Turkish POWS in Russia

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
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Peter H
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Turkish POWS in Russia

Post by Peter H » 28 Mar 2007 13:06

Some sources indicate that 50,000 Turks became prisoners of the Russians 1914-16.

Erickson gives a figure of around 36,000 reported prisoners of the Russians.Adding unreported cases would appear to support the overall figure of 50,000 captured by the Russians.


Erickson in Ordered to Die,page 189 gives their fate:
By July 21 1918,the Ottoman government knew that 1,457 officers and 17,715 who had been captured by the Russians had been reported alive in Russian POW camps.That summer these men began to make their way by train,and then by foot or boat,home to Turkey...of these known prisoners,only 2,260 returned to Turkey.However an additional 6,750 unaccounted for prisoners and 2,250 civilians returned from Russian camps.These returnees reported that 15 per cent of their number had been massacred while in convoy en route.The fate of the others remain unknown.
Overall only 9,010 of the 50,000 Turkish POWS in Russia returned home.

Art
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Post by Art » 29 Mar 2007 08:47

According to "The military effort of Russia in World War" (Военные училия России в мировой войне) by N. Golovin till 1st September 1917 there were accounted 64509 turkish POWs. From them 63363 were still held in captivity on 1st September, 258 were returned to Turkey as invalids, 582 died, 306 escaped from captivity.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 29 Mar 2007 09:36

Thanks Art.

I'm hesitant to say that most of the Turkish POWs didn't survive.Comparable figures for Germans and Austro-Hungarians held by the Russians shows no excessive death toll.Perhaps in this case Turkish record keeping(normally efficient) didn't pick up the bulk of the returnees as they came back via the Caucasus or Black Sea route?The former was also still a war zone.Morever many Turkish POWs remained in Russia until 1922 and may have not been picked up in Ottoman records as returnees.

However in the first two years of the war many prisoners relied on there own country providing relief to survive.For example the Austro-Hungarians provided aid to feed their own captured troops.I don't think Turkey was in the same category,much like Italy.Its said that 100,000 Italian prisoners died in Austro-Hungarian caotivity in 1918 from disease and starvation.Its also said that 400,000 or so prisoners held by the Russians 1914-18 died in epidemics.Even getting to the camps was an ordeal--in one case, for example, officials kept two hundred Turkish POWs suffering from cholera in sealed wagons for three weeks until they reached their destination--140 died, sixty were scarcely left alive.

Alon Rachamimov's POWs and the Great War:Captivity on the Eastern Front mentions also that many POWs were given parole,and allowed to work in industry.Also its estimated that 50,000 to 200,000 former POWs enlisted in the Red Army.Perhaps some of the Turks didn't want to return home.

Russian POWs held by the Turks were delivered to the Crimea by ship in March/April 1918,released under the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.The later General Nuri Berköz helped to organise this,based in Moscow, as a member of the Special Commission for the Exchange of Ottoman-Russian Prisoners of War.

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