Status

 

At the end of the train journey, after days or even weeks, their new life was not necessarily in a forced labour camp. This was only the case for those who had been given a court sentence, however summary. Most of the European deportees were arrested under collective deportation decrees issued by the administrative and police authorities. The decrees were directed either at the families of “nationalists” in the republics along the western territories annexed during the war, or entire ethnic communities suspected of collaboration with the Nazi occupiers, or vaguely defined social categories (“socially alien elements”). The regional authorities in the Soviet Far East would allocate them to collective farms, logging or mining. It was a sort of forced colonisation in remote and often inhospitable country, where all the deportees were under house arrest. Although they all shared this fate, their individual status was varied and changeable (including limited rights or even extensive rights such as being allowed to study). For most of them, permission to leave was not given until the 1950s or 1960s.



© Edgar Makkar