Russian POWs marched through Poland

Soviet prisoners of war after their arrival in Mauthausen concentration camp in October 1941.

The plight of the Russian prisoners of war captured by the Germans was particularly bad during 1941, when hundreds of thousands died from starvation and ill treatment. The way they were treated became widely known in Poland and Germany as a minority of them were marched back for use as forced labour. Dr Zygmunt Klukowski watched them pass through eastern Poland:

October 5

This afternoon another group of Soviet POWs was moved through town. Because today is Sunday, many watched. Bread, apples, and other goods were placed on the sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Even though the soldiers from the convoy started shooting at them while they fought for food, the prisoners did not pay any attention to the Germans.

The Germans stopped the convoy and forced people to remove the food before they moved out. Finally they agreed that the food could be put on a wagon and later be divided among the prisoners.

The entire Polish population, not only the Jews, were very sympathetic to the Russian prisoners.

I can still see, even though I close my eyes, those poor Russian soldiers, looking more like the skeletons of animals than humans.

See Klukowski: Diary from the Years of Occupation

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