Saturday, September 30, 2017
An extended answer to Rex Gildo on Ethnic Germans in the Red Army
This is a fuller answer to Rex Gildo regarding ethnic Germans from the Volga and other regions of the USSR in the Red Army at the start of the World War II than I gave in the comments. First, of course during the first months after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet citizens of German heritage fought bravely in the Red Army. They were particularly prominent in the defense of Brest on 22-29 June 1941.German soldiers in the Red Army included not only Volga Germans, but ethnic Germans from as far away as Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet government began to remove them from the ranks in July and ordered all of them removed on 8 September 1941. The Stalin regime then conscripted them into the labor army and sent them to places like Bogoslavlag. In total about 30,000 ethnic Germans fought in the Red Army between 21 June and 8 September 1941 before being expelled from the ranks and sent to labor camps as members of the labor army. I go into considerably more detail about the labor army including the mobilization of German Red Army soldiers for forced labor here.
Posted by J. Otto Pohl at 10:15 AM
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Great stuff, Otto. Really answers some questions I have been trying to work through relating to the chaotic Summer of '41, particularly as it relates to Volga German Red Army conscripts.
Long story short, my wife is German and her grandfather was originally from the Volga German ASSR. I had the good fortune of getting to know him pretty well in the final years of his life, and, although there was a pretty significant language barrier, we managed to talk through much of his experiences as a conscript, prisoner and refugee on both sides of the Eastern Front.
He had a truly horrifying four-year stretch from '41-'45, but due to a fortuitous series of events, he ended up in western Germany just at the time the War ended, and was able to avoid the forced repatriations to the USSR.
That said, in the past few years I have tried to gain a better understanding of the experiences of the ethnic Germans in Russia under Stalin. Of course, any such increase in understanding and knowledge on the topic would be pretty damned hard to achieve without the yeoman's work that you have personally put in on the subject. Your efforts to shed light on this topic are definitely appreciated.
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