“The death of Nazi Germany was the death of Western man and everything he once stood for.”
The most relevant information I have found in my adult life is the discovery that the System lied to me through the decades about what really happened during and after the Second World War. After reading this book I’ll never tire to repeat that what the Allies did in times of peace was incomparably more monstrous than the crimes attributed to the Germans in times of war (precisely because it was done in times of peace).
After Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago was published when I was a teenager W.L. Webb said, “To live now and not to know this work is to be a kind of historical fool.”
I would say exactly the same of those who don’t know the new Solzhenitsyn and his work about the Crime of the Age: a true holocaust perpetrated against the German people that, if not atoned, the whole white race will go extinct.
For excerpts of Hellstorm see below:
Hellstorm • prologue
In almost any war one side can be dishonestly demonized even by a truthful enumeration of its crimes, if the crimes of its adversaries are suppressed. —Irmin Vinson
Excerpted from Thomas Goodrich’s 2010 book
The Death of Nazi Germany
For six hundred years East Prussia had served as the frontier outpost of Germany…
By mid-October 1944, the Soviet Army had finally reached the Reich’s border. And yet, as was the case at Nemmersdorf, there was no panic.
Thus it was, that on the night of October 20, as Nemmersdorf and other communities nearest the front slept in imagined security, the unthinkable occurred. After punching a hole through the German line, the Red Army suddenly burst into the Reich.
“They tortured civilians in many villages,” reported one German officer, “nailed some on barn doors and shot many others.”
Added another horrified witness:
In the farmyard down the road stood a cart, to which four naked women were nailed through their hands in a cruciform position… Beyond stood a barn and to each of its two doors a naked woman was nailed through the hands, in a crucified posture. In the dwellings we found a total of seventy-two women, including children, and one old man, 74, all dead… all murdered in a bestial manner, except only a few who had holes in their necks. Some babies had their heads bashed in. In one room we found a woman, 84 years old, sitting on a sofa… half of whose head had been sheared off with an ax or a spade.
“Every female, including girls as young as eight, had been raped,” noted another viewer.
Old men who had feebly tried to protect their wives, daughters and granddaughters, were themselves knocked down, sawed in half or chopped to bits. A group of over fifty French POWs and Polish workers who had instinctively stepped in to protect the people were likewise castrated and killed. Lt. Amberger continues:
Neither in Nemmersdorf nor in the other places did I find a single living German civilian.
Staggered by the enormity of the crime, German authorities requested that neutral investigations and medical personnel from Spain, Sweden and Switzerland view the sickening carnage close up. When the visitors filed their reports, however, and when word finally reached the outside world, there was only silence. By the winter of 1944, the vicious propaganda war waged against Germany had been won. By that late stage few individuals beyond the Reich’s borders were concerned about brained German babies or crucified German women.
With the outbreak of the war in 1939 [ed. Note: before the first reports of 1942 on the Jewish Holocaust] nowhere was hatred more intense than among American Jews. Wrote Hollywood script writer and director, Ben Hecht:
A cancer flourishes in the body of the world and in its mind and soul, and this cancerous thing is Germany, Germanism, and Germans… That this most clumsy of all human tribes—this leaden-hearted German—should dare to pronounce judgment on his superiors, dare to outlaw from the world the name of the Jew—a name that dwarfs him as the tree does the weed at its foot—is an outrageous thing. It is an evil thing.
“Germany must perish,” echoed Theodore N. Kaufmann in a widely-read book of the same name.
And the only way to accomplish that is to remove the German from the world… There remains then but one mode of ridding the world forever of Germanism—and that is to stem the source from which issue those war-lusted souls, by preventing the people of Germany from ever again reproducing their kind.
To implement his plan, Kaufman recommended that when the war was successfully concluded all German men and women should be sterilized.
Far from being shocked by such a genocidal scheme, leading American journals were thrilled by the concept.
“A Sensational Idea!” cheered Time magazine.
