. 46
( 115 .)


55; Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire, 291“308.
Baberowski, Der Feind, 396“410; 713“18; Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire, 319“28.

RGASPI, f. 17, op. 17, d. 190, ll. 74“5.
The Quest for Order and the Pursuit of Terror 211

Black Sea, “with a good telescope and circling above . . . in an airplane, one can
see Constantinople.” As such, even in the Crimea “the border issue” had “to
be addressed.”113
Communist leaders isolated the Soviet Union. Nobody was to leave or enter
the Soviet Union without permission. Borders were secured and closed; peasants
and nomads were prohibited from crossing under the threat of military force. In
the Caucasus, the regime registered all Iranian and Turkish citizens and expelled
them from the Soviet Union. The regime simultaneously began to deport ethnic
minorities from border areas. On 20 February 1930, the Politburo placed the
border regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia under military control and
ordered the removal of all “kulak families not of local nationality” from the
region.114 In March 1930, the Politburo ordered the GPU to arrest and deport
“bandits” and “families of individuals condemned for banditry, espionage,
active counterrevolution and professional smuggling” in the western border
regions of the Soviet Union; 3,000 to 3,500 families in the border areas of White
Russia and 10,000 to 15,000 families from those in the Ukraine were to be
removed. Already in 1927, the central government encouraged the resettlement
of Kurds from the Armenian enclave of Nakhichevan in northern Azerbaijan
in order fully to separate Armenian Christians from Muslims.115 In 1928, as
violent ethnic con¬‚icts developed among Chinese, Korean, and Russian settlers
in the Far East, local Bolsheviks advocated similar solutions. All Koreans living
in the strategically important region of Vladivostok were to be expelled. While
this program was not implemented until ten years later, it was in 1928 that
the party leadership decided that border territories had to be “cleansed” of all
potentially unreliable ethnic groups.116
This paranoia was growing during the thirties and was in¬‚uenced by devel-
opments in other countries, as well. The National Socialist rise to power in
Germany; the establishment of authoritarian, Fascist regimes in East Central
Europe and on the southern ¬‚ank of the Soviet Union; and the Spanish Civil
War proved to Soviet leaders that there were both internal and external ene-
mies. Spy mania, fear of foreigners, and xenophobia all developed out of the
conviction that foreign powers were working to destroy the Soviet Union.
Countermeasures began with the deportation of the Kuban Cossacks in
1933. On 14 December 1932, Stalin ordered the GPU to deport “all inhab-
itants” of the Cossack stanitsa of Poltava “into the northern regions of the
USSR” and to resettle their homeland with “faithful Red Army collective farm-
ers.” Two weeks later, the head of the secret political division of the GPU,

Tragediia sovetskoi derevni, vol. 2, 215.

RGASPI, f. 17, op. 162 (osobaia papka), d. 8, l. 99; Baberowski, Der Feind, 715“19.

Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveishei istorii Azerbaidzhanskoi Respubliki (GANI), f. 27, op. 1, d.

190, ll. 3“6, 42, 82, 99, 119; Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire, 322.
Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire, 322“4. Cf. also Michael Gelb, “An Early Soviet

Ethnic Deportation: The Far-Eastern Koreans,” Russian Review 54 (1995): 389“411; A. Zakir,
“Zemel™naia politika v kolkhoznom dvizhenii sredi koreitsev,” Revoliutsiia i natsional™nosti
2“3 (1931): 76“81.
Jorg Baberowski and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel

Georgii Molchanov, telegraphed Moscow that eighty-six Cossack families had
been loaded onto railway cars and transported north. Arrests and deportations
of Cossacks followed in the other cities and villages of the Kuban region shortly
thereafter “ in the end, more than 60,000 people were deported.117 It is true
that the Cossacks were not an ethnic minority, but rather an estate whose mem-
bers had opposed collectivization and, thus, upon whom the Bolsheviks sought
revenge. As Kaganovich stated, “Every one must answer for his neighbor.”118
Nonetheless, the deportation of the Kuban Cossacks acted as a model for later
ethnic cleansings.
After the murder of the Leningrad Party Chief, Sergei Kirov, in December
1934, the regime sought revenge on its imagined, collective enemies. In the city
and areas surrounding Leningrad, more than 22,000 Germans, Latvians, Esto-
nians, and Finns were registered as enemies and deported into Central Asia.
In the Ukrainian regions of Vinnitsa and Kiev, the GPU arrested more than
45,000 people in early 1935 as “social aliens” and “unreliable elements.” Of
those arrested, 57 percent were Poles and Germans. In January 1936, depor-
tations from the Ukraine continued. During the course of this operation, more
than half of all remaining Germans and Poles were expelled from their homes.
The ¬nal report of the NKVD from October 1936 indicated that 69,000 people
were deported from the Ukraine and resettled in Kazakhstan.119
Several months later, in July 1936, the regional committee for the Far East
asked the Central Government for permission to liberate the border territo-
ries from Japanese spies and saboteurs. In August 1937, Stalin and Molotov
submitted a plan that called for the deportation of the entire Korean popu-
lation from the Far East. When this operation concluded in October 1937,
more than 172,000 Koreans had fallen victim to it. At the peak of the Great
Terror, the regime implemented similar policies in all border regions of the
Soviet Union. Wherever it envisioned enemies, the Soviet government simply
deported all members of the allegedly unreliable ethnic group, as exempli¬ed
by the deportation of all Kurds living in the border regions of Azerbaijan and
The Bolshevik government justi¬ed these deportations as acts of national
self-defense. That is why potentially treasonous collectives were only deported
from border regions. Germans, Finns, Estonians, Letts, Kurds, and Poles stood

Tragediia sovetskoi derevni, vol. 3, 577, 584, 611.

Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire, 326“7.

Tragediia sovetskoi derevni, vol. 4, 550“1; Viktor N. Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR 1930“

1960 (Moscow: Nauka, 2003), 78“9.
Martin, The Af¬rmative Action Empire, 328“35; Nikolai F. Bugai, “Vyselenie sovetskikh kor-

eitsev s Dal™nego vostoka,” Voprosy istorii 5 (1994): 141“8; Zemskov, Spetsposelentsy v SSSR,
80“2; Gelb, “An Early Soviet Ethnic Deportation,” 389“411; Michael Gelb, “Ethnicity during
the Ezhovshchina: A Historiography,” in Morison, 192“213; Jorg Baberowski, “Stalinismus
an der Peripherie: Das Beispiel Azerbaidzhan 1920“1941,” in Stalinismus vor dem Zweiten
Weltkrieg: Neue Wege der Forschung, eds. Manfred Hildermeier and Elisabeth Muller-Luckner
(Munich: Oldenbourg, 1998), 307“35.
The Quest for Order and the Pursuit of Terror 213

under suspicion, but so long as they did not live in the border regions, they were
not ill treated. More than anything else, this differentiated the early Bolshevik
concept of ethnic cleansing from the racial paranoia of the National Social-
ists. This self-imposed limitation, however, disappeared in the mass terror of
the summer of 1937, when Stalin and his supporters abandoned all remaining
moral scruples. Enemies of the regime came to be de¬ned by objective char-
acteristics “ characteristics that were placed upon them by the Bolsheviks and
from which they could no longer escape. That is, in 1937 it was no longer
relevant whether an ethnic minority lived in a border region or in the very
center of the Soviet Union. Whoever was de¬ned as an enemy of the regime
became the object of violence.121
Why did this shift occur? The number of stigmatized and socially untouch-
able groups constantly increased under the Bolshevik order, as it transformed
peasants into beggars, thieves, and vagrants and declared as enemies all those
who did not ¬t into their model Socialist society. One could argue that the
more de¬ned and precise the Bolsheviks™ envisioned order became, the greater
the number of those that were forcibly excluded from it. The Bolshevik lead-
ership, in essence, created a world of enemies, and ultimately there was no
other solution to the threat that these imagined enemies posed than their total
physical annihilation.
As far as leading Stalinist of¬cials were concerned, mass terror against the
population was nothing more than a social prophylactic. It cleansed society
of spies, traitors, enemies of Soviet power, “parasites,” and “socially alien
elements” “ all cancerous elements that destroyed society from within. Mass
terror was a Soviet variant of the “¬nal solution.”122 It left its subjects with no
alternative. By 1937, nobody could any longer believe that providing “proof”
of one™s innocence would spare one™s life. Whoever was declared a member of
an enemy collective perished with that collective. This terror differentiated itself

Amir Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik

Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 138“49.
RGASPI, f. 82, op. 2, d. 884, ll. 14“15; RGASPI, f. 82, op. 2, d. 537, ll. 96“155; RGASPI,

f. 81, op. 3, d. 229, ll. 73“4; RGASPI, f. 81, op. 3, d. 228, ll. 50“2; L. P. Kosheleva, O. V.
Naumov, and L. A. Rogova, eds., “Materialy fevral™sko-martovskogo plenuma TsK VKP(b)
1937 goda,” Voprosy istorii, no. 5 (1993): 14“15; no. 6 (1993): 5“6, 21“5; David R. Shearer,
“Modernity and Backwardness on the Soviet Frontier: Western Siberia in the 1930s,” in
Provincial Landscapes: Local Dimensions of Soviet Power, 1917“1953, ed. Donald J. Raleigh
(Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001), 203“6; Paul Hagenloh, “˜Socially Harm-
ful Elements™ and the Great Terror,” in Fitzpatrick, Stalinism, 286“308; David R. Shearer,
“Crime and Social Disorder in Stalin™s Russia: A Reassessment of the Great Retreat and the
Origins of Mass Repression,” Cahiers du Monde russe 39 (1998): 119“48; John Scott, Behind
the Urals: An American Worker in Russia™s City of Steel, reprint from 1942 (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1989), 186“7; Sergei A. Papkov and V. A. Isupov, Stalinskii terror v
Sibiri 1928“1941 (Novosibirsk: Izdatel™stvo Sibirskogo otdeleniia Rossiiskoi Akademiia Nauk,
1997), 174; Lewis H. Siegelbaum and Andrei K. Sokolov, eds., Stalinism as a Way of Life: A
Narrative in Documents (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), 390; Rolf Binner and
Marc Junge, “Wie der Terror ˜groß™ wurde: Massenmord und Lagerhaft nach Befehl 00447,”
Cahiers du Monde russe 42 (2001): 557“614, here 559.
Jorg Baberowski and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel

from the National Socialist war of annihilation only in that it gave perpetrators
the option of deporting their victims to Central Asia, where they were then
abandoned to their fate.
Between August 1937 and November 1938, however, it was not only former
kulaks, criminals, and “anti-Soviet” elements that were murdered or placed
in camps. The Bolsheviks aimed at the destruction of enemy nations, at a
homogenization of the ethnic landscape of the Soviet Union “ a landscape in
which majorities would be liberated from minorities. On 20 July 1927, Stalin
authorized the People™s Commissar for Internal Affairs, Nikolai Ezhov, to
arrest and deport all Germans working in the Soviet armaments industry. It was
entirely irrelevant whether they were citizens of the German Reich or members
of the Communist Party of Germany. Any person who came under suspicion
could be arrested, deported, or shot. During the “German Operation,” more
than 40,000 individuals were sent to death by Committees of Three (troiki)
and by so-called album procedures, in which local lists of suspicious persons
were signed off by the central leadership in Moscow. In addition to Germans,
this operation netted individuals who had contact with German diplomats or
former soldiers who had been prisoners of war in Germany during the First
World War.123 The NKVD proceeded similarly during the “Polish Operation”
that began shortly thereafter, in August 1937. At ¬rst, Stalin and Ezhov directed
this terror at members of “the Polish military organization,” former Polish
prisoners of war who remained in the Soviet Union, Polish emigrants, members
of Polish political parties, and Polish populations in the Soviet Union™s western
border zones. Within weeks of its launch, however, Ezhov gave local NKVD
posts the order to extend the operation to include “all Poles.” “The Poles have
to be completely annihilated.” Whoever the NKVD identi¬ed as a Polish agent
lost his freedom or his life. The terror spared nobody. Almost all members of
the Polish section of the Communist International were murdered. In August
1938, the Polish Communist Party had to disband, as its members had all
been arrested or murdered. More than 35,000 Poles were deported out of the
Polish-Ukrainian border region.124
Wherever the presence of national minorities threatened the ethnic homo-
geneity of cities, districts, or territories, the Bolsheviks classi¬ed them as
sworn enemies. Latvians, Estonians, Koreans, Finns, Kurds, Greeks, Arme-
nians, Turks, and Bulgarians were, so long as they were living outside their
“homeland,” a danger to the Socialist order. Alexander Weissberg-Cybulski,
an Austrian scientist who had fallen into the hands of the Khar™kov NKVD,

Nikita Ochotin and Arseni Roginski, “Zur Geschichte der ˜Deutschen Operation™ des NKWD

1937“1938,” in Jahrbuch fur Historische Kommunismusforschung (2000/2001): 89“125.
GULAG, 104“6; Nikita V. Petrov and Arseni B. Roginskii, “˜Pol™skaia operatsiia™ NKVD 1937“

1938 gg.,” in Repressii protiv poliakov i pol™skikh grazhdan, ed. A. E. Gur™ianov (Moscow:
Zven™ia, 1997), 22“43; Vladimir Piatnitskii, Zagovor protiv Stalina (Moscow: Sovremennik,
1998), 72“3; Marc Jansen and Nikita Petrov, Stalin™s Loyal Executioner: People™s Commis-
sar Nikolai Ezhov, 1895“1940 (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2002), 98“9; Gelb,
“Ethnicity,” 192“4.
The Quest for Order and the Pursuit of Terror 215

recalled how members of national minorities were imprisoned during the fall
of 1937: “A rumor began to spread during September that Latvians were being
arrested; then came the Armenians. We did not understand what this meant.
We did not believe it possible that the GPU was using such insigni¬cant cri-
teria as ethnic identity [as a measure of a man™s political conviction] as the
justi¬cation for the repressions. We could not but recognize, however, that on
one day all new prisoners were Latvians; on another day, Armenians. In both
cases we are dealing with hundreds of people.” Shortly thereafter, the NKVD
arrested Greeks, Poles, Bulgarians, Germans, and Latvians living in the city of
Khar™kov. Their clubs were closed; their newspapers shut. Even those villages
formed by German colonists in the areas surrounding Khar™kov were emptied.
In the Leningrad region, peasants of Estonian and Finnish descent were reg-
istered and transported out of their villages. In Siberia, the NKVD combed
through Red Army divisions for Germans and Poles and arrested all soldiers
and of¬cers who belonged to these nationalities. Nowhere, however, did the
terror against ethnic minorities rage more brutally than in the industrial and
border regions of the Soviet Union. In the Donbass region, for example, almost
all Germans, Poles, and Latvians were shot during national operations.125
The “national operations” of 1937 and 1938 did not unfold according to
a set plan; there were not even rough numbers for NKVD organs to target.
So-called two-man committees (dvoiki), formed by the respective head of the
NKVD and the local public prosecutor, were to decide who belonged to the
national contingents and, thus, who was to be sentenced to death. In many
regions, the line between social and national characteristics blurred. Thousands
of Polish, German, and Latvian victims died because the governmental organs
had categorized them as “socially alien elements.” Nomads living on the Afghan
and Chinese border were registered, on Stalin™s order, as “bandits” and kulaks
and were subsequently deported or shot. In 1938, Stalin ordered the Party Chief
of Tajikistan to arrest 30,000 nomads in the border territory and to send them
to camps. In this manner, the regime meant to prevent nomads from allying
with Muslim warlords operating across the border in Afghanistan.126
In the process, perpetrators lost their self-control. They used the opportu-
nity to eliminate national minorities and to murder “foreigners.” At no time,
however, did the central government let control over national operations slip
from its hands, not least due to the album procedure. In the last instance, it
was Ezhov and the Chief Prosecutor of the Soviet Union, Andrei Vyshinskii,


. 46
( 115 .)