Interview for the project
Fascism-XXI at your door
In many Western countries mass media speculate on the subject of «millions of raped German women» who allegedly were sexually abused by Soviet troops. How could you comment on this?
Video part 1
Any army, being in an enemy state, faces disciplinary problems.
And it would be unfair to say that the negative events which occurred within the Soviet troops, when they stepped onto German ground were something unique.
The same was happening within the armies of our allies, and not on a smaller scale. The British, Americans, French were in the same way displaying antisocial behavior towards German women.
As to the extent of such behavior, if one looks at the history of the issue, it appears that the more time passes since the war the higher the number becomes.
The number of poor raped German women grows exponentially. Back in the sixties, the researchers indicated numbers from twenty to a hundred thousand German women raped in the Soviet occupation zone.
In comparison to the two million that were voiced in the early nineties, those figures seem incredibly modest.
What was really going on? Yes, of course, one cannot deny the incidents of German women being raped by the Soviet military.
However, first of all, it was not a political guideline of the Soviet military leadership. This was not an official policy against the German people. And it was not such a massive and widespread phenomenon, as it is currently pictured in the West.
According to the data from military tribunals and the military Prosecutor’s office, no more than two percent of Soviet military personnel committed crimes against the local civilian population.
Meanwhile, today's politicians, journalists, and researchers are trying to present the Soviet army, as an army of rapists, by projecting untypical and extreme behavior outbreaks onto the whole army of liberators.
I can cite a document that references to the end of April-beginning of May of 1945…
Video part 2
In this regard I'd like to cite one document that references to the end of April-beginning of May of 1945…
It is an excerpt from the First Belorussian Front military prosecutor report regarding the implementation of the directive of the Supreme Command #11072 and the military council of the First Belorussian Front #00384 on change of attitude towards the German population as of May 5, 1945: "In accordance with the directives of the Front’s military council, the Front military prosecutor office systematically monitors the implementation of the directives of the Supreme Command and the Front Military Council regarding the change in attitudes towards the German population. It ought to be admitted that the evidences of looting, violence and other illegal activities on the part of our military personnel against the local German population not only continued, but even went on to be fairly widespread in the timeframe from April 22 to May 5. I am citing figures for this state of affairs over the seven armies of our Front. The total number of outrages committed by the military against the local population, recorded for the seven armies is 124. Of these there have been documented 72 cases of rape of German women, 38 cases of robbery, 3 murders, and 11 instances of other illegal activities."1
Let us emphasize that the above data covers the seven armies of the Front, assailing Berlin in the midst of urban combats. That is nine hundred and eight and a half thousand (908 500) of military personnel at the beginning of the Berlin operation, of which thirty-seven and a half thousand (37 500) were irretrievable losses, and about one hundred and forty two thousand (142 000) – sanitary losses.2
Out of these more than seven hundred thousand healthy people left, there have been only 72 instances of rape in two weeks. According to the documents of the military prosecutors and military tribunals, later the number of rapes and other atrocities went down. Considering that, the figure of one hundred thousand inhabitants of Berlin, which have been abused by the "Soviet barbarians" doesn’t make much sense, to say the least, not to mention the two million.
However, we keep hearing that every sixth Eastern German woman was raped by Soviet military and allegedly many of them were raped multiple times; as well as that all females from eight to eighty years of age were abused. This figure - eight to eighty – was featured back in the Goebbels diaries, and in all the examples of Goebbels propaganda of the end of the war.
And he left his diaries and correspondence, which he subsequently brought together into a book. He was trying to publish the book soon after the war, but since it contained criticism of the behavior of the Western troops in Germany, the book only got published in the late nineties.
A very interesting document, which describes how the British and the Americans behaved in Germany.
I will not reproduce the Australian correspondent's texture. By the way, he cannot be blamed for sympathizing with the Soviet Union and the Soviet Army. But he admits that the discipline in the Soviet units was very strict, much stricter than in the English and American troops. And that all cases of maltreatment of the local population were immediately followed by disciplinary actions from the command and were severely punished.
