Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Imaginary Course Number One: Introduction to the History of the Soviet Union


Allworth, Edward, “Mass Exile, Ethnocide, Group Derogation” in Allworth, Edward, ed., The Tatars of Crimea: Return to the Homeland (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998).

Khazanov, Anatoly, “Meskhetian Turks in Search of Self Identity,” Central Asian Survey, vol. 11, no. 4, 1992.

Hosking, Geoffry, The First Socialist Society: The History of the Soviet Union from Within (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).

Krieger, Viktor, “Patriots or Traitors? – The Soviet Government and the “German Russians’ After the Attack on the USSR by National Socialist Germany” trans. by Venner, Catherine in Schlogel, Karl, Russian-German Special Relations in the Twentieth Century: A Closed Chapter? (New York: Berg Publishers, 2006).

Long, James, “The Volga Germans and the Famine of 1921,” The Russian Review, vol. 51 (Oct. 1992).

Martin, Terry, “An Affirmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union as the Highest Form of Imperialism,” in Suny, Ronald Grigor and Martin, Terry, eds., A State of Nations: Empire and Nation-Making in the Age of Lenin and Stalin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Merridale, Catherine, Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945 (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006).

Werth, Nicolas, “The Mechanism of a Mass Crime: The Great Terror in the Soviet Union” in Gellatey, Robert and Kiernen, Ben, eds., The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Course Description

This course is an introductory survey course of the history of the Soviet Union. It will cover political, economic and social changes in the USSR from the time of its founding until its collapse. Important political events that will be covered include the Bolshevik Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Terror, World War II, and the reforms of the Khrushchev era. Special emphasis will be given to the role of World War II in Soviet history and the multinational nature of the USSR. In particular the course will cover how different nationalities in the Soviet Union experienced and remembered the Second World War.

Course Requirements

This course will consist of lectures based upon the assigned readings and two assigned papers. The first paper will require the student to trace the development of one aspect of Soviet government policy such as nationalities, agriculture, industry or the penal system from the 1920s through the 1930s. It should be between 1500 and 2000 words and is due at the start of week nine. The second paper will require library research in addition to the assigned class readings. For this paper students should pick one Soviet nationality and discuss their collective memory of World War II. The paper should be between 2500 and 3000 words and is due at the start of week fourteen. Plagiarism will result in failure of the course and notification of the Dean.


First Paper 25%
Second Paper 50%
Class Participation 25%


Week 1 Introduction

Week 2 The Bolshevik Revolution

Chapters 1 and 2 in Hosking, pp. 15-56

Week 3 War Communism

Chapters 3 in Hosking, pp. 57-92 and Long

Week 4 Nationalities in the 1920s

Chapter 4 in Hosking, pp. 93-118 and Martin

Week 5 Economic Transformation in the 1930s

Chapters 5 and 6 in Hosking, pp. 119-182

Week 6 The Great Terror

Chapter 6 in Hosking, pp. 183-204 and Werth

Week 7 The USSR on the Eve of the Great War

Chapter 8 and 9 in Hosking, pp.205-260

Week 8 Work on First Paper

Week 9 The Nazi Invasion of the USSR

First paper due at start of class. Chapter 10 in Hosking, pp. 263-295, Chapters 1-4 in Merridale, pp. 1-152, and Krieger

Week 10 Victory over Germany

Chapters 5-11 in Merridale, pp. 153-388

Week 11 Political and Economic Changes in the USSR after World War II

Chapters 11-13 in Hosking, pp. 296-401

Week 12 Nationality in the USSR after World War II

Chapter 14 in Hosking, pp. 402-445, Allworth, and Khazanov

Week 13 Work on Second Paper

Week 14 The End of the Soviet Union

Second paper due at start of class. Chapter 15 in Hosking, pp. 446-501

Week 15 Conclusion

Imaginary Syllabi

Since I have never taught any courses all of the syllabi I have submitted for job applications along with my CV are purely imaginary. That is they only exist in paper form and have never been executed in a classroom setting. Since only one of the more than 100 institutions I have applied to has ever given me an interview I think that I am probably not providing the selection committees with what they want to read. I doubt that I will ever get to teach any of these courses, but maybe somebody can get some use out of my syllabi. At any rate I am going to start posting a few of them here in the hopes that maybe somebody can offer me some constructive criticism. I will post the first one later today.

Diamond Jubilee

I found the 75th scholarly work to cite one of my publications today. The winner is Adam Jones, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction (Routledge, 2006). It cites my article "Stalin's Genocide against the 'Repressed Peoples'," Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 2, no. 2 (June 2000), pp. 267-293. I hope to be celebrating 100 academic citations in the not too distant future.

Spicy Tomato and Rice Soup with Homemade Croutons

Sunday I made a delicious soup from tomato juice, rice, olive oil, garlic, chilies, onion, black pepper and sourdough bread. First I made the croutons. I cut up a few pieces of sourdough bread. The end pieces work best for this purpose. Then I fried them in olive oil in my wok. I fried the bread using high heat until the pieces were nice and golden. They resembled miniature pieces of fried slice. Then I scooped them out and drained them on paper towels. Next I chopped up one onion, three cloves of garlic and three Serrano chilies and cooked them in the oil using medium heat. When the onion turned translucent I added a small bowl of cooked rice to the wok and fried it. Then I turned the heat down to low and added 64 ounces of tomato juice and fresh ground black pepper. I cooked the soup on low heat, stirring every few minutes until the concoction started to bubble. At this point I turned off the stove, ladled the soup into a bowl and added the croutons. I made four bowls worth. I ate two on Sunday night. This was probably a mistake since the rice makes the soup very hearty. Yesterday, I had another bowl. Tonight I will eat the last bowl. All I have to do is make some more croutons. You can do a lot with a wok, not just Asian food.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Almost Diamond Jubilee

I have now verified 74 different scholastic publications that cite my published work. I found two new citations today, one journal article and one book. Interestingly enough both of these citations are by women.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thai Food Website

A commenter left the address for this site here, but the link did not work. I am posting the correct link to this site. It has a lot of very tasty looking Thai recipes and videos on how to cook them. Just looking at the pictures of the dishes makes me hungry.

Super Simple South East Asian Sweet, Sour, Spicy and Salty Sauce

I think the title of this post deserves some sort of award for best alliteration. But, the topic is a serious one. Last night I tried out the wok and made some fried rice flavored with fish sauce, Serranos, garlic, lime and sugar. Various versions of this sauce exist throughout mainland South East Asian cuisines. One sees it in Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian cooking. Usually it is either used as a dipping sauce or poured over rice. I prefer to mix it in the rice during the final stages of frying. The concoction I whipped up was quite simple. I dissolved three sugar cubes in hot water. For some reason we had no loose sugar. I then added one sliced Serrano, one minced clove of garlic, the juice of two limes and three tablespoons of fish sauce. I stirred up the sauce and then mixed it in my frying rice. When this sauce is used for dipping it usually has shredded carrots in it. Since I already had chopped carrots in the fried rice I skipped on this particular garnish.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cooking in Arivaca

Recently, I have been cooking a lot of rice and chili and rice and salsa for dinner. These are really simple and tasty recipes. Just cook up an onion and four serrano peppers in olive oil then add cooked rice and then either a can of chili or a jar of salsa. I have been cooking these dishes regularly in our wok. So much so in fact that our old wok had to be retired to the graveyard of dead woks out in the back yard. Today, my uncle purchased a new big 14" diameter carbon steel wok. He also got some Thai fish sauce. So I am going to start doing some South East Asian style dishes in the wok. If anybody wants to come by for dinner let me know. I can cook a lot food in the new wok.

Friday, January 12, 2007

"On the Organization of Detachments of Mobilized Germans in Camps of the NKVD USSR"

On 12 January 1942, Beria issued Prikaz No. 0083, “On the Organization of Detachments of Mobilized Germans in Camps of the NKVD USSR.” This decree came in direct response to GKO Order 1123ss and established the work and living conditions of the Russian-German labor army men sent to Gulag camps. The decree instructed the labor camps receiving mobilized Russian-Germans to provide them with living accommodations segregated from the prisoner population. In practice they did not always receive separate living quarters from the convicts living in the camps. The decree then ordered the incoming men be divided into detachments of 1500-2000 men, further divided into colonies of 300 to 500 men and finally organized into brigades of 30 to 100 men. The labor army conscripts came under Gulag discipline and supply norms for food, clothes and other goods. Special boards of the NKVD received the authority to try all cases of discipline violation, refusal to work and desertion among these men. Punishment for such infractions ranged up to execution by firing squad. In order to prevent such problems the decree ordered the various camp administrations with labor army detachments to organize a clandestine network of agents among the Russian-German inductees. The imposition of Gulag rations and administration upon the labor army had extremely negative consequences for the Russian-German conscripts. Their legal status and material conditions became almost indistinguishable from that of prisoners. This deprivation of civil and human rights resulted in the death and permanent incapacitation of hundreds of thousands of Russian-Germans.


N.F. Bugai, “Mobilizovat’ nemtsev v robochie kolonny…I. Stalin”: Sbornik dokumentov (1940-e gody) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998), doc. 39, pp. 62-64.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I think this might be why I am unemployed

Evidently I do not have the proper background to teach today's college courses. Political history has largely been abolished in favor of other things. Go here to see what type of garbage passes for higher education today.

hat tip: Nathanael Robinson of Rhine River

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Labor Army: GKO Order 1123ss

The Soviet State Defense Committee issued GKO Order 1123ss “On the Orderly Use of German-Resettlers of Conscript Age 17-50” on 10 January 1942. Signed by Joseph Stalin this decree provided the legal basis for the first mass induction of Russian-German civilians into the labor army. It made all able bodied Russian-German men between 17 and 50 deported to Novosibirsk Oblast, Omsk Oblast, Krasnoiarsk Krai, Altai Krai and Kazakhstan eligible for mobilization into work colonies for the duration of the war against Germany. The NKVD estimated that this population numbered between 125,000 and 130,000 men. The decree called for the mobilization of 120,000 of them into labor detachments to fell trees (45,000), build metallurgy factories (35,000) and lay rail lines (40,000). The Stalin regime began the military style conscription of these men into forced labor brigades immediately.

The Peoples Commissariat of Defense (NKO) sent draft notices to the Russian-Germans called up for labor service. They were required to report to specified collection points with winter clothing, bedding, eating utensils and ten days worth of food. The NKO then turned the draftees over to the NKVD and NKPS (Peoples Commissariat of Transportation). The call up itself lasted 20 days and the NKVD and NKPS had until 10 February 1942 to deliver the inducted men to their assigned work sites. Special boards of the NKVD had the authority to try those who failed to appear at the collection points. The punishment for such disobedience included the death penalty. Despite this power, the initial draft of Russian-German men into the labor army failed to meet its goal by almost 30,000 people. It only inducted 40,000 men to work in six lumber camps and 28,000 to work on four construction sites in the Gulag. It mobilized another 25,000 Russian-German deportees to work on seven NKPS railway projects. The total number of Russian-Germans conscripted into the labor army between 10 and 30 January 1942 fell just short of 93,000 men. The NKVD and NKPS then transported most of these men by rail to Gulag camps in the Urals.

These men joined the nearly 21,000 Russian-Germans already conscripted into work colonies by the NKVD in Ukraine or discharged from the Red Army and sent to Gulag camps as “labor mobilized Germans” during the fall of 1941. The Stalin regime condemned these men to forced labor in Gulag camps without charge or trial, but rather on the basis of their German ancestry. The Soviet government did not count these men as prisoners despite the fact that they lived in conditions almost identical to those of convicts. Rather it publicly represented this system of forced labor aimed at a specific ethnic group as an alternative to military service. The men and later women subjected to this modern form of slavery referred to the institution as the labor army or in Russian trudarmiia a contraction of trudovaia armiia.


N.F. Bugai, ed., “Mobilizovat’ nemtsev v robochie kolonny…I. Stalin”: Sbornik dokumentov (1940-e gody) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998), doc. 18, pp. 39-40, docs. 30-36, pp. 53-60, doc. 39, pp. 62-63, doc. 47, pp. 70-71.

A.A. German and A.N. Kurochkin, Nemtsy SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1955) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998), pp. 48-56.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It Has Been 65 Years Since the Mobilization of Russian-Germans Into the Soviet Fishing Industry

On 6 January 1942, the SNK and Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union issued decree 19ss “On the Development of the Fishing Industry in the Basins of the Rivers of Siberia and the Far East.” As a result of this decree the NKVD forcibly relocated for a second time over 66,000 deported Russian-Germans from the more southern regions of Siberia north to catch fish along the icy shores of the Yenisei, Ob, Indirka and Lena rivers. This forced migration north took place from January 1942 to October 1943. It included the resettlement of over 15,000 Russian-Germans from southern Novosibirsk Oblast to Narym Okrug and 9,000 from southern Omsk Oblast to Khanty-Mansi Okrug and Yamalo-Nenets Okrug. On 24 October 1942, the Stalin regime issued decree 1732 mobilizing Russian-Germans to work in the fishing industry along the coasts of the White and Barents Seas. The total number of Russian-Germans assigned to fishing camps in northern Siberia and the Arctic eventually reached over 80,000. This second deportation thus swept up more than one fifth of the Russian-Germans banished to Siberia.

The Russian-German deportees assigned to the fishing camps had to build their own shelter. They received no construction materials from the Soviet authorities for this purpose. Only mud and straw could be readily found along the banks of the icy rivers where the NKVD had abandoned them. Most of the deportees thus built small mud huts in an effort to provide some small amount of protection from the elements. These primitive domiciles proved incapable of keeping out rain, snow or the overflow of the rivers. They lacked heat, light and ventilation. Families lived under extremely compact and unsanitary conditions. In Krasnoiarsk Krai, Russian-Germans working in the fishing industry only had an average of 1 cubic meter of living space per a person. The overcrowded and filthy huts proved to be breeding grounds for infectious diseases. The refusal of local officials to quarantine the sick greatly exacerbated this problem. Illness killed many of the Russian-Germans sent to develop the Soviet fishing industry during 1942.

The Russian-Germans working in the fishing camps lacked proper clothing and footwear to protect them from the cold. They frequently suffered from frostbite and many cases were so severe as to require the amputation of feet or legs. Others died from gangrene. The icy water of the Siberian rivers froze the very flesh of the exiles.

Lack of food even more so than a lack of warm shelter and clothing, however, proved to be the greatest problem faced by the Russian-Germans assigned to the fishing industry. The Russian-Germans worked for fishing trusts. These trusts issued work brigades with bread rations in exchange for delivering set quotas of fish. A full ration consisted of 600 grams of bread a day. Most of the Russian-German work brigades, however, could not fulfill the high quotas established by the fishing trusts. The men and women in these brigades thus received only a minimum ration insufficient to sustain them or nothing at all. Hunger killed numerous Russian-Germans living along the banks of the northern Siberian rivers. In particular large numbers of children died from undernourishment during the winter of 1942-1943. The next year their material conditions deteriorated even further. On 1 November 1943, the fishing trusts struck many Russian-Germans from their supply lists thus leaving them without any means to acquire bread. Thousands of Russian-Germans thus suddenly found themselves desperately struggling to find food in the sparse habitat of northern Siberia.

Ida Bender, the daughter of the famous Russian-German national activist Dominic Hollmann, worked in a fishing camp at Iskup along the shore of the Yenisei in northern Krasnoiarsk Krai. She described the conditions and work as extremely difficult.

