|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Soviet Union
Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories.
In most cases their destinations were underpopulated remote areas (see Forced settlements in the Soviet Union). This includes deportations to the Soviet Union of non-Soviet citizens from countries outside the USSR. It has been estimated that, in their entirety, internal forced migrations affected some 6 million people. Of these, some 1 to 1.5 million perished as a result.
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
Kulaks (peasants classified as rich by Soviet administration) were the most numerous social group deported by the Soviet Union. Resettlement of people officially designated as kulaks continued until early 1950, including several major waves.
Large numbers of kulaks regardless of their nationality were resettled to Siberia and Central Asia. According to data from Soviet archives, which were published in 1990, 1,803,392 people were sent to labor colonies and camps in 1930 and 1931. Books say that 1,317,022 reached the destination. Deportations on a smaller scale continued after 1931. The reported number of kulaks and their relatives who had died in labour colonies from 1932 to 1940 was 389,521.
|Repression in the Soviet Union|
|Political repression • Economic repression • Ideological repression|
|Red Terror • Collectivization • Great Purge • Population transfer • Gulag • Holodomor • Political abuse of psychiatry|
|Religion • Suppressed research • Censorship • Censorship of images|
During the 1930s, categorisation of so-called enemies of the people shifted from the usual Marxist-Leninist, class-based terms, such as kulak, to ethnic-based ones. The partial removal of potentially trouble-making ethnic groups was a technique used consistently by Joseph Stalin during his career; between 1935 and 1938 alone, at least nine different nationalities were deported. Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union led to a massive escalation in Soviet ethnic cleansing.
Looking at the entire period of Stalin's rule, one can list: Poles (1939–1941 and 1944–1945), Romanians (1941 and 1944–1953), Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians (1941 and 1945–1949), Volga Germans (1941–1945), Ingrian Finns (1929–1931 and 1935–1939), Finnish people in Karelia (1940–1941, 1944), Crimean Tatars, Crimean Greeks(1944) and Caucasus Greeks (1949-50), Kalmyks, Balkars, Karachays, Meskhetian Turks, Karapapaks, Far East Koreans (1937), Chechens and Ingushs (1944). Shortly before, during and immediately after World War II, Stalin conducted a series of deportations on a huge scale which profoundly affected the ethnic map of the Soviet Union. It is estimated that between 1941 and 1949 nearly 3.3 million were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. By some estimates up to 43% of the resettled population died of diseases and malnutrition.
The deportations started with Poles from Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia (see Polish minority in Soviet Union) 1932-1936. Koreans in the Russian Far East were deported in 1937. (See Deportation of Koreans in the Soviet Union.)
After the Soviet invasion of Poland following the corresponding German invasion that marked the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviet Union annexed eastern parts (known as Kresy to the Polish) of the Second Polish Republic. During 1939-1941 1.45 million people inhabiting the region were deported by the Soviet regime, of whom 63.1% were Poles, and 7.4% were Jews. Previously it was believed that about 1.0 million Polish citizens died at the hands of the Soviets, however recently Polish historians, based mostly on queries in Soviet archives, estimate the number of deaths at about 350,000 people deported in 1939-1945. From the newly conquered Eastern Poland 1.5 million people were deported.
The same followed in the Baltic Republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been deported from the Baltic in 1940-1953. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulag. 10% of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to labor camps. In 1989, native Latvians represented only 52% of the population of their own country. In Estonia, the figure was 62%. In Lithuania, the situation was better because the colonists sent to that country actually moved to the former area of Eastern Prussia (now Kaliningrad) which, contrary to the original plans, never became part of Lithuania. (See June deportation, Operation Priboi, Soviet deportations from Estonia.)
During World War II, particularly in 1943-44, the Soviet government conducted a series of deportations. Some 1.9 million people were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. Treasonous collaboration with the invading Germans and anti-Soviet rebellion were the official reasons for these deportations. Out of approximately 183,000 Crimean Tatars, 20,000 or 10% of the entire population served in German battalions. Moreover, Tatar Council organized a mass slaughter of Russian in Crimea, killing between 70,000 and 120,000 Russians. Consequently, Tatars too were transferred en masse by the Soviets after the war.