As for the stories about the horrors that allegedly occurred with the civilian population in the Soviet zone of occupation, Osmar White wrote that all of this was strongly exaggerated. And when he personally asked the woman who told him about all the horror stories to tell him what she personally saw with her own eyes, she said, she saw drunken Soviet soldiers shooting at bottles.
Oh, and one more thing that I want to emphasize. After Berlin had been occupied by Soviet troops, and the fighting was over, more than eight hundred thousand inhabitants returned to the city in one month, from May to June 1945, those refugees who, frightened by the stories about Soviet atrocities and had fled to the western occupation zone.
So, they returned to Berlin, because the Soviet administration in Berlin organized food supply to the civilians, while in the American and British occupation zones the Germans were starving.
Video part 3
In the medical report Dr. Stewart presented to General Eisenhower it was noted that the number of venereal diseases in Germany in the first 6 months of American occupation had increased 26 times compared to that before.
In Serov’s report to Beria dated June 4, 1945 it was said: “By interrogation of returning Berliners it was found that Germans living in the Allied territory suffer cruel treatment at the hand of British and American troops, due to which they are returning to our territory. Also, German population living in the Allied territory is already experiencing hunger due to insufficient food supplies”5 Furthermore Serov6 reports that during the month since Berlin has been occupied by Soviet troops approximately 800,000 people who had escaped with retreating German forces returned. As a result population increased to 3,100,000 and supplies of bread are being delivered to the population regularly and according to established standards, and that there have been no shortages.
One German woman who had returned to Berlin was telling her neighbors that on the territory occupied by Allies the life of Germans was terrible; there was bad treatment; they were beaten with sticks and whips. Civilians were allowed to move only at certain times and were not provided with food. Many Germans were attempting to move to the territory occupied by the Red Army, but were not allowed to. It would be great if only Russians were in Berlin.
Finally, in the diary of the aforementioned Osmar White it is said that “After the fighting moved on to German soil, there was a good deal of rape by combat troops and those immediately following them. The incidence varied between unit and unit according to the attitude of the commanding officer. In some cases offenders were identified, tried by court martial, and punished. The army legal branch was reticent, but admitted that for brutal or perverted sexual offences against German women, some soldiers had been shot – particularly if they happened to be Negroes. Yet I know for a fact that many women were raped by white Americans. No action was taken against the culprits.”
“In one sector a report went round that a certain very distinguished army commander made the wisecrack, 'Copulation without conversation does not constitute fraternization.’” Another officer dryly noted regarding orders against fraternization that “Truly this is the first time in history that serious effort is made to deprive soldiers their right at defeated enemy’s women.”7
One should also note that military prostitution was wide-spread in hungry Germany, and for a loaf of bread, pack of cigarettes, or a bar of chocolate a woman was willing to engage in sex with anyone. Should this be considered a case of rape or a consensual act ?
The morality of war is greatly different from the morality of peacetime, and therefore you may not view the events of 1945 in Germany outside of the general historical context.
Video part 4
To speak about what happened in Germany in 1945, it is necessary to know the background of the events. Germany was occupied by the army, which for several years of the war, particularly during its advance across its own territory, had witnessed evidence of atrocities that German forces inflicted upon the Soviet Union, the crimes that the Germans committed against the Soviet civilian population – the elderly, women, children. Almost every soldier and officer had personal reasons for revenge against the enemy – they had family members killed by the Germans, not to mention comrades slain during the war.
And, of course, when Soviet troops entered the territory of Germany there were psychological breakdowns, desire to take vengeance on the enemy in its own lair. And there were acts of revenge that people, in fact, understood in different ways. Nevertheless Soviet military and political authorities immediately recognized the danger of these actions to the image of the country as well as to the discipline in the army, and took rigorous, drastic measures.
On January 19th, 1945 Stalin signed a special order regarding behavior on the territory of Germany8. On January 21st, the commander of the Second Belorussian Front, Marshal Rokossovsky issued order number 006 aiming to direct people’s hatred towards destruction of the enemy on the battlefield, and to punish for looting, rape, robbery, senseless arson and destruction.
