Soviet Documents on POW Treatment 1939-1956

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Soviet Documents on POW Treatment 1939-1956

Post by David Thompson » 02 Sep 2003 22:00

There appears to be a somewhat new (2000) volume on the Soviet treatment of POWs during WWII, published by the Russian State University at Volgograd, which may be of interest to Russian-speaking readers in this section of the forum, described at:

http://www.volsu.ru/rus/news/publicatio ... ml#summary

My Russian is too poor to even reconstruct the title, but the site gives this synopsis in English:
Summary

This is the publication of documents illustrating foreign army POWs' (prisoners of war) stay on the USSR territory including: UPV-GUPVI of NKVD-MVD USSR system establishment and development; reception facilities organization; living conditions; labor assignment; identification and punishment of war criminals; repatriation and others. Chronologically the book embraces the period from September 1939 (first POW camps) till 1956 (repatriation of the last group of Japanese Kvantun Army POW). The collection includes documents from the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GA RF), the Storage Centre for Collections of Historical Documents (CHIDK), the former Special Archives, and the Russian Federal Archives Service.

The documents illustrate how the decisions concerning POWs in USSR were made by the government, elaborated by GKO and SNK-USSR Council of Ministers and carried out under the orders of NKVD-MVD USSR. Most of the documents given therein are materials from NKVD-MVD USSR kept in the State Archives of the Russian Federation.

The largest and the most important fund of this archivs is R-9401 s/ch «NKVD-MVD USSR Secretariat»). Following Register #1 the book contains the originals of orders, directives and other acts from narkoms-ministers and their deputies, correspondence with GUPVI on a number of problems. If some documents were not to be found in the original, they are published as authorized copies or in print following Register #1a. Many documents are from Register #2 that contains «special files» from NKVD-MVD USSR Secretariat with originals and authorized copies of reports, memos and other informative documents written in the name of Stalin, Molotov, Khruschyov. These informational material helps to show both the way legal acts were introduced and enforced and the acts themselves. There are many documents from the Main POW and Interned Persons Administration of HKVD-MVD USSR. The documents are kept in CHIDK. Legal acts and other materials illustrating migration of POWs in USSR; title, position and national composition of the POWs, labor assignment of the POWs and other information are used from fund 1/p «Central GUPVI Administration of NKVD-MVD USSR» (Register «a»), Registration Department («e»), labor assignment Department («i»).

The documents are conveniently grouped into nine thematic chapters. The first part includes the core documents which describe the imprisonment conditions applied to prisoners of war in the USSR and the attitude of the Soviet leadership towards POWs in general: two editions of «Statute of POWs» (1931; 1941), the report made in March 1946 by the USSR Minister for Internal Affairs Colonel-General S.N.Kruglov on issues facing MVD concerning POWs treatment and their use as labour force in post-war period. The documents of the second part deal with processes of creation, development, and curtailment of the USSR system of UPV-GUPVI NKVD-MVD in 1939-1953: organization of first camps and reception stations, development of the front and home front network, of central and local NKVD-MVD bodies in charge of camps for POWs. The third part «Registration and Imprisonment Conditions» contains materials on the systems of POWs registration, safety matters in camps, ways of POWs communication with their families, antifascist and political activity, other aspects. Separate parts are devoted to food and clothing provision; health care, death rate and burial procedures; use of POWs as labor force; camps' internal control, identification and punishment of war criminals; repatriation; some results of POWs' stay in the USSR.

Altogether the documents from the above-mentioned archives enable us to restore the history of POWs' stay in the USSR from the moment of their capture till their repatriation, and to understand the functioning of the GUPVI system, the attitude towards POWs on the part of the USSR, NKVD, GUPVI, camps' leadership and of some rank-and-file officials. A significant part of the materials found but not included into the book has been used in the introduction, commentaries and appendix. All the published documents are complete and unabridged.

The book is supplied with address to the readers, historical introduction, archeographic foreword, annotations to the documents, comments on the content, personal and geographic names index, a list of abbreviations. The appendixes include the Geneva Convention of July 27, 1929 on POWs treatment, published for the first time in the USSR; lists of the USSR NKVD-MVD camps for POWs of 1939-1951; a list of the USSR NKVD-MVD officials, mentioned in the documents, with their short biographies; tables and photoes illustrating various aspects of POWs' stay in the USSR.

Selecting the documents the authors took into consideration the fact that a number of books and monographs had already been published on certain issues. (For Germany against Hitler! Documents and materials on organization and activity of the National Committee «Free Germany» and the Union of German Officers. M., 1993; Khatyn, Prisoners of Undeclared War. M., 1997; The Russian Archives: The Great Patriotic War. Foreign War Prisoners of World War Two in the USSR. M., 1996. Vol. 24 (13) etc.).

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Post by michael mills » 03 Sep 2003 02:05

Interesting.

I wonder if this publication will explain the reasons why at least 90% of Germans taken prisoner by the Soviet Army in 1941 and 1942 (not a huge number) died in captivity.

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Post by David Thompson » 03 Sep 2003 02:13

I'm really curious about it myself. I'm wondering about documents relating to Polish prisoners from 1939, and about the summary war crimes trials with 25 year sentences in 1947-1948.

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Oleg Grigoryev
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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 03 Sep 2003 05:48

there is a tonns books like that published by various organizations - Yakovlev Fond for instance published big volume dealing with Polish POWs after 1939. Russkiy Archiv published two volumes delaing with German POWs.

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Post by David Thompson » 03 Sep 2003 07:42

oleg -- Thanks for the information. I'm looking forward to the day when they are translated and I can read them. It's heartening to know that books like that can now be published and purchased freely.

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Post by Oleg Grigoryev » 10 Sep 2003 21:49

