You may remember when Ukraine won the Melodi Grand Prix in 2016? The Crimean Tatar singer Jamala sang the song in 1944. The song was about Joseph Stalin’s ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars. The population that had always lived on the Crimean peninsula. What happened and why?
May 18, 1944 a black day for Crimean Tatars
The day after someone in occupied Norway cautiously tried to celebrate our national day in hiding from the Germans, Josef Stalin ordered the deportation of all Crimean Tatars . Soviet soldiers went from door to door on the Crimean peninsula. They were to take with them all the Crimean Tatars. According to Stalin, the reason was that they cooperated with Germany. This has been refuted by historians. Families were given a few minutes to pack the essentials while the soldiers’ rifles threatened them. If it did not go fast enough, they were shot.
The journey went by rail to Uzbekistan. No, not in regular trains with regular seating. No, hundreds of thousands were placed in overcrowded caravans. The journey lasted 18 days and many died on the journey. The bodies were dumped along the railway.
In 1967, a few Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to their beloved Crimea. It was not until the 1980s that those who wanted it were allowed to return. In the meantime, all the land they owned was taken from them. Farms, house areas were taken over by the Russians. This has never been compensated by Russia.
The ethnic cleansing
Stalin tried to erase all traces of the Crimean Tatars. Mention of the ethnic group was banned. The goal was to remove the Crimean Tatars as an ethnic group. After Stalin’s death, the new leader Nikita Khrushchev condemned the deportation of several different ethnic groups under Stalin, including the Crimean Tatars. The Soviet Union then also admitted that the accusations that the Crimean Tatars were cooperating with Germany were unfounded. Even after this condemnation, many years passed before they could return to Crimea, their own country.
Ethnic cleansing was something Stalin also used systematically against other non-Russian peoples. Especially from 1938. But already in 1932-33 pretended what many describe as a genocide in Ukraine. At that time, it was the peasantry in particular and Ukrainians in general that were affected. I have previously written a blog about this genocide .
In the Soviet Union, a power struggle broke out after Lenin’s death. A power struggle that brought Joseph Stalin to power. Josef Stalin’s brutality is well documented. Research after Stalin’s death shows that he had atherosclerosis in his brain, which researchers believe led to his paranoid and brutal style. In Norwegian everyday speech, we like to say persecution madness for people with paranoia. Stalin lived in a belief that everyone wanted to hurt him. His response was a brutal rule. Crimean Tatars noticed this brutality more than most.
In a couple of follow-up blogs, I will look at what happened in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea and annexed the area. I also want to address the Crimean Tatars’ situation in crime today.