Joseph Stalin Studies: What Really Happened to Soviet POWs During (and After) WWII!

Hero of the Soviet Union pilot Mikhail Devyatayev


(English Translation & Research by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD) 

Translator’s Note: After the Nuremberg Trials in late 1946, the US began is anti-Soviet Cold War disinformation campaign in earnest! It took a few years to establish in academia and across the media in the West, but once in-place this re-writing of history took-on a life of its own and still continues to ‘orbit’ the Western mind like a psychic Hailey’s Comet! In late 1991, native Russians were promised lucrative book deal in the West (to replace the revenue lost from the USSR and its Socialist System), if they wrote books in Russian and English ‘confirming’ these US ‘lies’ as being ‘true’ – primarily through the medium of bearing ‘false witness’. All of a sudden, the population of the now ‘former’ Soviet Union was deluged with all kinds of US derived false propaganda and anti-intellectualism, much (if not all) of which could be proven obviously ‘incorrect’ through first-hand experience and the examination of reliable historical documents. The Russian people were not only immediately (materially) impoverished on a massive scale with the collapse of the USSR, but through the infiltration of their social space by US anti-intellectualism, the Russian people also suffered an impoverishment of intellect! Even today, the ‘inverted’ world of US ‘ahistorical’ pseudo academia is ‘defended’ in Russia by a highly vocal (but small) clique of writers who receive large annual pay-outs from the US government and continuous book deals regardless of the stupidity of the subject matter.  Needless to say, Soviet POWs were treated with unbelievable brutality whilst in Nazi German captivity, but by and large were welcomed home and treated with respect in the USSR! After the Nuremberg Trials were over, the US government began the process of absolving the West German State of all blame in the war – as its ‘Nazi’ Army was re-armed and used to confront the USSR! Part of this process was to ‘project’ all the Nazi German War Crimes upon the USSR (as a means to destroy its otherwise good reputation), with Joseph Stalin (the ‘elected’ leader) deemed to be no different than the Adolf Hitler he had so steadfastly confronted! This article – translated from the Russian – puts the record straight! ACW (20.7.2020) 

US Cold War disinformation states that the Soviet POWs ‘suffered’ terribly during WWII (1941-1945) because of Joseph Stalin’s deranged leadership. The US (and their ‘Liberal’ supporters) claim that the Nazi Germans treated the POWs with brutality because Stalin had refused to ‘Sign’ the Geneva Convention (guaranteeing the ‘good’ treatment of POWs), and that when the Soviet POWs returned home, Stalin had them all put into gulags and tortured to death! Joseph Stalin, as the ‘elected’ General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union did not possess this kind of power, and could not have acted in these ways at the expense of the well-being of the Soviet people. This is because he was not a ‘dictator’, but was continuously ‘elected’ into office – such was his popularity amongst the Russian people! What, then, was the reality experienced by the Soviet POWs captured during the Great Patriotic War? 


Shortly before the attack on the Soviet Union (in June, 1941) at a meeting of the leadership of the Wehrmacht (on March 30, 1941), Hitler unequivocally declared: “This is a struggle for extermination. If we do not look at it like this, then, although we will defeat the enemy, in 30 years’ time the Communist Cause will be a danger yet again… ”(Halder F. Voenny diary. Vol. 2. M., 1969. P.430). 

Following these instructions of the Führer, the Commander of the 4th Panzer Group – Erich Göpner – in connection with the upcoming military operations in the East, wrote in a special order of May 2, 1941 that the upcoming war “should pursue the goal of ruining today’s Russia, and therefore it must be waged with unheard of cruelty ”(USSR State Security Agencies in the Great Patriotic War. Vol. 1. On the Eve. Book 2. January 1 – June 21, 1941 M., 1995. P.338). 

One of the manifestations of this “unheard of cruelty” was the mass extermination of our prisoners of war. During the war, the Nazi Germans killed (and murdered) 57% of the captured Soviet troops. For comparison: of the 3,576,300 troops of the German Armed forces captured by the USSR, 442,100 (12.4%) died in captivity, and of the 800,000 troops of the Axis armies on the Soviet-German front (Hungary, Italy, Romania, Finland, Slovakia) – 137,000 (17.2%). 

