Deportation – forced expulsion of a person, a group of people or nations, who are acknowledged by the government as socially dangerous, from a permanent place of residence. Deportations were conducted on the basis of administrative or judicial decision and were often accompanied by terror. During the 1920-1950s forced expulsion of “socially and politically dangerous” people and nations became an integral part of the repressive-punitive system of the USSR. Deportations were slowing down dangerous for the Soviet government political, national and cultural development of nations.
Decree of All-Russian Central Executive Committee “On administrative expulsion” signed on August 10th, 1922, permitted the Joint State Political Directorate to evict abroad or to some regions of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic those people who are “involved in counterrevolutionary actions”. The Resolution signed on May 9th, 1924, empowered the Joint State Political Directorate with the rights to evict and imprison in a concentration camp during a period of three years and to order the execution by shooting. From the second half of the 1920s those who were deported to Siberia, Far East and the North were used as cheap manpower. Owing to the course for collectivization and “the great purge”, government in the USSR managed to use deportations within the whole state.
Deportation of those who participated in the resistance movement and their families
The basis for deportation policy of the USSR was the search for “enemies of the people”, “hostile elements”, and “counterrevolutionists”. The Soviet government considered participants of national resistance movement and those who supported patriotic movement to be “hostile elements”.
Not many people managed to avoid deportations by leaving the house in advance. At first authorized bodies were conducting searches, and then they were evicting those whom they suspected. Before deportating people the convoy troops checked whether they slept at home, their property was distrained; officials took away weapons, nationalistic literature and anti-soviet leaflets. If one person was suspected in loyalty it led to collective responsibility. The majority of families stayed at gathering points over the set period of 25 days, sometimes waiting for the departure for over two months. Contagious diseases were spreading in gathering points filled with people. Due to the stale air and lack of water many people died during the way. Those who died were thrown off the train to ditches and on roadsides.
Taking into consideration the massive character of resistance to the Soviet regime, contingent of the deported and scale of deportations were continually increasing. Collectivization, struggle with “kulaks” in Western Ukraine, the famine of 1946-1947 encouraged the government to intensify deportation policy. According to the documents, during 1944-1946 14 729 families, or 36 609 people, from seven regions of Western Ukraine were deported to north-eastern regions of the USSR. Absence of living quarters, living essentials, medicine and food hit the first set of the deported the most. After arrival people were quartered in houses of local inhabitants “at the expanse of compaction.”
Deportation of Ukrainians from the Ukrainian SSR to Poland in 1944-1946. Operation “Vistula”
On September 9th, 1944, government of the USSR and the Polish committee of national liberation signed in Lublin the Treaty on evacuation of Ukrainian population from the territory of Poland and Polish citizens from the territory of the USSR. According to the Treaty Ukrainians from Zakerzonnya (Lemkivshchyna, Posyannya, Pidlyashshya, and Kholmshchyna) had to voluntary move to the Ukrainian SSR. But resettlement of Ukrainian population was conducted with the help of military subdivisions. Over 800 thousand people moved to Poland from Ukrainian frontier regions, and about 500 thousand people moved from Poland to Ukraine. The final stage in the resettlement of Ukrainians was the operation “Vistula” (April 28 – August 28, 1947) – ethnic cleansing of the remains of Ukrainian population in Zakerzonnya (about 150 thousand people), conducted by the Polish communist regime with the assistance of the USSR and Czechoslovakia. During this action Ukrainians from this territory were forcedly resettled to western and northern regions of Poland that before 1945 belonged to the territory of Germany.
Consequences of deportations
As a result of deportations the whole nations were deprived of their civil and human rights; number of population and nationalities represented in regions and republics of the USSR changed drastically; socio-economic situation became worse in those regions where deportation were conducted; autonomous regions and republics disappeared from the political map of the USSR (for example, Kalmykiya and Checheno-Ingushetiya regions, etc.); borders of many political units changed; territory of the deported was populated by representatives of other nationalities; interethnic relations substantially sharpened in some regions.