Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Death and Life in the Labor Army

At the same time that the Nazi regime was engaged in the mass gassing of Jews in death camps the Stalin regime was busy rounding up every single able bodied adult of German ancestry in the USSR for slave labor. The Soviet government condemned hundreds of thousands of men and women to work under conditions that resulted in tens of thousands of them dying from hunger, exhaustion, and exposure solely because their ancestors had immigrated to the Russian Empire from Central Europe.  During 1942 and 1943 the Soviet government forcibly mobilized over 316,000 ethnic Germans into the labor army to perform forced labor. As a result of the inhumane conditions in the labor army over 60,000 or nearly a fifth of those conscripted perished during and soon after the war (German and Silantjewa, p. 308). Below I have reproduced an excerpt from Orlando Figes The Whisperers describing the conditions experienced by Rudolf Gotman in the labor army.

Rudolf Gotman was born in 1922 to a Lutheran German family from the Crimea. The Gotmans were categorized as 'kulaks' and exiled to the wilderness near Arkhangelsk in 1931.  When the war broke out Rudolf was picked up by the NKVD as a 'German national' (in fact his ancestors had lived in Russia since 1831) and sent to work in the coal mines of the Donbass. There he was conscripted by a labour brigade made up of a hundred young men from 'German' families and sent to work in a food-processing factory in Solikamsk, in the northern Urals. In the autumn of of 1942, the men were sent to a nearby logging camp to fell timber. They lived in barracks, slept on wooden benches, and were given starvation-level rations. Made to work in freezing temperatures, more than half the brigade members died in the first winter. The NKVD guards, who supervised the brigade, showed no mercy for the 'German' boys and called them 'Fascist scum'. Rudolf survived by virtue of the fact that he was injured and taken to hospital: otherwise he would have died from exhaustion. He remained in the labour army for the next fourteen years. He worked in factories, Soviet farms and construction sites and was even sent to the Caucasus to build dachas for Stalin, Molotov and Beria. He did not receive any pay until 1948, and was not allowed to to leave the labour army until 1956, as part of the general amnesty for Gulag prisoners. (Figes, p. 424).

May those who died rest in peace.


Orlando Figes, The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia, (London: Penguin Books, 2008).

A. German and O. Silantjewa, (eds.), "Vyselit' s treskom". Ochevidtsy i issledovateli o tragedii rossiiskikh nemtsev / "Fortjagen muss man sie". Zeitzeugen und Forscher berichten uber die Tragodie der Russlanddeutschen, (Moscow: MSNK-Press, 2011).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ghana off of FATF blacklist

Ghana has now been removed from the list of countries blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for having weak laws and institutions aimed at preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The FATF is a international body and it placed Ghana on its blacklist in February of this year. It is expected that the removal of Ghana from the blacklist will make international financial transactions involving Ghana both cheaper and faster.

Source: Daily Graphic

It is again hot in Africa

This morning I was already sweating profusely by 8:30 and it is only going to get hotter from now until about March. Fortunately, so far this week there have been no electrical problems so I can keep cool in my office which has air conditioning and a ceiling fan.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Anytime you need a particular piece of technology it will be broken at the first two places you look.

Sometimes I feel like I am living the entire corpus of sayings in  Murphy's Law. There is in fact a Pohl's principle in the first book. You can go look it up. But, today was one of the few times I needed a scanner. Our office has no scanner. At the first place I went to the scanner was broken. The scanner was also broken at the second place I tried. The third place had no scanner and I finally struck gold at place number four. Not only did they have a scanner, but it actually worked. Of course I was lucky I only had to go to three places with a scanner to find one that worked. Nothing ever works the first time or the second time. If you are really lucky it will work the third time. In fact that is why it is still called the Third World long after the death of the Second World and the whole idea of nonalignment.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Another African Weekend

Yesterday, I took a tro tro down to the start of Oxford Street in Osu and then walked to Osu Beach to see the Ocean. It was a great view, but it was really hot. I couldn't stay out and enjoy it too long in the heat. The start of Osu Street at the Koala Market is really upscale and caters mostly to foreigners and rich Ghanaians. But, on the beach the fancy buildings give way to shacks and containers with much more reasonably priced goods being sold with little overhead. This is a very different type of coastal geography than from what exists in the US. There all the expensive property would be on the beach and the poorer buildings far away.

Soviet Citizens in German military units during WWII

During the Second World War over 1.3 million Soviet citizens fought in the German Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units. Over 1 million of these men were Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians (Berdinskikh, p. 65). These units included in 1943 a total of 90 Russian, Ukrainian, and Cossack battalions, 90 Caucasian and Central Asian battalions, and the 29th and 30th Russian Waffen SS Divisions. There was also the 14th Waffen SS "Galician" Division formed from Ukrainians in what was eastern Poland before 1939. The Latvians contributed the 15th and 19th Waffen SS divisions and the Estonians the 20th Waffen SS Division (Chebotareva, p. 447). In 1945 just after the mass deportations of North Caucasians, Kalmyks, Crimean Tatars, and Meskhetian Turks the German military had the following breakdown of Baltic and Soviet nationals fighting in its various units.

Baltic States
Lithuanians - 36,300
Latvians - 104,000
Estonians - 10,000

Soviet Citizens
Russians - 53,000
Azerbaijanis - 36,500
Georgians - 19,000
North Caucasians - 15,000
Volga Tatars - 12,500
Crimean Tatars - 10,000
Armenians - 7,000
Kalmyks -5,000

(Chebotareva, pp. 447-448).

For citizens of the USSR the number of Russian collaborators is much greater than among the North Caucasians, Crimean Tatars, and Kalmyks combined. Yet the Stalin regime did not exact any collective punishment at all upon the Russians, Azerbaijanis, Volga Tatars, or Georgians. It did deport in the summer of 1944 the entire Armenian population of Crimea eastward as it had the Crimean Tatars. But, the Crimean Armenians numbered less than 10,000 and made up only a small percentage of the total Armenian population of the USSR. Later in 1948 and 1949 there are significant partial deportations from the three formerly independent Baltic States as well as much of the Armenian population living along the Black Sea. But, the Armenians in the Armenian SSR as well as the bulk of the indigenous population of the Baltic states are allowed to remain in their homelands without suffering the collective punishment for "treason" imposed upon the Karachais, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Kalmyks, and Crimean Tatars.


V. Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005).

 V. Chebatoreva, "Ukaz Presidium Verkhnogo Soveta SSSR ot 28 avgusta 1941 g. - preventivnaia mera obespecheniia gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti ili politcheskaia povokatsiia?" in A.A. German (ed.), Nachal'nyi period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny i deportatsiia rossiiskikh nemtsev : vzgliady i otsenki cherez 70 let (Moscow: MSNK-press, 2011),  pp. 442-455.

Friday, October 26, 2012

George Fredrickson on Race and why Francine Hirsch is wrong

George Fredrickson was before his death probably the foremost historian in the world on the comparative history of systems of racial exclusion. His comparative historical work on racism in the US, South Africa, and Brazil still stands out as some of the best comparative history ever written. I am currently rereading Fredrickson's writings on race and I am even more struck now by how much his views are diametrically opposed to Hirsch's. Yet Fredrickson is the orthodox and mainstream view when it comes to race in the US and South Africa and Hirsch is the orthodox and mainstream view on race in the USSR. How is it that only the study of Soviet nationalities remains chained to definitions of race and racism that had already been discarded with regards to the study of the rest of the world by the end of the 1960s? (Fredrickson, pp. 79-80). I have some ideas at the end of this essay. But Hirsch is the dominant figure in the US today on the study of the history of Soviet nationality policies under Stalin. She unlike Fredrickson explicitly denies that race can be constructed along cultural rather than biological lines.  Hirsch is unable to conceive of racism as anything except the narrow biologically based racism practiced by Nazi Germany.

