The Circassian Genocide A professor of the university of
Munich (München), Karl Friedrich Neumann (not to be confused with the later
Naumann), wrote in 1839 a book titled "Russland und die Tscherkessen" (published
in the collection "Reisen und Länderbeschreibungen", vol. 19, in 1840). He
describes, how Russia settled Christians to the parts of Armenia gained from
Persia in 1828 - actually, Neumann had written about the issue already in 1834.
(p. 68-69) Neumann considered this a very sound policy and predicted, that all
Caucasus would become under firm Russian rule within the next decades. (p. 125)
European powers would not intervene, because it was the destiny of all Europe to
rule over the lands of Turks, Persians, and Hindus. (p. 129-130)
no racist, but he certainly advocated colonialism and was a Russophile in
relation to the southern lands. He had a Darwinist approach many years before
Charles Darwin or Herbert Spencer presented their ideas. This appears to have
been more typical to 19th century German thought than any anti-Armenian
sentiments. Neumann makes it clear in his very first words of the preface: "The
European humanity is selected by divinity as ruler of the earth."
Although Neumann respected the bravery of Circassians, he anticipated their
destruction by Russia, because in a modern world, there would be no place for
chivalrous "uncivilized" people. Neumann estimated the total number of
Circassians, including the Kabardians and Abkhaz, at 1.5 million persons, or
300.000 families. (p. 67) Both the Russian figure of 300.000 persons, and the
Circassian figure of four millions, were exaggerated.
Neumann divided the Circassians into ten tribes: Notketch, Schapsuch,
Abatsech, Pseduch, Ubich, Hatiokech, Kemkuich, Abasech, Lenelnich, Kubertech (in
German transliteration). They formed a loose confederation very much like old
Switzerland, with democratic majority votes deciding the affairs of villages.
Their princes had no privileges, and were regarded only as military commanders.
Women were more free than anywhere in the Orient. There was no written law, and
death penalties were unknown. Many Circassians were Muslims, but there were also
Christians and pagans, all completely tolerated.
Russian prisoners-of-war were used as slaves, but if they were of Polish
origin, they were regarded as guests. Therefore, Poles recruited in the Russian
army, deserted en masse at every opportunity, and even Russians often declared
themselves to be Poles. (p. 123) Slavery as such included no shame. Circassians
used to sell their own family members as slaves to Turkey and Persia, and many
went to slavery voluntarily, returning later on back home as rich and free men.
(p. 124) This system could be compared to the Gastarbeiter emigration from
Turkey since the 1960s. We should also remember, that in those times, slavery or
serfdom existed in Romania and Russia as well.
The Circassians had been fighting against Russia already for forty years when
appealing to the courts of Europe in a "Declaration of Independence": "But now
we hear to our deepest humiliation, that our land counts as a part of the
Russian empire on all maps published in Europe... that Russia, finally, declares
in the West, that Circassians are their slaves, horrible bandits..." (p.
The fight continued for two more full decades, until a national Circassian
government was set up in Sochi. In 1862, Russia began the final invasion,
annihilation and expulsion, as predicted by Neumann well in advance.
According to Kemal H. Karpat, "Ottoman population 1830-1914" (Madison 1985),
"Beginning in 1862, and continuing through the first decade of the twentieth
century, more than 3 million people of Caucasian stock, often referred
collectively as Cerkes (Circassians), were forced by the Russians to leave their
ancestral lands..." (p. 27)
Salaheddin Bey mentioned, in 1867, a total of 1.008.000 refugees from the
Caucasus and Crimea, of whom 595.000 were initially settled in the Balkans. (p.
27) Half a million followed by 1879, and another half a million until 1914. (p.
69) Most of them were Circassians, although there were Crimean Tatars, Chechens,
and other Muslim people among them. Hundreds of thousands Circassians perished
on their way.
Neumann’s estimate of 1.5 million Circassians corresponds to 1/30 ethnic
Russians, or 1/3 Czechs, or 3/4 Slovaks. (p. 66) According to Neumann, there
were over two million Armenians in the world. (p. 69) Now, according to the
Soviet census of 1989, the number of Russians has increased to 145 millions,
whereof 1/30 would be almost five millions. There are 10 million Czechs and 5
million Slovaks, which would lead us to assume that there should be over 3
million Circassians. Armenia alone has a population of over 3 million Armenians,
despite of the past ordeals; 2 million Armenians live elsewhere. The number of
Czechs, Slovaks, and Armenians has more than doubled in 150 years, while the
number of Russians has tripled; but where are the missing millions of
"The Encyclopaedia Britannica", 11th edition (Cambridge 1911), divided the
Armenian population equally between Russia and Turkey (little over a million in
each empire), and numbered 216.950 Circassians (including Abkhaz etc.) in
Russia. Again we must conclude, that about 1.5 million Circassians had been
massacred or deported. This disaster exceeded both absolutely and proportionally
whatever fell upon Armenians in 1915. Was it intentional? Yes. Was it
ideological? Yes. The conquest and Christian colonization of the Middle East was
expected not only by Germans, but by most Europeans during the 19th century, and
the expulsion of Muslims from Europe was considered a historical necessity.
Russia had practicized massacres and mass deportations in the Crimea and
Caucasus, and "ethnically cleansed" Circassia specially in 1862-1864. During
that period, Panslavists like Mikhail Katkov provided the Russian public with
nationalistic excuses for what had started as imperial ambition ("Third Rome")
and strategic interests ("Access to sea").
A vicious cycle was created and increased the stakes at both frontiers: the
Caucasus, and the Balkans. Circassian refugees settled in the Balkans were
provoked to commit the "Bulgarian atrocities", that inspired some of the
Armenian revolutionaries. After the Balkan Wars, Muslim refugees were roaming in
Anatolia, thus spreading terror, and hostility. This was exploited by Russia, at
the cost of many innocent Armenians. The massacres of 1915 were a tip of the
iceberg - the part best visible for Europeans, who had been actively seeking and
expecting horror news to justify anti-Muslim prejudice, and to prevent
interventions on behalf of Turkey, as had happened in the Crimean War of the
Was it a genocide? That depends on the definition. Rather than of separate,
selectively researched genocides, we should speak of a general genocidal
tendency that affected many - both Muslim and Christian - people on a wide scene
between 1856 and 1956, continuing in post-Soviet Russia until today.
Source: Global Politician