“A provocative theory,” echoed the Washington Post.
While many in America and Great Britain could understand and even commiserate with Jewish emotions, many more were initially aghast by the flaming rhetoric and the murderous cries for extermination of innocent and guilty alike. Nevertheless, the sheer weight and persistence of the propaganda, both subtle and overt, in film, radio, books, magazines, and newspapers, gradually worked its way into the thoughts and attitudes of the public mainstream. Eventually, in the minds of a sizable percentage of Americans and Britons, little distinction was drawn between killing a Nazi soldier and killing a German child.
On September 15, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt made the demand for extermination official when he endorsed the so-called “Morgenthau Plan.” Named for Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasure, Henry Morgenthau, but actually conceived by the secretary’s top aide, Harry Dexter White—both of whom were Jewish.
“You don’t want the Germans to starve?” Roosevelt’s incredulous son-in-law asked the president in private.
“Why not?” replied Roosevelt without batting an eye.
Most Germans actually knew little of thoughts such as the above. Most Germans were yet living under the illusion that the war still had rules. Few could bring themselves to believe that the horror at Nemmersdorf was anything other than an aberration; that the butchery was only a bloody mistake destined never to be repeated. Unbeknownst to those in Prussian and other German regions facing east, the nightmare of Nemmersdorf would soon prove only the faintest foretaste of what was ahead.
The Dead and the Dead to Be
As a symbol of the Third Reich, as the most obvious example of Germany’s will to fight on, more bombs had been devoted to Berlin than any other German city and in total tonnage, more explosives were dropped on the capital alone than the Luftwaffe had dumped on all England throughout all the war. The destruction was so complete that one Berliner was heard to quip, “If they want to hit more targets, they’ll have to bring them with them.”
Although nothing could stop the rain of death pouring down on Germany, Adolf Hitler was determined to trade terror for terror. While damage was trifling compared to that of the Reich, it was a boost to German morale when the first “wonder weapons,” or V-rockets, began slamming into England during the summer of 1944.
“When German soldiers were captured by guerrillas, they were often abominably treated,” one Wehrmacht general recounted. “It was not unusual for the Soviets to torture their prisoners and then hang them up, sometimes with their genitals stuffed in their mouths.” Other Landsers were released, then sent staggering down roads toward their comrades, naked, bloody, eyes gouged from sockets, castrated.
One group which could expect no mercy from the Germans was the communist commissars who traveled with Red Army units. Composed “almost exclusively” of Jews, it was these fanatical political officers, many Germans felt, who were responsible for the massacres and mutilations of captured comrades. Explained one witness, Lieutenant Hand Woltersdorf of the elite SS:
One of our antitank gun crews had defended itself down to the last cartridge, really down to the last cartridge… They then had to surrender. While still alive they had their genitals cut off, their eyes poked out, and their bellies slit open. Russian prisoners to whom we showed this declared that such mutilations took place by order of the commissars. This was the first I heard of such commissars.
With the threat of torture and execution facing them, many idealistic Germans soldiers had an added impetus to fight to the death.
In the minds of most Landsers, the war in the east was not a contest against the Russian or Slavic race in particular, but a crusade against communism. In the years following World War I, Marxist revolutionaries had nearly toppled the German government. Because most of the leaders were Jews, and because Lenin, Trotsky, and many other Russians revolutionaries were Jewish, the threat to Nazi Germany and Europe seemed clear. Hence, from Adolf Hitler down to the lowliest Landser, the fight in the east became a holy war against “Jewish Bolshevism.”
“The poor, unhappy Russian people,” said one shocked German soldier as he moved further into the Soviet Union. “Its distress is unspeakable and its misery heart-rending.”
“When you see what the Jew has brought about here in Russia, only then you can begin to understand why the Fuhrer began this struggle against Judaism,” another stunned Landser wrote, expressing a sentiment shared by many comrades. “What sort of misfortunes would have been visited upon our Fatherland, if this bestial people had gotten the upper hand?”
