views updated Jun 11 2018



Forcible and violent mass deportations of civilian populations to remote areas are a phenomenon that twentieth-century total-itarian regimes often resorted to. Typically, the deported groups were nationally, ethnically, religiously, or racially distinct, and their deportation was part of a campaign of annihilation that the deporting regime conducted against them. Almost always, the deported population was transferred by violent means to areas of settlement that were unsuited to its ways of life and livelihood. In the course of the deportation, the deportees suffered grave economic damage, loss and disintegration of their social and community framework, severe violence, and loss of lives. In many cases, deportation was the first stage in a process of ethnic cleansing or genocide. Its purpose was to induce the deported group to eradicate itself by assimilating into the population at large or to destroy it in the literal, physical sense, resulting in its disappearance as a group with an identity and characteristics of its own.

The first salient case of deportation as part of such a process was the removal of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The Ottoman regime, led by a group of reformist officers known as the Young Turks, regarded the Armenians as an ethnic and national collective that obstructed the fulfillment of the Ottoman national and economic goals. In April 1915 hundreds of Armenians affiliated with their national intelligentsia were executed in order to deprive the Armenian population of its natural leadership. Afterward, the Ottoman government ordered the deportation of approximately one million Armenians from Anatolia to the areas of Syria and Mesopotamia. The deportation escalated into an act of genocide in which lengthy death marches resulted in mass mortality. As the victims of the deportation made their way across arid zones and deserts, their Turkish military escorts subjected them to gunfire, abuse, and brutal acts of rape. Hundreds of thousands died of starvation, illness, and murder. The number of victims of the Armenian deportation and genocide is estimated at between 800,000 to 1.2 million.

Another example of mass deportation with ethnic-cleansing characteristics is that perpetrated by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (1879–1953) against the Ukrainian peasant class in the 1930s. To promote collectivization and shatter the Ukrainian peasants' resistance, the Soviet regime began in 1930 to deport hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to faraway areas of settlement in Central Asia, Siberia, and northern Russia. Ostensibly the deportations were directed against prosperous peasants, known as kulaks, only, but in reality encompassed peasants from many different backgrounds. The deportations were accompanied by total destruction of the agricultural and rural infrastructure in Ukraine. Sometimes the peasants themselves, in their struggle against the authorities, elected to destroy their own farms and slaughter their work animals to keep them out of the hands of the Soviet apparatus. More than 1,800,000 Ukrainian peasants were driven off their land in 1930–1931 and forcibly resettled far away. More than 380,000 deportees died during the deportation or in their places of resettlement as a result of the harsh conditions that they found there. These deportations, which continued on a small scale throughout the 1930s, obliterated the independent Ukrainian peasant class and brought the economic and community system in Ukraine to total collapse. The ghastliest result of the deportation policy was the severe famine that gripped Ukraine in the early 1930s, claiming as many as seven million victims, according to current estimates.

The Polish population that had settled in areas that came under Soviet sovereignty after 1920 also became victims of brutal deportations in the 1930s. During the great Stalinist terror (1937–1938), some 110,000 ethnic Poles who dwelled in Belarusian and Ukrainian territory were executed, and additional hundreds of thousands were deported to Central Asia or northern Russia, where they were interned in Soviet forced-labor camps, the gulag, or in labor and penal colonies.


The Nazis' Jewish policy stressed from the beginning the need to banish Jews from the German society and nation. By the late 1930s, this policy rested on deliberate pressure from the economic authorities, the police, and/or the SS (Schutzstaffel) to induce Jews to emigrate from the German Reich. The first deportation of Jews from Germany took place on 28–29 October 1938. Some seventeen thousand Jews who held Polish citizenship and were living in Germany were rounded up in a coordinated Gestapo action and driven across the Polish border to the vicinity of Zbaszyn. The Polish government blocked the deportees' entrance, trapping them in a no-man's-land along the German-Polish frontier with no systematized source of sustenance. Jewish relief organizations, foremost the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, saw to their needs.

After World War II began, the deportation policy became a basic element in the Nazis' plans for the German-occupied areas in eastern Europe. By late October 1939, the SS chief of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler (1900–1945), the ex officio "Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of Germandom," had issued guidelines for a grandiose scheme involving a demographic upheaval in the occupied Polish territories. According to the guidelines, within four months more than 550,000 Jews living in the areas of western Poland that had been annexed to the German Reich (the Wartheland area) were to be deported, as were hundreds of thousands of Poles in these areas who were deemed hostile to Germany. It was decided to transfer the deportees to the General Government, the area in central Poland that the Nazis intended to transform into a reserve for racially inferior population groups. These groups, according to the Nazi ideology, were to become a pool of labor and an economic resource to be exploited for the economic utility and the needs of the German Reich.

The deportations started in late 1939. In the Wartheland area, a main target for Germanization, mass expulsions of Poles and Jews began, and ethnic Germans from the Baltic countries were transferred to the area for resettlement in the localities that had been cleansed of Poles. By spring 1941, the Germans had deported about four hundred thousand Poles and Jews from the Wartheland, southeastern Prussia, and eastern Upper Silesia. Preparations for the resettlement of the deportees in the General Government were not made, and those removed were not allowed to ease their absorption in the resettlement areas by bringing possessions. The Jews, who accounted for 13 percent of the deportees, faced an especially dire situation; they had to find living quarters in the congested ghettos where the Nazis had interned the Jews who lived in the General Government area.

