“The People who could not get into the carriage were beaten by the soldiers with rifle butts.” Deportation of Crimean Tatars – in the stories of seven eyewitnesses
In memory of the victims of one of the most inhuman crimes of the Soviet regime, Ukraine celebrates on May 18 the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide.
It was on the night of May 18 that thousands of women, children, war invalids and elderly people were expelled from their homes in a matter of hours, driven into overcrowded freight cars and sent several thousand kilometers from their native Crimean villages and cities. Most of the deported ended up in remote areas of Central Asia and Siberia, and another part in different regions of the RSFSR.
The formal reason for the deportation was the accusation of the Crimean Tatars of allegedly massive cooperation with Nazi Germany during World War II – the whole nation was recognized as ” traitors to the motherland.”
“ After the liberation of the Crimea from the fascist invaders, instead of the long-awaited joy came a day that will never be forgotten. A day that will turn my fate and the fate of my people and which will stretch like a string of gray echelons throughout my life, ”- said the Crimean Tatar Nariman Gafarov, whose family then lived in the Balaklava region of Crimea, about the events of May 18.
Similar stories about deportation and exile were previously collected by the Information and Documentation Center of Crimean Tatars. NV cites fragments of some of them.
“Mom was ordered to collect the children within 10 minutes.”
Sultanie Abdurafieva ( Abduramanova), born on February 12, 1935 in the village of Baatyr ( Bogatyr), Bakhchisarai region
Our family consisted of 5 people: father – Abduraman, mother – Rabie, me, brother Nafa and sister Sabrie. Sister Sabrie was born in 1947 in deportation and died at the age of 7 months from pneumonia.
On May 17, 1944, lists of family members were drawn up, but why, they did not explain.
On May 18  at 2 am there was a loud knock on the door. The father got up in his underwear and opened the doors. On the threshold were three military men with machine guns. The father was immediately arrested. They ordered me to stand still, or they would shoot me. Mom was ordered to collect the children within 10 minutes. Allowed to take only spoons, saucepan and cups. Mom, as she was in a dress with short sleeves, left the house.
It was raining outside. An elderly soldier guarding the car in which our neighbors were sitting advised my mother to go home and put on something warm. But the doors of the house were already locked. A truck was parked nearby, into which we were all loaded and brought to the Syuren station. They drove the car close to the carriage, opened the tailgate and drove people into the dirty, bestial carriage. There was no toilet or water here. The need was celebrated in a bucket, having fenced off the corner of the car with a blanket. We were fed on the way once a day: they gave gruel and rye bread one piece at a time. There was no medical service. The dead were carried out of the carriage and left at the station, not allowing them to be buried. […]
They brought us to the Kuma site of the Yuryinsky region of the Mari Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, placed us in barracks, in one barrack for 8-10 families. […]
In 1947, all of us, 152 families, were loaded onto cars and transported to the Zvenigovsky district, where we were accommodated in the former factory stable. Each family has its own ” room” – a horse stall, 2 × 3 m. Parents worked at the shipyard. Butyakov. My father drove spare parts around the plant, and my mother worked as a cleaner in the lathe shop. They ate frozen potatoes, from which they made tortillas. Of course, 200 grams of bread that we were given was not enough.
“On the way, the train was thrown with stones and shouted ” traitors “
Reshat Abdurafiev, born on September 28, 1929 in the village of Makhaldur ( Nagornoye), Kuibyshevsky district
We had a big family: father – Abdurefiy, mother Fatime, brothers Kemal, Seijelil, me, sisters Dilyara, Gulyar, brother Nuri. In 1941 Lennara’s sister was born, and the youngest Seitveli was born in 1946 in deportation, in Uzbekistan.
On May 17, 1944, in the evening, two elderly soldiers came to visit us, my mother set the table. One of them put me on my knees and began to cry. When his father asked him why he was crying, he replied: “I remembered my children.” On that day, the whole village finished planting tobacco, and the next day we decided to celebrate this event, but instead at 5 o’clock in the morning there were loud knocks on the door. Father opened the door, but he was immediately squeezed by machine guns in the corner. The soldiers were trying to find out who lived in the house. After that he was allowed to get dressed.
We were given 15 minutes to get ready. Hastily dressed, we were pushed out into the street and driven like cattle behind the tobacco sheds. The whole village was cordoned off by the military. We were accompanied by soldiers with machine guns. Trucks arrived and everyone was loaded into them. They brought it to the Suren station and, having driven it close to the cars, unloaded it. There were 102 people in the carriage: residents of Balaklava and Sevastopol. Having stuffed the cars with people, they immediately closed the bolt. We did not have time to get under way yet, lice began to seize everyone, we picked them from each other all the way to Uzbekistan. There was no toilet, no water in the car. There was no medical service at all. They were fed once a day: they were given a piece of stale bread and gruel. In our carriage, my grandmother died, we wrapped her around and left her at the station by the road. On the way, they threw stones at the train and shouted ” traitors”. […]
We spent 23 days on the way. They brought us to the station Golodnaya Steppe in the city of Mirzachul, Uzbek SSR. There they were loaded onto carts and taken to the Oktyabr collective farm. […]
The winter was very cold that year. In December, another child appeared in our family – Enver. But soon he fell ill with pneumonia and died. Mom worked as a cleaner at the school – this saved our family from starvation. All have had malaria.
“There were only women, children and a few old people in the carriage.”
Niyar Abdul-Alim kyzy Ablyalimova, was born on March 8, 1932 in the village of Tav-Dair, Simferopol region
Before the deportation, my mother and my sister Reikhan lived in the village of Kostel in Ak-Mechetsky district ( Chernomorsky). This house was the family estate of my grandfather.
I remember the day of expulsion very well, I will not forget it until the end of my days. On the afternoon of May 17, we children played in the yard. Trucks passed in a line. It was a surprise – we usually didn’t see cars here.
When I was awakened the next morning, the first thing I saw was a soldier standing in the opening of the wide-open door with the muzzle of a machine gun pointed at me. I didn’t understand anything, and I wasn’t even scared. I was still asleep, probably, but this vision remained with me for the rest of my life. And no matter what later I endured mental shocks, they faded over time, but the machine gun aimed at the sleeping girl will forever remain in my memory.
The ” evict” gave 10 minutes to get ready. Mom managed to lift the two of us, dress somehow, and left the house without even taking gold jewelry. The soldier did not allow me to take anything.
When they arrived at the car, there were already a lot of people. They threw us into the back of the car, and my mother climbed in too. But one soldier told her: “You came without anything, go get something for the children to eat” and let her go. Mom brought some food. The gathering place was the central part of the village.
They brought us to the Evpatoria station. The carriages were of veal, there were no ladders. The children were left inside, and the adults helped each other to climb. Frightened people sat in silence, not understanding what was happening, looking dumbfounded around. There were a lot of us in the carriage, only women, children and a few old people. It was impossible to lie down, everyone was sitting. There was no toilet or water either. I don’t know where the water was taken. I remember several times in a flask they brought some kind of water bottle that looked like fish soup. In the early days, people did not want to eat, and then they even quarreled over this soup. Uncle’s wife, Kerime, was chosen as the eldest in the carriage. She distributed soup to people – one rug each.
“The locals were very afraid of us – they were told that the cannibals would come.”
Nariman Yeshevli, born on November 19, 1932 in the village of Degirmenkoy ( Zaprudnoye), Yalta region
We had our own house with a garden. The family had a father, mother and four children. My father worked as a foreman of a tobacco-growing brigade. In the second year of the war, my father went to fight at the front.
On May 18, 1944, there was a knock on the house at night. Mom opened the door, and armed soldiers rushed in. They were very angry, shouting and cursing. We could not understand anything, because we did not know the Russian language. Then they began to drive us out into the yard with their rifle butts. They did not give time to gather at all, and they were not allowed to take things.
Mom thought they were leading to the execution, and whispered to me to take the newly born kids to the goat. The soldier saw this and threw me aside with his butt. They dragged us out of the house, in what they were – without things and food. Residents were also taken out of neighboring houses under escort. All were gathered near the village bus station. They didn’t explain anything, and we thought to the very station of Simferopol that they were being taken to be shot.
