Thursday, November 13, 2014

70 Years Since the Deportation of the Meskhetian Turks

On the morning of 15 November 1944 the NKVD began the systematic deportation of the Meskhetian Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins from the area of Georgia near the Turkish border. By 6 pm that day the NKVD had loaded a total of 26,591 people on to train echelons bound for Kazakhstan and Central Asia (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.175, p. 533). Between 15 to 18 November 1944 the NKVD cleared Meskhetia-Javakhetia of Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins. On 25 to 26 November 1944, they forcibly removed these nationalities from Adzharia. In total the NKVD deported a reported 91,095 Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins from Georgia and sent them on their way to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan by 28 November 1944.Their houses and lands were to be settled by some 7,000 Georgian households  (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.176, p. 534). By December the NKVD had revised the number of deported Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins up to 92,374 people. Adult men made up only 18,923 of the deportees while the rest consisted of 27,399 adult women and 45,985 children under 16. A total of 53,163 were shipped to Uzbekistan, 28,598 to Kazakhstan, and 10,546 to Kyrgyzstan. The Soviet government settled 84,596 of them on kolkhozes, 6,316 on sovkhozes, and only 1,395 in industrial enterprises (Bugai, doc. 7, p. 157). A report from Beria to Molotov on 13 January 1945 noted that in the process of the deportations that the Soviet government had confiscated 8,525 tons of grain, 3,948 tons of potatoes, 453 tons of vegetables, 312 tons of fruit, 60,007 head of long horned cattle, and 80,049 head of small cattle from the Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins. In exchange they received an advance of only 1,480 tons of flour and 371 tons of cereal between 15 January and 15 March 1945, a ration of 16 kg of flour and 4 kg of cereal per person, while waiting for their vouchers for the rest of their property to be redeemed (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.178, pp. 535-536). On 5 March 1945, the SNK ordered that the Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins deported from Georgia to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan be provided with 3,158.4 tons of potatoes, 453.7 tons of vegetables, and 312.4 tons of fruit. But, missing from this order was any mention of any livestock despite the loss of over 140,000 head of cattle by the deportees or the 8,525 tons of grain (Pobol and Polian, doc. 3.179, p. 536). By 11 March 1946, they still had only received 518 tons of grain and 4,659 kilograms of wool, cattle, and sheep (Bugai, doc. 19, p. 165). This meant that during the intial months and years in exile, food, especially meat was in quite short supply. This led to increased morbidity and mortality due to malnutrition. By June 1948, 11.8% of those deported in 1944 had perished (Pobol and Polian, p. 524).  Like other nationalities deported from the Caucasus the Mekshetian Turks, Kurds, and Hemshins were placed under special settlement restrictions until 1956. Unlike the Karachais, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, and Kalmyks they were not allowed to return in significant numbers to their homeland after 1957.


N.F. Bugai, ed., Iosif Stalin - Lavrentiiu Berii: "Ikh nado deportirovat'": Dokumenty, fakty, kommentarii (Moscow: "Druzhba narodov", 1992).

N. L. Pobol and P.M. Polian, (eds.), Stalinskie deportatsii 1928-1953: Dokumenty, (Moscow: MFD, Materik, 2005).

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