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 № 7
the fate of wounded Soviet soldiers in German captivity
Separately, I would like to dwell on the question of the attitude of the Wehrmacht to the wounded Soviet servicemen who were captured, for this is a truly terrible topic. To begin with, a huge number of Soviet wounded by German soldiers were simply finished off on the battlefield. According to the authors of the Book of Losses (edited by G.F. Krivosheev), this amount is approaching half a million! But even if a seriously injured soldier of the Red Army was captured, his chances of survival were practically nil. We’ll talk about this.
The German command constantly referred to the fact that the USSR, they say, did not sign the Geneva Convention, and therefore Soviet prisoners of war did not fall under its effect. But just in relation to wounded prisoners of war, the USSR ratified the fundamental international treaty "On improving the fate of the wounded and sick in the field" of 1929. So how did the German armed forces treat the wounded Soviet troops captured by them? Really in accordance with the international treaty of 1929?
What indications of attitudes towards the wounded were given by the OKH and OKV before the invasion of the USSR was reliably unknown. But on July 7, 1941, the OKH instructed "to provide prisoners of war with first aid in armies and divisions, as was the case during previous campaigns." But at the same time there was an addition: "first of all, Russian medical personnel should be used, as well as Russian medicines and dressings." The OKH did not explain how to transport the wounded prisoners of war, but emphasizes that “cars should not be allocated for this.” That is, the use of vehicles to transport the wounded was prohibited. Two weeks later, the order was still tightened, now only those wounded whose wounds would heal within 4 weeks could be transported to the OKV responsibility zone. A reasonable question arises: what about the rest?
And here is the answer:
"The others (that is, the seriously injured) should be looked after in special auxiliary hospitals for prisoners of war equipped with staff at the transit camps."
These infirmaries should not have been created on the territory of transit camps, but at a distance of 500 to 1000 m from the camp. To assist the wounded, it was recommended "to use Russian prisoners and civilian doctors, as well as Russian attendants. It was also necessary to use exclusively Russian tools, medicines and dressings, the rest also rely only on Russian forces." The mortality rate of Soviet prisoners of war in these camp infirmaries was close to 90%.
There are very few sources in relation to wounded Soviet prisoners of war. But quite a lot of German documents were preserved according to the so-called "unnecessary in the war" Soviet prisoners of war. In the language of Nazi rhetoric, this meant prisoners who lost their sight, limbs, or due to serious injuries were no longer capable of military service, and accordingly were disabled. Their fate, even against the backdrop of the hell of the camps, was really terrible.
In September 1941, in the rear area of GA Center, they were already thinking about whether it would be possible to simply take prisoners "more unsuitable for war" to their homes. Naturally after a "thorough check of their injuries." With the onset of cold weather, when healthy prisoners were practically not fed, the desire to get rid of excess eaters increased. On December 17, the commandant of the rear area ordered the release of disabled persons incapable of service from the prison camp in Smolensk. The rest of the wounded in this infirmary, "starved of hunger, emaciated and frozen," many of whom had recently had amputation of limbs, were without bandages sent to an "open camp, where they were soon to die from the cold." Here is a "mercy" in German!
On December 30, 1941, the command of the 9th Field Army ordered that all prisoners who would be recognized as "harmless" by the German doctor be released after the inspection. However, behind this order was not a humane attitude towards prisoners of war with disabilities, but the perverse logic of Nazism. Cripples were specially exported to areas where hunger reigned, and since people with disabilities had to live with the civilian population and as “non-working” did not receive any food and only lived on the handouts of the local population, they were actually doomed to starvation.
In the area of responsibility of the GA "North" in early February 1942, the 207th security division received an order "to remove from the zone of responsibility of the 18th army ... about 1800 prisoners of war who, due to wounds or illnesses, are not dangerous and place army groups in the rear area among civilians. To evacuate with the help of a sled. " A month later, Fritz von Rock, the head of the rear area of the GA North, said that “this action had an extremely unfavorable impression on the population, which has not yet passed. Prisoners of war, almost dying of hunger, partly with festering and fetid wounds resembled living skeletons and made a terrifying impression. What they said about the conditions in which they lived did not remain without consequences for us. "
Despite such reviews, people with disabilities continued to be transported to hungry areas, dooming to death (in particular to the Sebezh district). And only in May 1942 the order was given to take such prisoners to Stalag No. 340 in Dinaburg (Daugavpils).
The same thing was done in the zones of responsibility of other army groups, after January 22, 1942, the OKH ordered that all disabled people be taken to the rear areas and released. Moreover, the Wehrmacht army command was well aware that taking out absolutely helpless wounded people to areas where famine reigned was condemned to painful death. And in this situation, military commanders cannot refer either to the "criminal" orders of the "possessed" Hitler, or to Keitel's orders, because the OKH order only legitimized the practice that already existed in the front-line zone.
The treatment of seriously wounded prisoners of war once again emphasizes that any improvements in the fate of Soviet prisoners of war that occurred later, beginning in mid-1942, were made solely for the sake of receiving more gratuitous labor, and not for other purposes.
But this was not the end of the matter. The OKW chief, Keitel, stated in an order on September 22, 1942 that SS Reichsführer Himmler complains that released prisoners, even people with disabilities, go and beg for alms in the occupied eastern lands and present "thereby a great danger to these areas," because they can help partisans . This hypothetical opportunity for people with disabilities who were deprived of vision and limbs to help the partisans was enough to issue an order that prescribed "those Soviet prisoners of war who, according to previous provisions, were declared incapable of work and released, should be transferred to the plenipotentiary leaders of the SS and the local police. the Reichsführer and the head of the German police will take care of transferring them further, including work. "
I want to specifically clarify the term "transfer further and work." This seemingly innocent wording conceals the elimination of prisoners. The order, speaking in plain text about this liquidation, did not survive, but on December 3, 1942, the Gestapo chief Muller (yes, that very good grandfather from the movie "Seventeen Moments of Spring") gave the following instruction:
"On November 27, the SS Reichsfuhrer Himmler ordered that the leaders of the SS and the police be charged with the release of Soviet prisoners of war released due to incapacity for work [another covert synonym of the word liquidation] ...
"The order of the Reichsfuhrer SS that has been applied so far has not made any changes."
By order of Müller, these prisoners were taken to the nearest concentration camp, where they had to check "whether it is possible to use the captured prisoners at work at least partially in the future." Little is known about exactly how the decision was made to eliminate the seriously wounded Soviet prisoners of war. After the war, the former head of Division IV A 1 of the RSHA Sturmbanführer SS Kurt Lindov testified that Major General Grevenitz (head of the service for prisoners of war) suggested at a meeting of OKV and RSHA representatives "to transfer terminally ill and seriously wounded Soviet prisoners of war for elimination in the Gestapo." But the Gestapo representatives allegedly rejected this proposal on the grounds that "the Gestapo will not be a Wehrmacht executioner anymore" (it turns out that until that moment they had it?). General Reinecke claimed that even Keitel was opposed. From Keitel’s order of September 22, 1942, it seems that the initiative came from Himmler. However, it is known that OKV also had a hand in the decision to eliminate these categories of Soviet prisoners of war.
How much incapacitated prisoners were transferred to the Gestapo cannot be established. But already in the fall of 1941, the Einsatzgruppen of the Munich Gestapo were selected in the VII corps district of terminally ill prisoners. And after Keitel’s order of September 22, 1942, disabled Soviet prisoners were massively brought to several concentration camps. An accurate calculation of the number of victims is impossible due to the fact that the Nazis managed to destroy many documents (moreover, there are often documents according to the inventory, but in fact they are missing). But, for example, in the Noyengamme concentration camp in November 1942, 251 Soviet disabled prisoners of war were poisoned with Cyclone-B gas. A large number (several thousand) of disabled prisoners were delivered to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where they were simply starved to death. In a concentration camp in Maydanek, in November 1943, a group of 334 Soviet seriously wounded prisoners of war who were delivered from a stockpile in Estonia was poisoned with gas.
In the occupied regions of the USSR, they also acted with Soviet wounded prisoners of war, in full accordance with the orders of Mueller and Keitel. At the end of October 1942, disabled prisoners of war from the 358th stalag in Zhitomir "were transferred to the disposal of the head of the Security Police and SD" in large numbers. Part of the prisoners was immediately "taken out by truck to some locality and eliminated" (I wonder if someone needs to explain what is hidden behind the term "eliminated"?) And on December 24, 1942, the remaining 68 or 70 prisoners of war were by order of the chief of security police were subjected to special treatment in Zhitomir. " Moreover, from the surviving documents it is known that it was "exclusively about seriously wounded prisoners. Some prisoners did not have both legs, others had both arms, some were deprived of one limb. Only a few of them had all the limbs, but were so exhausted by other wounds. that it was impossible to use them in any work. " Very pragmatic, with truly German zeal, only those who cannot work are killed.
This case is about "special treatment", only because it got into the documents that 20 Soviet prisoners of war with disabilities (that is, deprived of limbs), who had already witnessed the execution of their comrades, somehow managed to kill the two SS men and escape. Imagine this picture: unarmed cripples kill two armed and healthy SS men!
In general, it can be said that there are virtually no documents on the treatment of Soviet wounded military personnel in German captivity. Even the scorched Nazis understood: SUCH not forgive. That is why the preserved documents contain so many allegorical epithets of the word execution: “special appeal”, “appeal”, “transfer further”, etc. etc.
In fact, according to modern estimates, approximately 150,000 Soviet wounded servicemen were eliminated with "special treatment." Once again, there is no exact data. And these figures are obtained by calculation methods.
Funds of the Federal Archive 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.
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