Saturday, October 31, 2009

Russian Government Backtracks on Full Rehabilitation of Stalin

The Russian government has now publicly distanced itself from the full rehabilitation of Joseph Stalin. Medvedev recently strongly criticized the late Soviet dictator. See the BBC story in the URL below for more details.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Picture of me and two students

This is a picture from a while ago when everybody in the photograph was younger.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Late Geek Blogging: Watchmen

I finally saw Watchmen. I know all the real geeks saw it when it came out in the summer, but I see no reason to rush these things. For the record I have never read the comic book on which the movie is based. But, I did like the movie. I especially liked Dr. Manhattan. Since he achieved victory in Vietnam I bet he could do the same in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course Dr. Manhattan does not actually exist so the US might need some other strategy. However, I see nothing remotely as promising as having a big, blue, naked, radioactive guy march upon the enemy and blow them to pieces.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why am I at work on a Saturday?

Yesterday I finished writing a journal article. Today I came into the office, but I have found myself completely unmotivated to do any actual work. Since it is Saturday and still fall break I am going to cease trying to get anything productive done today. Maybe I will have some motivation tomorrow. If not then work will have to wait until Monday like it does for everybody else.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why is Rawls so boring?

Recently I tried reading John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, but have been unable to get past the first fifty pages. It is so boring. The other night I read about ten pages and lost all consciousness. It was like I injested a handful of Benadryl. I do not understand why he is so highly regarded. The ideas in the first fifty pages could have been presented in one paragraph.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Truly Random Events in my Life

Two of my Afghan students gave me a jar of fresh chili paste. It tastes like very good Mexican salsa. I have been eating it on Russian style rye bread for the last week.

Yesterday, I went to a kalian (hookah) lounge with some friends. If you are looking for good flavor combinations try watermelon and mint. Also quite good is melon with mint. In fact my new policy is mint in all my shisha blends.

I have spent most of fall break working. The afternoon I took off yesterday to go smoke minty fruits is the closest thing to a vacation I have gotten since January. I am hoping to be able to take some time off before I turn forty.

Link to my editorial on Suprun

The link below will take you to an abridged German translation of an editorial I wrote on the historical context of the recent persecution of Mikhail Suprun and Aleksandr Dudarev. You can see by the use of brackets and elipses that they cut out quite a bit due to length. However, if you go to the sidebars on the right you can get the complete English language original and its German translation in PDF format.

Monday, October 19, 2009

More on Russian-German Gulag victims

Below is another memory book entry regarding ethnic Germans who perished in the Viatlag camps. Between 1938 and 1956 a total of 2,309 Germans, mostly Volga Germans, perished from hunger, disease and shootings in the Viatlag complex. Of this number only 540 were ever convicted by Soviet courts, the vast majority, 1,487 were special settlers and members of the labor army. Another 282 died while still under investigation before being convicted (Berdinskikh, p. 394). The single greatest year for mortality was 1942 with 1,185 deaths among ethnic Germans in Viatlag (Berdinskikh, p. 398). This year also saw 2,265 Russian-German deaths in Bogoslav, 302 in Tagillag and 925 in Usollag (Krieger, pp. 145-146). A recorded total of 11,874 Russian-Germans conscripted into the labor army died in NKVD camps during 1942 (German, table 4, p. 180). Some of these victims have been identified and their fate has been published in various memory books such as those for Viatlag. Mikhail Suprun and Aleksandr Dudarev were attempting to assemble a memory book for the ethnic Germans in the camps and special settlements of Arkhangelsk Oblast before the FSB confiscated their research. On 20 March 1949 there were 11,275 Russian-German special settlers in that region. Among this group were 809 Russian-Germans deported as kulaks during the early 1930s, 9,300 forcibly repatriated from Germany in 1945 and 1946 including 385 that had joined Andrei Vlaslov's Russian Liberation Army, 835 mobilized into the labor army, and 295 non-Germans sent into internal exile with German family members (Zemskov, pp. 127-128). Documenting the indivdual fate of these men and women is an important historical project which the Russian government currently seeks to make illegal.