The Nazi Germans treated prisoners from the states of enlightened (Western) Europe in a completely different way. So, out of 154,700 French soldiers and officers who were in Nazi German captivity in the summer of 1940, 40,000 – or just 2.6% died. 

Who should be responsible for the destruction of our prisoners of war? It would seem that the question is purely rhetorical. Naturally, it was the leadership of the Third Reich – led by Hitler – who issued these criminal orders, but according to US anti-intellectualism, this is not the case! The US Liberals yet again attempt to defy the forces of history and together bleat the name ‘Stalin’!  

What is their evidence? Well, they say, when “Stalin, having declared: “We have no prisoners of war, there are only traitors,” he outlawed millions of people. His refusal to sign the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War and from the contribution of money to the Red Cross – he doomed Soviet people to mass destruction in fascist camps.” (Eve and the beginning of the war: Documents and Materials / Compiled by L. A. Kirshner. L., 1991. p. 39). 

However, let’s not be too lazy and let’s look at the text of the Convention on the Maintenance of Prisoners of War, concluded in Geneva on July 27, 1929: 

Article four. The Power that takes Prisoners Of War is obliged to take care of their maintenance …  

Article eighty-two. The provisions of this Convention shall be respected by the High Contracting Parties in all circumstances. 

If in case of war – if one of the belligerents is not party to the Convention – nevertheless, its provisions remain binding on all belligerents who have signed the convention.” (Prisoners Of War in the USSR. 1939-1956. Documents and Materials. M., 2000. P.1012, 1024-1025). 

As you can see, from the text of the Geneva Convention, it absolutely clearly follows that, firstly, the costs of maintaining Prisoners Of War is borne by the State that captures them. Secondly, a State that has acceded to the Convention is obliged to comply with it, regardless of whether its adversary has signed the Convention. Germany had already signed the Geneva Convention. 

It must be said that the Hitler leadership perfectly understood this legal point, therefore, in order to substantiate their criminal actions, they launched standard propaganda clichés. From the order on the treatment of Soviet Prisoners Of War in all POW Camps dated September 8, 1941: 

“Bolshevism is the mortal enemy of National Socialist Germany. For the first time, a German soldier faces an adversary trained not only militarily, but also politically, in the spirit of destructive Bolshevism. The fight against National Socialism is in his blood. He leads it with all the means at his disposal: sabotage, corrupting propaganda, arson and murder. Therefore, the Bolshevik soldier hereby loses all right to claim fair treatment (as an honest soldier) in accordance with the Geneva Agreements.” (USSR State Security Agencies in the Great Patriotic War. Vol. 2. Start. Book 2. September 1 – December 31, 1941. M., 2000 P. 507). 


Publicists who spit on the past of our country amicably paint a heart-breaking picture of how former Soviet soldiers – freed from Nazi German Concentration Camps – almost all went to the Gulag camps, or at least received fines: 

“And after the war I was shocked by the ferocity towards the prisoners. For what? From Hitler’s Death Camps to Stalin’s Concentration Camps. Only Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov tried to intercede three times on behalf of unfortunate people, but in vain. He, himself, eventually fell into disgrace.” (Yakovlev A. N. Zhirinovsky and other” patriots “in bold quotation marks // Izvestia. April 25, 1995. No. 76 (24435). P.5). 

In fact, elementary common sense dictates that Servicemen who have returned from captivity should be subject to verification by Counter-Intelligence Agencies – if only because there are obviously a number of enemy agents among them. The Nazi Germans actively used this channel to send their agents. Here is what the head of the Sixth Directorate of the RSHA, Brigadeführer SS Walter Schellenberg wrote in his memoirs: 

“Thousands of Russians were selected in POW Camps, who, after training, were parachuted back into Russian territory (as Nazi spies). Their main task, along with the transmission of current information, was the political corruption of the population and sabotage. Other groups were intended to fight the Partisans, for which they were sent as friendly ‘Russian’ until ordered to act against the Partisans. In order to achieve success as soon as possible, we began to recruit volunteers from among the Russian POWs right in the front line “(Schellenberg V. Memoirs / Translated from German. M., 1991. P.215). 

Thus, the creation at the end of 1941 – by Order of the People’s Commissar of Defense No. 0521 of Filtration Camps – to check those released from captivity as an urgent need. Not only former POWs were tested in these special camps. The contingent received there was divided into three accounting groups: 

1st — prisoners of war and encirclements; 2nd — rank-and-file police officers, village heads and other civilians suspected of treasonous activities; 3rd — civilians of draft age who lived in the territory occupied by the enemy. But maybe, from the Filtration Camps, the former prisoners were really driven en masse to the Gulags? No. This is not true. Let’s analyse the archived data published on this subject: 

“Certificate on the progress of the verification of second-hand encircled persons and second-hand POWs as of October 1, 1944.  

1. To check the former Red Army Servicemen who are in captivity or surrounded by the enemy, by decision of the State Defense Committee # 1069ss of 27. XII-41, special NKVD camps were created. Inspection of the Red Army Servicemen in special camps is carried out by the Smersh Counter-Intelligence departments of the NKO at the NKVD special camps (at the time of the decision these were Special Departments). A total of 354,592 Red Army soldiers, (including 50,441 Red Army Officers) went through special camps of former Red Army Servicemen (captured through encirclement) were released from captivity. 

2. Of these, the following have been verified and transmitted: a) to the Red Army 249,416 people. 
including: military units (as registered through military registration) enlisted Offices 231,034 of them – Officers 27,042 – associated with the formation of assault battalions 1,838 of them – officers 16,163 b) in industry according to the regulations of the GKOKO 30,749 including 29 officers c) for the formation of escort troops and the protection of special camps 59,24 3. Arrested by “Smersh” authorities 11,556 of them – those confirmed to be Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence Agents of the Nazi German enemy – 2,083 – of them – officers (found guilty of various other crimes) 12,844. Departed for various reasons to hospitals 5,347 (5 died). Are in the special camps of the NKVD of the USSR in verification 51,601 including 5,657 officers 

From the number of officers remaining in the camps of the NKVD of the USSR in October, 4 assault battalions of 920 people each are formed.” (Zemskov V. N. GULAG (historical and sociological aspect) // Sociological Studies. 1991. No. 7. P.4-5).  

So, the fate of former POWs who passed the test before October 1, 1944, is distributed as follows:  


To military units (through military registration) and enlistment offices: 231,034 people (76.25%) formed into assault battalions: 18,382 people (6.07%) industry: 30,749 people (1.96%) into the escort troops: 5,924 people (0.15%) 11,556 arrested: people (3.81%) in hospitals, infirmaries, died: 5,347 people (1.76%) Total passed verification: 302,992 people (100%). 

Thus, as can be seen from the cited certificate, over 95% (or nineteen out of every twenty) former Red Army POWs successfully passed the test among ordinary (and sergeant) personnel. 

The situation was somewhat different with the Red Army Officers who were held in captivity. Of these, less than 3% were arrested, but from the summer of 1943 until the fall of 1944, a significant proportion were sent as soldiers and sergeants to assault (criminal) battalions. And this is quite understandable and justified – there is more of a demand for loyalty and leadership from the Red Army Officer than from the ordinary Red Army soldier. 

In addition, it should be borne in mind that Officers who fell into Penal Battalions (and atoned for their guilt) were reinstated in their rank. For example, the 1st and 2nd assault battalions, formed by August 25, 1943, within two months of fighting showed their best side and were disbanded by order of the NKVD. The fighters of these units were restored in their rights, including Officers, and then sent to fight further as part of the Red Army. 

And in November 1944, the GKO adopted a resolution according to which the released POWs (and Soviet citizens of draft age) were sent directly to the reserve military units until the end of the war, bypassing the special camps. Among them were more than 83,000 Officers. Of these, after verification 56,160 people were dismissed from the Red Army, more than 10,000 were sent to the Red Army, 1,567 were deprived of Officer ranks and demoted to rank-and-file, 15,241 were transferred to rank-and-file and sergeant (Shabaev A.A. Losses of Officers of the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War (Military Historical Archive. 1998. No. 3. P.180). 

