“A ‘Continuous Spree’of Rape and Robbery.” And Torture and Murder
The Cheka official quoted by Pipes above said the early days in Kiev (1918–1919) amounted to a “continuous spree” of rape and robbery, though they were “careful to spare fellow Jews.” For some reason, Pipes left out mention of horrific torture and murder, but I’ll fill in those details. A major element of revenge has always been humiliation of the target group and rape of its women, and the Red Terror had plenty of both. The acme of vengeance, for the truly dedicated, is torture and murder: the infliction of terrible suffering directly on the object of hatred, flaunting one’s dominance, then the total destruction of the victim. The frenzied nature of the excesses of the Red Terror resulted from a combination of factors, including an atmosphere of brutalization brought on by revolution and civil war and a perverse ideology, but an ethnic factor was also clearly present.
A recent historian of Stalin’s executioners affirms the Jews “ruthlessly avenged the victims of a century’s pogroms.” Another states that “the “ranks of the Cheka were filled with social elements anxious for revenge.” A historian of the Russian Civil War states, “Always anxious to use national and racial hatreds to advantage, Dzerzhinskii placed Jews in seven of the Cheka’s top ten positions. . . . The victims of centuries of anti-Semitic abuse, the Jews of the Ukraine now had a chance to take revenge.”
The Cheka officers, with literally nothing hindering their action, assaulted women on a mass scale. There is plenty of evidence for this.
“Convicted criminals and certified psychopaths appointed themselves officers of the Cheka and terrorized, raped, and murdered whom they liked.” “Rapes of female prisoners by Cheka guards and interrogators were so commonplace that they occasioned comment from superiors only if performed in some particularly brutal or perverted fashion.” Rape of Russian women by Cheka men “took on gigantic proportions, particularly in the second reconquest of Ukraine and the Cossack regions of the Crimea in 1920.”
Sergey Melgounov wrote the classic account of early Bolshevik rule, The Red Terror. On page 136 he describes Cheka “food detachments” that plundered the food in the countryside to feed the cities, the base of Bolshevik power: “Whenever an expedition that was collecting the grain tax in the Khvalinsky district reached a village the peasants were commanded to surrender their best-looking girls to the officials.”
A story from Ekaterinodar in the Caucasus, c. 1919:
Madame Dombrovskaya, an ex-school teacher, was tortured in her solitary confinement cell . . . . The Che-Ka had been informed that she had . . . jewelery . . . in her keeping: wherefore . . . she was ordered to be tortured until she should reveal where the jewelery might be. For a beginning she was raped and outraged generally—the raping taking place in order of seniority of torturers, with a man called Friedmann raping her first, and the others in regular sequence. And, that done, she was questioned further as to the whereabouts of the jewelery, and further tortured by having incisions made into her body, and her finger tips nipped with pliers and pincers. Until at last, in her agony, with the blood pouring from her wounds, she confessed that the jewels were hidden in an outbuilding of her house. The same evening (the date being November 6) she was shot.
From southern Ukraine: “a witness testified before the Denikin Commission [an investigative body set up by the White Armies] that licentious orgies had been carried out systematically by the Che-Ka and tribunal of Nikolaev, and included even women who had come to beg for relatives’ release, with that inclusion as the price of their relatives’ freedom.”
Some local Chekas were so atrocious that even Bolsheviks were outraged. One—a Serafina Gopner—complained to Lenin about the Cheka in Ekaterinoslav in Ukraine:
This organization is rotten to the core: the canker of criminality, violence, and totally arbitrary decisions abounds, and it is filled with . . . the dregs of society, men armed to the teeth who simply execute anyone they don’t like. They steal, loot, rape, and throw anyone into prison, forge documents, practice extortion and blackmail, and will let anyone go in exchange for huge sums of money.