Von Casablanca nach Karlshorst
VOLUME ACCOMPANYING THE SPECIAL EXHIBITION ON THE OCCASION OF THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR IN EUROPE
The chapter is devoted to the liberation of Soviet territories and Europe from Nazi occupation in 1943-1945.
The article examines the fate of Polish Jews who found themselves under the Soviet rule after the USSR incorporated Eastern Poland in 1939. The articles investigates, on the one hand, Soviet policies towards new citizens, methods of their Sovietizations, and, on the other hand, the fight against "foreign elements," including deportations. The starting point for the analysis are interviews with three Polish Jews published in this issue of Ab Imperio, situated in the historical context and juxtaposed against witness reports of other Polish Jews who went through the Holocaust and WWII. The fate of Polish Jews who returned to Poland after the end of the WWII is also analyzed.
The volume includes scholarly articles and primary documents on the war on the Eastern Front of World War II. Particular attention is paid to everyday life under the Nazi occupation and experiences of ordinary people under different regimes.
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.