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Saturday, May 09, 2015

Victory for some...

For the Soviet Union the Second World War ended 70 years ago. For millions in Eastern Europe, it was the beginning of another occupation by an utterly fascist system, an occupation that would last around 45 years. For German women it was the beginning of a massive rape wave, perhaps the biggest in human history, with Russian troops defiling any woman they could find. Women as old as 80 years and girls as young as 8 years were raped. Millions were raped, and hundreds of thousands died as a result. There were roughly 200 000 victims of rape in Berlin alone. These weren't merely reprisals for all the horrors that Nazis had inflicted on Soviet citizens; on their way toward Berlin, the Russians raped Belarusians, Poles, Ukrainians, Jews and even Russians liberated from labor camps and wives of German communists. This was officially encouraged, even if nominally banned. The higher-ups encouraged the mass rapes as a means to terrorize local populations and to reward Soviet soldiers. At the end of the day Soviet authorities, kinda like the modern Finnish justice system, did not consider rape a serious offense. Hitler himself had contributed greatly to the peril of German women (and civilians in general) by preventing the evacuation of German civilians in places such as East Prussia, where the Russians really went cavemen on the local population.

Unlike Germany, Russia, as a victor, has been unwilling to learn from history even though their current problems with their "near abroad" and with NATO expansion have everything to do with Soviet/Russian history of repression. Poland and the Baltic states are now NATO members because of their repression under Russian rule. World War II began with a joint Nazi-Soviet attack on Poland. Tens of thousands of important Poles were massacred by the Soviets during this first occupation period. Later, as the Germans were being pushed back, Stalin couldn't have cared less about liberating anyone; Poland was merely another territory to conquer and hold, which is why he prevented the United States from aiding Polish partisans (the Home Army) in their desperate struggle against Germany. Today's Ukraine is divided over Russia because Stalin first starved the Ukrainian population to death (Holodomor), then resettled the country with Russians. (Mistakes such as this and the purges almost cost the Soviets the war.) The entire population of Crimea was deported and replaced with Russians. After the war Stalin downplayed the importance of the Holocaust because the plight of the Jewish people didn't fit the general history of the "Great Patriotic War", and because so many Soviet citizens (including Ukrainians and non-Soviet Poles) had actively participated in the genocide.

Of course, there is little question the Nazis were worse. Had the Nazis won the war, Poland, for example, would have been colonized and its Polish population either exterminated or enslaved (and then exterminated), and its cities razed to the ground. As Bloodlands makes clear, when it comes to the systematic murder of innocent men, women and children, Nazis easily outperformed the Soviet Union. As far as the Nazis were concerned, murder was the objective. In the Soviet Union murder was a means to an end. Soviets killed Soviets; Germans killed non-Germans. Soviets killed before the war, Germans during the war. Stalin may have gotten a head start with the mass killings, but once the Nazis crossed the Molotov-Ribbentrop line in 1941, they more than made up for it, first by having the Einsatzgruppen shoot any Jews they could find, and then, as the war went on, by building gas chambers with which they could murder on an industrial scale. During the war, the Nazis perfected a psychopath-run (hence the "banality of evil") genocide machine, which enabled them to murder so many Jews in such a short time in such a difficult environment.

Below are several bits from Bloodlands:

"The men of the Dirlewanger Brigade burned down three hospitals with patients inside. At one hospital, wounded Germans who were being treated by Polish doctors and nurses asked that no harm come to the Poles. This was not to be. The men of the Dirlewanger Brigade killed the Polish wounded. They brought the nurses back to camp that evening, as was the custom: each night selected women would be whipped by officers and then gang-raped before being murdered. This evening was unusual even by those standards. To the accompaniment of flute music, the men raised a gallows, and then hanged the doctors and the naked nurses."

"...in roundups that took several days, the Germans and the Jewish police would blockade particular blocks or particular houses, and force their inhabitants to go to a collection point. Germans shot small children, pregnant women, and the handicapped or elderly on the spot. In larger towns and cities where more than one roundup was necessary, these measures were repated with increasing violence. The Germans were aiming for daily quotas to fill trains, and would sometimes pass on quotas to the Jewish police who were responsible (at the risk of their own position and thus lives) for filling them."

"In October 1941, Mahileu became the first substantial city in occupied Soviet Belarus where almost all Jews were killed. A German (Austrian) policeman wrote to his wife of his feelings and experiences shooting the city's Jews in the first days of the month. 'During the first try, my hand trembled a bit as I shot, but one gets used to it. By the tenth try I aimed calmly and shot surely at the many women, children, and infants. I kept in mind that I have two infants at home, whom these hordes would treat just the same, if not ten times worse. The death that we gave them was a beautiful quick death, compared to the hellish torments of thousands and thousands in the jails of the GPU. Infants flew in great arcs through the air, and we shot them to pieces in flight, before their bodies fell into the pit and into the water.'"

"Having surrendered their valuables and documents, people were forced to strip naked. Then they were driven by threats or by shots fired overhead, in groups of about ten, to the edge of a ravine known as Babi Yar. Many of them were beaten: Pronicheva remembered that people 'were already bloody as they went to be shot.' They had to lie down on their stomachs on the corpses already beneath them, and wait for the shots to come from above and behind. Then would come the next group. Jews came and died for thirty-six hours. (...) One naked mother spent what she must have known were her last few seconds of life breastfeeding her baby. When the baby was thrown alive into the ravine, she jumped after it, and in that way found her death. Only there in the ditch were these people reduced to nothing, or to their number, which was 33,761."

"Jewish women suffered in particular ways. Despite regulations against "racial defilement," some Germans quickly developed a taste for rape as prelude to murder. At least once Germans carried out a "beauty contest" of Jewish women, taking them to the cemetery, forcing them to strip naked, and then killing them. In the ghetto, German soldiers would force Jewish girls to dance naked at night; in the morning only the girls' corpses remained. Perla Aginskaia recalled what she saw in a dark apartment in the Minsk ghetto one evening in autumn 1941: 'a little room, a table, a bed. Blood was streaming down the girl's body from deep, blackish wounds in her chest. It was quite clear that the girl had been raped and killed. There were gunshot wounds around her genitals.'" 

The Nazis also wiped out entire villages in counter-productive anti-partisan reprisals: for every German killed, hundreds of innocent civilians were murdered. Such operations took place not only in the East but in Western Europe as well. In the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, a Waffen-SS company massacred 600 civilians by a mistake (in the sense that they intended to massacre the inhabitants of another village). The men were separated from the rest, shot and then burned (while still alive). The women and children were taken to a church which was then set on fire. Those trying to escape were shot with machineguns. A baby was crucified.

So, if anything good came out of World War II, it was the physical extermination of what Hitler called the "good ones" of the Germanic race; the barbaric, racist, warmongering Germans with psychopathic and sadistic tendencies.

But in the very long run, Communism outperformed Nazism: the big difference between Nazism and Communism was their longevity. Nazis fell far short of their extermination targets due to the quick self-implosion of the Herrenvolk. Communism was much more long-lived and thus managed to amass a higher body count.

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