British POWs forced to fight in the Red Army

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#21
I have a battered paperback at home with the story of a Brit PoW who escaped and made it to the Russian lines where he had a fairly awful time and was eventually and somewhat clandestinely spirited home aboard cruiser HMS London which was the taxi for the Beaverbrook mission in 1945(?1944). If this thread is still running later on I'll post the title etc.
 
#22
themaadone said:
Well - the Russki ?Reds do not have the best human rights record
Who has? Of course, it is much more convenient if you are the one who KEEPS the records!

But if this thread is about jolly good Russia-bashing that has little to do with measured opinions on military history -- enjoy yourselves.
 
#24
It has nothing to do with Russki bashing - it is military history AND (per Geneva convention) even Russia cannot hold prisoners in the conditions it did - that is mil history as well!

Japanese POW's had better rations in their POW camps than the Commonwealth troops guarding them - I do not recall reading or hearing that about Soviet POW's - we are talking about the way Allied & Easter european people/troops were treated by the Soviets so I think it does belong in this arena - if you think I was having a personal dig at you then I apologise - that is not how I meant what I said!
 
#25
Speaking of people getting press-ganged into foreign armies I remember hearing a story a few years back about some poor Korean bastard during the second world war. He apparently fought against the Japanese in Korea only for his side to lose and him to get forced to serve in some form or other for the Japanese army, when Japan and Russia had their border skirmishes he got taken prisoner by the victorious Russia and press-ganged again eventually getting set west to help fight the Nazis, who when they won again forced him to help serve in their army before eventually being taken prisoner by one of the western Allies a while after that. I've got no idea whether it's true or not, it's more than likely apocryphal, but it's amusing none the less.
 
#26
themaadone said:
It has nothing to do with Russki bashing - it is military history AND (per Geneva convention) even Russia cannot hold prisoners in the conditions it did - that is mil history as well!

Japanese POW's had better rations in their POW camps than the Commonwealth troops guarding them - I do not recall reading or hearing that about Soviet POW's - we are talking about the way Allied & Easter european people/troops were treated by the Soviets so I think it does belong in this arena - if you think I was having a personal dig at you then I apologise - that is not how I meant what I said!
I assume, you refer to the Geneva convention of 1929?

USSR did not sign it, but Germany did. http://www.cicr.org/ihl.nsf/WebSign?ReadForm&id=305&ps=P

Did Germany adhere to what it signed? No, not with regard to its Soviet POW: "In a mere eight months of 1941-42, the invading German armies killed an estimated 2.8 million Soviet prisoners-of-war through starvation, exposure, and summary execution. This little-known gendercide vies with the genocide in Rwanda as the most concentrated mass killing in human history." http://www.gendercide.org/case_soviet.html
http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007183


What about Soviet treatment of German and pro-German POW?
"The Soviets took ferocious revenge on the millions of POWs who fell into their hands during the war. Many were simply executed; most were sent to concentration camps where they died of exposure, starvation, and overwork. German POWs (along with Romanians, Italians, and others) "were [not] treated even remotely in accordance with the Geneva Convention. Thousands froze to death and starved on the march or in unheated cattle trucks, and once in camps they were treated as slave labor. Heat, shelter, and clothing were all inadequate, diseases such as typhus were rampant, and food was so scarce that on occasion cannibalism occurred. In all, at least one million German prisoners died out of the 3,150,000 taken by the Red Army." http://www.gendercide.org/case_soviet.html
 
#27
Brick said:
Speaking of people getting press-ganged into foreign armies I remember hearing a story a few years back about some poor Korean fatherless during the second world war. He apparently fought against the Japanese in Korea only for his side to lose and him to get forced to serve in some form or other for the Japanese army, when Japan and Russia had their border skirmishes he got taken prisoner by the victorious Russia and press-ganged again eventually getting set west to help fight the Nazis, who when they won again forced him to help serve in their army before eventually being taken prisoner by one of the western Allies a while after that. I've got no idea whether it's true or not, it's more than likely apocryphal, but it's amusing none the less.
If it is true, he is one lucky man to survive all these wars and "skirmishes". :)
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#28
Way back in 1942 (see avatar) I had a neighbour who was a naval officer whose wife Rema was a 'White' (i.e not RED) Russian. A piece of a Portsmouth hospital had been transferred to a nearby nursing home following the Blitz and into this washed five or six Russian seamen who had been plucked out of the sea by us after their ship sank. Rema who spoke six languages was sent for to try and get these guys' story and to help decide how to help them. They thanked her profusely for her trouble in coming to see them and so forth, but said that now it was known that they had spoken to her, when they got back to Russia they would be executed.
 
