Tarih Medeniyetşınaslıq İlmiymaqaleler

Polish-Crimean Tatar relations in the inter-war period (1918-1939)

Kurshutov Timur Niyaverovich

E_mail: kurshutov@mail.com

Abstract. The article highlights the Polish-Crimean Tatar relations in the interwar period, 1918-1939, which were the continuation of the many-sided contacts of the Crimean Khanate with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 15th-18th centuries. These bilateral relations are revealed through the prism of the activities of the famous Crimean Tatar public figure, the Minister of the Armed Forces and Foreign Affairs in the first National Government of Crimea. Jafer Seidamet, to strengthen the all-round contacts of the Crimean Tatar national movement with the Polish state, based on the principles of friendship, mutual understanding and mutual assistance.

Keywords: Poland, Crimea, J. Seidamet, J. Pilsudski, memories.

Let me throw light on the Crimean Tatar-Polish communications in the inter-war period (1918-1939) through the lens of the activities of the famous Crimean Tatar politician, the Minister of the Armed Forces and Foreign Affairs in the first National Crimean government, Jafer Seidamet on strengthening of the various relationships of the Crimean Tatar national movement with Poland, which were the continuation of close contacts of the Crimean Khanate with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the XV-XVIII centuries. In his memoirs “Bazy khatyralar” (“Some memories”) [4]. Jafer Seidamet dedicated a separate chapter “My memories and conversations with marshal Pilsudski”. In them J. Seidamet stressed that he had viewed the meeting with marshal Pilsudski in conjunction with his previous political contacts with Poland. Here is how he writes about this in his memoirs: “In 1919, as an authorized representative of the Crimean Tatar parliament, I came to Istanbul. From there, on May 20, 1919, I sent a telegram of greetings to the government and the Sejm of Poland, in which I noted that: “Our people took the creation of an independent Poland with overwhelming happiness and wish Poland every success as a symbol of our common history and expression of mutual vital interests.” In conclusion, it was said: “We fought for the liberation of our homeland and we want to be together with Poland in future» [2, с. 71; 5, с. 75].

In October 1920, J. Seidamet arrived in Warsaw, where he met repeatedly with high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, coordinating the program of meetings with the leaders of the Government and the Sejm of Poland. All of them have been implemented. So, on October 31, J. Seidamet met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Sapieha. Here is how Seidamet recalled that: “Prince, with his modesty, equability of mind and sincerity left the most pleasant impression. I told him about some issues that I wanted to discuss with marshal. The minister’s attitude towards our nation, the Turkic-Muslim world, and especially Turkey, gave me great pleasure. He assured me that he would try to influence Wrangel with the help of the French, and also jointly consider our question with the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Taco-Ionescu, who was arriving to Warsaw one of those days, about admitting our students to Polish universities. And he would also inform marshal on the increase of percentage of Muslims in the Polish army, in particular from prisoners of war» [2, с. 73-74; 5, с. 77].

The next meeting took place on November 2 with the Prime Minister of Poland Witos Wincenty, who “… more than a statesman left the impression of a revolutionary and a striver. For him, the most important and decisive force in the state were the peasants. During our meeting, he advanced the idea that they constituted the main binding force in the struggle against Bolshevism. In every nation villagers are the most reliable custodians of the people’s tradition. He emphasized that it was necessary to give priority to the question of the influence of Bolshevism on peasants and small-numbered nations» [2, с. 76-77; 5, с. 79].

On November 4 he met with Deputy Prime Minister Dachinski, which lasted about an hour. Later, Seidamet recalled: “Among all my meetings with the statesmen of Poland, he seemed to me to be the most positive personality. Kneading realism and idealism in my head, I took him as a very strong person, thinking about the present situation and the future of Poland, constantly bearing in mind their interrelations. Then Dachinski told me the following about marshal Pilsudski: “He not only saved Poland from the invasion of the red imperialists, but also ensured the hope and conviction of the whole generation, who believed in the invincibility of his ideals, always showing emotionality and selflessness» [2, с. 77-74; 5, с. 78].

The key event of J. Seidamet’s trip to Poland became his meeting with marshal J. Pilsudski in Warsaw in the Belvedere Palace. This meeting left him an indelible impression. Seidamet describes his feelings and thoughts about Pilsudski, about the love and respect for him of the Polish people with great sympathy and sincere admiration.

