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Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Pavel Polian
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Januar 2004
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 semivoluntary 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.


  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 425 Seiten
  • Verlag: Central European Univ Pr (Januar 2004)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 9639241687
  • ISBN-13: 978-9639241688
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 24,3 x 15,3 x 3 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.089.441 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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This work aims to 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.

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4.0 von 5 Sternen Terror by means of forced migration 24. Januar 2012
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR (Gekauft am 12/21/2011)
von Pavel Polian

In this book Polian delivers a complete history of all the forced migrations in the USSR, esspecially under Stalin. It goes into detail without getting boring. It was of great help to me writing a paper on forced migration under Stalinism compared to forced migration under Kemalism and the Young Turks.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent source 25. September 2005
Von T. Kunikov - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
An excellent edition to literature on the period of Stalin. Factual information broken down into time periods that show which populations Stalin and the NKVD targeted and why. It shouldn't be thought that Stalin was the only one involved in these tragedies that befell the various nationalities of the USSR, he had his reasons for his actions and they are listed and presented to the reader. Not to take away from the type of man he was, simply to understand that his actions had a cause. A great source to see all the nationalities that were touched by Stalin's forced 'migrations' from lesser known nationalities such as Iranians, Turks, Koreans, and Germans to more well known Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Chechens, and so on and so forth. An invaluable source for numbers of those deported, reasons for their deportations, and what happened to them after they were deported.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen An Encyclopedia of Soviet-Sponsored Deportations, With Lowered Figures 11. Juni 2013
Von Jan Peczkis - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
The obvious strength of this work is its comprehensiveness. It includes a table (pp. 327-333), covering 1920-1952, that lists the nationality that had experienced deportation, the dates of the deportation, the place of origin, and the destination of the deportation. The reader may be surprised at the numerous nationalities deported, and the very large number of episodes of deportation.

The author also touches on the post-WWII movements of ethnic Germans in Poland (vertriebenen), realizing that they (and the deaths caused) occurred largely from German directives. There were three phases in these movements: (End 1944--spring 1945)--evacuation measures enacted by the German authorities, (March/April--July 1945)--the self-directed wild exile by the local Germans, and (only after Potsdam) the actual forced expulsions of the remaining Germans. (p. 40). He also rejects the overall figure of 2 million German dead, and endorses Rudiger Overmans and his figure of 400,000. (p. 40).

Now consider pre-WWII eastern Poland. Interestingly, for all the attention that the OSADNIKI had played in both Soviet Communist and Ukrainian nationalist propaganda, not only had their impact on the local populations been greatly exaggerated, but also they were not even all Polish. Polian estimates that 85% of OSADNIKI were Poles; the remainder included Ukrainians and Belorussians. (p. 116).

I now focus on the USSR. The Communists had various motives for conducting the deportations, and these motives overlapped. Consider, for example, the anti-kulak campaign (in 1934-1939), as described by Polian in his Reference 114 (quote) Particular peoples, especially Germans or Poles, were treated as kulaks almost indiscriminately, and even Russians, when judged against Koreans or Kazakhs, appeared kulak. Among those banished kulaks from Belorussia or Ukraine, the number of Poles was disproportionately high, and some anti-kulak operations targeted Poles almost exclusively. (unquote)(p. 112). During the later 1939-1941 deportations of Kresy Poles, one quoted NKVD said unabashedly that all the Poles, no matter how many there were, are enemies, and that one cannot, in this generation at least, convert a Pole to Communism. (pp. 117-118).

One shortcoming of this work is its skirting of the Holodomor. Another, more fundamental one, is Polian's systematic over-reliance on Soviet archives. For instance, he quotes a figure only 300,000-400,000 Poles deported from Soviet-conquered Eastern Poland in 1939-1941--a figure that he admits is "surprisingly low". (p. 118). For a scholarly defense of the multiples-greater traditional figure, by historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, please click on, and read, the Peczkis review of Polish Poetry from the Soviet Gulags: Recovering a Lost Literature.

There was a major wave of deportations after WWII, conducted to suppress opposition to Communism, and to punish peoples collectively for allegedly having sided with the Nazi Germans. Interestingly, the Soviets used Nazi methods, such as the burning of the inhabitants in a barn into which they had been herded, and burning of entire villages. (p. 147).

Let us now assess the overall policy of deportations. Interestingly, Polian contends that, despite the economic benefits of forced labor and the development of remote areas such as Siberia, the internal deportations actually harmed the Soviet Union, economically and otherwise, in the end. He comments, (quote) On the macroeconomic scale of the state, however, the deportations were disadvantageous, since they scratched millions of well-settled, economically productive families off the production cycle; rendered vast lands and numerous settlements deserted and neglected; caused the loss of population labor skills and traditions, and a dramatic decline in agricultural and industrial production; required additional expenses for the transportation of deportees who settled them down at new locations; and so on and so forth. (unquote)(pp. 319-320).

If the foregoing was true within the USSR, how much more so in the Soviet-occupied KRESY (eastern Poland)! Clearly, at least some of the Soviet-enacted deportations qualified as nation-destroying acts--hence genocide. Unfortunately, Pavel Polian does not develop this theme. The reader should consider the fact that deportations are clearly nation-destroying acts in many ways. They scatter the peoples over long distances, making them functionally nonexistent to each other. They deprive the deportees of their national institutions--such as monuments, churches, educational institutions, etc. Finally, they harm the targeted population biologically. Apart from the higher mortality, the deported peoples experience a net lower birth rate--moreover a depressed birth rate sustained over time.
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