Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Deportation of the Kalmyks Date in the current year: December 28, 2024

Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Deportation of the Kalmyks The Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Deportation of the Kalmyks is a solemn memorial day observed in the Republic of Kalmykia (a federal subject of Russia) on December 28. It was established by the Parliament of Kalmykia in 2004 to honor the memory of Kalmyks who were repressed by the Soviet government during World War II.

The Kalmyks are a Mongolian people of the Oirat group. The Oirats inhabiting the territory between the rivers Volga and Don began to identify themselves as “Kalmyk” around the 17th century. After a period of autonomy, the Khalmyk Khanate became part of the Russian Empire. Following the Russian Revolution, the Soviet government established Kalmyk Autonomous Oblast within the Russian SFSR. In 1935, it was reorganized into the Kalmyk Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

During the Second World War the Kalmyks, along with several dozen other ethnic minorities, were subjected to political repressions. The Soviet authorities declared the entirety of the Kalmyk people to be German collaborators, although the number of actual Kalmyk collaborators was relatively small, and ordered their deportation, stating that the Kalmyks were “unreliable”. On December 27, 1943, the Soviet government formally abolished the Kalmyk ASSR. The next day, the Council of People’s Commissars approved the deportation of the Kalmyks to Siberia.

The Kalmyk deportation, codename Operation Ulusy, began on the morning of December 28, 1943. During the first stage of the deportation, nearly 3,000 NKVD agents backed by 3rd NKVD Motorized Rifle Regiment, which had participated in the deportation of the Karachays, forced the Kalmyks onto 46 trains that took them to different locations in Syberia: Altai Krai, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Novosibirsk Oblast, and Omsk Oblast.

The deportation of Kalmyks from the former Kalmyk ASSR was completed on December 1943. In 1944, Kalmyk families living in other regions of Russia were resettled, for example, from Rostov Oblast to Omsk Oblast and from Stalingrad Oblast to Sverdlovsk Oblast.

During the deportation, over 90,000 Kalmyks were forcibly resettled. More than 16,000 of them died from the cold, starvation and diseases, which amounted to 17–19% of the total Kalmyk population.

The Kalmyks were rehabilitated after Joseph Stalin’s death. In 1956, his successor Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s repressions and initiated a series of reforms known as de-Stalinization. The Kalmyk ASSR was reinstated, and the Kalmyks were allowed to return to their home region from Siberian settlements. In 1991, Stalin’s repressions of ethnic minorities were officially declared an act of genocide.

In 2004, the Parliament of Kalmykia declared December 28 – the anniversary of the beginning of the deportation – the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Deportation of the Kalmyks. On this day, solemn events are held throughout the republic to honor the memory of the Kalmyks who died during the deportation. The main commemorative event takes place at the Exodus and Return Memorial in the Kalmykian capital of Elista.

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Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Deportation of the Kalmyks, remembrance day, memorial day, observances in Russia