There were already freight trains at the ready. All were ” beaten” into cattle wagons and covered with boards. There was no place to lie down. There was no water or toilet. We sat in crowded carriages in a terrible stuffy atmosphere. Our family had no food, and neighbors shared their meager supplies. Sometimes we were fed, but always with salty food, it made us very thirsty, but we were not given water. People began to get sick, but they did not provide any medical assistance. Due to the lack of a toilet, after a few days there was nothing to breathe in the carriage. The dead were buried in hastily dug holes along the road during parking, sometimes several corpses in one.
We drove for a very long time, about 20 days. They dropped us off at the Khakulabad station of the Namangan region of Uzbekistan. All were placed in a rural school. At first, the locals were very afraid of us, they were told that the cannibals would come. I remember one old Uzbek woman with a hare lip. We were afraid of her, and she ran away from us.
Then we were placed in some wagons. We worked on a collective farm, mainly in the fields. Mom worked from dawn to dawn, and her meager ration was barely enough for all of us. At the age of 14, Mustafa’s elder brother went to work for a local miller, bringing some flour. When the grain was harvested in the fields, I went with my peers to remove spikelets from the ground. The foreman saw us, began to beat us with a whip, we barely escaped. Mom gave almost all the food to us, the children, she worked a lot and ate almost nothing. She began to get sick often.
“Loaded into boxcars like cattle – the more it fits, the better”
Urie Valieva ( Seitveliyeva), born in 1926 in Bakhchisarai
Our family lived in house number 64 on Sevastopolskaya street ( Komarova, 20) in Bakhchisarai. Before the war there were four sisters of us: Meryem, Hatice, me and Jevair. The older sisters were married and lived separately.
On May 18, 1944, at 4 o’clock in the morning, screams and crying were heard in the street. Mom ran out to find out what was the matter and saw how the soldiers were driving women with children in their arms from their homes. There was a hospital in our house and a military doctor-major lived with us. Mom woke her up and asked to find out what had happened. The doctor went to the commandant’s office and brought the terrible news: “You are all being exiled to Central Asia. There were no instructions yesterday. “
Then three armed soldiers entered the house and gave us 15 minutes to get ready. I began to object, the soldiers began to threaten. The major came in and they calmed down a bit. Allowed to take with you from 5 to 15 kg. They drove us to the railway station, loaded us into boxcars like cattle – the more they fit, the better. We drove standing or sitting. The soldiers who could not get into the carriage were beaten by the soldiers with rifle butts.
Until we left the Crimea, the cars were not opened and water was not given. There was no toilet and no medical assistance. The train stopped at small stations, those who had dishes, ran to look for water. Many lagged behind their carriage. Then once a day they began to give out boiled cabbage or oatmeal gruel. In our carriage there was an elderly man who lost his family, he was very ill and died.
The train stopped in the middle of the field and all the dead were thrown out of the carriages. They were not allowed to bury. So we drove for 15 days. […]
After long agonizing days we were brought to the Gorchikov station near the town of Margelan in the Uzbek SSR. Carts with large wheels were already waiting there. The kolkhoz chairmen – the “buyers” – chose families with fewer dependents and more labor. Only our mother was disabled. We ended up in the Paris Commune collective farm, where we were given one room without windows and doors.
“Two armed NKVD soldiers broke into the house and gave 15 minutes to get ready.”
Nariman Gafarov, born in 1936 in the village of Urkusta ( Peredovoe), Balaklava region
Before the war, his father, Gafar Abduramanov, was the chairman of the collective farm. […] Before the start of the war, my father was sent to study in Moscow through the party line. Two months later, the war broke out and my father returned to Crimea. He organized a partisan detachment and went into the forest. […]
When the Germans came to the village of Urkusta, the first thing they did was blow up our house. […] In 1942 my father was taken prisoner. I still remember how the Germans interrogated him in the office ( my aunt and I were present). Then my father was taken in the direction of Yalta, and for a long time we did not know anything about him. […]
After the liberation of the Crimea from the fascist invaders, instead of the long-awaited joy, a day came that will never be forgotten. A day that will overturn my fate and the fate of my people, and that will drag on like a string of gray echelons throughout my life.
