|The statement of a Cossack emigrant quotes the impressions of a British sailor given here without alteration:|
"I took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Our soldiers felt very badly. I helped to fish out Germans from the sunken Bismarck, which received the greatest number of torpedoes in history. I saw the population of Malta sitting in the cellars for many weeks. I saw Malta being bombed incessantly and deafened by explosions of bombs and shells. They were exhausted from constant explosions and alarms. I lived through the sinking of my own ship. I know about jumping into the water at night, dark and without bottom, and the terrifying shouts for help of the drowning, and then the boat, and looking for the rescue ship. It was a nightmare. I drove German prisoners captured during the invasion of Normandy. They were almost dying from fear. But all that is nothing. The real, terrible, unspeakable fear I saw during the convoying and repatriation of people to Soviet Russia. They were becoming white, green and grey with the fear that took hold of them. When we arrived at the port and were handing them over to the Russians, the repatriates were fainting and losing their senses. And only now I know what a man's fear is who lived through hell, and that it is nothing compared to the fear of a man who is returning to the Soviet hell. "
German Army Cossacks - II Battalion Bergmann
One day in a British screening centre, the camp administration announced the dismissal of everyone owning an heavy goods driving licence, and were from the Hamburg area. They were needed to clear away debris, etc. Accordingly, our comrade reported himself for the task and was summoned to the camp management.
Jews wearing the British uniform sat waiting for him in the office.
He was asked for his Service and Identification book (Soldbuch). An officer spoke good German, and leafed through a thick book.
Suddenly this Officer pulled a whistle out of his pocket and blew in it loudly. Two soldiers with machineguns (Sten’s) at the ready stormed into the room.
Then everything happened very quickly. Hands up!
There he was met by another two British Army Officers, and a physician.
Our comrade, a corporal, wearing the tropical uniform, already a prisoner seem to make them curious. When the door closed and they were alone, one of the Officers took our friend aside and wanted to know why and how he, a corporal was arrested.
After explaining ‘Bergmann’ etc. This Officer gave our man a tip; to immediately destroy his service book and say at the next interrogation that he was found without identification papers in the camp, and this was the reason for his imprisonment.
After three hours passed, a German Paymaster, two SS Officers, and a Captain, were locked up with him.
That afternoon, the door of the fire station opened, and four British Soldiers with Sten guns were standing outside. They commanded: “Hands up, and come outside!”
The men were told to sit in the back of a Land Rover, and were driven away.
Where? They couldn’t tell? A tarpaulin cover blocked their sight, and three British Soldiers pointing their Sten’s, accompanied them. In the midst of an open road the vehicle stopped.
Then they were commanded to surrender all their valuables and money they had on them.
One of the SS Officer’s resisted the order with a determined No!
This Officer was relived of all his valuables with force.
The journey continued, and through a gab in the tarpaulin they could see they were in city of Hamburg, but damn it, the vehicle didn’t stop. It drove on. They wondered where they were going? Where they being taken to the Russians? What a frightening thought. Conversation was strictly forbidden, and a depressing atmosphere arose.
An hour's drive later they stopped.
Shrill commands of unintelligible speech, and a spotlight glared on the vehicle as they dismounted. All around them they saw Barbed wire.
Rifle butts rammed their backs, driving them on like cattle, then singled out for interrogation.
Nothing could be seen. Only a bright spotlight, and the questions came in broken German.
Suddenly a sharp pain was felt in our comrades back, and again the same questions were repeated.
His answer was always the same, “I was found in the prison camp with no identification papers. My last unit was Kraftfahrabteilung 10 Hamburg.” (Transport Company 10, Hamburg.) Then more blows. Then a roar, "You SS pig! You’ll hang!"
Afterwards, solitary confinement. A dark room with a concrete floor, and wearing only light tropical uniform.
Every hour or so, he was dragged back out in the spotlight. The same questions, with the same answers. Again and again, solitary confinement, and darkness.
Approximately 3-4 days the same torture continued, and nothing to eat.
Although the torturers did not believe our comrade, finally they gave up and went away.
