I’m still reading Kate Brown (see here and here); I’ve been fascinated and appalled by her account of how masses of people were expelled from the kresy and dumped onto the harsh steppes of Kazakhstan (mostly unsuitable for agriculture, though it would take decades before that was realized), but it didn’t seem like LH material until I got to this bit:
In 1938, the NKVD decreed that individuals could not change their nationality. In the postwar period, however, it was possible, especially for women, to change their nationality through marriage. More than fifty percent of ethnic Poles in Kazakhstan married non-Poles. In fact, rates of assimilation among Poles and Germans were some of the highest in the country. Poles, Germans, Tatars, Chechens, among others in exile in Kazakhstan, started to identify themselves in the census as “Russian.” Their identities began gradually to fuse into Soviet identities as they assimilated into Russian-Soviet culture. [Footnote: Deported groups generally did not assimilate into Kazakh culture. In 1990, only sixteen out of 60,000 Poles of Kazakhstan claimed to know the Kazakh language.] They began to speak Soviet-Russian in the same intonations broadcast over the radios, which began appearing in the settlements in the fifties, repeating the same phrases about the “friendship of nations” enunciated by teachers in the classrooms which started to multiply across the steppe after the lean years of war. Perhaps deported persons from the borderlands were drawn to new simplified Soviet identities (in one language and monoculture rather than numerous local cultures and dialects) because their lives no longer contained the social and economic breadth of their former lives in the kresy. [...] The streamlined nature of the new Soviet identity fit the standardized, economic simplicity of life in Kazakhstan.
This is really an excellent, thought-provoking book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in the kind of cultural/historical analysis evident in the excerpts I’ve provided. (Also, her footnotes are full of references to just the kind of books I’m interested in reading.)