Thursday, January 30, 2014

Who cares if it is a decent interval? I do not think the dead in Siberia care.

During the 20th century a large number of very influential cultural figures in the US were outright Stalinists who at one time supported every action of the Soviet government no matter how vile. The most recent member of this cohort to pass from the scene was folk singer and song writer Pete Seeger at age 94. Seeger was one of many Stalinists that dominated parts of American culture and intellectual life in the 20th century. The singer and actor Paul Robeson, the scholar and writer W.E.B. Dubois, the playwright Lillian Hellman, the noir writer Jim Thompson, mystery writer Dashiell Hammett and university professor Angela Davis were all like Seeger for a time members of the slavishly pro-Soviet Communist Party USA. Most of them during the period of time of Stalin's Great Terror in 1937-1938, Dubois and Davis joined considerably later. None of these people were stupid or dupes. So the usual excuse that they did not know just does not hold up. Instead there was something about Stalinism and especially its brutality that was extremely attractive to many US intellectuals and artists during the 20th century. Far more so than Fascism, Stalinism has attracted millions of people to support and cheer on some of the absolute worst crimes against humanity ever committed.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Another mundane post

This blog hasn't been updated in a while because I haven't had any blog length thoughts recently. It is strange how various media are tailored for specific volumes of information. Blogs tend to be in the one or two paragraph range as opposed to a single sentence like Facebook or Twitter, although I have never used Twitter. Journal articles tend to be n the 8,000 to 9,000 word range and there is nothing between them and monographs at 80,000 to 100,0000 words. Which is really too bad because I think a lot of academic ideas need more than 9,000 words worth of explanation and supporting evidence, but can not possibly be padded up to 80,000 words. A venue that could publish between 20,000 and 60,000 words would be most welcome.

Instead of blogging I have been doing various more important things like going to the dentist, working on a journal article, grading, various administrative tasks, and reading mystery novels. But, as I mentioned in the last paragraph I haven't really had anything to blog about since I got back from Ho. By the way if anybody wants a copy of my Ho paper send me an e-mail. My goal at the forced labor conference was to force at least five people to read it, but I am not sure if I have succeeded yet.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Back from Ho

This week I have been in Ho, the capital of the Volta region of Ghana. It is the area of Ghana that used to be under German rule from 1884 to 1914 and east of the Volta River. The conference was on forced labor with a strong emphasis on colonial Africa. Portuguese Africa was especially well represented with three presentations on Angola and Mozambique. But, there was only one presentation on French ruled Africa and none on the Belgian Congo. My own presentation was part of a round table at the end dealing with areas outside of colonial Africa, in particular the USSR, India, Brazil, and South Africa after 1910. There were about 30 people at the conference. The other people taking part as presenters in the round table were Frederick Cooper, Philip BonnerSidney Chalhoub, and Prabhu Mohaparta. Forcing me to summarize my entire presentation which was based on a 17 page (almost 9,000 words) paper into five to seven minutes may have been a good thing in that there was no wasted wordage. I actually got the thematic similarities of various cases of forced labor down to five words or phrases. These five words and phrases were the state, political motivations vs. economic motivations, ethnicity and race, gender, and the role of war. Some of these themes such as the role of the state as a supplier of forced labor were explored by the presenters on colonial Africa. But, other themes like the role of war or political as opposed to economic motivations were largely ignored. Overall the academic portion of the conference went well. Regarding the non-academic portion I got to see Aksombo Dam, climb Mt. Gemi where a German priest placed an iron cross in November 1939, and eat grasscutter. Don't let the fact that grasscutter is a rodent put you off. The meat served in light soup with fufu was very tender and tasty. It reminded me of really good pork. The Volta is one of the great rivers of the world and it was good to get out of the Greater Accra area if only for a few days.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A little fish in a big pond