But to call Soviet population politics "racial"  - to insist that a state sees its population through a "racial" lens if it ascribes cultural or behavioral traits to its population groups (that is, if it stereotypes)  - is to obscure important differences between the Soviet and Nazi regimes and their projects. If we call all politics of categorical exclusion and discrimination "racial politics," then what do we call politics actually based on the category "race"? (Hirsch, p. 37).

Fredrickson makes it clear as does John Rex that there is no real distinction between ethnicity and race such as posited by Hirsch.  Fredrickson in point of fact defined racism in terms of ethnicity.

Racism, then, can be defined as an ethnic group's assertion or maintenance of a privileged and protected status vis a vis members of another group or groups who are thought, because of defective ancestry, to possess a set of relevant characteristics that disqualify them from full membership in a community or citizenship in a nation state. (Fredrickson, p. 85).

This would certainly apply to the Russian dominated Soviet state's treatment of ethnic Germans in the USSR who were deemed by virtue of their ancestry to be potential traitors and therefore subjected to special settlement restrictions which made them second class citizens in the USSR.

Instead Hirsch claims that nationalities as defined by social and historical criteria are radically different from racial groups defined by biology.

The mass deportation of targeted nationalities, along with other Soviet nationality policies, was premised on the conviction that nationalities (like classes) were sociohistorical groups with a shared consciousness and not racial-biological groups. This is not a trivial distinction: it is imperative to understand Soviet conceptions of "race" and "nationality" before we can undertake a truly comparative analysis. (Hirsch, p. 30).

The distinctions made between culture and biology and ethnicity and race by Hirsch to deny the existence of racial discrimination in the USSR by the Stalin regime against the deported peoples are in point of fact trivial in practice. Something she might have figured out if she had done any real comparative work instead of confining herself to Nazi Germany as the only example of racism in world history. She instead conflates biology with race and denies that culture can also be the basis for racial discrimination.

But Soviet nationality politics (with its focus on group consciousness transmitted through culture), unlike Nazi racial politics (with its focus on racial type transmitted through biology), did not require murder. (Hirsch, p. 40).

Not only does culture perform the exact same function as biology in the Soviet case, but it is as Fredrickson points out the basis for one of the most blatantly racist systems in modern history, South African apartheid.

Stereotyping and stigmatizing a racialized group on the basis of cultural rather than biological inferiority provides a new rationale for discrimination rather than a basis for combating it. This "new racism" is not really unprecedented. Cultural rather than biological determinism was the official justification for apartheid in South Africa. (Fredrickson, p. 81).

The distinction between primordial ethnicity determined by ancestral culture and genetically determined racial categories is in reality extremely trivial. Fredrickson in fact calls the entire debate "unprofitable." (p. 84).  As already noted he defines racism in terms of ethnic status not the articulation of an explicit doctrine of biological superiority like Hirsch does.

Since race is a constructed category it can be formed on the basis of things other than biology such as culture. In practice culturally based racial discrimination such as existed in the USSR against the deported peoples and in South Africa during apartheid is no different from the denial of rights justified by claims of biological inferiority or difference.

[T]he designation of people by skin color and the mistreatment of them on that basis has no special features that would distinguish it from group domination based on religion, culture, or the simple belief that some people have defective ancestry. It is only because modern Western liberalism often assumes that it is relatively easy for people to change their religion or culture and be assimilated into a group other than the one in which they were born that the distinction has become important. (Fredrickson, p. 84).

In the case of the USSR it was not easy at all for stigmatized groups like the ethnic Germans to change their legal nationality as recorded on line five of their identification documents. Instead the NKVD decreed that this status was automatically inherited from your parents and could not be legally changed on 2 April 1938 (Petrov and Roginskii, p. 167).  Henceforth nationality in the USSR could not be functionally distinguished from race. Racism is not about biology despite the claims of people like Francine Hirsch.

Passport nationality did become inheritable - insofar as the regime maintained that an individual's nationality derived from the nationality of one or both of his parents, and insofar as passport registers circumscribed the registration process accordingly. But, more fundamentally, nationality was not biological or racial. For the NKVD and the party the issue was not an individual's biological (genetic or blood) membership in one or another group, but his or her cultural heritage and possible ties to other states. NKVD and party officials saw these latter factors as predictors of an individual's loyalty to the regime - predictors of "Soviet" consciousness. (Hirsch, p. 39).

Racism, however, is about differential and inferior treatment of people based upon ancestry which includes "cultural heritage", not biology as Hirsch falsely claims. Nationality in the USSR was certainly based upon descent from specific cultural groups. The Stalin regime then targeted specific nationalities such as the ethnic Koreans, Germans, Kalmyks, Chechens, Crimean Tatars, and others for persecution and the deprivation of civil rights guaranteed to all other Soviet citizens. Under the definition of racism given above by Fredrickson the Soviet treatment of the deported peoples would certainly qualify as racial discrimination.

Hirsch strongly opposes this line of thinking and instead adheres to a notion that racism only exists if it is a replica of Nazi Germany's genetically based categorization of people into biological classes. That is she believes what defines racism is the justification for the creation of different categories of people and their unequal treatment rather than the unequal treatment itself (Hirsch, pp. 40-41). As Fredrickson notes the belief in different groups defined by descent and the unequal treatment of individuals because of their membership in those groups is what distinguishes racism from other forms of discrimination. Not whether that discrimination is based upon biology or culture. In fact how racism is justified is immaterial to determining whether it actually exists.

One might conclude, therefore, that racism, or something virtually indistinguishable from it, has no essential relation to skin color or other obvious physical characteristics and need not even be based on significant cultural differences. The essential element is the belief, however, justified or rationalized, in the critical importance of differing lines of descent and the use of that belief to establish or validate social inequality. (Fredrickson, pp. 84-85).

The fact that nationality in the Soviet Union was defined culturally rather than genetically is therefore immaterial in determining whether it functioned at times as a racial category. In the case of the deported peoples all the empirical evidence in fact points to nationality functioning as a racial category or something so close as to be almost identical.

The constant refrain by Hirsch that race has to be based upon a concept of biological inferiority is clearly rejected by Fredrickson. She claims that groups have to be explicitly defined as biologically inferior for racism to exist. Her denial of racial discrimination against the deported peoples is based entirely upon a biological definition of race. One she notes did not motivate Soviet treatment of the deported peoples.

The Soviet regime did not persecute nationalities because of suspected "biological weakness" or "deficient inner constitutions." It did not brand particular nationalities as biological inferiors or degenerate races. It did not praise Russians as representatives of a superior race, but an advanced "Soviet" nation (which was advanced in part, because "Russian kulaks" and other "Russian class enemies" had been reformed or removed). The Soviet regime had a scientific and political concept of race, but race did not guide its nationality polices. (Hirsch, p. 37).

Fredrickson notes that the beliefs and reasons for the unequal treatment of ethnic groups by a state is not what determines whether that treatment is racist. He also specifically repudiates the notion that there must be a belief in the inferiority of the stigmatized group for racism to exist.

Racism as a general phenomenon is not therefore defined by any specific beliefs about what makes a given minority undeserving of equal treatment. We know from the history of anti-Semitism and anti-Japanese discrimination in the United States that racism of a virulent sort can be directed at groups believed to be superior, at least in their competitive efficiency to an in-group seeking to protect its position. (Fredrickson, p. 86).

The position taken by Fredrickson is basically the mainstream orthodox view of historians of race relations in the US, Europe, and other regions of the world outside the Soviet Union. It is, however, only held by a tiny handful of people dealing with the history of the USSR. I suspect that this is because the study of Soviet history is extremely backwards in almost all aspects compared to other regions of the world. Most historians of the USSR still for instance completely reject the use of oral sources and cling dogmatically to a completely archive based model. This is despite the fact that until 1989 access to Soviet archives was extremely limited. In the 1990s there was a partial opening of the archives, but as my experience this summer in Kyrgyzstan shows many of these files have been reclassified as secret or top secret. In the TsGAKR everything dealing with Stalinist repression has been reclassified and is no longer accessible. The impoverished theoretical framework of Soviet history as represented by the dogmatic and outdated views of Hirsch on race, however, is an even greater impediment to understanding than the lack of archival documentation.


George M. Fredrickson, The Comparative Imagination: On the History of Racism, Nationalism, and Social Movements (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

Francine Hirsch, "Race without the Practice of Racial Politics," Slavic Review, vol. 61, no. 1, (Spring 2002), pp. 30-43.

N. Petrov and A. Roginskii, "The 'Polish Operation' of the NKVD, 1937-8" in B. McLoughlin and K. McDermott, Stalin's Terror: High Politics and Mass Repression in the Soviet Union (Houndsmill: Palgrave, 2003).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Suggestion Box

I have now finished editing my piece, "Is there a Black Eurasia? Ghanaian and other Diasporic Populations in the USSR in Comparative Perspective." I now need some suggestions about what to write next. I have been working a little bit on a piece with no publisher yet again comparing the special settlement regime in the USSR with apartheid in South Africa. In addition to the actual practices it also looks at the similarities in Soviet and South African ethnos theory. Although given the difficulty I had finding a peer reviewed journal willing to publish my last such comparative piece I think I should also line up an article on another topic. The official orthodox line of scholars of Soviet nationality policies established by Francine Hirsch is that the mass deportations of entire ethnic groups in the USSR and placing them under special settlement restrictions were not acts of racial discrimination. Their sole argument being that ethnicity is not race and biology is not culture. This puts most historians of the USSR at complete odds with the definition of racial discrimination enshrined in international law and people researching ethnicity and race in the rest of the world.  The 1965 ICERD and scholars of race and ethnicity like Malik, Rex, Balibar, Fredrickson, Dubnow, Tilley, Weitz, and others have repeatedly pointed out that ethnicity can be racialized and racial categories can be constructed along cultural rather than biological lines. But, if you try and apply the definition of racial discrimination in the ICERD and espoused by people like Rex and Fredrickson to the USSR you get lots and lots of  vicious peer review rejections.  The majority view among people dealing with Soviet nationality policies is apparently that Hirsch is correct and race can only be constructed along genetic and biological lines. They therefore conclude that there was no official racial discrimination by the Stalin regime against groups such as Koreans, Germans, Kalmyks, Chechens, Crimean Tatars, and others. Getting through such ideological gate keepers takes a couple of years now. So in addition to another article comparing the Soviet special settlement regime and South African apartheid I need something I can get published a little bit faster.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Electricity update

Sure enough everybody got electricity back, but me. Only my office remained without light and more importantly air conditioning and ceiling fan. But, fortunately I now have electric power back in my office. It was only absent for the better part of four days.


Sunday the whole campus had no electricity. On Monday it was just the top floor of the department building where the faculty offices are located. Since last evening it is only the side of the top floor with my office that has no electricity. So I have been without any electricity in my office for the better part of four days now. I am hoping they permanently fix this problem today. What is interesting is that the area effected keeps getting narrower. I would not be surprised if soon it is just my office that has no electrical power.

Monday, October 22, 2012

AAUP Hypocrisy on BDS

It turns out that the AAUP was a very strong supporter of sanctions against the Republic of South Africa. During the 1980s they made no arguments against boycotting South African universities on the basis that such a boycott was a violation of academic freedom. It is only when dealing with Israeli apartheid and colonialism that they have produced such arguments. The reasons why this should be have to do with the history of the American liberal left and its connections to Zionism, but the claims by the AAUP and people like Claire Potter that the PACBI is asking for something different than what the AAUP itself supported regarding South Africa are completely false. In both cases the boycott has been targeted at academic institutions not individual scholars despite the lies spread by the likes of Potter.


I see from a post on Mondoweiss that the official position of the AAUP is to reject BDS against Israel on the basis that an academic boycott of the last remaining apartheid state is a violation of the principles of free speech. Did the AAUP also publicly come out against an academic boycott of South Africa in the 1980s? If not why not? Would not the principle of freedom of speech apply equally in both cases? This is of course not surprising most "radical" professors in the US are strong opponents of any type of action against Israel. The only partial exceptions appear to be Judith Butler and some math professor at UCLA. The position of the AAUP and "Tenured Radicals" such as Claire Potter in strongly opposing any action against Israel is far more typical of the self identified left wing radical professors in the US. They should just be honest and admit that they are not radical at all on this issue or any other. Instead they are upholding established and orthodox left wing values that have dominated US universities for decades without any significant challenge. For some reason one of these values is support for Israel which does not make them much different from Gingrich or Romney when it comes to the Middle East.

New Book Purchases

Today I decided to bulk up my collection on Ghanaian and particular northern Ghanaian history. I bought three books on the subject.

D.E.K. Amenumey, Ghana: A Concise History from Pre-Colonial Times to the 20th Century (Accra: Woeli Publishing Services, 2011).

I actually know Dr. Amenumey personally, he comes by the department on occasion and he introduced the paper I gave with Felix Longi at the conference on German colonialism in Winneba. When I first met him I had no idea just how big a name he was in the field.

Ibrahim Mahama, A Colonial History of Northern Ghana (Tamale, Ghana: GILLBT Printing Press, 2009).

Cliff S. Maasole, The Konkomba and their Neighbours: From the Pre-European Period to 1914 (Accra: Woeli Publishing Services, 2006).

I am hoping I can get a basic understanding of the numerous ethnic conflicts in the north east of Ghana which exploded with such violence in the 1980s and 1990s. As I have mentioned before the region is extremely ethnically complex with a lot of population groups involved in chieftancy and land disputes. Just sorting out the different groups is confusing.

Black Outs

One thing that people in the US don't have to contend with regularly is power outages. On Sunday the power went out at nine in the morning and did not come back on until past ten at night. Today the power in our offices went out in the morning and still has not come back on. Without air conditioning and fans it is far too hot to work in my office. In the time it took to grade five exams I was drenched in sweat. I am hoping that what ever infrastructure problem is causing us to have regular outages is fixed soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another valiant but probably doomed attempt

My last reader survey was a complete failure. It only got one comment and I have no idea who that person was. Of course it may be that he is the only person other than my parents, one guy in Manhattan, one other person in Ghana, and occasionally a guy in Hungary who ever reads my blog. However, I am hoping that there may be some lurkers out there who have not made their presence known to me.

