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Deportation (from the Latin deportare "take away", "take away") means the sending, kidnapping , banishment of criminals, political opponents or entire ethnic groups by state power to remote areas for long-term or lifelong compulsory residence.

The term “ forced migration ” (cf. migration ), which also includes displacement , caught on in the 1980s because it was applicable to different types of population displacements in the 20th century and included massive violence as their main cause without distinguishing between them to blur between the different categories of forced population movements.

Deportations are associated with partial or total loss of legal rights and of the immovable and movable property of the deportees.

In contrast to the term deportation, there is the definition of forced exile , which is mostly based on restrictions on the free development of the individual at the original place of residence. At the newly chosen destination, there are no restrictions or sanctions on personal freedom by the state responsible for the exile.

The UN Human Rights Charter (Articles 9 and 12) offers legal protection against deportation in times of peace, and Article 49 of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 in times of war . If the deportation involves forced labour , it violates Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights ( ECHR).

Deportations are prosecuted as crimes against humanity (in peacetime) or as war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

In contrast to the deportation which is deportation by law a legal government subpoena.

deportation of individuals

deportations of prisoners

Map of the Gulag system

The deportation of convicts to penal colonies , where they could roam more or less freely, has a long history. In modern times it has been used to a greater extent by the following states:

Britain to Australia , Russia to Siberia , Soviet Union with penal camps ( gulag ) across the country, France to French Guiana, and from northern Italy to Basilicata .

Deportation of unwanted persons

This includes the deportation of people who have not committed any crimes but whose stay on site is not desirable. Such deportations were carried out to varying degrees by practically all dictatorships.

deportation of groups of people

Deportations due to agreements

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

The expulsion and deportation of Native Americans (“Native Americans”) was based on the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the land cession treaties concluded to implement it between the United States of America and individual Native American tribes. In particular, the forced relocation of the Cherokee from the fertile south-eastern woodlands of the United States in the rather barren Indian Territory in what is now the state of Oklahoma is called Trail of Tears ( Engl. Trail of Tears ), respectively.

Another example is the population exchange between Greece and Turkey due to the Treaty of Lausanne of July 24, 1923.

In June 1939, the German-Italian agreement on the resettlement of the South Tyroleans was concluded between Germany and Italy. South Tyroleans who did not opt ​​for resettlement by December 31, 1939 lost protection as ethnic Germans. The interests of the South Tyroleans were sacrificed by Hitler in favor of his plans of conquest in order to consolidate the Steel Pact .

In the addition of September 28, 1939 to the German-Soviet Border and Friendship Treaty , after the partition of Poland, the exchange of minorities between Germany and the Soviet Union was agreed. Affected were u. the ethnic German groups: Baltic Germans , Bessarabian Germans and Bukovina Germans and Ukrainians and Belarusians living on the Soviet side in Germany and German-occupied Poland . Within the framework of the General Plan East , the procedure for the settlement of these ethnic Germans in the former Poland was determined by the local plan. The central office for emigrants (“Office for the Resettlement of Poles and Jews”) was responsible for the expulsion of the original inhabitants, the Main Trust Office East or the “Treuhand Office for the General Government ” was responsible for the realization of the assets left behind, and for the resettlement of ethnic Germans under the propaganda term “ Home to the Reich ” the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle .

Overcrowded refugee train after partition of India, Punjab 1947

The largest resettlement by state consensus, affecting about 20 million people, was the Partition of India . As part of the independence negotiations, it was agreed that resettlements should be based on religious criteria. Muslims were to relocate to the newly emerging Pakistan and Hindus to the state of India . Poor preparation, insufficient support and the injustices associated with resettlement resulted in attacks, unrest, violent expulsions and flight, during which up to a million people died.

Deportations for economic reasons

An example of deportation for economic reasons is the Highland Clearances in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries. Tenants were evicted from their farms in a large scale to make way for more lucrative sheep farms. This resettlement was legal, but felt unfair. Although the press sided with the victims, there was little political or even violent resistance.

