Thursday, October 28, 2010

A relatively unexplored aspect of Soviet deportations

One overlooked commonality between the various whole nationalities deported by the Stalin regime is the difficulty the Soviet government had in asserting economic control over them. In different ways the Russian-Germans, Chechens, and others managed in part to do an end run around central control over their economic affairs during the 1920s and 1930s. I have not done a whole lot of empirical research on this yet, but I think it is another motivating factor in the mass deportations.


Randy McDonald said...

Economic control? How so?

WR said...

Maybe that's why the Karachays and Balkars were deported but not the Kabardians and Cherkess. They were adamant about remaining in the high mountains during the collectivization process. I believe in my book I mention this (I can't even remember what I wrote anymore!). I'll look at the sources and see if I have anything that might refer to this.

J. Otto Pohl said...


Like I said I have not done a whole lot of research on this. But, in the Volga German ASSR for instance the percentage of cooperatives increased at the expense of state owned industries during much of this time. The Mennonite Germans formed a whole network of cooperatives throughout the USSR that effectively allowed them to circumvent many Soviet economic controls during much of the 1920s. Also there was significant resistance to collectivization in the Volga German ASSR.

Also many Chechens essentially maintained their old forms of land ownership within the Kolkhoz system. They basically called themselves collective farmers without changing their previous patterns of economic activity. The same traditional leadership still held in much the countryside during much of the early Soviet period.

I do not have a whole lot of other examples right now. But, the issue is at the core of the inability of the Soviet regime to integrate these nationalities. They wanted and were able to maintain their pre-socialist economic organization to an extent that was intolerable to the Soviet government.

Walt: I believe your book does mention this fact. Gammer has some stuff about this with regards to the Chechens. But, I do not think it has been really well developed in a comparative manner.