Russians POW rather died than go home.

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by Owen, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    EDITED 1/4/07: Sorry I never added links to these pasted in stories, I posted them when I was new to the way Forums worked.

    Found this story which will illustrates the terrible treatment by the Soviet Union on it's own ex-POWs.
    1945: Prisoners' dilemma
    By JON BLACKWELL / The Trentonian
    Homemade clubs clenched in their hands, tears of anger in their eyes, 154 Soviet-born prisoners of war rushed their captors at Fort Dix the morning of June 29, 1945 on a mission of mass suicide.

    "Shoot us! Shoot us!" they shouted, tearing open their khaki uniforms and pointing at their hearts.

    They wanted to die because the alternative was a fate worse than death: to go back to their Russian homeland, there to be condemned as traitors and packed off to a Siberian prison camp.

    In the bloody chaos of World War II, these 154 POWs had taken up arms against Communist rule and ended up on the side of Nazi Germany. It was in German uniforms that American GI's had captured them.

    Then, the United States government opted to repatriate them, not to Germany, but to the personal care of Josef Stalin.

    And so, on June 29, 1945, the Russian POWs of Fort Dix sought to kill themselve before Stalin could. They did not succeed, and the story of their failure is one of the sad, little-told stories of World War II.

    Adolf Hitler had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 with twisted schemes of turning the whole country into a slave-labor colony. Millions of Slavic people, and every last Jewish man, woman and child, would have to be exterminated.

    Yet Russia's Stalin yielded nothing to Hitler in sheer brutality. For a whole decade he had been starving peasants, shooting opponents real and imagined, deporting entire ethnic populations to Siberia. By the time of the Nazi invasion, Soviet Russia was a nation ruled by sheer terror.

    Most Red Army soldiers defended their soil ferociously. Others saw no reason to fight for a regime that treated them as prisoners, and flocked to the banner of the swastika.

    Still others had no choice in the matter, but were forcibly conscripted into German uniforms after becoming POWs -- and then put to heavy labor.

    The collaborators had no love for Hitler, who viewed all Slavs as "untermenschen" -- subhumans -- but saw German might as the only way to overturn a despised Communist regime.

    By 1943, their general, Andrei Vlasov, had raised a force of nearly 1 million Soviet-born soldiers in German uniforms.

    But instead of heading for the Eastern Front, where they would have fought fiercely, Vlasov's army was sent to man the coastal defenses of German-occupied France.

    After the D-Day invasion of 1944, thousands of Soviet citizens were suddenly in American hands -- an odd situation for the United States, which was an ally, if an uneasy ally, with the Soviet Union.

    The Allies' official policy was to send back all POWs to their country of origin, "irrespective of the question of whether or not they want to be repatriated." This would be accomplished "by force if necessary."

    But many U.S. officials had moral qualms about giving in.

    By Stalin's paranoid law, any soldier captured by the Germans as a POW -- not simply collaborators, but any POW -- was a potential traitor. And the penalty for treason was death.

    "First thing you know," Secretary of War Henry Stimson scrawled on a memo in 1945, "we will be responsible for a big killing by the Russians."

    Unaware of these deliberations at the highest level of the U.S. command, the 154 POWs on American soil sweated out the news of Germany's impending defeat.

    They had been shipped to Camp Rupert, Idaho, then to Camp Ruston, La., and finally to Fort Dix. At Dix, they were stationed in their own barracks off Range Road, separately from 4,000 German POWs. The Germans eagerly looked forward to going free with war's end.

    The Russians dreaded it.

    On May 7, upon hearing of V-E Day, their spokesman, Lt. Col Georgi Solowjow, pleaded against returning his men to Russia:

    "We are outspoken adversaries of the Bolshevik system. We declare that we are no longer subjects of the Soviet Union."

    "The American government, by not delivering us into the hands of the NKVD [Soviet secret police] at the time of the repatriation of the other Russian prisoners of war to Russia, gave evidence of its large-minded and human comprehension of our situation."

    "We appeal again to the humanity of the American government ..."

    Who were these 154 POWs of Fort Dix? Most of them had been caught in the swirling tides of the World Wars,
    which shifted national boundaries to such a degree that they ended up living in several different countries without moving.