This is how Seidamet describes this meeting in his memoirs: “In my appeal to marshal J. Pilsudski on behalf of our people and all the Turks, I congratulated the free Poland on a great victory, expressed deep gratitude for the amiable opportunity to be received there. In this behalf he replied: “I am very glad that you are striving for the liberation of our friendly people and came from Switzerland showing cordial, sincere feelings for Poland. I would like to have a serious talk with you; Poland still does not have complete freedom. A lot has been done, but it is necessary to open the way to preserving its freedom. Unless all peoples enslaved by Russia gain independence, we cannot look forward with certainty”. He spoke French quietly, sometimes looking for the right words.

From these words of the marshal, who saved Poland, I realized who I was talking face to face to. I assured myself that the marshal, being a unique revolutionary, a skilful military commander, a strong statesman, as great people of art was able to control his agitation. Dissatisfaction with his accomplishments, the search for new opportunities for even greater affairs – here is the main feature of his essence … “The future of Poland” – this thought constantly lives in his head. His heart was beating with this thought. This imagination of mine from the first meeting with him received full confirmation and complement during subsequent meetings.

Among my requests, I paid special attention to the establishment in Romania of a good attitude towards our community and permission from the authorities to work among our emigrant brothers in Dobruja. The Marshal considered this request to be justified and promised to give instructions to Prince Sapieha, and also assured that he himself would consider these issues with the Romanians. Our conversation lasted an hour and a half. I expressed great gratitude for the kindly provided opportunity to hold discourse with him, despite the fact that he was busy. Concluding the meeting Pilsudski assured J. Seidamet that “… we will always strive to solve our bilateral problems on the basis of friendship and will work as the most reliable friends. I’m sure you, as well as we do, understand this well» [2, с. 80-81; 5, с. 80].

This meeting of J. Seidamet and marshal J. Pilsudski and other political figures of Poland served to strengthen close bilateral social and political contacts in subsequent years. They manifested themselves in different spheres of activity. So, for example, in the 1920-1930s J. Seidamet in Poland makes several trips to the cities where he conducts a vigorous political activity, appears at conferences with reports and statements before the students and the public.

Based on the information given in the books of his students and friends Edige Kyrymal, Myustejip Ulkusal, Abdullah Zikhni Soysal and others, it can be confidently asserted that Jafer Seidamet had his works actively published in European periodicals in 1920-1930. For example, in the period stated above, a number of articles by Jafer Seidamet were published in the magazine «Şimali Kafkasya» (“The North Caucasus”), (a monthly magazine was published in Warsaw in the Turkic and Russian languages and was the central press organ of the People’s Party of mountain dwellers of the Caucasus).

Among the political emigrants and national emigrant organizations, one of the most authoritative and popular magazines was undoubtedly “Kurtuluş” (“Salvation”) and “Promethee” (“Prometheus”). The magazine “Kurtuluş” was published monthly and came out in Berlin in the Azerbaijani language. The publication was the organ of the Committee of National Salvation of Azerbaijan, its editor was a well-known political figure Mammad Emin Rasulzadeh. In this journal there are articles by Jafer Seidamet, as well as short notes about Crimea by other authors.

Another magazine, in which Jafer Seidamet had his works published, was «Promethee». This periodical was the press organ of the «League of Prometheus», an anti-Soviet organization called upon to provide moral and financial support to anti-communist forces and political emigrants from the USSR. The magazine was published monthly in French in Paris in 1926. The organization “The league of the peoples oppressed by Russia: Azerbaijan, Don, Karelia, Georgia, Idel-Ural, Crimea, Komi, Kuban, the North Caucasus, Turkestan and Ukraine” was in the capacity of the publisher. In 1935 Jafer Seidamet’s articles were published in it: “Interesting Historical Documents”, “Murskiy”, and the article “About Crimea”, which tells about Jafer Seidamet’s statement at the club of «Prometheus» organization in Warsaw and participation in the same place in “The Linguistic Congress” against Moscow’s Russifying policy.

One cannot ignore the yearly magazine “Rocznik Tatarski” (“The Tatar yearbook”), which was published by Polish-Lithuanian Tatars in 1932-38 in the city of Vilno (Vilnius). The content and figure captions were also given in the Crimean Tatar language (in Latin alphabet). The topics of the articles in the magazine were very diverse, they were articles devoted to the history, local studies, literature and language, culture and traditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Tatars, the Crimean Tatars of Crimea, Dobruja, and other Turkic peoples. Most of the authors who had their works published on the pages of the magazine were Polish-Lithuanian Tatars, but there were articles by Jafer Seidamet, Abdula Zikhni Soysal, Myustejip Ulkusal, and others.

