Talk:Operation Keelhaul

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Loaded quotations[edit]

I am removing the quotations around the word 'liberated'; they do not make the term neutral- they imply a falsehood to the term and contribute to an anti-Soviet slant. I am not replacing it with a different word, such as 'released', because this would too likely imply that the Reich did the releasing, when in fact the Soviet prisoners of war were liberated, and liberated is the usual word one uses for the release of POWs by an advancing friendly force --Crawdaddyjoe (talk) 04:35, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Things to be done[edit]

What is the exact text of the secret codicil to the Yalta agreement and where was it published (the source of the text should be included in the references)? What was the scope of the "Operation Keelhole"? Was it just forcible repatriation of cossacks of XVth Cossack Cavalry Corps who in May 1945 were in a camp near Lienz or was it forcible repatriation of all Soviet (and Yugoslav) citizens from Western Germany and Austria?

It seems to me that the former is true. Then the article should be rewritten accordingly and, probably, another article "Forcible Repatriation of Soviet and Yugoslav Citizens in 1945" should be created. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Olegwiki (talkcontribs) 15:06, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

In 1945 in Germany and Austria there were the following categories of Soviet citizens who did not want to be repatriated:

1) Nazi collabortionists (Vlasov's ROA, Cossacks and others who had served under the German command, those who had served in the auxillary police and in local government bodies in the Soviet territory occupied by Germany, etc.)

2) Those who used the German occupation and the subseqent retreat as an opportunity to flee from USSR. Many of them, however, can be also regarded as Nazi collabortionists (they voluntary worked in the German industry, participated in Nazi propaganda efforts, etc.)

3) Soviet POWS and civilian forced labourers ("Ostarbeitern")who did not want to repatriate either because they feared arrest upon repatriation (because they had actually voluntary surrended, colloborated with the Germans or because they were wise enough to suspect that they may be charged with such crimes regardless of what they actually had done), or simply because they preferred living in the West to living in the USSR.

4) Those who deserted from Soviet troops in Germany and Austria (for whatever reasons).

There is a lot of information about the forcible repatriation of the first category (in particular, "Lienz Cossacks", but what about other categories? Were they also forcibly repatriated by the British and the Americans?


There is confusion in the article over whether the operation was carried out by Americans or British. The first sentence says it was Americans, later on, "prisoners were shot within earshot of the British", and it goes on about british foreign policy. I'm guessing, then, that it was a joint operation, but it'd be good if someone who is familiar with the topic could clear this up. Deuar 21:26, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

We were told, that the British forces in Koroska had dissarmed fleeing anti-comunists from Slovenia ("domobranci" homeguard soldiers and their families). They had them for couple of months, and after Tito's cooperation with the west, in agreement (let's say in british language- good deal) with eastern block comunists (Stalin), they transported them on train back to Slovenia (occupied by winning comunists), where they begun Death March to Kocevje, where they were brutaly murdered without trial. Some of them were hold there for many months in labour camp, where they were building secret underground bunker. After that, they were eliminated aswell. They were all murdered in same way (striped, tied up with wire and shot) all comunists wictims were. So it's obviously the act of political ideology-revolution and not the act of vengeance (like today's comunists want's us to believe). Let me mention, that those masacres were taken place long after the end of WW2, some say from 1945 to 1952.

British are guilty of witholding the truth and evidence about those masacres. They also knew they were sending unarmed locked people direct into death, but it was more convinient thing for them to do at the time. They have betrayed and sacrificed anti comunist people in Slovenia. My guess is, that if newely rising comunist dictatorships, wouldn't want to cooperate with the west (British/American) as they did (Gorica and Trst-Trieste were liberated from Italy, both towns were Slovene and are still slovenian people there) by partizans, they would use those soldiers in other way. And I don't blame the British for what they did then, I blame them for covering up the whole deal and truth. By not revealing the truth, even today, they support/backup comunists in my country and many people are misslead by comunist lies.

Oh wow, I didn't realize Wikipedia existed back in the eighties, when there were still communists around... Or did you not realize that there had been a little thing called the Dissolution of Yugoslavia in the meantime and that the communist regime ended with it? Now, had you been talking about the lies of the "reformed communists" or "heirs of the coummunist legacy" one could take you seriously. As it is, you're just a paranoid, anachronistic joke. Excuse my hard words, but I'm sick of people like you, fueling on past hatreds and not seeing that the world around them has changed considerably in the last 15 - 20 years. Have a nice, communist-free day. TomorrowTime 21:38, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Deuar. I am familiar with this subject as my father was involved on the ground throughout the operation. I too was suprised to see the Americans credited with this action alone, but then realised that the term Americans has rather come to replace Allies in all things WW2. And in this instance they are welcome to the credit of this shabby and shamefull part of history. But just to put the record straight. The 56th and 78th division of the British Eighth army had just succeeded with other allies at the Battle of the Argenta Gap and had proceeded into Austria. on 8th May 1944 a Cossack delegation met with General Arbuthnott of the 78th Division of the British Eighth army and surrendered unconditionally. The Allies had agreed at Yalta to repatriate all Russian nationals - the prisoners were initially placed in three camps along with other captives from the German SS, Yugoslav partisans etc:

Lienz: camp guarded by the Argylls containing 2,196 Germans, one Cossack division consisting of 1,533 officers, 13,847 Cossack soldiers, 4,193 women and 2,436 children.
Ob Drauberg: camp guarded by the Buffs containing assortment of Kubans, Ukranians, Soviets, Russian civilians, Croats, German Troops, German civilians, Belgian civilians, Italians and Dutch SS.
Spittal: camp guarded by the Kensingtons containing 4,000 SS troops, 1,300 displaced persons and 1,340 Allied repatriates.

Once the other nationalities had been moved out, all of the Cossack contingent were moved into the camp at Spittal. The British soldiers guarding the camp were aware of the fate that awaited the cossacks when they were repatriated. My father recalls having to cut down those who had hanged themselves each morning. He also recalls escorting them over the line just to hear them being machine gunned down. There were several mutinies amongst the British troops during this period. I do not know wether any US troops were involved at all, it was a very chaotic period, my father cannot recall having seen any and I cannot find any contemporary reference to thier involvement. There IS however one episode that is clearly in American hands. That of a refugee ship that was being used to transport processed russian POWs to the USA. It reached New York as the decision was made to return the Cossacks to the Soviet Union - no-one was disembarked and the ship turned around to sail to Russia and hand over all of the passengers. More information can be got by doing a search on "Cossacks" & "Tolstoy" (He campaigned, and was ruined, trying to bring what he considered the Allied war crime, to light). DavidP 14:27, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

David, Thank you for these detailed relations. Especially, since it might not be easy to relate them. It would be valuable to include them in the article somehow. I notice that you have pretty precise numbers there, presumably out of a book or some sort of other reference. If we were to include the name of such references explicitly the information will become more resistant to deletionist editors (acting both in good or bad faith.) Deuar 18:17, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
My parents were White emigre refugees from Belgrade, Yugoslavia. My mother told me there were no American soldiers in the Leinz camp. She also indicated that the British soldiers were brutal and that they failed to distinguish Russian Civil War refugees from Soviet refugees at the start of the repatriation. --Buzava 06:25, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Fixed what appears to be vandalism[edit]

I have not been back to this page for a long time and was surprised to see "by United States military forces in May and June of 1945" I think that this change was a result of vandalism See the change Revision as of 07:53, 23 March 2006 . The two edits by this IP address either side of this edit were vandalism see Contributions by --Philip Baird Shearer 16:09, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

source removed[edit]

Operation Keelhaul: A Combined Allied Atrocity I removed this. The site appears to be a biased blog. Ostap 00:05, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

I'll add to that that both references 2 and 3 should be removed. They are ideological screeds which depend upon other references listed ont he page, but offer no research of their own. They should be taken out. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:42, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

What about France?[edit]

What about France and forced repatriation of white emmigrants? NKVD had had special unit, cooperating with French autorities in 1945. Many of these people where not Soviet citizens, too. I dont't have source in hand, so I don't edit article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:40, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Stalin's position[edit]