Ewald and I became fishermen in a work group of four: with a young girl and a supervisor named Diener. We were assigned a boat and a drag-net, even though we knew nothing about fishing. We were instructed to head out to the left bank of the Yenisei and begin fishing. We built a crude shelter out of branches and lived there during the week. Each day we repeatedly cast and pulled in the net harvesting tugun, similar in appearance to herring and barely larger than the middle finger, preserving them in a few barrels. By the end of the day, we were wet from the waist down and extremely tired. We dried out our clothes and ourselves around the campfire while we cooked a soup from the fish. Every week we delivered our catch across the river and brought our bread ration for a few days, a meager six-hundred grams per a person daily. (Bender, p. 57).

Her experience was by no means unique. Many Russian-Germans lived and worked under these conditions in the fishing industry in Siberia for years. Many did not survive and died of hunger, disease, exposure and drowning. Many of those that did survive lost limbs or otherwise suffered permanent physical disabilities. It still remains impossible to tabulate the total losses inflicted upon the Russian-Germans mobilized into the Soviet fishing industry by the Stalin regime.


Ida Bender, trans. Laurel Anderson, Carl Anderson and William Wiest, The Dark Abyss of Exile: The Story of Survival (Fargo, ND: Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, North Dakota State University Libraries, 2000), p. 57.

V.I. Bruhl, Nemtsy v zapadnoi sibiri (Topchikha: Topchikhinskaia tip., 1995), vol. II, pp. 101-106.

N.F. Bugai, ed., “Mobilizovat’ nemtsev v robochie kolonny…I. Stalin”: Sbornik dokumentov (1940-e gody) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998), doc. 195, p. 264.

A.A. German and A.N. Kurochkin, Nemtsy SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1955) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998), pp. 40-42.

A Special Thanks to Jimmy Madigan

The other day I got a quarter of a kilo of Al Amir mint flavored shisha from Jimmy Madigan. I have not yet tried this particular brand. Chris and his sister Mary were supposed to come over today to take it out for a test smoke. They have rescheduled tea and hookah for tomorrow. I also made a cool sign in my rudimentary Arabic to put on our gate to announce the occasion.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Soviet Dentistry 65 Years Ago

I do not have a copy of the original Russian text of this document. Rather I have a German translation from the Russian. So the English translation I have prepared below has in fact been translated twice. The translation from German to English is mine. Alfred Eisfeld and Victor Herdt made the original translation from Russian to German.

Guidelines for the GULAG NKVD USSR for the removal of gold dental work from dead prisoners in corrective labor camps (4 January 1942)

1. The gold dental work of dead prisoners is to be removed.

2. The removal of the gold dental work is to be assigned to a commission consisting of representatives from the medical service, the camp administration and the finance section.

3. After the removal of the gold dental work the commission is to make a record in two copies of the number of removed units (crowns, teeth, hooks, bridges, etc.) and their exact mass is to be noted.

4. The record is to be signed by all of the above named representatives. A copy of the record is to remain in the documents of the camp medical service, and the second together with the removed gold dental work to be transferred to the camp financial section. The gold is then to be transferred to the appropriate section of the state bank, the receipt for the gold from the state bank is to be enclosed with the first record.

Source: Alfred Eisfeld and Victor Herdt, Hrsg., Deportation, Sondersiedlung, Arbeitsarmee: Deutsche in der Sowjetunion 1941-1956 (Koln: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1996), Dok.. 140, S. 144-145.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Learning Arabic

This year is starting off kind of slow. But, I think slow and steady is better than rapidly burning out. I have decided for the third year in a row to try and teach myself the Arabic alphabet. I think I tried too hard at first in 2005 and 2006 and grew frustrated at my lack of progress and thus gave up too early. This year I am going at a slower pace and as a result I am retaining more of what I have studied. My modest goal is to be able to read newspaper headlines and street signs in Arabic by 1 January 2008. I think the key is to make sure I learn a little bit each day.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Addition to Blog Roll

I have added Sean's Russia Blog to my links. I have a strict policy of reciprocity regarding links. If you link to me I will return the favor. If you delink from me I will likewise remove you. I think this is only fair.