    Some were career officers in the Red Army but had lost loved ones to Stalinist repression. Others had themselves done time in Siberia. And some were not Russians at all, but Central Asians, Ukrainians, or Caucasians who never considered themselves citizens of the Soviet Union.

    Their identities and stories were never made public at the time, and interviews conducted with the prisoners at Dix were kept secret for 54 years. These interviews were recently declassified by request of The Trentonian, and some of them follow:

    PETER GONTSCHAROW, Private. Made a brief statement that indicated probably he had volunteered to serve in the German Army. Asked why, he stated with much dramatic force that in Soviet Russia in 1942 he had seen women beaten and choked to death for taking in washing from German soldiers. Ended by saying, 'Let them shoot me here, for I will never surrender into the hands of the Bolsheviks.

    ALEXANDER ALEXANDROW, Lieutenant. Stated he was born in Vologda, Russia, Jan. 23, 1919, where both his parents were also born. He last saw them in 1937 ... captured by the Germans early in 1941 and entered the German Army voluntarily because he hated the Soviet regime and saw the Germans as 'fellow travelers' in the fight against Bolshevism.

    KARALBI BASCHEW, Lieutenant. Born at Halchik, Caucasus, May 5, 1918 ... entered voluntarily the German army because he comes from a tribe [the Kabardinas] that has always opposed Bolshevism and because his father and brother had been shot by the NKVD.

    "WASSILI TARRASUK, Private. Does not know place of birth. Was a Partisan [fighting the Nazis] in the Smolensk area. The Partisans, he said, were a disciplined organization until the Soviet comissars were sent into it, then they rebelled. Asked whether he was afraid to go back [to Russia], replied: 'I am not afraid. I was 13 times a prisoner of the Germans and escaped each time. I am a man with no fear of death.' "

    On June 28, the White House told the Soviet ambassador to expect the POWs to be transported the very next morning.

    It was supposed to be a secret, silent and swift operation. But the POWs found out about it, and resolved to spoil things, even if it cost them their lives.

    They dismantled their cots and wielded the legs as clubs. They sharpened their mess knives and concealed them in their uniforms. At 9 a.m., their executive officer, Richard Riewarts, ordered them in German to fall out. "Nein!" they shouted.

    Tear gas canisters were thrown through the barracks window to force the men out. Shouting, crying, they came out -- swinging their homemade weapons and trying to provoke a mass shooting.

    "They didn't appear to care for their lives at all," Riewarts later told Army investigators. "They pointed to their hearts and said, 'Shoot at it.' "

    Three Dix guards were stabbed or clubbed, none seriously. In the melee, seven Russians were also hit by gunfire, but the Americans fired low so as not to kill anyone.

    After the uprising was over, however, MPs discovered three Russian soldiers hanging from the beams above their cots. Fifteen other nooses were strung up but unused.

    The riot at Dix made headlines across the country the next day and prompted Harry S. Truman to give the men a presidential reprieve. He asked Army investigators to study whether the men really wanted to go back to Russia, and whether all of them really were Soviet citizens.

    The State Department's legal counsel, R.W. Flournoy, insisted that the U.S. had an obligation under the Geneva Convention to shield the POWs. "I find nothing in the Convention which either requires or justifies ... sending the unfortunate Soviet nationals in question to Russia, where they will almost certainly be liquidated," he wrote.

    And from Moscow, Ambassador Averell Harriman was reporting that trainloads of Russian POWs returned every day from Europe -- and every deserter was summarily shot.

    Still, Acting Secretary of State Joseph Grew on July 11 signed the order to send the Russians back. Soviet cooperation, it was believed, would prove necessary to remake the face of postwar Europe.

    Besides, the Soviets would shortly invade Manchuria and take possession of American POWs held by the Japanese. Reprisals were best avoided.

    The remaining Russian POWs were kept under 24-hour suicide watch at Dix, They lost their shoelaces, knives, forks, bed frames, belts and suspenders. They stayed on through July and August, unaware what their fate might be.

    There were 153 of them now, since three had died and nine were added to their ranks from other POW camps. Seven lucky prisoners were able to prove they were not, in fact, Soviet citizens, and avoided repatriation.

    The POWs' final departure was kept top secret and never reported in any newspaper. Declassified documents show that they shipped out on Aug, 31, acting "docile," and were turned over to Soviet authorities at Hof in Eastern Germany.

    From there, the 153 POWs of Fort Dix disappeared into a void.