So, after acquaintance with facts, including those published by notorious anti-Stalinists, the myth of the tragic fate of the liberated Soviet prisoners of war bursts like a soap bubble. In fact, until the end of the war, the overwhelming majority (over 90%) of Soviet troops released from Nazi German captivity, after necessary verification in the NKVD special camps, returned to duty or were sent to work in industry. A small number (about 4%) were arrested and about the same issued fines. 

Regarding the special camps of the NKVD, it is quite popular among myth-makers to make the assertion that the liberated Soviet POWs in the USSR were treated worse than when held by the Nazi Germans. For example, here is what M writes: 

I. Semiryaga: “If we talk about the paradox in relation to the position of Stalin and his entourage in relation to POWs, then it consisted in the fact that the Soviet leadership was more humane towards POWs of the enemy than to their own citizens who returned from enemy captivity” (Semiryaga M. I. Prison Empire of Nazism and its collapse. M., 1991. S. 131). 

Meanwhile, in order to determine who was more and who was less humane, there is such a simple and obvious indicator as mortality. Here are the data for July-December 1944 from the journal of statistical registration of the presence and movement of the contingent in the special camps of the NKVD of the USSR, where the released Soviet POWs arrived (GARF. F.R.-9408s. Op.1s. D.13. L.1-18). 

Now let’s see what the mortality of the Germans and their allies in our captivity was. Here are the data from the reference of L.P. Beria addressed to I.V. Stalin and V.M. Molotov on the number of POWs held in the NKVD camps, their physical condition and the distribution of work for the People’s Commissariats. According to this document, on December 5, 1944, 680,921 enemy troops were captured. At the same time, in the last week of November, 6,017 people died in POWs camps and 2,176 people in hospitals (Prisoners of War in the USSR. 1939-1956. Documents and Materials … S.591-592). That is, in ten days 8,193 prisoners died, or 1.2%. 

For comparison: in the 15 special camps of the NKVD, for which the aforementioned statistical journal contains data for the last week of November, out of 120,000 tested and released Soviet POWs and other contingents (there were 123,765 there at the beginning of the last week and 119 at the end of the week 859) only 41 people died (GARF. F.R.-9408s. Op. 1s. D.13. L.1-18) or 0.03%. However, you should not think that the NKVD specifically sought to kill more captive Germans, Romanians, Italians (and other citizens of the then united Europe, who came to introduce barbarian Russia to Western civilization). 

As noted in the same reference Beria: “In October and November with. In the camps, 97,000 POWs arrived, mainly from the enemy forces encircled in the Chisinau region. More than half of them were exhausted and sick. Despite measures for their recovery, the mortality rate of this composition of POWs in October and November sharply increased.” (Prisoners of war in the USSR. 1939-1956. Documents and materials … P.592). 

However, the liberated Soviet POWs did not enter the special camps of the NKVD from sanatoriums either. Nevertheless, mortality among them was ten times less. It is no less interesting to compare the mortality rate of liberated Soviet POWs held in special camps of the NKVD with the mortality rate of prisoners in Soviet prisons and camps. In 1944, it amounted to 8.84% in the Gulag camps and 3.77% in prisons. 

I think that now we can fully appreciate the “conscientiousness” of those authors who equate the processes in the NKVD special camps with imprisonment in the GULAG, as, for example, a certain Mark Steinberg did in his article published in Independent Military Review: “Over One and a Half millions men in a country that lost a significant part of this particular component of their demography were isolated in so-called filtration centres. The conditions in them did not differ from the Gulag and a considerable part of those “processed” perished.” (Steinberg M. When the Words “prisoner of war” sounds proudly // Correspondent Military Review. January 14-20, 2005. No. 1 (409). P.8). 