Following the devastating German defeat in Stalingrad in 1943, the “upper hand” did indeed pass to the enemy. Supplied by the US with a seemingly inexhaustible amount of goods, from tanks and planes to boots and butter, the resurgent Red Army assumed the offensive. As the heretofore invincible Wehrmacht began its long, slow withdrawal west, a drama as vast and savage as the steppe itself unfolded, the likes of which the modern world has never witnessed.
Between Fire and Ice
With the remnants of the German army in headlong flight, hordes of Red soldiers swarmed through the breach and poured into Greater Germany. As word of the Russian breakthrough spread, millions of Germans in their path hastily packed and fled into the freezing weather.
Already bitterly cold, several days after the exodus began the temperature plunged below zero. As a result, little children and infants dropped by the thousands. “It was terribly cold, and the wind was like ice,” said one young mother, “the snow was falling and nothing warm to eat, no milk and nothing. I tried to give Gabi the breast, behind a house, but she didn’t take it because everything was so cold. Many women tried that, and some froze their breasts.” When Gabi died, the distraught woman continued to cradle the tiny corpse until her own arm eventually froze. “I couldn’t carry her more after she was dead. I couldn’t stand it any more,” the mother sobbed. “I wrapped her up well and put her deep in the snow beside the road… Thousands of women put their dead in the ditches by the roadside where they wouldn’t be hurt by automobiles or farm wagons.”
Hideous as conditions were, the treks pressed steadily west, away from the terror looming somewhere behind. Although millions were on the roads in full flight, millions more remained at their farms, villages and towns. They did not really believe that the Russians were as cruel and inhuman as they were reputed to be, but hoped to win over the latter by welcoming them and being hospitable.
“The Mongols are coming… You go quick. Go quick.”
Composed largely of Mongols, Kulaks, Kazakhs, Kalmuks, and other Asians, as well as convicts and communists, these men who formed the second wave of troops [the first were Slavs] were regarded, even by their own comrades, as utterly merciless. Terrified by the news, many Germans did attempt to flee and move in the wake of the first Soviet wave. Most, however, found themselves trapped and could do little more than hide young girls and once again pray that their worst fears were unfounded. After a wait of sometimes days, but normally only hours, the dreaded second wave arrived.
While flames shot up from different corners of the towns and gunfire erupted as citizens were murdered in the streets, the invaders soon began kicking in door homes, shops and churches. A frightened boy recalled, “Right next to me poor defenseless women were being ravished in the presence of their children.” Said another victim, “The women were raped, not once or twice but ten, twenty, thirty and hundred times, and it was all the same to the Russians whether they raped mere children or old women. The youngest victim in the row houses where we lived was ten years of age.” Mothers were raped in the presence of their children; girls were raped in front of their brothers. 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.
“All 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.”
When the Russians eventually tired of looting, robbing, murdering, and ill-treating the women and girls, “they set fire to a considerable part of the village and razed it to the ground,” said a survivor of Schoenwald, the small community that had dismissed rumors of Russian ruthlessness and opted to welcome them instead.
While those who remained endured unspeakable fates, Germans who fled with treks also suffered. “What surprised us most was the way they traveled,” recalled a British POW, who, along with thousands of other Allied prisoners, was being marched west away from the advancing Soviets.
It was so cold that even in day-time any drink mixed with cold water froze solid before it was possible to carry it to one’s mouth. At night men and women could keep alive only by huddling together in a wagon… Those who fell asleep in the snow were dead within a few minutes.
Given the chaotic conditions, and with freezing refuges clogging the way, many treks were quickly overhauled by the Russians. Some Soviet tanks refused to leave the roads and crashed straight through the columns, squashing all in their path. After heavy traffic, the victims—men, women, children, and animals—were eventually as flat as cardboard.
