711.62114/7–1045: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy), at Hoechst

201. Under the Yalta prisoner of war agreement US Govt took the obligation to return all Soviet liberated prisoners of war and displaced persons. No distinction was made as to whether these persons were German prisoners of war, had been forced into or voluntarily joined the German army or were ordinary displaced persons who had been obliged by the Germans to work for them. With respect to Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, and Poles whose homes are east of the 1939 Line of Demarcation or of the Curzon Line, U.S. Govt has interpreted the Yalta Agreement as not requiring their repatriation since the US Govt has not formally recognized any territorial changes brought about by the present war in Europe.

In the US we have already returned to Soviet jurisdiction approximately 3800 German prisoners of war of Soviet nationality. Among the German prisoners of war of Soviet nationality in US [Page 1099] approximately 154 insisted that although they were Soviet citizens they be treated as German prisoners of war and not returned to the Soviet Union. In order to protect American prisoners of war in German hands, this group was not delivered to Soviet jurisdiction while American prisoners of war were still held by the Germans. Now that all American prisoners of war have been released, consideration is being given to sending this group to Germany where they will be divested of their prisoner of war status and turned over to the Soviet authorities. This action is being taken on the basis of a decision on May 18, 1945, of the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee.18 This group as well as the group reurtel 143, July 10,19 apparently falls in the same category, namely, they were captured by our forces while forming part of active enemy military units. They not only were apparently prepared to engage in military operations against our forces, and many of them did, but by joining the enemy forces they became traitors to one of our allies. For the above reasons Dept is of the opinion that the members of Vlasoff’s20 army or any other Soviet citizens captured while forming part of German military organizations should be turned over to the appropriate Soviet authorities in accordance with arrangements already in effect to repatriate Soviet nationals. Moreover, the CCS21 authorized SACMED22 in June to transfer to the Soviet authorities approximately 50,000 Cossacks who were serving with the German armed forces at the time of capture. These Cossacks may have formed part of Vlasoff’s army.

In regard to General Schilenkow23 and General Vlasoff or any of their lieutenants who may be considered as war criminals, their cases should be handled in conformity with standing instructions relative to persons falling within this category.

  1. For the State–War–Navy Coordinating Committee decisions of May 18, 1945, see footnote 14, p. 1095.
  2. Not printed; it reported that the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, had asked for advice in respect of the disposal of members of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia and members of the Armed Forces of that Committee who were under house arrest in the Tyrol (740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–1045).
  3. Lt. Gen. Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov, captured by the German Army in the spring of 1942. In December 1942 Vlasov became the head of the Russian National Committee, a liberation movement sponsored by the German forces. Vlasov was Chairman of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia founded in Prague in November 1944, and he became Commander of the Armed Forces of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia on January 28, 1945.
  4. Combined Chiefs of Staff.
  5. Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater (Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander).
  6. Maj. Gen. Grigory Nikolayevich Zhilenkov, member of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia.