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.

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

  1. It seems he was forgoteen on the gulags until now. They released him and just invented a fairy-tail story to justify their incompetence and their disregards for the most basic human rights.

  2. simply horrible how cruel people can be against one another. so stupid.


  3. Russian liars | July 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm | Reply

    Russian liars you are so keen to transfer responsibility to other. Stalin represented Russia just like hitler represented Germany. Hitler was not born in Germany either. Georgians are not friends with Russia. Russians currently occupy 1/3 of Georgian land. We have over 300,000 refugees. Russia is where the satan lives.

    • Germany at least had admitted their past mistakes and apologized for it.. Russia still has not done that..

    • luckily it’s not 1/3 yet, but it being 1/5 doesn’t make anybody happy.

    • How do you expect Russia to admit its mistakes when Putin still thrives towards Soviet Union. Russians still admire Stalin and think he was a good guy, not caring about the fact that he has executed more civilians than nazi Germany, sometimes justifying it with: “that’s what it costs to be a great country”.

  4. So where would home be for a fourteen year old???

  5. Mistake about Stalin. NOT Russian Leader. He was Georgian and was leader of SU. as about the child maybe he killed people but in this age he hadn’t deeply recognized the reality. also he saw his closes were dead and then everythig went by itself.Or Just in his mind he wanted to be a hero. Now everything is in past. and we, Russians- Georgians and Germans are no more enemies. so I am happy He is free

    • tell that Russians are not enemies to the people in the Georgian villages that are close to the border. They get robbed and kidnapped almost every day by Russian soldiers.
      Yes, they do. Even today!

    • Andy Chang | July 20, 2014 at 8:27 am |

      Another mistake, Hilter also was not borne at Germany, he was borne at Austria.

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