Libmonster ID: KZ-2427
Author(s) of the publication: M. I. CHEMERISSKAYA

Moscow: O. G. I.-Memorial Publ., 2001, 328 p.

(c) 2002

The book by P. M. Polyana is devoted to the historical and geographical aspect of forced population movements in the USSR. It consists of an introduction, two sections, a conclusion, appendices containing extensive factual and documentary material, an afterword by A. Vishnevsky, a list of references, indexes of names and geographical names.

In the introduction, the author defines the original key concept of " forced migration "as" the movement of significant masses of people undertaken by the state in relation to its own or foreign citizens through coercion... direct or indirect " (p. 11). Here, he examines archival and published sources, and also gives a very correct and balanced analysis of the literature on this issue.

In the chapter devoted to the prehistory and classification of forced migrations, the author refers to a series of events in the Old Testament, mentions the migration of hundreds of thousands of families from north to south China under the Qing Emperor Shihuandi in the third century BC. He emphasizes that over these centuries, the driving motives for the use of forced migrations have remained the same: they are different combinations of political (preventing uprisings, easing discontent, protest, etc.) and economic (cheap, and sometimes almost free labor, transferred at the will of the subject of deportation to the right place and time) factors. As an example, the author cites the African slave trade, but here we can see some contradiction with the definition given in the introduction, since the organizers of the slave trade were not states, but private individuals.

Noting that" the history of the Jewish people is very rich in deportations and forced relocations " (p.24), the author states that for a long time the leader in this was tsarist Russia, which pursued a strict state anti-Jewish policy, the components of which were periodic expulsions. But, as P. Polyan quite rightly points out, it was not only Jews who were victims of pre-revolutionary deportations. At the beginning of the 19th century, the entire Muslim population (Tatars, Turks, Nogais) was moved from the Prut-Dniester interfluve to the Crimea. The author also refers to the forced deportation of the so - called muhajirism-the resettlement of mountaineers from the Western Caucasus to Turkey. But here we are talking, in general, about indirect coercion.

A lot of interesting material is provided in the chapter on deportations and preventive ethnic cleansing in western Russia at the beginning and during the First World War. If we talk about the east of the country, I will only mention the expulsion of Irani Jews from Southern Turkmenistan (it is noteworthy that this category of the population was not lucky even under the Soviet regime, and during the years of a rather benevolent attitude towards Jews in general) and the population exchange between Turkey and the Balkan countries in 1913-1923.

The Second World War brought an incomparable boom in deportations. About 30 million people were displaced in Europe alone. First of all, this applies, of course, to the policies of Stalin and Hitler. Although, as the author notes, even against the background of Germany and the USSR, Japan's attitude towards deported civilians and prisoners of war "was distinguished by some special brutality" (p. 39). The main ethnic target of this Japanese policy was Koreans. On the other side of the front line, things weren't going well either. Thus, Japanese Americans were interned and deported to the United States, and even before the United States entered the war, the Eskimo population was removed from the Aleutian Islands and the Pribylov Islands.

Summarizing the prehistory of forced migrations, the author expresses "a cautious assumption that in global historical terms, the most affected ethnic group from deportations were Jews" (p. 45). As a "cautious guess," one can probably agree with this. He notes that in the 20th century, the number of peoples who underwent mass deportations in two or more countries included Germans, Poles, Greeks, Turks, Koreans, as well as Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians, who suffered most from the "Kulak exile" and from the hijacking to Germany.

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P. Polyan offers his own classification of forced migrations. First of all, it divides them into repressive and non-repressive (voluntary-forced), as well as on social, ethnic, confessional and political grounds. According to the author, over time, "the Soviet system's commitment mainly to the ethnic criterion of repression, and not to the class one" is growing (p. 46). According to his calculations, ten peoples were subjected to total deportation to the USSR, while seven lost not only their homeland, but also their statehood. According to the planned resettlement, people were sent to areas with relatively favorable natural and social conditions (the North Caucasus, the south of the Far East, etc.), while the Gulag specialized in areas with extreme natural conditions (Kolyma) or special working conditions (uranium mines). The European North, the Urals, Western Siberia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia became the areas of settlement of the deportees. Of course, this division is rather arbitrary: for example, for a mountaineer, the punishment is to move to the plain, and for a Yakut, the humid climate of the European North, etc.

The first section of the book is devoted to intra-union forced migrations. Contrary to popular belief that the first deportations were initiated by the Soviet authorities only in the 1930s, the author refers to 1919, when measures were taken to deport them. The first to be evicted were several villages of Terek Cossacks. In total, 9 thousand families were sent to the Donbass or to the North of European Russia. As the author notes, the authorities transferred the vacated land fund (about 98 thousand desyatins of arable land) to the red Cossacks and the mountainous Ingush and Chechen poor, relocating a significant part of it from the mountains to the plain, which made it, perhaps, the true support of the regime in the region. The regime, but not the order, because after the eviction of the Cossacks, banditry in the district sharply increased (p. 54). I think that P. Polyan was not sufficiently critical of the sources: the term "banditry" was often used by the authorities to cover up (and still covers up) the fact of resistance. In addition to the well - known principle of "divide and rule", the very resettlement of mountaineers to flat Cossack lands also had a simple goal-to facilitate control, since it is unlikely that the Bolsheviks themselves considered the Chechens and Ingush to be the mainstay of their regime.

The transfer of a part of the population of the mountain-Jewish villages of Dagestan and Azerbaijan to the plain, which the author also says, is probably due to the same considerations, since the Soviet authorities did not persecute Jews themselves at that time. The facts of raskazachivaniya, and at the same time raskrestyanivaniya took place in another part of the country - in Semirechye, which was then part of the RSFSR. The local Russian peasant and Cossack populations were stripped of their land and sent to Central Russia, and the land was returned to the Kazakhs. It is impossible, however, to disagree with the author that this was explained not by a consciously anti-Russian policy, but rather by a peculiar understanding of justice and the desire to attract the local population to their side. In addition to the decisions taken at the center, there were also local initiatives. The author gives an example of border "sweeps" initiated by Ukraine and Belarus. You can also refer to the expulsion of Armenians from Georgia, which is mentioned in passing in the book. This eviction, though by no means repressive, began in Menshevik Georgia and continued after its Sovietization.

The author also pays attention to the problem of giving Jews land. At first, it was planned to establish Jewish settlements in the Crimea, but this was opposed by the local population. Then - in contrast to the Zionist idea-they decided to organize a national center of Jews in the Far East. However, despite the widespread agitation and proclamation of Jewish INDEPENDENCE, in the author's words ,the "idea of red Zion" failed.

Truly large-scale relocations began with mass collectivization and dekulakization, when in early 1930 the OGPU and the Central Committee developed directives for the expulsion of kulaks. No matter how vague the definition of the very concept of "fist" was, in reality even it was violated, and people were sent out who could not be classified as such in any way.

In the author's opinion, the planned arrangement for the placement of exiles "showed a somewhat blurry, but still a tendency: to ignore the natural and climatic living conditions (and, accordingly, the economic skills) of the deported Kulaks and avoid their resettlement in regions adjacent to the eviction areas" (p.65). So, for those sent from the Middle and Lower Volga, the Urals and Kazakhstan were closed.

Since 1931, the situation has changed, because, according to the author, the role of the economic factor has increased: the authorities were interested not only in taking away the peasant's land, bread, property, etc., but also in using his almost free labor in the labor market.

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a new location. The total number of Kulaks deported in two years, according to the data given in the book, was more than 2 million people. Most of them came from the Ukraine, Western Siberia and the North Caucasus, and moved to the Urals. At the same time, Central Asian kulaks and Bais were sent to Ukraine and the North Caucasus to establish cotton growing there. Locally, the exiles were resettled in so-called labor settlements and given the title of special settlers. As the author notes, "the arrangement and labor use of kulaks in the places of settlement was not just bad, but ugly, their number on the ground (until 1935) was reduced, respectively, and labor productivity did not grow" (p.72). The authorities transferred all economic and administrative functions for managing the displaced persons to the OGPU.

In 1932-1933, a new factor of migration emerged, which P. Polyan calls quite accurately the word "holodomor". It was caused by collectivization, crop failure, and the withdrawal of "grain surpluses"from the peasants. (The author also does not mention the export of food abroad.) The most terrible famine affected the most fertile lands of Ukraine, the North Caucasus, the Lower Volga region and cattle-breeding Kazakhstan, where as a result of the policy of transferring the population to a sedentary lifestyle, conducted by Goloshchekin, from 1 to 2 million people died, and 2 million migrated to other republics and countries. According to P. Polyan, this "served as one of the reasons for the conspicuous concentration of ethnically deported special settlers and administratively expelled in Kazakhstan, as well as in the republics of Central Asia" (p.79). Ukraine was also depopulated: among those who were not expelled, not all quietly waited for starvation, some (although this is not mentioned) moved to Transcaucasia.

