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The Red Army's Rape of Europe

on Fri, 02/27/2015 - 16:53

Last month I posted a short write-up on Auschwitz, which I visited in September of last year. In addition, at the website's World War II gallery I posted fourteen photo's I took at Auschwitz, and corresponding detailed descriptions amply illustrating these German initiated crimes against humanity. In addition, I have also published a detailed look at the former German concentration camp at Terezin in the Czech Republic (which I visited in 2013) and repeated articles, book reviews, and pictures amply detailing the horrors of the Holocaust, the individuals who suffered or fought against the Nazi's, and the ability of these war criminals to get away with it. 

With that in mind and therefore without forgetting how horribly depraved and murderous the Third Reich and it's leadership was, we must nevertheless not forget that the the people of Eastern and Central Europe suffered horribly not just at Nazi hands, but those of their ostensible liberators as well. To that end, and as we celebrate this year's 70th anniversary of the end of World War II (or as it's sometimes known in the U.S. "the last good war") we must remember that the Red Army "liberated" Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and parts of Austria and Germany in an absolute orgy of rape and violence. Thereby proving once again that the terms "good" and "war" are hardly compatible.

If the German advance into the Soviet Union previously could be characterized as horrifyingly systematic and industrialized in its genocidal slaughter of the innocent, then the Soviet advance into Central Europe was brutal, primitive, and bestial in nature. Millions of German women joined their female brethren raped in Hungary, Romania, Poland, wherever the Red Army conquered; albeit with far worse excesses committed against the women from Axis nations such as Hungary, Austria and Germany. More Slavic Axis nations, such as Bulgaria fared somewhat better, though try telling that to a Pole. Eastern and Central Europe’s women were raped repeatedly and viciously, by desensitized individuals for whom killing had become meaningless, or bent on vengeance after witnessing Germany’s crimes in Eastern Europe. Many of these women either expired from their wounds, were killed outright once used up as mere objects, killed by their own families, or died at their own hand in shame. The Swiss Embassy in Hungary reported,

The worst suffering of the Hungarian population is due to the rape of women. Rapes-affecting all age groups from ten to seventy-are so common that very few women in Hungary have been spared. They are sometimes accompanied by incredible brutalities. Many women prefer suicide to these horrors…The misery is made worse by the sad fact that many Russian soldiers are diseased and there are absolutely no medicines in Hungary.

In addition, the Red Army did not reserve the wholesale rape of Central and Eastern Europe’s women to just foreign women. The Red Army’s men repeatedly raped liberated Russian female forced laborers. When the Red Army captured the Ravensbruck concentration camp, located 50 miles north of Berlin, Soviet soldiers gang-raped the surviving emaciated female concentration camp victims. Even teenage girls hailing from the western Soviet Union were not immune. The Russian archives detail these mass assaults, as reported by the deputy chief of the political department from the 1st Ukrainian Front, by members of the Red Army upon Russian, Ukrainian, and Byelorussian women.

“On the night of 24 February a group of thirty-five provisional lieutenants on a course and their battalion commander entered the women’s dormitory in the village of Grutenberg, ten kilometers east of Els, and raped unknown senior lieutenant of tank troops went by horse to where girls were gathering grain. He left his horse and spoke to a girl from the Dnepropetrovsk region called Gritzenko, Anna, ‘Where are you from?’ he asked. She answered this senior lieutenant. He ordered her to come closer. She refused. So he took his gun and shot her, but she did not die. Many similar  incidents took place…In the town of Bunslau, there are over 100 women and girls in the headquarters….On March 5, late at night, sixty officers and soldiers entered, mainly from the 3rd Guards Tank Army. Most of them were drunk, and they attacked and offended against women and girls…This is not the only incident. It happens every night…On the night of February 14-15 in one of the villages where the cattle are herded a shtraf company under the command of a senior lieutenant surrounded the village and shot the Red Army soldiers who where on guard there. They went to the women’s dormitory and started their organized mass rape of the women, who had just been liberated by the Red Army.”

Freed Soviet prisoners of war and male forced laborers fared only marginally better. They underwent screening processes at the hands of the NKVD, to “guarantee” they were not traitors, via political re-education instead of receiving desperately needed medical care. Others were immediately sent, with no training or medical attention, to flesh out the ranks of the Red Army’s woefully under strength Rifle Divisions.The Red Army and NKVD also rounded up German civilians by the thousands and forcibly marched them to the Soviet Union for use as forced labor. The NKVD processed back to Russian farms and factories 66,680 German forced laborers by March 9, 1945. The enslaved women faced not only backbreaking work, but also constant sexual assault and disease.

There is no question the Red Army’s appalling behavior emanated from the Soviet leadership. Stalin implicitly authorized the Red Army to rape its way through Eastern Europe. Stalin’s cavalier attitude toward rape had earlier begun through the process of dehumanizing women, by referring to women employed by the Red Army as “campaign wives” (pokhodno-polevaya zhena) for the officers. Stalin’s casual attitude toward sexual exploitation and violence easily carried over to the treatment of civilian women in captured lands. The men joined in their officers predations upon these female populations. Ideology and propaganda played an important role. So did the low quality of the men serving in the Red Army’s ranks. Beginning in April 1943 former prison convicts joined teenage boys and other ill-trained conscripts in fleshing out the rifle companies. Revenge also has to be considered, with more and more White Russians and other recently liberated ethnic groups in the Red Army’s ranks men that had seen their villages destroyed and families and friends regularly killed by German soldiers during years under tyrannical Nazi rule had their chance to turn the tables.

So as we celebrate the seventy year anniversary of the Second World War’s end just remember that for many Europeans celebrating their “liberation” was a relative concept at best.


Recommended secondary sources for readers further interested in this important period during the Second World War:

Giles MacDonogh, After the Reich, The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation, (Basic Books, 2007).

John Erickson, The Road to Berlin, (Westview Press, 1983).

Krisztian Ungvary, Translated by Ladislaus Lob, The Siege of Budapest One Hundred Days in World War II, (Yale University Press, 2005) - first block quote above from page 350.

Antony Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945, (Viking, 2002) - second block quote above from pp.108-109.

Catherine Merridale, Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945, (Picador, 2006).


Crop Tops's picture

That homicidal maniac Hitler never should've poked the Russian bear. 

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