German tragedy of destiny

Soviet camps




Concentration camps


With the end of the fighting in Stalingrad in early February 1943 began the ordeal of nearly 100,000 German soldiers in Russian captivity.


At temperatures down to minus 30 celsius degree real death marches went to the concentration camps Beketovka, Dubovka or Krasnoarmeysk, without food, without water. The sick, exhausted or wounded who could not keep up were simply shot.


In the beginning they often camped in the open. The prisoners were up to 14 days without food. It was a naked struggle for survival among the frozen and starved who were piled high in rows in the mornings.


The exact number of victims is impossible to determine, realistic estimates assume that of the 120,000 prisoners of the 6th Army who in the period late 1942 to February 1943 came in Soviet camps about 60,000 - 70,000 did not survive the first few months.



Russian captivity


In the summer 1944, after Stalingrad, another major German unit came into Russian captivity. By June 1944 the Army Group Centre was trapped by the Red Army in the Mogilev area and 150,000 men fell into Russian captivity. Nearly 60,000 prisoners were transported to Moscow where on 17 July 1944 they had to participate in a humiliating parade of the vanquished. Afterwards they were deported to labor camp.


German POWs in Moscow


After the capitulation on 8 May 1945 many soldiers who had fought on the Eastern Front attempted to reach the area of the Western Allies. In vain because the Americans, in accordance with the agreement with the Soviets, handed over about 150,000 prisoners to the Red Army at the Elbe.


After the surrender a further 200,000 German soldiers came into Russian captivity. Many of them returned home only in 1955.



Labor camps


The prisoners of the 6th Army who had survived the death marches and transit camps were transported from spring 1943 to the permanent camps of the Gulag.


During this process they were sorted by rank: while the officers came to Krasnogorsk, Wolkowo, Elabuga or Suzdal, the men and under-officers were transported mainly to Moscow, Sverdlovsk, Molotov, Omsk, Vorkuta, Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan.


The rides in cattle cars - with up to 100 men per car, on bare ground without blankets or straw - often took longer than 14 days. There was hardly anything to eat or to drink. These death rides called for further casualties among the already decimated Stalingrad fighters.


Some had more luck and remained in the camps at Stalingrad. These temporary camps were converted to labor camps. Of the more than 90,000 soldiers who were captured in the Stalingrad pocket a total of 6,000 returned to Germany.


In addition to the labor camps throughout the Soviet Union there were special camps in Eastern and Central Germany where  interrogations and trials took place with many death sentences and subsequent deportations. For this purpose partly former German concentration camps were used. Some of the concentration camp inmates experienced a continuation of their suffering in these special camps.


Mühlberg -

7,500 deaths, 3,000 deportees

Buchenwald -

13,000 deaths, 2,000 deportees

Hohenschönhausen -

3,000 deaths

Bautzen -

12,000 deaths, 4000 deportees

Ketschendorf -

6,000 deaths, 2,000 deportees

Jamlitz -

5,000 deaths, 1,000 deportees

Sachsenhausen -

20,000 deaths, 6,000 deportees

Fünfeichen -

6,500 deaths, 1,000 deportees

Torgau-Zinna -

2,000 deaths, 4,000 deportees

Weesow -

1,200 deaths

Graudenz -

2,000 deaths

Frankfurt/Oder -

1,500 deaths


Overall, there were at least 68,000 deaths and 23,000 deportees on German territory. The figures are only the lowest values which are acknowledged by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office.





Soviet gulag camp in Siberia



Everyday life in the labor camp


The prisoners had to work in the most severe Siberian winter


The renitent prisoners were simply shot