This story was written by Russian Cossack Ivan Zhukov who survived in spite of indecent, I would even say sordid acts of the allies right after WWII. And I'm talking about the governments, soldiers were under the orders and should not be hold responsible for intrigues of "professional politicians". Most of the Cossacks repatriated by the allies died in Stalin's camps. As you understand, this "sacrifice" of Cossacks made by countries calling themselves "Free World" is not something they are proud of, therefore you probably never heard of the events described below. It's not in the history textbooks either. That's the reason why history is known as continuation of politics, and sometimes even serves as a substantination of the politics. The shameful deal between Stalin and the allies should not be ignored. We should know the names of our "heroes".Those, who extradicted people to Stalin are as guilty as Stalin himself, because they knew what was going to happen to those people. But somehow when you read history now, it looks like there are two sides, and one is totally bad, while another is a pure manifestation of the Goodness. Well, it's never like that. You just need to look at the facts.


At the end of the Second World War the allies suddenly discovered that many of their German prisoners of war were in fact nothing of the sort. Many of them were Cossacks, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians and Russians. After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, many of these men had willingly donned German uniforms with the objective of once and for all ridding their country of the Communist dictators. Many too had been drafted by the German occupation forces, first al all into labor battalions then into par-military platoons and finally into fully-fledged Wehrmacht units.

The Allies also found that many of the displaced persons who had fallen under their control were also originally from the Soviet and others were the wives and children of Cossacks serving with the German forces. It was the custom of the Cossacks to have their families tagging along wherever they were posted.

At a meeting in Moscow in October 1944, Churchill, Eden readily agreed to Stalin’s demand that the Soviet expatriates should be sent back. They were afraid that if they did otherwise,then the Soviets might be reluctant to hand back British POW’s whom they had liberated from internment camps in eastern Germany.

Sure enough on 31 October, 10,000 prisoners left British ports for Murmansk in northern Russia. This first batch consisted of men who had no violent objection to returning. Only twelve men showed any resistance and it was a simple matter to put them on the ships by force. When they reached Murmansk, an American diplomat reported they were marched off under a heavily armed escort. Sir Geoffrey Wilson, who looked after Foreign Office relations with the USSR, pointed out that the lack of any welcome for the men was quite usual in Russia. “Nor is the armed guard in the least surprising,” he added. Wilson presumably did not know that in actual fact the men were being marched to a nearby camp where they would be ‘processed’ and sentenced to years of hard labor in Siberian concentration camps, regardless of whether they had fought for or been taken prisoner by the Germans. But Sir Geoffrey Wilson’s sense of awareness of and sympathy for any sense of patriotism and nationalism can be gauged by the fact that since 1971 he has been Chairman of the traitorous Race Relations Board, which was set up with the prime objective of destroying these fine sentiments.

The American too held non-German prisoners-of-war at Fort Dix(New Jersey), Winchester(Virginia) and Rupert (Idaho). In November 1944, 10,000 men from the Idaho camp were moved to San Francisco and put on board SS Ural, which sailed for Vladivostock. Out of the 10,000, 70 showed an unwillingness to go, and three attempted suicide. In the end, the three were also put on the Ural after receiving medical treatment.

In February 1945, Churchill and Roosevelt met Stalin at Yalta. An agreement was reached amongst the three that liberated Soviet citizens would be repatriated, although this was kept secret for the next two years. In fact it was only in 1972 that the official records became declassified. In return for the Anglo-American promise, Stalin pledged to hold free elections in liberated Poland as soon as possible. And it was on this basis that future repatriation were carried out: if they were not then Poland would have no democracy. Hindsight tells us, of course, that Stalin no more intended free elections in Poland than did Hitler, but Churchill and Roosevelt were impressed with his sincerity. Both were by this time rather senile.

On 15 February, three British ships-Duchess of Richmond, Moreton Bay and Highland Princess- left Liverpool for Odessa with a total of 7000 Soviet prisoners. Throughout the journey, the prisoners were jumping into the sea any time they cam near land; at Gibraltar and at the Dardanelles.

By now it was obvious that there was going to be trouble in the internment camps if many of the prisoners refused to go. An Anglo-Soviet commission was set up to decide on which of the prisoners were fact Soviet citizen, and which were not. Those who were judged Soviets were sent to a transit camp centered on a small hotel at newlands Corner, near Guildford,Surrey. By coincidence, next door to the hotel lived the Strachey family, whose son John Strachey was to become Minister of War in 1950. John Strachey, both a former communist and a former fascist, held no sympathy for the men. He declared that they were quislings who deserved everything that was coming to them.

