Tuesday, December 4, 2018


This finishes up Hellstorm,the so called victors continue to hope that people will not pick it up.The Germans as the instigators propaganda needs to be seen for what it is.A smokescreen for the activities of the allies in post war Germany. As an American it troubled me greatly to read our part in the raping and pillaging of the German people.And if we look closely at the pattern of immigration out of the Middle East,it appears that once again Germany is facing an assault on it's sovereignty among others on the continent of Europe. My ancestors were from Northern Europe and I take pride in my heritage. Looking at my race,we are a hard headed bunch,often to our own detriment,so it greatly troubles me today,to still see the activities of the allies effect Germany in such a destructive way.

I keep hearing the 'Make America great again' slogan,and I  have been doing my due diligence to find that time when America was great,and as of yet,I have not been able to locate this greatness.Can not say I am surprised, but I would just as well settle for America being honest  some day.Enough with these contemptible allies,they are no such thing.England's comeuppance has been a long time coming,we need to STOP being their Military arm.They played us twice,if it happens again,there will be a country no more.The time to end the lies is now.

The Death of Nazi Germany 
by Thomas Goodrich
Image result for images from hellstorm nazi 

Crime of the Age 
As was the case throughout eastern Germany during the spring of 1945, while millions had fled in terror from the Red Army or found themselves snared by the swift Soviet advance, millions more had held to their homes, determined to somehow weather the storm. With defeat following soon after, thousands of starving, bedraggled refugees returned east, trusting that it was better to suffer and die at home, surrounded by all that was familiar, than suffer and die on the roads as homeless vagabonds. Unbeknownst to this multitude of wretched humanity, they were living on borrowed time,they no longer had a home. 

Under agreements articulated at Yalta and codified at Potsdam, Russia would receive vast stretches of German and Polish territory in the east and, in recompense, Poland would absorb large tracts of the former Reich in the west, including much of Prussia, Pomerania and the extremely rich, industrialized province of Silesia. What such an action implied was chillingly revealed by Winston Churchill. When a Polish official expressed doubt that such a massive uprooting of people could be carried out, the British prime minister waved all concerns aside: “Don’t mind the five or more million Germans. Stalin will see to them. You will not have trouble with them: they will cease to exist.”1 

Even as the Red Army was overrunning eastern Germany in 1945, armed Polish militiamen were hard on their heels, eager to lay claim to what would soon be theirs. For survivors who thought they had seen and suffered everything under the passing Soviets, they soon discovered that they had not.

“The weeks during which the Russians had occupied the village seemed peaceful in comparison,” wrote an incredulous woman from Silesia.

“There is something strange and frightening about this Polish militia,” another viewer added. “It consists, not of soldiers and policemen, but of rabble—youths, dirty and unkempt, cruel and cunning.”3 

As these witnesses and many more made note, the malice of the Polish invaders was more extreme than even that of the Red Army. Unlike the typical Russian, who harbored no great, personal ill-will for the average German, the centuries of conflict between neighboring Poland and Germany had nurtured a deep and abiding hatred.4 

“The Russians . . . are spiteful in a manner that is different from that of the Poles,” observed one clergyman. “The maliciousness of the Polish militia . . . is cold and venomous, whereas Russian maliciousness is somehow warm-blooded.”5 

“They were constantly drunk and gave vent to their rage upon the Germans,” records Silesian, Maria Goretti. 

Four drunken Poles, led by a Polish worker, who had formerly been employed in my house, had forced their way into the vicarage and were beating my sister-in-law and my housekeeper. When I appeared on the scene they immediately made for me, swearing at me obscenely. One of them held my hands so that I could not move and the others hit me in the face and on the head with their fists. Then someone dealt me such a blow on the chin that I fell to the ground. They kicked me and dragged me towards the door. I managed to struggle to my feet and ran out into the yard, but they pursued me and soon caught up with me. Then they tripped me up and I fell on a stone and cut my face. They continued to belabor me as I lay there, until I thought my last hour had come.... That was the thanks I got from the Poles for having protected them during the Hitler regime.

“There was hardly a German in the whole village who was not beaten on some occasion or other . . . ,” another pummeled victim revealed. “To mention but three examples of Polish methods of tormenting the Germans: they pushed one German under the weir; they made another villager lie on the ground and eat grass; on another occasion they made one of the villagers lie on the floor and then they climbed onto the table and jumped down onto his stomach.”7 

Because many militiamen came with wives, sweethearts and sometimes children, massive rapes did not occur.8 For the victims of beatings, torture and around-the-clock terror, however, this was cold comfort. All residents were fair and easy game. 

“Since all Germans are required to wear white armbands, they are marked prey for these willful adolescents and can be easily identified and herded off for any type of labor or humiliation,” noted Regina Shelton. “The few German men in town, most of them well beyond their prime and found physically unfit for military service during the war, bear the brunt of degradation and terrorism. Sooner or later, each is arrested on whatever pretext comes to a Polish mind.”9 

Arrests were random, sudden and usually based on rumors or hearsay. Remembered one man from the city of Neisse: 

I had just stepped outside, after finishing my soup, when a civilian and a Russian, wearing the uniform of the Young Communists Movement, came up to me. . . . He informed me that I was suspected of having mishandled Poles. I denied this accusation. The young Russian, who was about twenty-six, thereupon hit me in the face and shouted, “You fat German pig, never worked, only eat and drink, hit workers, and go with women.” I objected to this accusation most strongly, whereupon he hit me in the face a second time. Then they marched me off, allegedly to interrogate me. They took me to the cellar in the boys’ school, where four Russians promptly seized hold of me and began beating me. Blood streamed out my nose, mouth, and ears, and finally I collapsed.10 

From the village of Falkenhain, another man adds: 

A Polish militiaman appeared at the house and said to me, “German man says you got wireless.” I replied, “German man telling lies.” The Pole thereupon kicked me in the stomach, arrested me, and took me to . . . the headquarters of the so-called Polish commandant. I was interrogated for hours and they kept asking me whether I had hidden any valuables anywhere. They hit me in the face and mouth and kicked me in the stomach. Then they locked me up in a cell, which was so small that there was only enough room to stand or sit, but not to lie down.11 

“We were crowded together like a lot of animals . . . ,” said a prisoner at Trebnitz. “Swarms of lice ran about on the rags on which we slept. At night they plagued us to such an extent that we hardly got a wink of sleep, but it was hopeless to try and catch them as it was so dark in the cell. There was an old bucket in each cell which we had to use when we needed to relieve nature. Needless to say, the stench from the bucket was horrible. The militia guards . . . took a special delight in tormenting the poor prisoners every day, either by beating or kicking them or by setting the dogs at them. They were highly amused whenever one or other of the prisoners got bitten.”12 

When the prison “interrogations” began, many of the torture sessions were simply an attempt to discover where Germans had buried imaginary gold, silver and jewels. Almost any method was used to inflict pain, including crushed genitals, sharpened slivers tapped under toenails, red hot pokers, and of course, vicious beatings.13 To drown the hideous shrieks echoing through the streets, radios were often turned to full volume.14 Those who managed to survive these sadistic torture sessions could only pray that their agony was ended. Almost always, it was not. Time and again, hundreds of thousands of victims were forced to endure the horror over and over.15 

“At ten o’clock they . . . started interrogating me again,” recalled one beaten and bruised man

They made me get undressed and lie down on a chair, and then they dealt me about seventy strokes with their whips. Every time I tried to get up they hit me in the face and kicked me in the stomach. . . . When they had finished flogging me, they said, “Now will you tell us where you’ve hidden your valuables?” I replied, “I haven’t hidden anything.” They then made me lie on the floor, on my stomach with the soles of my feet upwards, and one of the brutes started hitting my toes with a hammer until the bones splintered.16 

When one form of savagery failed to work, the sadists laughingly moved on to the next.17 With knives and bayonets the young torturers cut swastikas into the bellies and backs of screaming victims. For those who fainted, a splash of water revived them so that the torture could continue.18 