#29
My first impression on reading this story the other day was that it is a fiction of some sort.
The Facts are. The Red Army was advancing and liberating POW camps at that time. In the same period, the Red Army was sweeping up men as thoroughly as possible to fill its ranks.

The likelihood of a British national being swept up in to a Soviet combat unit seems highly remote. Being sent to a Gulag, as seems to have happened to many, is light years from conscripted in to the Red Army. Given the political outlook of Soviet authorities.
It has been mentioned that the alleged victim was possibly Polish. This would imply that he was impressed in to a "Lublin" Polish unit.
Perhaps it would be possible for Domovoy to cross check Polish units that took part in the Battle of Berlin, garrisoning the City in July (when the British Garrison arrived)?
Pretty sure he will find zippo

If NO units, of the type mentioned above, can be verified in this area, at the time in question, then the whole idea of a daring escape by plane (implying the Gatow district of Berlin?) falls apart.
Story end of.
 
#30
Guys, c'mon!
Yes, Soviet POW who ended up back in the USSR were, as a rule (although there are exceptions to every rule), were regarded as suspect traitors and had to undergo an "investigation". Yes, many were send to camps, many more -- to the front line to penal battalions and some were indeed executed as traitors.

But I never heard of anyone standing with a gun, shooting people for speaking to someone with foreign accent, or putting POWs in mental hospitals for speaking Hungarian language!

People (on all sides) suffered plenty and for real. Why do you feel the need to also repeat some invented "they eat babies" stories, real-life horrors are not enough?
 
#32
Considering the attitude of the German army to the Russians on their invasion of Russia it is not at all surprising that reprisals were taken , in fact it's quite understandable tha "The Untermenche(?)" had little or no sympathy . On the subject of treatment of their own , it is a fact that lots of Ukraine troops on being captured did in fact fight in the SS and were commonly employed as POW camp guards.
The problem for we Brits in looking at the aftermath of WW2 is tah we were never occupied so can't possibly understand how those who were did feel toward their oppressors.
 
#33
I found something that might be of interest with regard to POW in the USSR.
POW were released from Soviet camps and hospitals and returned to their respective homelands during a period of 1945 -- 1952.

1945. "The request from the Soviet NKVD August 13, 1945 № 00955 "On the release of prisoners from the camps and NKVD hospitals" read: 1. Release from the camps and NKVD spetsgospitaley 708 000 ordinary prisoners of war and non-commissioned officers, among them - 419 000 people. From former front camps network and 289 000 people. From camps and hospitals. 2. The release made in the following order: a) completely release and return to their homeland prisoners of war following nationalities: chehoslovakov (Czechs, Slovaks, Ruthenians) - 32 600 people. (from the front network of camps - 9298 per.), Poles - 19 800 (17 723), Yugoslavs (Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians) - 9500 people.. "Then followed on the list of 19 640 Italians, Belgians 1800, 1300 Dutch, 720 lux-burzhtsev, 280 Bulgarians, 230 Danes, 24 Swiss, 55 Norwegians, 40 Americans, 31 Swedes, 20 Greeks, 15 Britons, 150 000 Hungarians, Austrians 30 000, 30 000 Romanians.

Of course, that the largest group in this list were prisoners of war (the sick, disabled, handicapped) Germans - 412 000 people., ..."

http://translate.google.co.uk/trans...%BE%D0%BB%D1%8C%D1%88%D0%B5+%D0%B2+1945&hl=en
 
#34
craftsmanx said:
Considering the attitude of the German army to the Russians on their invasion of Russia it is not at all surprising that reprisals were taken , in fact it's quite understandable tha "The Untermenche(?)" had little or no sympathy . On the subject of treatment of their own , it is a fact that lots of Ukraine troops on being captured did in fact fight in the SS and were commonly employed as POW camp guards.
The problem for we Brits in looking at the aftermath of WW2 is tah we were never occupied so can't possibly understand how those who were did feel toward their oppressors.
Just one pedantic correction: not "Ukraine troops", but natives of West Ukraine, mainly, Galitchina.

Probably, this correction means nothing to you, but to Ukrainians, considering present situation in Ukraine, it means a lot.
 
#35
Domovoy said:
Oh well, read your link: "Efforts were made to establish Mr Tamas's identity, but incomplete records and the patient's own confused state - the former POW is thought to suffer from schizophrenia - meant it took several years for a clearer picture of his origins to emerge." ----- Soviets did not send this POW (Hungary fought on a side of Hitler's Germany) to GULAG, but actually treated him in mental hospital.

The way you presented this story looked as if the man was abused and shoved into a hospital for speaking Hungarian language.
Hmm read closely it says thought to have schizophrenia this could have been due to A, time spent surrounded with other mental health patients and has started to rub off on him so to speak. B Being treated with medication whivh he didnt need which could have caused side effects. C Maybe it was an illness that developed later in life. The main fact being 55 years and still no conclusive proof of his so-called illness bit of a long time for a diagnosis dont you think.
Ans also if you've read the book Gulag by Anne Applebaum there is also reference in that were as recently as late as the 80's so called "political prisoners" state that they were forcablly given drugs that induced some sort of mental heath problems.

As a by note seeing as how many POW's were treated and banned from certain job's etc it would have been interesting to see what would have happend to Stalin's own son who as a POW
 
#36
brettarider said:
Domovoy said:
Oh well, read your link: "Efforts were made to establish Mr Tamas's identity, but incomplete records and the patient's own confused state - the former POW is thought to suffer from schizophrenia - meant it took several years for a clearer picture of his origins to emerge." ----- Soviets did not send this POW (Hungary fought on a side of Hitler's Germany) to GULAG, but actually treated him in mental hospital.

The way you presented this story looked as if the man was abused and shoved into a hospital for speaking Hungarian language.
Hmm read closely it says thought to have schizophrenia this could have been due to A, time spent surrounded with other mental health patients and has started to rub off on him so to speak. B Being treated with medication whivh he didnt need which could have caused side effects. C Maybe it was an illness that developed later in life. The main fact being 55 years and still no conclusive proof of his so-called illness bit of a long time for a diagnosis dont you think.
Ans also if you've read the book Gulag by Anne Applebaum there is also reference in that were as recently as late as the 80's so called "political prisoners" state that they were forcablly given drugs that induced some sort of mental heath problems.

As a by note seeing as how many POW's were treated and banned from certain job's etc it would have been interesting to see what would have happend to Stalin's own son who as a POW
The story about the Hungarian soldier was all over the Russian press & TV; I remember it well, and so does my (Russian) wife. The guy had been interned for no good reason and, not very surprisingly, was in a fragile mental state when he was rediscovered. I think they even reunited him with a sister or cousin.
 
#37
"The guy had been interned for no good reason" ------------ The guy had been POW. Why and how it happened that he was not repatriated straight after the war is another question.


brettarider
Or we are reading from different links, or you are reading "between the lines".

Anyway, "political prisoners" (or more accurately "political casualties") did exist all through the existence of the USSR, as they existed and still exist in any country you care to look at on a map. They might not be referred to as such, but they are never the less.


Stalin's son was killed by Germans after Stalin refused to exchange "a soldier (his son) for a general".
 
#38
Yes he didnt survive the war and I've read that his death was a bit suspect but the question id how would have he been treated had he come home in 1945 bearing in mind Stalins treatment of others for the same "offence" of being captured? would have been interesting that's for sure
 
#39
Tartan_Terrier said:
I remember reading something about up to 20,000 US POWs who went missing after being liberated by the Soviets, so one executed Colonel would hardly upset the applecart.
The official Pentagon line (from this web site) is -


Through its investigative efforts, the World War II Working Group has confirmed that there were about 28,000 American Prisoners of War held by the Germans and their allies in camps on the Eastern Front. These prisoners came under Soviet control in the war’s final days, when the Red Army liberated the camps and occupied this territory. U.S. records show that about 25,000 of these POWs returned directly across the lines to U.S. military control. More than 2,800 others were returned to U.S. military control through the Soviet Black Sea port of Odessa (now Ukraine).

The World War II Working Group is investigating the possibility that some American POWs who remain unaccounted for from the Eastern camps may have been transferred to Soviet labor camps and were never repatriated.


So maybe c.200 US unaccounted for - I still think the public murder of a US officer by the Sovs is something that would be known.

OaC
 
#40
brettarider said:
Yes he didnt survive the war and I've read that his death was a bit suspect but the question id how would have he been treated had he come home in 1945 bearing in mind Stalins treatment of others for the same "offence" of being captured? would have been interesting that's for sure
Actually, reading his daughter's and those close to Stalin memoirs and letters it appears that the age of family favouritism came after Stalin's death. He treated people close to him the strictest.
 

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