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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Stalin and Returning Soviet POWs
Created by John Eipper on 06/29/19 4:56 AM

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Stalin and Returning Soviet POWs (Cameron Sawyer, Russia, 06/29/19 4:56 am)

JE posed this question: "Did Stalin really put most returning Soviet POWs in Gulags--or execute them? And did the Soviets likewise go after the prisoners' families?"

I would be most interest to hear what Boris Volodarsky has to say about this.

I have known, and have loved, the ptitomtsev--the descendants, I don't actually know the English word for this, of the families who were destroyed by this policy. Yes, Stalin murdered POWs returned from Germany, and in mass quantities, and arrested and exiled family members. The idea was that if a Soviet soldier surrendered rather than dying for the cause, then prima facie, he was a traitor, and he was treated as such. The monstrosity of this is unspeakable.

JE comments:  Some shibboleths, like some stereotypes, exist for a reason: because they're true.  Warfare reveals two types of attitudes towards POWs:  those that treat them as traitors (Japan, USSR in WWII), and those who make them heroes (think of John McCain and yellow ribbons in general).  I prefer to think of the "our" group as more civilized, but there's a tactical logic behind the former view.  You fight harder.  Remember the Spartans:  "come back with your shield, or on it."  (Full disclosure:  Cameron Sawyer and I are Michigan Wolverines, not Michigan State Spartans.)


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