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By Mubeyyin B. Altan

Emigrations have been an integral part of the Crimean Tatar history at least for the past two centuries. Ever since the annexation of Crimea by Tsarist Russia in 1783, [1] Crimean Tatars, for various reasons, have been abandoning their homeland, sometimes in massive numbers, and other times in smaller groups. There was a continuous flow of Crimean Tatars from the Crimea to the Ottoman Empire, also called Aktoprak, [2] until the mass deportation of May 18, 1944. [3] The earlier emigrations, especially the ones immediately following the Crimean War, have been studied extensively, more than any other topic related to the Crimean Tatar history. From the simplest seminar report [4] to the most elaborate study, [5] most of the research done on Crimean Tatar emigration deals with the 19th century, post Crimean War era emigrations.

The twentieth-century emigrations are somehow neglected, and not included in the studies of the Crimean Tatar emigrations. Were there emigrations from Crimea to Turkey during this period, the Bolshevik period? There certainly were emigrations from Crimea to Turkey in the 1930s and the 1940s, even though they were different than the earlier emigrations. Because of the political transitions taking place in both the receiving country and the country from which the emigrants were leaving, Turkey and Soviet Union respectively, the political atmosphere was not conducive to undertaking any ethno-political research during this crucial period. Therefore, all efforts to locate documents related to the aforementioned emigrations ended in failure, and the required documents had to be created through an oral history project. Upon consulting with his chief advisor, Academician Omeljan Pritsak, the author has taken on the task of creating the necessary documentation by interviewing those Crimean Tatars who participated in these emigrations. In another words, it became an oral history project. Some of the unique sources utilized in author's search of Crimean Tatar emigrations in the twentieth century are the subject of this article.

The source materials described here concern the Crimean Tatar emigrations from Crimea to Turkey in the first part of the twentieth century. Several photographs from 1914 contain detailed descriptions of the Internment of 1914, written by a victim of this historic event, published here for the first time. Kok Kitab [Blue Book], an under utilized source that contains significant information about the Crimean Tatar community in Istanbul during the early decades of the twentieth century, is among these interesting sources. A meticulously kept Kirim Tatarlarinin Kayit Defteri [Book of Registration of Crimean Tatars] by two Crimean Tatar emigrants of the 1930s, which this author discovered by sheer coincidence during one of his interviews, is another unique document that provides interesting information on Crimean Tatar emigrations. It is also being published here for the first time.

The photographic documents and Kok Kitab are related to the emigrations of the 1930s, and the Book of Registration to emigrations of the 1940s. Even though the first two are dated earlier than 1930, they are closely related to the emigrations that took place a decade later. The internment of 1914, for example, affected the lives of emigrants of the 1930s to such a degree that almost all of the interview subjects [6] specifically mentioned this historic event; it was not forgotten after eight decades. The photographs with valuable descriptions were carefully saved by a survivor of the internment of 1914, and are indicative of how this event has affected the families of the victims who were to become emigrants of the 1930s.

Kok Kitab is a book published in 1918 (1335) in Istanbul. It is unusual because of its strong pro Tatar stand. Some of its articles, such as "Zavalli Tatar" [Poor Tatar] and "Zavalli Anasircilar" [Poor Elitists], are clear indication of how the immigrants from the Crimea were perceived in their new country. In "The Appeal of the Tatar Charity Organization" [Cemiyet-i Hayriye], which is translated and used for this article, the Tatar community leaders briefly touch upon the condition of the Tatar children and appeal to Tatar public to help them. The "Appeal of the Tatar Charity Organization" [7] clearly shows the major concerns of the Crimean Tatar community in the early twentieth century. The Tatar community was deeply concerned with improving the "Tatar image" through education and training of Tatar children, and also by emphasizing importance of getting involved in trade and commerce.

"Kirim Musluman Muhacirlerinin Teavun Cemiyeti Nizamnamesi" [The Bylaws of the Mutual Aide Association of the Crimean Muslim Immigrants] [8] is important because it implicates the concerns of the early Crimean Tatar émigrés. Judging from the names such as Shirinsky, Taygansky and Gasprinsky, one may conclude that the founders of this organization were members of elite Crimean Tatar families who barely escaped from the newly emerging Bolshevik regime. It was during this period that a substantial number of White Russians also escaped from the fast advancing Bolsheviks after being defeated by them, and resettled in Istanbul. The newly arrived Crimean Tatars sought help from these White Russians in their attempt to establish an organization whose main concern was the welfare of their people in Turkey, not the politics of the country they left behind. That is one of the strong reasons why they were not involved in the political activities of the Crimean Tatar Student organization, Vatan (Homeland) during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

The last document, "Kirim Tatarlarinin Kayit Defteri" [Book of Registration of the Crimean Tatars] is a unique document that shows the concern of the earlier Crimean Tatar emigrants towards the newcomers; it shows their feelings towards their homeland they left behind. It is an important document, which also shows the continuity of relations among the Crimean Tatar emigrants of different periods. The following is a brief introduction of the source materials related to the Crimean Tatar emigrations of the twentieth century.



