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more to dekulakization. These individuals thus traversed the following linguis-
tic terrain: kulak > special/labor settler > collective/state farmer > peasant >
The national operations, formally carried out against “espionage and sabo-
tage contingents” of diaspora nationalities, were predicated on the assumption
that just about anyone with cross-border ethnic ties was a spy (or at least
had the potential for being so) and thus actually resulted in ethnic cleansing.77
Even party members in good standing, Red Army veterans, and those whose
ancestors had resided for centuries in the Russian empire were subjected to
arrest, deportation, or execution. Nationality, it would seem, was absolutized,
trumping any other identity.
The conceptual obverse of “enemy nations” was not so much the Russian
nation, but rather the “friendship of the peoples,” a formulation that Stalin

See David 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; idem.,
“To Count and Cleanse: Passportization and the Reconstruction of the Soviet Population during
the 1930s,” unpublished paper presented at AAASS Annual Convention, 2001; Paul Hagenloh,
“˜Socially Harmful Elements™ and the Great Terror,” in Stalinism, New Directions, ed. Sheila
Fitzpatrick (London: Routlege, 2000), 286“308. See also the contribution by Nicholas Werth
and Christian Gerlach in this volume.
David Shearer, “Policing the Soviet Frontier: Social Disorder and Repression in Western Siberia

during the 1930s,” unpublished paper presented at AAASS Annual Convention, 1997. Shearer,
citing an archival source from the Western Siberian krai, gives the ¬gure of 14,886 kulaks
arrested and sentenced by special NKVD courts by October 1937 (41).
Terry Martin, “The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing,” Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998):

847“51. Martin, Af¬rmative Action Empire, 328“41.
Frameworks for Social Engineering 253

introduced in December 1935 and that remained the cornerstone of “Soviet
patriotism” and “the Soviet people” (sovetskii narod).78 If there was any
Soviet parallel to the Nazis™ vision of the Volksgemeinschaft, this was it: the
Soviet people composed of the harmonious “socialist nations,” each of which
was endowed with/assigned its own territory, national language, and culture.
Each represented itself to the others by performances of volkisch dance troupes,
choirs, and musical ensembles and canonized works of “people™s poets” pub-
lished in translation. National stereotypes ¬‚ourished within this treacly dis-
course: Georgians were invariably “sunny,” Ukrainians were “broad spirited”
and so forth. This Stalinist schema did a lot of ideological work. It helped to
build nations and foster the creation of national elites. It was, as Terry Martin
has quipped, “the highest form of imperialism.”79
The imperial nature of the USSR had to do with the political subordina-
tion of constituent nations to Moscow, or, more precisely, the supranational
All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). Yet, from the late 1930s onward,
Russians occupied the explicit role as “¬rst among equals,” the “most soviet
and most revolutionary” nation, according to Stalin.80 State authorities rou-
tinely extolled Russian culture as “the most progressive,” the study of the Rus-
sian language was made mandatory in all non-Russian schools by a Central
Committee resolution of March 1938, and the latinized alphabets of Central
Asian languages were re-cyrillicized. The etatism extolled by Stalin became
increasingly Russocentric. 81

Despite essentializing tendencies, national identity was never of¬cially
equated with bioracial characteristics. From the 1920s onward, Soviet citizens
were required to indicate their nationality on personnel forms (including from
1932 their internal passports) but were permitted to choose their own nation-
ality. In April 1938, the NKVD decreed that henceforth for the purposes of
passport registration, nationality would be determined on the basis of ascribed
hereditary status, that is, the nationality of the parents. The decree almost cer-
tainly was prompted by concern that members of enemy nations would try to
mask their “true” nationality by identifying themselves otherwise.82 Still, the
decree did not apply in the case of the 1939 census, which, like earlier censuses,
relied on self-de¬nition.83
As if to con¬rm Trotsky™s “law of combined and uneven development,”
the sovietization of territories annexed in 1939“40 involved virtually all the

Martin, Af¬rmative Action Empire, 451“60.

Terry Martin, “Af¬rmative Action Empire: The Soviet Union as the Highest Form of Imperial-

ism,” in Suny and Martin, State of Nations, 67“90.
Martin, Af¬rmative Action Empire, 453.

David Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Mod-

ern Russian National Identity, 1931“1956 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002),
esp. 43“112.
Martin, Af¬rmative Action Empire, 451.

Francine Hirsch, “The Soviet Union as a Work-in-Progress: Ethnographers and the Category

Nationality in the 1926, 1937, and 1939 Censuses,” Slavic Review 56, no. 2 (1997), 274; idem,
“Race without the Practice of Racial Politics,” Slavic Review 61, no. 1 (2002): 39“41.
Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

stages through which the rest of the Soviet Union had passed during the 1930s.
In what became the western parts of Ukraine and Belorussia, ethnic Poles
were subjected to deportations and executions on both class (landlord, kulak)
and ethnic (enemy nation) grounds. Ukrainians and Belorussians now began
to be referred to as “great,” a “curious episode of Stalinist semantics” that
placed these peoples on a par with Russians, whose “great” status had been
proclaimed in 1937.84 In the Baltic republics, ethnic Germans were “repatri-
ated” westward, while “fascists” and other “enemies of the people,” who were
overwhelmingly of Baltic ethnicity, were imprisoned, executed, or sent in the
opposite direction.85
All these measures were driven by state security concerns, and yet the height-
ening of security consciousness (if such a thing were possible!) only seemed to
undermine any sense of security. From Kustanai oblast™ in Kazakhstan, it was
reported in August 1940 that “kulaks and bourgeoisie exiled from the former
Poland” were committing “possible acts of sabotage” and having a “demor-
alizing in¬‚uence” on kolkhoz labor discipline. “Obviously fascist books (in
Finnish), which should have been removed long ago” were discovered in Jan-
uary 1941 in the principal™s of¬ce of a vocational school in Vyborg, while from
Przemysl in western Ukraine came a denunciation of the head of the NKVD™s
City Department because he allegedly had issued a “permanent pass” to a mer-
chant named Unger, “a man who is hostile to Soviet rule, had contact with the
Polish police,” and had intervened on behalf of Plishke, “a German intelligence
agent” who had been under arrest.86
If the focal point of Soviet exclusionary practices in the late 1930s shifted
from class enemies to “enemies of the people” and “enemy nations,” Nazi
exclusionary practices remained ¬rmly grounded in race but expanded along
many axes. Anti-Semitic persecution intensi¬ed with the systematic and total
(as opposed to the previous informal, decentralized) con¬scation of Jewish
property in 1938, resulting in the “economic death” of German Jewry.87 The
hooliganistic violence, murder, arson of synagogues, and vandalism of Jewish

Serhy Yekelchyk, “Stalinist Patriotism as Imperial Discourse: Reconciling the Ukrainian and

Russian ˜Heroic Pasts,™ 1939“1945,” unpublished paper presented at Midwest Russian His-
tory Workshop (University of Chicago, 2000), 14. See also idem, Stalin™s Empire of Mem-
ory: Russian-Ukrainian Relations in the Soviet Historical Imagination (Toronto: University
of Toronto Press, 2004), 24“32, 351“2. On repression of Poles, see Jan T. Gross, Revolu-
tion from Abroad: The Soviet Conquest of Poland™s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988); and S. V. Mironenko and N. Vert [Werth],
eds., Istoriia stalinskogo GULaga: konets 1920-kh“pervaia polovina 1950-kh godov. Vol. 1,
Massovye repressii v SSSR (Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2004), 389“407.
John Hiden and Patrick Salmon, The Baltic Nations and Europe: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

in the Twentieth Century, rev. ed. (London: Longman, 1994), 114“15.
Quoted in Siegelbaum and Sokolov, Stalinism as a Way of Life, 264“5, 279“81.

Avraham Barkai, From Boycott to Annihilation: The Economic Struggle of German Jews, 1933“

1943 (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1989); Frank Bajohr, “Aryanisation”
in Hamburg: The Economic Exclusion of Jews and the Con¬scation of Their Property in Nazi
Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002).
Frameworks for Social Engineering 255

businesses of the November pogrom had no positive resonance among most of
the German people, who were indifferent to the fate of the Jews but not to a pub-
lic ¬‚outing of deeply ingrained values concerning the preservation of order, pro-
priety, and property.88 But the widespread sharing out of “aryanized” Jewish
property meant that more Germans were bene¬ciaries of this state-sanctioned
pillaging in 1938 than of the purge of Jews from the professions, universities,
and civil service in 1933. This expanded complicity more than balanced the
unease caused by the November pogrom.89
Compulsory sterilization, aimed at eliminating hereditary health defects
from the German gene pool by preventing reproduction by those deemed hered-
itarily ill, was fatefully expanded in 1937. The offspring of German mothers
and African fathers, who were among the French army troops from Morocco,
Algeria, Tunisia, and Madagascar that took part in the postwar occupation
in Germany, were pejoratively referred to as the “Rhineland bastards,” and
Goring ordered a census of these children as soon as the Nazis came to power.
As the oldest of these African-German children approached maturity, the Nazi
regime took action. In the summer of 1937, hundreds of these children were
summoned before commissions of doctors and anthropologists, who certi¬ed
that they were the carriers of “alien racial characteristics.” Thereupon the
mother (and when present the stepfather) was “persuaded” to agree to a “vol-
untary” sterilization that was carried out secretly without the case™s being
submitted to the “heredity health courts.”90 This small and stigmatized group
of African-Germans could be dealt with summarily in ways that the far more
numerous and socially connected Jewish Mischlinge could not.
Between political opponents to the regime, who could be recovered for
the racial community through altering behavior by punishment, coercion, and
reeducation, on the one hand, and the racially alien and biologically defec-
tive who were fated for elimination through expulsion or sterilization, on the
other, was a murky borderland inhabited by people identi¬ed and stigmatized
as “asocials” or “community aliens” (Gemeinschaftsfremde). A November
1933 decree (“against dangerous habitual criminals”) empowered the police

For reactions to the pogrom, see Ian Kershaw, “The Persecution of the Jews and German

Popular Opinion in the Third Reich,” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, 26 (1981): 275“81;
David Bankier, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 85“8; Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews, vol. 1,
On the broader acceptance of economic measures against the Jews, see Stover, Volksgemein-

schaft im Dritten Reich, 246“55, 420“1. For the broad spectrum of bene¬ciaries within German
society, see Bajohr, “Aryanisation” in Hamburg, 222“72, 277“82. For the most recent study of
the systemic relationship between Nazi policies of racial persecution, conquest, and genocide,
on the one hand, and materialistic bene¬t to Germans, on the other, see: Gotz Aly, Hitler™s Ben-
e¬ciaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State (New York: Metropolitan Books,
Reiner Pommerin, “Sterilisierung der Rheinlandbastarde”: Das Schicksal einer farbigen

deustchen Minderheit 1918“1927 (Dusseldorf: Droste, 1979).
Christopher R. Browning and Lewis H. Siegelbaum

to take into unlimited “preventive detention” anyone with two or more crim-
inal convictions. A December 1937 decree extended the powers of preven-
tive detention to include “asocials,” namely, those “who demonstrate through
behavior towards the community, which may not in itself be criminal, that
they will not adapt themselves to the community.” Speci¬cally included were
beggars, tramps, whores, and alcoholics; those with contagious, especially sex-
ually transmitted diseases who evaded public health measures; and the “work-
shy” or chronically unemployed. These people were seen not only as aesthetic
blemishes on the Nazi image of the racial community, but also as stubborn
nonconformists who constituted a dissident threat to the Nazis™ capacity to
impose both uniform and productive behavior.91 The tendency was always
to subsume “asocial” behavior, when judged irremediable, within the biolog-
ically defective. Also exiled from the Volksgemeinschaft but persecuted on
different legal grounds were homosexuals. They were perceived as offensive
to public morality, symbolic of the sexual license of Weimar, subversive of
Nazi notions of manly camaraderie, and treasonously withholding their pro-
creative powers from the community.92 Thus those deemed habitual criminals
or incorrigible homosexuals (“seducers”) were subjected not only to inde¬nite
incarceration but also to sterilization, castration, or execution.93 The strength
of this tendency to remove what was deemed unaesthetic, deviant, and irre-
mediable through ever-escalating measures can be seen in the November1944
recommendation of the Bamberg state prosecutor that particularly ugly asocial
prisoners should also be eliminated.94
Nowhere can the tendency of the Nazi regime to merge its categories of
habitual criminal, feebleminded, asocial, and racial alien be seen more clearly
than in its treatment of Sinti and Roma, pejoratively referred to as Zigeuner.95

Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany 1933“1945 (New

York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 167“97; Wolfgang Ayass, “˜Ein Gebot der nationalen
¨ ¨
Arbeitsdisziplin™: Die Aktion ˜Arbeitsscheu Reich™ 1938,” Feinderklarung und Pravention:
Kriminalbiologie, Zigeunerforschung und Asozialpolitik (Berlin: Rotbuch Verlag, 1988);
Beitrage zur nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik, VI, 43“74; Klaus Scherer,
“Asozial” im Dritten Reich: Die vergessenen Verfolgten (Munich: VOTUM Verlag, 1990).
Geoffrey Giles, “The Institutionalization of Homosexual Panic in the Third Reich,” in Social

Outsiders in Nazi Germany, eds. Robert Gellately and Nathan Stoltzfuss (Princeton, NJ: Prince-
ton University Press, 2001), 233“55; and “Mannerbund mit Homo“Panik: Die Angst der Nazis
vor der Rolle der Erotik,” Nationalsozialistischer Terror gegen Homosexuelle: Verdrangt und
ungesunht, eds. Burkhard Jellonnek and Rudiger Lautmann (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schonigh,
¨ ¨
2002), 105“18.
Nickolaus Wachsmann, “From Inde¬nite Con¬nement to Extermination: ˜Habitual Criminals™


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