Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Soviet War Photographers

From Russia Beyond:
One of the most well known photographs of the World War II period is, of course, ‘Raising a Flag Over the Reichstag’, by Yevgeny Khaldei. In it, we see soldiers hoisting the Soviet flag over the roof of Germany’s parliament. Khaldei was, however, not the only documentarian of the day - there had been other photographers and videographers, who, likewise, braved the entire war and even participated in the fighting, whilst recording it all for posterity. The descendants of photographers Ilya Arons and Valery Ginzburg recently gave their entire archives to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. This is what the German capital looked like in the first days of peace following the end of the Second World War. (Read more.)

Unfortunately, they did more than take pictures. From The Conversation:
The Second World War in Europe ended when Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender on May 7, 1945. As the Allies gained control over the Western and Eastern Fronts in 1944 and 1945, German soldiers were not the only casualties. Recent historical research has revealed German women and girls were also targets, subjected en masse to a wide range of sexual violence allegedly committed by American, Canadian, British, French and Soviet soldiers.
By the spring of 1945, Nazi Germany was crumbling and the Soviets were racing toward Berlin. The Red Army swept across the Eastern Front, first taking Poland, then East Prussia, Austria and Czechoslovakia. While sexual violence against German civilians was committed by all Allied powers, the Soviet rapes are considered the most prevalent and severe.
The exact number of rapes is unknown, with estimates ranging from tens of thousands to millions. It is clear, however, that this violence was driven in no small part by a desire to exact revenge on the Germans for atrocities committed in the East, including mass sexual violence perpetrated against “non-Aryan” women.
Over the last decade, with only the last survivors still living, there has been a surge of interest within German society in stories of the Soviet rapes. The film Eine Frau in Berlin (“A Woman in Berlin”), released in 2008 and nominated for a German National Film Prize, dramatically represented one journalist’s anonymous diary of her experiences during the fall of Berlin. Another woman, Gabriele Köpp, published the first non-anonymous account of the rapes in 2010. (Read more.)

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