Betrayal of the Cossacks

“In May 1945, British troops, under what they were told were direct orders from Churchill, undertook to repatriate more than 20,000 Cossacks, then living in Austria. These were former anti-Bolshevik partisans, some of whom had joined Hitler as a way of fighting Stalin, many of whom had left the USSR after the Revolution, and most of whom no longer held Soviet passports. After many days of promising them good treatment, the British tricked them. They invited the Cossack officers to a ‘conference,’ handed them over to Soviet troops, and rounded up their families the following day. In one particularly ugly incident at a camp near Lienz, Austria, British soldiers used bayonets and rifle butts to force thousands of women and children onto trains which would take them to the USSR. Rather than go back, women threw their babies over bridges, then jumped themselves. One man killed his wife and children, laid their bodies on the grass, and then killed himself. The Cossacks knew, of course, what would await them upon their return to the Soviet Union: firing squads–or the Gulag.” (Applebaum, Gulag: A History, p.437)


About Joseph Burke

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