Russian brutality on invading Germany

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by TriciaF, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    I've read in various places that as the Allies returned to occupy Germany at the end of the war, the Russians were feared the most by the German civilians.
    Is this true? and if so, why were they more brutal than the other armies?
    Also heard similar from the mother of my sister's German penfriend
    Maybe their country had sufferred more?
    Is there anything to read on this subject?
    I saw an old film about the occupation of Hanover, the British were first in there, and the locals were relieved.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  3. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Thanks CL1 - I've just read through those and it does answer my questions , partly.
    But why the Russians - was it cultural? And were the other Allies bound by some international agreement, not to take revenge?
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    One could go on for days about the Russian atrocities in Austria / Germany but it really boils down to the Russian revenge on Germany….

    I spent some time in Vienna just after the war ended - and this is what happened there - 6th Armoured Division was held up by the Russians in Southern Austria where we should have been

    in the area of Knittelfeld and Judenburg on the outskirts of the Russian Sector - three weeks later we were allowed into our own sector and heard the tales

    Main tale was that when the first class Corps took over in Vienna - two days later they were withdrawn and replaced by a corps of Mongol troops who were told that " Vienna is yours - do as

    you wish" Their main wish was to rape and slaughter everything that moved. Just one story - a platoon entered a Maternity hospital- raped all the patients - bayoneted ALL women including

    the expectant women….and left to rape anyone else still standing….went on for months…BUT they were bigger than we were…

  5. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    That's a much worse story than I've heard and read, but explains the fear.
    You hear about "the Russian army", but they were so many nations, and so diverse. Everyone has heard of the Mongol hordes and their cruelties, but evidently they were part of it too.
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Capt.Sensible likes this.
  7. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day triciaf,jm,today,01:50pm re:russian brutality on invading germany.PURE revenge.the germans had raped and slaughtered.millions of russians.that is how the world was in those days.and it seems it has not changed much today.have a happy xmas and a great new year.regards bernard85. :group2:
    BADHAK likes this.
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Remember Oradour, It was said that 600 Russian villages were so martyred during the Second World War

    The Ukraine.....Those Ukrainians who volunteered for service within the German military structures were misled into thinking that on a German victory,Germany would grant them independence from the Soviet Union.However Hitler had no such thoughts,he saw the Ukraine as Germany's bread basket as it was during the Great War.The East up to the Urals would be settled with German stock.

    Russian POWs were woefully neglected,starved,they died like flies, reflecting the Third Reich untermenchen ideology towards the Slav population.
    BADHAK and Margaret Ann like this.
  9. Brian Smith

    Brian Smith Junior Member

    I may be mistaken but I am sure I have read somewhere that it was this Russian hatred of the Germans that influenced Churchill to agree to Russian troops arriving first in Berlin. Knowing that there would be a lot of hand to hand exchanges, including contact with woman and children, he felt it best British troops be kept away and use the Russians do the dirty work.

  10. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Thanks for the replies - re the Ukrainians. I think I read that they were among the Russians who had picked the wrong side to fight for and when returned "home" were executed by the Russians.
  11. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    they didn't wait to get them home - thousands were shot and killed at just North of Judenberg in their sector as we had collected them - housed them

    in a camp at Judenberg thinking they were Israelites trying to get to Israel - we didn't really know about that until 1976 when the 30 year rule

    was published- much the same happened to a Cossack Division at 46th Divisions sector near Graz - women and children were also included ..

    BRIAN - it was NOT Churchill who agreed to the Russian entry into Central Europe but FDR who also agreed to the idiotic landing in Southern France

    just after D Day by reducing by 7 divisions the force which was meant to drive up to Poland to STOP the Russians enter Europe but at Yalta -

    Churchill was bankrupt and the BIG TWO took charge.and we all know what happened in Europe where they had 40 years to indoctrinate millions…

  12. freebird

    freebird Senior Member

    Posted 24 December 2014 - 08:39 AM

    Thanks CL1 - I've just read through those and it does answer my questions , partly.

    But why the Russians - was it cultural? And were the other Allies bound by some international agreement, not to take revenge?

    Tricia - The short answer to your last question is yes.
    The UK, USA & Germany had all signed & ratified the Geneva convention agreements of 1929, concerning the treatment of PoWs, and the earlier Hague conventions concerning enemy civilians.

    Japan had signed the Geneva Convention but then declined to ratify it - they had however ratified the earlier Hague convention.

    The Soviets did not sign (or accede) to the Geneva Convention of 1929, and theoretically wouldn't have been bound by the earlier Hague conventions of 1899 & 1907 regarding the treatment of enemy civilians in captured areas - as it had been signed by the Tsar, not the Soviets.

    Although you refer to "The Russians" it was actually the Soviets who controlled the Eastern sector, and they repaid the rape, slaughter & brutality that the Nazis had committed on the |Eastern Front in kind.

    There were cases of revenge & vigilante justice on the Western front too, Stuttgart (in the American sector) was captured by French forces, and there was reportedly an orgy of mass rape & violence by the poorly disciplined French African troops. - Google "Rape of Stuttgart WWII" and you'll find the details.

    Since the US & UK didn't have significant territories occupied by the Nazis, they hadn't witnessed atrocities against civilians and so the soldiers had less desire for violent revenge.

