Just a Reminder!

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The Russians created the first Gulag in the Solovetsky archipelago in 1923 (Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum). In addition to the Gulag system, the Russians then also instituted the use of forced labor. The Russians relied heavily upon forced labor for construction projects; the largest was probably the White Sea Canal project of 1932 and 1933 located north of St. Petersburg.

When Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, the paranoid Stalin was suspicious that the ethnic Germans would provide some support to the German Army. Because of this, Stalin had all of the ethnic Germans deported from the regions of the Volga, Crimea and the Caucasus to areas such as Siberia and Kazakhstan and placed them in forced labor camps.

During World War II, the Western Allies and the Soviet Union held several conferences regarding questions and proposals for the developing issues and the conditions to end the War. One such conference was the Fourth Moscow Conference in October of 1944. This conference was also known by the code name of the Tolstoy Conference. The chief representatives at this conference were the Dictator Joseph Stalin and Foreign Minster Vyacheslav Molotov for the Soviet Union, as well as Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for the United Kingdom. Also present as observers were Averell Harriman, United States ambassador to Moscow, and General John Deane, head of the United States Military Mission in Moscow. Among the issues discussed at the conference were war reparations to be paid by Germany and the return to the Soviet Union of all former Soviet and other East European countries citizens and refugees without exception and regardless of their consent. The Soviets referred to this coercive action as “repatriation”.

The Yalta Conference of February 1945 was attended and signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Joseph Stalin, General Secretary (Dictator) of the Soviet Union. During this conference the terms of war reparations and the return of civilian citizens to the Soviet Union were agreed upon. Stalin viewed these agreements as an open end to use the returnees as forced labor.

As soon as the War ended in 1945, the Soviet Military and Secret Police began to round up refugees who had originated from the Soviet Union and other East European countries and forcibly returned them to Russia. These civilians were apprehended in countries such as Romania, Poland, Austria and Germany. All of these refugees were ultimately sent to forced labor camps in areas such as Siberia and Kazakhstan. The ethnic German population who had fled from the Soviet Union was the most targeted group for apprehension. The estimated number of all civilians that were apprehended and forcibly returned to Russia varies; however, most experts agree that the number was in the several hundred thousands.

All of the ethnic Germans who were incarcerated in the forced labor camps were held captive in these camps until 1956. While they were eventually freed from the labor camps, they continued to experience very limited personal freedoms. Along with numerous other restrictions, they were not allowed to return to their home village, were only allowed to live where the Soviet Government authorized them to live, and they had to report monthly to the local Military Commander.

As the Russians apprehended these civilians, the Russians would hold them in camps until either there was a sufficient number to fill a full train of cattle cars or there was an available train to ship them to the East. The Russians designated some of these camps as “filtration camps”. The filtration camps simply were processing camps, where the Russians would complete a Filtration Camp Registration Card for all of the adults and assign the individuals to specific labor camps. The filtration camps were located in a variety of places; some were in Germany, others in Russia and according to the life stories of some of the refugees, several of these camps were right where the railroad ended in Siberia. Filtration cards contained the basic personal information for each individual such as name, year and place of birth, occupation and the name of the father. On certain occasions it would also include names of their children, when and where apprehended, the name of the labor camp to which they were sent, and whether they had been charged with any crime(s).

It also appears that to some extent the Russians used these Filtration Camp files as a repository to store other records. This is because along with the Filtration Camp Registration lists, there were contained other files that included civil, birth, marriage, and death records for the years of 1923 to 1933 for the greater Odessa Area, and arrest records for individuals arrested after 1945. Included in these records was a special and pleasant surprise for me personally. In 1937 my cousin Anton Goldade was arrested and executed. Earlier we had found the records of his arrest in the NKVD files. However, with the new information provided by the filtration camp records, we now know that the NKVD files were copies of the record, as in his filtration camp file we found the original document of his arrest and execution.

The Institute of Ethnic Studies in Odessa is dedicated to recovering all records pertaining to the ethnic Germans who were repressed under the Soviet Regime. I have been working with the Institute for the past number of years to obtain the records for my relatives and others who were incarcerated in the forced labor camps and I am most grateful for their support.

I am posting the names of approximately 6,000 names of ethnic Germans who were processed through the filtration camps. This list was extracted from a file of over 90,000 names.

Please do not be discouraged if you do not see your family surname on my list. I simply am not able to obtain all of the names and it is easy to request information regarding any surname from the Institute whether or not it appears in my list.

In addition to posting the names of approximately six thousand ethnic Germans that were processed through the filtration camps, I am also posting a typical Filtration Camp Registration Card, a copy of a typical Filtration (arrest) File when an arrest occurred after 1945 and the arrest record is included in the filtration camp records, and copies of typical civil birth, death, and marriage records from the period of 1923 to 1933. Please be advised that the posting of this information on this web site does not authorize the reproduction, reposting, or the use of these names for personal gain.