The Czechs, whose immediate postwar reaction is illustrated in first-hand accounts of sickening detail, had in the words of a teenager imprisoned by the Nazis, “gone crazy”….Children buried their murdered parents. Some went feral in the woods, dogs set on them by farmers who called them “Hitler’s swine”. German civilians – men, women and children – were variously beaten, raped and killed in retribution, improvised or official, by military and civilian alike. Poland also took terrible revenge…[ex-partisan Solomon Morel’s] speciality was allegedly the human pyramid: layers of prisoners placed crosswise on each other, guards sometimes dancing on top of the pile.
This programme is a catalogue of hideousness that leads to despair in humanity…. None of the atrocities committed by the newly liberated were investigated. Nobody was willing to see the perpetrators of the final solution as victims.
Review of 1945: The Savage Peace on BBC2, FT Weekend, May 23rd, 2015
Not quite sure what I want to achieve by posting this. It’s got no upside. But it’s one to keep and recall. A blind spot in the story we tell about ourselves. Something I’d rather know about than not.
12 million ethnic Germans East of the Oder were “transferred” out of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and elsewhere, following the end of the war, in a not-so “orderly and humane manner” – which is how the Allied Powers had committed themselves, in Article XIII of the Potsdam accord, to regulate the expulsions. Revenge was taken, locally and en route. Half a million died. The Powers apparently turned a blind eye, tolerated the brutality. Implicitly bracketed it as some form of moral justice. It would be wrong to equate what happened with the crimes of the Third Reich (wouldn’t it?) but at the level of individual suffering it was surely every bit as bad.
Conclusion? There are no good guys; we’re all the bad guys. No, no, no. There are no bad guys; we’re all sick. No, no, no. There is no conclusion…