Talk:Nemmersdorf massacre/Archive 1

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Archive 1

Page name

Cut and past move

Note: The article was moved by cut and paste from Nemmersdorf. If someone can merge page histories, please do it here.

This is an odd use for {{NPOV}}.

The original version of this article was submitted with this label, as if the original author knew it was not a balanced presentation of the facts. However, there is no clue in the body of the article itself to suggest why it is POV: the article states that 26 people from this village were killed in the closing months of WW II, & notes the deaths were blamed on both the advancing Russian army & the retreating Germans, which appears to me as close to NPOV as the first draft of an article -- marked as a stub -- can reasonably be expected to be.

Unless what we have here is an attempt by someone to start a violent disagreement over this matter -- which would be in bad faith.

Or am I missing something here? Can someone offer a criticism of this article, & show why it should remain so marked? -- llywrch 22:51, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yes, you do :-). The article was moved from Nemmersdorf in an improper way: by cut'n'paste. If you look into the Nemmersdorf page history, as weel as into what links there you'll probably understand. Mikkalai 03:03, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Now that I've looked over the materials you've pointed to, Mikkalai, I understand what you are saying, but even with the evidence in front of me, this tag badly needed some kind of explanation: the Nemmersdorf article is currently nothing more than a redirect to this article -- with nothing on its Talk page. The history of that page shows there was a fair amount of disputes over the article, but since this article was created, the disagreements appear to have died down. (But I see you have removed the tag; I hope that it does not need to be restored.) -- llywrch 20:13, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Cut and past fixed

I've completed the history merge and moved the resulting article to Nemmersdorf as requested by PBS on WP:AN. This is not meant as an endorsement of the current naming; you may settle that issue on your own. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 13:52, 22 March 2006 (UTC)


It seems to be the precedent established at Gdańsk is to use the Russian name, although the German name can be used when referring to something that took place while the town was German-speaking. If anyone wants to move this to another name, please do NOT do so by cutting and pasting. Use the move button, or if that doesn't work, leave me or another admin a message and let them do it properly. Thanks! Angr (talkcontribs) 14:38, 22 March 2006 (UTC) P.S. The German, Dutch, and Esperanto Wikipedias also all have this article under the Russian name. Angr (talkcontribs) 14:48, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

The reputability of Karl Potrek

The only sites, books, and publications I've been able to find that mention Karl Portrek are associated with neo-nazis. Naturally, they can't be dismissed out of hand as incorrect, but given the clear agenda and dubious scholarship they frequently engage in... I'd like to see some sort of warning about the possible lack of credibility of the eyewitness report, or even better, a reputable, neutral source that either affirms or denies Herr Potrek's account. --Irongaard 20:01, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I think that it is useful to have Potrek's account quoted with an explanation that it was part of Joseph Goebbels Nazi propaganda and so may be/is tainted. My reasoning is that it turns up in books that may not be directly no-nazi. For example a source was recently given on the Allied war crimes page (Talk:Allied war crimes#Reverted: 13:42, 14 March 2006 Andreas1968:
I [PBS] am not altogether sure if all the sources you have given meet the criteria of reliable and reputable sources. For example the extract [from The Struggle for Europe] by William I. Hitchcock:
  • It has at least one distortion and one factual error in it regarding Dresden. "Dresden. This ancient capital of Saxony, once called the Florence of the Elbe for its magnificent baroque architecture, possessed little heavy industry. Following an assault by some eight hundred RAF bombers and 311 American B-17s, the city was swallowed by fire, and over 50,000 people were incinerated". No it did not possess heavy industry but it did possess light industry which in 1944, the German Army High Command's Weapons Office listed 127 medium-to-large factories and workshops which supplied the army with materiel (Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945. By Frederick Taylor, page 169). The number killed is at the high end of the range given by other respectable historians, who have specialised in the attack. If this was a reliable and reputable source one would expect him to note the Allied bombing assessments and to list the range of figures on the death toll which other respectable historians who have specialised in the raids have come up with.
  • "Russian soldiers were urged on by their commanders to behave as brutally as possible." If they had there would not have been a German alive east of the Elbe. The Zhukov quote which follows his assertion does not say what he says it says. As Beevor points out in Berlin the downfall on Page 409 "in Berlin the feelings of the civilian population were very mixed. While embittered by the looting and rape, they were also astonished and grateful for the Red Army's major efforts to feed them".
  • "Some women's bodies were found raped, mutilated, and nailed to barn doors." It may have happened, but this sounds like the crucified Canadian soldier story of World War I. (The crucified Canadian has been studied by several historians and the general conclusion is that it can not be positively verified to credible first hand reports (This is not to say that it did not happen, just that the rumours that it did conveniently dovetailed into Allied propaganda whether the incident was true or not). Niall Ferguson: Pity of War James Hayward:Myths and Legends of the First World War). In the same way if one looks at the Nemmersdorf article it is possible that reports of the atrocity was tainted by Nazi propaganda. Any respectable historian ought to mention this while laying out the known facts [1]
Of the author himself, his biography is available with a review of the book "The Struggle for Europe" from the publisher (Random House) along with some glowing review quotes.[2].
This article was very useful in the above discussion. --PBS 16:00, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

I like the "logic" about Karl Potrek, here: He's unreliable because the Neo-Nazis (who came after him) mention him.

Makes perfect sense.Johan77 21:57, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Still disputed text

The "disputed" flag put up by Ghirla may surprise, but I also have a few problems with the article:

1) if it is about "Mayakovskoye", it should perhaps add something about the village as it is now. How many inhabitants, in what rayon (Gusev), or so. In view of the fact that some German sources claim 663 victims, a population figure may be important. But I cannot find Majakovskoe in the latest census, which means it has fewer than 3000 inhabitants. According to the census of 2004, the total rural population of Gusev rayon was 8994. As I guess that population figures for villages are comparable to German times, 663 sounds like "a lot". More info:Pictures of the Lutheran church, now a cultural centre: [[ (and 11)

2) before claiming a war crime committed by the Red Army, two things MUST be remembered: a) when attacking the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany declared it would not follow the Geneva convention

Where did you get this from? I qualify this as BS. Clarify your source.-- 21:56, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
This is in fact a well-documented fact: [[3]] "An official justification used by the Germans for this policy was the fact that the Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva convention; this was not legally justifiable however as under article 82 of the Geneva Convention (1929), signatory countries had to give POWs of all signatory and non-signatory countries the rights assigned by the convention." Funny, the last change to that passage was made by ...
User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 01:09, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I made the last change to that POWs section (POWs: Revision as of 10:41, 30 May 2006) but only to add the correct convention and article (Geneva Convention (1929)#Execution of the convention). I am not at all sure that the rest of the paragraph is correct. Otherwise the British (or as it is called in the article Canadia) chains incident needs further explaining. It may well be that after the war German none compliance with GC1929 was considered to be a war crime, but I do not know if they Germany ever declared that they would not follow the Geneva conventions regarding POWs on the Eastern Front, or if there is a legal clause they could have used to do this. A reference to the German statment would be nice to have, and more analysis of the British chains position + the arguments at Nuremberg Trials, would shed some light on the legality of such a move. --PBS 01:47, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
An Order from the German Army Supreme Command on 16th June 1941 concerning the exploitation of occupied Soviet territory and its inhabitants (all completely counter to all international law on warfare). Another well-known order, very similar, (and known to have been marked "secret") on September 8th expressly contained these words:
"General provisions on the treatment of Soviet POWs. Bolshevism is a deadly enemy of National Socialist Germany. For the first time the German soldier is facing an enemy, who has not just received military training, but is indoctrinated in the spirit of Bolshevism. Struggle against National Socialism is in his flesh and blood. He wages this struggle using all means: sabotage, subversive propaganda, arson, murder. Therefore the Bolshevik soldier has lost the privilege to be treated as a genuine soldier according to the Geneva Convention." To follow this, there is a letter of Admiral Canaris to General Reinecke (15/9/1941) protesting the treatment of POWs by the latter in which Canaris concedes "The Geneva Convention for the treatment of prisoners of war is not binding in the relationship between Germany and the U.S.S.R." (the letter turned up at Nuremberg).
Nothing directly from Hitler, you'd say. Yes, but. The following is in German, but rather interesting, since it has Hitler sya (on the same 16th of June) "let us not tell the whole world about our intentions, as long as we do all we are able to do":[4] Interestingly, it also shows Hitler hard at work to try to minimise and sabotize every Soviet attempt at recognizing international bodies like the Red Cross. Sounds like the argument about "they haven't signed properly, so we can do what we want" came from him? Most German historians seem to believe that Hitler was pushing his military staff towards non-application of the Geneva convention since the planning of Barbarossa in 1940.
There also seems to have been a directive from German Supreme Command which was no longer marked "secret". October 8th, 1941. Now my source is Ukrainian, however: [5]
User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 14:22, 31 May 2006 (UTC)

- note that when killing [| 111 innocent civilians in Belgian Vinkt in may 1940], the German Army had aleady dispensed with the Geneva Convention b) the notorious Commissar Befehl in fact meant that the German Army no longer obeyed an even more ancient European custom of taking prisoners of war. My point here: it could be argued that in this war, the Red Army could not commit war crimes - since the opponent had abrogated all legality. Either this contention must be an article on its own, or at any mention of such war crimes links must be added to articles on these two points. No need to always bring up German atrocities (which were "normal" in German eyes precisely because the Geneva convention did not apply) - two wrongs do not make a right. But the legal point is important.

3) the text at least suggests that Karl Protek was an eye witness in some sense. He was NOT. See the [| German discussion]. Worse, even, the Bernhardt Fisch source makes it clear that what Protek wrote down, cannot have been an eye witness report. Some of the Fisch source is summarized at [| Junge Freiheit]. Oh, Junge Freiheit is a right-wing publication, by the way.

4) in fact, the English text has one advantage (as far as neutrality is concerned) over the Dutch, German and Esperanto versions: it still mentions the 50 French POWs. These have quietly disappeared from right-wing German texts about the massacre. Why? Because if there was one thing the Red Army tried to avoid, it was killing non-Germans - besides, parading liberated Western soldiers was very good propaganda. Claiming French POWs were deliberately killed by the Soviets looks so outrageous to the well-informed, that it in itself suggests the counter-claim that all of this was set-up by Goebbels. At least, it should be made clear that this French POW thing was part of the Wochenschau propaganda. Though I suppose anyone who is dead convinced the "Russians did it, and that is all to it" may prefer to simply delete them.

5) the Russian perspective is missing of course. Fisch suggests that the short-lived German retreat from Nemmersdorf was deliberate - a sort of trap. Was all this an improved version of Gleiwitz? In any case, there were far more than 26 Russian soldiers killed in this place: [| judging from the frequency of October 1944 in this list] I accidentally found one of them (Stepan Urybin) a second time: [[6]] 30 - much older than the other guys there, in fact. No, not very encyclopaedic, but it does remind you what a gift life is. User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 13:14, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Other errors

1. Either the link is wrong, or Die Zeit should not be called a Social democratic paper. On the other hand, since the Grafin according to her own article lived in the South of East Prussia, the part that was to become Polish, why bother? As Fisch says something completely different - wa should delete the entire passage - she is just being quoted because she was not a right-winger in politics.