Africa is a big place as you can see by the map to the right. I happen to live in one very small corner of it. The University of Ghana is a fairly big university, but compared to the number of people on the planet or just in Africa it is tiny. The number of people who know who I am in Legon is undoubtedly in the hundreds. The number of people who have heard of me outside of Legon is much smaller. I am quite sure that more people in Legon know who I am than do people in North America for instance. I have come to see my lack of fame as a good thing. Sure it might be nice if more than a dozen people ever read anything I write. I am going to see if I can force a half dozen people or so at the forced labor conference next week to read my paper. I may have to use some very coercive methods to achieve this. On the other hand being an almost complete unknown means I don't get any grief from trolls on the internet either. I can't remember ever getting any hate e-mails. I don't have to delete any comments to this blog for the simple reason that I don't ever get any. It is not that anybody agrees with me on anything. But, that so very few people ever stop by here to see that I do indeed disagree with 100% of everything they believe.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 ''Zombie''

A musical interlude for everybody who likes zombies by the late great Fela Kuti.

Friday, January 17, 2014


I have finally finished grading final exams for main campus. Nobody failed it. That means that probably everybody passed the class. This will be the first time since I came to Ghana that I will have a class in which everybody passed. On the other hand I had a lot fewer As for this class as well. The grades were all bunched up in the C to B+ range. I am not sure if that means anything or not, probably not. I now just have 16 city campus scripts to grade. For some reason they usually go faster. I should be able to finish them all before I leave for the conference in Ho on Tuesday. Grading is my absolute least favorite part of being a lecturer. I like it even less than attending meetings. It would be nice if grading and lectures could be separated. I could give the readings and lectures and even design the tests and then somebody else could grade them. First, I wouldn't have to read dozens and dozens of repetitive essays by students. But, more importantly it would relieve me of any students complaining about grades. I haven't posted any for last semester yet, so I haven't gotten any complaints. However, if previous semesters are anything to go by then every single student that got less than an A, most especially those that got a B+ will complain that their grade is too low. Having somebody else do it would shift the onus on the student to earn the grade rather than their current perception that somehow I give out randomly generated grades and anything less than an A must be a mistake.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More on this week

Yesterday, I got the pile of final exams for main campus whittled down to six. I also have 16 for city campus to grade. So there are only 22 out of the original 90 scripts left. So far nobody has actually failed the course which is a first for me since coming to Ghana. Although, it is still possible that one or more of the last six exams could fail.

I also solved my problem of finding a topic to write a journal article about this break. Or rather it was solved for me. I got a message from an editor of a journal based in Europe last night asking me to write an article on a specific topic. So I now have topic. Actually I got a good start on writing the actual article. Before I went to bed I had typed up a little over 1,500 words.

Today, I had to go to the bank again. But, this time it was about getting money in and not out so there is that silver lining. The laws left by the former military dictatorship make moving money in and out of Ghana for normal people very difficult. However, if you are a huge European or White owned South African company it is very easy to move billions of dollars out of the country. Ghana is the only country I have ever been in where routine banking is more difficult and time consuming than seeing the doctor.

Abstract for Ho Conference

Forced Labour in a Socialist State: Ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan and Central Asia in the Labour Army: 1941-1957
Pathways into Colonial (and Postcolonial?) Coercion: The Creation and Evolution of Forced Labour in Sub-Saharan Africa under Colonial Rule, 1890-1975.
Ho, Ghana 21-24 January 2014.

