Settlers colonialism? Julia Landau, ‘Specialists, Spies, “Special Settlers”, and Prisoners of War: Social Frictions in the Kuzbass (USSR), 1920–1950’, International review of Social History, 2015
Abstract: The Kuzbass coalmining region in western Siberia (Kuznetsk Basin) was explored, populated, and exploited under Stalin’s rule. Struggling to offset a high labour turnover, the local state-run coal company enrolled deportees from other regions of Russia and Siberia, who were controlled by the secret police (OGPU). These workers shared a common experience in having been forcibly separated from their place of origin. At the same time, foreigners were recruited from abroad as experts and offered a privileged position. In the years of the Great Terror (1936−1938) both groups were persecuted, as they were regarded by the state as disloyal and suspicious. After the war, foreigners were recruited in large numbers as prisoners of war. Thus, migrants, foreigners, and deportees from other regions and countries constituted a significant part of the workforce in the Kuzbass, while their status constantly shifted due to economic needs and repressive politics.
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