Friday 2 August 2013

Cheating at Statistics 5

This isn't specifically cheating at statistics, but it falls within the spectrum of falsifying reports to make yourself look good.

To start things off, on June 29th, 1941, the Germans execute two Soviet prisoners near a battleground at Height 122, near Murmansk. Why? Here's why:

"Fierce hand to hand combat began with an enemy that defended from behind boulders and well-disguised positions. Several Russians pretended to be dead, in order to resume firing in our backs. For our own safety, it was not possible to take prisoners, and battle could only be ended by complete annihilation of the enemy. At 6:15, the height was in the hands of the second company.
Soldiers from Osterman's group were all found brutally killed.
The only survivor, a wounded man who saved himself by jumping into a small lake, described how the Russians ruthlessly executed men from the scout group that remained after battle. All of our men were repulsed by this cruel method of fighting. Two captured Russians that were taken in the battle were executed after a short trial."

Seems to mostly check out, aside from condemning the enemy for allegedly making sure everyone is dead, despite admitting to doing the same thing. Let's read a more colourful description of the execution, by one of the participants.

"We sent our scouts ahead. They were caught in a Russian ambush. All of its members were caught or killed. I saw it with my own eyes from our main position, but we could not help our comrades from here. The Russians knew this, and did everything out in the open. They led our comrades to the open, tortured them, and then killed them. Our comrades died a martyr's death. I cannot calmly remember this. We could do nothing but watch. The commander passed his binoculars around and told us "Remember the faces of these Russians!" He meant two Russian that were torturing our comrades the most. "When the Russians calm down, go there, and bring the bodies, but, more importantly, bring the two Russians alive!" We carried out the orders. The two Russians were taken to our positions alive. The commander told them, "There are no judicial powers here, we will judge you!" He ordered one of us to take notes, and another to take photos of every moment. After the interrogation, the commander sentenced both Russians to death and made them dig their own graves. One of us wrote it down, the other took photos. After they dug their graves, we shot them. The Russians knew very well what they were executed for. After this, the commander send all notes and photographs to the headquarters. That is all I can say. It was war."

Hm, that's definitely a chilling story. However, it's certainly unlikely that the Germans were unable to help their men when they had line of sight, especially when they were close enough to make out individual faces with standard field binoculars. I mean, they did have rifles, right? And another doubt, the first battles of the war in the Murmansk sector started on June 28th. These events took place on June 29th, literally a day after the start of the war. A prisoner that could give away the enemy's position, forces, plans, anything at all, would be extremely valuable. And yet, such a valuable prize was allegedly destroyed. However, the Germans' own report turns doubt into certainty: what they wrote was a lie.

"The morning fog helped our jagers, slowly crawling up from the side of the ocean. At 5 am, when the fog completely covered the height, the second company resumed their attack."

Thick fog coming in from the ocean is certainly helpful when you are attacking, since the enemy cannot see you. You also cannot see the enemy. Not well enough to tell whether or not your enemy is playing dead or merely circled around you, and certainly not well enough to make out separate faces through binoculars from a distance where you are unable to help. The German report's credibility seems worse and worse.

Now, for the Soviet side. Memoirs are much more precise, with less flowery language: "We discovered a scout group of 10-12 men. Four were killed with point blank fire, one heavily wounded. One of our men attempted to help him, but he died anyway. The rest ran."

So, less than half of the scout group ends up lying on the battlefield, a far cry from the brutal murder of their comrades the Germans were using to excuse their execution.

I'm sure some people would go up in arms about lying Soviets and make excuses about the German report. Thankfully, the gentleman that was so nice to dig up the archives in this post, was nice enough to literally dig up more evidence at Height 122 in this post. And what did he find? German medallions. Five of them.

All three sources agree: the Germans made up a nice story and executed a bunch of prisoners for it. Even fiction can kill!


  1. Thanks. The Cheating at Statistics articles are very interesting to read.

  2. I agree, I expected these articles to be far less interesting than the tank ones but they are fascinating.

  3. I always suspected the germans were commiting war crimes.

  4. Very interesting account. One thing I will say about it is that it is very possible that the people watching were likely at an observation post (op) manned only by three to ten men. There is no record of the numbers of Russians there, nor the times of the counter offensive.

    If that is the case then had they acted at that point it is likely that they would have suffered the same fate as the other prisoners.