Internees Cafer Bey (left) and Hamza Bey (right), 1914

This document is related to the deportation of the Crimean Tatars who were Ottoman citizens on the eve of World War I. The Tsarist government was closely monitoring the political activities of the Crimean Tatar Student organization Vatan [Homeland]. The authorities were suspicious of the Crimean Tatars returning from Turkey, some of whom were Ottoman citizens . They did not want to take any chances with the Crimean Tatars who were Ottoman citizens.[9] In 1914, on the eve of World War, all able-bodied Crimean Tatars with Ottoman citizenship were rounded up and sent to exile to various cities in the inner part of Russia. The children of the victims of this internment were deeply affected by this tragic event to such a degree that every single one of them mentioned it during their interview with this author. Haci Cemil Ortalan, whose father was one of the victims of this internment, described this event as follows:

In our village (Ortalan) there were two families who were Turkish citizens, Our family and the family of Hasan Akturk, Dervisogullari. Dervis aga was originally from Bayburt Turkey... In 1914 the world war had just began. all the able bodied men who were Turkish citizens were summoned and deported to camps in the inner part of Russia. The camp was in Tombov Gubernia, city of Borisoglep. My father, Yakup efendi (my present wife's father) and Yakup efendi's two brothers were all there. Since it was an internment camp they were free to walk around and able to do small business. That is how my father saved some money to buy a horse and carriage to resume his old business selling agricultural tools in the neighboring villages. He had brought two skilled masters from Karasubazar to make these tools Tirpan (scythe), boyunduruk (neckguard for horses) and Diren (pitchfork)....[10]

Zehra Kural, who provided the historic photo-document of her father's internment, described how her family was affected by this tragedy as if it happened recently. On the back of this photograph is the original description of how, when and where these people were rounded up, briefly written by Hamza Ibraimov (Goktay), who was a victim of this deportation. The following document is one of the two photographs the author used for this article; the text on the back of the photograph is in Turkish (written in Arabic script):

Deportation to Borisogleb, Tambov Gubernia, 11/9/1914

A Souvenir from the Prisoners in the City of Borisogleb of Tambov Province:

We were arrested on October 19, 1914 - on 11 Zilhacce in Hicri year of 1322; and retained at the City Club of Bahcesaray until October 21, 1914. We were marched in a military style to the military barracks surrounded by officers. We were kept at these military barracks from October 21, (19)14 till November 2, (19)14. While there the loud noise of Salavati Serif (recital from Holy Qoran) reached the sky. We moved to the Capital city on November 2, (19)14. We were loaded up, 25 person in cargo wagons of a merchandise train by registering our names in a logbook; they delivered us at our proper place and marked our arms. We arrived at Capital Simferopol towards the evening and settled at a neighborhood called "Perilut."
We left towards the evening hours of November 4, 19(14), with the aforementioned merchandise train and arrived at the City of Borisagleb of Tambov Province towards 7 in the morning (modern-Alafranga time) on November 9. On the same day they let us free after entering our names into a logbook.
Maybe some day history will remember us.
This photograph was taken on December 4, (19)14
Ibraimov Hamza [11]

The internment of the aforementioned individuals, who were Turkish citizens was not an isolated incident, almost every adult male Crimean Tatar with Turkish citizenship was forcibly exiled to cities in Tambov Gubernia as noted previously by H. Kirimli:

...immediately after the break of hostilities with Turkey, all persons with Ottoman citizenship in the Crimea (majority of them were Crimean Tatars) were deported to Tambov and Borisoglebsk where they were interned until 1917...some of these Ottoman citizens managed to escape from being deported and with the help of the Crimean Tatars remained hidden in the Crimea. [12]

Hamza Goktay

Hamza Goktay, 1925

The children of the victims of the internment of 1914, whom the author interviewed, specifically mentioned their fathers or grandfathers being sent there. They had interesting information they shared with this author. The photographs sent from Borisoglep by Hamza Goktay and his close friend Cafer Gulumoglu are just good examples. There are contradicting information related to how the internees were treated by the Russian authorities. Some sources indicate that the internees were not physically harmed or imprisoned in Borisoglep. Hamza Bey's letter, for example, tells us that after they were registered, they were free to live within the city limits. The interned Crimean Tatars were able to have visitors from the Crimea as Hamza Bey's daughter described how her mother took her to Borisagleps when she was only twenty days old (written on back of one picture of her mother and herself):

Dear mom,
You have your first born, me, in your arm. All the Turkish citizens are in mass exile. The world war [umumi harp] is going on, all of you were separated from your husbands. You have, next to you, dad's picture that he sent from exile on the table ... My late [rahmetli] uncle Kizilkalpak Mahmut had taken you to Tambov by train to show me to dad. He (uncle) did not have any children; he was rich, owned a hotel and leather manufacturing business. He was deported to Murmansk near the North Sea, Finnish border in 1931 and died there. We were able to emigrate to Turkey by getting our visa in 1931 that saved our lives....

Cafer Seydamet Kirimer, one of the most active members of Vatan (Homeland), who also became the leader of the Crimean Tatar Diaspora in Turkey after he escaped from the Bolshevik regime, briefly talks about the internment of 1914. He states how surprised he was to find all the internees were free to establish their own businesses:

The news that the Turkish navy had just fired on Feadosya (Kefe), Yalta and Odessa spread like lightening. The excitement was all over Russia; it was only a matter of days before the Russo-Turkish war broke out. Sure enough on the 12th day of the month (November) this was realized (it occurred). Within a week the entire (population) Turkish citizens throughout Crimea was summoned to Akmescit (Simferopol). In Crimea this became (day of) mourning. There were all sorts of rumors flying around; 'they all be deported to Siberia, they will do hard labor, they will be kept hungry and miserable.' Ten days later it was learned that they were sent to Tambof and Borisoglebsk. According to what I saw in Borisoglebsk [when he went to visit his relative], it seemed as if our people had been residing here for a long time. They had opened coffee houses, restaurants that serve cigborek, sis kebab, and bakeries..they were doing well....[14]

In other documents, the aforementioned internees, Hamza Goktay and Cafer Gulumoglu, described a different situation in Tambov Gubernia, City of Borisoglesp. A photograph sent by Hamza Bey in 1914-1915 has the following note:

This photograph was taken in 1915 in Tombov Gubernya in northern Siberia where we were deported. I escaped from the city of Yekatrinaslow and went to Crimea when I realized the horrible consequences as we learned that instead of light duties we were to work at stone quarries and coal mines. I was sentenced and spent four months in prison and then discharged....
Haci Emir oglu Ibrahim Hamza and Cafer Hoca [15]

Zehra Kural, daughter of Hamza Goktay, one of the victims of the internment of 1914, has carefully saved all the photographs her father sent from Tambov and also later from other locations where he was imprisoned. These are historic, never seen before, documents which shed light on the influential events shared by the emigrants of the 1930s.


Prof. Dr. Naci Ekem presented a Xerox copy of Kok Kitab [16] to the author during his visit to Eskisehir, Turkey, in November 1997. The author was informed by Erol Bey, the Treasurer of the Crimean Cultural Society of Eskisehir that the Blue Book was accidentally found among some old newspapers several years ago. It is, unfortunately, not complete; pages 1-16, 52, 55-74 and 77-96 are missing. Since its cover and the first page are missing it is difficult to know when and where this particular copy was published and who the author(s) or editor(s) were. Its title Kok Kitab (as in Kok Bayrak, the national flag of the Crimean Tatar nation) is very interesting. Another copy of Kok Kitab, also written in Ottoman script, was published in 1335/1918, in Istanbul. Kok Kitab is also mentioned in a footnote of a book written by Dr. Necip Hablemitoglu, Carlik Rusyasinda Turk Kongreleri (1905-1917). It mentions that Kok Kitab is published in Istanbul in 1335/1918. [17]

Hakan Kirimli, in his book on the National Movements and National Identity Among Crimean Tatars (1906-1916), devoted a chapter on the Crimean Tatars in Turkey at the turn of the century. He quotes from another edition, Birinci Kok Kitab. Hakkin Sesleri (Istanbul, 1336/1919). [18]

Kok Kitab that was presented to the author (a Xerox copy) consists of 154 pages with couple of numberless pages. It has a number of photographs and biographies:

Photo 1: Osman Beg, member of the Executive Board of Eskisehir Tatar Charity Organization.
Photo 2: Esteemed Imam Abdulresid Efendi-Secretary General of the Tatar Charity Organization, Eskisehir Branch.
Photo 3: Secretary General of the National Tatar Charity Organization, Haci Ibrahim Adil Bey.
Photo 4: Member of the Executive Board of the Tatar Charity Organization and Head of the Arabacilar [Cartwrights] Association, El-Hac Mesud Efendi.
Photo 5: Member of the Executive Board, and Inspector General of the Arabacilar Association, Cemil Efendi.

Additionally, there are photographs of Yusuf Akcora(oglu), a close friend of Ismail Bey Gaspirali (very poor quality picture); Numan Celebicihan, the first president of the Independent Crimean Republic, and his famous poem Ant Etkenmen; and Mehmet Niyazi, a famous Crimean Tatar poet. Also included are Niyazi's article "Karadeniz Kenarinda - Benim Dusuncem" [On the shores of the Black Sea - My Thoughts] and some of his popular poems such as "Yesil Ada" [Green Island] (pp.101-102); "Yesil Curtka" [To the Green Homeland] (pp.102-103); " Kisinin Selami" [Someone's greetings] (103-105); "Curt Sevgisi" [Love of Homeland] (p.106-107); "Oz Curtumda Garibmen" [I am helpless in my own Homeland!] (pp. 107-109 ); "Tatar Barmi Dep Soraganlarga..." [For those who ask if there is a Tatar] (pp. 110-111); and others.

Kok Kitap remains an important source for the study of early 20th century Crimean Tatar emigrations. Several articles contained in this volume [19] tell us a great deal about emigrants and their organizations in Ottoman Turkey. What kind of help was available to the Crimean Tatar emigrants once they arrived in Turkey? Who would provide assistance to these newcomers? Were there Crimean Tatar organizations to assist the Crimean Tatar emigrants? These questions need to be asked because the Crimean Students led by Numan Celebicihan and Cafer Seydahmet (future leaders of Crimean Tatar independent) were seriously involved in the political developments in the Crimea during this crucial period of Crimean Tatar history. They were mostly interested in preparing for political changes in the Crimea. Dealing with the socioeconomic problems of the Crimean Tatar emigrants in Istanbul at that time was not among the priorities of Cafer Seydahmet and Numan Celebicihan. Cafer Seydahmet, for example, has made this quite clear in his memoires:

In 1909 there were Arab, Kurdish, and Albanian Societies established. Some Crimean (Tatar) emigrants, who had emigrated here earlier, had established Crimean Charity Organization and began publishing a newspaper, Tonguc. We investigated that Society and even registered as members; but we could not find anyone there to attract us intellectually. Also, they were interested neither in us nor in the Crimea...At that time after holding a meeting among us, we, Celebi Cihan, Alim Sait, Abdulhakim Hilmi, Abdurrahim Sukuti and others, decided to establish our own student association....[20]

The Crimean Tatars during this period, as a Tatar community, were not involved with the politics of Crimea as the following appeal of the Tatar Charity Organization indicates. The Crimean Tatar community was experiencing totally different problems than the Crimean Student organization Vatan; they were mainly concerned with the socio-economic problems of the Crimean Tatars in Istanbul.

