Other former inmates of Auschwitz were also to suffer at the hands of the Russians—ironically Russians themselves. 10,000 Red Army prisoners of war had been sent to Auschwitz in October 1941 to build the camp here at Birkenau. The handful who survived this horror, were, after their liberation, about to be persecuted again.
Pavel Stenkin, Former Soviet POW, Auschwitz: “They invented that at Auschwitz, this Camp of Death, they were training spies. So somebody got this idea in his head – what if they had turned me into a spy?”
Pavel Stenkin was sent into internal exile in the closed city of Perm in the Urals. A victim of Stalin’s policy that all Red Army soldiers who’d been captured should be treated as suspected traitors.
Pavel Stenkin: “When I arrived in Perm to work I was called in every 2nd night – “admit this, agree to that, we know everything, we only don’t know the purpose you were sent here for. But we will find out with or without your help. Come on, admit that you are a spy.” And I would say – “I am not a spy, I’m an honest Soviet man.” And the interrogator smiled ironically—”Soviet man”. And he smiled again. “Just confess and it’ll all be over.”
They were tormenting and tormenting me. And then they decided to get rid of me. They sent me to prison. And the details of my sentence – do you think I heard anything or I read anything about it? I heard nothing and read nothing. Judges were in rush they had theatre tickets so they were in hurry to leave the court.”
Pavel Stenkin was sent to a labor camp within the Soviet Gulag system. Captured by the Germans in 1941, he was finally released only after Stalin’s death in 1953.
Pavel Stenkin: “I was always feeling hungry. It was not until I was released from prison, in 1953 that I started to eat my fill.”