Deportation of groups of people to forced labour

"Eastern worker" in Germany, spring 1945.

Deportations also affected those people in all countries occupied by National Socialist Germany during World War II who were deported to Germany for forced labor (“ Ostarbeiter ”).

From December 1944, the Soviet secret service NKVD deported hundreds of thousands of German civilians to forced labor in camps ( Gulag ) in the Soviet Union, mostly women. The German minorities in the Balkans, the so-called Volksdeutsche , were the first to be affected. When they reached the territory of the Reich, the deportations continued in today's Polish territory and only stopped at the future Oder-Neisse border. These civilian deportations were legitimized by the Allies at the Yalta Conference as so-called reparations in kind . About a third of these deportees died as a result of the prison conditions of hunger, disease and cold or during the transport in cattle cars .

An estimated 1.7 to 2 million people were deported to death camps in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge period under the communist Mao regime-oriented rule of Pol Pot for political and ideological reasons and were killed there or, after being deported to forced labor, murdered in rice fields.

Deportations as a sanction

The deportation of parts of the subdued population was already an important element of rule in the Middle Assyrian period, as ration lists show, and was continued to a greater extent in the Neo-Assyrian period.

As early as Shalmaneser I (inscription from the Aššur temple in Aššur ) reports that he brought 14,400 captives from Hanilgabat to Assur and blinded them . His successor , Tukulti-Ninurta I , employed numerous deportees in the construction of his new capital , Kār-Tukulti-Ninurta , including Subaraeans , Sutaeans , and men from the Nairi lands, people from Katmuḫḫi , Alše , Purulumzi, and Amadani. From the ration lists we can deduce: 7300 Kassites , 350 Subaraeans , 200 Sutaeans and 99 inhabitants of Nairi. Numerous deported prisoners of war from Shubria , Nairi and Katmuhi are known from the reign of Tiglath-pileser I. They were provided with barley rations. Their use was closely monitored. Parpola estimates that a total of about 4.5 million people were deported in Neo-Assyrian times.

The deportation of the Danish police officers to German concentration camps took place in 1944 during World War II after the disarmament and dissolution of the Danish police ( Operation Möwe ). Police officers arrested in 1960 were first deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp and then on to the Buchenwald concentration camp .

deportations of political opponents

Many people who had resisted the National Socialists and the occupation of their country were deported under the Nacht und Nebel decree of December 7, 1941, unless they were killed on the spot or in their home country. Due to poor transport conditions (e.g. refusal of water, lack of air, etc.), a large proportion of the occupants died on some trains during transport (this was the typical Nazi term for deportation).

Between 11,000 and 12,000 people in the GDR , who were classified as “politically unreliable” by the state authorities, were forcibly transported from towns on the inner-German border to the GDR in the course of the “ Operation Vermin ” and “ Operation Cornflower ” actions resettled inland.

Deportations for religious reasons

Deportations for religious reasons also took place in Switzerland up until the 18th century. Here it was the Mennonites who, especially in the canton of Bern, were arrested and expelled with the help of state Anabaptist chambers and Anabaptist hunters with the aim of making their own territory free of Anabaptists. In the 20th century, under Stalin , a large number of Russian-German Mennonites were deported to Siberia in the USSR, where many of them had to do forced labour .

Deportations during National Socialism

Map of the labor and death camps in German-occupied Europe around 1942

After the “forced emigration” and expulsion of Jews from Germany after the attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the systematic deportation and murder of all European Jews in concentration and extermination camps was the goal of the National Socialist war of extermination .

On grounds of racial hygiene , the National Socialists deported both the Jewish Germans and the Jewish inhabitants of the areas in Western and, above all, Eastern Europe occupied and controlled by Germany during World War II (including Belgium, Denmark, France , Greece , Luxembourg , the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Poland). Hungary ).

With the so-called Poland Action at the end of October 1938, at least 17,000 Jews who had immigrated from Poland and were living in the German Reich were arrested, deported and taken to the Polish border by train on Heinrich Himmler’s instructions. The deportation there was violent and came as a complete surprise to those affected. This was followed by the Nisko Plan , under which around 3,000 people from Vienna and the surrounding area were deported from October 9, 1939. When the camp was closed in April 1940, 501 Jews were sent back to Austria, Ostrava or Katowice. On October 22, 1940, the defeat of France in the so -called Wagner-Bürckel Action was followed by the systematic deportation of almost all Jewish residents from the Baden part of the Reich to the French internment camp Camp de Gurs in southern France . In 1942, survivors of these transports were deported from there to the Auschwitz death camp.

Between October 1941 and March 1943 the so-called evacuation to ghettos took place , e.g. to Warsaw , Litzmannstadt ( Łódź ), Minsk and Wilna (Vilnius). From there, the people were taken to concentration and extermination camps in separate transports , where they were murdered as part of the so-called final solution to the Jewish question .

Likewise, Roma , especially Sinti , were deported to the Gypsy camp at Auschwitz , a section of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where they fell victim to the Porajmos .

“Deportation” as a political term

In a campaign in 1999, the network “ nobody is illegal ” took advantage of the English translation for Abportation , deportation , and protested against the involvement of airlines, especially the German Lufthansa , in state deportations under the combat term “deportation-class” . Lufthansa, on the other hand, emphasized that deportation was carried out according to the rule of law and took legal action to resist being associated with the term “deportation”, which also stands for crimes committed by National Socialism.

history of the deportations

Deportations of groups of people, understood as “forced migrations”, have been taking place since ancient times. For example, the Jews were killed in 734/33 BC. and 721 BC. deported by the Assyrians to northern Mesopotamia and scattered throughout the vastness of the country. Later came the Babylonian exile from 597 to 539 BC. Chr.

In the early modern period, the European triangular trade had led to the forced migration of millions of black Africans to the Americas. In the 17th century, Francis Bacon first expressed his opposition to the common practice of deporting convicts to colonies.

The inhabitants of Livonian towns were also forcibly resettled in the 16th century. Settled mainly in Vladimir , Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow , the deportees served as a kind of bargaining chip for the obedience of the conquered Livonian territories. Since 1700, convicts and unpopular people were banished to Siberia in the Russian Empire , the number of which steadily increased and finally was also systematically practiced ( Katorga ).

Nationality conflicts in the age of nationalism exacerbated the problem and gave frequent reasons for deportations of minorities. In the 20th century there were frequent deportations in the USSR . Between 1863 and 1880 there were mass deportations from Poland to Siberia. This was the result of the Polish uprisings, which culminated in the January Uprising in 1863.



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  • Bustenay Oded: Mass deportations and deportees in the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Reichert, Wiesbaden 1979, ISBN 3-88226-043-2 .
  • Simo Parpola: Assyrian identity in ancient times and today , Helsinki 2004.
  • Wolfgang Röllig : Deportation and integration: The fate of strangers in the Assyrian and Babylonian state. In: Meinhard Schuster (ed.): The encounter with the stranger. Valuations and effects in high cultures from antiquity to the present (=  Colloquium Rauricum. Vol. 4). Teubner, Stuttgart and others 1996, ISBN 3-519-07414-1 , pp. 100–114.
  • Georg Weber, Renate Weber-Schlenther, Armin Nassehi , Oliver Sill, Georg Kneer : The deportation of Transylvanian Saxons to the Soviet Union 1945-1949. three volumes. Böhlau, Cologne and others 1995, ISBN 3-412-06595-1 .
  • Edward J Erickson: A Global History of Relocation in Counterinsurgency Warfare. Bloomsbury Academic, London 2019, ISBN 9781350062580 .

web links

Wiktionary: Deportation  – explanations of meaning, word origin, synonyms, translations


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