No one escaped the horror. Returning Landsers, those who thought they had faced all the terrors six years of war could offer, soon discovered that indeed, they had not. Records one of those young soldiers on his own personal journey through hell: 

My father and I were locked up in a cell together. . . . Soon afterwards they came and took my father away. I heard someone shout, “Trousers down! Lie down, you swine!” Then I heard the sound of blows descending on naked flesh, followed by screams, moans, and groans, and at the same time derisive laughter, jeers, oaths, and more blows. I trembled with rage and indignation at the thought that the Poles had flogged my father, an old man of sixty-eight. Then I heard a faint moaning sound, and after that all was quiet. . . . Then the door was opened, and I heard a Polish voice shout, “Out you get, you swine, you son of a bitch. Trousers down! Get a move on! Quick!” Before I had time to realize what they were about to do to me, four of them, an ugly grin on their faces, seized hold of me. They pulled my trousers down, and pushed me over a stool . . . and then they started flogging my bare thighs and posterior with a whip. I bit my lips to prevent myself from screaming, for I was determined not to let these devils see how much they were hurting me. But I was unable to control the twitching of my body, and I wriggled about like a worm. . . . Then I fainted.19 

Days and nights on end, the sadism continued. When the radios were turned up or accordions started to play, the horror commenced. “As soon as we heard them,” one quaking victim recalled, “we knew that the torture was due to begin.”20
Not all crimes were committed in secret behind prison walls. Those individuals fortunate enough to escape the hell of Polish prisons found themselves slaves in all but name. Thousands were thrown into labor camps and toiled in the fields, forests and factories until they dropped. “One day they were in the bloom of health, and in 14 days corpses,” noted a German at Grottkau. “The Poles laughed when they saw the great number of corpses.”21 

While hundreds perished daily in the work camps, millions more who held to their homes were subject to slave labor on a moment’s notice. 

“Any half-grown Polish militiaman . . . had the right to stop the Germans on the street, even when they were going to church, and take them off to work somewhere,” disclosed one observer.22 

“We were brought to the town in long columns like criminals under guard,” remembered Josef Buhl, a photographer from Klodebach. “It reminded one of the slave trade of the middle ages, when we were drawn up on the town’s square. We were examined like goods for sale.”23 

As the weeks and months passed more and more Poles—men, women and children—migrated into eastern Germany crowding the residents and expropriating their property. “Every house received one or several families,” Josef Buhl goes on. “They lived in the best rooms and not only did they take the best furniture for themselves, but also the cattle and our clothes.”24 

Homes not stolen outright were subject to plunder raids at any moment. 

“The Germans,” a woman in Liegnitz wrote, “were forced to open cupboards, chests of drawers and such-like furniture, and then the Poles took what they wanted with the words: ‘All mine.’ If he took a fancy to the beds, the mattresses and other furniture, a day later a truck stopped before the house, and everything was put into it.”25 

Continues Josef Buhl:

All German signs had to disappear. The German names of places were changed into tongue-twisting Polish ones. The sign-posts received new inscriptions in the Polish language. One could not find one’s way about in one’s own home.... Our school had become Polish, and German children were not allowed to go into the street. The Polish riffraff was allowed to molest and beat German women and children with sticks on their way to and from their work. The Germans had no right of complaint. We were utterly defenseless and at the mercy of the mob.26 

On the countryside, land-hungry Poles fanned out and greedily seized the rich, productive farms. Recounts a witness: 

Three militiamen would appear at the farm and say to the farmer, “In five minutes you must be out of here. The house and the land and everything now belongs to a Polish farmer!” Then they would stand there with a watch in their hands, counting the minutes. If the farmer and his family failed to get out of the house by the time the five minutes were up, the Polish militiamen attacked them with cudgels and drove them out of the farmyard. The Polish farmer then moved in and took possession of everything.27 

Many Poles, more prudent, stole farms but wisely retained the owners as slaves. “I now farmer, you Hitler, work,” snapped one usurper to a hapless German who suddenly found himself enslaved on his own farm.28 Soon, concludes Josef Buhl, “everything belonged to them.... Work was the only thing they did not take from us.”29 

“The Poles ventured to commit more and more excesses against Germans,” said a Pomeranian farmer. “They drove us out of our beds at night, beat us, and took us away for days at a time, and locked us up. . . . When the Germans were sleeping, there would suddenly come into the room a horde of Poles, for the most part drunk; the German families had to move, just as they were. . . . Thus our conditions of life steadily got worse.”30 

“Generally,”concluded a woman in Silesia,“no other course remained open to the Germans than to leave their property, in order not to die of starvation.”31
And thus, by tens and twenties, by hundreds and thousands, many Germans “voluntarily” abandoned their ancestral homes and began drifting west with no clear goal in mind. Surprisingly, despite the daily terror and torture they faced, many eastern Germans displayed a dogged determination to ride out the storm, naively assuming that since life could obviously get no worse, it must only get better. Nevertheless, the fate of all Germans in the east had been sealed at Potsdam.32 

Although the timing varied greatly from region to region, when the fateful day arrived there was no mistaking the matter. Commonly, the shattering of glass and doors were the first sounds a victim heard, soon followed by angry shouts to clear the home within thirty, ten, or even five minutes. 

“Cold-bloodedly and sarcastically, they informed us that we must leave the house at once . . . ,” one German remembered. “Some of them were already ransacking the rooms. They told us we could each of us take a blanket, so we hurriedly stuffed two pillows inside the blanket. But when the Polish officer, who, incidentally, was rushing up and down in the room like a maniac, striking his whip against his riding-boots, saw the pillows, he said,‘Leave those here. We Poles want something as well!’”33 

“I was dumbfounded,” admitted Heinrich Kauf

My wife had been confined the evening before with a little girl. I was still standing at her bedside, and did not know what to do. First I went to the mayor.... He said quite abruptly: “Leave your wife at home. You must go away with the children”.... When I came back home again, the Polish militia was already there and shouted out:“Get out at once!” Then I called my neighbor Mrs. Dumel, and got the horses and carts ready. I put my wife and child with the bedding into the cart, and in my great haste forgot to take the necessary things for the other children.34 

While militiamen stood with watches in hand, frantic residents rushed in a mad attempt to scoop up what little remained to them.

I was only allowed 10 minutes,” recalled an elderly woman, “and was just able to drag my grandchild, who was 1 year old, down the stairs. . . . When I wanted to fetch my cloak out of my house, the Poles did not let me in again remarking, that the 10 minutes were passed.”35 

“You have seven minutes. Six minutes. Five minutes. Four,” the impatient men yelled.36 

For those who tarried beyond the time limit, whips, sticks and clubs were used freely. Once in the streets, the victims were stripsearched.37 Recalled Isabella von Eck: 

As I was 75 years of age, I was put onto a farm-cart with 2 dying women and 2 girls of 10 and 12 years of age, who had venereal diseases, all of whom could not walk. Just in front of the yard a Polish officer beat me with a heavy riding whip, until I took my fur off. Then a soldier sprang onto the cart, and tore open my clothes as far as my chemise; he found my purse with jewelry, and took it for himself. The German paper money he threw at my feet. Very many men and women were thrashed in the course of the search, until they bled; their faces were covered with stripes, and their eyes full of blood.38 

“A Polish girl took my shoes from my feet, which I had kept on when sleeping for weeks . . . ,” another grandmother sobbed. “My hair was hanging down and disheveled, as the Russians had taken all my hair clips and combs. . . . I was 6 times searched in my vagina for jewelry.”39 

“Polish militiamen on horseback drove the poor people through the streets, lashing them with whips,” wrote one witness from a town near Breslau.“The entire population of Zobten lined up on the square in front of the town hall. They were all clutching small bundles containing their belongings. Women and children were weeping and screaming. The men folk wore an expression of utter despair on their faces. Every now and again the Poles cracked their whips and brutally lashed the poor people standing on the square.”40 

