peace to war: Germany, Soviet Russia, and the world, 1939–1941. Berghahn Books. p. 74. ISBN 1-57181-882-0. 
  37. ^ The Russian Academy of Science Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk. Liudskie poteri SSSR v period vtoroi mirovoi voiny: sbornik statei. Sankt-Peterburg 1995 ISBN 5-86789-023-6
  38. ^ Zemskov, Viktor. ""The extent of human losses USSR in the Great Patriotic War ("Военно-исторический архив" In Russian)"". ru:Демоскоп Weekly. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Jonas Bakoubayi Billy: Musterkolonie des Rassenstaats: Togo in der kolonialpolitischen Propaganda und Planung Deutschlands 1919-1943, J.H.Röll-Verlag, Dettelbach 2011, ISBN 978-3-89754-377-5. (German)
  • Helmut Heiber, "Der Generalplan Ost." Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 3, 1958. (German)
  • Dietrich Eichholtz, "Der Generalplan Ost." Über eine Ausgeburt imperialistischer Denkart und Politik, Jahrbuch für Geschichte, Volume 26, 1982. (German)
  • Roth, Karl-Heinz, "Erster Generalplan Ost." (April/May 1940) von Konrad Meyer, Dokumentationsstelle zur NS-Sozialpolitik, Mittelungen, Volume 1, 1985. (German)
  • Czesław Madajczyk, Die Okkupationspolitik Nazideutschlands in Polen 1939-1945, Cologne, 1988. OCLC 473808120 (German)
  • M. Rössler & S. Scheiermacher (editors), Der `Generalplan Ost' Hauptlinien der nationalsozialistischen Plaungs-und Vernichtungspolitik, Berlin, 1993. (German)
  • Michael Wildt, "The Spirit of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA)." Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions (2005) 6#3 pp. 333–349. Full article available with purchase.
  • Czesław Madajczyk, Generalny Plan Wschodni: Zbiór dokumentów, Główna Komisja Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, Warszawa, 1990. OCLC 24945260 (Polish)
  • Andrzej Leszek Szcześniak, Plan Zagłady Słowian. Generalplan Ost, Polskie Wydawnictwo Encyklopedyczne, Radom, 2001. ISBN 8388822039 OCLC 54611513 (Polish)
  • The Russian Academy of Science Rossiiskaia Akademiia nauk. Liudskie poteri SSSR v period vtoroi mirovoi voiny:sbornik statei. Sankt-Peterburg 1995, ISBN 5-86789-023-6. (Russian)

External links[edit]