    Of all the Allied powers, the British made the most conscientious effort to adhere to the rules and the intent of the Geneva & Hague conventions on treatment of PoWs & civilians in their sector.
    BADHAK likes this.
  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    The French North African troops after the first battle of Cassino were guilty of extensive rape and violence on local Italians -

    the 8th Army had them moved to the US sector on the Eastern side of Italy - and never again in 8th Army's sector…

    there was some revenge by the British in Vienna as some Russians picked a fight with the Argyll and Southern Highlanders the Russki's

    lost 6 -Nil…But the Argylls were banished to the south out of the way…

  14. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member Patron

  15. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Another book for my list, thanks.
    I've got quite a library now about different aspects of WW2 .
  16. freebird

    freebird Senior Member


    The French North African troops after the first battle of Cassino were guilty of extensive rape and violence on local Italians -

    the 8th Army had them moved to the US sector on the Eastern side of Italy - and never again in 8th Army's sector…

    Tom, were the men of the 8th Army aware at the time of the behavior of the French African troops?

    Was the ethical question of treatment of enemy civilians ever discussed?
  17. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    oh yes we were well aware of what the French were up to as it was quite a talking point as at the time we were still in North

    Africa but knew all about a lot of things..we had lectures on current affairs almost every week - and some of us paid attention

    and the others heard all about it...

    We also had lectures about the civilians before we arrived in Italy so we knew what to expect..and how they should be treated

  18. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As regards the treatment of French colonial troops as POWs,there was an instant dislike of French colonial troops and this was largely generated through Nazi propaganda regarding the state of French culture. Some of this has the roots of German females having relationships with French colonial troops in the occupied Rhineland in the 10 years or so following Versailles.French colonial troop POWs were humiliated and filmed to aid the Aryan propaganda highlighting what the Nazi regime deemed to be "French culture"

    French colonial troops paid for this,reflecting Nazi ideology when captured in the overrunning of western Europe in French colonial servicemen was safe when captured by the Wehrmacht.

    Irrespective of the Geneva Convection and the fact that Russia was not a signatory, it mattered little for the Third Reich, represented by its leadership was indicted at Nuremberg for its brutal treatment of Russian POWs and POWs in general where circumventing of the Convention was successfully prosecuted...there is abundant evidence of those brought to book and those who disappeared post war, into their own Nacht und Nebel

    The question of Allied excesses has been aired before.Surely no excesses carried out by elements of the Allies can equate to the horror and the crimes sanctioned by Nazi ideology and the German military leadership in occupied mainland Europe and Russia.It shamed Germany for many years.

    As for Austria,it participated in Nazi aggression from 1938 but was seen as a victim of Nazism by the Allies and was able to become unoccupied by 1955.It lost about 24000 civilians in the war as compared to Britain with 65000 civilian deaths...Germany.... seen a figure of 650000 civilian deaths while the VKD records 500000 victims.Have a look at the leading Nazi personalities....some leading figures were a product of the Austrian Nazi Party and none of them failed Hitler,they were there to the end.

    There is a very good publication covering German women involvement in Nazi Germany.It's a very good insight to the era of Nazism and its collapse and covers a wide range of roies including one of being a concentration camp guard and others who experienced the defeat of the Wehrmacht at the hands of the Red Army....Frauen...German Women Recall the Third Reich....Alison Owings
    BADHAK likes this.
  19. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    This reply is to Freebird - sadly at the minute I'm having problems cutting and pasting text...

    "Normally" it wouldn't matter that there had been a change of national government as in Russia in 1917 - any earlier ratification of the Hague Conventions etc. would still have applied, even to the Bolsheviks...

    But at the end of November, in his "tractor factory" speech, Lenin specifically repudiated "All Imperialist treaties" that Russia was a signatory other words de-ratifying the Hague Conventions as well as all the "nested" treaties that had dragged Russia into WWI on the side of the Entente Powers.

    The Soviets had a different approach to international treaties; they made short-term ones on a one-to-one basis with any single nation as required...such as the twice-repeated mutual defence pact with Poland in the interwar period...but they didn't specifically re-ratify the Hague Conventions, and only parts of the Geneva Conventions.

    IIRC this was confirmed in 1940 when in somewhat of a panic Stalin agreed on such a one-to-one treaty with the Finns at the start of the Winter War...agreeing to uphold certain elements of the Hague Rules of Land Warfare between them for the duration of the conflict. He tried to do the same in 1941 via the Bulgarians when Hitler invaded...but Hitler refused, seeing a defeat of the USSR as inevitable in the short term - at THAT point!

    At the end of the war, therefore, the Allies at Nuremberg came up with the legal kludge that international treaties like the Hague and Geneva Conventions...even if they hadn't been universally ratifies by ALL parties...applied to all parties by the rule of "custom" I.E. if it was customary for parties to behave as per Hague and Geneva, then it "applied" to all. This idea was later itself pout into international law as the International law of Treaties, that says that even if not specifically ratified by individual nations, a global-scope treaty would, after thirty years, apply to ALL...even those who DIDN'T ratify it!

    One of the main problems in the East in WWII was that while Germany had indeed ben a signatory and "high contracting power" to both the Hague and Geneva set of Conventions...after November 1917 the Soviets were not - and in the legalese of the Hague Conventions they didn't apply if only one side was a signatory - BOTH belligerents in a war had to have signed up to them! Hence the 1945 kludge...which took the obligation away from individual nations, and put it by default on all nations.

    The situation as of the start of hostilities between Nazi Germany and the USSR in 1941 was even MORE the various "orders" passed at the start of the campaign, such as the Commissar Order etc. which specifically BROKE the Hague and Geneva Conventions as policy. After that - no matter what customs were in place between them...or not!...the gloves were off anyway, and no treaty, even the most tenuous understanding of one between the two nations, would ever put Nazi and Bolshevik back on common ground regarding POW treatment etc.
    Gerard likes this.
  20. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Tricia et all,

    the latest ZDF German TV channel episode film in 3 parts may fit into this subject. German title: Tannbach -Schicksal eines Dorfes
    As far as I know in German only, the first part starts on the 4th of January at 8:15 pm.
    It is about a family living in a small village cut in 2 parts after the end of WW2 (US and Russian Zone).


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