German capitulation on the Eastern Front

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Art
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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 29 Sep 2016 21:03

Unfortunately, no info what part of ration strength was made up by civilian agencies. For reasons that would be described here later, I believe that the 11 May document was most probably a certain underestimate.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 29 Sep 2016 21:29

Continuing to discuss publicly available sources the first official Soviet history of the war ("History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union", Vol.V, 1963) contained a chapter specially devoted to capitulation in May 1945. A distilled information from this chapter about the number of men that surrendered reads the following:
In the Baltic region German surrender ended on 13 May or the fifth day of capitulation. On the Courland Peninsula 189 000 soldiers and officers surrendered to the Leningrad Front. In the region of Vistula Mouth - about 75 000 soldiers and officers and 12 generals. The Island of Bornholm was occupied by a landing force of Baltic sea marines on 9 May. Reception of prisoners completed by 11 May, total about 12 000 men surrendered.
In Czechoslovakia and Austria the last groups of German troops were liquidated by 19 May. Total 780 622 soldiers and officers and 25 generals belonging to the "south group" wee taken
On all fronts from 9 to 17 May 1945 1.390.978 solders and officers and 101 generals were taken prisoners. By 15 May reception of prisoners was completed on the entire front.
This section also describes the estimates of German strength provided by the OKW, see the posts above.
One can notice that authors of official history mostly took information from the "Sovinformburo" press communique of 13 May 1945. In doing so they ignored the fact that the count of prisoners in this communique was not complete and ultimate as obvious from addition made on 14 May. They also somehow forgot about 20 000 prisoners from the Army East Prussia taken by 3 Belorussian Front. The only new information was the total number of prisoners on the Eastern Front (1 390 978 + 101), the reference leads to a nondescript title (materials of Institute of Marxism and Leninism, No. 14437, pp.3-7), which doesn't say anything about the nature of the source. No breakdown of this number by regions or commands was provided and the difference from information earlier reported by "Sovinformburo" wasn't discussed at all.

Max Payload
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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Max Payload » 30 Sep 2016 08:53

After 8 May many members of the Ostheer would have tried to evade capture and make their way home. An unknown number would doubtless have succeeded. Whatever the accuracy of the official Soviet report of around 1.4 million prisoners, it does not invalidate the OKW estimate (the 11.5.45 document) of 1.5 million personnel.
Art wrote: For reasons that would be described here later, I believe that the 11 May document was most probably a certain underestimate.
Looking forward to your posting with interest.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 02 Oct 2016 13:39

Another independent secondary source is "Soviet casualties and combat losses in XX century" edited by G. Krivosheev. The book provides an information on Axis prisoners captured on the Soviet-German Front in 1941-45. In particular the following data on the number of prisoners taken in May 1945 is given:
Front - 1-9 May 1945 - after 9 May
Leningrad - 6193 - 273513
3 Belorussian - 4760 - 24254
2 Belorussian - 78493 - 122922
1 Belorussian - 87838 - 138924
1 Ukrainian - 258645 - 276970
4 Ukrainian - 32911 - 126521
2 Ukrainian Front - 85507 - 474605
3 Ukrainian Front - 80603 - 153416
Total 634 960 prisoners taken on 1-9 May, and 1 591 125 after 9 May (with reference to TsAMO f.13A, op.3020. d.10, l. 2, 3, 6, 54, 66-71).
What strikes in this table is the large number of prisoners taken by 1 Belorussian Front after capitulation. In reality by 8 May no organized German forces remained in the front's area and continuous connection was established with American forces all along the Elbe River. Nobody left to surrender, simply speaking. As follows from the 1 BF document a mop-up of the previously occupied areas continued on 9 May and after with disjointed German groups rounded up and captured, but the number given by Krivosheev (140 thousand) looks completely out of proportion.
Another suspicious feature is a very large number of prisoners taken before capitulation. For example, to verify Krivosheev I've checked the war diary of the 3 Ukrainian Front which very conveniently provides a record of prisoners captured day by day (TsAMO RF, f.243, op.2900, d.2034). According top this document
1 May - 25 prisoners captured
2 May - 10
3 May - 14
4 May - 3 prisoners + 36 defectors
5 May - 4 prisoners + 86 defectors
6 May - 2 prisoners + 113 defectors
7 May - 13 prisoners + 33 defectors
8 May - 3526 prisoners
Total 3865 prisoners and defectors. Even considering that these records were preliminary and incomplete they definitely contradict to Krivosheev's book. It should be reminded here that military situation in the 3 UF sector in early May was completely calm with no active operations beyond firefights and recon raids. About 80 000 prisoners taken here before capitulation don't seem to be realistic.
One can also ask why the first period in the table above ends on 9 May, because on that day mass capitulation of the Eastern Front was already underway. It is not clear if it means up to 9 May exclusively or inclusively. In any case according to 3 UF war diary 10 830 prisoners were taken on 9 May by incomplete count, even if added to the record from 1-8 May it still considerably less than Krivosheev's table.
The bottom line is that data provided in Krivosheev must be taken with much caution it seems the be a result of inaccurate work with (probably) overlapping reports.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 04 Oct 2016 09:56