Mali once again

Apparently the current position of the US left is that any and all military intervention is good if it has the support of international organizations such as the UN. This is a radical change from the left's position in earlier decades and is especially strange given that the UN Security Council is currently dominated by the US, UK, and France without even the presence of a Soviet veto any more. So the American left seem to believe that military intervention in Mali by the US is a good thing because it has the support of the UN, AU and ECOWAS and will be supporting ECOWAS troops on the ground. They also seem to think that the intervention in Libya was the greatest thing ever. I remember a time when they opposed US military intervention abroad even when it had the support of organizations like the UN and SEATO. Fortunately, I am not a leftist and I do not think that the stamp of approval from international organizations automatically makes military intervention in Mali a good thing or that the earlier US intervention in Libya was necessarily the correct decision. In fifty years we can do a proper historical examination of these things. In the mean time I think it is prudent to limit military solutions to where they are absolutely necessary and not to try and bring democracy to the world, maintain the borders of post-colonial states, or eliminate Islamic political movements through the barrel of a gun.

Friday, October 19, 2012

More Thoughts on Intervention in Mali

Today the AU, EU, and ECOWAS are meeting with the government of Mali in Bamako to discuss concrete plans for military intervention against the Islamists in northern Mali. The current plan is to send 3,300 ECOWAS soldiers to assist the Malian army in this task. France in particular has been pushing for a military solution to the problems in Mali, but the US may end up providing air support to the operation just as it did to rebels in Libya who overthrew Qaddafi. At the same time it looks like the Islamists have greatly reduced food and utility prices for the people living in northern Mali and have thus gained themselves some popular support. Some refugees from southern Mali have even returned to northern Mali. The Islamists are also busy destroying the tombs of Sufi saints in northern Mali. So like many radical social movements the Islamists in Mali are a mixed bag. In terms of personal freedom they are extremely restrictive. They are now, however, successfully alleviating some of the poverty afflicting the people of northern Mali. It would be foolish to assume that the Islamists do not in fact have a significant social basis of support. They very well may be capable of preventing the proposed military intervention from reestablishing effective rule by Bamako over the region.

My Official Initiation into the Vandals

Last night I attended a party to welcome new fellows at Commonwealth Hall (Vandal City). The order as they call it which is led by a master is actually a very good networking resource. It also had a good spread of food. I am going to have to start visiting the Senior Common Room and keeping my ears open. I suspect there is an awful lot of important stuff I can learn from my elders.

Lots of new freshmen at Legon

According to the official figures given by the Vice Chancellor the University of Ghana at Legon admitted 17,819 new students this academic year out of 31,813 applicants. Out of this number 15, 272 were undergraduates and 2,547 graduate students. Although our department only admitted two graduate students. The number of foreign students admitted was 456. The huge size of the student body presents some problems most notably in the very large size of lower division classes and the difficulty in marking so many exams. I just finished grading over 120 midterms for my 200 level class. Although I have never seen more than 60 students actually attend any one class.

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two Documents on the Deportation of the Crimean Germans



     From the Crimean ASSR, as reported in a conversation on 2.IX-41 with the Peoples Commissar of Internal Affairs for the Crimean ASSR com. Karanadze, were evacuated to Ordzhonikidze krai in accordance with the Resolution of the council on evacuation No. SE-75s of 15.VIII-41 close to 60 thousand people of German nationality.
    According to a report from the UNKVD of Ordzhonikidze krai (com. Shapiro) in Ordzhonikidze krai [I have redacted a long list of raions in Ordzhonikidze krai here] from the Crimean ASSR have arrived 50 thousand citizens of German nationality. 
    In addition to these people another 3 thousand people of German nationality from the Crimean ASSR arrived in Rostov oblast, that have in connection to conducting the operation to resettle them from Rostov oblast, been resettled in the Kazakh SSR.

Dep. Chief of the Section for Special Settlements NKVD USSR
Captain of State Security Konradov

Source: N.F. Bugai (ed)., Deportatsiia narodov Kryma: Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii, (Moscow: INSAN, 2002, document no. 48, p. 79. Translated from the Russian into English by J. Otto Pohl

Top Secret


On the resettlement of Germans from Krasnodar and Ordzhonikidze krai

October 1941

     In executing the Resolution of the State Committee of Defense of the USSR No. 698-ss of 21 September 1941 - the NKVD of the USSR undertook the resettlement of Germans from Krasnodar and Ordzhonikidze krais to the Kazakh SSR. 
     The total subject to resettlement from Krasnodar krai - 34,287 people and from Ordzhonikidze - 95,489 people of this number 50,000 Germans arrived in Ordzhonikidze krai from the Crimean ASSR.
     From this composition on 14 October 1941 from Krasnodar krai were sent out 38,136 people, remaining to be sent out are 2500 people and from Ordzhonikidze were sent 74,570 people.
     The loading and shipping in echelons is continuing.

Deputy Peoples Commissar of Internal Affairs
Union of SSRs Commissar of State Security III-rank  Kobulov

Dep. Chief  of the Section for Special Settlements NKVD USSR
Captain of State Security                                            Konradov

Source: N.F. Bugai (ed.), Deportatsiia narodov Kryma: Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii, (Moscow: INSAN, 2002), doc. no. 49, p. 80. Translated from Russian to English by J. Otto Pohl.

NO to military intervention in Mali

I have expressed my moral opposition to the entity currently controlling northern Mali. However, I do not think that the current plans for military intervention are either well thought out or will make the situation better. Intervention may well make things worse not only in Mali, but in neighboring states.  According to the WSJ the US may provide air support to the mission. Given that the problem in Mali is in part a result of the US air war against Libya I don't think this is such a good idea. Just as the ground troops in Libya were provided by locals the war on the ground in Mali will be fought by African soldiers. In addition to the Malian military which is poorly prepared for such a war the current plan calls for 3,300 ECOWAS soldiers, primarily from Nigeria to remove the Islamists from power in the north. The territory to be reconquered on behalf of Bamako is the size of France and mostly desert. How 3,300 men can effectively suppress a guerrilla insurgency in such an area and impose the rule of a rather shaky government has not been adequately explained.  As The Guardian points out the real problem in Mali is that the current government in Bamako is not competent to effectively rule the country. This is the same problem the US currently has in Afghanistan and earlier had in South Vietnam. The national government which we wish to impose on the entire country lacks the ability and support required to effectively rule its own territory. Neither the civilians in the transitional government of Mali or its military have any real political legitimacy and until they do they will not be able to assert effective rule over all of their territory.

Source: The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian Africa Network

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Volga German Deportation Order (Corrected version)

For some reason a number of the printed versions of the 26 August 1941 decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Peoples Commissariats reproduced by A.A. German are redacted. This included the version I reproduced in part on this blog on 26 August 2011. So here is a reproduction of the first clause of the decree from a photograph of the document.

Decision of 26.VIII.41

1. - On Resettling Germans from the Republic of Volga Germans ,
       Saratov and Stalingrad oblasts.
                (Resolution of the SNK USSR and CC VKP /b/).

 Council of Peoples Commissariats Union of SSRs and CC VKP (b) resolves:

               1. Resettle all Germans from the Volga German Republic and from Saratov and Stalingrad oblasts a total number of 479,841 people to the following krais and oblasts.

