The Mass Deportation from Bessarabia/Moldavian SSR in Mid‑June 1941: Enhancing Security, a Social Engineering Operation, or Something Else?

Igor Cașu

This article draws on the files of the Soviet political police in Chișinău as well as Western and post‑Soviet scholarship on Stalinist deportations from the western borderlands in the wake of the German attack on the USSR on 22 June 1941. There are two main and contrasting interpretations of the motives behind the mass resettlements in this period. The first one stipulates that it was mainly security reasons which determined the timing and the target of the mass deportations. The other one states that ethnic cleansing was the aim of mass deportations before the Barbarossa operation. I argue that, at first glance, both interpretations seem mutually exclusive, but in reality, they are complementary. Among the deportees from Soviet Moldavia in mid‑June 1941, as well as from other newly annexed territories, according to the Molotov‑Ribbentrop Pact, were social elements deemed ideologically dangerous. At the same time, the official Stalinist view since the 1930s claimed that these social categories, in particular, would raise serious security threats in the event of a foreign invasion by sympathizing and siding with the external enemy.

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