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”
“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: