Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part III

Dear Readers:

Still working through this historical piece from Russian RT.  Where we left off, historian Alexander Diukov was explaining the three principles by which the German/Nazi government picked their collaborationist cadre to help them rule over the occupied territories.  Using tried and tested methods inherited from their predecessor governments, the Nazis selected the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) as their main instrument for ruling over the Ukrainian territory, including those Western parts only recently attached to the Soviet Ukraine.

Melnik and Bandera

The Abwehr was the organ of German Foreign Intelligence.  Post-war interrogations of captured Abwehr leaders revealed that the Germans, even prior to the war, had recruited two main players from among the Ukrainian Nationalists:  Andrei Melnik and Stepan Bandera.  Those two men were political competitors of each other; and this also shows the German practice of (a) not putting all their eggs in one basket, and (b) picking rivals who hated each other, that way you could pit them against each other, and not worry that the underlings might gang up against the master.  A worthy tactic employed by every comic-book villain.

Of the two men, the Germans had more respect for Melnik than Bandera.  The latter they privately deemed a “criminal, an amoral demagogue and an amoral human being”.  That’s a harsh appraisal, especially coming from Nazis.  Nevertheless, they employed him, while putting a clothespin on their nose.

Bandera himself was completely delusional, he believed that he was equal to the Germans.  He believed that the Germans would permit him to create, and head, a puppet Ukrainian government, under Hitler’s personal protection.  The Germans themselves had no such plans.  Their actual plan was to absorb all of what was known as “Ukraine” into a Greater Germany.  Ukrainian Slavs themselves, along with Jews, were marked for ultimate extinction, but just had to wait their turn.

Starting way back in 1933, members of the OUN routinely underwent training in Nazi training camps.  They learned the German way of warfare, so by the time the Eastern War broke out, they were ready to rock and roll.  A year earlier, in 1940, the German Abwehr were already starting to send diversionary groups into the territory of the Ukrainian SSR and Moldavia.  A special regiment called Brandenburg 800 was formed.  It included two Ukrainian battalions called Roland and Nachtigall.

Admiral Wilhelm Canaris

According to wiki, these two Ukrainian battalions were built by Wilhelm Franz Canaris, head of the German Abwehr.  Approximately 350 of Bandera’s OUN followers were trained for the Roland Battalion at the Abwehr training centre at the Seibersdorf under command of former Polish Army major Yevhen Pobiguschiy.  Quoting liberally from wiki:  Whereas Nachtigall soldiers wore the ordinary Wehrmacht uniform, the Roland troops wore the Czechoslovak uniform with yellow armband with text “Im Dienst der Deutschen Wehrmacht” (In the service of the German Wehrmacht). They were given Austrian helmets from World War I. The Battalion had arms consisting of 2 Czechoslovakian light machine guns and Germans light weaponry.

Once again, the delusional Bandera, despite the uniforms and the armbands, believed that he was creating the core of a new Ukrainian army and a new independent Ukrainian state, allied with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union.  To this day, Bandera’s followers, both in the Ukraine and the diaspora, continue to promulgate this insane myth!

During the summer of 1941, the Roland and Nachtigall troops conducted diversionary forays on the territory of the USSR, making sure to kill all Jews they encountered in the areas of the front line.  However, just a couple of months later the Germans pulled them out, brought them back to Germany and reorganized them into Auxiliary “punitive” units of the police.  That must have been quite a demotion:  from front-line soldiers to auxiliary cops.  At this time Hauptman Roman Shukhevich (a close associate of Bandera and the future leader of the OUN) was appointed Deputy Commander of the 201st Guardian Battalion of the Auxiliary Police.  Diukov again:  “Shukhevich displayed satisfactory intellectual capacities [especially compared to other OUN’ites], and the Germans felt comfortable dealing with him.  Without any doubt, Shukhevich was, in his own way, a quite talented individual, quite a good deal smarter than Bandera.”

Roman Shukhevich: Looked like a dummy, but was actually smart

At a certain point, the Germans arrested Bandera when they caught him with sticky fingers taking money intended for the state treasury.  Shukhevich was not affected by this development, and continued to serve the Germans as an officer.  To this day you will hear Ukrainian Nationalists point to Bandera’s arrest as proof that “he fought against the Nazis as well as against the Soviets”.  That old Dual Totalitarianisms gag!  Too funny for words.

You can’t judge by appearances:  in his photo, Roman Shukhevich looks like the Idiot Banjo-Boy from “Deliverance”.  But Diukov assures us that he was actually quite a smart man.  By education, he was an engineer, an above-average student, and shared the “technological” approach of the Nazis themselves.  Bandera, on the other hand, who had been a poorly-performing below-average pupil in the Lvov Polytechnic, had only an agronomist diploma, and his whole way of thinking was that of a farmer.

Die Schutzmannschaften

Returning to the summer of 1941:  the Germans set about organizing local militias in occupied Ukraine.  The OUN supplied the core cadres, naturally.  These were shortly supplemented by POW’s, Soviet soldiers captured in the first wave, whom the Germans worked through and picked out the ones they liked.  Based on these two core groups, the Germans organized battalions of the Auxiliary Police, which they called Schutzmannschaft.  In German this word means, literally, “Protective Unit”.  This structure was created by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on July 25, 1941, primarily to operate in the Ukraine and Baltics.  By the end of 1941, some 45,000 men served in these units, expanding in 1942 to a whopping 300,000 men!

The Mission Statement of the Schutzmannschaft would have gone something like:  “Primary task to combat the anti-Nazi Resistance” and secondarily to kill all Jews; except that the two priorities sometimes got switched.  These aren’t really “police” as we think of the word, like people who chase burglars.  Always sensitive to ethnicity issues, the Germans split the units up by nationality, so you had: The Belarusian Auxiliary Police, the Estonian Auxiliary Police, the Latvian Auxiliary Police, the Lithuanian Auxiliary Police, and, of course, the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police.

Again quoting liberally from wiki, and showing how these units consisted mainly of ordinary guys, insert Hannah Arendt quote about “the banality of evil”:

Battalion 118 of the Schutzmannschaft: just a bunch of ordinary guys

Local men joined Schutzmannschaften due to a variety of reasons.  A number of them had prior police or military experience and wanted a job which paid steady wages and provided food rations. Joining the German war apparatus also provided certain privileges and protections for the men and their families (for example, exemption from forced labor). Pensions were available to family members of those killed in anti-partisan operations. Others were motivated by ideological reasons (antisemitism, anticommunism, nationalism) or by opportunities to loot property of murdered Jews.  Captured Soviet POWs saw Schutzmannschaften as a way to avoid concentration camps. Such considerations attracted criminals and other opportunists.  Most of them were young: in 1944, about half of Schutzmannschaften near Mir were under 25 years of age.  Germans complained about their lack of training, discipline, and in some cases refused to supply them with weapons.

With such a force at their disposal, the Germans now had the technical capability to kill anybody on the occupied territories whom they didn’t like:  Jews, Communists, and anybody in the civilian population who did not like the Nazis.  Faced with such a force, Resistance was literally futile…

[to be continued]

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Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part II

Dear Readers:

Still working the Crime before we get to the Punishment; continuing with this piece from Russian RT, commemorating the massacres of April 7, 1943 in Western Ukraine.  As we saw, the Nazis were highly cunning conquerors, worthy descendants of the Roman Empire.  Unlike Blanche DuBois who relied on “the kindness of strangers”, the Nazis relied heavily on the cruelty of strangers, or rather, of local collaborators.  Without such assistance, their strategy of genocide, and their plan to exterminate all of Europe’s Jews, would have come to nought.  The Ukrainian nationalists were particularly “helpful” in this regard.

One thing about this piece that opened my eyes, and we’ll get to that a bit later, but the Nazi government was not born pristine off a clamshell.  This was a regime that inherited the entire legacy of the Austro-Hungarian and Prussian governments, along with all the sophisticated tricks of the trade.  Governments in those days knew how to do actual politics, how to recruit spies and agents of influence.  It was nothing like today’s world, where we see clumsy CIA blunders and European governments floundering like retarded children.

The Horde Descends

Where we left off:  As the German army approached these towns and cities of the Western Ukraine, local thugs, sure of their impunity, launched randomized pogroms against the Jewish residents.  (Always being sure to photograph their violent crimes for posterity.)  Once the Nazis had settled in to these towns and regions as the Occupying government, the violence against Jewish civilians didn’t stop, but took on a more organized and systematic character.  As a first step, the new government separated Jews from the non-Jewish population.  They set up around 50 ghettos and up to 200 concentration camps on this territory.  Once the Jewish civilians were all herded into these specially-designated areas, then they could be destroyed methodically and with less publicity.

1983: Soviets opened memorial park in Babiy Yar

Up until August 1941 the Hitlerites and their local collaborators targeted primarily Jewish males of working age, and also members of the elite.  [yalensis:  Which makes sense, like any effective killer, they first took out the ones who could have posed some resistance.]  But within just a couple of months the scope had expanded to all Jews, including the elderly, women and children.  Without the younger males around to defend them, the latter cohorts were helpless.  Modern historians have established over 300 locations where Jewish civilians were executed en masse.  In Babiy Yar alone, probably the most famous of these places, around 150,000 individuals were slaughtered in a very short period of time.  And these people constituted only a tenth of the total of (Jewish) Holocaust victims in the Ukraine.  Holocaust-Deniers, by the way (silly as it is to debate them) cannot explain away places like Babiy Yar or claim that, e.g., gas chambers were actually delousing centers.  At Babiy Yar, people were just killed the old fashioned way:  Gunned down and buried in a pit.  No gas chambers needed there.

So, who actually pulled the triggers?  German Einsatzgruppen, for starters.  And the Sicherheitdienst (SD), Nazi death squads specifically responsible for eliminating civilian populations deemed as “racially inferior”, and also targeting political cohorts such as Communists and other “disloyal” elements.  That must have been some job description:  “The work is not overly dangerous, but you will still need to carry a gun.”

Okay, so how many psychopaths did the Germans have to hire to carry out such a huge slaughter of unarmed civilians?  There were around 120 such Sonderkommando teams, each team consisting of 20-30 men.  Doing the math:  that’s only around 3,000 men.  Once again, how can 3,000 men handle a crowd numbering into the tens of thousands, and kill them all?  It isn’t physically possible.  Unless….

They had lots of help from the local collaborators

This was the secret of the Nazis success.  These civilized Germans were so charming, they were able to convince others to do their dirty work for them!

Sonderkommando job description also included: “Must be able to dispose of corpses without vomiting.”

That sounds facetious and it is, but, in reality, the Germans and Austrians were masters of this Game of Thrones, originally devised in the ancient Empires of yore.  Historian Alexander Diukov again:  “The mechanism for selecting collaborationist cadres had been worked out by the Germans and Austrians as early as World War I.  Therefore, what we witnessed in this regard during the Great Fatherland War was nothing out of the ordinary.  Perhaps only in the scope of it.”

The Germans had carefully worked out their strategy of selecting Ukrainian collaborators, and picked them from three main groups:

  1.  People with whom the Germans were already familiar, who had previously assisted German intelligence agencies, even before the Nazis took over the government.  The Germans/Nazis never worked with people whom they didn’t know. [yalensis snidely:  The American CIA could certainly adopt a lesson from that book!]

On the Ukrainian scene, this rule applied to groups such as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).  The OUN was well known to the Germans and employed by the Nazi government to help them govern the Ukrainian territory.

A convention of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

2.  The Nazis also selected helpers from among the ranks of POW’s.  This too was reminiscent of practices during WWI, when competing governments were able to turn each others POW’s.  [yalensis:  in Russia, the Bolshevik government was also pretty good at agitating the Russian Empire’s former POWs and turning them into Bolsheviks and Cominternists.]  In expertly working through the collaborationist candidates, the Nazis gave a preference to those from the Western parts of the USSR and also, paradoxically, to certain Muslim groups.  In other words, the Nazis closely examined a person’s national origins and political views before hiring them.

3.  The Nazis selected people of a compatible ideology.  Here again, the formerly underground OUN was perfection itself.  Plus royalist que le roi, as the French might say.  The Nazis gave these violent criminals a new life:  Brought them out of the underground, gave them guns, put them in charge, and let them have it, killing the people whom the Nazis deemed unfit to live in Hitler’s Glorious Reich.

[to be continued]

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Crime and Punishment: The Collaborators – Part I

Dear Readers:

Barely had the Soviet Union defeated Germany when the nation had to deal with the tricky issue, what to do about the traitors and collaborators?  I have stated my opinion a few times on this blog, that I didn’t believe the Soviet government really wanted to deal with the issue very much, or spend that much time going after the collaborators on a large scale.  But I am not a historian, so what do I know?  I may have to amend my opinion after reading this piece, in which an actual professional historian (=Jared McBride) who studied actual Soviet police archives (“millions of pages of documents”) and ran some actual numbers, came to the conclusion that “The number of cases against local collaborators are in the hundreds of thousands by the time of Stalin’s death in 1953.”

