THE EASTERN FRONTRussian Victims of German killings near Sebastopol, 1944
The war inflicted huge losses and suffering onto the civilian populations of the affected countries. Behind the front lines, atrocities against civilians in German-occupied areas were routine, including the Holocaust. German and German-allied forces treated civilian populations with exceptional brutality, massacring villages and routinely killing civilian hostages. Both sides practiced widespread scorched earth tactics. When the Red Army invaded Germany from 1944, many German civilians suffered from vengeance taken by Red Army soldiers. Indeed many German civilians committed suicide rather than face such retribution. Many German civilians were systematically raped, killed or tortured. After the war, following the Yalta conference agreements between the Allies, the German populations of East Prussia and Silesia were displaced to the west of the Oder-Neisse Line, in what became one of the largest forced migrations of people in world history.
Much of the combat took place in or close by populated areas, and the actions of both sides contributed to massive loss of civilian life.
Destruction after the passage of Nazi troops. A ruined house in Krasnograd, Ukraine, 1943
Russian soldiers attack
German prisoners walk through a Russian town, July, 1944
German prisoner-of-war walk under the beady eyes of Russian soldiers
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