The Rape of Berlin: Red Army atrocities in 1945

The Rape of Berlin: Red Army atrocities in 1945

On the outskirts of Berlin in Treptower Park stands a dramatic 12 metre high statue. It depicts a Soviet soldier brandishing a sword in one hand and clutching a young German girl in the other, as he stands victoriously on a broken swastika.

The statue stands over a mass grave, the final resting place for 5,000 of the Soviet troops who fell in the Battle of Berlin between 16th April 16th and May 2nd 1945.

It is known locally as The Tomb of the Unknown Rapist.

The number of rapes perpetrated by Soviet soldiers is uncertain as many went unreported: some due to fear of the stigma attached to being a victim, many because the victims lay dead.

The most often quoted figures are for 100,000 women in Berlin and two million on German territory as a whole; statistics that have been extrapolated from the scant surviving medical records housed in the State Archive.

Between June 7th 1945 and June 17th 1946, 996 such requests were approved in Neukölln alone.

“Beria and Stalin, back in Moscow, knew perfectly well what was going on from a number of detailed reports. One stated that ‘many Germans declare that all German women in East Prussia who stayed behind were raped by Red Army soldiers’. Numerous examples of gang rape were given – ‘girls under 18 and old women included’.” – Antony Beevor, Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (Viking Penguin, 2012).

For Russian historians today, in the context of Vladimir Putin’s rewriting of Soviet history and his constant propagandising, it is becoming increasingly difficult to examine the events of 1945.

Vera Dubina, a young historian at the University of Humanities in Moscow, wrote a paper on the subject but struggled to get it published.


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