Allied soldiers were afraid of the SS

End of the war in 1945 Back to Stalin: The fear of the victors of returning home

However, this does not apply to everyone: for around 4.2 million Soviet prisoners of war, forced laborers and concentration camp survivors, the hope of a quick return is deceptive. Although they were liberated from the numerous German camps, their future fate remained uncertain. Rumor has it that she should expect nothing good in Stalin's Soviet empire. For Stalin, prisoners of war and slave labor are traitors and enemies of the people. Serious strategic mistakes by the Soviet leadership at the beginning of the war caused a whole series of defeats. In the first six months alone, over two million Soviet soldiers were taken prisoner.

Stalin denies son who is captured

For Stalin, military personnel who are captured and who do not "fight to the last drop of blood" in his eyes are traitors. Stalin's eldest son, Jakob Dschugaschwili, is also an officer in German captivity. During his last interrogation in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, he testified that his father did not like the fact that he was in captivity. On the night of April 14, 1943, he ran into the barbed wire and thus provoked his shooting. Stalin reacts implacably and denies his son.

Filtration interrogations for Soviet returnees

At the end of the war, the Soviet secret service NKVD began to systematically check all Soviet returnees at all handover points along the demarcation line - the so-called filtration. The term filtration describes the examination of all the biographies of the returnees without exception. The circumstances of the capture, but also political reliability and possible cooperation with the enemy played a major role. The filtration interrogations also increase the uncertainty among those affected.

The memories of three Soviet returnees are representative of hundreds of thousands. How they got to Germany, how they were liberated in 1945 and, above all, what awaited them when they returned home are stories that they better not tell back then in the Soviet Union: At the age of seven, Lyudmila Kocherzhyna and her aunt moved to forced labor from the Ukrainian Dnepropetrovsk Germany kidnapped. She recalls that the house was set on fire and shot. At the time, her aunt said to her: "We're not coming back, we're not coming home." The whole suburb was already on fire.

Child of forced labor is not allowed to study

But she returns and although her mother is in custody and her father in a filtration camp, the family is reunited in 1947. Nevertheless, she suffered humiliations for a long time at home. Having returned from Germany even as a nine-year-old child restricted their rights. She says: "After school I couldn't choose where to study, even though I graduated with honors."

Those who came from Germany were simply enemies of the people. My aunt was fired several times despite being assigned the job. And all because she was in Germany, that was enough for a stamp.

Nevertheless, still fondly remembers their liberation, 1945 in Germany. An African American soldier gave her a doll at the time. She guards the gift like treasure. Lyudmila Kocherzhyna lives to this day in Dnepropetrovsk and is committed to the victims of the Nazi regime.

Officer manages to escape from Mauthausen concentration camp

The Soviet officer Michail Rybchinski survived death block 20 in Mauthausen concentration camp. "We saw that there was only death there, nothing else. Then we heard that an uprising was being planned. We took part in it and dared to flee on the night of February 3, 1945," he recalls. It is one of the few organized attempts to break out of a concentration camp. Several hundred men manage to escape, including Mihail Rybchinski. They hope for help from the Austrian population. But the SS calls for an unprecedented human hunt, which will go down in history as one of the so-called end-phase crimes under the cruel name "Mühlviertler Hasenjagd". But Rybchinski is lucky. A peasant family hides it, risking their own lives. The farmers offer to stay with them. But the longing for his mother is too great. 19 years after the events around Mauthausen, there is an emotional reunion in May 1964. Mihail Rybtchinski visits the Langthaler family. The close friendship with the family lasted until Mihail Rybtchinski's death in 2008.

Eight years of gulag for alleged espionage

Lev Netto fights with the partisans as a soldier in Estonia and is taken prisoner by Germany. After he returned, he was brutally tortured. He denied everything, he said - and didn't give in for a month. When the torture never ends, Lev Netto finds no other way out and admits things he hasn't done. The charge is: espionage for the Americans. He remembers the pronouncement of the verdict very well: "For treason and so on, 25 years of imprisonment and five years of restriction of civil rights are ordered."

So the young Lev Netto has to go to the gulag. Cautious estimates suggest that at least 900,000 Soviet returnees were immediately sent to gulags and labor camps. The decisions on such punitive measures are made in fast-track proceedings that do not conform to any rule of law.

Only the death of Stalin released Lev Netto earlier from his fate. But even after that, the disadvantage does not end. His application to the university is rejected for alleged health reasons. Looking back, Lev Netto says: "I was in the gulag for eight years. It was very hard, especially in winter with temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees. In front of my eyes people were shot or simply disappeared. I always wondered why me Such a difficult fate has fallen: The other guys who have fallen have long been resting. I, on the other hand, have to toil in the eternal ice. "

Back to Stalin | 06/09/20 | 10:10 p.m.