Moving people during war is what states do and have done since there have been states. This article attempts to specify what was peculiar to the Soviet state in moving its own civilian population during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45). It focuses on two categories of civilians defined by the state according to its determination of loyalty and utility to the war effort: evacuees and deportees. The article proceeds along the lines of three comparisons. The first is between tsarist and Stalinist approaches to ‘total’ war. The second comparison is between evacuees and deportees on the experiential level. The third and final comparison compares those whose voices are present in the sources and those who are silent, posing questions about the discursive relationship between migrants and state authorities in the context of the Great Patriotic War.