On January 27th, a similar order was signed by the commander of the First Ukrainian Front, Marshal Konev. On January 29th the order of Marshal Zhukov that forbade the Red Army from oppressing the German population, robbery, and arson, was read out to all the battalions of the First Belorussian Front. Finally, by April 20th, 1945 a special instruction of the Supreme Headquarters9 on the behavior of Soviet Forces in Germany was adopted, in order to prevent acts of violence against the civilian population.
How did Soviet servicemen respond to these orders, and to the explanations of political workers? In the spring of 1945 an officer of the First Guards Tank Army10 Headquarters Elena Katukova11 wrote: “Political units are doing a great job among the troops, explaining how to deal with the civilians, distinguishing the incorrigible enemies from honest people that still need a lot of guidance. Who knows, maybe even we’ll have to help them rebuild everything that was destroyed by the war. The truth is that many of our men can hardly accept this way of tactful treatment of the population, especially those whose families suffered from the Nazis during the occupation. But we have a strict discipline. Probably when years pass, and many things change, we might even come to visit the Germans, to look at today’s battlefields. But a lot of this has to burn up and simmer down in our souls; it’s still too close to us, everything that we have suffered from the Nazis, these horrors."
However, according to a writer and dissident, former political officer Lev Kopelev12, who was one of the first to raise the topic of violence against the civilian population of Germany, he wrote: "I do not know the statistics, how many scoundrels, looters, rapists there were among our soldiers. I do not know. I'm sure they were insignificant minority, but it was them who made, so to say, a lasting impression. "
At the same time, many soldiers and officers resolutely fought against looting and violence among their own ranks. As for the verdicts of the military tribunals, in the first months of 1945, 4148 (four thousand one hundred and forty eight) officers and a large number of privates have been convicted by military tribunals for atrocities against the local population. There were a few exemplary trials that ended in death sentences and the guilty were executed by a firing squad in front of the troops.
If we refer to the documents of the German side, we’ll see that even before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War13 it was declared in advance that in the fight against Bolshevism one cannot treat the enemy based upon principles of humanity and international law. And the decree of Hitler, as Supreme Commander in Chief of the Wehrmacht on May 13th 1941, that is, more than a month before the beginning of the war, the decree on Regulation of Conduct of Troops in District "Barbarossa" and Handling of Opposition14 said: "For offenses committed by servicemen of the Wehrmacht and its employees against enemy civilians, prosecution is not compulsory, not even if the offense is at the same time a military crime or misconduct. The judge examines therefore whether in such cases disciplinary action is justified or whether it is necessary to take legal steps. The judge orders the prosecution of offenses against civilians through court-martial only if it is considered necessary for the maintenance of discipline or the security of the troops.”
How did the Germans estimate the natural hatred of the Soviet troops entering the territory of Germany? On April 15th, 1945 16-year-old Dieter Borkowski15 wrote about the mood of Berlin’s population: "In the afternoon we rode in the very crowded train from Anhalter railway station (Anhalter Bahnhof). There were a lot of women with us on the train, refugees from the eastern districts of Berlin occupied by the Russians; they carried with them all their belongings – a full backpack, nothing more. Horror froze on their faces, people were filled with anger and despair. I've never heard such swearwords. Then someone shouted above the noise: "Quiet!" We saw an ordinary, dirty soldier with two Iron Crosses16 and German cross in gold17 on his uniform. He had a stripe on the sleeve with four small metal tanks, which meant that he had put out of action four tanks in close combat. "I want to tell you something" he shouted, and silence fell in the train car. "Even if you do not want to listen, stop whining, we must win this war, we must not lose courage. If the others win – the Russians, the Poles, the French, the Czechs, and do to our people even one percent of what we were doing to them for six years, then after a few weeks there will be not a single German alive. I was in the occupied countries for six years, and I tell you that." The train became so quiet that one might have heard a pin fall. That soldier knew what he was talking about."18
However, the Germans themselves had to admit, that the Soviet troops were incredibly humane.
