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 № 8
SS concentration camps
I would also like to recall that before May 1, 1944, according to German documents, three million two hundred ninety-one thousand one hundred fifty-seven Soviet prisoners of war were killed. We have no right to forget about this tragedy!
The general public is practically unaware that part of the Soviet prisoners of war was held in the so-called "labor camps" subordinate to the apparatus and troops of the SS. Let us dwell on this issue in more detail, because this is actually a completely unknown topic.
Few people know that the famous Auschwitz concentration camp was originally created for the maintenance of captured Red Army soldiers. On March 1 (!) 1941, the Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler gave the order to the SS Sturmbunfuhrer Rudolf Höss to build a camp designed to contain prisoners of war for 100 thousand people. Based on the logic of events, there is no doubt that the camp was created specifically for Soviet prisoners of war. The question also arises, why was the camp site chosen in Auschwitz? The answer lies in the economic field. The fact is that at the turn of 1940-41. one of the largest military-industrial monopolies in Germany, IG Farben AG, began construction of a huge plant for the production of synthetic fuel and rubber near Auschwitz.
This was the fifth giant chemical plant owned by IG Farben AG. The choice of its location was due to the proximity of coal deposits and lime, which served as feedstock for the production of artificial rubber and synthetic fuel. At the time of the start of construction of plant No. 5 in the Auschwitz concentration camp, there were only 8 thousand prisoners, and the need for people only at the construction site was at least 10 thousand people. During negotiations between the management of the concern and the Reichsfuhrer SS, a compromise decision was made to build a huge camp for at least 50 thousand (and preferably more) places. The board of directors of the concern and the leadership of the SS directly "found each other", Himmler promised all possible assistance, in particular, in supplying labor for the construction of the plant, in ensuring the safety of the construction site by the camp guards, etc. For their part, the leaders of the industrial giant pledged to overfulfill plans for the plant’s productivity, maintain part of the camp’s prisoners and modernize some enterprises belonging to the SS apparatus.
This mutually beneficial cooperation is important for understanding the process of how the formation of the camp system in the Reich, and for the development trend of some sectors of the German military economy. Himmler saw in this the possibility of building a "new type of industry", where a large army of slave-prisoners would work in enterprises under the leadership of German experts and in German technology. A kind of technocratic-slave paradise for a higher race. Perhaps the top of the SS had far-reaching plans for borrowing technology from industrial corporations, management experience and the ability to earn money in order to fully switch to self-sufficiency in the future, and, damn it, even crush a number of other industrial magnates. However, at this stage, the cooperation was idyllic, as one of the top leaders of the IG Farben AG Ambros wrote, "the new friendship with the SS is very fruitful." During the Second World War, the top of the SS apparatus made every effort to build the "economic empire" of the SS. For example, the German Quarries and Quarries Concern, owned by the SS and based on prison labor, had detailed development plans until 1949!
Thus, it was the collaboration of the SS with industry giants that led to the emergence of huge concentration camps with the number of prisoners in tens, or even hundreds of thousands of people.
It is not known for certain whether Soviet prisoners of war worked at the construction site of a chemical plant near Auschwitz in the fall of 1941. Also, there is no complete data on the OKW promise in the spring of 1941 to provide a certain contingent of Soviet prisoners to Himmler. After the war, both Keitel and Reineck claimed that they “had no idea” that a certain number of Soviet prisoners of war had been transferred to the SS. They argued that camps for prisoners of war in the area of responsibility of the OKW were under the control of the reserve army, and, accordingly, they did not have the right to dispose of them. However, in fact, this turns out to be, if not a pure lie, then in any case a half-truth. For without the knowledge of Keitel and Reinecke there could be no “transfer” of Soviet prisoners of war to Himmler’s department. Moreover, on September 25, 1941, the OKW prisoners of war department issued a clear order "that up to 100 thousand [Soviet] prisoners of war should be transferred to the SS Reichsfuhrer and the police chief in the Lublin region as soon as special instructions are received from OKW."
Based on this decision, already in October 1941, 10 thousand Soviet prisoners of war were brought to Auschwitz. The camp block intended for them was surrounded by barbed wire with an electric current passed through it. The first 2014 prisoners arrived on October 7th. These prisoners were transferred from stallag No. 318 in Lamsdorf, despite the assurances of the administration of the 318th stalag that “these are the best prisoners” they arrived in a terrible physical condition, after weeks of walking marches. In total, by October 25, there were about 10 thousand Soviet prisoners in the camp. By November 1941, the SD team arrived in Auschwitz, which sorted the prisoners into four categories: "fanatical communists", "politically undesirable", "politically credible" and "suitable for re-education." The first two categories included about a thousand prisoners who were literally eliminated within a week. The rest were used in severe conditions to build a concentration camp in Birkenau. The survivors, despite hunger, cold and illness, were tortured by guards and warders from German criminals recruited in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Until the end of February 1942, 8,320 Soviet prisoners of war died, of which only in November 1941 - 3,726 people. In August 1942, 163 deaths were recorded in Auschwitz among Soviet prisoners of war, and with the last camp roll call on January 17, 1945, another 96. Now the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, built in the summer of 1942 by Soviet prisoners, has become the largest death factory in Europe.
Soviet prisoners of war were delivered not only to Auschwitz. In other concentration camps, there were also "labor camps for prisoners of war." In the fall of 1941, several thousand Soviet prisoners were brought into them. Pitiful diets, inhuman conditions in concentration camps and absolutely brutal treatment of them quickly led to the total extinction of these "labor camps".
In addition to these "labor camps for prisoners of war", there were two concentration camps in the concentration camps, where our prisoners were kept, under the direction of the SS. This is the notorious SS Prisoner of War Camp in the Governor General, near Lublin. There, the prisoners were exterminated with absolutely wild speed: of the 5,000 people who arrived in early autumn, by the end of November, less than 1,500 were still alive. And by April 1942, only a few hundred were "killed while trying to escape"! Initially, it was planned to place 25 thousand Soviet prisoners of war in the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig, but then the plans changed, and the camp became an ordinary concentration camp, but they managed to bring in a certain number of our prisoners, their exact number is unknown, they all died.
In addition to these two purely "SS" camps in the rear zone of GA Center, there were 4 camps under the command of the SS troops in the region of Konotop. If ordinary camps in the OKH responsibility zone were guarded by specially trained linear units of the Wehrmacht, then all four of these camps were subordinate to the 1st motorized brigade of the SS and were "served" exclusively by its units. The guards of these camps were of the opinion that "it would be good if all these prisoners disappeared - they were shot, or they died themselves." Needless to say, very few prisoners from these camps managed to survive?
On October 4, 1941, the Department of Prisoners of War Affairs in the OKV issued an order on "the procedure for relocating 25,000 Soviet prisoners of war for use in work at SS enterprises in the Reich." Only those prisoners who were already in the file cabinets of the stalag were subject to movement. Although the prisoners were subordinate to the SS, they were registered with the Wehrmacht's information desk. The SS apparatus undertook to report all changes in the fate of the prisoners (transfer, mutilation, death, etc.) to the Wehrmacht information bureau. However, in practice this was not implemented; prisoners simply "presented". For example, the order of the concentration camp inspection of October 29 required, in the event of an unnatural death of a captive, to prepare not only the prescribed death notice, but also the report of a law officer. True, the documents were drawn up, but "have not yet been sent" to the Wehrmacht's information desk, but it did not insist (apparently from the innate modesty of its employees).
Despite the general tendency of the end of 1941 to soften the attitude towards Soviet prisoners of war in the Reich and the decision to bring them to work, the inspection of concentration camps and the administration of the concentration camps themselves only became concerned about the state of the "labor resource" in mid-November. By that time, as a result of the killings, starvation and ill-treatment, the number of Soviet prisoners was markedly reduced. Only on November 29, in the order of the “commissioner for the use of labor of prisoners”, it was ascertained that “the time has probably come when Russian prisoners of war can be involved in work.”
Of particular concern to the Imperial Security Main Directorate were Soviet prisoners of war who arrived at the concentration camps for special treatment. Selected "unwanted" prisoners could become even more dangerous. Therefore, on October 11, 1941, the Gestapo chief Müller informed the Gestapo authorities by telegraph "in order to avoid mistakes" to make sure that the vehicles with prisoners sentenced to death are notified in a timely manner and that "it is clear from the transport accompanying documents that this transport means Soviet prisoners of war, the execution of which is ordered by the chief of the security police and SD. "
But, the practice of routine elimination of some part of the Soviet prisoners of war disgusted some of the elite SS. And here we meet one of the samples of Nazi rhetoric (fortunately, this phenomenon has disappeared forever), called "destruction by labor." It was ordered that "dangerous" prisoners from the USSR be sent to quarries, quarries, coal mines, where, through hunger and overwork, "achieve the same result, for the benefit of us." Himmler endorsed such a "cost-effective plan." Perhaps such a technique was developed long before the attack on the USSR.
Because of this policy, most of the Soviet prisoners transferred to concentration camps and SS enterprises died by the end of 1941. And by January 1942, Himmler realized that his plans for the massive use of seemingly innumerable prisoners from the USSR had collapsed. For the decision of the National Socialist leadership to attract Soviet prisoners of war to work in the military economy of the Reich transferred them to the category of "valuable resource", and Himmler no longer received at the disposal of the SS prisoners in large quantities, excluding those that continued to enter the concentration camps after the "selection" and “breeding,” but they were usually killed in a short time.
Himmler found an alternative solution. In January 1942, he gave the order to Glucks:
“Since you can’t expect Russian prisoners of war in the near future, I will send a large number of those Jews and Jews who are deported from Germany to the camps. Prepare yourself to receive 100,000 men and up to 50,000 Jewish women in concentration camps in the next four weeks.” "In the coming weeks, the concentration camps will face big economic challenges."
Thus, the destruction of several tens of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war in concentration camps was a prototype of the subsequent "conveyor belt of death" and mass genocide (including Jews).
It is not possible to estimate the number of Soviet prisoners of war who fell into the hands of the “best of the Germans” and were put to death by them, but the chances of the prisoner who came to the SS to survive were scanty.
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