During the four years of the war with Germany (the “Great Patriotic War”, June 1941-May 1945) over two million Soviet citizens were accused either  of offering a breeding ground for potential agents of the Nazi invader (Soviet citizens of German origin), or  of having “collaborated with the occupier” (Chechens, Ingush, Kalmyks, Balkars, Karachays, Crimean Tatars). They were then deported en masse and assigned to reside as “special settlers” in various inhospitable parts of the USSR.
Compared to previous deportations, it may be noted that every single member of a “punished” ethnic group was subjected to various forms of discrimination, ranging from deportation to forced labour, and all administrative structures in the “punished” regions and republics were abolished. A “punished” nation was thereby excluded from the “great family of Soviet socialist nationalities,” and simply ceased to exist. A February 1948 Decree of the USSR Supreme Soviet (Praesidium) later specified that the “punished peoples” were deported “forever”.
[See Liquidation of the Kulaks, 1930-1932; Executions and Deportation, 1939-1941; Post-war Deportation, 1945-1951]
Text adapted from Nicolas Werth “Les crimes de masse sous Staline, 1930-1953” (2009)
28 August 1941: Decree of the Supreme Soviet Presidium on the collective “preventive” deportation of the entire Volga German population – from the Volga German Republic and from the Stalingrad (Volgograd) and Saratov Regions.
Fourteen more decrees were issued between 30 August 1941 and 20 March 1942 on the deportation of Soviet citizens of German origin from Moscow, Leningrad, and other cities in Russia and Ukraine (Tula, Gorky, Rostov, Zaporozhie, Krasnodar, Ordzhonikidze, Voronezh, Voroshilovgrad, Odessa, and the Crimea) as well as from Georgia and Armenia.
By 25 December 1941, 894,600 people had already been deported.
By the end of March 1942, the Gulag Special Settlements Department had registered 1,209,430 deportees, representing 82% of the Soviet population of German origin recorded in 1939. Kazakhstan, Siberia and the Far North (Vorkuta) were the main deportation destinations.
In order to ensure the most complete “cleansing” possible, the NKVD arrested several tens of thousands of soldiers and officers of German origin who had been in the Soviet army. Approximately 30% of deportees who were considered most able to work (men from age 17 to 50, and, as of October 1942, women from age 16 to 45) were turned over to battalions of the “Labour Army,” where they encountered similar living and working conditions as in the Gulag. The mines of Vorkuta, Karaganda and the Kuzbass were the main production sites where this forced labour was used.
OCTOBER, DEPORTATION OF THE KARACHAI (North Caucasus)
12 October: Supreme Soviet Praesidium Decree on the collective deportation of the Karachays (North Caucasus) for their “collaboration with the Nazi occupier” and on the “liquidation of the Karachay Autonomous Region.”
20-27 October: 68,327 people deported by railway convoy to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
DECEMBER: DEPORTATION OF THE KALMYKS (South Russia)
27 December: Supreme Soviet Praesidium Decree on the collective deportation of Kalmyks (south Russia) for their “collaboration with the Nazi occupant” and on the “liquidation of the Autonomous Socialist Republic of Kalmykia.”
28-31 December: 93,139 people (26,359 families) deported by 46 railway convoys to Siberia (the Altai, parts of Krasnoyarsk, Omsk and Novosibirsk Regions).
23-28 February: 521,247 people deported by 194 railway convoys towards Kazakhstan. 119,000 special NKVD troops were mobilized for this exceptionally extensive operation. Due to bad weather conditions on February 27, General Gvishiani’s troops, in the mountain village of Khaibach, could not deliver their load of deportees on time to the railway gathering point. Instead, they locked several hundred people up in the kolkhoz stables, which they then set on fire.
7 March: Supreme Soviet Praesidium Decree on the collective deportation of the Chechens and Ingush for their “collaboration with the Nazi occupant” and on the “liquidation of the Autonomous Socialist Republic of Chechnya-Ingushetia.”
5 March: State Defense Committee Decree on the collective deportation of the Balkars for their “collaboration with the Nazi occupant.”
9-11 March: Deportation of 37,103 people by 23 railway convoys from the Kabardino-Balkaria (North Caucasus) to Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan).
8 April: Supreme Soviet Praesidium Decree on the “liquidation of the Autonomous Socialist Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria”.
13 April: Operational Order n°00419/00137 of the NKVD/NKGB “On how to rid the Autonomous Socialist Republic of Crimea of anti-Soviet elements.”
11 May: State Defense Committee Decree on the collective deportation of the Crimean Tatars for their “collaboration with the Nazi occupier”.
18-20 May: Deportation of 180,014 Crimean Tatars to Uzbekistan.
2 June: State Defense Committee Decree on the deportation of the Bulgarian, Greek and Armenian minorities from Crimea for their “collaboration with the occupant.”
24-28 June: Deportation of 37,083 Greeks, Bulgarians and Armenians from Crimea to Kemerovo, Sverdlovsk and the Bashkir Autonomous Socialist Republic
20 September: State Defense Committee Decree on the deportation of Meskheti Turks, Kurds and Khemchin from the border districts of Georgia.
15-25 November: Deportation of 91,095 people to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan