Thursday, April 30, 2015

Red Army troops raped even Russian women as they freed them from camps

Red Army troops raped even Russian women as they freed them from camps

By Daniel Johnson in the Telegraph

THE Red Army's orgy of rape in the dying days of Nazi Germany was conducted on a much greater scale than previously suspected, according to a new book by the military historian Anthony Beevor.
Beevor, the author of the best-selling Stalingrad, says advancing Soviet troops raped large numbers of Russian and Polish women held in concentration camps, as well as millions of Germans.
The extent of the Red Army's indiscipline and depravity emerged as the author studied Soviet archives for his forthcoming book Berlin, to be published in April by Viking.
Beevor - who was educated at Sandhurst and served in the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own), an elite cavalry regiment - says details of the Soviet soldiers' behaviour have forced him to revise his view of human nature.
"Having always in the past slightly pooh-poohed the idea that most men are potential rapists, I had to come to the conclusion that if there is a lack of army discipline, most men with a weapon, dehumanised by living through two or three years of war, do become potential rapists," he told The Bookseller.
He appears to echo the American feminist Marilyn French's notorious claim that "in their relations with women, all men are rapists, and that's all they are".
Any such resemblance is, however, superficial. Beevor is careful to qualify any suggestion that what happened from 1944 onwards is in any way typical of male behaviour in peacetime. But he admits that he was "shaken to the core" to discover that Russian and Polish women and girls liberated from concentration camps were also violated.
"That completely undermined the notion that the soldiers were using rape as a form of revenge against the Germans," he said.
"By the time the Russians reached Berlin, soldiers were regarding women almost as carnal booty; they felt because they were liberating Europe they could behave as they pleased. That is very frightening, because one starts to realise that civilisation is terribly superficial and the facade can be stripped away in a very short time."
Beevor's high reputation as a historian ensures that his claims will be taken seriously. Stalingrad was widely praised and awarded the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize.
His account of the siege of Berlin, however, promises to be more controversial. "In many ways the fate of the women and the girls in Berlin is far worse than that of the soldiers starving and suffering in Stalingrad."
To understand why the rape of Germany was so uniquely terrible, the context is essential. Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, began the most genocidal conflict in history. Perhaps 30 million inhabitants of the Soviet Union are now thought to have died during the war, including more than three million who were deliberately starved in German PoW camps.
The Germans, having shown no quarter, could expect none in return. Their casualties were also on a vast scale. In the Battle of Berlin alone more than a million German soldiers were killed or died later in captivity, plus at least 100,000 civilians. The Soviet Union lost more than 300,000 men.
Against this horrific background, Stalin and his commanders condoned or even justified rape, not only against Germans but also their allies in Hungary, Romania and Croatia. When the Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas protested to Stalin, the dictator exploded: "Can't he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?"
And when German Communists warned him that the rapes were turning the population against them, Stalin fumed: "I will not allow anyone to drag the reputation of the Red Army in the mud."
The rapes had begun as soon as the Red Army entered East Prussia and Silesia in 1944. In many towns and villages every female, aged from 10 to 80, was raped. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel laureate who was then a young officer, described the horror in his narrative poem Prussian Nights: "The little daughter's on the mattress,/Dead. How many have been on it/A platoon, a company perhaps?"
But Solzhenitsyn was rare: most of his comrades regarded rape as legitimate. As the offensive struck deep into Germany, the orders of Marshal Zhukov, their commander, stated: "Woe to the land of the murderers. We will get a terrible revenge for everything."
By the time the Red Army reached Berlin its reputation, reinforced by Nazi propaganda, had already terrified the population, many of whom fled. Though the hopeless struggle came to an end in May 1945, the ordeal of German women did not.
How many German women were raped? One can only guess, but a high proportion of at least 15 million women who either lived in the Soviet Union zone or were expelled from the eastern provinces. The scale of rape is suggested by the fact that about two million women had illegal abortions every year between 1945 and 1948.
It was not until the winter of 1946-47 that the Soviet authorities, concerned by the spread of disease, imposed serious penalties on their forces in East Germany for fraternising with the enemy.
Soviet soldiers saw rape, often carried out in front of a woman's husband and family, as an appropriate way of humiliating the Germans, who had treated Slavs as an inferior race with whom sexual relations were discouraged. Russia's patriarchal society and the habit of binge-drinking were also factors, but more important was resentment at the discovery of Germany's comparative wealth.
The fact, highlighted by Beevor, that Soviet troops raped not only Germans but also their victims, recently liberated from concentration camps, suggests that the sexual violence was often indiscriminate, although far fewer Russian or Polish women were raped when their areas were liberated compared to the conquered Germans.
Jews, however, were not necessarily regarded by Soviet troops as fellow victims of the Nazis. The Soviet commissars had commandeered German concentration camps in order to incarcerate their own political prisoners, who included "class enemies" as well as Nazi officials, and their attitude towards the previous inmates was, to say the least, unsentimental.
As for the millions of Russian prisoners or slave workers who survived the Nazis: those who were not executed as traitors or sent to the Gulag could count themselves lucky. The women among them were probably treated no better than the Germans, perhaps worse.
The rape of Germany left a bitter legacy. It contributed to the unpopularity of the East German communist regime and its consequent reliance on the Stasi secret police. The victims themselves were permanently traumatised: women of the wartime generation still refer to the Red Army war memorial in Berlin as "the Tomb of the Unknown Rapist".

