Purges in the territories annexed by the USSR – 1939-1941



Under the German-Soviet Pact in August 1939 and its secret clauses on dividing Central and Eastern Europe between the two new allies, Stalin’s USSR began in 1939 and 1940 a new phase of expansion towards the west. The Sovietisation of the new territories involved purges of the former elites and other counter-revolutionary “socially alien elements”, etc.

Three waves of deportation were organised in the Polish territories annexed to Ukraine and western Belarus in 1940: these banished former settlers, osadnicy, local elites and some of the refugees (mostly Jews) who had fled the German occupation of Poland. The deportation resumed in spring 1941: from western Ukraine on 22 May; from Moldavia in the night of 12-13 June; from the Baltic republics on 14 June and from western Belarus in the night of 19-20 June.

Some heads of household were sentenced to forced labour in the camps, and their families and children were often exiled to “special resettlements” in Siberia or Kazakhstan. Nearly 500,000 were sent to the furthest depths of the USSR.