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Against Their Will
The History and Geography of Forced Migrations in the USSR


Pavel Polian, Researcher at the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, and a Professor of the Stavropol State University; currently a scientific employee of the Cologne NS-Documentation Center in Cologne, Germany

English translation by Anna Yastrzhembska

During his reign over the former Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin oversaw the forced resettlement of six million people - 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.


Foreword to the English Edition; Introduction; Forced Migrations: Pre-History and Classification; Part I.: Forced Migrations within the USSR: Forced Migrations before the Second World War ; Forced Migration during and after the Second World War (1939-1953); Patterns of Deported Peoples' Settlement and Rehabilitation Process; Part II.: International Forced Migrations: Internment and Deportation of German Civilians from European Countries to the USSR; Employment of Labor of German Civilians from European Countries Repatriation; In Lieu of a Conclusion: Geo-demographic Scale and Repercussions of Forced Migrations in the USSR; Supplement 1; Supplement 2.; Supplement 3.; Supplement 4.; Bibliography; Abbreviations Used in the Book; At the Crossroads of Geography and History: Afterword. Index of Personal Names; Index Geographical Names

"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

"This big book is a milestone in he publication in English of materials relating to the forced displacement of population in twentieth century Russia. ... Polian covers a huge amount of ground. His impressive scholarly compendium will be an important resource for students of the subject who wish to obtain reliable information on deportations and to analyze it in order to reach their own conluisons. To this extent Polian's careful study has placed scholars of modern Russian history considerably in his debt." - European Review of History

"The work under review is in the very best tradition of glasnost scholarship, motivated by and imbued with a vigorous sense of humanity and compassion, and concerned first and foremost to bring a long-hidden history to light and to the attention of the widest possible circle of readers in the most accessible and systematic manner. The author's evidently conscious eschewal of interpretation for the sake of concentrating on identifying, itemising, classifying and describing these brutal acts of mass terror, only renders more shocking its impact as an indictment of the Soviet regime and its means of rule." - The Global Review of Ethnopolitics

"Meno Pavla Poliana sa oplatí zapamatat'. Uz vyse 10 rokov usilovne a bohato publikuje k téme, ktorá v tunajsom lokálnom variante este lena caka na komplexné spracovanie, k histórii a geografii nútenych migrácií...
Knihu doplna mnozstvo tabuliek a máp... Nápomocné sú i styrí velké prílohy...; d'alej extenzívna bibliografia a slovnícek speciálnych vyrazov a skratiek. Dokonaly dojem doplna mal'ba na obálke. Povestná ruka s fajkou v rukáve od uniformy hrnie pred sebou po bielej ploche more malickych l'udí. Téma knihy je strsná, kniha je skvelá." - Historicky casopis

444 pages
ISBN 978-963-9241-68-8 cloth $54.95 / €42.00 / £35.00
ISBN 978-963-9241-73-2 paperback $25.95 / €23.95 / £19.99