Ancient times[ edit ] Engraving of Nubian prisoners, Abu SimbelEgypt, 13th century BC For most of human history, depending on the culture of the victors, enemy combatants on the losing side in a battle who had surrendered and been taken as a prisoner of war could expect to be either slaughtered or enslaved. Typically, little distinction was made between enemy combatants and enemy civilians, although women and children were more likely to be spared.
Many other generals busied Prisoners of war glossing over the abundant explicit examples of their own complicity with the Nazi regime.
Meanwhile, those in the dock at Nuremberg sought to deflect their own guilt by laying the blame at the feet of Adolf Hitler and his SS minions. This campaign of selective memory picked up steam as relations between the former Allies deteriorated and experienced officers of the Wehrmacht were seen as possible assets in any future war between the West and the Soviet Union.
By the impression that the Wehrmacht had fought a chivalrous war, despite the pressure from above to be brutal, was becoming accepted as gospel by some in the West.
Even with the passage of 60 years, this impression remains largely unchallenged. While it is true that the Wehrmacht generally fought within the recognized rules of war in Western Europe, the conflict on the Eastern Front was entirely different.
In the vast expanse of the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht was responsible for some of the worst excesses of the war. Rather than being an unwilling participant in this brutal struggle, the Wehrmacht was a loyal and enthusiastic player. One of the most telling examples of its participation in war crimes was its treatment of Soviet prisoners of war.
Statistics show that out of 5. Several reasons have been advanced by those seeking to explain this gruesome statistic. The first is that the Soviet Union had not signed international conventions protecting prisoners of war, and therefore its soldiers could expect no protection under international law.
Another frequently quoted explanation, one used by Wehrmacht officers testifying at Nuremberg, suggests that the German military was simply overwhelmed by the number of prisoners and that the mass deaths were an unfortunate but natural consequence of insufficient resources.
Such factors as weather, battle conditions on the Eastern Front, epidemics and problems with food supply are often cited as other possible reasons. Careful scrutiny, however, shows how frail these arguments are. Before Operation Barbarossa began inthe Wehrmacht determined that Soviet prisoners taken during the upcoming campaign were to be withdrawn from the protection of international and customary law.
Orders issued to subordinate commands suspended the German military penal code and the Hague Convention, the international agreement that governed the treatment of prisoners.
Article 82 of the convention obliged signatories to treat all prisoners, from any state, according to the dictates of humanity. The Red Army [soldier] must be looked upon not as a soldier in the sense of the word applying to our western opponents, but as an ideological enemy.
He must be regarded as the archenemy of National Socialism and must be treated accordingly. Here again, however, the facts fail to support the argument.
From the very beginning, German military planners expected large numbers of prisoners.Family Historians If you are researching the military aspect of your Family History during WW1, particularly so, if one of your ancestors was a prisoner of war or perhaps held captive as a civilian internee during the conflict, you may find useful information in these primary content eBooks.
Research and Articles about the Prisoners Of War of the Japanese who built the Burma to Thailand railway during world war two. Focusing on the doctors and medical staff among the prisoners. Also organised trips to Thailand twice a year. The IDF’s doctrine on all of its soldiers is that no soldier, either dead or alive, will be left behind in battle.
The official policy of the Israeli government regarding missing soldiers is that, “The Government will do everything in its power to secure the release of POW’s and MIA’s and anyone who acted on behalf of state security, and to bring them home.”.
Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 75 U.N.T.S. , entered into force Oct. 21, PART I. GENERAL PROVISIONS Article 1.
The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances. For 60 years, the Wehrmacht has largely escaped scrutiny for its part in the deaths of more than million Soviet prisoners of war.
Build your FREE Family Tree Start your family tree online and receive free access to the largest collection of historic records and family trees online including: POW Records More than million Union and Confederate prisoners; U.S. Civil War .