In response to an article by Alliance: Alliance number 13: “Chechnya – Oil And the Divided Russian Capitalists”, we received a letter from one “A.E.”
A.E. essentially asked us to substantiate a Marxist-Leninist position on Chechnya, given that “the national rights” were violated.
The exact note we received was as follows:
“In discussion of Alliance’s article “Chechenya, Oil, and the Divided Capitalist Class” it was brought up that:
in 1936 Chechenya-Ingushetia became not a “union republic” within the USSR, but an “autonomous republic” within the Russian “union republic” and hence didn’t have the right to self determination with respect to either the USSR or Russia;
and in 1944, not just rebel Nazi sympathizers were “transported away from the front”, but virtually the entire Chechen-Ingush population was removed, and even thousands of Chechen Red Army men were deported.
How does Alliance justify the position set forth at the beginning of its article on Chechenya?”
Our to date best answer was given by the late Comrade Bland. We re-print this. We had hoped to update this article with new materials from the archives, but time has marched on and we have been unable to obtain time.
Lest it be thought we are prevaricating, Bland’s response is a a very good reply.
THE ENFORCED RESETTLEMENTS
A paper read by Bill Bland to the Stalin Society in London in July 1993
In the course of his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev alleged that, on Stalin’s initiative, five small nations were deported from their homes to other regions of the Soviet Union:
“All the more monstrous are the acts whose initiator was Stalin and which are rude Violations of the basic Leninist ‘principles of the nationality policy of the Soviet state., We refer to the mass deportations from their native places of whole nations. . . Already at the end of 1943 . . a decision was taken and executed concerning the deportation of all the Karachai from the lands on which they lived., In the same period, at the end of December 1943, the same lot befell the whole population of the Autonomous Kalmyk Republic. In March 1944 all the Chechen and Ingush peoples were deported and the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic was liquidated. In April 1944, all Balkars were deported to far-away places from the territory of the Kabarda-Balkar Autonomous Republic and the Republic itself was renamed the Autonomous Kabardin Republic”.
(Russian Institute, Columbia University: ‘The Anti-Stalin Campaign and International Communism: A Selection of Documents’; New York; 1956; p. 57).
The Transplanted Nations
The five small nations referred to by Khrushchev were
1) the Karachai (some 76,000 in 1939), speaking a Turkic language, mostly Sunni Muslims, who lived on the northern slopes of the Caucasus mountains.
A Karachai-Cherkess Autonomous Region was established in January 1922 for the Karachai and Cherkess (Circassian) peoples, and divided in 1926 to form separate Karachai and Cherkess Autonomous Regions. The Karachai Autonomous Rekion (‘A’ on map) (area: 3,800 square miles) elected 3 representatives to the Soviet of Nationalities. It was occupied by German troops between August 1942 and January 1943.
2) the Kalmyks (some 134,000 in 1939), speaking a Mongol language, mostly
Buddhists, who lived a few hundred miles north of the Caucasus Mountains to the west of the Volga.
The Kalmyk Autonomous Region (area: 28,000 square miles) was established in November 1920 and transformed into the Kalmyk Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic (‘B’ on map) (capital: Elista) in October 1935. In 1937 it elected 9 representatives to the Soviet of Nationalities. The area was occupied by German troops from late 1942 to January 1943.
3) the Chechens (some 408,000 in 1939) and
4) the Ingush (some 92,000 in 1939);
were closely related ethnically and linguistically. They spoke a Turkic language, were mostly Sunni Muslims, and lived on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains.
The Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘C’ on map) (area: 6,000 square miles; capital: Grozny) was established in December 1936 by the amalgamation of the Chechen and Ingush Autonomous Regions. It sent 6 representatives to the Soviet of Nationalities (5 Chechens and 1 Ingush). German troops occupied the western part of the republic in the autumn of 1942 but were halted at the approaches to Grozny.
5) the Balkars (some 43,000 in 1939), speaking a Turkic language, mostly Sunni Muslims, who lived on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains.
