“Die Rote Armee” means “the Red Army” (2)

Last time I was showing you the front page of a propaganda leaflet I had bought on ebay. They were dropped in its tens of thousands from aircraft of the Red Air Force in an effort to persuade the German defenders of Berlin to surrender. After all, the defenders numbered just 766,750 and the Red Army had a gigantic 2,300,000 men on the case. Many of the defenders of the city were not really soldiers anyway. These three were apparently postmen:

Anyway, here’s the front of the leaflet :

Just as a matter of interest, the Russians do not call the Second World War by the same name that we do. They call it :

Великая Отечественная война

The first word is “Vyelikaya” which means “great”.

The second word is “Atyechyest-vyennaya”, a six syllable word which means “patriotic” and has its origins in the word “atyets” which means “father” (just like “patriotic” in actual fact)

The third word is “Vai-ná” which means “war”.

Here’s the back of the leaflet, where the word “wird” proves to be the second word of a sentence begun on side one:

If you remember, the pamphlet was reminding the Germans that the Soviets had won all of the battles at Stalingrad, Leningrad, Kishinev, Kursk, Minsk and Warsaw and had completed the crossings of the Rivers Volga and Oder. Now it is time for Berlin and the River Spree. The pamphlet continues with more of the same. If the Red Army has won in Stalingrad, Kursk and Warsaw, the last few troops on the banks of the Oder will not be a problem……

“Festungen zwischen Wolga und Oder gäb es Kessel: In Stalingrad und bei Tscherkassy, bei Kischinev und in Bjelorußland, in Budapest und Ostpreußen. Jenseits der Oder ist heute die ganze deutsche armee zwischen zwei Fronten in einem riesigen Kessel zusammangetrieben.”

“There would be fortresses between the Volga and the Oder: in Stalingrad and near Cherkassy, near Kishinev and in Byelorussia, in Budapest and East Prussia. On the other side of the Oder, the entire German army is now driven together between two fronts in a huge encircled area.”

The promise is repeated in the next section, but to this is added the fact that not only is the Red Army some two million+  strong but there is also the question of two other armies, the American and the British:

“Die Rote Armee hat alle deutschen Kessel zwischen Wolga under Oder zusammengehauen. Zusammen mit den Engländern und Amerikanern wird sie auch mit dem Kessel jenseits der Oder fertig werden.”

“The Red Army have cut down all the German encircled areas between the Volga and the Oder. Together with the British and Americans, it will also deal with the encircled area on the other side of the Oder.”

And here’s the very last river, the Spree, which flows right through the middle of Berlin. Right past the Re9ichstag building:

And then we come to the crunch. The whole point of the pamphlet…….




“Warte nicht, bid die Russen, Engländer und Amerikaner von Osten, Westen, Norden und Süden her Hitlers letsten Kessel zusammanhauen.”

“Do not wait until the Russians, British and Americans from east, west, north and south together, smash to pieces Hitler’s last encircled army.”


“Sieh zu, daß Du Dich rettest, ehe es zu spät ist !”

“Make sure you save yourself before it’s too late!”


“Gib Dich gefangen und du bist gerettet !”  

“Give yourself up and you will be saved!”


“Mach von nachstehendem Passierschein Gebrauch.”

“Use the pass below.”

“Dieses Flugblatt gilt als Passierschein für deutsche Soldaten und Offiziere, die sich der Roten Armee.”

“This leaflet is valid as a pass for German soldiers and officers who join the Red Army.”

It also contained that information in Russian…

“Эта листовка служит пропуском для немецких солдат и офицеров при сдаче в плен Красной Армии”

Which means….

“This leaflet serves as a pass for German soldiers and officers when surrendering to the Red Army.”

Alas, it didn’t all work out very well for all of the German POWs in Sunny Siberia:

According to the Soviets, 381,067 German POWs died in Russian camps (356,700 Germans and 24,367 men of other nationalities).

The West German government found that of 3,060,000 German prisoners, a total of 1,094,250 perished in the camps of the Soviet Union.

Historian Rüdiger Overmans calculated that there were 3,000,000 German POWs in the USSR, and the “maximum” number of deaths was 1,000,000.

And of the ones who did survive, the very last was released in 1956. Every single one had been busy rebuilding a shattered Soviet Union.