A striking example of the fate of a Soviet officer who returned from German captivity is the story of fighter pilot Vladimir Dmitrievich Lavrinenkov. On May 1, 1943 he was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. On August 23, 1943, senior lieutenant Lavrinenkov rammed his aeroplane into a German plane, after which he was forced to parachute over the territory occupied by the enemy, and was captured. He was sent to Berlin for interrogation, but along the way he, along with another pilot, Viktor Karyukin, jumped out of the train at full speed at night and disappeared. Making their way to the front line, the pilots stumbled upon a partisan detachment named after V.I. Chapaev, operating in the area of ​​Pereyaslav, and joined it. 

In one of the battles, Viktor Karyukin died. Lavrinenkov, however, fought in a partisan detachment for three months, and after the arrival of the Red Army he returned to his regiment. Despite the stereotypes of anti-Stalinist propaganda, he was not subjected to any repression. He was awarded another military rank, and on July 1, 1944, Lavrinenkov became twice Hero of the Soviet Union. 

His flight so impressed the Germans that subsequently they composed the most incredible legends about the brave pilot. It was said that once, having shot down an enemy aircraft, Lavrinenkov landed, grabbed a German pilot who jumped with a parachute and strangled him. Of course, there really was nothing like this nonsense. 

Subsequently, Vladimir Dmitrievich was also not subjected to any harassment for his stay in captivity. In 1948 he graduated from the MV Frunze Military Academy, in 1954 – from the Voroshilov Higher Military Academy and ended his career as a Colonel General of Aviation. 

The fate of another pilot who was in German captivity, Mikhail Petrovich Devyatayev, is just as indicative. On July 13, 1944, Senior Lieutenant Devyatayev was shot down and captured. After a while, he ended up in a concentration camp on the island of Usedom. 

February 8, 1945 a group of ten Soviet POWs made a daring escape, capturing a German bomber Heinkel 111. After two hours of flight, the plane, piloted by Devyatayev, landed at the disposal of Soviet troops. 

Talking about the exploits of Devyatayev, the current media necessarily adds that having returned to the USSR, he allegedly ended up in the Gulag and was released only after the death of Stalin. Here is what Devyatayev himself says about this: 

– Mikhail Petrovich, is it true that you have been sitting for fifteen years after escaping from captivity?” – sometimes they ask me a question. – What? Such rumours have spawned years of silence. No, it is false. I did not sit in prison. It’s time to dispel these rumours. But immediately after the escape, they did not particularly admire me, my friends in the crew. Rather the opposite. We underwent a rather severe check. Long and humiliating.” (Devyatayev MP Escape from Hell. Kazan, 2000, pp. 158-159). 

And indeed, having passed the test, in November 1945, Senior Lieutenant Devyatayev was transferred to the reserve. From 1946 he worked at the Kazan river port. Unfortunately, Devyatayev’s feat really was not duly appreciated in due time. Only on August 15, 1957 he was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. However, he was not subjected to repression. 


After the Great Patriotic War, the mass release of Soviet POWs and civilians who had been driven into forced labour in Germany (and other countries) began. According to the Directive of Headquarters No. 11086 (of May 11, 1945), one hundred camps were organized by the People’s Commissariat of Defense to receive repatriated Soviet citizens liberated by the Allied troops. In addition, there were forty-six assembly points for the reception of Soviet citizens liberated by the Red Army. 

On May 22, 1945, the State Defense Committee adopted a resolution in which, on the initiative of L.P. Beria, a 10-day deadline for registration and verification of repatriates was established, after which civilians were to be sent to their place of permanent residence, and military men to open units. However, due to the massive influx of repatriates, the 10-day period was unrealistic and was increased from one to two months. 

As an example, consider the work of the Shakhtinsky regarding the test and filtration camp No. 048. According to the report of the acting head of the PFL department No. 048, Lt. Col. Raiberg, about the presence and movement of special forces for the period from January 1 to August 1, 1945, the results of the verification of former POWs in the camp were as follows: Of the 44 inspected officers, 28 (63.6%) passed the test successfully, 532 (96.9%) of the 549 sergeants, and 3,088 (98.6%) of the 3,131 privates. On the whole, out of 3,724 POWs, 3,648 (98.0%) successfully passed the test (GARF. F. R.-9408s. Op. 1s. D. 18. L. 2-2ob.). 

