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The barbarity of the Soviet Army

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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 22 Nov 2012, 13:15
I was re-reading the official biography of Tito and the atrocities that the Red Army committed in Yugoslavia ( a friendly country, the most faithful ally of the USSR at that time ) are appalling. There were hundreds of cases of rapes and rapes with murder, numerous lootings and general vandalism. Some people even said that German soldiers were gentlemen compared to the Soviets. One communist invited some Soviet officers to his home to celebrate the liberation of Belgrade and then they got drunk, raped his wife and almost beat him to death. One communist female's activist was raped by Red Army soldiers and it shook her so much that she quit activism altogether.
Of course all this pales in comparison with what they Red Army did in Germany, that was an orgy of violence and savagery. Soviet soldiers behaved worse than animals.
It's really unpleasant to think that these were the soldiers of a socialist country. Some reports of their crimes remind of Huns.
It's also indicative that when Djilas, a high Yugoslav official complained about the crimes in Yugoslavia directly to Stalin, he responded with Does Djilas, who is himself a writer, not know what human suffering and the human heart are? Can't he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometers through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?
What does this say about Stalin himself, and what does it say about the Soviet society he created? It was a regime of unhuman brutality.
So, in my opinion, all that was a clear sign that something had gone terribly wrong with the Soviet Union.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
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Resident Soviet
Post 22 Nov 2012, 16:27
Accounts on the matter vary. I know a man from Poland who was rescued as a youth by Red Army soldiers. Another from Hungary told me how as a rebellious youth he blew up a toilet, got caught by Soviet military police, and instead of being punished just got a firm talking to by an officer.

As far as I've come to understand it, the barbarity and rapes by Red Army soldiers was done almost exclusively by front-line penal battalion formations composed mostly of former prisoners who realized that their chances for survival were very low as the front continued to advance. This is not to justify by any means what they did, but it does work to explain a number of things, namely a) what primitive, primalistic thoughts might have been going through their minds when they did it b) why soldiers and officers in the regular army consider such accusations libellous and insulting and c) why accounts on the behaviour of Soviet occupation forces vary from location to location.

I would like to conclude by saying that it is very important to note that reports on this historical event have been emphasized and exaggerated throughout Cold War historiography, especially in the West but also I would imagine to some degree in Yugoslavia. While it doesn't take away entirely from his account, it's important to note for instance that Djilas was a dissident, and that he was a liberal socialist in the same vein as Gorbachev and his lot. You mention that "some reports of [Red Army] crimes remind of Huns"; it is no accident that you want to feel that way, and a hint of racism definitely exists in most Western academic accounts of the matter, perhaps as a leftover of Nazi propaganda about the untermench mongoloid Bolsheviks that got carried over into the Cold War. The problem in historiography as it exists today is that Western academics continue to toe the line of their Cold War predecessors, while Russian historians continue to do the same (and those liberal types that do discuss the crimes usually overdo it, using Western historiography and condemning the Soviet regime as a whole).
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 22 Nov 2012, 16:38
Thanks for the informative reply.
That indeed explains things a bit. Did the Army take necessary steps to prevent this violence? I'd assume penal formations weren't supposed to be allowed to harass one place for days.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 22 Nov 2012, 17:46
Men with guns do terrible things when they are around people that don't have guns.
Soviet America is Free America!

Under communism, there is no freedom; you are not free to live in poverty, be homeless, to be without an education, to starve, or to be without a job
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
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Forum Commissar
Post 23 Nov 2012, 22:42
This behaviour does not surprise me at all. To be honest it is not a good idea to invite uneducated and boorish thugs to your house and give them lots to drink. If foreign soldiers are in my land I will try to stay away from them as much as possible because their behaviour is unpredictable. There is no excuse for the rapes committed.
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 23 Nov 2012, 22:50
Quote:
To be honest it is not a good idea to invite uneducated and boorish thugs to your house and give them lots to drink.

Are you trolling? They were officers and probably Party members too, not some "uneducated thugs".
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
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Forum Commissar
Post 23 Nov 2012, 22:55
Loz wrote:
Are you trolling? They were officers and probably Party members too, not some "uneducated thugs".


No I am dead serious. If there are foreign soldiers in your country, so what if they are officers? I would not want to get involved with such people because they might do something like that. I would especially avoid the ones with rank because they have the control. Whenever I am around soldiers I will always be careful not to stare at them and move along quickly.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
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Resident Soviet
Post 24 Nov 2012, 03:57
Loz wrote:
Did the Army take necessary steps to prevent this violence? I'd assume penal formations weren't supposed to be allowed to harass one place for days.


While the front was fluid I'm not sure whether anything was done. An old post on the subject by Stanislav_Bush argues that wartime diaries confirm that punishment existed even before Marshal Zhukov's famous order of 1945 that any soldier caught in the act of rape was to be shot on the spot.

http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/viewtopic.php?t=37802


I was going to say that PI made a good point regarding the fact that many Soviet soldiers and officers had little formal education, but then thinking about the behaviour of certain Russian people in the 1990s (in mafia groupings, among the rising oligarchs, in Chechnya, etc.) I don't think education or lack of it had much to do with it. Moreso it was the sheer horror of the situation, especially for the penal battalions. If rape was a common occurrence even among the British and Americans, who were well fed, landed in Europe late in the war, fought for the most part against inferior German troops, and didn't see their hometowns completely obliterated by the Nazis, why should the Soviets have acted differently? To think that their state's ideology could have wiped away all the negative characteristics of their primal humanity would be naive.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Aug 2012, 23:54
Pioneer
Post 24 Nov 2012, 08:49
This thread is pathetic and you should be ashamed.

War has always been accompanied by acts of violence towards civilians- this is an unfortunate fact.

The Germans were infinitely more brutal towards the population than the Soviets-

Quote:
In the recordings one junior German officer boasted in October 1944 about what he and his men did to a woman they thought was a Russian spy…

“We beat her on the t**s with a stick, clobbered her on the a*** with a pistol, then all eight of us f***** her, then we threw her outside and shot at her. And as she lay there, we threw grenades at her. Every time one of them landed near her body, she screamed.”


Quote:
BRUNS: “The trenches were 24 metres long and roughly three metres wide. They had to lie like sardines in a tin, heads towards the middle. Above, six machine gunners delivered the neck-shots.

“When I arrived, the trenches were pretty full already and the living had to lie on top before they got the neck-shot. They were all arranged beautifully so not too much space was wasted. They had already been robbed before they got here. On this Sunday I saw a half-kilometre-long queue shuffling forward step by step, the line-up for death. As they got nearer, they saw what awaited them. Around about here they had to give up their suitcases and their sacks of valuables. A little further on, they had to strip, and they could only keep on a shirt or a slip. They were mostly women and children, not much older than two.”


http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/se ... ny-1336922

Regular soldiers had no moral qualms discussing this amongst themselves. It was perfectly normal, whereas in the Red Army such things were punished.

As soviet78 had said himself, most of these atrocities were committed by penal battalions. In mainland Germany, the atrocities were more widespread, but they were a response to much worse brutality at the hands of the Germans and were by no means unprovoked like German barbarity was.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
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Post 24 Nov 2012, 12:41
Andropov wrote:
This thread is pathetic and you should be ashamed.
Why? For suggesting that some mistakes might have been made during the history of the USSR?

Many of us here feel fondly towards the USSR, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore the possibility of errors. The USSR was an attempt to create a superior and more just society for all mankind and if anything (while I acknowledge practicalities) I hold it to a higher standard of conduct than I would some Bourgeois state.

Andropov wrote:
The Germans were infinitely more brutal towards the population than the Soviets-
I don't believe anybody suggested otherwise, but if the best you can say is that they were better than the Nazis then it's not something to be overly proud of. Comparing one of the great movements of modern times with one of the most despicable and saying the Soviets were better doesn't really commend them in any tangible way.

Where mistakes were made (and this was one - although it's extent might have been overstated) we would do better to recognize and learn from it so that such mistakes won't occur again.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Aug 2012, 23:54
Pioneer
Post 24 Nov 2012, 15:32
No, because he referred to all Soviet soldiers as "behaving worse than animals" and comparing them to the Huns as a whole. Even I would not paint the German Wehrmacht in such a broad stroke.
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 24 Nov 2012, 16:03
Quote:
No, because he referred to all Soviet soldiers as "behaving worse than animals" and comparing them to the Huns as a whole.

Then how would you describe raping and looting in a friendly, allied country whose people welcomed the Soviet Army with kisses and flowers? I'm talking about Yugoslavia of course.
In Germany there was raping and killing and stealing on a truly mass scale.
I didn't say that all Soviet soldiers behaved like animals, but a number of them did, enough for the Yugoslav leadership to complain about it directly to Stalin. Who, what's even more outrageous, wasn't that upset by the reports.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 24 Nov 2012, 18:02
It is impossible to have a war without atrocities. No such thing.

You train young men to murder and destroy, and put them in the most alienating and terrifying situation you can imagine, and they will turn into animals. Political origin doesn't matter.
Soviet America is Free America!

Under communism, there is no freedom; you are not free to live in poverty, be homeless, to be without an education, to starve, or to be without a job
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 24 Nov 2012, 23:07
For the record, I think Loz' shock, anger and indignation are justified, even if this thread has piled up a list of reasons why Red Army soldiers may have behaved as they did. There is nothing wrong with admitting mistakes, as Shig mentioned. However, we must also remember that taking the case too far -linking the events to ideology or 'the monstrous system' or to the 'Russian mentality' or some similar racialist argument is what we absolutely must avoid. One of the main problems in contemporary Russia is the schizophrenization of collective memory and collective consciousness, with discourse on these historical matters continuing to operate in extremely polarized, black and white terms. The USSR had a great history, and on the whole an excellent record of individual and collective courage, hard work and sacrifice in the construction and defence of socialism, but was virtually unwilling to admit mistakes, errors and crimes. This must change in any future socialist state.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Jan 2008, 19:10
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Komsomol
Post 24 Nov 2012, 23:42
Its interesting that the official biography of Tito, emphasizes the large Red Army placed on Yugoslav soil. While it is presumably mostly to emphasize the negatives, it also shows that the Soviet army played an important role in the land operations in Yugoslavia. This is contrary to the common repeated claim that Yugoslavia was the only East European state to free itself from Nazism, without help from Russia, and that is why Tito felt free to disobey Stalin.

Also I notice that Loz has been making a lot of anti-Stalinist posts lately, and I was wondering if you were still a defender of Hoxha, since Hoxha was a huge apologist for Stalin.
Kamran Heiss
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 24 Nov 2012, 23:56
Quote:
This is contrary to the common repeated claim that Yugoslavia was the only East European state to free itself from Nazism, without help from Russia, and that is why Tito felt free to disobey Stalin.

Albania was the only E. European state to free itself from Nazism without help from the USSR.
In Yugoslavia, though, the Partisans would have still won even without the Red Army entering the country, but the Red Army greatly helped the Tito's one, indeed, the Syrmian front was the bloodiest battlefield in Yugoslavia.

Quote:
Also I notice that Loz has been making a lot of anti-Stalinist posts lately, and I was wondering if you were still a defender of Hoxha, since Hoxha was a huge apologist for Stalin.

Hoxha has certainly written some interesting works.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Mar 2013, 17:06
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 26 Mar 2013, 18:40
Weren't officers and soldiers who were accused of rape charged with crimes, and shot/imprisoned? I have not read it, but I've heard from J. Erickson's Road to Berlin that this is what happened. Perhaps someone else can confirm this.

I would be mindful when reading biographies. For example, a lot of biographies that were written prior to the archives being opened leave out a ton of information. In the biography I read about Stalin by Ian Grey, it talks about Stalin's miscalculations about the Nazi invasion on June 22nd, without mentioning the fact that the intelligence held was contradictory and extremely hard to rely upon. Here's more information about this:

Quote:
But if considered dispassionately, both Stalin’s and Roosevelt’s miscalculations have a completely convincing explanation. The communications of intelligence services are always contradictory to a greater or lesser degrees, because they derive from the most varied, and often deliberately misinformed – sources. Not long ago a collection of documents titled ‘Hitler’s Secrets on Stalin’s Table. Intelligence and Counter-intelligence on the Preparation of German Aggression against the USSR. March-June 1941’ was published. This work makes it clear that during this period Stalin received extremely varied intelligence, including disinformation, particularly, information according to which Germany (as Stalin also believed) intended to occupy England before invading the USSR.

(Vadim Kozhinov, Rossiia, Vek. XX. (1939-1964). Opyt bespristrastnogissledovaniia. Moscow: Algoritm, 1999, pp. 73-4)

It can also be found here: http://www.hrono.ru/libris/lib_k/kozhin20v03.php

This is all information that seems to be very hard to find. If this biography about Tito has left out information about the tragedies of rape in the Red Army, I wouldn't be surprised.
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