Volga Germans and seven (non-Slavic) nationalities of the Crimea and the northern Caucasus were deported: the Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, and Meskhetian Turks. All Crimean Tatars were deported en masse, in a form of collective punishment, on 18 May 1944 as special settlers to Uzbek SSR and other distant parts of the Soviet Union. According to NKVD data, nearly 20% died in exile during the following year and a half. Crimean Tatar activists have reported this figure to be nearly 46%. (See Deportation of Crimean Tatars.)
Poland and Soviet Ukraine conducted population exchanges - Poles that resided east of the established Poland-Soviet border were deported to Poland (c.a. 2,100,000 persons) and Ukrainians that resided west of the established Poland-Soviet Union border were deported to Soviet Ukraine (see Operation Vistula. Population transfer to Soviet Ukraine occurred from September 1944 to April 1946 (ca. 450,000 persons). Some Ukrainians (ca. 200,000 persons) left southeast Poland more or less voluntarily (between 1944 and 1945).
In February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev in his speech On the Personality Cult and its Consequences condemned the deportations as a violation of Leninist principles, asserting as a joke 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." His government reversed most of Stalin's deportations, although it was not until as late as 1991 that the Crimean Tatars, Meskhs and Volga Germans were allowed to return en masse to their homelands. The deportations had a profound effect on the non-Russian peoples of the Soviet Union and they are still a major political issue - the memory of the deportations played a major part in the separatist movements in Chechnya and the Baltic republics.
Some peoples were deported after Stalin's death: in 1959, Chechen returnees were supplanted from the mountains to the Chechen plain. The mountaineers of Tajikistan, such as the Yaghnobi people, were forcibly settled to the plain deserts in the 1970s.
Punitive transfers of population transfers handled by Gulag and the system of involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union were planned in accordance with the needs of the colonization of the remote and underpopulated territories of the Soviet Union. (Their large scale has led to a controversial opinion in the West that the economic growth of the Soviet Union was largely based on the slave labor of Gulag prisoners.) At the same time, on a number of occasions the workforce was transferred by non-violent means, usually by means of "recruitment" (вербовка). This kind of recruitment was regularly performed at forced settlements, where people were naturally more willing to resettle. For example, the workforce of the Donbass and Kuzbass mining basins is known to have been replenished in this way. (As a note of historical comparison, in Imperial Russia the mining workers at state mines (bergals, "бергалы", from German Bergbau, 'mining') were often recruited in lieu of military service which, for a certain period, had a term of 25 years).
There were several notable campaigns of targeted workforce transfer.
When the war ended in May 1945, millions of former Soviet citizens were forcefully repatriated (against their will) into the USSR. On 11 February 1945, at the conclusion of the Yalta Conference, the United States and United Kingdom signed a Repatriation Agreement with the USSR.
The interpretation of this Agreement resulted in the forcible repatriation of all Soviets regardless of their wishes. British and U.S. civilian authorities ordered their military forces in Europe to deport to the Soviet Union millions of former residents of the USSR (some of whom collaborated with the Germans), including numerous persons who had left Russia and established different citizenship many years before. The forced repatriation operations took place from 1945-1947.
At the end of World War II, more than 5 million "displaced persons" from the Soviet Union survived in German captivity. About 3 million had been forced laborers (Ostarbeiter) in Germany and occupied territories.