    Their ultimate fate is unknown. Perhaps the answer still lies somewhere in the archives of the Soviet prison system, along with the names of millions other vanished victims of the Stalin terror.
  2. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    This is from a Soviet soldier who was a POW and didn't join the German Army, he was still sent to Siberia.

    GPU Camps in Ural: Looking for survivors I was a Red Army soldier, I fall (wounded) in German Captivity on July 1941 (at the s.c. "Vitiebskoye Okruzhenie"). I was in German captivity for about 3 1/2 years. I escaped in January 1945 and then I was sent to the GPU Camps in Ural (camp # 4, than camp #245) and finally in camp #0305 in Severouralsk. I have a diary which I have written at that time (mostly Russian). I would like former inmates (if they are still alive) to write to me. Thank you. Dr. I. Machtey
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    EDIT: Sorry can't remember where I found this story.

    How many were turned over to the Russians by American and British forces?
    Two million individuals . Yes, two million Russian people sent back to the
    communists where they were either immediately executed or sent to die in
    the Gulag.

    It was not easy to "persuade" the Russian prisoners to return to the communists.
    Sometimes, subterfuge was used. Epstein details several examples. One took
    place on May 28, 1945, in Lienz, Austria. British forces ordered all Cossack
    officials to attend an important British conference with high British officials.
    The Cossacks were told to leave their coats since they would be back by six
    in the evening. Their families were advised so that family members would
    not worry over their short absence. When the Cossacks appeared nervous, an
    English officer told them, "I assure you on my word of honor as a British
    officer that you are just going to a conference."

    The 2,749 Cossacks ? 2,201 of whom were officers ? were driven straight into
    a prison camp and were advised by British officials that Soviet authorities
    would soon arrive to pick them up. Epstein writes:

    One Cossack officer remarked: "The NKVD or the Gestapo would have slain us
    with truncheons, the British did it with their word of honor." The first
    to commit suicide by hanging was the Cossack editor Evgenij Tarruski. The
    second was General Silkin who shot himself. . . . The Cossacks refused to
    board [the trucks]. British soldiers with pistols and clubs began using their
    clubs, aiming at the heads of the prisoners. They first dragged the men out
    of the crowd and threw them into the trucks. The men jumped out. They beat
    them again and threw them onto the floor of the trucks. Again, they jumped
    out. The British then hit them with rifle butts until they lay unconscious
    and threw them like sacks of potatoes in the trucks.
    The same scenes were repeated all along the lines ? two million Russian people
    tricked and beaten by British and American forces so that Stalin could finish
    the job later on.

    Some of this dirty work even took place on American soil. Epstein describes
    what happened to Russian POWs who were imprisoned at Fort Dix, New Jersey:

    First, they refused to leave their barracks when ordered to do so. The military
    police then used tear gas, and, half-dazed, the prisoners were driven under
    heavy guard to the harbor where they were forced to board a Soviet vessel.
    Here the two hundred immediately started to fight. They fought with their
    bare hands. They started ? with considerable success ? to destroy the ship's
    engines. . . . A sergeant . . . mixed barbiturates into their coffee. Soon,
    all of the prisoners fell into a deep, coma-like sleep. It was in this condition
    that the prisoners were brought to another Soviet boat for a speedy return
    to Stalin's hangmen.
    Andrey Vlasov ? the man who hated communism ? the man who hated Nazism ?
    carefully explained his position and reasoning to the American generals.
    In his book Vlasov , Sven Steenberg describes Vlasov's conversation with
    one of his American captors:

    He began to speak, at first slowly and dispassionately, but then with growing
    intensity. For one last time, he spoke of all the prospects, hopes, and disappointments
    of his countrymen. He summed up everything for which countless Russians had
    fought and suffered. It was no longer really to the American that he was
    addressing himself ? this was rather a confession, a review of his life,
    a last protest against the destiny that had brought him to a wretched end.
    . . . [Vlasov] stated that the leaders of the ROA were ready to appear before
    an international court, but that it would be a monumental injustice to turn
    them over to the Soviets and thereby to certain death. It was not a question
    of volunteers who had served the Germans, but of a political organization,
    of a broad opposition movement which, in any event, should not be dealt with
    under military law.
    Vlasov could not know that he was a dead man before he even surrendered to
    American forces. Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, and Truman had already decided
    that he needed to be executed for the "crime" of betraying his own government.
    There was no need to go through the time, expense, trouble, and possible
    embarrassment of a trial. All that needed to be done was for the Americans
    to turn him over to their friendly executioner, "Uncle Joe" Stalin.