2. According to what I could read about Fisch's thesis, he does not say that it "was performed under the command of Goebbels". He suggests that the thing was SET UP by Goebbels. Which is something completely different. "performed under the command of Goebbels" will even suggest to some people that is claimed that Goebbels was actually in the neighbourhood passing on orders. That obviously did not happen.

It is a bit more complicated, I have since found out - having to bite my tongue while going through a lot of web text from German extreme-rightwingers - that there has been a ZDF tv programme claiming it was all fabrication. Unfortunately, these websites probably do not give all the reasons why ZDF claimed that. Two reasons I did find were: neither Goebbels' propaganda abteilung (which was in control of the area until January 1945) nor the Bund der vertriebene ever tried to identify the victims, that is PUT ACTUAL NAMES on the faces in the pictures. And ZDF found two witnesses (one old lady who actually lived through the event in Nemmersdorf) who testified there had been no rapes. Well, hardly any spectacular points - as it was already in the Fisch book.
The extreme-right websites also mention a convoy of "refugees" passing close to Nemmersdorf at the time the Russians were evicted. This may actually answer a number of sticky problems: the difefrence between 26 (Fisch) and 660, eg. It is obvious that the high number includes many of these refugees killed in crossfire. Not everyone in the convoy was a refugee however: surprise, surprise, the 50 dead French POWs were in that convoy. (Note: I am fairly sure that transporting POWs through a dangerous area is contrary to the Geneva Convention).--pgp 21:03, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy --pgp 16:02, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

More information

АХТЯМОВ Сабир Ахтямович became a hero of the Soviet Union destroyning a number of German tanks at Nemmersdorf: User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy --pgp 15:50, 19 May 2006 (UTC)


The article states: Today the name "Nemmersdorf" is to many Germans, a symbol of.... But the German Wiki uses the Russian name, too. I understand that after IIWW sovereignity of the village change, and it is now inhabited by Russians and has a new name. So wouldn't it make more sence to move most of the material to massacre of Nemmersdorf?--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 15:38, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

As you can read in the first part, it is not the first time someone suggests this. The problem is that the German Wikipedia also puts this at Majakowskoje. It is something the Germans are accustomed to: a whole article about a place under its new name which in fact only mentions events happening at the place under its old, German name. I agree it is a bit awkward - the only interesting thing I could find about Mayakovskoye on the Web is this picture of a Lutheran church. On the other hand, what is so particular about this place is how opinion about what happened there has switched long AFTER it became Mayakovskoye. It would also feel a bit strange if the English version uses "Nemmersdorf", but all the others use the Russian name (come to think of it, I really need to work on the Dutch version).
If you do not like the "German" approach, do not cut and paste please, because that has already created problems in the past. User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 17:59, 26 May 2006 (UTC)


Just after I made some changes to make the article more encyclopaedic, thinking especially about what Germans would find objective (deleting one of the references to Goebbels' propaganda, clarifying that the 10 not in the shelter were also executed, ...) someone put up a POV flag. Meaning of course that the Fisch book and the ZDF broadcast are Russian-Polish propaganda.

Looking for a link between Clausthal (Ziwec is a computer publication there) and Nemmersdorf, I found this:

Interesting passages: "Im Durchschnitt ist mehr als jeder dritte deutsche Soldat in sowjetischer Gefangenschaft umgekommen, schätzungsweise rund zwei Millionen." Interesting statistic - what about Soviet POWs in Germany?

But what I found most interesting: "Ich sollte noch Kriegsgefangene für den Abtransport unserer etwa 300 Pferde aus Gumbinnen beschaffen." And some of the POWs were Belgian... "Nach Angaben des ehemaligen Chefs des Stabes der in Ostpreußen eingesetzten 4. Armee, Gen. Major Dethleffsen, vor einem amerikan. Militärgericht in Neu-Ulm wurden in N. auch etwa 50 frz. Kriegsgefangene von sowjet. Soldaten erschossen." You would almost think he was there himself during the 4 hours' occupation. The problem is of course that the Red Army just loved to parade liberated Western POWs - interestingly, the French Normandie-Niemen regiment participated in the October offensive into East Prussia, shooting down 29 German aircraft according to its official history - and of course, these POWs should not have been there at all. Saving horses ... User talk:Pan Gerwazy --pgp 19:28, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Gerda Meczulat and the shelter

This story was of course in the ZDF broadcast. There is even a video on or with Maczulat on the ZDF web page referenced, but I cannot open that. In any case, her statement to ZDF was also discussed in Junge Freiheit, but this time (with Fisch they had been more or less understanding, and praised his hard work) the right-wing publication was very critical, of course. I found a page quoting the article here:

And now, because of these two witness statements (there is also Helmut Hoffmann) the precise duration of the occupation of Nemmersdorf becomes very important. To do what they are supposed to have done, while shelled and strafed by German forces, the Soviet soldiers needed more than a few hours. The Nemmersdorf massacre believers will now claim the Soviet army left only after two days. I thought the fact that the place was no-man's land for a very long time was already accepted and established. The story about the witness who visited Nemmersdorf at 11, I found on a right-wing German web page (with the added text "He must be mistaken about the date"). I will look for it.

Well, I found something. Joachim Reisch was the man who wrote to the Junger Freiheit. "Aufgrund der Schreckensmeldungen sei er am 21. Oktober nach Nemmersdorf geeilt und dort gegen 11 Uhr eingetroffen. Das ist unmöglich, da die Russen erst am 23. Oktober das Dorf verließen. In Reischs Erinnerung waren drei Tage auf einen einzigen geschrumpft." Of course, he found a lot of dead people - but those may have been refugees. They did include the French POWs. (Problem here: how does everybody in this story seem to be able to tell a French POW from a Belgian or British one?) This is in the second part (the ZDF part) of [7]. By the way, German Wikipedia says this: "Am Morgen des 21. Oktobers rollten sowjetische Panzer des 2. Bataillons der 25. Panzerbrigade aus Richtung Gumbinnen an. Um 7.30 Uhr dieses Tages war das Massaker bereits vorbei. Am 23. Oktober erobern Teile der deutschen 5. Panzerdivision den Ort zurück. Berichte der deutschen Behörden sprachen anfänglich von 26 Toten in Nemmersdorf." User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 15:14, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, Reisch's text (it does not really look like a letter, very nicely written) was in the other text already!!! under the heading Ostpreußen:
"In den frühen Morgenstunden des 21. Oktober erkannte er in dichtem Nebel das Wiehern unserer Stute Tilly und fand uns in einer Scheune einige Kilometer weiter. Er berichtete, daß eine sowjetische Panzerspitze bis nach Nemmersdorf vorgedrungen wäre und ein furchtbares Blutbad angerichtet hätte. Durch einen deutschen Gegenstoß wäre die Front wieder bereinigt und die Sowjets hinter den Romintefluß zurückgedrängt. Husarenberg mußte also auch wieder frei sein.
Unverzüglich machten wir uns gegen 11 Uhr mit seinem Militärfahrzeug auf den Weg. Die Angerapp-Brücke war zersprengt, und zwischen den Brückenteilen schwebte ein sowjetischer T 34-Panzer. Auf den umliegenden Feldern lagen reihenweise Tote, Kinder wie Greise, Mädchen und Frauen geschändet und verstümmelt bis zur Unkenntlichkeit."
Unfortunately, the link there to the JF article, [8] no longer exists. So, people will have to wade through all this stuff to find out that he really meant and knew it was 11 am on the 21st ... Is there a better way to do this? User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 15:38, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
I found it in the archive of Junge Freiheit:
BY the way, 11 am is when this guy got there. His father knew about it before. That makes the 7.30 am time given in the German wikipedia article plausible. The whole point is that the Soviet soldiers at Nemmersdorf had precious little else to do than stay alive. Which many of them did not. The fact that a Soviet tank was in mid-air between both parts of the bridge suggests that it was the Germans who had the bridge exploded. An important fact when considering the "trap" version. User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 23:43, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

But because most of the web pages who deal with this have a particular slant, it is necessary to be careful. They only mention those things that support their thesis. The Jung Freiheit article I quoted claims Hoffman got it wrong because "Der Vertreibungs-Dokumentation der Bundesregierung ist zu entnehmen, daß die Leichen zunächst bestattet und für die Ärztekommission wieder exhumiert worden waren." Well, too bad the same publication before wrote that Fisch was sure there had been no burials.User_talk:Pan_Gerwazy--pgp 19:00, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

What About Photographic Evidence?

I hate to interrupt the picnic of countering "Nazi propganda" (over 60 years after the Nazis have disappeared as a political power), but wasn't there photographic evidence of attrocities at Nemmersdorf?

Why not include these, and include ALL information - including the specifics of German claims - in the article?

Is it better to dictate what the truth is, or isn't it better to give people information, and let them figure it out for themselves?Johan77 21:09, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

1) The "photographic evidence" shows corpses whose wounds appear to be more likely from artillery shelling [the most frequent cause of death in WW II] than from the conduct of atrocities. The area being both a 'no-mans' land AND the cite of intense combat, it is completely unsurprising that civilians (either locals or refugees) were killed by some of what must have been thousands of rounds of artillery fire in the area, along with strafing, bombs, high-explosive tank fire, etc. I am unaware of any forensic study of the photos that proves that the wounds on the bodies were caused by anything other than the cruel hand of war itself;

2) There are NO photos of crucified women, babies with their brain splattered on walls, or disembowelled old men - ALL of which are cited in the Nazi propaganda of the time, and certainly you would expect an opportunist like Goebbels to photograph these and if them wide distribution if they -had- happened;

3) There are numerous sites which provide plenty of Nazi propaganda claims, along with books on same. Why should the author recapitulate these here? That's the same as saying that all neo-nazi (who HAVEN'T "disappeared as a political power", sport) sites should publish lists of Nazi atrocities and Allied propaganda against Nazi Germany;

4) Who's dictating "what the truth is"? Goebbels tried to do that, but the current author is simply indicating that current scholarship is calling into question previously held -beliefs- about the truth regarding what happened at Nemmersdorf, and it appears that that scholarship is calling Nazi propagandists a bunch of liars. 23:01, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Germany vs. The Soviet Union - The Ridiculous Fight Over Who Was Right

I don't understand this nonsense.

Are we trying to provide all available information about what might have happened at Nemmersdorf?

Or are we in some stupid contest to prove that one side or the other was right (over 60 years after the war)?

Why don't you all just forget about condemning the Nazis, and stick to making the article informative?Johan77 21:14, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

The problem with Mayakovskye is precisely that the discussion is and has been for some time now about how much was staged. There is no doubt that people were killed there (23 and we still call it a massacre, by the way). There is no doubt that a lot was faked. If you want to put a picture here which ZDF claims was staged, go ahead - but be prepared for some stormy argument.
By the way, as so often happens, neither of the two versions put forward in 1944-1945 was "right". And I wonder whether the relatives of those who died fleeing from East Prussia will find the whole discussion ridiculous. --Pan Gerwazy 11:56, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

This version

I'm highly skeptical about the current version of the Nemmersdorf entry. The savage slaughter of the Germans of Nemmersdorf in October 1944 is attested to by eyewitness reports collected in Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe, edited by Theodor Schieder, and affirmed by no less liberal personage than Marion Dönhoff, long publisher of Die Zeit and herself a native of East Prussia.