The Russians had confidence in the British authorities, who(with the exception of Mr. Strachey) had always appeared sympathetic, because these prisoners too were dispatched from Hull in early 1945. All, that is, except one unfortunate man who hanged himself in a quayside warehouse; such was his desperation. The same thing happened in Liverpool. One man hanged himself at Scarsbrook Camp in Yorkshire before they set off for Liverpool, and another cut his throat at port. At the inquests, the press were ‘advised’not to report the circumstances. When the ship, the Almanzora, reached Odessa, there were salvoes of machine-gun fire as soon as the men had been executed because they “had sold out to the capitalist.”

In May, trouble again broke out on the quayside at Liverpool when 3000 Russians were embarking on the empire Pride. 40 prisoners had to be frog-marched on board by military policemen. One of them smashed his china tea mug and proceeded to slash his own throat with the jagged edges. The Soviet liaison officers insisted that he be put, on board, despite his injuries. A doctor was called to stitch him up, there and then on the quayside. Again on the journey, men leaped overboard, although one or two were picked up by Turkish police launches and returned the Empire Pride. One of them then tried to slash his wrist with a razor blade. When he was unloaded at Odessa, a single pistol shot was heard from behind a warehouse on the quay. Twenty minutes later a covered lorrydrew up. A Canadian interpreter who later examined the warehouse reported fresh chips knocked out of the walls and stains and blotches everywhere.

After the collapse of the Nazi regime in April 1945, the British and American authorities now found it easier to repatriate the Russians direct across the occupation zone boundaries. On 2 June 1945 The Daily Herald reported that 10,000 Russians, mostly women, were passing through the lines every day. A pontoon bridge across the Elbe had to be built to carry them. Many other were just shoved onto east- bound trains without to many formalities.

Many of the liberated Russians POW’s were undoubtedly a nuisance for the British and Americans. At the end of May, so many refugees were pouring into the Anglo-American zones that bridges had to be blown up to stem the flow. Within only two months, more than half the two million Soviet citizens Germany had been repatriated.

In May 1945,200,000 Croat soldiers plus 500,000 civilians, also Croatioans, were handed over to Tito’s army on the Austro-Hungarian frontier. There is no doubt that tens of thousands of these were executed, either by rudimentary murder or after a communist-run show-trial.

But the biggest betrayal was yet to come. In May 18,000 Cossacks under the German General von Pannwitz were tricked into being delivered into Soviet hands. For weeks and weeks they had been assured that they were not going to be handed over, and so they had gullibly agreed to being “transferred to another camp.”Inexplicably,500 German soldiers were handed over with the Cossacks. Pannwitz’s execution was announced in Pravda on 17 January 1947. The ordinary soldiers were sent to Siberia, for a minimum of ten years’ hard labour. Only one or two of the Germans have ever come back.

A different technique was used for the transference of 25,000 more Cossacks under General Domanov. First of all the officers were separated and transported to another camp nearer the border, under the ruse of “attending a conference.” It was here that they were told of their fate. There were many suicides. And when the time came to load up the lorries to take them to the frontier, there were wild scenes. The officers had to be practically beaten senseless by the guards before they could be put on board. The British soldiers beat them with rifle butts, pick-ax handle’s and even bayonets. Even after the convoy moved off, Cossacks were still trying to commit suicide; one jumped out and over a precipice. At the actual hand-over another five slashed their throats with razors.

Meanwhile back at Lienz, there was increasing commotion amongst the families and ordinary soldiers. They had been expecting the officers to return that night. When no one returned, they finally realized the truth; that they had been handed over to the communists and that they too were destined for the same fate. When the day came, the Cossacks held a massive and continuous open-air-religious service. Again they had to be physically man-handled onto the lorries, the reluctant ones being encouraged with blows from truncheons and starting handles. The crowd contained 4000 women and 2500 children, but they toll were thrust onto the transport.

Dozen were seriously injured during the loading, and six Cossacks were suffocated to death in the panic. On the way to the trains that would take them into the hands of the Bolsheviks, many committed suicide. Several including mothers with babies, threw themselves into the turbulent waters of the River Drab. Eventually the Cossacks were loaded into goods wagons with only a bucket of water to drink and another bucket to use as a lavatory. Thirty people were put into each van and the doors locked. After a nine hour journey, many of the Cossacks were found dead on arrival, either through suffocation or through suicide. But even those still alive did not last very long. Machine-gun fire echoed from behind a station building as soon as they were unloaded. The rest were sent to labour camps for ‘re-education’. Survivors of these caps report that more than 7000 Cossacks died of malnutrition and disease in these camps, during the first year alone. It has only been with the publication of The Gulag Archipelago that the true facts about these camps are beginning to come out.

