Instead of foreword to autobiographical story "Captivity"


     In interpretations of the history of the Patriotic War by mass media, cinema, art and memoirs literature the tragedy of captivity as a tragedy of the nation and its army, is reflected very insignificantly so the contemporaries know almost nothing of it. Let's look at the figures of irrevocable losses of the armed forces. Official sources (the Ministry of Defense, the General Headquarters, the Academy of military sciences) cite the following data, however, these figures are considered underestimated by many researchers: total irrevocable losses of the armed forces - 8,8 million persons. 5,7 million persons were in German captivity, of them 3,3 million, i.e. 58 % were executed by shooting, perished from hunger, wounds, diseases and excessive slave labor. The number of the Red Army soldiers and commanders perished in captivity is 38 % of the total death-roll of the War.

     And despite so tragic consequences of war were there many the books published, movies made about the bitter destiny of war prisoners, their struggle and sufferings? Maybe the destiny of one-third of all the people rose to defend their Motherland and perished for it, is not an integral part of the country's a history?

     As explanation the only thing may serve: dozens of years the statement was knocked into the heads of compatriots that the soldiers in captivity have betrayed the oath, supported by work industrial and military potential of the enemy.

     Many people returned after the war, escaped prisoners of war, were subjected to repression unreasonably for many years, exposed to prosecutions and humiliations. Till 1956 the time in captivity was not filed as participation in war and was not included into labor records. After the mark in my military card certifying my stay in captivity (as well as at many others former prisoners of war), were automatically the records: participation in combats - not participated, having wounds - none, despite the fact of clear incontestable signs on the body. Till the 9th decade of the previous century there existed restrictions on employment, study, trips abroad even to the socialist zone countries.

     Only in 1995 (!) former prisoners of war were finally equalized in rights with all other citizens of Russia ("About restoration of legitimate rights of Russian citizens - former Soviet prisoners of war and civil persons repatriated during the Great Patriotic War and in the post-war period" Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dd. January 24, 1995 No. 63).

     We should however render justice to courageous people daring to mention in those years this so ungrateful and dangerous theme. Author Sergey Sergeevich Smirnov carried out the cycle of telecasts "Feat" in which for the first time has started talking about former prisoners of war as patriots of Motherland. Indeed soon someone of the members of the Party management suddenly recollected, and these telecasts were stopped. Great role in change of the attitude to the prisoners of war has played G.C huhrai's film "Clear Sky". Nevertheless, it is necessary to notice the Smirnov's and Chuhrai's works narrated not about the prisoners of war in general but of those who has made especially heroic acts.

    It is necessary to point out that even till now isn't yet eliminated from public consciousness the syndrome of mistrust to former prisoners of war and in this connection many of them avoid to speak about this part of their military biography. I shall mention such an example.

    Annually at the memorial to the soldiers of Dovator's Katukov's and Panfilov's divisions in the village of Denkovo near Volokolamsk, veterans of these combats meet at the grave of perished soldiers. Some 4 years ago at such meeting a journalist - correspondent of Istra district newspaper present there approached me to take interview. As soon as in my story I said that I was taken prisoner he at that very moment interrupted the conversation and left me without even trying to observe the rules of politeness.

     Special attention should be drawn to comparison of the situation in which Soviet prisoners of war were, being deprived according to the Stalin's will from trusteeship of the International Red Cross, with the conditions of our allies' prisoners of war. The attitude of German authorities to the prisoners of war of all the countries, except for the USSR, were adjusted by Geneva Convention of 1929 which Stalin refused to sign, having declared: "We have no prisoners of war, they are betrayers". So, Englishmen and Americans, being in captivity, continued to receive monetary support even increased, charged on their accounts in their native countries, the received next military ranks, parcels from home, the Red Cross carried out monetary payments in special exchange camp currency, provided mailing communication, invalids and ill persons were forwarded home through neutral countries.

     The photos given here show, as in the next zones separated by wire fencing, the French drink beer, Englishmen give symphony concert to city dwellers, play football matches and carry on boxing competitions. All this takes place in sight of perishing from hunger and malicious insults Soviet prisoners of war.

     Sad and shame as it may seen to our country, in Germany in many towns there are museums and public organizations publishing historical materials about prisoners of war camps, monuments kept in ideal condition, annually carried out the actions under the motto "Nie Wieder!"  (Never more!). Some significate photos of it are presented here.

     In our country in its territory occupied by fascists, there were prisoners of war camps of special cruelty. In the first years of war invaders considered themselves completely free from any responsibility towards international community for the crimes, you see - " winner is always right", and they were sure in the forthcoming victory. But in Vyazma (camp No. 230) and Smolensk (camp No. 240), Pskov (No. 372) and Luga (camp No. 344) you won't find any memorable marks at the places where tens (if not hundreds) thousand of Soviet soldiers were killed with terrible cruelty.

     My biographic story "Captivity" telling about the things I've survived, concerns only part of all the problem of this little-known or fully unknown part of the history of the Great Patriotic War. The matter is that to the beginning of 1944 when I was taken prisoner, regime in the camps of prisoners in comparison with 1941-1942, was considerably softened. Being afraid of spreading epidemics of dysentery, typhus and tuberculosis among the German population through inevitable contacts between the prisoners of war and the camp staff, camps authorities made baths and sanitary zones, they began to give "ersatz-soap" (slices of some mineral slightly soaped in contact with water), stoves were made in barracks for which fuel was given in minimum quantity. At the same time the food ration remained scanty, fully insufficient to support life, humiliating attitude to prisoners of war as to "under-men"  haven't changed.






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Capitivity. Autobiographic story








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