The POWs were employed as forced labor in the Soviet wartime economy and post-war reconstruction. By 1950 almost all surviving POWs had been released, with the last prisoner returning from the USSR in 1956.
Soviet authorities deported German civilians from Germany and Eastern Europe to the USSR after World War II as forced laborers, while ethnic Germans living in the USSR were deported during World War II and conscripted for forced labor.
Held by the Nazis to be racially and politically inferior, they were starved and brutalised. The appalling suffering of these POWs was witnessed by British and Commonwealth prisoners held in separate compounds. At Stalag VIIIB alone, in Lamsdorf, eastern Germany, over 40,000 Russians perished.
After World War II, German prisoners were taken back to Europe as part of a reparations agreement. They were forced into harsh labor camps. Many prisoners did make it home in 18 to 24 months, Lazarus said. But Russian camps were among the most brutal, and some of their German POWs didn't return home until 1953.
The Soviet government kept roughly 1.5 million German POWs in forced-labor camps after the end of World War II through 1956.
Without a doubt Japan, although USSR comes close in 2nd place, and Germany on the Eastern Front probably tied with the Russians.
Viktor Zemskov estimated Soviet POW deaths at 2.3 million; he published statistics that put Soviet POW losses at 2,471,000 (5,734,000 were captured, 821,000 were released for German military service, 72,000 escaped and 2,371,000 liberated ).
Russians also point to the fact that Soviet forces killed more German soldiers than their Western counterparts, accounting for 76 percent of Germany's military dead.
It is believed that about 1 percent of Germans did stay, and an unknown percentage later came back to the United States, largely because of poor employment prospects in the immediate postwar Germany.
After Germany's surrender in May 1945, millions of German soldiers remained prisoners of war. In France, their internment lasted a particularly long time. But, for some former soldiers, it was a path to rehabilitation.
Eventually, they relented and put tens of thousands of enemy prisoners to work, assigning them to canneries and mills, to farms to harvest wheat or pick asparagus, and just about any other place they were needed and could work with minimum security. About 12,000 POWs were held in camps in Nebraska.
The reasons for the Japanese behaving as they did were complex. The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) indoctrinated its soldiers to believe that surrender was dishonourable. POWs were therefore thought to be unworthy of respect. The IJA also relied on physical punishment to discipline its own troops.
Prisoners were routinely beaten, starved and abused and forced to work in mines and war-related factories in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. Of the 27,000 Americans taken prisoner by the Japanese, a shocking 40 percent died in captivity, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service.
In terms of total numbers, the Soviet Union bore an incredible brunt of casualties during WWII. An estimated 16,825,000 people died in the war, over 15% of its population.
Soviet soldiers often engaged in plunder, rape and other crimes against the Poles, causing the population to fear and hate the regime. Soldiers of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) were persecuted and imprisoned by Russian forces as a matter of course. Most victims were deported to the gulags in the Donetsk region.
It is the face of a German girl, Sally Miller, who disappeared twenty-five years earlier. But the young woman is property, the slave of a nearby cabaret owner. She has no memory of a "white" past. Yet her resemblance to her mother is striking, and she bears two telltale birthmarks.
SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Otto Skorzeny was one of the most celebrated and feared commandos of World War II. Daring operations such as the rescue of Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and missions behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge made him known as “the most dangerous man in Europe.”
The U.S. military executed 14 Germans after the war for murdering other prisoners in three incidents. Eight others served time in prison in two separate incidents.
Prisoners were usually housed in one-storey wooden barracks which contained bunk beds (two or three high) and a charcoal burning stove in the middle of the room. Prisoners were generally given two meals a day – thin soup and black bread. Needless to say hunger was a feature of most prisoners' lives.
Some 363,000 German soldiers died in Soviet captivity.
No. The Soviets in WWII simply could not have withstood more casualties than it suffered in fact. Even the USSR was running out of human breasts to place before German machine guns.
Although the United States played the dominant role, all three major Allied countries were necessary to victory in Europe. The most important contribution made by Britain was to survive Hitler's onslaught in 1940. Had the British failed to hold off the Nazis, the Second World War would have taken a far different turn.
During the Vietnam War Monika Schwinn, a German nurse, was held captive for three and a half years - at one time the only woman prisoner at the "Hanoi Hilton". The following missionaries were POWs: Evelyn Anderson, captured and later burned to death in Kengkok, Laos, 1972.
It was 74-year-old Andras Toma, a Hungarian who had fought with the Axis powers against the Soviet Union during World War II. He would be the last World War II POW released from captivity.
After weeks of desperate fighting 100,000 surviving Germans went into Russian captivity. Six thousand survived, returning to Germany after the war. Of them, 35 are still alive today. We visited ten of these veterans, to trace the memories of the battle in their faces and voices.