The deportation plan that the SS officer Karl Adolf Eichmann (1906–1962) had prepared for the Jews in occupied Poland was even more farreaching. By October 1939, Eichmann had set forth a program for the deportation of more than seventy thousand Jews from eastern Upper Silesia to the Lublin area, east of the Vistula (Wisla) River. Shortly afterward, he also began to include on the deportation trains Jews from the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and from Austria. In this scheme, known as the Nisko and Lublin Plan or the Lublin Reservation, Eichmann aimed to transform the chosen area (eastern Poland, along the Soviet border) into a territorial reserve to which the Jews of the Reich would be expelled. However, after only several thousand Jews were sent to the camp that had been established in the Lublin area, Hitler struck down the plan in March 1940, ruling that this kind of a territorial solution to the Jewish problem was inapplicable. In summer 1940, the Lublin Plan was succeeded by a new deportation scheme, the Madagascar Plan. The idea now was to transform the faraway eastern African island of Madagascar into a massive, isolated ghetto, where the millions of Jews living in the Nazi-controlled areas in Europe would be concentrated. This plan, too, was shelved in early 1941 after its utter inapplicability became blatantly clear.

These deportation attempts were initial pilot steps toward a comprehensive program, known as Generalplan Ost, that took shape progressively in 1941–1942. The intent now was to create a new ethnic and demographic order in the areas that Germany had occupied in eastern Europe. It was related to the expansionist aims and the creation of Lebensraum (living space) for the German nation that the Nazi ideology prescribed. The plan called for extensive ethnic cleansing in the areas that Germany was about to occupy in the Slavic east of Europe—Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. These areas were to undergo intensive Germanization and the disappearance of their Slavic population within ten years, with the exception of a carefully selected minority suited for assimilation into the "Aryan" race. Some fifty million Slavs in these areas would be deported to the east, beyond the Ural Mountains, and a minority of several million would remain in eastern Europe as a labor force for the German economy. Within the framework of this ethnodemographic upheaval, the Jewish question would find its final solution.

In January 1942 Himmler set the plan in motion by promoting a German settlement project in the southwestern part of occupied Lithuania. In March 1942 he also approved a German colonization venture in the Polish territories around Zamość, in Lublin District. In November–December 1942, about one hundred thousand Poles were deported from this area brutally and without time to prepare. They were to be replaced with ethnic Germans from Ukraine.

Deportations of Jewish and non-Jewish populations also took place in western Europe in 1940. After the defeat of France and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine to the German Reich, about seventy thousand French whom the Germans defined as undesirable, including thousands of Jews, were deported from the annexed territory to areas controlled by the Vichy government. In October 1940, police raided villages in the Baden and Saarpfalz areas and rounded up all Jews without forewarning. About 6,500 Jews were concentrated and deported to the Vichy zone in the south of France, where they were placed in camps that the French authorities had established for them.


When the decision about the Final Solution was made in the autumn of 1941, the next phase of the deportation of European Jewry began. The destinations now were extermination centers in eastern Europe. The deportation of German Jews to various ghettos in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Belarus began in September 1941. Some fifty thousand Jews had been deported by the end of 1941; many of them had been murdered immediately upon reaching their destinations, along with the local Jews. Those remaining were placed in the ghettos of Łódź, Warsaw, and Riga. The person responsible for organizing the transports from Germany, Austria, and (later) from western Europe, Slovakia, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, and Croatia, was one of Eichmann's aides, a young SS officer of Austrian origin named Frantz Novak. Novak had amassed experience in the technical organization of deportation trains during the deportation actions in Poland in 1940–1941, and when mass deportations of Jews to extermination began, it was he who coordinated and organized the evacuation trains. As a result of his organizational efforts, more than seven hundred deportation trains delivered Jews to death camps.

The first deportations of Jews to extermination took place in the middle of January 1942. The destination was Chełmno, in western Poland, the first extermination camp activated in Poland. The establishment of the Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka camps and the installation of extermination facilities in Auschwitz marked the completion of the mass extermination system. Once this was done, mass deportations of Jews in Poland and from the other European countries for extermination began. The deportation of Jews in Lublin District started in spring 1942. The great deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto took place that summer, as approximately 350,000 were transported to Treblinka for extermination within a few weeks. Deportation transports began to leave Slovakia in late March 1942; by the end of the summer, fifty-eight thousand Jews had been taken to Auschwitz. Initial deportations from France set out in the spring of 1942. Transports from the Netherlands and Belgium began in July 1942, and 5,500 Jews from Croatia were deported to Poland for extermination in August 1942.

In summer 1941, Romania, Germany's ally, formulated its anti-Jewish policy under the influence of the policy that was taking shape in Germany. The Romanian dictator, Ion Antonescu (1882–1946), decided to solve the problem of the Jewish population in the areas that his country had annexed in Bessarabia and Bukovina. First, Romanian military forces and SS murder units murdered more than 150,000 Jews in these areas. Afterward, Romania issued a deportation order for the remaining Jews, alleging that they had collaborated with the Soviet Union during the Soviet occupation of these territories in 1939–1941. From September 1941, some 150,000 Jews were deported from Bessarabia and Bukovina to Transnistria, a salient between the Bug and Dniester Rivers in Ukraine. The deportation was typified by horrific death marches, as its Romanian military and police escorts murdered deportees ruthlessly.

A second large wave of deportations of Jews from western Europe to the death camps in Poland began in early 1943. That spring, Greece joined the roster of countries from which Jews were being deported. Some forty-six thousand Jews, a large majority of whom came from Salonika, were sent to Auschwitz for extermination during these months. In late 1943, as the Wehrmacht (the German army) entered Italy to stop the Allied armies that were advancing from the south and prevent them from occupying the entire country, the Nazis began to deport Jews from Rome and locations in northern Italy. In 1944 mass extermination deportations continued in almost all places where Germany's declining situation on the fronts allowed them to take place. A new wave of deportations of Jews from Slovakia began that year. In August 1944 the last large concentration of Jews in Poland, the seventy thousand who were still living in the Lodz ghetto, was deported. The Germans' last large murder deportation took place in Hungary. When the Wehrmacht rushed into Hungary in March 1944 to frustrate its ally's intention to secede from the war, Adolf Eichmann and members of his unit reached Budapest and, from the middle of May to July 1944, engineered the deportation of some 440,000 Jews from Hungary in conjunction with units of the Hungarian gendarmerie. Most of the deportees met their death in Auschwitz.