Sca 00:00, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

All of this has already been addressed. Marion Dönhoff's comment just proves how potent Goebbels' propaganda was. Bernhard Fisch was also an East Prussian and as a soldier was at the scene before the neutral journalists were (they came many days later). The testimony of Joachim Reisch is vital: it gives the Russians at the very most four hours of presence there. There were a lot of people killed - in crossfire before the bridge. A lot of the responsibility is with German authorities there: all during the night, retreating German soldiers were giving priority over the refugess to cross the bridge. And of course, there was Koch who did not allow evacuation until the very last moment. Note by the way, that the link to the ZDF programme still works. Hm, why is all this old info still being "pushed" when modern GERMAN historians have a totally different view? Russians killing French prisoners of war? You must be joking: the Soviet Army simply loved to parade liberated Westerners. Additionally, the units on this front knew that some of the pilots in the Soviet Air Force sustaining the offensive were ... French. They had to be warned, because when downed on the Russian side, French pilots were in big trouble: although obviously not dressed as German soldiers, they spoke very bad Russian. If you know French, here is one link: Search for the word "Prusse" In other words, the claim, repeated by Dönhoff by the way, about the French prisoners of war is crazy, and even harms the story (to the point that they were frequently left out later). Why did Goebbels invent it? Because he knew that French pilots had been involved, and he wanted to create dissension?--Pan Gerwazy 00:56, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm. Give me your reasoned, balanced critique of the following passage, please:
Early in October, the Soviets launched an offensive that breached the Memelland frontier and penetrated East Prussia south of Gumbinnen (now Gusev). The village of Nemmersdorf was taken on Oct. 20 and Goldap on Oct. 23. The Wehrmacht mounted a counteroffensive and managed to repulse the Soviets from most of the German territory by early November. When the Germans returned to Nemmersdorf they found widespread evidence of Soviet atrocities in this their first incursion into Germany. Many civilians, and about 50 French POWs, had been summarily shot. Others had been killed by blows with shovels or gun butts. An eyewitness report filed by one Karl Potrek of Königsberg states, in part:
... down the road stood a cart, to which four naked women were nailed through their heads in a cruciform position. ... parallel to the road stood a barn, and to each of its two doors a naked woman was nailed through the hands in a crucified posture. In the dwellings we found a total of 72 women ... children and one old man ... all dead. ... some babies had their heads bashed in.
The Germans organized a neutral medical commission, which subsequently reported that all the dead females, who ranged in age from 8 to 84, had been raped. However, an attempt by the regime to make an international incident of the Nemmersdorf massacre failed, due to wartime psychology and the opprobrium the Nazis had brought upon Germany by mass atrocities in Poland and the Soviet Union. Accounts of the massacre were dismissed as propaganda, photos as fakes. Even the German civilian population at first was skeptical. Countess Dönhoff, who lived in the village of Quittainen (now Kwitany) in western East Prussia, near Preussisch Holland (now Paslek), wrote:
In those years one was so accustomed to everything that was officially published or reported being lies that at first I took the pictures from Nemmersdorf to be falsified. Later, however, it turned out that that was not the case. Naked women were in fact nailed in a crucified position to barn doors, and 12-year-old girls were raped.
Reports of such savage and sadistic conduct by Soviet troops, and later the Polish Militia, in eastern Germany are widespread in accounts of the Red Army advance and the Soviet-Polish occupation. They might be dismissed as Nazi propaganda or hysterical anti-Communism were they not so numerous and carefully documented.
After the war, the West German government established a Ministry for Expellees, Refugees and War Victims. This agency appointed a committee of scholars, headed by Dr. Theodore Schieder of the University of Cologne, to prepare a study of the events. In the early ’50s the committee collected hundreds of written eyewitness accounts from survivors and published them, along with an explanatory narrative, as the multi-volume Dokumentation der Vertreibung der Deutschen aus Ost-Mitteleuropa, and in an abridged, three-volume English version, Documents on the Expulsion of the Germans from Eastern-Central Europe.
These eyewitness accounts are so full of individual detail and personal observation, yet so wholly in agreement as to general conditions, that there seems little doubt about their essential authenticity.
Moreover, the author of one of the few English-language works on the subject, Alfred M. de Zayas, states that he confirmed many of the accounts through personal interviews and correspondence with survivors in the 1970s. Thirdly, contemporary Western press reports, however sketchy, allude to plunder, rape, beatings and murder of the German expellees.
In the fall of 1944, at the time of the Soviet advance, Red Army soldiers were being inculcated with hate propaganda written by Ilya Ehrenburg. Here are some examples:
Germany is a witch ... We are in Germany. German towns are burning, I am happy. ... Germany, you can now whirl around in circles, and burn, and howl in your deathly agony; the hour of revenge has struck! Kill. Nothing in Germany is guiltless, neither the living nor the yet unborn. Follow the words of Comrade Stalin and crush forever the fascist beast.... Break the racial pride of the German woman. Take her as your legitimate booty.
Rape initially was semi-official Red Army policy. Alexander Werth notes that the rapes “no doubt included many genuine atrocities,” and recounts this conversation with an unnamed Soviet major:
The approach was usually very simple. Any of our chaps simply had to say, “Frau, komm,” and she knew what was expected of her.... Our fellows ... often raped old women of sixty, or seventy or even eighty....
Sca 23:45, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
we have had this very same discussion here not once, but many times. Karl Piotrek was on the scene many days later. He was not a witness as is claimed by the neo-nazi proponents later. We are dealing with Nemmersdorf here, not with what happened months later, after Russian soldiers had been exposed not only to Ehrenburg, but also to the German propaganda about what had supposedly happened at Nemmersdorf. Yes, they listened to German radio as well. That is the other side of the "self-fulfilling prophesy" - the same thing happened to the Serbs in Kosovo. Indeed, the 1945 Russian conquest of East Prussia was a bloody affair. But still minor when compared to what had happened in Poland and the Soviet Union.
You ask me to explain why most West German people thought that way about Nemmersdorf until the seventies. That too is in the article: the propaganda was very potent. (And people knew what had happened from february 1945 on.) So, now explain to me why you doubt the veracity of recent accounts by German historians and by ZDF. Read the account by the real eye witness who saw the carnage at the bridge before it was turned into an exhibition and read it carefully so you will see there is no way he was mistaken about the date when he was at the bridge for the second time - because those who continue to believe the Goebbels propaganda version are now claiming he must have arrived at least one day later - because they now realize that it was physically impossible for the Soviet Army to do all that in the course of four hours while they were under heavy counter-attack from German artillery across the bridge and from the German air force.--Pan Gerwazy 11:27, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

