Thursday, September 29, 2011

New book from Germany; Cengiz Dagci dies at the age of 92

On September 27th, the Gasprinsky Library hosted the authors of a new study of German occupation in Crimea called Reemtsma auf der Krim or Reemtsma in the Crimea: Tobacco production and forced labor under German occupation 1941-1944. The authors of the book, Karl Heinz Roth and Jan-Peter Abraham, were here to present their work. Dr. Karl Heinz Roth, is the co-founder of the Hamburg Foundation for the Social History of the 20th Century and is the author of numerous books and magazine articles on the social, economic, medical and scientific history of the 20th Century. Jan-Peter Abraham is a lecturer of Slavonic studies in Ukraine and Moldova and has translated numerous books from Russian and Czech.
Reemtsma in the Crimea documents the activities of the Hamburg tobacco company, Reemtsma, during the German occupation in Crimea in which approximately 20,000 people were forced to work in the tobacco fields and processing plants. The book contains many interviews of present day survivors of the occupation period.
Reemstsma in the Crimea is of particular interest to the Gasprinsky Library because tobacco farming existed mainly in the mountainous region of southern Crimea which at that time was mostly inhabited by Crimean Tatars. Its documentation of the ruthless exploitation of the population in the Reemstsma tobacco operation adds an important piece to the history of Crimea during the Nazi occupation.
For more information, please see the publisher website

On September 22nd, we received the sad news that Crimean Tatar novelist Cengiz Dagci had died in London at the age of 92. He is best known for his novels describing the tragic conditions of Crimean Tatar life between 1932 and 1945, as people struggled to survive between the Russian and German occupiers. Dagci wrote his novels in Turkish and they have never been translated into English. However, his novels were widely read in Turkey and are attributed to keeping alive the Crimean Tatar cause in that country.
As I did in my blog post of August 19, 2010, when the Gasprinsky Library celebrated Cengiz Dagci’s 90th birthday, I will again print his poem about the Crimean Tatar people and their ability to survive:
Aren't Crimean Tatars
a tree which is
supposed to die,
not to get greener
and not to give
new branches?
Since the day that they
lost their independence,
there wasn't any day
passed without
chopping the branches

of this tree, but
again new branches
came out of its body.
These branches were
not allowed to grow
and were chopped
again. But branches
came out again.
At the end,
this tree is chopped
at its root,
and thrown away
on a lonely, desert land.

But again new branches
come out of this body
and get longer and
longer, and they reach
to the land where
this tree was planted
one thousand years ago.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Visitors and events

The Library has a never ending schedule of events, visitors, educational forums, and various other happenings. You can go to the library website—see the link on my blog—and check out the continually updated calendar of events. The Library website is only in Russian and Crimean Tatar, but you can use Google Translate or one of the other translation websites to at least get an idea of the events.

The Library receives foreign visitors on a fairly frequent basis. For those interested in Crimean Tatar culture, the Library provides a wealth of information. Along with the Crimean Tatar Museum of Arts and the Crimean Tatar Academic Music and Drama Theater, the Gasprinsky Library serves as one of the cultural centers of the Crimean Tatar community.
Recently, a group of Estonians visited the library. The Director of the library, Gulnara Yagyaeva, showed them the work of the different departments of the library and talked about the history of the library, the famous Muslim educator Ismail Gasprinsky, and funds available to the library.

Later that same week, musicologist Lenur Asanov from the Crimean Engineering Pedagogical University came to a meeting of the staff of the library to present a project he has been working on—adapting computer keyboards to the Crimean Tatar language as written with the Latin alphabet and the Arabic alphabet.
He has developed software that can be downloaded on to Windows computers to allow the user to type in the Crimean Tatar language using either of those alphabets. The staff seemed very pleased about this development, especially the Archive Department where they frequently use the Arabic alphabet when referencing old Crimean Tatar documents (many of which are written using the Arabic alphabet).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Internet Center opens at the Library

In August, the library opened their new LEAP internet center. LEAP (Library Electronic Access Project) is a program of the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. As stated on the Embassy website, the goal of the program is “to provide public libraries with free public access to the Internet and to support the free and open exchange of information that is essential for Ukraine’s integration with the world community.”
The LEAP program was initiated in 2001 and the Gasprinsky Library was one of the first Crimean libraries to receive funding to set up an internet center. This year the Library received a LEAP grant to update their internet center. The internet center moved from a small space in the bibliographic department in which there were two computers for internet access to a room solely dedicated to the internet center, conveniently located by the front door of the library. Now the Center has six computers totally dedicated to internet use and equipped with web cameras and headphones. Also, soon the Center will have Wi-Fi capability.

Lilya Emirova, administrator of the Internet Center, and Eldar Bektemirov, computer engineer for the Center

On August 3rd, the Library had a grand opening of their new LEAP Internet Center, attended by representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv—Daniel Sicek, Deputy Press Attache, and Valentyna Pashkova, Director of Information Resources.

Gulnara Yagyaeva, Director of the Gasprinsky Library, Elena Emirova, Head of Cultural Institutions and Media and Public Relations at the Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, with Daniel Sicek and Valentyna Pashkova from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Returning from America with books for the library

It is the beginning of September, and I have returned to the library after my month-long trip to America. It was wonderful being in America—seeing my friends and family, stocking up on those American “necessities” that I can’t seem to get here in Ukraine, buying presents for my Crimean family and friends. But I missed Crimea and was glad to get back to my life here, and now I am especially glad to be at the library and learn of all the happenings while I was gone.
Photograph of Kemal Karpat on the front cover of his autobiography.

On behalf of the library, I had sent a request to Turkish historian Kemal Karpat to donate copies of his books to the Gasprinsky Library. It has gotten very expensive to ship books from America to Ukraine, as there is no longer any surface mail between the countries. Professor Karpat graciously agreed to donate books, but he did not want to send them to Ukraine (he lives in America now), so I arranged to receive the books while I was in America with the plan of bringing them back with me. But, of course, my suitcase got filled up with many other things, and there was no room for his books. My cousin in Chicago generously offered to pay to have them shipped, so a few days after I arrived back in Crimea, a box of Kemal Karpat’s books also arrived.
Some of the books by Kemal Karpat in Turkish language that he donated to the library.

Kemal Karpat is Crimean Tatar and a Turkish historian and former professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has written many books in English and Turkish. Here is an example of some of his titles from a list in Wikipedia:

The Politicization of Islam (Oxford University Press, 2001)

The Ottoman Past and Today's Turkey (Brill, 2000)
Political and Social Thought in the Contemporary Middle East (Praeger, 1968)
Turkey's Politics: The Transition to a Multi-Parti System (Princeton University Press, 1959)
Political Modernization in Japan and Turkey (Princeton University Press, 1964)
An Inquiry into the Social Foundations of Nationalism in the Ottoman State (Princeton UP, 1973)
Social Change and Politics in Turkey (Brill Leiden, 1973)
Turkey's Foreign Policy in Transition (Leiden, 1975)

He sent two boxes of books, but I was only able to ship one box at this time, so I chose his Turkish language books and his most recent book in English, The Politicization of Islam.
The library did not have copies of any of his books in their collection, so they were very happy to receive the books. And I look forward to having a chance to read read his English book.