Collection of Information on War Crimes of the Austro- German Troops During the First World War (Based on Materials from the Moscow Province)

Bogomolov I.K.


Discussing the practice of collecting information among the wounded and refugees of the Moscow province about the crimes of the Austrian and German armies during World War I, the author describes the procedures, collectors and the main problems in interviewing refugees and army officials who were treated in the hospitals of the Moscow province. The primary responsibility for collecting such data was assigned to the Extraordinary Investigative Commission (EIC) whose task was to investigate the violations of laws and customs of war on the part of the Austro-Hungarian and German troops. Practically, the information and testimonies were collected not only by members of the Commission but also by army nurses, provincial authorities and the police. As a conclusion, the texts states that not all data obtained could serve as evidence of the ruthlessness and cruelty of the enemy, as the relationship between prisoners and refugees on the one hand, and Austro- German troops on the other were often complex and ambiguous. Not always the Russian prisoners of war were subjected to abuse; it was not uncommon that the army officials of the enemy as well as the local people treated them with sympathy and compassion. Such facts ran counter to the Commission’s tasks and therefore were not made public, being buried in the archives of the Commission, local authorities and the police. As an example, given is the text of brief memoirs of ensign I.A. Nazarov about his captivity in Germany, found in the papers of the office of the Moscow governor.


World War I; war crimes; atrocities; Russian army; German army; Austrian army; refugees; captivity; propaganda; Extraordinary Commission of Inquiry.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.02.02

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