In 1935, repressions began to be carried out against nobles, priests and other "former"people. The author writes that this purge was limited to Leningrad, but this is not entirely true: nobles were also evicted from the border areas. At the same time, it was not necessarily about the carriers of big names or the heirs of huge estates. After all, in tsarist Russia, in order to become a nobleman, it was enough to reach a certain rank or finish university.

At the same time, ethnic cleansing also began. Finns and Germans were expelled from Leningrad and its suburbs, and Germans and Poles were expelled from the border regions of Ukraine. They were sent mainly to Kazakhstan. "But the main front of the deportation operation in 1937 was not the western, but the Far Eastern border, and their main victims were undoubtedly Koreans - the first ethnic group in the USSR subjected to total deportation" (p. 90).

After the capture of Manchuria by the Japanese, relations between Japan and the USSR became very tense. While the Japanese government considered Koreans to be a breeding ground for Soviet espionage and deported them to the south of Sakhalin and deep into the Korean Peninsula, the Soviet government considered them (and the Chinese) to be a "breeding ground" for Soviet espionage. as potential Japanese spies. An article about this even appeared in Pravda in the spring of 1937. In August 1937, the regional NKVD was headed by G. S. Lyushkov (on June 13, 1938, he fled to Manchuria), who brought with him a decree of the SNK and Central Committee on the eviction of Koreans. The author writes that at the same time, the authorities neglected "economic interests". What kind of interests, he does not specify, but it is clear that for the already sparsely populated territory of the Far East, the removal of almost 170 thousand people who are extremely hardworking and familiar with local natural conditions could not have been painless. The majority of Koreans ended up in Kazakhstan, some in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian republics. Although the regime established for Koreans corresponded to the regime of special settlers, formally they were neither special settlers nor administratively exiled. At the same time, Kurds were evicted from Transcaucasia to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The author estimates the total number of new deportees in 1933-1937 at about 260 thousand people; about two-thirds of them were Koreans. In addition, forbidden lanes were formed on the southern borders of Central Asia and Transcaucasia, from where the local population was pushed back.

The year 1938, which was so harshly remembered by the intelligentsia, the military and cadre party members, passed relatively calmly in terms of forced migrations, as the author notes. Although at the same time, about 6 thousand Iranians who had obtained Soviet citizenship were resettled from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan. Fazil Iskander mentions the fate of Transcaucasian Iranians who did not apply for Soviet citizenship in his memoirs.) Irani Jews from the Mary region of Turkmenistan were deported to the north, almost to the desert. But in general, the author considers this period to be a lull, though "ominous" (p. 94).

In 1939-1941, deportation was carried out from those territories that were ceded to the USSR under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Poles were the most seriously deported. But there were no zabs-

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you and the Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Finns, Moldovans, Ukrainian "nationalists". The Jewish population was also deported. But here, as they say, there would be no happiness but misfortune helped: the resettlement to the East of the USSR saved the Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The total number of deportees from the new western regions reached 380-390 thousand people (P. Polyan cites the opinion of other researchers, for whom this figure is much higher.) Northern European Russia, the Urals, Siberia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan became the regions of settlement.

With the beginning of the Second World War, a new stage, or rather stages, of forced migrations within the USSR, began. The author defines the first of them as "total preventive deportations" and refers them to 1941-1942. First, the blow fell on the Soviet Germans. In this, however, the USSR did not differ from many countries that persecuted their citizens because they ethnically belonged to the titular nation of the state with which the war was going on (for example, the Japanese in the United States). First, the Crimean Germans suffered, then, by Decree of August 28, 1941, the Volga Germans. The Germans of Kazakhstan and Western Siberia were transferred to a special contingent, but they did not relocate. In total, about a million people were registered. In September, they started forming a labor army, whose soldiers lived on a camp regime and with appropriate food standards. Finns, Romanians and Italians, i.e. citizens of those nationalities whose countries were allies of Germany, were also mobilized to the labor army. As the author writes, "for reasons that are not entirely clear, the Greeks were also included in the number of pre-emptively deported peoples" (p. 116).

The author calls the next stage of deportation "retribution" actions. Despite the quotation marks in the title and in the text of the paragraph, the term cannot but cause internal resistance. Retribution involves retaliating against certain actions. For what did they take revenge on the peoples in question? Karachay residents were the first to be deported (1943). However, they tried to bring some charges: cooperation with the invaders, an attempt to raise an anti-Soviet uprising, "banditry", desertion. But specifically accused together with their families, there were 472 people who were arrested and sent out of the region. If we assume that these people were really at fault, then the retribution against them (not their families) was quite mild for wartime. However, in October, all the Karachai people-women, children, the elderly, and demobilized Red Army soldiers - were transferred to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The territory of the AO was divided between the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories, as well as Georgia.