I'll look into this matter further as I have time. I have an open mind. Sca 22:31, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

Well, I spent some time online, and found indeed much POV froth but few reliable, independent, documented sources. (BTW, one thing I found is that part of what I wrote in a research paper two decades ago — offered for your critique above — has found its way to various sites online, apparently via Wiki or Wikipedians.) It would be good if some independent source, such as perhaps a Swedish newspaper report on the "neutral" medical commission, could be found to corroborate the details.
I had not been aware until now that some sources were claiming deaths of 600 or more at Nemmersdorf. I only knew that the Soviets were reliably reported to have slaughtered a number of civilians there, after reportedly raping all females.
I'm sure the Goebbelsian propaganda machine made the most of this incident, and I'm willing to accept that it may have been exaggerated, perhaps vastly so. OTOH I don't think any attempt to wholly discount Nemmersdorf as an atrocity will stand. I have enormous respect for Marion Dönhoff, who detested the Nazis from the earliest days of the Third Reich, and who was a brilliant and accomplished journalist. I can't imagine that she would have confirmed the Nemmersdorf atrocity without good reason.
Anyhow, 23 or 26 (or whatever the number was) murders constitute an atrocity, however modest in scale for the times. And from what I've read (in German) about the ZDF report and Bernhard Fisch's book, these did occur. Further, the whole history of Soviet revenge against the German population during the last months of the war and thereafter is well documented and irrefutable, though debate remains about the total number of victims.
One thing I don't like about the current entry is the assertion that "most of the massacre was actually set up under the command of Goebbels." What was set up by Goebbels et al. was the presentation of the massacre in German media; he was propaganda minister. Again, it would be interesting to know what sort of reports appeared in neutral media at the time.
Sca 23:52, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

Photographic Evidence And Sources That Seem to Verify German Claims

There is photographic evidence, and are plenty of testimonials from German civilians to document Soviet attrocities and excesses.

There are apparently some good books out there, giving documentation and photographic evidence:

Here are some images

Why didn't anyone included these in the article?

.Johan77 07:35, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

The article mentions the Goebbels version and the impact it had even much later and even on left-leaning writers and politicians. Please stick to the facts as they are now known: all this was set up two days later (they even exhumed the corpses) - as for the last photograph, there is a witness who expressly stated that the women's clothes were pulled up. All this has been discussed a lot of times. Have a look at the German discussion page. I quote "Wenn du mit vollständiger die ganzen "Augenzeugenberichte" meinst, dann war da zwar mehr Text, aber sonst auch nichts. Zu den Bildern: Sehr aussagekräftig. Ein paar zweifellos grausam ermordete Menschen, dann steht noch "Nemmersdorf" drauf. Die Quellen eher zweifelhaft, kein Beweis dafür, dass die Bilder wirklich aus Nemmersdorf sind.". Of course, it is beyond almost any doubt that people died in front of the bridge when the Soviet army tried to capture it. The blame for that remains with both parties, since the German command did not allow any refugees to cross during the night. The result was that the refugees were effectively used as a shield by the German army - and the Soviet army during those fateful morning hours "merely" showed that they would not tolerate that. On the other hand it has recently been suggested (and one of the German historians hinted at it) that both the "shielding" and the earlier spiking of the German guns in front of Nemmersdorf were done deliberately by German army command - both to lure the Soviet army into a trap (after all, Nemmersdorf 1944 WAS one of the last German victories on the Eastern front) and to blame them afterwards for the civilian casualties. After all, that is what happened at Gumbinnen 1914 and what, according to German command, the Belgians did at Vinkt in 1940 (so, the "technology" for pulling this sort of thing was known). However, there is no proof that that happened at Nemmersdorf 1944. What is sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander: if you think even more attention should be given to something unproven, then the other unproven assertion ("the Germans did it"!) must also get more attention.
There is nothing in these pictures that proves these people were killed in the village, and not in front of the bridge. In fact, the two modern German historians (and the ZDF) who investigated Nemmersdorf came to the conclusion that there is no evidence of random hostage taking and rape at Nemmersdorf in 1944. 10 people were killed in the village under unknown circumstances. Now compare that to Vinkt 1940, an event buried in Belgian history books - even though the perpetrators were not nazis, and it does not qualify as a Hitlerian crime.--Pan Gerwazy 10:04, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Blah blah blah.
Look, the article doesn't include the photographs, and doesn't include Alfred-Maurice de Zayas as ::a reference - he is apparently an authority on the subject.
Why? (I think we all know the answer).Johan77 17:42, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps because De Zayas is an activist, who spoke about "Heimatrecht" in Nurnberg at the Treffen der Schlezier (on July 3rd, 2005? And because what he wrote about Nemmersdorf comes straight from the report by the SS man Karl Potrek who was not a witness? --Pan Gerwazy 21:10, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
What you write is at odds with what De Zayas has written:

Karl Potrek, a civilian from the capital city of Königsberg, had been recruited into the Volksturm and hurriedly sent as reinforcement to the area of Gumbinnen and Nemmersdorf. He later reported:

At the edge of town, on the left side of the road, stands the large inn 'Weisser Krug' ... In the farmyard further down the road stood a cart, to which four naked women were nailed through their hands in a cruciform position. Behind the Weisser Krug towards Gumbinnen is a square with a monument to the Unknown Soldier. Beyond is another large inn, 'Roter Krug'. Near it, parallel to the road, stood a barn and to each of its two doors a naked woman was nailed through the hands, in a crucified posture. Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, 1944-1950 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994), p. 42.

According to this, Potrek was an eyewitness, and was Volksturm (not SS).
How did you establish that Potrek wasn't a witness, and was SS?
Also, what do you mean by "activist"?Johan77 23:07, 14 December 2006 (UTC)
From the German discussion page, by an administrator who had to block the page because certain people kept trying to get in the "information" that you want to put in:

"Es ist eine Frechheit, dass du mit diesen Quellen daherkommst und dir einbildest, mit dem zusammengesammelten Geschwafel von Leuten, die allesamt nicht einmal persönlich dabei waren (und das erwiesenermaßen), beweisen zu können, dass irgendetwas geschehen ist. Nein, eben nicht. Es soll von Soldaten der Roten Armee begangen worden sein, das wurde jedoch nie erwiesen. Genauso wahrscheinlich ist, dass die SS dafür verantwortlich ist. Wie im Artikel bereits steht, war Karl Potrek nicht in Nemmersdorf und die anderen Soldaten ebenfalls nicht, zumindest nicht zum Zeitpunkt des Massakers. Deine "Quellen" sind also ganz einfach unnütze Propaganda. Wenn du Lust hast, diese im Netz zu verteilen, bist du hier falsch. Denn um eine "Verbesserung" geht es dir nicht. Gruß, Budissin - Disc 08:10, 13. Feb 2006 (CET)"

Read the article: Potrek (Ok, not SS, that used to be in the article, but was probably

wrong) could not have been at Nemmersdorf during the two days after the day the Soviets came and went. It was no man's land. However, there is information about an SS group there during those two days. Beacuse of chaos on German railways, the "neutral" (Swiss and Norwegian) journalists came even later. The most important sentence in Frisch's book is: "Außerdem seien Obduktionen unterblieben, so daß man nicht in jedem Falle feststellen konnte, welcher Tote etwa während Kampfhandlungen umgekommen war." (you can find it here: [9]). ZDF found the only real witness. Her name is in the article.

As for calling De Zayas an activist (Volkerrechtler he is called by his side) I have given one of the reasons: serious historians do not go and speak at rallies held by people who still do not recognize the 1945 borders (Stalin's border, he called it). The same Zayas in 2005 still claimed two million dead Germans as a result of that new border (most historians now believe it is 500,000 or less). The same Zayas claims Mers el Kebir and Monte Cassino as war crimes - and puts them on the same scale as Babi Yar and Dresden. Mers el Kebir a war crime? A serious historian would know what all historians now know: the attack was prompted by a telegram from Darlan (intercepted by the British) that help was on the way. And the first two salvos were not intended to hit anything. But there is a link with Nemmersdorf, of course. To quote you: "I think we all know the answer". --Pan Gerwazy 12:52, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

What exactly is "his side"? this is not some conspiracy, ASSUME GOOD FAITH. perhaps someone could translate the German for people who don't know the language? as for Mers el Kebir, when you fire on your friend/ally what else is it but an atrocity? would you not take offense if your best friend tried to shoot you? as for Monte Cassino, it was an atrocity in that priceless historical property was destroyed, and not just bombed, obliterated so that there was nothing left, it was overkill. there are different types of atrocities.

--Jadger 13:25, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

If speaking at rallies makes someone unquotable as a source - or unusable as a resource - then Ellie Wiesel, or Goldhagen, shouldn't be quoted or used as a resource for the Holocaust. Right?
If someone doesn't recognize the validity of something Stalin did, that doesn't disqualify them as a historian.
If De Zayas claims something that other historians disagree with, that doesn't prove that he's wrong - there are examples of main stream historians being proven wrong. Right?
Also, lets cut out pretentious stuff - neither of us were at Nemmersdorf, so we don't know what happened there, back in 1945. Right?
Deciding that De Zayas shouldn't be in the article, because his point of view is different form your own - or you favorite historian's - that's activism: Your trying to make a decision for the rest of us, that we might prefer to make for ourselves.

--Johan77 21:08, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

a source being POV is allowed, what is required of a source is that it is reliable, which De Zayas is. thus, it should be included.
--Jadger 01:01, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

The credibility of Bernard Fisch

According to Junge Freiheit, Fisch is not a historian, and is known as a Russian and Soviet apologist, even having been a teacher of Russian language. These facts should be easily verifiable. The POV of the source is of tantamount importance when the source's contribution mostly amounts to inferences or speculation rather than verifiable facts, as is the case with Fisch. 21:52, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Article reads like an editorial

This article doesn't look like a piece about the massacre. From the start, it looks like a sloppy refutation of facts that the reader would have been previously exposed to.

1) The 'traditional' view of the events is never clearly presented, only attacked as 'nazi propaganda'. Whether to defend it or disprove it, a section - the very first - presenting the view is mandatory. After all, the article isn't called 'Criticism of the nazi version of the events at Nemmersdorf'.

2) Through the whole article, there is constant abuse of terms like 'nazi propaganda' and default assumption that everything the nazis complained of was at best a lie, at worts - often - of their own doing. This is no way to write anything. If one were to insert - as is only fair - a 'citation needed' every time a debatable accusation is made toward the german government, or the nazis' intentions are assumed without evidence, the article would become unreadable.

3) The 'recent' views that the nazis may have propiciated the events and then exagerated their peoportions are simple that, views. They are not the 'mainstream' view. Of course they present some evidence. So do Holocaust deniers. In a matter like this, they should be mentioned, and even exposed in detail - but not, that's for sure, as 'the new and better view that has emerged'. However, even in this talk page, every single fact they claim is taken as true.

