"Kill! Kill! In the German race there is nothing but evil; not one among the living, not one among the yet unborn but is evil! Follow the precepts of Comrade Stalin. Stamp out the fascist beast once and for all in its lair! Use force and break the racial pride of these German women. Take them as your lawful booty. Kill! As you storm onward, kill, you gallant soldiers of the Red Army." —Jewish Soviet propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg, in a leaflet distributed to Soviet soldiers upon entering Germany in 1945
Stalin's army of rapists: The brutal war crime that Russia and Germany tried to ignore
By Andrew Roberts
24th October 2008
Relations between Russia and Germany have not been good since Vladimir Putin's nationalist sabre-rattling this summer, but they are about to get a whole lot worse.
A new film about to be released in Germany will force both countries to re-examine part of their recent history that each would much prefer to forget. Yet it is right that the ghastly truth should finally be acknowledged.
The movie, A Woman In Berlin, is based on the diary of the German journalist Marta Hillers and depicts the horror of the Red Army's capture of the capital of the Third Reich in April and May 1945.
Marta was one of two million German women who were raped by soldiers of the Red Army - in her case, as in so many others, several times over.
It was a feature of Russia's 'liberation' and occupation of eastern Germany at the end of World War II that is familiar enough to historians, but which neither country cares to acknowledge took place on anything like the scale it did.
In his fine new book, World War Two: Behind Closed Doors, the historian Laurence Rees points out that although rape was officially a crime in the Red Army, in fact, Stalin explicitly condoned it as a method of rewarding the soldiers and terrorising German civilians.
Stalin said people should ' understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle'.
On another occasion, when told that Red Army soldiers sexually maltreated German refugees, he said: 'We lecture our soldiers too much; let them have their initiative.'
While Stalin condoned rape as an instrument of state military policy, his police chief Lavrenti Beria was a serial rapist.
An American diplomat, Beria's bodyguard and the Russian actress Tatiana Okunevskaya all bore witness of his methods of grabbing women off the street and shoving them into his limousine and then his bed.
'You are a long way from anywhere, so whether you scream or not does not matter,' Beria would tell the women when he got them back to his dacha. 'You are in my power now. So think about that and behave accordingly.'
More than 100 school-aged girls and young women were drugged and raped by the man who ran the NKVD, the feared forerunner to the KGB.
The Red Army's atrocities against women in Dresden in the spring of 1945, a city that had already suffered heavily from Allied bombing, were carried out in a sickeningly systematic manner.
'In the house next to ours, Soviet troops went in and pulled the women on to the street, had their mattresses pulled out and raped the women,' recalled one inhabitant, John Noble.
'The men had to watch, and then the men were shot. Right at the end of the street, a woman was tied to a wagon wheel and terribly misused.
'Of course, you had the feeling that you wanted to stop it, but there was no possibility to do that.' Women going to and from work past Red Army pickets were routinely raped.
The historian Chris Bellamy believes that although there are no surviving written records to prove it, 'the hideous spectre of multiple rape was not only condoned, but, we can be pretty sure, legally sanctioned by the political officers speaking for the Soviet government'.
German rape victims find a voice at last
After 50 years a UK author has enabled countless women to admit their ordeal at the hands of Soviet troops.
Kate Connolly reports from Berlin
June 23, 2002
A bestselling book has prompted victims of one of the twentieth century's most tragic dramas to break their silence.
German women have come forward after 50 years to speak of their appalling treatment at the hands of Soviet soldiers, who raped their way across Germany for four years from 1945. Their ordeal has been revealed thanks to Antony Beevor, whose book Berlin: The Downfall 1945 came out in the UK to great acclaim last month.
In his book, Beevor, a Sandhurst recruit turned writer, uses previously unpublished material from Russian archives in Moscow to describe vividly the horrific suffering of an estimated two million German women and girls who were gang-raped by drunken Soviet soldiers as they made their way across the country with the aim of forcing the Nazis to retreat.
Among the victims were women who became prominent figures, including Hannelore Kohl, wife of the former Chancellor, Helmut. Mrs Kohl, who committed suicide last year, was raped along with her mother at the age of 12 as they failed to escape on a train bound for Dresden.
Beevor's book has unleashed an emotional response from scores of victims, mainly living in Britain, and their relatives, who have contacted him to express their gratitude that the story of an entire generation is finally being told.
'I was carrying out orders to bury some dead Hitler Youth boys when they found me,' Martha Dowsey says gently and slowly with a heavy German accent. 'Six Red Army soldiers with blackened faces held me down on the ground close to the graves and raped me one by one.' She repeats over and over: 'I'm not lying, I'm not, you must believe me.'
Beevor details the horrific consequences of events that resonated for years, affecting women's attitude towards sex and causing huge social problems between men and women.
By the late 1940s - the rapes went on for three years or more - the Soviet troops had left behind them a broken people. According to some reports, 90 per cent of Berlin women were infected with venereal diseases, while Beevor cites one doctor who said that, of the 100,000 women estimated to have been raped in Berlin, a tenth of them died, mostly from suicide. The mortality figures for the approximately 1.4 million raped in East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia, he says, are believed to have been much higher.
Beevor has shed considerable light on a chapter in German history, the extent of which has remained largely unknown outside Germany and which in the country continues to be a taboo subject.
App's "Ravishing the Women of Conquered Europe"
On March 24, 1945, our "noble Soviet allies" entered Danzig. A 50-year-old Danzig teacher reported that her niece, 15, was raped seven times, and her other niece, 22, was raped fifteen times. A Soviet officer told a group of women to seek safety in the Cathedral. Once they were securely locked inside, the beasts of Bolshevism entered, and ringing the bells and playing the organ, "celebrated" a foul orgy through the night, raping all the women, some more than thirty times. A Catholic pastor in Danzig declared, "They violated even eight-year-old girls and shot boys who tried to shield their mothers."
The Most Reverend Bernard Griffin, British Archbishop, made a tour of Europe to study conditions there, and reported, "In Vienna alone they raped 100,000 women, not once but many times, including girls not yet in their teens, and aged women."
A Lutheran pastor in Germany, in a letter of August 7, 1945, to the Bishop of Chichester, England, describes how a fellow pastor's "two daughters and a grandchild (ten years of age) suffer from gonorrhea, [as a] result of rape" and how "Mrs. N. was killed when she resisted an attempt to rape her," while her daughter was "raped and deported, allegedly to Omsk, Siberia, for indoctrination."
The day after our noble Soviet allies conquered Neisse, Silesia, 182 Catholic nuns were raped. In the diocese of Kattowitz 66 pregnant nuns were counted. In one convent when the Mother Superior and her assistant tried to protect the younger nuns with outstretched arms, they were shot down. A priest reported in Nord Amerika magazine for November 1, 1945, that he knew "several villages where all the women, even the aged and girls as young as twelve, were violated daily for weeks by the Russians."
Those Allies who were "no monsters" literally raped more European women than had ever before been raped in the history of the world. They put Germany on a starvation-level diet. Under direct orders from Dwight Eisenhower, they killed more than a million German POWs. They looted 12 million people of their homes, goods, food, and even clothes and drove them from their homelands. They took one-fourth of their farmland, they took their ships and their factories and their farm implements and then told them to live by farming. They abused and starved to death more German babies than there ever were Jews in Germany. They raped and debauched hundreds of thousands of German, Austrian, and Hungarian girls and women from eight to eighty. They brought to their death five times as many Germans in one year of peace as died during five years of war. Yes, yes, of course, these men of the United Nations, these men of the New World Order are no monsters.