The massacres that are committed now in Ukraine are similar to those committed earlier by the Soviet Union by deportations and exterminations of people, Doctor of History Viorica Olaru stated in a public debate hosted by IPN. According to her, the first wave of Stalinist deportations of 1941 is a traumatizing lesson for our nation, while the terror committed 82 years ago repeats in Ukraine with similar cruelty.
The first wave of deportations, of the night of June 13, 1941, covered the territories annexed by the USSR in June 1940. According to official data, during the first wave of deportations, about 25,000 people from Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina were deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan, but historians consider the number of deportees was much higher.
“We learn about the deportations not only from documents, but also by talking to people who survived or their descendants. There are not many persons who survived the first wave of deportations as the time didn’t bypass them. But there are yet persons with extraordinary memory and verticality owing to whom we learn more details. We also learned details thanks to Leontina Vatamanu’s film and the play “Dossiers of Siberia” that is now being staged at the National Tester “Mihai Eminescu”,” stated Viorica Olaru.
She noted that the Soviet power committed unimaginable atrocities among the native population and the goal of deportations was to destroy the intellectuality and to frighten the people so as to make them obey the authorities. In 1941, a lot of family heads were arrested, destroyed before the first wave of deportations. That’s why the number of deported women and children is higher. At train stations, the remaining men were separated from their families as they were told that they needed to go first to prepare the home for the rest of the family. In fact, they were taken away by other wagons, in inhuman conditions, and were exterminated.
According to Viorica Olaru, the descendants of the victims of Stalinist deportations who managed to return home found their houses destroyed or occupied by other persons and the retrieval of homes was almost impossible.
“The confiscation of property immediately after the deportations also occurred in a very abusive way. According to documents, the tangible and intangible assets that remained after each deported family was to become state property. The accounts revealed that a part of the property was taken by other villages. Everything that could be stolen was stolen. The inventorying was conducted in a fraudulent way. All those who collaborated with the Soviet power were given priority and could take everything they wanted from the home,” said the historians, noting it was very hard by someone to prove that they were dispossessed of property later as they didn’t have inventorying lists of those lists contained summary and subjective data.
In March 2023, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued international arrest warrants against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova- Belova, who are accused of illegal deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.
“In the context of the war in Ukraine, things committed by the Soviet Union are now repeated. Russia is the legal successor of the USSR and the practices applied then are employed now. The Kremlin administration is similar to the KGB as it uses the same instruments and types of massacre but of a more modern, more technologized form and with an ideological war that embraces the whole world,” said the Doctor of History.
The public debate entitled “Stalinist deportations: echo of the past, for present and future” was the 12th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.