“We stand numb before the bankruptcy, our own and that of generations before us,” muttered Regina Shelton to herself. “They had made this land ours by their sweat and blood. How can a whole people be uprooted, disowned, tossed aside like useless flotsam—how? With the stroke of a pen, with a new line drawn on a map, we are sentenced to homelessness.”41 

“As they left town in an endless procession,” a viewer from Gruenberg reminisced, “Polish soldiers fell upon them, beating and flogging them in a blind rage. . . . Robbed of all they possessed and literally stripped of the last of their belongings,... these poor creatures trudged along in the wind and the rain, with no roof or shelter over their heads, not knowing where they would find a new abode.”42 
And thus, from throughout eastern Germany, from farms, villages, towns, and cities, began the greatest death march in history. Crippled and starved, diseased and enfeebled, with virtually nothing to their name, set adrift in a hostile, hate-filled land already bled to the bone, it was preordained that millions would never survive the trek. Except for those able-bodied individuals held as slaves and young girls retained for sex, roughly eleven million Germans took to the roads. “The Poles had by their conduct made the departure from our home easy,” confessed Josef Buhl. “It almost caused us joy.”43 

“Almost,” but not quite. As the long lines of misery began wending their way west, many, like Anna Kientopf, well knew that they would never see their ancestral homes again.“I remained further behind, and went slowly. I often looked back, the farm was in the evening sun; it was an old farm, where I had been born. My parents had lived and worked there before us, and had been buried in the cemetery.... The sheep and cows were peacefully grazing. Who would milk them this evening and the following days?”44 

“Wherever we looked on the road,” Isabella von Eck took note, “the same wretched columns were to be seen, wheel-barrows were pushed by women, loaded with luggage and small children, aged and sick people sat in cases with wheels.”45 

While millions set out afoot, thousands more were expelled by rail. Recalled Regina Shelton

The train stands ready, sliding doors gaping to receive us into the dark space of the freight cars. It seems to stretch for miles beyond the platform, and many of the cars are already occupied. The revulsion of having to clamber up and into the inhospitable black holes is given short shrift by the militia swarming among the evacuees and counting heads to fill each car to capacity. Straw is pushed to the walls around the cavernous rectangle. When the quota in our car is filled, we are told to spread out the straw. Baggage stacked against the walls, each family builds a lair of sorts, and the lucky ones garner a corner as far away from the door and the cold as possible. 

Then the platform is empty, except for the militiamen on guard. At a signal the sliding doors clang shut and are latched from the outside. . . . When the train jerks into motion, we still do not know where it will carry us. . . . The small window draws me like a magnet. Stepping over bags and around huddled or sprawling bodies, I make my way to it to stand by it as long as the train keeps rolling to see the familiar scenes glide by for the last time.46 

In addition to those traveling overland, thousands of freezing Germans were crammed like cordwood onto barges and boats and floated down rivers. 

Almost immediately, the ragged refugees were set upon and robbed by gangs of Russians, Jews, Gypsies, and other DPs moving in the opposite direction. Poles who already occupied the villages and towns through which the people passed were also laying in wait.“Polish civilians lined both sides of the road and the refugees were systematically robbed and beaten as they walked by,” said one victim.47 

If anything, those trapped in cattle cars were even more vulnerable. As Maria Popp recorded: 

Whole bands of fellows attacked every wagon, and when 2 left it 3 got in. The train kept stopping to help the plundering, and no-one was left in peace. There were about 70–80 persons in each wagon, and each one was separately searched for valuables or money. Anyone, who was wearing good clothes, had to take them off, even shoes if the plunderers liked them. If anyone refused, he was beaten until he yielded. . . . Very few of us were able to think clearly, and no-one dared to help the cripples and the dying. . . . The crutches were snatched out of their hands, and one of them was literally kicked to death. I shall never forget his screams.48 

“Throughout the whole journey,” recounts another of those fleeing, “the Poles continued to rob the expellees on the train, both during the day and by night. I saw one Pole hit the Mother Superior . . . in the face because she refused to give him the only suitcase she had.”49 

And while some were robbing, others were raping. Many females were violated thirty or more times during the trek.“Women who resisted were shot dead,” a horrified viewer divulged,“and on one occasion . . . a Polish guard took an infant by the legs and crushed its skull against a post because the child cried while the guard was raping its mother.”50 When the weary travelers halted for the night they were compelled to bed down in barns, deserted homes or nearby woods. ‘“But even there the Poles did not leave us in peace,” moaned a victim.51 Moving among the wretched refugees, the attackers robbed and raped at will. 

“Our cart was plundered the same night by the Poles, who stole everything that they liked,” revealed Heinrich Kauf, whose wife had given birth the day before.“The next morning we continued our journey, and I took my wife out of the village in a hand-cart. We had scarcely got out of it, when a Polish woman came, and took the bedding away from my sick wife.”52 

Like Kauf, many others lost to thieves not only their possessions but their sole means of transport. 

“One cart I saw,” wrote a wanderer,“was being drawn by six children, instead of by a horse, and there was a pregnant woman pushing it.Old women of seventy were laboriously pulling handcarts, and I saw some Sisters of Mercy with ropes tied round their chests engaged in the same task. Venerable Catholic priests were toiling along the roads with the members of their parish, pulling and pushing carts.”53 

Slow and agonizing as every mile was, the columns nevertheless continued to creep ahead for only death and misfortune awaited those who dallied. The old and sick were first to go and their withered remains littered the roadside by the thousands. Little children and newborns were next. 

“Nursing infants suffer the most . . . ,” one observer remarked of a refugee train.“Their mothers are unable to feed them, and frequently go insane as they watch their offspring slowly die before their eyes. Today four screaming, violently insane mothers were bound with rope to prevent them from clawing other passengers.”54 

“A young married couple . . . ,” added a diarist, “were pushing a perambulator, containing a cardboard box. They said, ‘Our baby is in that box. We are going to bury it. We buried our other little one a week ago. They died of starvation. . . . There is no food, no doctor, and no medicine to be had!”55 
As the refugees approached the Niesse and Oder Rivers, there was renewed hope. Once over these streams which marked the new boundary between Germany and Poland, many felt their great trial would be, for the most part, over. Unfortunately, when the trekkers reached the rivers, the worst leg of the odyssey began. To the Polish soldiers and civilians along the frontier, it was one final chance to wreak vengeance on the hated Germans. Many made the most of it. One last time, what little remained to the refugees was tossed, stolen or destroyed. One last time, women were publicly strip-searched and their vaginas meticulously probed for hidden valuables. One last time,victims were forced to crawl on all fours and eat grass, dirt . . . or worse. Those who balked were beaten or killed.56 

The horror and chaos of the moment is vividly captured by Anna Kientopf

We had to pass through a lane of Polish soldiers, and people were taken out of the column. These had to drop out, and go to the farms on the highway with their carts, and all that they had with them. No one knew what this meant, but everyone expected something bad. The people refused to obey. Often it was single individuals, particularly young girls, who were kept back. The mothers clung to the girls and wept. Then the soldiers tried to drag them away by force and, as this did not succeed, they began to strike the poor terrified people with rifle-butts and riding whips. One could hear the screams of those who were whipped, far away.... 

Polish soldiers also came to us with riding whips in their hands. With flushed faces, they ordered us to get out of the column, and to go to the farms. Else and Hilde Mittag began to weep. I said: “Come, it is no use resisting. They will beat us to death. We will try to escape afterwards.” Russians were standing there looking on cynically. In our desperation we begged them for help. They shrugged their shoulders and indicated to us, that the Poles were the masters. Just as everything already seemed to be hopeless, I saw a senior Polish officer. I pointed to my 3 children, and asked what I could do. . . . He answered: “Go to the highway.” 

We got hold of our cart and got away, as quickly as we could. The trek carts were getting congested. . . . From the other direction came large trucks driven by Russians. They ruthlessly forced their way through us. We tried to go forward. . . . Then we were again stopped....Four Polish soldiers tried to separate a young girl from her parents, who clung in desperation to her. The Poles struck the parents with their rifle-butts, particularly the man. He staggered, and they pulled him across the road down the embankment. He fell down, and one of the Poles took his machine pistol, and fired a series of shots. For a moment there was a deathly silence, and then the screams of the 2 women pierced the air. They rushed to the dying man, and the four Poles disappeared in the forest. When we finally went on, the desperate weeping of the 2 women echoed behind us, mingled with the screams of the people, who were being beaten.... 

There was only one thing for us to do, and that was to go forward, to cross the Oder at any price. We saw more dead people at the side of the road. . . . We kept pushing forward, as hard as we could. . . . At last we reached the bridge over the Oder. . . . We were ready to give everything, which we still possessed,if we could only pass over the Oder. . . . Our one object was to get away from these robbers and murderers. . . . When there were still only 6–8 carts in front of us, the barrier was closed, and that was the end for that day. 

What was now to happen? Our disappointment was boundless, for we were just before our goal, and were not allowed to pass through.57 

After spending “a terrible night” in a drenching downpour, Anna and her family again moved toward the river the following day. In addition to robbery and rape, Poles also used this last opportunity to dragoon the able-bodied for slavery. Anna

Families were ruthlessly torn asunder there, and the individuals among them, who were capable of work, were taken away. Father Liefke said: “My God, my God, this is a bitter life. I am more than 70 years old. When mother died, I thought: that is hard. Then Hermann and Arthur were killed in the war, and I thought: that is still harder. Then the Russians came, and robbed us of everything, and then I thought: that is the hardest blow of all; but what we are now suffering, is the hardest, and I shall not survive it for long. If it were not for Anni and the 2 little children, I should kill myself."58 

Many, rather than endure further torture, did in fact end their suffering then and there on the Oder/Neisse line.“The only thing they let me keep was this rope, and I’m going to hang myself with it before the day’s over,” vowed a man who could stand no more.59 

When demented refugees attempted to escape the horror on the bridge above by crossing over the river below, Polish guards systematically shot them dead. “Why don’t you drive us into a big enclosure like a herd of cattle, surround us with machine-guns, and shoot us on the spot!” one crazed woman cried.60 

For those survivors who finally entered the bridge, there was one last gauntlet to run. 

“They robbed us and flogged us as we crossed the bridge,” remembered a victim. “Children screamed, grown-ups collapsed, and some of them died and were left lying there on the ground at the end of the bridge. Others fell into the icy waters of the Neisse, but the Poles were indifferent to their fate. They drove us on unmercifully across the bridge.”61 

Anna Kientopf: 

Now we thought, that the worst was past, but at the other end of the bridge, there were Russian soldiers with their green caps, and also girls in uniform. We were again controlled, all our sacks were opened, and turned upside down. Many lost the few valuables, which they still possessed. From me they took my wedding ring, which I foolishly had put back on my finger. Then we had to collect the sacks together, and were forced with blows to leave the Oder bridge as quickly as possible. They drove us without mercy down the steep embankment.62 
For the miserable refugees, the first hint that there would be no happy ending to the story came when those reaching the west bank of the Neisse/Oder line found thousands of Germans desperately trying to reach the east bank. With what little shelter that remained in the war ravaged Reich already jammed to overflowing, with starvation stalking the land, with murder, rape and slavery the order of the day, many earlier refugees from Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia were frantic to return to homes that were no longer theirs. As one viewer recorded: 

Crowds kept calling to the Silesians who were trekking eastwards, “Turn back! There’s no sense in going on. You can’t get across the Neisse! The Poles will take all your belongings from you. They’ll rob you like they did us and throw you out of Silesia. Go back where you’ve come from!” On hearing this, those who were aiming to get back to Silesia grew confused. Many of them refused to believe what they were told and pushed on; others, however, decided to turn back.63 

For those weary, starving trekkers moving west, signs greeted them at every turn in every town and every village: “Refugees not permitted to stay. They must move on.” “Move on! Move on!” “There is a famine in Goerlitz. . . . There are not enough food supplies. . . . If you disregard this warning you will probably die of starvation.”64

Threats such as these were not idle words, as one witness makes clear: 

The inhabitants of Goerlitz resemble living corpses—deathly pale, sunken cheeked, and haggard. . . . Many of the refugees are unable to move on, for their strength is at an end and they are slowly wasting away. Dray-carts come to collect the bodies of those who have died of starvation. I counted sixteen coffins on one dray-cart, coffins of grown-ups and children. . . . I actually saw people collapse on the street, weak with hunger.65 

With waning hope and fading strength, the expellees trudged deeper into Germany. Unable to walk any further, thousands simply dropped dead by the wayside.66 Increasingly, and with building momentum, Berlin became the star of hope for many. If there was any succor yet left in the world, here, most felt, was where it would be found. What the people discovered upon reaching the former capital, however, were endless ruins, rotting corpses,“living skeletons” boiling grass for food, and still more signs: “Attention, refugees! Newcomers banned from settling in Berlin. Use detours. Avoid entering the city limits. Continue westward.”67 

Few heeded such words . . . few could. A British officer was on hand at one Berlin rail station when a transport arrived from the east: 

The train was a mixture of cattle and goods trucks, all of which were so packed that people lay on the tops, clung to the sides or hung on the bumpers. Children were tied by ropes to ventilation cocks, heating pipes, and iron fittings. 

The train stopped and a great long groan rose from the length and breadth of it. For a full minute no one moved a limb. Eyes that were full of anguish examined the people on the platform. Then people began to move, but everyone seemed crippled with cold and cramp. Children seemed dead, purplish blue in the face; those who had clung to doors and fittings could not use their hands or arms, but went about, arms raised or outstretched, hands clenched. They hobbled, legs numbed, to fall on the platform. 

The people who had arrived days before pressed back to make room, and looked on in silence. Soon the platform was filled with cries of disillusionment as the newcomers learned how they had been deceived. Their hair was matted. They were filthy, covered with soot and grime. Children had running sores, and scratched themselves continually. Old men, unshaven, red-eyed, looked like drug addicts, who neither felt, nor heard, nor saw. Everyone seemed to be a unit of personal misery, complete unto himself.68 

“Filthy, emaciated, and carrying their few remaining possessions wrapped in bits of cloth,” noted a reporter for the New York Daily News, “they shrank away crouching when one approached them in the railway terminal, expecting to be beaten or robbed or worse.”69 

Each train that unloaded held horrors that soon seemed common: 

Red Army soldiers lifted 91 corpses from the train, while relatives shrieked and sobbed as their bodies were piled in American lend-lease trucks and driven off for internment in a pit near a concentration camp. . . .“Many women try to carry off their dead babies with them,” a Russian railway official said. “We search the bundles whenever we discover a weeping woman, to make sure she is not carrying an infant corpse with her.”70 

Barges and small craft also docked in Berlin. One boat, a Red Cross worker revealed, “contained a tragic cargo of nearly 300 children, half dead from hunger, who had come from a ‘home’ . . . in Pomerania. Children from two to fourteen years old lay in the bottom of the boat, motionless, their faces drawn with hunger, suffering from the itch and eaten up by vermin.”71 

Those expellees who did not wander off into the wilderness of rubble that was Berlin, to root, grub and die like moles, remained camped in the railroad stations for weeks, even months, where they died from disease and starvation by the thousands.72 At one depot alone,“an average of ten have been dying daily from exhaustion, malnutrition and illness . . . ,” protested an American official, Robert Murphy, to the US State Department. “Here is retribution on a large scale, but practiced not on the Nazis, but on women and children, the poor, the infirm.”73 

“It was a pathetic sight . . . ,” echoed British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, after a trip to Berlin. “The most awful sight one could see.”74

When horrifying accounts such as the above began circulating in the US and Britain, readers were shocked and sickened. Vengeful and bloody-minded as many in the West had been during war, with peace most no longer had a stomach for the cold and calculated slaughter of a fallen foe. 