Then came the Kalmyks. They did not search for the perpetrators, especially since the 110th Kalmyk cavalry division, which had surrendered, was inaccessible. The deportation, billed as a means of "settling an interethnic conflict," took place in the dead of winter of 1943/44. According to a well-known logic, the steppe people were evicted to the Yamalo-Nenets and Khanty-Mansi districts. In place of the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, the Astrakhan Region was formed, part of the Kalmyk lands went to the Stalingrad and Rostov regions. Stavropol Territory, the so-called Black Lands-to Dagestan.

Starting with deportations of relatively small peoples (Karachays slightly less than 76 thousand, Kalmyks slightly more than 134 thousand), the authorities began to deal with a larger ethnic group of the Caucasus - Vainakhs, i.e. Chechens and Ingush. At that time, there were about half a million of them. Since these peoples were not under occupation, they were accused of creating a certain rebel committee. On February 23, 1944, Operation Lentil began. Not without excesses, the mountaineers were transported to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Grozny district was formed on the territory of the republic. Most of the Ingush lands were ceded to the North Ossetian ASSR, the southernmost part to Georgia, and part of the eastern and southeastern lands to Dagestan. In early March, the Balkars, a people related to the Karachays, were deported. They were accused of failing to defend Elbrus and sent to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The Kabardino-Balkar ASSR became simply Kabardian, and the southwestern part of Balkaria passed to Georgia.

In the spring and summer of 1944, Crimean Tatars (about 875,000), Bulgarians, remaining Greeks, Italians, Armenians, and others were evicted from Crimea. Most of those expelled from Crimea were sent to Uzbekistan, but some families ended up in the Urals, the Urals, and even the Moscow Region. According to the author, "the mass spring evictions from Crimea in 1944 can be considered not only as a total ethnic deportation, but also as a kind of border cleansing" (p.127).

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The next victim of Stalin's ethnic policy was his homeland - Georgia. In November 1944, Meskhetian Turks (about 100 thousand), Khemshils (Muslim Armenians), Kurds and a certain number of Gypsies were sent from there to Central Asia. The author again interprets these expulsions as preventive-related to the perceived danger of a conflict with Turkey. Of the peoples repressed during this period, only the Kalmyks were not Muslims. Four of the seven peoples belonged to the Turkic language group. In addition to the "punished peoples", during the period under review, they were deported (mainly from the west to the east). about 260 thousand more people.

The author also dwells on the problem of compensatory migrations. Most of them were voluntary and compulsory in nature. The situation was complicated by the fact that the deported peoples were mainly agricultural, and consequently their life was strongly connected with certain natural and climatic conditions. The new settlers, of course, did not have this experience. As a result, the high-altitude Balkar villages were generally abandoned, however, the authorities did not insist on their development. But the Dagestani mountaineers were very intensively resettled in the flat part of Chechnya. On the territory of the German Volga region, agriculture declined sharply. The author, unfortunately, does not write anything about the development of Kalmykia with its very special nature. But it describes how paradoxically the development of the fertile Crimea developed. In general, according to the author's calculations, the population displaced to the place of the deportees was 840 thousand people.

Deportations continued after the war. First of all, it concerned people released from prisons and camps. They were sent into exile, usually "eternal". The "purges" of national republics continued. Thus, Iranians, Assyrians and others were evicted from Georgia and sent to Kazakhstan. The so-called Basmachi people from Tajikistan were also sent there. From the annexed territories of the Baltic States and Moldova, the "dispossessed" were sent mainly to Siberia and the Far East.

Since 1948, the decree on parasitism came into force, which resulted in mass expulsions beyond the Urals. Expulsions for vagrancy and begging - very common phenomena after any war-also increased.

Of course, during this period, the issue of compensatory relocations also re-emerged. It was about the Kaliningrad region and South Sakhalin. Unfortunately, the book says almost nothing about this, nor does it mention the alleged plan for mass deportation of Jews from the central and western regions. I would like to add that there is indirect information about the planned deportation of Volga Tatars. The author estimates the total number of deportees in the post-war years at about 380-400 thousand people. The main source of eviction was the western borderlands. There were also changes in the geography of settlement: "Eastern Siberia began to play an increasingly prominent role... while the role of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan has significantly weakened" (p. 145).

