The Soviet deportations from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina took place between late 1940 and 1951 and were part of Joseph Stalin's policy of political repression of the potential opposition to the Soviet power (see Population transfer in the Soviet Union). The deported were typically moved to so-called "special settlements" (спецпоселения) (see Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union).
The deportations began after the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, which occurred in June 1940.
1940 – 1941
In 1940, after the Romanian government, as a result of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, was forced to accept the Soviet ultimatum and withdrew from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, these regions were incorporated into the Soviet Union, most of the former being organized as the Moldavian SSR, while the other areas were attributed to the Ukrainian SSR.
On June 12–13, 1941, 29,839 members of families of "counter-revolutionaries and nationalists" from the Moldavian SSR, and from the Chernivtsi (of Northern Bukovina) and Izmail oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR were deported to Kazakhstan, the Komi ASSR, the Krasnoyarsk Krai, and the Omsk and Novosibirsk oblasts. For the fate of such a deportee from Bessarabia, see the example of Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya. The Georgian NKVD official Sergo Goglidze, trusted henchman of Lavrenty Beria, was in charge of this deportation from Bessarabia.
During 1940 and 1941, 53,356 people from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were deported to the Gulag forced-labor camp system across the entire territory of the Soviet Union, most of them living and working in poor conditions.
Professor Rudolph Rummel estimated that in 1940 – 1941, 200,000 to 300,000 Romanian Bessarabians were persecuted, conscripted into forced labor camps, or deported with the entire family, of whom 18,000 to 57,000 did not survived.
On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany, together with several other countries, including Romania (which had the primary objective of reintegrating Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina into the Romanian state), attacked the Soviet Union (see Operation Barbarossa). After the start of the war, further mass deportations occurred in the USSR. In April 1942, Romanians deportees and some other nationalities were deported again from Crimea and the North Caucasus. In June 1942, Romanians and others were also deported from Krasnodar Krai and the Rostov Oblast.
On April 6, 1949, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee issued decision number 1290-467cc, which called for 11,280 families from Moldavian SSR to be deported as kulaks or collaborators with the "German fascists occupier" during World War II. Ultimately, 11,239 families, comprising 35,050 persons were detained and deported on July 6, 1949, with the rest either escaping or being exempt due to their contribution to the Soviet war effort or their support for collectivisation.
On February 19, 1951, Abakumov delivered to Stalin a secret notice which listed the planned numbers of deported "Jehovists" from Ukraine, Belorussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova, with 1,675 persons (670 families) listed for the latter. On March 3, the USSR Council of Ministers issued the corresponding decree, followed by an order of the Ministry of State Security of February 6. On March 24, the Council of Ministers of the Moldavian SSR issued the decree on the confiscation and selling of the property of the deportees. Operation North started at 4:00 am on April 1, 1951, and the round-ups continued until April 2. The deportees were classified as "special settlers". In total, from the Moldavian SSR, there were 723 families (2,617 persons) deported on the night of March 31 to April 1, 1951, all members of neoprotestant sects, mostly Jehovah's Witnesses, and qualified as religious elements considered a potential danger for the Communist regime.
A memorial has been erected in Chișinău, close to Central Station, to commemorate the deportations.