The total number of Soviet prisoners of war in the foreign press is determined within 5.2-5.75 million people. A commission of the Ministry of Defense chaired by M. A. Gareev announced about 4 million. Only 1,836,562 people returned from captivity
Part № 1
In the West, any attempt to talk about German war crimes on the Eastern Front was regarded as a propaganda device. The lost war against the USSR smoothly flowed into its "cold" stage against the eastern "evil empire." And if the FRG leadership officially recognized the genocide of the Jewish people, and even “repented” for it, then nothing like this happened about the mass destruction of Soviet prisoners of war and civilians in the occupied territories. Even in modern Germany, there is a steady tendency to blame everything on the head of the "demoniacous" Hitler, the Nazi elite and the SS apparatus, as well as in every possible way to whitewash the "glorious and heroic" Wehrmacht, "ordinary soldiers honestly doing their duty" (I wonder what?). In the memoirs of German soldiers all the time, as soon as the question comes to crime, the author immediately declares that ordinary soldiers were all cool guys, and "animals" from the SS and Sonderkommando did all the abominations. Although almost all the former Soviet soldiers almost completely say that the abominable attitude towards them began from the very first seconds of captivity, when they were not yet in the hands of the "Nazis" from the SS, but in the noble and friendly arms of the "handsome guys" from ordinary combat units, " who had nothing to do with the SS. "
Only in the mid-70s of the twentieth century did the attitude to the conduct of hostilities in the USSR begin to slowly change, in particular, German researchers began to study the fate of Soviet prisoners of war in the Reich. Here the great role was played by the work of the professor of Heidelberg University Christian Streit "They are not our comrades. Wehrmacht and Soviet prisoners of war in 1941-1945", which refuted many Westernist myths regarding the conduct of hostilities in the East. Streit has been working on his book for 16 years, and it is currently the most comprehensive study on the fate of Soviet prisoners of war in Nazi Germany.
The ideological guidelines for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war came from the very top of the Nazi leadership. Long before the campaign in the East, Hitler stated at a meeting on March 30, 1941:
“We must abandon the concept of soldier’s partnership. A communist has never been and never will be a comrade. It’s about the struggle for annihilation. If we don’t look like that, though we will defeat the enemy, in 30 years the communist danger will arise again ... "(Halder F." The Military Diary ". V.2. M., 1969. S.430).
"Political commissars are the basis of Bolshevism in the Red Army, the bearers of an ideology hostile to National Socialism, and cannot be recognized as soldiers. Therefore, after captivity, they must be shot."
About the attitude towards the civilian population, Hitler declared:
"We are obligated to exterminate the population - this is part of our mission of protecting the German nation. I have the right to destroy the millions of people of the lower race who multiply like worms."
The ideology of National Socialism, coupled with racial theories, led to inhumane treatment of Soviet prisoners of war. For example, out of 1,547,000 French prisoners of war in German captivity, only about 40,000 people (2.6%) died, the mortality rate of Soviet prisoners of war, according to the most sparing estimates, was 55%. For the fall of 1941, the “normal” mortality of captured Soviet troops was 0.3% per day, that is, about 10% per month! In October-November 1941, the death rate of our compatriots in German captivity reached 2% per day, and in some camps up to 4.3% per day. The mortality rate of captured Soviet troops during the same period in the camps of the governor general (Poland) was 4,000-4600 per day. By April 15, 1942, out of 361,612 prisoners transferred to Poland in the fall of 1941, only 44,235 were still alive. 7,559 prisoners escaped, 292,560 died, and another 17,256 were "transferred to the SD" (i.e., shot). Thus, the mortality rate of Soviet prisoners of war in just 6-7 months reached 85.7%!
Let's start with a prehistory not directly related to the Great Patriotic War: during the 40 months of the First World War, the Russian imperial army lost 3,638,271 people captured and missing. Of these, 1,434,477 people were held in German captivity. Mortality among Russian prisoners was 5.4%, and was not much higher than natural mortality in Russia at that time. Moreover, mortality among prisoners of other armies in German captivity was 3.5%, which was also a low figure. In those same years, there were 1,961,333 enemy prisoners of war in Russia, the mortality rate among them was 4.6%, which almost corresponded to natural mortality in Russia.
