On 27 June 1941, five days after the invasion of the USSR by the German army, the Council of Peoples’ Commissars and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR passed resolutions “Concerning the Order of Removing and Stationing Human Contingents and Valuable Property.” Part of the scorched-earth policy of the USSR, in which the invading armies of Germany were to find nothing left behind that could be used, either in the war effort, or otherwise, this resolution ordered the removal eastward of institutions and enterprises from Soviet Ukraine.

550 large industrial enterprises from thirty industrial spheres, twenty light-industry installations, and the property of hundreds of collective farms were shipped eastward from Ukraine. More than three million engineers, designers, qualified workers and intellectuals were sent to Soviet Russia, along with the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and its institutes. The sheer numbers of collective farm property that was shipped eastward is staggering: according to Soviet statistics, more than 150 000 horses, 11 million cattle, almost 18 million sheep and more than 1.5 million pigs, as well as more than 20 000 tractors were removed from Soviet Ukraine and sent to eastern regions of the USSR.

The evacuation of industry and agriculture from Soviet Ukraine had an immense effect on the Soviet war effort; factories that were evacuated were quickly reconstructed in the rear and evacuated collective farm property was instrumental in feeding the Red Army. This evacuation, however, also caused significant privations for Soviet citizens left behind; for much of the German occupation of Soviet Ukraine there were severe food shortages, particularly in the cities. The evacuation and scorched earth policies moreover served to turn many Soviet citizens against Stalin’s regime, because of what was rightly seen as an abandonment of the Soviet people in occupied territories by their leaders.