Against Their Wil

Against Their Wil: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR

Pavel Polian
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 441
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7829/j.ctt2jbnkj
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  • Book Info
    Against Their Wil
    Book Description:

    During his reign over the former Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin oversaw the forced resettlement of six million people - a maniacal passion that he used for social engineering. The Soviets were not the first to thrust resettlement on its population - a major characteristic of totalitarian systems - but in terms of sheer numbers, technologies used to deport people and the lawlessness which accompanied it, Stalin's process was the most notable. Six million people of different social, ethnic, and professions were resettled before Stalin's death. Even today, the aftermath of such deportations largely predetermines events which take place in the northern Caucasus, Crimea, the Baltic republics, Moldavia, and western Ukraine. Polian's volume is the first attempt to comprehensively examine the history of forced and semi-voluntary population movements within or organized by the Soviet Union. Contents range from the early 1920s to the rehabilitation of repressed nationalities in the 1990s, dealing with internal (kulaks, ethnic and political deportations) and international forced migrations (German internees and occupied territories). An abundance of facts, figures, tables, maps, and an exhaustively-detailed annex will serve as important sources for further researches.

    eISBN: 978-615-5053-83-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Foreword to the English Edition
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Pavel Polian

    Dear Reader!

    A relatively brief time has passed since the Russian edition of this book was published; and, it seems, all that a new edition of the book or its translation to a foreign language may require is mere correction of minor inaccuracies rather than any serious update.

    However, this is not the case with regard to the studies of deportations. Nearly every month brings about fresh publications that contain new data and often shed more light upon familiar facts and events. Even every new visit to the archives often involves surprises and additional findings.

    There is no lack of...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    There is no established terminology in the selected area. This is the reason why corresponding basic and key notions should be defined in the first place (original Russian terms follow in italics).

    Forced migrations denote resettlement [pereseleniye] by the state of large numbers of people, either its own citizens or foreigners, using coercive methods. The coercion itself may be direct or indirect.

    In the former case we are dealing with repressive migrations, or deportations.¹ The latter term denotes “voluntary–compulsorymigrations [dobrovolno-prinuditelnyye],² i.e., those instances when the state imposes circumstances and factors that influence individual decision taking regarding resettlement in...

  7. Forced Migrations: Prehistory and Classification
    (pp. 17-56)

    World history has seen many examples of “deportations” and “forced migrations.” It will suffice to recall a succession of events described in the Old Testament, largely involving accounts of particular episodes from the life of Jews “resettled” in Egypt, Babylon, and other countries of the Old-Testament Diaspora.

    At the other end of the Eurasia mainland, back in the 3rd century BC, Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi ordered the execution of 500 scholars and the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of families from northern to southern China. The Incas practiced forced resettlement too.

    There is much in common between the intercontinental...

  8. PART I FORCED MIGRATIONS WITHIN THE USSR

    • Forced Migrations before the Second World War (1919–1939)
      (pp. 59-114)

      There is a widely shared view that it was not before the 1930s that the Soviet authorities took up such measures as deportations. In reality, however, the very first years of the Soviet rule, while the Civil War was still in full swing, featured these harrowing and extreme practices.

      In the western part of the North Caucasus the events were largely predetermined by the long-lasting confrontation between the “white” Cossacks and Ossetians allied with them on the one hand, and—on the other—poor landless Vainakhs, who cherished naïve hopes of gaining advantage from land redistribution that could be brought...

    • Forced Migrations during and after the Second World War (1939–1953)
      (pp. 115-180)

      It is widely accepted that 1 September 1939, the day when Germany attacked Poland from the west, was the first day of the Second World War. By attacking Poland in the east on 17 September, the Soviet Union entered the war as well.

      In September 1939, after the Red Army occupied eastern provinces of Poland, which were immediately declared western territories of the “reunited” Ukraine and Belorussia, “cleansing” operations on these territories were swiftly launched. This time it was Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish and other “nationalists” that were to be introduced to this new form of nation building.

      The dark shadow...