On 17 January 1947, Pravda announced that P.N. Krasnov, A.G. Shkuro, Sultan Klych Girey, S.N. Krasnov, T.I. Domanov Guard detachments” and to carrying out espionage diversionary and terrorist activities against the Soviet Union.” They had been condemned to death and the sentences carried out. Of the six men whose execution was publicly announced only one, Domanov, was liable to repatriation under the Yalta Agreement. Von Pannwits was a German through and through. The other four had not lived in the Soviet Union any time since it creation, and could not therefore be described as “Soviet citizens”.

As mentioned previously, the Americans too had problems in the implementing their repatriation program. When they attempted to move 154 Russians from the Fort Dix Camp, to board a ship on New York’s North River, serious rioting broke out. Two American officers were slightly injured and seven Russians suffered gunshot wound.Three others hanged themselves. Eventually seven were adjudged non-Soviets and allowed to stay in the USA. The rest were drugged up to the eyeballs and bundled on board a USSR-bound ship.

The Americans also held 20,000 more probable Soviet citizens in Europe. In August 1945 they began to repatriate those held at a camp at Kempten near Munich. Here again, the guards were obliged to wade into a church service, wielding truncheons, rifle butts and bayonets.

By this time, some of the facts about the brutality were beginning to come to light. Eventually, the American government was forced to moderate its policy, so that only prisoners who had actually fought for the Nazis would have to be sent back. But of course, this was exactly the category of prisoner which had the most to fear from being repatriated. Early in 1946, the Americans repatriated their penultimate batch of internees from Dachau--ironically the site of a war-time concentration camp. The gruesome events that took place during the operation are more fully detailed in the chapter dealing with Dachau. Elaborate precautions did not prevent many attempts at suicide, six of them successful.

But it was the British who carried out the final operations I this bloody program. In June 1946 the British cabinet agreed to copy the Americans in modifying the scope of the forcible repatriation. This left them with about 170 men in the repatriation category, at that time interned in Italy. Elaborate plans were drawn up to make sure the hang over went smoothly. The transfer from Posa to the transit camp at Rimini was labeled ‘Operation Keelhaul’. The hand over of the Soviet citizens was called ‘Operation Eastward’ and the delivery of the few Croats to Tito’s government ‘Operation Highjump’.(In later years the descriptive term ‘Operation Keelhaul’ was mistakenly applied to the entire two years of forcible repatriations.) Even in this final operation, no sympathy was spared for the unfortunate prisoners, many of them being sent to their deaths. When it was discovered that nine of the men had families in the camp, they were given 24 hours to make up their minds whether or not hey wanted their wives and children to be sent back with them-an agonizing choice. A specially stripped train had to be laid on for the journey, but even so many of the men attempted suicide.

One of the British officers who witnessed the round-ups later wrote a detailed, but detailed report of the brutalities involved. The report was widely circulated by his superiors, many of whom were disturbed by being ordered to carry out this dirty job. Eventually it was put in print, by the American journalist Julius Epstein, in The Sunday Oklahoman of 21 January, 1973. After the publication of a fully documented book on the repatriations, The Las Secret, by Lord Bethell, the author for the anonymous report turned out to be none other than Dennis Hills, the university lecturer who was sentenced to death in Uganda in 1975 for daring to criticize General Amin.

But what neither Bethell nor Epstein examined in their writing was the hypocrisy of the repatriations in comparison to the Nuremberg war trials. If the Germans could be put on trial and executed for keeping people in camps and then sending them to their death? No one least of all the British government, was under the impression that the repatriates would come to no harm in the Soviet Union.

The only Member of Parliament to try to get to the bottom of the affair at the time was Richard Stokes. He did not get very far, due to the fact that every time he asked a question, he was answered with a lie. On 7 June 1945 he asked Churchill in the House of Commons if there had been any secret parts to the Yalta Agreement. Churchill told him incorrectly, that there was none. On 21 May 1947, Stokes asked how many attempted suicide there had been during Operation Eastwind. Christopher Mayhew, then a junior minister in the Foreign Office(but who has recently left the Labour party and joined the Liberals) replied that there had been none. These toe blatant lies indicate just how much the government held its own policy to be honorable. It was because they recognized the criminality of the repatriations that the British government tried to cover it own tracks by deceit. Otherwise there might well have been some awkward questions asked at the contemporaneous Nuremberg trials. Strangely Sir Geoffrey Wilson who collaborated in the compulsory repatriation of Russians POW’s now strongly objects to the repatriation of non-Europeans who settled in Britain since the war

The article was published the way it came in electronic format. The author's version is kept  unchanged, including all errors. (CossackWeb)


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