Survived POWs, about 1.5 million, repatriated Ostarbeiter, and other displaced persons, totally more than 4,000,000 people were sent to special NKVD filtration camps (not GULAG). By 1946, 80 per cent civilians and 20 per cent of PoWs were freed, 5 per cent of civilians, and 43 per cent of PoWs re-drafted, 10 per cent of civilians and 22 per cent of PoWs were sent to labor battalions, and 2 per cent of civilians and 15 per cent of the PoWs (226,127 out of 1,539,475 total) transferred to the NKVD, i.e. the GULAG.
|Date of transfer||Targeted group||Approximate numbers||Place of initial residence||Transfer destination||Stated reasons for transfer|
|April 1920||Cossacks, Terek Cossacks||45,000||North Caucasus||Ukrainian SSR, northern Russian SFSR||"Decossackization", stopping Russian colonisation of North Caucasus|
|1921||Cossacks, Semirechye Cossacks||Semirechye||Extreme North, concentration camps||"Decossackization", stopping Russian colonisation of Turkestan|
|September 1922||"Socially dangerous elements"||18,000||Western border regions of Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR||Western Siberia, Far East||Social threat|
|1930–1936||Kulaks||2,323,000||"Regions of total collectivization", most of Russia, Ukraine, other regions||Northern Russian SFSR, Ural, Siberia, North Caucasus, Kazakh ASSR, Kyrgyz ASSR||Collectivization|
|November–December 1932||Peasants||45,000||Krasnodar Krai (Russia)||Northern Russia||Sabotage|
|1933||Nomadic Kazakhs||200,000||Kazakh SSR||China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey|
|February–May 1935||Ingrian Finns||30,000||Leningrad Oblast (Russia)||Vologda Oblast, Western Siberia, Kazakh SSR, Tajik SSR|
|February–March 1935||Germans, Poles||412,000||Central and western Ukrainian SSR||Eastern Ukrainian SSR|
|May 1935||Germans, Poles||45,000||Border regions of Ukrainian SSR||Kazakh SSR|
|July 1937||Kurds||2,000||Border regions of Georgian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR, Armenian SSR, Turkmenian SSR, Uzbek SSR, and Tajik SSR||Kazakh SSR, Kyrgyz SSR|
|September–October 1937||Koreans||172,000||Far East||Northern Kazakh SSR, Uzbek SSR|
|September–October 1937||Chinese, Harbin Russians||9,000||Southern Far East||Kazakh SSR, Uzbek SSR|
|1938||Persian Jews||6,000||Mary Province (Turkmen SSR)||Deserted areas of northern Turkmen SSR|
|January 1938||Azeris, Persians, Kurds, Assyrians||n/a||Azerbaijan SSR||Kazakh SSR||Iranian citizenship|
|February–June 1940||Poles (including refugees from Poland)||276,000||Western Ukrainian SSR, western Byelorussian SSR||Northern Russian SFSR, Ural, Siberia, Kazakh SSR, Uzbek SSR|
|July 1940||"Foreigners" / "Other ethnicities" - Norwegian, Swede, Lithuanian & Latvian||8,627||Murmansk Oblast (Russia)||Karelo-Finnish SSR and Altai Krai (Russia)|
|May–June 1941||"Counter-revolutionaries and nationalists"||107,000||Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, Moldavian SSR, Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, Lithuanian SSR||Siberia, Kirov (Russian SFSR), Komi (Russian SFSR), Kazakh SSR|
|September 1941 – March 1942||Germans||More than 780,000||Povolzhye, the Caucasus, Crimea, Ukrainian SSR, Moscow, central Russian SFSR||Kazakh SSR, Siberia|
|September 1941||Ingrian Finns, Germans||91,000||Leningrad Oblast (Russian SFSR)||Kazakh SSR, Siberia, Astrakhan Oblast (Russian SFSR), Far East|
|1942||Ingrian Finns||9,000||Leningrad Oblast (Russian SFSR)||Eastern Siberia, Far East|
|April 1942||Greeks, Romanians, etc.||n/a||Crimea, North Caucasus||n/a|
|June 1942||Germans, Romanians, Crimean Tatars, Greeks with foreign citizenship||n/a||Krasnodar Krai (Russian SFSR)||n/a|
