Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR

Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR

Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR

Against Their Will: The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR

Synopsis

"During his reign, Joseph Stalin oversaw the forced resettlement of people by the millions - a maniacal passion that he used for social engineering. Six million people were resettled before Stalin's death. This volume is the first attempt to comprehensively examine the history of forced and semi-voluntary population movements within or organized by the Soviet Union. Contents range from the early 1920s to the rehabilitation of repressed nationalities in the 1990s, dealing with internal (kulaks, ethnic and political deportations) and international forced migrations (German internees and occupied territories)." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

There is no established terminology in the selected area. This is the reason why corresponding basic and key notions should be defined in the first place (original Russian terms follow in italics).

Forced migrations denote resettlement [pereseleniye] by the state of large numbers of people, either its own citizens or foreigners, using coercive methods. the coercion itself may be direct or indirect.

In the former case we are dealing with repressive migrations, or deportations. the latter term denotes “voluntary–compulsory” migrations [dobrovolno-prinuditelnyye], i.e., those instances when the state imposes circumstances and factors that influence individual decision taking regarding resettlement in such a way that it leads them to take the decisions preferred by the state. Putting it another way, in the former case we mean the overtly repressive (coercive) impact the state exerts on its citizens (or foreign subjects); the latter refers to the purposeful administrative pressure to determine individual choice.

There is a subtle though important nuance here. Pressure is exerted by all states on their citizens and is a universal feature characteristic of their relations; in some sense it is both common and normal. However, the citizen is left to take his or her own decision and, with whatever qualifications, the decision is voluntary. That is why non-repressive or “voluntary–compulsory” migrations are not covered by this study, and are instead referred to when making comparisons with migrations of the repressive type. Such migrations can be interpreted as impelled by force in certain exceptional cases, when the state “goes too far.” As an example one could cite the resettlement of demobilized Red Army servicemen and women on warrants issued by military registration and enlistment offices; and most instances of “planned resettlements to the plain,” which were an economically . . .

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