Thursday 17 March 2016

Nemesis at Nemmersdorf

"Kill!  Kill!  In the German race there is nothing but evil.  Stamp out the beast once and for all in its lair!  Use force and break the racial pride of German women.  Take them as your lawful booty.  Kill!  As you storm forward.  Kill!  You gallant soldiers of the Red Army." 
(Ilya Ehrenburg, Russian journalist)

The small town of Nemmersdorf was caught sleeping in the fall of 1944.  Hitler had declared that "No Bolshevik will ever set foot on German soil," and many civilians believed him.  So when the Red Army crossed over the German border and descended on Nemmersdorf on October 22, 1944, no one was prepared.  Bent on revenge after three years of occupation by the Nazis, Red Army soldiers raped 72 women, nailing some of them to barn doors cruciform style.  They smashed the skulls of babies and summarily executed 50 French and Belgian POWs at close range.  When some townspeople fled, they mowed them down with tanks.

The Germany Army regained control of Nemmersdorf within 48 hours and witnessed the horror. The Nazis invited reporters from the neutral countries of Switzerland, Sweden and Spain to observe the atrocities committed by the Red Army.  The Nazi propaganda machine made newsreels which they replayed over and over.  They inflated the numbers in hopes that Germans would dig their heels in and fight even harder for Deutschland. Some joined the Volksstrum in answer to the massacre.  It would be another three months before the Red Army regained control of the area.  Nemmersdorf would remain a symbol of war crimes committed by the Russians during World War II.

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