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Old 10-27-2017, 10:30 PM
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Default Penal Units

Hey all,
I'm wondering about everyne's ideas about Penal Units. I would think that the Soviets would be using prisoners as slave labor. I'm not so sure about what Western Forces would do to utilize captured personnel or criminals who didn't need a killing.
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Old 10-28-2017, 01:43 AM
James Langham James Langham is offline
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Quite a few references in the background to taking in foreign troops initially as labourers, then gradually expanding roles.

My guess is better food and conditions = willing help.
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Old 10-28-2017, 10:27 AM
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In WWII, both the Soviets and the Germans formed and used penal units. The Soviets sometimes used them to clear minefields ahead of an attack- by walking the penal unit through the minefield at gunpoint!

I think NATO units would use POW as a labor force. I don't know what the Geneva Conventions say about making prisoners work but even if it forbids it, armies by 2000 would be so short of manpower that I think it would be common practice (as longs as the prisoners could be fed).

A character I play in a long running PbP is a Latvian who escaped from a Soviet penal battalion. Here's a bit of his bio:

It would be safe to say that Varis Babicevs has a checkered past. Before being conscripted into the Soviet army, Varis was an enforcer for a small-time Latvian crime syndicate specializing in extortion and the smuggling of various black market commodities though the port city (and Latvian capitol) of Riga.

As a motorized rifleman in the Soviet army, Varis fought in several campaigns in Eastern Europe. His service record was anything but exemplary and Varis' frequent run-ins with the Soviet military justice system resulted in his being posted to a penal battalion. Having firsthand witnessed the calous disregard for human life- his own life, first and formost- accepted (if not espoused) by the Soviet Army, Varis deserted, crossing through NATO lines during a suicidal forced march mine clearing operation. For the penal battalion, these operations consisted of walking, usually unarmed, through mine fields, and "finding" (i.e. detonating) the mines in front of the main assault force. Any hesitancy to complete the mission as ordered was rewarded with a 9mm Makarov bullet in the back of the head.

After surrendering (Varis prefers the term "defecting") to American forces in southwestern Poland, Varis spent several months in NATO POW camps in Germany, before convincing his captors that his hatred for the Soviet Union was genuine. He'd picked up a smattering of English during his days "working" in Riga's black market and, as a result, was selected to serve as a scout/translator for the 8th Infantry Division during their planned deep penetration raid along the Baltic coast into southern Latvia. Since joining the 8th, Varis hasn't necessarily been the model soldier, but he has proven himself an ardent anti-communist and a tough fighter. When the 8th, strung out across miles of the northern Polish countryside, started to disintegrate, Varis was sent west to find a unit of stragglers. He found them, and now searches with them for what remains of their parent formation.
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Last edited by Raellus; 10-28-2017 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 10-28-2017, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
I think NATO units would use POW as a labor force. I don't know what the Geneva Conventions say about making prisoners work
[/I]
Articles 27 to 34 covers labor by prisoners of war. Work must fit the rank and health of the prisoners. The work must not be war-related and must be safe work. Remuneration will be agreed between the Belligerents and will belong to the prisoner who carries out the work.

Both the British and Canadians used German POW as an Agriculture Work Force. In German Migrants in Post-war Britain it states "In 1947 the Ministry of Agriculture argued against repatriation of working German prisoners, since by then they made up 25 percent of the land workforce, and they wanted to use them also in 1948."

The US has really had to deal with large number of POW since WW II. I know some of you are thinking "hey The First Gulf War" But NO the US never held large amounts of Iraqi POW's. All of the Iraqi POW's were transferred to the Saudis after US collection and processing as they were "Brothers in Arms", you find this in the US Army War College Paper "Enemy Prisoners Of War (EPW) Operations Operation Desert Storm" I have a copy if anybody wants it.

Anyway there going a series of camps in Europe and the US and Canada for sure These camps would be broken down along ethnic make-up (See Below) so as to maximize the Psy-Ops effort for recruitment as informants or double agents/insurgents. These facilities will far to the rear of the fighting possible in Western Germany along its border with other NATO nations or in the UK. These camps would also have liaison officers from non-military organizations such as the CIA, NSA, Army Counterintelligence, and CID etc. Most of the High Value EPW would most likely be transported back to CONUS for torture .I mean processing.

Here what I have for camps

USSR Camps

Russian
Ukrainian
Belarusian
Estonian
Lithuania
Latvian
Moldavian
Kazakhs
Georgian
Uzbeks
Tajiks
Yagnobi
Uzbeks
Kyrgyz
Turkmen
Tatars
Arabic
Azerbaijan
Armenians

Warsaw Pact Nations

Albanians
Bulgarians
Czechs
Slovaks
Hungarians
Polish
Romanians

Non Warsaw Pact

Mongolia
Serb
Croatian
Cuban

Special Status Camps (Retained Personnel and Other Detainees

Displaced Civilians
Sympatric Germans (Former East German Military) (German Run Only)
French Citizens (Held until repatriated to France by IRCC)

High Value Camps

GRU
KGB
General Staff Officers
Communist Party Officials
Pilots/Air Crew
Naval Officers
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Last edited by rcaf_777; 10-28-2017 at 08:23 PM.
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2017, 05:37 PM
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I'm asking because I am planning a bit of Twilight 2000 fiction(I might file the serial numbers off) and I was thinking of having a petty criminal get caught in Berlin and then wind up first as a penal unit laborer and wind up a camp follower in the 5th.
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Old 10-31-2017, 04:12 PM
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WallShadow WallShadow is offline
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Default Ludwig, a Forced Labor NPC character.

