Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Publication in Journal of Genocide Research

The new special topic issue (Volume 11 issue 2 and 3) of the Journal of Genocide Research dealing with New Perspectives on Soviet Mass Violence is now out. It includes the article I co-wrote with Eric J. Schmaltz and Ronald J. Vossler, "'In our hearts we felt the sentence of death': Ethnic German recollections of mass violence in the USSR, 1928-1948," pp. 323-354. The abstract of the article is reproduced below.


This article seeks to examine the mass violence unleashed by Joseph Stalin and his regime against the USSR's ethnic Germans. It endeavors to comprehend how Soviet policies of repression progressed and intensified to the extreme detriment of this nationality group. It covers the tumultuous period between 1928 and 1948, when Soviet policies overall coarsened considerably, from the implementation of Stalin's First Five-Year Plan to the government decree banishing several Soviet peoples in their virtual entirety, including the ethnic Germans, to “eternal” exile east of the Urals. This process shifted from class-based reasons to ethnic ones as the 1930s progressed. The increasingly racialized nature of Soviet mass violence targeted the ethnic Germans as a large diaspora community ethnically linked to Nazi Germany, a country perceived as an ideological and military threat. During Stalin's war against the Soviet countryside in the early 1930s, ethnic German villagers at times felt compelled to conduct mass protests and even revolts against the authorities. Meanwhile, both an emerging ethnic German elite and ordinary German farmers and workers wrote about worsening conditions under Stalin. Besides petitioning the Soviet government, they delivered letters and various writings to friends and relatives by way of a vast underground network at home and abroad, and their relatives sometimes answered in return. A growing body of Soviet archival records and academic literature treating the Stalinist period has generally validated and expanded upon what the ethnic group as early as the 1920s and 1930s had exposed about mass terror under Stalin's regime.


Unknown said...

Although the abstract does mention the 20's, it seems to indicate that the problems were limited to the Nazi era.

This is not entirely true as Germans were also targeted by the Tsars regime during WWI and many German-Ukrainians died during the forced starvation of 1921 while relief intended for them was rerouted to Russia.

Hitler did not attain power until many hundreds of thousands of Bruder in Not died in the famine genocide that started in 1921 and peaked in 1932-33. In fact, Hitler crossed the threshold of power at a time when Berlin store fronts were posting hundreds of letters from German in Ukraine and the Caucuses were reaching the west. Nazis made good use of famine in their propaganda - their most effective posters utilized this imagery and coupled with news and letters from dying relatives, one can imagine that Hitler benefited from the perceived threat. After all, the communists did attain some power in Bavaria and those farmers would have wondered if they were next.

J. Otto Pohl said...

You will have to read the article in order to have a full sense of what it does cover. But, I do not see where the abstract indicates that there were no problems for Russian-Germans before 1934.

It specifically notes that there was increasing repression during the 1930s. The article itself has sections on dekulakization in 1930-1931 and the famine of 1932-1933. In fact there is quite a bit in the article about repression prior to 1934. The second half of the article has a large number of excerpts from letters written during the 1932-1933 famine. So the article certainly does not claim that the repression of Russian-Germans began only in 1934.

It does not deal with the period before 1928. This was a conscious decision taken largely due to limitations regarding length. It is also a result of deciding to have a narrow focus on the process of increasing terror under Stalin. Dealing with the period of 1918-1921 would have required a lot more space than we had and would have diluted our argument. It is only a 31 page article.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

Where could I see or learn more of the Nazi propoganda posters about the dying relatives in Ukraine?