Saturday, January 26, 2013

More German Communists in Soviet Camps

This post is a continuation on the theme of Russian-German communists in labor army contingents in NKVD camps I started yesterday. In Viatlag on 1 January 1942 the number of CPSU members numbered 122 among the ethnic Germans in the labor army with another 113 candidate members. The influx of conscripts in January 1942 under GKO order 1123ss an additional 228 members and 110 candidates arrived in the camp. By 1 October 1945, deaths, expulsions, and transfers had reduced the number of Russian-German communists to 118 CPSU members and 31 candidates. In addition there were 182 Komsomol members among the Russiang-Germans in the labor army in the camp organized into four all German Komsomol organizations (Berdinskikh, p. 426). These communists continued to hold party meetings in the camps during WWII despite their otherwise severely restricted civil rights as members of the labor army.

A number of  German communists at Viatlag were not members of the CPSU. Rather they were members of the KPD (Berdinskikh, p. 430). This was particularly true among those serving sentences as convicted prisoners rather than those conscripted into the labor army. Among the communists born in Germany and members of the KPD at Viatlag were Franz Berger, Walther Bechter, Heinrich Born, Erich Bonsak, Gustav Brun, and Georg Kern. They had earlier immigrated to the USSR sometime before 1937. All of these men were arrested and convicted of "Counter-Revolutionary" crimes during the German Operation of 1937-1938. None of these men survived their sentences to be released. All of them  were sentenced to death in the camp on 28 November 1941. By summer 1942 all of them were dead (Berdkinskikh,  pp. 439-444). The revolution truly did devour its own children.

Source: Viktor Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov Sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005).

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