The mechanism that the Germans used to deport European Jewry to extermination in 1942–1944 did not require the establishment of a special and sophisticated logistical and transport system. Eichmann's department, which handled the logistical aspects of the deportations, relied on cooperation with officials at the German foreign ministry and its representatives at the German embassies in the German-allied countries and in satellite states such as Vichy France and Slovakia. Furthermore, local police forces and auxiliary units in these countries collaborated in the deportations and provided assistance. They did so in the service of their own interests; there was no deep German involvement, as there had been, for example, in Romania and Hungary. The German transport ministry, together with the Reich railroad authority, made special trains available for deportation needs. In Poland, the local railroad authority, integrated into the Reich rail network after the occupation in 1939, participated in the transport of Jews to extermination. Record-keeping, planning, and payment for the "special trains" that delivered the deported Jews to death were worked out between Eichmann's unit and the general railroad system even during the most difficult periods of the war, when needs on the eastern front placed the rail system under severe pressure. In many cases, especially during the deportations from Germany and western Europe, Jews were hauled to the east in ordinary passenger trains under group-fare arrangements. Most of the extermination deportations, however, were carried out in sealed freight cars; the internal reckoning for payment treated them as freight transport.

The Gypsies in the Reich territories were also subjected to a policy of deportation as part of a genocidal solution after the war began. The first groups of Romanies (Gypsies) who were defined as criminal or asocial elements were evicted from Berlin in May 1940, shortly before the invasion of France. By the autumn of that year, 2,850 Romanies had been deported to the General Government. In autumn 1941, after the systematic murder of Jews in eastern Europe began, the deportation of five thousand Roma from the Burgenland in Austria got under way. These Gypsies were deported to the Lodz ghetto, where they were concentrated in a separate area and were among the first to be deported to extermination from the ghetto when it began in late 1941. On 16 December 1942 Himmler issued an order for the deportation of Sinti and Romanies to concentration camps. These deportations began in the spring of 1943 and continued until summer 1944. Although Gypsies were deported from all Nazi-ruled areas that they inhabited, the actions against them were sporadic and uneven. Some twenty-two thousand Gypsies reached Auschwitz, where 19,500 perished in the gas chambers or died of starvation and disease.


After World War II, deportations and forced emigration were used extensively in eastern Europe to regulate the ethnic and national tensions that had been typical of these areas before 1939. Another element in this phenomenon was the wish of the peoples who had suffered from the terrors of Nazi occupation and enmity to settle scores with Germany. As the war wound down, the leaders of the three leading victors—the Soviet Union, Britain, and the United States—in conjunction with the governments-in-exile of Poland and Czechoslovakia, agreed that the problem of German populations in the two last-mentioned countries, which Germany had occupied during the war, had to be solved. The solution chosen was the expulsion of millions of Germans who were living in the areas that had just been annexed to Poland, at Germany's expense, under the agreements concluded at the Tehran and Yalta conferences, and in western Czechoslovakia. Between 1945 and 1948, some eleven million Germans left Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic countries, and Romania, and moved to Germany; nearly all of them settled in the British and the American occupation zones. This powerful outflux of humanity began before the end of the war, as Germans fled in an unprecedented fashion because of fear of the approaching Red Army, and it continued immediately after the surrender of Germany. What followed was a mass expulsion of Germans from the countries that had just been liberated in eastern Europe. Some two million German civilians are believed to have died in the course of these escape and expulsion actions.

The Germans were not the only group expelled forcibly from Poland after the war. In April 1946 Polish military forces embarked on the violent expulsion to the Soviet Ukraine of the Ukrainian population that was still dwelling in various parts of eastern Poland. This action, too, was influenced by the wish to avenge Poland for the role of Ukrainians in supporting the Nazi occupation during the war and in perpetrating severe violence against ethnic Poles. Roughly 260,000 Ukrainians were evacuated against their will, but even afterward the Polish authorities believed that too many Ukrainians remained in the country, estimating their numbers at 75,000 or as many as 200,000. In spring 1947 an operation began to remove and resettle these Ukrainians in western Prussia, in order to place them at the greatest possible distance from the Polish-Ukrainian frontier. Approximately 140,000 Polish citizens of Ukrainian origin were displaced and settled in the new areas that had been allocated to them.

See alsoConcentration Camps; Germany; Holocaust; Jews; Nazism; Refugees; Romanies (Gypsies).


Browning, Christopher R. The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939–March 1942. Lincoln, Neb., 2004.

Dadrian, Vahakn N. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Providence, R.I., 1995.

Hilberg, Raul. Sonderzüge nach Auchwitz. Mainz, Germany, 1981.

Ther, Philip, and Ana Siljak, eds. Redrawing Nations: Ethnic Cleansing in East-Central Europe, 1944–1948. Lanham, Md., 2001.

Daniel Blatman


views updated May 09 2018


The term deportation does not have an exact Russian equivalent (vyselenie is the most common, with deportatsiya also coming into use in the twentieth century). The term refers to the forced removal of a defined group from a certain territory. The largest cases of mass deportation occurred during the two world wars and were linked in many ways to the practices of ethnic cleansing and nationalist politics that swept through Europe during the dark years of the first half of the century.

