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Gruesome stories about the time after 1945 in the east. Everything exaggerated? Questions to the historian Silke Overy

Post-war period in East Germany: they were full of hatred

Gruesome stories about the time after 1945 in the east. Everything exaggerated? Questions to the historian Silke Overy

Post-war period in East Germany:   they were full of hatred
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  • Page 1 — "You were full of hatred"
  • Page 2 — "The winners took what was possible"
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    Time: Mrs. Overy, as a historian, you have studied post-war years in East Germany. What attracts you to this topic?

    Silke Overy: I have to be personal. I grew up in GDR, where no less than half a million Soviet soldiers were stationed until fall of wall. Every now and n y met m. I had learned Russian at school, but I was not allowed to speak to military. That made me curious. Later, as a scientist, I systematically dealt with it.

    Chris Overy

    52, born in Weimar. Your dissertation occupier. "The Russians" in Germany 1945 – 1994 is regarded as standard work. She is a professor of modern history at University of Halle-Wittenberg

    Time: In many eastern families, stories are told about fear of Soviet soldiers after end of war. Was that same with you?

    Overy: Yes. My family said my aunt Angela had been raped by Russians. That was not true, as it turned out later, but for most part such narratives corresponded to truth. Mass sexual violence by occupying soldiers was probably most influential experience after 1945.

    Time: You have written a book about this time, occupier. There y read: "The Soviets acted in consciousness of being able to dispose of everything freely." What did that mean?

    This article comes from time No. 15/2018. Here you can read entire output.

    Overy: When armists invaded in 1945, y exercised massive violence and first confirmed all that Germans had expected. They felt victorious and were understandably full of hatred. It came to looting, murder, sexual assault. The Soviets referred to flats of Germans, partially expelled population, and y, as was agreed between Allies, exerted sole power on ir occupying territory. It was a catastrophe for Germans. Because in 1939 y were not only in a World war, but in a war of annihilation. They were also firmly convinced in 1945 that enemy in east was not a livable creature, but a "sub-human". So now this enemy stood in middle of living room – and he had say.

    Time: In a barbaric way?

    Overy: Yes – and that had its reason: 27 million people had fallen victim to Second World War in Soviet Union. This meant that all soldiers had lost ir families, ir land was destroyed. Knowing this, y came to Germany, who had to answer all this, and asked mselves: Why did Germans attack us, for what reason? They took places in which y came, often as much prosperous, well-tended, true as villages at home. It has been handed down that armists on ir advance to Berlin have set particularly beautiful houses on fire and smashed mirrors, because y simply did not bear what y saw: that this rich, beautiful Germany had attacked m.

    Time: How are armists different from American or British occupiers?

    Overy: The Americans and English had a much smaller number of victims of war, and y felt far less hatred for Germans. Although all occupying powers had official command to treat Germans with moderation and decency. But Americans and Englishmen were more likely to do it.

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