The Kabarda-Balkar Autonomous Region was established in January 1922 and transformed into the Kabarda-Balkar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘D’ on map; area: 4,800 square miles; capital: Nalchik) in December 1936. It sent 4 representatives to the Soviet of Nationalities in 1937. The area was occupied by German troops between October 1942 and January 1943.
MAP ONE :
Limits of German Advance (1942-43).
A : The KARACHAI Autonomous Region.
B : The KALMYK Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
C : The CHECHEN-INGUSH Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic,
D The KABARDA-BALKAR Autonomous Region.
But, in fact, three further small nations were forcibly resettled at this time which Khruschev refrained from mentioning in his secret speech. These nations were:
6) the Volga Germans, who came to the Volga region during the reign of Catherine the Great in the 18th century, numbered some 382,000 in 1939, were German in ethnical origin, and mostly Mennonite or Lutheran in religion. They lived in the region of the Volga near the city of Saratov.
The German Volga Labour Commune was established in October 1918, and transformed in February 1924 into the Volga-German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘E’ on map) (area: 10,500 square miles; population: some 605,500 in 1939; capital: Engels). The area was not occupied by German forces.
7) the Crimean Tatars, who numbered some 202,000 in 1939, spoke a Turkic language, were mostly Sunni Muslims and lived in the Crimean Peninsula.
The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘F’ on map) (area: 10,000 square miles; population some 1,126,800 in 1939; capital: Simferopol) was established in the Crimean Peninsula in October 1921. The area was occupied by German forces between 1941 and 1944.
8) the Meskhetians (so called only after the late 1950s) who numbered some 150,000 people of various ethnical origins but all speaking Turkic languages, mostly Sunni Muslims, living in the south-west of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic (in the area marked ‘G’ on map), near the Turkish border. The area was not occupied by German forces.
E : The VOLGA-GERMAN Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
F : The CRIMEAN Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
G : The MESKHETIANS.
The data above are drawn from:
—- ‘The great Soviet Encyclopedia’; New York; 1973-83.
Robert Conquest: ‘The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationlaities’; London 1970.
Walter Kolarz: ‘Russia & Her Colonies’; London; 1952.
Ronald Wixman: ‘The peoples of the USSR: An Ethnographic Handbook’; London; 1984.
The Dates of the Resettlements
According to Khrushchev in his secret speech to the 20th Congress of the CPSU, the dates of the resettlements were as follows:
End of 1943: The Karachai.
End of December 1943: The Kalmyks.
March 1944: The Chechens and Ingush.
April 1944: The Balkars.
(Russian Institute, Columbia University: op. cit.; p. 57).
According to Robert Conquest, the dates of the resettlements of the Volga Germans and the Crimean Tatars were as follows:
August 1941: The Volga Germans.
c. June 1944: The Crimean Tatars.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 100).
To Conquest the date of the resettlement of the Meskhetians is unknown (Robert Conquest: ibid.; p. 100).
But the American historian Ronald Suny fixes the date as 1947:
“More than 2,000 Georgians were settled in these depleted lands in December 1943. Four years later about 8,000 Muslims in Georgia, the Meskhetian Turks, . . were deported to Central Asia”.
(Ronald G. Suny: ‘The Making of the Georgian Nation’; London; 1989; p.289).
The Places of Resettlement
The nations forcibly resettled in 1941-47 were exiled to eastern regions of the USSR, as shown on the map below:
The Total of the Resettled
The total number of persons resettled in 1941-47 was as follows:
Volga Germans: 382,000
Crimean Tatars: 202,000
Robert.Conquest gives a slightly higher estimate of
“. . . approximately 1,650,000”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 65).
The Political Changes
Consequent upon the enforced resettlements, certain political changes were made:
1. The Karachai Autononmous Region (‘A’ on map One) was dissolved and most of its territory ceded to the Georgian SSR.
2. The Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘B’ on map One) was dissolved and most of its territory ceded to a new Astrakhan Region of Russia.
3. The Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘C’ on map One) was dissolved, and most of its territory transferred to a new Grozny Province of Russia.
4. The Kabarda-Balkar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘D’ on map One) was renamed the Kabarda ASSR, with much of its territory ceded to the Georgian SSR.
