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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE „WORLD WAR II PRISONERS IN THE NAZI AND SOVIET CAMPS IN 1939–1948“ 14-15 MAY 2015, ŠILUTĖ Rytas Narvydas Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, Lithuania LITHUANIAN PRISONERS OF WAR IN WESTERN COUNTRIES AFTER WWII After the end of WWII, millions of officers and soldiers of the German armed forces and its Axis allies were imprisoned behind barbed wire. In spring 1945, about 8 million Germans alone were in the hands of Western Allies. The Americans classif
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  INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE   „WORLD WAR II PRISONERS IN THE NAZI AND SOVIET CAMPS IN 1939–1948“   14-15 MAY 2015, ŠILUTĖ 1   www.rememor.eu Rytas Narvydas Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, Lithuania   LITHUANIAN PRISONERS OF WAR IN WESTERN COUNTRIES AFTER WWII After the end of WWII, millions of officers and soldiers of the German armed forces and its Axis allies were imprisoned behind barbed wire. In spring 1945, about 8 million Germans alone were in the hands of Western Allies. The Americans classified this army of prisoners as Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF), a term which is not used in international law 1 . This mass of people included Lithuanians, who sided with the Third Reich by sheer fate. WWII saw unprecedented mobilisation on both sides of the front. Between 1 June 1939 and 30 April 1945, the German army recruited 17,893,000 people. A total of 21% of all German citizens (of the size of the country in 1939) were mobilised. This was a high-level mobilisation, the tension of which was albeit diminished by the economies of the occupied lands, their natural resources and the use of their population, as well as prisoners of war (POWs). At least 1.8 million nationals of other countries were mobilised to serve in the Wehrmacht and SS units. This figure does not include those who served in a wide range of other military institutions, security and similar detachments and divisions (another some 1,100,000 people). In addition, there was quite a large auxiliary personnel in the rear areas and branches formed from prisoners of war and citizens of occupied countries. There were also the so-called ‘voluntary assistants’ (  Hilfswillige ), which included drivers, convoy attendants, auxiliary workshop and kitchen labourers, etc. On average an infantry division would be made up of up to 10% such ‘volunteers’ as compared to the number of members of the regular army and up to 50% in transport convoys. A number of foreigners served in the military aviation and navy auxiliary units 2 . During the Nazi occupation, Lithuanian citizens were used for police battalions (security  battalions called Schutzmannschaft  ), other police units (squadron, individual companies and crews), and construction battalions. In 1943–1944, all these formations suffered significant losses, they were pulled from the Eastern Front back to Lithuania, re-formed and sent to Germany, where they 1   Eine schöne Zeit ? // http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/0,1872,1022094,FF.html (2002 03 16); vertimas į rusų kalbą: Мы были в плену у янки // http://www.inosmi.ru/full/153726.html (2002 07 26) 2  Гуркин В.В., Круглов А.И., Кровавая расплата агрессора // Военно-историчесский журнал, 1996 май-июнь, Nr. 3, с. 30-32  INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE   „WORLD WAR II PRISONERS IN THE NAZI AND SOVIET CAMPS IN 1939–1948“   14-15 MAY 2015, ŠILUTĖ 2   www.rememor.eu were usually tasked with the construction of fortifications and other ancillary functions. In 1944, two battalions were formed in Dresden from Lithuanians who served in the Reich Labour Service and supplemented with the remaining police battalions. They were sent to Yugoslavia and Italy. In autumn of the same year in Danzig (Gdansk), Lithuanian volunteer infantry regiments (  Litauische  Freiwilligen Infanterie Regiment  ) were formed 3 . In early 1944, the formation of a Lithuanian Local Detachment began [106 members who were taken from the training battalion ended up in Luftwaffe], which recruited around 12,000 volunteers. In May the same year, Germany liquidated the detachment and deported about 3,500 volunteers to Germany 4 . In summer 1944, a Homeland Security Detachment was formed in Samogitia. After a battle with the Soviet army, around 1,000 of its troops retreated to East Prussia, where the Germans formed construction pioneer companies and used them for building various fortifications. At the beginning of 1945, they fell into the encirclement of the Soviet Army near Gdansk and Gdynia, but several companies were moved by ships to the environs of Lübeck  5 . As many as 15,000 Lithuanians were mobilised to auxiliary Wehrmacht services (  Hilfswillige ) and another 15,000 – to work in the General District of Lithuania   and the Reich. A total of 5,400 served in the Wehrmacht, 12,000 – in the Luftwaffe, 400 – in Reich Labour Service, and 15,000 in the Todt Organisation 6 .   The Germans failed to form a Lithuanian Waffen-SS legion,  but there were Lithuanians, who joined Latvian Waffen-SS legions 7 . Lithuanians who repatriated in 1940–1941 were also mobilised in the German army. Among 56,000 Lithuanian repatriates and  political refugees there were 200 officers 8 . The total estimated number of Lithuanians who served in the German armed forces, including police formations, according to different authors, range from 25,000 to 50,000 men 9 . It is not clear how many of them perished, fell into Soviet captivity or managed to desert. At the moment it is not known how many Lithuanians were captives of the Western Allies. According to  Lietuvių enciklopedija (  Lithuanian Encyclopaedia ), there were around 500 10  Lithuanian prisoners in Italy, 500–600 11  in Norway, and around 2,000 12  in Belgium in 1945. The following data is provided in the newspaper  Žiburiai  published in Augsburg: in mid-1946 there were over 800 Lithuanian 3  Stankeras P., Lietuvių policija 1941 - 1944 metais, Vilnius, LGGRTC, 1998, p. 179. 4  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. XV, Boston, 1968, p. 120. 5  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. XV, Boston, 1968, p. 120-121 6  Stankeras P., Lietuvių policija 1941 - 1944 metais, Vilnius, LGGRTC, 1998, p. 186-187. 7  Stankeras P., Lietuvių policija 1941 - 1944 metais, Vilnius, LGGRTC, 1998, p. 181-189. 8  Raštikis S., Lietuvos likimo keliais. Iš mano užrašų, IV tomas, Čikaga, 1982, p. 339-340. 9  Taagepera R., Lietuva, Latvija, Estija 1940-1980: panašumai bei skirtumai // Kauno aidas, 1989 01 12+ Bubnys A., Vokiečių okupuota Lietuva (1941-1944), Vilnius, LGGRTC, 1998, p. 404. 10  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. IX, Boston, 1956. 11  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. XX, Boston, 1960, p. 437-438. 12  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. II, Boston, 1954.  INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE   „WORLD WAR II PRISONERS IN THE NAZI AND SOVIET CAMPS IN 1939–1948“   14-15 MAY 2015, ŠILUTĖ 3   www.rememor.eu  prisoners in the American occupation zone, around 200 in France, and there could have been around 400 in Yugoslavia 13 . The figures specified above need to be verified and more detailed data should be collected. So far we have managed to find nominal lists of prisoners of war made by Rev. P. Jatulis. In 1946, there were 340–350 Lithuanians in British captivity in Italy: around 170 14  in Rimini and its environs (Northern Italy by the Adriatic Sea) and another 80 in the camps of Venice, Naples and other locations 15 . There were around 90 in the American camps 16 . In 1945, Lithuanian POWs were recruited to the Polish II Corps that operated within the British Eighth Army. In early March, a group of 85 Lithuanians were drafted for service to the Polish Commando Company under a contract 17 .    Lietuvių enciklopedija specifies 200 men who served in Polish units 18 .   The list compiled  by   Rev.   Jatulis contains the names of over 100 Lithuanians who served in Polish units in 1946 19 .   Thus, there were at least 550 men in captivity in Italy in 1945, of whom about 200 were soon released. Ironically, some of them had to guard their countrymen in captivity in the summer of 1946 when, the guard duties of the camp in Rimini were taken over from the British by Polish units, which also contained Lithuanians 20 . Furthermore, in 1946 there were around 30 Lithuanians 21  in Egypt and another 11 in Malta in the British POW camps 22 .  Žiburiai  published several nominal lists of Lithuanian POWs. In spring 1946, there were around 10 23  Lithuanian men in Tübingen, in the summer of the same year there were at least 30 24  in Regensburg (Bavaria), in the autumn there were around 50 25  in Dachau camp, and around 85 26  men  – in Münster  .  The camps were under American control and in total there were at least 175 Lithuanians there. The number could have been bigger, as in March 1946 around 2,000 Lithuanians were moved from Cedelghem camp in Belgium to Germany alone 27 . In autumn 1945, around 150 Lithuanians were moved from the British camp in Troll near Trondheim (Norway) to Cedelghem. 13  Lietuvių belaisvių paleidimas. Iš lietuvių gyvenimo // Žiburiai, 1946 06 15, Nr. 24, p. 8. 14  Lietuvių karo belaisvių sąrašas. 1946 04 25 // VUB RS F267-149. 15  Lietuvių karo belaisvių sąrašas. 1946 04 25 // VUB RS F267-149. 16  Lietuvių karo belaisvių sąrašas. 1946 04 25 // VUB RS F267-149. 17  J. Rutkievičius, 1945 metų sąjungininkai // Karo archyvas, t. XVII, 2002, p. 199. 18  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. IX, Boston, 1956, p. 182. 19  Lietuviai kariai kurie randasi anglų VIII-toje armijoje lenkų II-rame korpuse (sąrašas) // VUB RS F267-2235. 20  Martinionis A., Rytų fronte – atkaklūs mūšiai, Vilnius, 2000, p. 77-78. 21  Lietuvių karo belaisvių sąrašas. 1946 04 25 // VUB RS F267-149. 22  Lietuvių belaisvių Egipte ir Maltoje sąrašas // VUB RS F267-573. 23  Lietuviai belaisviai ieško savo giminių // Žiburiai, 1946 04 20, Nr. 16, p. 11. 24  Paieškojimai // Žiburiai, 1946 06 22, Nr. 25, p. 9; Paieškojimai // Žiburiai, 1946 06 29, Nr. 26, p. 8; Lietuviai karo  belaisviai, atvežti į Regensburgą, ieško šeimų ir artimųjų // Žiburiai, 1946 07 06, Nr. 27, p. 7. 25  Karo belaisviai // Žiburiai, 1946 09 07, Nr. 36, p. 7. 26  Paieškojimai // Žiburiai, 1946 12 14, Nr. 46, p. 7. 27  Lietuvių enciklopedija, t. II, Boston, 1954.  INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE   „WORLD WAR II PRISONERS IN THE NAZI AND SOVIET CAMPS IN 1939–1948“   14-15 MAY 2015, ŠILUTĖ 4   www.rememor.eu Around 350 prisoners of war from Lithuania were released from Svelvik camp in Germany and were given the status of displaced persons 28 . By mid-1946, all Lithuanians were released in the French occupation zone in Germany and later in France 29 . They were held by the French in Mailly-le-Camp 30 , a camp near Versailles in Bad Kroisnache near Frankfurt am Main 31 , Andernach near Koblenz 32  and elsewhere. Around 150 Lithuanians from Andernach joined the Foreign Legion 33 . Thus, in 1945–1946 at least several hundred Lithuanians were held by the French, although the exact data are not available. According to approximate estimates, it may be assumed that the total number of Lithuanians captured by Western Allies exceeded 2,500 and there could even have been as many as 3,000 or more. Captivity was a difficult ordeal. On the one hand, the allies were not ready to provide food and adequate accommodation for millions of people. On the other hand, captives were used for reconstruction and clearing of mines and many perished 34 . Cases of inhumane and cruel treatment of captives also occurred. General Stasys Raštikis witnessed such behaviour in Regensburg and said the conduct of American troops was absolutely disgraceful and very un-gentlemanlike 35 . Let me provide a few quotes that describe the poor nutrition and living conditions of  prisoners: ‘In fact, it was not a camp, but an open field fenced in with barbed wire. POWs were kept in inhumane conditions here. They did not have any bed linen, let alone tents. Prisoners tried to dig into the ground like moles and lived in dirty pits with no protection from the rain. It was only much later that the Americans began to slowly improve these inhuman conditions’ (Gen. Raštikis about the camp in the suburbs of Regensburg) 36 . ‘There was a large POW camp near the Dutch border, in the environs of the town of Vezel. I think there were around 150,000 people there <…>. The zone had huge farm barns. They could accommodate only a small portion of the prisoners, while the rest lived in the open air. There were about 120 of us, Lithuanians. <…> No food was provided in the first days. There was also very little water. <…> Finally, they started issuing famine rations: a kilo and a half of bread for 20 28  Palukaitis Pr. J., Lietuvių periodika Vakarų Europoje 1944 – 1952, Vilnius, 1993, p. 249. 29  Lietuvių belaisvių paleidimas. Iš lietuvių gyvenimo // Žiburiai, 1946 06 15, Nr. 24, p. 8. 30  Palukaitis Pr. J., Lietuvių periodika Vakarų Europoje 1944 – 1952, Vilnius, 1993, p. 250-251. 31  Eidukaitis J., Sudužusios viltis, Kaunas, Judex, 2002, p. 53. 32  Vytis-Vrublevičius Bruno, Lietuviai legionieriai Vietname, Toronto, 1968, p. 13. 33  Vytis-Vrublevičius Bruno, Lietuviai legionieriai Vietname, Toronto, 1968, p. 18. 34   Eine schöne Zeit ? // http://www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/0,1872,1022094,FF.html (2002 03 16); vertimas į rusų kalbą: Мы были в плену у янки // http://www.inosmi.ru/full/153726.html (2002 07 26). 35  Raštikis S., Kovose dėl Lietuvos (kario atsiminimai), II tomas, Los Angeles, 1957 (antras leidimas – V., 1990), p. 460. 36  Raštikis S., Kovose dėl Lietuvos (kario atsiminimai), II tomas, Los Angeles, 1957 (antras leidimas – V., 1990), p. 465.
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