Where disabled people disappeared after the Great Patriotic War

A few years after the end of the war, invalids, who were an integral part of the picture of everyday life in Soviet cities, began to disappear from the streets, begging for alms at train stations, markets, in front of cinemas and in other public places and leading an anti-social lifestyle. And there were a lot of them - according to statistics, 2, 500, 000 disabled people were demobilized, including 450, 000 one-armed or one-legged.

From a letter from the Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR S.N.Kruglov to the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU dated February 20, 1954

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR reports that, despite the measures taken ... such an intolerable phenomenon as begging still continues ... Militia in cities and on railway transport detained beggars: in the second half of 1951 - 107, 766 people, in 1952 - 156 817 people, in 1953 - 182 342 people ... Social security bodies and local Soviets of Workers' Deputies do not pay due attention to the work on the prevention and elimination of poverty, they are poorly engaged in placing beggars in homes for the disabled and the elderly .. Of the 35 homes for the disabled and boarding schools, the construction of which should be completed in 1952, as of January 1, 1954, only four were built ...

The fight against begging is also made more difficult by the fact that some part of the beggarly disabled and elderly refuse to send them to homes for the disabled, and the settled ones often leave them without permission and continue to beggar. By the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR "On measures to combat antisocial, parasitic elements" it is envisaged to send for special settlements in remote regions of the USSR with the obligatory involvement of persons engaged in begging, evading socially useful labor and leading a parasitic lifestyle, as well as vagrants having certain occupations and places of residence. However, the police cannot widely apply this decree in the fight against begging, since most of the beggars are disabled and elderly, not covered by the decree. In addition, the investigation and verification of materials on these persons requires their long-term detention, which is not provided for by law. Due to the above reasons, the number of people engaged in begging remains significant, and in some localities it not only does not decrease, but increases.

In order to prevent crime and eliminate begging for disabled people who did not find their place in peaceful life and began to wander, drink and beg, the state decided to take them away from large cities to special boarding schools.

One of the most famous special sanatoriums for the disabled was located on the island of Valaam. Since 1950, everyone who, having returned from the front crippled, was thrown to the sidelines of life, were taken there. Sometimes the number of wards reached 1000 people.

All these people were deleted from the annals of "historical memory". And it is still quite difficult to find out the truth about those who whiled away their days in special boarding schools for war veterans. Many cripples deliberately hid their real names: they did not want so much to show their close people their ugliness, helplessness, which the war had awarded ...