Let us see now what we can find with primary documents. In Courland the Soviet Leningrad Front took 330 prisoners from 1 to 8 May 1945 (according the front's war diary). On 8 May the mass surrender of the Army Group Courland started. On 17 May Marshal Govorov in a reportsent to Stalin stated that German surrender was mostly completed. By 17 May 253 466 men were accepted including 6 161 liberated Red Army's POWs. Excluding POWs we have 247 305 German personnel including 47 generals and 9 351 officers. Toward the end of May this tally had increased a as result of mop-up of Courland area and re-accounting of prisoners and trophies. According to an information given in the Leningrad Front's war diary the number of prisoners registered by 31 May was 276 678 including 48 generals and 9529 officers. In addition 7 493 Red Army's POWs were liberated from German camps. The roster of weapons and materiel captured included 153 airplanes, 478 tanks and SP guns, 2450 guns, 931 mortars, 6782 machine guns, 144 418 rifles and machine-pistols, 18 221 automobiles, 675 tractors, 263 armored carriers, 496 motorcycles, 1080 radios, 7 039 horse-drawn wagons, 36 454 horses.
It should be said that this bag of prisoners reported (almost 280 thousand) was considerably higher than OKW estimates of AG Courland strength in May (200 thousand top). Marshal Govorov in his report of 17.05 stated that according to captured documents and interrogation of AG Courland's chief of staff the total strength of the Army Group on 5 May was 298 000, of them up to 45 000 were evacuated by sea and didn't surrender. No details were provided here, unfortunately.

Art
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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 04 Oct 2016 10:10

A summary of a document listing Army Group Courland strength on 1 April 1945:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 90#p978990
Total (Army only without Hiwis) is 218 000 men.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 04 Oct 2016 16:31

3 Belorussian Front

According to daily situation reports more than 700 prisoners captured 1-8 May 1945.

After capitulation: from a situation report of 3 BF staff 14.5.45 by a corrected count 22 952 men surrendered in the sector of the 48 Army (Vistula Spit or Frische Nerung peninsula).
From a 48 Army's situation report 13 May 22 952 prisoners were taken after capitulation of them 22 072 processed to the POW collecting point by 19.00 13 May.
According to an appendix to the war diary of the 48 Army 22 072 prisoners accepted by 14 May and 22 342 by 1.6.45.
From all sources the number of prisoners taken by 3 Belorussian Front seems to be in the range between 22 and 23 thousand, 22 342 seems to be the most accurate number.
Trophies (48 Army's war diary): 39 556 rifles and machine-pistols, 1 264 machine guns, 244 guns, 46 mortars, 50 tanks and SP guns, 58 armored carriers, 7 571 trucks, 379 cars, 341 motorcycles, 1241 bicycles, 24 radios, 487 rail cars, 5 locomotives, 11 tractors, 116 prime-movers, 1 592 horse-drawn wagons, 143 field kitchens, 9 380 horses.

Art
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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 05 Oct 2016 18:14

2 Belorussian Front

A lengthy report on 2 BF operations in 1945 cites on different pages not less than 3 different numbers of prisoners taken after capitulation: 122 922, 122 231, and 123 878. I don't know which one is more accurate but the range is from 122 to 124 thousand.
According to a situation report from 14 May by the end of the day 2 BF accepted:
43 Army (Danzig Bay area) - 111 604 prisoners including 3033 officers and 9 generals, of them
- in the Vistula mouth area south-east of Danzig - 15 134, including 222 officers and 2 generals
- Hela Peninsula - 96 470 prisoners, including 2 831 officers and 11 generals
19 Army (Island of Bornholm) - 10 727 prisoners, including 366 officers and 1 general

By the end of 16 May the number of prisoners from Bornholm had increased to 11 318 including 378 officers and 1 general (sit report 16.5.45)

So about 111-112 thousand prisoners from the Army East Prussia (Danzig Bay) and 11-12 thousand from the Bornholm garrison.

