The history of every people, including Crimean Tatars, as well as any historic event, is studied by the historians from the documents. Usually, they are various printed and handwritten evidences of the past events (the Governmental decrees, decisions and other official sources, as well as leaflets, proclamations, letters, minutes, and other documents including the pictures). However, very few people study these documents only because of their professional interest. For the majority of people they are of little interest mainly because of their unattractiveness. That is why many historic events are doomed to oblivion for the majority of population. For the waist majority of people the main information about the history of a country and its people remains to be the literary works of historic kind, which could be easily read especially if the writer can captivate the reader. The completeness and honesty of people’s memory depends on how minutely and clever the writer depicted the passed events. Moreover, there were occasions in the history when the only evidence of a great event was a work of art, passed, at times, by word of mouth for centuries across the generations. For example one could mention Homer’s “Odyssey”, which helped Mr. Shliman to discover and excavate the town of Troy, which for a long time was considered to be a mythic town, the product of imagination of the legendary narrator.
Turning to the national history, one could recall “The Song of Igor’s Campaign” that was a purely literary work, that later helped the historians not only find out about the ordinary event – the usual intestine strife, but what is more important, showed the full picture of the medieval way of life of the Russian-Polovets nobility, linked tightly and inseparably with each other. The value of the given work is that it went beyond the bare statement of fact, but depicted the historic event in its full emotional and spiritual variety, that usual chronicle, the main source of historic information, could never do.
As far as the comparatively recent, that is the modern events concerns, many of them are forgot soon because of the rapidity and saturation of modern life. That is why the writers must perpetuate them, paying their close attention to the most significant events.
I’m telling about the rich with events 20th century. This century is famous not only for the burst of technological progress (invention and introduction in everyday life of the millions of people of electricity, radio and television, telephone, automobiles, airplanes, Internet and other miracles of science and engineering), but for two the most fatal World Wars, which on their severity and misanthropy exceeded all the previous wars of a mankind. The most incredible thing of this fact is that all these appalling manifestations of misanthropy were committed against a background of civilization and humanization of the society, the rise of its spiritual self-consciousness. Nevertheless, in the 20th century the brutal essence of a man prevailed over his humanity and spirituality. And this relapse of the epoch of savagery and barbarism of the human self-consciousness unfortunately could and even will repeat in the future. Without going into the reasons of this inevitable phenomenon, I can only mention that if a mankind is not to remind repeatedly of its historic errors, it would forget soon the gloom of its mental derangement and will not draw the right conclusions from the negative lessons of its recent history.
So not to let the history repeat, the new generation have to know the past. The easiest understandable source of history is the work of literature. Why? Because it acts on figurative memory. A man memorizes forever the image, felt by all his senses. However, the mechanical and abstract memory is not long-lasting. That is why the history should be studied with the help of images. If the historic literature, narrated with the boring abstract language, could not arise in every man the vivid picture, belles-lettres could.
This is the main role of belles-lettres, which contributes to the progress of human society.
Now let us return to the theme of our narration. We have to define (at least briefly) the object of our historic attention. For Crimean Tatars this is the genocide, committed both by the tsarist Russia and particularly the regime of communist empire. This genocide eventually resulted in the entire deportation of Crimean Tatars from their historic Motherland. The genocide pursued its goal, first – extermination of the whole people, second – destruction of all the historic monuments, reminding of the presence of Crimean Tatars in the Crimea.
This blasphemous plan of Soviet misanthropes, who took the place of Russian Tsars, was orderly implemented till the communist regime existed.
Fortunately, the regime collapsed, and in 50 years the undefeated people started reviving. Only then there was a possibility to tell an outsider of all the horrors of the genocide, and at the same time to uncover the essence of the communist way of thinking, the population of the Soviet Union was affected by. After a short 10 year period of freedom, which let the population of the former communist empire, eventually, realize the situation, they found themselves, owing to the efforts of the cannibal regime. At the turn of the second and the third millenniums the world saw few books of the Crimean Tatar authors, depicting the way this awful genocide was committed.
Of all the belles-lettres (or would be belles-lettres) works, that as mushrooms after the rain started appearing in the press, that become free of censorship, I could mention only four books, that really meet the requirements of belles-lettres and quite fully and in every details depict the forced deportation of the victimized people and its later existence in exile. This is first of all the book of Edem Orazly “Operation “Crimean Legend””, Aydyn Shem’s novel “Blue Mustangs”, Ervin Umerov’s book under the common title “Traces in the Heart and Memory”. The selected stories and poems of some Crimean Tatar authors, telling the story of hard life in exile, were not put on the list because, in spite of all their vividness they do not show the whole picture of the historic epoch. The above mentioned works appeared to be the most successful in the way of depicting the historic truth with the help of the literary devices.
Thus, from the point of view of depicting of the historic truth of the passed epoch with the help of the literary devices, these four books are the most valuable sources of true information, which the future generation will read with an invariable interest. These very books, due to their simplicity for the common reader create the picture of the passed epoch.
Let me briefly characterize every work separately.
Edem Orazly was subjected to the repressions by the Soviet Union communists when he was 10 years old, after he went through the German occupation in the Crimea. The child tenacious memory noted every detail of all the events, miserable Crimean Tatars suffered both from Nazis and communists. People suffered not understanding why they experience all these disparate hardships. Survived by a miracle in exile, Edem escaped after finishing school on forged documents from the police supervision. He was enrolled Ryazan Military School. However, in two years he had to uncover himself. He was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow prison “Butyrka”. He was threatened 20 years of penal servitude for the violation of the regime of reservation.
