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14 March 2020

Issue of taking prisoners, placement and registration of German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war in Ukrainian territories during the First World War

Grani
Issue of taking prisoners, placement and registration of German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war in Ukrainian territories during the First World War

In this article, the author studied the issue of taking prisoners of war by the Russian army paying special attention to international agreements regulating this process signed by the Government of the Russian Empire and regulatory documents in the form of regulations and instructions, which did not always comply with these international agreements. The author also emphasizes the fact that the process of taking German and Austrian-Hungarian prisoners of war by soldiers of the Russian Empire did not always comply with these instructions and provisions.For example, according to international agreements signed by the government of the Russian Empire, a prisoner of war had to state only his name and rank. However, according to the regulatory documents regulating the prisoners of war interrogation issue, approved by the same government, he had to answer a number of questions relating the information on his military unit, the state of the enemy army, and the information the enemy was aware of on the Russian army. In addition, the author gives an example of certain military units, which did not even try to comply with regulatory documents, treated the prisoners of war very cruelly, and sometimes even executed them.The author considers the issue of placement of prisoners of war in the territory of the Russian Empire, which highlights the plans of the Government of the Russian Empire regarding this issue, and gives a number of objective reasons preventing the implementation of these plans. Taking into account the regulatory documents and recollections of eyewitnesses, he analyzes the procedure for the transfer of prisoners of war from the moment of their capture to the places of their detention.On the ground of the provisions on prisoners of war, he characterizes the standards of their living arrangements and describes the way these were put into life, focusing his attention on their stay in Ukrainian territories. The author comes to the conclusion that prisoners’ of war living arrangements did not always meet the established norms. They were very different depending on where the prisoners of war were.Their living conditions in the military units differed from the living conditions in the prisoners’ camps or the places of their labor exploitation.Also, sometimes their living arrangements varied depending on which nationality a prisoner of war was. Therefore, living arrangements were better for the Slavic prisoners of war than for the Germans or the Hungarians. A part of the prisoners of war was transferred to the private parties for assistance in housekeeping. There were even cases when such prisoners of war, getting to the widows’ households, started living together as spouses.The author examines the structure of the institutions and organizations of the Russian Empire, which were supposed to keep records of prisoners of war, and gives reasons why these records were not as effective as it was expected and dozens of thousands of prisoners of war were lost in the expanses of the Russian Empire.

Source: Karabin O. (2019) Issue of taking prisoners, placement and registration of German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war in Ukrainian territories during the First World War. Scientific and Theoretical Almanac «Grani». 22(9-10): 15-28

Source web-site: https://grani.org.ua/index.php/journal/article/view/1430/1406

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