Population transfer in the Soviet Union

From Academic Kids

Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into three broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers", deportations of nationalities, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories. In most cases their destinations were underpopulated remote areas, see Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union.


Deportations of social categories

Kulaks were the most numerous social category of deported. Resettlement of people officially designated as kulaks continued until early 1950, including several major waves.

Some ethnic deportations, e.g., of Poles after 1939 from annexed territories of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine, were also justified by political/social reasons.

A number of religious sects, most prominent being Jehovah's Witnesses, were declared anti-Soviet, and their members deported.


Transfers of ethnicities

The wholesale removal of potentially trouble-making ethnic groups was a technique used consistently by Joseph Stalin during his career: Poles (1934), Koreans (1937), Ukrainians, Jews, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians (1940-1941 and 1945-1949), Volga Germans (1941), Balkars, Chechens, Ingushs (1943), Kalmyks (1944), Meskhetian Turks (1944), Crimean Tatars (18 May 1944). Large numbers of kulaks regardless their nationality were resettled to Siberia and Central Asia.

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. Over 1.5 million people were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. Separatism, resistance to Soviet rule and collaboration with the invading Germans were cited as the main official reasons for the deportations, although an ambition to ethnically cleanse regions may have also been a factor, especially in the case of Crimean Tatars.

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. Volga Germans and seven nationalities of the Crimea and the northern Caucasus were deported: the Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, and Meskhetian Turks. Other minorities evicted from the Black Sea coastal region included Bulgarians, Greeks, and Armenians. From the newly conquered Eastern Poland 400,000 people were deported. The same followed in the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (over 200,000 people were deported). The death toll from these deportations was huge: 60% of the Baltic deportees were estimated to have perished, and nearly half of the entire Crimean Tatar population died of hunger in the first eighteen months after being banished from their homeland. Overall, 40% of those deported are estimated to have perished.

After the WWII, the population of the Kaliningrad Oblast was replaced by the Soviet one, mainly by Russians.

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 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 Tatarstan, Chechnya and the Baltic republics.


Population numbers are rounded.

