Declaration of the USSR Supreme Soviet “On Declaring the Repression of the Forcibly Resettled Peoples as Illegal and Criminal, as well as Concerning the Guarantee of Their Rights” (November 14, 1989)
“Declaration of the USSR Supreme Soviet ‘On Declaring the Repression of the Forcibly Resettled Peoples as Illegal and Criminal, as well as Concerning the Guarantee of Their Rights’ (November 14, 1989).” Translated and Edited by Eric J. Schmaltz, Neues Leben, (Moscow).
Translated and edited by Eric J. Schmaltz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Co-Executive Director of the NWOSU-Masonic Institute for Citizenship Studies, Department of Social Sciences, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva.
The original German source: “Deklaration des Obersten Sowjets der Union der Sozialistischen Sowjetrepubliken: Über die Qualifizierung der Repressalien gegenüber den gewaltsam ausgesiedelten Völkern als gesetzwidrig und verbrecherisch sowie über die Gewährleistung ihrer Rechte (Nov. 14, 1989),” Neues Leben (Moscow), No. 49 (Nov. 29, 1989): p. 2.
Actual official statements from the Soviet Union have lent more credence to the contention that genocide (i.e., both physical and social-cultural destruction) had been directed against its ethnic Germans and other nationality groups during the Stalinist period. Between 1989 and 1991, the declining Soviet regime enacted a series of far-reaching “rehabilitation” measures for its ethnic Germans and other persecuted nationality groups.
In the spirit of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika (“restructuring”), the USSR Supreme Soviet issued an important official declaration on November 14, 1989, guaranteeing the rights of the “repressed and deported peoples.” The declaration referred to the Balkars, Ingush, Kalmyks, Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Meskhetians Turks, Greeks, Koreans, Kurds, Karachai, and Germans. In support of Soviet society’s ongoing “renewal” and “democratization” at the time, the new governmental policy was now to reflect the truth about the past and provide the country with a positive legal precedent. The declaration acknowledged the “bitterness” of the Stalinist era. In particular, the USSR Supreme Soviet criticized the Stalinist policies of removal and repression, even declaring such past actions as “barbaric” and “criminal.” The government also guaranteed that such abuses of power would never happen again, promising to pass legislation that would reinstate the rights of these national groups. The declaration helped prepare the way for the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic’s (RSFSR) April 26, 1991 law “Concerning the Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples.”
The 1989 declaration reads:
Today at a time of revolutionary renewal of Soviet society, as the democratization and liberation of all aspects of our life from the deformations and distortions of the human principles of humanism have been generally introduced, the endeavor in the country to know the whole truth about the past and to heed the lessons from it for the sake of the future is intensifying.
The memory moves us with particular bitterness back to the tragic years of Stalinist repression. Lawlessness and arbitrariness did not spare any particular republic or any single nationality. The mass arrests permitted in the past, the torment endured in the camps, the misery of women, the elderly and children in the small communities [villages] under special supervision still appeal to our conscience and violate our moral sensibility. It cannot be forgotten.
The deportation of the Balkars, Ingush, Kalmyks, Karachai, Crimean Tatars, Germans, Meskhetian Turks, and Chechens from their native places that occurred during the years of the Second World War was a barbaric action of the Stalinist regime. The policy of forcible deportation also had an effect on the fate of the Koreans, Greeks, Kurds, and other national peoples.
The USSR Supreme Soviet unreservedly condemns the practice of the forcible resettlement of entire peoples as a serious crime, which contradicts the principles of national rights and the humane nature of the socialist community order.
The Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics guarantees that the violation of human rights and humane standards will never recur at the state level in our country.
The USSR Supreme Soviet considers it necessary to take up accordingly legislative measures toward the complete restoration of rights for all Soviet peoples who were exposed to repression.