THE TROPHY AFFAIR
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In terms of material wealth, Hitler’s Germany was second only to the United States and ripe for a plunder fest without equal. A taboo topic avoided by court historians and corporate media is the malevolent ransacking of the defeated Reich from May 1945 by the three conquering empires; British, Soviet and American.
The presumption of eventual victory followed by the prospect for plunder led to the loss of tens of millions of lives. This was due to the rapacious allies spurning numerous sensible peace offers by the beleaguered Reich.
If there was a reality in the claim that from 1941 Hitler’s Germany systematically murdered millions of Jews then surely a peaceful settlement on terms agreed to be fair would have saved the lives of these six million plus.
This suggests that the alleged six million were deliberately sacrificed as to accept peace terms and save them would jeopardise the opportunity to ransack the Reich. On the other hand is it that the six million gassed Jews was just another war time myth spun by the victors, but in this case a money-spinner without end.
The Lend-Lease Pact was signed by US President Roosevelt’s before the US conspired to enter the war and was a down payment on a licence to join in the plunder of the Reich. The US Lend Lease Pact provided Soviet dictator Josef Stalin with a blank check to ensure the survival of the Soviet Union. For this reason, the Soviets established the Trophy Brigades from as early as February 1943. The purpose of the Trophy Brigades was to join in the ransacking and share with the British and US Allies the spoils of war.
Every German home, thousands of factories, tens of thousands of cars, millions of captive slaves became prize of war. Germany’s entire merchant marine and manufacturing base became war booty. The ransacking of Germany reduced the Reich to an empty shell y 1948.
THE TROPHY AFFAIR
Court Cases 1946 -1954.
Upon the defeat of the Reich, the USSR created many new departments to deal with vastly changed circumstances. The terms agreed by The Yalta Agreement of February 1945 meant that the Soviet Union had illegal acquired 21 additional nations. Ironically, these included Poland for whose territorial integrity Britain declared war.
As a consequence, estimates put the war’s total death toll at about 50 million. The signatories of the disastrous Yalta Agreement were first Britain’s unelected Prime Minister Winston Churchill, second to sign was Roosevelt and then the smirking Soviet tyrant, already responsible for the martyrdom of up to 50 million Christians, added his signature.
As a consequence of war, Bolshevik Occupied Russia (USSR) found itself wealthier not just from territorial acquisition but by opportunity for plunder from the defeated Reich and other surrendered nations. It was imperative that the plunder be accounted for and distributed according to the whims and prejudice of the various departments and courts.
The Soviets demanded a free hand. They and their British and America allies removed everything from defeated Germany. To the USSR were transported hundreds of thousands of German railway wagons laden with everything from household goods to cars, factory machines, agricultural equipment, and slaves destined for the scattered outposts of the Soviet Gulag. Everything the German nation possessed and had legally acquired, not just during the Reich but throughout German history, was plundered.
Whilst the plunder by ordinary soldiers was officially sanctioned the Red Army troops, already attired in British supplied uniforms and boots were rationed. However, a free hand was given to highly placed military commanders. As a body generals considered plunder without limit as a legitimate prize of war. Many boasted of their acquisitions, many remained silent being unsure as to how their piracy would be responded to by the Kremlin. It would be fair to describe the plundering hierarchy as a den of brigands doing deals between themselves.
For a time Josef Stalin turned a blind eye to the plunder and bartering going on between his commanders. But, aware of what was going on he typically took names to ‘keep everyone on the hook’ and selectively punished any who ‘went off message’.
The Trophy Case or Generals Case (1946-1954) was a campaign mounted by State security organisations. Headed by Minister of State Security or MGB (ex-NKGB) Viktor Abakumov, its procedures were based on Stalin’s personal instructions. The purpose of the court cases was to identify abuse among the Soviet generals.
All were incriminated; marshals and generals, the ‘flower of the nation’ and pride of the Soviet Union, the ‘victors of the Great Patriotic War’. Many were not only household names in the USSR but were internationally acclaimed by Western governments and especially lauded by Western media.
The responsible Red Army generals were regular delegates of various international conferences, government delegations, and international congresses. These disgraced dignitaries included Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who today is still paraded by media as the hero of the Soviet War against Hitler’s Germany. Almost as important and well-known was Colonel-General Ivan Serov, Soviet Armenian Air Marshal Sergei Khudyakov and many others.
Josef Stalin was aware of his vulnerability. During the war, many high placed commanders had rubbed shoulders, done deals, and conspired to jockey for elevated position. All were guilty of other offences including plundering on a scale unknown in the history of warfare. The Soviet dictator’s defensive strategy was to divide and conquer.
For a start, the notorious NKVD (Narodny Komissariat Vnutrennih Del) was divided into more manageable parts. From this state security apparatus, Stalin created SMERSH as a means of gathering and managing military counterintelligence. SMERSH was the personal responsibility of the Soviet dictator and all SMERSH operatives were accountable to him.
SMERSH anecdotally was derived from a phrase translated as ‘Death to Spies’. This was designed to be a counter-intelligence unit within the Red Army to ensure the loyalty of the army’s entire personnel.
The guileful Josef Stalin, since paraded as Uncle Joe by Western media journalists, did not allow the grass to grow under his feet. Both the NKVD and the NKGB were converted into government ministries. One was dubbed the Ministry for Internal Affairs (MVD) and the other became the Ministry for State Security (MGB). Under the direction of Lavrentiy Beria, the two again merged in 1953, and then Beria was placed under arrest and executed. The KGB took on the mantle of the NKGB / MGB and, in 1954, separated from the reformed MVD.
Stalin made General-Colonel Viktor Abakumov head of the MGB. The Soviet dictator was a devious manipulator and had a natural fondness for intrigue. He would play off against each other MVD (Lavrentiy Beria, Ivan Alexandrovich Serov) and the MGB (Viktor Abakumov).
Under the direction of Abakumov, MGB operatives ‘untwisted cases’ against the army generals and marshals and against generals of ministry of internal affairs (an interior ministry). These operatives attentively studied the dirty dealings of Marshals and Generals Zhukov, Beria, Serov, Telegin, Sydnev, Kryukov and others.
Beria and Serov managed to wriggle out of responsibility as both reported to Stalin details of ongoing conspiracies. Consequently, all evidence of plunder was left lying in the archives. The cache included German gold, diamonds, jewellery, and millions of German marks dismissed as ‘trifles’.
Serov remained free but Stalin had already decided to remove Zhukov from the post of Chief of Land Forces. Instead, the marshal was appointed Commander of troops stationed in Odessa (1946-48.) and later enlarged to include the Ural military districts (1948-1953).
On 4 July 1951 the head of the Ministry of State Security General-Colonel Viktor Abakumov, who had earlier carried out inquiries into the activities of Zhukov and Serov, was dismissed from all posts held. The officer put his feet up for a week and put his hands up upon his being arrested July 12 1951.
Staff working under the direction of Beria and Serov carried out their own searches and interrogations. Dog eats dog, Viktor Abakumov and staff were interrogated and forced to answer questions concerning NKVD investigations. The investigators and the arrested had changed places but the interrogation protocols were not fundamentally changed. Later was found a huge cache of German gold, diamonds, necklaces and bracelets, paintings and tapestries in the home of General Abakumov, all had been looted from defeated Germany.
Among the crystal and porcelain ware, sparkling gold bars and jewels, gold and silver tableware, the NKVD investigators discovered a suitcase stuffed with German trouser suspenders. Surely the question must have been why a creature other than a centipede would require so many men’s suspenders.
In 1954, when making his final statement before the court whereupon he was sentenced to death, Abakumov insisted: “I did not do anything on my own account. Stalin gave me instructions and I fulfilled them.”
Following the unexplained death of Joe Stalin on 26 June 1953 Lavrentiy Beria was arrested by Nikita Khrushchev, Molotov and Malenkov. Beria and other defendants were sentenced to death on 23 December 1953. The former head of the dreaded NKVD, an organisation that had martyred tens of millions of prisoners, mostly Gulag slaves, was shot through the forehead by General Pavel Batitsky.
His executioner had to stuff a rag into Beria’s mouth to silence his bawling. His final moments bore great similarity to those of his own predecessor, NKVD Chief Nikolai Yezhov, who had begged for his life before his execution in 1940. The body of Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was subsequently cremated. The remains were buried in a forest near Moscow.
The unfolding events were of political significance. It was no secret that the courage of Soviet soldiers during the war aroused indignation that military elite had gratified themselves with plunder far beyond their needs. This was hardly what they had been told they were fighting for and resentment needed to be publicly addressed. The common soldiers had been told that they were fighting not for the enrichment of the bourgeoisie, as in the First World War. They were now told that they had not given their blood for trinkets in the pockets of a self-elected few Generals.
The heroism of the Soviet soldiers was sold as a cause for socialist patriotism. It had turned out that loot was becoming the currency of the black market and was now subverting the conventional Soviet economy. It was a question of class struggle continuity, the intensification of that as we move towards socialism, as Stalin surmised.
Stalin and the group gathered around him were able to respond to the challenge of the time. One manifestation of this struggle was The Trophy Case, the disgrace of Zhukov, and the ‘cleansing’ of the echelon of top-level generals. In this connection, it is remembered that the post-war reduction of the army by five-times its WWII strength had been the responsibility of the now Minister of Defense Nikolai Bulganin. The new minister had no military experience and had no professional or personal relations with the sinful generals.
The main defendants in the Trophy Case: Marshal of the USSR Georgy Zhukov (1896-1974). He was summoned to appear before the Military Council, on June 1, 1946.
It was afterwards discovered that history’s most inept military commander had been directly or indirectly the cause of more Russian deaths than had been the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS combined. Perhaps the medals pinned to his uniform were for his many wartime blunders. In the Western media, and of course Wikipedia, ‘the heroic and brilliant commander’ Zhukov is still acclaimed as the marshal who defeated the Reich.
