On the morning of May 18, 1944, a special operation of the Soviet regime on the forced migration – deportation – of the Crimean Tatars to the Urals and Central Asia began in Crimea. The officers of the NKVD came to the houses of the Crimeans and read out an order according to which absolutely all representatives of the people, together with children and the elderly, were accused of cooperating with the Nazis and were to be expelled from Crimea.
The Crimean House has prepared a special project “The Face of Deportation. Tragedy of Crimean Tatars 75 years in a row” under the direct supervision of Alim Aliyev and Sevgil Musayeva. Its author was a photographer-artist Zarema Yaliboyl. The exhibition is open during the month at the address of Kyiv, 9 Omelyanovich-Pavlenko Street.
This project tells about the crime of Soviet power through the portraits and stories of ordinary people who were exiled, survived and returned to the Crimea. People in these portraits are alive witnesses to the criminal Stalinist regime. Many of them still remember the events of May 18 in the smallest details, although they were still very young children. The stories of the project participants are in many respects similar: they faced fear and pain, and the loss of the closest people. But there is something that unites all of them: a great love for the Crimea and a desire to return to the Motherland, from which Crimean Tatars have been separated for more than 50 years. The Crimean Tatars were able to return home only in the early 90’s, when the traitor stigma was officially removed from the people.
Zarema Yaliboyla was born in the city of Gelendzhik (Russia) in 1986. When she was 5 years old, the family moved to Simferopol. By that time the Crimean Tatars were already allowed to return to the Crimea.
Zarema started photography at the age of 16. It remained her hobby, because the girl studied at the Law Faculty. Only after graduation Zarema decided to connect her life with photography.
She worked as a photojournalist in Crimean Tatar newspapers and information agencies. Later, the work of a photographer in the Crimean Tatar youth magazine Nesil consolidated interest in native culture and history.
For 8 years, Zarema has been shooting old Crimean Tatar houses for the archive, meetings of fellow countrymen in their native villages in the Crimea, portraits of the elderly and youth in national clothes. She is the author of several photo exhibitions.
Zarema dreams that her photo archive to become part of a large museum about the history of the Crimean Tatar people.
Nariman Abdurakhmanov, aged 75
Originally from the village of Kadikoy, Balaklava district
His family was deported from his native village on May 18, 1944. The pregnant mother of Nariman was awakened by officers of the NKVD at 4 o’clock in the morning, she was allowed only a few minutes to gather her things, brought to the Syren station in the Bakhchysarai district and put in a freight wagon to be taken to Samarkand. Nariman was born in this freight wagon. After returning to Crimea in 1975, he annually organizes meetings of villagers in his native village. Nariman lives in a village near Simferopol.
Izzet Izzetdinov, aged 81
Originally from the village of Chamly Ozenbash near Sevastopol
On May 18, 1944, Soviet soldiers burst in Izzet’s home and ordered everyone to leave the house immediately and go out into the street, where trucks were waiting for them. At that time the family had 7 children and the mother gave each of them some things, but the soldiers took everything away. All the children remembered that the trip to the Tashkent area, where they were brought, was long and painful. Izzet returned to the Crimea only in the early 1990’s. In his native Sevastopol, his family was not allowed to settle, so the family settled in Simferopol.
Adile Ametova, aged 84
Originally from the village of Dermenkoy in Yalta district
“On May 18, 1944, Soviet soldiers knocked at the door and gave us 15 minutes to get on the road, our family was deported to the Urals. I remember that many people died on the way. At the final stop, the ambulance met the train. They asked if anyone was sick and took our grandmother away, we have never seen her again. My younger brother also died soon. We lived with the hope of returning to the Crimea, but when we finally managed to do it in decades, we could not settle in our native village. Since 1990 I have lived in Simferopol “.
Nuri Asanov, aged 86
Originally from the village of Buyuk Ozenbash, Bakhchysarai district
The population of this village actively helped the partisans during the war, so it was difficult for people to believe that the Soviet authorities decided to drive them out of their homes. Nuri’s family was taken by trucks to the Suren station in the Bakhchysarai district, where cattle wagons were waiting for them to take them to Uzbekistan. After returning to the Crimea in 1989, the family failed to settle in their native village of Ozenbash, so they settled in Simferopol. Nuri participates in meetings of villagers every year.
