This story is only about a fraction of German civilians taken to the death camps by the Soviets. But German citizens have also been kidnapped and taken to work camps in France, England, the U.S. and several other countries in Eastern Europe.
Politicians who compare the unspeakable suffering of the kidnapped women and children taken to death camps for forced labor in the Soviet Union to the suffering of foreigners in labor camps in Germany have a false interpretation of history. Whoever of the BRD [Germany] elite is so cynical as to associate the horrible destiny of the German victims and survivors of the eastern Communist death camps to the western democratic labor camps should be despised for all times and should be immediately put in front of the court, after the re-establishment of a lawful German state!
At the conference of Yalta in February 1945, the victorious Allies agreed to the most cruel crimes against humanity in their crimes against the German people. For these crimes, committed by democrats, the leaders of the ‘civilized’ world, AGAINST democracy and humanity, the victors themselves should have been hanged, according to the measurements handed out at the Nuernberg Trial. The perpetrators, however, had the subjugated Germans hanged and made sure that during the show trial against the losers of WWII, German children and German women were murdered in death camps. The BRD politicians mock the victims and celebrate the murders as “liberation.”
Women imprisoned, tortured, forgotten!
At the end of WWII the Red Army kidnapped nearly 1 Million German women and children for heavy labor in the Soviet Union.
Shoving them with rifle butts, the Soviet soldiers drove the young women and children into railway cattle cars. Forty or more people they squeezed into the smallest space. Rapes by the Red Army [*estimated 5,000,000 women and children were raped all over Europe, primarily after the war] members before the departure from Germany contributed to lifelong trauma. “I was raised that a girls should go into marriage as a virgin,” says Charlotte Kaufmann, 73. But the conquerors had no mercy.
It was German women and children who were kidnapped under the Soviet star for forced labor in Russia. Young German women from East Prussia, Pomerania, and Silica; ethnic Germans from Sudetenland and Poland, Danube Schwaben from the Hungarian Banat and Rumania; [*women from the Ukraine, the Crimea, the Volga area, and Siberia were kidnapped from other areas in addition to these numbers.]
Between January and May of 1945 [alone during this time], the Red Army received the order to drive German civilians into a collection throng. Soviet soldiers kidnapped more than a Million Civilians and took them to the Soviet Union. Among them were 864,000 [civilian] women. Children and a few thousand female support workers of the German military and Red Cross make up the difference.
The victors called their program ‘forced labor reparation work’ for the rebuilding of the Soviet Union demolished by the German Wehrmacht. [*It was actually the Soviets who burned everything to the ground they left behind every time they retreated. The German soldiers fed the starving Russian civilians left behind.] Hundreds of thousands more had a similar yoke in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. [The same kidnapping took place in the Ukraine, the Crimea, on the Volga, all over Russia and in West Siberia.]
No one mentions any of these women [*in Germany - politically incorrect to blame the Russians for anything] when they speak in public about foreign forced laborers. Nothing is said of their drudgery in the woods of Siberia, in the Tundra and Taiga, in coal mines, factories and on collective farms. “They have just simply forgotten our sacrifices,” Charlotte Kaufmann complains.
On the death march to the camps of the Soviet Gulag, the captured women and children starved, and thirst tortured them. “If the guards were in a good mood,” remembers Irmgard Reimann, 77, we got a bucket of water once in a while. Many died on the transport.” The then 21 year old had fallen into the hands of the Soviet soldiers on 14 Feb. 1945, who took her as prisoner.
Just like in all wars that men start, women were carrying a bitter burden after the war. “We were the ones who were the most innocent in this terrible war, but we had to pay the penalty for the whole fatherland,” said Kaufmann, who was captured as a child and carried off to Karelien.
This is how nearly 1 Million women and girls paid for the lost war: “When I was read the
decision for my work assignment in the summer of 1948, it stated that 20 percent of our earnings will be deducted for war reparations,” said the elderly lady, Resuemee Kaufmann. “When Hitler got into power, I was 5 years old. When the war started I was not even 10. At 16 I was taken into captivity. Where was my personal guilt?”
Terror is connected to the names of the many camp locations of the penal colonies and work camps, which is felt even today: Kopeske and Tscheljabinsk east of the Ural, Kemerowo in Siberia, Petrosawodsk/Karelien and thousands of others. That’s where they lived; that’s where they starved; where they sweated in hard labor, and that’s where they died. Young women and children! The youngest under 1000 women and under-age girls in Penal Colony 517 / Padosero was a twelve year old girl.
“In July 1948 I was able to “go home,” [*ethnic Germans (Russian citizens) who fled Russia for safety and were caught, got execution or a sentence of 10 years] but my homeland no longer existed,” said Berta Sczepan.
Forced Labor meant drudgery. The women struggled in wood clearing work, in street building, and in sawmills. At the Onegasea they build railroad tracks, froze to death constructing a channel at the Arctic Sea at -40 Degrees Celsius (-40 F). Pouring concrete, they tore their hands open, and their lungs ached in the lime distilleries. In the Donez basin and near the Ural they were forced into the coal mines.
There were also work destinations, the prisoners had to reach in open freight cars.
The 73 year old Berta Sczepan comments, “The guards traded our food ration for Vodka.”
Irmgard Reimann, 77, says: “Many of my friends died on the way to the camps behind the Ural. They Soviets just threw the dead off the railroad cars next to the tracks.
“All the years in the Siberian coal mines I was underground eight to ten hours a day and had very little to eat,” reflects Margot Gerhard, 72, on her 5-year martyrdom. Red Army soldiers kidnapped the then 16 year old end of January, 1945, in the East Prussian town of Elbing.
The Soviets forced the women to the hardest wood felling. “Just alone the foot march to the woodland to be cleared was an unbelievable exertion for us. The absolutely meager food rationing and the suffering of dysentery had weakened us very much,” comments Ursula Seiring, 76, looking back.
“Every second one of us died of Typhus or exhaustion.” (Anna Schlemminger) [*The survival rate in the labor camps was 50%.]
“Diarrhea and epidemics were the result of our life conditions.” Anna Schlemminger, 80, was kidnapped by Red Army soldiers at 24 years of age on Easter 1945 from East Prussia:
“Only in winter did we get the right clothing, when we had to shovel snow and cut wood.”
“Most of the time, our tormentors paid the income only when they felt like it, without any regularity, and frequently not at all; and often not until the third year of imprisonment.” Irmgard Reimann reports further: “For 4 weeks of hard labor in a coal mine [*they paid] only 200 Ruble [*6.66 Ruble a day]. “From that, however, they deducted for housing. And furthermore, the women had to pay for their food with such prices as 10 Ruble for a bucket of potatoes, 4 Ruble for a cup of milk, 3 Ruble for 1200 gram of bread.
“One time we unloaded coals from a rail wagon at night,” Martha Gruener, 73, remembers. “For that we received 20 Ruble.” If they met the required norm of felled trees at the Arctic Sea, Anna Schlemminger says, she and her fellow prisoners received 700 gram of bread. If they did not make their felling quota, they only received 500 gram bread of bread and water soup.
The survivors have never forgotten their experience. “In the morning we received 125 gram of bread and tea and in the evening water soup. After that we checked each other’s heads for lice. The bed bugs bothered all of us a lot. Every night we had to line up for being counted. With the high death rate of 30 to 40 per day out of about 3,000 prisoners, the numbers never really matched up.” “Some who were completely desperate took their own lives; some of the women even drowned themselves in the toilet. We housed in earth holes under horrible hygienic conditions or in huts behind electric fences with guards ready to shoot us.”
At the end of 1950, about 300,000 forced laborers returned via Frankfurt at the Oder in the East and the lower Saxony Friedland in the West. Hundreds of thousands died or went missing. No one has exact numbers. [*This was only a fraction of the German civilian prisoners. Millions of additional German civilians went into the camps, if they were not right out executed for being a successful farmer. The Soviet Jewish government primarily hunted down ethnic Germans in Russia who were kept in camps until 1955 or even 1965, depending on whether they had another 10 years slapped on them for an additional imaginary reason. The plight of the ethnic Germans in Russia are the most hidden part of the crime as the government of Odessa, Ukraine, that committed these crimes was fully Jewish. Also they call them "Ukrainians" to hide that it was a crime against Germans.]
Compensation from the fatherland? “Retribution for Prisoners of War,” is what the law for the kidnapped civilians was called by Germany’s government. In December of 1992 the Bundestag replaced the law with “Returnee Endowment Law.” The 3 Million Deutsche Mark budget [*averages out to 10 Marks per person!!!] of the endowment was financed by tax monies.
Olga Hahn, 74 years old today, was kidnapped when she was 18 years old. According to the old war prisoner compensation law, she received 570 Mark for her martyrdom from March 1945 to July 1948. The local authorities tend to interpret the law whichever way they prefer. They paid Elfriede Klimmeck for many years of labor camp around 1000 Mark. Other women received 1320 Mark. Martha Gruener received 131 Mark as a “hold you over” compensation on her return in November 1949. Eva Martensson was handed 300 Mark and a can of condensed milk from the Citizen’s Registry in Hamburg after more than four years in the forced labor camps.
To see parallels in the Gulags in the East bloc and the labor camps in Germany were foreigners labored, as Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schroeder did, is a false interpretation of history.
The women who report this today do not do this to sow hate but to fill the blank spots with the stories of real people.
Source: Focus Magazine, NR. 38/2001 – Sept. 15, 2001
Translated from German by Teutonicaworld