The “breadbasket of Europe” refers to the fertile lands of Ukrainian territory. The chornozem (black earth) of the Ukrainian steppes, combined with the climate of the region make it uniquely suited to the growth of agricultural crops and grain in particular. While this natural resource is certainly a blessing for those inhabiting the territory it has also proved to be a curse.

The reason through this is that throughout history countless foreign powers have tried to seize the region for their own use. Indeed, it seems that since the land has been inhabited armies have been clashing in a struggle for control over the territory. As a result, the region has been subject to one foreign occupation after another.

The chornozem of Ukraine was a key objective for Hitler. In Nazi plans, the fertile plains of Ukraine were to provide lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic peoples. In a very real sense, then, the most destructive war in the history of humanity was fought over control of the “breadbasket of Europe.”