Worse to be a German or Russian POW?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by joker_86z28, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. joker_86z28

    joker_86z28 Member

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    Lately I have been doing a bit of reading and watching WW2 documentaries, and was curious on every ones opinion on who had it worse, being a POW in Russian or German captivity? looking forward to hearing from y'all
     
  2. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    Do you mean a German in Russian captivity and vice-versa? Apples to apples, really. I'm sure somebody has the numbers but I think they were equally sucky to each other.
    Starvation and worked to death.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I still believe the best source for estimates of PoW deaths is the 22 volumes published by the Maschke Commision.
    There are large discrepancies between Maschke and later revised reports,particularly for German deaths in Soviet captivity. The commision estimated German deaths in Soviet captivity as slightly more than 1,000,000 whereas Overmans,published I think in the early 90s, estimated 363,000. I know which I believe.
    With discrepancies like that it is difficult to get a clear picture.
    Steve
     
  4. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    Like Paul said, both as bad as each other I would think...
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Strange as this is to say .... the Russians actually had some respect for Germans and what they could do .... skills, organization and operations-wise - and of course, discipline :). Whereas, the Germans had no respect (or pity) for the Russian POW's they held. No doubt both sides worked their POW's to death, but, in Siberia, Germans who were strong and survived were useful to the Soviets in mining and construction ventures.

    MM
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I don't understand your point. You could say exactly the same of Soviet PoWs working at some German site.

    Richard Overy has suggested that the death rates for Soviet prisoners of the Germans and vice-versa were actually similar in 1943,both around 60%.

    The figure of about 360,000 Germans perishing as PoWs tallies with both Soviet and German records. There are still well over 700,000 missing that the Maschke commision listed as dying as PoWs,bringing the total to more than 1,000,000. Other historians agree. The Red Cross still lists 1,300,000 Germans as missing.

    I've just checked the figure of 363,000 I quoted for Overmans and it needs qualification. He himself considered it possible that another 700,000 died as PoWs though this is not proveable from the surviving records. That would bring him very close to the figure from the Maschke commission.

    Compare that with the fate of the 3,640,000 prisoners held by the British. Depending who you believe between 1,300 and 21,000 perished. The real figure is nearer the bottom than the top in my opinion.

    Steve
     
  7. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... I don't understand your point"

    Skill sets. The Soviets believed German POW's had them. The Nazis believed that Soviet POW's didn't have them.

    Is that a difficult point to understand ... :) ..?

    MM
     
  8. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Then of course the Russians had those pows for a much longer time, some were held up to the mid 50's.
    If the Russians had treated the German pows as harshly as the Germans did, very few if any would have survived the much longer confinement.
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Is there any evidence for the preferential treatment of PoWs considered to have skills? Did the few thousand survivors of the 6th Army survive because they offered some skill to their captors that the 80+ thousand who perished did not?
    I know of individual cases from concentration camp selections in which people survived because they had some kind of trade but haven't seen evidence that this was routine or any kind of policy to be applied to PoWs. That applies to both sides. An engineer or a doctor can dig a ditch as well as the next man.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I don't know how German PoWs were teated post war but an even death rate on both sides in 1943 of about 60% would suggest that the treatment was not that different at that time.

    The Soviets captured,according to them,2,800,000 Wermacht personnel,the vast majority towards the end of the war. Most sources agree that something slightly over 1,000,000 of these prisoners died in Soviet captivity,about 1 in 3,the figure usually accepted is around 35%.
    More than 50% of Russian Pows held by the Germans perished so in terms of a crude numbers game it was the Soviets who came off worse.
    The crucial difference is that most Soviet PoWs were captured early in the war and endured a long wartime captivity whereas most German PoWs were captured much later. The death rate for those retained post war was lower.Deaths 1945-1949 were in the tens of thousands. As always directly comparing figures may be misleading.

    How harsh was this treatment? The figure for Germans dying at Soviet hands is comparable to that for US personnel dying at the hands of the Japanese, which was around 33%.

    Steve
     
  11. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #11 tyrodtom, Dec 19, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
    This is a little OT. I read several different books written by German pows that survived their captivity to describe it, but i've never read anything from Russian pows.
    I guess that wouldn't be a popular book in the western world, but surely there's some out there.

    Then I forgot for a moment how Russian pows were treated when they returned to Russia, imprisioned in a lot of cases. So I guess that would tend to keep any Russian who was a captive of the Germans not to eager to write about it later and call that kind of attention on himself.

    So overall when you combine the Russian pows greater death rate, plus the fact that he might end up back in prison in Russia, if he did survive the German captivity, the Russian pow had it much worse.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That seems unlikely.

    Solzhenitsyn states that German POWs were tossed in the same Gulag system as Russian criminals and political prisoners. During Stalin's era the Gulag had a death rate much higher then 35%.
     