4) From reading this article, one might even get the idea that it was the germans themselves who massacred the civilians. No source makes that claim, and yet it comes through, exposing the gross twist of mind that has taen place - what matters in no longer to honour the dead and condemn the savagery that killed them, but to be self-righteous and cry it was all about Goebbels's 'propaganda'.

Due to the poor presentation of the matter, anyone reading this article without previous knowledge of the facts will get the message: 'Nemmersdorf? Oh that was when the nazis shelled a russian village, killed everyone and then said the russians had done it'. 21:50, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

In you entry

In your entry on Nemmersdorf it says "new sources became available and the dominating view among scholars became that most of the massacre was actually set up under the command of Goebbels". That is not true. The Nemmersdorf massacre has gone down in history as a Red Army atrocity. The Red Army's atrocities as they entered western Europe at Gumbinnen and elsewhere are a matter of no dispute, except apparently at wikipedia. Are you also contesting the mass rape and murder by the Red Army in the rest of eastern Germany? This is a serious question. Please address this question also in your response to my letter. Because, in addition to saying Nemmersdorf is propaganda, you mention nothing of the other mass atrocities committed by the Red Army in Germany, leaving the reader to believe the Red Army did nothing wrong.

Your article says the Nemmersdorf massacre is Nazi propaganda and this propaganda was repeated by Die Zeit editor, Marion Gräfin Dönhoff. Poles are not known for being German friendly. Mr. Jamkowski is the Deputy Chief Editor of National Geographic Polish edition. Are you saying he is repeating Nazi propaganda also?

I edited this article a couple of years ago putting the blame where it properly belongs, but one of your editors changed it back. This is propaganda at its worst. Your encyclopedia should reflect what is common knowledge and not the biased views of one or two editors. Pgg804 05:07, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Marcin Jamkowski

In his article (National Geographic, February 2005) on the sinking of the German luxury liner Steuben by the Soviets in 1945, the Polish author Marcin Jamkowski at one point says "despite what the Nazis did in my country, I had tears in my eyes as I listened". Later in his article Jamkowski says "German residents knew all too well what an encounter with the incoming Soviet army could mean, having heard the story of Nemmersdorf, a village in East Prussia overrun by the Soviets the previous autumn. There the Red Army had taken bloody revenge for three years of suffering caused by the German invasion of Russia... the soldiers had first raped all women, regardless of age, then had crucified them on doors of barns and houses. Men and children had been clubbed to death, shot, or run over with tanks". 23:01, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Was There Similar Massacre at Goldap?

An old source (Kurt von Tippelskirch: Geschite Des Zweiten Weltkriegs) Part 4 when describing the first Soviet artack to East Prussia gives this quite neutral describtion of the events. "On 22.10.1944 the Russians reached Angerapp river on the village named Nemmensdorf. They threated Gumbinnen from the south and south west. In the middle they captured Goldap on the same day. In the south they captured Filipowo, Suwalki and Augustow, but here their attack could been stopped after the capture of the mentioned towns. General Hossbach´s 4. Army stopped in the last moment the advance of the Red Army units, thanks to the reserves transported to the Angerapp river from Königsberg. The counter attacks made on 27.10.1944 was succesful and the Russians were throwed back. After regrouping the 4th Army recaptured Goldap on 02.11.1944. On the recaptured area, which were not evacuted from civilian population by order of Erich Koch, the East Prussian Gauleiter, despite of continous requests made by the German military authorities, the German soldiers saw by their own eyes the results of behaving of the Russians against the civilian population. The saw raped, sripped and tortured naked woman, shot men and olders, murdered French prisoners of war who had tried to give some protection for the German women with their own bodies. This was the foretaste of events which was going to happen in the areas located east of Elbe." It seems very hard for some persons here in Wikipedia to understand that events like the murdering of civilian population by the Russians in East Germany in 1944 - 1945. The raping have been a historical weapon mainly used by the Russians for centuries as the war against the women and children. If someone is interested to see their behavings against civilian population in some villages there are many photographs published in Finnish Wikipedia of the partisan activity against the civilian population. For those with weak nerves those pictures may bee too much to see how their allies, the Russians, behaved in 1944. No wonder that every partisan where ever posible was hunted down and "made cold" by the hunting Finnish troops. When looking the hate in the Finnish soldier´s eyes, who carried an raped and killed 13 year old girl, then understand why the Russian partisans failed in their operations behind the Finnish front. Why it took more than fifty years for the Russians to confess the cold blooded murder of the Polish officers in Katyn. As late as in 1968 the Russians - in the level of academical researcher mouths - claimed in British Purnell´s Histoty of the World War Two, that the Germans were responsible of Katyn massacre. The Russians are clean as angels, the Germans are the bad ones who committed all massacres. Mers el Gebir in July 1940 is also an nasty thing which is not too much described in World War Two history. From British article I have read that when the ultimatum time passed at 5.30 pm and the British Naval Personel had left the French flag ship Admiral Somerville ordered to start firing against the French war ships. There is no mention of the effects of the message sent by Admiral Darlan. The only words used by the French Admiral Gensoul to Darlan´s activities was shortly "Merde". Or in the words of Britsh Naval historian " Meanwhile Admiral Le Luc Chief of the French Naval Staff, acting behalf of Darlan who was not immediately available, had informed Admiral Gensoul by radio that all French naval forces in the Western Mediterranian had been ordered to go his assistance. Malcom G. Saunders say in his text: " Reporting these (French) views to the Admiralty, he (Sommerville) received the reply that in the event of the French refusal it was 'the firm attention of H. M. Government to destroy these ships'.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 21:52, 1 December 2008