    • Patterns of Deported Peoples’ Settlement, and Rehabilitation Process
      (pp. 181-238)

      A prevalent majority of deportees were ascribed the status of “special resettlers,” which implied their strict administrative subjection to the network of so-called special komendaturas in their new places of residence. In April 1949 the number of the komendaturas numbered 2,679.¹ One komendatura was designed to supervise an average of 700 families.²

      On 8 January 1945, the Council of People’s Commissars passed two important documents—“Provision on the NKVD special komendaturas” and “On the legal status of special resettlers”—that mitigated the special settlement regime. Apart from the freedom of movement and freedom in choosing residence, a number of special...

  9. PART II INTERNATIONAL FORCED MIGRATIONS

    • Internment and Deportation of German Civilians from European Countries to the USSR
      (pp. 241-276)

      It is a well-known fact that—apart from millions of German POWs—German civilians from both the Third Reich and territories that had never belonged to it worked on the territory of the USSR. Their actual status and the ways their labor was used reveal many common features with those typical of POWs, and yet there are certain related specific features. There is no doubt that the motivation and “pre-history” of the use of German civilian labor in the USSR represent such points.

      The issue of the so-called internees (or—as they are often alternatively termed—mobilized and interned), that...

    • Employment of Labor of German Civilians from European Countries in the USSR, and Their Repatriation
      (pp. 277-304)

      The geographical pattern of the internees’ destinations is remarkable. As we can see, the State Defense Committee kept their word: most of the internees—over 3/4—were transported to the Donbass and adjacent metal-production areas in southern Ukraine (see table 15 and figure 8).

      Another 11% were “employed” in the Urals. Relatively small target groups were placed in the North Caucasus, Belorussia, Ukraine and the Moscow Obl. Among the 15 oblasts in which one labor battalion was stationed, only 2 (the Aktyubinsk and Kemerovo Obls.) were located to the east of the Urals, and another 3 in the north of...

    • In Lieu of a Conclusion: Geo-demographic Scale and Repercussions of Forced Migrations in the USSR
      (pp. 305-320)

      Forced migrations were practiced in the USSR starting from 1919–1920 until 1952–1953, i.e., during one-third of a century and nearly half of the period of the existence of the Soviet Union, which thus won it the dubious position of becoming the world’s leader in the sphere of deportation technology and with regard to the results gained through deportations.

      The mass—and ostensibly disorderly—forced resettlement of millions of people produced a most serious demographic and economic impact in the regions of departure and destination, and in the entire country. Apart from a certain historical and geographic logic behind...

  10. Afterword AT THE CROSSROADS OF GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY
    (pp. 321-326)
    Anatoly Vishnevsky

    The book by Pavel Polian, Against Their Will, is the first systematic research of mass forced migrations in the USSR.

    The multi-million-strong movement of human mass over the entire territory of the USSR constituted an inseparable part of the 70-year-long economic, social and political history of the country. Undoubtedly, not all migrations were literally “forced,” but the question is whether they were absolutely voluntary. Any self-initiated movement of people within the country—putting aside going abroad—was complicated in the Soviet times, to say it mildly. Mass movement of peasants to cities took place as early as the 1930s (the ...

  11. Supplement 1 REPRESSIVE FORCED MIGRATIONS IN THE USSR (THE DATA ARE ROUNDED OFF)
    (pp. 327-334)
  12. Supplement 2 CHRONOLOGY OF OFFICIAL LEGISLATIVE ACTS ISSUED BY THE STATE AND PARTY BODIES OF THE USSR AND ITS SUCCESSOR STATES, CONCERNING FORCED MIGRATIONS OR THEIR CONSEQUENCES
    (pp. 335-372)
  13. Supplement 3 REPORT NO. 800 “ON PLANNED RESETTLEMENT FROM THE KURSK OBLAST,” 20 MARCH 1938
    (pp. 373-374)
  14. Supplement 4 USSR SUPREME SOVIET DECLARATION “ON THE RECOGNITION AS UNLAWFUL AND CRIMINAL OF THE REPRESSIVE ACTS AGAINST PEOPLES WHO WERE SUBJECTED TO FORCED RESETTLEMENT, AND ON GUARANTEEING THEIR RIGHTS”
    (pp. 375-376)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 377-398)
  16. Glossary of Russian Terms
    (pp. 399-400)
  17. Abbreviations
    (pp. 401-406)
  18. Index of Personal Names
    (pp. 407-412)
  19. Index of Geographical Names
    (pp. 413-425)