Zevide Ismailova, aged 84
Originally from Kurtluk village of Karasuvbasarsky district
The village was burned by the Germans in 1942, but after the liberation of Crimea, Zevide’s father Ismail Abibullayev returned to the destroyed village and rebuilt one room to bring family there, which at that time had six children. On May 18, 1944, Soviet soldiers knocked and ordered to gather faster. Zevide’s family was evicted to the Uzbek city of Namangan. On the way people were dying; they had to be taken away during stops. Not always having enough time to hide the body, the dead were left along the road. Over the next three months, a father and two children died in Namangan, and his mother had lost hearing. To save the rest of the children from hunger, she gave them to the orphanage. Zevide returned to Crimea only in the early 2000s.
Vasfiye Khairova, aged 80
Originally from the Boz village of Dzhurchi district. Senior sister of the leader of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev.
In 1929, Vasfiye’s family was dispossessed and deported to the Urals, but later they managed to return to the Crimea. The family had 5 children. May 17, 1944 in the evening, the trucks began to come to the village and the children first thought that they came to show the film. The next day at 5 o’clock in the morning, threatening with weapon, the Soviet soldiers ordered them to take only the necessary things and gave 10 minutes for that. Mother was able to take the Koran by hiding it in her clothes. They were told that food should not be taken because they would be fed on the road, but it turned out to be a lie. The whole family, except for the father who was at the front, was taken to Uzbekistan in a freight wagon. After returning from the front, father searched for his family. The whole family returned to the Crimea in the early 1990’s. Vasfiye now lives in Simferopol.
Dilyaver Mukhterem, aged 82
Originally from the village of Ayvasil, Yalta district
On May 17, 1944, relatives from Ayvazil came to Dilyaver’s family to go to Kerch the next day. “We woke up from the loud dash on the door on May 18. An officer and two soldiers with automatic machines came in. They ordered everyone to gather and go out to the courtyard urgently.” There was a car waiting for them, and when they asked “where” and “why” they were going somewhere, they were told “Do not Know”. Dilyaver well remembered that they were given only 15 minutes and recommended not to take anything with them, because they had to go 60 kilometers on foot. There was not a single decree, or an explanation read. “We were brought to Simferopol station and loaded into cars intended for the transport of horses. There were many people, space was enough only for sitting.” The train arrived in Central Asia to Hilkovo (Bekabad) station. Nobody was meeting the evicted Crimeans. Dilyaver returned to Crimea only in 1989. He managed to settle in his native village Ayvsil, where he lives.
Ayshe Gaziyeva, aged 87
Originally from the city of Sudak
In the 1930s, the family moved to Alushta. During the war, the father died because of illness. Aishe’s mother lived with three daughters. Ayshe remembers how on May 18, 1944, the car drove them away from home, and the sun was just raising. On the road, she fell ill with typhus, and after arriving in Asia, she was put in a hospital, and, moreover, her beautiful red hair was cut. In 1991 an opportunity appeared to return to the Motherland. In the native city it was not possible to settle, since the abandoned houses were already inhabited by visiting people. Today the family lives in Simferopol.
Leniye Minabilov, aged 84
Originally from the village of Salgir-Kiyat, Krasnogvardeysky district
In the beginning of 1944, the family was expecting the father to return from the front. Leniye’s mother even whitened the house, but on the morning of May 18, the family was woken up and forced to get on the road. “The Soviet soldiers came and we were the last ones to be taken out of the village. The soldiers warned to take as many things as possible, because the road would be long, and they saw that there were four small children in the house so they themselves helped pack the things in a sack and then we were taken to the station. I will never forget the sound of how the train rattled or the gates of the car closed. In deportation, my brother and sister died.” Leniye and her family returned to Crimea in 1975 and now live in Simferopol.
Leyla Apti, aged 90
Originally from the village Ayvasil of the Yalta district
“At 4 am on the 18th of May 1944 Soviet soldiers came and said to collect things immediately because we were deported, men were at the front, so people thought that this was a mistake. After all the Crimean Tatars from the village were gathered on the main square in the neighboring settlement, I managed to come back to my house and pick up some things, and we were taken to the Suren station in Bakhchysaraysky District, from where the train drove to Asia for a few weeks, and my grandfather and daughter got into an adjacent wagon, and we found our relatives much later after they arrived in Asia “. In the 1990’s there was an opportunity to return to the Crimea and now Leyla lives in Yalta.