Flashcards Get Smarter So You Can, Too

Flashcards Get Smarter So You Can, Too

New digital versions make it easier to memorize material in spare minutes; learning Mandarin, first aid, art history

By Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal

The old-fashioned flashcard is taking on new, digital life with a promise to make you smarter and more productive.
New flashcard programs on your phone or computer make it possible to memorize facts and concepts in what were wasted minutes waiting in line at the store or commuting to work. Users say they put a world of knowledge tantalizingly within reach, including Mandarin to programming, math, nutrition, bird calls and the bar exam.
The programs are based on research showing that spaced repetition, or repeated exposure to information at planned intervals, is the most powerful way to fix knowledge in one’s memory. Each digital flashcard is repeated at intervals, based on the degree of difficulty for the user. The hardest quiz items come up for review within a few hours or days, and easier ones are repeated every few weeks or months—when the user may be about to forget the answer.
Eden Full uses a program called Anki to create about 200 flashcards that she reviews several times a week on her smartphone while waiting in line or riding the subway. She studies memorable quotes, new ideas, helpful writing techniques or photos of important business contacts, with prompts to recall the person’s name and some personal information. Ms. Full, New York, founder of SunSaluter, New York, a nonprofit provider of solar panel technology, says the program helps her remember concepts and strengthen ties with business partners.
“When you’re having a friendly conversation with someone who is genuinely important to you, maybe you want to remember the person has a dog named Sparky,” Ms. Full says. Once she has information firmly in mind, she discards the card.
Catherine Rankine, a structural engineer based in London, is using a spaced-repetition program called Skritter to learn Mandarin, in hopes of doing more work in China. She can study as many as 243 words or characters in 16 minutes on her smartphone during her commute, Ms. Rankine says. Her studies recently helped her complete a project in Shanghai, designing and installing a Fashion Week exhibit in front of a restaurant. “It would have been impossible to get the same results without communicating in Chinese,” she says.
Spaced-repetition programs started catching on several years ago among people studying languages and programming, and spread rapidly via blogs and word-of-mouth to people in many walks of life. Many basic flashcard programs are free and allow users to create their own sets of quiz items, using video, audio or graphics if they wish, or to use decks created by others.
Anki has been downloaded 2.5 million times since it was launched in 2006, including 850,000 installations in the past 12 months, says Damien Elmes of Sydney, Australia, the program’s creator. Nicolas Raoul, a Tokyo software engineer who developed AnkiDroid, a version of Anki for Android devices, in 2009, says the Android program has 1.5 million users. A program called the Janki Method, also based on Anki and developed by Jack Kinsella of Berlin, is for people learning to code. Anki is free for computers and on the Web, or $24.99 for the iPhone and iPad mobile app when purchased through the Apple store.
Other, more elaborate programs use spaced repetition in combination with other learning tools. London-based Memrise uses spaced repetition along with frequent testing, competitions among users, and memory-boosting tricks, such as showing users how to link facts they’re trying to learn with memorable images or things they already know. A user might connect the Spanish word “aburrido,” which means “boring,” for example, with a made-up sentence such as, “It’s boring to eat a burrito with every meal.”
Most programs rely on users to rate the difficulty of each quiz item by clicking on one of several buttons beneath each answer. Cerego, San Francisco, a program designed for use both in classrooms and by consumers, tracks the user’s performance item by item, measuring how long each answer takes and analyzing patterns of correct and incorrect responses, says Andrew Smith Lewis, co-founder and executive chairman. The program selects the items the user most needs to review, creates lessons based on them and graphs the user’s progress in each course.
The effectiveness of spaced-repetition programs has been documented in hundreds of studies dating back more than a century, says a 2012 study in Educational Psychology Review. Researchers and students began using spaced repetition with paper flashcards as early as the 1970s, employing a method called the Leitner system.
A memory is a pattern of connections between neurons that is formed by a person’s experience. One neuron can be part of many memory networks, and new memories are fragile. Taking in a lot of new information at once, whether via lectures, reading or cramming, can distort or erase recent memories. Recalling memories periodically, at increasing intervals, helps the brain encode them in lasting form.
Most conventional courses shower students with new material, test them and move on, and few textbooks include frequent reviews. Several spaced-repetition programs were founded by people frustrated by traditional teaching methods. Nick Winter of San Francisco co-founded Skritter in 2009 because studying Chinese in college was so difficult. “You spend eight hours a day in the classroom trying to learn facts, and after the semester is over you forget 98% of it—and all those years of your life are gone,” he says.
Researchers at Excelsior College are studying whether using Cerego can help students learn more in online math and biology classes, says Jason Bryer, a senior researcher at Excelsior College, Albany, N.Y. Preliminary results from a 2014 study of 1,000 students found those who used the program got better grades, compared with controls, Dr. Bryer says.
Use of spaced-repetition programs in the workplace is growing as professionals and managers try to keep pace with mounting demands to learn new information, technology and techniques. People use Memrise to improve their technical vocabulary in fields ranging from oil drilling to medicine, says Ed Cooke, chief executive officer of Memrise, whose memory skills and coaching were described in the book, “Moonwalking with Einstein.”
AnkiDroid’s Mr. Raoul says people use the program to pass licensing exams in such fields as nutrition or first aid. Some doctors create sets of quiz items on Cerego to recall the names and faces of all their residents, Mr. Smith Lewis says.
Others use flashcard programs for self-improvement. Spencer Greenberg of New York, founder of, a website offering tools to help people improve their decision-making, uses a spaced-repetition system he created to remember tips on interviewing software engineers and making successful presentations.
Mr. Winter, co-founder of CodeCombat, a videogame that teaches programming, has created flashcards to remind him which vegetables he should buy only in organic form, such as kale, and the date his passport will expire.

Is Marijuana Really a Gateway Drug?

