Number 196 | May 18, 2012On May 18, 1944, the entire Crimean Tatar population in Crimea, was rudely awakened by Soviet soldiers, loaded on trucks, taken to the nearest train stations and brutally deported to Central Asia, the Urals and Siberia.
On May 19, 1944 the Internal Affairs Minister, People’s Commissar of USSR L.P. Beria in his message to I.V. Stalin stated: “Reporting on the current situation of the Special Operation of Crimean Tatars’ Deportation. By the end of May 19, 165,515 persons were brought to different train stations. 136,412 persons were loaded on trains and sent to their destination of exile. The operation continues.” On May 20, 1944 L.P. Beria’s deputy in Crimea, Boghdan Khabulov, wired the following note: “We are notifying you that the operation of the Deportation of Crimean Tatars, which started on May 18 as you demanded is concluding today on May 20... 173,287 persons were deported by loading them on Sixty-seven trains. Sixty three trains loaded with people are on their way, the remaining four trains will depart today…”
Today, it is estimated that over 180,000 Crimean Tatar were deported to various regions of the former USSR. An estimated 46 percent of the deportees died due to starvation and disease.
In June of 1944, “Crimea without Crimean Tatars,” a Russian strategic goal pursued since Crimea was annexed by Tsarina Catharine II in 1783, was accomplished. Crimean Tatars ceased to exist in their ancestral homeland until 1967, when they were exonerated and began to slowly resettle in Crimea.
On May 18, the Crimean Tatar-American community as well as all Americans of Turkic descent across the United States will commemorate the 68th anniversary of this grave tragedy.