Other periodicals also appeared, for example, the magazine “Mlody Prometeusz” (“The Young Promethean” was published in Warsaw) and the magazine “Zycie Tatarskie” (“The Tatar Life” was published in Vilno), in which the articles of J. Seidamet, Edige Kyrymal, A. Zikhni Soysal, which introduced situation in Crimea to the Polish public, were published.

During these years, versatile cultural ties had also been handled. So, in 1937 in Warsaw, the 20th anniversary of the convocation in Crimea of the First Kurultai of the Crimean Tatars was celebrated. These days a delegation of Crimean Tatars from Romania, Turkey and other countries arrived in Warsaw. On November 28, the opening day of the Kurultai in Crimea, a solemn meeting dedicated to this event was held in Warsaw. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Polish authorities and the public, as well as representatives of the peoples of «Prometheus». The next day, a central radio station in Warsaw organized a special program where a report on Crimea was read, and then songs and melodies of national musical instruments were performed by the Crimean Tatar artistic ensemble from Romania. Fig.1. A few days later a similar program was also organized by radio station in Vilno. Also, the Polish Telegraphic Agency (PAT) filmed folk dances performed by the artistic ensemble of the Crimean Tatars, which were later shown in the cinemas of Poland. The anniversary of the convocation of the First Kurultai was headlined on pages of the Polish press, which confirms the significant interest to the Crimean Tatars in Poland, both on the part of both the authorities and ordinary people.

The youth were another area of Polish-Crimean Tatar cooperation. So, in the 1930s, the Society of Young Tatars was created in Warsaw and Vilno, which included students of Polish-Lithuanian Crimean Tatars, the peoples of Idel-Ural and the Caucasus. The main goal of the creation of the youth organization was to unite youth into a tight-knit, purposeful organization, as well as to hold conferences on various topics and approaches and vigorous publication activities. This is how the direct participant of those events, Abdullah Zikhni Soysal wrote about the establishment of the Society of Young Tatars in Vilno on the pages of the magazine “Kurtulush”: “The opening of the Society of Young Tatars” was held on February 22, 1937, with the full house, the national flags of representatives of the peoples of the organization were hanging all over the hall. The opening began with a dua (prayer), which was delivered by the imam of the city of Vilno Ibrahim Smaikevich, followed by a welcome speech by the representatives of the Muftiate, a representative of the cultural society of Vilno Prof. Bazarevskiy, as well as J. Seidamet, who awarded the members of the youth organization with commemorative diplomas. A library was established at the society, which was staffed with periodicals for getting acquainted with the artistic endeavor of the Turkic peoples”.

Vigorous activity was led by the Society of Young Tatars in Warsaw, the backbone of which constituted the students of the Eastern Institute. So, in the 30s various conferences took place in the Institute, where well-known public and political figures of both Poland and representatives of Turkic peoples, including Ayaz Iskhaki, Jafer Seidamet, Mammed Emin Rasul-zadeh and others were invited.

Summarizing the above, one could argue that the Crimean Tatar-Polish ties in the inter-war years, as well as in other periods of history, were stable and multifaceted, based on the principles of friendship, mutual understanding and assistance. Our outstanding compatriot Jafer Seidamet Kyrymer was instrumental in that.

Куршутов Тимур Нияверович.

 Польско-крымскотатарские связи в межвоенный период (1918-1939 гг.)

 Аннотация. В статье освещены польско-крымскотатарские связи в межвоенный период, 1918-1939 годы, явившихся продолжением разносторонних контактов Крымского ханства с Речью Посполитой в XVXVIII веках. Эти двухсторонние связи раскрываются через призму деятельности известного крымскотатарского общественного деятеля, министра вооруженных сил и иностранных дел в первом Национальном правительстве Крыма Джафера Сейдамета по укреплению разносторонних контактов крымскотатарского национального движения с Польским государством, основанных на принципах дружбы, взаимопонимания и взаиопомощи.

Ключевые слова: Польша, Крым, Дж. Сейдамет, Ю. Пилсудский, воспоминания.


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Куршутов Тимур Нияверович, к.филол.н., ст. научный сотрудник НИИ крымскотатарской филологии, истории и культуры этносов Крыма ГБОУВО РК КИПУ (Симферополь)

Об авторе

Таир Керимов

Таир Керимов

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