The largest uprising of Soviet prisoners in Nazi concentration camps

History 15/01/20 Largest uprising of Soviet prisoners in Nazi concentration camps

German authorities treated the prisoners of war with extreme prejudice. It is among Soviet POWs was the highest percentage of deaths in the camps. The only thing that gave them a chance for salvation – the resistance organization.


it is estimated that during the war in German captivity was visited by about 5.5 million Soviet soldiers, killed at least 3.5 million Cause of death was starvation, disease, exhaustion, injury, torture and murder. His ill-treatment of prisoners by soldiers of the red army, the Nazis explained that the Soviet Union in 1929 has not signed the Geneva Convention.

In Buchenwald, for example, survived only 20% of prisoners of war. Through incredible trials had to pass the soldiers at Mauthausen. Since the summer of 1944 they were all sent in a specially crafted block of death: until February 1945, there were destroyed more than 3.5 thousand Soviet officers, alive by that time there remained only 570 people.

Those who from time to time, manage to survive would envy the dead. The daily rations of prisoners did not exceed 750 calories, while the minimum serving size in conditions of hard labor were not to descend below 4000 calories. For the slightest offense inmates were deprived of this scanty food.

the POWs worked mainly at construction sites in Berlin and Nuremberg, in defense plants, in quarries, mines and lumber camps, in mining and metallurgical industry and agriculture. The cost of maintenance of prisoners was negligible – not more than 0.70 Reichsmarks per day, and the profit is enormous: according to conservative estimates, the total revenue received by Nazi Germany as a result of their exploitation, made hundreds of millions of Reichsmarks.

In the hellish conditions of the Soviet soldiers showed amazing examples of sacrifice: carried bothsciennych comrades on the job, stealing patients medications, gave their rations to the starving, save the guilty from imminent massacre. But even more impressive were the cases of cohesion of prisoners of war, which under the watchful control of the camp administration was able to create underground organizations.

One of the largest Soviet underground in Germany was the “Fraternal cooperation of prisoners of war” (GCC), established in late 1942, in Bavaria and spread over the year, virtually all of the concentration camps of the southern part of the country. In the ranks of the middle East, there were several thousand people. In early 1944, the organization was uncovered and destroyed by the Gestapo. Almost all its leaders were executed.


Nazi concentration camp for Soviet military were only another stage in the struggle against Nazism. It was not just a hidden protest against the occupiers: the underground community were active in anti-Nazi propaganda among other prisoners, saved his comrades, caught in a difficult situation, preparing riots and arranged shoots.

In the Buchenwald resistance movement began almost immediately after arriving at the camp a large party of the Soviet prisoners of war in October 1941. Patriotic group rallied around the Sergeant of guards Nikolai Simakov: despite injuries and the onset of the pulmonary tuberculosis he was able to find the strength to lead the underground. One of the activities of the group Simakov was working with other prisoners to prevent their recruitment of Nazi agents. As a result of two thousand Soviet soldiers and officers in Buchenwald in Wehrmacht units enlisted only 17 people.

Much attention to the Soviet camp underground on the sabotage work. So, working in the warehouses of the underground of Auschwitz was stolen and vandalized everything they could to present to the authorities at least some value. The deficit soon discovered why the camp was specially sent to the head of the administrative office of the SS, Oswald Pohl.

Bookmarkuchennye, who worked in military facilities, was destroyed pistols, submachine guns, light machine guns. At the plant, “Heinkel”, the largest branch of Sachsenhausen, beautifully worked band, which was led by surgeon G. Fetisov. Underground by any means slowed down the work of production. A former inmate of Sachsenhausen, M. Tylevich, believes that thanks largely to their dedication for a while managed to stop the production of aircraft.

Working for one of the military factories of Nuremberg Lieutenant Batkin was able to crash the 100-ton press, although he himself in sabotage lost his arm. At an aircraft factory “Messerschmitt” and a tank factory “Mann” prisoners are systematically stealing the most important details that were only discovered in the middle of 1943. Usually the perpetrators of the sabotage failed to disclose that the Gestapo had shot those who first turned up under the arm.


One of the pressing needs of the underground in German camps was the establishment of information channels. According to a former prisoner of Auschwitz, M. Sheinman through working in the Studio comrades they were able to establish relatively regular listening to the Soviet radio, which they greedily catch any messages about the success of the red Army.

In Buchenwald underground with the help of Leonid Drapkina, who was good at radiotele were able to build a ham radio station. The place of manufacture of the equipment for which could cost lives and was a nook in the boiler room. Finally Drapkin with tears in his eyes, was able to exclaim: “I heard the voice of a native of Moscow!”. The underground could hardly contain his excitement when once again clinging to the headphones they have heard the dear words: “Moscow speaking!”.

In some camps sometimes managed to start production of underground Newspapers, which, of course, were written by hand on paper copybooks. They usually contained information about the situation at the front. But more often the role of information tool performed the leaflets, which Adrathe owl is not only the prisoners, but the authorities of the camp administration. The Germans reported on the latest successes Crown Army and allied troops, convincing them of the futility of resistance.

According to former prisoners, to determine who was the author of these leaflets was not possible, as they spread through the camp through a chain of people. The most common source of any fresh information were the prisoners working in the crematoria. Dealing with sorting belongings of the victims, they often encountered different kinds of brochures, letters, scraps of Newspapers. So the camp learned about what was happening in the world.


the Ultimate goal of any activities of the camp underground was a revolt and escape. All the preparatory work was carried out with maximum care — any blunder threatened to underground death. One of the most striking manifestations of resistance was the escape of several hundred prisoners from the “block of death No. 20” in the camp of Mauthausen. The success of the uprising greatly contributed to the Germans themselves, brought together in one unit those who already had the experience of escape. It was the most rebellious of the prisoners of Mauthausen, which to lose had nothing.

on the night of 1 February 2, 1945, taking with improvised lookout towers, the underground opened the way to freedom for all prisoners of block No. 20. Of the 500 who participated in the escape of 419 prisoners managed to break out of the camp. The fugitives rushed to the side of the Czech border, but they had to deal with the unprecedented hunt that involved as the SS and the local Austrian population.

the Territory of the Czech Republic crossed only 7 of the lucky ones, reunited with the advancing units of the red Army. Two more fugitives rescued by the Austrian Frau, who kept them in his country house before the arrival of Soviet troops. The rest was destined to die a painful death from the Nazi bloodhounds.

In October 1943 there were no less loud the revolt of prisoners from the death camp Sobibor, which was led by Lieutenant Aleksander Pechersky. Here there a group of 9 Soviet prisoners of war, which almost immediately began to prepare an escape, and not to a limited number of brave souls, and for all prisoners.

During the night meetings of the caves convinced the comrades that the idea of rebellion is not so unreasonable, after all, the camp is guarded by only 130 people, of whom only 20 – SS, the other former red army soldiers defected to the enemy in the service. The main thing was to clean up the camp authorities and the German security.

on the scheduled day 14 October 1943, the uprising managed to liquidate only a part of the camp staff, but this did not prevent them to break through the fence and escape into the woods. Of the 550 who took part in the revolt of prisoners to roam freely about 300. In the weeks following the SS found and shot more than 200 people, many disappeared without a trace. Until the end of the war survived the 53 participants of the uprising, among them Alexander Pechersky.

Taras Repin

© Russian Seven

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