“Savage Minorities” and Paranoia

A Russian victory in World War II was necessary for the reassertion of their legitimacy. 70+ years have passed since the Russian defeat over Nazi Germany, resulting in economic, political, and social upheaval once again; aimed at those who were “different” than the political elites. Stalin also felt compounding stress from:

“[t]he Soviet Union, at least 27 million people had been killed (out of a total of 55 million fatalities in WWII), while many cities, towns and villages lay in ruins.”

Insecurity was rampant in society, from Stalin’s paranoia over consolidating power to suspicion of minorities, the war brought a new nationalism , but needed a scapegoat to back up his claims. As a result, Stalin issued Decree No. 5859SS which stated:

“Iosif Stalin, On the Crimean Tatars. May 11, 1944

Top Secret

State Defense Committee
State Defense Committee Decree No. 5859ss
May 11, 1944 Moscow, the Kremlin
On the Crimean Tatars

During the Great Patriotic War, many Crimean Tatars betrayed the Motherland, deserting Red Army units that defended the Crimea and siding with the enemy, joining volunteer army units formed by the Germans to fight against the Red Army; as members of German punitive detachments, during the occupation of the Crimea by German fascist troops, the Crimean Tatars particularly were noted for their savage reprisals against Soviet partisans, and also helped the German invaders to organize the violent roundup of Soviet citizens for German enslavement and the mass extermination of the Soviet people.”


Deportation of Minorities Image

This Video demonstrates the power and pride of nationalism in Russia post World War II. Stalin harps on “exceptional nationality policies” that can be described as ethnic cleansing, not a well though out policy. His ability to homogenize the population validated the strength of Stalin, and is ability to act paradoxically to “unite the state” while simultaneously pulling the ethnic fabrics of the region apart.

This policy however, did not last indefinitely, but demonstrated the severe issues of social harmony and acceptance of those considered “other”. The reification of the minority groups continued to be repressed under a “party” that ORIGINALLY supported self-determination.

“In 1957 the government revoked the accusation of Nazi collusion and permitted all but the Crimean Tatars and Meskhetian Turks, whose homes and lands had been occupied by Russian, Ukrainian, and Georgian settlers, to return.”

This horrific episode in post World War II Russia continues to demonstrate the need for a cohesive social landscape in order to be successful political and militarily.

5 thoughts on ““Savage Minorities” and Paranoia

  1. The deportation of minorities is something I didn’t know of before reading your post. I think it is interesting how you connected these policies to incidents long after the war. It goes to show how many people do not forget the past and how some people will brand a group due to the actions of some, especially when it can further one’s own position (Stalin).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice job linking the developments in the war to Stalin’s ethnic policies in its aftermath. The insecurity that remained throughout the Soviet Union was as much the result of Germany’s previous entrance and mass executions as it was Stalin’s attempt to deport those of minority groups. Also, thanks for linking to that Stalin speech!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Focusing on the Crimean Tatars is especially important given Russia’s recent (re-)annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Thanks also for highlighting how the persecution of particular nationalities during WWII was so at odds with the regime’s original commitment to self-determination.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I found it interesting how you wrote about what Stalin did to unite the nation during WWII and how beneficial that was to their success. The question I have for you is what do you think would have happened if he did not rally them all behind the Soviet power? I also appreciate how you didn’t just discuss the minority problems during WWII but how they have existed over the 70 years after the war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To answer your question- If Stalin did not rally all of the nationalities around his regime, there could have been the emergence of independence movements and a possible coup to overthrow him. Great question!


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