Albert Viktorovich

Born 1901 in city of Kamyshin (Pushkin Street, Building 20) Stalingrad/Volgorad oblast (Rossiia), German, citizen of USSR, white collar class background, education – 4 grades (Krasnokutsk gymnasium 1916), non-party, book keeper, white collar worker (chief book keeper city housing administration and reconstruction office), lived in city of Engles(?) Volga German ASSR, married, 1 child (son), convicted, sentenced in January 1941 by Supreme court of the Volga German ASSR under article 109 UK RSFSR (abuse of his official position, violating financial discipline) to 6 months forced labor with deduction of 25% of salary, sentence served in place of residence, served in RKKA (28 May – 10 October 1941, technical-quartermaster 2nd rank, active army, Western front, 320th artillery regiment), removed to reserves and exiled as a “person of German nationality”, place of settlement (from 17 November 1941) – Rossiia, Krasnoiarsk krai, city Minunsinsk, Lenin Street, building 160, labor army man, mobilized 25 January 1942 by Minunsinsk district military command, arrived in Viatlag 16 February 1942 from Krasnoiarsk, used for book keeping work in the financial section (12th lumber preparation detachment),confined under guard 16 July 1943 by chekist-operative section of Viatlag after being accused of “counterrevolutionary crimes” (“anti-soviet agitation”), sentenced 29 January 1944 by Special board of the NKVD USSR under article 58 point 10-2 UK RSFSR (“anti-soviet defeatist agitation”) to eight years of deprivation of freedom, started sentence 16 July 1943, was to finish sentence - 16 July 1951, died 25 March 1944 of tuberculosis of the lungs and alimentary dystrophy of the third degree, 12th camp point, station Ima (branch No. 15), rehabilitated 13 October 1989, archive personal file - No. 2515-m. (Reproduced in Berdinskikh, pp. 360-361.)


V.A. Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005).

A.A. German, "Mobilizovannye sovetskie nemtsy v lageriakh NKVD i na khoziaistvennykh ob'ektakh drugikh narkomatov v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voiny," in Stranitsy Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voiny (k-60-letiu pobedy): Doklady Akademii Nauk, No. 3, 2008.

Viktor Krieger, “Einsatz im Zwangsarbeitslager,” in Alfred Eisfeld, ed., Von der Autonomiegrundung zur Verbannung und Entrechtung. Die Jahre 1918 und 1941 bis 1948 in der Geschichte der Deutschen in Russland (Stuttgart: Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Russland, 2008).

V.N. Zemskov, Spetsposelenty v SSSR, 1930-1960 (Moscow: Nauk, 2003).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall Break

This next week is fall break. I am going to try and catch up on everything during this time since I do not have any classes to teach. This includes all those letters of recommendation I need to write for students.

Another Memory Book Entry

Here is another memory book entry taken from the same source as the one in my previous post.


Genrich (Gennadii) Davidovich

Born 1917 in village of Mannheim (Mannheim – Mainskoe) Gnadenfliur canton(Federovsk district/?/) Volga German ASSR – Saratov Oblast (Rossiia) German, citizen USSR (according to him a citizen of Germany), from poor peasant class, education middle specialist (Krasnokutsk agro-technical school, Volga German ASSR 1937), candidate member of VKP (b) [All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)] since 1939, agronomist, white collar worker (participating agronomist in Gnadenfliur machine-tractor station Volga German ASSR 1937-1940), married, lived in place of birth, from August 1940 – in RKKA (Red Army soldier 518th rifle regiment 129th rifle division), from 18.07.41 – in German POW camp, from 20.07.1941 – in German army (translator for commander of 733rd artillery division), captured and placed in POW camp 02.02.1943 by section of the RKKA at the Stalingrad front, arrested 17.04.1943 by Dubonsk district department UNKVD [Administration of Peoples Commissariat of Internal Affairs] Stalingrad oblast, sentenced 30.07.1943 by the military tribunal of the Stalingrad garrison under article 58 point 1-b UK RSFSR (treason to the motherland by military personnel) to 10 years deprivation of freedom and five years deprivation of rights with confiscation of property, began sentence 20.04.1943, was to finish sentence on 20.04.1953, arrived in Viatlag 09.01.1944 from Stalingrad (Volgograd), employed as a lumberjack (5th and 8th camp points), classified on 31.07.1945 as 4th (“nonworking”) category of work suitability (a traumatic injury to the spleen) died 14.08.1945 from tuberculosis of the lungs ([technical medical terms I do not understand in English yet alone Russian]), 4th camp point (“sangorodok”) settlement Polevoi-2, grave No. O-12, archive personal file - No. 74759 (26 pages).


V.A. Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005), doc. 2, pp. 415-416.

Entry from a Memory Book

Since The Guardian ran an article on Thursday about the Russian government's persecution of Suprun and Dudarev the story seems to have gone viral. Almost all the new links are based on the article in The Guardian so I am not going to link to them. Instead I am going to provide some examples of exactly what got Suprun in trouble with the Russian government. He was compiling a memory book of the ethnic German victims of the Gulag labor camps and special settlements in Arkhangelsk. Memory books have been published in Russia before. They are nothing more than collections of basic biographical data of Stalin's victims. Sometimes they merely reproduce the information contained in the personal files of the victims. The entry below on Filipp Martinovich Ganzen (Genzen) was first published in a memory book dealing with ethnic Germans in Viatlag, Martirologa "Nemtsy v Viatlage", compiled by V. I. Verem’ev. It was later reproduced in V.I. Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005), doc. 1, pp. 412-413. The translation below is my own and I have attempted to stay as close as possible to the literal rendering of Soviet jargon and euphemisms as possible. For instance alimentary dystrophy is a fancy way of saying starvation. The swelling form of alimentary dystrophy is the familiar image people my age have of children starving to death in Ethiopia during the 1980s as a result of that country's communist government emulating Stalin's agricultural policies.

Ganzen (Genzen)

Filipp Martinovich

Born in 1904 in the village of Mariental/Sovetskoe Mariental canton/Sovetskogo district Volga German ASSR/Saratov oblast (Rossiia), German, citizen of the USSR, from working (artisan-peasant/?/) class, education – four grades (1912-1916), non-party, fireman (chief of fire fighters), married, 3 children (two daughters and a son), lived in place of birth, exiled in September 1941 as “a person of German nationality”, place of exile – village of Uralka (?) Ordynsk village soviet Tiukhtetsk district Krasnoiarsk krai (Rossiia), labor army man, mobilized 23. 01. 1942 by Tiukhtetsk district military command, arrived in Viatlag 16. 02. 1942 from Krasnoiarsk, employed in fire fighting and general work (9th lumber preparation detachment), sentenced 28.01.1944 by permanent session of the legal board for criminal affairs of the Kirov oblast court in Viatlag under article 59 point 6 UK [criminal code] of the RSFSR [Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic] (failure to carry out labor duties) to 6 years deprivation of freedom and three years deprivation of rights, sentence started - 28.01.1944, was to finish sentence on 28.01.1950, on the determination of the legal board for criminal affairs of the Supreme court of the RSFSR of 23.03.1944 the sentence was annulled, the case was declared closed, he was freed from punishment on 24.04.1944, transferred to category of “labor mobilized”(in “work columns”), declared an invalid on 10.01.1944 (swelling form of alimentary dystrophy), died 01.07.1944 from alimentary dystrophy of the 3rd degree (swelling form) with diarrhea, 1st camp point, settlement Rudnichnyi, grave No. G-50, archive personal file – No 1180-m/77452.

