Friday, December 29, 2023

Stalin Pulled Soviet Soldiers from Front Lines to Deport Kalmyk Nation, Descendants of Those Sent to Siberia Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 28 – Most of the Soviet siloviki used to deport the punished peoples from their homelands to Central Asia and Siberia came from police units behind the lines rather than from troops on the frontlines of the German war. But in Kalmykia, these rear echelon security forces weren’t sufficient, and Moscow pulled troops off the main front.

            That is what survivors of that deportation, which occurred 80 years ago on December 28, 1943, say; and it is a recollection that casts doubt on the widely held view that while Hitler was ready to compromise his military effort to kill Jews, Stalin was never ready to risk losing at the front in order to wage war against his own people. He was prepared to wait.

            Not only does this memory explain why the Kalmyks remain one of the most anti-Russian nations in the Russian Federation (, but it provides support for those who argue that Stalin was more like Hitler than many think (

            Two other aspects of Stalin’s deportation of the Kalmyks suggest that he and then subsequent Soviet leaders were especially angry at that Buddhist nation and were interested in its destruction both during the deportation when roughly half of them were killed and even after the survivors were permitted to return.

            On the one hand, the Kalmyks were deported not to Central Asia where the climate was relatively better but to Siberia where they suffered more, and they were distributed across that region family by family so that they could not form the communities that allowed other deported peoples to survive (

            And on the other, when the Kalmyks did return, they did not regain almost a third of the territory their republic had included before World War II, a continuing irritant for them and source of tension with Astrakhan which remains in control of that land (

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