"Berliners remember that, because all the windows had been blown in, you could hear the screams every night. Estimates from the two main Berlin hospitals ranged from 95,000 to 130,000 rape victims. One doctor deduced that out of approximately 100,000 women raped in Berlin, some 10,000 died as a result, mostly from suicide. The death rate was thought to be much higher among the 1.4 million who had suffered in East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia. Altogether at least 2 million German women are thought to have been raped, and a substantial minority, if not majority, appear to have suffered multiple rape."

—  “Berlin: The Downfall 1945” – Antony Beevor

"Significantly, there has been little acknowledgement by Russian historians that if it had not been for American Lend-Lease trucks, the Red Army’s advance would have taken far longer and the Western Allies might well have reached Berlin first."

— “Berlin: The Downfall 1945” – Antony Beevor

"It was Albert Speer’s latest memorandum which had suddenly triggered Hitler’s insistence on a scorched-earth policy to the end. When Speer tried to persuade Hitler in the early hours of that morning that bridges should not be blown up unnecessarily, because their destruction meant ‘eliminating all further possibility for the German people to survive’, Hitler’s reply revealed his contempt for them all. ‘This time you will receive a written reply to your memorandum,’ Hitler told him. ‘If the war is lost, the people will also be lost and it is not necessary to worry about their needs for elemental survival. On the contrary, it is best for us to destroy even these things. For the nation has proved to be weak, and the future belongs entirely to the strong people of the East. Whatever remains after this battle is in any case only the inadequate, because the good ones will be dead.’"

— “Berlin: The Downfall 1945” – Antony Beevor

"Red Army soldiers were astonished to see wirelesses in so many houses. The evidence of their eyes strongly implied that the Soviet Union was perhaps not quite the workers’ and peasants’ paradise they had been told. East Prussian farms produced a mixture of bewilderment, jealousy, admiration and anger which alarmed political officers."

— “Berlin: The Downfall 1945” – Antony Beevor

"On 1 February 1943, an angry Soviet colonel collared a group of emaciated German prisoners in the rubble of Stalingrad. ‘That’s how Berlin is going to look!’ he yelled, point to the ruined buildings all around. When I read those words some six years ago, I sensed immediately what my next book had to be."

— “Berlin: The Downfall 1945” – Antony Beevor

"

The people at the hospital had been struck by her calm and the number of questions that she had asked. They hadn’t appreciated her inability to understand something quite obvious – that Tolya was no longer among the living. Her love was so strong that Tolya’s death was unable to affect it: to her, he was still alive.

She was mad, but no one had noticed. Now, at last, she had found Tolya. Her joy was like that of a mother-cat when she finds her dead kitten and licks it all over.

A soul can live in torment for years and years, even decades, as it slowly, stone by stone, builds a mound over a grave; as it moves towards the apprehension of eternal loss and bows down before reality.

"

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"

A letter from Anna Semyonovna to her son, Viktor Shtrum from a Ukrainian Ghetto:

Vitya, I’m certain this letter will reach you, even though I’m now behind the German front line, behind the barbed wire of the Jewish ghetto. I won’t receive your answer, though; I won’t be here to receive it. I want you to know about my last days. Like that, it will be easier for me to die.

Night is a special time in the ghetto, Vitya. You know, my dearest, how I always taught you to tell the truth – a son must always tell the truth to his mother. But then so must a mother tell the truth to her son. Don’t imagine, Vityenka, that your mother’s a strong woman. I’m weak. I’m afraid of pain and I’m terrified to sit down in the dentist’s chair. As a child I was afraid of darkness and thunder. As an old woman I’ve been afraid of illness and loneliness; I’ve been afraid that if I fall ill, I won’t be able to go back to work again; that I’ll become a burden to you and that you’ll make me feel it. I’ve been afraid of the war. Now, Vitya, I’m seized at night by a horror that makes my heart grow numb. I’m about to die. I want to call out to you for help.

When you were a child, you used to run to me for protection. Now, in moments of weakness, I want to hide my head on your knees’ I want you to be strong and wise; I want you to protect and defend me. I’m not always strong in spirit, Vitya – I can be weak too. I often think about suicide, but something holds me back – some weakness, or strength, or irrational hope.

They say that children are our future, but how can one say that of these children? They aren’t going to become musicians, cobblers or tailors. Last night I saw very clearly how this whole noisy world of beared, anxious fathers and querulous grandmothers who bake honey-cakes and goose-necks – this whole world of marriage customs, proverbial sayings and Sabbaths will disappear for ever under the earth. After the war life will begin to stir once again, but we won’t be here, we will have vanished – just as the Aztecs once vanished.

Vityenka, I’m finishing this letter and taking it to the ghetto fence to hand to my friend. It’s not easy to break off. It’s my last conversation with you. Once I send it off, I will have left you for ever and you will never know of my last hours. This is our final parting. What can I say to you in farewell, in eternal farewell? That these last days, as during my whole life, you have been my joy. I’ve remembered you at night, the clothes you wore as a boy, your first books….. I’ve closed my eyes and imagined that you were shielding me, my dearest, from the horror that is approached. And then I’ve remembered what is happening here and felt glad that you were apart from me – and that this terrible fate will pass you by!

Vityenka… This is the last line of your mother’s last letter to you. Live, live, live forever… Mama.

"

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"

During a German artillery attack on the right bank of the Volga during the Battle of Stalingrad:

Suddenly he realised what had happened: the oil-tanks were on fire. Flaming oil was streaming past towards the Volga.

It seemed impossible to escape from the liquid fire. It leaped up, humming and crackling, from the streams of oil that were filling the hollows and craters and rusing down the communication trenches. Saturated with oil, even the clay and stone were beginning to smoke. The oil itself was gushing out in black glossy streams from the tanks that had been riddled by incendiary bullets; it was as though sheets of flame and smoke had been sealed inside these tanks and were now slowly unrolling.

The life that had reigned hundreds of millions of years before, the terrible life of the primeval monsters, had broken out of its deep tombs; howling and roaring, stamping its huge feet, it was devouring everything round about. The fire rose thousands of feet, carrying with it clouds of vaporised oil that exploded into flame only high in the sky. The mass of flame was so vast that the surrounding whirlwind was unable to bring enough oxygen to the burning molecules of hydro-carbon; a black, swaying vault separated the starry sky of autumn from the burning earth. It was terrible to look up and see a black firmament streaming with oil.

The columns of flame and smoke looked at one moment like living beings seized by horror and fury, at another moment like quivering poplars and aspens. Like women with long, streaming hair, the black clouds and red flames joined together in a wild dance.

The blazing oil formed a thin film over the water, hissing, smoking and twisting as it was caught by the current.

"

— “Life and Fate” – Vasily Grossman

"Vodka, another traditional companion of war, was prohibited (by the Russians). In the last mobilization in 1904 when soldiers came reeling in and regimental depots were a mess of drunken slumbers and broken bottles, it had taken an extra week to straighten out the confusion. Now, with the French calling every day’s delay a matter of life or death, Russia enacted prohibition as a temporary measure for the period of mobilization. Nothing could have given more practical or more earnest proof of loyal intention to meet French please for haste, but with that characteristic touch of late-Romanov rashness, the government, by ukase of August 22, extended prohibition for the duration of the war. As the sale of Vodka was a state monopoly, this act at one stoke cut off a third of the government’s income. It was well known, commented a bewildered member of the Duma, that governments waging war seek by a variety of taxes and levies to increase income, ‘but never since the dawn of history has a country in time of war renounced the principle source of its revenue’."

"The Guns of August 1914", Barbara Tuchman

"The (Russian) regime was ruled from the top by a sovereign who had but one idea of government – to prserve intact the absolute monarchy bequeathed to him by his father – and who, lacking the intellect, energy, or training for this job, fell back on personal favourites, whim, simples mulishness and other devices of the empty-headed autocrat. His father, Alexander III, who deliberately intended to keep his son uneducated in statecraft until the age of thirty, unfortunately miscalculated his own life expectancy and died when Nicholas was twenty-six. Then new Czar, now forty-six, had learned nothing in the interval and the impression of imperturbability which he conveyed was in reality apathy – the indifference of mind so shall as to be all surface. When a telegram was brought to him announcing the annihilation of the Russian fleet at Tsushima, he read it, stuffed it in his pocket and went on playing tennis."

— "The Guns of August 1914", Barbara Tuchman

"The (Russian) officer corps was top-heavy with a superabundance of aged generals whose heaviest intellectual exercise was card-playing and who, to save their court perquisites and prestige, were kept on the active list regardless of activity. Officers were appointed and promoted chiefly through patronage, social or monetary, and although there were among them many brave and able soldiers the system did not tend to bring the best to the top. Their ‘laziness and lack of interest’ in outdoor sports dismayed a British military attaché who, on visiting a frontier garrison near the Afghan border, was appalled to find ‘not a single tennis court’."

"The Guns of August 1914", Barbara Tuchman

"

The Soviet authorities executed around 13,500 of their own soldiers at Stalingrad - equivalent to more than a whole division of troops.

That the Soviet regime was almost as unforgiving towards its own soldiers as towards the enemy is demonstrated by the total figure of 13,500 executions, both summary and judicial, during the battle of Stalingrad.


Altogether, over three million Red Army soldiers out of 5.7 million died in German camps from disease, exposure, starvation and ill-treatment.

According to some estimates, there had been nearly 600,000 people in Stalingrad, and 40,000 were killed during the first week of bombardment.

In the whole Stalingrad campaign, the Red Army had suffered 1.1 million casualties, of which 485,751 had been fatal.

"

 “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor

"

During the huge battles for the northern industrial sector of the city, house-fighting, with local attacks and counter-attacks, had continued in the central districts. One of the most famous episodes fo the Stalingrad battle was the defence of ‘Pavlov’s House’, which lasted for fifty-eight days.

At the end of September, a platoon from the 42nd Guards Regiment had seized a four-story building overlooking a square, some 300 yards in from the top of the river bank. Their commander, Lieutenant Afanasev, was blinded early in the fighting, so Sergeant Jakob Pavlov took over command. They discovered several civilians in the basement who stayed on throughout the fighting. One of them, Mariya Ulyanova, took an active part in the defence. Pavlov’s men smashed through cellar walls, to improve their communications, and cut holes in the walls, to make better firing points for their machine-guns and long-barrelled anti-tank rifles. Whenever panzers approached, Pavlov’s men scattered, either to the cellar or to the top floor, from where they were able to engage them at close range. The panzer crews could not elevate their main armament sufficiently to fire back. Chuikov later liked to make the point that Pavlov’s men killed more enemy soldiers than the Germans lost in the capture of Paris.

"

“Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor

One of the better sledges on French Military prowess…

"The panzer troops were horrified when they found that they had been firing at women. Few members of the Sixth Army seem to have heard about the Sarmatae of the lower Volga – an interbreed of Scythians and Amazons, according to Herodotus – who allowed their women to take part in war."

— “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor

"Several German Panzer divisions also encountered a new form of unconventional weapon during this fighting. They found Russian dogs running towards them with a curious-looking saddle holding a load on top with a short upright stick. At first the panzer troops thought they must be first-aid dogs, but then they realised that the animals had explosives or an anti-tank mine strapped to them. These ‘mine-dogs’, trained on Pavlovian principles, had been taught to run under large vehicles to obtain their food. The stick, catching against the underside would detonate the charge. Most of the dogs were shot before they reached their target, but this macabre tactic had an unnerving effect."

— “Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942-1943” - Antony Beevor