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1931 KGB German Village Report

Odessa NKVD Witness Interrogations (Depositions)

Arrest and Execution of Bishop Alexander Frison

The Russian Revolution began in 1917 and ravaged Russia until 1920. The revolution left its lasting consequences on everyone. With the emergence of power, the Communists began to collectivize and socialize all aspects of the Russian society.

In order to achieve their goal of total collectivization, the Communists in the late 1920s began to eliminate private enterprise which included all private farms and small businesses. To execute this scheme, the Communists declared that anyone who had achieved any level of success (e.g. accumulated some possessions through determination and hard work), would now be labeled a “Kulak”. In the general bureaucratic Russian jargon, the term Kulak meant tight-fisted or one who takes advantage of another. While such arrests took place throughout Russia, these arrests had a drastic effect on the ethnic German and Ukrainian minorities.

The result of these arrests was a clear case of ethnic cleansing. The arrests of the kulaks began in the late 1920s and continued into the early 1930s. One of the major problems with the term and use of Kulak was the absence of a definite explanation of the level of prosperity which elevated someone to the Kulak status. Therefore, under this definition anyone could be subject to an arrest. Additionally, the arrest of Kulaks had a trick-down effect. As one level of prosperous workers was eliminated, the next level would then be attacked. The result of this action by the Soviet Government was that an entire social class was eliminated.

The sentences for anyone arrested and convicted for being a Kulak varied. In some cases the head of the household would be sentenced to serve a number of years in a forced labor camp, while in other cases the entire family would be deported to places such as Siberia with banishment of ever returning to their home village.

The period of arresting Kulaks was followed by the years known as the Great Purge, and in some cases is also referred to as the Great Terror. This was a period of political repression and persecution throughout Russia. During the early 1930s to 1941, the Secret Police, a shortened term for the People’s Commissariat for State Security, known as the NKVD was relentless in arresting people. The peak arrest years of this campaign were 1937 and 1938. The majority of people arrested during this period were charged with fabricated violations such as being saboteurs, religious activists, or the catch-all phrase as being an enemy of the State/People. Additionally, in most cases the sentence of the arrested was predetermined before a trial was ever held. Evidence was not required for these arrests and a malicious tip from an anonymous source was sufficient cause for an arrest. This entire campaign was another clear case of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

During this period hundreds of thousands of people were executed in Russia and countless other people were sent to labor camps and to the infamous Gulag prison system. The term Gulag is the acronym for Glavone Upravlenie Lagerei, which in generic terms means prison in English.

I have been fortunate that for the past several years, with the help of researches in Odessa, I have been able to retrieve the names of ethnic Germans who were arrested and also many of their arrest records. During the Soviet era, the documentation of these arrests had been kept in the files of the USSR Committee for State Security (KGB) Odessa Regional Department. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Ukrainian Security Service Administration (USBU) took control of these documents. Through the hard work of groups such as the Institute of Ethnic Research and other researchers in Odessa, we now have access to many arrest records, most of which are archived in Ukraine. In cooperation with these generous individuals in Odessa, I have been able to obtain the names of thousands of ethnic Germans who were arrested throughout Russia. The authorities in Ukraine are releasing this information relating to these cases. Unfortunately, Russia is much less forthcoming in releasing such information, which is making it most difficult to research such matters.

In my book, Our Relatives – The Persecuted, I have listed the names of 4,700 ethnic Germans who had lived in the Odessa Jurisdiction and were arrested during the period of the 1920s to the 1940s. These arrests were conducted by the People’s Commissariat for State Security (NKVD). The book also contains copies of the actual arrest records for over forty of my relatives. For the sake of time and space efficiency, I have not repeated those 4,700 names on this web site.

The list of names under the Odessa NKVD arrests consists of approximately 11,000 names which have been extracted from a list of over 60,000 ethnic Germans arrested throughout Russia. I have narrowed my list to people who lived in the current areas of Ukraine and Moldova. These arrests occurred from the late 1920s to the 1940s and were conducted by the People’s Commissariat for State Security (NKVD). Copies of most of these arrests can be retrieved. Samples of these arrest records can be viewed in my book, Our Relatives – The Persecuted.

The list of names under the Kiev NKVD arrests consist of approximately 1,000 names which have been extracted from a list of over 3,000 names arrested in the Kiev jurisdiction in the years of the 1920s to the 1940s. These records are archived in the Kiev Archive. Unfortunately, at this time the Kiev Archive will not release any of the actual arrest records. Therefore, for the time being, the information which I have listed is all that is available for those arrested in Kiev.