Metgethen massacre

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The German photo with the original caption "Nahaufnahme von den beiden Frauen und den drei Kindern" (closeup of the two women and the three children). Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.[1]

The Metgethen massacre (German: Massaker von Metgethen) was a massacre of German civilians by the Red Army in the Königsberg, East Prussia, suburb Metgethen, which is now Imeni Alexandra Kosmodemyanskogo in Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast, in or around January and February 1945.

Timeline[edit]

Location of Metgethen, showing the Königsberg defenses and the Soviet attack of April 6 to 9, 1945.

In the course of the prolonged Battle of Königsberg in 1945, Soviet forces attacking from the north of the Samland peninsula reached the Vistula Lagoon to the west of Königsberg on January 30, taking Metgethen in the process, a village with a railway station. After dark, they further advanced westward to Groß-Heydekrug.

German forces recaptured Metgethen on February 19 in a successful bid to reopen the vital road and railway line between the besieged Königsberg and the Baltic Sea harbor of Pillau. According to German reports, mutilated corpses of civilians were discovered. The news was quickly spread by German propaganda.

The German findings[edit]

There are several contemporary reports by German military personnel stating that, among other things, women had been raped, mutilated, and killed, and that 32 civilians had been rounded up on the local tennis court and killed by an explosion.[2] In one of the eyewitness reports, Captain Hermann Sommer, former staff officer of the fortress commander of Königsberg, Otto Lasch, stated:[3]

Meine eigenen Wahrnehmungen machte ich am 27. Februar 1945, als ich dienstlich in Metgethen zu tun hatte. Als ich kurz vor der Straßen- und Bahnkreuzung nach Metgethen mit meinem Krad in eine dort befindliche Kiesgrube einfuhr, um das dort stehende Gebäude auf seine Verwendbarkeit zu besichtigen, fand ich hinter dem Hause plötzlich zwölf Frauen- und sechs Kinderleichen. Alle waren sie völlig entkleidet und lagen in einem wirren Haufen zusammen. Den Kindern war meist mit einem harten Gegenstand der Schädel eingeschlagen oder die kleinen Körper mit zahllosen Bajonettstichen durchbohrt. Die Frauen, meist ältere zwischen 40 und 60 Jahren, waren ebenfalls mit Messern und Bajonettstichen umgebracht. Bei allen waren die blauschwarzen Flecken der Schläge deutlich erkennbar.

Translation: I made my own observations on February 27th, 1945, when I came to Metgethen on official business. When I drove my motorcycle just before the railway-crossing into a gravel-pit, in order to inspect the building there for its usability, I found behind it the corpses of twelve women and six children. All were completely undressed and huddled up in a pile. Most of the children had had their skulls broken with a blunt object or their tiny bodies perforated with innumerable bayonet stabs. The women, mostly older ones between forty and sixty years, had also been killed with knives or bayonets. On all of them black-and-blue marks of beating were clearly visible.

The Library of Congress possesses an album of 26 mounted photographs, with the cover title "Bildbericht über von den Bolschewisten ermordete und geschändete Deutsche in Metgethen" (Picture report about the Germans murdered and desecrated by Bolshevists at Metgethen). According to an ink stamp on its cover, this album had once been filed in the office of the commander of the Sicherheitspolizei at Königsberg.[4]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ LOC.gov
  2. ^ Quoted with translations by Zayas, A Terrible Revenge (1994)
  3. ^ Spieler (ed.), Vertreibung und Vertreibungsverbrechen (1989), p.147
  4. ^ Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LOT 2280.

References[edit]

  • Jürgen Thorwald: Die große Flucht: Es begann an der Weichsel. - Das Ende an der Elbe. Stuttgart: Steingrüben, 1963 (= Das moderne Sachbuch, 7), p. 167
  • Silke Spieler (ed.): Vertreibung und Vertreibungsverbrechen, 1945 - 1948. Bericht des Bundesarchivs vom 28. Mai 1974, Archivalien und ausgewählte Erlebnisberichte.Bonn: Bundesarchiv Koblenz & Kulturstiftung der Deutschen Vertriebenen, 1989, ISBN 3-88557-067-X, p. 146-147
  • Michael Wieck: Zeugnis vom Untergang Königsbergs: ein "Geltungsjude" berichtet. 3., verb. Aufl., Heidelberg: Schneider, 1989, ISBN 3-7953-0390-7, p. 175-176
  • Alfred-Maurice de Zayas: A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994, ISBN 0-312-12159-8, p. 40-41

Further reading[edit]

Coordinates: 54°43′34″N 20°22′07″E / 54.72611°N 20.36861°E / 54.72611; 20.36861