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May 5

Written by: Diana West
Tuesday, May 05, 2015 11:49 AM 

For 70 years now, anniversaries of the end of the Second World War in Europe -- the "Good War" -- have neglected to reckon with another milestone: the approximate anniversary of Operation Keelhaul, the Allied operation that forcibly repatriated literally millions of people, Soviet-claimed anti-Communists in the Western war zones at war's end, to Stalin's Gulag or the firing squad. 

You've never heard of such a thing? You are not alone.

From American Betrayal, pp. 232-236:  

In contemporary terms, “repatriation” was a policy of reverse “ethnic cleansing” that scrubbed Western Europe of displaced or captured Russians and other nationals claimed by the Soviet regime. Who did the scrubbing? The sick-making fact is, British and American troops.32 Between two and, possibly, as many as four million people were thus transferred, often forcibly, with many hundreds of thousands of these unfortunates becoming slave laborers in the Gulag.33 Which presents us with a truly fearful symmetry: Just as Soviet occupiers couldn’t have reached Eastern Europe without American Lend-Lease trucks, millions of Soviet refugees couldn’t have ended up in the Gulag without British and U.S. soldiers.

Here was a harrowing new development in our self-destructive relationship with Communist Russia. Having swallowed any number of Big Lies about Soviet atrocities (Terror Famine and on) to maintain sunny relations with the USSR, having perpetrated a Big Lie ourselves about a Soviet atrocity (Katyn) to continue to fight on as supposedly like-minded allies, the Western Allies went further still: We became accessories to a Soviet atrocity—a war crime and crime against humanity.

How did this happen? There are many factors to consider. With unseemly enthusiasm, the British took the lead on the repatriation issue and we followed, despite the moral consternation of U.S. diplomats such as Joseph Grew, who, as acting secretary of state, balked at the policy. Again, the fix was in. Historian Nikolai Tolstoy writes that “negotiations at Yalta on the issue appear to have been handled chiefly by Alger Hiss, the inexperienced Secretary of State, Edward Stettinius, being ill-equipped to conduct them.”34 Correction: the inexperienced secretary of state, Edward Stettinius, being “the loyal protégé” of agent of Soviet influence Harry Hopkins and therefore you bet “ill-equipped” to conduct them. Meanwhile, as State Department official J. Anthony Panuch would later testify under oath before Congress, Hiss exerted “Svengali-like influence over the mental processes of Junior Stettinius.”35

[NB: Stalin's Secret Agents by Evans and Romersteing breaks new ground regarding how completely SecState Stettinius relied on Hiss at Yalta on repatriation and other issues.]  

So if Soviet spy Hiss presided over the repatriation issue, who presided over Hiss? In his 1994 memoir, Soviet spymaster Pavel Sudoplatov, whose duty it was to prepare psychological profiles of the members of the American delegation at Yalta, wrote, “I had the feeling that Hiss was acting under the instruc- tions of Hopkins.”36

Creepy feeling, no? Hiss would journey from Yalta to Moscow, where, Venona tells us, he would be secretly decorated by a grateful Soviet government.37 Was he regaled with Soviet testimonials about how he had fended off an existential threat to Mother Russia even as Solzhenitsyn was at the very same time beginning his prison sentence for anti-Soviet behavior? Hiss, after all, had helped ensure the destruction of the anti-Bolshevik masses in free Europe, many hundreds of thousands of whom had actually taken up arms against the Communist dictatorship by serving in the German army. Some were German-captured slave laborers; others wanted to fight the Communist dictatorship under any flag. Indeed, according to Julius Epstein, who broke this story wide open in 1973—Epstein himself a refugee from Nazism whose trailblazing 1949 research triggered Congress’s inquiry into the cover-up of Katyn38—it was the 850,000-strong army of Gen. An- drei Andreyevich Vlasov, having “gone over to the other side to save their country from Stalin” and having later surrendered to U.S. forces in German uniform, that “formed the core of those forcibly repatriated between 1944 and 1947.”39

In effect, then, we helped Stalin liquidate a potentially history-changing, anti- Communist rebellion before it could begin?

Yes. Once again, the implications are stunning, even overwhelming, particularly given the enumerated toll of suffering and death that blackens this unreckoned stretch of Allied history. Now an obsolete road long overgrown and forgotten, Uncle Sam and John Bull once traveled it together to betray an anti-Communist Russian army of nearly one million soldiers to death and to the Gulag. It was “truly the last secret, or one of the last, of the Second World War,” Sol- zhenitsyn wrote of repatriation in 1973 when Julius Epstein’s research into “Operation Keelhaul,” the U.S. Army code name for the forced repatriation of Soviet POWs and displaced persons, first became public. (Notice how Sol- zhenitsyn hedged his bets—“or one of the last.” This was wise, as it turns out.) He continued, “Having often encountered these people in camps, I was unable to believe for a whole quarter-century that the public in the West knew nothing of this action of the Western governments, of this massive handing over of ordinary Russian people to retribution and death.”40

“This massive handing over” of millions of refugees from the USSR, from generals of armies to intellectuals, Cossacks, kulaks, teachers, peasants, and workers, men, women, and children, took place practically within earshot of the gavels of the Nuremberg Trials, then in session. Occasionally, the deportations made the papers at the time, piecemeal, to be sure, and without a sense of their scope. At least something about them was reported nonetheless, and in the prominent pages of The New York Times:

DACHAU—Ten renegade Russian soldiers, in a frenzy of terror over their impending repatriation to the homeland, committed suicide today during a riot in the Dachau prison camp . . .