An Order in Regards to Organization of POW Evacuation form the Frontline
# 001 January 2 1943
Current practices of transiting and supplying of POW at the front and in during the transit stage to rear area camps has a number of significant shortcomings:
1. POW are held for a long time in units of the Red Army. From the moment of capture to the moment of their arrival to transit points, POWs have to walk 200-300 kilometers, while receiving almost no food, and because of that they arrive in the state of extreme exhaustion and sickness.
2. Considerable number of POW, not having own winter clothing, despite my orders, is not supplied form the captured stock.
3. POW, walking form the place of capture to the transit points, often guarded by small groups of soldiers or not guarded at all, which forces them to settle among the local population.
4. Concentration points for the POWs, as well as receiving points of NKVD, that in accordance with orders issued by the Staff of the Rear Area of the Red Army and Main Directorate of food supplies of the Red Army, must be supplied by Fronts with foodstuffs, clothing, transport, -receive them in utterly insignificant numbers, that cannot provide for minimal necessities. Because of that POWs cannot be supplied in accordance with assigned norms.
5. VOSO of the Fronts, supplies transport for the POWs transit to the rear area camps, in accordance with “too little too late” principle; moreover railcars supplied are not fit for transportation of the people : without beds, stoves, toilets, fuel and other necessities.
6. Contrary to the Rules of POW handling, which were signed into action by SNK of USSR and order of Main Directorate of Military Medicine, wounded and sick POWs are not accepted to the frontline hospitals but rather made to travel with general POWs columns to the receiving points and NKVD camps. Because of that considerable number of POWs is getting exhausted and dies before they sent to the rear.
In order to decisively put an end to these malpractices in POW handling and to preserve them as a workforce I am ordering:
To the Front Commanders:
1. provide for immediate transit of POWs by the Army units to the concentration points. Speed this up –use all the means of transport available that are moving form the Front.
2.Make unit commanders responsible for supplying of POWs in transit, till their acceptance by NKVD receiving points, in accordance with norms envisaged by the Directive of SNK of USSR # 18747874s. Attach to the POW columns field kitchens from the captured equipment and transport, that is needed for foodstuffs.
3. In accordance with Rules of POW handling, confirmed by the SNK of USSR directive # 17987800s from July 1st 1941, provide in timely manner all kinds of medical services to the wounded and sick POWs.
Transit of sick , wounded, exhausted, frostbitten POWs with general columns with consequent delivery to the NKVD receiving points is categorically forbidden. This contingent is to be hospitalized with consequent evacuation to the rear area special hospitals; supply them in accordance to norms that are envisioned for sick POWs.
4. To provide enough troops for convoying of POWs from places of capture to the places of concentration.
5. In order to escape long walking stretches- make loading points for POWs as close as possible to the places of their concentration.
6. Unit commanders, when arraigning POWs transit, are to make a report of all POWs, amounts of foodstuffs supplied, transport and other means. The report is to be shown at receiving points. All personal documents of POWs are to be passed to NKVD personnel at NKVD receiving points
7. Daly marches are to be limited to 25-30km. After every 25-30 km -a stop is to be made to feed the POWs hot food, tea and to allow them to warm up and rest.
8. All personal belongings of the POWs shall remain in their possession. In cases when POWs lack winter clothing, footwear, and dishes, these items must be provided form captured stock or from dead enemy personnel.
9. To Fronts and Military Districts Commanders :
a) in accordance with order issued by the Main Directorate of Rear Areas of the Red Army # 24/103892 from 11.30.42 and order issued by Main Directorate of Food supplies of the Red Army #3911/sh (here was used Russian latter that is not available in Latin Alphabet -oleg) from 12.10.42, immediately verify food supply situation of NKVD receiving points and transit points; create necessary stocks so that uninterrupted feeding of POWs can be sustained.
b) Completely supply receiving points and NKVD transit camps with transport and other hardware. In case of arriving of the POWs in large numbers- additional means of transportation are to be dispatched immediately.
10.To the Chief of VOSO of the Red Army
a) supply necessary numbers of rail cars for immediate departure of POWs to the camps; rail cars are to be refitted with beds, stoves, toilets; provide uninterrupted supply of fuel is to be provided; use all the echelons that are available after delivering their cargo to the front.
b) provide for the fast transit of echelons – at the rate equal to that of military cargo
c) organize in VOSO directorate dispatcher control over POWs echelons.
d) norms for POWs per rail car: for 2 axel cars – 44 to 50 men. 4 axel cars – 80-90 men. No more than 1500 POWs per echelon.
e) provide for uninterrupted hot food supply to the POWs and resupply of on- board stocks on every possible occasion.
f) provide for uninterrupted supply of drinking water – 30 liters fro every 2-axel rail car, 50 liters for every 4 axel.
11. to the Chief of main Medical Directorate of the Red Army:
a) provide for hospitalization of all wounded, sick, frostbitten, and extremely exhausted POWs in medical establishments of the Red Army at the frontline and in the rear.
b) organize their immediate evacuation to the rear special hospitals
c) for medical service of POW in transit provide needed medical personnel with sufficient medical supplies on hand, also utilized for this purposes captured German medical personnel.
d) at evacuation points organize inspections in order to determined health conditions of POWs in transit and provide medical help if needed. Whose POWs who cannot continue with the transit because of their health are immediately to be taken off the trains and hospitalized in the nearest hospitals, with consequent transit to the rear area special hospitals as soon as their health permits.
e) conduct sanitizization of POWs with disinfection of their personal belongings along the route.
f) conduct antiepidemic works among POWs (till their acceptance by NKVD camps)
12. Forbid transit of POWs in the railcars that are not suited for transit of personnel, without necessary supplies, and of the POWs that are not dressed in accordance with season demands.
Deputy to the Peoples Commissar of Defense colonel-general of Rear Area Service A. Hrulev .
the best translation ever it is not - but I think that it gives some general idea.

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