Re: Soldiers of Misfortune. Abandoned US POWs sent from nazi camps to the soviet gulags.
- From: "Geoffrey Sinclair" <gsinclairnb@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2011 03:05:09 +1100
"Zulu" <zulu@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
Repatriation - The Dark Side of World War II, Part 6
by Jacob G. Hornberger, August 1995
The U.S. government's cry to the American people during recent wars has
been: "Support the troops." A person might disagree with the war itself.
Or the president may have failed to secure the constitutionally required
congressional declaration of war. But, the government says, put all
objections aside once the shooting starts. What matters then is that the
people support the troops. The strategy is always effective in diminishing
opposition to the war.
Not surprising people start to worry about the people in harms way.
Unfortunately, however, the U.S. government has not always followed its
own exhortation. Sometimes, not only has it failed to support its own
troops, it has actually knowingly and deliberately abandoned them to
imprisonment and death. The best example of this is what happened to
American soldiers who had been captured by the Nazis and who were
"liberated" by Russian forces at the end of World War II. The sordid tale
of how the U.S. government failed to support its own troops is detailed in
a shocking book published in 1992 entitled Soldiers of Misfortune:
Washington's Secret Betrayal of American POWs in the Soviet Union by James
D. Sanders, Mark A. Sauter, and R. Cort Kirkwood.
Essentially when it comes to WWII the authors have a problem that
almost all the western allied MIA in Europe have to end up in Soviet
control to obtain their tens of thousands of allied prisoners in the Gulag.
They have to do this after being documented prisoners of the Nazis.
For the US Army forces in the ETO they record, from June 1944 to the
end of the war, 12,056 men classified as MIA who were later returned to
duty and 1,075 men who were classified as MIA then as dead.
Along with 56,646 men recorded as captured, returned to duty.
The authors need to find about 20 or so thousand Americans to end up
in the Soviet hands in perpetuity.
On the Eastern Front, German forces had taken hundreds of thousands of
Russians as prisoners.
Actually millions and many of them died in German custody. Apart from
the men who were released to serve in the German forces the Germans
held about 1.6 million Soviet personnel prisoner in January 1945.
On the Western Front, they had taken Americans, British, and Commonwealth
prisoners. The prisoners were incarcerated in German POW camps inside
As the Allied forces invaded Germany from the west, they liberated the
German POW camps in their sector of operations. These camps included
Russian, American, and British prisoners. As the Russian forces invaded
from the east, they liberated camps that, again, contained Allied
Quite naturally, the Americans and British soldiers held captive in the
Russian zone wanted to return quickly to their own forces. But such was
not the case with Russian prisoners. Their attitude toward returning to
their homeland was exactly the opposite. Many of them hated the communist
system. More important, all of them feared what Stalin and the communists
would do to them for having been taken captive by the Germans.
And many of them feared about how their time in the German army would
look to Soviet authorities.
At Yalta, Roosevelt and Churchill entered into a secret agreement with
Stalin that required the U.S. and Great Britain to forcibly return the
Russian prisoners to the clutches of Joseph Stalin.
Actually not secret, the prisoner exchanges were expected. What the
western allies then found was the greater reluctance of Soviet men to
return to the USSR.
Over a million Russians were returned against their will, and most of them
were either immediately killed or sent to the gulag, where many of them
later died. (See Part 3 of this series.)
By the time the war ended, however, political events were shifting
dramatically. Throughout the war, the U.S. government had taught the
American people to hate not simply the Nazi regime but the German people,
Strangely enough the German people seemed happy to end up as the
master race. Most countries that expand seem to find their population
agreeing with the extra power and wealth.
Thus, for example, when thousands of defenseless women, children, and
refugees were firebombed at Dresden by Allied forces, the American people,
by and large, saw nothing wrong with this.
Since the American people cold not have known about Dresden for
months after it happened, beyond Nazi propaganda, it is had to imagine
they had any thought on it at all in mid 1945. Since Dresden ended up
in Soviet control checking out what happened was even harder.
Also I note the people of Dresden had defences, and men were killed
there as well.
Since Germany and the German people - not simply the Nazi regime - were
trying to conquer the world, Americans believed, there was nothing wrong
with killing them all.
My but we have an overstatement, the killing of all Germans was
not on the US agenda at any level.
And amazingly enough Hitler going out in a tank alone was not going to
do much conquering, that required lots of German support.
Throughout the war, through his highly effective propaganda machinery,
Roosevelt also taught Americans to view the Soviet communists as friends
and allies of the American people.
Strangely enough at the time they were allies and usually friends.
Hitler and Churchill shared a different perspective about the communists.
They both viewed Stalin and his regime as a monumental threat to world
peace and security.
Ah yes, try Hitler regarded the Soviets as an ideological enemy who
had to be destroyed and was not such a big threat, otherwise the invasion
would not have happened. It was going to be a campaign of months.
Churchill did not trust the communists, not the same thing as monumental
threat to peace and security. The Soviets had shown significant weaknesses
in for example the winter war.
Seems to be the new fashion, try and make Hitler and Churchill agree
with each other.
Why is all this important? Because it had enormous consequences that
resulted in the suffering and death of millions of innocent people,
including the American and British POWs "liberated" by Stalin's forces.
Ah wall to wall fiction.
Roosevelt had insisted that only an "unconditional" surrender of German
forces would be acceptable to the U.S.
Below we have Stalin the evil man, untrusting, yet apparently the idea that
unconditional surrender was a sign to Stalin no deals would be done is
ignored. After all Stalin could do deals easier than FDR.
The idea here is the Nazis would have done deals with the west but
never ever with the Soviet Union.
The result of this unusual demand was not only that German forces fought
harder, thereby prolonging the war,
I see, now please tell us all how many extra days is the war supposed to
have lasted because of the harder fighting. The drives into Germany were
heavily supply constrained in 1944.
Amazing if the Germans wanted to surrender the allied armies were in
France from June 1944 and Italy from September 1943, they were quite
able to accept prisoners.
but also that the Soviet Union ultimately took control over Eastern Europe
and East Germany.
I am still waiting to see the plan that has the Red Army still on 1938
Soviet soil as the western allies occupy say Warsaw.
Recall that in World War I, the Kaiser abdicated near the end of the war
as a condition of peace.
Try the revolution in Germany, coming from the population, meant he had
little support in Germany before we talk allied attitudes. The army and
navy were beginning to disintegrate.
The surrender of Austria-Hungary meant all of southern Germany was
exposed while the field army was being forced back in France. The war
Suppose the same thing had happened near the end of World War II.
Apparently near the end of WWII is defined as January 1944.
Suppose that the U.S. and Great Britain had opened negotiations with
Germany in 1944 - before Russian forces had invaded Eastern Europe - and
before millions of Jews had been killed in the Nazi ovens.
The death camp side of the Nazi extermination program ran from 1942
to 1943, it was set up to replace the mass shootings of 1941 and
wound down when it was clear the slave manpower was needed in the
war economy. Even the concentration camps had their death rates
lowered, in order to achieve more work before death.
Hence why Birkenau had to be used for the mass killings in the second
half of 1944, it was the only camp left with the ability to do large scale
killing. The reality is the killings were mainly in the 1941 to 1943
So you need the surrender in 1942, not 1944.
Oh yes, the Red Army made it to pre war Poland in January 1944, by
the 6th they were 12 miles inside the 1939 Polish border.
There is at least the possibility that Hitler - whose health was failing
dramatically anyway - along with Göring, Goebbels, and other leading
Nazis - might have chosen to live in exile rather than continuing to fight
a war they knew they were losing.
Someone is really in a delusional state. Of course strangely enough it is
up to the allies to offer terms, not the Nazis. Those poor powerless
puppets, unable to actually do anything but be pushed about by foreign
leaders, in particular the omnipotent U.S President.
If such a peace could have been negotiated, Eastern Europeans and East
Germans would not have had to suffer under fifty years of Soviet
domination. And millions of Jews would have been saved from the Nazi
So tell us all how the Germans were doing to hold back the Soviets while
the western allies occupied all of Europe. The Red Army was on the borders
of most of pre war eastern Europe in January 1944. And well over the Polish
and Romanian borders in April.
But FDR's hatred of Germans and Germany - and his deep admiration and
respect for Joseph Stalin and the communists - and his profound sympathy
for communist goals - precluded him from exploring such a possibility.
