Beyond memory: The crimean tatars’ deportation and return by Greta Lynn Uehling (auth.)

By Greta Lynn Uehling (auth.)

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Independent khanates established themselves in peripheral regions such as Crimea. A particularly sensitive question in Crimean Tatar historiography is the extent to which the Crimean Khanate was independent. Russian and Soviet sources tend to 32 Beyond Memory emphasize dependence on the Ottomans, using the term “vassal” to describe the relationship. Crimean Tatar sources emphasize independence. They point out that even if it relied on the Ottomans, the Crimean Khanate possessed all the characteristics of a fully developed, premodern state.

They transcend the boundaries of generations and republics, Introduction 21 even though the story lacked written and official support for over 50 years. The themes presented in oral testimony are a citation from the past and evidence of motifs that have continuing meaning in the present. This is part of contemporary mythmaking in the sense that Barthes (1957) articulated. They are not divorced from, but integral to sociopolitical activity: stories about deportation helped to foster a stance of protest.

14 After the Soviets reclaimed the peninsula, it was a victorious Stalin that actually carried out an act that had been contemplated first under the tsars, then by the Nazi regime. 15 So in the early morning 38 Beyond Memory hours of May 18, 1944, the NKVD officers knocked on the Crimean Tatars’ doors, entered their dwellings, and told them to get ready. By popular accounts, most only had 15 minutes to gather their belongings under the barrels of the NKVD automatic rifles. They were taken by Studebakers and trucks to collection points and loaded into cattle cars bound for the Ural Mountains and Soviet Central Asia.

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