Here is the article without images, graphics, and comments: 
Chris Christie recently said that marijuana is a “gateway drug” while arguing for enforcement of its federal status as an illegal substance. Though there are correlations between marijuana use and other drugs, there is no conclusive evidence that one actually causes the other. The science on this topic is far from settled.
The “gateway hypothesis” or theory refers to the idea that one substance — marijuana, in this case — leads users to subsequently use and/or abuse other drugs. If Christie’s point is simply that the use of marijuana tends to precede the use of other drugs, then he is correct — but that’s not the whole story.
Though studies of large populations of people have indeed found that those who smoke marijuana are more likely to use other drugs, these studies show a correlation without showing causation — a commonly misunderstood phenomenon in science. In short, just because marijuana smokers might be more likely to later use, say, cocaine, does not imply that using marijuana causes one to use cocaine.
A 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, laid out this issue clearly (see pages 100-101): “In the sense that marijuana use typically precedes rather than follows initiation into the use of other illicit drugs, it is indeed a gateway drug. However, it does not appear to be a gateway drug to the extent that it is the cause or even that it is the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse; that is, care must be taken not to attribute cause to association.”
We spoke with several experts and reviewed the available scientific literature on gateway theory. Christie’s definitive statement is unsupported by evidence — there is some evidence in favor of a gateway effect, but the scientific community shares no consensus on the issue and there is little evidence on the underlying cause of that effect.
Importantly, there are two distinct ways in which marijuana or other drugs might act as a gateway: biological or pharmacological reasons why marijuana would lead to other drugs (sometimes known as the “stepping stone” theory); and social or cultural reasons for the jump from one drug to another. In the case of the first idea, some research has found plausible biological ways in which marijuana — and, notably, nicotine and alcohol — could “prime” the brain and make one more likely to abuse other drugs, but this research is largely in rats and is not conclusive.
For example, in one study published in 2007 in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers treated some adolescent rats with THC, the main active compound in marijuana. The rats were then given the opportunity to “self-administer” heroin as adults. The THC-treated rats consistently increased their heroin usage, while those rats that had not been treated with THC maintained a steady level of heroin intake.
Notably though, these findings are not unique to marijuana. Nicotine and alcohol, two other drugs that are widely available to young people and are often among the first drugs used, have been found to have similar effects in animal studies.
We do have some hints of biological gateway effects in humans, though, from studies involving twins.
One such study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003, and involved 311 twin pairs “discordant” for early marijuana use — that is, one of each set of twins had used marijuana before the age of 17, and the other had not. The twin that did use marijuana early in life had between a 2.1- and 5.2-times higher risk of other drug use, alcohol dependence, and drug abuse/dependence than their sibling. This means that associations between marijuana use and later drug use can’t be explained by genetic factors, and gives support to the gateway theory.
But even this leaves a lot of unanswered questions, according to Susan Weiss, the associate director for scientific affairs at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. “Did marijuana change that twin and make them more likely to use other drugs? What was it about that one twin that made them use marijuana while the other twin didn’t? We don’t know the answer to that. Did he happen to have friends that were more deviant? It’s very difficult to completely interpret these things; most likely there is probably some convergence of factors.

International Patterns

Some researchers, though, think there is almost certainly a causal link — it’s just not clear what it is. David Fergusson is a professor at the University of Otago in Christchurch, New Zealand, and he has been leading the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a 35-year, ongoing look at 1,265 New Zealanders born in 1977. Several papers on drug use and the gateway effect have emerged from this study.
“There is a very strong association between the use of cannabis in adolescence and subsequent use of other illicit drugs,” Fergusson told us in an email. He said that one analysis from his study published in the journal Addiction used a statistical test that “clearly suggest the existence of some kind of causative association in which the use of cannabis increases the likelihood that the user will go on to use other illicit drugs… Where things get murky is in the area of the nature of the causal processes.”
Another possible contributor to those processes is simply the availability of a given drug that might lead it to be used first, rather than any particular biological reason for moving from one to another. A large international collaboration produced a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2010 that looked at patterns of drug use across 17 countries. The study found that “with few exceptions, substances earlier in the ‘gateway’ sequence predicted drug use later in the sequence.” That finding, though, differed in strength across countries.
That study also provides a hint that marijuana’s illegal status may contribute to its gateway effects. The mechanism here is simple: accessing one illegal drug simply means a marijuana user would be more likely to have access to other illegal drugs, through social interactions and the act of actually buying the drug. The Drug and Alcohol Dependence study found that marijuana use was less strongly associated with other illicit drug use in the Netherlands, where marijuana can legally be purchased in so-called coffee shops, than in other countries including the United States.
Weiss, of NIDA, said that scientifically a gateway effect cannot be ruled out, but a conclusive “yes” is also not possible at this point. “The scientific community is still arguing about it,” she told us. “It really is a complicated thing to tease out. It has been very contentious over the years. And I don’t know how useful it is as a concept, but it’s something that people latch on to.”
Christie is entitled to his opinions on the legality of marijuana and the statutes in Washington and Colorado, and he is right that marijuana use “typically precedes” the use of other illegal drugs, as the Institute of Medicine report said. But there is no firm ground to stand on when making claims of the drug’s gateway effect.

The Lawbreakers of Baltimore—and Ferguson

The Lawbreakers of Baltimore—and Ferguson

The racial diversity of local government doesn’t matter when people want to seize on an excuse to commit crimes.

By Jason L. Riley in the Wall Street Journal

The racial makeup of city leaders, the police department and other municipal workers in Ferguson, Mo., played a central role in the media coverage and analysis of Michael Brown’s death, which is worth remembering as history repeats itself in Baltimore.
The Justice Department’s Ferguson report noted that although the city’s population was 67% black, just four of its 54 police officers fit that description. Moreover, “the Municipal Judge, Court Clerk, Prosecuting Attorney, and all assistant court clerks are white,” said the report. “While a diverse police department does not guarantee a constitutional one, it is nonetheless critically important for law enforcement agencies, and the Ferguson Police Department in particular, to strive for broad diversity among officers and civilian staff.”
Broad diversity is not a problem in Baltimore, where 63% of residents and 40% of police officers are black. The current police commissioner is also black, and he isn’t the first one. The mayor is black, as was her predecessor and as is a majority of the city council. Yet none of this “critically important” diversity seems to have mattered after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died earlier this month in police custody under circumstances that are still being investigated.
Some black Baltimoreans have responded by hitting the streets, robbing drugstores, minimarts and check-cashing establishments and setting fires. If you don’t see the connection, it’s because there isn’t one. Like Brown’s death, Gray’s is being used as a convenient excuse for lawbreaking. If the Ferguson protesters were responding to a majority-black town being oppressively run by a white minority—which is the implicit argument of the Justice Department and the explicit argument of the liberal commentariat—what explains Baltimore?
Tensions between the police and low-income black communities stem from high crime rates in those areas. The sharp rise in violent crime in our inner cities, which dates to the 1970s and 1980s, happened to coincide with an increase in the number of black leaders in many of those very same cities. What can be said of Baltimore is also true of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where black mayors and police chiefs and aldermen and school superintendents have held sway for decades.
Chicago’s population is 32% black, along with 26% of its police force, but it remains one of the most violent big cities in the country. There were more than 400 homicides in the Second City last year and some 300 of the victims were black, the Chicago Tribune reports. That’s more than double the number of black deaths at the hands of police in the entire country in a given year, according to FBI data.
Might the bigger problem be racial disparities in antisocial behavior, not the composition of law-enforcement agencies?
It was encouraging to hear a few Baltimore officials say as much Monday night as they watched their city burn. “I’m a lifelong resident of Baltimore, and too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
City Council President Jack Young pointedly recalled the Baltimore riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. “We cannot go back to 1968 where we burned down our own infrastructure and our own neighborhoods,” he said. “We still have scars from 1968 where we had some burnt out buildings and businesses did not want to come back to the city of Baltimore. We have to stop the burning down and the breaking in of these stores because in the end it hurts us as a people.”
Sadly, Mr. Young could have been describing any number of cities that experienced black rioting in the mid-1960s and took decades to recover, if they ever did. The riot that began in the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1965 resulted in 34 deaths, 4,000 arrests and 1,000 looted or destroyed businesses. The Detroit riots two years later caused 43 deaths and destroyed 2,500 businesses. Before the riots, both cities had sizable and growing black middle-class populations, where homeownership and employment exceeded the black national average. After the riots, those populations fled, and economic deprivation set in. Some 50 years later, Watts is still showing “scars” and Detroit remains in the hospital.
The violent-crime rate in Baltimore is more than triple the national average, and the murder rate is more than six times higher. As of April, city murders are 20% ahead of the number killed through the first three months of last year. But neither Mayor Rawlings-Blake nor Mr. Young needs any lectures from the media on Baltimore crime. The mayor lost a 20-year-old cousin to gun violence two years ago. And earlier this month Mr. Young’s 37-year-old nephew died from a gunshot wound to his head. Even the families of black elites in a city run by black elites can’t escape this pathology.

Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).