But the practice can also be traced to precedents in earlier Russian history. Some of the best-known early attempts to use deportation as an official policy involved repressions of elites after conquest of new regions or in the aftermath of rebellions. After the conquest of Novgorod in the late fifteenth century, the Prince of Muscovy expropriated the

Major Ethnic Deportations, 19371944
NationalityNumber DeportedDate of DeportationPlace of Resettlement
SOURCE: Based on Pohl, J. Otto. (1999). Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 19371949. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Koreans171,7818/21/3710/25/37Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
Germans749,6139/3/4110/15/41Kazakhstan, Siberia
Kalmyks93,13912/28/4312/29/43Siberia, Kazakhstan
Karachais69,26711/6/43Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Chechens387,2292/23/442/29/44Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Ingush91,2502/23/442/29/44Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Balkars37,7133/8/443/9/44Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Crimean Tatars183,1555/18/445/20/44Uzbekistan, Molotov
Crimean Greeks15,0406/27/446/28/44Uzbekistan, Mari ASSR
Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Khemshils94,9555/11/4411/26/44Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Total 1,982,142

lands of leading boyars and forcibly took them to Moscow. When Russia conquered the Crimea, there was a mass exodus of Tatars in which the role of Russian officials remains in dispute among historians. During the conquest of the Caucasus in the nineteenth century, the regime turned to extremely violent methods of driving the entire population from given regions, and encouraged mass emigrations of Adygy, Nogai, and other predominantly Muslim and Turkic groups. In the aftermath of both the 1831 and 1861 rebellions the authorities confiscated estates and deported thousands of Polish gentry it accused of participating to Siberia and the Caucasus.

Another important precedent for the twentieth-century deportations was the Russian punitive system, which relied heavily upon the exile of individuals to Siberia and other locations and thereby created a template for officials to apply to entire groups in extraordinary circumstances. Likewise, the myriad of regulations on Jewish rights of residence resulted in a constant stream of forced expulsions of Jews from areas declared off-limits, including the mass expulsion of Jews from Moscow in 18911892.

Important as these precedents were, the mass deportations of the period from 1914 to 1945 stand in a category apart. The first major deportations of this period occurred during World War I. In the first months of the war, the regime interned enemy citizen males to prevent them from departing the country to serve in enemy armies. By the end of 1915, the regime had expanded these operations to include large numbers of women, children, and elderly, and by 1917, over a quarter million enemy citizens had been deported to the Russian interior. In a series of other operations, the army extended the mass deportations to Russian subjects. The largest of these operations resulted in the deportation of roughly 300,000 Germans and the expulsion of a half million Jews from areas near the front. In addition to these groups, ten thousand Crimean Tatars and several thousand Adzhars, Laz, gypsies, and others were swept up in the operations.

The motives and explanations for these operations include many different variables, of which two stand out. First were security concerns: The deported groups were accused of disloyalty or potential disloyalty if allowed to fall under enemy occupation. The second was economic nationalism. Demands among local populations to expropriate the lands and businesses of the foreigners, Germans, and Jews resonated with more general campaigns led by Russians during the war to nationalize and nativize the economy. As the war dragged on, security motives tended to give way to the nationalist ones. This was reflected in a series of administrative and legal decisions in 1915 that effectively ensured that the ownership of properties of deported groups would be permanently transferred to Russians, to other favored nationalities, or to the state.

deportations under the bolsheviks

After 1917, the Bolshevik regime attempted to use deportation to achieve revolutionary aims. The practice of deporting criminals to Siberia greatly expanded, and several campaigns resulted in attempts to deport entire social population categories. Most dramatic was the 19191920 "decossackization" campaign during the civil war, and the

19301933 deportation of kulaks (in theory, the relatively affluent peasants in each village).

The next wave of mass deportations was closely linked to World War II, and the international tensions that preceded its outbreak. Fears of foreign influence, hostility toward foreign capitalist states, and insecurity about the loyalty of certain ethnic groups that straddled the border led the Bolsheviks to turn to mass ethnic deportations. Already in 1934, operations to clear the border regions of "unreliable elements" began with a deportations of Finns, Latvians, Estonians, Germans, and Poles from Leningrad, which was considered to be a strategic border city. In February and March 1935, authorities deported more than 40,000 "unreliables" (mostly ethnic Germans and Poles) from Ukrainian border regions. This was the first of a series of mass deportations from border areas, including about 30,000 Finns sent from the Leningrad border regions in 1936 and 170,000 Koreans deported from the Far East to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The latter was the first ethnic cleansing of an entire nationality.

During the Great Purge of 19371938, deportation to the Siberian camps was a major part of the operations, which targeted former kulaks, criminals, "anti-Soviet elements," and in a separate set of "national operations," a series of ethnic groups, including: Koreans, Poles, Germans, Greeks, Finns, Latvians, Estonians, Afghans, and Iranians. In all, according to Terry Martin (1998, p. 858), approximately 800,000 individuals were arrested, deported, or executed in the national operations from 1935 to 1938. The regime seems to have been motivated in this wave of peacetime mass ethnic deportations by an attempt to secure the border zones in preparation for war, and by the failure of its attempt to spread revolution beyond the Soviet Union by granting wide cultural autonomy and support to ethnic groups that were divided by the Soviet border. Recognition of the failure of this latter strategy led the regime to turn in the opposite direction, toward prophylactic strikes to remove the same groups from border areas to prevent their own attraction to their co-ethnics abroad.

World War II brought mass deportations on an even greater scale. First, the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) and parts of Poland and Rumania as a result of the Nazi-Soviet agreement of August 1939 was followed by mass deportations of the cultural, political, and economic elites of these states. The scale of the arrests and deportations was remarkable. Pavel Polian estimates that 380,000 people were deported in these operations from early 1940 to June 1941.

After the German invasion of June 1941, Joseph Stalin ordered the mass deportation of entire nationalities. Thirteen national groups in all were rounded up by special police units and deported by train to Central Asia in operations that lasted only a few days each. The first operations occurred in August and September 1941, when 89,000 Finns and 749,613 Germans were deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia. Hitler made no secret of his plans to use the German minority in the Soviet Union as a building block for his new racial order in the East, and his mass evacuation of ethnic Germans from the Baltic states to Germany in 1939 on the eve of the Soviet invasion of those states set the tone for Stalin's deportations of Germans. As in World War I, the regime deported ethnic Germans from the western and southern parts of the empire, but this time added the large German population in the middle Volga region. Germans accounted for nearly half of the wartime ethnic deportations. The Finns were deported largely from the Leningrad region in August 1941 as the Finnish Army was advancing toward the city.

From November 1943 to November 1944, the Kalmyks, Karachai, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars, Crimean Greeks, Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Khemshils were all deported en masse to Central Asia. These deportations were accompanied by accusations of collaboration while under German occupation, but the long histories of resistance among some of these groups to Russian rule doubtless was an important factor as well. This was particularly true in Chechnya, where an insurgency formed during the war and conducted raids and assassinations against Soviet officials.

In the final analysis, of course, there can be no rational explanation for the mass deportation of entire nationalities. The deportations were recognized as early as the 1950s as one of Stalin's greatest crimes. The conditions of the deported groups were improved and restrictions on their movement were partially lifted between 1954 and 1956. The easing of conditions from 1954 to 1956 led to major unsanctioned return journeys of many of the Caucasus nationalities. This was a factor in the government's decisions from 1956 to 1958 to allow the Karachai, Balkars, Kalmyks, Chechens, and Ingush to return and to restore their local national governmental autonomy. But official rehabilitation for the Germans came only in 1964 and for the Crimean Tatars in 1967, and in neither case were their national autonomous governments restored, nor were these groups given permission to return to their homelands until the late 1980s and early 1990s. The mass deportations of the twentieth century left a bitter legacy that contributed to the determination of national movements from the Baltics to Chechnya to acquire full independence from Moscow.

See also: nationalities policies, soviet; nationalities policies, tsarist; pale of settlement; world war i; world war ii


Lohr, Eric. (2003). Nationalizing the Russian Empire: The Campaign against Enemy Aliens during World War I. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Martin, Terry. (1998). "The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing." The Journal of Modern History 70(4): 813861.

Nekrich, Aleksandr M. (1978). The Punished Peoples: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War. New York: Norton.

Eric Lohr


views updated May 11 2018


Sections within this essay:

History of Deportation in the United States
The Deportation Process
Voluntary Departure
Inadmissible Aliens

Ways to Avoid Deportation
Waivers, Cancellation, and Suspension
Asylum Seekers

The Changing Role of INS
Additional Resources
United States Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
United States Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)


Deportation, according to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, is "the formal removal of an alien from the United States when the alien has been found removable for violating immigration laws." Throughout the history of the United States individuals have been deported for such reasons as committing subversive acts against the government, fraudulently obtaining legal residency, and having a criminal record. In the last two decades of the twentieth century, for example, a number of immigrants to the United States were deported when it was determined that they had been prison guards in Nazi concentration camps during the 1930s and 1940s. Sometimes these individuals had been living quietly in the United States for nearly half a century.

Until nearly the end of the twentieth century, deportation was considered separate from exclusion, the act of denying an alien entry into the United States With the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in 1996, deportation and exclusion procedures were consolidated, effective April 1, 1997.

History of Deportation in the United States

The first deportation law in the United States was the Alien Act of 1798. Under this law, the president could deport any alien who was deemed dangerous. (A Naturalization Act was also passed that raised from five to 14 years the length of time an immigrant had to reside in the United States before being eligible for naturalization.) These measures were the result of growing hostility between the United States and France; with the accession to power of Napoleon Bonaparte, tensions eased dramatically, and no one was ever deported under the Alien Act.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to limit the number of Chinese immigrants into the United States, but it was not a deportation law. During the first decades of the twentieth century, however, a number of potentially subversive aliens were deported, particularly in light of the proliferation of anarchists and the spread of socialism. Events such as World War I and the 1918 Bolshevik revolution in Russia helped shape opinions in the United States, and immigration was viewed less and less favorably.

In the 1920s the issue was not so much deporting aliens as keeping them out; quota systems limited the number of immigrants to the United States. After World War II, the Cold War and a growing fear of Communist infiltration into the U.S. government resulted in more deportations for several years.

In the 1980s and 1990s an increasing number of illegal immigrants from South and Central America, Haiti, and Cuba tried to enter the United States. Most deportation cases today, in fact, are illegal immigration cases.

The Deportation Process

In general, a person who is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) need not fear deportation, unless it can be proven that he or she entered the United States fraudulently or committed a serious crime (ex-Nazi prison guards, for example). One of the more familiar ways for ordinary people to remain in the United States by fraud is to marry a U.S. citizen. When someone who is about to be sent back to his or her country (because a visa has expired, for example) suddenly gets married, INS requires that both spouses be questioned. The typical movie depiction of this is of a desperate alien who loves the U.S. and is able to stay after finding a kindhearted and selfless person who agrees to a fake marriage. In real life these marriages are not always based on such altruistic motives.

The first step in deporting an alien is to issue an "Order to Show Cause." This document establishes the government's reasons for deporting the person in question. The alien is usually detained, although he or she can be released by posting bond. The alien is then scheduled to attend a hearing before an immigration judge. The government is represented at these hearings by an attorney; the alien can also have legal representation, but it must be "at no expense to the government." In many jurisdictions, there are lawyers and legal agencies who will work for the alien for reduced fees or pro bono.

The judge hears the evidence on both sides and makes a ruling, which can be appealed by both sides to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Once BIA makes this ruling, the losing side can appeal through federal courts, although the likelihood of an alien appealing would depend on his or her financial resources.

Voluntary Departure

Some aliens fear that deportation will forever ruin their chances of returning to the United States. A less punitive measure that serves the same effect (getting the alien out of the country) is "voluntary departure." This is usually the final step before deportation hearings, and it allows the alien to leave with somewhat less of a stigma. Voluntary departure candidates must possess good moral character and must be capable of paying their own transportation costs (including air and ship travel).

Inadmissible Aliens

Some potential immigrants are barred from entering the United States. Inadmissible aliens cannot enter the country as immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers because they fail to meet the necessary requirements. Reasons for inadmissibility include:

  • Communicable diseases. Carriers of diseases such as tuberculosis, AIDS, typhoid fever, and other serious ailments that can easily be transmitted are not allowed to emigrate. The reason is obvious: Someone carrying a serious or deadly disease can infect others and create a severe health crisis. (It is possible for someone with a serious communicable disease to have a finding of inadmissibility overturned, but only if he or she can prove that the disease in question has been cured. For some incurable diseases, such as AIDS, a waiver may be granted.)
  • Criminal record. Anyone who has committed crimes classified as "aggravated felonies" are generally denied admission to the United States. Aggravated felonies include serious crimes such as murder, rape, and drug trafficking. Other aggravated felonies are treason, espionage, and terrorist activities. (In certain cases, some ex-convicts who seek asylum can get a waiver, but they have to be able to prove to a judge that their crime was not serious or that the charges had been trumped up by their government.).
  • Physical and mental disorders. Certain conditions bar aliens from immigrating to the United States, although aliens can try to prove that the condition in question has been cured or is under control.
  • Terrorist and or espionage threat. In addition to those who have been convicted of aggravated felonies, anyone deemed likely to engage in subversive activity against the United States will be denied entry.

As covered under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, inadmissible aliens can be deported through the procedure known as expedited removal. Aliens who possess no entry documents or whose documents are either fraudulently obtained or counterfeit are subject to expedited removal. So are aliens who have entered (or attempted to enter) the United States without having first been admitted by an immigration officer at a standard port of entry. Aliens have the right to make claim to legal status in the United States, or they can ask for asylum. While the INS can allow an alien to appear before an immigration judge, there is no obligation to do so, and the alien may simply be ordered removed.

Ways to Avoid Deportation

Deportation is a complex issue that many immigrants cannot understand, especially if they are expected to gain all the necessary knowledge through a relatively small window of opportunity. Finding an immigration lawyer or service is probably the best step anyone facing deportation can take. In larger cities with significant immigration populations, there may be organizations in place to help immigrants. Contacting local bar associations may be a useful first step in finding lawyers who specialize in immigration law, including those who charge reduced fees or no fees at all.

Waivers, Cancellation, and Suspension

Among the ways to avoid deportation are the following:

  • Waivers. In certain cases, immigrants can apply for waivers from deportation if they can prove that deporting them would pose an undue hardship (the government uses the phrase "extreme hardship") to his or her spouse, children, or parents. (This assumes that these relatives are either U.S. citizens or LPRs). The granting of a waiver depends on the reason for deportation, and immigration officials have considerable leeway in making a decision.
  • Cancellation of Removal. If someone who is already an LPR is targeted for deportation, he or she can apply for a cancellation of removal from the United States. The individual must have been a resident of the United States for at least seven years and an LPR for at least five and cannot have committed any serious crimes (called "aggravated felonies" by the government). It is helpful if the person has family ties to the United States, has a good employment history or owns a business, has engaged in community service, has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and has no criminal record (or has been rehabilitated if a criminal record exists). In short, if the person displays "good moral character," it weighs in his or her favor. Non-permanent residents can also apply for cancellation of removal, but they must have been in the United States for a minimum of 10 years. (This is done in part to prevent illegal aliens from marrying American citizens simply to stay in the United States.)
  • Suspension of Deportation.This is another means by which an illegal alien can apply not only to remain in the United States but also obtain LPR status. Again, family ties, good moral character, and the threat of hardship are key factors. (The United States only issues 4,000 cancellation of removal and suspension of deportation grants per year.).

If an alien is allowed to stay in the United States on any of these grounds, the deportation order will be canceled and the case will be closed.

Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers often have a bit more leeway, depending on where they are coming from and whether a significant danger of imprisonment, torture, or execution awaits them if they are returned to their home country. Asylum seekers who wish to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility do not need to disprove the grounds of inadmissibility, but they do have to prove that their particular situation warrants a waiver.

Anyone who seeks asylum in the United States must be able to prove that he or she will be subject to persecution if returned home. That persecution may be based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. Sometimes, an alien in danger of being deported will make a claim of "credible fear of persecution" in his or her native country. INS is required to make information about this option available to those who may be able to avail themselves of it. An INS asylum officer determines whether each such case warrants further action.

If it does, the claimant will appear before an immigration judge to make a case during a full hearing. It should be understood that a credible fear of persecution ruling is not the same as being granted asy-lum. The credible fear ruling is merely the first step in the process; it may or may not result in a granting of asylum.

In addition, an alien seeking asylum may be granted a "withholding of deportation" instead. This is similar to asylum, except that it does not allow the alien to apply for permanent resident in the United States, and it only prohibits deportation to the country in question.

