Staunton, April 21 – In a review of a new book on political repression of the Circassians in the first decades of Soviet power, M.N. Gubzhokov says that while Circassian elites shared the fate of many other peoples of the USSR, “they are largely absent from domestic historical studies that discuss political repression and ethnic cleansings.”
The book in question is Political Repressions of Circassians in the North Caucasus (1918-1940) Archival Materials and Memoirs, compiled by A.K. Sharapova (in Russian, Nalchik, 2017, 824 pp.) The review, originally in the Vestnik of the Adygey Republic Institute for Research in the Humanities, is available at natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=11617).
Ayshat Sharapova, the author of the study, knows the subject on the basis of her own life. Her parents met after fleeing oppression; and she has worked for many years to restore to honor the many scholars and cultural figures among the Circassians who were repressed by the Soveits. Her book represents “a sad martyrology of the victims of bestial arbitrariness,” the reviewer says.
As a member of the Kabardino-Balkaria Association of Victims of Political repression, Gubzhokov says, Sharapova succeeded in getting many of them rehabilitated legally and providing evidence that even more deserve to be so.
What makes her book especially valuable, the reviewer continues, is that her main informants were members of aristocratic Circassian families whose members had suffered largely because of their social origin. Many had family members killed in the first years of the red terror; others saw them suffer in the 1920s and 1930s and beyond.
Each page and each picture in the book are full of pain, of people who were exiled or tortured or killed or forced to flee in the expectation that they would be, only to discover far too often that they could not escape “the moloch” of Soviet repression. The victims rarely name their victimizers but are careful to record the names of those who tried to help.
Sharapova has made a monumental contribution to this task, but so many Circassians were repressed that it is far from complete. But on the basis of her work, the work of others will be easier and must continue. “The path from forgetfulness to true knowledge is never easy anywhere, but this path must be followed,” Gubzhokov concludes.