Staunton, January 3 – The vicious behavior of the Red Army in eastern Europe in the last days of World War II has been widely documented but all too often excused because of the crimes committed by German forces in the USSR. But the crimes the Red Army visited on Soviet citizens in the Soviet West after the war was over have attracted less attention.
Two days ago, the Feldgrau.infoportal published a selection of documents from the archives of the former KGB of the Ukrainian SSR which detail many such crimes by Soviet soldiers against Soviet citizens after the war was over and show that senior Soviet officials knew and did little to curb this viciousness (feldgrau.info/dokumenty2/22624-dokumenty-81).
They were initially declassified by the Ukrainian authorities in 2013 but only now have been processed and made available for a broader audience. They may for horrific reading especially since the children of at least some of the victims of the Red Army rampage in 1946 are still alive.
The Soviet soldiers burned villages to the ground often with the residents killed in the process. They raped women, beat villagers and even took hostages. And all these things were reported by the Soviet secret police up the line to senior CPSU officials like Nikita Khrushchev who was then in charge of the Ukrainian SSR.
Many Russians, reading these documents, will feel they are reading about Nazi crimes against Soviet citizens, monstrous crimes that occurred only a few years or even months earlier. “But” as Novyye izvestiya notes in reporting the publication of these document, “this was after the end of the war, and these were not Germans but their own” (newizv.ru/news/society/02-01-2021/shokiruyuschaya-zhestokost-opublikovany-dokumenty-o-zverstvah-krasnoy-armii-posle-voyny).
Often among the victims of this bacchanalia of violence were invalided out Soviet soldiers or the widows of Red Army men who had died at the front. They were either killed or left without the means of existence because the Red Army men burned all their food supplies, animals, and houses, the documents show.
Whether the reports of this violence led to punishment or a change in policy unfortunately can’t be established. Information on that is available only in other military archives. And they at present are closed, making a final determination impossible, Novyye izvestiya says with obvious bitterness and regret.
Window on Eurasia — New Series
Mike Nova’s favorite articles on Inoreader