The Changing Role of INS

Particularly since the 1990s, INS has come under increasing attacks from a number of fronts. Civil liberties and human rights organizations have charged that such measures as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act have been used not to streamline the organization, as INS claims. Rather, they say, such laws have allowed INS to exercise its authority to deny due process to innocent aliens. A number of articles have appeared that explore the plight of an immigrant who had led a productive life while in the United States, only to be detained and threatened with deportation on account of a minor infraction committed many years earlier. While it would be unfair to characterize the entire INS by cases such as these, it is fair to say that efforts to streamline the agency fell short of expectations.

Charges of INS inefficiency have been exacerbated by the growing sense of unrest and anti-American sentiment throughout the world. The destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon in September 2001 drove home the point to Americans of all political persuasions that immigration issues demand better scrutiny. Among other concerns, many Americans worried that INS had been unable to keep the hijackers out of the country; the primary fear was that more such criminals could be living in the United States without the knowledge of INS.

A push to reorganize the functions of INS to make the agency run better resulted in Congressional action in the spring of 2002, when the House of Representatives voted to authorize significant changes to the agency. (Those seeking updated information on current progress at INS can obtain comprehensive information from the agency's website, A streamlined organization will be better equipped to handle the huge number of illegal immigration, exclusion, and deportation hearings that will continue as long as the United States is seen as a country in which opportunities are so much more abundant than in other parts of the world.

Additional Resources

Deportation Officer's Handbook U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1986.

Historical Guide to the U.S. Governments GeorgeT. Kurian, ed., Oxford University Press, 1998.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service Dixon, Edward H., and Mark A. Galan, Chelsea House, 1990.

Immigration Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Guide to the U.S. Immigration Process Kimmel, Barbara Brooks, and Alan M. Lubiner, Next Decade, 2000.

Meeting the Challenge through Innovation U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1996.

Refugee Rights and Realities: Evolving International Concepts and Regimes Nicholson, Frances, and Patrick Twomey, editors, Cambridge University Press, 1999.


United States Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

1775 K Street, NW, Suite 290
Washington, DC 20006 USA
Phone: (202) 296-1115
Fax: (202) 296-1081
Primary Contact: Jeffrey Meer, Executive Director

United States Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)

425 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20536 USA
Phone: (800) 375-5283
Fax: (202) 514-1776
Primary Contact: James W. Ziglar, Commissioner


views updated May 23 2018


DEPORTATION. Deportation, formally known as "removal," is a federal, statutory process by which a non-citizen is compelled to leave the United States. Though antecedents may be traced to colonial times, federal authority was first asserted in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. This legislation empowered the president to deport "alien enemies"—citizens of nations with which the United States was at war—and, more controversially, any resident alien judged to be "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." Arguably unconstitutional for many reasons, these laws were never tested in the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court established federal supremacy over state regulation of immigration in the mid-nineteenth century. The major federal laws of that time were "exclusion" statutes—restrictions on entry based upon various factors such as the nature of the contract by which an alien had been recruited abroad or personal characteristics, including physical and mental health, poverty, criminal records, and morality. In the 1880s the federal government also enacted a series of explicitly race-based exclusion laws aimed at Chinese laborers.

Deportation laws developed during this period primarily as an adjunct to the exclusion power. For example, the Act of October 19, 1888, authorized the deportation of an immigrant who had been "allowed to land contrary to the prohibition in the contract labor exclusion laws." This power was expanded by the Act of March 3, 1891, which authorized the deportation of "any alien who shall come into the United States in violation of law."

The Supreme Court upheld federal deportation power against numerous constitutional challenges in Fong Yue Ting v. United States (1893), which involved the Act of May 5, 1892, known as "An Act to prohibit the coming of Chinese persons into the United States," which authorized the deportation of any "Chinese alien" unlawfully in the United States and required all Chinese laborers to obtain a certificate of residence by the affidavit of a "credible" white witness. Though the Fong Yue Ting decision intimated that the deportation power was "absolute and unqualified," later decisions by the Court imposed important constitutional limitations, particularly as to procedural due process. The Court has, however, held that deportation is for constitutional purposes neither a criminal proceeding nor punishment. The effect of this doctrine is to render inapplicable many constitutional protections such as the ex post facto clause in Article I, sections 9 and 10; the Sixth Amendment right to counsel; the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial; and the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

In the early twentieth century deportation laws began to focus increasingly on ideology—especially "subversive" ideas such as anarchism and socialism—and, more generally, on post-entry conduct. Deportation was used as a powerful government tool of social control. The Immigration Act of 1917 authorized deportation for "subversive" advocacy without a time limit after entry. The socalled Palmer Raids, led by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in 1919 and 1920, resulted in the arrest of thousands and the ultimate deportation of some five hundred aliens on political grounds. The number of deportations increased steadily throughout the early twentieth century, from a total of 256 in 1900 to 16,631 in 1930.

The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, also known as the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA), was a major recodification of all existing immigration laws. It organized deportation laws into criteria for removal, among them pre-entry conduct; various grounds relating to entry control violations; and post-entry conduct, including criminal conduct, ideological grounds (which included advocacy of certain ideas and membership in proscribed groups), and reliance on public benefits. In addition, the INA was generally retroactive and, with only a few exceptions, lacked any statutes of limitation as to the time between commission of a deportable act and the institution of proceedings. The 1952 law also established a system of discretionary forms of "relief" or "waivers" from deportation for which an alien could apply to the Justice Department. The essential form of this system remained in place into the early twenty-first century.

The Immigration Acts of 1990 and 1991 re-categorized the grounds of deportation and introduced some statutes of limitation. More major changes were made by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which, among other provisions, eliminated judicial review of certain types of deportation orders, limited the scope of discretionary relief from deportation that could be granted by immigration judges, expanded the grounds of deportation, created new "summary exclusion" laws allowing the return of certain asylum-seekers, and created streamlined deportation procedures for those accused of terrorist activity. The even more comprehensive Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, among other effects, completely restructured the entire system of judicial review of removal orders, retroactively expanded many grounds of inadmissibility and removal, revised the discretionary waivers of removal, developed a system of mandatory detention, created expedited removal procedures for certain types of cases, and authorized increased state and local law enforcement involvement in removal proceedings. Court challenges to judicial review preclusion, retroactivity, and long-term detention met with some success in lower courts and in the Supreme Court case of INS v. St. Cyr (2001) and Zadvydas v. Davis (2001). Still, as a result of statutory changes and increased enforcement, the total number of removals increased from approximately 114,000 in 1997 to more than 180,000 in 2000.


Aleinikoff, T. Alexander, David A. Martin, and Hiroshi Motomura. Immigration and Citizenship: Process and Policy. 4th ed. St. Paul, Minn.: West, 1998.

Clark, Jane Perry. Deportation of Aliens from the United States to Europe. New York: Columbia University Press, 1931.

Gordon, Charles, Stanley Mailman, and Stephen Yale-Loehr. Immigration Law and Procedure. New York: Mathew Bender, 1998 (supplemented through May 2002).


See alsoImmigration ; McCarran-Walter Act ; Palmer Raids .


views updated Jun 11 2018


Deportation is the removal of an alien out of the country. Congress has plenary power to deport aliens, even of long residence; its power rests upon the same grounds and is as unqualified as its power to exclude aliens from entering the country. Aliens permitted to enter and reside in the United States remain subject to the power of Congress to order them deported. Congress may direct that all aliens leave the country, or that some leave and others stay, distinguishing between the two by such tests as it thinks appropriate. While aliens cannot be deported without due process of law, guaranteed to them by the Fifth Amendment, they are entitled only to procedural due process : notice and a hearing at which they may seek to show that they do not come within the classification of aliens whose deportation Congress has directed. (A resident of the United States who claims to be a citizen cannot be deported without a judicial trial.)

Initially, deportation was conceived of only as a method for expelling aliens who had entered the country illegally. Soon, however, Congress employed it to remove aliens who had entered legally but had violated conditions attached to continued residence. Thus, for example, the Immigration Act of 1917 provided for the deportation of aliens convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. Other statutory grounds for deportation, now codified in the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, include violation of alien registration requirements, drug trafficking, addiction to narcotics, becoming a public charge within five years after entry, or membership in the Communist party or other subversive organizations.

By its express terms, the Immigration and Nationality Act applies retroactively to any alien belonging to any class enumerated in the statute, notwithstanding that the alien entered the United States prior to the date of the statute or that the facts alleged to justify deportation occurred prior to that date. Because deportation is not considered a punishment, the prohibition of the ex post facto clause of the Constitution does not apply, and retroactive application of provisions specifying grounds for deportation was upheld in Lehmann v. Carson (1957).

In Harisiades v. Shaughnessy (1952) Justice william o. douglas declared in his dissent that "an alien, who is assimilated in our society, is treated as a citizen so far as his property and his liberty are concerned.… If those rights, great as they are, have constitutional protection, I think the more important one—the right to remain here—has a like dignity." To date, this view has not been able to overcome the two basic propositions announced in the Court's seminal deportation case, Fong Yue Ting v. United States (1893), that Congress has the inherent power to order deportation and that deportation is not a criminal punishment.

Ralph A. Rossum


Gordon, Charles and Rosenfield, Harry N. 1984 Immigration Law and Procedure, Vol. 1, chaps. 4–5; Vol. 2, chaps. 6–8. New York: Matthew Bender.

Note 1962 Deportation and Exclusion. Yale Law Journal 71: 760–792.


views updated Jun 11 2018


Banishment to a foreign country, attended with confiscation of property and deprivation ofcivil rights.

The transfer of an alien, by exclusion or expulsion, from the United States to a foreign country. The removal or sending back of an alien to the country from which he or she came because his or her presence is deemed inconsistent with the public welfare, and without any punishment being imposed or contemplated. The grounds for deportation are set forth at 8 U.S.C.A. § 1251, and the procedures are provided for in §§ 1252–1254.

To further clarify deportation, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Zadvydas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678, 121 S.Ct.2491, 150 L.Ed.2d 653 (2001), ruled that aliens who are under investigation cannot be held indefinitely. This would be in violation of the due process clause of the fifth amendment of the federal Constitution. Moreover, the Court established a maximum six-month detention period. At that point the alien must provide information as to why removal to the country of origin is not likely in the foreseeable future. For example, in this case, Kestutis Zadvydas was born to Lithuanian parents who were held in a German displaced persons camp; both Lithuania and Germany refused to accept him into their countries because he was not a citizen. If the government cannot rebut this information, the alien must be released from confinement. Finally, the Court declared that the federal courts are the proper place to review issues of deportation, rejecting the government's claim that immigration is strictly the province of the executive branch.

Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Congress created the usa patriot act, Pub.L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (2001). The law deals with various means of combating terrorism and includes provisions that authorize the deportation of individuals who provide lawful assistance to any group that provides assistance to terrorists. Accused persons must convince the government that they did not know their contributions were being used for terrorist activities.

further readings

Cole, David, Jack X. Dempsey, and Carol E. Goldberg. 2002. Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security. New York: New Press.

Ngai, Mae M. 2003. "The Strange Career of the Illegal Alien: Immigration Restriction and Deportation Policy in the United States. Law and History Review 21 (spring): 69–107.