WORLD WAR II: AMERICAN POWS AND MIAS
The guns of distant battles fell silent long ago, but unanswered questions concerning United States servicemen missing in action and unrepatriated prisoners of war continue to concern the nation. Recently, the missing and prisoners of war from the Vietnam War have been the focus of attention.
But Soviet archival documents -- from an earlier era after World War II -- reveal that Americans were detained, and even perished, in the vast Soviet GULAG. To find out additional information about Americans liberated from German prison camps by the Red Army and then interned in Soviet camps, the U.S./Russian Joint Commission on POW/MIAs was formed early in 1992. Library of Congress officials, among others, have been authorized to research Russian archival materials on the subject in Moscow.
Through such efforts and additional cooperation, the fate of those missing in the Cold War may become known as well. Russian news reports tell of a United States B-29 aircraft shot down by Soviet interceptors over the Baltic Sea in April 1950. One of the Soviet pilots who downed the B-29 reported that the aircraft was recovered from the sea, but the fate of the crew is unknown.
The history of warfare cruelly suggests that some questions concerning the missing in action and prisoners of war will never be answered. Nevertheless, candor, goodwill, and a spirit of cooperation on all sides can minimize such questions. The opening of archives is a step forward in getting at the truth which can clear up the confusion and suspicion created in the past.