5. The Volga-German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘E’ on map Two) was dissolved and most of its territory transferred to the Saratov Province of Russia.
6. The Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (‘F’ on map Two) was dissolved and its territory renamed the Crimean Province of Russia.
The Reasons for Khrushchev’s Omissions
One must consider why Khrushchev should have omitted from the charges made at the 20th Congress the enforced resettlement of three small nations who were so resettled. He condemns in general as
“. . . monstrous . . . rude violations of the basic Leninist principles of the nationality policy of the Soviet state . . . the mass deportations from their native places of whole nations”.
(Russian Institute, Columbia University: op. cit.; p. 57).
but makes no mention of three of the peoples resettled in precisely the same way:
“Khrushchev’s speech . . . named only the Chechens, Ingush, Baikars, Karachai and Kalmyks as suffering peoples, making no reference to the Volga Germans, the Crimean Tatars or Meskhetians”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 142).
“Khrushchev had clearly implied that the whole deportation was a crime and should be reversed”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 143).
And one can hardly credit Khrushchev with a desire to whitewash Stalin’s alleged crimes.
Indeed, the Secretary of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Aleksandr Gorkin*,
“. . . who had been a signatory to the original deportation decrees”
(Robert Conquest- ibid.; p. 145).
said in a speech to the Supreme Soviet in February 1957:
“The practical implementation of measures for the restoration of the national autonomy of these peoples requires a certain amount of time.. . .
The resettlement of citizens of the stated nationalities who have expressed a desire to return to regions of former residence must be conducted in an organised manner”.
(A. Gorkin, in: ‘Pravda’, 12 February 1957, in: Robert Conquest: ibid.; p. 146).
Nor can Khrushchev’s failure to mention in his secret speech three of the resettled peoples be attributed to ignorance of the fact of their resettlement. For a published decree of the Presidiuum of the USSR Supreme Soviet of August 1941 lays down:
“The State Committee of Defence has been instructed to carry out urgently the transfer of all Volga Germans”.
(Decree of Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, 28 August 1941, in: ‘Bulletin of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR’, No. 38, 2 September 1941, in: Robert Conquest: ibid.; p. 63).
And a similar published decree of June 1946 records that:
“.. . during the Great Patriotic War, the Chechens and the Crimean Tatars were resettled in other regions of the USSR”.
(Decree of Presidium of Supreme Soviet, 25 June 1946, in: ‘Izvestia’ , 26 June 1946, in: Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 47).
What, then, distinguished the unmentioned Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetians from the other resettled nations?
Only the fact that the peoples mentioned were permitted by the Krushchevite revisionists to-return to their original home areas, while the unmentioned peoples were not:
“Two of the suppressed republics failed to re-emerge.. . . In 1964 a decree was published publicly rehabilitating the Volga Germans, but still not granting them the right to return to their old settlements. That is, the accusations were at last withdrawn, but the punishment remained in force. From the timing this rehabilitation seems to have been connected with Khrushchev’s effort to secure a detente with West Germany. . . .
It was not until 1967 that a decree actually withdrawing the accusations against the Crimean Tatars . . . was promulgated. . . .
Like the Volga Germans, the withdrawal of the accusations against the Crimean Tatars . . . was not accompanied by an abrogation of the official penalties. . . .
Lastly, an unpublished decree of the Supreme Soviet of 31 October 1956 freed the Meskhetians from MVD control, without giving them the right to return home”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 179, 183, 185, 186, 187).
The Official Motives for the Resettlements
The official reasons for the resettlements were stated to be state security.
In seven out of the eight cases (that is, in all the cases except that of the Meskhetians), the peoples resettled were accused of mass treachery during the Second World War. The measures of enforced resettlement in these cases were presented not as a mass punishment, but as a Preventive measure to avoid the necessity of mass punishment:
“According to trustworthy information received by the military authorities, there are among the German population living in the Volga area thousands and tens of thousands of diversionists and spies who, on a signal being given from Germany, are to carry out sabotage in the area inhabited by the Germans of the Volga.
