How did the Germans transport allied prisoners of war
The second World War
Dr. Thomas Vogel
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Thomas Vogel, born in 1959, is project division manager at the Center for Military History and Social Sciences of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw), formerly the Military History Research Office (MGFA), in Potsdam. He has long been interested in the military opposition in the 'Third Reich' and the resistance of soldiers against National Socialism. For several years he has been dealing more intensively with various aspects of warfare in the age of the world wars, most recently with coalition warfare in particular. He has, inter alia. published: "Uprising conscience. Military resistance against Hitler and the Nazi regime, 5th edition, Hamburg et al. 2000 (publisher and author); Wilm Hosenfeld:" I try to save everyone. "The life of a German officer in letters und Tagebüücher, Munich 2004 (ed. and author); Tobruk 1941: Rommel's Failure and Hitler's Success on the Strategic Sidelines of the 'Third Reich', in: Tobruk in the Second World War. Struggle and Remembrance, ed. v. G. Jasiński and J. Zuziak, Warsaw 2012, pp. 143-160; "A fruit knife for chopping wood." The battle for Stalingrad and the failure of the German allies on Don and Volga 1942/43, in: Stalingrad. An exhibition of the Military History Museum of Bundeswehr, edited by G. Piecken, M. Rogg, J. Wehner, Dresden 2012, pp. 128-141; A War Coalition Fails in Coalition Warfare: The Axis Powers and Operation Herkules in the Spring of 1942, in: Coalition Warfare: An Anthology of Scholarly Presentations at the Conference on Coalition Warfare at the Royal Danish Defense College, 2011, ed. v. N. B. Poulsen, K. H. Galster, S. Nørby, Newcastle upon Tyne 2013, pp. 160-176; The First World War 1914-1918. The German deployment into a warlike century, Munich 2014 (co-publisher and author).
Death and wounding in warThe Second World War was primarily a human tragedy. The acts of war themselves and their immediate consequences had cost the lives of around 60 to 70 million people worldwide, the majority of them civilians. The Soviet Union alone mourned 27 million deaths, almost half of them members of the Red Army, of which one in four did not die in combat, but in
The world war also had the health of millions more people
This division of Germany in 1949 made it clear that the allies of the world war had finally drifted apart. This not only had far-reaching consequences for Germany, it also changed Europe and the world. This development was due to the fundamental political and ideological contrast between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. The compulsion to fight together against Hitler concealed this contrast for the time of the war. It then broke up very quickly when the Soviet Union unscrupulously used its conquests in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe to permanently expand its sphere of influence there and combined this with the export of its totalitarian system. In all the countries it conquered, it brought regimes to power that complied with it and relied on Soviet bayonets and tanks. This quickly led to a dispute with the former allies in the west. The creation of a democratic and free Europe, as agreed by the "Big Three" in Yalta in January 1945, meant something different there. Shortly after the end of the war, Churchill therefore spoke of an "iron curtain" that had descended on Europe, and by that meant the isolation of the unfree Soviet sphere of influence. When Greece, Turkey and Iran were eventually threatened by Soviet intervention, the conflict broke out openly in 1947. US President Truman promised economic and military aid to all countries to defend their freedom and even threatened the Soviet Union with a nuclear weapon. Barely two years after the end of the war, a "cold" war broke out between the former allies, which would last for decades and shape world events. The camps in East and West formed into two large alliance systems: on the one hand, the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) was formed in 1949 under the leadership of the USA. From 1955, it was confronted by the Moscow-dominated Warsaw Treaty Organization (WVO) - known in parlance as the Warsaw Pact. At the forefront of the Cold War, the two German states that had just been founded found themselves as opponents.
Maps and graphics: "Consequences of the war"
The Far East also became part of the East-West conflict and the new, bipolar world order. Japan got off relatively lightly after its defeat. It lost only smaller areas in the north to the Soviet Union; his motherland was spared from a division. The Western occupying power, led by the United States, limited itself to transforming Japan into a parliamentary democracy. They were satisfied with the political disempowerment of the Tenno and did not abolish the empire that was sacred to the Japanese. After the conclusion of a peace treaty in 1952, the Western Allies released Japan into independence. Political explosive, however, arose from the bankruptcy of the Japanese sphere of influence on the Asian mainland. The conflict over the former Japanese colony of Korea exacerbated the Cold War here into a "hot" war in 1950/51. Many saw the Third World War approaching. As an ally of North Korea and the Soviet Union, the young People's Republic of China under Mao Tse-tung first appeared externally and militarily in a massive manner during the Korean War, thus completing the impression of a politically and ideologically divided world.
Human misery after the warHardly less than the world war itself, the subsequent political reorganization of the world caused further human misery on a massive scale. The first thing that stands out here is the Korean War, which killed around four million civilians and one million soldiers. Millions more people were left homeless or displaced. In Europe it hit particularly hard those Germans who lived in the eastern regions of the empire or who had often settled outside the boundaries of the empire in eastern and southeastern Europe for generations. Their flight from their homeland had already begun in the final phase of the war for fear of the approaching Red Army. It was very often accompanied by attacks by the non-German local population. Frequently, injustice previously suffered was retaliated with a new injustice. The "wild" expulsions at the end of the war were followed by the systematic expulsion of the Germans from the East on the basis of the Potsdam Agreement of August 2, 1945. In Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the Germans still living there were forcibly resettled to the area of the Allied occupation zones under state supervision after their property had previously been confiscated except for hand luggage.
In West and Central Germany, the admission of the Germans who fled and expelled from the East aggravated the already tense living situation. Also because the occupying powers neglected the supply of the population, im died
Prisoners of War and "Displaced Persons"
Official redress for the injustice committed against Soviet prisoners of war under Stalin
The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR state that in the Great Patriotic War and in the post-war period, gross violations of Soviet law were permitted in relation to military personnel of the Soviet army and navy who were captive or encircled by the enemy .
The Soviet soldiers fought heroically against the fascist invaders in the Great Patriotic War and honestly and self-sacrificingly fulfilled their duty to their homeland. Nevertheless, as a result of the difficult circumstances of the first phase of the war, a significant number of Soviet military personnel who were in a confinement were taken prisoner after all opportunities for resistance had been exhausted. Many members of the military were wounded or injured in captivity, after being shot down in aerial battles or while carrying out combat tasks in the enemy's hinterland. The Soviet soldiers who were in captivity remained loyal to their homeland, behaved bravely and steadfastly endured the labors of captivity and the scorn of the Hitlerites. Many of them fled captivity at risk of death, fought the enemy in partisan units or made their way through the front line to the Soviet troops. Notwithstanding this, and in violation of Soviet laws, the former prisoners of war were met with unfounded political mistrust, unfounded repression and unlawful restrictions on their rights.
Members of the military who had broken out of an encirclement, escaped from captivity and had been freed by Soviet units were taken to special camps of the NKVD for examination, where they were held under almost the same conditions as prisoners in the corrective labor camps.
In addition to exposing some individuals who had actually committed crimes, a large number of military personnel who had honestly performed their military duties and had not defiled themselves in any way in captivity were unfoundedly repressed as a result of the multiple use of unlawful, provocative investigative methods during the investigation.
The families of members of the military who were captured were falsely stripped of financial aid and all stipulated perks for the entire war, regardless of the reasons or circumstances of the detention. The practice of relegating officers who had been captive or the encirclement of the enemy to men without trial and sending them to assault battalions was a serious violation of the law.
Military personnel who heroically escaped captivity or who demonstrated themselves to be a model of valor and steadfastness in captivity were not commended in any way.
From 1945 onwards, all freed and repatriated prisoners of war, even if no compromising information was available against them, were grouped into battalions and sent to remote regions as punishment for permanent work in companies in the coal and wood industry.
The state security organs continued in the post-war period to illegally bring former prisoners of war to criminal responsibility, many of which were illegally repressed. Various unlawful restrictions on former prisoners of war and their relatives in the areas of job creation, social activity, starting an apprenticeship, changing residence, etc. were widespread.
