Effect of Yalta and Tehran Conferences
The agreements of the Yalta and Tehran Conferences, signed by President Roosevelt, Premier Joseph Stalin, and Prime Minister Churchill, determined the fates of the Cossacks who did not fight for the USSR, because many were POWs of the Nazis. Stalin obtained Allied agreement to the repatriation of every Soviet citizen held prisoner because they feared that the Soviets either might delay or refuse repatriation of the Allied POWs whom the Red Army had liberated from Nazi POW camps. Although the agreement for the deportation of all Soviet citizens did not include white emigres who had fled during the Bolshevik Revolution before the establishment of the USSR, all Cossack prisoners of war were later demanded. After Yalta, Churchill questioned Stalin, asking, “Did the Cossacks and other minorities fight against us?” Stalin replied, “They fought with ferocity, not to say savagery, for the Germans” — true of most Cossacks who fought against the USSR, notably the Tatar Caucasian Division; however, the Cossacks who fought against the Western Allies did so reluctantly.
In 1944, General Krasnov and other Cossack leaders had persuaded Hitler to allow Cossack troops, as well as civilians and non-combatant Cossacks to permanently settle in the sparsely settled Carnia, in the Italian Alps. The Cossacks moved there and established garrisons and settlements, requisitioning houses by evicting the inhabitants, with several stanitzas and posts, their administration, churches, schools, and military units. There, they fought the partisans and persecuted the local population, committing numerous atrocities. When the Allies progressed from central Italy to the Italian Alps, Italian partisans under General Contini ordered the Cossacks to leave Carnia and go north to Austria. There, on the river Drava, near Lienz, the British army imprisoned the Cossacks in a hastily established internment camp. For a few days, the British fed them, giving the Cossacks the impression that they understood their problem as political refugees. Meanwhile, the Red Army’s advance units approached to within a few miles east, rapidly advancing to meet the Allies. Most Cossacks believed that, under British protection, they were safe from repatriation to the USSR.
On 28 May 1945, the British army transported 2,046 disarmed Cossack officers and generals — including the cavalry Generals Pyotr Krasnov, Andrei Shkuro, and Kelech-Giray — to a nearby Red Army-held town. There they were handed over to the Red Army commanding general, who ordered them tried for treason. Many Cossack leaders had never been citizens of the Soviet Union, having fled revolutionary Russia in 1920, hence they believed that they could not be guilty of treason. Nonetheless, some were executed immediately. The high-ranking officers were tried in Moscow, and then executed — most notably, General Pyotr Krasnov was hanged in a public square. General Helmuth von Pannwitz of the Wehrmacht, who was instrumental to the formation and leadership of the Cossacks taken from Nazi POW camps to fight the USSR, decided to share the Cossacks’ Soviet repatriation, and was executed for war crimes with five Cossack generals and atamans in Moscow in 1947.
On 1 June 1945, the British placed 32,000 Cossacks (with their women and children) into trains and trucks, and delivered them to the Red Army for repatriation to the USSR; like repatriations occurred that year in the American occupation zones in Austria and Germany. Most Cossacks were sent to the gulags in far northern Russia and in Siberia and many died; some, however, escaped and others lived until Nikita Khrushchev's amnesty in the course of his de-Stalinization policies (see below). In total, some two million people were repatriated to the USSR at the end of the Second World War, but historians calculate that the number of repatriated Cossacks is 45,000-50,000; others calculate (without consensus) some 15,000–150,000.
Read more about this topic: Repatriation Of Cossacks After World War II
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