Source: Socialist Appeal, July 1946
Transcription: Francesco 2008
Markup: Manuel 2008
The Daily Worker of June 28th reports, without comment, the following item under the heading:—“Demoted Soviet Republics did not oppose traitors.”
“The bulk of the population of the Checheno-Ingush and Crimean Republics, which have been deprived of their status, did not oppose the traitors who collaborated with the German invaders against the Red Army.
“This point was made by Deputy Bakhumurov in the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. when he explained the Bill to abolish the Checheno-Ingush Republic and to make the Crimean Republic into the Crimean Region.
“In view of this, the Chechens and Crimean Tartars had been transported to other districts of the Soviet Union, where they had been allotted land and given the necessary State economic assistance.
“The Chechens and Tartars are national minorities with a total population of 1,500,000. The two republics were part of the Russian Soviet Federal Republic.”
Thus the deportation of 1,500,000 men, women and children is treated as of no more consequence than the transport of so many sacks of potatoes. The actual dissolution of two autonomous Republics established by the Russian Revolution is justified by the argument that the inhabitants did not struggle against quislings who sold out to the Nazis.
These unfortunate people are to suffer the fate which befell the Volga Germans in the Volga German Republic when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union. The whole population of this Republic was deported to Siberia as “precaution” against the possibility of quislings.
The uprooting and exile of entire peoples is a measure of such unmitigated barbarism, that it can be compared only with the excesses of the Nazis in modern times. It is a measure of national oppression that is nothing but a mockery of the elementary conceptions of socialism.
The real meaning behind these measures of repression is to terrorise the peoples of the national Republics into submission to the Great Russian bureaucracy. This is an example of what happens to any people who may oppose the monstrous Stalinist regime. The pretext that there were quislings among these people does not hold water. All, innocent or guilty, workers or peasants, members of the Communist Party—all are to suffer a like fate. This in the name of Socialism!
How could it happen, if we accept the Stalinist version, that nearly three decades after the Russian Revolution, whole peoples liberated by the revolution, should prefer the slavery of the Nazis to the rule of Stalin?
The only possible reasons for such a measure, naturally not stated by the Stalinists, are lack of confidence in the regime of Stalin, on the part of these peoples and the need to make an example and terrorise any opposition from other minorities. And the need for labour in new areas in the East being industrialised by the Stalinists. In spite of regulations to the contrary, there has been a steady drift back to the Ukraine and other areas in the West of Russia, from the Urals and Siberia, of people evacuated during the war. Unable to get voluntary labour, Stalin merely transports populations to regions where he needs them most.
Significant indeed, that only a few months back in the Stalinist elections in the Soviet Union, these areas, like all others, returned almost a hundred percent vote in favour of Stalin, “The Father of the Peoples.” These elections are proved by this alone, to have been a totalitarian fake.
In 1917, because of the policy of Lenin and Trotsky, the subject peoples of the Czarist Empire rallied to the cause of the Bolsheviks, though the Soviet Union was weak. Without the support of these peoples, the young Soviet Republic could not have survived. They supported the struggling Soviet regime because the internationalist policy of Lenin and Trotsky stood for equality and freedom for the subject peoples of all Russia.
With the rise of Stalin, the national liberties of minorities in the U.S.S.R. have been restricted and curtailed. While the masses have lost all semblance of control, the power and privilege of the Great Russian bureaucrats has entrenched itself. The tyranny of the G.P.U. prevails over the peoples.
That any large section of the peoples, apart from isolated individuals, would betray the Soviet Union to Nazi invaders would have been unthinkable under Lenin and Trotsky.
In 1918, at one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Soviet Union, the Left Social-Revolutionaries assassinated the German Ambassador in order to provoke an attack by German imperialism which had just imposed the monstrous peace of Brest-Litovsk on the young Soviet Republic. Taking advantage of this, the German government demanded that German soldiers be stationed at the German Embassy in Petrograd to guard against future acts. Lenin replied: “You want Germans? We’ll give you Germans!” So confident were the Bolsheviks of the loyalty of all the peoples of Russia to the ideals of the socialist revolution that Lenin was prepared to entrust the German soldiers of the Volga Republic of this highly important task.
The Bolsheviks gave the right of self-determination to the point of secession to all the peoples and minorities of the Soviet Union. The Union of all the Republics of the U.S.S.R. was to be a voluntary one with full rights to secede from the Union if the minorities considered their rights were curtailed or were nationally oppressed by the dominant nation, the Russians. Even in the Stalin Constitution (which remains a scrap of paper) this right is solemnly guaranteed.
But so far as the Stalinist bureaucracy is concerned, the peoples in the Soviet Union are so many cattle.
If the population remained unconvinced of the fundamental advantages of the system in comparison with capitalism, then surely there must be something wrong with the regime? These events are symptomatic of the profound degeneration which has affected the Soviet Union under the Stalinist regime. They are especially significant in the light of the fact that the Stalinist Government is now offering full citizenship to all the former White Guards who fled abroad after the revolution and have been conspiring against the Soviet Union ever since. The excuse for this is that the advantages of the system have been so demonstrated, that these White Guard elements can be freely absorbed. How [does one] explain the fact that the peoples see no advantages in the Stalinist regime, but the White Guard capitalist elements do?
These two events have occurred in the same week. They are a significant indication of the processes taking place in Stalinist Russia.