Saturday, January 30, 2016

Abstract of "The Persecution of Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II"

I have an article, "The Persecution of Ethnic Germans in the USSR during World War II" coming out in the April 2016 issue (vol. 75, no. 2) of The Russian Review. Here is the abstract below.

The ethnic Germans were the single largest and one of the oldest diaspora groups in the USSR connected to a foreign state. During the Second World War the Soviet government forcibly resettled the German communities living in territory it controlled west of the Urals to Kazakhstan and Siberia. It placed these internal deportees under special settlement restrictions which greatly limited their freedom of movement and choice of residency. The NKVD counted, registered, and instituted a system of surveillance over the special settlers to prevent them from moving from their assigned places of resettlement. This in turn greatly constrained their options regarding education and employment. Initially almost all of the deportees including urban populations from Engles and other cities found themselves settled on kolkhozes and sovkhozes and assigned to unfamiliar agricultural work. The failure to integrate these men and women into productive agricultural work on the kolkhozes led to widespread unemployment, lack of work days, and subsequently severe food shortages. The Soviet solution to integrating them into the economy was to again move them and assign them to extractive enterprises. This took two forms. The first was a second deportation of tens of thousands of ethnic Germans to Siberia northward to work in the fishing industry. These men, women, and children remained special settlers. The second form was the mobilization of ethnic German men and later women into the labor army to work building factories, felling trees, and laying rail lines in NKVD camps, and mining coal, extracting oil, and manufacturing munitions for civilian commissariats under UNKVD supervision. The restrictions on the men and women in the labor army which ultimately comprised over a quarter of all ethnic Germans in the USSR were even more onerous than the special settlement regime and closely resembled the situation of convicted Gulag prisoners. The Stalin regime's policy towards its ethnic German citizens during World War II involved ethnic cleansing, the imposition of apartheid like residency restrictions, and their mass conscription into forced labor detachments.

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Today I read Bessie Head's short 1971 novel Maru dealing with racism in Botswana by blacks against what are referred to in the book as Masarwa.  I think most English speakers are more familiar with the term Khoisan which refers to the the larger language group to which their indigenous tongue belongs. Even more common is the term "bushman" which is evidently considered highly derogatory. At any rate it was quite interesting. The final paragraph to the book is quoted below.

People like the Batswana, who did not know that the wind of freedom had also reached people of the Masarwa tribe, were in for an unpleasant surprise because it would be no longer possible to treat Masarwa people in an inhuman way without getting killed yourself.
Perhaps what is most interesting is that no white liberal or leftists in 1971 or even today for that matter can recognize even the possibility of black racism anywhere. But, Bessie Head, a South African born of a white mother and a black father and exiled to Botswana instantly saw the similarities between the Batswana treatment of the Masarwa and the situation in the country of her birth. To her it was obvious.

Ghana takes Yemeni detainees from Gitmo

Okay this is my first blog post of the year 2016. I haven't seen any blog posts on the following subject yet so I might as well be the first one. The US has released two Yemeni detainees from Gitmo to Ghana. Their upkeep will be paid for by the US. They also have to stay in Ghana for two years. There has been quite a bit of complaint about this by members of the opposition political party. It appears that President Obama wants to shut down the detention center in Cuba before leaving office by resettling its detainees in countries other than the US.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Years

Well 2015 is almost over. That means I have been in Africa almost five whole years now. It also means this blog is well over a decade old. So on average about one person has read it for every year it has been around. 

For 2016 blogging will probably continue to be slow. I have pretty much run of things that fit into a blog sized post to write about. Already this blog feels fairly repetitive. Instead I will be focusing more on writing longer pieces.