Total from the Army East Prussia - about 134 thousand prisoners - 22-23 to the 3 Belorussian Front and 111-112 to the 2 Belorussian. That is within the range of estimates made by the OKW (from 100 to 150 thousand men).

Total number of prisoners accepted after capitulation in the Baltic region was more than 420 thousand including not less than 63 generals and admirals.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 05 Oct 2016 18:39

1 Ukrainian Front

On 14 May 1945 Marshal Konev reported to Stalin that during the Prague operation his front captured 2002 prisoners from 5 to 8 May and 256 659 after capitulation from 9 to 12 May. The report is quoted in the 1 UF war diary. not less than 16 prisoners were German generals. The pool of captured materiel included 620 tanks and SP guns, 2 889 guns, 1 344 mortars, 6 647 machine guns, 118 696 rifles and machine-pistols, 41 020 automobiles, 781 airplanes (including 365 destroyed), 12 759 rail cars and 445 various dumps. Apparently the numbers above don't include the garrisons of Breslau that surrendered on 7 May (about 40 000 POWs taken).
However the numbers were not complete as a mop=up in Czechia continued after 12 May. One can find the following info in daily situation reports
13 May - 2500 POWs taken
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/dou/?docID=111538607
14 May - 14 000
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/dou/?docID=111538608
15 May - 4000
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/dou/?docID=111538609
16 May - up to 3000
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/dou/?docID=111538610
17 May - 1500
https://pamyat-naroda.ru/dou/?docID=111538611
By approximate count not less than 280 thousand POWs taken 9-17 May. That is pretty close to the information provided by Krivosheev (276 970 men, see above). It's not quite clear if personnel of collaborationist Russian Liberation Army (including general Vlasov) himself was included in the reported numbers.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 08 Oct 2016 09:53

4 Ukrainian Front

According to the war diary 110 856 POWs accepted from 9 to 13 May 1945.
On 14 May - 6772
On 15.5 - 1859
16.5 - 2371
16-17.5 - 3123
18-19.5 - 540
As recorded in the 4 UF's war diary total 128 000 prisoners accepted by 20 May. Trophies included 1684 guns, more than 4440 machine guns, 395 tanks and SP guns, 497 airplanes (of them 256 broken), more than 61 000 rifles and machine-pistols.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 08 Oct 2016 10:02

2 Ukrainian Front

The front's war diary: from 9 to 15 May 455 000 prisoners taken which belonged to the German and Hungarian armed forces and 2 division of collaborationist Russian Liberation Army. Prisoners included 36 generals. Trophies by 15.5:
875 tanks and SP guns
780 armored cars and armored carriers
3012 various guns
6990 machine guns
25 000 autmobiles
14 480 horse-drawn wagons
29 133 horses
92 airplanes
165 locomotives
5761 rail cars

On 16 May additional 15 000 prisoners were accepted, the tally by 16.5 had increased to about 470 000 men including 40 generals (from the same war diary). Unfortunately no breakdown by nationality is given, yet it's clear that most prisoners belonged to German Wehrmacht.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 08 Oct 2016 10:18

3 Ukrainian Front

From the front's war diary:
9-11 May: 112 266 prisoners taken
8-12 May: 125 319
8-13 May: 128 264
14 May: 419
15 May: 27 754, of them 15 300 "ustashas" (that must be Croatians) and 10 530 Germans, others were Italians, Poles, Dutch, Slovaks etc.
No records on prisoners after 15.05. Total count from 8 to 15 May - at least 156 437 POWs. As posted above about 3500 prisoners were captured on 8 May, so the tally after capitulation (9 May and after) is about 153 000.
As follows from the war diary a considerable part of prisoners (at least 15 000) belonged to the NDH forces, but no definite breakdown by nationality is given.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 08 Oct 2016 11:00