Video part 5
Elizabeth Schmeer in a conversation with the neighbors said,
Factory worker Goetze said about the new rules of provision: "It was very unexpected for us. We were intimidated that the Russians would kill women and children. In fact, we were rescued."20
Well, finally, one more interesting moment. One of the first ...
As early as May 31st 1945, the Military Council of the First Belorussian Front adopted a regulation on the supply of milk in the city of Berlin for children up to eight (8) years old.
And, perhaps, the most striking evidence is the memories of medical orderly Sophia Kuntsevich21 on the feelings of Soviet soldiers when they arrived to Germany:
“We crossed the border: the Motherland was liberated. ... I thought that when we entered Germany I would feel no mercy for anyone. So much hatred had built up inside me! Why should I feel sorry for a man's child if he had killed mine? Why should I feel sorry for his mother if he had hanged mine? Why should I spare his house if he had burned mine? Why? I wanted to see their wives and their mothers who had given birth to such sons. How would they look us in the face? It all came back to me and I thought: what shall I do? What will our soldiers do? We remember everything... We arrived at a village and children came running-hungry and unhappy. And I, who had sworn that I hated them all, collected everything the lads had, everything left from their rations, every piece of sugar, and gave it to the German children. Of course, I had not forgotten, I remembered everything, but I couldn't look into the eyes of hungry children with indifference.”22
As poet-soldier David Samoylov23 wrote in his diary: "Germany in 1945 was spared by the natural humanity of the Russian soldier."
Video part 6
However, one of most unprejudiced German historians Reinhard Rürup24, discussing how the Germans dealt with war memories stated: «Majority of the German population considered 1945 as defeat and the liberation from Nazism as enslavement. Excluding some well-known writers, the vast majority of Germans were unable to criticize openly and relentlessly what Germany did in Soviet Union. To the forefront came their own suffering and losses, the pain from the deaths of loved ones, concern for prisoners of war and missing persons, escape and daily struggle for survival. It seemed that their own suffering made people unable to perceive German crimes and German guilt. As soon as the first fright passed, they started to talk about injustice of others, about the "justice of winners" ».25
Video part 7
You have to keep in mind one more thing. Very often the Soviet soldiers were blamed for the crimes committed by repatriants26. Since it was happening in the Soviet occupation zone, it was attributed to Red Army soldiers.
However, the documents show that many cases of violence against local population were committed by former prisoners of concentration camps. Such people gathered in gangs and aimed to take revenge on their former masters.
You could find the records of such incidents in the diaries of Osmar White and in the documents of Soviet Command.
Besides that, we have to note the behavior towards German civilians demonstrated by other Eastern European nations who had been under German occupation for a long time. Mostly it applies to Czechs and Poles.
For example, there was a report of May 18th 1945, titled «On the attitude of the Czech population to the Germans»27 and submitted from the Political Unit of 4th Tank Army to the Head of Political Unit of the 1st Ukrainian Front, major general Yashechkin.
The reports says: «during the stay in Czechoslovakia the soldiers and officers of our units repeatedly witnessed how the local population expresses anger and hatred towards Germans, in various ways, often quite strange and unusual for us. This all can be explained by huge anger and desire for revenge that took over Czechoslovak people in relation to the Germans for all crimes committed. Anger and hatred to the Germans are so great, that very often our soldiers and officers have to restrain Czechoslovak people from spontaneous reprisals against Nazis.»
Then the document describes in details all such cases: burning people alive, hanging upside down, cutting of swastikas on the body and so on. Such atrocities, actually, are not very different from the actions of Germans on the occupied territories.
But, the most important in this document is the fact that such a literal fulfillment of the Old Testament principle «An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth» caused bewilderment and indignation among Soviet soldiers, because their understanding of justified retaliation was based on the principle «we ought not to be like Germans».
