Author’s Note: I have read through numerous pages of Russian and German language texts attempting to piece together the facts of this matter (translating where required). Alexander Werth – a Russian-born BBC journalist brought-up as a child in Britain – gives an account of a Nazi German ‘defector’ who came over to the Soviet side three-days before the invasion (18th of June, 1941). Werth, whilst being fluent in English, could also read, write and speak the Russian language, and was one of the few foreigners who was permitted to accompany the Soviet Red Army from start to finish of the ‘Great Patriotic War’ (1941-1945). Churchill even personally ‘censored’ Werth’s reports from the Soviet front-line as a means to prevent the British people learning about the true extent of the Nazi German brutality in the USSR (prior to the war Churchill had written in glowing terms about Adolf Hitler whom he greatly admired). Werth writes:
‘Although the famous TASS communique of June 14 dismissed the rumours of Germany’s aggressive intentions as “completely groundless”, Fedyunisky reiterates that “it was completely contrary to what we were able to observe in the frontier areas”, and he tells the story of how, on June 18, a German deserter came over to the Russians. While drunk, he had hit an officer, and was afraid of being court-martialled and shot; he also claimed that his father was a communist. This German soldier declared that the German Army was going to invade Russia at 4 a.m. on June 22.’ Alexander Werth, Russia At War, Barrie and Rockliff, 1964, Page 147, Part-Two – The Invasion to the Battle of Moscow – The Invasion (Pages 144-159)
This was three full days before Alfred Liskov episode dealt with in this article – and Soviet historical sources state that what this soldier had to say was reported all the way up to the Kremlin! There were probably many other examples of defectors and deserters all giving their own versions of the up-coming events! Just why modern historian fixate on Alfred Liskov is something of a mystery, but like Gettysburg – it is the location where all sides that record the history of the Soviet Union have met more or less by accident – and it is the place where a concentration of historical forces (both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the Soviet Union) has occurred, met and clashed for influence and creditability! As there were probably hundreds of Nazi German deserters – the narrative that has been built-up (or more correctly ‘fabricated’) around Alfred Liskov cannot be historically accurate. Joseph Stalin probably never knew anything about Alfred Liskov and most certainly was never ‘woke-up’ to accommodate his inane chatter! In many ways, the treatment of Alfred Liskov demonstrates how history is manufactured to serve an ideological purpose – in this instance – a US anti-intellectual narrative that supports the class interests of the bourgeoisie and opposes any narrative that empowers the working-class or eulogises any of its historical achievements! Such narratives do not have to make logical sense, they simply need to dominate the individual at the point of physical contact and take-away and inclinations toward independent and ‘free’ thinking. Joseph Stalin was ‘woken-up’ because the Soviet Union was being invaded and not because Alfred Liskov had been captured. Indeed, evidence suggests that the Soviet Military Forces were put on alert even before Alfred Liskov made his presence known:
‘In any event, Stalin knew by mid-June that “to escape war, even in the very near future, was impossible” and permitted the final preparations to begin. The rule, however, was “to do what was necessary to strengthen the defenses… but not do anything in the frontier zone that could provoke the fascists or hasten their attack on us.” The Défense Commissariat ordered the frontier military districts to shift their divisions closer to the border and into the positions designated for them in the special plan for defending the state frontier. The movements began on 15 June, but, on the 22d, “only certain” of the divisions were in position. On the 21st, the Politburo acted to create a single command for the armies being brought from the interior military districts to the line of the Dnepr and Dvina. Om the night of the 21st, a war alert directive went out from Moscow. It ordered all units to combat readiness and those close to the border to man the fortifications and firing points in secret during the night. Troops on the border were not to respond to any German provocations or take any other action without special orders.’ EF Ziemke & ME Bauer, Moscow To Stalingrad – Decision in the East, Military Heritage Press, (1988), Page 23, Chapter 1 – “The World Will Hold Its Breathe” (Pages 3-25)
Obviously, the idea of the ‘great man’ is a peculiarly bourgeois concept deriving from that class’s notion of the empowerment and fetishization of the ‘individual’, and the class distinction and totalitarian governmental structures such an individual requires to manifest within society. Alfred Liskov is presented in the post-1991 political climate as an example of a ‘great man’ who used his outstanding moral and virtuous personal qualities in his exercising of a selfless reason (like ‘Jesus’) who sacrificed himself for the welfare of all humanity! Just as Jesus was betrayed by the Romans and Jews – Liskov was betrayed by the Nazi Germans and the Soviets! It is a tidy narrative, but none of it is true. Liskov came from a fascist society that only allowed one individual to shine – and that was its leader – Adolf Hitler. From the recorded attitude of Liskov, he was a confirmed ‘National Socialist’ and not a ‘Communist’ as many unquestioning narratives assert. Liskov also supported Hitler’s persecution of the Jews! He was not a ‘hero’ but a ‘coward’ who betrayed his own country and then betrayed the country he defected to. Furthermore, there is a convincing argument that all supporters of Adolf Hitler were suffering from mental illness in one form or another. His presence in the USSR, if he ever existed at all, had absolutely NO influence on the unfolding of events! ACW (2.3.2022)
It is said that a number of German soldiers ‘surrendered’ to the Soviets in the days leading up to Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, which began at dawn on June 22nd, 1941. As Wikipedia is controlled by the US, and given that even the Russian-language version manages to parrot anti-Soviet US anti-intellectualism and propaganda – what it has to say cannot be trusted. Many modern Russian authors, enthused as they are with the anti-Soviet ideology of the US, also produce texts that would better be at home in the ward-ramblings of desperately ill psychiatric patients – such is the obvious incoherent, inverted and fabricated nature of these narratives. The Wikipedia entry in Russian ‘omits’ vital facts in an attempt to give the false impression that Alfred Liskov was a ‘victim’ of the Soviet System – a US-derived Cold War narrative crucial for the rehabilitation of Nazi Germany into its ‘West German’ variant, and ex-Nazis as ‘loyal’ citizens of the new American world order! This trend of misinterpretation permeates throughout all Wikipedia language versions, and is the foundation that many fictional narratives (disguised as ‘history’) follow today, a misrepresentation that permeates English, German and Russian language treatments of this story. However, one or two narratives are written by historians who reference legitimate and verifiable historical sources, and who do not add any fabricated elements for political reasons.
On the face of it, the story of Alfred Liskov possesses all the elements of a ‘myth’, as if he did not exist at any point during WWII, after-all, there is no known grave and therefore no known body. This means that the ‘cause’ of his death cannot be known for sure, or at least be ascertained in accordance with scientific standards. All assertions about his death, therefore, are pure speculation. The literature surrounding his ‘life’ suggests that he was born in 1910 and that he passed away around 1943-1944. Again, none of this is verifiable with the birth date assumed to be contained within a number of Soviet-era files, whilst the latter date is an assumption. Many narratives would like Alfred Liskov to have been a clear-cut victim of the nasty Stalin – but again – these are scuppered in their ambition by possessing no material evidence. At this point we must pause for thought. Many modern German narratives are written with a self-righteous attitude (no doubt fuelled by being a close ally of post-1945 America), with the authors seeming to forget that it was their country that systematically murdered 41 million men, women and children throughout the Soviet Union between 1941-1945. This Nazi German mass-murder is the backdrop to the strange story surrounding the biography of Alfred Liskov – and many modern Russians would do well to remember this fact.
I had heard (vaguely) that such was the build-up of Nazi German men and equipment along the Western borders of the USSR – that it was inevitable that some enemy soldiers would defect. Bear in mind that the Nazi Germans were assisted in their attempted genocide of the Soviet people by the Trotskyites, the Hungarians, Romanians, Italians, Finns, Slovakians, Bulgarians, Sweden (provided raw materials), Portugal (provided raw materials) the Japanese (indirectly) the French Legion (Volunteers), and Spanish Legion (Volunteers) – all of which was ‘blessed’ by the Roman Catholic Church! Undoubtedly, historical resources record that people from all around the globe gathered around the totalitarian banner in an attempt to destroy the Socialist System of the Soviet Union! What is remarkable is not that there were a handful of ‘defectors’ from the Nazi German side – but that there were not many more! Although there is always the chance that ‘Alfred Liskov’ could have been a Soviet propaganda creation – the known details about him seem to preclude this idea – as they appear haphazard and therefore ‘believable.’ I first came across his name whilst watching the very interesting TV series entitled ‘Soviet Storm WW2 in the East’ produced by StarMedia.
The story of Alfred Liskov is recorded in the memoirs of a number of Soviet military Commanders including G.K. Zhukova (Г.К. Жукова) and I.H. Bag-ramyan (И.Х. Баг-рамяна) as well as others. This suggests that Alfred Liskov was a ‘real’ person, although in the fog of war, particularly the mass-slaughter that the Nazi Germans inflicted upon the Soviet people, there is always the understandable possibility that the story of ‘Alfred Liskov’ was a ‘composite’ of a number Nazi German defectors. The general (or ‘established’) narrative unfolds along these general lines:
On June 21st, 1941, at eight o’clock in the evening, Corporal Alfred Liskov entered the water of the Bug River and began his swim toward the east (or Soviet-side). In doing this, Alfred Liskov left behind is Company Commander – Oberleutnant Schultz – who was preparing his Nazi German military formation for the dawn assault on the east-bank. As a result of these extensive preparations, Nazi German military technology was strewn up and down the west-bank all lined-up ready to go eastward. Alfred Liskov was a carpenter who worked at the furniture factory in the small town of Kolverk. Alfred Liskov was a staunch Communist and a member of the Union of Red Front-line Soldiers. He had stood at hundreds of rallies protesting the rise of Hitler (or so the narratives state), but was soon conscripted (during 1939) into the Wehrmacht.
(Author’s Note: This seems an odd transformation from Socialist Revolutionary to National Socialist soldier! Knowing that Hitler had at least 800,000 ethnic Germans executed between 1933-1945 it seems strange that Alfred Liskov was not arrested and dealt with in a similar fashion. Furthermore, not only was Alfred Liskov indulged by the Soviet regime, but he also seems to have been in the German Armed Forces for two full years as a ‘Socialist’ with the Nazi regime doing absolutely ‘nothing’ about it! Not only this, but during this time, Alfred Liskov was promoted to ‘Corporal’! There are not many fascist regimes that would tolerate a ‘Socialist’ in their midst and do nothing about it!)
The official story states that ‘Corporal’ Alfred Liskov left the location of his Nazi German Unit, entered the water of the River Bug (which flows between Poland and the Ukraine) and swam to the Soviet Union to warn them that the war was about to start. When he reached the east bank, he surrendered to the Soviet Border Guards. At nine o’clock in the evening, Wehrmacht ‘Corporal’ Alfred Liskov was brought into the Head-Office of the 90th Border Detachment (located in the Lviv area of the Ukraine) – and interviewed by Major M.S. Bychkovsky (М.С. Бычковскому).
(Author’s Note: The narrative then suggests that this ‘Border Guard Detachment’ did not possess anyone who could talk ‘German’ and that what Alfred Liskov had to say could not be understood. Is this scenario likely?)
As there was no interpreter, the Major ordered that the German be transported to Vladimir-Volynsky, where at night a German teacher was raised from bed. It was only then that an accurate translation of his words could be made. It was midnight of June 22nd, 1941. The official narrative then has Alfred Liskov’s warning circulating around the various Commanders of numerous Soviet Regiments and Formations stationed throughout the Ukraine. Indeed, many believed Alfred Liskov was a ‘spy’ and even if he wasn’t, why should the Soviet Authorities listen to him? Alfred Liskov was handed over to the NKVD (Revolutionary Police) and the following is believed to be their official Report:
‘Message from the Office of the NKVD in the Lviv region to the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR: “On June 22, 1941, a German Corporal who crossed the border in the Sokal region testified as follows: his surname is Liskov Alfred Germanovich, 30 years old, worker, carpenter at a furniture factory in Kolmberg (Bavaria), where he left his wife, child, mother and father. The Corporal served in the 221st Sapper Regiment of the 15th Division. The Regiment is located in the village of Tselenzha, which is 5 km north of Sokal. He was drafted into the army from the reserve in 1939. He considers himself a Communist, is a member of the Union of Red Soldiers, says that in Germany life is very hard for soldiers and workers. Before evening, his Company Commander, Lieutenant Schultz, announced that tonight, after artillery preparation, their unit would begin crossing the Bug on rafts, boats and pontoons. As a supporter of Soviet power, having learned about this, he decided to run to us and inform us.’
(Collection of Documents “State Security Organs of the USSR in the Great Patriotic War”, 2000.)
It is said that this message travelled all the way up through the Soviet System until it reached Joseph Stalin – who had to be woken to be told the news. By this time, however, the Nazi German Offensive had begun. Although the Soviet Red Army fought bravely, the Nazi German numerical and technological superiority caused tremendous casualties amongst the Soviet Defenders. As matters transpired, and assuming Alfred Liskov was a real-person, then all his efforts to warn the USSR were far too late and his actions more or less pointless. This is a suspicious set of circumstances. Indeed, whilst the Soviet Forces disintegrated throughout the Ukraine, Alfred Liskov was placed on one of the last aeroplanes out of Lviv and was flown to Moscow where he started his short career as an anti-Nazi propagandist. This element of his life has been traced by the historian Igor Petrov (Игорь ПЕТРОВ) – apparently living and working in Germany. This work confirms that a story was being discussed and circulated around in the media of the USSR during the early 1940s – but does not (in and of itself) – ‘prove’ the existence of Alfred Liskov to be a ‘real’ or ‘historical’ fact.
Already by June 27th, 1941, “The Tale of the German Soldier Alfred Liskoff” appeared in Pravda and Izvestia. He is reported as speaking to the workers and soldiers in Moscow, Leningrad and other cities of the USSR. Soon he becomes a member of the Comintern, was introduced to its leaders. Meanwhile, Nazi German Military Records state that ‘Corporal Alfred Liskov’ was ‘drowned’ during the Offensive of June 22nd, 1941. Five-days later – Alfred Liskov – is sat with the leaders of the Comintern. The official narrative states that the Nazi Germans only got to learn of Alfred Liskov’s ‘betrayal’ when a Soviet aeroplane was ‘shot-down’ and Soviet propaganda leaflets were recovered from the wreckage displaying Alfred Liskov’s photograph and containing his words denouncing Hitler and calling for Nazi German troops to surrender! Much of this official narrative is ‘padded-out’ with all kinds of improbable and highly ‘subjective’ nonsense all designed to appease Nazi Germany and demonise the Soviet Union. An interesting ‘touch’ in this ilk, is the story that Alfred Liskov’s mother ‘disowned’ him when the Gestapo came calling to investigate the matter.
What many narratives omit when building anti-Soviet story-lines is the fact that the recorded statements ascribed to Alfred Liskov are distinctly ‘fascistic’ and in no way ‘Socialist’! For instance, Liskov said “History is a struggle between the strong and the weak for existence. The death of the weak in favour of the strong is a progressive factor.” “The Red Army is failing because it is led by the Jews.” “The world will be conquered by German arms, capital will be destroyed, and then Socialism will be established.” Furthermore, Liskov believed that Georgi Dimitrov was killed by the Nazis in prison after the Reichstag fire trial and replaced by his brother – who was a committed Nazi! Therefore, according to Liskov, Dimitrov was an imposter sent by Hitler to the USSR to cause disruption amongst the Comintern! Indeed, within Dimitrov’s diary is recorded the following entries inspired after months of odd and disruptive behaviour carried-out by Alfred Liskov ‘12/23/41. I called Trifonov (the NKVD representative in Ufa), it was about isolating the German deserter Liskov for his subversive activities: He is undoubtedly a fascist and an anti-Semite. Perhaps, at one time he was even sent to us by the Germans on a special mission. I sent a cipher telegram to Beria about this.’ ‘12/25/41. Trifonov (NKVD) informed about the measures taken in connection with Liskov (the NKVD will deal with him).’
Alfred Liskov was arrested on January 15th, 1942 “for spreading slanderous fabrications against the leaders of the Comintern.” Whilst he was under investigation, Alfred Liskov “showed signs of a mental disorder, as a result of which he was sent to the Central Institute of Forensic Psychiatry, where he remained until July 29th, 1942.” By a resolution of July 15th, 1942, the investigation was terminated. After being discharged from the hospital, Liskov was sent to Novosibirsk, “from where, in late 1943 – early 1944, he disappeared without a trace.” Irek Sabitov (Ирек САБИТОВ), in his 2021 Russian language article about Alfred Liskov (entitled ‘Чужой среди своих и чужих‘ or ‘A Stranger Among Friends and Foes’) referenced below, states that he made the Russian equivalent of a ‘Freedom of Information’ request to the Novosibirsk Authorities concerning any historical records that might be stored about ‘Alfed Liskov’ – and was told that ‘none exist.’
There is also no material evidence that Alfred Liskov existed – at least none that is categorical or convincing. Let us assume that he did physically exist, then where is his family in Germany today? Why haven’t German or Russian historians tracked down these people and made public Alfred Liskov’s genuine family history and his Nazi German War Record? Where are the genuine Soviet Records? It is my understanding that even in modern Russia, much is kept away from the public eye so as to prevent any mass movement (inspired by historical events) to re-establish the Sovie Union by washing away the current capitalist pollution! What is clear is that Alfred Liskov was a German typical of the time. Hitler’s ‘National Socialism’, particularly in its early days, did mislead the German workers by a dalliance with legitimate Socialism – until Hitler had all true ‘Socialists’ imprisoned and/or shot! Alfred Liskov seems to be a product of this Nazi German policy. However, from what is known about his own views, he certainly was not a ‘Marxist-Leninist’, and freely expressed Hitlerite viewpoints about crushing and eradicating the wreak from society! As well as this, he was overtly anti-Sematic.
When contemporary authors seek to demonise the USSR – none of this documented evidence is cited – obviously because it is inconvenient when attempting to switch the emphasis from Alfred Liskov himself, and toward the Soviet Union. He was considered mentally ill and after receiving treatment was released back into Soviet society. The NKVD actually ‘stopped’ its investigation against him whilst he was in hospital. As matters transpired, Alfred Liskov was not ill-treated, and the fact that he was able to walk around in the USSR during a time of war espousing Hitlerite rhetoric – proves just how ‘tolerant’ Soviet society was! Alfred Liskov was not ‘shot’ or sent to the prison camps – indeed, no one knows what happened to him after 1943-1944. Even after assessing all the available data on this subject, I cannot help but feel that there is something very ‘odd’ about it all. It is like trying to prove the existence of a popular religious figure that probably did not physically exist, at least not in a material sense. This is why it is possible to ‘invent’ so much fiction surrounding his life. This Nazi German fascist is made into an anti-Soviet ‘hero’! He both saved the USSR from the Nazi Germans (he didn’t), and yet was a ‘victim’ of the Soviet Union he saved (he wasn’t)! The fact remains that when Alfred Liskov decided to swim the River Bug on the evening of the 21st of June, 1941 – it was already far too late! His action generated absolutely no positive advantage for the Soviet Union. What, then was the point? If Alfred Liskov existed at all, was he already suffering from a mental illness when he plunged into the River Bug?
Russian Language Sources:
German Language Articles: