The respective Directive entered into force on 14 October of that year, and payments was entrusted to the Federal office for Central services and unresolved property issues (BADV).

Over the past after that time the office has received 1152 statements from former Soviet prisoners of war, requesting the payment of such benefits. The money received so far, only 367 people. Why so few?

Difficult decision

Last year the decision was given to the German parliamentarians is not easy. Disputes about the payment of compensation to former Soviet prisoners of war in Germany lasted a few decades.

Some even refused to recognize that prisoners of war can be considered the victims of Nazism, which, since 1956, Germany paid a total of more than 70 billion euros. Others said that, if we are to pay benefits, all without exception — and a former prisoner of war of the forces of the coalition, and by the soldiers of the Wehrmacht who were in Soviet captivity.

The Commissioner of the German government for intersocietal cooperation with Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia Gernot Erler, like other social Democrats, believed such arguments unconvincing. Soldiers of any other army, he pointed out then, had not been in German captivity such monstrous treatment, as the red army.

"Scoffed at them as on prisoners of concentration camps — tried to convince his opponents Erler. — Therefore it is wrong to expose them as normal prisoners of war".

"Barbaric injustice"

According to the estimates of German historian Rolf Keller, the Wehrmacht captured from 5.3 to 5.7 million Soviet soldiers. "At least 2.6 million, and probably even 3.3 million died in German captivity — said Keller. — The mortality among the other prisoners was not more than two percent".

For prisoners of war in Nazi Germany created a special camp, which contained from 20 thousand to 50 thousand people at a time. They were, as a rule, just plots of land, surrounded by barbed wire with watchtowers on the perimeter. No huts or toilets.

The prisoners spoons dug a hole in the ground to shelter from the weather. In death certificates, says the historian, was often listed as "suffocated in a hole". Fir tree bark, digging up worms. 300 people a day the prisoners died from hunger and disease.

One of these former camps "Stalag 326" on the outskirts of town Holte-Stukenbrock — at the beginning of may last year called for the Federal President Joachim gauck. Speaking at a mourning ceremony in memory of dead Soviet prisoners of war, he ranked as the victims of Nazism, and the treatment of them called the "barbaric injustice and violation of all civilized norms".

The President in Germany is considered the highest moral and ethical authority, and his words were not without consequences. But finally persuaded the skeptics among German parliamentarians for six historians, experts heard at a meeting of the budget Committee of the Bundestag. They unanimously approved the proposal to pay symbolic benefits to former Soviet prisoners of war.

How to receive benefits?

To to obtain this benefit, you must submit a statement to the BADV. It is necessary to apply a completed application form, which — in English — can be downloaded from the website of this Department.

The questionnaire contains the passport data, address of residence, information about family status and presence of children, information about the stay in German prisoner — preferably with specific camps, rooms and location. In addition, the application form should attach copies of documents confirming stay in German captivity. This can be, for example, a certificate from the local recruiting office.

To contact the BADV can only himself a former prisoner of war or his agent, but not the heirs. That is, at the time of submission of the application, a former prisoner of war must still be alive. If the person died while his case was considered, the German aid may obtain only his widow or children but not other relatives.

It is believed that the living are still about four thousand former Soviet prisoners of war. To date the office has received 1,152 applications. Most of Russia (573) and Ukraine (285). But why 2500 Euro got only 367 people?

The head of the ad hoc working group BADV Steffi HAMPEL explained to DW that the majority of requests is either not applied is filled, with certified signature of the questionnaire or copies of the documents confirming the fact of being in German captivity during the period of time from 22 June 1941 to 8 may 1945.

Some documents to staff this working group manages to find in German archives, but much of it concerning prisoners of war, was after the war handed over to Soviet authorities.

Who gets the waiver?

In a memo explaining the rules benefits, specified that it will be denied to those "who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity". As well as those who in a specified period of time received for service in the German police, security police (SIPO), secret state police (Gestapo), security service (SD), security squads (SS), including SS troops, or storm troopers (the SA)".

But none of the applicants assured Steffi HAMPEL in an interview with DW, it was not denied for this reason. All the failures — about two dozen — has got only the successor of the former Soviet prisoners of war, applied to the BADV after their death.

The deadline for submission of applications is 30 September 2017. For more information in Russian can be obtained by reference to the telephone number listed on the website BADV, and specific assistance in completing the questionnaire provided by the staff of diplomatic missions of Germany in countries of the former Soviet Union.

About the possibility to receive benefits were also informed of the veteran's unions in all post-Soviet countries.