A wrong attitude towards former prisoners of war was also evident in the decision on the question of their party membership. Many members of the CPSU, who showed courage and steadfastness in the struggles against the enemy and who in no way tainted themselves in captivity, were and are not infrequently still refused to join the ranks of the CPSU. These gross violations of Soviet law, which were permitted with regard to former prisoners of war, were primarily the result of the criminal activities of Beria, Abakumov and their henchmen, who had introduced mass arbitrariness and repression. Loopholes in Soviet law on prisoners of war also contributed to the violation of legality.
All of this contradicts the fundamentals of our socialist order, the Soviet constitution, the Leninist principles of attentive and sensitive treatment of Soviet people. The permitted violations cause great moral and political damage to our party and the state. The atmosphere of suspicion and suspicion against former prisoners of war creates feelings of hurt and dissatisfaction among them and their family members. Such treatment of former prisoners of war is used by the enemies of our state for propaganda among the Soviet citizens who are still abroad in order to prevent them from returning home and to involve them in anti-Soviet activities.
For the purpose of eliminating the gross violations of Soviet law admitted in relation to former prisoners of war and their family members, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the Union SSR decide: 1. The practice of indiscriminate political distrust of former Soviet military personnel who have found themselves in captivity or encirclement of the enemy is to be condemned as being contrary to the interests of the Soviet state.
Military personnel who heroically escaped captivity or who demonstrated themselves to be a model of valor and steadfastness in captivity were not commended in any way.
Party, Soviet, trade union, Komsomol and economic organs are to be obliged to lift the various restrictions that exist in their practice with regard to former prisoners of war and their family members, in particular:
a) to examine the question of the employment of these persons and to take measures to give them a job appropriate to their qualifications;
b) not to put any obstacles in their way when entering higher and medium-sized teaching institutions and courses.
2. The CK of the [Communist] parties of the Union Republics, the regional, regional, city and district committees as well as the main political administration of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR have the cases about the party affiliation of former prisoners of war who in connection with the imprisonment unfounded from the Ranks of the CPSU were excluded to review.
3. The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR is asked to extend the scope of the Ukaz of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of September 17, 1955 on the amnesty of Soviet citizens who cooperated with the occupiers in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, on former servicemen of the Soviet Army and Navy convicted of imprisonment and serving or serving the sentence.
4. The Ministries of Justice of the Union Republics and the Public Prosecutor's Office of the USSR, when reviewing the judicial proceedings against ex-servicemen of the Soviet Army and Navy who were in captivity, ascertained those who were captured under circumstances caused by the military situation and who were unfounded were convicted of traitors to the fatherland, and to ensure their rehabilitation in accordance with the procedure determined by law.
5. The Legal Commission at the Council of Ministers of the USSR, the Public Prosecutor's Office of the USSR and the Ministry of Defense of the USSR have submitted proposals to the Council of Ministers of the USSR on necessary clarifications and additions to the articles of the Ordinance on Military Crimes, which make a military member responsible for imprisonment as well as for crimes during determine the imprisonment, submit without allowing a mitigation of the sentence for voluntary imprisonment.
6. It is to be stipulated that if the capture was not voluntary and the military member in captivity has not committed any crimes against the homeland, the duration of the captivity, encirclement and [special inspection], the duration of the army service as well as the general working hours and the uninterrupted Employment time is to be taken into account.
7. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR (Gen. Dudorov) and the State Security Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR (Gen. Serov) are obliged to comply with all previous orders and instructions from the NKGB and NKVD on former prisoners of war that contradict this decision to review and repeal.
8. The Ministry of Defense of the USSR (Gen. Žukov) has:
a) to review in individual proceedings all cases of former prisoners of war whose ranks have been stripped of their ranks without a court decision and to reinstate them in all necessary cases and to grant a pension to those who are entitled to a pension;
b) propose former prisoners of war who were wounded or escaped from captivity but were not honored with government awards for award;
c) Submit proposals to the Council of Ministers of the USSR on necessary amendments and additions to the Ordinance on the Financial Support of Military Members in Captivity and on the Pension Provision of These Military Members and their Families;
d) To examine the question of the introduction of corresponding additions to the current statutes of the Soviet Army and the Navy, which define the attitude of Soviet soldiers to captivity.
