Repatriation through Odessa

There were 2,661 British POWs in Odessa (and thousands more from other allied countries) who had been liberated by the Soviet forces. Under the terms of the Yalta Agreement, a transit camp was established in Odessa to process and allied POWs liberated by Soviet forces, or who had already escaped from German captivity by their own means, and thereafter being sheltered and fed by local civilians. Allied POWs freed by the Red Army were in the main treated very shabbily. Many of them were robbed of watches, rings, and other personal possessions which they had managed to retain even after extended periods of captivity under the Germans. Their food at Odessa was very poor, consisting mainly of soup with cucumbers in it and sour black bread. The Soviets generally tended to throw obstacles in the war of repatriation, frequently calling off shipments at the last minute and insisting always upon clearance from Moscow for every prisoner released. Allied POWs at Odessa were guarded by Soviet soldiers carrying loaded rifles with fixed bayonets, and security was more stringent there than German security had been in the various Stalags.

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