Thursday, May 31, 2007

More on the Chagossians

The Disillusioned Kid has a very good post up about the recent legal ruling regarding the Chagossians. Along with Edelstein his is one of the very few blogs that has been following this issue for years. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about the subject to join them in this coverage. But, please go check out the links.

Current Projects

I finished editing my book manuscript on Monday and e-mailed it off on Tuesday. My most important tasks now all revolve around getting ready to start my new teaching job in August. The most intellectually rigorous of these tasks is preparing to teach the classes themselves. Other than that I have only one other project to finish, a peer review of a journal article. I do not intend to take on any more projects for the next couple of months.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ongoing Legal Struggle of the Chagossians

Jonathan Edelstein has just put up a rather detailed analysis of the recent UK decision in the ongoing legal struggle of the Chagossians to return to their island homeland in the Indian Ocean.

Angry Chickens, Scully, and Tasty Falafel

Since Saturday I have been house sitting for Chris and Sara. This entails feeding and watering friendly dogs, angry chickens and thirsty plants. In my few free moments I have been watching lots of X-Files. Chris has the first five seasons on DVD. I am currently on season two. Even after fourteen years I still never get tired of watching Scully. My uncle comes by in the evenings and I cook us up dinner here. Chris and Sara have a much better stocked kitchen than Serenity Ranch. Among the goodies they left me was a giant tub of homemade hummus. Tonight I fried up some of the hummus in olive oil and made tasty falafel. The falafel turned out to be most excellent.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

I hope all my readers have a very happy Memorial day. The weather here today in Arivaca is beautiful. This will be my last American Holiday in Arivaca. Or at least the last for a couple of years. I intend to relax and enjoy the day with my uncle.

More on computers and the manuscript

This morning I resurrected the computer that died yesterday. I did not lose any of the manuscript for Catherine's Grandchildren and the machine seems to be working fine. At least it is for now. I then tried to download the manuscript from the other laptop on to the two disks Chris O'Byrne had given me. The first one was formatted for a Mac so did not work. The second one also did not work for some reason. To make matters worse it caused an error in my word processing program. So I had to shut down the computer and restart it. Fortunately, the computer managed to recover the manuscript and I did not lose any material. I just had to save it again to the hard drive. After that I went back to editing the manuscript on the Lazarus machine. All I have left to do is finish the bibliography. I had five foreign language sources that for some reason lacked publisher data. Using the Library of Congress catalog I have found the missing information for these sources. I will finish editing the manuscript tomorrow and send it off on Tuesday.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pictures of the Arivaca Tower

Photographs of the Arivaca Tower have now been posted on the Internet. You can go see them here. The same web site also has a plethora of information on the tower.

Always make back ups

This morning the laptop I was writing Catherine's Grandchildren on completely died. The thing was quite old. I am not sure exactly how old, but I know I had it when I first went to SOAS almost six years ago. Fortunately, I had saved everything on a disk yesterday. So I only lost what little editing I had done this morning. In total I only lost about 30 minutes worth of work.

I transferred the manuscript from the disk to another laptop which I think is about four years old. I hope it can last another three weeks so I can complete the book manuscript. At any rate after loading it on the other laptop and retyping the lost work I realized I only had one back up copy now. I also had no spare disks. So after some freaking out I decided the best thing would be to e-mail myself a copy of the manuscript. Now I have a safe copy in cyberspace. I also got a couple of spare disks from Chris O'Byrne today. Tomorrow I am going to put a copy of the manuscript on each one of them. That way I will have multiple back up copies of the manuscript and should be able to get the book finished by my 12 June 2007 deadline without any horrible mishaps.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Busy next few weeks

Well my time in Arivaca is coming to an end soon. I have been here almost two years now. I will have more to say about these two years in some future posts. In the meantime I have to finish editing the manuscript for Catherine's Grandchildren and prepare for the new job I will be starting in August. Since the job entails moving overseas as well as teaching three courses I have a lot to do. This is my first teaching job ever.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Canadian View of the Arivaca Tower

I recently stumbled across this post on the tower in Arivaca based upon the Reuters story by Tim Gaynor earlier this week. It is an opinion from the other side of the US border with Canada. I am quite amazed at the amount of attention Arivaca has gotten recently.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The 18 May 1944 Deportation of the Crimean Tatars

On 18 May 1944 the NKVD began the systematic round up of the Crimean Tatars in accordance with GKO order 5859ss. In the early hours of the morning a total of 23,000 officers and soldiers of the NKVD internal troops and 9,000 NKVD and NKGB operatives started going door to door and expelling the Crimean Tatars from their homes. They quickly roused the still sleeping Crimean Tatars from their beds and transported them to rail stations. They had only a short time to gather a few possessions to take with them into exile. Tenzile Ibraimova’s recollection of being evicted from her home with her children on that morning is typical of most Crimean Tatar survivors.

We were expelled from the village of Adzhiatmak in Fraidorf district on 18 May 1944. The expulsion took place very cruelly; at three o’clock in the morning when the children were still asleep. Some soldiers came in and said we should get ready and be out of the house in five minutes. We were not allowed to take with us either possessions or food. They treated us so roughly that we thought they were taking us to be shot…My husband was fighting at the front; I was alone with three children. (Amnesty International, pp. 140-141)

The NKVD and NKGB took the unsuspecting Crimean Tatars to rail stations and stuffed them into train wagons designed for the transport of freight and live stock. The Soviet security organs worked extremely fast. Already by 8 pm on 18 May 1944 they reported loading 90,000 Crimean Tatars into 25 train echelons. The first 17 of these echelons had already left on their way to Uzbekistan with 48,400 deportees. During the next day the NKVD continued this frantic pace. The NKVD had counted loading 164,515 Crimean Tatars into train wagons and dispatching 136,412 deportees to Uzbekistan during these two days. Finally, the NKVD finished the operation on 20 May 1944. The officers in charge of the operation initially reported deporting 180,014 Crimean Tatars on 67 train echelons and mobilizing an additional 11,000 men for forced labor. The NKVD thus recorded the forced removal of 191,014 Crimean Tatars from their ancestral homeland in only three days. The Stalin regime had ethnically cleansed the Crimean peninsula of virtually all Crimean Tatars. (Bugai, docs. 11-13, pp. 138-139).

The NKVD transported the Crimean Tatars far from their ancestral homeland in extremely overcrowded and unhygienic train wagons. An average of 50 people had been stuffed into each wagon and lice infestations rapidly spread typhus among the deportees. Lack of water, food and adequate latrine facilities greatly contributed to the outbreak of disease among the Crimean Tatars in the deportation trains. The official reports on food provided to the Crimean Tatars during transit indicate that they received only an average of 340 grams per a person per day. The result is that thousands perished during the initial journey into exile. (Bugai, doc. 15, pp. 139-140 and fn. 1, p. 137).

Initially the Soviet government had planned to deport all the Crimean Tatars to Uzbekistan. On 21 May 1944, however, Stalin issued GKO resolution 5937ss diverting 31,551 Crimean Tatars on their way to Uzbekistan to the Urals. Here the NKVD assigned them to work felling trees in the cold wet forests of the region. A lack of food, clothes and adequate shelter afflicted the Crimean Tatars in the Urals. Diseases such as dysentery, mange, eczema and tuberculosis became common. As a result the Crimean Tatars in the Urals suffered an abnormally large number of premature deaths. Only a little over a fifth of the deported Crimean Tatars, however, ended up in the Urals. The vast majority of the Crimean Tatar deportees continued on their way to Uzbekistan. (Alieva vol. III, p. 66 and Bugai, doc. 20, p. 144 and doc. 26, p. 147).

Material conditions for the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan were only marginally better than in the Urals. The milder climate of Uzbekistan slightly ameliorated the death rate of Crimean Tatar deportees compared to those sent to the Urals. Severe shortages of food and habitable shelter afflicted the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan. Raging epidemics of malaria and intestinal illnesses plagued the new arrivals. The Soviet authorities had foreknowledge of the malaria epidemic and took no preventive measures to limit its effects. No extra quinine or other anti-malarial drugs existed in Uzbekistan at the time of the deportations. This callous policy resulted in massive deaths among the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan. According to one Soviet document the NKVD recorded 13,592 deaths among the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan from May 1944 to 1 January 1945. This constituted 9.1% of the Crimean Tatar deportees in Uzbekistan. A full 6,096 or almost half of these deaths occurred among children under 16. From 1 January 1945 to 1 January 1946 the NKVD recorded another 13,183 Crimean Tatar deaths in Uzbekistan. This represented 8.7% of the Crimean Tatars in Uzbekistan. In total during the first year and a half of exile in Uzbekistan the NKVD recorded 26,775 deaths among the Crimean Tatars or 17.8% of their population. This horrible loss of human life has never been properly acknowledged by the legal successors of the Soviet government. Not a single Soviet official has ever been tried for this crime. (Ibragimov, doc. 26, p. 68).

Crimean Tatars and their friends have traditionally observed 18 May as a day to remember the victims of these terrifying events. I ask my readers to take a minute of silence today to honor their memory.


Alieva, S.U., ed., Tak eto bylo: Natsional’nye repressi v SSSR, 1919-1953 gody (Moscow: Insan, 1993).

Amnesty International, trans., Chronicle of Current Events, no. 31, 17 May 1974 (London: Amnesty International, 1975).

Bugai, N.F., ed., Iosif Stalin – Lavrentiiu Berii. “Ikh nado deportirovat’,” Dokumenty, fakty kommentarii (Moscow: Druzhba narodov, 1992).

Ibragimov, Ayder, ed., Krimskii studii: Informatsiini biuletin, no. 5-6, September-November 2000.

More on the Tower in Arivaca

I missed the 15 May 2007 meeting at the Community Center. But, a reporter from Reuters named Tim Gaynor was there and wrote a story on it. You can find the 16 May 2007 report at the Reuters website by searching for Arivaca. Also MSNBC interviewed Mary Scott this morning. She is currently being interviewed by the Washington Post about the tower.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Now for some very good news

I have been offered the position of Associate Professor of International and Comparative Politics at American University of Central Asia. I have accepted this offer and will begin teaching classes in August 2007. I am very happy to have this opportunity.

Friday, May 11, 2007

63 Years Since GKO Order 5859ss

On 11 May 1944, Stalin signed GKO Order 5859ss ordering the ethnic cleansing of the Crimean peninsula of its entire Crimean Tatar population. An English language translation of the order can be found here. On the basis of this decree the Soviet NKVD deported nearly 200,000 Crimean Tatars from their ancestral homeland to remote areas of Uzbekistan and the Urals on 18-20 May 1944. In Uzbekistan and the Urals they languished under the harsh legal restrictions of the special settlement regime until 1956. In the first few years of exile more than one in four Crimean Tatars perished due to the extremely poor material conditions forcibly imposed upon them by the Stalin regime. For more information go to this page of the web site maintained by the International Committee for Crimea.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Tower and its poorly chosen location

The location of the Arivaca tower is problematic for many reasons. Dr. Richard Conway, a local geologist has an analysis of why the proposed location of the tower is a worse choice than alternatives further away from town. Mary Kasulaitis has a list of the current activities that the tower would disrupt if built in its proposed location. For some reason it seems the US government has chosen the absolute worst spot to construct the tower.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

New Link

In the spirit of reciprocity I am adding a link to Marginalia a blog written by Peteris Cedrins of Daugavpils Latvia. It has a lot of interesting stuff on the politics and history of Latvia. I encourage all my readers to go take a look at it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More on the Arivaca Tower

The construction of a 98 foot tower on the edge of Arivaca is extremely unpopular among most residents of the town. Unfortunately, I could not attend the 30 April 2007 meeting at the Community Center regarding the tower. An article about the meeting, however, can be found here. It nicely summarizes some of the main concerns the people of Arivaca have about the tower. For more information on the tower from a local perspective see this article.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Arivaca in the News: The Tower

Yesterday the front page of the Arizona Daily Star had a story on Arivaca. It concerned the tower DHS is building outside of town. As I walked back to the library from the post office I noticed Channel Four News interviewing Roger, the owner of the Mercantile. Mary, the librarian tells me the story has also made NPR and Channel 13 News. I guess Arivaca is famous now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Manuscript status

I have finished adding all the new text to the manuscript of the current draft of Catherine's Grandchildren: A Short History of the Russian-Germans under Soviet Rule. It is now 175 pages (50,000 words) long. This is about exactly half as long as my PhD dissertation. In the next couple of weeks I am going to edit it and get it ready for publication.