Moldova Remembers Victims of Stalin's Deportations
All official institutions in Moldova lowered the national flag on Friday in a mark of respect for the victims of the second and biggest wave of deportations from Soviet-occupied Bessarabia that Stalin ordered on the night between June 5-6, 1949.
The train wagons, overcrowded with people inside them, in fact remained stationary until July 8, for another two hot summer days, until they departed for Siberia.
The Soviets named the operation "IUG" [South] and brought in about 45,000 soldiers, policemen and secret services agents to carry it out.
The mass deportations formed part of the last stage of the Sovietisation of the various territories seized by the Soviet Union during and after the Second World War.
A few survivors of the deportation Soviet Labor Camps in Siberia. Photo: Moldovan Government website.
About 35,000 people, 11,000 of whom were children, were put in train wagons and sent in appalling conditions deep into the Soviet Union in Siberia and Kazakhstan to labour camps to be "politically re-educated" having been deemed "enemy elements" of the Soviet regime in the new territories.
These were annexed by the Soviet Union after the signing the Stalin-Hitler Pact in August 1939 and included the Baltic states, eastern Poland and part of Bukovina and Bessarabia - which had both been part of the Kingdom of Romania.
The Soviets targeted the opinion-forming intelligentsia - intellectuals, teachers, professors and priests - as well as politicians, administrative officials and entrepreneurs. The purge concentrated on the most prominent figures in society.
Over 100,000 people were sent to labour camps in the Soviet Union from Bessarabia - today's Moldova - in three waves, in June 1941, July 1949 and April 1951.