Everything changed after 23 years. For example, the rules for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war prescribed:
"... the Bolshevik soldier lost all right to claim treatment with him as an honest soldier in accordance with the Geneva agreement. Therefore, it fully corresponds to the point of view and dignity of the German armed forces, so that every German soldier draws a sharp line between himself and Soviet prisoners of war. The treatment should be cold, albeit correct. The strictest way should be avoided all sympathy, and even more support. A sense of pride and superiority of the German soldier appointed to lure the owls prisoners of war should at all times be noticeable to others. "
In Western historiography, until the mid-70s of the twentieth century, the version that the "criminal" orders of Hitler were imposed on the opposition-minded Wehrmacht command and were almost not executed "on the ground" was quite common. This "fairy tale" was born during the Nuremberg trials (action of protection). However, an analysis of the situation shows that, for example, the Order on the Commissioners was executed in the troops very consistently. Not only all Jewish soldiers and political workers of the Red Army fell under the “selection” of the SS Einsatzkommand, but in general all who could turn out to be a “potential adversary”. The military top of the Wehrmacht almost unanimously supported the Fuhrer. Hitler in his unprecedentedly frank speech on March 30, 1941 "pressed" not on the racial causes of the "war of annihilation", but on the fight against an alien ideology, which was close in spirit to the Wehrmacht military elite. Halder’s remarks in his diary clearly indicate general support for Hitler’s demands, in particular Halder wrote that “the war in the East is significantly different from the war in the West. In the East, cruelty is justified by the interests of the future!” Immediately after Hitler's keynote address, the OKH (German OKH - Oberkommando des Heeres High Command of the Ground Forces) and OKW (German OKW - Oberkommando der Wermacht, Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) headquarters began to draw up the Führer program in specific documents. The most odious and famous of them are: “The Directive on establishing an occupation regime on the territory of the Soviet Union to be taken” - 03/13/1941, “On military jurisdiction in the Barbarossa region and on the special powers of the troops” - 05/13/1941, directives "On the conduct of troops in Russia" - 05/19/1941 and "On the treatment of political commissars", more commonly referred to as the "order on commissars" - 6/6/1941, the order of the Wehrmacht Supreme Command on the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war - 8/8/1941. These orders and directives were issued at different times, but their drafts were ready almost in the first week of April 1941 (except for the first and last document).
"Heroes" on whose orders genocide against the civilian population of the USSR was unleashed and under whose "sensitive" supervision more than 3 million Soviet prisoners of war were destroyed. This is the leader of the German people A. Hitler, the Reichsfuhrer SS Himmler, the Obergruppenführer SS Heydrich, the chief of the OKW General Field Marshal Keitel, the Commander of the Ground Forces Field Marshal f. Brauchitsch, chief of the General Staff of the Ground Forces, Colonel-General Halder, headquarters of the Wehrmacht operational leadership and his chief, artillery general Jodl, head of the legal department of the Wehrmacht Leman, OKW department “L” and personally his chief, Major General Varlimont, group 4 / Qu (chief under -T. Tippelskirch), general for special assignments under the commander-in-chief of the land forces, Lieutenant-General Müller, head of the legal department of the land forces Latman, quarter-general general-major general Wagner, head of the military-administrative department of the land yl f. Altenstadt. And also ALL commanders of army groups, armies, tank groups, corps and even separate divisions of the German armed forces fall into this category (in particular, the famous order of the commander of the 6th field army, F. Reichenau, practically duplicated across all Wehrmacht formations is indicative).
The Soviet Union’s unpreparedness for a modern highly maneuverable war (for various reasons), the tragic outbreak of hostilities led to the fact that by mid-July 1941 out of 170 Soviet divisions that were in the border military districts at the beginning of the war, 28 were surrounded and did not leave it, 70 formations class divisions were virtually defeated and became unworkable. The huge masses of Soviet troops often randomly rolled back, and the German motorized formations, moving at a speed of up to 50 km per day, cut off their escape routes, the Soviet formations, which had no time to move away, were surrounded. Large and small "cauldrons" were formed, in which most of the military personnel were captured.
In 1941, according to German data, about 2,561,000 Soviet troops were captured in large "cauldrons". In the reports of the German command it was reported that 300,000 people were captured in boilers near Bialystok, Grodno and Minsk, 103,000 near Uman, 450,000 near Vitebsk, Mogilev, Orsha and Gomel, 180,000 near Smolensk, and in the Kiev region - 665,000, near Chernigov - 100,000, in the Mariupol region - 100,000, near Bryansk and Vyazma 663,000 people. In 1942, another two large "boilers" near Kerch (May 1942) - 150,000, near Kharkov (then) - 240,000 people. Here we must immediately make a reservation that the German data seems to be overstated because the declared number of prisoners often exceeds the number of armies and fronts that took part in one or another operation. The most striking example of this is the Kiev boiler. The Germans announced the capture of 665,000 people east of the Ukrainian capital, although the total payroll of the South-Western Front by the time the Kiev defensive operation began did not exceed 627,000 people. Moreover, about 150,000 Red Army soldiers remained outside the circle of encirclement, and another 30,000 managed to get out of the "cauldron".
