Sudeten-German Inferno: the little-known tragedy of the
Sudeten Germans

Ingomar Pust

The Danse Macabre Began in Prague
y the afternoon of May 5, most of the minimally staffed German offices in Prague had been stormed. Larger Wehrmacht offices and the barracks were the only ones that could still hold their own. A group of German soldiers, gathered together by a resolute Captain, defended Masaryk Train Station where thousands of German refugees and wounded had taken cover.

A gruesome fate caught up with thousands of wounded in several hospitals. After these hospitals were stormed by the mob, the bed-ridden wounded were shot in their beds. But even those who were able to walk, and who had gone out that day, were lost. Any soldier found by himself was beaten to death or hung. Thousands of wounded who had been rounded up from various hospitals were gathered together at the Scharnhorst barracks, and mowed down by submachine gun fire.

In the night of May 5-6 posters were hung on buildings and advertising columns: "Nemcum smrt!" Death to the Germans! At the same time the radio station ceaselessly exhorted the Czechs to wipe out the Germans. Their homes were systematically plundered. Many inhabitants were thrown out the windows or beaten to death, but thousands more were crowded into basements and improvised prisons and abused horribly.

With tanks and raiding parties, the centers of German resistance attempted to prevent the massacres of the German civilians, at least in their immediate vicinity. However, the Czechs thwarted these efforts to stop their advance by herding naked German women and girls ahead of them as living "anti-tank obstacles".

In countless places in the city women had been herded through the streets wholly unclothed, urged on with clubbings and whip lashings. They were forced to tear down barricades and to gather up dead bodies to be transported off. Often these violated women had to throw their own relatives into mass graves. The rounding-up of the Germans proceeded systematically, in that the landlords were required to report all German tenants, who had been declared outlawed.

The Germans of Prague who were already rounded up on this May 5th already got their first taste of the tortures in store for them on their way to the movie theaters and schools where they were to be interned. Gatherings of Czechs from all social classes were waiting for them in the streets. The arrested Germans - men, women and children alike - had to run the gauntlet through the streets. They were attacked with stones, canes, umbrellas and even with boiling water. Arms raised, they staggered on. Women were yanked out of the groups they were in and dragged into the nearest houses and other buildings. Whoever wanted to could rape them. Nurses were stripped naked and publicly violated. The women's heads were shorn bald with paper scissors. Their faces were painted. Their clothes were torn off their bodies, and swastikas were painted on their backs and breasts. They were raped by the thousands. Many were forced to open their mouths so that their torturers could urinate into them.

Elsewhere one could see naked women being forced to wipe up the pavement on their knees. Hundreds of Germans were driven into the underground sewers of Wenzel Square, where they stood crowded so tightly together that none could even move their arms.

But these torments were harmless compared with what was yet to come. The worst fate struck those uniformed soldiers who fell into Czech hands alone outside Prague. Those who were simply shot were the lucky ones. Many were tortured to death, hanged, drowned in cesspools and rolled to death in barrels. In Prague itself, this day saw the first mass execution of civilians, in which an ever-growing part of the population participated either actively or as spectators. These were the same people who up till then had been the most servile lackeys of the German machinery of war. But all that was only the beginning of the apocalypse of horror that descended upon the Germans of the Sudetenland.

Pankraz prison near Prague.
Pankraz prison near Prague was to become the torture hell of death for countless Germans.


Russians Came in German Uniforms
n May 6 the tempest was interrupted. The radio had announced that General Vlasov's troops, stationed near Prague, would beat the Germans down in Prague. It was known that in 1943 Vlasov had recruited an army of Russian prisoners-of-war in order to fight against the Soviet regime. He now knew himself lost, and came to a fateful decision.

As early as March 1945 Vlasov had sent trusted officers on secret missions to the British and the Americans. They were suppose to make them understand that the hundred thousand Russians who fought on the German side were no Fascists, no slaves to the Germans, no vassals, but rebels against Soviet tyranny. Most of all, they were to warn the Western powers of Moscow's unchanged goals, which were still geared towards world domination.

But their message fell on deaf ears. Vlasov's envoys were not even granted an audience. They were arrested and later handed over to the Soviet executors. After all, the war was not in fact fought for the cause of human rights. Only the Germans were to be wiped out.

But Vlasov did not know that. He, like many millions in Germany, indulged in the illusion that the Western democracies crusading against the National Socialists would not permit the mass murderer Stalin and the Bolshevist movement to advance their power right to the heart of Europe after Germany was destroyed. Vlasov was firmly convinced that a confrontation between East and West must be in the offing. And that was the battle in which he intended to deploy his units, who had nothing on Earth left to lose. He hoped that the Western powers would give him the backing which he had failed to gain from the Germans, who were no longer in a position to equip the one million Russian soldiers whom Vlasov wanted to lead against the Bolshevists.