Tatar Cemiyet-i Hayriyesi'nin Millete Beyannamesi [21]
[The Tatar Charity Organization's Appeal to the Nation]

Kok Kitab contains several interesting articles about the Tatar Charity Organization, established by the Crimean Tatar emigrants who were mainly concerned with the welfare of the Crimean Tatars in Istanbul. The following excerpt from Kok Kitab outlines the goals of the Organization:

Dear Brothers!

...It is impossible for one person to help the entire ethnic nationality to which he belongs… therefore we had founded a society by the name of Tatar Cemiyet-i Hayriyesi [Tatar Charity Organization], by taking advantage of the rights and freedom newly provided by the Ottoman revolution. Even though we have been in existence for twelve years, realizing that there are some brothers among us who still have no clear idea about our goals and functions, we declare (once again) what our goals and functions are. The major goals of the Cemiyet-i Hayriye are as follows:

1. To promote Unity and friendship among Tatars.
2. To improve the level of our culture by paying close attention to the education and training of Tatar children.
3. To encourage and stimulate our people to get involved in Trade and Commerce.
4. To assist, within our means, those needy ones among us as soon as possible.

First, let us talk about "unity" that most nations put so much emphasis on. Today we see that all the learned men unanimously stress the importance of unity by stating that "In unity there is strength." Therefore, unity and mutual assistance are considered important enough to be the rule of life. Without any doubt, we (Tatars) need unity more than anyone else.

Second, we can easily say that education and knowledge are two words that the universe is built on. Another words, science and knowledge (information) are quite important. Unfortunately, in these fields we remain quite backward. Those without culture, science and education are bound to be stepped on (by others). Thus, if we continue to ignore all this and continue to err in our efforts and activities, we will continue to remain, as we are and that to us means suicide.

Third, trade and commerce are extremely important for us. They are the results of science and knowledge. I am convinced that there is no one among us who would not recognize how backward we are in these fields. A person, who leaves his homeland and emigrates three times in his lifetime, will not be able to establish any kind of foundation or a business. Our people who were forced to sell all their belongings, who, including half-naked, half-hungry children, were forced to emigrate multiple times. When they arrived in their new country, they had to work very hard just to make ends meet; obviously, they had no time to concern themselves with science, culture, trade and commerce or something else. Unfortunately, we have to state that people like us will not survive unless we work hard to escape from the environment we (currently) are in.

What did the Cemiyet-i Hayriye do in order to reach these goals that it recommends? Let us report:

First, we organized religious activities such as Hatm-i Serif and Mevlut, [22] and other social activities such as plays, in order to improve the unity among our people by bringing them together.

Second, We were involved with the education and training of our children. We sponsored the education of twenty-five Tatar children in the neighborhoods where our people are densely settled in neighborhoods such as Sehremini, Kasimpasa, Sultan Ahmet, and Karagumruk. Also for adults, we had organized night classes in Yesildirek to make them literate enough so they will be able to read the Kuran as well as other readings.

Third, we also attempted to direct our people's attention toward Trade and Commerce. But, unfortunately we failed to teach our brothers the importance of this.

Forth, Despite our budgetery problems, we tried to assist the needy people among us.

We would like you to recognize, however, that it is not possible to reach all our goals at once. But if we continue to work and struggle to reach our goals, we will be able to reach our goals little by little.... Because of the difficulties we try to convey above, we were forced to do all sorts of (add) jobs to earn a living. In the past we were agricultural (farm) workers; but the circumstances forced us to do everything. Let us look at one:

Some (Tatar) parents, instead of encouraging their own children to take up trade or commerce, are letting their children, with basket on their neck, collect cigarette butts, or work as porters. To be fair, we recognize that these activities are better than being a beggar. However, we must confess that these beautiful children, with dirty clothes, in groups of 2-3, hanging out in undesirable areas, do create an ugly picture indeed....

Fathers! Mothers, brothers and sisters! We appeal to you from the bottom of our hearts: Let us work hand in hand to correct and eliminate this dirty and ugly picture! Let us work hard to improve our standard of living. Whatever it takes, let us think together to find a way to escape this kind of life. Let us work hard and ask Allah for help. Not to help those who ask for help, is not one of Allah's virtues.

This appeal, indeed, is a clear example of the goals set by the Crimean Tatar community in Istanbul to change the socioeconomic status of its members. From this point of you, this author considers the Appeal as a valuable and historic document.

Kirim Musluman Muhacirlerinin Teavun Cemiyeti Nizamnamesi [23]
[Bylaws of the Mutual Aid Association of the Crimean Muslim Immigrants]

The Mutual Aid Association of Crimean Muslim Immigrants was another group of Crimean Tatars, mostly newly arrived, well-to do émigrés who were concerned with the well being of their fellow Tatars rather than the politics of the homeland they left behind. Members of this association were determined to help change the status of their people as soon as possible. They did not hesitate to ask for assistance from the well organized and more experienced White Russian émigrés. Only a part of the translation of the Bylaws will be included here to give our readers sufficient information about the goals of this organization.

The main duties and objectives of the Association

The Association was established to assist the Crimean Muslim immigrants to resettle by providing them with financial aid and moral support. The Muslim immigrants are, in many ways, different than the Russian immigrants. Therefore, it was necessary to establish a separate Crimean Muslim Mutual Aide Association. This Association will refrain itself from getting involved in all kinds of politics, and will work closely with the Russian Social Organization, which aims to assist the Russian immigrants.

Primary Objectives

1. To protect and implement the rights of the Crimean Muslim immigrants in their dealings with the Russian Social Institutions (outside Russia and Crimea).
2. To search and implement the means and ways to accomplish the goals and the objectives of the Association.
3. To guide and help the Muslim immigrants in carrying out their work in agricultural , industrial and commercial institutions.
4. To find the most economical ways for immigrants to buy goods, clothing and rope.
5. To register all the immigrants properly and assist those who want to immigrate to other countries.
6. To find employment for those who are able to work.

Secondary Objectives

7. To provide financial assistance to immigrants.
8. To provide financial assistance for the education of the immigrant children who are willing to study.
9. To organize fund-raising events such as conferences, social nights and plays.

The Structure of the Association (Membership)

10. Active Members - Muslim Immigrants.
11. Honorary Members-Those who contributed minimum of 50 Lira, and those who have provided extraordinary work. Any Crimean immigrant could become an "Active " member by donating 50 kurus membership fee (A majority vote is not required). Any immigrant from other parts of Russia could join the Association. He/or she must submit a written application and indicate his address and current occupation....

Signatures (Signed by):
Generals: General Amilkoransky Zennalmazov Ahmet Coban, H. Amedov, M. Nayif, S. Kirimtayof, I. Sirinsky, H.Taygansky, Huseyin Muhterem, H. Gasprinsky, Z. Kiray, H. Karamanof, Yunus Omerof, Abdulnazin Hasan, I.S. Gaziyef, R. Taygansky, Cavalary Officer Komukof, Selamet Karasaysky, Huseyin Bekirof, Abdul Aziz, M. Pamuk, Ahmet Bekirof, Semino.

These Bylaws of the Crimean Muslim Immigrants Mutual Aid Association is registered under # 2276 and was seen at the Consulate of the Russian Diplomatic Mission.
Istanbul, 19 May 1921
Signed by the Official Representative of the Russian Diplomatic Mission The original was translated from Russian.


One of the primary sources used in this author's research is a book of registration [24] meticuliously kept by two Crimean Tatars who had emigrated from Crimea to Turkey in the 1930s. Hamza Goktay, the propriator of a coffee house (Hamza Bey'in Kahvesi) began to keep a record of the new Crimean Tatar emigrants who were residing in various refugee camps in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The original of this extraordinary book, Kirim Tatarlarinin Kayit Defteri, is in the possession of Mr. Suleyman Akcora, the grandson of Cafer Gulumoglu, who was Hamza Bey's long time collaborator.

Cafer Gulumoglu

Cafer Gulumoglu, 1914

Hamza Bey's Coffee House, which practically operated as the unofficial Crimean Tatar Consulate in Istanbul after 1933, became the center of the Crimean Tatar activities during World War II. Crimean Tatars who were in search of their relatives and friends gathered in this coffee house. Hamza Bey unofficially became the Honorary Counselor of the Crimean Tatars and he kept, with his long time friend and confidant, Cafer Gulumoglu, a registration book to help Crimean Tatars locate their friends and relatives. The Coffee House remained open and maintained its function until Hamza Bey's death in 1961. This author's father traveled to Istanbul in 1960, just before his emigration to the USA, to see a friend whom he had not seen in a long time. Like many other Crimean Tatars, he located his friend through Hamza Bey; author's father and his friend met at Hamza Bey's Coffee House. During the author's interviews, one elderly Crimean Tatar, Nusrettin Kipcakli informed him that he found a relative of his in Eskisehir's Yaveroren village, through Hamza Bey.

Even though the existence of the Coffee House is legendary among Crimean Tatars, the author was unaware of Hamza Bey's Book of Registration. It was during author's last visit to Turkey when he was interviewing Crimean Tatars that he heard about the existence of such a document. It was in Eskisehir, during one of the heated discussions at the Crimean Community Center, the topic of Hamza Bey's Coffee House surfaced. Refik Kurun bey who had emigrated from Crimea in 1930s stated how helpful Hamza Bey's coffee house had been in locating friends and relatives. He stated that Hamza Bey even kept a Defter [Notebook.] The author became very interested in this Defter and wandered if anyone could describe this unique document. Had Mr. Kurun seen it? He stated that he does not remember the details but he was certain that such a notebook existed. The author found Hamza Bey's sole surviving daughter, Zehra Kural, in Istanbul and contacted her right away. He had two interviews with Zehra Hanim who was extremely helpful and who enthusiastically shared her long experiences related to her family's emigration from Crimea in the 1930s. She generously provided historic family pictures and other documents, except the Book of Registration her father kept in his cofee house. When this author asked her about it she got very excited, but was also saddened because she did not have this historic document. She informed the author that she had it in her possession years ago, but "did not think much of it and gave it to someone." Unfortunately she did not remember who that someone was. She assured the author, however, that she would find it one way or another.

After the author's return to the United States, he contacted Zehra Hanim again on January 11, 1998. It was then that she enthusiastically informed him that she had found the Book of Registration and will send him a photocopy of it right away. Thanks to Zehra Kural Hanim, daughter of Hamza Goktay, this author received the Xerox copy of Kirim Tatarlarinin Kayit Defteri [The Book of Registration of Crimean Tatars,] on February 25,1998. There were additional pictures and two letters, one from Zehra Hanim and the other from Mr. Suleyman Akcora, who has the original of the Book of Registration and he was kind enough to copy it and present it to Zehra hanim. This author can not thank enough both Zehra Kural Hanim and Suleyman Akcora Bey for their generous help.

Description of the Book of Registration

The Book of Registration is a 86-page original logbook, with some pages missing. The cover page has a group photo with the following inscription in Ottoman script: Avrupaya Giden Iskan Muduru ve Refakatinde Olanlar [Director of Immigration and those who accompanied him to Europe.]

The next three pages include a list of Crimean Tatar emigrants, their names and their place of origin in Crimea in Latin script. It is a partial list, which goes up to page 23 and contains only 61 names. The list has five columns: Serial #, page #, Name, Last name, City of origin (Eski Yeri) in Crimea. The interesting point here is that the column for last name is completely blank, because none of the new comers had last names. They all took different last names according to Turkish law.

The Book is divided by country, where the Crimean Tatar refugees were residing at that time. There are four countries: Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Pages 1-23 belongs to Austria, pages 41- 54 to Germany, pages 80-102 to Italy, and pages 108-111 to Switzerland. Obviously there are some pages missing. The pages contain seven columns as follows:

Column 1 - Photos of the Refugee and his family
Column 2 - Refugee's name and his European address
Column 3 - Name and addresses of refugee's relatives and/or friends in Turkey
Column 4 - Date of initial communication with Hamza Bey
Column 5 - Date of arrival in Turkey
Column 6 - Refugee's present address in Turkey
Column 7 - Comments

Most of the writings is in Latin script except the Comments (Mulahazat,) which is in Arabic script. At the end of the Book of Registration, there is a three-page list of the addresses of sponsors of refugees who are mostly Crimean Tatars who emigrated from Crimea in the 1930s. It is interesting to note that the connection among Crimean Tatars was not broken. There was no official Crimean Tatar organization to assist the new emigrants; Hamza Bey's Coffee House served as the unofficial center of the Crimean Tatars for a long time.


The author has briefly introduced several documents related to a neglected period in Crimean Tatar history, emigrations of the 1930s and the 1940s. These documents may not be as volumnous as the documents of the earlier periods, but their value is not less important in informing us about the Crimean Tatar emigrations. The internment of 1914 is frequently mentioned as an historic event among the Crimean Tatars, but has never been documented. Several photographs (among many others) saved for over three-quarters of a century by a concerned Crimean Tatar lady provided us first hand information how that historic event had occurred. Another eight-page document, bylaws of a small organization, enabled us to learn what the concerns of the Crimean Tatar emigrant community in Istanbul were at the turn of the century. An appeal by concerned Crimean Tatars in 1921, right after the Turkish War of Independence, informs us about the existence and goals of another group of Crimean Tatars in Istanbul other than the highly political Crimean Tatar student organizations. The Book of Registration kept by two Crimean Tatar emigrant of the 1930s, Hamza Goktay and Cafer Gulumoglu, shows the continuous relations between different groups Crimean Tatar emigrants and the concern of Crimean Tatars for their less fortunate compatriots.

As these documents indicate, the emigrations of the Crimean Tatars continued even during one of the most oppressive regimes of the Soviet period, the Stalin era. By presenting these documents, the author took a small step towards fulfilling the obligation of the oral historian, which is to prevent a part of a history, in this case the emigrations of the 1930s and the 1940s, from oblivion. It is important to emphasize that this is the first attempt to study this period, the Soviet period of Crimean Tatar emigrations, and the documents briefly described by the author, are just a few of the available documents. It is this author's sincere hope that this brief research will shed some light on this neglected period and eventually enable other researchers to follow up with more detailed research on the emigrations of the 1930s and the 1940s.


[1] The official annexation date April 8, 1783 is generally accepted as the beginning of the Crimean Tatar tragedy or mass emigrations from the Crimea. However, an argument can be made that the signing date of Kucuk Kaynarca Traeaty, July 21,1774 should be the beginning of the Crimean tragedy, or "Kirim Faciasi."

[2] Aktoprak means "White Soil" or pure soil where Crimean Tatars could find comfort in times of trouble. For detailed description of Aktoprak, see the article in Emel No.8, Year 2, January 1962, pp.8-9.

[3] See Alexander M. Nekrich's The Punished People: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War. New York W.W. Norton, 1978. Dr. Nekrich was stationed in the Crimea during the Mass deportation and provides an interesting eyewitness account of it.

[4] George Jacobs. "Tatar Migration into The Ottoman Empire" A short (15 pages) report written for a history seminar, Seminar on Migrations and Settlements in the Ottoman State (History 851) at the University of Wisconsin, November 16, 1971.

[5] Ahmet Ozenbasli. Carlik Hakimiyetinde Kirim Faciasi; yahut Tatar Hicretleri Akmescit: Qirim Devlet Nesriyati, 1925.

[6] The author's dissertation is being prepared as an oral history project. The person interviewed for this project is referred to as "interview subject."

[7] For more detailed information, see Kok Kitab, pp. 146-150.

[8] Sengul and Necip Hablemitoglu. Sefika Gaspirali ve Rusya'da Turk Kadin Hareketi (1893-1920). Ankara: Ajans Turk Matbaacilik Sanayii A.S., 1998, pp.637-640.

[9] For detailed information, see S. Hakan Kirimli, National Movements and National Identity Among The Crimean Tatars (1906-1916). Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.

[10] Haci Cemil Ortalan. "Haci Cemil Ortalan'nin Seceresi ve Kirimda Yasamindaki Hatiralardan Parcalar." p. 2. In author's personal archives, a written report by Haci Cemil Ortalan. All translations from Turkish and Crimean Tatar to English, are done by the author.

[11] In author's personal archives. The original Crimean Tatar is as follows:

Tambov Gubernasi, Borisogleb sehrinde esirlerin yadigari: 1914 tarihi miladi 19 Oktoberde, 1322 tarihi hicri 11 Zilhaccede Pazar gunu tevkif olunarak 21 Oktober (19)14 tarihine kadar Bahcesaray Sehir kulubunde (kaldik). 21 Oktober (19)14 tarihinde butun etrafimiz zabita ile kusatilan sehrin buyuk asker mucibi aheste aheste(?hahete hahete) askeri kislasina azimet ettik. 24 Oktabir (19)14 tarihinden 2 Noyabir (19)14 tarihine kadar askeri kislada (kaldik). Bu zamanda salavat hatim icra olunarak Hatim-i serifler tekbiri sedasi goklere kadar yukseldi. 2 Noyabir (19)14 tarihinde vilayet merkezi sehrine hareket vuku buldu. Simendefer emlede(?) nakil olunan kisma, herbirine 25 er adet olmak uzere, isimlerimizi viziteye kayit iderek yerlerimize teslim ile koy(r)umaci isaret ettiler. Aksam uzere vilayet merkezi Simferopol sehrine geldik. Perilut denilen mahalde ikametle 4 Noyabir (19)14 tarihi aksam uzeri yine mezkur simendeferle 9 Noyabir tarihinde sabah alafranga 7 maddelerinde Tambov gubernasi Borisagleb sehrine muvasalatimiz vuku buldu. Yine su gun isimlerimizi zabita nezaretine kayit ile serbest biraktilar. Birgun gelirki...oluruz, tarih bizi yad eder.
Fotograf 4 Dekabir (19)14 tarihinde cikartilmistir. Yadigar
Ibrahimov Hamza

[12] S. Hakan Kirimli. National Movements, p. 255.

[13] "Zehra Hanim (20 days old) and her Mother" photograph, in author's personal archives. Gift of Zehra Kural, 1998. Translation of the hand written text on the back of the photograph:

Ah anacigim,
Ilk cocugun, ben, kucaginda; Turk tab'alari erkekler toplu surgunde eslerinizden uzaksiniz. Birinci Denya Savasi (umumi harp) devam ediyor. Babamin sugunden yolladigi resmi sehpanin uzerine,babama verdigin mendil resmin altinda…Rahmetli Kizilkalpak Mahmut enistem seni ta surgundeki esine, Tambov'a kadar galiba trenle goturup beni gostermis. Kendisinin cocugu yoktu; zengin oldugu, tabakhane islettigi hani (oteli) oldugu icin ta Fin hududu, Kutup Denizi korfezi (Murmansk) sehrine durgunde hapishanede oldu. 1931 de biz de vize alarak Istanbula kavustuk,canimizi kurtardik.

[14] Cafer Seydahmet Kirimer, Bazi Hatiralarim. Istanbul: Emel Turk Kulturunu Arastirma ve Tanitma Vakfi, 1993, p. 131.

[15] "Hamza Goktay and Cafer Gulumoglu in Exile," 1915. Photograph, in author's personal archives. Gift of Zehra Kural, 1997. Translation of the hand written note on the back of the photograph:

1915 Senesi sivil esir olarak Rusya da Simali Sibirya'nin Tombof vilayetinde nef oldugumuz zaman cikarilan resimdir. Hafif hizmetlere diyerek Tas Ocaklarina, Komur Ocaklarina gittigimizde neticesi fena olacagini dusundugumden Yekatarinaslov vilayetinden firar ederek Kirima geldigimde tevkif olmus idim. Dort ay kadar mahpusta kalarak beraatime karar verilmis idi...
Haci Emiroglu Ibrahim Hamza ve Cafer Hoca

[16] Kok Kitab, published by "Tatar Cemiyet-i Hayriyesi." Istanbul, 1335/1918.

[17] Necip Hablemitoglu. Carlik Rusyasi'nda Turk Kongreleri (1905-1917). Ankara: Ankara Universitesi Basimevi, 1997. p.140.

[18] S. Hakan Kirimli. National Movements, p. 216.

[19] The following is a list the interesting articles included in Kok Kitap:
"Yeni Uyanan Tatarlik" [Newly Awakened Tatarness] (pp.21-29) by Kirimli Cobanoglu Bekir Sidki.
"Turkistan ve Tataristandaki Son Durum" [The Current Situation in Turkistan And Tataristan] (pp.31-35) by Kirimli Timurlenk Oglu Haci Ibrahim Adil.
"Vatanim [Kirim] Kurultayi Azayi Umumiyesine Acik Mektub" [Open Letter to General Membership of the Kurultay of My Homeland Crimea] (pp.37- 43) by Kirimli Timurlenk Oglu Haci Ibrahim Adil, Secretary General of The Tatar Cemiyet-i Hayriyesi [Tatar Charity Organization].
"Muharrir ve Murhalrik Alem Matbuatta Tatarlik Hakkindaki Su Telkinliki" [What the Writers and Written about Tatarness in the Press] (pp.45-50) by I.A.
"Sevastopolde Sehit Etilgen Muftu CelebiCihan Efendiye" [A poem dedicated to Muftu Sir CelebiCihan who was murdered in Sevastopol] (p.53) by Corabatir.
Muftu Celebicihan's Pledge to his people "Ant Etkenmen" and another poem "Men Tatarman" [I Am A Tatar] (p. 54) by Corabatir.
"Pan Turkism" (pp. 123-130) by I.A.
"Savbolsun Su Curtumuz" [Let This Homeland of Ours be Healthy] (pp. 130- 132) A poem by A. Cevdi.
"Zavalli Tatar" [Poor Tatar] (pp. 132-134), Anonymous.
"Zavalli Anasircilar" [The Poor Elitist] (pp. 135-137) by R. S.
"To The Secretary General of the Tatar Charity Organization Haci Ibrahim Adil Bey" A letter by Sadik Gurbuz.
"Tatarlara Tesekkur" [Thank You Tatars] (pp. 139-140) by Husameddin. This letter is taken from the newspaper Ileri, dated 5 Eylul 1335/1919.
"Cemiyet-i Hayriye [Charity Society] (pp. 140-146).
"Tatar Cemiyet Hayriyesinin Millete Beyannamesi" [Tatar Charity Society's Declaration To the People] (pp. 146-150).
"Rapor" [Report] (pp 150-154), incomplete Annual Activities Report, with missing pages.

[20] Cafer Seydahmet Kirimer, Bazi Hatiralar. Istanbul: Emel Turk Kulturunu Arastirma ve Tanitma Vakfi, 1993, p.58.

[21] The complete "Appeal of the Tatar Charity Organization" appears in Kok Kitab, pp. 146-150.

[22] Hatim-i Serif: Recital of the entire Kuran.
Mevlut: Chanting of a poem by Suleyman Celebi in a prayer meeting to honor a deceased person.

[23] A copy of this document (in Arabic script) was e-mailed to the author by Dr. Necip Hablemitoglu. Then, this document was transliterated from Arabic script to Latin script by Haci Cemil Ortalan, and translated into English by the author of this article.

[24] The original of this primary document is in the possesion of the daughter of Cafer Gulumoglu, Sadiye Akcora in Istanbul. Suleyman Akcora, Sadiye Akcora's son, was gracious enough to copy the entire document and mail it to the author upon request of Zehra Kural, daughter of Hamza Goktay, the compiler of the Book of Registration.


Hablemitoglu, Necip. Carlik Rusyasi'nda Turk Kongreleri (1905-1917). Ankara: Ankara Universitesi Basimevi, 1997.

Hablemitoglu, Sengul and Necip. Sefika Gaspirali ve Rusya'da Turk Kadin Hareketi (1893-1920). Ankara: Ajans Turk Matbaacilik Sanayii A.S., 1998.

Jacobs, George. "Tatar Migration Into The Ottoman Empire." A short (15 pages) report written for a history seminar, Seminar on Migrations and Settlements in the Ottoman State (History 851), at the University of Wisconsin, November 16, 1971.

Kirimer, Cafer Seydahmet. Bazi Hatiralarim. Istanbul: Emel Turk Kulturunu Arastirma ve Tanitma Vakfi, 1993.

Kirimli, Sirri Hakan. National Movements and National Identity Among the Crimean Tatars (1906-1916). Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996.

Kok Kitab. Istanbul: Tatar Cemiyet-i Hayriyesi, 1335/1918.

Nekrich, Alexander M. The Punished People: The Deportation and Fate of Soviet Minorities at the End of the Second World War. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978.

Ozenbasli, Ahmet. Carlik Hakimiyetinde Kirim Faciasi; yahut Tatar Hicretleri. Akmescit: Qirim Devlet Nesriyati, 1925.

Ortalan, Haci Cemil. "Cemil Ortalan'in Seceresi ve Kirim'da Yasamindaki Hatiralardan Parcalar." Handwritten report by Haci Cemil Ortalan. In author's personal archives.

"Zehra Hanim and her mother," 1914. A photograph in author's personal archives. Gift of Zehra Kural, 1997.

"Hamza Goktay and Cafer Gulumoglu in Exile," 1915. A photograph in author's personal archives. Gift of Zehra Kural, 1997.

"Kirim Tatarlarinin Kayit Defteri [The Book of Registration of Crimean Tatars]. Xerox copy is in author's personal archives. The original of this primary document is in the possession of Sadiye Akcora and and Suleyman Akcora, the daughter and the grandson of Cafer Gulumoglu respectively.

© 2002 Mubeyyin B. Altan

Posted: 20 September 2002

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