The United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy) to the Secretary of State

No. 1957

Sir: I have the honor to transmit for the Department’s information a report by a member of my staff on the repatriation of former Russian soldiers. There is described in the document the incident at Dachau on January 19, 1946, in which a number of Soviet nationals committed or attempted suicide, rather than be returned to Soviet Union. It will be noted that upon closer investigation of the individuals who are being repatriated that eleven individuals were released by the Soviet repatriation authorities as not being of Soviet nationality.

This latter situation is one of grave import and is only one of several reports of like nature which recently have been brought to the Mission’s notice. Investigations of these other instances are being made and the Department will be informed as soon as concrete evidence or information is received.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Murphy

Memorandum by Mr. Parker W. Buhrman, on the Staff of the United States Political Adviser for Germany (Murphy), to Mr. Murphy

Conforming to agreements with the Soviets, an attempt was made to entrain 399 former Russian soldiers who had been captured in German uniform, from the assembly center at Dachau on Saturday, January 19.

All of these men refused to entrain. They begged to be shot. They resisted entrainment by taking off their clothing and refusing to leave their quarters. It was necessary to use tear gas and some force to drive them out. Tear gas forced them out of the building into the snow where those who had cut and stabbed themselves fell exhausted and bleeding in the snow. Nine men hanged themselves and one had stabbed himself to death and one other who had stabbed himself subsequently died; while 20 others are still in the hospital from self-inflicted wounds. The entrainment was finally effected of 368 men who were sent off accompanied by a Russian liaison officer on a train carrying American guards. Six men escaped enroute. A number of men in the group claimed they were not Russians. This, after preliminary [Page 142] investigation by the local military authorities, was brought to the attention of the Russian liaison officer, as a result of which eleven men were returned by the Russians as not of Soviet nationality.

The story of this group of former Russian soldiers is that after their capture they were given the option by the Germans of starvation or joining labor battalions. They joined labor battalions and were subsequently transferred as a group into the German Army without their having any choice in the matter. This story conforms to the claims which were made by former Russian soldiers who were captured in German uniform and who were imprisoned in the United States. All of these men apparently firmly believe that they will be executed on their return to Russia. The fact that so many attempted to commit suicide is an indication of the unfortunate plight in which they find themselves.

The incident was shocking. There is considerable dissatisfaction on the part of the American officers and men that they are being required by the American Government to repatriate these Russians. The incident was further aggravated by the attitude of the Russian authorities on the arrival of the train in the Russian Zone. None of the American guards were permitted to leave the train; they were threatened with shooting by Russian guards if they attempted to leave the train.