Germans in general, and German soldiers in particular, do not take revenge on defenseless opponents, or even torture them. The opposite is the case. The danger is that German generosity will too quickly lead us to forget our victorious position, and presume our own decent attitudes and behavior on the part of the enemy, whether soldier or civilian.
That is why news of atrocities that our enemies commit against Germans or the civilians under their rule are often greeted with a certain skepticism. One doesn't not believe others can do what one is oneself incapable of doing. We remember that reports of the bestial brutalities committed by Poles against ethnic Germans, especially in Bromberg, were thought to be exaggerated. Meanwhile, the German people have learned the truth.
But every bloody and sadistic butchery in human history is thrown into the shadows by that which German soldiers have already seen with their own eyes in the Soviet Union. As they themselves write, they will never forget it until they die!
We must not forget that these atrocities are incompetent work in the eyes of leading Bolshevists. Soldiers and commissars lacked the time during their retreats to use the bestial methods of GPU murder to torture their victims to the last. When those in the Kremlin read the atrocity reports in this booklet, they will be pleased that only a small part of their terrible crimes have become known to the civilized world.
Still, the dim rays of light that have reached Bolshevism's torture chambers have revealed such frightening pictures that we are deeply shaken as we read these reports.
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Children SlaughteredSoldier Fred Fallnbigl -
to his Parents in Salzburg, 17.7.41
I wrote in my last two letters about Russian atrocities, and could fill volumes more.
But a bit more from the Soviet Paradise. I'll especially tell you about things that happened in Lemberg-Tarnopol and Tromborla. Tromborla is due south of Tarnopol. I saw the prisons in Lemberg, and saw things that struck me deeply. There were men with their ears and noses cut off, etc. They had nailed children alive by their hands and feet to the wall, butchering them. The blood was ankle deep. It didn't make any difference if they were alive or dead. They doused the piles of bodies with gasoline and set them on fire. The stench was terrible. I saw similar things in Tarnopol and Tromborla. In T. seven Ukrainians were hauled out of their beds after the Germans had arrived. The next morning their bodies were found in the woods, beaten until they were unrecognizable. I have seen all of this myself, they are not matters I heard about. Feel free to tell them to others, particularly those who may still think well of the Soviet Union.
I always think how fortunate we are that this scourge of humanity never made it to our country. I don't think that even years of preparation would make Germans capable of such atrocities.
Corpses DefiledSergeant Paul Rubelt, Military Post Number 34 539 F -
to Miss Grete Egger, Lebring 71, Steieirark, 6.7.1941
I was in Lemberg yesterday and saw a bloodbath. It was terrible. Many had their skin stripped off, men were castrated, their eyes poked out, arms or legs chopped off. Some were nailed to the wall, 30-40 were sealed into a small room and suffocated. About 650 people in this area must have died in such ways. The stench can be endured only if one smokes a cigarette and keeps a handkerchief over one's nose. The Jews did most of it. Now they have to dig the graves. The culprits will be shot. Many already died because of the stench. In this city they even opened graves and defiled the corpses. It is terrible. One can hardly believe that such people exist.
Orphans Nailed to the Wall and SlaughteredNCO K. Suffner, Military Post Number 08 070 -
to his work mates
There was a gray cloud over Lemberg as we arrived. The stench was scarcely tolerable. The Russians had been thrown out of the city after a hard battle. Two hours later I found the source of the stench. The Bolshevists and Jews bestially murdered 12,000 Germans and Ukrainians. I saw pregnant women hanging by their feet in the GPU's prison. They had slit the noses, ears, eyes, fingers, hands and arms and legs of other women. Some even had their hearts cut out. 300 orphans between the ages of 2 and 17 had been nailed to the wall and butchered. After they were done with the torture, they threw the people, most of whom were still alive, into a 3 meter deep pile in the basement, doused them with gasoline, and lit them on fire. It was terrible! We could not believe that such human beasts existed. Our propagandists do not say enough about the real face of Bolshevism. The day we marched into Lemberg, the surviving Ukrainians gathered 2,000 Jews in jail and took terrible revenge. The Jews then had to carry out all the dead and load them on wagons. The police kept the people back. It was a heartrending sight to see the women lamenting their husbands and children, and the men clenching their fists with bitter, pale faces. One can't describe the dreadful scenes here. It is what the German people would have suffered if Bolshevism had reached us. The complainers and know-it-alls that we still have in the Reich should see this. Then they would know what pure Bolshevism looks like. They would fall to their knees and thank the Fuhrer for saving Germany from such things. I and many other German soldiers have seen this. We all thank the Fuhrer that he let us see the Bolshevist "paradise." We swear to extirpate this plague root and branch.
Since I have some time today, I thought it my duty to write this so that my work mates at home can read it. We soldiers at the front have seen this with our own eyes. We will be able to tell a lot more later.
We are fighting until final victory.
Terrible MutilationsLieutenant Lorenz Wachter -
to a Political Leader in Neunkirchen, 20.8.1941
...I really can't describe what we saw in Lemberg. It is much, much worse that the German newspapers were able to describe. One has to have seen it. Even the stench of corpses, noticeable a long way outside the prison walls, was enough to make one ill. And the scene itself. Hundreds of murdered men, women and children, hideously mutilated. Men had their eyes poked out, a pastor with his belly slit open and the body of a slaughtered baby stuffed in. I could tell you worse stories, but even these upset me, and I'm used to such things by now.