Well, now about Poles. In the secret report of March 5, 1945 from Serov - Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, commissioner of Soviet NKVD at the 1st Belorussian Front to People's Commissar of Internal Affairs Beria, it was noted: «from the soldiers of 1st Polish army we observe extreme cruelty to Germans».28
Another report stated: «local population, the Poles from Germanized families, taking advantage of the situation, rushed to rob the farms of their former German neighbours. The Soviet Command had to take number of measures to prevent massive looting of German households and plundering of industrial and other enterprises in the occupation zone». They had to protect Germans from their Polish neighbours as well.
All those documents are stored in archives. They have a number of archive fund, inventory number, specific folder and list. All the originals are available for viewing.
Now, some more quotes from Osmar White ….
Osmar White wrote in his diary about the behavior of repatriants:
«Military government units … were able ... to establish a semblance of order and begin to restore essential services. But when the slave laborers and POWs started to clog the roads in uncounted numbers, looting their way from town to town and village to village, the situation became impossible to control...
Elements among the survivors the big concentration camps often banded together to reap a harvest of vengeance on German people who so strenuously denied all knowledge of Nazi atrocities. Sparsely populated areas, until then spared the horrors of war, often suffered grievously at the hands of these criminal gangs.»29
The same war correspondent Osmar White testified:
«The discipline of the Red Army is good. There is no more looting, rape of bullying than in any other zone of occupation. Wild stories of brutality arise from magnification and distortion of individual instances, given verisimilitude by the Czechs' nervousness of Russian soldiers' exuberant manners and their liking for vodka.
One woman who told me the most hair-rising tales of Russian brutality in Prague was forced in the end to admit that the only evidence she had seen with her own eyes was drunken Russian officers firing pistols into the air or shooting at bottles.»30
And there is another trend noted in the report of military prosecutor of the 1st Belorussian Front from May 2d, 1945:
«In some instances the Germans engage in provocations and claim rape when no rape was actually committed. I had personally found two such cases. It also should be noted, that sometimes our personnel reports cases of rape and murder without due verification, then after verification it appears to be false. »31 That is to say that obvious provocations and false accusations took place.
And at the end I should probably read a quote of former president of Czech Republic Václav Klaus32 who said:
«We have no right to look at the past from the position other than historical one. We have no right to forget about the order of events and cause-and-effect relationship. We may not be “neutrally humanistic” while analyzing the tragic events of war and the period immediately after it, that is we should not expect some “symmetry of suffering”. The people, who promote such ideas today, keep demanding more and more of, so called, “gestures of reconciliation”, however, they actually equate murderers and victims and sometimes even reverse their positions. »
1 Central Archive of Defence Ministry of Russian Federation (ЦАМО РФ. Ф. 233. Оп. 2380. Д. 35. Л. 93-102.)
2 Krivosheev, G.F., ed. (1997). Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-280-7.
5 State Archive of Russian Rederation (ГАРФ. Ф. р-9401. Оп. 2. Д. 96. Л. 200; Д. 95. Л. 399.)
6 State Security General Ivan Aleksandrovich Serov, August 12, 1905 – July 1, 1990 was a prominent leader of Soviet security and intelligence agencies, head of the KGB between March 1954 and December 1958, as well as head of the GRU between 1958 and 1963. He was Deputy Commissar of the NKVD under Lavrentiy Beria.
7 White O. Conquerors' Road: An Eyewitness Account of Germany 1945. Cambridge University Press, 2003 . ISBN 0 521 53751 7 paperback, ISBN 0 521 83051 6 hardback. Selected quotes - http://australiarussia.com/osmarwhiteENFIN.htm
8 Cit. by: V. Medinsky War Myths of the USSR. 1939-1945. M., 2011. p. 622.V.Medinsky refers to the publication "The orders of the Supreme Commander in Chief in the Great Patriotic War." Moscow: Military Publishing, 1975. This collection of documents has been published, but the aforementioned order of January 19, 1945 is not there. Neither it is present in other publications of documents: orders of the USSR People's Commissar of Defense, the directives of the Supreme Command for 1945 (see: Russian Archives: The Great Patriotic War. Orders of the People's Commissar of Defense (1943-1945). V. 13 (2-3). Moscow: Terra, 1997, Russian Archives: The Great Patriotic war. Headquarters of Supreme Commander in Chief: Documents and Materials 1944-1945. v. 16 (5-4). Moscow: Terra, 1999.)
