The Circassians are one of the many
ethnic groups that populate the Republic of Turkey today. Why is Turkey so
heterogeneous when, say, neighboring Armenia is nearly 100% ethnically pure?
The answer lies with the ethnic cleansing policies of Orthodox enemies,
particularly Russia. The ones who escaped with their lives had only one safe
haven to turn to, The Ottoman Empire... barely in shape to be able to
accommodate these new "permanent & involuntary guests," and
further sickening The Sick Man of Europe. Justin McCarthy is one of the few
Western historians who has cared enough to study this neglected part of the
world, and he wrote in "DEATH AND EXILE The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman
Muslims, 1821-1922" :
I N 1800, A VAST Muslim Land existed in Anatolia, the Balkans, and
southern Russia. It was not only a land in which Muslims ruled, but a land in
which Muslims were the majority or, in much of the Balkans and part of the
Caucasus, a sizeable minority... By 1923... The Balkan Muslims were largely
gone, dead or forced to migrate... The same fate had overcome the Muslims of
the Crimea, the northern Caucasus, and Russian Armenia - they were simply
gone. Millions of Muslims, most of them Turks, had died; millions more had
fled to what is today Turkey. Between 1821 and 1922, more than five million Muslims were driven from their
lands. Five and one-half million Muslims died, some of
them killed in wars, others perishing as refugees from starvation and disease.
The piece below examines what happened
to one of these ethnic groups, the Circassians; it was found at an Internet
forum (Turkistan Newsletter?), with several reactions following.
IN ADDITION: Historical backdrop
in the case of the Circassians, from Stephen Shenfield's book chapter
entitled, "A Forgotten Genocide?" (The book was called "The
Massacre in History." ADDENDUM,
5-07: Edited by Mark Levene and
Penny Roberts; Mr. Shenfield's contribution was his chapter on the
Circassians.) Note how even though what happened
to the Circassians was infinitely worse than what happened to the Armenians
(the Circassians totally got kicked out of their ancient homelands, and
assimilated into the cultures that offered them refuge, mainly forgetting
their own language and ways), and the way they were treated unquestionably
boiled down to an "intent" to exterminate them for the most part, a
question mark still follows on whether this could be in the genocide category
or not. The double standard applied by the West toward suffering Muslims can
be truly appalling.
Please click here to read "A Forgotten
From: "Leitzinger, Antero" <">Antero.Leitzinger@u...>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2000 12:24:26 +0300
A professor of the university of Munich (München), Karl Friedrich Neumann (not to be
confused with the later Naumann), wrote in 1839 a book titled "Russland und die
Tscherkessen" (published in the collection "Reisen und Länderbeschreibungen",
vol. 19, in 1840). He describes, how Russia settled Christians to the parts of Armenia
gained from Persia in 1828 - actually, Neumann had written about the issue already in
1834. (p. 68-69) Neumann considered this a very sound policy and predicted, that all
Caucasus would become under firm Russian rule within the next decades. (p. 125) European
powers would not intervene, because it was the destiny of all Europe to rule over the
lands of Turks, Persians, and Hindoo. (p. 129-130)
Neumann was no racist, but he certainly advocated colonialism and was a Russophile in
relation to the southern lands. He had a Darwinist approach many years before Charles
Darwin or Herbert Spencer presented their ideas. This appears to have been more typical to
19th century German thought than any anti-Armenian sentiments. Neumann makes it clear in
his very first words of the preface: "The European humanity is selected by divinity
as ruler of the earth."
Although Neumann respected the bravery of Circassians, he anticipated their destruction by
Russia, because in a modern world, there would be no place for chivalrous
"uncivilized" people. Neumann estimated the total number of Circassians,
including the Kabardians and Abkhaz, at 1.5 million persons, or 300.000 families. (p. 67)
Both the Russian figure of 300.000 persons, and the Circassian figure of four millions,
Neumann divided the Circassians into ten tribes: Notketch, Schapsuch, Abatsech, Pseduch,
Ubich, Hatiokech, Kemkuich, Abasech, Lenelnich, Kubertech (in German translitteration).
They formed a loose confederation very much like old Switzerland, with democratic majority
votes deciding the affairs of villages. Their princes had no privilegies, and were
regarded only as military commanders. Women were more free than anywhere in the Orient.
There was no written law, and death penalties were unknown. Many Circassians were Muslims,
but there were also Christians and pagans, all completely tolerated.
Russian prisoners-of-war were used as slaves, but if they were of Polish origin, they were
regarded as guests. Therefore, Poles recruited in the Russian army, deserted en masse at
every opportunity, and even Russians often declared themselves to be Poles. (p. 123)
Slavery as such included no shame. Circassians used to sell their own family members as
slaves to Turkey and Persia, and many went to slavery voluntarily, returning later on back
home as rich and free men. (p. 124) This system could be compared to the Gastarbeiter
emigration from Turkey since the 1960s. We should also remember, that in those times,
slavery or serfdom existed in Romania and Russia as well.
The Circassians had been fighting against Russia already for forty years when appealing to
the courts of Europe in a "Declaration of Independence": "But now we hear
to our deepest humiliation, that our land counts as a part of the Russian empire on all
maps published in Europe...that Russia, finally, declares in the West, that Circassians
are their slaves, horrible bandits..." (p. 140-141)
The fight continued for two more full decades, until a national Circassian government was
set up in Sochi. In 1862, Russia began the final invasion, annihilation and expulsion, as
predicted by Neumann well in advance.
According to Kemal H. Karpat, "Ottoman population 1830-1914" (Madison 1985),
"Beginning in 1862, and continuing through the first decade of the twentieth century,
more than 3 million people of Caucasian stock, often referred collectively as Cerkes (Circassians),
were forced by the Russians to leave their ancestral lands..." (p. 27)
Salaheddin Bey mentioned, in 1867, a total of 1.008.000 refugees from the Caucasus and
Crimea, of whom 595.000 were initially settled in the Balkans. (p. 27) Half a million
followed by 1879, and another half a million until 1914. (p. 69) Most of them were
Circassians, although there were Crimean Tatars, Chechens, and other Muslim people among
them. Hundreds of thousands Circassians perished on their way.
Neumann's estimate of 1.5 million Circassians corresponds to 1/30 ethnic Russians, or 1/3
Czechs, or 3/4 Slovaks. (p. 66) According to Neumann, there were over two million
Armenians in the world. (p. 69) Now, according to the Soviet census of 1989, the number of
Russians has increased to 145 millions, whereof 1/30 would be almost five millions. There
are 10 million Czechs and 5 million Slovaks, which would lead us to assume that there
should be over 3 million Circassians. Armenia alone has a population of over 3 million
Armenians, despite the past ordeals; 2 million Armenians live elsewhere. The number of
Czechs, Slovaks, and Armenians has more than doubled in 150 years, while the number of
Russians has tripled; but where are the missing millions of Circassians?
"The Encyclopaedia Britannica", 11th edition (Cambridge 1911), divided the
Armenian population equally between Russia and Turkey (little over a million in each
empire), and numbered 216.950 Circassians (including Abkhaz etc.) in Russia. Again we must
conclude, that about 1.5 million Circassians had been massacred or deported. This disaster
exceeded both absolutely and proportionally whatever fell upon Armenians in 1915. Was it
intentional? Yes. Was it ideological? Yes. The conquest and Christian colonization of the
Middle East was expected not only by Germans, but by most Europeans during the 19th
century, and the expulsion of Muslims from Europe was considered a historical necessity.
Russia had practiced massacres and mass deportations in the Crimea and Caucasus, and
"ethnically cleansed" Circassia specially in 1862-1864. During that period,
Panslavists like Mikhail Katkov provided the Russian public with nationalistic excuses for
what had started as imperial ambition ("Third Rome") and strategic interests
("Access to sea").
A vicious cycle was created and increased the stakes at both frontiers: the Caucasus, and
the Balkans. Circassian refugees settled in the Balkans were provoked to commit the
"Bulgarian atrocities", that inspired some of the Armenian revolutionaries.
After the Balkan Wars, Muslim refugees were roaming in Anatolia, thus spreading terror,
and hostility. This was exploited by Russia, at the cost of many innocent Armenians. The
massacres of 1915 were a tip of the iceberg - the part best visible for Europeans, who had
been actively seeking and expecting horror news to justify anti-Muslim prejudice, and to
prevent interventions in behalf of Turkey, as had happened in the Crimean War of the
Was it a genocide? That depends on the definition. Rather than of separate, selectively
researched genocides, we should speak of a general genocidal tendency that affected many
— both Muslim and Christian — people on a wide scene between 1856 and 1956, continuing
in post-Soviet Russia until today.
Antero Leitzinger is a political historian at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He
has written a 1997 book entitled, "Caucasus and an Unholy Alliance," covering
the History and Politics of the four Caucasian States (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan,
Chechenia). A 1997 article entitled "HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE WAR IN
CHECHNYA" may be found here.
the idea that the Circassians suffered a genocide and that this somehow justifies
ignoring the genocide of other Christian peoples, the only reply is that your
neighbor's illegal activities never justifies your own.
Moreover, the returning Armenians were 'returning' from the genocidal removal of
Georgians and Armenians by the Persians during the 17th century and this might bring
up whether the replacement of Prussian colonialists by Slavic elements after WWII
was a genocide or whether the return of Amerindian elements to territories now
settled by European Americans is one also?
The sad truth is that all groups had better start admitting their faults rather than
trying to find excuses among the faults of others.
Yours, V. Strohmeyer, Kent State University
With all due respect,
Mr. Strohmeyer, Circassians are not the ones lobbying Congress and anything that moves for
recognition, reparation and have killed innocent people in scores to achieve it — but
Armenians have as little claim on exclusive victimhood as everybody else, but nobody would
know from listening to "esteemed" members of Congress rattling down the latest
Armenian talking points. While nobody can "exchange their dead," I would submit
that it is at least hypocritical for Armenians to seek redress for crimes against them 85
years ago while pushing out nearly 1 million Azeris out of their homes in front of eyes
today. It seems to me that the problem is that this inhumanity is not directed against
"other Christian peoples."
agree with Mrs. Koknar.
An important contribution missing from this debate is that of the Turkish
Government; as also that of the US State Department. And while we're at it, maybe
the Israelis could let us have their words of wisdom. Is the silence of the latter
two attributable to some embarrassment at the likelihood of some need to recant in
the light of recent less partial research? Can the Turkish Government please set out
at least an itninerary through the sources to a reasonable approximation to the
truth? If not, why not?
ENDLESS GENOCIDE AT CAUCASUS AND