Russian social media seethes as BBC describes Soviet WWII monument as 'memorial to unknown rapist'

The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin, Germany © Fabrizio Bensch
Social media users in Russia were left fuming after a BBC Russian article alleged that Soviet troops committed mass rapes in Germany while capturing Berlin in 1945 and consequently a major monument to the fallen soldiers came to be dubbed by some as the “memorial to the unknown rapist.”

The English language version of the article was originally published by the British state broadcaster ahead of the 70th anniversary of World War II in May. However, its translation was posted by the BBC Russian Service only on Thursday.

Screenshot  ©bbcrussian

The article was said to be based on a wartime diary of “a young Jewish lieutenant from central Ukraine,” Vladimir Gelfand. He claimed that once Soviet troops entered Germany and fought their way to the capital Berlin, they took revenge for the horrors that those living in the Soviet Union had experienced during the Nazi invasion from 1941-1944, by taking part in the mass rape of German women.

The article claims that information about the mass rapes in Germany has been swept under the carpet for decades since the end of the war. The piece ends by saying that Russia has introduced tough laws about defaming history as well as a remark from the son of the alleged author, who said, “we can’t move forward until we look back.”

The Soviet war memorial in Treptower Park is the resting place for over 80,000 Soviet troops who died in the Battle of Berlin. However, the BBC article decided to call it the “memorial to the unknown rapist,” despite the monument honoring those who lost their lives in helping to defeat fascism.

@bbcrussian @US_progress  What do you mean by this title, are you on drugs?

@bbcrussian @Darifma Citing Goebbels? The violence was committed by your American friends

@bbcrussian Why did you fabricate this, you idiots?!  I’ve been connected with Germany for 20 years now – and never heard anything like that!

@bbcrussian That’s right. Mass rapes took place in the British and American occupation zones.

@bbcrussian Do they have similar monuments to Brits -  the liberators in India or in Ireland? How do they call them?

Such was the anger, the Russian MP Aleksandr Sidyakin requested his country’s Prosecutor General should launch an investigation into the publication, saying the article falls under extremism and glorification of Nazism.

“Please give the order to make sure that action is taken against the BBC Russian Service editors who have established elements of a crime, i.e. extremism, in accordance with Russian legislation by prosecuting the media outlet – right down to the termination of their activates following a judicial procedure.”

After a storm of furious comments BBC Russian deleted the post from its Twitter account.

They also tweeted an apology.

“We deleted the Twitter post and the photo caption as offensive and not complying with the BBC standards. We sincerely apologize,” @bbcrussian wrote.

However, they avoided mentioning directly which exactly post and caption they acknowledged as offensive.

Meanwhile, the tweet reading “‘They were raping my daughter in my presence’ Berlin 1945: Unknown history of the war” is still on @bbcrussian Twitter feed.