Nazi Atrocities at Stalingrad Revealed in Declassified Documents

Russia's Ministry of Defence has published online a cache of declassified documents detailing atrocities carried out by Nazi soldiers and officers during World War Two.

The release on Friday on the defense ministry's website comes two days before the International Day of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps on April 11—the day in 1945 when prisoners in Buchenwald, Germany were freed.

The material from the ministry's central archives includes photographs and letters. Among the revelations are details of a prisoner of war camp near Stalingrad—present-day Volgograd, the scene of the battle between the Soviet Union against Germany and its allies which ended in February 1943.

One document describes the Alekseevka camp in the Gorodishchensky district of the Stalingrad region, surrounded by barbed wire, where 1,500 members of the Red Army had been "brutally tortured," according to excerpts published by RIA Novosti and other Russian news agencies.

Among the violence detailed are accounts of how prisoners were pushed to the brink of exhaustion by the Nazis and descriptions of burnt and mutilated corpses.

Other documents describe the conditions faced by Soviet prisoners of war at a camp in the city of Demyansk, now part of the Novgorod region, which held around 13,000 people by the end of 1941 and was so crowded that many had to sleep while standing.

By May 1942, only 700 prisoners were still alive.

Other material includes witness accounts of Nazis executing more than two dozen families from the village of Tenitsa in the Chernihiv region in February 1943. There are also accounts of atrocities carried out in concentration camps such as Auschwitz.

The defense ministry, which has been declassifying WW2 material over the last few months, said the latest material's publication was "aimed at preserving and protecting historical truth" as well as "countering falsifications of history."

Underneath the banner of its website which has the message "they cannot be forgotten" the ministry says the documents testify to "the indescribable atrocities, bullying and mass destruction of the occupied peoples by the fascist invaders."

The website said that archives were published with the project announced last year by President Vladimir Putin in mind. Putin said there was "no statute of limitations" on Nazi crimes.

The legacy of WW2 has been an important issue for Putin. Last year, Russia announced six new probes into Nazi war crimes and Putin said that the findings of the Nuremberg trials should not be undermined.

This week he signed into law tougher penalties for those who promote Nazism online and insult war veterans.

Red Army troops in Stalingrad
Red Army troops amidst the ruins of war-torn Stalingrad during World War II. Russia's defence ministry has released documents describing the torture of Red Army soldiers near the city now known as Volgograd. Getty Images