Searching for Place: Ukrainian Displaced Persons, Canada, and the Migration of Memory
by Lubomyr Luciuk
University of Toronto Press (2000) ISBN 0-8020-8088-X
(Page 398; Footnote # 102)
For a description of how 'summary justice' was meted out to repatriates at the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, see the June 1945 reports found in WO 32/1119. In the 23 September 1983 issue of the Wall Street Journal, R.A. Davison, of Texas A&M University, provided another personal account of how forcible repatriation was carried out by American forces. In August 1945 he was a nineteen-year-old rifleman serving in Company G, 318th Infantry, stationed in Kempten, Germany. On a Sunday morning the soldiers were ordered into formation, issued ammunition, and told that the American government had promised to return 'all the Russians' who had entered Germany. Professor Davison continues: These Russians were refusing to go. Some had committed suicide and others had taken refuge in an Orthodox church, claiming they would die there rather than return to Russia. Our orders were to load them on trucks for deportation even if we had to kill them. Then the C.O. added that Stalin had promised that they wouldn't be harmed. A low laugh rippled through the formation and to me that laugh is more significant than the brutality that followed. We were battle-hardened veterans but most of us were in our late teens and twenties; yet we knew, even in 1945, that Stalin would probably kill these people. How then could our leaders, including Truman, not have known, or worse not have cared, especially in view of the trials that were about to begin at Nuremberg. We marched down to the church and the people were inside. Another rifleman and I were left to guard a gate. All the courtyard gates were guarded and then a few score men went inside to clear the church. A wild battle ensued, including the Orthodox priest wielding his cross, but rifle butts won and soon the battered people were driven from the church. An old woman sprawled at the door apparently suffering a heart attack. Some of the people rushed for the gates and about ten headed toward my buddy and me. We threw our rifles to our shoulders and screamed halt. A shot rang from the courtyard and I was within a second of firing point blank into those people when they stopped. A little woman with tears running down her face and my rifle pointing at her head said in broken English, "I thought Americans were good."'