And thus, on May 6, 1945, he marched his First Division into Prague, where they were to join the fighting on the Czech side and to reestablish order in Prague.

The division marched into Prague in German uniforms, in German steel helmets, and wearing St. Andrew's cross on their sleeves. And the Czechs, pausing for a moment in their blood frenzy, virtually swamped them with flowers, while the streets everywhere were yet littered with the bodies of the Germans they had murdered. And in part Vlasov's men did not disappoint the Czechs. The Russians fought, grimly and cruelly at times, against the SS, who in turn were fighting for their lives. But in part they also helped wherever they could. They helped many of their German prisoners to escape.

One tragedy was the fate of the young SS members who fell to the last man in Prague - butchered or hanged from lamp posts. Most of them were young ethnic Germans from the south-east who had been conscripted into the units of the Waffen-SS. Now they reluctantly wore, and died in, the uniform in which they could expect no mercy, however blameless they were. The intervention of Vlasov's troops no doubt hastened the smothering of German resistance in Prague. Vlasov had hoped that his intervention would preserve Prague from protracted battles and great destruction. With his show of good will he wanted to establish a liaison with the Western Allies, whom he believed to be even then marching on Prague.

A tragic mistake. Americans did come, but it was only a reconnaissance unit that immediately withdrew again to Pilsen when it saw that the situation of the Germans in Prague was already hopeless. Before his departure the American commanding officer told the commander of Vlasov's division that he should just await the arrival of the Soviet army, and keep the peace in Prague until then.

This "recommendation of suicide" exemplifies the shocking political naiveté that determined the Americans' course of action with regard to the Soviets in those days.

Murdered German at feet of cheering Czechs.
A cheering crowd greets the Americans in Pilsen.
At their feet in the gutter - a murdered German.


The "Crusaders" as Mass Murderers
hen General Bunichenko, the commanding officer of Vlasov's troops, realized that the Americans had no intention of occupying Prague, he knew that this was the death sentence for the anti-Communist Russian army of liberation. In the morning of May 7 he and his regiments left Prague for Beraun. The division had sustained many losses and many wounded, and was now caught in the maelstrom of the retreat of Vlasov's army. On learning that Soviet tank units had broken through Schörner's front and were advancing on Prague from the north-east, Vlasov immediately departed westward.

On their way, three Generals traveling alone had been stopped and arrested by the Czechs. They were handed over to the Soviets some few days later. The bulk of the troops, however, reached the American lines - and now there began an infernal game of treacherousness and American inhumanity. The anti-Communist troops were disarmed, and left in the belief that they were now in safety with these "crusaders for democracy". But then they were encircled by American tanks, and at 11:00 a.m. on May 13th American officers informed General Bunichenko that he and his regiments had until 3:00 p.m. to march off to the East.

The Russians knew what that meant. They tried to break out on all sides, but the Americans had formed an iron ring of tanks around the Russian freedom fighters and ensured, by means of a terrible manhunt, that the bulk of these unfortunates were herded towards the Soviets, who were already waiting for their prey.

The Americans rounded up the members of the Russian officers' school and the reserves in Southern Germany and Austria and drove them together in the camps Plattling, Füssen, Kempten and Linz. There were mass suicides and indescribable scenes of despair, but the "crusaders" handed all of them, to the last man, over to the Soviets.

Treachery was also used to put General Vlasov's head on the block. He had first been taken to Castle Schlüsselberg, where American officers interrogated him for days. He found new hope, described to the Americans the satanic system of Communism, and told them what would happen if Moscow were to succeed in making half of Europe Communist. He told the Americans that Bolshevik imperialism was much more dangerous than the might of the Germans whom they had just destroyed.

But evidently this did not impress the officers, and if it did, it was useless, for it was the insiders in Washington and the Roosevelt Administration that determined the overall line taken.

In the second half of May Vlasov was asked to come attend a discussion. The Americans had rigged the whole thing with the Soviets. On their way to the "discussion", Vlasov and his 15 officers suddenly found themselves facing the muzzles of NKVD submachine guns.

Vlasov and twelve of his officers were publicly hanged on Red Square in Moscow in 1946.

Vlasov's troops were not the only anti-Communist fighters that were delivered to the Soviet knife. In Austria the Cossack troops were driven to death. In England 33,000 Russians who had been volunteers with the Organization Todt and were captured during the invasion were forcibly "repatriated" to the Soviet Union, there to be hanged.

What was it that Eisenhower had called the Americans: "crusaders"? "Christian soldiers" was Churchill's term for the armies that fought against Germany. In fact they were accomplices of the Antichrist, of Stalin the Butcher.

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Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia