The Circassian Day of Mourning

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Every so often you stumble across a piece of history that you never knew existed. Not one of those ‘known unknowns’ that you know you’re unfamiliar with, like, say, the Defenestrations of Prague, but something completely new.

Today is the Circassian Day of Mourning, held to commemorate the genocide of the Circassian people by the forces of Tsarist Russia. Now I consider myself to be fairly well informed, but here’s a story of how, just 150 years ago, around 400,000 people were killed and nearly 500,000 were effectively banished to Turkey (these are official figures, and may be closer to 1.5 million in truth), and yet I’m willing to bet that very few people in the UK have heard of this. Or maybe they have and my general historical knowledge is much worse than I thought.

It’s an illustration of just how big history is, and how in the process of that history becoming a narrative, certain stories get lost or don’t get the traction they need to become one of those things that everyone just seems to know. I hadn’t even heard of the Circassians, and yet there’s a history, a culture, a legacy that still has implications for people today. It’s one of the beauties of the internet that episodes like this can become more widely known, and may put an onus on bloggers to spread word of the lesser known facts and histories and discoveries that we stumble across. It’s all part of making the world a bigger and yet more connected place.

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3 thoughts on “The Circassian Day of Mourning

  1. EllieAnn

    I’ve never heard of this! Thanks for sharing, so now my knowledge of history isn’t so bad.
    I’ve just been studying the Rom (gypsies) and am astonished at all the persecution they suffered (they fought back with both barrels firing though) whether it was the slavery, the French gov giving bounty for every dead gypsy, or the concentration camps nazis put them in…it goes to show history books are written by the “winners.”

    Reply
    1. matthewhyde Post author

      Yeah, pretty much. I hadn’t heard if the French government putting a bounty on gypsies… It’s fascinating (and sometimes horrifying) how much of our past is undereported.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: The Holocaust Happened. Deal With It. (a rant against denying genocide) | Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

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