My godfather Uncle Lou was a plutonowy (lance sgt) in the Polish Army, survived the Blitzkrieg because he had a useful pre-war skill (butcher/sausage-maker), was captured and put to work by being shared out to farmers to help with butchering the cattle and pigs. My uncle was a clever and cunning fellow, and was able to wheedle and cadge extra food from the less-vindictive farmers ("We could make you such _good_ sausage, but we are weak; if only we had a little more food...."). When assigned to pour concrete for German fortifications, he made sure there was a little too much water in the mix, so the prisoners would be able to stretch out the relatively less onerous job, because despite how long they raked it, it wouldn't set up. At the end of the war, he was actually driving trucks without guards (where would they go? was the rationale), and he and his co-driver ran into an advancing American column, pulled off the road under a bridge, waited for the column to start past, then got out, with hands in air, yellling "Polski! Polski!" One Polish-American GI translated for them, they were sent to the rear, and my Uncle eventually got shipped to the US.
Feel free to use this as a character, with a few strings: his name was Ludwig "Louie", he was clever, but with a good heart, he was generous and kind to children (he adopted an immigrant child later in life), personable, charming, 5'6" tall, wiry, with short silver-blonde hair, bright sparkling blue eyes, energetic, a little larger than life but not boastful. (Kind of like Popeye if he were Polish and without the squint or pipe.) His English was a little broken (25%--35%) He could garden with minimum requirements (he first taught me about mulching with kitchen scraps), loved the ocean (many summers at the Wildwood, NJ shore), loved dogs, hated cruelty and injustice, was slightly casually anti-Semitic but not to the point of malice or violence just pre-conceived attitudes, and loyal to his friends and faithful to his invalid wife and visited his institutionalized brother-in-law regularly for many years.

If you can do Uncle Lou justice, please include him in your game, perhaps as a subtle Deus ex Machina who knows a workaround, or where to get a needed item, or is buddies with a certain guard.... He has a brother and a niece near Krakow, with whom he has confirmed their safety. He might have a cluster of abandoned kids he's supporting in some previously abandoned house he's helping them make liveable. He has a small nest egg he's squirreled away for urgent necessities, and he doesn't live large, only modestly. He can "make things appear" with a little advance notice: nothing big, just urgently needed. He'd be a great NPC for a group that needed a real "angel on their shoulders".
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Last edited by WallShadow; 10-31-2017 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 10-31-2017, 07:12 PM
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It's cool that you have a personal connection to this topic, Wallshadow. I've only ever read about prisoners of the Germans.

In a PbP I ran, the PC's encountered an American POW "paroled" to a Polish farm family as an internee laborer. He joined the party when they left but decided they were too dangerous and excused himself, heading back to the relative safety and stability of the farm.

I got the idea after reading about forced laborers in East Prussia in Antony Beevor's amazing, The Fall of Berlin, 1945. Apparently, it was fairly common practice to assign low-risk POWs to assist with agricultural work. Many were placed, in small batches, with local farm families.
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Old 10-31-2017, 08:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WallShadow View Post
My godfather Uncle Lou...
Man, I really like Uncle Lou and I've never even met him! He sounds like a hell of a guy.
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Old 10-31-2017, 10:46 PM
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Man, I really like Uncle Lou and I've never even met him! He sounds like a hell of a guy.
Oh, and one more thing: for a little old man, he could dance the Polka fast enought to make young girls exhausted!
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Old 11-01-2017, 08:22 AM
James Langham2 James Langham2 is offline
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This might be useful - there was a discussion before - http://forum.juhlin.com/showthread.p...&highlight=5th
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Old 11-01-2017, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
It's cool that you have a personal connection to this topic, Wallshadow. I've only ever read about prisoners of the Germans.

In a PbP I ran, the PC's encountered an American POW "paroled" to a Polish farm family as an internee laborer. He joined the party when they left but decided they were too dangerous and excused himself, heading back to the relative safety and stability of the farm.

I got the idea after reading about forced laborers in East Prussia in Antony Beevor's amazing, The Fall of Berlin, 1945. Apparently, it was fairly common practice to assign low-risk POWs to assist with agricultural work. Many were placed, in small batches, with local farm families.
German and Italian POWs in camps in England during WW2 were put to similar uses, either dropped off to work, checked in/out of camp, or (for more remote locations) out for a fews days of labor before being returned.

It's all the same general theme - using POWs to replace labor used as soldiers.

For the US camps, I would have the last Russian/East Bloc prisoners would come to the US/Canada from Europe in 1998; there may be some in camps in the NW with prisoners from the invasion of Alaska taken after that date. Later POWs in Europe would be in camps in Europe - Germany, mostly, as transport breaks down. These would also be the easiest to exchange for your own capture troops.

I could see NATO Penal units being used for (unpleasant) labor (rubble clearing, sewer repair) under guard. Releasing soldiers in the military penal system for farm work in West Germany seems more like a reward rather than a punishment; on the other hand, throwing away trained soldiers (that can be reused after detention) seems wasteful, especially when facing shortages of trained troops.

Uncle Ted
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Old 11-01-2017, 09:10 PM
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One idea I had for a group in a Story started out as 200 Germans doing Community Service(In lew of a criminal sentence). Who get caught up in the Fighting for Berlin. by 2000 they are down to a group of 21 and they have almost as many poles as Germans and a couple of Russians to boot.
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