Did this alleged military incident actually occur?

A long time ago in a discussion far far away someone made a reference to a particularly horrific incident alleged to have occurred during the Second World War. I saved the passage itself but unfortunately have no idea of its author or its provenance, a google search throws up no leads either. The alleged incident stuck in my mind and I always wondered what it was the author was referring to, or if it happened at all. I do recall that the person who wrote it wasn’t anti-military by any means so it wasn’t intended as such.

I apologise in advance for the length and content but its easiest to just post the passage directly. If by some coincendence you are the person who wrote this then no disrespect is intended.

"In the Summer of 1943, the German and Russian Armies had faced each
other for two years. While the most famous battles raged in places like
Moscow and Stalingrad, the Wehrrmacht had also invaded from Finland,
then a German ally. Their objective was at first Leningrad, then later
to interfere with the flow of supplies from Murmansk. In the end they
ultimately failed, but the entire Eastern Front was legendary for its
harshness and lethality, and this sector was no exception. The war was
closely fought.

It was at this time and place that one of the most remarkable and
under-reported events in the modern history of warfare took place, an
event so ugly that the images of it remain burned in my brain years
after reading about it. My source material is long gone, and I am
working strictly from memory. Yet I am sure that I am correct, at least
in the broad strokes.

By some evil coincidence, German and Russian forces of roughly equal
combat strength were simultaneously sent to occupy the same objective, a
fairly low and anonymous piece of ground. There were as best I recall
about 1500 Russians, and about 900 Germans, who were better trained and
equipped thus compensating for their lack of numbers. All the men
involved were from ordinary infantry units- these were not elite or
specially indoctrinated men. They arrived at the same moment, and a
sharp battle erupted.

Then something truly hideous happened. To this day, no one knows
exactly what. But the battle, though really purposeless strategically,
became incredibly fierce. Both sides seemed to go utterly mad and lose
all sense of humanity. Screaming Germans shot Russian medics trying to
treat them, while Russians pulled pistols on Germans and killed them in
the act of binding their wounds. Men trying to surrender were burned
down where they stood by flame throwers. A terrible bloody rage arose,
and the battle, though small, became arguably the most intense in modern
history. No one seemingly cared if they survived, as long as the enemy
was utterly wiped out to the last man. It was the most pure display of
aggression I have ever read of. The men literally screamed in rage as
they fought, ignoring cover and everything else but their raw hatred and
the most animal of instincts. The soldiers of both nations were utterly
reckless of their lives, and utterly merciless. I question wether they
were really human for that time, but I fear they were.

Both sides pretty much got their wish. There were a total of three
shocked and shaken survivors (all German) out of 2400 men. (Russian
records confirmed their unit was wiped out.) Other battles have seen one
side or the other wiped out with considerable frequency, but only in
this one case that I (or the author of the article) know of have two
units ever came so close to annhilating each other in modern times.
Thank God, the human race has known nothing like it since. That we are
capable of such anger is terrifying to me."
Anyone know what incident he was referring to?

Start here —> http://www.combatsim.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=18&t=000411

It has a taint of urban legend about it. This part is especially suspect:

Screaming Germans shot Russian medics trying to treat them, while Russians pulled pistols on Germans and killed them in the act of binding their wounds. Men trying to surrender were burned down where they stood by flame throwers.

You’ve got Germans helping Russians and Russians helping Germans in the middle of battle, and soldiers trying to surrender, while everyone is crazy with rage.:confused:

What a great username/post combo, Disposable Hero.

Who recounted this story? One of the three surviving Germans? How would they have seen all of those little details, on both sides?

Why are medics treating soldiers on the other side if everyone is blind with rage?

The part about Russians pulling out pistols really doesn’t sound very plausible either, since sidearms were only issued to Red Army officers.

Leaving aside the valid concerns about this particular incident’s historical veracity, it’s unfortunately not as uncommon as you seem to think for mind-boggling savagery to dehumanize men on the battlefield.

A historian quoted in a documentary program about Hannibal’s victory at Cannae described the famous “double envelopment” by which the Romans were surrounded. Although the Romans were completely trapped, the Carthaginians still had to physically kill them – there was no question or intention of taking prisoners – the physical effort of dismembering all those individuals by hand-strokes. The historian concluded, “And then it’s just a question of how long it takes to slaughter seventy thousand human beings. And the answer is, about six hours.”

For a more modern case of the horrors of war, how about Spotsylvania Court House in the US Civil War? Casual Googling does not seem to go into the horrible details I have read, but it was really bestial. I will try to get a quote from Foote or Catton later on.

Any time I see someone referring to Soviet soldiers as “Russians” I immediately disregard anything else they might have to say. If they can’t even get that right, then I have no reason to believe they’d be right about anything else either.

I thought of this as well. I think it relates to the “Bloody Angle”. Survivors recalled that they literally “saw red” & had no other thought than to kill the enemy. It seems to have affected both sides. Soldiers were climbing over dead & wounded comrades to get at each other.

I read a shocking little statistic about WWII’s brutality just last night. China and Japan were at war for over eight years. Over five million Chinese soldiers fought in the war.

When Japan surrendered in 1945, they released all the POW’s they had. Fifty-six Chinese POW’s were released.

There’s some detail on the nps.gov site. I’ll have to look this up at home later.

Your distrust is misplaced. Europeans, especially Aryan Germans of that time, did not think in political terms (Soviet) but in ethnic terms (Russian). They knew the difference between a Czech and a Slovac despite the name of the country. Most of us in the U.S. can think of ourselves as Americans but many still cling to their heritage as Irish, Italian, Jewish, etc. It may come that someday we can think of others in terms of their political connections alone but history and human nature seem to dictate otherwise. A Visigoth would understand he was not an Ostrogoth but both might cling to their Gothic heritage when dealing with the Romans.

And U.S. soldiers who fought in Korea must be referred to as UNs.

I’m not in the US, and I’m not American.

And having met quite a few people from various former Soviet Republics, and I’d say every singe one of them would be annoyed at being called “Russian” except for the ones that are actual Russians. Some would be greatly offended.

Assumptions: They can give offence. Best avoided by, you know, actually finding out the facts before you start telling people what nationality they are.

All Americans are the same nationality, not all Soviet citizens were Russians.

Would you assume that all Americans are white people of British ancestry? Because that’s the exact same level of stupid as calling all the peoples of the former Soviet Republics “Russians”.

Americans, British, Canadians, Australians and others fought in Korea under the United Nations. Therefore, using your logic, Americans must be called UNs.

By the way, this isn’t the pit.


The story reeks of urban legend, and the Eastern Front was horrible enough as it was.

Not a terribly wise thing to do. A search of *Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East * by Earl F. Ziemke gives 100 hits for the word “Russian”, David M. Glantz’s To the gates of Stalingrad:Soviet-German combat Operations, April-August 1942 65 hits and John Ericksons’s The Road to Berlin: Stalin`s War with Germany, Volume Two 83 hits. None of them are exactly lightweights on the history of the Eastern Front.

From A Stillness at Appomatox

The entire section on Spotsylvania and the Bloody Angle (described above) is harrowing.At points, two armeies divided by only a log wall fought it out. It describes the physical and psychological state of the armies who, for the first time, had engaged in essentially continuous fighting for weeks. Previously, a battle would be fought, one side would run away to regroup and then eventually a next distinct engagement would occur. sometime with weeks or months in between.