Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Circassians who saved Jewish children: what are we slandered in mass-media for?

NatPress - November 10, 2009

On Wednesday, November, 4th in aul Beslenei of Khabezsky area, Karachaevo-Circassia, a gathering of inhabitants in which over 500 person participated, took place. As IА REGNUM News correspondent reported, the orators of the gathering expressed their protest in occasion of some publications in mass-media, devoted to the feat of inhabitants of that village during the Great Patriotic war. At the gathering there was the chairman of National assembly of Karachaevo-Circassia Zurab Dokshokov, the deputy of National assembly Vyacheslav Derev, representatives of the Karachaevo-Circassia president administration.

As IА REGNUM News had earlier informed, in August, 1942 inhabitants of Circassian aul Beslenei had sheltered at themselves a group of Jewish children of one of children's homes of the blocked Leningrad. That group of 32 children were taken out from the blockade ring on ice of Ladoga lake in April of 1942, then they, accompanied, reached by railways to Armavir (Krasnodar region), but could not stay there because of fascist aggressors’ coming there. Local authorities supplied them with a dray and a stock of meal for one day having recommended going to Caucasian mountains, to get to Georgia whenever possible. At the height of approach of Germans to Northern Caucasus, inhabitants of Beslenei, having seen on a road near their village a group of extremely exhausted children, sheltered them at their homes. As the fascists shot people for Jews’ concealment, all the children were brought in the registration book of the village under Circassian surnames: they introduced as sons and daughters of those who sheltered them. For conspiracy the Leningrad children were forbidden to play and communicate with each other. The fascist occupation proceeded for five months. Germans appeared to discover that Beslenei inhabitants had covered Jewish children, but they managed to find out only one of them who was immediately shot. After the war many children were found by their natives and left Beslenei; four of them lived in the village till their old age. Now, on available data, two are alive from among them.

Negative reaction of the village’s inhabitants was caused with an article published on September, 23rd, 2009 in the newspaper "Express mail" (Cherkessk). In that article there is a negative characteristic of the elder of the Murzabek Ohtov, who provided in many respects the children’s rescue during the occupation, in particular: "That Ohtov appears in the article as an elder, and actually was the head of the aul appointed by Germans. Germans, as it is known, appointed heads from among traitors or enemies of the Soviet authority. However today his fellow tribesmen try to present this fascist servant as a hero”. Simultaneously the author of "Express mail" expressed his extremely negative estimation to the article about the events in Beslenei, published in December, 2008 in the newspaper "Moscow Komsomolets". In particular, his disagreement was caused with the fragment of the article where according to the memoirs of Beslenei inhabitants the words of the worker of the Leningrad boarding school who accompanied the children when they had appeared near the village: "How long is left for us? A day, a week? Shall we die of famine or shall we be shot, like those, others, the kids from blockaded Leningrad being betraid by the enemies, - when Karachai chastisers dumped them from an abrupt rock. And tens corpses were floating down the mountain river of Teberda..." (We shall remind that Karachai, lived to the south from Beslenei, in the mountain part of present Karachaevo-Circassia, in November, 1943 were declared Hitler's helpers and were deported, but in 1957 they were rehabilitated.) The author of the article considers as unreasonable the offers about immortalization of Beslenei inhabitants’ feat, referring that Jewish children were hidden in that part of Caucasus by not only them. He reminded about the feat of Karachai Husey Laipanov who led 60 Leningrad children being then in Teberda, by Klukhorsky pass to Georgia, and after his returning was shot by Germans. "For us, even his relatives are not occurred with an idea to ask to award the lost posthumously. As any of us should do that. For some reason there were forgotten Abazinian women (Abazinians are one of the people occupying Karachaevo-Circassia) who also participated in the children’s adoption," - the author wrote.

As the head of Khabezsky area of Karachaevo-Circassia Rauf Arashuhov told IА REGNUM News, "a monument devoted to the feat of Beslenei inhabitants will be constructed irrespective of who and what says and writes about it". "I wished to finance its construction from my own means, but the president of our republic told me that it should be the common, international issue. Now a bank account for donations for the monument’s construction is open," - the head of the area explained.

In the press-service of Karachaevo-Circassia president Boris Ebzeev IА REGNUM News correspondent was informed that the head of the republic pays a great attention to immortalization of the feat of Beslenei inhabitants. In the press-service they reminded that according to a decree of B. Ebzeev the director of the documentary film "Beslenei. Right to Life" Vyacheslav Davidov was awarded with the honorary title "National actor of Karachaevo-Circassian Republic" (the film was created by the film studio ТОНАП in 2008, and narrates about the events in Beslenei). In the press-service they also told that Ebzeev granted his monthly wage to the fund of the monument construction in Beslenei, and emphasized that the president considers necessary to demonstrate the international character of the feat of the inhabitants of the republic during the war. In particular, in his address to the author of the film about Beslenei B, Ebzeev reminded about the Karachai family of Kholamlievs to which for rescue of the Jewish children the Israeli ambassador in Russia handed over 15 years ago the medal and the diploma "Certificate on nobleness" with inscription "Who saved one life - has saved the whole world".

Let's note, the inter-regional public organization "Holocaust" in 2008 had addressed to the management on archive affairs of Krasnodar region with a request to give data about children-Jews evacuated to the region from the blockaded Leningrad. As the authors of the addressed explained, documentary confirmations of the nationality are necessary for the organizations paying indemnification to the victims of the Holocaust. However any documentary confirmations of the evacuation from Leningrad of "Beslenei" children, and accordingly, data on their nationality, were not found in the archives.

Murzabekov Okhtov (center) with family

Katya Ivanova (Fatima Okhtova) in the family

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