What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

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Petschau
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Re: What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

Postby Petschau » 8 years 9 months ago (Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:51 am)

Just to add a little to the mix.

This is from memory and I am sourcing this from Hoffman's "Stalin's War Of Extermination".
At the onset of Barbarossa, the German military was well fed, well clothed and well armed. Their Red Army counterparts were the exact opposite, having little food, arms, and clothing.
This, among other things caused mass surrender's on the part of the Red Army. So much so that they overwhelmed the concentration camp system. Many were sent to Birkenau, which was to have been a quarantine/hospital camp.
Unfortunately, Birkenau was in the early stages of construction and there was little housing for the Soviet POW's. With the onset of the first Winter in captivity, the POW's found themselves ill-clothed in poor housing, causing the deaths of many.

To combat this mass surrender and desertion by his armies, Stalin issued orders which essentially stated that anyone who surrenders, deserts, or retreats will be deemed a traitor and shot, and taking it one step further, he terrorized his troops by ordering that their families be arrested if they showed what he termed cowardice.

The two Stalin Orders which dealt with this:
Stalin Order 270
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_270
In the preamble, the order gives examples of troops fighting in encirclement, as well as cases of surrender by military command.

The first article directed that any commanders or commissars "tearing away their insignia and deserting or surrendering" should be considered malicious deserters. The order required superiors to shoot these deserters on the spot.[2] Their family members were subjected to arrest.[1]

The second article demanded that encircled soldiers used every possibility to fight, and to demand that their commanders organize fighting; according to the order, anyone attempting to surrender instead of fighting must be killed and their family members deprived of any state welfare and assistance.


Stalin Order 227:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_No._227
Order No. 227 established that each Front must create 1 to 3 penal battalions (штрафбат, штрафной батальон, shtrafbat, shtrafnoy battalion) of soldiers accused of disciplinary problems, which were sent to the most dangerous sections of the front lines.[1] Each Front had to create penal companies for privates and NCOs. From 1942 to 1945, 427,910 soldiers were assigned to penal battalions.[2]

The order also directed that each Army must create "blocking detachments" (barrier troops (заградотряд, заградительный отряд)) which would shoot "cowards" and fleeing panicked troops at the rear.[1] In the first two months following the order, over 1,000 troops were shot by blocking units and blocking units sent over 130,000 troops to penal battalions.[1]


More from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_pri ... Germany%29
During and after World War II freed POWs went to special "filtration" camps. Of these, by 1944, more than 90 per cent were cleared, and about 8 per cent were arrested or condemned to serve in penal battalions. In 1944, they were sent directly to reserve military formations to be cleared by the NKVD. Further, in 1945, about 100 filtration camps were set for repatriated Ostarbeiter, POWs, and other displaced persons, which processed more than 4,000,000 people. By 1946, 80 per cent civilians and 20 per cent of POWs were freed, 5 per cent of civilians, and 43 per cent of POWs were re-drafted, 10 per cent of civilians and 22 per cent of POWs were sent to labor battalions, and 2 per cent of civilians and 15 per cent of the POWs (226,127 out of 1,539,475 total) transferred to the NKVD, i.e. the Gulag.[39][40]

Russian historian G.F. Krivosheev gives slightly different numbers based on documents provided by the KGB: 233,400 were found guilty of collaborating with the enemy and sent to Gulag camps out of 1,836,562 Soviet soldiers that returned from captivity.[


With this in mind, the Soviet soldier who either deserted, was captured or surrendered was to be shot if caught as was his family.
Best to join the German military or simply vanish.
In the end, it is impossible to actually determine their actual fate.

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Re: What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

Postby bridgebuilder » 8 years 8 months ago (Fri Oct 15, 2010 12:49 am)

We read "At the onset of Barbarossa, the German military was well fed, well clothed and well armed. Their Red Army counterparts were the exact opposite, having little food, arms, and clothing.
This, among other things caused mass surrender's on the part of the Red Army. So much so that they overwhelmed the concentration camp system."

As anyone who has read Suvorov's "Icebreaker" will be aware, at the onset of Barbarossa, the Red Army was extremely well-equipped and preparing the strike into Germany that the desperate German defensive attack prevented. The Germans were outnumbered in soldiers, guns, planes, tanks and reserves. The Stalin order condemning surrendered Red Army soldiers AND their families to death gives us a standard by which to judge civilised German practice against barbaric Soviet practice.

We are told in this previous post that Gulag figures for Red Army POWs returned to Russia and murdered were only a few hundred thousand "based on documents provided by the KGB". For goodness' sake! How is possible that any sane person would trust documents provided by the KGB? Is it supposed to be that the collapse of communism in Russia meant that the KGB and its successor organs now provided the correct data to objective scholars? Did not the KGB officials not still have a vested interest in covering up Soviet crimes? The one thing the Soviet system was good at was exterminating people and anyone familiar with the modus operandi of the NKVD would have to bet that the correct figure is that they killed ALL their own returned POW soldiers to a man in the Gulag and then blamed it all on the Germans. That is to say, readers should be alert to the possibility that stories of mass murder by Germans of Soviet POWs are very likely just propaganda and that the Russian figures are entirely concocted. Alleged German crimes are far more likely Allied (specifically Soviet) crimes. And what happened to the near-million strong Waffen SS soldiers who lay down their arms in 1945? Read any books about them lately? Nobody even knows where in Russia their bones lie. Perhaps the tens of thousands of captured British and American airmen from the German POW camps, whom Stalin killed post 1945, lie with them in common graves.

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Re: What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

Postby Carto's Cutlass Supreme » 8 years 8 months ago (Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:38 am)

Hi Petschau: Good to see you posting here. I sometimes see your posts from a long time ago here.
...out of 1,836,562 Soviet soldiers that returned from captivity


But even this number is so big that I just don't know where they were at the end of the war. Belsen had 40,000? at the end of the war, maybe half of them Jewish? Buchenwald had 20,000, with only 5,000 of them Jewish. Can anyone here name a single camp that housed over 100,000 Soviet POW's at the end of the war? Because you would need 18 such camps to make up 1.8 million.

I guess what I'm saying is it doesn't fit my conception of "camp liberation" at the end of the war: two big camps liberated, Belsen and Buchenwald equaling 60,000, and somewhere else we have 1.8 million people in camps that people can't even name, or display a photo of.

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Re: What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

Postby Carolyn Yeager » 8 years 8 months ago (Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:40 pm)

bridgebuilder wrote:As anyone who has read Suvorov's "Icebreaker" will be aware, at the onset of Barbarossa, the Red Army was extremely well-equipped and preparing the strike into Germany that the desperate German defensive attack prevented. The Germans were outnumbered in soldiers, guns, planes, tanks and reserves. The Stalin order condemning surrendered Red Army soldiers AND their families to death gives us a standard by which to judge civilised German practice against barbaric Soviet practice.


Thank you for correcting this very common error about Soviet preparedness, bridgebuilder. In Suvorov's next book "The Chief Culprit", he also describes the massive build-up of troops and materiel along the border with Germany, which could only be used for an offensive strike. Stalin was not in the least prepared for a defensive war, because he never intended to fight one. Communist theory was to fight the battle on the enemy's land, not their own. Hoffman is surely not a military authority and has certain biases.
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Re: What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

Postby grenadier » 8 years 8 months ago (Fri Oct 15, 2010 5:24 pm)

@Carolyn
Hi, you may be confused about J.Hoffmann, he was a historian for the research department for military history for the German army for 35 years. He defends the same thesis as does Suvorov,namely that the Soviets were getting ready to launch a massive attack. Basically what H says is that many Soviet soldiers WHEN they got captured were in bad shape, undernourished, lice-ridden and that as the Germans got bogged down, winter approached and their supply lines colapsed, Soviet POWs, whom the Germans had never imagined they would capture so many so fast, died in large numbers. As soon as early 42, the Germans had however dramatically improved conditions and mortality declined sharply.

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Re: What happened to the 3 million Soviet POW's?

Postby Carolyn Yeager » 8 years 8 months ago (Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:16 pm)

grenadier wrote:@Carolyn
Hi, you may be confused about J.Hoffmann, he was a historian for the research department for military history for the German army for 35 years. He defends the same thesis as does Suvorov,namely that the Soviets were getting ready to launch a massive attack. Basically what H says is that many Soviet soldiers WHEN they got captured were in bad shape, undernourished, lice-ridden and that as the Germans got bogged down, winter approached and their supply lines colapsed, Soviet POWs, whom the Germans had never imagined they would capture so many so fast, died in large numbers. As soon as early 42, the Germans had however dramatically improved conditions and mortality declined sharply.

Thanks grenadier. You are right. I was thinking of Michael Hoffman, who has written a lot about Jewish history and traditions. And the statement that the Soviets were unprepared threw me off. I agree with what you say here. Thanks again for catching my error.
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