The event this famous photo was taken on is part of what’s known as “Die Heimkehr der Zehntausend” (The Return of the 10,000), as they were the last German POWs in the Soviet Union to be released.
On a visit to Moscow in the fall 1955, Konrad Adenauer secured the release of the last approximately 10,000 German POWs from Soviet prisons. In return, the Federal Republic agreed to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. West German press reports emphasized how well the newly released men had survived their time in prison and how glad they were to reprise their roles as family breadwinners. The Soviets temporarily halted the release of prisoners when it became clear that the Federal Republic was seeking to delay the agreed-on exchange of ambassadors for as long as possible.