Peace is a Vengeful Process (02:45)
On May 10th, 1945, 42 men, women, and children lined up to be shot, because they spoke German. Individuals remember images of people dancing in the streets when World War II ended, but forget the ethnic cleansing of Germanic people throughout Eastern Europe. Germany called it "zero hour." (Credits)
Sixteen Year Old Girl (02:03)
Hear excerpts from Christa Ronke's diary in 1945. She contracted dysentery from drinking non-boiled water. When Josef Stalin allowed his soldiers free reign for three days, soldiers raped Ronke and the other women within her household.
Witnessing Rapes (03:28)
Marianne Becker remembers that while her nanny was being raped, she refused to let go of Becker's hand. Russian soldiers took Becker's mother to Sopot, where they raped women in front of their children. German soldiers were beaten and then executed in Czechoslovakia after the liberation.
Czechoslovakian Revenge on Ethnic Germans (02:46)
Meda Mladek describes how Czechoslovakians would catch and shoot the ethnic Germans. Stanislava Zverinova recalls German women paving street wearing swastikas on their back. When the women succumbed to exhaustion, Czechs would torture them by piercing their breasts with pins.
Two Days after Liberation (05:42)
Helena Dvorackova's and Milena Sukova's fathers captured images of the revolutionary guard massacring people who spoke German two days after Victory in Europe Day (VE Day). Dvorackova remembers how her grandmother shielded her eyes when trucks ran over the legs of the 42 shot. The Czechoslovakian government issued an amnesty for any retaliatory crimes committed prior to October 28th, 1945.
Unpunished Murders (04:06)
In March 1939, Adolph Hitler visited Brno after he occupied Czechoslovakia. Hugo Fritsch watched the parade and joined the Hitler Youth by lying about his age. He recalls how after the liberation, Germans were hung wearing a collaborator's sash.
Hoping For a Quick Death (03:10)
Emil Pupik, a 16-year-old member of the Hitler Youth, remembers being incarcerated in Kounic College after VE Day. Soldiers ordered him to build three gallows— afterward, he was to be hung from one, but an inspection interrupted the soldiers. Over 300 died at the school over the course of the summer.
Five Minute Trials (04:14)
At Pankrac Prison, public executions were carried out within two hours of sentencing. Pupik describes torture he witnessed against children as young as six. Fritsch's family was interned in an old SS training camp— his grandmother, brother, and mother, died within two months.
Ethnic Cleansing (05:18)
In Zatec, over 2000 Sudeten Germans were murdered over a period of five days. Peter Klepsch describes spontaneous executions, public whippings, and how he witnessed five teenagers shot for trying to steal fruit. Soldiers forced him to help build a mass grave by the barracks for the bodies.
Zgoda Camp (02:17)
Zgoda was a sub-camp of Auschwitz during World War II. Gerhard Gruschka and Dorota Boroczek share stories of being incarcerated at the labor camp and meeting Salomon Morel.
Morel Fostered Sadism (03:05)
Gruschka describes the pyramid method of torture— Boroczek explains how people would eat fresh corpses. One-third of the Germans sent to Zgoda died there. Across Europe over 60,000 people died in labor camps.
At Chomutov, Czechoslovakia (04:48)
Horst Theml was forced to remove his top, so Czechoslovakians could inspect his body for SS markings— if a tattoo was discovered, the person was hauled out of line and beaten to death. Soldiers used posters of Hitler to humiliate Germans. If a person could not keep up on a forced death march, he or she was beaten and then executed.
Forced Death Marches (02:39)
Germans not arrested were forced to wear white armbands and subject to anti-German laws. Because of the Potsdam Conference, over 12 million Germans were expelled from Eastern Europe and their property seized.
Remembering East Prussia (03:16)
After Becker left Goldap, her family fled to Danzig. She remembers climbing over dead bodies to fetch water for her family— her five-year-old brother died in the winter of 1945 of diphtheria. Becker's family was expelled in 1947.
Lost German Children (04:10)
25,000 children were orphaned because of the ethnic cleansing. Sieglinde Kenzler remembers fleeing from Prussia with her family and being imprisoned in Russia. Her one-year-old brother died and she buried her mother herself.
Wolf Children (03:09)
Like 5000 other lost German children, Kenzler traveled to Lithuania and lived off the land. She lost contact with her siblings, but they reunited years later in East Germany. The ethnic cleansing of the German people in Europe after World War II remains one of the largest genocides in the world.
Credits: 1945: The Savage Peace (00:37)
Credits: 1945: The Savage Peace
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