How ethnic Germans lived in the USSR during the Great Patriotic War
The Great Patriotic made enormous changes in the lives of many people. The fate of ethnic Germans living in the Soviet Union, it affected the most fatal way. Until 1641, Soviet citizens, who had German roots, lived quite well. The Union welcomed the desire of this people to revive and preserve their national identity.
Before the war
Moreover, ethnic Germans were granted the exclusive right to create their autonomy. In 1918, the Labor Commune of the Volga Germans was formed. The government decided not to limit it, as a result of which this administrative entity was transformed in 1924 into the whole Autonomous Republic of the Volga Germans.
The capital of the republic was located in the town of Pokrovsk, renamed Engelsk in 1931. According to official census data in the territory of the Union in 1939, more than 1,427 thousand ethnic Germans lived. The attitude towards them was positive only until the end of the 30s.At this point, the diplomatic relations between Germany, in which the fascist regime was established, and the USSR deteriorated greatly.
As a result, attitudes changed toward Soviet Germans. In 1935, they were evicted from the Autonomous Republic in the steppes of Kazakhstan, and in 1937, due to the presence of the fascist threat, the “German operation” began. First, all Germans who worked in defense enterprises were arrested. Then the arrests continued among ordinary citizens. During the entire operation, about 68,000 Germans were arrested. 55 thousand of them received a prison sentence or a link.
The NKVD was especially rampant in the border areas. Ethnic Germans were massively fired from the army; the case of each was especially closely examined for the existence of kinship and other ties abroad. The question of national identity has been completely removed, and all German schools are closed.
During and after the war
It was even more difficult for the ethnic Germans to start the war. In 1941, the Autonomous Republic of the Volga Germans was liquidated. All its citizens sought to send from the Soviet Union. This process began as early as 1939-1941. Then, in agreement with Germany from the Baltic states, Bukovina and Bessarabia, about 400,000 ethnic Germans were voluntarily repatriated to their homeland.With the beginning of the war, this process became violent and total. All property of immigrants confiscated.
In the period 1941-1945, part of the Ukrainian Germans went over to the side of the fascists and took part in mass executions of Jews. After the defeat of Nazi Germany by the decree of the Soviet government, all deported to special settlements (more than 1,220 thousand people) were strictly forbidden to return home. For violation of the law was supposed severe punishment - 20 years hard labor. Disgraced Germans remained to live in the Far East, in Siberia, the steppes of Central Asia and other places of expulsion.
The law only softened a little in 1955. The Germans returned their civil rights and allowed repatriation to Austria, the GDR and the FRG. Every year, up to several thousand Germans traveled from the Soviet Union. In 1957, those who remained were allowed to study, talk and publish newspapers in their native language.