As a rule, those who fled by train fared best. Speed did not always guarantee escape, however. Russian aircraft routinely strafed and bombed the cars from above and tanks cut the rails from below. When the Soviets suddenly captured the town of Allenstein, they forced the stationmaster to signal the “all clear” to refugee trains still arriving from the east. As one unsuspecting train after another steamed into Allenstein, the Russians first slaughtered any men found on board, then passed their time raping carload after carload of females.
Meanwhile, the red tide moved closer. In countless German cities and towns the pattern repeated itself, as the diary of a Catholic priest from Klosterbrueck reveals:
January 21st 1945. Strange to say, the population intends to remain here, and is not afraid of the Russians. The reports that in one village they rapped all the women and abducted all the men and took them away to work somewhere must surely have been exaggerated.
January 25th. They told us that whole families had been shot by the Russians. Girls who had refused to allow themselves to be raped, and parents who had sought to protect their children, had been shot on the spot.
January 27th. We priests were allowed out of the chapel for half an hour today in order to bury Margarethe in the yard. Poor girl, it is a good thing you were dead and so did not know what the Russians did to your body!
“In every village and town they entered,” wrote one who spoke with soldiers, “the German troops came upon scenes of horror: slain boys, People’s Army men drenched with gasoline and burned—and sometimes survivors to tell the tale of the outrages.”
Hundreds of thousands massacred, hundreds of thousands raped, millions already enslaved—but this was nothing. Worse was to come.
Crescendo of destruction
Roosevelt slapped a crippling embargo on the Reich’s ally, Japan, in hopes of provoking an attack and slipping into the war via the “back door.” When the Japanese, facing slow strangulation, dutifully responded at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, it was Roosevelt dream come true. Later, when his Secretary of Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, proposed a plan to pastorialize Germany upon victory, thereby assuring the death of millions, Roosevelt was its strongest supporter.
“I would like to see the Germans on the breadline for 50 years,” the president admitted in private.
In early February 1945, leaders of the three most powerful nations on earth assembled a final time at Yalta in the Soviet Crimea. Despite the obvious dissimilarities of the men, intellectual as well as physical, each shared a characteristic with the other that shrank into insignificance all outer contradictions—all three harbored a inveterate hatred of not only Adolf Hitler and Nazism, but Germans and Germany.
At a meeting with Churchill at Casablanca in 1943, Roosevelt declared that nothing short of “unconditional surrender” would be accepted from Germany. Thus, by removing any possible latitude Hitler might have had for negotiation, the American president’s pronouncement insured that not only would Germany fight to the death, but it also guaranteed that hundreds of thousands of Allied airmen and soldiers would perish as well. Additionally, that such a protracted war would enable the Red Army to reach and no doubt enslave much of Europe seemed a foregone conclusion.
When Soviet forces invaded Poland in 1939, one of Stalin’s first moves was to round up and execute upwards of 15,000 army officers and intellectuals, thereby removing in one stroke much potential opposition. Well aware of his past, nervous about the impact his future acts in Europe would have upon a squeamish British public, desperate to hold an unnatural alliance together, Churchill’s government tried mightily to cover for the bloody behavior of their communist ally. Ran a secret memo of the British Department of Intelligence to high-ranking civil servants and opinion-molders in the press:
We cannot reform the Bolsheviks but we can do our best to save them—and ourselves—from the consequences of their acts. The disclosures of the past quarter of a century will render mere denials unconvincing. The only alternative to denial is to distract the public attention from the whole subject. Experience has shown that the best distraction is atrocity propaganda directed at the enemy… Your cooperation is therefore earnestly sought to distract public attention from the doings of the Red Army by your wholehearted support of various charges against the Germans… which have been and will be put into circulation by the Ministry.
Let anyone doubt Stalin’s intentions once his legions gained control of Germany, the reality was made crystal clear at the Teheran Conference in 1943. Lifting his glass of vodka for the “umpteenth toast,” the communist leader suddenly announced, “I propose a salute to the swiftest possible justice for all of Germany’s war criminals—justice before a firing squad. I drink to our unity in dispatching them as fast as we capture them, all of them, and there must be at least 50,000 of them.” When Churchill, well into his cups, angrily protested—“The British people will never stand for such mass murder without a proper trial!”—Stalin smiled, his eyes twinkled and overall he seemed “hugely tickled.”
“Perhaps,” the American president interrupted, “we could say that instead of summarily executing 50,000 we should settle on a smaller number. Shall we say 49,500?”
Despite Stalin’s well-earned reputation as the greatest mass murderer in history, Franklin Roosevelt was a staunch supporter and admirer of the dictator and defended him at every turn. In an effort to put a friendly, folksy face on the Russian premier and convince Americans that he was a “magnificent” and “gallant” ally, Roosevelt began referring to Stalin as “Uncle Joe.”
“He is a man who combines a tremendous, relentless determination with a stalwart good humor,” explained the president of the American public. “I believe he is representative of the heart and soul of Russia; and I believe that we are going to get along very well with him and the Russian people—very well indeed.”
The eyes of the world were now upon Yalta, said the prime minister, and what the “Big Three” accomplished during talks over the next few days would affect mankind for a hundred years.
Another subject Stalin was explicit about at Yalta concerned the return of over two million Soviet citizens who had either fled to Germany to avoid persecution at home or who had joined the enemy to fight against communism. Again, to this demand Roosevelt promised his complete cooperation. But of course, the main topic of discussion at Yalta was the fate of their mutual enemy, or, as Churchill grimly phrased it, “The future of Germany, if she had any.”
Once victory was complete, the three leaders agreed that the former Third Reich would be carved up like the evening’s meal and her people marched off as slaves to the Soviet Union. Although Roosevelt had solemnly announced earlier that “the united Nations do not traffic in human slavery,” when Stalin proposed the plan, the president called it “a healthy idea.”
Another subject broached at Yalta, albeit a seemingly minor one, was Stalin’s request for the massive bombing of eastern Germany to smooth the way for the Red Army’s final sweep across the Reich. Eager to demonstrate to his ally that Britain, and especially the RAF, was yet a force to be reckoned with, Churchill quickly agreed.
When the Yalta talks were finally concluded on February 11, the three Allied leaders signed a joint statement for press release, then bid each other a fond adieu.
My 2 cents:
As described by Solzhenitsyn:
In Yalta Churchill and Roosevelt had signed the agreement to repatriate all Soviet citizens, and especially the military, without specifying whether the repatriation was to be voluntary or enforced: How could any people on earth not be willing to return to their homes? The nearsightedness of the West was condensed in what was written at Yalta.
The English turned over the Soviet army command a Cossack corps of forty to forty-five thousand men which had fought its way to Austria from Yugoslavia. The extradition was carried out with perfidy which is characteristic of British diplomatic tradition. The Cossacks did not grow suspicious when they were asked to turn in their weapons, on the grounds that this was necessary in order to standardize their equipment. On May 28… [Solzhenitsyn describes in this paragraph of his Gulag Archipelago how the Allied forces extradited these Russian people, against their will, to Stalin.]
They could not even shoot or stab themselves to death, since all their weapons had been taken away. Some jumped off the high viaduct into the river or onto the stones. The hearts of the British were not troubled, nor were their democratic minds. British tanks and soldiers arrived. The British soldiers started beating them with rifle butts and clubs, grabbing them and throwing them into the trucks, including the wounded, as if they were packages. Entire families sought death by throwing themselves into the river. Meanwhile, the British units in the neighborhood pursued and shot at the fugitives. (The cemetery where the people who were shot or trampled to death and buried still exists in Lienz.)
But even that was only the beginning. During all of 1946 and 1947 the Western allies, faithful to Stalin, continued to turn over to him Soviet citizens, former soldiers as well as civilians. It did not really matter who they were as long as the West could get rid of this human confusion as quickly as possible. People were extradited from Austria, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, from the American occupation zones, and from the territory of the United States as well.
