Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No holds barred

Father, kill the German!
Nesterova, 1942

In a couple of weeks we will be in Moscow. I will wipe this damned city off the face of the earth, I will dig an artificial lake on its place. The word “Moscow” will become extinct.

Adolf Hitler about Moscow

“Kill the German” – this a phrase from Ilya Ehrenburg’s article published in Red Star millitary newspaper in 1942. This article and leaflet based on the text is probably the most controversial piece of all Soviet WW2 propaganda.

The article had several extracts from letters of dead German soldiers with description of violent treatment of Soviet prisoners. The article ended with a call to kill Germans, which quite resembled the Nazi anti-Jewish and anti-Soviet propaganda:

“Now we understand the Germans are not human. Now the word “German” itself has become the most terrible curse. Let us not speak. Let us not be indignant. Let us kill. If you do not kill the German, the German will kill you. He will carry away your family, and torture them in his damned Germany. If you have killed one German, kill another. […] Do not count days. Do not count miles. Count your kills. Kill the German – that’s what your old mother calls for. Kill the German! – begs the child. Kill the German – cries the native land. Never miss. Never fail. Just kill!”

Antony Beevor (a famous British historian and author of “Berlin - The Downfall. 1945” book) attributed Ehrenburg's message as a motivating factor for the violence against German civilians which according to his sources took place as Soviet troops advanced through Nazi occupied territory toward the end of the war - thus encountering a great deal of criticism in Russia. The Russian ambassador to the UK denounced the book as "lies" and "slander against the people who saved the world from Nazism." O.A. Rzheshevsky, a professor and President of the Russian Association of WWII Historians, has charged that Beevor is merely resurrecting the discredited and racist views of neo-Nazi historians, who depicted Soviet troops as subhuman "Asiatic hordes" (citation from Wikipedia).