Russia: Last WW2 German Prisoner Finally Released from Gulag

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Yenisey | The Russian prison authorities surprised the international community this morning by announcing that they would finally set free on Friday the last German prisoner of war from the Second World War.

84-year old Reinhard Kunze, was only 14 years old when he was captured by Soviet troops during the Battle of Berlin, in January 1945, and was detained for the last 69 years in various Soviet and Russian forced labor camps.

The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergueï Lavrov, announced this morning that in an “act of good will”, the Moscow government was ready to “put aside their national pride” and show their “generosity and good will” by letting him go home.

Recruited in the Hitler’s youth (Hitlerjugend ) 12th SS Panzer Division in 1943 when he was 12 years old, Mr. Kunze was accused by Soviet authorities of executing  Yakov Dzhugashvili, the son of Joseph Stalin, at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in April 1943.

The son of the dictator had been captured during the Battle of Stalingrad and was killed after his father refused to exchange him for the German Field Marshall Friedrich Von Paulus, who had been captured by Soviet troops.

The Russian leader had however decreed that no matter when the other German POWs were to be released, the murderer of his son was to remain in forced labor camps until his death, to pay for his act of “exceptional cowardice”.

Until now, the successive Russian governments had maintained the sentence and realized Stalin’s wish, even if it had no real legal legitimacy under modern democratic standards. The actual government, however, seems to have changed its mind in order to appease the tension with Germany, that has developed over the conflict in Ukraine.

Many experts doubt however that this surprising announce could really have the desired effect, as it also constitutes an admittance that Russian authorities had detained illegally a German Citizen for 70 years, who moreover was only 14 years old at the time of his imprisonment.

This surprising news brings back painful memories to many Germans, has Mr. Kunze is only that last of a never-ending list of horrible stories linked to the end of the Second World War. Approximately three million German prisoners of war were captured by the Soviet Union during World War II, most of them during the great advances of the Red Army in the last year of the war.

The POWs were employed as forced labor in the Soviet wartime economy and postwar reconstruction. By 1950 almost all had been released. 

Officially, the last surviving German Prisoners of war returned home from the USSR in 1956, but it is now clear that it was not exactly true.

According to Soviet records, 381,067 German Wehrmacht POW died in NKVD camps over that time period, out of which 356,700 were German nationals and 24,367 from other nations. Many scholars and historians dispute those numbers, however, suggesting that the body count could be close to 1 million.

28 Comments on "Russia: Last WW2 German Prisoner Finally Released from Gulag"

  1. It is a sad situation indeed. But most people don’t know much about the Great Patriotic War… Germany invaded Russia and did a great deal of damage to the land and people. The war cost Russia more than 21 million casualties. This prisoner was SS. The Hitlerjugend Division was known for their political
    dedication and fanaticism. So this boy was certainly indoctrinated after 2 years of being in the SS. Just because he was 14 does not mean he would not kill you. I am glad he was finally set free and quite frankly it should have been sooner… but as they say, war is hell! One could say when you piss a country off, they write you off until they feel like forgiving you…just ask Cuba and Castro.

    • William Leavenworth | July 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm |

      Exactly.

    • ” One could say when you piss a country off, they write you off until they feel like forgiving you…just ask Cuba and Castro. ” Well, this is not applicable to Russia. They destroy so many countries and still say “why we were under attack in WWII?” Well ask the Finns, ask the Romanians. The answer is simple, to gain back territories occupied by URSS in 1940. An to change Stalin’s regime. To this kind of thinking; russians are not educated to think, how come they have the right to be in Berlin in 45, but countries occupied by URSS to not have the right to try to be in Moscow on what is for them counter-attack. Great war for liberation of Motherland from Stalin. Ironic, isn t it?

    • POLES, FINNS, LATVIANS, LITHUANIANS, ESTONIANS, BELORUSSIANS, UKRAINIANS, ROMANIANS, HUNGARIANS, POLES AGAIN, CZECHS, AUSTRIANS, SLOVENIANS, YUGOSLAVIANS, GERMANS, KOREANS, MANCHURIANS, MONGOLIANS, JAPANESE, IRANIANS, AFGHANS, …… AND ON AND ON…

  2. Now watch Israel nab him so they can administer further punishment.

  3. there is no barbary or inhumane deed which Russia wouldn’t commit

    e.g. they murdered Raul Wallenberg and tens of thousands of other heroes.

    Thanks to Putin’s recent sick behavior more people around the world are being reminded what grave threat to humanity Russia is.

    • Russia stands against banksters that’d do anything for their profit: manipulate governments and people, destabilize regions, bomb anyone they want.
      A murderer deserves life in prison. Nazi is still a nazi, even 12 years old.

    • Abdirahman Ali | July 15, 2014 at 12:51 pm |

      The same goes for America and west Europe the commmited alot of crime and yet all the speak of is russia and German crimes

    • William Leavenworth | July 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm |

      You clearly have no idea of Russian history. Russia was the wall that kept Asian and Muslim invaders out of Europe for a millenium, at enormous expense. The west rewarded it by invading it nearly every generation for over a century, from Napoleon to Hitler. Get a life or hang yourself. There are too many cretins like you who breed. Stalin was an anomaly, not the norm, and moreover, Stalin was NOT a Russian. He was a Georgian. But you probably don’t know that the nation of Georgia exists.