                Krasnoyarsk Kray            -   75,000 people
                Altay Kray                        -   95,000    "
                Omsk Oblast                   -    85,000   "
                Novosibirsk Oblast         - 100,000   "
                Kazakh SSR                   -  125,000  "
Of this Number:
                 Semipalatinsk Oblast       -    18,000  "
                 Akmola Oblast                -    25,000  "
                 North Kazakhstan Oblast -   25,000  "    
                 Kustanay Oblast              -    20,000 "
                 Pavlodar Oblast               -    20,000 "
                 East Kazakhstan Oblast    -   17,000 "

Resettle all Germans without exception, those living in cities, as well as those living in rural locations, of this number are members of the VKP (b) [Communist Party] and VLKSM [Komsomol].            

Source: A photograph of the first page of the document is reproduced in A.A. German and A.N. Kurochkin,  Nemtsy SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1945), Moscow: Gotika, 1998,  p. 6. Translation from Russian to English by J. Otto Pohl.

The decline of human rights in northern Mali

I don't share much of my fellow Americans' hysteria over Islam or Sharia or even Islamic political movements. But, the entity in northern Mali has interpreted Sharia in a very strict and puritanical manner that I find quite barbaric. Most recently, the Islamists running northern Mali had a fifteen year old girl in Timbuktu flogged with 60 lashes for the "crime" of talking to men on the street.

Source: Associated Press

Another Epiphany and a Note on a Friend

This is one of those blog posts that my mother loves.  But, she is right that I should be thankful for what I have and let go of my anger. It would only take a moment to lose something that really is important to me and such things happen to other people all the time. If my daughter died or I became crippled then I would have lost something important. Everything else really pales in comparison. 

One of the few advantages to being completely unknown and ignored is that you don't attract this kind of trouble. Actually I found out about this at the same time another smaller and more personal event caused me to have the epiphany. But, it does show that name recognition is not always a good thing. Walt claims that if the FSB ever does interrogate him that he is going to implicate me as the man who first told him to study the Northwest Caucasus. The funny thing is that it is true. I really was the first person who told him he should study the region back in 2000 since nobody else did. I had no idea that the Russian government would ever target him as a public enemy as a result. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trouble in the Ivory Coast

Most of the trouble in the Ivory Coast is over. But, today gunmen attacked the Azito thermal power plant in the capital of Abidjan. Ten of the men were captured by Ivorian security forces. At the same time about 60km east another group of armed men attacked a police station in Bonoua. It is believed the men are connected to ousted president Gbagbo.

Source: Reuters

Chinese Gold Miners in Ghana

Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa after the RSA. The industry has thus attracted a lot of interest from China including a number of Chinese engaged in illegal gold mining. On Friday the police arrested over 90 Chinese near Kumasi for illegal mining. Allegedly a 16 year old Chinese male died during this police action. Last month Ghana deported 38 Chinese engaged in illegal gold mining. As the price of gold rises the problem of illegal mining by undocumented workers from China is likely to increase.

Source: Reuters and Associated Press

A Rather Complex Ethnic Map

For some reason I am on the supervisory committee of everybody here doing an honors thesis (Long Essay) or PhD on ethnic conflict in the north east of Ghana. I think it is because I have written about issues of ethnic repression in the USSR. But, there are not a lot of similarities between the USSR and north east Ghana. The area is extremely complex and there are land based ethnic disputes between Kokombas and Nanumbas, Mamprusi and Kusasi, and Gonja and Nawuri. Unlike other areas of Ghana no dominant power such as the Asante was able to assert hegemony and assimilate the surrounding smaller groups. So the area has a lot different ethnic groups in a small area. After the partition of German Togoland between the British and French following WWI the land conflicts intensified. The British removed all the "Kaiser Chiefs" and with them the lands attached to certain ethnic groups. Only ethnic groups that had chiefs before the Germans colonized Togoland were allowed to keep their lands under the British. Later events have put even further pressure on land in this region of Ghana. Trying to follow the history of the numerous ethnic conflicts over land in northern Ghana is not easy. I think I am going to have to go and read up on the existing secondary literature on the subject.

More on the ARA Libertad

On Thursday Ghanaian courts upheld the seizure of the ARA Libertad. NLM a subsidiary of Elliot Capital Management which lodged the complaint against Argentina is demanding 20 million dollars in exchange for the ship even though the ship is only worth 10 million dollars. The US based Elliot Capital Management is run by Paul Singer and owns 1.6 billion dollars of Argentine debt purchased on the secondary market between default and repudiation at a fraction of its worth. In some cases the bonds cost only 15 cents on the dollar.  Argentina is arguing that the naval vessel has sovereign immunity and can not be seized to pay off the debt owned by Elliot Capital Management.



Reader Survey

I am trying to carve out a few niche interests for this blog. One is Russian-Germans, particularly during the Soviet era and especially during WWII. I think I have more readers interested in this subject than any other, but I am not exactly sure. Another one is West Africa, obviously Ghana, but also neighboring and nearby countries such as Togo and Mali. I think a few people who read this blog are interested in my personal observations of Ghana, but I am not sure how much interest my more general posts on the region attract. Finally, I still have obvious interests in Central Asia, particularly Kyrgyzstan. So if you are one of the few people who reads this blog please give me some feed back on what you find interesting. Should I drop the news items about Togo and Mali and concentrate more on my exploration of Ghanaian cuisine? What should I keep and what should I drop?

More on Mali

On Friday the UN Security Council approved the use of military force in principle to assist the Malian army to reassert control over the north of Mali currently ruled by a Taliban like Islamic movement. It looks like the UN, EU, AU, and ECOWAS will meet in Bamako on 19 October 2012 to formulate plans to put together an African military force for this purpose. Despite being a strong supporter of intervention the French president has stated that there will be no French soldiers sent to Mali. Instead he says France will limit itself to outfitting and training forces from African countries involved in the operation.

Source: Associated Press

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NKO Directive No. 35105s of 8 September 1941

Since I am writing a series of posts on Russian-Germans who fought against the Nazis I thought it might be helpful to reproduce the order that removed most of their ethnic kinsmen from Soviet military institutions.

Directive of the Peoples Commissariat of Defense USSR

No. 35105s from 8 September 1941

Expel from units, academies, military instruction establishments and institutions of the Red Army, both at the front, and in the rear, all military service personnel in the ranks and the commanding staff those of German nationality and send them to internal regions for assignment to construction battalions.

In those cases, when commanders and commissars jointly reckon it is necessary to leave military service personnel of German nationality in a unit, they are required to present a petition on the reasons motivating this decision to the NKO through the Military Councils of fronts, regions and sections of the army. 

Inform me about the execution of this directive no later than 15 September.

Peoples Commissar of Defense USSR J. Stalin

Source: A.A. German, T.S. Ilarionova, I.R. Pleve, Istoriia nemtsev rossii: Khrestomatiia, Moscow: MSNK-Press, 2005, doc. 8.2.3., p. 253. Translation from Russian into English by J. Otto Pohl.

Russian-Germans in anti-Nazi Partisan Units

This is the second post on my series on Russian-Germans who fought against the Nazis. While a number fought in the Red Army both before and after the orders to remove them from its ranks, others operated in the anti-Nazi underground. They resisted the Nazi occupation of the USSR by providing information to the Soviet government, engaging in sabotage and diversionary attacks, and engaging in anti-Nazi propaganda and agitation.