|August 1943||Karachais||70,500||Karachay–Cherkess AO, Stavropol Krai (Russian SFSR)||Kazakh SSR, Kyrgyz SSR, other||Banditism, other|
|December 1943||Kalmyks||93,000||Kalmyk ASSR, (Russian SFSR)||Kazakh SSR, Siberia|
|February 1944||Chechens, Ingush, Balkars||522,000||North Caucasus||Kazakh SSR, Kyrgyz SSR||1940-1944 insurgency in Chechnya|
|February 1944||Kalmyks||3,000||Rostov Oblast (Russian SFSR)||Siberia|
|March 1944||Kurds, Azeris||3,000||Tbilisi (Georgian SSR)||Southern Georgian SSR|
|May 1944||Balkars||100||Northern Georgian SSR||Kazakh SSR, Kyrgyz SSR|
|May 1944||Crimean Tatars||191,014||Crimea||Uzbek SSR|
|May–June 1944||Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, Turks||42,000||Crimea||Uzbek SSR (?)|
|May–July 1944||Kalmyks||26,000||Northeastern regions||Central Russian SFSR, Ukrainian SSR|
|June 1944||Kalmyks||1,000||Volgograd Oblast (Russian SFSR)||Sverdlovsk Oblast (Russian SFSR)|
|June 1944||Kabardins||2,000||Kabardino-Balkar ASSR, (Russian SFSR)||Southern Kazakh SSR||Collaboration with the Nazis|
|July 1944||Russian True Orthodox Church members||1,000||Central Russian SFSR||Siberia|
|August–September 1944||Poles||30,000||Ural, Siberia, Kazakh SSR||Ukrainian SSR, European Russia|
|November 1944||Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, Hamshenis, Karapapaks||92,000||Southwestern Georgian SSR||Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, Kyrgyz SSR|
|November 1944||Lazes and other inhabitants of the border zone||1,000||Ajarian ASSR (Georgian SSR)||Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, Kyrgyz SSR|
|December 1944||Members of the Volksdeutsche families||1,000||Mineralnye Vody (Russian SFSR)||Siberia (according to other sources Tajik SSR)||Collaboration with the Nazis|
|January 1945||"Traitors and collaborators"||2,000||Mineralnye Vody (Russian SFSR)||Tajik SSR||Collaboration with the Nazis|
|1945–1950||Germans||Tens of thousands||Königsberg||West or Middle Germany||Soviet Union got new territory|
|1947||Ukrainians||200,000||People's Republic of Poland||Former eastern territories of Germany|
|May 1948||Kulaks||49,000||Lithuanian SSR||Eastern Siberia||Banditism|
|June 1948||Greeks, Armenians||58,000||The Black Sea coast of Russian SFSR||Southern Kazakh SSR||For Armenians: membership in the nationalist Dashnaktsutiun Party|
|June 1948||"Spongers" ("тунеядцы")||16,000||n/a||n/a||"Social parasitism"|
|October 1948||Kulaks||1,000||Izmail Oblast (Ukrainian SSR)||Western Siberia|
|1948—1951||Azeris||100,000||Armenian SSR||Kura-Aras Lowland, Azerbaijan SSR||"Measures for resettlement of collective farm workers"|
|March 1949||Kulaks||94,000||Latvian SSR, Lithuanian SSR, Estonian SSR||Siberia, Far East||Banditism|
|May–June 1949||Armenians, Turks, Greeks||n/a||The Black Sea coast (Russian SFSR), South Caucasus||Southern Kazakh SSR||Membership in the nationalist Dashnaktsutiun Party (Armenians), Greek or Turkish citizenship (Greeks), other|
|July 1949 – May 1952||Kulaks||78,400||Moldavian SSR, the Baltic States, western Byelorussian SSR, western Ukrainian SSR, Pskov Oblast (Russian SFSR)||Siberia, Kazakh SSR, Far East||Banditism, other|
|March 1951||Basmachis||3,000||Tajik SSR||Northern Kazakh SSR|
|April 1951||Jehovah's Witnesses||8,576||Mostly from Moldavian SSR and Ukrainian SSR||Western Siberia||Operation North|
|May 1951||Japanese, Koreans||575,000||Mostly from Sakhalin, Kuril Islands||Siberia, Far East, North Korea, Japan||Soviet Union acquired new territories.|
Here you can share your comments or contribute with more information, content, resources or links about this topic.