But I’ll get to McBride’s piece later.  First comes the Crime, and then comes the Punishment.  So I have this piece from Russian RT entitled:

Professional Butchers:  The Role that Local Nationalists Played in the Holocaust in the Ukraine

We begin our story of crimes on 7 April 1943 (hence the date of the RT piece, 7 April 2018, it’s a commemoration), in the Terebovlya Ghetto in the Western Ukraine.  On that day, around 1100 civilian Jews living in the ghetto were taken away and shot.  The crime was committed by German punitive units along with Ukainian police.

Die ukrainische Wachmannschaft des Torfwerkes, Juni 1943

That was just one place.  Overall, on the territory of the Ukraine during the years of the war, an estimated over 1.5 million Jews were killed; comprising a quarter of all the Holocaust (Jewish) victims throughout Europe.  [We are talking about purely civilian people, ordinary people, not soldiers.]

Historians believe that the slaughter could not have reached such proportions without the participation of the local (Ukrainian) police.

Terebovlya (Polish Trembowla) is a small town in the Ternopil Oblast of Western Ukraine.  On December 1, 1942, the German occupiers built a ghetto for the 3,000 something Jewish residents of the town.  The Jews were herded from their regular homes into the ghetto, but continued to survive there until the decision was made, in 1943 (by the Nazis) to liquidate the ghetto.  On 7 April the German troops and Ukrainian Auxiliary Police led around 1100 Jews out of their ghetto homes and shot them.  The remaining Jews got to live a couple more months, and then were also “liquidated” during the 3 days June 3-5, 1943.  Only a tiny number (around 7 people) were able to escape and survive.

Terebovlya today

Historians note that it isn’t actually easy to kill so many civilians.  Especially considering that the German Einsatzgrup was not big at all.  Historian Alexander Diukov estimates that they only comprised around 3,000 men — for the entire Eastern Front!  It is not logistically possible for 3,000 men, even heavily armed, to control and kill so many civilians.  Not without help.  And help the Nazis had galore:  From the local residents.  As a result:  “Every one out of four Jew who perished at the hands of the Hitlerite butchers during the war years, resided on the territory of the Ukraine.  The general number of victims of the [Jewish] Holocaust in Occupied Ukraine is estimated to be around 1.5 to 1.6 million people.”

On the cusp of the German invasion, the Ukraine held the largest number of Jews in Europe; and second largest worldwide — second only to the United States.  These were not the brilliant, intellectual or artistic, famous Jews of Western Europe who brought so much glory to their adopted countries.  These Polish-Ukrainian Jews were, on the whole, just humble ordinary people:  farmers, merchants, bakers, craftsmen, etc.

Currently, the number of Jews in the world as a whole is reckoned to be just under 3 million people, but there were lots more before the war.  The numbers tell the story.  Again, we’re not talking about soldiers.

Anti-Jew pogrom in Lvov, 1941

In 1939, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop truce, parts of what used to be Poland or the former Austria-Hungary, got annexed to the Western parts of the Ukrainian SSR.  These new lands contained quite a lot of Jews:  around 6% of the general population, now newly-minted Soviet citizens.  As rugged working people, accustomed to a hard life, they would have fared just fine in the socialist state:  Would have earned a living wage and seen their kids get a decent education.  Those kids would have grown up to be teachers, engineers, doctors and the like.  But that future never happened for them.  Hitler’s horde invaded just a couple of years later and declared them all to be “subhuman”, according to the Nazi racial philosophy.  They were marked for extermination, but the process was not as simple as just pushing a button.

The Soviets, to their credit, fully aware of the Nazis negative attitude toward Jews, did try to evacuate as many of these Jewish civilians as they were able to.  Some did successfully manage to evacuate with the retreating Red Army, according to historian Konstantin Zalessky.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to evacuate the bulk of them.  They were left to their own devices – and a certain death.