(Card of special registration of Viatskogo ULIU. Archive)


V.A. Berdinskikh, Spetsposelentsy: Politicheskaia ssylka narodov sovetskoi Rossii (Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2005), doc. 1 pp. 412-413.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The Chinese restaurant behind the university has closed. So recently I have been eating at an Azerbaijani kebab place not far from work. It is very good, but the menu is quite limited. In fact every time I have been there I have had the kofte kebab and shish kebab combination. It is probably the best place in town for grilled meat. I just can not eat kebabs everyday the way I can Chinese food.

Chon Bash for Two Days

The rest of the full time faulty in the ICP department were away today and yesterday so I got to be Chon Bash (Kyrgyz for Big Head). Fortunately, nothing beyond the means of my meagre administrative skills popped up. The most difficult decision I had to deal with was where to eat lunch.

More News Stories on Suprun and Dudarev

The following links have some more information on the ongoing attempt by the Russian government to suppress the research of Mikhail Suprun into the repression of Russian-Germans by Stalin during the 1940s.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another Good Sign: Berlin Takes Action Regarding Suprun

The German government has now officially complained to Russian President Medvedev about the political persecution of Suprun and Dudarev. The Russian government is seeking to imprison Suprun for up to four years for his research and writing on Stalin's repression of ethnic Germans in the USSR during the 1940s. The article below from The Moscow Times has more information on the case and the recent actions by the German government.

A Small Important Victory in Reclaiming History

The attempt by the grandson of Joseph Stalin to sue Novaya Gazeta for libel after they correctly characterized the late Soviet dictator as a "bloodthirsty cannibal" has failed. This is a very important victory for human rights activists and others seeking to prevent Russia and other post-Soviet states from sliding back into absolute dictatorships. The New York Times has a good article on the trial with lots of great links at the url below.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The False Charges of Treason Against the Deported Peoples Part II

Several years ago Karachai demographer D.M. Ediev pointed to a solid piece of evidence that the charges of wholesale treason against the Balkars came after the decision to deport them had already been made. On page 27 of his book, Demograficheskie poteri deportirovannykh narodov SSSR (Stavropol': StGAU "AGRUS", 2003) he quotes from telegram No. 6160 sent by Beria to Stalin on 25 February 1944. The archival citation for the telegram is GARF "Special File" of Stalin. Fond R-9401 s/ch. Opis 2. Delo 64. 1944: List 163. This document had been reproduced earlier by N.F. Bugai in a redacted form that did not indicate that the deportation had been decided upon before Beria began looking for "evidence" that the Balkars had collectively "betrayed the motherland."

Redacted Bugai version:

"I familiarized myself with the material on the conduct of the Balkars at the time of the offensive by the German-Fascist military in the Caucasus, and after their expulsion..." (Ediev, p. 26).

Full version reproduced by Ediev:

"In connection with the proposed exile of the Balkars from the North Caucasus, I familiarized myself with the material about their conduct during the time of the offensive by the German-Fascist military in the Caucasus, and after their expulsion..." (Ediev, p. 27). [Note that the italics were added by Ediev for emphasis.]

Source: D.M. Ediev, Demograficheskie poteri deportirovannykh narodov SSSR (Stavropol': StGAU "AGRUS", 2003).

The Current Status of Students from Turkmenistan

The few Turkmen students still here will probably all finish out this academic year at AUCA. This means that a large number of them will graduate. However, it looks like the Turkmen government will continue to ban those AUCA students still in Turkmenistan from coming to Kyrgyzstan to complete their educations. This ban appears at this point to be indefinite. It also appears very likely that no further Turkmen students will be allowed to leave their country to attend AUCA in the foreseeable future. I find this most unfortunate. Some of my best students have come from Turkmenistan. Their absence will make AUCA a less intellectually diverse place.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Jonathan Brent on the Rehabilitation of Stalin

The article by Jonathan Brent linked below provides a good background to the recent moves towards rehabilitating Stalin in the Russian Federation.

