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Авиация СГВ » ВОЕННОПЛЕННЫЕ - ШТАЛАГИ, ОФЛАГИ, КОНЦЛАГЕРЯ » ЛИТЕРАТУРА О ПЛЕНЕ И ПОСЛЕ ПЛЕНА » Life and Death of Soviet POWs in Occupied Ukraine 1941-1944
Life and Death of Soviet POWs in Occupied Ukraine 1941-1944
NestorДата: Среда, 19 Ноября 2014, 09.30.15 | Сообщение # 1
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Dieter Pohl, Klagenfurt Life and Death of Soviet POWs in Occupied Ukraine 1941-1944
Paper for the Conference “Camps in the Occupied Soviet Union 1941 - 1944”, Paris 19 -20 September 2011

The Ukraine is a European region covered with mass graves of totalitarian
dictatorships, victims of the Russian Civil War, of the Great Famine of 1932/33, of the
Stalinist so-called Great Terror, and of course victims of the Holocaust, among which
about 1.3 mio. were shot inside Ukraine and buried there. But there are also other
mass graves which have received less attention. Only some years ago a mass grave
has been discovered where the victims could not be identified, but after some
investigations it came out that these were corpses of Soviet POWs. Who had died
between 1941 and 1944.
In comparison to the Holocaust there is almost no research on the mass dying of
Soviet POWs on Ukrainian soil. One of the few exceptions is the 1985 book by
Tamara Pershina on Genocide in the Ukraine. Though written rather Soviet-style, it
contains a chapter on the fate of the Soviet POWs.1 Only during the last years the
interest in the fate of Soviet POWs in the occupied territories rose. Most important in
western historiography are comparable studies by Christian Gerlach on Belarus and
Christoph Dieckmann on Lithuania, which include big chapters on the POWs, but
also other western historians have addresses the fate within Ukraine, like Karel
Berkhoff, Wendy Lower or Tanja Penter, who reconstructed the recruitment and
deployment of POWs for the Donbas mines.2 Russian and exile historians started
investigating the subject during the 1990s.3 Within Ukrainian historiography, several
1 T.S. Pershina, Fashistskii genotsid na Ukraine, 1941-1944. Kiev: Naukova dumka, 1985.
2 Christian Gerlach, Kalkulierte Morde. Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weißrußland,
Hamburg: Hamburger Edition 1999; Karel C. Berkhoff, The „Russian“ Prisoners of War in Nazi-Ruled Ukraine
as Victims of Genocidal Massacre, in: Holocaust and Genocide Studies 15 (2001), S. 1-32; Wendy Lower, Nazi
Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005, esp. pp.
59-66 (on Zhytomyr region); Simone Attilio Bellezza, Il tridente e la svastica. L'occupazione nazista in Ucraina
orientale, Milano: Franco Angeli Editore, 2010.
3 A. Shneer, A.: Plen. Ierusalim 2003 (abridged version Moskva 2005); Oleg Smyslov, Plen: zhiznʹ i smertʹ v
neme ts kikh lager ia kh. oskva: e he, . Cf. also Lageria sovetskikh voennoplennykh v Belarusi 1941-
historians have done important reserach, especially V. Korol in his brochure,4 but
also others.
The German invasion in June 1941 focussed on the northern direction leading to the
Baltics and only after some weeks made the progress expected for conquering the
Ukraine. By October 1941, almost all of the territory of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic
came under German rule. Hitler and the Wehrmacht leadership had envisaged a real
Blitzkrieg of 8 – 12 weeks, in which tank forces would thrust into Soviet territory,
and together with the slower Infantry units would encircle the majority of Red Army
forces in large pockets. Thus it was clear that millions of Red Army soldiers would
fall in German hands. While the Wehrmacht prepared its POW system in spring
1941, German industry expected to have a larger workforce of Soviet prisoners in
summer 1941/42.
