“German” Operation in the Kazakh SSR (1937–1938). On the Question of the Ethnic Component of Great Terror Cover Image

«Немецкая» операция в Казахской ССР (1937–1938 годы): к вопросу об этнической составляющей Большого террора
“German” Operation in the Kazakh SSR (1937–1938). On the Question of the Ethnic Component of Great Terror

Author(s): Albina Sovetovna Zhanbosinova, Natalia Anatolievna Potapova, Andrey Ivanovich Savin
Subject(s): Military history, Political history, Government/Political systems, International relations/trade, Studies in violence and power, Interwar Period (1920 - 1939), Sociology of Politics, Politics and Identity
Published by: Издательство Исторического факультета СПбГУ
Keywords: great terror; national operations; German operation; Kazakhstan; extrajudicial instances; xenophobia; ethnization of terror;

Summary/Abstract: The “national” operations of the NKVD during the Great Terror remain one of the hottest debates in Soviet history. The sharp gap between the Bolsheviks’ previous national policy encourages historians to advance various explanations about what happened. Some scholars believe that “national” operations were based on an ethnization of the image of the enemy, and as a result, the ethnic aspect allegedly received a priority over the social aspect in the punitive policy of Stalinism. Other historians believe the main reason for the “national” operations of the NKVD was the authorities’ desire to eliminate any ties of Soviet citizens with the “hostile capitalist environment.” The article presents directives and internal statistics of the NKVD, found in the Central Archive of the FSB of the Russian Federation and previously unknown to researchers. The authors discuss the thesis of the ethnic component of the Great Terror, using the example of the “German” operation in Kazakhstan. The “national” operations were ambivalent. Under conditions of such “landscapes” as industry, transport, and the army, total terror was aimed at “nationals” with practically no selection of victims. However, in the countryside, in the “outback” of the USSR, in places of compact residences of “hostile” ethnic “contingents,” the state security bodies actively selected their victims. Thus, in the Kazakh SSR, the Germans deported to Kazakhstan in 1931–1936 and who were extremely dissatisfied with their living conditions became the main target group of the “German” operation. Germans who voluntarily moved to Kazakhstan before 1917 suffered much less.

  • Issue Year: 10/2020
  • Issue No: 30
  • Page Range: 119-135
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Russian