  13. joker_86z28

    joker_86z28 Member

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    was there high rape/ torture rates from german military to soviet civilians and vice versa? a book im reading talks about when the end of the war was near so the germans surrendered to the west, but were transferred to the east, and they separated the men and women in the prisons, and the women were r/t until the high command had a public execution to stop the tortures and rape orgies, this kinda stuff happen every where or what?
    hope that made sense
     
  14. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    I guess there is limited evidence for preferential behaviour against german PoW in russian captivity. A Stalingrad low rank survivor living today in a village near J├╝terbog credits his survival with his gardening work he had to do for a soviet general during 1942 to 1949 period. When he and his brother were allowed to leave prisonship in 1951, they were given passes but however had to walk back to Germany, with his brother beeing shot in Poland underway by polish police, not expecting walking returnees. The survival rate of Stalingrad veterans is heavily correlated to the rank, making his experience interesting.
     
  15. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    i too have heard more than once of germans trying to surrender to the western allies...to the point of flying ac hundreds of miles....so there would have had to have been some reason or rumor for this. i have yet to read where a german soldier did the opposite...fled east to surrender to the soviets.
     
  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Look at Hartmann and his fellow pilots. They specifically flew to an American airfield and gave themselves up, just to be handed over to the Russians anyhow...
     
  17. johnbr

    johnbr Well-Known Member

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    I worked with a man that was in a soviet pow camp and the march to the camp 110'000 men of the 120'000 men died.The camps were [hell] he said.
     
  18. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    #18 meatloaf109, Dec 25, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2012
    I have had some experences with a few Russians. I like this forum, so I won't post the details.
    They are an interesting group of people.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I visited the Soviet Union in the early days of Glasnost/Perestroika. I was introduced to a bunch of naval cadets at the naval museum in what was still then Leningrad. These young men were under the impression that we (the British) had been on the same side as the Germans during WW2!
    I doubt they were taught that,they either hadn't paid attention or just hadn't been told anything different (just as dangerous).
    Steve
     
  20. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    To the Commander of the Sixth Army encircled at Stalingrad, General Paulus, or his deputy.

    The Sixth German Army, the units ofthe 4th Tank Army and their reinforcements have been completely surrounded since November 23rd, 1942. The forces ofthe Red Army have drawn a secure ring around this German army. All hopes of rescue by means of a German offensive from the south and south-west have proved unfounded.

    The forces which were rushed to your aid have been destroyed by the Red Army, and the remnants of these forces are withdrawing towards Rostov. The German transport planes which are supplying you with a bare minimum of food, ammunition and fuel are being forced to move between airfields, and to fly from great distances to reach your positions. Moreover, the Russian air force is inflicting great losses on Gennan transport planes and their crews. Air transport is unlikely to continue for much longer.

    Your encircled troops are in a grave situation. They are suffering from hunger, sickness and cold. The harsh Russian winter is only just beginning: hard frosts, cold winds and snowstorms are still to come, but your soldiers do not have winter uniforms and are living in unsanitary conditions. You, as commander, and all the officers of the surrounded troops know very well that there is no longer any realistic possibility of breaking through the encirclement. Your position is hopeless and further resistance is pointless.

    Given the inescapable position that your forces now find themselves in, and in order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, we propose that you accept the following terms of surrender:
    1. All surrounded German troops, with you and your staff, are to give up further resistance.
    2. You are to hand over to us, in an orderly fashion and intact, all men, arms, weaponry and army property.

    We guarantee the lives and the safety of all officers, non-commissioned officers and men who cease resistance. We also guarantee that at the end of the war they will be returned to Germany, or to any other country of their choice.

    All surrendering forces will be allowed to keep their uniform, insignia and decorations, along with their personal belongings and valuables. High-ranking officers will be allowed to retain their service daggers.

    All officers, non-commissioned officers and men who surrender will immediately be issued with normal rations. All those suffering from wounds, illness or frostbite will receive medical attention.

    We expect your written reply on january 9th, 1943, at 15.00 hours, Moscow time. It should be brought by a representative whom you have personally appointed, and who should proceed in a car flying a white flag along the road from the Konny railway halt to the Kotluban station. Your representative will be met by Russian officers in Region B, 0.5 kilometres south-east of railway halt No. 564.

    If you choose to reject our proposal for your capitulation, be warned that the forces of the Red Army and the Red Air Force will be compelled to take steps to destroy the surrounded German troops, and that you will bear the responsibility for their annihilation.

    Signed,
    Colonel-General of Artillery, Voronov;
    Supreme Commander of the Don Front, Lieutenant-General Rokossovsky.


    From Voices from Stalingrad:
    Considerable difficulties were encountered just delivering the message. Despite broadcasting their intentions by loudspeaker the first attempt to approach the German lines was met with a hail of gunfire and the treaty party was pinned down in the snow for some time. When eventually they got through to deliver the message early on the ninth, it did not take long for the Germans to reject it out of hand.

    Whether or not the Soviet regime would have kept to its promises to treat the prisoners well will never be known. The German commander General Paulus was not ready to defy Hitler and surrender. The agony would continue.
     
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