None of the Germans living in the Volga area has reported to the Soviet authorities the existence of such a large number of diversionists and spies among the Germans; consequently, the German population of the Volga conceals enemies of the Soviet people and of Soviet authority in its midst.
In case of diversionist acts being carried out at a signal from Germany by German diversionists and spies in the Volga-German Republic or in the adjacent areas and bloodshed taking place, the Soviet Government will be obliged, according to the laws in force during the war period, to take punitive measures against the whole of the German population of the Volga.
In order to avoid undesirable events of this nature and to prevent serious bloodshed, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR have found it necessary to transfer the whole of the German population living in the Volga area into other areas”.
(Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR: Decree of 28 August 1941, in: ‘Bulletin of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR’, No. 38, 2 September 1941, in: Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 62).
“During the Great Patriotic War . . . . many Chechens and Crimean Tatars, at the instigation of German agents, joined volunteer units organised by the Germans and, together with German troops, engaged in armed struggle against units of the Red Army; also at the bidding of the Germans they formed diversionary bands for the struggle against Soviet authority in the rear; meanwhile the main mass of the population of the Chechen-Ingush and Crimean ASSRs took no counter-action against these betrayers of the Fatherland.
In connection with this, the Chechens and the Crimean Tatars were resettled in other regions of the USSR”
(Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR: Decree of 25 June 1946, in: Robert Conquest” ibid.; p. 47).
Khrushchev himself denies that the resettlements were dictated by security factors:
“This deportation action was not dictated by any military considerations”.
(Russan Institute, Columbia University: op. cit.; p. 57).
Many anti-Soviet historians accept this view, according to which Stalin was a thoroughly evil man who woke up one morning and said: ‘What can I do today that’s really nasty? I know! I’ll transplant the Chechens — who are loyal Soviet citizens — to Kazakhstan!’.
But this theory has problems for anti-Soviet historians, who are fond of telling us that socialism was so awful that every sensible Soviet citizen welcomed the Nazis with open arms.
The truth lies between these two extremes. While there were individual traitors among all the nations of the Soviet Union, a few small nations were guilty of mass treachery.
An authoritative textbook of Soviet law tells us:
“In the background of patriotic enthusiasm which inflamed the nations of the Soviet country united against the common enemy . . . there stand out strangely the monstrous, criminal and treacherous acts of some small, backward nations which gave support to the enemy in the expectation of receiving ‘privileges’ from him at the expense of the other nations of the Soviet Union. These acts called for necessary and extraordinary measures by the Soviet State in the interests of the USSR as a whole”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 81, citing: Ilya D. Levin (Ed.): ‘Soviet State Law’; Moscow; 1947).
Alexander Dallin* recounts that early in the Soviet-German war:
“. . . revolts broke out among some of the Caucasian Mountaineers. Most widepread in the Muslim areas, particularly among the Chechens and Karachai, these rebellions prepared the ground for a change of regime . . . Faced with a concentrated German onslaught and a lack of support from the indigenous population, the Red Army retreated from Rostov to the Greater Caucasus Mountains without giving battle. . . .
In the Karachai region the bulk of the Muslim Mountaineers accorded the Germans a more genuine welcome than in most other occupied areas.
The Germans . . . announced the formation of a Karachai voluntary squadron of horsemen to fight with the German Army. . . .
During the entire occupation, there was no evidence of anti-German activity in the Karachai area. . .
After the conquest of the Crimea (by the Germans — Ed.) they and other Tatar ‘volunteers’ were organised in auxiliary military units to fight on the German side”.
(Alexander Dallin: ‘German Rule in Russia: 1941-1945: A Study of Occupation Policies’; London; 1981; p. 244, 246, 258).
“The Germans were welcomed by practically the entire population of the Crimea and the . . . Muslim areas of the northern Caucasus. . .The Balkars were Muslims and unlike the Christian Kabardinians, collaborated en masse with the enemy”.
(Robert Magidoff: ‘The Kremlin vs. the People: The Story of the Cold Civil War in Stalin’s Russia’; New York; 1953; p. 20, 22).
“The Muslim Balkars were more outspokenly pro-German than the mostly non-Muslim Kabardinians. Although the Germans did not penetrate far into the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (south of Grozny) , these two peoples appear to have made no secret of their sympathy for the Germans. . .
Altogether, :.the Tatars’ record was as bad as could be. They had formed a police force under German control and had been highly active in the Gestapo”.
(Alexander Werth: ‘Russia at War: 1941-1945’; London; 1964; p. 579-80, 838).
“When the German armies occupied the Northern Caucasus region many mountaineers manifested their hostility towards the Soviet regime. They attempted to use the retreat of the Red Army to free themselves from what they considered the ‘Russian yoke’. Over twenty years of Soviet rule had not altered their imagined conviction that Russia’s foes were their friends. . . .
In Chechenia, it would seem that Muslim opposition to the Soviet regime was never quite suppressed. . . . The mullahs, who were powerful opponents of the Soviet regime, even managed to keep alive the illegal Shariah courts. . . .
The hostile attitude of the Chechens towards the Soviet Russian regime was often manifested. . . .
The Ingush . . . showed themselves no less loyal to Islam”.
(Walter Kolarz: op. cit.; p. 185, 187).
“In most Crimean cities the German advancing army was met with jubilation and calls of ‘liberators’ from the local Tatar population. . .
Manstein* was relatively successful in his attempts to gain active support from the Tatars. According to both German and Tatar evidence, the Germans persuaded between 15,000 and 20,000 Tatars to form self-defence battalions that were partially armed by the Germans and sent into the mountains to hunt down partisan units. . . . From the various Caucasian peoples over 110,000 volunteers were recruited; and the Kalmyks provided about 5,000 volunteers…
Large numbers of Tatar villagers as well as six organised Tatar self-defence battalions fought hard against the Soviet partisans.,
(Alan W. Fisher: ‘The Crimean Tatars’; Stanford (USA); 1987; p. 153, 155, 159).
“A large part of the Crimean Tatar population did not consider the government in Moscow to be their ‘sovereign’ nor the USSR to be their country. . . .
Tatar ‘collaboration; with the Germans took the following forms.. . .
First, early in 1942 the Germans encouraged the creation of ‘selfdefence’ battalions of Tatars to ‘defend’ their villages against the activities of Soviet partisans in the Crimea. . . . According to German records, between 15,000 and 20,000 Crimean Tatars formed these military units. Second with German aid, Tatars established local ‘Muslim Committees’ to take over the responsibility for most non-political and non-military affairs”.
(Alan W. Fisher: ‘The Crimean Tatars, the USSR and Turkey’, in: William 0. McCagg, jun. & Brian D. Silver (Eds.): ‘Soviet Asian Ethnic Frontiers’;. New York; 1979; p. 12).
“As German troops overran western Russia in July and August 1941, they came across German villages….
When German (or Romanian) soldiers arrived in such a village, they were greeted as liberators. . . .
Some of them (the Soviet Germans — Ed.) . . . volunteered for work in the Reich during the war. . . . Some of these defected fully to the Nazis and served in the German armed forces”.
(Adam Giesinger: ‘From Catherine to Khrushchev: The Story of Russia’s Germans’; Battleford (Canada); 1974; p. 304, 313).
“German reports make it clear, too, that a Soviet writer was not exaggerating when he wrote that right from the beginning pro-Soviet partisans in the Crimea ‘were deprived of the support of the local population”‘.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 100, citing: Ivan A. Kozlov: ‘In the Crimean Underground’; Moscow; 1948).
The Case of the Meskhetians
The Meskhetians are a special case among the transplanted nations in that their transplantation took place later than that of the other nations in 1947 — and they were not accused of treachery:
“The peoples of Meskhetia were never charged with collaborating with the Germans”.
(S. Enders Wimbush & Ronald Wixman: ‘The Meskhetian Turks: A New Voice in ‘Canadian Slavonic Papers’, Volume 17, Nos. Soviet Central Asia’, in: 2/3, (summer/fall 1975), p. 320).
“It was not alleged against them (the Meskhetians Ed.) that they had collaborated with the Germans — who had not come within hundreds of miles of the area. In fact, the move was represented as not being of a penal nature at all”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 48-49).
But during the Second World War, the Allied Powers had occasion to complain on several occasions that Turkey was permitting Germany to violate the Montreux Convention of 1936 on the Dardanelles. Thus, in June 1945 immediately after the end of the war, the Soviet government demanded revision of the Convention to allow for Soviet forces to share in the administration of the straits and the return of certain frontier areas taken from Soviet territory by what the Soviet government declared were ‘imposed’ treaties in 1921.
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 7,737).
While the Western Powers had, during the war, supported demands for a revision of the Montreux Convention, Churchill* in February 1946 signalled the end of Anglo-American partnership with the Soviet Union when he declared in Fulton:
“From Stettin on the Baltic to Trieste on the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”.
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 7,771).
Thus, in August 1946 Turkey, with the backing of the US imperialists rejected the Soviet proposals for joint supervision of the straits on the grounds that:
“. . the Soviet demand for the participation in the defence of the Straits is incompatible with Turkish sovereignty”.
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,102).
In that month (August 1946) Moscow Radio broadcast a series of captured documents from the German Foreign Office which revealed, for example, that former Turkish Prime Minister Sukru Saracoglu* told the Germans in August 1942:
“As a Turk, I passionately desire the destruction of Russia”.
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,076).
When in March 1947, US President Harry Truman asked Congress for immediate ‘aid’ to Turkey, the Soviet newspaper ‘Izvestia’ commented:
“American ‘assistance’ to Turkey is obviously aimed at putting that country under US control”.
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 6; p. 8,493).
It was at this time that, as a measure of defence, the Soviet government resettled the Turkic Meskhetians living on the Soviet-Turkish frontier. Robert Conquest comments:
“The Meskhetians are in fact best described as Turkish. . . . The population was one which might be thought to have Turkish sympathies.”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 48).
Incidentally, one of the first changes in Soviet foreign policy after the death of Stalin and the coming to power of the new Soviet revisionist leadership was the renunciation, in May 1953, of the Soviet territorial claims on Turkey and of its demands for a revision of the Montreux Convention.
(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 13; p. 13,101).
Contrary to Marxist-Leninist Principles?
According to Khrushchev, the resettlements were carried out in violation of the Marxist-Leninist principles on the national question:
“All the more monstrous are those acts whose initiator was Stalin and which are rude violations of the basic Leninist principles of the nationality policy of the Soviet state. We refer to the mass deportations from their native places of whole nations”.
(Russian Institute, Columbia University: op. cit.; p. 57).
But Lenin always insisted that:
“. . . the interests of Socialism are higher than the interests of the right of nations to self-determination”.
(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the History of the Question of the Unfortunate Peace’ (January, 1918), in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1967; p. 533).
As did Stalin:
“In addition to the right of nations to self-determination, there is also the right of the working class to consolidate its power, and the right of self-determination is subordinate to this latter right. . . . The right of self-determination cannot and must not serve as obstacle to the working class in exercising its right to dictatorship. The former must yield to the latter”.
(Josef V. Stalin: Reply to the Discussion on the Report on National Factors in Party and State Affairs, 12th Congress of RCP (April 1923), in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 270).
Clearly, if there were valid reasons to regard the resettlements as necessary for the security of the socialist state, they were fully in accord with Marxist-Leninist principles on the national question.
Contrary to Soviet Legality?
According to many Soviet revisionist sources, the enforced resettlements were contrary to Soviet legality:
“In December 1943, in violation of socialist legality, the Kalmyks were uprooted from the republic’s territory and resettled in the country’s eastern regions”.
(‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’, Volume 11; New York; 1976; p. 365).
“In March 1944, as a result of violations of socialist legality, the Balkars were resettled in regions of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan”.
(‘Great Soviet Encyclopedia’, Volume 11; ibid.; p. 320).
But an authoritative book on Soviet law sets out the circumstances in which groups of citizens may legally be resettled in other parts of the Soviet Union:
“Resettlement is carried out by the state organs of the USSR:
1) for the purpose of realising measures connected with state security and defence of state frontiers;
2) for the purpose of acquiring lands for agricultural production”.