Ukraine was the focal point of Russian-German participation in the anti-Nazi underground. In the south west of Ukraine a significant number of Russian-Germans fought in anti-Nazi partisan units operating behind enemy lines. This was particularly true in the region around Odessa even though during 1937-1938 the Stalin regime had shot a full 18% of ethnic German men ages 20 to 59 in the region and 22.3% of ethnic German men ages 30-49 (Krieger, pp. 137-138). In fact a number of Russian-German partisans active in the anti-Nazi underground had relatives repressed in 1937-1938 by the Stalin regime. Vladimir Ottovich  (Antonovich) Mueller was active in the underground organization "Komsomol Patriots" which operated under the leadership of L.I. Katzapov from May 1942 to April 1944. His father Otto Rudolphovich Mueller had been the first secretary of the Karl Liebknecht German National Raion in Nikolaev Oblast Ukraine near Odessa until 1937 when he became one of the tens of thousands of ethnic Germans in Ukraine politically repressed during the "Great Terror." Vladimir Mueller was involved in a clash with the Gestapo on 28 March 1944 and died at age 20 a few days before the Red Army retook Odessa (Solodova, p. 36). Mueller was only one of a fairly large number of Russian-Germans to actively work in the anti-Nazi underground in occupied areas of the USSR.

The most famous group of Russian-German partisans in the Odessa area was led by N.A. Heft from September 1943 to April 1944. Another group in nearby Nikolaev Oblast  was led by V.A. Liagin. This second group included the ethnic Germans Adel Kelem, Emila Dukart, and Magdalena Dukart (Solodova, p. 34).  While Heft's group included V. Burzi and A. Berndt (German and Shulga, p. 31). Heft later led the group "Avantguard" behind German lines in Poland where he and Burzi died fighting against the Nazis in August 1944 (Solodova, p. 34 and German and Shulga, p. 31). The exploits of ethnic German saboteurs and intelligence agents working on behalf of the Soviet Union against the Nazis are quite impressive and have received almost no historical recognition in the West.

The heroism of Russian-Germans in anti-Nazi partisan units even received recognition from the Soviet government.  Moscow bestowed medals upon a number of Russian-German anti-Nazi partisan units. Aleksandr Hermann active in leading partisans in the region of Kalinin and Leningrad and Robert Klein noted for his exploits at the Dnepr in the fall of 1943 even received the award Hero of the Soviet Union (German and Shulga, p. 31). The ability of ethnic Germans to operate behind Nazi lines made them a valuable asset to the USSR and it is surprising that there were so many Russian-Germans who served in this capacity in light of the extremely brutal treatment of the group in general by the NKVD.

Of special note only because of his name is the doctor Andrei Adolphovich Pohl, a doctor who was an assistant at the surgical clinic at the Odessa Medical Institute.  He led a small group of medical workers in the anti-Nazi underground and joined a partisan detachment in Lenin Raion in April 1943 at age 37. This detachment operated in the village of Krivaya Balka from April 1942 to April 1944. Interestingly enough despite his very German surname and patronymic, Pohl's documents identified his nationality as Russian. (Solodova, p. 36). The changing of his nationality to avoid punishment at the hands of the Soviets was not unusual among Russian-Germans fighting against the Nazis. But, what is rather unusual is his failure to change his name which was a dead give away of his ethnic origins even if his nationality was listed as Russian.

 A number of Russian-Germans in the Red Army had changed their names as well as their nationality to avoid removal. These included Voledomar Karlovich Wentzel who changed his name to Vladimir Kirillovich Ventsov and was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union, Peter Lewen who changed his name to Levin, Buegehl who changed his name to Boichenko, and G. Richter who became Smirnov. In some cases like in the case of Richter Soviet military counter intelligence found out their real identities and sent them away to labor camps. In other cases such as Paul Schmidt who changed his name to Ali Akhmetov and his nationality to Azerbaijani they were allowed to return to their original German names (German and Shulga, pp. 30-31). The phenomenon of ethnic Germans passing for Russians or other nationalities by changing their names is still not well researched. The process by which they were able to forge documents and convince superior officers that they were not German or not to turn them in if they knew is still not well known.

The ethnic Germans from the USSR who fought against the Nazis as partisans such as Aleksandr Hermann, Robert Klein, and N.A. Heft played an important role in the defeat of Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front. These men and a few women have received very little attention because they are proof that the charges of treason against the entire Russian-German population are false. Despite the brutal treatment of their families, neighbors, and even themselves at the hands of the Stalin regime they bravely fought and sometimes died fighting against the Nazis in defense of their Soviet Homeland


A. German and I. Shulga, "'Ne byvat' fashistkoi svin'e v nashem sovetskom ogorode': Sovetskie nemtsy na fronte i v tylu vraga," Rodina: Rossiiskii istoricheskii zhurnal, May 2010, pp. 28-31.

V. Krieger, Rein, Volga, Irtysh: Iz istorii nemtsev Tsentral'noi Azii, Almaty: Daik-Press, 2006.

V.V. Solodova, "Dokumental'nye istochniki ob uchastii ethnicheskikh nemtsev v organizovannom dvizhenii Soprotivleniia na vremenno okkupirovannoi territorii Odesskoi i Nikolaevskoi oblastei 1941-1944 gg." in A.A. German (ed.), Grazhdanskaia identichnost' i vnuternnii mir rossiiskikh nemtsev v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voiny i v istoricheskoi pamiati potomkov, Moscow: MSNK-Press, 2011, pp. 32-39.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leftist Racism and the Image of Africa

I have noticed a disturbing trend on the Internet since I moved to Africa. It was probably always there, but I have become much more attuned to depictions of Africa in the last couple of years. There is the constant depiction of all of Africa as very poor and dysfunctional. This stereotype of an entire continent based upon its most unfortunate parts is bad enough. But, the stereotype is magnified into an essentialist and primordial argument that Africa can never be anything but, poor and dysfunctional. This is basically a racist argument. The argument, however, is almost always made by people who identify themselves as leftists or liberals and their stated reasoning is that colonialism permanently crippled Africa in such a way that its people can never develop on their own.

This argument ignores both the history of early independence when states like Ghana did develop significantly before the liberal LBJ helped throw Nkrumah out of power and more recent developments in Africa. The fact is that despite the wishes of white liberals and leftists in the US and UK that Africa always be poor so they can use it as an example to attack the current system of global capitalism there are parts of Africa that are developing quite rapidly now. A lot of white liberals and leftists who call themselves "anti-racists" only see the people of Africa as pawns in an ideological game rather than real people with fully human lives. These people have no experience with dealing with actual Africans and they are content to have lengthy Internet discussions about the issues of colonialism and development in Africa without any contributions from Africans or anybody actually familiar with Africa. Instead the stereotype of eternal poverty as a result of colonialism is branded upon Africa like the mark of Ham. Meanwhile the Europeans of today are completely forgiven for the original sin of colonialism by these same liberals and leftists leaving only Africans to suffer under the presumption that they can not be anything, but poor and undeveloped.

This presumption informs a lot of liberal policy from the sustained attacks of JFK and LBJ against Pan-African leaders like Nkrumah to the poverty pimps that staff a large number of NGOs today. The American and British left have a vested ideological interest in keeping Africa poor. But, obviously this is not in the interest of Africans. Colonialism did not permanently make Africans incapable of economic success. That they are perfectly capable of developing is something that was empirically evident even in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One obstacle to their development, however, has been the image of Africa projected by American and British liberals and leftists of being absolutely and forever hopeless and helpless as a result of colonialism. The policies that have followed from this image have not surprisingly done very little to facilitate real development in Africa.

The Situation in Mali

It looks like northern Mali is evolving into an entity similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban. Islamic extremists have imposed a very rigid interpretation of Sharia upon the area and are now moving to enforce it. The latest news is that they are now collecting the names of women with children born out of wedlock for punishment and recruiting child soldiers.

Source: Reuters

Yet more violence in Kyrgyzstan

Four policemen were wounded on Thursday in Osh after clashing with several hundred Ata-Jurt demonstrators demanding the release of three members of parliament currently being detained for their role in organizing an attempted forcible overthrow of the legally elected government. The popular base for Ata-Jurt appears to be among ethnic Kyrgyz in Osh and Jalal-Abad oblasts where there is a large Uzbek minority. These areas were the scene of ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in 1990 and again in 2010.

Source: UPI

Friday, October 12, 2012

Russian-Germans in the Red Army

I am going to try and make a series of posts on this subject. The justification for the deportations was the lie that somehow Soviet citizens of German heritage were all potential traitors solely by virtue of their ancestry. Many Soviet people still believe this lie today even though the empirical evidence shows that Russian-Germans were no less patriotic than other Soviet citizens. Those that managed to avoid removal from the Red Army continued to fight bravely  against the Nazis. Others participated in partisan movements against the Nazi occupation forces in Ukraine and elsewhere.

The charges of treason against each and every Russian-German are ridiculous when one considers that even after Stalin punished almost the entire population that a number of ethnic Germans continued to fight for the defense of the Soviet Union in the Red Army and in anti-Nazi partisan units. Before their removal from the ranks of the Red Army around 30,000 Russian-Germans were engaged in resisting the Nazi attack on the USSR. Even after the expulsion of most of these men from the military and their internment in labor camps as members of the labor army a number of Russian-Germans continued to fight against the Nazi occupation of the USSR. On 8 September 1941, the Stalin regime issued decree No. 350105s ordering the expulsion of all ethnic Germans from the Soviet Red Army and other military institutions. However, it took until the end of 1942 to verify the nationality of all soldiers in the Red Army so a number of ethnic Germans remained fighting against the Nazis during the fall of 1941 and even later. Some even managed to avoid expulsion completely and continued fighting against the Nazis in the ranks of the Red Army through the end of the war on 9 May 1945. Below is a partial list of some of these men. Note the names are transliterated from Russian so they may not correspond to the original German names. Those without ranks in front of them are enlisted men.

Defense of Moscow - Sgt. S. Wolibrus and D. Enederg.
Defense of Leningrad - Major N. Witte, Capt. I. Spiller, Lt. A. Kobmacher, Junior Lt. D. Schibelgut, Sgt. G. Kelbecher, F. Geto, I. Almaier, G. Speer, Ya. Gitlin.
The Battle of Stalingrad - B. Schtettefeld, N. Hiller, S. Wachsmann, D. Schtossberg, K. Reisbich.
The Battle of Kursk - Sgt. G. Gehlfer, M. Sussmann, K. Gregor, A. Bruch, S. Mer.
The Reconquest of Ukraine and Belorussia - A. Mauhl, M. Hustenmaier, V. Stegehl, G. Bachmann, V. Hermann, A. Bromwert, G. Hauch, A. Schmidt, Ya. Klinger.
The Reconquest of the Baltic States- Sen. Sgt. A. Ludwig, Junior Sgt. A. Salberg, A. Winter, G. Schneider.
The Conquest of Poland - B. Dieter, I. Wagner.
The Conquest of East Prussia - N. Beller and V. Kleintz.
The Conquest of Brandenburg - L. Becker.

Source: I.I. Shul'ga, 2011, "Massovye geroism rossiskikh nemtsev na fronte i v tylu protivnika kak proiavlenie patriotizma i grazhdanskoi identichstnosti", in A.A. German, Grazhdanskaia identichstnost' i vnuternii mir rossiskikh nemtsev v gody Velikoi Otchestvennoi Voiny i v istoricheskoi pamiati potomkov, Moscow: MSNK- Press, pp. 25-26.

More Violence in Togo

This story happened a week ago on last Friday, but I still think it is relevant since the use of violence by the Togolese security forces to disperse large anti-government demonstrations is a frequently recurring event. It is unfortunately an event that seems to get almost no coverage even within Africa. Outside of Africa just about nobody seems to care. On 5 October 2012 security forces in Togo used tear gas to disperse a couple of thousand of anti-government demonstrators in Lome. The actions of the security forces injured a number of protesters and some required hospitalization. It is very likely that the parliamentary elections scheduled for this month in Togo will be postponed.

Sources: AFP

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Blog as a Private Journal

It appears that the only people who read this blog are my parents and occasionally some guy in Hungary. Otherwise I might as well be keeping a private journal. The main advantage a blog has over a journal being that I can not lose it. But, the readership is not much greater. I have had this blog for over eight years now and the total number of people who have ever read it is probably not more than two dozen. Despite the claims that the Internet has great communicative powers it appears that my virtual graffiti on this particular wall has had far fewer serious readers than real graffiti in places like Los Angeles or New York. Oh well it is easier than writing e-mails to my mother and father and I don't even have an address for the guy in Hungary.

Monday, October 08, 2012

African Things

Yesterday I purchased a Ghanaian tunic which I wore to work today. I got a lot of compliments on it and encouragement to further Africanize my wardrobe. For lunch I had fufu with green soup and snails. I have never had African snails before. They are much bigger than the ones served in French or Italian restaurants in the US. They boil them so they have a texture and taste somewhat similar to tako, the Japanese octopus sashimi one finds at sushi bars.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Seventy Years since GKO Order No. 2383 ss

It has been 70 years since J. Stalin issued GKO Order 2383 ss "On the additional mobilization of Germans for the national economy of the USSR." This decree mobilized 70,780 Russian German men and 52,742 women into the labor army (A. German and A. Kurochkin, Nemtsy SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1955), Moscow: Gotika, 1998, p. 63). I have translated a copy of the decree below.

On the additional mobilization of Germans for the national economy of the USSR

GKO USSR No. 2383 ss

7 October 1942

In addition to resolution GOKO no. 1123 ss from 10 January 1942 and no. 1281 ss from 14 February 1942 the State Committee of Defense resolves:

1. To additionally mobilize in work columns for the whole time of the war all German men ages 15-16 and 51-55, capable of physical labor, that were resettled from central oblasts of the USSR and the Volga German Republic within the bounds of the Kazakh SSR and eastern oblasts of the RSFSR, and living in other oblasts, krais, and republics of the Soviet Union.

2. To simultaneously undertake the mobilization into work columns for the whole time of the war also German women aged 16 to 45.

Freed from mobilization are German women who are pregnant and have children under three years of age.

3. Those having children over three years of age are to give them over to other members of their family to be reared. In the absence of other members of the family, except those mobilized, the children are to be given over to close relatives or German kolkhozes for rearing.

To require workers deputies of local Soviets to take measures to accommodate the children of mobilized Germans remaining without parents.

