Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How Many Deportees Can Dance on the End of a Bayonet?

Pinpointing the exact number of Russian-Germans deported in the fall of 1941 is impossible. This is not because the Soviets did not leave any statistical evidence in the archives. On the contrary it is because they left too much. There are numerous documents all giving precise figures on the number of deportees. These multiple precise figures do not correspond with each other. Part of the problem is inaccurate counting including double counting. Another problem is differing dates. A problem intensified by the existence of undated documents. Finally, it is not at all clear when some of these counts took place. It is probable that some of the higher figures refer to the Russian-Germans counted at the point of round up and deportation and the lower ones to those arriving alive in the regions of special settlement. Deaths due to typhus and other causes in the trains would then account for much of the difference between these figures. For instance A.A. German and A.N. Kurochkin state that they believe the figure 856,168 refers to a count taken before the deportation and the figure 799,459 to a count taken upon arrival. (p. 37). The difference in these two figures is 56,709 (6.6% of the first count) a loss in line with that endured by other deported nationalities during transit. Since I was trying to give a sense of the number deported rather than the number to survive the deportation I used this first number in my post of 1 August 2006. The following numbers come from several document collections and serve to illustrate this problem. This is only a partial sample of the archival material that has been published on this problem. All these figures are accurate in the manner I have portrayed them both here and in earlier posts. They are numbers officially reported by the NKVD.

28 October 1941 NKVD report reproduced in Bugai, doc. 33, pp. 65-66 and Eisfeld and Herdt, doc. 102, pp. 111-112 see also Milova, doc. 8, pp. 47-51.

Total number of Russian-Germans resettled by 15 October 1941

749,613

Number from the Volga German ASSR

438,280

13 December 1941 NKVD report cited in document reproduced in Milova, doc. 8, pp. 47-51.

Total number of Russian-Germans resettled

803,138

Number from the Volga German ASSR

446,480

25 December 1941 NKVD report cited in document reproduced in Milova, doc. 9, pp. 63-69.

Total number of Russian-Germans resettled

856,168

Count of resettled Russian-Germans as of 25 December 1941 from Collected Materials of the KGB of the USSR for the May 1990 Commission of the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR for the planned press conference on the History and Current Situation of the Germans in the Soviet Union. Reproduced in Eisfeld and Herdt, doc. 131, pp. 132-133.

Total number of Russian-Germans resettled by 25 December 1941

894,626

Number from the Volga German ASSR

376,717

Undated report by NKVD on the number of resettled Russian-Germans from September 1941 to 1 January 1942. Reproduced in Bugai doc. 44, p. 75 and Eisfeld and Herdt, doc. 137, pp. 138-139.

Total number of Russian-Germans resettled by 1 January 1942

799,459

Number from the Volga German ASSR

371,164

Undated NKVD document on the number of resettled Russian-Germans 1941-1945, Bugai, doc. 45, pp. 75-76 and Eisfeld and Herdt, doc. 260, p. 282.

Total resettled as a result of state deportation orders

846,340

Repatriated

203,796

Sources

N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin – Lavrentiiu Berii. “ Ikh nado deportirovat’,” Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow, Druzhba narodov, 1992).

Alfred Eisfeld and Victor Herdt, eds. Deportation, Sondersiedlung, Arbeitsarmee: Deutsche in der Sowjetunion 1941 bis 1956 (Koln: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1996).

A.A. German and A.N. Kurochkin, Nemtsy SSSR v trudovoi armii (1941-1955) (Moscow: Gotika, 1998).

O.L. Milova, ed., Deportatsii narodov SSSR (1930-1950-e gody). Chast’ 2. Deportatsiia nemtsev (Sentiabr’ 1941-Fevral’ 1942 gg.) (Moscow: RAN, 1995).

2 comments:

Susan said...

Why do you think it is that these events are seldom mentioned in TV documentaries etc. and other war time atrocities are mentioned a lot?

J. Otto Pohl said...

Susan:

Your question deserves a well thought out response. So I am going to think about it for a while and craft a post dealing with the issues you raise. It may be a few days before it is up.