General R. Kosh with officers of his staff. Crimea, 1918
General R. Kosh with officers of his staff. Crimea, 1918
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Plans for the Crimea of ​​the German occupation administration

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The German command ignored the demands of both the Hetman and the Russian government. However, it could not rule the peninsula as its own colony, so it began searching for political force to organize local government.

Initially, the German command focused on the local German colonists. General Friedrich von Lindequist arrived in the Crimea with his troops, and together with the Protestant pastor I. Winkler, he took an active part in the organization of the German force. On May 7, a conference of Germans was convened in the village of Buten. About 400 delegates from Crimea, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Kherson, Odessa and other cities gathered. The issue of creating the Black Sea region on the entire territory of the northern coast of the Black and Azov Seas was considered. The German command considered the nomination of Baron W. Falz-Fein for governor-general, but he refused.

The position taken by the German Foreign Ministry on Crimea differed from that of the military. Politicians were confused by the excessive activity of Lindequist, who, with the permission of E. Ludendorff, put forward a new project. According to this intention, Crimea was to unite with Ukraine in time, and the Ukrainian authorities had to give permission to settle in Crimea to German colonists who could come from all regions. However, the Foreign Ministry received the support of William II and rejected the project.

The failure of the “German map” forced the German command to reconsider its plans and look in the direction of another nationality – the Crimean Tatars, who at that time were already quite influential.

The fall of the Bolshevik government led to an intensification of the forces that it had recently exterminated. Crimean Tatars were the first to recover. On April 21, 1918, a Temporary Bureau of the Crimean Tatar people was established in Simferopol, consisting of: Chairman A.-Kh. Hilmi, Comrade Chairman S.-J. Khattatov, Secretary S.-U. Tarakchi. According to the plan of the Crimean Tatar activists, the Bureau was to take over the management of national affairs before the convening of the Kurultay. Members of the Bureau began negotiations for cooperation with the German command. These negotiations were resumed by the soon-to-be-restored Kurultai.

General R. Kosh with officers of his staff. Crimea, 1918
General R. Kosh with officers of his staff. Crimea, 1918

Other socio-political forces also joined the political dialogue. On April 27, a meeting of public figures took place in Simferopol, which decided to restore the authorities that existed before the “Bolshevik attack.” The Tavriya Provincial Commissariat was established, consisting of P. Bianchi, V. Polivanov and A. Ozenbashli, and the Council of Representatives of Governmental and Public Provincial Institutions and Local Self-Governments under it. These bodies began discussing the formation of management structures in the region. The council was declared a temporary body, which had to act until the final determination of the state of the region and the first opportunity to convene representatives of the entire population. On May 6, the Rada decided to convene a general Crimean congress of cities and zemstvos on May 20. However, due to the negative attitude to this plan on the part of the German command, the congress did not take place.Starting from the first days of May, the Crimean Tatars restored the newspaper “Crimea”, the pages of which told about the news of life of both the Crimean Tatars and the whole peninsula. The first issue acknowledged that “the idea of ​​an all-Russian federation was dealt a fatal blow and the main reason for this must be considered the Bolshevik coup .” The issue of what the status of Crimea should be was on the agenda. Activists of Millie Firk demanded to create their own state on the peninsula.

Crimean Tatars tried to contact representatives of the Ottoman Empire, hoping for its support in the creation of national statehood. The imperial government, for its part, also saw many advantages in this. Moreover, the leadership of the Ottoman Empire, even during the existence of the UPR, tried to send its own division to the peninsula – to establish order here.

According to a report submitted to the UPR Kyiv interim ambassador in Constantinople M. Levitsky, during his meeting with D. Seydametom he said: ” Central Council twice recognized the independence of Crimea and imperial troops by rumor, talk about the expedition to the Crimea, wishing to take it under the guise of aid against the Bolsheviks, and then, remaining, to carry out the necessary self-organization of Muslims . Moreover, Seydamet himself, who is “a member of the ministers and the greatest vizier of Talaat Mehmet Pasha,” constantly inspires local authorities to help the “unfortunate Crimean brothers.”

Levitsky further wrote that these conversations forced him to meet with the Grand Vizier to resolve the issue of Crimea’s belonging to Ukraine. During the conversation, he said: ” Our government views Crimea as a part of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in which the Muslim population must be guaranteed all its national rights .” The issue of granting these rights “will be resolved in the shortest possible time in cooperation with the Crimean National Council (Kurultay, – author), convened after the cleansing of Crimea from the Bolsheviks.” According to Levitsky, the Grand Vizier assured him: ” They are not going to provide military assistance in the fight against the Bolsheviks, but will provide only political assistance.». After this meeting, Levitsky added, the newspapers “began to mention that Ukraine and Germany were interested in Crimea. However, under the influence of Seydamet, they continue to write about Ukraine’s recognition of Crimea’s independence, but no longer write about the Turkish protectorate, the hopes for a free life in Crimea are already placed on the Germans, who as allies should help their fellow believers.

Jaffar Seydamet (right)
Jaffar Seydamet (right)

The activity shown against Crimea by the governments of the Ukrainian State and the Ottoman Empire confused the Germans. Fearing a conflict with them over the Crimea, the German command began to implement multi-pronged combinations that would help gain full power on the peninsula.Germany did not want to increase the influence of its ally in the region. When in early May the Minister of the Navy, Jemal Pasha, announced his intention to arrive in Sevastopol on a ship of his state, the German command, fearing that the Crimean Tatars would welcome him as a liberator, and this would strengthen the national Crimean Tatar movement, decided to accept the minister as a high-ranking official. a person who arrived at a German port and to warn about the inadmissibility of interfering in domestic affairs.

Tetyana Bykova, Ph.D., researcher at the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

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The project was implemented with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation

Tetiana Bikova

Candidate of Historical Sciences, Scientist of the Institute of History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

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