Against Their Will
The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR
During his reign, Joseph Stalin oversaw the forced resettlement of people by the millions – a maniacal passion that he used for social engineering. The Soviets were not the first to thrust resettlement on its population – a major characteristic of totalitarian systems – but in terms of sheer numbers, technologies used to deport people and the lawlessness which accompanied it, Stalin's process was the most notable.
Six million people of different social, ethnic, and professions were resettled before Stalin's death. Even today, the aftermath of such deportations largely predetermines events which take place in the northern Caucasus, Crimea, the Baltic republics, Moldavia, and western Ukraine. Polian's volume is the first attempt to comprehensively examine the history of forced and semi-voluntary population movements within or organized by the Soviet Union. Contents range from the early 1920s to the rehabilitation of repressed nationalities in the 1990s, dealing with internal (kulaks, ethnic and political deportations) and international forced migrations (German internees and occupied territories). An abundance of facts, figures, tables, maps, and an exhaustively-detailed annex will serve as important sources for further researches.
"The sheer magnitude, inhumane nature, and geographical layout of the deportations documented in Polian's book are mind-boggling. The following historical parallel from a 1923 article by Osip Mandel'shtam, quoted in the book, comes in handy: "Egyptian builders treat the human mass as the material that has to be sufficient and supplied in any quantity" (90). Polian's book is a must for all those interested in the nature and quintessential inner workings of totalitarian political regimes."—Slavic Review
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