J. Otto Pohl
History Department
University of Ghana, Legon

During World War II the Stalin regime made extensive use of forced labour in a variety of industries including logging, mining, and industrial construction.  Although the conscription of civilians for industrial labour was common in the USSR during this time, one particular component of this labour went far beyond the mere militarization of factories and definitely crossed over into the category of forced labour. The NKO (People’s Commissariat of Defense) conscripted about 400,000 Soviet citizens belonging to “enemy” and “unreliable” nationalities and handed them over to the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) as a labour force in the Urals, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia and other areas of the USSR.[1] Ethnic Germans formed the largest contingent of these forced labourers with 316,000 men and women mobilized during the war.[2] This particular institution of forced labour became known as the labour army (trudarmiia). This labour consisted of civilians and discharged military personnel mobilized into labour columns to work in corrective labour camps (GULag) and civilian commissariats under police (NKVD-MVD) supervision. A full 220,000 conscripts into the labour army worked in corrective labour camps and 180,000 for civilian commissariats.[3] The percentage of Soviet citizens of German ethnicity to do their labour army service in labour camps was even greater. Over 182,000 ethnic Germans with Soviet citizenship inducted into the labour army worked in corrective labour camps while more than 133,000 worked for civilian commissariats. [4] A very large number of these conscripts came either from ethnic Germans deported to Kazakhstan or ethnic Germans who had resided in Kazakhstan and Central Asia prior to the Second World War. From Kazakhstan alone the Soviet government mobilized a recorded 103,733 ethnic Germans for work in the labour army.[5]  These territories had been colonized by Tsarist Russia and converted from colonies to semi-colonies under Soviet rule.[6] This paper will examine the role of the labour army as a political instrument of ethnic/racial repression against ethnic Germans in the USSR.

Keywords: Forced Labour, Germans, GULag, Labour Army, USSR

[1] V.M. Kirillov and N.V. Matveeva, “Trudomobilizovannye nemtsy na Urale: sostoianie i novye aspekty issledovaniia problemy” in Nachal’nyi period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny I deportatsiia rossiiskikh nemtsev: vzgliady i otsenki cherez 70 let ed. A.A. German (Moskva: MSNK-press, 2011), 631.
[2] A.A. German and A.N. Korochkin, Nemtsty SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1945) (Moskva: Gotika, 1998), 66.
[3] V.M. Kirillov and N.V. Matveeva, 631.
[4]A. A. German and A.N. Kurochkin,  67.
[5] N.A. Efremova-Shershukova, “Deportatsiia nemtsev na territoriu Kazakhskoi SSR: prichiny i mekhanizm provedeniia” in Nachal’nyi period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny i deportatsiia rossiiskikh nemtsev: vzgliady I otsenki cherez 70 let ed. A.A. German (Moskva: MSNK-press, 2011), 876
[6] Michael Voslensky, Nomeklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class: An Insider’s Report (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1984), 284-288.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

African Country Music

Here is a traditional style country band from Swaziland. US country music is very popular in Ghana and I have been baffled by the lack of local country music bands here. In South Africa there is a fairly rich strain of Afrikaans country music, but this is the first thing I have seen in English by Black Africans.

This week so far

The last two days have been more productive than usual for vacation days. Yesterday I had what they call here "root canal treatment." The treatment is not nearly as painful as the tooth was before the treatment. It never is. Fortunately, I have socialized dentistry here at the University of Ghana. It isn't perfect, but it is a lot better than nothing and it is free. After the root canal which was only partial I have to go back again next Monday so they can get the last one of the tooth's three nerves, I graded most of my remaining final exams for main campus. I only have ten left to do. The remainder of the day I spent getting a start on my African literature list. I finished Bessie Head's A Woman Alone and started Lilia Momple's Neighbours: the Story of a Murder. I found it interesting that Head whose writing and life in both South Africa and Botswana marked her as a very strong and independent woman explicitly rejected the label feminist. I find myself in agreement with her that the white American conceptions of feminism like many other constructs from outside of Africa do not work well within Africa. Ultimately the solution to gender inequality in Africa like other African problems will have to be solved by Africans using African, not foreign models.

Today I did laundry or rather the two guys who look like they escaped from a 1970s sitcom who work at Starwash did my laundry, went to the bank, and put together my list of accomplishments for my two year review. I also printed out ten copies of my paper "Forced Labour in a Socialist State: Ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan and Central Asia in the Labour Army: 1941-1957" for the Ho conference next week. I am hoping I can at least persuade the seven University of Ghana delegates to the conference into reading the paper. But, I am probably being overly optimistic here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

African Literature

I have decided that I need to read more African literature. Especially since my local bookstore has gotten a huge shipment of Heinemann African Writers Series books. At five cedis a piece these books are a bargain. I think a lot of people in the US have the mistaken impression that Africa is a continent largely devoid of literature. But, this is simply not true. Furthermore due to the colonial legacy of British rule over much of the continent a large number of African writers have produced their work in English. So today I purchased five books by African writers for a total of 25 cedis. Below is a list of the books I purchased.

Shimmer Chinodya, Harvest of Thorns, 1989.

Bessie Head, A Woman Alone, 1990.

Jack Mapanje, (ed.), Gathering Seaweed: African Prison Writing, 2002

Lilia Momple, trans. Richard Barlett and Isaura de Oliveira, Neighbors: The Story of a Murder, 1995.

Yvonne Vera, (ed.), Opening Spaces: Contemporary African Women's Writing, 1999.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Faces of Africa - Zamrock Survivors

This is a great documentary on the Zamrock scene from the 1970s. The extreme parochialism of radio and other music media in the US meant that other than the UK, Canada, and occasionally Australia that Americans were rarely exposed to music from other countries. This was true even regarding English speaking countries like Zambia. But, today there is absolutely no excuse to remain unenlightened and ignorant. If you are not familiar with African rock music go educate yourself. I mean it, turn off that white boys stuff and tune into some Zamrock.

Friday, January 10, 2014

72 Years Since GKO Order 1123ss

Today is the 72nd anniversary of GKO Order 1123ss ordering the mobilization of Russian-German men deported to Kazakhstan, Krasnoiarsk Krai, Altai Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, and Omsk Oblast into labor columns. This was the first large scale conscription of ethnic Germans in the USSR for forced labor in the labor army. A full 67,961 men conscripted under this order ended up in labor camps. The Soviet government sent most of the Russian-Germans conscripted under this order to labor camps in the Urals where they worked in industrial construction and felling trees.   As a result of this  mass influx of forced laborers, ethnic Germans became a sizable percentage of the people confined in camps in the Urals, over 40% in many cases. Among the camps with large Russian-German labor army cohorts were Solikamskstroi and Bogoslovlag. The Soviet government did not even spare ethnic Germans who were loyal communists from mobilization for forced labor. These camps also had very high mortality rates. Deaths from disease, malnutrition, exposure, and accidents were quite common. The labor army constituted a modern form of state slavery and an instrument of ethnic repression against the ethnic Germans in the USSR during the 1940s.

See also my post to commemorate the 70th anniversary of GKO Order 1123ss.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Plug for a Friend

My good friend Eric J. Schmaltz has an article, "Carrots and Sticks...and Demonstrations: Yuri Andropov's Failed Autonomy Plan for Soviet Kazakhstan's Germans, 1976-1980" in the The Eurasian Studies Society Journal of Great Britain and Europe.  A plan that failed in the wake of racist anti-German protests by Kazakh university professors and students supported by local communist officials. These demonstrations lasted three days from 16 to 19 June 1979. Schmaltz's article does a very good job of exploring the background to this attempt by the Soviet government to form a small German national territory in northern Kazakhstan.  Among other things it shows that already by the 1970s that a virulent strain of chauvinist and racist nationalism  had taken a strong hold among a significant portion of the ethnic Kazakh youth. In retrospect this is not surprising. As Marina Mogil'ner has noted the entire Soviet concept of Natsional'nost is not only "racial", but "racist" in carrying "insurmountable stigmas" or "inherited advantages." (Mogil'ner 494). Schmaltz's article also shows that after decades of discrimination, defamation, and negative stereotyping that the Soviet government was not even able to partially undue the racist attitudes it had created. Instead primordial nationalism became a resource that local leaders in Kazakhstan and elsewhere could mobilize for their own political gains. The internal borders drawn by the Soviet government to create territorial formations connected with specific nationalities in the 1920s took on a sacred status for nationalists and ultimately doomed any hope of full equality for non-titular ethnic groups. Only nationalities with their own territories could enjoy the full range of rights guaranteed to Soviet citizens and creating or restoring dissolved national territories became impossible already by the 1960s. Andropov's failed attempt at creating a German autonomous oblast in Kazakhstan in the 1970s showed that this was indeed the case.

