Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet “Concerning the Criminal Responsibility for Escape from the Place of Mandatory and Permanent Settlement of Persons Removed to Distant Regions of the Soviet Union at the Time of the Great Patriotic War” (November 26, 1948)
Shvernik, A. and A. Gorkin. “Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet ‘Concerning the Criminal Responsibility for Escape from the Place of Mandatory and Permanent Settlement of Persons Removed to Distant Regions of the Soviet Union at the Time of the Great Patriotic War’ (November 26, 1948).” Translated and Edited by Eric J. Schmaltz, Istoriia rossiiskikh nemtsev v dokumentakh, (Moscow: MIGUP, 1993).
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 Russian source: A. Shvernik and A. Gorkin, “Ukaz Prezidiuma Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR ‘Ob ugolobnoy otvetstvennosti za pobegi iz mest obyazatel’nogo i postoyannogo poseleniya lits, vyselennikh v otdalennie rayoni Sovetskogo Soyuza v period Otechestvennoy voyni’ (November 26, 1948),” in Vladimir A. Aumann and Valentina G. Chebotareva, eds., Istoriia rossiiskikh nemtsev v dokumentakh (1763-1992 gg.) (Moscow: MIGUP, 1993), p. 176.
On November 26, 1948, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet’s top-secret decree “Concerning the Criminal Responsibility for Escape from the Place of Mandatory and Permanent Settlement of Persons Removed to Distant Regions of the Soviet Union at the Time of the Great Patriotic War” announced the post-World War II fate of the various deported peoples in the eastern expanses, including about 1.2 million ethnic Germans. Soviet officials A. Shvernik and A. Gorkin signed this decree, which was to remain in effect “forever.” A couple of years after Stalin’s death, however, the Soviet regime under leader Nikita Khrushchev revoked it:
In the regime’s goal of settlement for those deported by the supreme authority of the USSR in the period of the Great Patriotic War [World War II]—the Chechens, Karachai, Ingush, Balkars, Kalmyks, Germans, Crimean Tatars, and others—and also in connection with the fact, that, at the time of their resettlement [in the early to mid-1940s], the duration of their exile was not determined, to establish that the removal of the aforementioned persons to the distant regions of the Soviet Union is put into effect forever, without the right to return to their previous places of residence.
For the unauthorized departure (escape) from the place of mandatory settlement, these guilty deportees [special settlers] are subject to being put on trial for criminal liability. A punishment for this crime is fixed at 20 years of hard labor.
In the treatment of escapes by deportees, the cases are to be considered in the Special Commission associated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR [MVD]. It is to call to account [take legal action against] persons guilty of concealing deportees who ran away from the place of compulsory settlement, persons who contributed to their escape, persons guilty of giving escapees the permission to return to their places of previous residence, or persons who are offering them assistance in the places of previous residence. A punishment for these crimes is imprisonment for a period of five years.