It goes without saying that most of the deportees died in the Soviet Gulag. So who was the real monster, the three Allied leaders or the German chancellor?
The Devil’s Laughter
Among the great majority of those [civilians] who scrambled onto ships, boats, tugs, barges, and naval craft sailing west, their flight was safe and successful. Not only was the warmth and food aboard ship a God-send, but the realization that they were at last escaping the dreaded Bolsheviks proved the first peace of mind many had known in weeks. As the wretched survivors of the [ship] could aver, however, there often was no escaping the nightmare… even at sea.
Just before one A.M., two torpedoes slammed into the Stuben’sside. Somewhere the ship was burning and people everywhere jumping into the water. As the Stuben’s stern rose high out the water, hundreds leaped overboard, including some who were torn to pieces by the still-turning propellers. Within seven minutes, the ship plunged beneath the waves, swiftly silencing a final mass scream that seemed to arise from a single voice. Of the 3,500 passengers aboard, only Franz Huber and a few hundred more survived. Tragically, for thousands who successfully traversed the treacherous Baltic, American and British bombers were often the first to greet them when their ships docked.
While the slow, dangerous evacuation of women, children and wounded comrades continued [on the still departing docks at the other side], a German Landser remained in the ever-shrinking pockets, ferociously fighting on so that others might live. That most in the enclaves were already doomed, all fighting men understood. “For every thousand persons embarked, some three thousand more arrived from the east.”
Frantic to escape such carnage, desperate civilians fled across the ice of the Frisches Haff, a bay several miles wide separating the mainland from a barrier island, or Nehrung. Along the slender strip of sand that led west towards Danzing, all were hoping to reach safety. Unfortunately, the bitter cold changed to rain just when many treks set out. Recounted one survivor of the perilous journey: “The ice was breaking and at some places we had to drag ourselves with pains through water nearly a foot deep.” Juergen Thorwald describes the long, nightmarish experience of another refugee:
At seven o’clock Russian planes swooped down on them. Some women, silent with a despair beyond all words, circled around holes in the ice that had swallowed a child, a mother, a husband.
Wrote Robert Poensgen, a military dispatch rider:
Russian combat aircraft now arrived in wave after wave, and threw bombs into that unprotected, inextricable mass. This is what hell must be like. It was the worst thing I have ever seen in all my years of active service—and I tell you I had already seen a lot.
“Twice we were attacked by Soviet planes, swooping low and scattering missiles,” remembered Guy Sajer from another road. “Each impact tore long, bloody furrows in the dense mass, and for a moment the wind was tinged with the smell of disemboweled bodies.” “Never had I seen so many bodies,” another witness added as he moved west along the coast.
While the butchery on land was in progress, the slaughter at sea continued. On the morning of April 13, Soviet aircraft pounced upon the refugee-laden Karlsruhe when the little freight fell behind its convoy. Stuck by a bomb and air torpedoes, the ship broke and sank in a matter of minutes. Of the one thousand people aboard, fewer than two hundred were rescued.
Three days later, near midnight, torpedoes fired by a Soviet submarine exploded against the side of the Goya, a large transport carrying 7,000 people. Like the Karlsruhe, the Goya quickly broke and plunged to the bottom in four minutes. Meanwhile, as the Soviets closed for the kill, Konigsberg, Memel, Gotenhafen, Pillau, and other besieged ports began their death dance.
The bloody nightmare which enveloped the Baltic coast was neither more nor less than that which transpired wherever the Soviets occupied German soil. In many places—Silesia, Prussia, Pomerania, the German communities of Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Jugoslavia—the horror had been in progress for weeks. There, ghastly atrocities had abated little, if any, with the passage of time and to some it seemed as though Red soldiers were in a race with one another to see who could destroy, murder and, above all, rape the most. Some women and children were assaulted ten, twenty, even thirty times a night and for a female to be ravished one hundred times a week was not uncommon. Reveals a priest from Klosterbrueck: “I shall never forget the terrible screams of the women and the children.”
Meanwhile, in what remained of the Reich, most Germans still knew surprisingly little of the savage fate befalling their countrymen. Doubters yet attributed the hair-rising reports of genocide to Dr. Goebbels’s propaganda machine. By bits and pieces, however, the truth did emerge. When a small German counterattack temporarily recaptured Neustettin, young soldiers, unaware of the Russian rampage occurring behind the lines, began herding up their prisoners. “Then something unexpected happened,” remembered an astonished Landser.
Several German women ran towards the Russians and stabbed at them with cutlery forks and knives… It was not until I fired a submachine gun into the air that the women drew back, and cursed us for presuming to protect these animals. They urged us to go into the houses and take a look at what they had done there. We did so, a few of us at a time, and we were totally devastated. We had never seen anything like it—utterly, unbelievably monstrous!
Naked, dead women lay in many of the rooms. Swastikas had been cut into their abdomens, in some the intestines bulged out; breasts were cut up, faces beaten to a pulp and swollen puffy. Others had been tied to the furniture by their hands and feet, and massacred. A broomstick protruded from the vagina of one, a besom from that of another…
Having seen the consequences of these bestial atrocities, we were terribly agitated and determined to fight. We knew that the war was past winning; but it was our obligation and sacred duty to fight to the last bullet.
A Sea of Blood
Defending Berlin was obviously going to be a very ugly business, and many civilians were going to die in the fighting.
A short time later, Juliane learned much more about the “facts of life” when “an entire horde of Mongolians” stood facing her.
“The first time when they took me and forced my father to watch, I thought I would die… I shudder. For four years Goebbels told us that the Russians would rape us; that they would rape and plunder, murder and pillage. ‘Atrocity propaganda!’ we said as we waited for the Allied liberators.”
Like the frantic girl above, many females did indeed choose the ultimate escape. “There is no other talk in the city. No other thought either,” revealed Ruth Andreas-Friedrich. “Suicide is in the air… They are killing themselves by the hundreds.”
Compelled by hunger and thirst to leave their holes, Germans were stunned by what they saw in the streets. To many, it was if Berlin had returned to the Dark Ages. Primitive, Asiatic carts, piled high with plunder, stood side by side with American-made tanks and jeeps. Over open fires, Kulaks and Tartars roasted whole hogs and oxen on spits.
At approximately 3:15 P.M., April 30, Adolf Hitler retired to his room, placed a pistol to his head, then squeezed the trigger. Beside him, his newly-wed wife, Eva, also lay dead.
Finally, on the afternoon of May 2, General Weidling formally surrendered the city. Remembered Lothar Ruhl: “Now again, we heard shots… so I asked who was doing the shooting. I was told, ‘the SS are shooting themselves’.”
“Stalin said,” remembered Gen. Nikita Khrushchev, “that if it hadn’t been for Eisenhower, we wouldn’t have succeeded in capturing Berlin.”
Although Hitler was dead and Berlin captured, and although the nation had been halved and further resistance was not only futile but nearly impossible, Germany’s long death continued. As Karl Donitz [Grand Admiral] made clear, while there was no longer any question of the Reich’s utter defeat and impending surrender, the shattered remnants of the German Army had to fight one last battle to gain for the millions of fleeing refugees time to reach the Elbe River where the Americans and British had halted. Sadly, cruelly, Allied leaders were determined to halt the pathetic flight at all hazards. Swooping low over the roads, swarms of US and RAF fighters strafed and bombed the columns, slaughtering thousands. As the terrified trekkers scattered to the nearby woods and farms bombers appeared and blasted the hiding places to splinters.
Unlike the Americans, British forces under Bernard Montgomery allowed all Germans, soldiers and civilians alike, to find haven within its lines. Horrified by what he had seen and heard, the field marshal’s manly act saved thousands of women and children from rape, torture and death.
Excerpted from Thomas Goodrich’s 2010 book Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany (1944-1947).