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POW treatment

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by PzJgr, Oct 24, 2002.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Stemming from another post, why did Germany treat the POWs from western countries better than those from the Soviet Union?
     
  2. Doc Raider

    Doc Raider Member

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    In addition to the above question, I'd like to ask if anyone has ever heard if prisoners from anglo-armies that were jewish, black, etc. were treated any differently than the rest?
     
  3. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Woah. That is an excellent question
     
  4. Bish OBE

    Bish OBE Member

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    As to the first question, the simple answer would be that it was because the Nazis considered the slaves to be sub-human.
     
  5. De Vlaamse Leeuw

    De Vlaamse Leeuw Member

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    There was indeed a big difference between POW's of the Western countries and those of Russia.
    It had something to do with the idea of the Nazi's that the were "Untermenschen"!

    And they also knew that the Germans were treated as bad in Russia. Because Russia never signed the treaty in which a lot of countries promised to treat POW's good.

    About Jews and Blacks in the Allied armies. I don't think that the Germans treated them different than the other POW's!
     
  6. Gibson

    Gibson Member

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    Yes, the USSR never signed the Geneva Convention and her prisoners were subject to very cruel conditions as a result. Germany, although signing it, didnt have to give the Russian POW's the same treatment due to their country not signing.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe this to be the case.
     
  7. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Now we are getting somewhere. In the topic "Wehrmacht's Auschwitz" there was a discussion about Germany neglecting prisoners intentionally or because of conditions. So, was Germany afraid of what the allies would do if their prisoners were mistreated? Was it because of how the Western Allies were treating German prisoners? Was it because of all the signatories to the Geneva Convention? Did the red cross deliver care packages to Russian prisoners?
     
  8. dasreich

    dasreich Member

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    Plain and simple:
    The Russians were the hated bolsheviks. Their soldiers in the eyes of Hitler took up valuable air that Germans could be breathing. And the same goes for the Soviets. After all, the Germans were the fascist beast that must be eradicated.

    On the Western front, warfare was more humane, to a degree anyway. Hitler considered the British aryans. And the Americans were clumped into this category. Add to that the Geneva concention was signed by both parties, and most German higher ups would favor surrender to the Western Allies. Considering all of this, it is not surprising that Germany would want to treat Allied soldiers better.
     
  9. Fraulein

    Fraulein Member

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    I would like to see an veteran of WWII answer this question. Are there any veterans on this site whom can answer?

    I can recommend several books.
    Condemned to Live by Franz Freisch
    Other Losses by James Bacque
     
  10. Bish OBE

    Bish OBE Member

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    I don't think that the act Russia did not sign the convention can be used as an excuse.

    I believe those that sign the convention agree to uphld it whoever they fight Though if this is the case, it possers a question.

    If two countries, like Germany and Russia go to war. Is the country that has signed the convention supposed to uphold it at the risk of charges of war crimes. While the nation that did not is free to do what they want.
     
  11. Deep Web Diver

    Deep Web Diver Member

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    .

    When I read this, I recalled having read about Jewish-American POWs who were transferred from regular POW camps to concentration camps by the Germans. I didn't know anything about black POWs but it seemed likely that black POWs would have been mistreated since Jewish POWs were being mistreated.

    I just ran a couple of searches to see what I could find online on this issue:

    ------------------------------

    http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/wwii/ce50.htm

    US Air Force Museum: Army Air Forces Victims of the Holocaust

    "Almost 36,000 Army Air Forces (AAF) personnel were confined in prisoner of war (POW) camps in Europe. There, under the 1929 Geneva Convention, POWs had certain rights. These rights were not always honored by the Germans, however. Conditions varied widely from camp to camp; officers usually fared better than enlisted men who sometimes faced malnutrition and beatings. The treatment of Jewish POWs ranged from their being ignored or segregated to brutality and even death. Despite their status as POWs, some Jewish and non-Jewish Americans were sent to concentration camps where they were subjected to the horrors of starvation, overwork, no medical attention, beatings, and murder. Some are known to have died at Berga slave labor camp. At least one American airman is thought to have been executed at Dachau and some AAF POWs were sent to the infamous Mauthausen concentration camp where some were put to death. ...

    In late summer and autumn of 1944, 82 AAF and 86 British Commonwealth aviators were captives at Buchenwald. Most had been shot down over France and had made connections with the French Resistance in their effort to return to their units, as they were expected to do. They had received French identification papers and were dressed as civilians to avoid capture. A traitor with the French Underground betrayed them to the Germans and they were captured. As Allied forces prepared to enter Paris, they were evacuated with a large number of political prisoners to Buchenwald in Weimer, Germany. They arrived after a harrowing five-day train ride jammed in boxcars with little food or water. There they were shaved bare and spent the next three weeks without shoes or shelter, sleeping on paving stones. A Canadian aviator described the daily ration as 'a little bowl of soup made from grass or cabbage leaves, and an inch of bread and three little potatoes.' One pilot lost more than 65 pounds during his six weeks there.

    Eventually the POWs and other prisoners were placed in a barracks, 600 men to a building designed for 250. They slept on wooden shelves, five to a bunk, so crowded that no one could turn over until all did at the same time. P-47 pilot Lt. L. C. Beck, Jr. and Royal Air Force Officer P. D. Hemmens died before the airmen were transferred to a POW camp in October-November 1944. There they still faced the hardships of imprisonment, but at least they were free from the horrors of a death camp."

    [​IMG]

    "Pvt. Alvin L. Abrams, one of the Jewish American prisoners segregated at Stalag IX-B POW Camp and sent to Berga concentration camp."

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    http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.jsp?ModuleId=10005479

    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Blacks During The Holocaust

    "... Some African Americans, caught in German-occupied Europe during World War II, also became victims of the Nazi regime. Many, like female jazz artist Valaida Snow, were imprisoned in Axis internment camps for alien nationals. The artist Josef Nassy, living in Belgium, was arrested as an enemy alien and held for seven months in the Beverloo transit camp in German-occupied Belgium. He was later transferred to Germany, where he spent the rest of the war in the Laufen internment camp and its subcamp, Tittmoning, both in Upper Bavaria.

    European and American blacks were also interned in the Nazi concentration camp system. Lionel Romney, a sailor in the U.S. Merchant Marine, was imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Jean Marcel Nicolas, a Haitian national, was incarcerated in the Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau concentration camps in Germany. Jean Voste, an African Belgian, was incarcerated in the Dachau concentration camp. Bayume Mohamed Hussein from Tanganyika (today Tanzania) died in the Sachsenhausen camp, near Berlin.

    Black prisoners of war faced illegal incarceration and mistreatment at the hands of the Nazis, who did not uphold the regulations imposed by the Geneva Convention (international agreement on the conduct of war and the treatment of wounded and captured soldiers). Lieutenant Darwin Nichols, an African American pilot, was incarcerated in a Gestapo prison in Butzbach. Black soldiers of the American, French, and British armies were worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the SS or Gestapo. ..."

    [ 26. October 2002, 03:42 PM: Message edited by: Crapgame ]
     
  12. AndyW

    AndyW Member

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    The USSR signed the " Geneva Convention regarding the treatement of wounded and sick in the field". It did not sign the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of POW's nor the Haague Convetion of 1907. Internally, the USSR had national and military laws dealing with the treatment of POWs. These laws were close to international law.

    On July 17, 1941, the USSR declared via Sweden, that she will treat prisoners according to the Haague Convention, if the Germans treat Soviet POWs accordingly. The German side dismissed that proposal.

    However, even without any international agreement in plce, POW#s were already under protection of the customary rules of war, that means, it was for sure a crime to impose a extermination plan on them.

    The Germans decided very well before the invasion to get rid of some 20 million Soviet people. The POWs, being under perfect control, with military training, all in "fighting" age and believed to be heavily indoctrinized by bolshevism, were perfect, 1st choice victims.

    Consequentely, the Wehrmacht issued orders in advance to take away the common POW rights and called for utmost brutality in the treatment of that people.

    In general, it must be understood that the war in the west was an "ordinary" war, while the war in the East was planned and carried out as a huge war of annilihation and looting.

    Cheers,
     
  13. Sniper

    Sniper Member

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    AndyW has hit the nail on the head here. The war in the East was a war of extermination and expansion. The Russians were considered less than human in most respects and were treated accordingly. It was considered under "Lebensraum" that there would be no room for both Russians and Germans in the same territory.

    Whereas the war in the West was considered a more civilised war, against equals. So the prisoners were treated better. At least in the beginning, as the war progressed and Germany came under constant pressure from bombing etc. the treatment of prisoners degraded.

    Especially as Crapgame has said, African Americans and Jews who were often separated out and badly treated from the start of their imprisonment. I have heard that a lot of French prisoners who were of Jewish or African descent were not released after the fall of France as other French prisoners were, but were shipped off to Germany as slave labour. Can anyone confirm this?

    The Germans considered anyone who was Jewish, or from an ethnic background, etc. beneath the level of animals and whether they were wearing a uniform or not, were to be treated accordingly.

    ____________

    When you march into France, let the last man on the right brush the channel with his sleeve
    - Count Alfred von Schlieffen

    A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic
    - Joseph Stalin
     
  14. Doc Raider

    Doc Raider Member

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    Crapgame-

    Grate stuff - thanks for the research!!! I'd honestly been wondering about that for years!
     
  15. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    I agree. I honestly did not think that POWs were mistreated such as this. I recently discovered that some were used for labor at Mauthausen. That brings me to ask, what were the Germans thinking? Would they not want to have the final solution kept secret? If so, why bring in POWs that may end up repatriated? Hmmmm. :confused:
     
  16. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    Well, A group of Afrika Korps soldiers captured a number of Jewish prisoners at one stage in the campaign (can't remember what nationality). Rommel personally ordered them to be treated just like every other POW. Any man who went against this order was threatened with service on the Russian Front...
     
  17. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    BLOODY HELL-SEE WHAT I MEAN!!!!!
    PRIVATE ALVIN ABRAMS WAS A LAWFUL COMBATANT-JUST BECAUSE HE IS JEWISH HE IS TREATED LIKE THIS...I HATE NAZIS AND EVERYTHING THEY STOOD FOR...
     
  18. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    This was true. Rommel always refused to mistreat all the POWs under his command. And certainly, the war in North Africa was the most human theatre of WWII. Both sides, Axis and the Commonwealth forces always attended the wounded adversaries (not enemies) and even Rommel and Monty liked to salute the other side's soldiers. [​IMG]
     
  19. Deep Web Diver

    Deep Web Diver Member

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    You're welcome Doc.
     
  20. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Hello Fraulein, ask Sapper--he might know as he is a Combat Vet. :D

    PS, I have some news for you and will PM you tomorrow :D
     

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