9. The Ministry of Culture of the USSR (Gen. Michajlov), in coordination with the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, has devoted the preparation of artistic products to the heroic behavior of the Soviet soldiers in fascist captivity, their daring escapes from captivity and the fight in partisan units against the enemy are to be included in the thematic plans of publishers, film studios, theaters and cultural educational institutions.
Articles, stories and sketches about the heroic deeds of Soviet soldiers in fascist captivity are to be published in the party, Soviet and military press.
10. The State Security Committee at the Council of Ministers of the USSR is to be obliged, through the “Committee for Homecoming” and the Union of Societies of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent of the USSR, to take the measures of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Soviet Government with regard to former prisoners of war who are set out in the present resolution to bring to the attention of Soviet citizens who are abroad in order to expedite their return home.
The secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU N. CHRUŠČEV
The Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union SSR N. BULGANIN "
Source: Rüdiger Overmans, Andreas Hilger, Pavel Polian (eds.), Red Army soldiers in German hands. Documents on the captivity, repatriation and rehabilitation of Soviet soldiers of the Second World War, Paderborn 2012; Pp. 846-851.
Report by Wehrmacht soldier Johann Lampert, born 1918, about his French captivity in autumn 1945
My thirst for freedom and the desire to come home grew bigger and bigger. I looked for ways to escape all over the camp. I was very happy when I got a job in the kitchen that took me out of the camp. We had to take the cook to the St. Avold slaughterhouse to pick up meat and bones. It wasn't a good product, and despite my constant cravings, I lost my appetite for meat. Our rifle-armed guards never let us out of their sight for a second. Nevertheless, the thought of escape moved me incessantly.
In addition to pictures of German concentration camps and camps for Soviet prisoners of war in Germany, advertisements for the report on the Foreign Legion were posted on the notice board. For me that was a glimmer of hope and seemed to me to be a more favorable starting point for an escape than the camp. Without thinking twice, I registered as an applicant for service in the Foreign Legion. From then on, my guards appeared to have been changed, and for the first time I was received politely and very friendly by the administration. They welcomed me and, completely unexpectedly, gave me a nice new khaki shirt. I was told to confirm in writing tomorrow that I would join the Foreign Legion.
But my father's friend kept me from my plan. I didn't show up at the scheduled time and didn't sign anything. Before long I was picked up by two armed French soldiers and brought before a colonel and his assessors. You can't say they were squeamish about me. When I accepted my refusal, I was beaten back to my quarters with rifle butts and kicks. Due to my rash report to the Legion, I had lost my labor service at the camp kitchen and was now subject to special security. I was the only one who signed up for the Foreign Legion but backed out. Since then I have been called "Legionnaires" by my comrades and have assumed a position of leadership, which was not exactly conducive to my escape plans. Shortly afterwards, when fifty men were assigned to a minesweeping squad, I was there - I was practically transferred as a punishment. I was surprised that I was allowed to keep the khaki shirt. Saying goodbye to my fatherly friend was terrible and very painful for both of us.So I ended up with another hundred comrades in a small prisoner-of-war camp on the Maginot Line.
In a larger stone building, probably the former farm building of an estate, we were accommodated on the upper floor in one of the halls. Fortunately, we camped on a wooden floor that was poorly covered with straw. The room was very tight for the hundred men, but we were used to it. The ground floor was occupied by the French camp management and the security team, while a field kitchen, stores and other utility rooms were located in the basement.
Our security team was largely recruited from German-speaking French. Oddly enough, I got along better with the French-speaking guards here too. They seemed friendlier and more honest with us. In barter deals over the camp fence, it was mainly German-French civilians and the military who had our belongings thrown over and simply ran away without us getting the agreed barter item.
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