Russia, of course, underwent its own cataclysmic convulsions with the 1917 communist revolution. And in the period following the revolution, Kazakhstan actually enjoyed some autonomy – although in 1936 the country was incorporated into Stalin’s Soviet Union. Stalin seems to have regarded the country as some kind of massive prison, deporting millions there in the 1930s and ’40s.
Since Kazakhstan was now formally part of the Soviet Union, it was signed up to the pact of neutrality that Hitler and Stalin had agreed in 1939. So, with the outbreak of war in Western Europe, Kazakhstan, like the rest of the Soviet Union, was effectively allied with Nazi Germany.
But this uneasy and unlikely peace between the Nazi and Communist dictatorships was not to last. Hitler put an emphatic end to the agreement by launching Operation Barbarossa, a mass invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941. German troops flooded into Russia.