QUOTE (A. de Koster @ Nov 18 2009, 08:38 AM)
We must keep in mind that the Russian prisonners weren't threated any better by the Germans or Austrian/Hungarian. There are reporteds of POW's returning in late 1922.
This is not a general observation, and I am hardly expert on this topic, but I have a bit of direct information. When the war started in 1914 my father's school was soon closed, and he went to a noble's farm (Rittergut) in western Prussia to work taking in the harvest, taking the place of men who had been called up. He stayed there until he entered the Army in mid-1915. He corresponded with friends on the farm during the war (I have a bit of this correspondence), and after the war he went back to the farm for a while and worked there as a bookkeeper.
Quite soon after the war started a large number of Russian prisoners appeared to work on the farm. Of course most of them were peasants and familiar with agricultural work. Of course they had to be guarded, so there was an old man from the Landsturm
(he seemed to be old to my 18 year old father; he could not have been older than 45, which was considered old in those days.), armed with a single-shot 11 mm rifle, probably that Model 1871. As the rifle was heavy, the Landsturmmann
old, and there were many prisoners, one of them was detailed to carry the heavy rifle for the old guard.
When the war was over the Russians were sent home. Some time later, some of them started to turn up. They had walked or rode the rails perhaps 1000 km or more, as Russia was a mess and since they had never been treated as well as they had been in Germany, where, for example, they slept between white sheets, which most of them had never seen before. (I might add that my father had some Russian, picked up on multiple trips into Russia before the war; when I was about 19 my father taught me some so we could talk at work without anyone understanding. So he probably chatted a bit with the Russians. At age 18 he had six languages,) They would pop up, supposedly saying things like: "I am Ivan. Don't you remember me? I worked so hard. Can I rejoin the farm?" (My father did not tell me if they were actually taken in. My father's oral history, much of which I doubted at first, has proved to be extraordinarily accurate, at least the sort of things that I can test against documents, sources, letters, etc.)
I would doubt that the Germans kept any Russian prisoners after the war. Why would they go to that expense? Millions of men were returning from the various fronts and needed work, and goverment revenues were a mess. The goverment was in the control of moderate Socialists and labor leaders, and occasionally certain areas or governments were taken over briefly by Reds with allegance to Russia and the Bolsheviks. There were commissions of Allied officers swarming over Germany, controling certain things, and looking for prohibited arms that they were supposed to turn over to the Allies. (My father was active in hiding some of them.) Holding POWs would have been against agreements, and really would have been counter-productive.
I am not saying that it is impossible, but it seems very unlikely. I know a lot about both Germany, and Russia and Poland in 1919 and 1920. Makes no sense. I would guess that many would have been sent back in 1917 or during 1918. The Russian Army had dissolved. But if you have a source I would be very interested. (I just read about 4000 pages of material from the Reichsarchiv
on the fighting on the Eastern Front.) More likely that some men went back for a while, or worked as day labor, as long as they could. Russia was a mess and very dangerous.