Reconstruction of Germany
Aug 11, · Berlin is divided Shortly after midnight on this day in , East German soldiers begin laying down barbed wire and bricks as a barrier between Soviet-controlled East Berlin and the . Large parts of the city are in ruins [Film]. After the war ends on 8 May , much of Berlin is nothing but rubble: , apartments have been destroyed, and only million of the city’s original population of million still live in the city.
But there is another story - of mass rapes by Soviet soldiers of German women in the dying days of the war. Dusk is falling in Treptower Park on the outskirts of Berlin and I am looking up at a statue dramatically outlined against a lilac sky.
Twelve metres 40ft high, it depicts a Soviet soldier grasping a sword in one hand and a small German girl in the other, and stamping on a broken swastika. This is the final resting place for 5, of the 80, Soviet troops who fell in the Battle of Berlin between 16 April and 2 May The colossal proportions of the monument reflect the scale of the sacrifice.
At the top of a long flight of steps, you can peer into the base of the statue, which is lit up like a religious shrine. An inscription saying that the Soviet people saved European civilisation from fascism catches my eye.
Stalin's troops assaulted an uncounted number of women as they fought their way to the German capital, though this was rarely mentioned after the war in Germany - West or East - and is a taboo subject in Russia even today. The Russian media regularly dismiss talk of the rapes as a Western myth, though one of many sources that tells the story of what happened is a diary kept by a young Soviet officer.
Vladimir Gelfand, a young Jewish lieutenant from central Ukraine, wrote with extraordinary frankness from through to the end of the war, despite the Soviet military's ban on diaries, which were seen as a security risk. The so far unpublished manuscript paints a picture of disarray in the regular battalions - miserable rations, lice, routine anti-Semitism and theft, with men even stealing their comrades' boots. In FebruaryGelfand was stationed by the Oder River dam, preparing for the final push on Berlin, and he describes how his comrades surrounded and overpowered a battalion of women fighters.
Our soldiers suggest stabbing them through their genitals but I would just execute them. One of the most revealing passages in Gelfand's diary is dated 25 April, once he had reached Berlin. Gelfand was whirling around on a bicycle by the River Spree, the first time he'd ever ridden one, when he came across a group of German women carrying suitcases and bundles. They were old, some were covered in pimples and they all climbed on me and poked - no less than 20 men,' she burst into tears.
You can do whatever you want with me, but only you! By this stage, German soldiers had been guilty of sexual violence and what happened to germany and berlin after ww2 horrors in the Soviet Union for almost four years, as Gelfand had become aware as he fought his way to Berlin.
And he saw evidence of rape," says his son, Vitaly. The Wehrmacht was supposedly a well-ordered force of Aryans who would never contemplate sex with untermenschen.
Nazi commanders were in fact so concerned about venereal disease that they established a chain of military brothels throughout the occupied territories. It's hard to find direct evidence of how the German soldiers treated Russian women - many victims never survived - but in the German-Russian Museum in Berlin, director Jorg Morre shows me a photograph taken in Crimea from a German soldier's personal wartime album.
A woman's corpse is sprawled on the ground. Her skirt is pulled up and the hands are in front of the face," he says. We had discussions in the museum, should we show the photos - this is war, this is sexual violence under German policy in the Soviet Union. We what does market order mean in stocks showing war.
Not talking about war but showing it. As the Red Army advanced into what the Soviet press called "the lair of the fascist beast" posters encouraged troops to show their anger: "Soldier: You are now on German soil. The hour of revenge has struck! In fact, the political department of the 19th Army, which fought its way into Germany along the Baltic Coast, declared that a true Soviet soldier would be so full of hatred that he would be repulsed by sex with Germans.
But once again soldiers proved the ideologists wrong. While researching his book, Berlin, The Downfall, historian Antony Beevor found documents about sexual violence in the state archive of the Russian Federation. Another wartime diary, this time kept by the fiancee of an absent German soldier, shows that some women adapted to the appalling circumstances, in order to survive.
Starting on 20 April10 days before Hitler's suicide, the anonymous author is, like Vladimir Gelfand, brutally honest, with razor-sharp powers of observation and occasional flashes of gallows humour. Describing herself as "a pale-faced blonde always dressed in the same winter coat", the diarist paints vivid pictures of her neighbours in how to pass the nremt bomb shelter beneath her Berlin apartment block, including a "young man in grey trousers and horn-rimmed glasses who on closer inspection turns out to be a young woman" and three elderly sisters, "all dressmakers, huddled together like a big black pudding".
As they await the arrival of the Red Army, they joke "better a Russky on top than a Yank overhead" - rape is preferable to being pulverised by bombs. But when the soldiers reach their basement and try to haul women out, they beg the diarist to use her Russian language skills and complain to the Soviet command.
Braving the chaos on the rubble strewn streets, she manages to find a senior officer. He shrugs his shoulders. Despite Stalin's decree banning violence against civilians, he says, "It happens anyway. The officer returns to the cellar with her and reprimands the soldiers, how to get carrie underwood presale tickets one is seething with fury.
What did the Germans do to our women! But when the diarist steps back into the corridor to check they have gone, the men have been lying in wait and grab her. She is brutally raped and nearly strangled. The terrified neighbours, or "cave dwellers" as she calls them, had slammed the basement door shut.
Everyone stares at me," she writes. I start yelling 'You pigs! Here they rape me twice in a row and you leave me lying like a piece of dirt! Eventually the diarist where is the mall of america what state that she needs to find one "wolf" to stave off gang rape by the "male beasts".
The relationship between aggressor and victim becomes less violent, more transactional - and more ambiguous. She shares her bed with a senior officer from Leningrad with whom she discusses literature and the meaning of life. To some extent I'm sure I am. In addition, I like the major and the less he wants from me as a man, the more I like him as a person.
Many of the diarist's neighbours made similar deals with the conquerors in the ruins of Berlin. When the diary was published in German in under the title A Woman in Berlin, the author's frank account of the choices she made to survive was attacked for "besmirching the honour" of German women. Not surprisingly, she refused to allow the book to be republished until after her death. Seventy years after the end of the war, new research on sexual violence committed by all the Allied forces - American, British and French as well as Soviet - is still emerging.
But for years the subject slid under the official radar. Few reported it and even fewer would listen. Besides the social stigma, in East Germany it was sacrilegious to criticise Soviet heroes who had defeated fascism while across the Wall in the West, the guilt for Nazi crimes made German suffering unmentionable. But inthere was a film adaptation of the Berlin Woman's diary called Anonyma, starring the well-known German actress Nina Hoss. The film had a cathartic effect in Germany and encouraged many women to come forward, including Ingeborg Bullert.
Ingeborg, aged 90, now lives in Hamburg in a flat filled with photos of cats and books about the theatre. She was 20 indreamed of becoming an actress and lived with her mother in an upmarket street in Berlin's Charlottenberg district.
When the Soviet assault on the city began, like the woman diarist, she took refuge in the cellar of her building. During a lull in the air raid, Ingeborg left the cellar and ran upstairs to look for a piece of string to use as a wick for a lamp. I thought I would die, that they would kill me. Ingeborg didn't talk about her ordeal at the time, or for decades afterwards - she said it was too difficult. But the rapes had affected women in households across Berlin. Ingeborg recalls that women between the ages of 15 and 55 were ordered to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
What was the scale of the rapes? The most often quoted number is a staggeringwomen in Berlin and two million on German territory. That figure - hotly debated - was extrapolated from scant surviving medical records. In a former munitions factory which now houses the State Archive, Martin Luchterhand shows me an armful of blue cardboard folders. These contain abortion records dated July to October from Neukolln, just one of Berlin's 24 districts - it's a small miracle that they survived intact.
Abortions were illegal in Germany according to Article of the penal code, but Luchterhand says "there was a small window for those women because of that special situation of the mass rapes in ". Altogether pleas for abortion were approved by this one district office in Berlin office between June to The files contain over 1, fragile scraps of paper of different colours and sizes.
In childish round handwriting, one girl testifies that she was assaulted in the living room of her home in front of her parents. We will probably never know the true scale of the rapes. Soviet military tribunals and other sources remain classified.
The Russian parliament recently passed a law which says that anyone who denigrates Russia's record runescape how to fly fish World War Two could face fines and up to five years in prison.
Vera Dubina, a young historian at the University of Humanities in Moscow, says she knew nothing of the rapes until a scholarship took her to Berlin. She later wrote a paper on the subject but struggled to get it published.
It's the fate of history to be rewritten to suit the agenda of what happened to germany and berlin after ww2 present. That's why first-hand accounts are so valuable - from those who brave the subject now, in their old age, and from those younger voices who put pencil to paper on the spot. Vitaly Gelfand, son of the Red Army diarist Vladimir Gelfand, doesn't deny that many Soviet soldiers showed great bravery and sacrifice in World War Two - but that's not the whole story, he says.
Recently Vitaly did how to play right defender in soccer interview on Russian radio, which triggered some anti-Semitic trolling on social media, saying the diary's a fake and he should clear off to Israel he has in fact lived in Berlin for the last 20 years. Yet he is hoping the diary will be published in Russia later this year.
