German anti-aircraft fire. September 1942, Northern Caucasus. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1970-033-04 / CC-BY-SA

23 February 2021, 16:16

Historians reject mass collaboration as reason for Vainakhs' deportation

There was no mass support for German fascists in Northern Caucasus; and the version of Soviet authorities on collaboration, which became the reason for the deportation of Chechens and Ingushes, is unjustified, historians have pointed out.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that the Fatherland Defender's Day coincides with the anniversary of the Stalinist deportation of Chechens and Ingushes in 1944. Ingush activists have proposed a new format for the celebration on February 23 – without entertainment events.

The operation "Shamil", during which German intelligence agents landed in 1942 in the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Ch-I ASSR) aiming to provoke an anti-Soviet rebellion there, is cited as a "far-fetched justification" for the deportation of Chechens and Ingushes, said Pavel Polyan, a historian. He pointed out that the Vainakhs' deportation was conducted 14 months after the expulsion of Germans; that is, it is not possible to treat the deportation as a preventive measure.

There are no convincing proofs of "mass collaboration" in Northern Caucasus in German documents, Peter van Huis, a historian from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, has confirmed.

Although the Vainakhs' deportation is recognized as a crime in Russian historiography, its official reason – "collaboration with Nazis" – is often presented as a proven fact with reference to NKVD (the then sort of Interior Ministry) documents. However, Wehrmacht's archival documents indicate that Nazis' plans to trigger an uprising in Chechen-Ingushetia by sending saboteurs failed precisely because of absence of support among local residents.

Residents of the Ch-I ASSR did not seek "just like that" to help the German paratroopers, said Apti Batalov, a son of a surviving participant in the operation. "They helped in exchange for weapons and parachute fabrics," he said.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on February 23, 2021 at 11:50 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

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