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Preiser

Set 16578

German Prisoners of War

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released Unknown
Contents 20 figures
Poses Up to 20 poses
Material Plastic (Very Hard)
Colours Grey and Green
Average Height 21 mm (= 1.51 m)

Review

The initial invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 had netted vast numbers of prisoners as the Germans thrust deep into the country, but eighteen months later a turning point was reached when the German Sixth Army surrendered at Stalingrad, and the Soviet Union found itself with its first significant quantity of German prisoners – over 90,000. In the following two years the Red Army steadily moved forward until it captured Berlin, and it is estimated that during the war they took about 3.5 million prisoners. The Soviet Union had not signed the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners, and everyone knew of the atrocities committed by the Germans during their occupation, so while there was not the systematic exploitation and extermination that Soviet prisoners faced, German prisoners were badly treated and neglected, receiving little food and medical attention. It has been estimated that 1.5 million of those captured died in captivity.

The box artwork explains the purpose of this set perfectly, as usual. These men have already been relieved of their weapons and kit and are being shepherded along, presumably to some temporary or more permanent holding facility. The poses then are all of men walking in a fairly relaxed manner, but they don’t seem to have the demeanour of broken soldiers. True one man is being helped by his comrades, but there is not the sort of unhappy shuffling that is generally seen in newsreels of such men. Most of the men have separate heads and arms, so there is some scope for varying the poses a little, but the poses we picture give a good impression of the possibilities available here.

One thing evident from all these figures is that the weather is cold. Almost all wear the standard greatcoat, but a few have winter jackets or smocks. Several have the warm toque, a woollen sleeve that helped keep the head warm, and a few have the German equivalent of the Russian Ushanka hat, but the rest have to make do with the peaked or peakless field cap. The general impression is of cold but not excessively so, when in reality many Germans suffered very badly from inadequate clothing in the Russian winters, and often exhibited a far more motley appearance then these figures. Still there is nothing actually inaccurate about any figure here.

The two Soviet guards are also well wrapped against the cold. One has a greatcoat and the other a padded winter jacket, while both have the excellent ushanka cap on. Both have no kit other than ammo pouches, and they carry a rifle and a submachine gun. Here too the poses look appropriate, and there are no authenticity issues either.

Most of the figures could easily have been produced in one piece, but this would not have allowed the kind of variation that is actually on offer here. There are some spare heads and arms, and everything fits well (although it all needs gluing). The sculpting is the same as always from the impressively consistent Preiser, with good detail and good proportions. There is virtually no flash either, so these have been very well produced.

As we have already said, this set seems to lack the dejected look so often seen in columns of prisoners, and while there is a good deal of variety in terms of uniform, still there is not the wide and often very scruffy appearance these troops generally presented, particularly as the war went from bad to worse for them. If you imagine these men as being those that survived Stalingrad, then they are hopelessly neat and healthy-looking, but perhaps a little sanitising of such a subject is not too surprising. Having said that though this is an interesting set, well-engineered and with no specific historical inaccuracies.

Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"German Soldiers of World War II" - Histoire & Collections - Jean de Lagarde - 9782915239355
"Prisoners of War" - Time-Life (World War II Series) - Ronald Bailey
"The German Army 1939-45 (3) Eastern Front 1941-43" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.326) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855327955
"The German Army 1939-45 (4)" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.330) - Nigel Thomas - 9781855327962

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