Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Operation Ulusy

Today in 1943, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree with the title "On Liquidating the Kalmyk ASSR and Founding the Astrakhan Oblast as a Component of the RSFSR." The decree accused the Kalmyks of mass treason against the Soviet Union and ordered, "1. All Kalmyks living in the territory of the Kalmyk ASSR are to be resettled to other regions of the USSR, and the Kalmyk ASSR liquidated." The following day the NKVD and NKGB began implementing this decree.

Code named "Operation Ulusy" the deportation of virtually all Kalmyks from the Kalmyk ASSR took place during 28-29 December 1943. Nearly 3,000 NKVD and NKGB officers along with over 1,200 NKVD internal troops loaded over 93,000 Kalmyks into cattle cars bound for Siberia. Due to the overcrowded conditions and lack of bathing facilities during transit many deportees became infected with typhus. This disease resulted in a high death rate during the journey. The NKVD itself recorded over 1,250 deaths during transit. Mortality due to poverty related diseases only increased upon arriving in Siberia.

The Soviet government originally dispersed the survivors across Omsk Oblast, Altai Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai and Novosibirsk Oblast as well as a couple thousand in Kazakhstan. The Stalin regime placed them under special settlement restrictions and assigned them to work on collective farms, state farms, forestry enterprises and industrial artels. Later the Soviet government relocated thousands of Kalmyk special settlers to forestry work in Tomsk Oblast and fishing trusts in Tiumen and Sakhalin oblasts. In exile the Kalmyks lived and labored under extremely difficult conditions. They lacked adequate food, winter clothing, proper shelter and other necessities. In early January 1945, one NKVD report to Beria noted that some 28,000 exiled Kalmyks had no food. Lack of proper sanitation and medical care led to the spread of often fatal epidemics among the deportees. Tuberculosis in particular proved to be a major killer of the Kalmyks exiled to Siberia. Before the end of 1948, the NKVD had registered over 17,000 deaths among the deported Kalmyks. This incredible demographic loss took the Kalmyks decades to make up. Only in the 1970 Soviet census did the Kalmyk population exceed the number counted in 1939 and then only by a little more than 2%.

The Soviet government only released the Kalmyks from the special settlment regime on 17 March 1956. On 11 February 1957, the Soviet government created a Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast in the traditional Kalmyk homeland and allowed the survivors of the deportation and their descendants to return home. On 29 July 1958, the Soviet government upgraded the Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast to the Kalmyk ASSR. Neither the Soviet government or the Russian Federation have done much to recognize or come to terms with this horrific crime against humanity.


KRISTIN said...

And I still live next to Russia. I'm trying not to think about it. One can never feel safe here.

chitchat said...

please, keep doing what you apparently are doing the best - DO NOT THINK.