“An apparently deliberate attempt is being made to exterminate many millions of Germans . . . by depriving them of their homes and of food, leaving them to die by slow and agonizing starvation,” influential British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, warned in the London Times. “This is not done as an act of war, but as part of a deliberate policy of ‘peace.’”75 

“The scale of this resettlement and the conditions in which it takes place are without precedent in history,” added Anne O’Hare McCormick in the New York Times. “No one seeing its horrors firsthand can doubt that it is a crime against humanity.”76 

Wrote an equally outraged American academic, Austin J. App

Cannot each of us write a letter to President Truman and another to each of our senators begging them not to make the United States a partner to the greatest mass atrocity so far recorded in history? Calling it the greatest mass atrocity so far recorded in history is not rhetoric. It is not ignorance of history. It is sober truth. 

To slice three or four ancient provinces from a country, then loot and plunder nine million people of their houses, farms, cattle, furniture, and even clothes, and then . . . expel them “from the land they have inhabited for 700 years” with no distinction “between the innocent and the guilty” . . . to drive them like unwanted beasts on foot to far-off provinces, unprotected, shelterless, and starving is an atrocity so vast that history records none vaster.77 

Fortunately, these voices of protest and the pressure they exerted on Western leaders were welcome signs that the physical torment of Germany was nearing an end. Unfortunately, by the time the horror became common knowledge, the deed was all but done. Of the roughly eleven million expellees hurled from their homes in Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia, an estimated two million, mostly women and children,perished. Equally as horrifying, though less well known, were the nearly one million Germans who died during similar expulsions in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. Additionally, an estimated four million more ethnic Germans were sent east to Russia and elsewhere where their odds of surviving as slaves were worse than as refugees.78 

While Western leaders such as Winston Churchill expressed astonishment at the tragedy they had wrought in eastern Germany, little was said about the deliberate starvation of the rest of the Reich, and utter silence prevailed concerning the Allied torture chambers in Germany and Poland, the on-the-spot massacre of Nazi Party members and SS troops, or the death camps run by Eisenhower. Indeed, taken as a whole, it is not improbable that far more Germans died during the first two years of “peace” than died during the previous six years of war.79 It was truly, as Time magazine had earlier termed it, “history’s most terrifying peace.” But, and as the American journal failed to add, before there had been history’s most terrifying peace, there had been history’s most terrifying war. 
Like Winston Churchill, other prominent figures who had lent a guiding hand to Allied atrocities began distancing themselves from the deeds when some of the first damning details became known. When particulars of Dresden and the terror-bombing campaign began to surface, RAF commander Arthur Harris insisted matter-of-factly that he was only following orders;“orders,”said Harris, from “higher up.”And even Ilya Ehrenburg, that most virulent of propagandists and a man whose words to the advancing Red Army did more perhaps than all causes combined to insure the rape and slaughter of millions, even Ehrenburg had the temerity to plead innocence years after the war. 

I had feared that after the crimes the invaders had perpetrated in our country, our Red Army men might try to settle accounts. In dozens of articles I kept on saying that we should not and, indeed, could not exact vengeance, for we were Soviet people, not Fascists. . . . There were, of course, cases of violence, of looting: in every army there are criminals, hooligans and drunkards, but our officers took measures against excesses. . . . Patrols protected the population.... Isolated cases of excesses committed in East Prussian towns . . . aroused our general indignation. . . . pity welled up in my heart.... The feeling of revenge was alien to me.80 [Liar,liar,pants on fire DC]

Despite such protests and similar ungainly attempts to put as much time and space between themselves and their dark deeds as possible, Ehrenburg and other Allied leaders actually had very little to fear. They had, after all, won the war. With a more-than-willing army of apologists, polemicists, journalists, film-makers, and “historians” to cover their tracks, none of the major, or minor, Allied war criminals ran any risk of being called to account for their acts. Far from it. At the lower levels, those who actually committed the atrocities at Dachau, Nemmersdorf and a thousand other points on the map, were quietly forgiven while at the upper end, US generals became American presidents and English prime ministers became British knights. 

Meanwhile, as the voices of conscience were drowned in a flood of Allied adulation and celebration, much of the world’s attention was riveted on Nuremberg. There, the victors sat in judgment over the vanquished. There, the accused German leaders were tried, there they were convicted, and there they were dutifully hung, for planning aggressive war ... for waging criminal war ... for crimes against peace and humanity ... for crimes planned ... for crimes committed ... for crimes against. . . . And all this, it may be presumed, spoken slowly, solemnly, and with a straight face. 

From afar, Austin J. App watched the ongoing charade in Nuremberg with mounting indignation. Like a good many others, the American academic had followed closely the course of the war and he, for one, was appalled and outraged by the utter hypocrisy displayed. 

Germans still have much to feel guilty of before God. But they have nothing to feel guilty of before the Big Three. Any German who still feels guilty before the Allies is a fool. Any American who thinks he should is a scoundrel.81


Of Victors and Victims 
Slowly, slowly, Germany came home. Like a planet blown to atoms by some vast cosmic explosion, the scattered debris began drifting back to its center of gravity. One, two, three, even ten years after the war, German prisoners and slaves took their first steps back on the long road home. Unlike the river of misery and fear that had flowed outward in 1945, only a trickle of broken and starved humanity seeped back. Millions had perished in captivity—some in British and French slave colonies, some in Eisenhower’s death camps, but more in the vast Soviet gulag system. Of the nearly one hundred thousand Landsers marched off after the fall of Stalingrad alone, barely 5,000 lived to see their homeland again. Some camps in Siberia had death rates of seventy, eighty and ninety percent. Though the survival rate was better in the west, the physical and mental abuse was perhaps even more extreme.Thus, when inmates, east and west, heard of their impending reprieve from what seemed a death sentence, most were stunned. 

“I stood there as if rooted to the spot and said absolutely nothing at all,”Anna Fest recounted when she learned of her impending release from an American prison in 1947. “I have no idea how I got back to the barracks. I only know once I was inside, I threw myself on the bed and wept horribly.”

Wrote a fellow German from Russia: 

July 12th, 1949, is a date I shall never forget. Our hopes had been dashed to the ground so often, but this time it really was true and we were going to be set free and return to Germany. . . . Naturally we were all so happy and excited at the prospect of one thousand persons being released, that we found it impossible to go to sleep. And yet at heart we were inclined to be skeptical for we had been disappointed so often. Those of us who were at the hospital were taken to the railway-station by lorry, but the rest of the men who were being released had to go there on foot and were escorted by armed guards. In fact, they were driven to the station like a herd of cattle and pushed and beaten by the guards with the buttend of their rifles. The good mood that everyone had been in quickly vanished, and most of the men were convinced that their last hour had come. Forty-five men were crowded into each of the trucks of the goods train which was to take us homewards. Each man was given a piece of bread and marmalade as his ration for three days, and then the trucks were locked and barred from the outside.2 

Tragically, and in a scenario similar to that of the eastern expellees, the last leg home was often the most deadly. Diseased, emaciated, underfed, the physical strain proved simply too great for many. 

“During the 3 weeks’ journey 53 men died, and were thrown out of the train . . . ,” one amputee recalled. “Almost all the occupants were sick with diarrhea.”3 

“My best pal, who came from my native town, died of heat-stroke,” added another returnee.“It is tragic to think that, after having survived so much suffering and hardship, he should die on the way home.”4 

Incongruously, the death trains were often decorated with green boughs, pictures of Stalin and colorful banners: great stalin, we thank you for our return. 5 When the Russian zone of Germany was reached the wagons unloaded their cargoes of agony. Remembered a Berlin nurse who greeted one transport: 

Almost all of the 800 or 900 in the train were sick or crippled. You might say they were all invalids. With 40 to 50 packed in each of those little boxcars, the sick had to sleep beside the dead on their homeward journey. I did not count them but I am sure we removed more than 25 corpses. Others had to be taken to hospitals. I asked several of the men whether the Russian guards or doctors had done anything on the trip to care for the sick. They said “No.” I met only one alert, healthy man in the lot and.... he was just a kid of 17. 6

Understandably, few who survived years of communist captivity were willing to linger long in the Soviet sector. Thus, most opted to continue their journey to the American, British or French zones. Young Siegfried Losch was one: 

The train took us to about two miles from the British zone border. From there we had to walk. As sick as we were I could not help noting that the speed of our march increased as we were coming close to the border. After all we had seen, we knew, that one Russian officer could have at his pleasure sent all of us back. . . . 

On the border, Russian soldiers made another head count. Then they raised the barrier and we were in West Germany. What a relief that was. We shook each others hands and many cried with joy.... 

We had never seen or heard anything about the Salvation Army. There they were standing right on the border with a truck and much food. We had to form a single file and walk by the truck. I was surprised how quickly the mob let itself be organized. Then everybody received a hot cup of chocolate milk. . . . Next, everybody got a sandwich. A real white bread sandwich! with sliced sausage inside. . . . Sausage was something we only dreamed about.... 

With tears in our eyes we were asked to “please” board some apparently brand new Mercedes buses. It was warm inside. . . . Now in the heated vehicles the warm air made the warm welcome by our hosts complete. We felt good all over. . . . we were home!!!!! We were in Germany!7 

“They even brought us to the railroad and furthermore not in the big trucks, but in a perfectly normal car,” reminisced Anna Fest after she and a friend were finally released. “And they bought us tickets and we were seated in the train and nobody was there to guard us and nobody locked us in. We essentially could do and let happen whatever we wanted, but we were afraid. We didn’t even know how to move around freely on the train and maybe walk down the aisle. We didn’t dare do that. We sat there just so, a couple bawling miserably.”8 

As might be imagined, such homecomings were almost always otherworld experiences. Everyone—mothers, wives, children, all—had long since given up. Thus, with the sudden and unexpected appearance of surviving men and women, it was as if ghosts had returned from the grave. Having himself experienced all the horrors that war and prison had to give, young Guy Sajer found the chasm separating his past from his present almost unbridgeable. 

I was still five miles from my house and from the end of my journey, and the place where it had all begun. It was a beautiful day, and I should have been impelled by joy to run the whole way, toward the incredible fact that drew closer with each step. However, my throat was knotted with anguish, and I could scarcely breathe. . . . A cold sweat suddenly began to pour down my emaciated body. The despair which had settled over me in the East was suddenly violated by a reality I had almost forgotten, which was about to impose itself on me once more, as if nothing had happened. The transition was too great, too brutal. . . . My head was spinning like a boat with a broken rudder, as I walked slowly toward the encounter which I had so much longed for, and which I suddenly feared. 

A plane flew over very low across the sunny countryside. Unable to stop myself, I plunged into the ditch on the other side of the road. The plane throbbed overhead for a moment, and then vanished, as suddenly as it had come. I pulled myself up by the trunk of an apple tree, without understanding what had just happened. I felt stunned. My blurred eyes watched the grass, which had been crushed by my weight, slowly straightening up again....This grass was not so tall, but otherwise reminded me of the grass on the steppe. It seemed familiar, and I let myself fall down again. The brilliance of the day rose over the points of the blades, forcing me to shut my eyes. . . . I managed to calm down, and fell asleep.... 

When I woke, I set out again, to complete my journey. My sleep must have lasted for several hours; the sun was setting behind the hill, and I arrived at twilight—which was preferable to the glare of full day. I felt anxious enough about meeting my own family; I didn’t want to meet anyone I used to know. . . . So I arrived at the end of the day I had longed for so much, and started down the street as if I had just left it the day before. I tried to walk slowly, but each step seemed to resound like a parade step. . . . As I turned the corner . . . I saw my house. My heart was pounding so hard that my chest ached. 

Someone appeared at the corner: a small old woman, whose shoulders were covered by a worn cloak. Even the cloak was familiar to me. My mother was carrying a small milk can. She was walking toward a neighboring farm, which I knew well. She was also walking toward me. I thought I was going to fall. She was coming down the middle of the road. . . . My heart contracted so hard I thought I would faint. My mother walked past me. 

I leaned against a wall to keep my balance. A bitter taste filled my mouth, as if it had filled with blood. I knew that within a few minutes she would come back the same way. I felt like running, but at the same time, couldn’t move, and stood paralyzed, letting the minutes trickle by. 

After a few moments . . . she reappeared, going the other way, grayer and more shadowy in the deepening darkness. She came closer and closer. I was afraid to move, afraid of frightening her. And then it was unbearable. I summoned up my courage and spoke.... 

She stopped. I took several steps toward her, and then I saw that she was about to faint. The milk can fell to the ground, and I caught her in my trembling arms.

“This whole experience had the quality of a dream rather than reality,” said Siegfried Knappe as he approached the home of his wife, Lilo, nearly five years after the war. 

When she opened the door and saw me, her expression was as unbelieving as my mother’s had been. I was so excited that I thought my heart would surely stop! I stepped inside the door and we fell into each other’s arms. Having her in my embrace was breathtaking, and I felt almost light-headed. We just clung to each other, both of us racked with sobs. 

Then I saw Klaus and Alexander standing behind her. I knelt before Klaus and said, “Hello, Klaus,” and he caught on to who I was and shyly let me hug him. Lilo knelt by Alexander, who was four, and said, “It is Daddy.” I said, “Hello, Alexander,” and he looked at Lilo and said,“He still knows me!” Lilo and I looked at each other and began to laugh, but the laughter abruptly turned to tears and we clung to each other as if we could never part again.10 

Unfortunately, most homecomings had no such happy endings. Some soldiers limped back to find only rubble where houses had stood and only the graves of those they had loved. There were other cruel surprises. 

“I had my own little house,” one returning Landser recalled. “How happy I was that it was still standing! But when I rang the bell, Americans came to the door—my wife’s new friends. They asked me what the hell I wanted.”11 

After years of waiting without a word, many women, like the above, simply gave up. Thousands turned to prostitution or concubinage to avoid starvation and make ends meet. When returning husbands stood face to face with the post-war reality, often heavily rouged and smeared with lipstick, some murdered their mates on the spot, then took their own lives.12 

“You’ve turned into shameless bitches—every one of you . . . ,” a returned soldier shouted at his Berlin wife. “You’ve lost all your standards, the whole lot of you!”13 

Like the man above, thousands of ex-Landsers were unprepared and ill-equipped to deal with the unpleasant truths of defeat and occupation. For the year 1946, there were 25,000 divorces in Berlin alone.14 

Despite the epidemic of dissolving families, many were determined, come what may, to reunite and remain together. Some women, not content to sit and passively await their men, set off in search of them instead. Renate Hofmann was one. After a terrifying odyssey across half of Germany, the woman finally tracked her husband to a hospital in Munich. 

There was no doctor in sight, and no one told me anything about my husband’s burns and what to expect. So, looking straight ahead, I walked through the door and saw a bed in front of me in which someone was sitting. It had to be my husband. Unfortunately, he noticed my hesitation, as brief as it was. A doctor should have made me aware of the severity of the burns so that my husband wouldn’t notice that I didn’t recognize him. 

We fell into one another’s arms. We talked and I immediately realized it was the same voice, nothing had changed. My husband got out of bed and put on his robe—the same motions, the same movements, the same figure. But it had still been a shock, because the face was no longer there—it was gone.15 

Bittersweet as the anticipated reunion was, Renate at last knew peace. “We were reunited as a family once again,” sighed the grateful wife.16 

Sadly, many women who found loved ones alive realized too late it would have been far, far better had they discovered them dead. Refusing to believe the worst, Regina Shelton rushed into a village tavern one day in “breathless expectation” of finding her father.

