1917-1921 1944-1991

The Crimean Peninsula within Communist Russia, 1921-1944

The Red Army had expelled the Whites from the Crimea late in 1920; the Crimean ASSR, autonomous within the RSFSR, was founded in 1921, and became part of the USSR in 1922.
The crux of the civil war years had been, that the political organizations of the Crimea had been either Tatar or Russian; while claiming to represent the territory (and thus whole population) of the Crimea, they pursued aims of their respective ethnic groups.
In this respect, the Bolzhevik administration showed progress in the right direction. The new administration of the Crimea included Russians as well as Tatars; the Communist Party proclaimed the right of ethnic minorities for cultural autionomy. In reality, it was Russians who called the shots. A number of atar leaders, among them Ç. Cihan, were executed; the Communist administration was atheistic, hostile to the church as well as to Islam. During the famine of 1920-1921, Soviet authorities confiscated food and had it transported to the core regions of Russia, causing severe food shortage in the Crimean cities and triggering inflation.
The introduction of NEP resulted in political and economic stabilization. A census established a total population of the Crimea of 623,000, about one quarter of which were Crimean Tatar, just under 50 % ethnic Russians, the remainder Jews, Germans, Armenians, Greeks, Gypsies and Bulgarians (1923).
Russian and Crimean Tatar were declared official languages. Crimean Tatar cultural institutions were reopened, Crimean Tatar refugees encouraged to return. Soviet interference in the Crimean Tatar economy were minimal; Russian-owned estates were confiscated. Crimean Tatars were over-represented in the administration.

The arrest, trial and execution of the Chairman of the Crimean Central Committee, Veli Ibrahimov, in early 1928, brought a factual end to Crimean autonomy and the beginning of Stalin's control. The Tatar intelligentsia was purged, schools, newspapers sovieticized, written Tatar switched to the Latin alphabet. Stalin's campaign against the Kulaks also found tenthousands of victims in the Crimea, both Tatar and Russian; many of them were deported to regions east of the Ural. Forced collectivization caused isolated cases of armd resistance (Alakat 1929/1930), but more often peasants killing their entire herds of animals rather than handing them over to the authorities, causing a famine in 1931-1933. The party purges also affected the Crimea, and particularly the Crimean Tatar element in the Communist Party.
Stalin came to regard the Crimean Tatars as counterrevolutionaries; the result was a policy of de-Tatarization of party and administration and a policy of Soviet Russification (from 1936 onward). From 1938, the Crimean Tatar language was to be written in the Cyrillic alphabet. In 1941, the Crimean ASSR was abolished.

On June 22nd 1941, German forces began the invasion of the USSR; the Crimea was occupied in October 1941; Sevastopol held out until July 4th 1942. When Soviet forces withdrew, they destroyed everything which might be of value to the Germans - warehouse stocks, industrial facilities, even water plants, sewage facilitis, electrical cables. This affected the civilian population of the Crimea harder than the German forces. The Germans did little to include Crimeans in the administration of occupied Crimea (self-government in religious and cultural affairs was granted on a local level); they recruited c. 15,000-20,000 Crimean Tatars into a militia, had the Jewish and Gypsy population of the Crimea massacred, destroyed Soviet monuments and books, took artistic objects of value to Germany.
There was partizan activity in the Crimea, organized in either Russian or Crimean Tatar units; the Germans fought these activities, and in the context the civilian population suffered severely.
The Red Army liberated the Crimea in early 1944. Stalin ordered the entire population of Crimean Tatars (165,000 survived the deportation), whom he blamed of having collaborated with the enemy, to be deported (May 18th-21st 1944). Crimea's Bulgarian and Greek population also was deported. Three quarters of the deported Crimean Tatars ended up in Uzbekistan.

Sevastopol History, from Sevastopol.org
History of the Crimea, from Black Sea Travel
History of the Crimean Tatars, from Wikipedia
Deportation, from Crimean Tatars Home Page
J. Otto Pohl, The Deportation and Fate of the Crimean Tatars, posted by ICC Crimea
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

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