Book Review: Stalin's World War II Evacuations: Triumph and Troubles in Kirov


by Larry E. Holmes

Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2017. 240. . $39.95. ISBN: 0700623957

The Untold Side of the Soviet Evacuations

While the massive evacuation of people and industrial plant sparked by the German invasion in June of 1941 is fairly well-known, its effects on the areas of the USSR to which the people and equipment were relocated has received surprisingly little attention from historians. In his new book, Prof. Holmes (emeritus, South Alabama), author or several works about internal administration in the Soviet Union, takes a look at how the resettlement affected life in Kirov, a province some 800 kilometers by air northeast of Moscow.

Holmes reveals serious tensions between the prewar inhabitants of Kirov, capital of the Kirov Oblast, a region of about 600,000 people, and the wartime evacuees, nearly 60,000 strong in the central city alone. With little advanced planning for the evacuation and resettlement, the newcomers threatened to overwhelm local resources, disrupted institutions such as schools and hospitals, and were received with than a warm welcome by the local people. The evacuees also encountered a surprisingly vigorous bureaucratic “resistance” from regional party leaders, managers, local elites, and common citizens more interested in furthering regional – and even personal – interests over the needs of their “comrades”, throwing some light on the complex nuances of politics and life under the supposedly totalitarian Stalinist regime.

A volume in the Kansas series “Modern War Studies”, Stalin’s World War II Evacuations will prove of great value to serious students of the Russo-German war, the Soviet home front, of politics under the Stalinist regime, but is not likely to be of interest to most arm chair students of the war.

Note: Stalin’s World War II Evacuations is also available as an e-book, ISBN 978-0-7006-2396-9.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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