May 18, 1944. Four o’clock in the morning. We were awakened by a strong knock on the door. Frightened three children, mother and grandmother opened the door shaking from someone’s blows. Two armed NKVD soldiers broke into the house and were given 15 minutes to get ready. Poor mother, scared to death, ran around the house, not knowing what to grab onto. We left the house barely dressed, leaving all our property in the “keeping of the Soviet regime.” We were taken to the village cemetery, where all the local residents were gathered and loaded into cars, brought to the Bakhchisarai railway station. There were already boxcars. People are in panic, screaming, rushing about in the crowd in search of loved ones lost in the bustle.
All were loaded into wagons and the doors were closed. The trains started … We drove for a long time, the doors were rarely opened. We were not fed on the way. People started to get sick, many died on the road. There was no question of medical assistance. We could not bury the dead in accordance with all the rules of Sharia. There was no drinking water or toilets. They collected rainwater, which dripped through the holes of bullets, cracks shot up and down, rotten cars. This life-giving moisture was primarily intended for the sick and children. Mom said that we were on the road for 18 days.
They brought us to the Chuvash Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, to the city of Cheboksary. They disembarked from the carriages, lined up in a large column and led them across the city. Before our arrival, there was a rumor that they were bringing traitors, traitors to their homeland. The misinformed local population looked at us with hatred, the column was ” poured” with dirty curses and reproaches. So we reached the Volga River, where we were loaded onto barges and transported to the other side. There they were again loaded into cars. We drove about 40 km and ended up on the territory of the Mari ASSR. They brought us to the forest, where a new dwelling awaited us – a lot of barracks. We settled in them. Before us, prisoners whiled away their days there. Each family was given a room full of lice, bedbugs, and other insects. […]
In 1945, my grandmother died, followed by a three-year-old brother. The cemetery was ten kilometers from us on the Lipsha collective farm. It was winter, my mother and I barely dug graves in the frozen ground and buried them. Then we often went to this village to beg, so as not to starve to death. Mom, working in the forest, received 600 grams of bread a day for three.
“Noise, screams, crying, children have lost their parents, total hell”
Seitmemet Ibragimov, born on February 7, 1932 in the village of Koz ( Solnechnaya Dolina), Sudak region
On May 18, 1944, at 4 o’clock in the morning, three armed soldiers broke into the house and ordered them to pack up and leave the house within 25 minutes. They were allowed to take 40 kilograms of cargo for each person. Mother and father are sick, older brothers at the front, we are still children, how to get together? We took something with us. The father told the soldiers that his two eldest sons were fighting at the front, but they answered him: “Come, they will figure it out.”
All the villagers were gathered at the horse yard. We stayed there until lunchtime. They did not let us go anywhere, they fenced us off with armed soldiers. In the afternoon, cars began to drive up. They threw us into cars, threw things at our feet, everything was confused. One of the soldiers climbed into the back and began to throw things on the ground. Father with difficulty lifted the bundles and suitcases, the soldier knocked them to the ground again. Mom, sick, was thrown into the back. So we could not take anything, we took only one old blanket and two old coats – for 7 people. A cow, a heifer, 11 rams, 8 goats, a full house of things – everything was left to them – the new masters of our Motherland.
They took us through the village of Taraktash, there was no one left there. The Taraktashites were gathered near the cemetery, there were heaps of things, food, grain, barley, corn. The cattle walked around unattended. It feels like after the bombing …
In the evening they brought me to the station of Feodosia. When they started loading into the car, it was already dark, nothing was visible, the rain was pouring down. In some, the bags were torn, in others the knots were untied – you can’t make out anything. So they loaded us up and closed the door. There were bunk shelves inside. Noise, screams, crying, children have lost their parents, sheer hell. I accidentally had a piece of a candle in my pocket, lit it, at least made out something, found our own. I remembered that there were 41 people in the carriage.
Early the next morning we drove through the Sivash. Everyone cried bitterly, realizing that they were being taken away from their native land.