4. The conduct of the mobilization of Germans is to be entrusted to the NKO and NKVD with the involvement of local organs of Soviet power.

The mobilization is to start immediately and finish within a month.

5. To require all mobilized Germans to appear at collection points with proper winter clothing, a supply of linen, bedding, a cup, a spoon, and a 10 days supply of food.

6. To establish criminal accountability for conscripted Germans who do not show up to the collection points for mobilization and willfully leave work or desert the work column - by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 26. XII - 1941. "On the accountability  of workers and employees in military industrial enterprises for willfully leaving these enterprises."

7. German men mobilized by order of this present resolution are to be transferred to work in enterprises of the trusts "Cheliabugol'" and "Karagandaugol'" in the Peoples Commissariat of Coal.

Mobilized German women are to be transferred to enterprises in the Peoples Commissariat of Oil.

8. To require the NKPS (Comrade Khulev) and the administration of military communications of the NKO (Comrade Kovalev) to supply transport for the mobilized Germans according to the orders of the NKO and NKVD.

9. To require the Peoples Commissariat of Oil USSR and Peoples Commissariat of Coal USSR to provide for the reception, distribution and rational use of the transferred work force of mobilized Germans.

Expenses in relationship to the mobilization and transport of the mobilized to places of designation are to be taken from calculated estimates of the Peoples Commissariat of Coal and Peoples Commissariat of Oil.

10. To require the Peoples Commissariat of Trade USSR (Comrade Liubimov) to supply food to the mobilized in transit.

11. NKVD USSR and NKO are to report to the State Committee of Defense about the results of the mobilization of the Germans and the number of Germans transferred to enterprises of the Peoples Commissariat of Coal and the Peoples Commissariat of Oil

Chairman of the State Committee of Defense

J. Stalin 

Source: V. Auman and V. Chebatreva (eds.), Istoriia rossiskhikh nemtsev v dokumentakh (1763-1992 gg.), Moscow: MIGP, 1993, pp. 172-173. Translated from Russian to English by J. Otto Pohl. 

Saturday, October 06, 2012

A little insight into the "angry young black man"

When I was younger I used to wonder what the "angry young black man" was angry about.  Now that I have a little insight I no longer wonder why he is so angry, but rather why is he not a lot angrier. The wall of ignorance about Africa in the white world is so high, so deep, and so wide that there is no way to scale it. Rather people here have just learned to live with the lies, distortions, and racist stereotypes perpetrated about them abroad.

More Kyrgyz Demonstrations

Even though the three Ata-Zhurt members of the Kyrgyz Parliament arrested earlier this week were clearly attempting to violently overthrow the legally elected government of the Kyrgyz Republic they still have significant support. Yesterday in Jalal-Abad over 700 people demonstrated demanding the release of the three leaders of the attempted coup who are currently being held and investigated by the Kyrgyz authorities. They face between 12 and 20 years in prison each.

Source: RFE/RL and Reuters

Friday, October 05, 2012

Ghana has seized the Flagship of the Argentine Navy

The ARA Libertad is currently being held in the port of Tema east of Accra after being seized today. The ship is being held pursuant to an order by a Ghanaian judge. The ship is being held due to complaints by NLM Capital Limited, one of the creditors to the Argentine government before it defaulted on its debt. I don't know much about how such cases usually proceed so any comment would be greatly welcome.

Some Figures on Purchasing Power in Africa versus the former USSR

A number of countries in Africa have a much higher standard of living than some former Soviet republics now. The fact that many Soviet people refuse to believe this empirical fact does not make it less true. The higher standard of living in places like Namibia versus Moldova  is easy to see when we compare the relative purchasing power given in PPP statistics. An average person in Gaborone can purchase six to seven times what an average person in Bishkek or Dushanbe can.

Tadzhikistan $2,100
Kyrgyzstan $2,400
Nigeria $2,600
Ghana $3,100
Moldova $3,400
Namibia $7,300
Botswana $16,300

These particular figures are from the CIA World Factbook. But, figures from the IMF and World Bank are similar. Some countries in Africa are much better off than some former Soviet republics. This should not be controversial.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Continuing Existence of Racism in a formerly "Raceless" Society

I do not understand why some Soviet people in places like the North Caucasus are incapable of understanding that there are parts of the former USSR that today are much poorer than some parts of Africa. Ghana today is much richer than Kyrgyzstan and health care is much better in Legon than it is in Bishkek. Yet many Soviet people still wrongly think places like Ghana are as poor or poorer than Afghanistan. Maybe such attitudes are the effect of watching Chunga Changa too many times?

Violence in Bishkek

The news has reported that a mob of about 1000 people organized by Ata Zhurt attempted to storm the gates of the White House in Bishkek yesterday in an imitation of the overthrow of the Bakiev regime in 2010. The police used teargas to repel the attack. The attempt to seize the White House failed and the police have arrested three members of Parliament involved in organizing the assault. Ata Zhurt is an extreme nationalist party that is demanding that the Kumtor gold mine which is currently run by the Canadian company Centerra be completely nationalized. Even though such a move would probably significantly reduce what little foreign investment Kyrgyzstan currently receives. Centerra stock has already dropped by 30% this year in part due to events in Kyrgyzstan. At present the Kyrgyz government owns 33% of the mine. The mine accounts for a full 12% of Kyrgyzstan's economy. I hope all my remaining friends and former students in Bishkek stay safe. Things appear to be calm and stable in the rest of the country. Although there is speculation that future demonstrations could take place in southern regions of the country. There are no reported or forecast problems for Talas Oblast, may the region continue to be peaceful Insha'Allah.

Source: Reuters

Speaking Ill of the Dead

If anybody in Europe expressed the same kind of apology towards Nazi atrocities that Hobsbawm did towards Stalin's crimes against humanity he would probably be thrown in prison like David Irving. He certainly would not be a respected professor at a British university. Yet Stalinist apologists like Hobsbawm, Sarte, Zizek, and others both living and dead have suffered no negative consequences what so ever. I do not understand this continuing double standard which is militantly advanced on a daily basis by left wing academics.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

More on Racism with reference to the USSR and Israel

Despite all the claims about 'race' being a constructed category I don't think a lot of liberals and leftists really believe that it is constructed. They seem incapable of imagining 'race' constructed along lines that differ from what has existed in the US or Nazi Germany. Hence only White supremacy and Anti-semitism count as racial discrimination in their minds. Other racial constructions such as anti-Germanism in the USSR and East Central Europe or anti-Arabism in Israel don't strike them as racist because they do not conform to the above 'organic' patterns of racism with which they are familiar. The claim that the deportation of the Volga Germans can't be racist because Germans are an ethnicity, nationality or "socio-historical" group and not a race is in essence a denial that race is a constructed category. Likewise the claims that Israel can't be racist because Jews are allegedly not 'White' is a reinforcement of the idea of specific racial categories and relations as natural and organic rather than artificial and constructed. If Stalin's deportation of the Chechens can't be genocide because the Chechens are not a 'race' then it seems impossible to claim that there has ever been a case of genocide. After all Jews are a religious or ethno-national group not a 'race' and Armenians like Chechens are also an ethno-national group. The fact is that racial discrimination is a type of practice and the theory used to justify this differential treatment is rather unimportant. It does not matter if it is done on the basis of an essentialized culture believed to be alien or a false belief in biological inferiority.