Russia: Last WW2 German Prisoner Finally Released from Gulag

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.

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

  1. “Look! We,re good and merciful country! We relased a prisoner 70 years after war!”

    • Yes.. They released a prisoner, who carried out a political assassination on the family members of a political leader..

      They should have executed him.

  2. If someone cross borders of any country withou permision or invitation of people from that country and even destroy property , soil the land and kill domestic people then he shouldnt be suprised if domestic people kill him or capture him for lifetime !!

    • Except people like that nowadays live on the welfare from the country whose borders they crossed.

    • That’s irrelevant and a rather stupid, badly constructed argument. Not to mention quite sick. Might have also escaped you, but he was captured in Berlin, so didn’t do anything like ‘cross borders of any country withou permision or invitation of people from that country and even destroy property , soil the land and kill domestic people’. Moron !

    • Dean: just an argument…..he could be signed in Berlin for the military service….but he could be also serving for more years already. This means he could be still serving as an occupational force in someones land….and he could just retreat to Berlin, where he was captured. Strange, isn´t it ? :-))

    • Dewald Scholtz | July 15, 2014 at 10:38 am |

      danko – if he did all of that before the age of 14 then we have to take opur hat off to him, actually..

    • Danko, he was 14! I suppose he could have been in the invasion force that invaded USSR, but that happened when the boy was 10 years old. Could have gone later as a new recruit, but seeing as young boys were used to defend Berlin as there was no-one else left to fight its extremely probable he wasn’t fighting on Russian soil. Even if he did the Russians would have had no knowledge of this when capturing him. It matters not anyway, he was a 14 yr old boy. There is no justification for it. I could argue that this boy could have fought and shot against both my grandfathers. Only the cruelest of societies would keep a 14 yr old in a gulag for 69 years

  3. The battle of Berlin, in January 45…Epic!!! 😉

  4. john sixpack | July 14, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Reply

    russia is a cheap whore choking on a soiled condom.

    • perhaps….but you are definitely an idiot.

    • john sixpack | July 14, 2014 at 11:48 pm |

      danko: danke!

    • Vladimir Stankov | July 15, 2014 at 11:09 am |

      According to Laurence Rees :
      5 700 000 Soviet prisoners taken from the Germans in WW2, 3 300 000 have died in captivity, nearly 60 % !!! In much less years – 4 against 10 !
      So, you are definitely an IDIOT !

    • William Leavenworth | July 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm |

      You have no idea of Russia’s history. Go hang yourself; you are waste protein.

    • john sixpack | July 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm |

      William Leavenworth: russian history – LOL.

    • German history:
      Owned by everyone

    • news flash people back in those days it didn’t matter what age crime was crime and got punished morons

    • Don Pedro | July 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm |

      Vladimir Stankov on July 15, 2014 at 11:09 am said:
      According to Laurence Rees :
      5 700 000 Soviet prisoners taken from the Germans in WW2, 3 300 000 have died in captivity, nearly 60 % !!! In much less years – 4 against 10 !
      So, you are definitely an IDIOT !

      What you fail to tell us, is that the majority of these Russian P.O.Ws that were realeased after the war, some were executed on Stalins orders and the rest sent to Goulags to meet the same fate as the executed, Stalins orders. Now, this you will not find in YOUR history books. I am sure.

    • george h. armstrong | August 16, 2014 at 7:18 am |

      I want to know where the 600 CANADIANS might be, the ones who were POWs in Germany when their camps were overrun by the Red Army. I thought we were SUPPOSED to be on the SAME SIDE. This is how Russia treats its FRIENDS, so don’t be shocked by anything they do to their enemies!

    • The Russian government killed over 3 million of they’re own people by deporting them to camps in Siberia. This man killed the mans son who caused all these pointless deaths were caused by Joseph Stalin who’s son was killed by 14 year old German boy, and I think Stalin deserved this after all he did send many people of Russia to their deaths

  5. Back pay?

    • Critical MAn | July 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm |

      mother fucking slavo russians , to keep a child as a war prisoner for 70 years

    • look on this picture – this man have so beautiful gaze, gaze of freedom

    • stinky_kraut | July 15, 2014 at 5:41 pm |

      mother fucking dirty krauts, to make a soap from the prisoner childs
      death to all kraut!

    • @stinky_kraut:
      why do you hate the krauts ? What have they done to you ? No human should be hated because of his nation.

    • what an error : Friedrich VON Paulus : that is not correct : its is Friedrich Paulus . He was not nobility

    • Jerzy Wójcicki | July 16, 2014 at 10:31 am |

      That child killed Stalin’ son – Jakob Dżugashwili. That’s why Russians have been so angry

    • Molnar Jozsef | July 16, 2014 at 4:55 pm |

      Fairy tail He was hitlerjugend 14 years olda defending Berlin Was in no position, was not a labor camp guard to be in position to execute any prisoner. It was siply forgotten in the Russian gulag system

    • Ian Fowler | July 16, 2014 at 8:26 pm |

      Every one should know that you cant trust the russians

    • Iwona, I’m afraid this is just a stock photo. it has been used to illustrate everything from a Bengali man being pregnant with twins(!) to a man being hit by lightning. it’s a very good picture, though.

    • El Nebulozo | July 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm |

      Germany invaded SSSR, killed a lot of civilians and did a lot of horific things. Russia’s revenge isn’t maybe a moral thing but on the other hand it is very understanable.
      This mans life is a tragical outcome of decisions made by German lidership

    • Stalin was sending military with only soars and rifles against German thanks and heavy machine guns. Fourteen years boys were the last Hitlers resort to defend Berlin. I can’t see how this young man could be responsible for anything.

    • Soviets were worse than nazies

    • stinky_kraut, please go back to Tel-Aviv you brainwashed retard.

    • Lusitanian Express | August 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm |

      Russians never forget, is on their DNA. German war criminals don’t deserve any kind of pity. Albert Speer is a good example of typical western “smoothness” to war criminals. I stand by the russians on this issue.

    • @Critical

      “mother fucking slavo russians , to keep a child as a war prisoner for 70 years”

      This was not just a “child” This was a brainwashed Hitler’s youth assassin who carried out an assassination of the family members of a political leader.

      Fucking Nazi should never have been jailed.. He should have just been executed on sight.

    • mavericklatino | August 27, 2014 at 9:59 am |

      cool, at least 100 deutsche marks.. lol

    • Generosity???????????????

    • He couldnt of executed stalins son because HJ wasnt in stalingrad they fought from 1944-1945

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