Citation:  Marina Mogil’ner, Homo Imperii: Istoriia fizicheskoi antropologii v Rossii (Konets XIX-Nachalo XX v.) (Moscow: Novoe literaturnoe oborzenie, 2008).

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Death in Africa

This morning, Jonathan, one of the two non-faculty staff working permanently in the History Department of the University of Ghana died.

A Quick Overview of Ghana's Chief Foreign Exchange Earning Industries

My good friend Walt Richmond has asked me to write more on the continuing structural economic problems faced by Africa as a result of trade patterns established during the colonial era, a phenomenon Kwame Nkrumah and others have referred to as neo-colonialism. Some other readers have also expressed an interest in more Africa centered posts. The problem of course is not new. The same pattern of Africa exporting cheap raw materials to Europe in exchange for expensive manufactured goods exists today as did in colonial times. For the most part Africa has been unsuccessful in breaking this dependency and building an indigenous industrial base. Yet, there is no doubt that despite this unfavorable economic relationship that some countries in Africa such as Ghana have experienced immense economic growth in the last few decades. Although much of this can be attributed solely to the increase in prices for raw materials.

Ghana currently has four important industries for the generation of foreign revenue. These are cocoa, gold, oil, and tourism. All of these have problems. The money paid for raw cocoa to Ghana by European and American concerns is only a small portion of the costs that these companies charge for their finished products. Very little of the price of a candy bar goes to Ghanaian farmers about 6% down from 16% thirty years ago. In contrast 70% goes to the chocolate companies. A 70% - 6% split between the rich stockholders of Mars, Nestle, Cadbury etc., and poor cocoa farmers is not very equitable.

The gold and oil industries are heavily owned by foreigners and their profits likewise go mostly to foreigners. The vast majority of the gold mining industry in Ghana is owned by South African companies with much of the remainder controlled by Canadian and US companies. Although gold companies are limited to shipping no more than 45% of their profits out of the country that still equates to a very large portion of Ghana's foreign exchange earnings.

All oil ventures in Ghana are supposed to be at least 50% Ghanaian owned. But, this has not been the case. In some cases as little as 20% is owned by Ghanaian concerns. European companies like Shell and Total have routinely violated the 50% indigenous ownership clause in extracting oil from Ghana. So the new oil discoveries have not so much benefited Ghanaians, but rather rich Dutchmen and Frenchmen.

Finally, there is tourism. There is a huge mark up and collection of tourist dollars by Ghanaian businesses. So things here are far more equitable for Ghanaians than in the other industries. The Obruni surcharge levied by taxi drivers, restaurant owners, hoteliers, and other indigenous service and goods suppliers is quite substantial. But, the number of tourists coming to Ghana is limited compared to most other destinations such as Turkey, Thailand, or Mexico. The one niche market possessed by Ghana is the Black Diaspora, that is the African-Americans who come here to look at the slave castles and forts along the coast.In terms of numbers of people and disposable income, however, this demographic is limited compared to the total number of tourists in the world.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Keith Mlevhu - Love and freedom

Another great African rocker from the 1970s with a jamming tune.

Merry Christmas from Africa Again!

С Рождеством Христовым!

For those that observe Christmas according to the Julian Calender, Merry Christmas. In Africa that would include Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt. Other people that celebrate Christmas today are members of the Russian Orthodox Church in Rossiia and Central Asia, Armenians, Greeks, Ukrainians, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Serbs as well as Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and other countries.

The Basic Economic Problem in Ghana and the Rest of Africa

The two main development strategies promoted for former colonial countries have been import substitution and the export of manufactured goods in particular textiles. Both of these strategies involve adding value to raw materials through manufacturing. In the first strategy this is done to produce for a domestic market and to prevent the loss of foreign exchange through the purchase of imports. In the second the country exports added value goods to generate foreign exchange to pay for imports. But, what has happened instead is that countries like Ghana have found themselves dependent upon the export of unprocessed raw materials without any value added. This generates comparatively little revenue in comparison to manufactured goods. They then have to use this smaller stream of revenue to purchase much higher priced imported goods. The constant importation of goods using foreign exchange consistently drives down the value of the indigenous currency making importation even more expensive. This cycle traps Ghana and other African countries in a dependent and permanently subordinate economic position in relation to Europe, the US, and increasingly countries in Asia and the Middle East.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Random Happenings Around Here

The unthinkable has happened. I have temporarily run out of African map icons to post. I thought I had an unlimited supply, but when you use up more than one a day they go fast. So I don't have one for this post. I am going to have to go see if I can find some more.

This morning the running water went out at the house again. Last time it was out for over a month. I am hoping it comes back on this week. But, I am not optimistic.

I am still grading final exams. I haven't encountered any really bad ones yet. Nobody has gotten less than a C which is passing. On the other hand there have not been a lot of great ones either. There have not been a whole lot of As. Instead I am seeing a lot Bs and Cs.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Racism in the USSR

Ta-Nehisi Coates often writes about issues of race in the US for The Atlantic. He isn't an academic and I mean that as a compliment. He has far too much common sense and real world experience. The man, however, is smart and a very good writer. His latest article deals with the topic of racism in the USSR under Stalin. Here is the money quotation:

The Soviet Union pitched itself in opposition to the racism of Nazi Germany, and even America. There's a Stalin-era film, which I'm dying to see, in which the American heroine gives birth to a black child and finds peace in the Soviet Union. But it is hard not to look at Ukraine, or look at dekulakization, or look at the Polish operation, or the Latvian operation, and not see--if not racism--a lethal ethnic bias.

This position which he draws primarily from his reading of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands shows clearly how common sense trumps the academic training of US "scholars" almost all of whom claim there was no racism in these acts because the Soviet regime used the word natsional'nost instead of race.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2014 - International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

The year 2014 has been declared by the General Assembly of the UN to be the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. While there are a number of individual Palestinians that will always be my friends, my love for the Palestinian people as a national entity is very much in line with that expressed by the late Jean Genet.

I defend the Palestinians wholeheartedly and automatically. They are in the right because I love them. But would I love them if injustice had not turned them into a wandering people?
The answer to that question for me is probably not. Had Palestine achieved independence within the borders of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1948 and not suffered the Nakba I would regard the Palestinians very differently. Then they would have been just a normal state with normal problems and not a people unjustly deprived of their homeland and engaged in a permanent revolution to undue this injustice.

Source:  Jean Genet, "Four Hours in Shatila," Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 12, no. 3 (spring 1983), 13.

Black Power kwame nkrumah africa must unite PT-4/4

This final segment deals mainly with the 24 February 1966 coup that overthrew Nkrumah.

Black Power kwame nkrumah africa must unite PT-3/4

Here is part three of the documentary on Ghana under Nkrumah. It too focuses on the construction of the Akosomobo Dam.

Black Power kwame nkrumah africa must unite PT-2/4

Here is part two of the documentary on Ghana under Nkrumah. This section deals almost entirely with the Akosomobo Hydroelectric Project.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Black Power kwame nkrumah africa must unite PT-1/4

This is the first in an awesome four part documentary on the history of Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah. I will be posting the other three parts soon.

