On the 23 February 1944 the Soviet Union set in motion the immediate deportation and exile of the entire Chechen, Ingush and most of other North Caucasus peoples to the steppes of Central Asia. In the depths of winter they were subjected to summary massacres and food shortages: it was a solution no less final or brutal than the one being inflicted on Jews in Europe. By conservative estimates half of the population died though the proportion that perished is probably much greater.
In January 1944, tens of thousands of NKVD troops arrived in the tiny mountainous republic and fanned out to almost every settlement in the region. On Red Army Day, February 23, in every town and village the men were summoned to meetings in the local Soviet building. None suspected the calamity that was about to befall them and all came willingly. Instead of celebrations the gathered crowds were read the Decree of the Supreme Soviet which announced the complete deportation of the Chechen and Ingush people for treason and collaboration with the German enemy.
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