Lvov pogrom: a little Ukrainian boy joins in the Jew-beating fun

As the Nazi army approached each Western [newly-]Ukrainian town, the pogroms began.  Members of Ukrainian Nationalist organizations emerged from the underground, attacked organs of Soviet government still remaining, freed prisoners from the jails, and started attacking civilian Jews.  As the Nazi army got closer and closer, with impunity a sure thing, the pogroms increased in intensity and ferocity.  Everybody is familiar with those horrendous scenes from July 1941 in Lvov, where a group of locals (including little Ukrainian boys) tortured and beat to death Jews, right on the street in front of everybody:  Gouged out peoples eyes, cut off their ears, undressed and raped women, right in front of everyone while laughing and mocking the victims incessantly.  A thousand ordinary Jewish people, previous to that just living their own lives and minding their own business, died there and then, out on the street, in this disgusting and humiliating fashion.

But this was just spontaneous brutality of the Ukrainian Untermenschen bullies.  When the Germans took charge, the violence took on a more systematic character…

[to be continued]

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Victory Day: A Ton of Untold Stories!

Dear Readers:

Congratulations on Victory Day!  Thank goodness the good guys defeated the Nazis, but it was really touch and go there for a while…

I have not a long post for today, but just a short film one minute long, it’s called How the Nanai fought against Hitler.  An important point is being made here, that even completely unknown peoples and tribes stepped up to the plate when time came to defeat you know who…

Beautiful Nanai girls tell the fascists where they can go…

The Nanai people live in the Far East, there are about 12,000 of them now, roughly, and they are citizens of the Russian Federation, which inherited them from the Soviet Union.  Another 4,000 or so live across the border, in China.  First noted in European history by accounts of Jesuit travelers cruising on the Ussury and Amur rivers in 1709.  A Manchurian-type people speaking a Tungusic language, with a shamanistic type religion, who make their living hunting and fishing.  According to the Jesuits, these people learned to sew clothing from fish-skins!  Which is why they got known in some quarters as the “Fish-Skin people”.

Sounds like a fishy story to me, and I don’t believe such clothing would have smelled nice!  Centuries later, when the Nazis invaded Russia, the Nanai were not even required to fight; by Soviet law they were exempted from the army.  [The article doesn’t explain why, maybe because of their shamanistic beliefs?]  In spite of which, many Nanai volunteered to serve, and set off for the front.  Okay, let me try to embed the video and translate the subtitles…

Okay, so it turns out I can’t embed the video because it’s not youtube and WordPress has some kind of security set up to remove [iframe] tags. There’s a way to do it, but you have to get the paying version and install a plugin.  Drat. Okay, you’ll have to flip back and forth to the link while reading my translation of the subtitles…  So here we go:

Some of the smaller aboriginal peoples of the North and Far East were practically exempt from the draft.

But many of them enlisted in the Red Army as volunteers.

In the first month of the war 200 Nanai went off to the front from a tribe numbering less than 5,000 people.

Accustomed from childhood to hunt, the Nanai were excellent shooters.

The sniper Maxim Passar destroyed 237 Hitlerites and perished at Stalingrad at the age of 19.

Intelligence scout Alexander Passar fought hand-to-hand battles and destroyed over a hundred fascists, while taking 29 “heathens” prisoner.

In June of 1944 he was the first one to row across the Dnepr River and he captured a boat carrying a [Nazi] scouting unit.

The Nanai fought heroically in the Soviet army, along with [other tribes]:  the Evenki, Ulchi, Udygi, Orochi, Negildaltsy…

Representatives of the smaller (tribes) made a huge contribution to our Victory!

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“Descendants of Heroes” Shows Dual Nature of NKVD

“We’re so quick to go to make things black and white, and to put things in their box. But everything is this mixture – and that’s what this world is – is this blend of different things.”Matisyahu

Dear Readers:

As Victory Day approaches, and still following in the theme of yesterday’s post (sort of), today’s post is a review of this piece by reporter Sergei Guryanov.  The story is about the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet NKVD, and about the inability of the Russian intelligentsia to see anything in shades of grey.  With them everything is binary:  black or white; evil or sublime; ugly or beautiful.

Exhibit A:  Blogger and Political Activist Kristina Potupchik unleashed her criticism of the upcoming action “Descendants of Heroes”.  Which is an upcoming police festival honoring the ancestors of Russia’s modern police force.  And starring current-day Russian policemen wearing the uniforms of the Soviet NKVD.  To be more specific,  police from Rostov-on-Don, Kalmykia, and Novosibirsk plan to don the NKVD uniform of that era and pose for photographs.  The photos will be uploaded to the internet.  Kristina objects to this “cosplay” and criticized it on her Facebook, concluding with the words:  “Let God be their judge.”

Kristina Potupchik

Kristina is not the usual type of Russian kreakle whom one would expect to lash out at a WWII commemoration.  On the contrary, she has a reputation as a Russian patriot.  Here is the link to her biography.  Born in 1986, she came of age in the post-Soviet era, was a strong Putin supporter, and even led the pro-Putin “Nashi” youth group at one time.  The Liberal anti-Putin kreakles hate her guts.  They are actually the ones whom one would expect to be more horrified by the NKVD uniforms.  In my view, it’s not really a contradiction.  On the one hand, people are more complicated than we give them credit for.  On the other hand, Westie propaganda to the contrary, the pro-Putin crowd are also anti-Communist.  Putin himself is strongly anti-Communist and probably believes that Solzhenitsyn wrote only the Gospel Truth about the GULAG.  But is too wise a leader to ruffle the feathers of the Russian people.  Who, as opinion polls show, are increasingly feeling nostalgic about the Soviet era!  And the one thing you may not do to the Russian people, as we discussed in yesterday’s post, is undermine the Great Victory.

In which (Victory) there played a role, yea, even Stalin’s NKVD!

Potupchik was probably surprised when her Facebook sally was met with opposition … by people who regard the NKVD as heroes!  Heroes of their time, that is.  Or, if not heroes, at least not demons either.  Not every NKVD agent was an Oppressor.  Some did useful work, catching actual criminals, killing Nazis, and the like.  Some did only bad things, like arrest innocent people.  Some did only good things.  Some did both bad and good.  In conclusion:  Life is complicated.  Reality is complicated.  Let God take each soul and weigh on the scale in the Final Judgement!

The Internet Fights Back

Commenter Ashot Safaryan chided Kristina:  “Are you saying the NKVD didn’t fight on the front lines?  The 17th Artillery Brigade of the NKVD.  My grandfather fought in that (unit) for the whole war.  He was wounded three times.  He liberated Kharkov.  He took Vienna and Budapesht.”

Soviet border guard uniforms

Other commenters noted that the Peoples Militia structure was subject to the NKVD.  For reasons of historical accuracy, if nothing else, they must don this NKVD uniform for the festival.  Potupchik responded to this point by declaring they should not participate in the festival at all, but just lay flowers on the Eternal Flame and march in the “Nameless Regiment” instead.  Her advice was not received well, as she doesn’t get to decide these matters.  Besides, she’s just a girl.

Writer Maria Yudenich chided Kristina for offending the memory of hundreds of thousands of NKVD soldiers.  In many cases, these guys were in the vanguard, taking the brunt of it.  Among them, the 132nd Regiment perished to the man while defending the Brest Fortress against the Nazis.  NKVD cadre also took part in the Partisan brigades, served in the Militia, were fire fighters, Intel and Counter-Intel.  They were everywhere, and did a lot of the heavy lifting.  Yudenich reminded Kristina that in 1943 a separate NKVD Army was formed, which fought at the front.  They all wore the same uniform.

“Don’t worry,” Yudenich concludes.  “Nobody has forgotten about the GULAG.  But the NKVD [overall] was a heroic force, and you can’t talk about them [with such contempt] just based on associations that you hear coming out of the Echo Moskva [radio station].”

The Press Secretary of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs (=the police) of the Rostov region cheerily announced to the press about the upcoming festival:  “With this action we hope to tell the story of the heroic deeds of the members of this force who, from 1941-1945 selflessly did their duty and defended their country.”  Amen to that.

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Mass Grave Discovered In Novgorod From WWII Times

Dear Readers:

There is a scene in Sergei Eisenstein’s great art film Ivan the Terrible, where the Russian troops are preparing for the battle of Kazan.  As the soldiers march onto the battlefield, each takes a small coin from a bowl.  The narrator explains that when the battle is over, the surviving soldiers will each return his coin to the bowl.  Since they knew how many coins were in the bowl to start with, it will be a simple matter to calculate how many died in the battle.

A forensic expert from the Investigative Committee examines remains.

So, I have this piece from yesterday.  This is the web site of the Novgorod regional Investigative Committee.  (Sort of like the American FBI.)  On April 29 word reached the IC of a mass grave discovered in the Novgorod Oblast, more precisely near a village called Zhestyana Gorka, in the Batetsky Region of Novgorod.  The pit was found by a volunteer organization called “Dolina” which searches for as-yet undiscovered mass graves dating back to the Great Patriotic War (=WWII).

After being informed of this discovery, the Investigative Committee sent a team of criminalists to examine the site.  A very high priority was given to this cold case.

In the first examination of the site, five skeletonized corpses were extracted from the pit.  Of which three showed clear signs of having been shot in the head.  Some personal items and scraps of clothing have also been found.  Also found near the grave site were spent cartridges of firearms.  The cartridges are of foreign manufacture.

The technicians are working to establish the age, gender, and cause of death, of the remains.  The working hypothesis is that this is a grave of civilians shot by the Nazis during WWII.

It is believed there are at least 6 pits in the village of Zhestyana Gorka.  It is believed that the pits contain somewhere in the vicinity of 3,000 Soviet citizens of various nationalities, among them women and children, and that they were shot by the Nazis during the years 1941-43.

Discussion And Analysis

In a previous post about the Salaspils concentration camp in Latvia, we discussed the fact that the Soviet security forces could sometimes be quite slipshod about actually counting the dead.  The Soviet government sometimes just preferred to build monumental sculptures to honor the dead, than to actually count and name them — playing on emotions rather than logic.  There were reasons for this, however:

  1. Scare resources had to go into rebuilding the country rather than digging about for graves.  Counter-argument:  A lot of this effort could have been out-sourced to volunteer organizations such as “Dolina”, or their Soviet equivalents.
  2. The science was not as strong in those days, DNA analysis had not been invented yet, and sometimes all people had to work with was tiny bone fragments.  Again:  too much effort and too few resources.
  3. Mostly importantly (in my opinion):  The Soviet government was aware that the Nazis were not alone in their crimes and employed local assistants and collaborators everywhere they went.  Better to just sweep this under the rug and not air the family’s dirty laundry, or whatever other cliches…

Whatever the reasons back then for not embarking on this vast project to count the dead; none of those reasons exist any more.  Which is why the work of organizations like “Dolina” are so important.  It is so crucially important to continue to show the world the bestial crimes committed by the veritable Horde of European nations (led by Germany) against the Russian civilian population.

The Battle of Kazan: How many coins did not get returned to the bowl?

Having said that, I see some disturbing signs even in the current story.  For example, from just five skeletons (so far), the reporters are rushing to the conclusion that there are thousands of corpses in these pits.  Which there probably are, but please don’t say it until you’ve proved it!

They are also rushing to say that these corpses are from WWII.  Again, most probably they are, but wait until the DNA analysis, or whatever other scientific methods proves it.

It goes without saying that Russia’s enemies, those who joined the Horde to destroy Russia, will just sneer and say, “Oh, those people are probably victims of Stalin’s terror.”  Which is why it is very important to prove, with scientific and forensic accuracy, to the degree possible, exactly who these people were, and who murdered them.  Again, we all know the answer; but, still, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Deniers will deny…  Recall this piece about how Russia’s enemies plan to “manage” Russia’s destruction and dissolution.  One of the action bullets is to discredit everything linked with the dominating state culture, language and history. For example, bashing everything “Russian”, the creation and promotion of offensive language and terms (Russian – Vatnik), a wide spread of derogatory language and the mutilation of words, terms and names.

In the troubled modern Russian entity, one of the few remaining ideological anchors uniting the Russian citizenry is the memory of the Great Patriotic War, and the astounding victory of the Soviet people.  Therefore, this one anchor is the target of many attacks by Russia’s enemies.  If they can get the Russian people to believe that they did not, in fact, win; or that they did not deserve to win; or that they were fighting on the wrong side — then they will have achieved an ideological victory over the Russian entity.

The Victory still unites the population.

Part of this ideological attack is to question the numbers of the dead; or, like any murderer does, to point the finger at someone else:  It was Stalin who killed his own people, not Hitler.  One of the lamest arguments these people employ, which is just lame enough to engage the stupid, goes something like:  Stalin was a greater evil than Hitler.  Hitler only killed 6 million people, but Stalin killed something like 20 million.  Or more.  Maybe even 100 million!  Which is particularly dumb since, as the pro-Stalinists point out, the Soviet population actually increased during the Stalin era.  Until the war, that is.

