18th May 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the entire nation of the Crimean Tatars. On this day in 1944, on Stalin's orders, they were forced to leave their homes by the Black Sea and were dumped onto the steppes of Central Asia and other places far from home. 

As the USSR was collapsing, the Tatars started returning to Crimea, longing for their ancestral land. The authorities did not allow them to settle down properly and the Tatars set up camps across the peninsula. The Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Klymenko had the rare opportunity to capture their first steps back home.

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Photography: © Oleksandr Klymenko

Сталинское выселение народов: воспоминания очевидцев

70 лет назад - 23 февраля 1944 года в 02:00 по местному времени - на Северном Кавказе началась операция 'Чечевица' по депортации чеченцев и ингушей. Всего в 1944-м году было выселено на восток около 873 тысяч человек, а к октябрю 1948 года - 2 млн 247 тысяч. В ходе депортации и после нее погибли тысячи людей.

Российский журналист и фотограф Дмитрий Беляков в течение двух лет встречался на Северном Кавказе с участниками тех событий. Результатом этих встреч стал специальный проект -  серия фотопортретов, а также свидетельства очевидцев и жертв переселения. Би-би-си публикует фрагменты этих рассказов.

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This is how Chechen schoolchildren imagine the deportation of their entire nation 70 years ago.

On 23 February 1944 Soviet security forces moved into the area, and loaded hundreds of thousands of Chechen and Ingush people onto lorries, and then cattle trucks. They were moved from their homes to Central Asia and Siberia. About 700,000 people were affected across the North Caucasus, and nearly half of the deportees that freezing winter were children.

 

It's estimated that 170,000 to 200,000 of the Chechens alone lost their lives. That's over a third of the total Chechen population. The Chechen and Ingush who survived only started returning to their homeland after the death of Stalin in 1953.

To this day the foreign trucks used in the deportation are deeply ingrained in the collective memory – and they're shown in the drawings here. The Chechens were rounded up and loaded onto Studebakers, which were produced and supplied by the US. They were then packed into the freight carriages of trains.

 

 

 

 

 

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16 mm silent film.

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.

The rapprochement between the Soviet Union and Germany in the summer of 1939 led to an agreement officially signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939 - the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union. It was a non-aggression pact under which the two countries were to remain neutral  in the event that either nation were attacked by a third party. The treaty also included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.  It sealed off the fate of Poland and the Baltic states.

Molotov_Ribbentrop_MyCent

Soon after the signing of the treaty, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland and divided the country between them.

The date of signing, 23 August, is commemorated each year across the EU as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

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Molotov_3_German

 

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