The Crushing of Eastern Europe


When the Red Army reached Poland, in the summer of 1944, it waited on the banks of the Vistula, just outside Warsaw, while the S.S., under the direction of Heinrich Himmler, killed fifteen thousand Polish partisans, who had staged an armed uprising, and more than two hundred thousand civilians. At the end of the fighting, half a million Poles were sent to camps, and the rest were deported as slave laborers to Germany. On Hitler’s orders, the city was razed. When the Red Army finally entered Warsaw, in January, 1945, the streets were filled with dead bodies. No one living remained. Except in Bulgaria, which has cultural ties to Russia, Soviet soldiers not only looted but raped, almost systematically, in the countries they passed through. In eastern Germany alone, up to two million women are believed to have been raped by Soviet soldiers. But, apart from complaining about Stalin’s refusal to come to the aid of the Warsaw Poles, Britain and the United States did nothing to stop the pillage of Eastern Europe.

more from Louis Menand at The New Yorker here.