Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Stalin Shot Higher Percentage of Educated People in Kabardino-Balkaria than Anywhere Else, New Memoir Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 22 – Kabardino-Balkaria is one of the smallest republics in the Russian Federation, but under Stalin, a greater percentage of its educated elite -- almost all its Circassian component -- was shot than in any other autonomous or even union republic, according to the late Yevgeny Naloyeva, a Kabard scholar who herself was sent to the GULAG.

            Nadoyeva (1922-2007) specialized in the study of Kabard popular culture, and she spoke as one who had suffered the depradations inflicted on her people by the Soviet regime. He scholarly work was published in 2015. Now, her students have prepared a collection of memoirs by and about her.

            That collection, Yegeniya Dzhmurzovna Naloyeva. The Science of Being a Human Being. Memoirs, Correspondence, and Documents (in Russian, Nalchik), has been reviewed by her colleague, Madina Khakuasheva, a senior researcher at the KBR Institute for Research on the Humanities (

            Khakuasheva says that the life of her late colleague, one that involved time in Stalin’s camps, various political repressions, and scholarly achievement “can serve as an example for the education of the younger generation” and that Naloyeva’s observations about the Russian destruction of Circassian culture remain fundamental to an understanding of that nation’s history.

            As a result of the century-long Circassian resistance to the tsarist conquest and mass deportation of that people to the Ottoman Empire in 1864, Naloyeva shows, “the traditional type of Circassian culture experienced a complete collapse.” Neither the diaspora because of its dispersion nor those remaining because of Soviet policies could fill that “vacuum.”

            Indeed, when the Circassians attempted to revive this culture in the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviets “shot the majority” of those involved in August 1937.  Among those executed at that time were the entire team that was preparing volumes on Karabard folklore, including the leader of that effort, Mikhail Talpa.

            The texts assembled in the current volume, Khakuasheva says, document the “unprecedented cruelty” of Stalin’s regime and fully justify Naloyeva’s conclusion that had Stalin done nothing else than that which he inflicted on the Circassians, the Soviet dictator should be found guilty of crimes against humanity. 

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