But similar information from the report of Lieutenant Colonel Raiberg about the presence and movement of the special contingent for the period from August 1, 1945 to January 1, 1946: of the 54 checked officers, 48 (88.9%) were tested safely, 359 of 404 sergeants (88, 9%), out of 1,717 privates – 1,512 (88.1%). On the whole, out of 2,175 prisoners of war, 1,919 (88.2%) passed the test successfully (Ibid. L. 3-3ob.). 

The final results of the verification of Soviet POWs and civilians released after the war are as follows. By March 1, 1946, 4,199,488 Soviet citizens (2,660,013 civilians and 1,539,475 POWs) were repatriated, of which 1,846,802 came from the zones of operation of Soviet troops abroad and 2,352,686 were received from Anglo-Americans and arrived from others. countries (Zemskov V. N. Repatriation of Soviet citizens and their further fate (1944-1956) // Sociological research. 1995. No. 6. P.6). 

Thus, only 14.69% of POWs released after the end of the war were repressed as ‘traitors’. As a rule, these were the Vlasovites and other accomplices of the invaders. So, according to the instructions available to the heads of the inspection bodies, from among the repatriates they were subject to – the leadership and command staff of the police, “People’s Guard”, “People’s Militia”, “Russian Liberation Army”, National Legions and other similar organizations; – rank-and-file police officers and rank-and-file members of the listed organizations who took part in punitive expeditions or were active in the performance of their duties; arrest and trial: 

– former soldiers of the Red Army who voluntarily went over to the side of the enemy; – burgomasters, major fascist officials, employees of the Gestapo and other German punitive and intelligence agencies; – village elders who were active accomplices of the occupiers. 

What was the further fate of these “freedom fighters” who fell into the hands of the NKVD? Most of them were said to deserve the most severe punishment, but in connection with the victory over Germany, the Soviet government showed leniency to them, exempting them from criminal responsibility for treason, and limiting themselves to sending them to a special settlement for a period of six years. 

Such a manifestation of humanism came as a complete surprise to the Nazi accomplices. Here is a typical episode. On November 6, 1944, two British ships arrived in Murmansk, carrying 9,907 former Soviet Servicemen who had fought in the ranks of the Nazi German Army against the Anglo-American troops (who had captured by them).  

According to article 193-22 of the then Criminal Code of the RSFSR: “Unauthorized abandonment of the battlefield during a battle, surrender, not caused by a combat situation, or refusal to use weapons during a battle, as well as a transition to the side of the enemy, entail – the highest measure of social protection with confiscation of property.” 

Therefore, many of these “passengers” expected to be shot at once on the Murmansk pier. However, the official Soviet representatives explained that the Soviet government – following a direct request issued by Joseph Stalin – had forgiven them! They would not be shot, and were hereby generally exempted from criminal prosecution for treason!  

For more than a year, these people were tested in a special NKVD camp, and then they were sent to a 6-year special settlement. In 1952, most of them were released, and their profiles did not contain any convictions, and the time they worked in the special settlement was counted in their seniority. 

Here is a typical testimony of the writer and ethnographer EG Nilov living in the Pudozh region of Karelia: “The Vlasovites were brought to our region together with the German POWs and placed in the same camp locations. Their status was strange – neither POWs, nor criminal prisoners. But there was some kind of fault behind them. In particular, in the documents of one resident of Pudozh, it was written: “Sent to a special settlement for a period of 6 years for serving in the (Nazi) German Army from 1943 to 1944 as a private …” But they lived in their barracks, outside the camp zones, walked freely, without an escort.” (Nilov EG Camp No. 447 // North. 1995. No. 4-5. P.141). 

In total in 1946-1947. 148,079 Vlasovites and other accomplices of the occupiers entered the special settlements. On January 1, 1953, 56,746 Vlasovites remained in the special settlement, 93,446 were released in 1951-1952. upon completion of the term. As for the accomplices of the invaders, who have stained themselves with specific crimes, they were sent to the gulag camps, making up a worthy company there for Solzhenitsyn. 

