Frst wave of Soviet deportations: Sufferings of those people are difficult to describe

On the night of June 13, 1941, at 02:30, the first wave of Stalinist deportations from Bessarabia began. The Soviets crammed 85,000 people into 1,315 wagons, with most of those people being “kulaks”, priests, intellectuals and members of former political parties. Many didn’t survive the harsh conditions and their families were separated and treated inhumanely. Doctor of History Artur Leșcu, expert of the WatchDog.MD Community, said the sufferings of those people are difficult to describe. The summer of 1941 is a tragic moment for the entire humanity, but it left particularly deep traces in our history and the effects that are still felt today in the Republic of Moldova, IPN reports.

“As a result of an agreement between Hitler and Stalin, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union annexed the region between the Prut and Nistru rivers. Under the pressure of this fatal pact, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia, but also Northern Bukovina and Hertsa County. It was precisely as a result of these territorial losses and the internal political crisis that the fascist dictator Ioan Antonescu came to power in Romania. Meanwhile, on this side of the Prut, on the recently occupied territories, the Soviet power began a campaign of purge, terror and unprecedented repression. Gripped by panic and despair, tens of thousands of locals fled across the Prut from the Bolshevik plague. Those who remained, however, faced an even more cruel fate – mass deportations conducted with indescribable cruelty,” said Artur Leșcu.

In order to physically liquidate any attempt to oppose the new regime, the new Soviet power subjected the local population to a massive purge. Those who were considered dangerous were taken to forced labor camps – GULAG, in the most important regions of the USSR. Enemies of the Soviet power were declared primarily those associated with the former Romanian administration, from former officials and local leaders to ordinary intellectuals.

“The real ordeal began on the night of June 13, 1941, at 2:30 a.m. – the moment that will go down in history as the beginning of the first wave of Stalinist deportations from Bessarabia. The local repressive bodies booked 1,315 wagons in advance. Not for products or coal, but for 85,000 people, who were to be transported in inhuman conditions, as far as possible from their homes. The lists of those deported were drawn up with numerous deviations – handwritten, without stamps or approvals of state institutions. The most active representatives of the local population – mayors, officers, landowners, merchants, policemen, intellectuals with entire families were to be deported to the Far East or to the north of the Soviet Union,” related the Doctor of History.

The expert noted that the poor people had at most two hours for preparations. Those who took refuge in Bessarabia after coming from other regions of the USSR – ethnic Jews, Ukrainians, but also Russians – who were fleeing Soviet power, were a favorite target of deportations. The heads of families were sent to the GULAG and few survived. Their families were deported to Siberia or to the steppes in northern Kazakhstan.

In total, there were three waves of mass deportations from Moldova: in June 1941, July 1949 and April 1951.

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