Krymchaks and Crimean Jews Remembrance Day Date in the current year: December 11, 2024

Krymchaks and Crimean Jews Remembrance Day Krymchaks and Crimean Jews Remembrance Day is observed in Crimea on December 11 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust in the Crimean Peninsula. It was inaugurated in 2004 by the government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and has been observed annually ever since.

Jews from Ukraine and Lithuania began to settle in Crimea in the late 19th century. Four years after the Russian Revolution, Crimea was declared an autonomous republic in the Russian SFSR, and the Soviet government passed a motion to resettle Jews from Ukraine and Belarus to Crimea. More than 50,000 Jewish families were moved to Crimea as soon as the motion was passed.

Alongside Ashkenazi Jews resettled from Ukraine and Belarus, the Jewish community of Crimea included the Crimean Karaites and the Krymchaks, who had lived in the peninsula long before the resettlement began. The Crimean Karaites are a Turkic-speaking ethnic group that adheres to Karaite Judaism, and the Krymchaks are a Turkic-speaking ethno-religious community that adheres to Orthodox or Talmudic Judaism.

Interestingly, the Krymchaks were viewed as Jews and therefore subjected to the same religious persecution imposed on other Jews, while the Karaites were treated the same as their Christian and Tatar neighbors. Because of this, Azhkenazi Jews and the Krymchaks suffered greatly during the Holocaust, but the Karaites were mostly spared by the Nazis. Nevertheless, many Karaites risked their lives to hide Jews.

The Crimean Peninsula was completely occupied by Nazi Germany in July 1942, following the Axis victory in the Battle of Sevastopol. However, Jewish massacres had begun several months before that. On December 11, 1941, the Nazis executed several hundred Jews, Krymchaks, Romanis and captured Soviet sailors about 10 kilometers from Simferopol. The anniversary of this mass execution is now observed as Krymchaks and Crimean Jews Remembrance Day.

Crimea was occupied by the Nazis until the spring of 1944. During the occupation, the Nazis killed six thousands Krymchaks, which amounted to almost three fourths of their total population. The total number of Jews who were murdered as part of the Holocaust in Crimea is estimated at 27,000. This includes both Ashkenazim and Krymchaks.

Krymchaks and Crimean Jews Remembrance Day was established by the government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and approved by the government of Ukraine in 2004. It has been observed every year since then; after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the remembrance day was included in the official holiday calendar of the Russian Federation.

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