Alternatively FDR recognised the Nazis were the sort of fanatics that
would prefer total destruction rather than surrender and lose power,
sort of like North Korea today. I presume the author is all for negotiating
with North Korea, for its leadership to be reasonable and go into exile
and ease the horrific toll on the population. Same for Iran I suppose.
FDR decided he could manage Stalin, and that there needed to be a
relationship because it was obvious the USA and USSR would be the dominant
world powers post WWII.
And that making sure the Germans knew they had been beaten was
important given the "stab in the back" myths from WWI.
Hitler was very much taken by the idea of you were master or slave.
Americans would have to continue hating Germans and loving Russians until
there was an unconditional surrender by Germany.
Amazingly enough the Nazis decided to fight on and in doing so opened
the door for Stalin to invade eastern Europe.
But things changed on Roosevelt's death near the end of the war. America's
new president, Harry Truman, shared Churchill's (and Hitler's) perspective
about the communist threat to the West.
Actually he did not at first, he was not as trusting of Stalin, or more
like not as confident as FDR that he could "manage" Stalin. As the
Soviets became more obstructive Truman acted accordingly.
Soon after the war ended, Americans were told to immediately shift
positions with respect to hatred and admiration.
Essentially what we have here is someone setting up joke extremist
positions. Try the Germans had surrendered so they were no longer an
enemy but the Soviet Union was behaving like it was going to be an
Of course all this took time but in essence it all has to happen within
weeks of May 1945 in the fiction.
They were told that Germans - at least those in the western half - were
not so bad after all. They had simply been misled by the Nazis. Americans
were encouraged to love, admire, and assist these Germans. But those on
the eastern side were still to be hated and despised, especially since
they were now part of the Soviet bloc.
Yes we have someone being very delusional.
Americans were also told that it was necessary to begin hating the Soviet
communists - the same communists who Americans had been taught were great
and wonderful during the war.
Try distrust, rather than hate.
All of this shifting of feelings was not lost on Joseph Stalin. Since
Churchill, Roosevelt, and Truman had honored the secret agreement to
return most of the Russian forces to the Soviet Union, where Stalin was
able to finish off these "traitors," Stalin had honored his side of the
bargain by returning most of the American and British soldiers in the Nazi
camps liberated by Russian forces. But the operative word is "most."
Ah I see, the idea is within weeks of the German surrender the western
allies were in nice to Germany mode, it has to be that quick if Stalin is
to hold on to large numbers of western allied prisoners.
Pity about all that other fiction about the western allies being really bad
Stalin was not a man to trust others, and he certainly did not trust
Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. To ensure that Churchill and
Roosevelt would live up to their side of the bargain to return the Russian
soldiers to him, he retained "bargaining chips" in the form of American
and British soldiers. If Churchill or Roosevelt reneged on their end of
the bargain, Stalin would do the same.
Except the prisoners were being exchanged through 1945 and you have
to note the USSR was moving to attack Japan, something the US had
been keen on but was now wondering if it was going to be worth it.
As the war against the Nazis ended, the new war - the Cold War with the
communists - began in earnest.
This is just a stupid joke. Relations deteriorated gradually, over years
from around 1944 to 1948. Here they go to zero in days.
The U.S. and Great Britain began treating the Germans (the ones in the
west) more nicely and also began enlisting the active assistance of former
Nazis - yes, the same Nazis that Americans had only recently been taught
to hate and despise!
The numbers were rather small and certainly not in mid 1945.
Moreover, Churchill and Truman quietly began releasing thousands of
anticommunist Russians who had still not been returned to Stalin - these
Russians could be valuable friends and spies in the new "cold" war against
It is amazing to note how these Soviets are good Soviets, and one must
ignore any service in the German army for a start.
Stalin learned what was happening and retaliated. He permanently
"retained" the American and British soldiers whom he still held as
bargaining chips. What did he do with them? He carted them to the Soviet
Union where they lived the rest of their lives in the Russian gulags. How
many American and British soldiers? Over 20,000 Americans and over 30,000
British and Commonwealth soldiers ! In fact, as the authors of Soldiers of
Misfortune point out: "Starting in 1945, the Soviet Union became the
second-largest employer of American servicemen in the world."
In short no. There are detailed records of the Commonwealth and
US service people listed as MIA and PoW. There are simply not
enough MIA to support tens of thousands.
This horrible tale is well documented in Soldiers of Misfortune .
Much of the evidence involves the eyewitness accounts of American POWs who
barely missed being "liberated" by Stalin's forces. For example, the
authors detail the story of three Americans held in a German POW camp -
John L. Connolly, Carmen Gomez, and Joseph Friedl. One morning in 1945,
they woke to find their German captives gone. Connolly and Gomez decided
to head west in search of American forces. Friedl decided to wait for
Russian "liberators." Their story will chill you:
But when the men tried to cross a bridge to the tantalizingly close
American line, Red Army troops stopped them at gun point. "The Russians
herded us into a bombed-out building. . . . When there were several
hundred of us [Americans], they began to march back into Germany."
Let me understand this, the Americans were marching into Germany
heading west and the Soviets marched them east heading into Germany.
So tell us what date in 1945, after all there was fighting until early May.
I note the lack of date, I also note the Soviets would be rounding up all
men in uniform, given the large number of different uniforms used by the
Wisely refusing to march away from their own lines, Connolly and about a
dozen others ducked out of the column as it passed through town.
So not exactly heavily guarded. More moving to safety.
Hours later, they ran across a team of American scout cars under the
command of a brigadier general. "The Soviets are taking a column of
American POWs back east," Connolly told the general. Flying into a rage,
the American officer sped off to catch the column. But the POWs had
So the Soviets can make hundreds of man on foot vanish in hours, so
tell us who was the US Army Brigadier General? Not many of them
in Europe. What was the unit involved?
And yes, from this the fighting was still going on. Also note the lack
of Soviet forces to stop the US reconnaissance unit. Apparently the
Soviets are all herding US POWs to the rear.
Joseph Friedl was taken back to the Soviet Union. He was one of the
fortunate ones - he was released in 1946.
So if he was in the group he should be able to tell us how the vanishing
Another American soldier, Technical Sergeant D.C. Wimberly, was straggling
back to American lines and found himself in the German town of
Luckenwalde. The Germans were herding back a column of German
POWs to the Soviet Union, but when a few men near the end of the
column saw Wimberly's American flag on his uniform, they called out: "Hey!
You American? We're American. I'm from Philadelphia . . . Boston . . .
Chicago. Help me!"
Luckenwalde is about 25 miles SSE Berlin. If Wimberley was there he
was an ex PoW, so where did the US flag on his uniform come from?
When exactly in WWII did US Soldiers wear the US flag on their
I presume the column was actually Soviets herding German prisoners.
Of course amazingly the calls were where they were from, not who
they were, what unit, and so on and apparently the guards let Wimberley
go, being American, rather than carry out the round up Americans conspiracy.
Americans also compared German army records of how many Americans were
held in the camps. It was not difficult to see that the Soviets had failed
to return all of them.
Actually there were more US prisoners than had been notified. And
of course it will be interesting to see where the US in 1945 captured
a complete list of US prisoners in German hands, given the main
German war records areas were behind Soviet lines. They would have
the wartime notifications, which would have been passed onto the
What the US did have was the number of men lost, the number of men
recovered, the difference being the MIA, as noted above.
So, why has all of this been kept secret from the American people?
It has taken a while for someone either gullible enough or with an agenda
to give the fiction a try?
World War II has been billed as the "good war" - the war that justifies
all subsequent foreign wars. And every student in every public school
across America is taught that FDR was one of our country's greatest
Amazingly how FDR polarises so many Americans. But is really hated
by those who like Hitler.
And strangely enough each war requires its own justification.
How could the U.S. government tell the truth about what happened to
American servicemen? To tell the truth would mean exposing American
complicity in the murder of over a million innocent Russian people.
There were not that many Soviet prisoners in allied hands, like the allied
prisoners lots fell directly back into Soviet hands. And of course lots
of the Russians sent back had been serving in the German Army for a
start. Amazing how that is missing, and yes of course the idea is the US
handed back all the men and they were then all killed. The only way
you can make it to a million.
It would entail a closer examination of the Allied alliance with one of
the most brutal political regimes in all of history.
Don't blame FDR, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union while at war with
Britain then declared war on the USA.
And it would expose all the scheming and machinations that resulted in the
abandonment of over 50,000 Allied soldiers to our communist "friends."
Given the reality that the 50,000 figure is simply a joke the exposure
is bad fiction, not historical reality.
What could the U.S. government have done differently as the war approached
its end? It could have negotiated a peace with Germany that entailed the
exile of Nazi leaders and ensured democratic regimes in all of Germany and
Yes folks, Hitler and co in comfortable exile. Going to do the same
for say North Korea and Iran today, using the same principles?
Once again we have the way it is up to the non Nazis to do all the
work. Hitler had a big input into where the post WWII borders ended.
It could have refused to participate in one of the worst holocausts in
history - the forcible repatriation of Russian anticommunists - by
refusing to force them to return to the Soviet Union against their will.
Strangely enough the author believes Stalin held large numbers of allied
prisoners as hostage and is outraged about the belief so many are
supposed to have not come home.
So if the author is correct then far more western allied men would have
never returned if Soviet personnel were not returned to the USSR,
given the thousands of western allied men who even the authors admit
Amazing isn't it. The author wants lots more allied men to die in the
Gulag, saving the Soviets held prisoner by the Germans is more important.
Abandon the allied men in Soviet hands to their fate. Except doing that
is very bad.
Really interesting logic. Not sending the Soviet personnel back is said
to mean lots more allies soldiers do not come home, very bad thing, but
sending the Soviets back is a very bad thing. I like the way the author
condemns the US for both sending the Soviet personnel back and
supposedly for not recovering western allied personnel.
Essentially US bad, no matter what.
If Russian forces refused to return American and British POWs, one option
would, of course, could have been war against the Soviet Union.
Given the food situation in the world and in Europe the famine deaths
would have been very large. In any case war would have been
very unlikely to save any allied personnel in Soviet hands.
But if war was not a practical option at that point, then the least that
the U.S. government owed its own soldiers was to let the world know what
happened - so that the soldiers would never be forgotten.
There are lists of MIA you know.
What I like is despite the cold war neither side bothered to mention the
prisoners, not even the Soviets who could thereby expose the US
Government for failure to protect its citizens, instead it is up to the
lone researcher (trademark) to find the conspiracy, all in US government
archives of course.
loneliness those men must have felt as they were being transported to the
Soviet gulags. They had trusted their own government. They had fought and
had been willing to die at the behest of their government. They had helped
to win the war. Instead of coming home to their loved ones, they were
being transported from a German POW camp to a Russian gulag.
I think the above paragraph requires a sad violin for the fiction writer.
There were probably western allied men held by the Soviets, the idea
there were tens of thousands is pure fiction.
Such men would include those who served in the German army.
Would public pressure over the years have resulted in the release of these
American and British soldiers? Possibly. But even if it did not, there was
always the chance that word would leak into the gulag - letting American
and British doughboys know, before they died, that they still had not been
forgotten by their fellow Americans.
Very sad violin it seems.
Unfortunately, however, they were forgotten, because they were abandoned
by their own government - the same U.S. government that starts out every
new war with "Support the troops."
Try that if they were MIA and never recorded in German records it is rather
hard for the US government to abandon them.
As the authors of Soldiers of Misfortune carefully document,
Given their fiction this is rather hard to believe.
U.S. governmental officials not only have refused to open the files on
this dark and sordid episode of World War II, they have also altered and
destroyed pertitent documents.
Ah of course somehow the authors know what the originals looked
like so they can tell there were changes.
Moreover, American officials still refuse to open up the files on the
forcible repatriation of the Russians as well as other aspects of World
War II. They claim that national security is at stake - fifty years after
the end of the war.
So how do the authors know for so sure what happened of the files
The final questions arise: So what? Why bring all of this up now?
When it comes to WWII think of it as the Hitler fan club trying to write
even worse fiction than Mein Kampf.
What is the purpose? What good does it do?
Fiction as history does harm, not good.
Why not let sleeping dogs lie? Why focus on World War II rather than
simply on current episodes of governmental misconduct?
Because the fiction writers need a subject far enough in the past to
keep the opposition to the fiction down. Much more passionate
defences of current policies, which is not surprising.
Because the lessons to be learned affect us so deeply today - fifty years
after the end of World War II. And the lessons are profound indeed.
How people who are distant from the war invent stories about it then
try to say it is the truth.
Interesting editorial, by the way the US is not the most healthy population
in the world nor the most literate, I think the Scandinavian countries are
doing better, when you look at their education results and life
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