Friday, March 06, 2009

65 Years Since the Deportation of the Balkars

In 1944, the Soviet government celebrated International Women's Day by forcibly deporting almost the entire Balkar population to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Omsk Oblast in Sibera. A Turkic people closely related to the Karachais, the Balkars lived primarily in the Karbardino-Balkar ASSR located in the Northwest Caucasus. Starting on 8 March 1944 and finishing the following day, the NKVD loaded 37,713 Balkars onto 14 train echelons bound for Central Asia and Siberia (Bugai, doc. 29, pp. 113-114). The Stalin regime placed the exiled Balkars under special settlement restrictions identical to those that it had imposed upon the deported Russian-Germans, Kalmyks, Karachais, Chechens and Ingush. By October 1946 the Balkar population had been reduced to 32,817 due to deaths from malnutrition and disease (Bugai, doc. 25, pp. 244-245). The Balkars remained confined by the special settlement restrictions until 28 April 1956 (Bugai, doc. 57, p. 273). Only in 1957, however, could they return to their mountain homeland in the Caucasus. During 1957 and 1958, 34,749 Balkars returned home (Bugai, doc. 64, pp. 279-280). The Stalin regime's ethnic cleansing of the Balkars on International Women's Day in 1944 clearly violated the commitment to both women's and workers' rights embodied in the holiday.


N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat;": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov," 1992).

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