Everybody remembers the words of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin: “We do not have prisoners of war. We have betrayers only!” It is a biting remark that can be remembered forever. The words concerned the lives of more than five million soldiers of the Soviet Army who had been captured by the fascists during the second world war. Seventy-five percent of them (about 3.5 million of people) were buried in Poland, Germany, Slovakia, almost in every country of the world. These people should have been treated differently. They may be, or better to say, should be, considered martyrs. However, the captives were treated the way Stalin himself treated them. In addition, real soldiers of WWII always share the same opinion. One of my acquaintances, a front-line soldier, said every time when we spoke about captives: “I could have given myself up hundred times, but I did not. Why? Each of us had a choice.”
However, it is a question of whether it was right the way history so many times reacted according to the desires of the ruling regime.
About two million Soviet soldiers were captured by the fascists in 1941. Almost the whole of the regular army stationed at the western borders at that time was either destroyed in bloody battles or captured. Together with Joseph Stalin’s captured elder son, Lieutenant Yakov Dzhugashvili was shell-shocked and taken prisoner unconscious. He managed to conceal at first who his father was, but one of the prisoners betrayed him. In 1943, the fascists wanted to exchange Yakov Dzhugashvili for German Field-Marshal Paulus, who had been taken prisoner by the Soviet army. However, Joseph Stalin was consistent and uncompromising: “I will not exchange lieutenants for field marshals!” Later, Stalin’s son Yakov was shot and flung on barbed wire and burnt by the high-tension current in the concentration camp of Mauthausen.
Last year, British intelligence declassified some of its documents that pertained to the Second World War. Surprising, and sometimes even striking, documents have been brought to light. Historians from different countries study the documents now.
Even the provisional and rather superficial examination has revealed sensational results that have provide a new view on the whole history of the second world war. It turned out that, already in September 1941, an uncompromising Stalin appealed to Hitler for observance of the Hague convention on prisoners. However, Hitler did not allow the appeal for two reasons. First, in August 1941, over 900 Soviet captives were killed in the concentration camp of Auschwitz (it is better known as Ozwizcim) during the fascists’ tests of the Cyclone-2 toxic gas. Second, Germany was not able to keep such great amount of captives (over two million only in 1941)and to lodge and feed them. The captives were dying by thousands. That is why the fascists did not wish to bind themselves by international commitments regarding them. In addition, the fascists expected a victory over Russia to be rather soon.
Therefore, Joseph Stalin was not able to influence the situation anyhow. His follower, Nikita Khruschev shifted the blame for the fate of the captured Soviet soldiers on Stalin. Khuschev’s objective was to make a villain of Stalin in the eyes of the Soviet people, for he had no merits of his own before the state.
Andrey Cherkassov PRAVDA.Ru Volgograd
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/12/36929.html