A Soviet Ethnic Cleansing? The Polish-Soviet Population Exchange and the Making of Modern Ukraine, 1944–1947
The article examines the population exchange between Poland and the Soviet Union in 1944–1947, its role in the shaping of modern Ukraine, and its place in the evolution of the Soviet nationality policy. It investigates the factors involved in the decision-making of individuals and state officials and then assesses how people on the ground made sense of the Soviet population politics. While the earlier scholarship saw the transfer as punitive national deportation, the article argues that it was neither punitive nor purely national nor was it a deportation. The article shows that the party-state was ambivalent about the Polish minority and was not committed to total national homogenization of Western Ukraine. Instead, the people themselves were often eager to leave the USSR because of the poor living conditions, fear of Sovietization, and ethnic conflict. Paradoxically, one of the largest Soviet nation-building projects was not the product of coherent nationality policy.