The Circassian Genocide
The Eurasian Politician - Issue 2 (October 2000)
Summary: The genocide committed against the Circassian nation by Czarist
Russia in the 1800s was the biggest genocide of the nineteenth century. Yet it
has been almost entirely forgotten by later history, while everyone knows the
later Jewish Holocaust and many
Details:By Antero Leitzinger
A professor of the university of Munich (München), Karl Friedrich Neumann
(not to be confused with the later Naumann), wrote in 1839 a book titled "Russland
und die Tscherkessen" (published in the collection "Reisen und
Länderbeschreibungen", vol. 19, in 1840). He describes, how Russia settled
Christians to the parts of Armenia gained from Persia in 1828 -actually, Neumann
had written about the issue already in 1834. (p. 68-69) Neumann considered this
a very sound policy and predicted, that all Caucasus would become under firm
Russian rule within the next decades. (p. 125) European powers would not
intervene, because it was the destiny of all Europe to rule over
Neumann divided the Circassians into ten tribes:
Russian prisoners-of-war were used as slaves, but if they were of Polish origin, they were regarded as guests. Therefore, Poles recruited in the Russian army, deserted en masse at every opportunity, and even Russians often declared themselves to be Poles. (p.123) Slavery as such included no shame. Circassians used to sell their own family members as slaves to Turkey and Persia, and many went to slavery voluntarily, returning later on back home as rich and free men. (p. 124) This system could be compared to the Gastarbeiter emigration from Turkey since the 1960s. We should also remember, that in those times, slavery or serfdom existed in Romania and Russia as well.
The Circassians had been fighting against Russia already for forty years when appealing to the courts of Europe in a "Declaration of Independence": "But now we hear to our deepest humiliation, that our land counts as a part of the Russian empire on all maps published in Europe... that Russia, finally, declares in the West, that Circassians are their slaves, horrible bandits..." (p. 140-141)
The fight continued for two more full decades, until a national Circassian government was set up in Sochi. In 1862, Russia began the final invasion, annihilation and expulsion, as predicted by Neumann well in advance.
According to Kemal H. Karpat, "Ottoman population 1830-1914" (Madison 1985), "Beginning in 1862, and continuing through the first decade of the twentieth century, more than 3 million people of Caucasian stock, often referred collectively as Cerkes (Circassians), were forced by the Russians to leave their ancestral lands..." (p. 27)
Salaheddin Bey mentioned, in 1867, a total of 1.008.000 refugees from the Caucasus and Crimea, of whom 595.000 were initially settled in the Balkans. (p. 27) Half a million followed by 1879, and another half a million until 1914. (p. 69) Most of them were Circassians, although there were Crimean Tatars, Chechens, and other Muslim people among them. Hundreds of thousands Circassians perished on their way.
Neumann's estimate of 1.5 million Circassians corresponds to 1/30 ethnic Russians, or 1/3 Czechs, or 3/4 Slovaks. (p. 66) According to Neumann, there were over two million Armenians in the world. (p. 69) Now, according to the Soviet census of 1989, the number of Russians has increased to 145 millions, whereof 1/30 would be almost five millions. There are 10 million Czechs and 5 million Slovaks, which would lead us to assume that there should be over 3 million Circassians. Armenia alone has a population of over 3 million Armenians, despite of the past ordeals; 2 million Armenians live elsewhere. The number of Czechs, Slovaks, and Armenians has more than doubled in 150 years, while the number of Russians has tripled; but where are the missing millions of Circassians?
"The Encyclopaedia Britannica", 11th edition (Cambridge 1911), divided the
Armenian population equally between Russia and Turkey (little over a million in
each empire), and numbered 216.950 Circassians (including Abkhaz etc.) in
Russia. Again we must conclude, that about 1.5 million Circassians had been
massacred or deported. This disaster exceeded both absolutely and proportionally
whatever fell upon Armenians in 1915. Was it intentional? Yes. Was it
ideological? Yes. The conquest and Christian colonization of the Middle East was
expected not only by Germans, but by most Europeans during the 19th century, and
the expulsion of Muslims from Europe was considered a historical necessity.
Russia had practicized massacres and mass deportations in the Crimea and
Caucasus, and "ethnically cleansed"
A vicious cycle was created and increased the stakes at both frontiers: the
Caucasus, and the Balkans. Circassian refugees settled in the Balkans were
provoked to commit the "Bulgarian atrocities", that inspired some of the
Armenian revolutionaries. After the Balkan Wars, Muslim refugees were roaming in
Anatolia, thus spreading terror, and hostility. This was exploited by Russia, at
the cost of many innocent