The 28th Division had formerly been a component of the Pennsylvania National Guard. After mobilization, the division had been trained for participation in the invasion of France. On July 22, 1944, six weeks after D-Day, the 28th was shipped to France and quickly sent to the front. It fought with distinction throughout the Normandy campaign and, on August 29, had the privilege of representing the United States during celebration ceremonies marking the liberation of Paris. The men of the division did not have an opportunity to enjoy the City of Light, however. After marching through Paris they were immediately sent to the front. Once outside of Paris, the 28th, now under the command of Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota, resumed its eastward journey. On September 7 the division rolled into Luxembourg, crossed the Our River south of Clervaux and became the first Allied division to breach Germany’s vaunted Siegfried Line.
The widely publicized killings and rapes in places like Nemmersdorf by the Soviets led to a severe degree of fear in the entire German population of East Prussia. Those that could not escape the advancing Soviets were left to their fate. Wealthy civilians of East Prussia were often shot by Soviet soldiers, their goods stolen, and their houses set on fire.  Wrote Zakhar Agranenko, a playwright serving as an officer of marine infantry in East Prussia: "Red Army soldiers don't believe in 'individual liaisons' with German women. Nine, ten, twelve men at a time - they rape them on a collective basis."  Even Russian women liberated from forced labor camps were raped by Soviet soldiers.  The rear-guard units of the advancing Soviet armies were responsible for a large proportion of the crimes committed by Red Army personnel.  Soviet Officers like Lev Kopelev , who tried to prevent crimes, were accused of pity for the enemy and became Gulag prisoners.