But things went differently than expected. The German campaign slowed down
already in July 1941 and Hitler forbade the transport of Soviet POWs into the Reich,
fearing that German society might be inflicted with Bolshevism. Nevertheless, tens of
thousands of POWs were sent to the camps in the Reich, some of them working
already in July/August 1941 on German construction sites and elsewhere. But the
majority of POWs remained inside camps within Soviet and Polish territory. The
German Army Group South, Heeresgruppe Süd, which was responsible for
conquering the Ukraine, until April 1942 – according to its own statistics - captured
1.4 mio Soviet POWs, until 1944 between 2.5 and 3 mio. of them.5 Especially during
the battles of Uman and Kiev the Wehrmacht claimed to have captured 100.000 and
660.000 POWs, in 1942 after the battles of Kerch (100,000) and Kharkiv (240,000).
1944. Spravochnik. Red. . I. Adamuško u.a. insk 3; Lager sowjetischer Kriegsgefangener in Belarus. Ein
Nachschlagewerk, Minsk 2004.
4 . Korol’, Trahediia viis’kovopolonenykh na okupovaniy teritoriï Ukraïny v 1 41-1944 r., Kyïv 2002.
5 Oberkommando des Heeres, Fremde Heere Ost, Angaben sowjetischer Kriegsgefangener nach Meldungen der
Heeresgruppen, Bundesarchiv, Militärarchiv Freiburg i.Br. (BA-MA), RH 2/2773. There is a hiatus in the
statistics between April and June 1942, when few POWs were captured, but the number of 800,000 new POWs
was notified. This is propably 500,000 persons too high. The figures include POWs captured in Southern Russia.
Heeresgruppe Süd was several times reorganized into Heeresgruppe A and B, and Südukraine and Nordukraine.
Who were those prisoners? Until the 1980s it seemed clear that these figures were
quite exact, but then Russian military historians published detailed official figures on
the losses of the Red Army. Thus the problem arose that, according to Red Army
statistics, in 1941 one million Soviet soldiers less were missing than officially arrived
according to Wehrmacht figures.6 This enourmous difference, which is only visible
for 1941, has not been fully clarified yet. Of course, the Red Army during its retreat in
1941 suffered from a breakdown of organisation and one can assume that efforts
were made to reduce the official numbers of losses. But there are also other
explanations: As some Wehrmacht reports admit, the POWs figures also included
other uniformed personell than Red Army soldiers, like NKVD soldiers, sometimes
even railway officials or others, and they included units consisting of civilians like
People’s Regiments or construction units set up to build anti tank fortification. Thus
one can assume that a certain percentage of those called POWs by the Wehrmacht
actually were not Red Army soldiers.7
The German divisions transferred the POWs immediately to the so-called Army
POW collection points, the Armee-Gefangenensammelstellen, which sent them to the
Transition camps, the Durchgangslager or Dulag under military occupation. The
latter were already established larger camps, though often without the necessary
facilities, even without enough shelter for the POWs. The term Transition camp
already states their purpose: a transitionary imprisonment before final transfer to the
west. Nevertheless, due to the German military failure and to the debate on the
transport to the Reich, many POWs had to stay for a long time within the transition
As final destination of the POWs the Stationary camps, Stammlager or Stalag were
installed, within the Reich, but also within occupied Poland and under civil
occupation in the Ukraine, in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, or in the district of
7 Dieter Pohl, Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht. Deutsche Militärbesatzung und einheimische Bevölkerung in der
Sowjetunion 1941-1944, München: Oldenbourg 2008, pp. 201-242
Galicia, which had been attached to the so-called General Government in Poland.
Only very few Stalags existed within the military occupation zone. As camps, these
facilities were installed within or at the outskirts of Ukrainian cities. As German
military units, they remained mobile. Thus the units moved from one camp to the
other and assigned its number (Dulags for 100/200 on, Stalags from 300 on) to the
camp it used.
