Modes and places of internal exile

Modes and places of internal exile 

As a rule, the exiles were taken from their hometowns or villages in guarded convoys and deported to uninhabited areas or places with completely unsuitable conditions for life. This was not necessarily the tundra or taiga, but also the Central Asian deserts or semi-deserts.

However, quite a number of internal exiles, among them farmers, were taken to towns, to construction projects and industrial works. Thus, in our region Krasnoyarsk undoubtedly appears as a major site of exile for different streams of exile. Other large places of exile were Kansk and Yenisseysk and later, in the 1940s and 1950s, Norilsk, as well. A town such as Igarka was founded on uninhabited grounds and was essentially populated by internal exiles only.

But things sometimes happened in a different way: People were given the status of exiles in their own place of residence, i.e. in their own village or town ("special settlers"). But this is not characteristic of our region.

The exile streams carried out through the end of the 1930s (in particular the deportations of farmers) resulted from the efforts of the punitive organizations to deport their victims to places of "compact residence" both in the taiga and big towns, which were officially called "labor settlements" (later "special settlements"). In our region there were about 150 of these settlements, but in the second half of the 1930s their number was reduced; they were "supplanted" by camps.

One of the typical characteristics of the exile settlements was the existence of "cooperatives contrary to regulations", organized by the commandant's offices so that the exiles could provide themselves with foodstuffs. At the end of the 1930s these "cooperatives" were renamed into sovkhozes (state farms) or, less often, kolkhozes (collective farms).

Hence, as far as the exile streams of the 1930s are concerned, we can always furnish evidence of major places of internal exile, "labor settlements" that are more or less large, more or less permanent. Their inhabitants, who had been taken there against their will, were in many cases deported from one "labor settlement" to the other. In spring 1938, for example, they moved internal exiles from the settlements on the rivers Poyma (Khromovo), Kungus (Ambarchi) and Agul (Agul and others) to settlements (B. Ungut and others) on the river Mana in order to "clear the space" for departments and forced labor camp sub-sectors of the newly created Kraslag. At that time, 1937-1938, a considerable number of the internal exiles from Igarka, Predivinsk and the exile regions around Yartsevo were transferred to Krasnoyarsk, mainly to the timber mills and timber trans-shipment points.

This is contrary to the deportations of 1940 and after when the NKVD and MVD were eager to spread, scatter and "roll apart" the stream of internal exiles as widely and evenly as possible to avoid big accumulations of exiles, at least of those who had been deported in the same stream.

Still, due to large-scale deportations, the concentration of exiled persons (either from one or different streams) was quite high anyway, except within the utterly secluded taiga villages. The most internal exiles could be found at construction sites and in mines, where spades, pick hammers and wheelbarrows served as basic technical equipment and the local population was unable to supply a sufficient number of hard workers: There were simply not enough. The same situation appeared in the numerous timber industry enterprises. Apart from that, the internal exiles found themselves in similar places as a vital "professional reserve" for technical specialists (and even for bookkeepers and financial experts).

In view of all these reservations it is absolutely impossible to issue a list of the main places of "territorial concentration" regarding the streams of the 1940s. Essentially, every region proved to be a place of exile, except the completely unpopulated ridges of the Sayan mountains, the northern part of the Taymyr peninsula and the Arctic islands. Proof can only be furnished on a few typical or large places where exiles were being kept.

In the 1920s, the OGPU occasionally would allow those who had been sentenced to internal exile (or banishment) to go into exile on their own (and at their own expense), and not in prisoner freight cars with plain bed boards and holes in the floor instead of toilets. In the 1930s, such liberties were discontinued.

There were deportations (commonly called expulsions) that were not followed by any registration at a commandant's office. This meant that those who were deported did not become internal exiles.

Examples: The stream from the river Amur in the years 1937-1938 (mainly from the Amur and partly the Chita regions), as well as in 1941-1942 from the front-line areas (and partly from the Novgorod region). In both cases the families of those who had been arrested and/or sentenced under section 58 were exposed to deportations. These two streams (partly) came into our region.

Another similar example: the 1933 deportations from the Chita region when some of the deportees were ordered into internal exile and others were not: They were told of their "expulsion from the East-Siberian region" or, as the saying also goes, "to behind Irkutsk."