I see a lonely figure in something vaguely resembling a Russian uniform. He sits at the table by the tile stove where the regulars used to have their friendly card games and mugs of beer. He sits without moving, and I am struck motionless by the sight. Now and then, the breeze from the open window touches him and makes him shiver as if from an icy wind. The only other sign of life is a steady rivulet out of the corner of one eye, tracing a shiny line along the parchment nose and joining the saliva that drools from the slack, half-open mouth. The hairless skull hangs low on his chest, arms dangle between his wide-spread legs, and a drop from his chin falls at regular intervals between them on the floor. Except for the drip and the chill that trembles through him occasionally, he resembles a broken statue, with rags tossed over its ragged edges. . . . Sunken eyes glisten feverishly in their hollows, glazed, vacant, dead. Like a scarecrow bleached by sun, wind, and rain, the figure is of an indefinable color, skin and rags blending to an ashen gray. 

The greeting has frozen on my lips. What is there to say to a man who seems no longer human? whose instincts, surely, more than any conscious decision have carried the remains of his body to the place where he used to be a man? who lights like a homing pigeon on the very spot that was his point of departure into regions beyond nightmare? . . . In an irrational reversal of my earlier thoughts, I tiptoe by him, no longer wishing the man to be Father.... 

In the kitchen, the others are huddled in a helpless hush, not knowing how to approach this intruder from the nether-world who has given them no sign of being aware of where he is or who they are. Mia . . . is almost out of her mind and without a clue how to cope with the repulsive creature who is her husband. . . . His obvious state of near-starvation at last gets Mia’s practical mind working. She carries a bowl of steaming soup to him. When she comes back, she whispers, horror-stricken: “He can’t even eat any more. You should have seen him sinking his whole face into the soup and slurping it, not even using a spoon. And he kept trying to drink it while it was coming back up. It’s terrible!”17 

“Oh great God! How miserable can it get?” asked Ruth Andreas Friedrich from Berlin. 

Sometimes, when walking through the streets, one can barely stand to look at all the misery. Among the smart American uniforms, the well-fed figures in the occupying forces, the first German soldiers appear ragged and haggard, sheepishly looking around like caught offenders. Prisoners of war from who knows where. They drag themselves through the streets. Seeing them one wants to look away because one feels so ashamed of their shame, of their wretched pitiful looks . . . They shamble around like walking ruins. Limbless, invalid, ill, deserted and lost. A gray-bearded man in a tattered uniform leans against a wall. With his arms around his head he is quietly weeping. People pass by, stop and shyly form a circle around him. He does not see them.18 

Given the despair and horror of their homeland, millions were understandably desperate to escape. Thousands of nubile German women opted for marriages of convenience and fled the Fatherland forever with American or British husbands. Likewise, thousands of German men joined the French Foreign Legion or immigrated legally or illegally to Canada, South America and the US. While countless numbers were leaving their war-ravaged homeland, wretched POWs continued to trickle back. 

“Everywhere,” remembered one staring returnee, “there were just women and boys working in patched old uniforms, examining bricks, searching through the ruins for anything that could be used. Then the train journey continued with its unending procession of shattered towns, villages, factories. . . . The sight made us draw in our breaths . . . , it made us fear for the future. . . . We had been committed to Germany, but now we had to find new meaning in our lives. Each one of us would have to struggle alone for himself and his family, without being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with other soldiers, without the comradeship . . . to support us.”19 

It was just such sentiment as this, springing from the hearts of desperate, but determined, souls, that enabled the German nation to begin the long climb back, one brick at a time. Fortunately for all concerned, by the late 1940s, with the inevitable rift between East and West in full rupture, Great Britain and the United States were more intent on erecting a bulwark against Soviet expansion than in flailing a fallen enemy even further. Although the once proud German nation would remain little more than a degraded vassal of the victors, the sudden shift in Allied attitude at least granted to Germans the tools needed to rescue themselves and their children from utter extinction. This proved all the incentive needed.

With a will and energy never before witnessed in the modern world, Germans set to work at a furious pace, as if in some mad race to place as much brick and mortar as possible between themselves and the nightmare. While old men, cripples and children worked as frantically as any, it was upon females that much of the burden fell. 

“Did you ever see anything like it! Aren’t those German women wonderful?” marveled one American who viewed the phenomenon.20 

“I used to think that it was only in China you could see women working like that,” a comrade added. “I never imagined white people could do it. I admire their guts.”21 

While rubble magically disappeared in the cities and buildings rose from the ruins, food was also rising on the countryside.“The Germans are making every effort to help themselves . . . ,” noted one astonished visitor. “It is not unusual to see a milch cow hitched to a plow, a woman leading the cow and a small boy guiding the plow.”22 

As they were being transported through Germany, Hans Woltersdorf and other POWs also beheld the spectacle: 

The people waved to us, furtively, to be sure, but with their will to live obviously unbroken. Stress with its inevitable diseases, to which they ought to have been subject in these exhausting times, passed them by without a trace. They were still sound in mind and body; they did not crave health cures and hospitals. Despite the superhuman achievements that the war had demanded of them, they were throwing themselves into hard work not to rest until once again they achieved a miracle, an economic miracle.... 

Just yesterday these people were prepared to defy an enemy who broke all written and unwritten rules of war to wage a war of annihilation against their homes, their kitchens, chairs and beds; who drove them into cellars night after night, where they were buried alive, burned, smothered, and killed, and first lived through all the tortures of hell and met fates that would forever remain unknown, because the victims had taken their testimonies with them to the grave. Now they were there again, like ants, ready to help, to work, to worry, to obey, to hope, and once more to adapt themselves to the view that the victims were really the guilty.23

As Hans Woltersdorf observed, and as Allied occupation troops would later attest, the one element almost totally lacking in the German heart during the post-war years was, surprisingly, the spirit of hatred and revenge.24 In their heedless, headlong struggle to survive, there simply was no time or energy left in Germans to dwell on what was or what might have been. 

“Forget the past,” read the new national motto, “only the future counts.”25 

Paradoxically, while the defeated had neither the time nor inclination to look back, the victors did. Continuing the process begun before the war, the Western propaganda offensive against Germany proceeded with renewed vigor following the war. In thousands of books, articles, and movies, the world was reminded over and over again that the Nazi Party in particular, and all Germans in general, were solely responsible for the war; that they and they alone had committed beastly atrocities; that only the German people and their leaders were war criminals; that German guilt was somehow something “unique.” Curiously, many who argued this thesis and were often its most violent proponents were also those who had been furthest removed from the actual fighting itself. Additionally, almost all who promoted the notion of singular guilt were those with a personal, political, or financial stake in perpetuating the fiction of the “Good War,” the “war to end evil” and the “Crusade in Europe.” 

Among those closest to the fight, however, post-war propaganda had negligible results. Indeed, far from being filled with hatred as they were expected to be, many maturing Allied soldiers and airmen—those who actually fought on the ground or bombed from the air—were some of the least vindictive and some of the most forgiving. After boarding with Germans, dining with Germans, drinking with Germans, and sometimes, after courting and falling in love with Germans, many Allied troops ultimately began to understand and identify with Germans. Too late, most came to the shocking realization that in no appreciable way was their former enemy different from themselves. Ashamed by the sadistic, blood-thirsty propaganda they had swallowed so eagerly and obeyed so blindly, many young men—Americans, British, French, and even Russians—knew all too well from experience that neither Nazis or Germans had a corner on crime and that there was nothing “unique” about guilt or evil. 

One of the most outspoken opponents of singular war guilt was the intrepid American journalist, Freda Utley. “An atrocity ceases to be one when committed in a ‘good cause,’ that is, our own,” wrote the hard-hitting author in her 1949 book, The High Cost of Vengeance. 

I thought it was high time we stopped talking about German guilt, since there was no crime the Nazis had committed, which we or our allies had not also committed. I had referred to our obliteration bombing, the mass expropriation and expulsion from their homes of twelve million Germans on account of their race; the starving of the Germans during the first years of the occupation; the use of prisoners as slave laborers; the Russian concentration camps, and the looting perpetrated by Americans as well as Russians. . . . Compared with the rape and murder and looting engaged in by the Russian armies at the war’s end, the terror and slavery and hunger and robbery in the Eastern zone today, and the genocide practiced by the Poles and Czechs, the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Germans condemned at Nuremberg to death or lifelong imprisonment appeared as minor in extent if not in degree.26 

J.F.C. Fuller agreed.“For fifty or a hundred years, and possibly more,” announced the British major general, “the ruined cities of Germany will stand as monuments to the barbarism of their conquerors.”27 

Another backward-looking Briton, an RAF crewman, expressed in simple, yet profound, terms a thought that thousands of other Allied soldiers and airmen no doubt pondered for the rest of their lives:“Had the Germans won the war, should we or ought we to have been tried as war criminals? . . . The thoughts live with me to this day.” 

For the most part though, such reflections were kept strictly private and even the public utterances of Freda Utley, General Fuller and a few courageous others were all but lost in a storm of voices that had a personal, as well as psychological, stake in whitewashing history. Hotly argued the still-maddened majority: 

“They got exactly what they deserved.” 

“We felt we were fighting an inhuman philosophy. . . .” 
“We became a force of retribution. . . .” 

“I always said that the only good German was a dead one and I still say that!” 

Hopefully, for the sake of these speakers and the millions more who could utter such words, hopefully they had never witnessed a screaming child running like a living torch through a flaming street, never watched as a man drank his own urine to stay alive while a river ran just beyond his prison fence, never heard the animal shrieks of the tortured as their genitals were mutilated or the groans of a bleeding woman begging for a bullet while the line awaiting its turn grew longer—hopefully they had never seen such things, for only then can one understand how they might parrot over and over and over again the standard refrain, “they got exactly what they deserved” . . . and never lose a moment’s sleep. 

But even an avalanche of such savage hatred and mindless moralizing could not erase the memories of those who had seen and heard such things. And worse, nothing could clear the consciences or still the nightmares of those who had not only seen and heard such things, but who had actually committed them. Whether it was revealed in the jarring, inward-searching prose of the American, Kurt Vonnegut, or whether it was the brooding, haunting verse of the Russian, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for the future of mankind, thank God, these men and other brave souls faced up to their past and in the end, each was finally able to know pity, compassion and ultimately, remorse. 

This strange state of mind which fell upon us for a little while after the guns had been silenced was a vague obscenity. It was the faint, lingering aftertaste of having achieved something monstrous. We had unleashed powers beyond our comprehension. Entire countries lay in waste beneath our hands—and, in the doing of it, our hands were forever stained. It was of no avail to tell ourselves that what we had done was what we had had to do, the only thing we could have done. It was enough to know that we had done it. We had turned the evil of our enemies back upon them a hundredfold, and, in so doing, something of our own integrity had been shattered, had been irrevocably lost. 

We who had fought this war could feel no pride. Victors and vanquished, all were one. We were one with the crowds moving silently along . . . the old women hunting through the still ruins . . . the bodies piled like yellow cordwood . . . the dreadful vacant eyes of the beaten German soldiers . . . the white graves and the black crosses and the haunting melancholy of our hearts. All, all, were one, all were the ghastly horror of what we had known, of what we had helped to do. . . . Face it when you close this book. 

We did.28

1. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest, 13. 
2. Kaps, Tragedy of Silesia, 194. 
3. Ibid., 135. 
4. Schieder, Expulsion of the German Population, 235. 
5. Kaps, Silesia, 189. 
6. Ibid., 195.
7. Ibid., 478–479. 
8. Ibid., 186. 
9. Shelton, To Lose a War, 149. 
10. Kaps, Silesia, 535–536.
11. Ibid., 479. 
12. Ibid., 537–538. 
13. Ibid., 203. 
14. Ibid., 322. 
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid., 479. 
17. Ibid., 203. 
18. Ibid., 231. 
19. Ibid., 539–542. 
20. Ibid., 532.
21. Schieder, Expulsion, 249. 
22. Kaps, Silesia, 303. 
23. Schieder, 320. 
24. Ibid., 317–318. 
25. Ibid., 240.
26. Ibid., 318, 321. 
27. Kaps, 215. 
28. Ibid., 239. 
29. Schieder, 318. 
30. Ibid., 219. 
31. Ibid., 245.
32. De Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam, 108. 
33. Kaps, Silesia, 160–161. 
34. Schieder, Expulsion, 315.
35. Ibid., 299. 
36. Sack, An Eye for an Eye, 138. 
37. Schieder, 310. 
38. Ibid., 297. 
39. Ibid., 299. 
40. Kaps, 397.
41. Shelton, To Lose a War, 184. 
42. Kaps, 428. 
43. Schieder, 324. 
44. Ibid., 287.
45. Ibid., 297. 
46. Shelton, 191. 
47. De Zayas, Nemesis, 114.
48. Schieder, Expulsion, 307. 
49. Kaps, Silesia, 253. 
50. De Zayas, 114. 
51. Schieder, 299. 
52. Ibid., 315.
53. Kaps, Silesia, 127. 
54. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest, 15. 
55. Kaps, 187.
56. Ibid., 130, 256
57. Schieder, 292–293. 
58. Ibid., 294–295. 
59. Kaps, 130. 
60. Ibid., 130, 131.
61. Ibid., 256. 
62. Schieder, 295. 
63. Kaps, 128. 
64. Ibid.
65. Ibid., 129. 
66. App, “Mass Expulsions,” 22. 
67. Barnouw, Germany 1945, 187.
68. Botting, Ruins of the Reich, 187. 
69. De Zayas, Nemesis, 114. 
70. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest, 15. 
71. De Zayas, 107. 
72. Pechel, Voices From the Third Reich, 447; Botting, Ruins, 187. 
73. De Zayas, 115. 
74. Botting, 190.
75. De Zayas, 108. 
76. Ibid., 123. 
77. App, “Mass Expulsions,” 24.
78. De Zayas, 184; Botting, 191; Keeling, 13. 
79. Crawley, Spoils of War, 45.
80. Ehrenburg, The War, 163, 169, 173, 175. 
81. App, “Mass Expulsions,” 24.

1. Owings, Frauen, 338.
2. Kaps, Tragedy of Silesia, 171. 
3. Schieder, Expulsion of the German Population, 168. 
4. Kaps, Silesia, 171. 
5. Schieder, Expulsion, 189. 
6. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest, 21.
7. Losch manuscript, 44–45. 
8. Owings, Frauen, 339.
9. Sajer, Forgotten Soldier, 462–464. 
10. Knappe, Soldat, 362. 
11. Pechel, Voices From the Third Reich, 506.
12. Anonymous, Woman in Berlin, 245–246. 
13. Ibid., 316. 
14. Hermann Glaser, The Rubble Years (New York: Paragon House, 1986), 49. 
15. Pechel, Voices, 449. 
16. Ibid.
17. Shelton, To Lose a War, 154–155.
18. Barnouw, Germany 1945, 172. 
19. Fritz, Frontsoldaten, 222, 226–227.
20. Utley, High Cost of Vengeance, 37. 
21. Ibid. 
22. Keeling, Gruesome Harvest, 68. 
23. Woltersdorf, Gods of War, 170.
24. Engelmann, In Hitler’s Germany, 331. 
25. Ibid., 333.
26. Utley, High Cost, 182, 183–184. 
27. Ibid., 183.


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