Purges in the territories annexed to the USSR, 1944-1952


After the Soviet victory at Stalingrad in February 1943 and the Red Army’s advance west, further deportations were organised.

In the Baltic countries, the people arrested and deported were mainly those who had collaborated with the Nazis, those who had gone to work in Germany, voluntarily or by force, and the partisans from the groups that were fighting against the Red Army. Later, the Soviets launched further waves of deportation, in spring 1948 in Lithuania, then in early 1949 throughout the Baltic countries, targeting farmers who opposed the collectivisation of farmland and often provided the partisans with help.

In Poland, the deportees were the officers and men of the Armia Krajowa (AK), the Polish Home Army resisting German occupation, created in 1942 by the Polish government-in-exile in London, which was active throughout the territories that had belonged to Poland until 1939. During the brief life of the Provisional Government of National Unity formed by the Soviets in 1944, the Soviet political police carried out a number of deportations of members of the national resistance against the Nazis. At the end of 1945, the Polish Ministry of Public Security (MBP) was created and continued these purges.

In Western Ukraine, now part of the Soviet Union, the activists and sympathisers of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) were purged, together with the officers and men of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), collaborators and soldiers of the Galicia Division, a volunteer unit of the Waffen-SS. Thousands of farmers’ families were forcibly resettled in Siberia, because they were seen as the nationalists’ main support.

After 1945, a large number of “ethnic Germans” (Volksdeutsche) living in the territories liberated by the Red Army in Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia and the countries that had been German allies, Hungary and Romania, were deported to the USSR.

Hungary and Czechoslovakia also saw the systematic purging of large numbers of individuals who might stand up against the installation of a Communist regime in these countries, and in their borderlands with Ukraine, major forced population movements were undertaken by the Soviets. In Germany and Hungary, the Soviets rounded up young men and women and sent them to labour camps in the USSR to help rebuild the country.