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Continuity in Russian and Soviet nationalities policies : the deported peoples of World War II under two regimes. Hutchinson, John Charles

Abstract

This essay, as its title implies, traces elements of continuity in the nationalities policies of the Tsarist and Soviet governments of Russia by considering the experiences under both regimes of the seven national minorities of the Soviet Union deported during World War II for alleged treasonable activity and/or collaboration with the Germans. The seven minorities are the Volga Germans, Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingushes, Karachays, and Balkars. The essay is organized into four chapters. Chapter I has three parts, all concerned with necessary introductory material. Part i states the problem and the principal thesis of the essay: that the deportations of these seven minorities during World War II were only tenuously related to the charges brought against these peoples by the Soviet government; but, on the other hand, the deportations would seem to have been largely punishments inflicted upon these peoples for their generally unsatisfactory behaviour during their two decades or more under Soviet rule. The essay goes further to demonstrate, however, that the behaviour of all these minorities under Soviet rule was generally in conformity with their behaviour under Tsarist rule, and that, as it affected these groups at least, Soviet nationalities policy was in many essential respects hardly more than a continuation of earlier Tsarist policy. Part ii outlines briefly the expansionof the Russian Empire from its geographical centre near Moscow. Part iii describes the historical backgrounds of the seven peoples and the circumstances through which each came under Russian rule. Chapter II is divided into two parts. Part i discusses the evolution of the Tsarist government's policy of minority discrimination and russification, with emphasis upon the doctrines of "Autocracy, Orthodoxy, Nationalism" and of "official nationality", and explores the reasons why these doctrines proved unsuccessful when Russia became through the process of expansion a vast multinational empire. Part ii treats individually the experiences of the seven peoples in question under Tsarist rule. Chapter III is in three parts. Part i is concerned with the development of national feeling among the non-Russian peoples of the Russian state, particularly in the period 1905-17, with emphasis upon the seven peoples being studied here. Part ii is an analysis of the principal Bolshevik theoretical writings on the national question, dealing chiefly with Marxism and the National Question. Part iii describes the critical transitional period between 1917-21, between the Bolshevik Revolution and the regime's final victory, and the re-assertion of Russian authority over the territories of the seven peoples. Chapter IV is also in three parts. Part i is a broad survey of Soviet nationalities policy's main phases since 1920, and also discusses some of the more salient congruities between Soviet policy and Tsarist policy, suggesting reasons for these continuities. Part ii treats individually the experiences under Soviet rule of the seven minorities with whom the essay is concerned, with emphasis upon those elements of continuity which emerge between their treatment under the Soviet government and their earlier treatment under the Tsars. Part iii is confined to brief concluding remarks. The notes have been placed at the end of each chapter. The bibliography follows the notes to chapter IV.

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