Edem Orazly depicted all this and many more in his thrilling book. Bearing in mind that the reader likes to read only interesting books, he wrote his story as a detective novel. Using this device he made the reader find out the details of the genocide of Crimean Tatar people. Thus, he told people, who had no idea of what the communists were doing in their own country in every detail that even the historians do not find necessary to tell. The reader, when opens the book, reads it literally at one sitting. This is a real skill of a gifted writer: the ability to present not very pleasant for the perception historic material in an interesting and gripping way.
Aydyn Shem’s novel is read with the same interest. However, in order to captivate the reader’s attention the author of “Blue Mustangs” invented the fantastic idea, to be precisely – mystic idea of existence of blue mustangs in the Crimean Mountains. This is the beginning of the novel. To author’s mind, the reader has to swallow the bait, and then absorbed in the narration; take the main point of the novel – the description of the hardships of victimized people. I can not say, to what extend the author was right, trying to draw the reader’s attention to the mystic idea. Personally I was not convinced in existence of mythic ghosts, left after the deportation of the indigenous population of the Crimea. However, the description of the fate of the victimized people, set out in several complicated plot lines, was made on such high professional level that, to my mind, there was no need to tell the fairytale about non-existent blue mustangs, in order to draw the reader’s attention to the novel. The content of the novel literally rock the reader, constantly holding him in tension and not letting him go. To my firm conviction, the author’s special accentuation of the reader’s attention on mystics with its flying spirits, returning to the Crimea from captivity and the ghosts of wild mustangs, waiting for them, does nothing but discredit the serious literary work, like, saying, the vulgar setting reduces the price of a ring with a big diamond.
Certainly the offspring, studying the history of the communist governing the country, would reject the mystic fantasy of the author, leaving just the realistic description of the deportation of people and its life in exile. However, it is very unpleasant that they will speak uncomplimentary of the novel’s author, regarding his literary device as sincere believe of not quite sane person in a miracle. This is not true of course.
Ervin Umerov unlike the preceding authors is a professional writer. Besides he is younger them, and does not remember the deportation. However, he described it in his book. He also described tragic up to despair life of the first Crimean Tatar repatriates in the Crimea. The reader’s hair stands on end when he reads about the persecution of the invaders over the returning brave indigenous people of the Crimea. This book is hard to read. Not every reader has nerves strong enough to read this book. To my mind one should mind the limits when presenting the negative literary material. In fact the writer’s goal is to deliver the reader the information desired. If the author does beyond the limits of negative emotions the reader could set aside the book.
But the book, beyond the question, is written by the professional.
Refat Appazov is the oldest among four mentioned authors and at the same time the youngest writer. Leaving the Crimea to continue his studies at the institute in Moscow before the war, he escaped German occupation and was not deported. He became a prominent engineer and scientist, and under the command of Korolev he built intercontinental missiles and space satellites. Nevertheless, by writing the book of memoirs he entered the list of the authors whose literary works would be used by offspring when restoring the way of life of Crimean Tatars and the Crimea during the deportation. That is why it was Appazov who first visited the Crimea in the early post-war years, when any Crimean Tatar had no right to be there even for an hour. His stay in the Crimea he described in every detail, as not indifferent observer, including the excursus to the pre-war times, devoting to it one third of his book. The Appazov’s memoirs, written by an excellent literary language, give out the most intelligent and educated person and are a fountain of the most valuable information, softly-softly revealing the savage essence of the repressive actions of the governing communist regime.
It worth mentioning, that the memoir literature, if written by a talented author, could become a unique source of unexpected information, in light of the theme studied, because the author of the memoirs is not limited by the frames of rules of creating of a literary work, which is usually stated from the third person. The memoir’s author writes from the first person and that is why he has far more possibilities for self-expression then the author who writes about himself from the third person. That is why the numerous attempts of the Crimean Tatar figures of the national movement to express themselves by writing the literary works, were doomed to a failure. Violating the laws and rules of the literary works in order to show their role and place in the national movement they insensibly turn to the ordinary graphomen. The readers did not apprehend their works, because the graphoman unlike the author writes for himself, not for the people, leaving behind the interests of the reader. The main difference of the writer from the graphoman is that the first thinks, first of all, about his reader, trying not only to understand and satisfy his interests, but present the useful material in a captivating way. As soon as the writer gets carried away and starts singing, like a wood-grouse, the song, interesting only to his own ear, the reader looses interest in the book at once and sets it aside and never turns back to it again. So already a well known writer could become a graphoman.
As the proof of the aforesaid can serve the list of written and published books of the Crimean Tatar authors, whose sincerely intention was to tell people the truth about the little known historic events, but who at this violated the laws of the literary genre and that is why turned from the writers to the graphomen.
I’m sure that the authors of these unfortunate works, having familiarized oneself with this article would become my bitterest enemies (such is the nature of a man – not to blame himself). But I console oneself that I follow Aristotle’s example, who refused his personal interests for the sake of triumph of the public interests and who said the well-known phrase: “Plato is my friend, but the truth is of higher value”.
E. Kudusov, a writer.
P.S. This report was made at the conference in Pamplone in 2004, and was translated into English (except for the last paragraph) and will be included into the follow-up materials of this conference.