Wednesday, May 15, 2013

69 Years Since the Deportation of the Crimean Tatars (18 May 1944)

This Saturday is the 69th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their peninsular homeland on the Black Sea to the deserts of Uzbekistan and the wet forests of the Urals. The NKVD rounded up almost the entire population and took them to rail stations where they were stuffed like cattle into box cars. In three days over 180,000 people had been expelled from their homes and sent on a long and arduous journey eastward. The official reason for the deportation was the false charges of treason brought against the whole population by the Stalin regime. However, the number of Crimean Tatars that fought with the Germans, about 10,000, was quite small compared to a number of other nationalities that were not subject to wholesale deportation. Upon arriving in Uzbekistan and the Urals the Crimean Tatars were placed under special settlement restrictions. On 26 November 1948, the Soviet government decreed the deportations and special settlement restrictions to be forever. The death of Stalin on 5 March 1953 brought about an eventual end of the special settlement regime and on 28 April 1956 the Soviet government freed the Crimean Tatars from these restrictions. They, however, were not allowed to return to Crimea in any significant numbers until 1987 near the very end of the Soviet regime. Even today they still face obstacles to resettling in their homeland and nearly 100,000 still remain in Uzbekistan.

For further reading see this bibliography.

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