What I did today

Today I ventured into Accra for the first time in a while. The city is definitely worth seeing a couple of times in everybody's life. Makola Market is unlike any other place on earth. However, be warned if you suffer from agoraphobia you might suffer from a panic attack. It is the largest and most crowded market I have ever been in. If physically bumping into strangers unduly disturbs you then you might want to avoid going through the market. After walking through the market I walked past some of the more notable buildings in Accra including the Post Office, the Supreme Court, and Nkrumah's Mausoleum. Between the Supreme Court and the Mausoleum I got a bag of pure water and a little bit later a roasted plantain right off the grill. The woman selling the plantains wrapped it in 1980s style computer printer paper as is the style here. But, the highlight of my journey was talking to my daughter in Kyrgyzstan on my cheap Nokia mobile phone. The reception near the Gulf of Guinea is exceptionally good for some reason.

Friday, January 03, 2014

An Audience of One

It seems no matter what I do I can't seem to get this blog's readership up into the double digits. Which says to me that the number of people in the world who are interested in the same things as me is less than ten. It is now routine for me to go for many dozens of posts without receiving a single comment, a sure sign that almost all the hits on my site meter are from bots. At this point I have concluded there is nothing I can actually do to change this. In the course of nearly a decade, less than two dozen real people have ever read anything I have written here. I am quite sure it is the least read blog to have survived over nine years of regular posting. Most people would have switched back over to a private journal or to e-mailing family and friends. I don't because I would lose a private journal and having this thing in cyberspace lets me find it easily for my own reference. On the other hand my almost non-existent audience means I am really writing for an audience of one person, myself.

Bulbous Creation - You Won't Remember Dying (1970)[Full Album][HD]

After this album was recorded in Missouri the band members disappeared off the face of the earth. So we are only left with the one album by them. Recorded in 1970 it was only released in 1994.

Open Thread on the 70th Anniversary of the Deportation of the Kalmyks

I know that absolutely nobody will comment here. That is of course a given. But, since there are no other blog posts in English on the Internet dealing with the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Kalmyks I feel that I must at least show that at least one person with no ethnic connection to the group cares about this history. But, the Kalmyks were a politically incorrect people persecuted by a regime that adhered to an ideology that remains very popular in many places including US academia. So I don't expect anybody else to join me in this endeavor.

Report by Beria to Stalin and Molotov on the Deportation of the Kalmyks 70 Years Ago

Below is a report from 70 years ago on the completion of the ethnic cleansing of the Kalmyk ASSR of its titular population.  Note that this report places the total number of Kalmyks that actively assisted the German occupation or opposed Soviet rule at only 750 people. All of whom were arrested and were not counted as part of the 93,139 completely innocent people forcibly deported to Siberia.
Formal Report of Peoples Commissar of NKVD L.P. Beria
to I.V. Stalin and V.M. Molotov on Measures
to Resettle People of Kalmyk Nationality
to Eastern Regions of the USSR 
3 January 1944 
Top Secret
State Committee of Defense
Comrade Stalin I.V.
Comrade Molotov V.M. 
3 January 
  In accordance with the Ukaz of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and resolution of the SNK USSR of 28 December 1943 the NKVD of the USSR carried out the operation to resettle people of Kalmyk nationality to eastern regions.
  To provide for conducting the operation and prevent cases of resistance or flight the NKVD took necessary operative-military measures in advance, organized guarding of the population points, collected the resettlers, and escorted them to places to be loaded onto train echelons.
  In the beginning of the operation were arrested 750 people Kalmyks, who were members of bandit gangs, bandit helpers, active helpers of the German occupiers and other anti-Soviet elements.
  Total loaded onto 46 train echelons 26 359 families, or 93,139 people, resettlers, that were moved to places of resettlement in Altai and Krasnoiarsk krais, Omsk and Novosibirsk oblasts.
  During the time of the conduct of the operation there were no incidents or excesses.
  Train echelons with resettlers were escorted by workers of the NKVD.
  The NKVD of the USSR together with local organizations has taken the necessary measures in the areas of reception, to provide housing and labor accommodations for resettlers in their places of resettlement. 
Peoples Commissar of Internal Affairs for the Union of SSRs
L. Beria
Source:  N. L. Pobol and P.M. Polian, (eds.), Stalinskie deportatsii 1928-1953: Dokumenty, (Moscow: MFD, Materik, 2005), doc. 3.94, pp. 421-422. Translated from Russian to English by J. Otto Pohl.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

