|German citizens watch as Soviet T-34/76 model 1943 tanks roll down the center of Leipzig in July 1945, as Red Army forces take over the occupation of the city. American forces occupied Leipzig on April 19, 1945. To secure Allied occupation of West Berlin, the Americans withdrew on July 1. Under the Americans the denazification of Leipzig began; the Soviets continued the purge, but also stifled the local Socialist movements that were independent of Moscow. The Soviet forces that took over the city repressed the surviving German citizens, evicting hundreds to claim housing for Red Army billets. After twelve years of intellectual oppression under the Nazis, many scholars at the University of Leipzig hoped for academic freedom; instead, the name was changed to Karl Marz Universitat, and the remaining professors who were not executed or deported by the Nazi regime worried about their fate under the Communists. As many as six felony assaults, robberies, or rapes a day – the figure reported to the Leipzig police – were perpetrated by Soviet soldiers as late as 1947. Even Communist women workers, tasked with reeducating the rural areas of Saxony, feared to travel because of roving gangs of rapists. The Leipzig train station was especially known as a dangerous place for German women. Some of the victims were murdered after being raped. Walter Jarisch, the Leipzig Police President, claimed the crimes were committed by Germans dressed as Soviets to sow mistrust of the occupation forces. He told a sympathetic Western reporter “Girls who want to explain an awkward pregnancy always find it easy to blame a Russian.“ The number of crimes directly attributable to Soviet occupation forces cannot be determined; large numbers of Soviet prisoners of war, displaced persons, forced laborers, criminal youth gangs, deserters, and irregulars operated in Germany for several years. Still, compared to the Western Allies (who tacitly permitted many more brothels) rape was more prevalent in East Germany until 1950. Leipzig‘s art treasures were evacuated to the Soviet Union; it became the subject of lawsuits in the 1990s when Leipzig‘s paintings and sculptures were auctioned by Sotheby‘s, promptly bringing a laysuit by the German government. Leipzig was part of Communist East Germany for forty-four years; after reunification in 1990, Leipzig was one of the few former East German cities to experience economic growth and rebuilding. The T-34/76 Model 1943 was the last version of the 76.2mm (3 inch) tank made before the conversion to the T-34/85 in early 1944. Many T-34/76 served in front line units through the end of the war.
|1259 x 953
|July 01, 1945
|State or Province
|National Archives and Records Administration
|Caption ©2007, ©2024 MFA Productions LLC
Image in the Public Domain
February 5, 2024