We have to date no exhaustive overview on all the POWs on Ukrainian soil. There
were approximately 20-25 Dulags and 25 Stalags within the Ukraine, not counting
the Crimea.8 This is the number of POW camps according to military units. Some of
them with the advance of the Wehrmacht moved further to Crimea or Southern
Russia. On the other hand, there were lots of branch camps, which have not yet
identified. The Handbook of Nazi camps in the Ukraine lists 223 POW camps or subcamps,
the smaller branch camps situated in or nearby villages.9 Not all the camps
were actually newly erected, in most cases older installations like economic facilities
were taken over and transformed into a camp.
The responsibility for the camps bore the occupation authorities. Under military
administration, that means in most parts east of the Dnipro, the Commander of the
Rear Army Area South supervised nearly all camps by his Commander of the POWs,
Kommandeur der Kriegsgefangenen beim Berück Süd (later: im Operationsgebiet I
and II).10 In the Reichskommissariat the POWs were not directly subordinate to the
civil occupation, but remained under army supervision under the
Wehrmachtbefehlshaber Ukraine.11
The tragedy of Soviet POWs started already on or nearby the battlefields. An
unknown number of POWs were shot directly after being captured. This fate
8 Gianfranco Matiello, Wolfgang Vogt, Deutsche Kriegsgefangenen- und Internierteneinrichtungen 1939-1945,
Koblenz 1986.
9 Handbuch der Lager, Gefängnisse und Ghettos auf dem besetzten Territorium der Ukraine (1941-1944). Red.
M. G. Dubyk. Kyïv 2000, pp. 205-258, including Ismail Oblast, but excluding the Crimea.
10 Until Nov. 1942: Generalleutnant Curt von Oesterreich (1880-1949); Generalmajor d.R. August Schmidt Edler
von Luisingen (1884-1963); Nov. 1942 – Oct. 1943: Generalmajor Arnold von Bessel (+1945); from Oct. 1943:
Generalleutnant Moritz Andreas (*1884), who themselves supervised the Kriegsgefangenen-
11 Kommandeur der Kriegsgefangenen beim WBU until Nov. 1942: Generalleutnant Josef Feichtmeier (1885-
1945); from Nov. 1942: Generalleutnant Kurt Wolff (*1886).
occurred not only to alleged political functionaries, who were killed according to the
so-called Commissar Order. Several thousand of alleged or real Red Army
Commissars were murdered within Ukraine.12 But in most cases the killings were
motivated either by feelings of revenge or by military deliberations, in order to avoid
the transfer of personell to the rear areas.
The actual transfer also turned out to be murderous. Since transport by train was
often denied, the exhausted and sometimes wounded soldiers had to walk west, over
hundreds of kilometres. Out of the 665.000 captured persons during the battle of
Kiev, 320,000 were transferred to the RKU, half of them by foot.13 Thousands of
POWs who collapsed were shot. Especially after the gigantic pocket battles of 1941
ukrainian roads were full of corpses, POWs shot by their guards. Most murders
occurred after the Briansk-Vyazma-Battle of Army Group Center, but similar cases
are known in the Ukraine, for example on the way from Stalino to Zaporyzhzhja or
near Khorol.14
Between 1.5 – 2.5 mio. Soviet POWs came through the camps within Ukraine, around
1.5 mio were registered in the Stalags;15 but we do not know how many there were at
specific dates. There are only statistics of the Wehrmachtbefehlshaber Ukraine, who
claimed that his camps had a capacity for 445,000 POWs, and was propably
responsible only for approximately half of the POWs in Ukraine:
POWs under WBU in 194216
1.11.1941 320.000
1.12.1941 243.000
1.2.1942 139.000
1.4.1942 135.600
1.5.1942 162.000
1.6.1942 211.000
1.8.1942 216.000
12 Felix Römer, Der Kommissarbefehl. Wehrmacht und NS-Verbrechen an der Ostfront 1941/42, Paderborn:
Schoeningh 2008.
13 WBU, report no. 2, 14.11.1941, BA-MA RW 41/1.
14 Verbrechen der Wehrmacht, S. 224; Report of the 8th Department of the Political Administration of the South
Front, 26.10.1941, TsDAHO 62-9-4, Bl. 15-21.
15 Cf. the registration statistics in the annex.
16 WBU, report no. 2, 14.11.1941, BA-MA RW 41/1. Table compiled from: WBU, report no. 3, 13.12.1941, BAMA
RW 41/1; OKW, Belegung Stalag im Reich, 1.4.1942, BA-MA RW 6/v. 450
1.9.1942 301.000
1.10.1942 332.000
1.11.1942 256.000
1.12.1942 216.000
The biggest camps were situated rather in the West under the WBU, in places like
Shepetovka/Slavuta, Kirovohrad, Bila Tserkva, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk,
Proskurov and Mykolaiv, each with an average of 20,000-30,000 inmates, at times
much more.17
POW camp inmates under WBU on 1 April 194218
(camp names in German)
Oflag Wlodzimierz (Volodymyr V.) 6,342
Stalag 301 Kowel (Kovel) 4,112
Stalag 360 Rowno (Rivne) 3,864
Stalag 355 Proskurow (Khmelnytskyi) 8,980
Stalag 357 Schepetowka (Shepetivka) 7,403
Stalag 329 Winniza (Vynnytsia) 12,525
Stalag 358 Shitomir (Zhytomyr) 7,982
Stalag 349 Uman 8,857
Stalag 334 Bjelaja Zerkow (Bila Tserkva) 19,116
Stalag 339 Kiew (Kyiv) 8,164
Stalag 305 Kirowograd (Kirovohrad)
Stalag 345 Bobrinskaja (Smila,
Stantsiya im. Tarasa
Stalag 338 Kriwoj Rog (Kryvyi Rih)
Stalag 348 Dnjepropetrowsk
Lazarett Shitomir
But most Red Army soldiers came to the camps under military administration, where
almost no documentation has been found yet.19 In the Dulag, the POWs were
17 Another 21,000 in Stalag 363 in Kharkiv under military administration in Oct. 1942.
18 OKW, Belegung Stalag im Reich, 1.4.1942, BA-MA RW 6/v. 450, p. 48.
19 Charkow, Cherson, Chorol, Konotop, Krasnograd, Mariupol, Pawlograd, Poltawa, Konstantinowka,
Krementschug, Mirgorod, Stalino, Sumy.
generally registered, in the Stalag individually; most of the registration cards have
been found some years ago in the archives of the Russian Defense Ministry.20
The camps themselves were rather improvised. Especially the transit camps often
could not house all arriving POWs, since much too few barracks had been built. In
several camps like Kherson the POWs had to dig caves in the soil, or were put in
tents.21 It has been estimated that appr. half of the POWs had to live under open skies
in autumn 1941. This also worsened the disorganisation within the camps. The
delivery of meals often proceeded in a chaotic fashion, so that the weaker POWs
were not able to eat anything.
Lack of housing was one basic problem, nutrition was the other. Propably only until
September 1941 there was a sufficient amount of food delivered, though of bad
quality. But already during that month, with the arrival of POWs from the battle of
Kiev, with total overcrowding of the camps the first signs of starvation surfaced. In
Shepetovka camp even cases of cannibalism were reported that early.22 Not only had
the camps been unsufficiently prepared for the arrival of more than 600,000 persons.
Nazi and military leadership in September-October 1941 discussed altering the ration
system. In October 1941, when the death rate was already at 6 %, it was decided to
lower the rations for those POWs who were considered unable to work,

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NestorДата: Среда, 19 Ноября 2014, 09.34.53 | Сообщение # 2
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Сообщение отредактировал Nestor - Среда, 19 Ноября 2014, 09.37.35
Авиация СГВ » ВОЕННОПЛЕННЫЕ - ШТАЛАГИ, ОФЛАГИ, КОНЦЛАГЕРЯ » ЛИТЕРАТУРА О ПЛЕНЕ И ПОСЛЕ ПЛЕНА » Life and Death of Soviet POWs in Occupied Ukraine 1941-1944
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