More on the Deportation of the Kalmyks 70 Years Ago

The winter of 2013-2014 marks the 70th anniversary of the deportation of almost all Kalmyks from the Kalmyk ASSR by the Stalin regime. This deportation was a collective punishment of the entire population including women, children, old men, loyal communists, and Red Army veterans. The patch to the right is a Soviet Red Army patch used by Kalmyk soldiers in the 1920s. The swastika  is an ancient Buddhist symbol and Buddhist nationalities in the USSR like the Kalmyks and Buriats were allowed to use it in an official capacity. However, not even service in the Red Army and heroism in the Civil War or Great Fatherland War for the Soviet side saved these men from punishment. They along with their families and the rest of the population were forcibly deported from their homeland to Siberia. Even the Soviet government's own deportation order noted in an oblique fashion that not all of these people, indeed not even a majority of these people were guilty of any crimes. The Ukaz of the Supreme Soviet of 27 December 1943 ordered "All Kalmyks, living in the territory of the Kalmyk ASSR, are to be resettled to other regions of the USSR, and the Kalmyk ASSR liquidated." (Pobol and Polian doc. 3.89, p. 412). Yet the same decree noted only that "many Kalmyks betrayed the Homeland" without providing any kind of quantification anywhere as to exactly how many people the word many represented in this case (Ibid.). None of the deportees were individually charged or tried for any crimes in Soviet courts in clear and direct violation of article 102 of the 1936 Soviet constitution. In reality the total number of Kalmyks to serve in German military units was quite small, about 5,000 men (Chebotareva, pp. 447-448). Almost all of these men managed to retreat with the Germans leaving very few if any Kalmyks who had "participated in German organized military units to fight against the Red Army" (Pobol and Polian, Ibid.) to be deported.  Officially the Soviet government reported deporting 93,062 Kalmyks to Siberia during the winter of 1943-1944. Adult men only comprised 18,982 of these deportees in contrast to 33,895 women, and 40,185 children. Among the Kalmyks punished for "treason" and participating in German military units were twice as many children as adult men. Children were also one of the groups to suffer the highest mortality rates as a result of exile.  The authorities recorded 1,640 Kalmyks dying in the train echelons during the transit to Siberia and another 1,010 being hospitalized. Children accounted for 642 of the deaths while adults aged 16 to 40 (those of military service age) only accounted for 262 (Pobol and Polian doc. 3.97, p. 424). The brutal uprooting of the Kalmyks from their homeland thus had very little to do with punishing anybody for treason and everything to do with punishing an entire people for having the wrong ancestry.


Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 1936 (Moscow: CO-Operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers, 1936).

V. G. Chebatoreva, "Ukaz Presidium Verkhnogo Soveta SSSR ot 28 avgusta 1941 g. - preventivnaia mera obespecheniia gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti ili politcheskaia provokatsiia?" in A.A. German (ed.),Nachal'nyi period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny i deportatsiia rossiiskikh nemtsev : vzgliady i otsenki cherez 70 let (Moscow: MSNK-press, 2011),  pp. 442-455.

N. L. Pobol and P.M. Polian, (eds.), Stalinskie deportatsii 1928-1953: Dokumenty, (Moscow: MFD, Materik, 2005).