Imagine your ordinary weekday morning. You are having breakfast with your husband or wife. You are watching TV, discussing your plans for the day. Your son is playing with a toy car. Or, perhaps, your little daughter is sitting on your lap, babbling in a language that only she understands. Then someone rings your doorbell. You open the door and see a group of men in military uniforms. One of them shows you the order from the government and informs you that you have 15 minutes to pack (if you are lucky). You waste first priceless minutes asking questions that no one will ever answer: “Why?”, “For what purpose?”, “Why me?” Then you realize that this is not a joke and start packing. What will you take with you? Documents? Money? Scared children are crying.
At some point the soldiers get tired of waiting and force you to go outside. They push you into a truck. You see that your neighbors are being pushed into another truck. One of them, an old man, starts yelling at the soldiers. They shoot and kill him right in front of your children. In half an hour you are at the train station, and the soldiers force you to board a train. You can’t protect yourself, your wife, your kids. You can’t do anything at all.
During the long journey, they feed you once a day in the best-case scenario. The food is too salty and probably expired. Every day they ask only one question: has anyone died? People try to hold on to the bodies of their loved ones, but soldiers throw the dead off the train. They throw adults out of the door, and children – out of the window. Those who survive will spend countless years in a foreign land, in an unusual climate, tortured, humiliated. And every day when you wake up, you will imagine that ordinary weekday morning in May…
On May 18, 1944 the Soviet government began the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Almost 200,000 people were deported from Crimea to Uzbekistan. At least half of them did not survive the deportation.
(Roughly translated from Oleksandr Todorchuk)