    American military officials delivered Andrey Vlasov to Soviet military authorities.
    On August 2, 1946, the Soviet press reported that Andrey Vlasov had been
    hanged by Soviet officials for "treason as well as active espionage and terrorist
    activity against the Soviet Union."
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I know some of these men served with the Nazi Armed Forces but think what they experienced before doing that.
    This still doesn't ,to my "Western" viewpoint, explain why Soviet soldiers who stayed loyal were punished on release. Rehabiliation and medical care should have been what these soldiers recieved. Not a firing squad or as some released POWs sent straight back into action.
    Think of the many Allied POWs that the Soviets "liberated" and sent to the Gulags and not back home.
    Then there are the German POWs who never returned.Although that could be another thread in itself.

    I know why these POWs were treated so badly.


    This is not the work of "Stephen King" but cold hard researchable FACTS.
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    How can soldiers perhaps wounded or in other ways unable to fight do anything else but be taken prisoner?
    Stalin made have said they were traitors but what is your opinion stalin on this as a human being not an admirer of Stalin?
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    so the execution of men who had heroically fought the Enemy, wounded men who had done their best and through no fault of their own had been captured was 'absolutely justified'?? Even Hitler wasn't so harsh on repatriated POW's. Even the Japanese with their strange retention of a 16th century honour code 'merely' heaped shame on returned POW's, they were not killed or imprisoned as a matter of course.
    Stalin's order is indefensible and cruel, like so many of his policies it did nothing but harm to his State.
    I hope if you're ever conscripted into some future war that such an order is made. There would be a test for your opiniated extremism when you're cut off, surrounded and forced to surrender.

    Do you fancy being a 'person of the third kind' on return to your loved ones?
  7. ComradeRomain

    ComradeRomain Member

    Yeah I read a lot about that in Chris Bishop's "Hitler's Foreign Divisions", a very interesting book. It must be realized though that even though many citizens of the Soviet Union fought for Hitler, they did so in a Nationalistic manner, they did not necessarily agree with the Nazi's extreme policies. They were simple men who wanted to live a non-communist life.

    My friend Pierre in fact told me the story of his grand-father from the Ukraine who fought the Nazis before being captured. He then realized that Nazi's were potential "liberators" of their long-time oppressed country of Ukraine by Russian rule. He then fought for the Germans, after a few months of fighting with them, he realized the true motives of the Nazis and simply deserted with a bunch of comrades to start a partisan guerrilla force.

    Its interesting how some men weren't Allies or Axis, they were fighting for their own national cause.

    My grand father fought in the resistance in Brittany, France where he witnessed atrocities made by the occupying nazis, which in Brittany were made in majority by Ukrainians and Kossacks. Just to show how complicated things got in WW2.
  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Indeed and another example would be the Russian General Vlasov and his men who were all shot upon their repatriation. I believe that the Soviets just opened fire on the train as soon as they were in Russian Territory rather than bother with the transportation to Siberia. Just goes to show the type of regime that was in place in Russia in 1945.
  9. spidge


    Indeed and another example would be the Russian General Vlasov and his men who were all shot upon their repatriation. I believe that the Soviets just opened fire on the train as soon as they were in Russian Territory rather than bother with the transportation to Siberia. Just goes to show the type of regime that was in place in Russia in 1945.

    They certainly took massacre to another level.
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    From Ivan's War by Catherine 303.

    Attached Files:

  11. AMVAS

    AMVAS Senior Member

    Units formed frfrom Vlasov's collaborators did fight on frontline against the Soviet troops and that were mortal fights without POWs from both sides.
    Soviet soldiers never took them in prison.