A couple of words should be said about former Soviet POWs enrolled in labour battalions. Many unscrupulous researchers and publicists include them in the category of repressed. Meanwhile, this is completely wrong. In 1945, after the dismissal of the Red Army men of those ages to whom the demobilization order was applied, the privates and sergeants of the respective ages were also released to their homes. 

It is quite natural and fair that the rest of the POWs, whose peers continued to serve in the Red Army, should have been reinstated into military service. However, the war was already over, and now the country needed workers, not soldiers. Therefore, in accordance with the GKO decree of August 18, 1945, some of them were enlisted in workers’ battalions. 

By the Directive of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR of July 12, 1946, these battalions, which were analogous to modern construction battalions, were disbanded, and their personnel received the status of “transferred to permanent cadres of industry.” By the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR dated September 30, 1946, the current labour legislation was fully extended to them, as well as all the rights and benefits that were enjoyed by workers and employees of the relevant enterprises and construction projects. They retained the status of full citizens of the USSR, but without the right to leave the place of work established by the State. 

In 1946-1948. servicemen of a number of ages were demobilized from the Soviet Army. Accordingly, their peers, previously enrolled in the workers’ battalions, received permission to return to the places where they lived before the war. Let’s summarize. As we could see, less than 10% of prisoners of war released during the war were repressed, less than 15% of those released after the war, and most of the repressed deserved their fate. There were also innocent victims, but this was an exception to the rule, and by no means the rule. 


Since Khrushchev’s times, Varlam Shalamov’s story “The Last Battle of Major Pugachev” has firmly entered the folklore of the accusers of Stalinism. Inspired by this exciting plot, director Vladimir Fatyanov even decided to make a feature film based on it: 

“Vladimir Fatyanov is making a film based on Shalamov’s stories. There were many people like the hero of Igor Lifanov, who fought with the German invaders, who went through German captivity, who returned to their homeland and were convicted by a tribunal to stay in Stalin’s camps … About them a new film directed by Vladimir Fatyanov “The Last Battle of Major Pugachev.” The script is based on Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales. Igor Volkov, Victor Molchan, Galina Bokashevskaya are also involved in the film “(The last fight of Igor Lifanov // Panorama of TV Petersburg. No. 10 (606). 2005. P.4). As a result, Fatyanov’s film was released by May 9, 2005. So, to speak, one more tub of slops for the Victory Anniversary. 

As we have already seen, the bulk of the Soviet troops released from captivity successfully passed the test. But even those who were arrested by the NKVD, for the most part escaped with exile. To get to Kolyma, it was necessary to do something serious, to stain oneself with specific crimes in the service of the Nazis. The prototypes of Shalamov’s “heroes” were no exception to this rule. 

Alexander Biryukov spoke about what the “feat of Major Pugachev” actually looked like in the television show “Steps of Victory”, shown on Magadan television on September 5, 1995. 

It turns out that this did in fact did take place. They fled, having previously strangled the guard of the watch. In skirmishes with the soldiers pursuing them, several more people were killed. Indeed, of the twelve “heroes”, ten were former military men: seven people – Vlasov, who escaped capital punishment only because after the war the death penalty was abolished in the USSR. Two – policemen who voluntarily went to the service of the Germans (one of them rose to the rank of chief of the village police), they avoided execution or noose for the same reason. And only one 
– a former naval officer who had two criminal convictions before the war and was sent to a camp for the murder of a policeman under aggravated circumstances. 

At the same time, eleven out of twelve were related to the camp administration: a workman, a cook, etc. A characteristic detail: when the gates of the “zone” were wide open, out of 450 prisoners, no one else followed the fugitives. Another telling fact. In the course of the chase, nine bandits were killed, three survivors were returned to the camp, from where, years later, but even before the end of their term, they were released. Then, quite possibly, they told their grandchildren about how innocently they suffered during the years of the “personality cult”. 

Russian Language Reference:

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