In late 1944 and early 1945 rapes were committed against women by the Soviet Red Army soldiers during their advance to Berlin through Serbia during the Second World War.

Soviets during liberation of Belgrade

Main article: Belgrade offensive

Milovan Đilas spoke about these events at the end of World War II in his memoirs. The Germans began to retreat, and mass rapes by members of the Red Army began. There was also a case where a mother-in-law was killed because she did not want to free the bed for the rape of her daughter-in-law. Soviet soldiers were repeatedly breaking into apartments and houses in Belgrade and the surrounding area, and they were making decisions on which soldier would rape the daughter and which would rape the mother. In order to avoid rape, women and girls hid in attics, sewers, holes in the ground, sheds and basements.[1]

The situation was so bad that Tito requested a personal audience with Stalin[2] through Đilas, asking him to stop the wave of rapes of Yugoslav women. Stalin, the head of the Kremlin at the time, told him: "Young guys are young guys, they've been through the war and they need a little rest." Jovanka Broz testifies to this with a testimony written down by Senad Pećanin.[3] Tito presented the problem to the head of the Soviet military mission, General Nikolai Korneyev, "in a very polite and relaxed way", in addition to the rape, he also complained about the banditry and arrogant behavior of the soldiers. However, Korneyev immediately began to protest about the "slander against the Soviet army". Stalin was also offended by the "slandering" of the Red Army by the Yugoslav allies and the conflict with Tito only deepened later.[4] The same crimes took place in other liberated territories, and rapes of German, Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian women are well known.[1][5][6] It is estimated that the Soviets raped over 2 million women across Europe.

Serbian journalist Vuk Perišić said about the rapes: "The rapes were extremely brutal, under the influence of alcohol and usually by a group of soldiers. The Soviet soldiers did not pay attention to the fact that Serbia was their ally, and there is no doubt that the Soviet high command tacitly approved the rape."[7]

According to Russian historian Nikita Bondarev, it was all propaganda and there were no mass rapes. About the crime, he says that it was not only the Soviets who raped, but also the Germans, the British and the Americans, and that there is no war without looting, banditry and abuse. He also states that the crimes of Soviet soldiers were greater in Germany and Austria than in the Balkans, because the Russian soldiers "were already tired and wanted to get revenge", so the percentage of rapes increased significantly.[3][8][9]


The number of rapes, in a period of several months, taking into account that the Soviets passed only through the northeastern regions of Serbia, speaks of the mass of these crimes.[2] By the end of 1944 there were 1,219 rapes, 359 attempted rapes, 111 rapes with murder, and 248 rapes with attempted murder in Serbia. On the territory of Belgrade until 1945, over 2,000 rapes were reported. While the total number is estimated at over 5,000 thousand women and girls who have suffered sexual violence and abuse.[1]

Research on sexual crimes on the territory of Serbia

Estimating cases of sexual violence is extremely difficult, and various researchers have used different methods to arrive at widely differing estimates. Official estimates by Yugoslav authorities indicate that between 2,420 and 24,380 women were abused by Red Army soldiers.[10]

Evidence shows that Serbs and Yugoslavs were much less afraid of the Red Army than Austrians, Poles, Germans, Hungarians and Romanians. Soviet soldiers and officers reported that Bulgarians would call them "brothers". This can be most contrasted with the behavior of the Soviet troops in Romania, where they raped an estimated 355,200 women. Also, the number of raped women in Hungary varies from 50,000 to 500,000 according to different sources. In Austria, between 70,000 and 110,000 women were raped in Vienna alone.[10]

Susan Brownsmiller noted that the liberation armies treated women in Serbia better than those in enemy countries.[10]

Soviet propaganda about Serbia and Yugoslavia

The pan-Slavic theme in the propaganda was intended to encourage Soviet soldiers to view Serbs as a brotherly people. Soviet propaganda also drew the soldiers' attention to German crimes against Yugoslav and Serbian civilians with the aim of inciting hatred towards the Germans.[10]

Tito asked Korneyev to immediately take measures to at least reduce incidents of robbery, rape and violence. Milovan Đilas stated that the complaints bore fruit and that the Soviet officers reacted more violently to the transgressions of their soldiers after the meeting with Korneyev and Stalin's participation.[10]


  1. ^ a b c "Sakrij Ćerku Od Ruskog Vojnika: Brutalna istina o oslobođenju Beograda i Srbije 1944. (FOTO)". (in Serbian). 20 December 2014. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  2. ^ a b alexeyshornikov (2012-09-30). "Красная армия в Югославии". Алексей Шорников (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  3. ^ a b "О том, как Советская Армия «освобождала» Сербию в 1944 году". (in Russian). 2017-01-03. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  4. ^ "Чем красноармейцы шокировали жителей Югославии в 1944 году". Русская семерка (in Russian). 2021-12-24. Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  5. ^ ""Красная армия насильников": Кто на самом деле обесчестил "миллионы немок"". Культурология (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  6. ^ "Читать". Литмир - электронная библиотека (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  7. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "'Njemačke žene nisu silovali samo sovjetski vojnici' | DW | 02.03.2015". DW.COM (in Croatian). Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  8. ^ "RUSKI ISTORIČAR OTKRIVA: Šta je istina u priči o ruskim oslobodiocima i silovanjima srpskih žena". (in Serbian). Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  9. ^ за СРБИН инфо, Бојан (2017-02-23). "РУС ИСТОРИЧАР О милионима српских девојака које су наводно силовали руски спасиоци". СРБИН.инфо (in Serbian). Retrieved 2022-07-02.
  10. ^ a b c d e Majstorović, Vojin (2016). "The Red Army in Yugoslavia, 1944–1945". Slavic Review. 75 (2): 396–421. doi:10.5612/slavicreview.75.2.396. ISSN 0037-6779. S2CID 163499845.

Further reading