Why did such a shockingly low percentage of German soldiers survive POW camps in the Soviet Union?

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Conditions were brutal. Food was scarce and labour was hard, and many died, especially in the harsh wintercodnitions. In a nation which had lost 20 million lives to the unprovoked invader, pity was a rare - but not at all nonexisting - commodity. The postwar Soviet Union was desperately poor and short on food, and POWs were not given any extras, but suffered the same conditions or worse. Besides, millions of Soviets had died in German POW care during the war, which did nothing to endear the Axis POWs to the USSR population. The USSR was of course, as everyone knows, a one-party state and and absolute totalitarian police state. This didn't help in any aspect. Here is more input: * German POWs were killed. First, there was a seriously low amount of German POWs that were captured (by the Russians). So, with most be killed and a low number to begin with, it was likely that a German POW would not survive. The Russians were also extremely heartless and unmerciful as they lost millions of soldiers. * My own grandfathers brother returned in 1954. He had only one leg and one eye, due to injuries sustained in combat, but had been kept as labour in the Ukraine for ten years anyway. He did not live long after his return, but he had no real quarrel with the Soviets. Treatment had been fair, he claimed, they got the same food as the guards and the same quality of clothes too. He found it hard to argue with the principle that he should rebuild what he had destroyed. He felt really bad about the whole war. Overall he didn't talk much about it. * The (Hungarian) grandfather of my wife came back in 1955, having worked in the Caucasus. He got a long life and passed away just the other year. His attitude against the Soviets was hateful. Treatment was ok, he said, but he never accepted being held like a slave for ten years, as he didn't feel personally responsible for the war. He was part in the 56 rising and had to flee Hungary, and so he practically never came home, which probably contributed to his ferocious anti-Soviet disposition. * My father (Ralph) had been captured in Berlin in April 1945 by the Soviets after being wounded in a fierce battle with Soviet forces. A veteran of the Eastern Front since March 1942 my father endured some of the most horrific fighting in the war. After his capture he was taken to a Soviet camp in the Eural mountains and arrived in the winter of 1945. There he spent 10 years of brutal treatment by his Russian captors. Many of his friends died in captivity whilst in the hands of the Soviets. They were worked to death by brutal guards who showed no signs of sympathy for them. My father told me how some nights Soviet soldiers would come and take away random Germans who were beaten, tortured and finally executed. My father rearly talks about what happened for those 10 horrid years and I fell it is my duty to tell people who do not know about these crimes committed by the Soviets towards German prisoners. From what my father has told me he says that what German PoWs endured at the hands of the Soviets was far greater thab the brutality of the Soviets in German captivity. Many of my father's friends never returned home back to Germany either they had been worked, tortured, starved to death or just never released after 1955. My father will never forgive the Russians for there terrible crimes. My father was finally released on 30th October 1955 and in 1957 we came to England where we still live to day. I am greatful to the English people who treated us and all other German PoWs so well. However one thing that I hate the most is the fact that everyone sees the Russians liberators of Eastern Europe when it was they who started the Cold War. * According to the official invetigation of the German state commission, out of three million German PoWs in USSR, only 1.5 million returned home after the 10 years imprisonment. Which of course implies very high death rate. However it should be noted that USSR territory was devastated by German invasion and there was great shortage of food and other supplies, so it was pretty hard to provide prisoners with humane conditions, when our own people suffered from hunger. * It should be remembered that many Soviets were treated harshly by the Germans during World War 2. Out of 5.3 million Russian PoWs in German camps 3.7 million never returned. And that all in just 3-4 years and given that Germany experience no shortage of food at that time. Although Soviet soldiers were not sent to death chambers as Jews (btw, out of 6 million Jews died in Holocaust between 1 and 2 million were soviet citizens, killed by special killing units (Einsatzgruppen)), their chances of survival were fairly low too.

Very good personal account of what history really was.
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