THE PUNISHED PEOPLES by Aleksandr Nekrich


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Toward the close of World War II Stalin exiled many non-Russian national minorities in toto from their Soviet homelands for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupiers. Soviet ÉmigrÉ historian Aleksandr Nekrich documents the fate of the hapless Caspian, Caucasian, and Crimean peoples (Balkars, Chechens, Ingush, Kalmyks, Karachia, and Tatars) who were transported to Central Asia and Siberia, where they suffered greatly from negligence and intentional brutality. Nekrich tells, for instance, of a Soviet officer who unhesitatingly executed one of his own soldiers for disobeying orders to shoot a Chechen family which would not leave its village. He concludes that the deportations resulted from Soviet concern with secure frontiers and a legacy of suspicion towards border peoples annexed by force under the czars. Since Stalin's death the Caspian and Caucasian peoples have been allowed to return to their homelands and the Crimean Tatars, though not allowed to return, have been exonerated. Return and exoneration have created new problems, most notably conflict with Russian settlers and demonstrations by those still not permitted to return. Despite his recent emigration, Nekrich retains a Soviet point of view, harboring an obvious animosity towards the Nazis and implicitly accepting the continued existence of a multinational Soviet state. Nekrich's monograph, more detailed and more firmly grounded than Robert Conquest's The Nation Killers (1970), provides a rare chance for a broad Western audience to read a reputable Soviet historian.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1978
Publisher: Norton