Links on the Suprun Affair

Here are a list of news articles on the Russian government's political persecution of Professor Mikhail Suprun and Col. Dudarev. The first article is in English, the second one in Russian and the third one in German.

Friday, October 09, 2009

FSB Arrests Historian of Stalinist Repression Against Russian-Germans

On 13 September 2009, the FSB arrested and interrogated Mikhail Suprun of Pomorsky State University of Arkhangelsk in connection with his research on Stalin era repression of Russian-Germans. They seized his computers and databases as well as a large number of books and documents. He was working on creating a memory book for the Russian-German victims of the Gulag's labor camps and special settlements in Arkhangelsk. Assisting him in this endeavor was Aleksandr Dudarev, the Head of the Information Center of the Arkhangelsk MVD, who provided Suprun with access to the relevant archives. The Russian government intends to prosecute both Professor Suprun and Col. Dudarev for their research into Stalinist repression. The official charges against Suprun are "divulging personal information" that is collecting the names and other biographical data of individual Russian-Germans repressed by Stalin for publication. He is also charged with urging Dudarev to abuse his authority by granting him access to the Arkhangelsk MVD archives. For more information see the links below.

Walt Richmond on the False Charges of Treason Against the Deported Peoples

My colleague Dr. Walt Richmond left the following comment on my last post, but its detail and importance certainly merit it having a more prominent place on this blog. I will post later on some additional evidence that the decision to deport the Balkars was made by the Stalin regime before they formulated the false charges of treason against the entire nationality. But, in the meantime please read Dr. Richmond's piece. The italicized part of this post is from Dr. Richmond.

There was also a lot of disinformation concerning the Balkars' deportation. From the original draft of my book, which unfortunately I had to significantly edit:It had long been assumed that the notion of deporting the Balkars was first proposed in January 1944. Additionally, in his memoirs Z. Kumekhov, First Party Secretary of Kabardino-Balkaria, asserted that he vehemently opposed the deportation, which he only learned of on 25 February. However, Balkar historian Khadzhi-Murat Sabanchiev has recently illuminated the process through which the decision to deport the Balkars was made. On 20 February NKVD Chief Lavrenty Beria arrived in Grozny to supervise the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush. At the same time two documents were prepared in Nalchik. The first described the location and numbers of the Balkar population. The second stated that despite the all the efforts made by the Communist Party to help the Balkars a portion remained hostile to Soviet power, and that agents had informed the Party of a counter-revolutionary movement among Balkar nationalists. Therefore, the note concluded, it was necessary to deport the entire Balkar nation. The notes were signed by Kumekhov, local NKVD Chief K. P. Bziava and local NKGB chief S. I. Filatov. Beria signed the second note on 24 February, and on the same day reported to Stalin that during the occupation “the Balkars were negotiating with the Karachays about the unification of Balkaria and Karachay,” 1227 “bandits” had been arrested, and that “362 people fled from Balkaria with the Germans.” It should be remembered first that 1227 represented three percent of the 1939 population of Balkaria (assuming all the arrestees were Balkars) and 362 was less than two percent of the entire number of people who fled the North Caucasus with the Nazis. It seems that Beria had already decided to have the Balkars deported and was merely looking for “a suitable cause,” as Stalin had phrased it a quarter century earlier prior to the deportation of the Cossacks. These three “facts” apparently suited Beria as sufficient, for in the same telegram he recommended the deportation of the Balkar nation as soon as the deportation of the Chechens and Ingush was completed. Stalin replied affirmatively the next day. On 26 February Beria issued Prikaz (Order) 00186 entitled “On Measures to Resettle the Balkar Population from the Kabardino-Balkar ASSR.” In the order he recommended transferring one raion to North Ossetia instead of Kabarda. This proposal was rejected; Elbrus and Prielbrus raions were transferred to Georgia and the remainder to Kabarda, which was renamed the Kabardin ASSR.


Bugai, Nikolai. "Deportatsiia: Beriia dokladivayut Stalinu," Kommunist 3 (1991), pp. 101-12.

Pohl, J. Otto. Ethnic Cleansing in The USSR, 1937-1949. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Sabanchiev, Khadzhi-Murat. “Vyselenie Balkarskogo Naroda v Gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi Voiny: Prichiny i Posledstviia,” Murad Esenov, ed. Tsentral’naia Asiia i Kavkaz. Online. Available HTTP: (Accessed 10 April 2006).

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The False Charges of Treason Against the Deported Peoples Part I

Most scholars as opposed to Stalinist hacks have long maintained that the decision to deport the Kalmyks, Karachais, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars and Crimean Tatars had very little to do with the official Soviet claim that these people were guilty of mass treason and collaboration with the Nazis. Even the exaggerated and unsubstantiated charges made by Beria only accused 10% of the Crimean Tatars of serving in German units. A report from Kobulov and Serov to Beria on 22 April 1944 claims that 20,000 Crimean Tatars deserted from the 51st army in 1941. A direct translation of their message reads, "20 thousand Crimean Tatars deserted in 1941 from the 51st army as it retreated from Crimea." (Bugai 1992, doc. 2, p. 131). This claim was made despite the fact that the NKVD's own Section for the Struggle Against Banditism had only verified 479 cases of desertion and shirking of military service from the Red Army in Crimea for all nationalities versus 1,666,891 for the Soviet Union as whole for the years 1941 to 1944. (Bugai 1992, p. 286). Beria then repeated the claims of Kobulov and Serov in a message to Stalin with some alterations on 10 May 1944. His report states, "From sections of the Red Army in 1944 deserted more than 20 thousand Tatars who betrayed the Motherland, and went over to serve the Germans with arms in their hands and fought against the Red Army..." (Bugai 1991, p. 107). It is probable that Beria meant 1941 rather than 1944 since the information appears to have come directly from the earlier communication by Kobulov and Serov. The source for the 20,000 figure is unknown, but is probably an exaggeration. Soviet intelligence reported a total of 15,000 Crimean Tatars serving in eight German organized battalions in April 1942. (Bugai 2002, doc. 30, p. 62) In contrast the German enlistment records for these battalions show only 9,255 Crimean Tatars serving in them. (T.S. Kulbaev and A. Iu. Khegai, pp. 206-207). A number of these men died during the war and and others retreated to Germany with the Wehrmacht and avoided forced repatriation to the USSR. Which means that over 90% of the Crimean Tatars deported by the NKVD on 18-20 May 1944 were completely innocent. Since the vast majority of the deportees, more than 80% were women and children, this is not surprising. (Williams, p. 336) The condemnation of nearly 150,000 innocent women and children to eternal exile in Uzbekistan and the Urals as special settlers for the alleged crimes of 20,000 men represents one of the most disproportionate collective punishments ever carried out. Despite its immense brutality this crime still has a great many defenders among Russians and others seeking to rehabilitate the Stalin regime today.


N.F. Bugai, ed., "Deportatsiia: Beriia dokladyvaet Stalinu..," Kommunist, no. 1, 1991.

N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii. Moscow: "Druzhba narodov", 1992).

N.F. Bugai, ed., Deportatsiia narodov kryma: Dokumenty, fakty kommentarii (Moscow, Insan, 2002).

T.S. Kulbaev and A. Iu. Khegai, Deportatsiia (Almaty: Deneker, 2000).

Alexander Statiev, "The Nature of Anti-Soviet Armed Resistance, 1942-1944: The North Caucasus, the Kalmyk Autonomous Republic, and Crimea," Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 6, no. 2, Spring 2005.

Brian Glyn Williams, "The Hidden Ethnic Cleansing of Muslims in the Soviet Union: The Exile and Repatriation of the Crimean Tatars," Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 37, no. 3 (July 2002).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Blogger Again Available

For some reason the university blocked all blogger related web pages between Thursday and today. But, now they seem to work again without any problem. I am not sure what the deal was.