THE TRIAL OF THE VULTURES
Others on trial:
Ivan Alexandrovich Serov (1905-1990) Since his appointment in June 1945, he acted as Deputy Supreme Commander of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany for civil administration and had the authority of the NKVD on the management of the Soviet forces of occupation in Germany.
Alexei Ivanovich Shakhurin (1904-1975) was Commissar of the Aviation Industry (1940-1946).
Vasiliy Nikolaevich Gordov (1896-1950) commanded the Stalingrad Front between July and August 1942. Gordov was the Chief of Staff of the 21st Army after Operation Barbarossa and was its commander from October 1941 during the battles that took place in Smolensk and during the Battle of Kiev. On November 5, 1946 he was dismissed. Arrested on January 12, 1948, Gordov was sentenced to death under Article 58 on 24 August 1950 and executed on that same day in Lefortovo Prison.
Terentyev, Vasily Grigorievich (1899-1957). Soviet military commander Lieutenant-General (November 2, 1944) was Commander of the 70th Rifle Corps of the 49th Army of the 2nd Belorussian Front. He was arrested on 1 November 1948.
Konstantin Fedorovich Telegin (1899-1981) was a Soviet general and a political officer. He was arrested on 24 January 1948.
Lieutenant-General Leonid Fedorovich Minyuk (1900-1977) (1943) was a member of the CPSU (b) since 1925. A career military man and a Soviet veteran since 1918 he had served in the Red Army during the Civil War (1917-1922). Minyuk was arrested on January 24, 1948.
Lieutenant-General Vladimir Viktorovich Kryukov (1897-1959) was a Soviet military commander and Hero of Soviet Union (1945). Kryukov was one of Georgy Zhukov’s closest associates, and the husband of the Honoured Artist of the RSFSR, Lydia Ruslanova. Kryukov was arrested on 18 September 1948.
Grigory Ivanovich Kulik (1890-1950) was a Soviet military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union. He was arrested on 24 January 1948. On August 24, 1950, Kulik was shot. The body is buried at the Donskoy Cemetery in Moscow.
Philip Trofimovich Rybal’chenko (1898-1950) was a Major-General (1943) and he was arrested on January 4, 1947. Rybal’chenko was shot on 25 August, 1950. Again, his remains were interred at Moscow’s Donskoy Cemetery. According to other sources, the date and place of his death was said to be March 6, 1953, in the city of Kuibyshev, now named Samara.
Sidnev Alexei Matveevich (1907-1958) was an employee of the Soviet State Security organs. Given the rank of Major-General he was a Member of the CPSU (b) since 1931. Sidnev was a Chief of the Operations Sector Ministry of Interior in Berlin; he was arrested in December 1947.
Grigory Akimovich Bezhanov (Grigor Ovakimovich Bezhanyan) (1897-1965) as a Major-General he was one of the leading figures of the NKVD and Minister of State Security for Kabardian ASSR.
He was Chief of the Operations in the sector of Ministry of Interior in Thuringia (Germany) and was arrested in December 1947.
Klepov (Klyopov) Sergej Alekseevich (1900- 1972) was one of the leading figures of the NKVD. He was a Major General (9 July 1945) and member of the CPSU (b) (1923). He was also Chief of Operations in the Soviet Occupied Zone with the Ministry of Interior in Saxony. Klepov was arrested in December 1947.
Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov (1900 –1976) was the Chief Air Marshal of the Soviet Air Force during Russia’s involvement in the Second World War. In 1946-1952 he was imprisoned on the authorisation by A. A. Cheptsov on trumped-up charges dubbed ‘The Aviation Case’. (Novikov was sentenced to serve 5 years in prison on May 11, 1946 but in fact he served 6 years.
The arrest of Novikov and Minister of Aviation Industry Shakhurin was sometimes attributed to the Novikov conflict with Vasily Stalin, the deceased son of Joseph Stalin. Novikov was rehabilitated with the participation of A. A. Cheptsov and restored to his rank in 1953.
Sergei Alexandrovich Khudyakov (Armenian, born Armenak Artem Khanperiants) (1902 –1950) was a Soviet Armenian Air Marshal. On 14 December 1946, he was arrested in Chita and taken to Moscow. There, he was accused of having been recruited as a spy by the British secret service MI5. Parallel to this, an investigation was made into his involvement in stealing trophy property and valuables from the missing plane. The charges fell under Article 193-17 a.
The investigation lasted for more than four years and ended in 1949. He was sentenced to execution with confiscation of looted property on 18 April 1950. He was shot on the day of his sentence and his bullet-riddled remains interred at the Don Cemetery.
Read more in the Michael Walsh book The Red Brigands: To the Winner Goes All
MICHAEL WALSH is a British born Irish journalist, author, and broadcaster. His 60 books include best-selling TROTSKY’S WHITE NEGROES, MEGACAUST , SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY , REICH AND WRONG, THE RED BRIGANDS, RANSACKING THE REICH , and The Exiled Duke Romanov Who Turned Desert Into Paradise buying from Amazon or signed copies from the author.
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