Thursday, May 09, 2013


May 9, Victory Day.

Amateur photo of a Red Army prisoner, taken by a German soldier in 1941-42.

German soldiers liked to take photos of non-white people they encountered during WWII:  gypsies, Jews, Africans serving with the French army, the black soldiers of the US Army.

The "Mongolians" coming from Soviet Russia's most eastern territories were no exception, and given the anxious expression on this man's face you can't help wondering if he died from mistreatment, starvation or disease a few months later, like 2 million other soviet POW's in German custody.

Or was he photographed because he had offered to serve as a "Hiwi" (Hilfs Williger)  doing odd jobs for the German Wehrmacht? It would keep him out of the POW camp, but have him branded a collaborator when the tides of war changed, most likely earning him a turn in the Soviet prison camp system instead, or death by firing squad.

Who knows. History is written by those who survive, and are lucky enough to be the winners.

Happy Victory Day.

Panzer: Sturmgeschütz III, ausf G
A group of StuG's in wintry conditions, most likely on the Eastern front. Note the telescope poking up through the commanders hatch. At first sight it might look as if the StuG's are supporting advancing infantry, but it's probably the other way round.A StuG was a lot more valuable to the Wehrmacht than a lowly Grenadier, and the troopers are there to protect the Stug's from Soviet infantry who would try to lop grenades down the open hatch or throw fire bombs (Molotov cocktails) into the engine ventilation ducts.

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