When were first ww2 German soldiers captured?

I found a info that the Yugoslav royalist guerilla fighters, Chetniks, captured 93 German soldiers on 31. August 1941 during the battle of Loznica city, in which the royalists captured the city and that those 93 soldiers might have been the first German pow’s in Europe, so how true is that?

I have very little knowledge on the France campaign, but the Loznica battle was after the German invasion on USSR started, so perhaps the first German POW’s were actually in the USSR?

You might consider the condor legion in Spain.

Assuming we accept the invasion of Poland as the start of ‘WW2’, then that campaign. There were probably at least a few German prisoners in the opening days or hours. In any large campaign almost no matter how successful there were some prisoners from the winning side, especially among combatants ostensibly willing to surrender and accept surrender as part of their ethical code. And the Poles claimed a significant number, 1,500 prisoners from the German 30th Division alone, in the battles near the Bzura river around September 10 1939.

German casualties in the Polish Campaign:

It’s highly likely that at least some German soldiers were captured during the Polish campaign, but of course they wouldn’t have been in captivity very long. Similarly there would have been Germans taken prisoner during the invasion of France, but most of them would have been liberated before very long.

But not all. For example, the commander of a German paratroop regiment, Oberst Georg Friemel, was taken by the Dutch in May 1940 and almost immediately shipped to England (with some other paratroops captured at the same time). He spent the rest of the war in captivity. Luftwaffe aircrews who were shot down over England during the Battle of Britain in late 1940 became prisoners of war, if they survived. And of course the British were taking prisoners in the North Africa campaign before the invasion of the Soviet Union.

The issue there though would be if post-campaign German figures included German POW’s released at the end of the campaign, who would not longer have been missing, assuming they survived to be released. As mentioned earlier, the Poles claimed to have captured a few 1,000 prisoners just in their counter offensive on the Bzura in the second week of September, 1,500 from just one German division. This seems generally accepted. Anyway there’s no doubt at all the Poles captured some German soldiers. The Germans even made propaganda claims that some were mistreated.

By same token while the active campaign in France only started with the German offensive in May 1940, the ‘Phony War’ period prior to that included a limited French offensive into Germany in September 1939. This made little progress and was soon abandoned by the French, but it seems highly unlikely the operation failed to capture any single German soldier in a forward outpost, and likewise there were some German aircrew shot down over France (and a few over Britain) in the Phony War period, and presumably the usual patrols along the static land front to try to capture opposing soldiers in forward outposts to figure out which particular enemy units manned that particular portion of the line. Not lots of prisoners, but there were surely also German prisoners taken in France in 1939, again presumably released in June 1940 unless they happened to have been transferred to Britain in the interim.

At that time and situation, as soon as fighting began between large forces, at least a few POW’s were inevitable on both sides, almost right away. It wasn’t like recent wars where it was remarkable for the US or Western coalition partners to have any personnel taken prisoner to where their names became well known.

In December 1939, Argentina interned about 1000 German sailors after the Battle of the River Plate, which ended with the Germans scuttling the Graf Spee rather than let the British capture it.

Under neutrality rules at the time, Argentina was supposed to hold the German sailors and prevent them from returning to Germany. Exactly how rigorously Argentina enforced that principle has apparently been a matter of some debate.

However that’s viewed, the British had already directly captured all or part of the crews of five sunken U-boats by then, the first one U-39 on September 14: all 44 crew survived to become prisoners. It’s possible they were the first German POW’s not released till after VE day, though I don’t see why that would be the criterion to answer the original question.

No doubt most if not all German POWs in the Polish Campaign were liberated by the Germans by the end of the campaign; but a few points. One is that they were German POWs in Europe for however short a time, which was what the OP asked. The second is that MIA includes anyone missing, not just prisoners - deserters as well as dead with no body recovered or identified. Hitler gave a figure of 3,400 MIA from the Polish Campaign in a 1939 speech and if accurate means 3,400 men were missing from German armed forces at the conclusion of the campaign. A third and to me the most intriguing point to be made is that a substantial part of the Polish Army retreated through Romania totaling ~120,000 men. If they took any German POWs they might have had with them is a question I don’t know the answer to.

I thought the French didn’t move through the mine fields near the border.

Yes of course missing means missing as of the time the statistic is calculated, including men who late turned up as prisoners, whose bodies were found and identified later, who turned up alive but it wasn’t accurately accounted for, or whose fate remained a permanent mystery. However the 3,400 quoted as missing by the Germans might not include German prisoners released, not missing by the time the stat was calculated or maybe it did include them but we can’t say. So in a word that casualty summary you gave isn’t very useful to determine the answer to the question, which is really what I was saying. :slight_smile: But we know specific accounts of the Poles taking at least a few 1,000 German prisoners in their abortive counter offensive around a week and a half into the campaign, with no reason to believe that claim was entirely false.

The main German defensive line, the West Wall or Siegfried Line, was some miles behind the border in the sector where the French attacked. The French penetrated a few miles into Germany and captured towns, there was enough fighting to cause several 100 total German casualties, though they did not penetrate the West Wall defenses. It again seems unlikely no German soldiers at all in forward outposts near the border were captured, though clearly fewer than in Poland at around the same time, and the first ones probably later than the first ones in Poland by a few days.

:confused: /not snark

Can you restate?

He means that since Vietnam there have been virtually no US prisoners of war, such that the few who were captured became household names (at least briefly). I’m not going to open the Bowe Bergdahl worm-can, but he was indisputably a prisoner of the Taliban for many years. Jessica Lynch was famously captured by the Iraqis in the first few days of the war and later rescued to much fanfare.