1853-1889 1917-1921

The Crimean Peninsula under Russian Rule, 1889-1917

The Crimea, following the exodus of about half its Crimean population in the late 1850es and early 1860es, consisted of about even elements of a Russian and a Crimean Tatar population. Religious affairs and the education of the latter were organized by the Muslim clergy; the clergy was conservative, and so was the medresse school curriculum.
The later 19th and early 20th century witnessed a Crimean Cultural Awakening, initiated by Ismael Bey Gaspirali, who, after having studied in Russian schools as well as abroad, was convinced that, if Tatar ducation was not reformed, the Tatars ultimately would assimilate into the Russian culture. As a teacher (since 1875), politician and publisher, he strove for the modernization of Tatar education, for the creation of a standardized language for all the Turkic speaking peoples living in the Russian Empire. His vision was a Tatar national identity based on Muslim faith and Turkic ethnicity, within the Russian Empire, for he regarded a confrontational course as futile. Within the political spectrum, he and his followers were conservative; in 1905ff. he cooperated with the Kadet Party.
This cooperation was resented by a younger generation of Crimeans, the Young Tatars, which resented Russian autocracy and centralism. While some worked within Russia's political system, aiming for political autonomy, radicals went into exile (Istanbul/Switzerland), where they founded the Crimean Student Society, openly advocating Crimean independence.

In the late 19th century, the position of Russia's administration shifted toward a policy of Russification. Before the Revolution of 1905, the administration was sceptical of any organization which was political in a wider sense (political parties were illegal until 1905). The emergence of Crimean organizations advocating independence caused repressive measures, some of which also affected organizations and persons loyal to the Russian Empire. In 1905, Russia was given a parliament, the Duma, and political parties were founded; in the years 1905 to 1914 Czar Nicholas II., deeply distrusting the Duma, dissolved her repeatedly and had new elections held, with the effect that little reform work was undertaken and Russia remained an autocracy. The Crimea remained part of Tavricheskaya Gubernija. Tauria, the land north of the Crimea, had lost her Tatar identity and was Russian (Ukrainian) in character; only in the Crimean peninsula herself was a sizeable population of Tatars - next to a considerable Russian population.
Simferopol and Sevastopol, connected by rail with Russia proper, had grown into sizeable cities; Sevastopol was a naval port. Certain areas along the southern coast (Livadia, Yalta) may be described as a Russian Riviera, with luxurious estates and vineyards. On the eve of the Russian Revolution, the Menzheviks had only limited support on the Crimea, the Bolzheviks hardly any.

In World War I, Russia fought, among others, the Ottoman Empire - the traditional protector of the Crimean Tatars. The Russian administration suspected the Tatars of harbouring sympathies with the Ottomans, all the more since the Young Turk Rebellion of 1908, the Ottoman Empire pursued a policy of Pan-Turkism; Tatar regiments where dispatched to the western front, where they had to fight Austrians and Germans, not Turks.
The war went badly for Russia, and this affected the Crimea; Crimean Tatar regments suffered high casualties, food and other consumer goods were scarce and rationed - although the Crimea, due to her climate, was less badly affected than other regions of the Russian Empire.

Sevastopol History, from Sevastopol.org
History of the Crimea, from Black Sea Travel
Celebrating the Life of Ismail Bey Gaspirali, from International Committee for Crimea
Ismail Gaspirali, from Crimean Tatars Home Page, from Wikipedia
History of the Crimean Tatars, from Wikipedia
REFERENCE Alan W. Fisher, The Crimean Tatars, Stanford : Hoover Institution Press (1978) 1987, KMLA Lib.Sign. 947.717 F553c

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 11th 2005

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz