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......details are sketchy..... if he was captured by the Russians. Of course, you could have been captured by the western allies and still find yourself in a death camp. Read Bacque's "Other Losses" for a sobering account of the conditions in the camps on the Rhine.

Details about Russian camps and any prisoners aren't easy to come by at all.

I've been researching a very highly decorated WWI vet that joined the NSDAP in 1932, served in WWII, and then became a NSFO with the job of indoctrinating military personnel following "nazification" of the WH after the failed July 20th plot, and was then picked up by the Russians. Less than six months after the Russians got him, he managed to turn up a free man in Vienna (Russian occupation zone) where he died during the spring of 1946. His political stance would have prevented him from being released for humanitarian reasons depiste being very ill at the time of his capture. He was too ill to escape, and the Russians didn't turn high ranking and highly decorated types "loose" for humanitarian reasons. I suspect the Russians were "working" him.

Bill Hammelmann told me his father in law was picked up by the Russians at the end of the war. He said his father in law was standing in a line with other POWs, and a Russian walked behind them. One of the Russians squeezed his father in law's butt and pushed him out of line and told him to go home. Apparently the butt squeeze was used to determine whether some prisoners had enough body fat and muscles so they could be used for work. Apparently the Russians felt his father in law wasn't worth hanging onto and not fit enough to work.

Re: "Other Losses". My father's cousin was a Falslchirmjaeger that fought through Normandy, survived Operation Cobra and the Falaise Gap. He was wounded in the foot during Market Garden and spent the duration of the war in a hospital near Magdeburg. His hospital was taken over by the Americans on May 6th, and he was subsequently turned over to the French. His foot wasn't healing, and the French weren't able to use him for work on roads, railway lines, etc, they turned him loose after six months rather than feed him and provide medical attention. Because he was captured/surrendered -after- the German capitulation, he wasn't technically a "POW" according to SHAEF's classification system. He survived, and was far luckier than many of those who died from malnutrition, exposure and disease in some of the huge enclosures set up in the Allied occupation zones in western Germany, and parts of France.


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Thanks for your insights, Les, most informative. On a similar note, my uncle, the younger brother of "Opi", was captured and sent by the Americans for "de-Nazification" at the officer's camp at Dachau. When I talked to him, he told us that the piles of bodies he saw there after the war were those of German POW's, not KZ inmates. And he was there for a year.

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The Soviets, for all their brutality, had a very fixed and definite "priority" with German prisoners:

Anyone who had invaded Russian "sacred" soil was sentenced to death, commuted to 25 years... and usually did 10--assuming they survived. Applied whether the soldier was a private or a Field Marshal, which seems deranged but probably simply resulted from Rules-Are-Rules there as much as Befehl-Sind-Befehl to the Germans.

Anyone captured who'd been fighting on the Eastern front but NOT on Soviet soil generally got 4 years--again, regardless of rank. Anyone caught in Germany who'd never been over the Reich borders quite often got only a year.

But at the very end, things could be quite arbitrary. Ancient officers retired since 1920 were arrested by the NKVD or 80 year olds at some farm house might be shot on the spot as "class enemies."

An acquaintance's father was a reluctant middle aged Wehrmacht private who was also simply sent home. He'd run for it when the Ivans were coming and was hiding in a field when curious cows trotted over to see what their new pasture mate was up to.

He was unarmed and his captors laughed so hard at him being "outed" by cows that they simply let him go.

Since all of Eastern Germany fell under Soviet control, I suspect things were "looser" out in the countryside (where, after all, was a local going to GO?) than in a city where thousands and thousands of out of town prisoners meant processing/meant bureaucracy/meant acting tougher for the Commissar.

K?nigsberg was such a tough battle that the Soviets issued a medal for its capture:


As such, its defenders would have been dealt with particularly harshly.

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