Unlike almost every other volume published on the subject, my book, Hellstorm—The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947, is not the “Good War” scenario; this book is not about what they did to us; this book is about what we did to them.
When most folks think of war, they think of bombs and bullets, tanks and airplanes. But war is more than that; indeed, actual fighting is only a small part of war. War is also about occupation, domination, starvation, imprisonment, torture, degradation, humiliation.
Below is a passage from Hellstorm. There is much more in the book on the subject, but the excerpt is fairly representative. Magnify the accounts by a million or more and we have a pretty good picture. Although the perpetrators here are Soviet soldiers, particularly the Mongol and Asiatic troops, similar incidents were committed by all the Allied armies, Americans included. This is the true face of war.
“All of us, without exception, suffered the same,” revealed one victim.
“And to make matters worse,” added a witness from Neisse, “these atrocities were not committed secretly or in hidden corners but in public, in churches, on the streets, and on the squares. . . . Mothers were raped in the presence of their children, girls were raped in front of their brothers.”
“They . . . raped women and girls . . . in ditches and by the wayside, and as a rule not once but several times,” echoed another viewer. “Sometimes a whole bunch of soldiers would seize hold of one woman and all rape her.”
For those Germans who had naively imagined that they might “win over” the Soviets with kindness and courtesy, they now understood, too late, that Nazi propaganda had in this instance grossly understated the threat, rather than exaggerated it. “[T]he atrocity reports in the newspapers were harmless, compared to reality,” one incredulous victim revealed. While many upright Russian officers courageously stepped in and risked their own lives to stop the murders and rapes, their efforts were little more than a drop of water to a forest fire.
“[A]ll of us knew very well that if the girls were German they could be raped and then shot,” admitted Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “This was almost a combat distinction.”
“There will be no mercy–for no one. . . ,” ran one Russian general’s order to his men. “It is pointless to ask our troops to exercise mercy.”
“Kill them all, men, old men, children and the women, after you have amused yourself with them!” urged the Jewish propagandist, Ilya Ehrenberg, in his flaming broadsides. “Kill. Nothing in Germany is guiltless, neither the living nor the yet unborn. . . . Break the racial pride of the German women. Take her as your legitimate booty. Kill, you brave soldiers of the victorious Soviet Army.”
Springing from house to house and victim to victim “like wild beasts,” the drunken horde was determined to embrace such words as the above at their literal worst.
“And as we were then hauled out of the cellar,” recalled a woman who, along with her mother and grandmother had been raped repeatedly, “and as they stood there with their machine guns, my mother said, ‘Well, now we’ll probably be shot.’ And I said, ‘It’s all the same to me.’ It really was all the same to me. . . .”
You can imagine Asian cruelty. . . . “Frau, come,” that was the slogan. “Frau, come.” And I was so furious, because I’d had it up to here. . . . [H]e had me in such a clinch I couldn’t free myself, with my elbow I hit him in the pit of his stomach. That definitely hurt him, and he yelled, “You, I shoot.” And he was brandishing this kind of machine gun around my nose and then I said, “Then shoot.” Yelled it, yelled it just like he did. “Then shoot.”
Though the woman above miraculously lived, many who offered even token resistance did not. Wrote a witness from Bauschdorf:
Emilie Ertelt . . . wanted to protect her fifteen-year old daughter, who had been raped sixteen times on one and the same day. Holding a lighted candle in her hand, Mrs. Ertelt, and all those present in the room began to pray for her daughter. . . .[F]our shots were suddenly fired at us. After a few moments some more Russians appeared and started shooting at Mrs. Ertelt, wounding her in the head. The blood streamed down her face, and the nuns who were present went to her assistance and bandaged her head. Soon afterwards another Russian appeared, a brutal-looking fellow . . . and fired a shot at close range. Mrs. Ertelt was killed instantaneously.
Surrounded by Soviets, flight was simply not a sane option for females–and yet, some tried. One young teacher from Kriescht ran terror-stricken into the nearby woods. The woman was soon found, however, and, according to a chronicler, “They drove her out on the road stark naked, and many soldiers used her one after the other. She reached her village crawling on hands and knees along the ditch, through mud and snow. . . .” Another group of females found temporary haven in a woodland barn near Schoeneiche. But again, the refuge was swiftly discovered. Remembered one who was there:
They burst in, drunk with vodka and with victory, looking for women. When they saw only older women and children hiding behind a pile of carpets, they must have suspected that somewhere younger bodies were being concealed, and they started to ram their bayonets into the carpets. Here and there first and then systematically. . . . Nobody knows how many young girls were killed instantly that night. Eventually, the muffled cries of anguish and pain gave the hiding places away, and the victors started unrolling their prey. They chased those girls that had remained unhurt through the barn. . . . By then the barn looked like a battle field with wounded women on the floor right next to screaming and fighting victims forced to endure repeated and violent acts of rape. The sound of women’s pleading outcries and the brutal voices of the conquering heroes and their drunk singing followed them out into the darkness.
Faced by relentless assaults, with flight out of the question, females tried a variety of stratagems to save themselves. “Some of us tried to make ourselves as unattractive as possible by rouging the tips of our noses, putting gray powder on our upper lips to look like mustaches, and combing out our hair wildly,” revealed Lali Horstmann. Others placed pillows under their dresses and hobbled with sticks to appear like hunchbacks. One crazed woman “left her door open purposely to attract soldiers to where she was lying in bed in an alluring nightdress, in the hope of finding a protector,” one viewer recalled. “Two Russians, who had entered for a moment stood speechless. Then both spat in disgust, using a coarse word, shocked to the core by a woman who could offer herself to them. They went on to the room next door, from where soon came cries for help from the girl’s grandmother, aged sixty-nine. Her valiant defense of her honor had made her more attractive than the pretty, too willing girl.” Regarding “willing” women such as the above as “unclean,” Red troops were as likely as not to kill on the spot such individuals.
Many frantic females mistakenly assumed a house of God would provide protection. In fact, churches were usually the rapists’ first stop. Agonized a priest from Neisse:
The girls, women and nuns were raped incessantly for hours on end, the soldiers standing in queues, the officers at the head of the queues, in front of their victims. During the first night many of the nuns and women were raped as many as fifty times. Some of the nuns who resisted with all their strength were shot, others were ill-treated in a dreadful manner until they were too exhausted to offer any resistance. The Russians knocked them down, kicked them, beat them on the head and in the face with the butt-end of their revolvers and rifles, until they finally collapsed and in this unconscious condition became the helpless victims of brutish passion, which was so inhuman as to be inconceivable. The same dreadful scenes were enacted in the hospitals, homes for the aged, and other such institutions. Even nuns who were seventy and eighty years old and were ill and bedridden were raped and ill-treated by these barbarians.
Those women pregnant, on their menstrual cycle, or enduring diarrhea, suffered like all the rest. Nothing, it seemed–not age, ailment or ugliness–could repel the Red rapist. Even death was no defense.
“I . . . saw some twenty Red Army men standing in line before the corpse of a woman certainly beyond sixty years of age who had been raped to death,” one sickened witness recorded. “They were shouting and laughing and waiting for their satisfaction over her dead body.” As this viewer went on to add, and as numerous examples attest, such ghoulish depravities were not isolated events.