If you are a Jew who lives, say, in Riga, in Summer of 1941 and tries to get as far East as possible away from the advancing German troops, how would you do it? Would you use a horse-drawn carriage? All horses are a State property (including the ones which technically belong to "collective farms"). Do you drive? Nobody has a car except for government officials and even their cars do not belong to them but to the State. Could you buy a train ticket? OK, you go to the train station and find that there are no train tickets to be sold: All the transport is used for "government purposes", which include:
Well, if you are working in a place deemed "important", say, in an aircraft design bureau, chances you get one are pretty good. (But if you are not on good terms with your boss, you have a problem.) But what if you are working in a shoe-repair place? Or a collective farm? (Which means you live not in Riga but somewhere in a country-side.) Chances are very minimal. You wait and wait and wait for the life-saving evacuation document and then Germans arrive all of a sudden. (The rest you know.)
What are your other options? Say, you get your wife, kids, parents and you try to walk along a highway. In particular, you have abandoned your workplace illegally and you are also impeding the military traffic. The first NKVD patrol that sees you will declare you a "saboteur" (somebody sabotaging Soviet industry by leaving your workplace without a permission) and "paniceur" (somebody spreading panic about the danger of advancing German troops and who does not believe that the glorious red Army will soon crash the German invaders). So, you get shot on the spot (quite legally!).
- Evacuation of Jews of the USSR during the Second World War
The evacuation of Soviet citizens and material resources during the Second World War is a unique phenomenon in history. Between June 22, 1941 and before the offensive near Stalingrad in 1942, about 17 million people, thousands of industrial enterprises and huge material resources were exported from the threatened areas, according to official Soviet data. According to Marshal Zhukov, it was the evacuation of industrial enterprises that allowed the Soviet Union to win the Second World War. For the Jews of the USSR, evacuation was practically the only salvation.
1.1. General policy of evacuation
The first plans for the evacuation of human and material resources from the threatened territory appeared before the outbreak of the war, in April-May 1941. However, the plan presented was rejected by Stalin as untimely. Thus, at the beginning of the Nazi offensive in the USSR, there were no approved plans and no preparations were made for evacuation from the border areas.
June 22, 1941 began the spontaneous flight of civilians from the border areas, and local authorities were forced to begin evacuation, without official instructions. Already on the first day of the war, 30 evacuation trains were sent from Belostok and Grodno stations.
June 23, 1941 Stalin gave permission for the beginning of mass evacuation. The first to take out 14 thousand children from orphanages, sanatoriums and pioneer camps. To help the refugees, 24 aid points were opened (in Orsha, Vitebsk, Mogilev, etc.)
On June 24, the Council for Evacuation was formed, headed by the Minister of Railways Kaganovich. The main objectives of the evacuation were the export of industrial enterprises, raw materials and material assets from threatened territories. On June 27, 1941, the procedure for the removal and deployment of human resources was determined. During evacuation, preference was given to workers of exported enterprises, families of RKKA and state security commanders, families of employees of the apparatus and children under 15 years old.
By July 2, there were 210 echelons on 29 railways on the way. However, a significant part of the refugees left on their own. The roads were crowded with people who were trying to escape from the advancing enemy. In the first weeks of the war, these people could not go far because of the rapid advance of the German army. Even before the arrival of Germans in regions such as Western Ukraine, Lithuania and Latvia, local collaborators did not allow refugees to leave and returned them home, blocking the roads. Often the way was already blocked by the German landing forces and the German army. Thus, in the first period of the war, until the middle of July (the temporary stabilization of the front near Smolensk and in the Kiev direction), those who managed to catch the train had the greatest chance of salvation.
However, trains were not always saved. Thus, the export of people to the Brest-Litovsk railway began only after 10 pm on June 23, 1941, when a direct order was received from Moscow. At the stations stood by that time 10.091 car with people and cargoes. However, because of the rapid offensive of the Germans, only about half of them - 5675 wagons were sent.
The formations traveled to the east under constant enemy fire. Most of them were shelled by German aircraft, the trains were killed and wounded. The same can be said about crossings across numerous rivers, and about roads blocked by refugees. Thus, far from all the evacuees reached the rear.
Since July 5, 1941, evacuation points have been opened at the main railway junctions. Already by July 18 they were one hundred and twenty. These points took echelons, gave out bread and boiling water, in some of them there were dining rooms and showers. Their goal was financial support for refugees. By this time on the road were already millions of people.
Evacuation was handled by the Evacuation Department, which was subordinated to the Central Information Bureau in Buguruslan. Nevertheless, the accounting was far from complete. So, according to the data for December 10, 1941, 3.074.000 people were counted by name. In early 1942, a census was carried out, according to which there were 7.417.000 evacuees in the eastern regions. It is known, however, that up to 17 million citizens were transferred to the rear (according to earlier data, 12 million). Many were not taken into account, as they lived with relatives in the eastern territories, or moved to the rear on their own. So, according to the data for July 18, 1941 about 1 million evacuees did not reach their destination, but settled with relatives and friends on the route.
1.2. Evacuation of Soviet Jews
In the last twenty years there has been a scientific dispute about the evacuation of the Jews of the USSR during the Second World War. The center of this dispute is the question of whether or not the Soviet government gave priority to Jews during evacuation. Everyone agrees that the government of the USSR already in the early stages of the war had complete information about the extermination of Jews in the occupied territories. Therefore, some historians accuse the government of non-interference, which led to the destruction of millions of people (see Leonid Smilovitsky, Yitzhak Arad). On the other hand, S. Shvebysh and many Russian historians (for example, M.N. Potemkin) indicate that the percentage of Jews among the evacuees was significantly higher than their weight in the population of threatened areas.
In the article "Evacuation and Soviet Jews in the years of the Holocaust," Shveibish called new figures of evacuated Jews in the USSR. Earlier it was assumed that about 1 million Jews (Arad) were evacuated. However, Shvebish gives completely different statistics. According to it, about 4.855.000 Jews lived in the USSR at the beginning of the war, without taking into account Jewish refugees from Poland and Romania, and taking into account the western territories annexed since September 1939. Of these, 4,095,000 resided in territories that were later occupied by the Nazis. According Shveibish, from them to the Soviet rear were removed from 1.2 to 1.4 million Jews. Moreover, according to the Central Statistical Office of the USSR on September 15, 1941, the proportion of Jews among evacuees, not including children from evacuated children's institutions, was 24.8%. Thus, the Jews were in second place after the Russians (52.9%). According to these data, the percentage of evacuated Jews was higher than their percentage in the occupied territories and above the percentage of all other groups of the population, except Russian. A document was recently found,
However, it is difficult to argue that this was not the result of the USSR's policy of saving Jews, but rather the result of the fact that the Jews understood the full danger of their situation, and rumors of what was happening to the Jews in the occupied territories forced them to flee. In addition, some Jews in the evacuated population groups were more than their share in the population as a whole. Thus, the percentage of Jewish engineers, officers of the Red Army and state security, party workers and workers was higher than their percentage in the population of the country.
1.2.1. Western territories
The number of evacuees in these or those areas directly depended on the distance of these places from the state border of the USSR and, accordingly, from the moment of occupation. An important factor was also the availability of a railway or the ability to quickly reach the railway station. One of the basic conditions for the evacuation of the Jews was the understanding of the danger that the Nazi authorities carried. However, despite the fact that the anti-Semitic policy of the Nazis was well known in the USSR, and refugees from Poland talked about Nazi policies against Jews in that country (official information was hidden by the Soviet authorities because of the peace treaty with Germany), in the early days there was no clear understanding of the danger of Nazi occupation for Jews.
On newly annexed to the USSR in 1939, the territories were inhabited by about 2 million Jews. However, only 170 thousand of them managed to escape to the east, and only about 100 thousand - to reach the deep rear. In other words: 7-9% of the Jewish population tried to save themselves in these territories, which came under Nazi rule in the first days of the war, but only 5-7% were saved. 
1.2.2. Eastern Territories
The more east the territories were, the more Jews were saved by them. Thus, in the territories of Eastern Byelorussia, occupied by the Nazis by mid-July, 105-110 thousand Jews lived before the war, of which 45-48 thousand people were saved, that is, about 43% of the Jewish population. In total, in Western and Eastern Belarus, occupied by mid-July 1941, 24-27% of Jews were saved.
It should be noted that the bulk of those evacuated through official channels were residents of Moscow and Leningrad - 56% of the total number of evacuees. A significant part of the population traveled to the east on its own. In the regions of Belarus, occupied after the middle of July, that is after the first stabilization of the front near Smolensk and Luga, 125,000 Jews lived before the war. Of these, about 80 thousand people, that is 64% of the Jewish population of these regions, were evacuated.
A similar situation is observed in other regions. Thus, only 6% of Jews (about 15 thousand people) were evacuated from Lithuania, 16% from Latvia (also about 15 thousand people), and from Estonia 65% (about 3000 people).
The percentage of Jews who escaped from major cities with significant Jewish populations, such as Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv, was huge. Thus, in Kharkov, out of 150,000 Jews who lived there before the war, less than 20,000 remained under occupation. About 150,000 of the 200,000 pre-war Jewish population were evacuated in Kiev, and a slightly smaller percentage of Jews were evacuated in Odessa. These cities met all the conditions listed above: they were occupied at a relatively late stage, when the Jews had time to evacuate, and when it was already known what was happening under the Nazi occupation, and also were at major railway junctions. In addition, these were industrial centers, and many were evacuated with their enterprises.
Living and living conditions
The first condition for the evacuation was the opportunity to use the vehicle. The most efficient transport, given the distances in question, was the train. However, in order to get on the train, it was necessary to obtain permission to evacuate. If a person or family did not belong to the categories of the population who were given priority in evacuation, it was difficult to obtain such a document, sometimes impossible. Already in the evacuation without this document it was also impossible to get food cards, without which there was practically no way to get food. [eleven]
Millions of people were evacuated without permits and documents. They actually got to the rear independently. Sometimes it was possible to get permission on the way. There is evidence of the acquisition of such permits for bribes. Many received the relevant documents already in the evacuation areas, finding work.