Antony Beevor's book, Hitler's Concrete Tomb
gives credit to the non-German troops who fought to defend Berlin. Among them
were columns of the French Charlemagne Divisions whose military bearing and
steadfast discipline gave strength to the myth that they were Adolf Hitler's
last throw of the dice to protect Europe from the Red Army.
As tank battles, sniper activity and hand-to-hand fighting engulfed the German
capital there were also soldiers of the British Free Corps. They had been won
over and released from POW camps and, in return for donning SS uniforms were
given the understanding that they would not be called upon to fight their own
Anthony Byers of Effingham in Surrey says: "As a National Serviceman in
Berlin, I met a Russian officer who was impressed by the fighting spirit of
eight British soldiers. They held up an entire Russian regiment for almost two
days until they ran out of ammunition. Only two survived to surrender and they
were promptly shot by the understandably irritated Russians, who had lost
almost 100 men and three tanks.
The Russian officer said that had SS Unterscharfuhrer Cornfield and a soldier
he named as Pleed been fighting the Germans they would have deserved the
He told me: "I hope you British invented a good story for their families, for
a brave soldier is still a brave soldier even when a traitor to his country."
POWs USED TO CLEAR MINE FIELDS
According to the Norwegian journal Morgenbladet, which had discovered old
newspaper files, German POWs, sappers and other ranks, in clear defiance of
international convention were ordered to clear mine fields. These German
prisoners of war were forced to march, should to shoulder, across fields to
determine whether any mines remained.
Using POWs for mine clearance was common practice by the Soviets, the British
and the Americans. Many hundreds of young Europeans were said to have died,
horribly mutilated, as a consequence.
According to a spokesman the International Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland,
on April 12th 1946, 'The United States, Britain and France nearly a year after
peace are violating international Red Cross agreements they solemnly signed in
THE CASUALTY ROLL CALL
The figures given for the Second World war dead are much in dispute but the
consensus of opinion agrees on the following figures: (Do note however that
these 'victor figures' tend to downplay their opponents losses). USSR 13.6
million (the media still write this up as between 20 and 40 million), Germany
3.5 million (civilians approximately 11,000,000), China 1.3 million,
Japan 1.3 million, Romania 350,000, Yugoslavia 305,000, USA 292,000, Italy
279,000, UK 264,000, France 213,000, Hungary 200,000, Poland 123,000, Greece
88,000, Finland 82,000, Canada 37,000, India 24,000, Australia 23,000, Belgium
12,000, Czechoslovakia 10,000, Bulgaria 10,000, New Zealand 10,000,
Netherlands 8,000, South Africa 6,000, Norway 3,000, Denmark 1,800, Brazil
THE AXIS POWERS
The Axis Powers comprised Hitler's Germany and Benito Mussolini's Fascist
Italy when in 1036 the two countries formed an alliance. Japan was the third
to join. The last three to join were Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.