OPERATION KEELHAUL The prime source for this US-led travesty is Julius Epstein’s Operation Keelhaul The Story of Forced Repatriation (Devin-Adair, 1973). Julius Epstein was one of the prime researchers for the belated Congressional investigation of the State Department’s cover-up of Russian involvement in the Katyn Forest murders. While searching through military archives during his investigation, he discovered evidence of a top secret program of forced repatriation, called Operation Keelhaul, which is still classified to this day. Obviously the US has some very dirty secrets they still want hidden.

Although the US signed international agreements opposing forced repatriation, and verbally assured they world they would never countenance such actions, they inserted fine print in these documents excepting from the ban all those who originated from nations given over to the Soviets at the close of WWII. While claiming to “make the world safe for Democracy,” Roosevelt and his cronies condemned millions to slave labor camps. The Allies even kept secret from the world the fact that Stalin was holding over 5,000 Allied soldiers as hostages in order to make sure that the West complied with his demands for repatriation. US and British troops had to beat, drug, and drive at gunpoint these millions of liberty loving people back to Russia. Even after doing so, Stalin never did return American and British prisoners. They died in the Soviet Gulags. The US still refuses to open the archives about their fate.

Even refugees that had fled from WWI and who had already been integrated into Western society were driven back into Stalin’s work camps. Thousands of Eastern Germans had fled the advancing Russian armies in order to find a haven in the West. Most were driven back to slavery. Almost a million anti-Communist Russian soldiers under Russian General Vlasov had defected to the Germans in hopes of freeing Russia from Stalin’s grasp. They had never become Nazis, but had agreed to fight on the German side solely for purposes of achieving Russian liberty. At the war’s end, they pushed West desperately trying to seek asylum, or to at least the designation of prisoners of war, so they could be protected under the Geneva Convention. US military leaders expressly guaranteed that Gen. Vlasov’s men would never be turned back over to the Soviets. But under General Eisenhower, in consultation with the State Department, the US went back on their word of honor. Headquarters refused to designate them POWs or give them asylum, and eventually turned them over to the Russians. All their military leaders were shot or hanged. The rest went to Soviet labor camps. Some committed suicide before falling into Russian hands, knowing of their fate.

This entire operation was filled with horror stories. Let there be no ambivalence in our conclusions. US and British leaders were guilty of war crimes. Allied soldiers shot innocent men trying to escape as they were being forcibly repatriated. Soldiers used clubs to beat hundreds of men senseless, then dragged them onto trucks and ships. When deportees would disable a Russian ship, Americans would come aboard, subdue the resisters and make the repairs. Americans and British leaders have on their heads the blood of hundreds who committed suicide rather than being sent back, as well as of all those who eventually died in Stalin’s work camps. These were criminal acts and American soldiers and officers should have refused to follow orders. Only a handful did and they were treated with severe threats and/or punishments. A few American servicemen allowed prisoners to escape, having pity on them. But, by in large, American and British servicemen were no more moral or courageous in standing up against evil military orders than their German counterparts.

The Allies used grand deceptions and lies to trick victims into submitting to forced repatriation. Here is one egregious example from Epstein’s book.

“General Shkuro and his Ukranian Cossack troops had long been known to be anti-Bolsheviks. Gen Shkuro, himself, had emigrated after World War I and had never been a Soviet citizen. He felt he was safe from repatriation. The Cossacks had fought for Germany and surrendered to British troops. They demanded political asylum for which they easily qualified. The British confiscated all their Western currency and held them in detention. They were told on May 28 that all officers and enlisted men were to attend a conference with higher British authorities, and would be transported by truck. This seemed implausible. Why transport everyone in trucks when the British could come to them? When the Cossacks started to feel nervous about the destination, an English Lieutenant said, ‘I assure you on my word of honor as a British officer that you are just going to a conference.’ Another British officer gave the same assurance. The convoy was guarded, which did nothing to alleviate the Cossack’s anxiety. A few jumped from the trucks and escaped into the forest. They were the smart ones. Those that trusted the British ended up at a prisoner of war camp in Spittal, Austria (in the Russian sector of control). A British officer then informed them that, ‘in accordance with an agreement concluded between the military authorities of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, all officers will be put at the disposal of Soviet military authorities.’ A Cossack General asked the officer when the agreement was signed. He replied, ‘On May 23 of this year (1945).’” According to Epstein, one Cossack officer remarked, “The NKVD or the Gestapo would have slain us with truncheons, the British did it with their word of honor.” There were multiple suicides that night in the camp, and all of the others had to be subdued by clubs and rifle butts as none would leave the camp voluntarily.

The US and Britain represented the highest images of liberty and freedom for the rest of the world laboring under Nazi or Communist domination. To have betrayed these 6 million persons (quite another holocaust) certainly caused many behind the iron curtain to vow never to trust the West again. Indeed, the Communists used this very argument with those who had been forcibly repatriated. To those who had been released after years of camp labor, a commissar said, “Whether they were Vlasov men or prisoners of war who did not want to return to the motherland does not matter now. All their sins have been forgiven. But the English and American bayonets, truncheons, machine guns and tanks used against them will never be forgotten. No Russian will ever forget Lienz, Dachau, Plattling, Toronto and other places of extradition, including New York, And they must never be forgotten. It is a lesson all Russians must learn well. For it show that you cannot trust the capitalist states in the future.” The West had provided the Communists with the best argument for deterring future defections from the Soviet state.