Just like the bowl holding the tiny coins, the numbers tell the story:  After the Germans were driven out of Belorussia and the population came to be counted, 2/3 of them were simply gone.  After the Germans were driven out of the town of Novgorod and the population came to be counted, the former 48,000 souls were down to just a few dozen people.

Similar calculations are done on, say, Europe’s Jews, and gee, where did they all go?  which doesn’t stop the Holocaust Deniers from calling the extermination camps a fiction.  Well, stupid people can never be convinced.  However, running the numbers is still an effective debating tool for the rational part of the human population.  Which believes in numbers and facts.  Which is why I think it is important for the Russian government to get this right when digging up new graves:  Just the facts. Ma’am.  Just the numbers.  No speculation until you know.  And after that:  Only the truth about what you found in those pits.

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Donbass Residents Get In Line For Russian Passports

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece by reporter Andrei Rezchikov.  Yesterday (Friday, May 3) offices opened for the new “simplified passport procedure”, whereby Donbass residents are eligible to apply for Russian citizenship.  In Donetsk, when the Migration Office on Khodakovsky Street opened at 9:00 AM to receive applicants, a queue of some 80 people were already waiting to enter.  Some of these “early shoppers” had been standing in line since 5:00 AM!

This lucky lady now carries both a Russian and a Ukrainian passport. She can travel anywhere she likes!

According to the simplified procedure, a Donbass resident must present their documents and pay a fee to apply for Russian citizenship.  The packets are then sent (by snail-mail) to the Rostov Oblast in Russia.  A center has been set up in the town of Novoshakhtinsk, and is now receiving about 200 applications per day.  Applications from the Luhansk Peoples Republic (LPR) started arriving as early as 29 April.

In order to simplify the procedure as much as possible, Donetsk officials have done away with previous hoops to jump through, for example having to visit a Notary, or insisting on bringing originals instead of copies.  Copies of Ukrainian passports, marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc. are accepted.  The documents can be written in Russian or Ukrainian.  Absent of a notary, the officials of the Migration Service verify the documents themselves.

“We’ve been standing out here since 6:30 AM,” Donetsk resident Igor told the reporter.  “We’ve been waiting for this day for the past five years.”

Currently applications are being received only in the main Migration Office of Donetsk.  However, starting 7 May offices will be opening up in all the 33 territorial offices of the service.  It is expected that there will be a massive wave of applications.

Kiev’s Reaction

The reaction of the Ukrainian government has been negative, and borderline hysterical.  Kiev has demanded of its “international partners” that they not recognize any documents presented by Russia to persons living “on the temporarily occupied territories of the Donbass”.  [For example, if somebody wants to fly to Paris for a holiday, the French officials are supposed to reject their Russian passport if the person has a home address in Donetsk.]

Yesterday, Yury Grymchak, Deputy Minister of Questions Concerning the Temporarily Occupied Territories [a sweet job, well-paid and no actual work to do!] tried to scare people who are applying for Russian passports.  According to Grymchak, Kiev “will learn all about” these people, and their personal data, ’cause, see, Russian law requires that Russia inform the Ukrainian government about any dual citizens, and therefore Kiev will be able to find out everything about them.  From the Russian government!

Grymchak: “We will learn everything about you…”

Russian Major-General Alexander Mikhailov of the FSB called this threat a “bluff”.  These people have long ago separated themselves from official “Ukraine”, what do they care now if the Kiev government knows where they live?

Andrei Rodkin, who is the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR) Representative to Russia, reminded the reporter that Donbass residents have already lived under blood-curdling threats for the past five years, ever since the Maidan coup:  “Former President Poroshenko promised us, that our children will greet September 1 [the first day of the school year] cowering in their basements.  There have been so many threats…  I really don’t think that these new threats will scare the Donchane.”  Rodkin went on to say that the Donetsk people have been yearning for Russian passports, and now that the possibility is there, they will not let the bullies scare them off.  On the contrary, the threats and intimidation will spur them on in greater numbers, as the Russian passport is their token of security.

Sociological surveys confirmed that 86% of the residents of the DPR/LPR wish to become citizens of the Russian Federation.

Posted in Breaking News, Friendship of Peoples | Tagged | Leave a comment