Monday, March 07, 2005

Stuff to do this month

I have a lot to do this month for an unemployed guy. I have to revise a book chapter for the Kennan Center, write a brief for Vladimir German and fill out some more job and fellowship applications. There are also three lectures at the Kennan Center this month on Kazakhstan. Next month I have to revise the book chapter for Tartu. I am not going to take on any more projects for the time being. Come May I hope to get back to writing my popular (no footnotes) history of Russian-Germans under Soviet rule.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Vladimir German again

Vladimir German's immigration lawyer called me from Seattle today. I will be submitting a brief on his behalf dealing with the historical conditions for ethnic Germans in Kazakhstan. Apparently, the DHS wants proof that Vladimir and his family will be physically threatened or harmed if deported to Kazakhstan. Mere proof of systematic ethnic discrimination in jobs and education by the state is not enough. Now if German was Jewish the mere fact he was from a former Soviet state would be enough to get automatic refugee status in the US under the Lautenberg amendment. The fact that Soviet persecution of ethnic Germans was quite severe consisting of ethnic cleansing, forced labor, total eradication of cultural institutions and systematic discrimination in residency and education rights and Jews were a rather well off group in the USSR is unimportant to the US government. Stalin confined the entire Russian-German population to restricted reservations and placed the vast majority of able bodied adults into forced labor camps without trial. As a result during WWII over a quarter of the Russian-German population perished. Only in 1972 did the Soviet government repeal the wholesale official legal restrictions on places of residency in the USSR for its citizens of German descent which kept them confined to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. In contrast Jews were always underrepresented in Soviet penal institutions and overrepresented in the political police (GPU, OGPU, NKVD, MVD and KGB) and Communist Party. Under Soviet rule they never sufferred from the apartheid like residency restrictions imposed upon ethnic Germans. Yet it is politically incorrect even today to think of Germans as victims or to remember the fact that many of the key men who built the Gulag: Yagoda, Kogan, Berman, Frenkel, Pliner and Firin were Jewish.