The Soviet Empire experienced a bloody war effort during WWII and experienced an incredible amount of loss. However, Stalin continued to lose citizens during his ethnic cleansing effort in which about a million people were forced out of their homes (von Geldern). The Chechens, Ingushi, Karachai, Balkars, Kalmyks, Mekhetian Turks and Crimean Tatars were sent from their native homelands in the North Caucasus and Crimea and sent to Kazkhstan and Central Asia (von Geldern). In Stalin’s State Defense Committee Decre No. 5859s, he states that the deportations are necessary because the Tatars betrayed the Soviet state. He claims that they deserted the Red Army and joined various volunteer units of the Germans and engaged in savage crimes against the Red Army and also helped enslave Soviet comrades to send to camps or to their death. (http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1943crimean1&SubjectID=1943deport&Year=1943)
Stalin’s decree also included his plan for resettlement. The refugees would be able to take their personal items, clothing, household objects, dishes and utensils and up to 500 kg of food per family. However, the had to leave behind their property, furniture and farmstead lands which were given over to the local authorities while their beef and dairy cattle were turned over to the People’s Commissariat of the Meat and Dairy Industries. It also laid out a plan for their transportation to their new homes as well as seven year loans of 5,000 rubles per family in order to help with the construction and development of the new settlement. (http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1943crimean1&SubjectID=1943deport&Year=1943)
To me, the decree sounded as if the Soviet government was trying to give a fair chance of living while also punishing their traitorous citizens. But the truth of the matter was, that the Soviets were ruthless in carrying out their sentence. For example, one night in February 1944, NKVD troops (a law enforcement agency in the Soviet Union) forced out tens of thousands of citizens with only 1 hours notice to the Chechen and Inguish populations. They killed the unruly and those who were too sick to leave and many died while being transported to Kazakhstan. (von Geldern). The NKVD moved 495,460 Chechens and Ingushetians, 68,327 Karachaevs and 37,406 Balkins to live in the Kazakhs and Kirghiz from February through March 1944. These numbers are unprecedented and is a truly devastating circumstance for so many citizens who lost their home and any sort of life they had created throughout generations.
James von Geldern, “The Deportation of Minorities.” http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&SubjectID=1943deport&Year=1943&navi=byYear
Iosif Stalin, “State Defense Committee Decree No. 5859ss.” http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1943crimean1&SubjectID=1943deport&Year=1943
Gregory L. Freeze, “Russia: A History.” p 394
Image: M. Semenov, ed.: Krokodilu–60 let: iubileinaia letopis’. Moscow: Izd-vo Pravda. 1983.