Parts of it have been translated into German and Swedish. We can't move forward until we look back. World War Two: History's most savage and devastating war. Some readers may find this story disturbing. But some call this memorial the Tomb of the Unknown Rapist. It gets worse. In broken German, he asked them where they were going and why they had left their homes.
The Battle for Berlin April - May After the Red Army captured Vienna, Joseph Stalin ordered his forces on to Berlin, determined to take the city before US forces Two and a half million Red Army troops, 6, tanks and more than 40, artillery pieces were deployed, supported by thousands of aircraft After heavy fighting and substantial losses, by 21 April, Red Army soldiers had entered the outlying suburbs of Berlin In a staff conference on 22 April Adolf Hitler came close to admitting defeat but instead resolved to fight on, directing troops from his underground bunker As Soviet forces took the city, it is estimated that close towomen were raped by Red Army soldiers On 30 April Hitler killed himself and by 2 May the Reichstag had fallen.
Mar 17, · Berlin after the War was a post-apocalyptic world. One of the largest and most modern cities of Europe was left a wasteland. There were vast piles of rubble everywhere. Other areas were rows of building walls with collapsed interiors — the skeletons of a destroyed city. “What happens to Berlin, happens to Germany; what happens to Germany, happens to Europe.” Potsdam agreement divides Germany After the war Germany was divided into four temporary occupation zones, File Size: KB. Berlin was divided into four sections after WW2, and occupied by military elements of the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. As a result of the Cold war between the USSR and the.
Shortly after midnight on this day in , East German soldiers begin laying down barbed wire and bricks as a barrier between Soviet-controlled East Berlin and the democratic western section of the city. The city of Berlin, though technically part of the Soviet zone, was also split, with the Soviets taking the eastern part of the city.
After a massive Allied airlift in June foiled a Soviet attempt to blockade West Berlin, the eastern section was drawn even more tightly into the Soviet fold. Over the next 12 years, cut off from its western counterpart and basically reduced to a Soviet satellite, East Germany saw between 2.
By , some 1, East Germans—including many skilled laborers, professionals and intellectuals—were leaving every day. Soldiers began the work over the night of August , laying more than miles of barbed wire slightly inside the East Berlin border.
The wire was soon replaced by a six-foot-high, mile-long wall of concrete blocks, complete with guard towers, machine gun posts and searchlights.
Many Berlin residents on that first morning found themselves suddenly cut off from friends or family members in the other half of the city. Led by their mayor, Willi Brandt, West Berliners demonstrated against the wall, as Brandt criticized Western democracies, particularly the United States, for failing to take a stand against it. President John F. Kennedy had earlier said publicly that the United States could only really help West Berliners and West Germans, and that any kind of action on behalf of East Germans would only result in failure.
The Berlin Wall was one of the most powerful and iconic symbols of the Cold War. The height of the Wall was raised to 10 feet in in an effort to stop escape attempts, which at that time came almost daily. From to , a total of 5, East Germans escaped; many more tried and failed. Finally, in the late s, East Germany, fueled by the decline of the Soviet Union , began to implement a number of liberal reforms. On November 9, , masses of East and West Germans alike gathered at the Berlin Wall and began to climb over and dismantle it.
As this symbol of Cold War repression was destroyed, East and West Germany became one nation again, signing a formal treaty of unification on October 3, But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! During his campaign for the White House in Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro is born in the Oriente province of eastern Cuba. The son of a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune building rail systems to transport sugar cane, Fidel attended Roman Catholic boarding schools in Santiago de Cuba.
He became involved in In fact, the story of the song Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Sign up now to learn about This Day in History straight from your inbox. On August 13, , Kate Bionda, a restaurant owner, dies of yellow fever in Memphis, Tennessee, after a man who had escaped a quarantined steamboat visited her restaurant.
The disease spread rapidly and the resulting epidemic emptied the city. Yellow fever, which is carried by Cary Stayner, the serial killer convicted in the grisly murders of four women near Yosemite National Park, is born on August 13, Responding to increasing Soviet pressure on western Berlin, U. The massive resupply effort, carried out in weather so bad that some pilots referred to it as The German engineer Felix Wankel, inventor of a rotary engine that will be used in race cars, is born on August 13, , in Lahr, Germany.
Wankel reportedly came up with the basic idea for a new type of internal combustion gasoline engine when he was only 17 years old. In , Live TV. This Day In History. History Vault. Latin America. Art, Literature, and Film History. Ancient Americas. Sign Up. Cold War. American Revolution.
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