Return to the Soviet Union

On 13 June 1945, the repatriation of Soviet citizens commenced. All available ships and all means of transportation through Sweden were used for this purpose. In the course of June and July 1945, around 84 000 liberated Soviet citizens were returned to the Soviet Union from Norway. Around half of those repatriated that year were of Russian nationality. Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Georgians, Tatars and other nationalities were also returned home.

When most of the liberated Soviet POWs had been repatriated, the question of forced repatriation was raised. The Soviet and Allied authorities had different interpretations of who were Soviet nationals. Relations with the Soviet authorities had much to say when the Norwegian authorities made their decisions. In the end, 1566 persons were found to have no determinable citizenship and the responsibility for these was left to the Allied authorities.

The fate of repatriated Soviet POWs has long been the subject of speculation. Western authors have in many cases given a one-sided description of how the Soviet authorities received the POWs, focusing on executions and new terms of imprisonment with hard labour. The stories told by former POWs show that they generally underwent thorough examinations after their return. More recent Soviet research suggests that more than half were sent directly home.