The first function is carried out by the organs of state security”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 82, citing: Semen S. Studentiev, Viktor A. Vlasov & Ivan I. Evtikhiev: ‘Administrative Law of the USSR’; Moscow; 1950).
The resettlements with which we are here concerned were carried out, as we shall see, for the first of these two purposes — that is, for reasons of state security and defence of state frontiers — and so were carried out legally by the state security services.
Anti-Soviet historians often describe the enforced resettlements as acts of ‘genocide’. This is implied in the title of Robert Conquest’s book on the transplantations — ‘The Nation Killers’.
In fact, the UN. Convention on the Prevention and punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in December 1948, defines genocide as an act:
“committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical or religious group, as such”.
(UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (December 1948), in: Edmund J. Osmanczyk: ‘The Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Relations’; New York; 1990; p. 328).
But enforced resettlement of national groups can in no way be identified with intent to destroy them. Indeed, even such a hostile commentator as Robert Conquest is compelled to admit:
“Nothing here matches the horror of the Nazi gas chambers. These nations were not physically annihilated”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 11).
In fact, the resettled peoples were allotted land and given state assistance to build a new life in the areas in which they were resettled. The Volga Germans, for example, were resettled:
“with the promise that the migrants shall be allotted land and that they should be given assistance by the State in settling in the new areas”.
(Decree of Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet, 28 August 1941, in: Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 62-63).
while the resettled Chechens and Crimean Tatars
“. . . were given land, together with the necessary governmental assistance for their economic establishment”.
(Decree of Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet, 25 June 1946, in: Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 47).
The Collective Nature of the Decisions on Resettlement
As we have seen, Khrushchev describes Stalin as the:
(Russian Institute, Columbia University: op. cit.; p. 57).
of the resettlements.
This may well be true, but the decisions on resettlement were undoubtedly collective and not individual decisions.
Robert Conquest testifies that the defector Colonel Grigory Tokaev:
“Had some access to what was being said in high political and military circles”
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 99).
and Tokaev asserts
“. . . that the Soviet General Staff reported in 1940 that the population of the northern Caucasus would prove to be a handicap in case of war and recommended that the ‘special measures’ be taken in good time.
The actual decision to deport the Chechens is described by Tokaev as having been taken initially at a joint meeting of the Politburo and High Command on 11 February 1943, almost a year before it was put into effect”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 99).
Incidentally, Tokaev states that:
“It . . . the operation was beautifully planned”
(Grigory A, Tokaev: ‘Comrade X’; London; 1956; p. 259).
“Beria was in charge of the operation”.
(Grigory A. Tokaev: ibid.; p. 257).
And although Krushchev denounced (some of) the resettlements three years after Stalin’s death, Conquest points out that at the time:
“He (Khrushchev — Ed.) does not claim that he made any protest”.
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 192).
The Political Background to the Treason
We have seen that the disloyalty which brought about the resettlements was a mass phenomenon only in a few small nations of the Soviet Union, and so cannot be regarded as the result of an incorrect national policy on the part of the Soviet Marxist-Leninists.
In fact, even anti-Soviet historians testify to the overall success of the Soviet national policy in the time of Stalin:
“The so-called Lenin-Stalin nationality policy has achieved outstanding successes in enabling once backward peoples to modernise themselves”.
(William 0. McCagg, junior & Brian D. Silver (Eds): Introduction to: ‘Soviet Asian Ethnic Frontiers’; New York; 1979; p. xiv).
Speaking to the highlanders of the Caucasus in 1920, Stalin said:
“In granting you autonomy, Russia restores the liberties which were stolen from you by the bloodsucking tsars and the tyrannous Tsarist generals. …
Each of the peoples — Chechens, Ingush, Ossetians, Kabardinians, Balkars, Karachais, and also the Cossacks who remain within the autonomous highland territory — should have its National Soviet to administer the affairs of the given people in accordance with its manner of life and specific features”.
