The decision of deportation of Crimean Tatars
The state-organized and forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatars from the Crimean Peninsula by the Soviet Union in 1944 was ordered by Joseph Stalin as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime in Taurida Subdistrict during 1942-1943. The event is also known as Sürgünlik in Crimean Tatar (meaning "exile")
A total of more than 230,000 people were deported, mostly to the Uzbek SSR. This included the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population, at the time about a fifth of the total population of the Crimean Peninsula, besides smaller number of ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians. A large number of deportees (more than 100,000 according to a 1960s survey by Crimean Tatar activists) died from starvation or disease as a direct result of deportation.
In 1944, under the pretext of alleged collaboration between the Crimean Tatars and the Nazis during the Nazi occupation of the Crimea in 1941–1944, the Soviet government evicted the Crimean Tatar people from Crimea on orders of Joseph Stalin and Lavrentiy Beria.
A total of 238,500 people were deported, compared to a recorded total of 9,225 Crimean Tatars who had served in anti-Soviet Tatar Legions and other German formed battalions.
The deportation began on 18 May 1944 in all Crimean inhabited localities More than 32,000 NKVD troops participated in this action. The forced deportees were given only 30 minutes to gather personal belongings, after which they were loaded onto cattle trains and moved out of Crimea. 193,865 Crimean Tatars were deported, 151,136 of them to Uzbek SSR, 8,597 to Mari ASSR, 4,286 to Kazakh SSR, the rest 29,846 to the various oblasts of Russian SFSR. At the same moment, most of the Crimean Tatar men who were fighting in the ranks of the Red Army were demobilized and sent into forced labor camps in Siberia and in the Ural mountain region. The deportation was poorly planned and executed; local authorities in the destination areas were not properly informed about the scale of the matter and did not receive enough resources to accommodate the deportees. The lack of accommodation and food, the failure to adapt to new climatic conditions and the rapid spread of diseases had a heavy demographic impact during the first years of exile.
From May to November 10,105 Crimean Tatars died of starvation in Uzbekistan (7% of those deported to the Uzbek SSR). Nearly 30,000 (20%) died in exile during the year and a half by the NKVD data. According to Soviet dissident information, many Crimean Tatars were made to work in the large-scale projects conducted by the Soviet GULAG system.
Crimean Tatar activists tried to evaluate the demographic consequences of the deportation. They carried out a census in all the scattered Tatar communities in the middle of the 1960s. The results of this inquiry show that 109,956 (46.2%) Crimean Tatars of the 238,500 deportees died between July 1, 1944 and January 1, 1947 due to starvation and disease.
Rehabilitation and repatriation
Although a 1967 Soviet decree removed the charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to facilitate their resettlement in Crimea and to make reparations for lost lives and confiscated property. Crimean Tatars, having definite tradition of non-communist political dissent, succeeded in creating a truly independent network of activists, values and political experience. Crimean Tatars, led by Crimean Tatar National Movement Organization, were not allowed to return to Crimea from exile until the beginning of the Perestroika in the mid-1980s. On March 11, 2014 the Crimean parliament recognized the deportation of Crimean Tatars as a tragic fate. Crimean activists call for the recognition of the Sürgünlik as genocide.