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Against Their Wil

The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR

By Pavel Polian

Publication Year: 2003

During his reign over the former Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin oversaw the forced resettlement of six million people - a maniacal passion that he used for social engineering. The Soviets were not the first to thrust resettlement on its population - a major characteristic of totalitarian systems - but in terms of sheer numbers, technologies used to deport people and the lawlessness which accompanied it, Stalin's process was the most notable. Six million people of different social, ethnic, and professions were resettled before Stalin's death. Even today, the aftermath of such deportations largely predetermines events which take place in the northern Caucasus, Crimea, the Baltic republics, Moldavia, and western Ukraine. Polian's 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). An abundance of facts, figures, tables, maps, and an exhaustively-detailed annex will serve as important sources for further researches.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

List of Figures

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pp. xiii-xiv

Foreword to the English Edition

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. 1-16

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 ...

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Forced Migrations:Prehistory and Classification

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pp. 17-56

World history has seen many examples of “deportations” and “forced migrations.” It will suffice to recall a succession of events describe depisodes from the life of Jews “resettled” in Egypt, Babylon, and other countries of the Old-Testament Diaspora....


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Forced Migrations before the Second World War(1919–1939)

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pp. 59-114

There is a widely shared view that it was not before the 1930s that the Soviet authorities took up such measures as deportations. In reality, however, the very first years of the Soviet rule, while the Civil War was still in full swing, featured these harrowing and extreme practices....

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Forced Migrations during and after the Second World War (1939–1953)

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pp. 115-180

It is widely accepted that 1 September 1939, the day when Germany attacked Poland from the west, was the first day of the Second World War. By attacking Poland in the east on 17 September, the Soviet Union entered the war as well....

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Patterns of Deported Peoples’ Settlement, and Rehabilitation Process

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pp. 181-238

A prevalent majority of deportees were ascribed the status of “special resettlers,”which implied their strict administrative subjection to the network of so-called special komendaturas in their new places of residence. In April 1949 the number of the komendaturas numbered...


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Internment and Deportation of German Civilians from European Countries to the USSR

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pp. 241-276

It is a well-known fact that—apart from millions of German POWs—German civilians from both the Third Reich and territories that had never belonged to it worked on the territory of the USSR.Their actual status and the ways their labor was used reveal many common features with those typical of POWs,and yet there are certain related...

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Employment of Labor of German Civilians from European Countries in the USSR, and Their Repatriation

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pp. 277-304

The geographical pattern of the internees’ destinations is remarkable. As we can see, the State Defense Committee kept their word: most of the internees—over 3/4—were transported to the Donbass and adjacent metal-production areas in southern Ukraine (see table 15 and...

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In Lieu of a Conclusion: Geo-demographic Scale and Repercussions of Forced Migrations in the USSR

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pp. 305-320

Forced migrations were practiced in the USSR starting from 1919– 1920 until 1952–1953, i.e., during one-third of a century and nearly half of the period of the existence of the Soviet Union, which thus won it the dubious position of becoming the world’s leader in the...

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pp. 321-326

The book by Pavel Polian, Against Their Will, is the first systematic research of mass forced migrations in the USSR. The multi-million-strong movement of human mass over the entire territory of the USSR constituted an inseparable part of the 70- year-long economic, social and political history of the country....

Supplement 1

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pp. 327-334

Supplement 2

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pp. 335-372

Supplement 3

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pp. 373-374

Supplement 4

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pp. 375-376


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pp. 377-398

Glossary of RussianTerms

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pp. 399-400


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pp. 401-406

Index of Personal Names

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pp. 407-412

Index of Geographical Names

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pp. 413-425

E-ISBN-13: 9786155053832
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639241688

Page Count: 441
Publication Year: 2003

Edition: 1st

OCLC Number: 55011995
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Against Their Wil

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Migration, Internal -- Soviet Union -- History
  • Forced migration -- Russia (Federation) -- Chechni︠a︡ -- History -- 20th century
  • Political persecution -- Soviet Union -- History.
  • Deportation -- Soviet Union -- History.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Forced repatriation.
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