Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

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thorwald77
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Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 07 Aug 2019 01:42

How did they trace the missing in the post war Soviet Union? Ivan does not come home, his mom requests information from the local authorities. How did they process these requests in the post war era. Today if a man was convicted or a deserter would the public records in Russia show this information?

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Art » 07 Aug 2019 20:00

I would draw your attention to the Red Army's regulation on personnel accounting and reporting which answers some related question
http://www.soldat.ru/doc/nko/text/1944-023.html

Basically every unit in the field was supposed to regularly compile and send casualty lists to the central HQ of the People's Commissariat for Defense. The concrete office which dealt with those lists was different throughout the war. The lists included full name, age, date of becoming casualty (dead or missing) and other details. Simultaneously for every casualty units were to send a notice to a local military commissariat responsible for the district where closest relatives lived. Local commissariats and their turn notified relatives and launched machinery to provide pensions or other social benefits. So the central HQ in Moscow accumulated a database with casualties' names. Local commissariats also had databases for their district of responsibility. Theoretically these databases were supposes to coincide, in practice it wasn't always the case. At some point after the war records of local commissariats where used to complement the central database. So if relatives were not informed about a fate of a certain solider they could send a request to the central office in Moscow, which would search for his name in its database. Given an incomplete character of reporting during the war (especially in the starting phase) it was quite possible that a man perished without leaving any records. In 1946 the Soviet military started a massive census of a sort. They collected names and other info for all men who were called up to military during the war and whose whereabouts and fate was unknown to their relatives by that moment. Local commissariats compiled these lists and sent them to Moscow where they were checked and included in the central database of casualties.

Regarding convictions: military tribunals compiled lists of personnel sentenced to death or jail terms and sent them to the central office and local commissariats in the same way as in regard to killed and missing. Desertions - in many cases were included in common casualty lists.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 07 Aug 2019 23:24

Art wrote Regarding convictions: military tribunals compiled lists of personnel sentenced to death or jail terms and sent them to the central office and local commissariats in the same way as in regard to killed and missing. Desertions - in many cases were included in common casualty lists.
Top
I believe that Krivosheev deducted the convicts from the total reported casualties and that Philomshen plugged in the difference as forced labor in order to explain away an unlocated difference of c.2million.

A. Balance per reported Casualties
  • KIA 5,226.8
    DOW 1,102.8
    Non Combat 555.5
    Sickness 267.3
    MIA/POW 5,059.0
    Released (2,016.0)
    Abroad 180.0
    Subtotal per Armies/Fleets 10.375

    Convicts 994.3
    Never Inducted 1,000.0
    Deserters MIA 212.4
    Grand Total 12.593
B. Balance after 1993 after adjustments
  • KIA 5,226.8
    DOW 1,102.8
    Non Combat 555.5
    MIA/POW 5,059.0
    Released (2,016.0)
    Abroad 180.0
    Convicts (939.7)
    Subtotal Krivoshev Bal 9,168.4
    Add Balance Losses
    "forced labor dead" 2,164.3
    Convicts 994.3
    Sickness 267.3
    Grand Total 12,593

C.Convicts listed by Krivosheev
  • Deserters 376.6
    Executed 135.2
    Penal units 427.9
    Total 939.7
D. In German Service
  • Deserters MIA 212.0
    Imprisoned 376.0
    Abroad 2/46 225.0
    In German service 813.0
The Krivosheev figure of 9.168 million does not agree to the total casualties per the Army/Fleet detailed schedules of 10.376 million that includes 939,700 convicts and 267,300 died of sickness. The balance of 2.164 million forced labor, 994,300 convicts and 267,300 sickness deaths will bring total casualties 12.593 million into balance. The deserters of 212,400 is included with forced labor

Krivosheev corrected the duplication of the convicts but he did not explain the remaining losses that were plugged away as civilian forced labor. The convicts and sickness deaths are ignored. That gives us a balance of c. 2 million that lacks an adequate explanation.

This exercise may seem a bit confusing at first glance, I see this as a classic example of маскировка/Дезинформация.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Art » 09 Aug 2019 11:19

Art wrote:
07 Aug 2019 20:00
In 1946 the Soviet military started a massive census of a sort. They collected names and other info for all men who were called up to military during the war and whose whereabouts and fate was unknown to their relatives by that moment.
To be more precise this "census" pertained only to privates and NCOs. The directive of the General Staff (24.04.1946) ordered to identify enlisted personnel whose whereabouts and fate was unknown to their families by means of personal interviews, examination of documents, letters etc. It was specially prescribed to made this work in cooperation with MGB and MVD organs and to find out information on sentences and desertions in regard to men in question. As a result of this directive local military commissariats collected lists which included millions of names which were not in the central casualties registry until this moment.
Simultaneously the Main Directorate for Cadres of the Soviet army made its own work to clarify casualties of officers using a variety of sources which continued well into 50s. Some names were added to the registry, some were excluded if alleged casualties happened to be alive. Details of this work were described in "Military cadres of the Soviet state...", the result by 1960 was 1 020 thousand registered dead and missing officers in the Soviet army and navy. In general the registry of officer casualties seem to be more thoroughly processed compared with the enlisted registry.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 09 Aug 2019 15:02

Art wrote As a result of this directive local military commissariats collected lists which included millions of names which were not in the central casualties registry until this moment.
Art also wrote The final conclusion is that official numbers for 1941 casualties seem to be strongly understated.
The end of the war in 1946 the records of the General Staff listed 10.375 million irreplaceable losses, this included 994,300 convicts and 212,400 deserters missing. The Krivosheev report lists 9.168 million irreplaceable losses by deducting the convicts and deserters. His report did not agree with the 1945 reconciliation of those conscripted indicating irreplaceable losses of 11.944 million. This gap was explained in separate report by Philomoshen that listed 2.164 million deaths due to “forced labor in Germany”, this was actually the balance of POWs and missing not included in the records of the General Staff, as well as minor adjustments for prisoners who returned to the Soviet Union after the 1945 reconciliation was prepared. According to a 2001 report of the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation their records list irreplaceable losses of 13.850 million.

1993 Reconciliation of Losses
  • KIA 5,184.7
    Non Combat losses 534.3
    DOW 1,102.8
    Sickness 267.3
    "Missing" 4,452.3
    Add MIA 500.0
    Border troops 159.1
    Returned POW (2,016.0)
    Less Abroad 3/46 190.7
    Subtotal reported losses 10,375.2
    Deduct
    Convicts (994.3)
    Deserters (212.4)
    Krivoshev Balance 9,168.5
    Forced Labor 2,164.3
    Subtotal 11,332.8

    Convicts 994.3
    Deserters 212.4
    Returned POW after 7/45 53.6
    Reported 1945 12,593.1
Note: This is the total for KIA, noncombat losses and "missing" listed separately for each Army and Fleet.

1945 Reported losses
  • Ireplaceable Losses 11,944.1
    Imprisoned 436.6
    Deserters 212.4
    Total 12,593.1
  • MIA 7/45 3,344.0 :idea:
    Convicts 994.3
    Deserters 212.4
    Far East 1.0
    Total 4,551.7
Including Border troops 100K


Details 1945 reported Losses
  • KIA 5,184,749
    DOW 1,102,800
    Non Combat losses 534,273
    POWS 3,912,283
    Border troops 159,100
    Sickness 267,394
    Pow Abroad 1945 225,916
    Executed 135,000
    Penal Units 422,700
    Subtotal 11,944,215

    Imprisoned 436,600
    Deserters 212,400
    12,593,215

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Xavier » 09 Aug 2019 18:26

numbers, numbers, sadly all of them had a mother, a father, a wife, a relative..
thanks for posting this info.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Art » 09 Aug 2019 20:48

Well, reports of casualties by digits and reports by name lists were different things, you should be aware of. Theoretically if a unit reported 100 casualties it must also report 100 names. In practice things could be very different, especially in the most problematic first period of the war. Given that name reporting was obviously incomplete the Soviet military command didn't even try to estimate casualties by counting names. At least not that I know about such attempts. That was a contrast with the German practice where the headcount worked ok until the ending phase of the war:
https://web.archive.org/web/20161109211 ... r_wvw.html

Only after the war an attempt was made to estimate casualties of officers, which took very much work and many years.
Another thing: until now I spoke about army's losses. Navy and NKVD troops had their own reporting channels and their own separate registry of casualties. Paramilitary forces, partisans, NKPS troops, various construction and labor columns, MPVO etc - god only knows how their casualties were accounted and registered.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 09 Aug 2019 20:57

Art wrote That was a contrast with the German practice where the headcount worked ok until the ending phase of the war:
Actually according to Overmans they had two reporting systems, one to record the numerical losses and another to register the names of the casualties.

Re NKVD casualties I have always wondered about this topic. Putin should open the books and give his crew credit for NKVD/MVD losses.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 09 Aug 2019 21:01

Art wrote The German practice where the headcount worked ok until the ending phase of the war:
This is not true. Overmans makes it clear in his study that the reporting system under counted losses. I have read the book and own it.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 09 Aug 2019 21:43

What is a plug? Accountants use this term to discredit a statistic. It is an insult. When there is a discrepancy in a financial statement, this method is used to balance the books.

Krivoshev and Philomoshen took the lazy mans approach to the problem and plugged the numbers to agree to the 1946 balances. Smarty pants Krivosheev deducted "duplication's" (convicts&deserters) to arrive at his total of 9.168 million, his comrade Philomoshen plugged the difference of 2.164 million (POWs/MIA) as forced labor in Germany. Note well that in the Illenkov figure of 13.850 million there are no deserters. Soviet taxpayers were paying the salaries of the military personnel who were compiling the names of the dead and missing in the post war era. This research was ignored, instead they got Soviet style маскировка/Дезинформация. I am not a follower of Ivlev but have no doubt that in the balance of 26.6 million war dead there are uncounted missing and prisoners

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Art » 11 Aug 2019 08:30

thorwald77 wrote:
09 Aug 2019 20:57
Re NKVD casualties I have always wondered about this topic. Putin should open the books and give his crew credit for NKVD/MVD losses.
I bet almost all primary documents are available in the RGVA:
http://voenspez.ru/index.php?topic=9277.0
Anyway lists of NKVD troops casualties are available at obd-memorial.ru
Actually according to Overmans they had two reporting systems, one to record the numerical losses and another to register the names of the casualties.
More like three: reporting of numbers via medical officers and units' adjutants (IIa) and registration of names.

Similarly the Soviet army had three systems: staff channel which reported the number of losses, medical service which registered wounded and sick in medical facilities, and registration of names which had also two sub-channels for officers and enlisted men.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Art » 11 Aug 2019 08:50

A simple search at obd-memorial.ru gives the following number of entries in casualties lists (officers and enlisted) of RKKA, navy and NKVD troops:
Killed or fallen - 6 404 thousand
Died of wounds - 1 244 thousand
Died of diseases - 243 thousand
Missing in action - 2 929 thousand
Death sentence - 72.9 thousand
Other reason (suicides etc) - 29 thousand

These are crude numbers which contain quite a lot of repetitions and duplications. And also quite many men who were repatriated or recovered in other way. So the actual number of casualties corresponding to these records is substantially smaller. On the other hand quite many casualties were not registered in these lists. As said above post-war examination yielded millions additional names which were not recorded in wartime reports from units and hospitals.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by thorwald77 » 11 Aug 2019 15:19

Soviet military irrecoverable losses (1941-45)
After an analysis of the Krivosheev report I believe that it underestimated Soviet military war losses. The data in the report was based on incomplete casualty reports compiled during the war. Total irrecoverable losses reported by Krivosheev were 9.168 million. To arrive at this total Krivosheev deducted 1,206.7 million convicts and deserters from the total reported casualties. Total irrecoverable losses were 12.593 million based on a reconciliation of those conscripted. Russian sources created a figure of 2.164 million civilian war dead due to “forced labor in Germany” to account for the difference in military casualties not included in the reports compiled during the war.
The following schedules detail Soviet military irrecoverable losses (1941-45).

Soviet military irrecoverable losses (1941-45)
(In Millions)
  • Killed in action 5,184.7
    Non combat deaths 534.3
    MIA/POWs 4,452.3
    Returned POWs (2,015.0)
    Remained abroad 3/46 190.0
    MIA estimated 500.0
    Died of wounds 1,102.8
    Border/Security forces 159.1
    Died Sickness 267.0
    Adjustments
    Convicts penal units (422.7)
    Convicts executed (135.0)
    Convicts imprisoned (436.6)
    Deserters (212.4)
    Krivosheev balance 9,168.5
Adjustments
  • "Civilian Forced labor " 2,164.3
    Convicts 994.3
    Deserters 212.4
    Retured POW after 7/45 53.6
    Actual Total Losses 12,593.1


Krivosheev adjs.
  • Died Sickness 267.0
    Convicts penal units (422.7)
    Convicts executed (135.0)
    Convicts imprisoned (436.6)
    Deserters (212.4)
    Total "duplications" (939.7)
Summary
  • Reconciliation of conscripted
    Losses @ July 1945 11,944.1
    Deserters 212.4
    Convicts imprisoned 436.6
    12,593.1

Notes:
1-The totals listed here for killed, non combat deaths and missing are from the Krivosheev report(2001 ed.) pp. 318-399
2-Total missing in Krivosheev agrees with July 1945 General Staff balance of 3.444 million after convicts and deserters are deducted from the missing listed in the report. 4.452 MIA+100 border troops less 1.207 convicts and deserters.

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Re: Tracing the missing in the post war Soviet Union

Post by Stiltzkin » 12 Aug 2019 04:51

This is not true. Overmans makes it clear in his study that the reporting system under counted losses. I have read the book and own it.
They have a different function. The reports do not answer the question of how many German soldiers died overall, but how many casualties units took in operations. Those are two different things. People who say that do not understand the German (or Soviet) reporting system. Also, Overmans study is not without flaws, considering the size of the sample (Kartei) and possible outcomes for individual fates, but that is another matter for the methodology in question. His goal was to show the true impact and extent of the war, that the number of deaths was greater for many reasons, which is not reflected in the casualty reports at all. This is also what he says, in his own words. You should really ask yourself what you want to measure, combat operations or the total impact on the demography. Operational losses are only a part of this. I do not know why so many people have troubles understanding this.
Soviet casualty reports <=> German casualty reports. Overmans study <=> Ilenkhov figures. These would be closer in their nature.
Ultimately you cannot really trace all fates. You can approximate the values and give boundaries. In fact, as long as the military apparatus functions, the listing of KIA+WIA+MIA will be fairly accurate (with certain delays). This differs under strain or when collapse is imminent.
This is also quite comprehensible: The military wants an overview of the situation, to assess its own strength. The families at home want something else. That the Soviets played around with numbers in certain cases should be fairly obvious.
You are also not going to make any progress without a suitable statistical tool and or having access to each individual entry in the (toten) Kartei. Turns out that some of the written off were actually still alive, migrated and died much later. Still, treating every unknown case as a death makes things easier (and most of them probably died).

TL,DR: The casualty reports functioned correctly and were doing exactly what they were supposed to do (as long as they were able to). If you want to know how many people died, you will need more than just these papers (relying on Hillebrand or Schramm). They are only partially suited to address this issue.

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