J. Otto Pohl, Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937-1949, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999, ISBN 0313309213
Ch.11 The Greeks
The last large extraterritorial nationality living on the Crimean peninsula and shores of the Black Sea after the deportation of the Crimean Tatars was the Soviet Greeks. Many of these Greeks had refused to accept Soviet citizenship and aoug1t to maintain their Greek culture in the face of increasing Russian chauvinism. The cultural and ethnic ties between these communities and Greece made them a suspect alien population In the view of the Stalin regime. In order to secure the strategic areas around the Black Sea, the NKVD deported the Soviet Greeks to special settlements In Siberia. the Urals. Kazakhstan, and Central Asia.
The Greeks were the first people to settle the shores of the Crimea and Black Sea coast of Georgia and southern Russia. Greek traders, merchants. farmers, and fishermen lived and prospered in the coastal cities of the Crimean peninsula and Black Sea from the 7th century B.C.E. until World War U. This small community survived under the Tatars, the Tsars, and early Bolsheviks. In the 18th century additional Greek colonists settled the Crimea at the invitation of Catherine II.’ During the 19th century many Pontic Greeks Left Asia Minor to settle the Crimea and Black Sea coasts of Georgia and southern Russia. These Greeks and their descendants formed the majority of the Crimean Greek and Black Sea communities by World War L They spoke an ancient Ionian dialect of Greek barely intelligible to modern Athenians after centuries of separation. From 1916 to 1924 almost 100,000 more Pontic Greeks fled persecution (torn the Turkish authorities to settle among their compatriots in Georgia. Russia, Ukraine, and the Crimea. In 1938 there were 20.653 ethnic Greeks living In the Crimea (18% of the peninsula’s population)? Between 27 June and 4 July 1944. Joseph Stalin and Lavrentry Beria forcibly dispersed the Crimean Greeks across the Urals. Siberia, Kazakhstan. and Uzbekistan. In less than a week, the Stalin regime permanently destroyed 11w centuries old Crimean Greek community. 11w Greeks exiled from the Crimea lost their rights as Soviet citizens, their ancestral homeland, and much of their culture as a direct result of the deportation. In addition to the Crimean Greeks, Stalin deported the large population of ethnic Greeks Living on the Black Sea littoral of Georgia and South Russia. In 1779, 30,000 Greek Immigrants founded the city of Mariupol under the reign of Catherine H.’ After the Russians captured the city of Odessa, the majority of the population was Greek- The 1926 Soviet census counted 213,800 Greeks in the USSR’ Despite being born In the Soviet Union, many of these Greeks had Greek passports as late as 1949. After the collapse of the Tsarist Russian Emp4re. the Creek government Issued these documents to as many ethnic Greeks as they could.’ The Black Sea Greeks suffered the same fate as their brethren (torn the Cr1mea. Few Soviet Greeks, like other ethnic minorities, benefited from the policy of renzstu.
In the Crimea, Black Sea littoral, and Ukraine die Soviet government supported Greek-language schools newspapers. journals, and theatres.’ The Crimean ASSR had five Greek village Soviets.’ Among the Greek-language newspapers published in the Soviet Union were Sprtxus in Novorossiyisk, Kommu, Ost in Batwn, and Kskkrnes kapras (Red Tobacco Grower) in Sukhumi. In Georgia alone, the number of Greek4anguage schools increased from 22 In 1924 to 140 In 1938.” In contrast only one Greek-language school existed in Ukraine In 1928” By 1935 this number, had grown to 21.12 In 1932, three Greek national rsxrns existed in the Stalin Oblast of Ukraine.” The Soviet government also established a Greek national raicm In Krwodar Kray.” This territory was Inhabited by Greeks who had emigrated to Russia during the 1870s and 1880s and their descendants. These Greeks made their living as tobacco farmers, and the official newspaper of the rub., was the Russian language Zasoissiskr Ilioorzd sire (For Socialist Tobacco Farming)” As the 1930s progressed, the Stalin dictatorship continued to display an increasingly virulent Russian chauvinism. This chauvinism manifested itself in the closure of Greek institutions. In 1937, the Soviet government eliminated the Greek national rulion in Krasnodary In 1938, the Stalin regime closed down the Greek-language Kommunist and began closing Greek schools. These discriminatory actions prompted many Soviet Greeks to emigrate to Greece. By 1999 the Soviet census showed 286,400 Greeks in the USSR. These Greeks lived under increasing government discrimination and persecution. The deportations of the Crimean and Black Sea Greeks during World War 11 represented the height of this persecution. The first deportation of Black Sea Greeks occurred in 1942. On 29 May 1942, Stalin issued GKO order GOXO 1828, which ordered the exile of socially dangerous elements, Germans, Romanians. Crimean Tatars. and Greek passport holders from the cities and population centres of Krasnodar Kray and Rostov Oblast The resolution allocated the NKVD two weeks to accomplish this task The NKVD deported 1,402 Greeks from these areas during this operation. The NKVD deported a large number of Greeks from Rotov Oblast. Krasnodar Kray, Georgia, Armenia. and Azerbaijan at this time. This was only the first of several waves of Greek exiles.
Soon after the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, the Soviet security organs began preparing to exile the Crimean Greeks. Armenians, and Bulgarians. ‘These nationalities all had cultural ties beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. The Stalin regime’s paranoia regarding foreign spies and diversionists contributed greatly to the decision to deport these nationalities. In the case of the Greeks, Soviet resentment over the Greek army’s intervention In Odessa and Sevastopol in 1919 intensified this paranola.2 On 29 May 1944, Beria informed Stalin that a large number of anti-Soviet elements remained in the Crimea. According to Beria, among these anti-Soviet elements were 14,300 Creeks, 12,075 Bulgarians, and 9,919 Armenians. Beria’s specific accusations against the Crimean Greeks were relatively mild compared to those made against the Cr1mean Armenians and Bulgarians. He accused the Crimean Armenians of engaging in espionage and diversionary activities against the Red Army, and the Crimean Bulgarians of handing over captured Red Army soldiers and partisans to the German military. In contrast Beria claimed that the “German authorities received assistance from the Greeks in trade, transportation of goods, etc.” This accusation, however, carried the same penalty for the Crimean Greeks as did the more serious charges against the Crimean Armenians and Bulgarians. Partisan leaders in the Crimea reported that the Greek population displayed passivity in face of the German occupation of the peninsula. They did not, however, report widespread collaboration between the German military and the Crimean Greeks. Despite these reports, Beria recommended to Stalin that the NKVD deport all Greeks, Armenians, and Bulgarians from the Crimea. Stalin endorsed Beria’s recommendation. Stalin personally issued the order to deport the Crimean Greeks.