Forbidden Home: Postwar Adaptation of Former Ostarbeiters and Soviet Prisoners of War in Kyiv
Tetiana PastushenkoInstitute of History of Ukraine
April 16, 2014
Center for Urban History, Lviv
The postwar period is one of the most dramatic stages of development of the Soviet totalitarian system and society. At that time, the Soviet Union, as the victorious power in World War II, reached its highest strength in the international arena. On the other hand, in the early postwar years, the number of prisoners in the Gulag reached its highest numbers since the camp system was established. The new wave of the repressed was made up largely of the "war" contingent: combatants, "Vlasovites" policemen, former prisoners of war, and civilian forced laborers who returned to the Soviet Union for repatriation. Not necessarily all repatriates faced criminal prosecution, but their civil status was not recognized and so they felt like second-class citizens, despite the rights and social security that the state declared they had.
A brief overview of the book "Repatriates Forbidden to Enter Kyiv: Postwar Lives of Former Ostarbeiters and Prisoners of War in Ukraine" was presented at the seminar. The repatriates from Kyiv had a unique situation because the Soviet government banned them from living in the capital. Researchers have paid little attention to their situation. Kyiv was the only city in the Soviet Union, from which, as in other towns of the occupied territory, the population was massively deported to do forced labor during the Nazi occupation (over 50 million), but to where its residents were forbidden to return after the war. Thus in 1947 more than 16,000 immigrants officially lived in the capital of the Ukrainian SSR. How the people of Kyiv and representatives of the government dealt with this is of academic interest. The study attempted to combine the study of legal regulation and the practical implementation of repatriation policy in the Soviet Union by using as an example the repatriates who returned to Kyiv, and the study of individual experiences of postwar adaptation of these people using oral history.