"Soviet premier Joseph Stalin,"

As far as I remember J.S. was not holding any governmental office. He was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. If I remember correctly the head of the Soviet government (and the ministry of internal affairs at the same time) was Molotov. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:07, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Accroding to J.S. wiki page his position was "Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars", not "premier". (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 21:11, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
    • Stalin's title is now "dictator". This amuses me. Either FDR and Churchill should also be listed as "dictators" or perhaps the loaded term should be changed. Personally, I'd prefer them all to be called dictators, but that's probably why I don't allow myself to alter these pages myself anymore :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:12, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Actually, Stalin and later Soviet leaders were often called just that - "Leaders of the Soviet People" - officially in the Soviet Union, possibly for the lack of better term, since obvously they were not legitimate rulers. If you ask me, there is only a slight difference between a self-appointed leader and a dictator. Again, I do not see anything wrong with a dictator, take for example Pinochet, who did not do anything but good for his country, or General Franco in Spain, or today's Chinese dictators, and compare them to democratic leaders such as Bill Clinton, not to mention others. I'd prefer a dictator.Rozmysl (talk) 02:02, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Denis Hill[edit]

Seemingly a forgotten person, a British officer in charge of repatriation of Soviet POWs who did much to save many of them from having to return to the Soviet Union: [1], [2] (this is pl translation of Europe: A History by Norman Davies, p.1046-1047 in English version).--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:48, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

questionable detail on Bleiburg massacre[edit]

This article briefly mentions the Bleiburg massacre, then says that most of the people there were actually sent to prison camps instead of killed. However the actual article on that event mentions some controversy over how many people were killed there, but it says nothing about people being sent to prison camps. Rather quotes from the chief critic of the large numbers given seems to be suggesting there were simply much fewer people involved. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:40, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

23,500 Americans & 30,000 Brits[edit]

The article states over 50,000 allied soldiers ended up in the Gulags. I didn't delete but no way that could be true, I would lose all respect for FDR & Churchill if they bailed on thousands of their own.

Found only these:

I recommend reading Soldiers Of Misfortune: Washington's Secret Betrayal of American POWs in the Soviet Union by James D. Sanders, Mark A. Sauter, and R. Cort Kirkwood. Not all of these men ended up in the GULAG, but many of them did. ~~ Lothar von Richthofen (talk) 15:28, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

Western Betrayal[edit]

I added a link to the Western Betrayal page, for what I feel is obvious relevance. --Luftschiffritter5 1 (talk) 23:45, 2 February 2011 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Use of term 'refugees from the Soviet Union'[edit]

This is questionable - how can a forcibly deported person (Ost-Arbeiter) be a refugee fleeing Soviet Union? "At the end of World War II there were more than five million refugees from the Soviet Union in Western Europe, of whom approximately three million had been forced laborers (Ost-Arbeiter)" See: [[3]]

Also, some that fled with the retreating German army were Axis military units (Cossacks), collaborators and auxiliaries (i.e. local militias and other units implicated in war crimes and atrocities; see: S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A.) - are they refugees as well? " The term [Operation Keelhaul] has been later applied to other Allied acts of often forced repatriation of former residents of the USSR after the ending of World War II that sealed the fate of millions of post-war refugees fleeing the Soviet Union.

Cossack units themselves were implicated in atrocities against Yugoslav civilian population. See: 1st Cossack Cavalry Division (Also, the term Betrayal of the Cossacks seems to apply the most to White emigres who were never Soviet citizens, and therefore cannot be 'post-war refugees fleeing the Soviet Union', as they never lived there).

Definition of refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. ICRC definition: Refugees are people who are outside the country of their nationality "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted" (1951 Refugee Convention).

This does not include "forcibly removed" or "military units fleeing from advancing adversaries" or "those trying to escape responsibility for crimes" --K.e.coffman (talk) 22:30, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree that these are issues that should be addressed. Clearly, forced labourers were not initially refugees, they were displaced persons, but when they were being repatriated I understand they had a real fear of being persecuted. The Axis collaborators varied widely, some were Whites who left Russia before the Soviet Union was established but joined the enemy, some Whites fled the Soviet Union after it was established, others were living in the Soviet Union and joined up after the German invasion. In the latter case, they weren't fleeing the Soviet Union, they were withdrawing alongside the Germans. Some of the language definitely needs to be modified to reflect the actual history of all the Russian people that were "repatriated". Many were traitors in the eyes of the Soviet authorities, others were people they wanted to destroy for political reasons, some were people who had lived outside the Soviet Union and were considered potentially "unreliable" in a political sense and needed to be "re-educated". This isn't an area I am particularly engaged with, but I watch it because of the Yugoslav Russians and their service in Yugoslavia. Cheers, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 23:47, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
Okay, I made the change is both areas. I also added to the Yalta Conference section to read "... extended to all Soviet refugees and personnel of Germany-allied military units, taken prisoner by the Western Allies." -- since the latter cannot be considered refugees. Hope this works! --K.e.coffman (talk) 07:44, 8 November 2015 (UTC)

"Millions" - questionable sourcing in the intro paragraph[edit]

"...often forced repatriation of former residents of the USSR after the ending of World War II that sealed the fate of millions[2] of post-war refugees fleeing the Soviet Union"

The source for the number repatriated is an article from The Future of Freedom foundation: The article states: "...How many were turned over to the Russians by American and British forces? Two million individuals" - without providing any information on how these numbers were compiled and who was included.

I would not consider this article a reliable source due to unsubstantiated claims and obvious bias. For example, the article refers to the forced repatriation as "one of the worst holocausts in history" and "Allied holocaust." The word holocaust appears 7 times on this page. --K.e.coffman (talk) 07:44, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree, it is decidedly fringey at best, and probably unreliable. You could ask for a view at WP:RSN. Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 23:53, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
I removed both sources. Please see opinion on the Reliable sources noticeboard: Questionable sources in Operation Keelhaul, also replicated here: Feel free to remove those sources; this kind of article should be using books by reputable historians, not pressure groups. I'm not familiar with Tolstoy's work and cannot comment on his reliability. QVVERTYVS (hm?) 13:58, 18 November 2015
K.e.coffman (talk) 22:52, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
I am familiar with Tolstoy's work, and he made several claims in his book for which no evidence was provided. He was sued over it and lost. I don't see Tolstoy as a reliable source here. Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 07:54, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Ha, then there are no sources left and perhaps the article should not exist? Most of the sources that we've discussed been fringe or irrelevant... K.e.coffman (talk) 08:33, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Epstein, obviously. No doubt there are others, have you tried Google Books? Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 09:07, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
I don't have a particular passion for the Operation Keelhaul subject - I mostly engaged with the article as the sources listed (and the POV they presented) struck me as odd, bordering on a conspiracy theory. I could replace Tolstoy refs with [citation needed] or leave as is. Thoughts?
Please also let me know on the content from SMH - SMH is reliable, but the article itself is not relevant, and the author may not be reliable. Please see: Talk:Operation_Keelhaul#Use_of_SMH_article_as_source K.e.coffman (talk) 21:50, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
I disagree about relevance of the SMH article, it clearly refers to the repatriation of Soviet PWs. The article may not match all the text it is supposed to be supporting, but it does contain relevant material. So far as Tolstoy is concerned, I'd just tag them with {{Unreliable source?|date=November 2015}} and leave them. Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 21:55, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Sounds good, I added the 'unreliable source' tag. K.e.coffman (talk) 22:04, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
  • The book by Tolstoy is a well known work by professional historian. And, yes, there were literally millions according to many sources. My very best wishes (talk) 17:44, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
A discredited book, claims in the book were found to be made without evidence in a civil suit. How does this book meet the WP:RS criteria? Thanks, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 20:22, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Are you talking about his book The Minister and the Massacres, where Toby Low, 1st Baron Aldington was accused? Here the source is a different book, Victims of Yalta. Where specifically this book was discredited (sources)? My very best wishes (talk) 22:46, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, my mistake, I actually was talking about M and the M, but my point about reliability regarding Tolstoy himself is still valid. What about Alistair Horne's conclusion that fresh evidence, uncovered after the publication of Victims of Yalta, proves Tolstoy's notion of a conspiracy to be not just wrong-headed, but outright wrong. Per "The unquiet graves of Yalta: forty-five years ago, seventy thousand Cossacks and Yugoslavs were "repatriated" to torture, slavery and death at the hands of Stalin and Tito. Was this a war crime?". National Review (1990) 42 (2): 27–33. I haven't sought out the source to read it myself, but if that is an accurate representation of what Horne said, then surely Tolstoy's work is highly questionable? Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 00:41, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
OK, I fixed it. I do not think this book is not WP:RS; the problem is not the source, but the statement. The total number of repatriants was large, but the number of people who were forcefully repatriated was smaller and should be referenced to multiple sources. My very best wishes (talk) 13:48, 23 November 2015 (UTC)[edit]

In what respects does the subject website meet Wikipedia's reliable source policy? Thanks, Peacemaker67 (crack... thump) 02:46, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

I believe this source is unnecessary since the body of the article links to both forced laborers and Ost-Arbeiter. Feel free to remove. K.e.coffman (talk) 02:54, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Use of SMH article as source[edit]

Should have said that the article itself was sketchy as a source re: operation Keelhaul, or pretty much anything in the context of forced repatriations. It's an article about WWII in general and the only relevant statement was:

  • The Communists had much to hide. The two organs of state control, SMERSH and NKVD, executed 158,000 soldiers for desertion during the war and jailed 135,056 Red Army officers, mostly after the war, because they had become too independent. A further 1.5 million Red Army soldiers captured by the Germans were sent to gulags or Siberian work camps simply because they had been tainted by contact with the West.

This ref is not pertinent and should be removed. --K.e.coffman (talk) 07:43, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Nevermind. If I happen across a better source, I will re-propose. K.e.coffman (talk) 22:05, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

FFF and World Affairs Briefing as sources[edit]

@My very best wishes: Please see consensus on the Reliable sources noticeboard re Hornberger (The Future of Freedom Foundation) and Scousen (World Affairs Brief), and their status as WP:RS -- Questionable sources in Operation Keelhaul, also replicated here:

  • Feel free to remove those sources; this kind of article should be using books by reputable historians, not pressure groups. QVVERTYVS (hm?) 13:58, 18 November 2015
  • I fully agree with your assessment and that of Qwertyus. An historical work is better than what appears to be advocacy/pressure group websites. WP:RS wise, I don't think they would pass muster. Irondome (talk) 23:53, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Thoughts? --K.e.coffman (talk) 01:35, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I agree. Those are definitely not the best sources. Books by Tostoy are certainly better. My very best wishes (talk) 05:54, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. I'm going to re-implement my edits as shown here to remove Hornberger and Scousen from the article. K.e.coffman (talk) 06:33, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Reason magazine as source[edit]

This is a tertiary source, sourced itself to Epstein. It says "Soviet editorial" as a lead-in to the quote, which is actually mentioned on page 8 of this article (at the very bottom of the 2nd column), but it's footnoted to Epstein, so it's not known when or in which context this was published. So I'd like the below re-removed.

Following the post-Stalin release of several hundred survivors of the Soviet camps in which victims of repatriation were held, a Soviet newspaper editorial noted

All their sins have been forgiven. But the English and American bayonets, truncheons, machine guns and tanks used against them will never be forgotten. No Russian will ever forget Lienz, Dachau, Plattling, Toronto, and other places of extradition, including New York. And they must never be shows you cannot trust the capitalist states in the future."[1]


  1. ^ Jeffrey Rogers Hummel (1974), "Operation Keelhaul Exposed", Reason, p. 7 

Thoughts? K.e.coffman (talk) 06:46, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I went ahead and removed. K.e.coffman (talk) 21:55, 25 November 2015 (UTC)