"Crimean Tatars"

This is a short list of nations and peoples oppressed and murdered by the Soviet regime. Lithuanians are from Lithuania, one of three small Baltic states between Russia and Poland, all of which were overrun by the Nazis and then the Soviets during the Second World War and subject to Soviet rule until 1990.

Natives of Poland, a much larger country closer to Germany, fared much the same. (It might be noted, however, that citizens of both countries participated in the persecution and deportation of Jews under the Nazi occupation.)

Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu - Credit: Timurberk / Foto Tamer

Crimean Tatars are a Turkish ethnic group who lived considerably south of the other two countries noted above. Their homeland is the large peninsula almost entirely enclosed by the north side of the Black Sea: south of the Ukraine, north of Turkey, east of Greece and Bulgaria.

In May 1944, the entire Crimean Tatar population was forcibly deported to central Asia by Stalin under the accusation that they had collaborated with the Nazi invaders in the preceding year and a half. An estimated 46 percent of the population died of hunger and disease, and the ethnic cleansing of their home was complete by the end of the year. Though officially “rehabilitated” by the Soviet government in 1967, they were still banned from returning home until the last days of the Soviet Union.

The photograph here is of Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu, a leader of the Crimean Tatar National Movement, member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and former Soviet dissident.