Twenty-one others were hospitalized, suffering from deep gashes that they inflicted on themselves, apparently with razor blades . . . Many suffered cracked heads from the nightsticks wielded by some 500 American and Polish guards [January 20, 1946].

ROME—Many thousands of persons hostile to the present regime in the Soviet Union are being forcibly sent there by Americans and the British under the Yalta Agreement, Eugene Cardinal Tisserant asserted today, and he said the Catholic Church constantly received appeals from “displaced persons” terrified of being sent back to territory now controlled by Russia . . . 

The Cardinal gave the writer the permission to quote him, saying “It will compromise me, but the world must know of these things. [March 5, 1946]”

The world must know of these things . . .
We will meet the Americans and we will tell them . . .


The world—the Americans—didn’t care. Just like the admiral who had to check with his imam back at the beginning of the book. It wasn’t knowledge or information that anyone needed, or wanted, to judge for himself. The facts could all be neutralized in an ideological interpretation.

Following the appearance of the Dachau story, Gen. A. Deniken, the elderly former commanding general of the White Russian armies (1917–20), which were supported by the USA, not incidentally, in our completely forgotten first war against the brand-new Bolshevik regime, wrote an extraordinary letter to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commanding general of the European theater. The Russian general wanted to explain to this modern Colossus why it was that his countrymen “prefer death to repatriation to the Soviets.” The letter, dated January 31, 1946, was also a plea for their lives. “Presuming that you are not fully acquainted with the true story concerning these people,” Deniken described the extenuating circumstances that led these men to serve in Nazi Germany’s army, none of which, he asserted, had to do with “Germanophilism” (“they hated the Germans,” he wrote). He described the harrowing experiences of Red Army soldiers captured by Nazis—the exhaustion, the cattle cars, the bayonets, the cold, the death toll; their starvation and bestial treatment as Nazi-certified untermenschen; their decisions to accept rations and freedom as conscripts in the German army; their desire to “join the ranks of the Anglo-American armies.”

Now, he continued, they knew exactly what awaited them in “Soviet paradise.” He wrote:

No wonder on being assembled in Dachau they sought immediate death— cutting their throats with small razor blades, suffering unimaginable agonies and tortures, setting fire to the barracks, discarding their clothing to burn quickly, baring their chests to American bayonets and bowing their heads to American clubs—all this not to get into Soviet prisons.

I can imagine the feelings of the American officers and soldiers who partici- pated in such executions.

General, there are the provisions and the paragraphs of the “Yalta Treaty,” but, there are also traditions of free and democratic people—“the right of asylum”—there are military ethics, which prohibit the use of violence even on the defeated enemy, and, finally, there exist the Christian morals which call for justice and pity.41

No soap. Not only did Eisenhower not yield, he didn’t reply. Not personally, anyhow. Perhaps, in Conquest’s words, it would have broken his “concentration on reputable, or reputable-sounding phenomena,” and ruined his attempts “to tame the data.” His chief aide answered the Deniken letter on February 18, 1946, with a flat statement denying repatriation was forcible except under certain circumstances—all of which happened to apply to the Russians.

Thus, at least two million people were “repatriated.” And We, the People knew nothing or little of it until 1973 when Julius Epstein, an indefatigable truth teller, told this supposedly “last secret.” Who was listening then? What do we as a people know of it now?

American and British soldiers shed tears as they carried out the orders to club and blackjack prisoners into insensibility, hold them down at bayonet point, bind the cut arteries with which they had attempted to commit suicide rather than be returned to Stalin’s “justice,” shoot their feet so that they could not run, toss maimed and mangled bodies back into trucks after beating them into un- consciousness, or drugging them into insensibility.42

Still nothing.

When Epstein’s book on the subject, Operation Keelhaul: The Story of Forced Repatriation—the product of twenty years of research, of painstakingly prying the release of repatriation documents from the U.S. government—came out in 1973 (unforgivably, no review in The New York Times), he could report that there had been at least some public debate in the 1950s on Britain’s prominent role in this crime against humanity. Government ministers, including Winston Churchill, then prime minister, were publicly quizzed in Parliament about the operation. “In the United States,” Epstein noted, “not one of the surviving high officials responsible for Operation Keelhaul has yet been asked any questions in the Congress.” With the exception of the testimony of a few witnesses, includ- ing Epstein, who came before Congress in 1956, “the Congress and the American people have never been officially informed about the basic facts concerning Operation Keelhaul, past and present.”43

To my knowledge, the same holds true four decades later. In this way, this suppressed history of repatriation has reverted to the status of academic curiosity, a line of exotic research with no relevance or impact on us as a nation or on our history. In this way, we lose, for example, the impact of the American betrayal of Vlasov, all the worse since “the Vlasov soldiers surrendered to the British and Americans after they had been expressly invited . . . and after they had received solemn promises that they would not be returned to the Soviets against their will.”44 Epstein explained the deeper implications: “The Vlasov people wanted to fight Stalin and Stalinism—a regime certainly not better than Hitler’s Nazi regime—but were condemned by the West for one reason only: that we were allied with Stalin’s terror regime.”45

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