The last chapter of the section is called "Geographical features of the settlement of deported peoples and the process of their rehabilitation in the USSR". It seems to me quite mechanical to combine these two topics: it would be more appropriate to single out "geographical features" or attach them to the previous chapter. So, of the totally punished peoples, the Germans were the most widely dispersed, even in the European part of the USSR. Chechens - the second largest people among the totally repressed peoples-were mainly settled in Kyrgyzstan and the border regions of Kazakhstan, as well as in Karakalpakstan. There were more Germans in the rest of Kazakhstan, but there were also Chechens there (for example, in the Guryev oil fields). Most of the Crimean Tatars were in Uzbekistan, less in Tajikistan and in the European part of the USSR. The Kalmyks were most concentrated to the east: in Siberia, mainly in the West, in the Far East, up to Sakhalin, where they worked in fishing fields. The Ingush, as in the Caucasus, lived close to the Chechens, but quite separately. The Karachay and Balkarian populations are concentrated in Kyrgyzstan and the southern regions of Kazakhstan. Meskhetian Turks were concentrated in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, especially in the Ferghana Valley common to both republics. P. Polyan writes: "If we recall how many kulaks, how many Germans, Koreans and peoples of the North Caucasus Kazakhstan absorbed during the years of deportation, then it seems that the demographic blow received by the region in 1932-1933 as a result of starvation and migration of Kazakhs to China was most likely caused by the population of the region. compensated and overcome" (p. 154). The author is probably right, but how tragic it sounds.

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Rehabilitation of the" punished " peoples began in the mid-1950s, but has not been completed to this day. The author divides these peoples into three groups: 1) fully rehabilitated (Karachays and Balkars; not only were the charges against them dropped, but they also returned to their former places of residence, where their autonomy was restored, however, to Karachays along with Circassians); 2) partially rehabilitated (Kalmyks, Chechens and Ingush; their autonomy was restored, but the territories were not fully returned3) those who cannot be considered truly rehabilitated at all (Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, and Meskhetian Turks). The latter group should also include Koreans. According to P. Polyan, the situation with the second group is the most conflict-prone. However, it can be objected to the author that, as far as is known, the Kalmyks do not enter into conflicts with their neighbors over the two districts that were not returned to them, while a real tragedy occurred in the Ferghana Valley, which ended with the expulsion of the Meskhetian Turks, who were never able to return to their ancestral homeland. It is also surprising that the author, after giving a fragmentary account of the history of the Ossetian-Ingush clashes, says nothing about the Chechen events. Of course, the real assessment of such a complex phenomenon is a matter for future historians, but it should still be mentioned.

With the collapse of the USSR, the problem of deported peoples became international in nature. The author draws attention to the fact that there are also cases of mass deportations in independent States. Sometimes they are openly violent (the expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenians from Azerbaijan), and sometimes they are voluntarily forced (the departure of Georgians from Abkhazia). The last category should include the mass outflow of the Russian-speaking population from the former Soviet republics.

The second section of the book is devoted to international forced migrations. However, since we are mainly talking about the internment, deportation, labor use and repatriation of German civilians from European countries, who, unlike their Soviet tribesmen, were used for work not in the East of the USSR, but in the European part of its territory, this has nothing to do with the topic of the review.

Summing up the results in the chapter entitled "Instead of conclusion", the author characterizes the geodemographic scale and consequences of forced migrations in the USSR. According to him, internal deportations covered 6015 thousand people. As for international migrations, 3,200 thousand people were taken out of the USSR during the war, while 5,460 thousand were repatriated to the USSR. 300 thousand people were deported from Germany and the countries of South-Eastern Europe to work in the USSR ("vestarbeiters").

Internal deportations in the USSR contributed to an increase in the population, first in the northern, and then in the eastern and south-eastern parts of the country. We should also mention the movement to the west (for example: Koreans of the Far East to Kazakhstan). All these deportations could not but disrupt the natural course of demographic development of ethnic groups. "At the same time," the author notes, "almost all the deported contingents showed outstanding acclimatization abilities and managed to adapt to new living conditions, find or create a certain economic niche for themselves and, despite status discrimination, give their children the best possible education" (p.240). However, it was too expensive to pay for all these "successes" not only for the deportees themselves, but also for the country as a whole. P. Polyan wonders: did the labor of special settlers and prisoners have an economic effect? For both the author and the unbiased reader, the answer is obvious: slave labor cannot be productive.

Written at the intersection of geography, history and demography, the book is addressed not only to specialists, but also to a wide range of readers. I think that even people who have never had anyone deported will find it very interesting to read P. Polyan's book.


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M. I. CHEMERISSKAYA, POLYAN SETTLEMENT. NOT BY CHOICE... HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF FORCED MIGRATIONS IN THE USSR // Astana: Digital Library of Kazakhstan (BIBLIO.KZ). Updated: 28.06.2024. URL: (date of access: 25.07.2024).

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