dilluns, 15 de desembre del 2008

The horror in the eyes of women and girls

"Vasily Grossman was with them when they sacked the town of Schwerin. He jotted down in pencil in a small notebook whatever he saw: 'Everything is on fire... An old woman jumps from a window in a burning building... Looting is going on... It's light during the night because everything is ablaze... At the [town] commandant's office, a German woman dressed in black and white dead lips, is speaking in a weak, whispering voice. There is a girl with her who has black bruises on her neck and face, a swollen eye and terrible bruises on her hands. The girl was raped by a soldier from the headquarters signals company'.
Grossman noted the 'horror in the eyes of women and girls... Terrible things are happening to german women. A cultivated german man explains with expressive gesture and broken Russian words that his wife has been raped by ten men that day... Soviet girls who have been liberated from camps are suffering greatly too. Last night some of them hid in the room provided for the war correspondents. Screams weak us up in the night'. Grossman noted what he had evidently heard about a young mother. She was being raped continously in a farm shed. Her relatives came to the shed and asked the soldiers to allow her a break to breast-feed the baby because it would not stop crying."

"The NKVD [former KGB] chief in northern East Prussia reported to Beria that 'suicides of Germans, particulary women, are becoming more and more widespread'. For those who did not have a pistol or poison, most of the suicides consisted of people hanging themselves in attics with the rope tied to the rafters. A number of women, unable to bring themselves to hang a child, cut their children's wrists first and then their own".

Anthony Beevor, Berlin The Downfall 1945.