WW1 POW Question.

During WW2, Germans that were captured by the Russians faced a terrible fate, probably well-earned by many of them (not all). Few ever made it home alive.

But, what happened to German soldiers held in Russian during WW1?

After all, the Reds siezed power, & were no friends of the Germans in any case.

What happened to the German POWs of WW1?

“Well earned by many of them?” :dubious: :rolleyes: If it was “well earned” there were the Nuremburg trials. The Russians didn’t care how 'well earned" it was.

I suggest you improve your acquaintence with the history of the Eastern Front. Entire villages wiped out, mass exterminations, torture, rape, looting, etc.

Most of which never gets heard in any court. Many of the people who did these things just went home, & nothing was ever heard of it again.

But, you’re right about revenge.

Still, any answers to my OP?

Quite on the contrary. The Communists coming to power was good news for German (and other Central Powers) POWs. Under the Treaty of Brest-Litowsk they were being repatriated while the war was still raging in the West.

If have found a german-language abstract of a doctoral thesis (the thesis itself does not seem to be online), according to which

  • there were 2.2 million Central Powers POWs in Russia
  • they were first held in camps in Siberia and Turkestan
  • from 1916 they were used for agreicultural/forestry/mining work
  • after the Brest-Litovsk peace the POWs in the territory held by the Soviet government were repatriated, but in the territory held by the White Russians (*), i.e. mainly Siberia, they were still held as POWs as the White Russians did not recognize the peace treaty
  • after the civil war the POWs were repatriated; the last ones in 1922.

Also it should be considered that the German military had quite a good working relationship with the Soviet Union in the 1920s, which extended to the USSR hosting clandestine exercises of German troops (that contravened the Versailles Treaty). This seems to indicated that the German military did not think that the German POWs had been egregiously mistreated.

  • not to be confused with the Byelorussians

A big reason for this is that the Germans were instrumental in the Communists coming to power. When the revolution started Lenin was in exile. I believe he was in Switzerland (someone can correct me on this). There was no way Lenin could get back to Russia to participate in the revolution, until the Germans put him on a train and escorted him back home. The Germans thought he was such bad news that they were screwing the Russians. They expected it to happen sooner and not take over 50 years to happen.