Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mortality Rates Among Soviet Deportees 1941-1945 Part I: Baltic States, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine

Between 14 May and 15 September 1941, the NKVD forcibly deported 85,716 people from the Baltic States, Moldova, western Ukraine and western Belarus to Siberia, Kazakhstan and Kirov Oblast as "anti-Soviet elements". The contingent sent to Kirov Oblast consisted of 2,049 people from Estonia (Zemskov, pp. 90-91). The total number of deportees from these western regions is confirmed in an NKVD report dated 2 June 1942 (Zemskov, p. 97). By 1 October 1945, this number had been reduced to 43,099 people (Zemskov, p. 115). This represents a loss of over half the deported population. There are no records of any large scale releases of deportees from this contingent which consisted of 27,887 people from Belarus, 22,648 from Moldova, 12,682 from Lithuania, 9,595 from Ukraine, 9,236 from Latvia and 3,668 people from Estonia (Zemskov, p. 91). The deportees from Belarus and Ukraine in this contingent are seperate from the contingent of the 132,458 Polish settlers, 75,662 Polish refugees (mostly Jewish) and 66,000 family members of Polish military officers and government officials deported in 1940-1941 that had all been released by a decree from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued on 12 August 1941 (Zemskov, p. 97 and pp. 89-90). The 2 June 1942 NKVD report confirms that these other contingents from eastern Poland had in fact been released (Zemskov, p. 97). All evidence points to deaths from malnutrition, disease and exposure as the reason for the overwhelming majority of losses among the missing 42,617 deportees from the Baltic States, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. This represents an average mortality rate of over 12% a year or 1% a month. The losses for the Estonians sent to Kirov Oblast were a little less than half of the average for the total contingent. The NKVD counted 1,553 deportees from Estonia in Kirov Oblast  on 1 October 1945 (Zemskov, p. 115). This represents a loss of 496 people or 24% of those deported in 1941. These are truly staggering losses even by Stalinist standards.


V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR: 1930-1960 (Moscow: Nauka, 2005).

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