  • April 1920: 45,000 Terek Cossacks deported to Ukraine and Northern European Russia according to Directive of RKP(b) Central Committee On decossackization, January 21, 1919
  • 1930: Cleansing of Western border regions: 18,000 "socially-dangerous elements" from 22km wide border zone of Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR deported to Western Siberia and Far East
  • 1930-1936: several waves of deportations of kulaks from "regions of total collectivization" and from various other regions
  • 1933: Migration of 200,000 Kazakh nomads during the famine of 1933 out of Soviet Union into China, Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan
  • February-May 1935 deportation of 30,000 Finns - Ingrians from border regions of Leningrad Oblast into Vologda Oblast, Tadzhik SSR, Kazakh SSR, and Western Siberia.
  • February-March 1935: Deportations of 42,000 Poles and Germans from border parts of Ukrainian SSR: Kiev and Vinnitsa oblasts to Eastern parts of Ukraine.
  • May 1936: Deportations of 45,000 Poles and Germans from Ukrainian SSR to Kazakhstan
  • July 1937: Deportation od 2,000 Kurds from Southern borders (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) to Kirghiz SSR and Kazakh SSR.
  • September-October 1937: Total deportation of Koreans (172,000) from border regions of Western Siberia and Far East to Kazakh SSR and Uzbek SSR
  • September-October 1937: Deportation of 9,000 Chinese and repatriated "Harbinites" (Harbin Russians) from Southern Far East to Kazakh SSR and Uzbek SSR.
  • January 1838: Deportation of Iranians from Border regions of Azerbaijan SSR to Kazakhstan
  • 1938: Deportation of 6,000 Iranian Jews from Southern borders of Turkmenian SSR into Northern Turkmenian deserts
  • February 1940: Deportation of 140,000 Poles (deportation of osadniks) from newly acquired Western regions of Belarus and Ukraine to Northern European Russia, Ural and Siberia.
  • April 1940: Deportation of 61,000 Poles (several social categories) Western regions of Belarus and Ukraine to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  • June 1940: Deportation of 75,000 Poles from Ukraine and Belarus who were fugitives from Poland to Northern European Russia, Ural and Siberia.
  • July 1940: Deportation of "persons of foreign ethnicity" (инонациональностей) from Murmansk Oblast to Karelo-Finnish SSR and Altai Krai.
  • May 22, 1941: Deportation of 11,000 of members of families of "counterrevolutionaries and nationalists" from Western Ukraine to Southern Kazakhstan, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Omsk Oblast, Novosibirsk Oblast.
  • June 12, 1941 Deportation of 30,000 of members of families of "counterrevolutionaries and nationalists" from Chernovtsy and Izmail oblasts of Ukraine and from Moldavian SSR to Kazakhstan, Komi ASSR, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Omsk and Novosibirsk oblasts
  • June 14, 1941 Deportarion of "anti-Soviet elements" from annexed baltic States:
    • from Lithuania (18,000) to Altai Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, Kazakhstan and Komi ASSR;
    • from Latvia (17,000) to Krasnoyarsk Krai and Novosibirsk Oblast of Russia and Karaganda oblast of Kazakhstan
    • from Estonia (10,000) to Kirov Oblast and Novosibirsk Oblast
  • June 1941: Deportation of 21,000 "nationalists" from Western belarus
  • September-October 1941:
  • March-April 1942: Deportation of 9,000 Finns and Germans (as well as "socially-dangeorus elements") from Leningrad and Leningrad oblast to Irkutsk Oblast, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Yakutia
  • April 1942: Deportation of Greeks, Romanians and some other nationalities fom Crimea and Northern Caucasus
  • June 1942: Deportation of Germans, Romanians, Crimean Tatars, and Greeks of foriegn citizenship from Kransnodar Krai and Rostov Oblast
  • August 1943: Deportation of 500 karachay "bandits" out of Karachay-Cherkes AO
  • November 1943: Complete deportation of Karachays (70,000) to Kazakh SSR and Kirgiz SSR.
  • December 1943: Deportation of Kalmyks from Kalmyk ASSR to Altai and Krasnoyarsk Krais and Omsk and Novosibirsk oblasts
  • February 1944: Complete deportations of Chechens (393,000) and Ingushs (91,000) from Chechen-Ingush ASSR and Dagestan to Kazakh SSR and Kirghiz SSR.
  • March 1944: Complete deportation of Balkars (38,000) from Kabarda-Balkar ASSR to Kazakh SSR and Kirghiz SSR.
  • March 1944: Deportation of 3,000 Kalmyks from Rostov oblast to Omsk and Novosibirsk oblasts
  • May 1944: Deportation of Balkars (~100) from Georgia to Kazakh SSR and Kirghiz SSR.
  • Spring 1944: Search and deportation of all Chechens, Ingushs, Kalmyks, Karachays and Balkars from everywhere to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (~4,200)
  • May 1944: Deportation of 182,000 Crimean Tatars from Crimea to Uzbekistan and a number of other places
  • June 1944: Deportation of 1,000 Kalmyks from Stalingrad oblast to Sverdlovsk oblast
  • July 1944: Deportation of 1,800 Truly Orthodox Christians ("истинно-православные христиане") from Ryazan, Voronezh and Oryol oblasts to Tomsk and Tyumen oblasts and Krasnoyarsk krai
  • June-July 1944:Deportation of Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, Turks, etc. from Crimea to Uzbekistan (42,000)
  • November 1944: Deportation of 92,000 Meskhs, Kurds, and Khemshins from Southern Georgia, and 1,000 Lazs from Adjar ASSR to Uzbek SSR, Kazakh SSR, Kirgiz SSR.
  • June 1948: Deportation of Greeks and Armenians-"Dashnaks" (58,000 ) from the Black Sea coast to Kazakhstan
  • 1948-1949: a number of deportation of families of "bandits" from various republics
  • March 1951, a decree about expulsion of 9,400 Jehovah's Witnesses, including about 4,000 children, from the Baltic States, Moldova, and western parts of Belarus and Ukraine.
  • December 1951: Deportation of 35,000 kulaks from annexed territories of Baltic States, Western Ukraine, and Western Belarus to Krasnoyarsk Krai, Yakutia, Tyumen Oblast and Kazakhstan

Related articles


Polian, Pavel (Павел Полян), Deportations in the USSR: An index of operations with list of corresponding directives and legislation, Russian Academy of Science.


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