Crimean Tatars in Turkey
Crimean Tatars in Turkey
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The last wave of detatization of Crimea

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The wave of resettlement reached its peak in the early twentieth century, when it became known about the creation of the so-called Anti-Muslim League. There were rumors among the people that the main purpose of this organization was the forcible conversion of all Muslims to Christianity.

This time, too, the government made no attempt to stop mass emigration. On the contrary, the supreme power tried to get as many Crimean Tatars as possible to leave the peninsula. On October 6, 1902, the government allowed them to leave without hindrance. The right to emigrate freely was granted to all willing Crimean Tatars, including those who were subject to military service. This order exempted new settlers from a circular guarantee and expanded benefits and provided various assistance to new settlers on the peninsula (provided funds for travel and medical care, reduced rail fares, loans for household equipment, etc.).

Crimean Tatars in Turkey
Crimean Tatars in Turkey

With the beginning of the First World War in the Russian Empire began repressions directed exclusively against the Tatars of any social affiliation. A witness to these events stated: ” It was an undisguised segregation – people were persecuted only on national grounds .” First of all, the tsarist government began the systematic deportation of the Tatar people – “as unreliable” – deep into the empire. And no one doubted that the Tatars were a “unreliable” people, both in the government and on the ground. For example, the representative of the Crimean nobles Chernov in his letter to the Prosecutor General Beklemishev quite seriously stated: “Crimean Tatars are always ready to betray the Russian throne.” This policy soon led to the fact that in 1917 the Tatars accounted for only 36.6% of the rural and 11.3% of the urban population of the peninsula.Initially, some local officials tried to prevent the growth of emigration, but were soon stopped by government orders. Thus, in 1902, the governor of the Tavriya province V. Trepov wrote: ” Considering it impossible and even futile to forcibly keep the Tatars in Russian citizenship and within the empire, I would at the same time consider it very desirable to acquire the lands left in the hands of the Russians. For better implementation of this, it would be highly desirable for the Crimean Bank to notify the local Tatar population through state mediation of its desire to buy land and at the same time announce its price. I am convinced that this will be a real step towards further colonization of Crimea». These words were supported by real actions: in the same year V. Trepov issued an order according to which Tatars who emigrated to the Ottoman Empire were forbidden to return to the territory of the Russian Empire at any time. Some time later, on June 2, 1910, this ban was lifted, but a very small proportion of those who emigrated were able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Table 1
Table 1

In 1917, the population of Crimea on a national basis was distributed among the towns and villages of the peninsula in this way (Table 2).With the beginning of the First World War, the total population of Crimea decreased due to mobilization. According to the 1917 census, five districts of the Crimean peninsula were home to 807,903 civilians (54% of them in 15 cities) and more than 90,000 sailors and soldiers. The national composition of the peninsula can be seen in more detail in Table 1.

If we look at how different nationalities were distributed in the counties of Crimea, we will see the following picture (Table 3).

Table 2
Table 2

Thus, at the beginning of 1917, Crimea was a very peculiar part of the Russian Empire. Summarizing the above, we see that throughout the stay of the Crimean Peninsula (as part of the Tavriya province) in the Russian Empire, the population was constantly changing due to emigration of local, indigenous people and the arrival of new migrants from other provinces. After the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to the Russian Empire, the latter purposefully and steadily pursued a policy of expelling the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula.The population density in Crimea was relatively small. At the beginning of the First World War there were 28 people per square mile. It reached its greatest size in Yalta County, which was inhabited mainly by Tatars (98 people), and the smallest – in the steppe Perekopsky and Evpatoria (respectively 10 and 14). In 1917, these figures changed: the population density of the peninsula increased to 36 people.

There are three major waves of emigration. The first wave of emigration of the Muslim population began with the annexation of the Crimean peninsula to the Russian Empire (1783-1800), the second – after the Crimean War (1859-1870), the third – in the late nineteenth – early twentieth century.

Table 3
Table 3

Analyzing the composition of the population living on the peninsula, we must refer to the notes of the French Consul at the Crimea-Girey Baron Toth. According to him, the total population of the Crimean Khanate in 1767 (ie 7 years before joining the Russian Empire) was 4 million people. According to the calculations of the researcher R. Kurtiyev in 1778, approximately 95% of the total population were Crimean Tatars. If we recall that according to the 1897 census, 546,592 people lived in the Crimea, the scale of emigration is impressive.The purposeful policy of the tsarist government led to the fact that in less than a century and a half (1783-1917) the number of Crimean Tatars on the territory of the Crimean peninsula decreased significantly. From the available at the end of the eighteenth century. the number of Crimean Tatars on the eve of the revolution in Crimea remained only a quarter. Three quarters of the Crimean Tatar population emigrated to other countries.

In 1994, during an international scientific conference on “Developments in Crimea: A Dilemma for Ukraine and Significance for National Security” in Kyiv, Turkish Professor Daegu Cesar noted that about 5 million descendants of Crimean Tatars now live in Turkey. It was there that the Tatars, emigrating from the Crimean peninsula, found their second homeland…

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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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