Refugee Haven or Dumping Ground? A Comparative Study of Displaced Persons in Central Asia During World War II
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During World War II, Central Asia became a place for displaced people from across the Eastern Front. Displaced people included civilians and creatives from Ukraine and the western Oblasts, forced deportations, and refugees. How did these groups' different statuses affect their experiences and ultimately their survival in the Central Asia rear? This paper seeks to understand the similarities and differences in the experience of evacuees, deportees, and refugees in the Soviet Socialist Republics of Central Asia during World War II. By examining Soviet decrees, reports on “Fifth Columnists,” a memoir by a polish deportee turned refugee, and a wide variety of secondary sources providing detailed analysis of inaccessible primary sources formed the basis of this paper. Each displaced person's status and origins could restrict access to jobs, housing, food, and government support; these challenges to survival defined the shared experiences of displaced people in Central Asia. Assessing the Soviet Union's inability to solve the humanitarian crisis of displaced people and how the Soviet union's actions worsened the situation can better understand the failures of policies in humanitarian crises today. Understanding humanitarian crises of the past and identifying failure points in dealing with crises can help create plans and solutions for the disasters, human-made or otherwise, of the future. This research adds to our understanding of societal and human behavior in crisis times and develops our understanding of the Soviet Union's reaction to World War II.