Ambiguous Homecoming: Retribution, Exploitation and Social Tensions During Repatriation to the USSR, 1944–1946
In 1944-46, five million Soviet citizens returned from displacement to the USSR. They had been forced labourers, refugees from conflict, and prisoners of war in occupied Europe. As they returned, all faced official scrutiny and some were arrested, but the majority of Soviet repatriates went home and not to the Gulag. Repatriation was not an episode of mass repression perpetrated by an all-powerful state. Instead, recently declassified archival collections demonstrate that Soviet administrators and police could hardly keep track of returnees. In the absence of strong state control, the crucible of return was in the relationships between repatriates and soldiers, local bosses, and neighbours. The chaos at the end of the war combined with the popular assertion that repatriates were guilty of collaboration with German occupiers made them attractive targets for abuse. Aspects of this story depended on specifically Stalinist practices, yet repatriation was not uniquely Stalinist insofar as it generated problems found in other incidents of mass displacement, particularly in the aftermath of the Second World War. Rather than exclusively a creation of the Soviet system, the often harrowing experience of return was largely a by-product of war.
The migratory situation in Russia in the 1990-2000th years is considered. Separate types of migration are analysed: repatriation, labor migration, internal migration
This is a review of two recent books on Leon Trotsky, one of the most prominent Russian revolutionary leaders and an ardent critic of Stalin. The review analyses the main arguments of both books as well as their contribution to the study of Trotsky's personality and political legacy.
This paper analyzes German and Russian ideas of nationhood as conceived by the state through the states’ migration and repatriation policies. Immigration policies at large and repatriation policies in particular are viewed in this paper as symptomatic means of understanding inclusion and exclusion in a nation-state, and evolution of such policies are taken as indicators of changes in idioms of the national self. The main argument of the paper is that German national identity is slowly moving away from an ethno-centric conceptualization of nationhood, while Russia has failed to formulate a conception of the Russian nation-state. The findings of this study merit further reflection the effectiveness of repatriation policies, on the relationship between the state and society, on the transnational essence of migration pathways, and on the “post-Soviet condition” which has set the stage for all of the aforementioned processes and transformations.
This book is a collection of works dedicated to the study of Russian-Germans in Germany and in comparative perspective. The chapter by Olga Zeveleva handles the topic of German repatriation programs as compared to programs initiated by Russia and Kazakhstan. The paper explores the political aspects of the history of repatriation programs and analyzes their outcomes.
A major contribution to the growing literature on Soviet nationality policy. David Brandenberger frames his study with a large and important question: the generation of a Russian/Soviet national identity during the Stalinist years. He tells the important story of the production of a more nationalist world view and how it was received, moving from elites to the masses. Focusing on history and historians, Brandenberger links historiography with nation-making and state building. This work should be widely read, not least because it clearly and eloquently illuminates the painful process of forging national identity. (Ronald Grigor Suny, University of Chicago) Brandenberger alters our understanding of how Soviet culture was created and how it held Soviet society together. Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is the foundation of documents on which it rests. Clearly the result of years of gathering, these documents show us Stalinism as received, as a set of social practices and discourses in constant revision and misuse. National Bolshevism illuminates broader debates about the functioning of Soviet society, the origins of national consciousness, and the formation of the subject with the modern state, and will be a widely read contribution to the field. (James von Geldern, Macalester College)