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Painful Pages of My Life

By Umus Resitova

I was born in 1923 in the village of Soguksu, near the town of Sudak. I started school in 1931 and entered the Sudak Middle School in 1935. In those years, we were living in the village of Soguksu. Later on, we moved to Taraktas. There used to be student housing in Taraktas. At first, tuition and room-and-board were free. Later on they started collecting money for room-and-board and even for school. My late, blessed father used to work at a kolkhoz. Instead of wages, he would be given small amounts of staples (provisions?) for his family. We had to walk to school since there was no money for any type of transportation. (The distance between Taraktas and Sudak is about 14 Km [approximately 9 miles]. Because of financial hardships, I had to quit school before graduating and started working as a secretary for the Little Taraktas kolkhoz. Yet, I did continue my studies and got my Middle School diploma and was able to be admitted to the School for Teachers in Yalta.

When the war started in 1941, I was still in Yalta. Because of the war I could not actually receive my diploma there. My friends were Sultaniye Veliyeva and S. Seytmemetova, both from the village of Otuz. Thus started my "war" years.

My older brother Celal Ablalimov was recruited to serve in the military. When the war started, my other brother, Ablamit, was already in the army. We got a letter from him. He was in the city of Gomel, where he stayed there till his death. At the time, Crimea was already under German occupation. On April 14, 1944, the Soviet army entered Crimea.

They collected all the educated girls from different villages; I was among them. Then they distributed us to different regions to collect information from the population. The questions asked were: Name, family name, age and ethnicity. How could we have known that the lists thus prepared were to be used for our own Crimean Tatar peoples' Black Day?

On May 18, 1944, doorbells started ringing at 4 am. Two Russian soldiers and an officer woke us up and kicked us out of our home at gun point, in whatever I clothes we could manage to put on. They hoarded us into trucks and took us to the city of Kefe.

Once in Kefe, we were driven directly to the train station, and these trucks backed in, right next to some other trucks carrying live-stock. Without even setting foot on the ground, we were dumped into freight wagons. In their eyes, we were not even human beings. The interior of the wagon was covered with sludgy animal droppings.

Once the wagon was stuffed with our bodies, heaped to the ceiling, the doors were closed. And those doors were first opened, after twelve days, at the Gorkiy region (Nijniy Novgorod). There two wagon-full of Crimean Gypsies were dumped in the middle of the city - since they were known as people who did not work or produce. They left us at the Gorkiy Pravdinsk paper mill combine. Two wagons full of people were taken to a place called Balikino. Some administrators from Crimea and Sefereov, who had come back alive from the War, were taken to the Volga region, deep into the mountains there. After that, we never had a word from them, ever.

The people from the paper mill kept us up till the morning, asking questions about our education, age, etc. And then they assigned appropriate work according to our skills, each and every one of us. No one was without a job, whether old, young or child. Since I was a teacher, I was assigned a desk job. I asked about the salary. They said, "600 rubles and 450 gm of bread." At the time, we had a large family -- mother, father, sister Ayse, brother Settar and myself. (Ayse now lives in Taraktas villge and Settar already met the Rahmet of the Almighty.) So, I asked for a harder job with a higher salary. They put me in the cellulose laboratory. There, they were producing paper for the front. Yet that place was highly toxic and detrimental to one's health. The first days I worked there I sneezed a lot and my eyes kept watering.

My brother Asan was already taken by the Germans to serve in the army. After seven years, he was able to come back and find us. (My brother Asan died in our Homeland Crimea in 1989.) A benevolent Russian friend of mine, who lived in Sudak, sent me a letter and two small packages. I still remember her kindness.

After a while, our people have started to run away in response to the hardships we were subjected to. This led the paper mill administrators to put us under stricter rules. Twice a month, we were required to go - under surveillance - and sign the registers.

There was some relaxation of the rules in 1956. They no longer required that I go and sign the registers. Then I left for Uzbakistan, where I met my late, blessed husband who had studied in Taskent after the war. At the beginning of the war, as soon as he was sworn in, instead of sending him to the front, they had assigned him to fight the grasshopper locust from Iran. Subsequently, he went to the front and, thank God, he managed to come back alive. During the War, he was in General Berzarin's regiment. They were the first troops to enter Berlin and put up the Soviet flag there. The rumor is that once General Berzarin entered Berlin, he was so very elated that he fell off his motorcycle and died.

Some of us, after long and painful years in exile, were able to come back to our Homeland. The majority of us died in exile, without ever again setting their eyes on the Homeland. Anyway, thank God that some of us are still here. May God save us from the worse. May God grant our children and grandchildren better days in their ancestral lands, Crimea. May our children see our Flag with Tarak Tamga floating in the skies of our Homeland. Amen.

Translated into English by Ayla Onart.
The original text, "Ömrümün Acı Sayfaları," was published in the journal Emel, no. 211 Nov/Dec 1995, p. 23. The narrative was recorded and edited by Ismet Yüksel and Safiye Belalova.

Return to: Surgun Stories Series (Personal Narratives by Survivors or Eye-witness Accounts)

Posted: 27 May 2009

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