Thursday, March 12, 2009

How well did the Red Army treat prisoners


I read those figures, but I assumed that Paulus "army" contained the other nationalities you mentioned. Also, Davies said Paulus army was only 250,000 – whatever. We don't need to bother with that.

I agree with what you've written in your note below, but in your blog you make it sound as though the Red Army was entirely composed of physical and moral supermen; which defies my understanding of human nature. We all have the same human nature.

I don't know if you are the one who recommended Davies' No Simple Victory, but you would like quite a bit of what he writes. The major effort of World War II was in the East. He doesn't think Stalingrad was as important as Kursk, a set-piece battle where each side knew what the other side had, and the Red Army won. According to Davies this was the deciding battle of the entire war.

And I agree that it is important to distinguish between what is national policy and the misbehaving of local troops. Islamists and Leftists in America tried to assert that what happened at Abu Ghraib was national policy, which is absurd. It was not. Those involved in this scandal were court-martialed and punished. And I suspect the same thing could be said about the misbehaving of Red Army soldiers. I suppose what I'm saying is that I don't see that balance on your blog. Yes you say that the Red Army was not made up of angels, and yet they sound like angels. Then also, when you refer to the German dead in the photos, you make it sound as though each individual German wanted to engage in all the crimes the Nazis advocated. We know in retrospect that wasn't true. Yes, many German soldiers supported the Nazis, but many didn't. They fought for Germany because they loved their home country, but they didn't agree with Nazi policies. So we don't know if the dead German whom frost has frozen with his hand stuck out was as evil as you described. He may have been a good Catholic praying to God one last time.

Also, on the way to the dentist, I realized that you referred to the way the "Red Army" treated prisoners. Those prisoners were undoubtedly turned over to people who were not in the Red Army, so what you wrote could be true, and what Davies wrote about 50% being dead in two weeks and only 5% ultimately surviving could be the result of mistreatment by people who were not in the Red Army.



Michael Kuznetsov has left a new comment on your post "RE: The Red Army at Stalingrad.":


The figures you ask about, ironically, are given just above your question where you quote my text from the website.

Thus, again: The 600,000 troops under the Paulus' immediate command were Germans.
I repeat: Germans, i.e. the Wehrmacht.

The other additional troops were their allies: Italians, Romanians, Hungarians, Slovaks and Croats. Thus the total is 800,000.
All correct.

As to the fate of 91,000 Wehrmacht POWs, a New York based historian, T. Kunikov, writes the following:

"I would like to add that a good amount of those that died would have to include those soldiers taken at Stalingrad, their condition prevented the Red Army and Soviet Union from being able to save a large amount of them since they were malnourished and practically dying as they went into captivity."



As to the "exactness" of the figures.
A difficult question . . .

Most of the sources, almost all of them, as you well know, provide different figures.

No wonder!
It is a very hard job, if at all possible, to find out the numbers that would be absolutely correct and would be absolutely acceptable for everybody.

So, we have inevitably to choose the sources that we personally consider to be more reliable than others. You see?

For example, a British author, Anthony Beevor in his book The Fall of Berlin provides the readers with the number of 2 million German women who were allegedly raped by the Red Army (the Mongol hordes) in 1945.

He likes the exact number of 2,000,000.
We Russians deny it.
So what?

The main idea expressed on my website, if you noticed it, is that we Russians are no angels, but we did not commit atrocities on a regular basis, like our Nazist adversaries.

This idea does well coincide with the following phrases by T. Kunikov:

"Interestingly, the worst atrocities, committed on both sides on the Eastern Front, were official policy on the German side, and spontaneous acts of disobedience on the Soviet side.
This is very important to understand when viewing the differences of both army's and governments. It was the POLICY of the Wehrmacht and the Third Reich/Nazi Party/Hitler to let their armed forces/soldiers commit atrocities on the Eastern front, the same simply cannot be said for the Red Army."

So, help us God!



Anonymous said...

Bravo, Lawrence!

I agree with your wisely balanced comments.

My website is being constantly updated, so I will take into account much of your sober advice, in due course of time.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I feel you, Lawrence, to be rather a friend than an adversary, so let me share some more thoughts of mine with you.

I can recall an interesting excerpt from the book "Russia", by Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace (1841-1919).

Remember that the author narrates about the events in Russia in the middle of the 19th century.
But I feel it like being written about the present-day Russians -- we do not change at all:

"Prince Gortchakof's saying, 'La Russie ne boude pas, elle se recueille', was more than a diplomatic repartee – it was a true and graphic statement of the case.
Though the Russians are very inflammable, and can be very violent when their patriotic feelings are aroused, they are, individually and as a nation, singularly free from rancour and the spirit of revenge.
After the termination of hostilities they really bore little malice towards the Western Powers . . . Their patriotism now took the form, not of revenge, but of a desire to raise their country to the level of the Western nations.
If they thought of military matters at all, they assumed that military power would be obtained as a natural and inevitable result of high civilisation and good government."

Original source:

In other words, we Russians cannot feel angered for a long time, we cannot nurse rancour against our enemies too long, after the hostilities are over.

If a Russian has not managed to kill the enemy in the heat of the battle or immediately after, he would cool down quickly and in a short while he can easily shift even to the making friends with his just defeated foe.

This national trait of ours, I am convinced, whether you deem it good or evil, is the reason why there exists not a single photo in which Russian soldiers would have been hanging captured German soldiers.

Not one!

While the opposite scenes are abundant in the thousands (sic!) of extant German wartime photos -- in which the Wehrmacht soldiery are smiling while being busy hanging Russian prisoners.

Being myself a genuine 100 percent Russian, as I have already said, I can easily imagine and visualize how I could shoot a captured bastard on the spot. Or kill him with the bayonet here and now, if I'm angered very much.

But to hang a prisoner . . . oh, no!

Simply put, while I would search for a rope, then for an appropriate tree, then would be making a good noose and then preparing the unfortunate captive for the hanging -- all of this long preparations would take too much of time for a normal Russian to keep enough of anger.

We cannot kill people and simultaneously smile for the camera like Germans did. Believe me or not.

Which is why the photo on my website that features a Russian soldier giving tabacco and a light to the just captured Germans -- is absolutely a normal situation for us.

As to the Russian civilians and their attitude towards the German POWs.

I have known a lot of examples (both oral and written) how Russian "babushkas" used to feed the poor German "sons", sharing with the prisoners their miserable war-time portion of bread -- out of sheer commiseration.

Believe me or not. . .