C. Streit, the most respected expert on Soviet prisoners of war in World War II, claims that in 1941 the Wehrmacht captured 2,465,000 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army, including: Army Group North - 84,000, Army Group "Center" - 1 413 000 and Army Group "South" - 968 000 people. And this is only in large "boilers". In total, according to Streight in 1941, 3.4 million Soviet troops were captured by the German armed forces. This represents approximately 65% of the total number of Soviet prisoners of war captured between June 22, 1941 and May 9, 1945.
In any case, the number of Soviet prisoners of war captured by the armed forces of the Reich before the beginning of 1942 is not amenable to accurate calculation. The fact is that in 1941 the provision of reports to the higher headquarters of the Wehrmacht on the number of captured Soviet troops was not mandatory. An order on this issue was given by the high command of the ground forces only in January 1942. But there is no doubt that the number of captured Red Army soldiers in 1941 exceeded 2.5 million.
Also, there is still no exact data on the total number of Soviet prisoners of war captured by the German armed forces from June 1941 to April 1945. A. Dallin, using German data, cites a figure of 5.7 million people, a team of authors led by Colonel General G.F. Krivosheeva, as amended in her 2010 monograph, reports on 5.059 million people (of which about 500 thousand are liable for mobilization, but captured by the enemy on the way to military units), K. Streit estimates the number of prisoners from 5.2 to 5 7 million
It should be borne in mind that the Germans could include such categories of Soviet citizens as prisoners of war: guerrillas, underground fighters, personnel of incomplete formations of the national militia, local air defense, fighter battalions and police, as well as railwaymen and paramilitary groups of civilian departments. Plus, a certain number of civilians hijacked for forced labor in the Reich or occupied countries, as well as those taken hostage, also got here. That is, the Germans tried to "isolate" as many of the male population of the USSR of military age as possible, especially without hiding it. For example, the Minsk prisoner-of-war camp contained about 100,000 prisoners of war of the Red Army proper and about 40,000 civilians, and this is practically the entire male population of Minsk. The Germans followed a similar practice in the future. Here is an excerpt from the order of the command of the 2nd Tank Army of May 11, 1943:
"When occupying certain settlements, it is necessary to immediately and suddenly capture existing men aged 15 to 65 years, if they can be considered capable of carrying weapons, send them under guard to rail transfer camp 142 in Bryansk. Captured, able to carry weapons "declare that they will continue to be considered prisoners of war, and that at the slightest attempt to escape they will be shot."
All affairs related to the maintenance of foreign prisoners of war in the Reich were dealt with by the Wehrmacht prisoner of war department as part of the general command of the armed forces, led by General German Reinecke. The department was headed by: Colonel Breyer (1939-1941), General Grevenitz (1942-1944), General Westhoff (1944), and SS Obergruppenfuhrer Berger (1944-1945). In each military district (and later in the occupied territories), transferred under civilian control, there was a “prisoner of war prisoner” (commandant for prisoner of war affairs in the respective district).
The Germans created a very wide network of camps for the maintenance of prisoners of war and “Ostarbeiters” (Soviet citizens forced into slavery). Prisoner camps were divided into five categories:
1. Collection points (camps),
2. Transfer camps (Dulag)
3. Permanent camps (Stalag, Stalag) and their variety for the command staff of the Red Army (Oflag),
4. The main work camps,
5. Small work camps.
The assembly points were located in close proximity to the front line, there was a final disarmament of the prisoners, and primary accounting documents were drawn up. The transit camps were located near major railway junctions. After "sorting" (in quotation marks), prisoners were usually sent to camps with a fixed location. The stalagas differed in numbers, and at the same time they contained a large number of prisoners of war. For example, in Stalag -126 (Smolensk) in April 1942, 20,000 people were detained, and in Stalag-350 (outskirts of Riga) at the end of 1941 - 40,000 people. Each "stalag" was the basis for a network of main labor camps subordinate to it. The main work camps had the name of the corresponding stalag with the addition of a letter, they contained several thousand people. Small labor camps were subordinate to the main labor camps or directly to the stalls. They were most often called by the name of the locality in which they were located, and by the name of the main working camp, they contained from several tens to several hundred prisoners of war.
In total, about 22,000 large and small camps were part of this German-style system. They simultaneously contained more than 2 million Soviet prisoners of war. The camps were located both on the territory of the Reich and on the territory of the occupied countries.
In the front line and in the rear of the army, the prisoners were in charge of the corresponding OKH services. On the territory of the OKH, usually only transit camps were located, and the stalls were already in the OKV department - that is, within the boundaries of military districts on the territory of the Reich, the Governor General and the Reich Commissariat. As the German army advanced, the Dulags turned into permanent camps (oflag and stalag).
In the OKH, the service was carried out by the army quartermaster general. Several local commandant's offices obeyed her, each of which contained several dulags. The camps in the OKV system were subordinate to the management of prisoners of war of the corresponding military district.
Funds of the Federal Archive of the Federal Republic of Germany - Military Archive. Freiburg (Bundesarchivs / Militararchiv (BA / MA)
Documents of the propaganda department of the Wehrmacht RW 4 / v. 253; 257; 298.
Particularly important cases under the Barbarossa plan of the L IV department of the Wehrmacht operations headquarters RW 4 / v. 575; 577; 578.
Documents of GA "North" (OKW / Nord) OKW / 32.
Wehrmacht help desk documents RW 6 / v. 220; 222.
Documents of the Department of Prisoners of War Affairs (OKW / AWA / Kgf.) RW 5 / v. 242, RW 6 / v. 12; 270,271,272,273,274; 276,277,278,279; 450,451,452,453. Documents of the Department of Military Economics and Armaments (OKW / WiRuArnt) Wi / IF 5/530; 5.624; 5.1189; 5.1213; 5.1767; 2717; 5.3064; 5.3190; 5.3434; 5.3560; 5.3561; 5.3562.
Documents of the chief of armament of the ground forces and the commander of the reserve army (OKH / ChHRu u. BdE) H1 / 441. Documents of the Vostok Foreign Army Division of the General Staff of the Ground Forces (OKH / GenStdH / Abt. Fremde Heere Ost) P3 / 304; 512; 512; 728; 729.
Documents of the Chief of the Land Forces Archive N / 40/54.
A. Dallin "German rule in Russia 1941-1945. Analysis of the occupation policy." M. From the Academy of Sciences of the USSR 1957
"SS in action." Crime Documents. M. IIL 1960
S. Datner "Crimes of the Nazi Wehrmacht against prisoners of war in World War II" M. IIL 1963
"Criminal goals are criminal means." Documents on the occupation policy of Nazi Germany in the USSR. M. "Politizdat" 1968
"Top Secret. Command Only." Documents and materials. M. "Science" 1967
N. Alekseev "Responsibility of Nazi criminals" M. "International relations" 1968
N. Müller "The Wehrmacht and the occupation, 1941-1944. On the role of the Wehrmacht and its governing bodies in the implementation of the occupation regime in Soviet territory" M. Military Publishing 1974
C. Streight "They are not to be considered soldiers. Wehrmacht and Soviet prisoners of war 1941-1945." M. "Progress" 1979
V. Galitsky. "The problem of prisoners of war and the attitude of the Soviet state to it." "State and Law" No. 4, 1990
M. Semiryaga "The prison empire of Nazism and its collapse" M. "Jur. Literature" 1991
V. Gurkin "On casualties on the Soviet-German front in 1941-1945." Scientific Research Institute No. 3 of 1992
"The Nuremberg Trials. Crimes Against Humanity." The collection of materials in 8 volumes. M. "Legal literature" 1991-1997
M. Erin "Soviet prisoners of war in Germany during the Second World War" "History" No. 11-12, 1995
C. Streit "Soviet prisoners of war in Germany / Russia and Germany during the years of war and peace (1941-1995)." M. "Gaia" 1995
P. Polyan "Victims of two dictatorships. Life, labor, humiliation and death of Soviet prisoners of war and ostarbeiters in a foreign land and at home." M. "ROSSPEN" 2002
M. Yerin "Soviet prisoners of war in Nazi Germany 1941-1945. Problems of research." Yaroslavl Yaroslavl State University 2005
"Destruction war in the east. Wehrmacht crimes in the USSR. 1941-1944. Reports." Edited by G. Gortsik and K. Shtang. M. "Airo-XX" 2005
W. Vette "The Image of the Enemy: Racist Elements in German Propaganda Against the Soviet Union." M. "Yauza", EXMO 2005
C. Streit "They are not our comrades. Wehrmacht and Soviet prisoners of war in 1941-1945." M. "Russian Panorama" 2009
"The Great Patriotic War without a signature stamp. Book of losses." The team of authors led by G.F. Krivosheeva M. Veche 2010