A special case were German sponsored collaborationist Cossack formations. They included XV SS Cossack Corps which operating in Yugoslavia and general Krasnov's Cossack Corps (or Cossack Lager) in Italia, the latter also included a large number of civilian refugees. By the end of the war both formation came under formal command of Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army. Cossack formation surrendered to the British Army at the end of the war but were later forcefully transported the to Soviet occupation zone in Austria (3 Ukrainian Front), see:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repatriat ... rld_War_II
According to the war diary of South Group of Forces (former 3 Ukrainian Front) reception of Cossack collaborators was completed by 8 June 1945. Accepted from Allied zone were 42 590 persons, including 17 generals, 2157 officers, 3012 women, 1447 children, 17 priests and 8 civilian doctors.
Very similar information is given in the article by Mikhail Shkarovsky published in 2006. The article says with reference to the report submitted to the chief of NKVD troops at 3 Ukrainian Front that 42 913 persons were accepted from British occupation zone 28.05-7.06. They included 38 496 men and 4417 women and children, including 16 generals, 1410 officers and 7 priests. In the weak that followed after 7 June the Brittish troops captured 1356 Cossacks, of them 934 were handed over to the Soviet zone.
Total 43-44 thousand persons were accepted by mid-June, including not less than about 5 thousand civilians. It appears that most of them never entered the POW system but were sent to NKVD filtration camps or prisons.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 08 Oct 2016 17:38

Summing up: the number of prisoners taken as a result of German capitulation on 9 May and after can be estimates as follows (in rounded numbers):
Leningrad Front - 277 000
3 Belorussian Front - 22 000
2 Belorussian Front - 123 000
1 Ukrainian Front - 282 000
4 Ukrainian Front - 128 000
2 Ukrainian Front - 470 000
3 Ukrainian Front - 153 000

Total all fronts - 1 455 000. Of them:
from the Army Group Courland - 277 000
Army East Prussia - 134 000
Bornholm garrison (belonged to Military Command Denmark) - 11 000
central group (Army Groups Center and Ostmark and part of Command South-East/Army Group E) - 1 033 000.
The last number includes Hungarian and Croatian military, yet their share is unclear. Also some collaborationist formations of Soviet citizens were most probably counted as well. A certain number of prisoners were taken by Tito's Yugoslav forces, however I don't have reliable information on them.

In addition prisoners of war were received after the end of capitulation in May-June 1945 from the Western Allies' occupation zone. Most importantly 43 000 Cossack military and civilians from Austria. There were other cases of prisoners transfer (Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner must be the most known), yet apparently not as important numerically.

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Re: German capitulation on the Eastern Front

Post by Art » 09 Oct 2016 11:04

On the receiving end prisoners were collected and registered by NKVD Main Directorate for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees. This directorate made own records of the number of prisoners received.
On 21 May 1945 the chief of directorate general Krivenko reported reported to the NKVD commissar L. Beria that 849 230 prisoners of war were accepted from 9 to 19 May. Based on data of the Red Army's General Staff 390 720 still held my army troops were additionally expected. That brings the total to 1 240 000. 1 301 728 prisoners accepted by the NKVD were still in camps in the frontline zone. Those were captured after capitulation or in weeks before it. The document also contained a plan of transportation of POWs from the theater of operations to the interior zone from which gives some idea about their distribution:
Leningrad Front - 208 thousand to be transported
3 Belorussian Front - 51
2 Belorussian Front - 120
1 Belorussian Front - 135
1 Ukrainian Front - 296
4 Ukrainian Front - 114
2 Ukrainian Front - 418
3 Ukrainian Front - 183
Total 1 526 000 men.

On 6 June 1945 NKVD chief Lavrenty Beria reported to Molotov that by 4 June 1 366 298 POWs were accepted by the NKVD after capitulation.

On 27 June a GUPVI memorandum signed by major Bronnikov read that 2 179 749 prisoners of war were accepted in 1945, of them 1 390 516 after capitulation. The last number included 134 generals, 42 508 officers and 1 347 874 other ranks. On 26 June the NKVD was holding 2 658 469 POWs in camps, hospitals or en route. Some numbers of prisoners stayed outside of NKVD system as memorandum said that 75 158 men were given to fronts for labor employment.

Another GUPVI memo from early 1945 said that in addition to 2 658 469 prisoners on hand on 1.07.45 119 836 more were accepted by the end of the year. Those were retained by fronts for labor employment. From comparison with the previous documents it can be concluded that at least 45 thousand "new" prisoners not accounted by the NKVD on 26.06.45 were received. At least that seems a logical explanation.

Summing up: the number of prisoners of war accepted by the NKVD after capitulation was in the range from 1 390 to 1 435 thousand. That was quite close the Red Army's reports (about 1 450 thousand). A difference might be explained Soviet collaborators separated from other prisoners and sent to prisons/filtration camps, deaths and escapes, and probably Croatian POWs handed over to Tito's forces.
All documents mentioned were published in "Prisoners of War in the USSR: 1939-45." (text in Russian online)

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