Sunday, March 15, 2009

Where did the Kazakhstan Poles go?

Davies is fond of the Poles, and one, at least one here in San Jacinto, can’t help but feel sorry for the way they were treated by Stalinist Russia. I just read on page 178 of Davies No Simple Victory, “in the immediate pre-war period they [Soviet authorities] had forcibly removed some 500,000 Poles from the western borders and resettled them in closed districts on the Chinese frontier in Kazakhstan.”

I checked the CIA Factbook on Kazakhstan and discovered that as of 1999, the ethnic composition of Kazakhstan was “Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9%.” So where did the 500,000 Poles go?” One can suggest that perhaps they are included in the 4.9% “other,” but that number would have to be much less than 1.4% of the total population. 500,000 Poles in 1940 would under normal circumstances be expected to be fruitful and multiply, and since the current population of Kazakhstan is 15,341,000, the Poles might reasonably be expected to have doubled or perhaps even tripled in population; which would put them at 10% or 15% of the current Kazakhstan population. One would at least expect them to comprise more of the population than the Uygurs, but no. Zip. So where are they?

I know a deal was made between the USSR and Poland to get a Polish division into the war on the side of the Soviets, and those in concentration camps were released as a result. Perhaps those forcibly relocated to Kazakhstan made their way home as well. Perhaps Davies will tell me later on.

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