Wikipedia says:

According to Antony Beevor, whose books were banned in 2015 from some Russian schools and colleges, NKVD (Soviet secret police) files have revealed that the leadership knew what was happening, including about the rape of Soviet women liberated from labour camps, but did nothing to stop it. Some Russian historians disagree, claiming that the Soviet leadership took swift action.

But the citation provided is dead. My question is, Do NKVD files say that during WWII, Soviet leadership knew about the rape of Soviet women liberated from labour camps and did nothing to stop it?


I do not have access to NKVD files, whatever they say, but the story is well documented in the literature, including the Russian literature (memoirs of Russian soldiers). One especially good source is memoirs of Lev Kopelev, a Russian author, who tried to protest and was imprisoned for his protests (see Wikipedia). There are many other memoirs of Russian soldiers.

NKVD did try to fight this, at least on some later stage, and certain number of Soviet soldiers were tried and punished for rape, violence, robbery and murders.

However the number trials was too small in comparison with the enormous scale of rape and violence that actually occurred.

The victims of rape were not only Germans but also foreigners of all nations, people displaced by war for various reasons, including camp inmates. Same happened not only on the enemy territory but also on the territory of the allies, like Yugoslavia. On Yugoslavia, the best source is the memoirs of Milovan Djilas (Memoir of a Revolutionary, 1973, see Wikipedia) who was a top communist Yugoslav politician at that time.

Unfortunately, all references that I now have are in Russian, including Djilas. But there exist also many German ones, including two German movies, based on published accounts of the victims, that I have seen.

This Wikipedia artile gives a survey of the subject and some English references:


You also ask about Soviet leadership. There is no doubt that leadership knew what is going on. It also tried to restrict violence but too late and too little. All memoirs agree in that the violence was strongest in the beginning of occupation of Germany, that some high commanders considered it normal and justified it, and official media encouraged it (I. Ehrenburg's articles in central newspapers, for example). At a later stage they tried to restrict it, probably out of concern about discipline of their army.

  • I've the memoirs of one Soviet tank commander (in English) who, while not talking explicitly about freed prisoners, does mention his disgust at Soviet soldiers, spurred on and even ordered to by their officers and political officers especially (so NKVD...) raped on a large scale women all the way from Kiev to Berlin. – jwenting Nov 30 '16 at 7:55
  • 2
    @jwenting, Presuming that political officers (commissars) were of NKVD is just as wrong as thinking that NKVD was secret police. – ach Dec 1 '16 at 9:35
  • Sure. Political officers was a separate institution from NKVD. – Alex Dec 1 '16 at 19:51

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