Tuesday, November 04, 2014

71 Years since the Deportation of the Karachais

This is two days late. But, 2 November 1943 marked the mass deportation of the Karachais from their Caucasian homeland to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. On that single day the NKVD forcibly deported nearly all 70,000 Karachais to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and placed them under special settlement restrictions. Those Karachai men fighting at the front against Nazi Germany were later removed from the Red Army on 3 March 1944 and joined their families in exile in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Nearly a fifth of the population perished from the harsh physical conditions they met in Central Asia.  Cotton plantations such as Pakhta Aral in Kazakhstan and kolkhozes such as Sadovaya in Kyrgyzstan saw many Karachais die from malnutrition, typhus, and other poverty related causes during this time. On 26 November 1948, the Stalin regime declared the exile of the Karachais and other deported peoples to be permanent. However, Stalin's death on 5 March 1953 led to the Karachais release from special settlement restrictions on 16 July 1956. In 1957 they were allowed to return to a newly created Karachai-Cherkess ASSR in the Caucasus that had replaced the Karachai Autonomous Oblast. By 1960, over 80% of the Karachais had returned from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to their ancestral homelands. The trauma of the 2 November 1943 deportations and the harsh material and legal deprivations the Karachais suffered as special settlers, however, is still remembered by the survivors and their descendants. Like in the case of the other deported peoples in the USSR it remains the single most important event in their recent history in shaping their national self consciousness.

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