    Recently I head one story. It can be unbelievable for westerners, but it seems to be the truth...
    It took place in early May 1945 on the Reugen island.
    Soviet troops found magnificent house. It appeared to be a shelter where old ladies and blind German girls were gathered.
    General Fedyuninskiy ordered to leave a recon company to guard this house to protect those people and their house from possible seizure, or other dangers.
    After some time a drunk Soviet Major appeared to travel in that area.
    He saw girls and begin asking soldiers and their commanders to give some of them to his unit for some time. After getting flat refusal he made a brawl.
    Recon soldiers were among the most expereinced in the Red Army, so they easily calmed him down, binded and placed into some building waiting when he grows sober. After this they let him go away...
    ...Returned to his unit (unffortunately it appeared to be tank unit) Major ordered:
    "A few kilometers from here I saw Vlassov soldiers. They are dressed in our uniform and have our awards. An order - to attack them!"
    A small remark. "To attack" and "to kill everybody" were synonims in this case, because, as I have said Soviet soldiers almost never took POWs in fights against Vlassov army.
    And the tank unit (if I can remember this exactly it was tank battalion) started attack.
    During attempts to stop this "friendly fire" commander of the recon company and some soldiers of it were killed. They couldn't expect themselves to be treated as Vlassov soldiers.
    The others had no choice than to defense. Without any antitank arms they manage to burn some tanks.
    That time a vessel with German soldiers was escaping from the Bornkholm island. Germans saw somebody to defense agaisnt Soviet tanks and decided to help.
    So, a paradoxal situation took place - German and Soviet soldiers fought together...
    After that mortal fight only 7 soldiers from the recon company survived out of 56. And the captain of German vessel suggested to them to escape to sweden, because if they were found inallied occupation zone they would certainly be extradited to the USSR and taking into acocunt Soviet justice ...khm... was not adequate that time they had real chance to be executed.
    so, tehy adopted this proposal and together with Germans and saved girls and old ladies left the territory of Germany...

    I can't be sure I remembered all the details clearly, but hope to transfer all this tragedy quite well

  12. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    There are no words strong enough to describe how the Soviet authorities (it wasn't only Stalin) treated their own citizens. Monsters is a weak word.
  13. AMVAS

    AMVAS Senior Member

    There are no words strong enough to describe how the Soviet authorities (it wasn't only Stalin) treated their own citizens. Monsters is a weak word.

    Not everything is so simple to blame...
    The main problem was that ideology proposed by Stalin (I can't call it communistic) opened doors for many paranoidal people to show their worst features.
    I can't involve myself in a long dispute on this subject...
  14. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Alex, of course we are not going to get involved in a flaming war, neither you nor I have the time nor the frame of mind for that. But it still appears to me that the treatment meted out by the Soviet authorities on liberated prisioners as depicted here was worse than inhuman.
  15. AMVAS

    AMVAS Senior Member

    Alex, of course we are not going to get involved in a flaming war, neither you nor I have the time nor the frame of mind for that. But it still appears to me that the treatment meted out by the Soviet authorities on liberated prisioners as depicted here was worse than inhuman.

    I myself assume such a relation to Soviet POWs (which originated personally from STALIN as an extreme degree of stupidity!!!
  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Another snippet from Battle for Budapest.
    page 64.
    Reference freed POWs being put back into the Front line,

    Thus, of 960 prisoners taken by the Hungarian 1st Armoured Division in November-December 1944 only 160 were first timers, while 400 had already been captured once and 400 twice.
  17. T-34

    T-34 Discharged - Nazi

    ... Recently I heard one story. It can be unbelievable for westerners...General Fedyuninskiy ordered to leave a protect those people and their house from possible...dangers. After some time a drunk Soviet Major appeared to travel in that area...

    as a fact,
    stories - that begin with the words ''i heard'' are very ''believable'' for the westerners.
    because - stories like that is complete b*ll*cks!
    but, the westerners just love to believe them.
    the red army was not a perfection itself, of course, but bunch of morons it was not.

    one, who tells the sourceless stories like that - should be ashamed the same they as those who eagerly trust them.
  18. T-34

    T-34 Discharged - Nazi

    ... the treatment meted out by the Soviet authorities on liberated prisioners...was worse than inhuman.

    could we do without exaggeration, please!
  19. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    We have had two negative statements on this subject. What can you tell us regarding the matter in the previous posts, in order to correct the information as presented here?
  20. T-34

    T-34 Discharged - Nazi

    ... What can you tell us regarding the matter in the previous posts, in order to correct the information as presented here?

    the ''information'' needs no ''correction'', since - it is not an information at all.
    the thing you call 'information'' here, is in fact - a mere assertion that western propoganda ever feels comfortable with.

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