He was taken into the POW community. Thousands of soldiers and civilians in huge wooden huts with concrete floors.
Now they could talk, but only softly so no supervisor could hear them. He found out that he was now in the former Neuengamme concentration camp, close to Hamburg.
Every day there was food. A few pieces of turnip swimming in hot water, served in mess tins. with a fist sized piece of bread, half of it mouldy. At morning roll call, which always lasted about three hours until they were all accounted for, they were told that mould was healthy for them.
Those who collapsed from weakness, or showed signs of a cold, were placed between two narrow electrified barbed wire fences. Those who fell, died.
In the evenings they were locked up in the barracks by 6 pm.
Large bins were placed around the rooms where they had to do their necessities. It didn’t take long for them to fill and spill over. Then they had to lie in the faeces, all through the night. A savage stench of sewer soon filled the rooms.
Again and again, they were taken for interrogation. And, again and again, they were returned to the stinking mass piles.
During the day they were allowed only to walk in the yard surrounded by barb wire, though only in silence,.
Those who cracked up, ran against the wire and were immediately fried. Prisoners were constantly shoving barrows, wheeling away the corpses.
Our comrades neighbour, a young raw recruit from Munich had only seen four weeks of service, 190 cm tall, caught tuberculosis in his lung and died.
Cripples with one arm, or one leg, the elderly, soldiers of every genre, they was all there, packed together.
Our comrade was subdued to this drama for about four and a half months, then it was all over.
He was dismissed without a penny. But before leaving he had to sign an agreement that he would not testify about his experience in the screening centre, Camp "Neuengamme.”
Finally he found his freedom. But there is always the fear of re-incarceration, and with this comes a great silence.
Operation Keelhaul – Acts of Forced Repatriation
After the tragedies at Lienz and Kempten, October 29, 1945, as did General Eisenhower earlier, General Montgomery forbids forcible repatriation.
However, at the end of 1945, Supreme Allied Headquarters in Germany issued an order stating:
Kempten: Aug 1945, "The soldiers entered the church and began to drag people out forcibly. They dragged women by the hair and twisted the men's arms up their backs, beating them with the butts of their rifles. One soldier took the cross from the priest and hit him with the butt of his rifle. Pandemonium broke loose. The people in a panic threw themselves from the second floor, for the church was in the second storey of the building, and they fell to their death or were crippled for life. In the church there were also suicide attempts."
Piding: 1945, An unknown amount of ‘Polish Soviet POWs were forced into awaiting train wagons and taken to Brueck on the Mur. (near Judenberg, Austria)
Dachau: Jan 1946, 300 were to be deported. Of these, 100 were seriously injured while being forcibly deported. 40 committed suicide.
Plattling, Lager Natternberg: 23 Feb. 1946, 2000 were to be deported. They refused to go. Many committed suicides by cutting their veins, stabbed or hung themselves.
Flensburg: "The Russian liaison officers convinced the British officers of the camp that all refugees were Russians; so they were taken in vehicles to the Russian zone. There were 250 Ukrainians who should not have gone. The Poles had informed the camp what was going to happen, therefore the worried ones from the Russian side went for the bush; those who thought they had no worries stayed. The English being convinced that all were Russians, loaded them all into trucks and sent them on."
Bad Kreuznach: Western officials came to the assistance of the refugees who were being kidnapped. A group of thirty Ukrainians abducted by Soviet officers were being loaded on to a truck and driven away when a Ukrainian-speaking American officer heard their cries for help, stopped the vehicle and after questioning released them.
Italy: Aug 14 1946, McNarney-Clerk directive. All Soviet Citizens to be returned. April 8 - 9, 1947, Last of the deported Soviet POWs.
Chelm: April 1947, Deportation of Ukrainians to areas in Western Poland.
Ban-Saint-Jean, Stalag XII F/Z,
Camps: Fort Dix - New Jersey, Rupert – Iowa, Winchester – Virginia, and Doleville – Alabama. Soviet POWs were tear gassed and drugged. While they slept they were transported to the awaiting Soviet ships.
To be continued…………..