Deportations Joseph Stalin's forcible resettlement of over 1.5 million people, mostly Musl
Joseph Stalin's forcible resettlement of over 1.5 million
people, mostly Muslims, during and after World War II is now
viewed by many human rights experts in Russia as one of his most
drastic genocidal acts. Volga Germans and seven nationalities of
Crimea and the northern Caucasus were deported: the Crimean
Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachai, and
Meskhetians. Other minorities evicted from the Black Sea coastal
region included Bulgarians, Greeks, and Armenians.
Resistance to Soviet rule, separatism, and widespread
collaboration with the German occupation forces were among the
official reasons for the deportation of these non-Russian
peoples. The possibility of a German attack was used to justify
the resettlement of the ethnically mixed population of Mtskheta,
in southwestern Georgia. The Balkars were punished for allegedly
having sent a white horse as a gift to Adolf Hitler.
The deportees were rounded up and transported, usually in
railroad cattle cars, to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, and
Siberia -- areas called "human dumping grounds" by historian
Robert Conquest. Most estimates indicate that close to
two-fifths of the affected populations perished. The plight of
the Crimean Tatars was exceptionally harsh; nearly half died of
hunger in the first eighteen months after being banished from
In February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev condemned the
deportations as a violation of Leninist principles. In his
"secret speech" to the Twentieth Party Congress, he stated that
the Ukrainians avoided such a fate "only because there were too
many of them and there was no place to which to deport them."
That year, the Soviet government issued decrees on the
restoration of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic and the
Kabardino-Balkar Autonomous Republic, the formation of the Kalmyk
Autonomous Oblast', and the reorganization of the Cherkess
Autonomous Oblast' into the Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Oblast'.
The Crimean Tatars, Meskhetians, and Volga Germans, however, were
only partially rehabilitated and were not, for the most part,
permitted to return to their homelands until after the
disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank