Many Jews mistakenly believe the Soviet Union was on the good side in World War II. Clearly, Jews were better off in Soviet labor camps than Nazi concentration camps, and many Jews were saved by fleeing to the USSR. Others were liberated by the Soviets from the Nazi camps at the war's end. But while the Soviets were no Nazis, they were plenty brutal towards their captives. About all that can be said in the Soviets' defense is that they were equally brutal towards all their citizens.
From the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Between 1939 and 1941 nearly 300,000 Polish Jews, almost 10 percent of the Polish Jewish population, fled German-occupied areas of Poland and crossed into the Soviet zone. While Soviet authorities deported tens of thousands of Jews to Siberia, central Asia, and other remote areas in the interior of the Soviet Union, most of them managed to survive. After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, more than a million Soviet Jews fled eastward into the Asian parts of the country, escaping almost certain death. Despite the harsh conditions of the Soviet interior, those who escaped there constituted the largest group of European Jews to survive the Nazi onslaught.
Saved By Deportation: The Unknown Odyssey of Polish Jews (a documentary):
In 1940, a year before the Nazis started deporting Jews to death camps, Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of approximately 200,000 Polish Jews from Russian-occupied Eastern Poland to forced labor settlements in the Soviet interior. As cruel as Stalin's deportations were, in the end they largely saved Polish Jewish lives, for the deportees constituted the overwhelming majority of Polish Jews who escaped the Nazi Holocaust.
Run East: Flight from the Holocaust, by Jack Pomerantz and Lyric Wallwork Winik (a book):
Beautifully told, Run East provides remarkable detail in this powerful picture of a part of the Holocaust that has remained relatively unexplored--the world of European Jews who escaped to what was then the Soviet Union, only to be used by the Soviets, sometimes as laborers in Siberia and sometimes as soldiers fighting on the eastern front.
No, the Soviets were not our saviors or even (usually) our allies. But, despite themselves, they saved many Jews from the Nazis. Including some of my forebears.