Deportation of Caucasian, Altaic, and Turkish Peoples
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseThe Chechen and Ingush Peoples
ww2dbaseIn the winter of 1939 to 1940, believing that the Soviet leadership was preoccupied by the war with Finland and being encouraged by the series of Soviet defeats against Finnish forces, several groups of Caucasian-Nakh ethnicity, namely Chechen and Ingush (Ghalghai) peoples, rose up against the Soviet occupation of their homelands in the Caucasus region. The rebellion was led by Khasan Israilov. Rebel forces captured several villages in Shatoysky District in the central region of Chechenâ€“Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic by Feb 1940, announcing the establishment of their headquarters at Galanchozh. Soviet NKVD troops soon arrived to put down the insurrection, but the rebels surprisingly defeated the Soviets, capturing modern weapons. The rebel movement continued to gain momentum through the following year, and the strength grew to 5,000 armed men and many more sympathizers by the time the Germans attacked the Soviet Union in mid-1941. Israilov played the part of a diplomat, gathering further support near (forming Special Party of Caucasus Brothers to coordinate actions with other ethnic groups, such as the Altaic-Turkic Balkars people and the Caucasian-Circasian Kabarday people, in the Caucasus region) and far (lobbied German support). In Feb 1942, Mairbek Sheripov of another rebel Chechen group, who had already taken Shatoy also in District, joined forces with Israilov. The success of the Chechen-Ingush rebellion also sparked similar uprisings in the neighboring Dagestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Beginning in Aug 1942, German operatives began arriving to assist the rebel forces in taking the oil refinery facilities near Grozny in preparation for the arrival of German troops advancing as part of the Fall Blau operation. Disagreements between the Germans and Israilov and the German inability to achieve a quick victory in the region created tension between the two sides, and ultimately the Chechens would fail to form an effective alliance with the Germans. After Fall Blau's failure in the winter of 1942 to 1943, the rebels lost their momentum. Repeated anti-partisan campaigns wore down the insurgents, and ultimately the rebellion would be put down in 1944. Khasan Israilov was betrayed by his own men in Dec 1944 and was killed. Israilov's successor Sheikh Qureish Belhorev continued the fight until 1947 when he was captured in the remote regions of Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
ww2dbaseThe Karachay and Kalmyk Peoples
ww2dbaseThe Karachays were an Altaic-Turkic people who resided in a small region north of western Georgia. In 1942, the Germans permitted them to establish a national committee for self-governance, including their own police force. A brigade was also formed for Karachay volunteers to fight for the German military. The collaborationist committee was struck down by the Soviets between late 1943 and early 1944.
ww2dbaseThe Kalmyks were an Altaic-Mongol people who resided further north in the Caucasus region. During the German occupation period, a small number of volunteers fought for the Germans under the name Kalmykian Voluntary Cavalry Corps, but in general the Kalmyk people were loyal to the Soviet Union, having sent more men to the Soviet Army, 8,000 of whom would be awarded various Soviet military decorations, including 21 Heroes of the Soviet Union. The small number of collaborationists would mark the entire ethnicity as a target in the eyes of the Soviet leadership.
ww2dbaseAs punishment, on Joseph Stalin's orders, the Chechenâ€“Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, Karachay Autonomous Oblast, and Kalmyk Autonomous Republic were disbanded. In Operation Lentil (Russian: Chechevitsa), NKVD troops forcibly deported about 400,000 Chechen, 90,000 Ingush (Ghalghai), 104,146 Kalmyk, 37,713 Balkar, and 71,869 Karachay people to Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, and the Siberia region of Russia (Altai Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Omsk Oblast, and Novosibirsk Oblast). Russian sources noted that 144,704 of this group died in direct relation to the anti-partisan activities and the deportation, but many argue that the fatality numbers might be greater.
ww2dbaseIn additional to the elimination of the persons, the culture of the various groups also came under attack. The mention of each ethnic group was eliminated in encyclopedias, renamed villages and towns, while NKVD troops destroyed their places of worship and burned books and artifacts.
ww2dbaseThe Meskhetian People
ww2dbaseJoseph Stalin ordered the deportation of Meskhetians, ethnically Turkish, in Nov 1944. Over 115,000 Meskhetians were sent to Central Asia aboard rail cars; somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 of them would perish. No official reason was given for the deportation of the Meskhetians at the time, but later explanations noted that Stalin had wished to rid the Soviet-Turkish border of Turkish people in preparation of a possible war with Turkey.
ww2dbaseOn 14 Nov 1989, the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union declared that the deportation of the various minorities during Joseph Stalin's reign a crime. On 26 Apr 1991, the Russian Federation declared the repressions an act of genocide.
Last Major Update: Jun 2013
Deportation of Caucasian, Altaic, and Turkish Peoples Interactive Map
Deportation of Caucasian, Altaic, and Turkish Peoples Timeline
|28 Jan 1942
|Chechen rebel leader Khasan Israilov formed the anti-Soviet organization Special Party of Caucasus Brothers.
|25 Aug 1942
|Nine German-trained saboteurs arrived in Chechya to aid anti-Soviet rebel forces.
|13 Oct 1943
|120,000 Soviet troops moved into the Chechenâ€“Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in southern Russia ostensibly to repair roads and bridges but in actuality in preparation to control the local Chechen and Ingush (Ghalghai) population.
|6 Dec 1943
|The last of the German operatives working with Chechen rebels was captured by Soviet troops.
|28 Dec 1943
|In the Caucasus region of Russia, the Kalmyk Autonomous Republic was abolished. NKVD troops began rounding up Kalmyk people.
|31 Jan 1944
|The Soviet GKO issued two secret orders to deport ethnic Chechen and Ingush peoples to Kazakhstan and Kirghizia.
|26 Feb 1944
|Lavrentiy Beria authorized Operation Lentil, which aimed to deport the whole of Chechen and Ingush (Ghalghai) populations to Central Asia and Siberia.
|27 Feb 1944
|The Soviet troops responsible for deporting the population of Khaibakh village in Chechnya in southern Russia could not complete their assignment due to a heavy snowstorm. Instead, Colonel Mikheil Gveshiani of the NKVD ordered the troops to force the entire population of 700 into a large stable, lock the doors, and set the stable on fire.
|3 Mar 1944
|Joseph Stalin disbanded the Chechenâ€“Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as punishment for insurgency.
|8 Mar 1944
|NKVD troops began rounding up Balkars people in the Caucasus region of Russia.
|9 Mar 1944
|NKVD troops completed the rounding up of 37,713 Balkars people in the Caucasus region of Russia. They would be deported to the east aboard 14 trains.
|15 Nov 1944
|Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of over 115,000 Meskhetians from their homeland in southern Georgia.
|29 Dec 1944
|Chechen rebel leader Khasan Israilov was betrayed by his own men and was killed.
|28 Apr 1956
|The Soviet Union lifted special restrictions on the Balkars people, who had been forcibly deported to Central Asia since 1944.
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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944