Russia’s treatment of Crimean Tatars recalls Hitler’s treatment of Jews before 1938

Crimean Tatar Mejlis raided and searched by Russian police in balaclavas

Crimean Tatar Mejlis raided and searched by Russian police in balaclavas. 

Analysis & Opinion, Crimea, Russia

Russia’s treatment of the Crimean Tatars since the Anschluss a year ago recalls that of Hitler’s Germany between 1933 and 1938 when the authorities did everything they could to show that the Jews were not welcome and should immediately leave for other countries, according to Karl Volokh, a Kyiv-based commentator.

At one point, he writes, Hitler even appealed to the international community to accept Jewish emigres from Germany, and when it refused, he concluded that the only option left was the Holocaust. That analogy is especially frightening to the Crimean Tatars given the harassment they are being subjected to now.

Volokh says that he is recalling these parallels now because “the current situation of Crimeans in the occupied peninsula” recalls the intentional efforts of Germany to “intentionally drive out a national minority from its homeland” by means like those Russian occupiers are using now.

Among these, he says, are “arrests, repressions, the destruction of the Mejlis, the approaching closure of the television channel and much else,” all of which are clearly designed to lead the Crimean Tatars to conclude that they would be better off if they left.

Fortunately, unlike the Jews of Germany before World War II, the Crimean Tatars have somewhere to go: Ukraine, which despite all its difficulties, is prepared to take in its citizens from the occupied territories, although its ability to follow through on this is limited by its economic problems.

But many Crimean Tatars do not want to leave their native land just as many Jews did not want to leave Germany. But as the situation deteriorates and such a trend is, Volokh says, “inevitable,” there is a growing danger, again like with the Jews in Nazi Germany, that the Russian occupation authorities will blame them for all problems and then act accordingly.

Edited by: A. N.

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