The Circassian Genocide

The Circassian Genocide

The Circassian Genocide

The Circassian Genocide

Synopsis

Circassia was a small independent nation on the northeastern shore of the Black Sea. For no reason other than ethnic hatred, over the course of hundreds of raids the Russians drove the Circassians from their homeland and deported them to the Ottoman Empire. At least 600,000 people lost their lives to massacre, starvation, and the elements while hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homeland. By 1864, three-fourths of the population was annihilated, and the Circassians had become one of the first stateless peoples in modern history.

Using rare archival materials, Walter Richmond chronicles the history of the war, describes in detail the final genocidal campaign, and follows the Circassians in diaspora through five generations as they struggle to survive and return home. He places the periods of acute genocide, 1821-1822 and 1863-1864, in the larger context of centuries of tension between the two nations and updates the story to the present day as the Circassian community works to gain international recognition of the genocide as the region prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the site of the Russians' final victory.

Excerpt

On May 20, 2011, the Parliament of Georgia passed a resolution that labeled as genocide the “preplanned” mass killing of Circassians by the Russian Imperial Army in the 1860s. the resolution also stated that those who survived but were driven from their homeland and their descendants should be recognized as refugees. the move was stunning, since the Circassian genocide as well as Circassians themselves had been forgotten by the world within decades of the destruction of their nation in 1864.

The Circassians went from being an almost legendary people of the northwestern Caucasus Mountains, a subject of travelogues about exotic warriors and beautiful maidens, to a central concern of the European powers, and then to a forgotten nation in a span of only a century. the erasure of Circassia from the cultural memory of Europe was abrupt and total: whereas between the 1830s and the 1860s it was nearly impossible to pick up a European newspaper without finding an article discussing the Circassians’ plight, by 1900 the only reference to “Circassia” in the European press concerned a luxury liner bearing that name. However, the tragedy didn’t end for those who survived Russia’s campaign in the Caucasus Mountains. After their deportation, nearly half were driven from their new homes in the Balkans by Russian troops in the 1870s. They were forced to migrate further, to the Middle East and beyond. They fought against all odds to preserve their identity, always with the hope of one day returning to their homeland, but the bloody twentieth century diverted the world’s . . .

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