Territories annexed by the USSR in 1939-1940 following the Nazi-Soviet pact (23 August 1939), and then occupied by Germany after July 1941, had to be re-sovietized.
The regime began the autumn of 1944 with a true pacification war. Faced by fierce resistance from Baltic and Ukrainian nationalist guerrillas, special units (“extermination battalions”) of the USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs fought the “partisans”, “bandits” in Soviet terminology, in violent and lengthy confrontations that continued until the late 1940s and, in some areas, into the early 1950s.
(Text adapted from 2009 article by Nicolas Werth “Les crimes de masse sous Staline, 1930-1953”)
– In the texts which follow the initials SSR refer to the various “Soviet Socialist Republics” –
Two months after Stalin’s death, in secret memoranda dated 26 May 1953, the head of State Security Lavrenty Beria gave the Politburo the following assessment of the “wars” waged in Ukraine and Lithuania.
From 1944 to 1952 in Western Ukraine, 153,000 were killed in armed clashes, 134,000 were sent to the Gulag, and 203,000 deported. Over a similar period, in Lithuania 50,000 were killed, 70,000 sent to labour camps, and 150,000 were deported. As in any war of pacification the civilian population was caught in the crossfire and it is impossible to provide a full reckoning of all the victims of massacres, punitive measures, and torture. Here we shall only cite the major centralized operations against the civilian population. These took the shape of mass deportation.
The dated decisions to deport that follow each represent a Resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers (formally speaking, the Soviet government)
10 September 1947 – “Deportation of family members of OUN partisans and of Ukrainian bandits” (OUN = Organization of the Ukrainian Nationalists)
October 1947 to January 1948 : Approximately 40,000 “family members of OUN partisans” were deported to regions of Karaganda (Kazakhstan), to the Kemerovo and Tyumen Regions of Siberia, and to the Kirov, Sverdlovsk, and Chelyabinsk Regions in the Urals.
22-23 May 1948 : Operation “Spring”: arrest and deportation of 36,932 men, women and children were arrested and deported to Siberia (parts of the Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, and Tomsk Regions) as “family members of bandits, nationalists and kulaks”. In the following weeks, over 7,000 more were deported.
4 October 1948 – “Deportation of family members of OUN partisans and Ukrainian bandits”
October 1948 to end 1949 : Approximately 50,000 “family members of OUN partisans” were deported from Ukraine to Kazakhstan, the Urals and Siberia. At the beginning of 1953, the Gulag’s Special Settlement Department registered over 175,000 “family members of OUN partisans”.
29 January 1949 – “Deportation from the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Soviet Socialist Republics of kulaks and their families, as well as family members of bandits and nationalists”
25 March to 10 May 1949 : Deportation of 94,779 people (30,630 families) from Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to Siberia – to the Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Tomsk Regions and to Buryatia-Mongolia.
6 April 1949 – “Deportation from the Moldavian SSR of kulaks, former landowners, former wholesale tradesmen, collaborators, members of fascist organizations and religious sects”
6-7 July 1949 : Deportation from Moldavia of 40,850 people (11,280 families) to the Kurgansk Region in the Urals, and to Tyumen, Irkutsk and the Altai in Siberia.
Parallel to punitive deportation of family members of those who opposed re-sovietization of the Baltic States, Western Ukraine and Moldavia, operations to “cleanse” and “secure” Soviet borders continued throughout 1949, in particular along the Caucasus borders. This deportation policy had its origins in the mid-1930s and resumed in 1944-1945.
29 May 1949 – “Deportation of Turks, Greeks and former members of the Dashnak party from the Soviet Socialist Republics of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the coastal area of the Black Sea “
14-18 June 1949 : Deportation of 57,680 people from Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan and Siberia.
23 January 1951 – “Deportation of kulaks from the Volhynia, Drogobych, Rovno, Lvov, Stanislav, Ternopol and Chernovitsy Regions of the Ukrainian SSR”
February 1951 : Deportation of 8,461 “kulaks” from Western Ukraine to the Krasnoyarsk Region (Siberia).
3 March 1951 – “Deportation of the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses sect from the Western areas of the Ukrainian and Belorussian SSRs, as well as from the Soviet Socialist Republics of Moldavia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia”
March-April 1951 : Deportation of 9,825 Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Irkutsk and Omsk Regions (Siberia).
29 November 1951 – “Deportation of hostile elements from the Georgian SSR”
December 1951 to February 1952: Deportation from Georgia to southern Kazakhstan of 6,300 people (“repatriated persons, family members of emigrants, collaborators, ex-prisoners of war”).