    • Georgia it’s a beautiful country with a very old history, when Germans were still in caves eating raw meat, Georgia has writers, books and diplomats. To say in short that German svine deserved what he got.

    • Please don’t speak for Georgians too. Thanks for mentioning that Georgia exists and it is an old country with culture older than German or Russian, but I, as a Georgian and as almost every single Georgian, am ashamed of Stalin being Georgian too. He is nothing to be proud of.

    • “William Leavenworth on July 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm said:
      <>
      Fatal errors. Where you come 1000 year from? Not russians kept Asians and Muslims away, but Greek Byzantine Empire to south est and peoples like georgians to the west. And deserts. Russians were enslaved by Tatars for years. It was Poland and Lithuania who fought them and limited them around Black Sea + Hungary + Romanian Principalities. After Rise of Russians, Russians defeated tatars in their own cradle, and after that just conquered to East, South and after that, west, becoming an Empire and wondering stupid questions as why other empires tried to eliminate them. Because you were an Empire, that s why. Because you tried to conquer slice by slice each nation, that s why. Because you did conquer a lot of foreign other smaller nations.

    • NEO you are simply idiot, who hear or see what he wants or what is in his sick mind. Did I mentioned anywhere Stalin? Did I told I’m proud if him? and please don’t talks for every single Georgian, Im pretty sure there are much more things in your life you have to be ashamed then Stalin.

    • Liza, if i were answering to your comment only, i would have mentioned your name in the beginning. My comment was a reply to all the comments above mine. I did not talk for EVERY Georgian, i said that my shame is shared by ALMOST EVERY Georgian. As a person who has spent entire life in Georgia, i think i can know Georgians better than the people from the outside.
      And please have at least minimal respect to other people, if you yourself want to get any, because calling people idiots and sick minded is not an adult behavior, especially when it comes to discussing issues similar to the one discussed here.

      And regarding Stalin: he is not a part of my life, he is a part of the history. And i assure you, i don’t have anything else from the history of Georgia that i am ashamed of more than of Stalin.

    • You say this as if America would not do the same thing?

      Wasnt just a couple days ago Obama blurted out “Yeah, we tortured some folks”.

      Thats just a single drop in the swimming pool of America’s crimes not only against the world, but against her own people.

      Wake up you idiot.

  4. I dont think the germans were using 12 year olds to shoot high profile Russian POW’s in 1943…they still had a very stong Military in 43

    • naah….the Germans have had troubles to have enough men for the mass executions since the Barbarossa has started. There was a small “uprising” in Wehrmacht at the beginning….the old “prussian” school officers started to accept orders to send their normal troops (from Wehrmacht)for the crusades and mass executions. They were saying the Wehrmacht soldier is primary a soldier….not the murderer as SS soldier. I think some of these officers were shot, others were replaced…..and the WH soldiers became the members of “cleaning squads”, when necessary…Among these, there were HJ units as well.

    • Until recently, it was not clear when and how he died. According to the official German account, Dzhugashvili died by running into an electric fence in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was being held. Some have contended that Yakov committed suicide at the camp, while others have suggested that he was murdered. Currently, declassified files show that Dzhugashvili was shot by a guard for refusing to obey orders. While Dzhugashvili was walking around the camp he was ordered back to the barracks under the threat of being shot. Dzhugashvili refused and shouted, “Shoot!” The guard shot him in the head. Either way, this was seen by Stalin as a more honourable death, and Stalin’s attitude towards his son softened slightly

  5. This is just disturbing, sick and mentally twisted. The BOY was 14 and was a child recruited at 12! For all he could have known he was bravely defending his country and probably his family against an army of Russians, with no knowledge of politics or real knowledge of the world or Nazi’s. He shouldn’t even have been taken, never mind sentenced to serve 69 years in jail. Any half decent human could see that. Poor boy and man. Both my grandfathers fought the Germans in WWII, Russian artic convoys and D-DAY and they would be turning in the graves. This is the sort of inhumane cruelty they were fighting against. Enough to make you lose faith in humanity. Now they release him for political gain with your standard, utterly delusional, Russian mentality statement. Horrific nation. No wonder all the countries they gained control of rose up against the communist regimes. When the Berlin wall went up everyone was running one way, when it came down they were still running the same way. Odd that most Ukrainians now want the same.

    • this “kid” was killing your men on D-day….this kid was killing my ancestors on the eastern front. I do not care, he was 12 or 14….I care what he was doing. He is still alive….while he was perhaps not so mercyfull to his victims. My grandfather was always saying….there will be soon days, when our liberators will be considered as occupants and our occupants will become victims of the Red Army….What a hypocricy, what an idiotic explanation of the history. And one more importat fact, my friend – Russia is a capitalist country 😉

    • And your ancesters were killing his. War kills more than just the “good” guys

    • ha was bravely defending his country and family from Russians? do you have a brain? who started this war? hwo was defending counrty do you have any idea? that sick child got what he deserved, killer has to be in preason for all his life, He should die not even seen his country. Ficking Germans forgot how many people they killed.

    • And do you know how many people Russia killed? He was a soldier who fought for his country just like the Russians, Americans, French and so on. Do the American POW in Vietnam deserve to come home after the way? They killed many Vietnamese people and lost the war so do they diserve to ve locked up for the rest of their lives?

    • @Danko

      Your ancestors have collaborated with the nazi regime.

    • The BOY was an assassin, who carried out a political assassination upon the family members of a political leader.

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