And to end with, let’s take another look at the Soviet “Photograph of the Month” for May 1945:



Filed under Aviation, History, military, Russia

25 responses to ““Die Rote Armee” means “the Red Army” (2)

  1. Chilling history especially bearing in mind the number of Ukrainians dragged into Russia

    • Yes, indeed. To be honest, more or less everything connected with Russia seems to be chilling at the moment. They seem to have the idea they have the right to do whatever they can think up, and that we better keep well out of their way.

  2. Pierre Lagacé

    There’s a whole story behind that last picture. Maybe I have read it on your blog John.

  3. GP

    It truly was a shame we had the Soviet as an ally.
    I had to laugh at that line, “sunny Siberia!” What a fate to befall anyone!

    • The Soviets, and now the Russians, never seem to want to join in with the other nations of the world, on an “everybody is equal” basis. They seem to have a superiority complex that prevents that.
      On the other hand, they supposedly have expressed the desire to join the EC and to become part of NATO, supposedly because of their fears of a Chinese invasion.
      In WW2 though, the Russians did kill a lot of German soldiers, some 60-70% apparently, and we would have found it very difficult to beat the Germans without their help. What we did contribute, though, was modern equipment…..guns, aircraft, tanks and above all, lorries. Without this equipment, which was of a high standard, whether American or British, the Russians might well have been beaten by the end of 1942. They made extensive use, for example, of Bostons, Airacobras, Hurricanes and Spitfires, as well as being taught the tactics of fighting an air war with such modern aircraft.

    • As I wrote to Derrick (above) everything connected with the Russians, especially nowadays, seems to turn out rather grim. The German prisoners, though, I do have no sympathy for, because they started the conflict and they carried out huge numbers of major war crimes, including, of course, the Holocaust.

      • Maybe not the soldiers and/or the prisoners John. Blame the regime and the monsters. I have visited Germany several times and have only found the people to be kind and generous. I am forever astonished about the extent of influence a lunatic can have. My personal conclusion is that Germany underwent a period of collective madness which is impossible to explain. Not unlike the UK and because of its hatred for Europe voting to leave the EU.

  4. It wasn’t such a good deal, after all, for German soldiers and officers to surrender to the Red Army.

    • No, it wasn’t, and it’s a pretty good example of “Always read the small print.” Or even “Look before you leap”, not that they had much choice! It had been “Surrender or die” from about 1944 onwards.

  5. You do a great job of research on this stuff. A lot of this, I never knew.

    • That’s a very kind thing to say, and thank you. I certainly do a lot of checking of facts, dates and so on, although as I read so much on the subject, and watch so many TV programmes about WW2, I like to think that I have a good knowledge of most of the main events.

  6. As a German soldier the choice was stark. At least in a camp there was a small chance of survival, in the battered streets of Berlin however, no one was your friend, not even those in German uniforms. War is brutal, and when revenge is sought, no stone is left unturned, nor building left standing to find those who attacked your homeland. That last photo tells an incredible story, one that should never be forgotten.

  7. Yes, I’m with you 100% on that one. When the Germans invaded the USSR they were starting a race war where the Slavs and the Jews would all be killed. The Russians defended their country and finished the war as victors in Berlin.
    And you are right. That is a story worth repeating if only to make the point that it could happen today, and may well be happening in China with their Moslems and the Tibetans.
    Racism is always present with human beings and must always be opposed.
    Incidentally, there is a story behind the last photograph and my comments to Pierre Lagacé (above) contain at least two links to it.

  8. Thank you for sharing a part of history to remind us of the brutality of conflict with no good ending, especially for those civilians caught between the opposing forces… hopefully one day “civilized man” will stop trying to improve the sword and concentrate on the pen… 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the universe and until we meet again..

    May the road rise to meet you
    May the wind be always at your back
    May the sun shine warm upon your face
    The rains fall soft upon your fields
    May green be the grass you walk on
    May blue be the skies above you
    May pure be the joys that surround you
    May true be the hearts that love you.
    (Irish Saying)

    • I share completely your obviously heartfelt comments about man’s inhumanity to man.
      The only way that we may reduce the violence and the carnage, in my humble opinion, will be to have more women in government than we currently have.Having said that, we all know a long list of countries who would rather curl up and die rather than give women a chance to run the world in a more civilised way.

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