Main Administration For Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees


The Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees (Russian: Главное управление по делам военнопленных и интернированных НКВД/МВД СССР, ГУПВИ, GUPVI) was a department of NKVD (later MVD) in charge of handling of foreign civilian internees and POW in the Soviet Union during and in the aftermath of World War II (1939–1953).

It was established within NKVD under the name "Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees (UPVI) in September 1939 after the Soviet invasion of Poland. The qualifier "main" was added in January 1945.

The legal foundation was the Sovnarkom Decree of July 1, 1941 "Regulations about Prisoners of War" ("Положение о военнопленных"), which was updated by the September 29, 1945 "Regulations about the Labor Use of Prisoners of War" (Положение о трудовом использовании военнопленных).

In many ways the GUPVI system was similar to GULAG. Its major function was the organization of foreign forced labor in the Soviet Union. The top management of GUPVI came from GULAG system. The major noted distinction from GULAG was the absence of convicted criminals in the GUPVI camps. Otherwise the conditions in both camp systems were similar: hard labor, poor nutrition and living conditions, high mortality rate.

Another noted distinction was that GUPVI was a major source of recruitment of future communist activists for communist states, such as GDR and People's Republic of Poland, as well as various "democratic committees" of Japanese, Austrians, etc. Significant efforts were channelled into " ideological reforging" (идеологическая перековка) of the laborers, and numerous clubs, libraries, local radiostations were created.

In total, during the whole period of the existence of GUPVI there were over 500 POW camps(within the Soviet Union and abroad) which imprisoned over 4,000,000 POW.

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