Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Russian-German Mortality Calculations

In 1949 the NKVD did a recount of special settlers. It listed the numbers initially deported and then the number present in 1949. In total the Soviet government claimed there were 3,332,589 people under special settlement restrictions from 1941-1948. In 1949 there were 2,275,900 people still living under special settlement restrictions. The difference was accounted for mainly by the high death rates among deportees from the North Caucasus (144,704) and Crimea (44,125) and the release of 810,614 former kulaks during this time. It lists the number of Russian Germans initially deported as 1,024,072 and the number recounted as 1,069,041. For many of the contingents listed there is also the number of recorded deaths between the initial deportation and 1 July 1948. For the Germans instead there is a note saying that an additional 210,600 repatriated Germans had been added to the special settler rolls in 1945. This means that the actual number of Russian-Germans classified as special settlers from 1941-1945 in the USSR totaled 1,235,322 not the 1,024,072 listed as initially deported. The difference between this total and the number of Russian-Germans counted as special settlers in 1949 is 166,281 people or 13.5% of those deported and repatriated (doc. 40, p. 108). Most of these missing undoubtedly died, although some were released for various reasons. An NKVD report from October 1948 lists the number of recorded Russian-German releases at 37,784 and deaths at 45,275 although this latter figure is grossly incomplete. It also lists 25,792 births which would further increase the gap between the number of Russian-Germans condemned to special settlement restrictions and those alive in 1949 (doc. 35, p. 101). Incorporating these figures into the calculation leaves a total of missing and dead for the Russian Germans of 154,289 people or 12.5%. This figure is low because it does not take into account the two contingents formed from ethnic Germans already living in Siberia and Kazakhstan before 1941. The addition of Russian Germans classified as "local" and "mobilized", which for some reason are not mentioned in the document tabulating the 1949 recount,  substantially increases the number placed under special settlement restrictions. In 1953 "local" Germans numbered 111,234  and "mobilized" Germans 48,582 special settlers (doc. 52, pp. 118-119).  Thus the number of missing and dead Russian Germans between 1941 and 1949 is over 300,000 or about a quarter of the population. A figure that fits in well with the estimates of excess deaths within the group during this time at between 150,000-250,000 people.

Source: N.F. Bugai and A.N. Kotsonis, (eds)., "Obiazat' NKVD SSSR...Vyselit' grekov" (Moscow: INSAN, 1999).


Peter T said...

War deaths accounted for 26 million out of 196 million Soviet citizens between 1941 and 1945 (around 14%). Were the Soviet Germans and others exempt from conscription or only in areas not occupied by German forces? If not, their death rates are comparable to that of the general Soviet population.

J. Otto Pohl said...

Virtually the entire able bodied adult population of Russian-Germans including women were conscripted for forced labor during the War. The ages were men (15-55) and women (14-45) over 316,000 people. Over half of these men and women 187,000 served in GULag camps. Deaths caused by poor material conditions in the labor army are estimated by A. German at 65,000, V. Krieger at 75,000, and A. Eisfeld at 100,000. Most of the survivors were not released until 1947-1948 and some were not released until 1958.

The overall excess death rate for the Russian-Germans was similar to that of other deported peoples such as the Crimean Tatars and Kalmyks. D. Ediev puts the excess deaths of Russian-Germans at 225,000 or 19% of the population considerably higher than the Soviet population as a whole. Other estimates place it even higher at close to 300,000 or near 25%. These men and women were all wards of the NKVD and they died because the Soviet government refused to feed, house, or clothe them. They had food and houses before the Soviet government confiscated them in 1941. The deaths are not at all comparable to the general deaths during the war because they were not caused by the war. They were instead caused by the deliberate Soviet policy of depriving them of all of their property and deporting them to Siberia and Kazakhstan followed by using them as slaves in the Urals.

In the future you must put your full name and employer if you want me to publish your comment. I am not making any more exceptions to this rule. It exists for a reason.

T.P.Felis said...

Strictly speaking, there is one more category that was exempt from "special settlement", that is those arrested either in the Labor Army or in exile. I suppose, it was also higher than the average, due both to the increased vigilance towards Germans, and their own reaction to the exile and Labor Army conditions.
Dmitry @ RGI