In the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense the text of the order of Stalin dated January 19, 1945, "On the behavior in Germany" has not been found. But foreign publications are full of references to it; dissidents L. Kopelev and A. Solzhenitsyn mentioned it as well. The existence of the orders of the front commanders Zhukov, Konev and Rokossovsky with similar content, dated the end of January 1945 is conclusively proven, and it indirectly confirms that in some form (written, classified as "top secret" or oral, which is also possible) such order of Stalin also existed, but as the original has not been found yet, one cannot be responsible for the accuracy of the citations.
9 The Supreme Headquarters – an extraordinary body of higher military control that exercised the strategic direction of the Soviet Armed Forces during the Great Patriotic War.
10 The 1st Tank Army was a Soviet armoured formation that fought as part of the Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War II. The army was commanded throughout most of the war by Mikhail Katukov. It fought in the early defense during the Battle of Stalingrad, and Operation Uranus.
12 Lev Zalmanovich Kopelev - (April 9, 1912 – June 18, 1997) was a Soviet author and a dissident.
17 The German Cross (German: Deutsches Kreuz) was instituted by Adolf Hitler on 17 November 1941. It was awarded in two divisions. It was awarded in gold for repeated acts of bravery or achievement in combat and silver for distinguished non-combat war service. The German Cross in gold ranked higher than the Iron Cross First Class but below the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, while the German Cross in silver ranked higher than the War Merit Cross First Class with Swords but below the Knight's Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords.
18 The war of Germany against the Soviet Union 1941-1945. The documentary exhibition of the city of Berlin for 50th aniversary of German invasion in the USSR. 1992, p.255. ed. Reinhard Rürup (Война Германии против Советского Союза 1941-1945. Документальная экспозиция города Берлина к 50-летию со дня нападения Германии на Советский Союз. В., 1992. С. 255.)
19 Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (РГАСПИ. Ф. 17. Оп. 125. Д. 321. Л. 33, 99, 14-19, 20-21, 54-55; Д. 320. Л. 161-163. )
21 Sophia Adamovna Kuntsevich went to the front at 16 years old; in 1945 she left her signature on the Reichstag: "I, Sophia Kuntsevich, came to Berlin to kill war". She is the only person from Belarus to be awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal. She's one of the characters of the book by Svetlana Alexievich "War's Unwomanly Face."
23 David Samoylov. Pseudonym of David Samuilovich Kaufman; 1 June 1920 in Moscow — 23 February 1990 in Tallinn. He is a notable poet of the War generation, and is considered one of the most important Russian poets of the post-World War II era.
25 The war of Germany against the Soviet Union 1941-1945. The documentary exhibition of the city of Berlin for 50th aniversary of German invasion in the USSR. 1992, p.261. ed. Reinhard Rürup.
26 Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war.
27 Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (рус — РГАСПИ. Ф. 17. Оп. 125. Д. 320. Л. 161-163)
28 «Power» - the magazine of Institute of Sociology of Russian Academy of Sciences. 2000 № 6(357). p. 47.
29 White O. Conquerors' Road: An Eyewitness Account of Germany 1945. Cambridge University Press, 2003 . ISBN 0 521 53751 7 paperback, ISBN 0 521 83051 6 hardback. Selected quotes - http://australiarussia.com/osmarwhiteENFIN.htm
31 Central Archive of Defence Ministry of Russian Federation ( ЦАМО РФ. Ф. 372. Оп. 6570. Д. 76. Л. 85, 92, 94, 86, 225, 226; Д. 68. Л. 17-20. Л. 4-5, 12. Д. 78. Л. 30-32; Ф. 233. Оп. 2380. Д. 41. Л. 226-238.)