(Josef V. Stalin: Report on Soviet Autonomy for the Terak Region, Congress of the Peoples of the Terek Region (November 1920), in: ‘Works’, Volume 4; Moscow; 1953; p. 415).
Even Robert Conquest admits:
“One of the most characteristic things in the life of the Soviet minorities is the care taken to provide them with a Soviet literature of their own”. .
(Robert Conquest: op. cit.; p. 41).
The nations who succumbed to mass treachery were subject to special pressures — of foreign nationalism (German or Turkish) and -in the case if the Causasus — of reactionary Muslim mullahs.
Particularly important in the background to the treachery was the political activity in the North Caucasus of concealed revisionist conspirators. At his treason trial in March 1938, Vladimir Ivanov* admitted:
“In 1929 1 was sent to the North Caucasus as the Second Secretary , Bukharin suggested to me that I should form a group of Rights in the North Caucasus. IL-‘ added that the North Caucasus would play a very important part in our struggle against the Party and the Soviet power”.
(Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet ‘Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites’; Moscow; 1938; p. 118).
Ivanov’s evidence on this point was confirmed by another defendant in the same trial — Aleksey Rykov*:
“RYKOV: The Right centre devoted special attention to the North Caucasus owing to . . . the specific character of its traditions.
VYSHINSKY: To organise kulak actions, kulak insurrections?
RYKOV: of course”.
(Report of Court Proceedings ibid.; p. 165).
THE ENFORCED RESETTLEMENT OF EIGHT SMALL NATIONS OF THE SOVIET UNION IN 1941-47 WAS A LEGAL MEASURE IN ACCORDANCE WITH MARXIST-LENINIST PRINCIPLES, NECESSITATED BY SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES TO SAFEGUARD THE SECURITY OF THE SOCIALIST SOVIET UNION.
CHURCHILL, Winston L. S., British journalist, historian and conservative
politician (1874-1965); President, Board of Trade (1908-10); Home Secretary (1910-11); First Lord of Admiralty (1911-15); Minister of Munitions (1917); Secretary for War and Air (1919-21); Secretary for Colonies (1921-22); Chancellor of Exchequer (1924-29); First Lord of Admiralty (1939-40); Premier (1940-45, 1951-55).
CONQUEST, G. Robert A., British diplomat, historian and poet (1917 research fellow, London School of Economics (1956-58); senior fellow, Columbia University, New York (1964-65); fellow, Smithsonian Institution, Washington (1976-77); senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford (1977- research associate, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA (1983- ) — Alexander, German-born American historian (1924- to ZUSA (1940); associate professor (1958-61), professor (1961- ), Columbia University, New York senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford, USA (1971-78).
GORKIN, Aleksandr F., Soviet revisionist civil servant (1897-1992); Secretary, USSR Central Executive Committee (1937-38); Secretary, Presidium of USSR Supreme Soviet (1938-57); Chairman, USSR Supreme Court (1957-72).
IVANOV, Vladimir I., Soviet revisionist politician (1893-1938); Secretary, North Caucasus, Regional Committee, CPSU (1927-31); Ist Secretary, Northern Regional Committee, CPSU (1931-38); USSR Commissar of Timber Industry (1937-38); found guilty of treason and executed (1938).
MANSTEIN, Fritz E. von, German military officer (1887-1973); field marshal (1942); commander on Soviet front (1942-43); imprisoned for war crimes (1943-53).
RYKOV, Alexsey I., Soviet revisionist politician (1881-1938); chairman, Supreme Council of National Economy (1918-21); RSFSR/USSR premier (1924-30); USSR Commissar for Communications (1931-36); expelled from CPSU (1937); found guilty of treason and executed (1938).
SARACOGLU. Sukru, Turkish national-bourgeois politician (1887-1953): Minister of Finance (1927-30); Minister of Justice (1933-38); Minister of Foreign Affairs (1938-42); Premier (1942-46); President, National Assembly (1948-50).
SUNY, Ronald G., American historian (1940- ); lecturer, Columbia University, New York (1967-68); assistant professor (1968-72), associate professor (1972-81), Oberlin College, Oberlin, USA; professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (1981- ).
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