Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Deportation of the Peoples of Crimea Date in the current year: May 18, 2024

Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Deportation of the Peoples of Crimea The Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Deportation of the Peoples of Crimea is observed in Ukraine on May 18 to honor the Russian Germans, Crimean Italians, Crimean Tatars, Armenians, Crimean Bulgarians and Soviet Greeks who were deported from Crimea in 1941–1944. This remembrance day was established by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in 1994.

The deportation of the peoples of Crimea was carried out in several “waves”: Russian Germans were deported from the peninsula in August 1941, Italians in February 1942, Crimean Tatars in May 1944, and Armenians, Bulgarians and Greeks in June 1944. Deported residents of Crimea were allowed to take only bare necessities with them. They were brought to special settlements in other parts of the Soviet Union, which they were not allowed to leave.

The deportation of the Crimean Tatars, which began shortly after the liberation of Crimea from the Nazi occupation, was the most devastating wave of deportation from the peninsula. It was ordered by Lavrentiy Beria acting on behalf of Joseph Stalin. In just three days, from May 18-20, 1944, over 180,000 Crimean Tatars were deported to Soviet Central Asia.

According to official documents, the deportation was intended as a punishment for the Crimean Tatars who had collaborated with the Germans during the occupation of Crimea. However, most collaborators had been either taken to Germany by the occupational authorities or liquidated by the NKVD prior to the deportation. Some of the alleged collaborators actually served in the Red Army and helped liberate Crimea from the Nazis.

The deportation resulted in the deaths of 8,000 Crimean Tatars during the transfer. Tens of thousands subsequently died in exile due to the harsh conditions in Central Asia. According to different estimates, 34,000 to nearly 110,000 Crimean Tatars (between 18% and 46% of their total population) fell victim to the deportation.

Following Joseph Stalin’s death, Nikita Khrushchev condemned the deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other ethnic groups, but did not allow the Crimean Tatars to return, despite lifting the ban on returning for other deported peoples. They were forced to stay in Central Asia until the late 1980s, when 260,000 Crimean Tatars finally returned to Crimea after a 45-year exile.

In 1989, the Supreme Council of Crimea officially condemned the deportation as a crime; since then, it has also been recognized as a genocide by Ukraine and a few other countries. However, neither the Soviet Union nor the Russian Federation (as its successor state) provided reparations, compensated the families that had suffered from the deportation for lost property, or made sure that those responsible for the forced resettlement were punished.

In 1994, the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea declared March 18, the anniversary of the day when the deportation of Crimean Tatars began, as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Deportation of the Peoples of Crimea. It is marked by solemn remembrance ceremonies held in Crimea and in the rest of Ukraine.

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Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Deportation of the Peoples of Crimea, remembrance days, observances in Ukraine, deportation