Wednesday, August 31, 2011

After the Deportation: The Labor Army

Below is a translation of the first part of the decree ordering the first mass mobilization of Russian-Germans into the forced labor detachments of the labor army during World War II.

Resolution GKO USSR No. 1123 ss

10 January 1942

On the Orderly Use of German-Resettlers Between the Ages of 17 and 50

1. All Germans - Men the ages 17 to 50, capable of physical labor, exiled to Novosibirsk and Omsk oblasts, Krasnoiarsk and Altai Krais and the Kazakh SSR, are to be mobilized in the amount of up to 120 thousand into work columns for the entire time of the war and handed over in the following numbers:

a) NKVD USSR - For lumber preparation 45000 people. NKVD USSR - For construction of Bakal and Bogoslov factories 35,000 men;

b) NKPS USSR - For construction of the rail roads Stalinsk - Abakan, Stalinsk - Barnaul, Akmolinsk - Kartaly, Akmolinsk - Pavlodar, Sos'va - Alapaevsk, Orsk - Kandagach, Magnitogorsk - Sara 40,000 men.

The carrying out of the mobilization is to be entrusted to the NKO (c. Shchadenko), together with the NKVD and NKPS.

The mobilization is to commence immediately and finish 30 January 1942.
Document reproduced in A.A. German, T.S. Ilarinova, I.R., Pleve, Istoriia nemtsev Rossii: Khrestomatiia (Moscow: "MSNK - press", 2005), p. 272. Translated from Russian to English by J. Otto Pohl.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Exiled Forever



On the criminal responsibilities for flight from places of obligatory and decreed settlement of people exiled to distant regions of the Soviet Union in the period of the Fatherland War.

With the goal of strengthening the regime of settlement for those exiled by Supreme organs of the USSR in the period of the Fatherland War Chechens, Karachais, Ingush, Balkars, Kalmyks, Germans, Crimean Tatars and others, that at the time of their resettlement there was not a specified length of their exile, establishes that those resettled to distant regions of the Soviet Union by decrees of people in the high leadership are exiled forever, without the right to return to their previous places of residence.

For the voluntary leaving (flight) from places of obligatory settlement those exiles that are guilty will be subject to being prosecuted for criminal acts. It is determined that the punishment for this crime is 20 years of hard labor.

Cases related to the flight of exiles will be reviewed by Special Boards of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR.

People, guilty of harboring exiles, fleeing from places of obligatory settlement, or assisting their flight, giving permission for exiles to return to their places of previous residence, and rendering them help in accommodations in their places of previous residence, are subject to criminal penalties. It is determined that the sentence for this crime is deprivation of freedom for a period of five years

Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR


Secretary of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR

A. Gorkin

Moscow, Kremlin

26 November 1948

Document reproduced in V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR: 1930-1960, Moscow: Nauka, 2005, p. 160. Translated from Russian into English by J. Otto Pohl.

Moving on up

The History Department of the University of Ghana is set to reclaim its former glory. We now have eleven full time lecturers of which eight have PhDs. That is our tiny department has eight times as many PhDs as does the entire faculty of AUCA. But, we are not done yet. The goal in the next couple of years is to have 14 full time permanent faculty all with PhDs.I understand that the money to hire three more faculty has in fact already been earmarked. Unlike Central Asian universities the University of Ghana has very good human capital in the form of its scholars. It is only a matter of time before we start to move up the African rankings and then the international rankings.

Work or what they pay me to do.

Yesterday I taught my class on world history between 1914 and 1945. The students asked a lot of questions. This means they are paying close enough attention to think about the lecture and formulate an inquiry. Answering questions has long been my favorite part of teaching. I honestly believe that the human capital at the University of Ghana is as good as anywhere else in the world including Harvard and Yale. It is just a matter utilizing this resource to its full potential.

 I also got a little bit done on my cotton in German Togoland paper. It is difficult to write a paper on a new subject. My knowledge base of African history is much smaller than my expertise on Soviet history. However, I think it is important that I make myself much more knowledgeable about African history for a whole host of reasons. Not the least being I now live and work in Africa.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Legal Status of Special Settlers after 8 January 1945

The Stalin regime classified the deported Russian-Germans as special settlers and imposed a number of legal restrictions upon them. Later these restrictions also applied to other deported nationalities such as the Karachais, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks. Up until 8 January 1945, the restrictions on the special settlers were ad hoc, mostly in the form of NKVD decrees. On this day, the SNK (Council of Peoples Commissariats) issued a succinct five point resolution listing the specific limitations imposed upon the rights of special settlers. This document became one of the most important pieces of legislation governing the lives of the special settlers.
Council of Peoples Commissariats Union of SSRs
Resolution No. 35
From 8 January 1945 Moscow, Kremlin

On the legal status of special settlers

Council of Peoples Commissariats Union of SSRs RESOLVES:

1. Special settlers enjoy all rights of citizens of the USSR, with the exception of restrictions, provided for in the present Resolution.

2. All able bodied special settlers are obliged to be engaged in socially useful labor. Towards this goal local Soviets of workers deputies in coordination with organs of the NKVD are to organize labor arrangements of the special settlers in agriculture, industrial enterprises, construction, and economic cooperative organizations and institutions.

The violation of labor discipline by special settlers is subject to punishment according to existing laws.

3. Special settlers do not have the right without the authorization of the NKVD special commandant to be absent from the boundaries of the region of settlement served by their special commandant.

Voluntary absence from the boundaries of the region of settlement, served by the special commandant, will be viewed as flight and treated as a criminal matter.

4. Special settlers – heads of families or people substituting for them are required within a three day period to report to the special commandant of the NKVD all events that change the composition of the family (birth of a child, death of a family member, flight, etc.).

5. Special settlers are obliged to strictly observe the established regime and social order of the places of settlement and obey all orders of the special commandant of the NKVD.

The violation of the regime and social order in the places of settlement by special settlers is subject to administrative sanction in the form of a fine up to 100 rubles or arrest up to five days.

Deputy Chairman

Council of Peoples Commissariats Union of SSRs
V. Molotov

Administrative Affairs

Council of Peoples Commissariats Union of SSRs
Ia. Chadaev
Document reproduced in V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposlentsy v SSSR 1930-1960, Moscow, 2005, pp. 120-121. Translated from Russian into English by J. Otto Pohl.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Remembering the victims 70 years ago

Today is the official day of remembrance for the deportation of the Russian-Germans from their homelands in the Volga, the Black Sea, the Caucasus and other areas west of the Urals to Siberia and Kazakhstan. It has been 70 years since the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued Ukaz 21-160 ordering the deportation of all ethnic Germans from the Volga German ASSR, Saratov Oblast, and Stalingrad Oblast. Please take a little bit of time today to observe a moment of silence in honor of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Russian-Germans that perished from Stalinist repression during the Second World War.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A collection of ealier posts on the deportation of the Volga Germans

Tomorrow is the official day of commemoration for the Stalin regime's deportation of the Russian-Germans in 1941. On this day the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued Ukaz no. 21-160 ordering the deportation of the Volga Germans to Siberia and Kazakhstan. The NKVD ruthlessly rounded up the Volga Germans in a brutal act of ethnic cleansing.  This sudden and violent expulsion took the Volga Germans almost completely by surprise. The Stalin regime quickly followed up this deportation with the systematic removal of Russian-Germans from other areas of the USSR west of the Urals. The exact number of people to suffer this fate is difficult to pinpoint due to inconsistencies in NKVD records.  The precise number of Russian-Germans to perish from Soviet repression during World War II is even more elusive, but the scale was certainly massive. What ever the exact number to perish, the suffering of individual Russian-Germans from the Volga and elsewhere is indisputable.

More on the 70th Anniversary of the Deportation of the Russian-Germans

Sunday marks the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Volga and other Russian-Germans from their ancestral territories in European areas of the USSR and the Caucasus to Siberia and Kazakhstan. According to one NKVD statistical compilation between September third and Christmas 1941, the Stalin regime ruthlessly uprooted 856,168 Russian-Germans from their homelands in the western USSR. Other Soviet documents give slightly different figures. On 25 December 1941, the NKVD issued a report on the number of Russian-Germans they had sent on trains headed for Siberia and Kazakhstan. This report provided a breakdown of the number of deportees by region of origin. Not all of these victims of ethnic cleansing made it alive to the eastern areas of the USSR. Many died en route.

Volga Region

Former Volga German ASSR - 446,480
Saratov Oblast -46,706
Stalingrad Oblast -26,245

Other Regions of Russia

Moscow - 3,524
Moscow Oblast - 4,925
Tula Oblast - 3,058
Kabardino-Balkar ASSR - 5,803
North Ossetia ASSR - 2,415
Rostov Oblast - 38,288
Ordzhonikidze Krai - 98,903
Krasnodar Krai - 37,300
Kubyshev Oblast - 8,787
Daghestan ASSR - 3,592
Chechen-Ingush ASSR - 420
Voronezh Oblast - 5,125
Gorky Oblast - 2,544
Kalmyk ASSR - 5,525
Simferopol' Crimean ASSR - 1,900 (Most of the Crimean German population was first forcibly evacuated to Ordzhnokidze Krai about 60,000 and Rostov Oblast about 3,000 starting on 15 August 1941. They are included in the figures for those two territories).


Zaporozhia Oblast - 32,032
Voroshilov Oblast- 9,858
Stalin Oblast - 35,477
City of Dnepropetrovsk - 3,250

Other Republics of the USSR

Armenia - 212
Georgia - 20,423
Azerbaijan - 22,841



Source: O.L. Milova, Deportatsiia narodov SSSR (1930-e -1950-e gody. Chast' 2. Deportatsiia nemtsev (Moscow: RAN, 1995, pp. 47-56).

Friday, August 26, 2011


Things went pretty well this week. Yesterday I gave a presentation on the Russian-Germans entitled "The Transformation of the Russian-Germans from a Soviet People into an Enemy Nationality" in front of the history department faculty and graduate students. I think it was quite well received. I was surprised how smoothly it went since I only had three days to prepare for it.

70 Years Since the Deportation of the Volga Germans

The anniversary of the deportation of the Volga Germans and subsequently the other ethnic German communities of the western USSR is traditionally observed on the 28th of August. That is the date that the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued Ukaz 21-160. This decree was published in the Volga German ASSR newspapers Bolshevik and Nachrichten. But, the actual decision to deport the entire ethnic German population of the Volga German ASSR, Saratov Oblast, and Stalingrad Oblast came two day earlier on 26 August 1941. This decree does not accuse the Volga Germans of any crimes. Instead it merely orders their mass deportation to Siberia and Kazakhstan. The first clause of the decree is reproduced below. The translation into English from Russian is my own.

26 August 1941 Moscow, Kremlin

Council of Peoples Commissariats of the Union of SSRs and the C[entral] C[ommittee] of the A[ll Russian]
C[ommunist] P[arty] (B[olshevik]) resolves:

1. Resettle all Germans from the Republic of Volga Germans and oblasts of Saratov and Stalingrad to the following krais and oblasts:

Krasnoiarsk Krai - 70,000
Altai Krai - 91,000
Omsk Oblast - 80,000
Novosibirsk Oblast - 92,000
K[azkah] SSR - 100,000
Of these
Semipalitinsk Oblast - 10,000
Akmola Oblast - 20,000
North Kazakhstan Oblast - 20,000
Kustanai Oblast - 16,000
Pavlodar Oblast - 18,000
East Kazakhstan Oblast - 16,000

Resettlement is to be applied to all without exception to Germans residing in cities, and also in rural areas.
Source: A.A. German, T.S. Illarionova, I.R. Pleve, eds., Istoriia nemtsev Rossii: Khrestomatiia (Moscow: "MSNC-Press", 2005), doc. 8.3.1., p. 254.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Russian-German Timeline

Timeline for the German minority in the Russian Empire and USSR

1763 – Manifesto by Empress Catherine II inviting Christian foreigners to the Russian Empire

1764 – First German colonies established along the Volga

1804 – Tsar Alexander I issues invitation for Christian foreigners to settle in the Black Sea region

1871 – Revocation of self government from German colonies in Russian Empire

1874 – Russian-Germans subjected to conscription into the Imperial Russian Army

1915 – Liquidation Laws

1918 – Volga German Workers’ Commune established by Lenin

1924 – Volga German Workers’ Commune upgraded to Volga German ASSR

1935-1936 – Deportation of Russian-Germans from Polish-Ukrainian border

1937-1938 – Great Terror including the “German Operation.”

1941 – Mass deportation of ethnic Germans from European areas of the USSR to Siberia and Kazakhstan

1942 – Mass mobilization of Russian-Germans into labor army detachments and columns

1943-1944 – Mass evacuation of Black Sea Germans from Ukraine to Warthegau

1945 – Forced repatriation of ethnic Germans with Soviet citizenship from Germany to USSR

1955 – Ethnic Germans in USSR released from special settlement restrictions

1964 – Partial rehabilitation of Russian-Germans

1965 – Two delegations of Russian-Germans go to Moscow seeking restoration of Volga German ASSR

1972 – Russian-Germans finally given same right to choose residency as other Soviet citizens

1973 – Emigration movement begins

1979 – Failed attempt to create a German autonomous oblast in Kazakhstan

1987 – Soviet government removes all restrictions on emigration

1988 – 2005 – Mass emigration of Russian-Germans to Germany

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Black Day in History. Today in 1939.

On 23 August 1939, Molotov and Ribbentrop signed a "non-aggression pact" dividing up Central Europe between the USSR and Nazi Germany. This act led to the subsequent subjugation and colonization of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, eastern Poland, and the Bessarabian province of Romania. The Sovietization of these territories involved a great deal of violence directed by the Stalin regime against civilians. In terms of sheer numbers of victims the greatest acts of Soviet terror in this region were the mass deportation of Poles, Jews, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, and Moldavians to eastern regions of the USSR. The NKVD forcibly uprooted and dumped over 400,000 people from these nationalities in the Soviet Far North, the Urals, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and Siberia during 1940 and 1941. The Soviet government placed these deportees under special settlement restrictions in order to confine them to their new areas of settlement. The material conditions in these settlements proved to be deadly. Unable to leave the settlements, tens of thousands perished from malnutrition, disease and exposure. For a statistical analysis of the human losses involved see this post. Unlike their Nazi counterparts the Soviet war criminals responsible for these acts have never been brought to justice.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

University Benefits

Yesterday, I got the anti-virus software subscription on my laptop renewed for free by the university. This is one of the great benefits I get here. Others include  free housing and medical coverage. The ICT people here are very good. They are friendly, competent, and prompt.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Faculty Meeting

Today we had our first faculty meeting of the semester. Last semester I was the only new person. This semester we have five new people. The new faculty consist of two Ghanaians, two Americans, and a Norwegian.

Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles are universal. We even have them in Africa. I have taken to preparing them in a mixture of tomato paste, shito sauce, and ketchup. I like the spicy tomato broth that results from this combination.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Under Jakob's Ladder hits the Big Time

Under Jakob's Ladder is getting amazing press in the UK. It is beyond anything I could ever have imagined. If you go see the movie just make sure you pay attention to the credits where it says historical consultant.


I have decided there is no point in wasting money. For instance a 1.5 liter bottle of water here costs 1.30 cedis. But, you can buy the same amount of water in bags for 30 peswas. There is not any difference in the water quality. You just pay a lot to have a plastic bottle. So now I am buying all my water in bags. This saves me about two cedis a day. Eating at indoor restraunts as opposed to outdoor ones is also considerably more expensive. Meals at the Guest Center for instance average about eight cedis. In contrast jollof rice, chicken, salad, and sauce at the night market is less than three cedis. At the Bush Canteen you can get fufu and chicken or goat for two cedis. There is also a lot shorter wait to get your food at the outdoor places.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Syllabus for Aspects of Early Modern European History

HIST 309
Aspects of Early Modern European History
Fall Semester 2011
Department of History
University of Ghana
J. Otto Pohl, Ph.D.

Meeting Time: Thursday 3:30-5:25 Linguistics Lecture Theatre

Course Description: This is a survey class covering various aspects of European history from the 14th Century until the end of the 18th Century. The core section of the course will focus on the 17th and 18th centuries. In particular it will concentrate on political history, but it will also cover religion, economics, art and philosophy. The course will focus on the larger and more powerful European states such as England, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia. Special attention will be given to the political history of these states during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Requirements: Students need to attend class regularly and do the assigned readings. Material from both the readings and the lectures will appear on the final exam. No mobile phones are to be visible during class. They are to be out of sight and turned off. Finally, I have a significant hearing loss and may have to ask people to repeat their questions or statements from time to time. You can minimize this by speaking loudly and clearly. This syllabus is tentative and subject to change.

Readings: The readings for this course come primarily from two sources. The first is Birdsall S. Viault, Modern European History (New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1990) and the second is R.R. Palmer and Joel Colton, A History of the Modern World to 1815 Seventh Edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1992). In addition to these two survey texts I have assigned a section from Andreas Kappler, trans. Alfred Clayton, The Russian Empire: A Multiethnic Empire (Essex, UK: Longman, 2001).

Grading: The grade for the class will be based upon a mid-term exam and a comprehensive final essay exam at the end of the semester. The mid-term will be worth 30% of the final grade and the final exam will constitute the remaining 70% of the grade.

Class Schedule:

Week one: Introduction and Review of Syllabus

Week two: Leaving the Middle Ages and Entering the Modern Era
Read Viault, chapter one, pp. 1-15 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 46-53.

Week three: The Renaissance
Read Viault, chapters 2-3, pp. 16-43 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 53-75.

Week four: The Reformation, Counterreformation, and Wars of Religion
Read Viault, chapters 4-5, pp. 44-77 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 75-93 and 126-149.

Week five: Imperialism and Mercantilism
Read Viault, chapter 6, pp. 78-90 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 120-126.

Week six: Mid-Term Exam. The exam is worth 30% of the total grade.

Week seven: England in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Read Viault chapter, pp. 7, pp. 91-105 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 169-182.

Week eight: France in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Read Vialut, chapter 8, pp. 106-118 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 182-197.

Week nine: Central and Eastern Europe in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Read Viault, pp. 119-133 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 210-249.

Week ten: Russia Moves into Europe during the 17th and 18th Centuries
Read Kappeler, pp. 60-113.

Week eleven: 18th Century Wars
Read Viault, pp. 134-144 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 250-285.

Week twelve: Science, Philosophy, Art, Literature, and Music in 17th and 18th Century Europe
Read Viault, pp. 145-176 and Palmer and Colton, pp. 286-326.

This Month is the 70th Anniversary of the Deportation of the Russian-Germans

Stalin began the deportation of the ethnic German population of the European USSR to Kazakhstan and Siberia in August 1941. The official day of commemoration is the 28th of August when the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued Ukaz 21-160. This decree falsely accused the Volga Germans of harboring tens of thousands of Nazi spies and saboteurs. It then ordered the deportation of all ethnic Germans from the Volga German ASSR, Saratov Oblast, and Stalingrad Oblast to Kazakhstan and Siberia. However, the actual deportation of ethnic Germans began on 15 August 1941 with the forced evacuation of the Crimean Germans to Ordzhonikidze Krai and Rostov Oblast. My posts for the 70th anniversary of this crime against humanity will not be as thorough as the ones I put up five years ago due to time constraints. However, I will be putting up some new posts and linking to some older ones.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Today's Accomplishment

This morning I got about 500 words written on my cotton paper. Most of what I wrote was on the section describing the relative success of the Russian Empire in making Turkestan a major supplier of raw cotton for its textile industry. They eventually got over half their cotton from their Central Asian territories.


Why do most American liberals support the continued existence of Israel as an apartheid state when they would never tolerate apartheid in the US or South Africa? Is it purely a matter of identity politics?

I am a lot thinner now

Cotton Paper Proposal

The Relative Failure of German Togoland as a Model Cotton Colony

J. Otto Pohl and Felix Longi

History Department, University of Ghana, Legon

The Germans established the colony of Togoland for the purposes of economic exploitation. It provided raw materials for German commercial interests. In particular the German colonial administration sought to cultivate cotton in Togoland for Germany’s textile industry. The Germans sought to encourage the Togoland natives to grow cotton instead of food on their own small holdings. The German colonial authorities aimed to make cotton growing a Volkskultur. This contrasted with the earlier failed attempt to establish cotton plantations based upon wage labor in German East Africa. The creation of commercial cotton growing in Togoland on this basis took place under the direction of the colonial state. A key component in this policy was the founding of a model farm and later an agricultural school by African American experts from the Tuskegee Institute. This innovation initially demonstrated great potential in fulfilling the economic goals of the German colonial administration in Togoland.

During the 30 years of its existence German Togoland was commonly referred to as the “model colony.” Togoland consistently ran balanced budgets and required far fewer military resources than German East Africa or German Southwest Africa to control. While the success of the colony from the point of view of German imperialists is generally accepted by most scholars there has been considerable historical debate as to the overall treatment of the native population. Yet an examination of cotton cultivation in German Togoland reveals that it fell far short of providing a replacement for US cotton. Yields stagnated in 1909 and by World War I, all of Germany’s colonies in Africa and the Pacific only provided 0.5% of its cotton needs. Unlike British India or Turkestan in the Russian Empire, Germany failed to make Togoland into a major source of cotton for its textile industry.

This paper will examine the reasons why the colonial administration failed to make Togoland a major supplier of cotton to Germany’s textile industry. In particular it will take a comparative approach and look at the success of Russia in transforming Central Asia into the primary source of raw cotton for its textile plants during the same years Germany’s efforts in Togoland failed. It will also look at the later successes by the British Cotton Growers’ Association in the areas of Togoland annexed to the Gold Coast. Both external and internal factors will be looked at to determine these causes.

First Class of the Semester

Yesterday I taught my first class of the semester. Only six students showed up for the first day of class. I am tempted to make all the remaining students fend for themselves on getting the syllabus rather than passing it out again next week.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Map of the Volga German ASSR from 1928

The History Department has gotten a lot bigger this semester

This semester we have a lot of new faculty in the History Department of the University of Ghana. There are five new lecturers joining us. In most of the rest of the world history departments are shrinking.


Not only does Ghana have the best pineapples, mangoes and avocados in the world it also has the best groundnuts (peanuts) in the world.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yesterday in Accra

Yesterday I went down to Accra and there was some kind of celebration in the region of the juncture of Jamestown and Usshertown. It included dancing, food, and really loud drumming. If anybody knows what the festivities were about could you leave a comment here?

My brain is still dead

I am still recovering from my marathon tricontinental journey back to Ghana. So I have not actually gotten any work done on my cotton paper, my book manuscript, or any other writing projects since returning. I hope to be able to rectify this soon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Russian Publishing Trends

In Bishkek I noticed a large number of books imported from Russia praising Stalin and Beria. Every book store in the city had at least one whole shelf dedicated to this growing genre of popular literature. The development of a separate subordinate cult of personality around Beria seems to have grown considerably in the former USSR recently. Although Beria has not yet been officially rehabilitated by the Russian government there is a growing body of popular literature in Russia urging just such a course. The movement to annul Khrushchev's partial denunciation of Stalin of course has been around for a while and seems to grow stronger every day in the former USSR. The most disturbing aspect of this trend for me, however, is the appearance of Russian translations of American and other Western Stalinists and their frequent citation as supporting evidence in the popular literature written by Russian Stalinists. Almost all of the Stalinists in the above category hold tenured academic positions in the US. A particular favorite of the Russian Stalinists appears to be Grover Furr. Interestingly enough the literature does not generally deny the atrocities of Stalin and Beria, but instead seeks to justify them by portraying their victims as "traitors" to the USSR who deserved their fate. Nobody will ever be able to convince me that Volga German and Crimean Tatar children deserved to die the horrible and agonizing deaths they suffered during the 1940s. But, looking around the Internet it appears I am in a distinct minority.

Back to teaching

I am still recovering from jet lag, but I did finish writing up all my syllabi for classes this semester. Now I just need to get them photocopied. I start teaching again on Monday afternoon.

Friday, August 12, 2011

First we take Manhattan then we take the world

Under Jakob's Ladder recently won two awards  at the Manhattan Film Festival this year. It won "Best Film - Period Piece" and the leading man Jeff Stewart won "Best Actor." The movie is about Stalin's persecution of ethnic Germans in Ukraine during the 1930s. In decades past it would have been almost inconceivable that a film on this topic would ever be admitted to a film festival in New York, yet alone win two awards. For people that have been involved in preserving the memory of the Russian-Germans murdered by Stalin this is a huge event. I would describe it simply as totally awesome. I played a very small role in the making of this film as an historical consultant, but virtually all the credit for this movie's success must go to the Moon Brothers and their cast and crew. Very well done guys.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

An old picture of me from Bishkek

It is a Beautiful Morning in Africa

Last night I arrived back in Ghana. This morning I went for a long walk and checked the ATM machine. While I was in Kyrgyzstan the university paid me my salary for July. I took out 100 cedis since the cab ride back to Legon from the airport had reduced the holdings in my wallet to 20 GH. I then checked my university e-mail and found they are ready to process my residence permit. So I will go up the hill later this morning. The weather here is nice and cool, but it has not rained yet since I got back. So far things are moving along much better than I expected. Although I miss my family I am happy to be back in Africa.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I Keep Moving Forward

I accomplished my main goal this summer with a week to spare. I hope I can keep up this record of success when I get back to Africa. I have a lot of work waiting for me in Ghana.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Nearing the end of my vacation

My vacation is almost over. Soon I will have to return to Africa and start working again. I did, however, recently receive a small grant to attend a conference in Ghana on German colonialism in West Africa. I will be presenting a paper on cotton in German Togoland. The conference will be in late September. I will post more on my proposed paper later.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Embassy Called me on Monday

The US embassy called me on Monday and told me that my daughter's documents were ready. I went that afternoon and picked up her US birth certificate (CRBA) and passport.  I have now finished what I came to Bishkek to do this summer. My daughter now has ironclad evidence of her US citizenship and can enter the US without a visa.