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Mustafa Shokay and the Soviet Propaganda Machine

The Soviet propaganda machine created heroes and monsters by way of exaggerations and, typically, lies. Books like The Soviet Propaganda Machine and The Birth of the Propaganda State have researched this matter. Nevertheless – with notable exceptions – not a lot has been written in English concerning the inhabitants of Central Asia who grew to become victims of the propaganda machine. The Kazakhstani scholar and activist Mustafa Shokay (additionally spelled Çokay or Chokay) is a chief instance of the machine at work. His title and legacy have solely now begun to be revisited as Kazakhstan has been an unbiased nation for 3 many years and a brand new era of Central Asian students are in a position to perform their very own historic analysis.

Shokay was born in present-day Kazakhstan in 1890. He studied in Saint Petersburg and ultimately grew to become “a secretary of the Muslim faction of the State Duma of Russia on the advice of [Alikhan] Bokeikhanov in 1916,” in line with the Alash Orda Project. Shokay additionally reportedly labored within the Committee of the State Duma the place he “investigated the causes of the nationwide liberation rebellion in Turkestan [and] engaged within the return of the Kazakhs mobilized to the entrance.” Because the Tsarist regime fell and the civil struggle gained expanded, his objective was for his fellow Turkic individuals to determine an unbiased nation, Turkestan, free from Moscow’s management.

To attain this goal, Shokay grew to become a publicist and editor for Turkic-language magazines and newspapers. Based on Zholmakhanova’s co-authored essay, Shokay’s most useful legacy comes from his writings known as 1917 Жыл Туралы Естеліктерден Узінділер, or Excerpts from The Memoirs of 1917. Upon returning to Central Asia in 1917, Shokay “took an energetic half in Shura-Islami [the Islamic Council], as a result of this group supported the coverage of the provisional authorities on the event of Turkestan by democratic means; it additionally fought for the rights of the native inhabitants,” Zholmakhanova explains. It is sensible that Soviet authorities took a dislike to Shokay, not solely was he advocated the independence of Turkic individuals, however he additionally brazenly insulted Soviet leaders. “Stalin, [is] a vengeful, insidious man, affected by megalomania,” he reportedly wrote, in line with Zholmakhanova.

Finally, Shokay migrated to Western Europe, settling in Paris. He was reportedly arrested together with different migrants in June 1941, after which imprisoned in Château de Compiègne. He contracted Typhus and was transferred to a hospital in Berlin, the place he died on 27 December 1941. Shokay’s demise is a matter of controversy, and it’s immediately associated to his time as a Nazi prisoner. He might have died resulting from Typhus, however it’s also believed that he was poisoned. The important thing subject is the Turkestan Legion,  navy models  composed by Turkic people that fought alongside the Wehrmacht. The Legion was mobilized by 1942 and reportedly fought in Western Europe and Yugoslavia.

That is the place Shokay is available in. As a outstanding activist and scholar who needed Central Asia to be freed from Bolshevik management, it’s logical that the Nazis would need him to assist set up the Legion by convincing prisoners to affix the trigger. To what extent he was a keen to cooperate with the Nazis as a result of he shared their beliefs, or if he did it to easily survive the Nazi demise machine, is divisive, and the Soviet propaganda machine went to appreciable efforts to discredit him so as to tarnish his ideology, legacy and alienate him from his fellow Central Asians.

As a working example, The Fall of  Great Turkestan by Serik Shakibaev (printed in Russian in 1972) labels Shokay as a traitor and a keen Nazi confederate. Different researchers point out Soviet phrases that described him as “enemy of the people,” “Kazakh [Andrey] Vlasov,” and “henchman of the fascists.” Abduvahap Kara a health care provider of Historic Sciences and professor at Mimar Sinan Güzel Sanatlar College in Istanbul, has written about Shokay and the Soviet-era works on him. For instance, in a November assessment of Shakibaev’s 1972 ebook, Kara highlights the ebook’s flaws arguing that it constitutes “a series of pseudo-events and outright lies” that are “geared toward creating a picture of a traitor who tried to subjugate the peoples of Central Asia to the fascists so as to obtain their very own targets ­– to guide Turkestan.”

Kara’s commentary in CentraAsia.org factors to 9 main flaws, together with factual errors, in Shakibaev’s ebook. For instance, The Fall of Turkestan  claims that Shokai was allegedly concerned with British intelligence; nonetheless “historic information doesn’t assist this thesis. Furthermore, it’s recognized that this sort of thesis was often utilized by the Soviet authorities to denigrate the opponents of the Bolshevik motion.” The ebook additionally claims that Shokay had the unique thought to create the Turkestan Legion, nonetheless no proof exists about this declare (Kara has authored a book on Shokay in Russian). 

It’s unclear to what extent Shokay believed in Hitler’s beliefs and goals. He would have most likely supported any entity that was anti-Soviet and would assist Turkic individuals change into unbiased. Alternatively, it’s extra probably that whereas he was imprisoned and assembly with POWs, which meant visiting struggle jail camps, he realized what the Nazism signified.

These days, there’s a statue in his honor in France, a 2008 biographical movie, whereas conferences and events are organized in Kazakhstan about his  legacy. We might by no means know the reason for Shokay’s demise, whether or not it was a pure sickness or if the Nazis determined to eliminate him for not supporting the Legion. Nevertheless, we all know that he was an activist, scholar and editor that was deeply anti-Bolshevik and needed Central Asia to change into free from Moscow’s rule. The Soviet Union’s propaganda machine discredited him; nonetheless, an unbiased Kazakhstan has allowed a brand new wave of historic analysis. The restoration of Mustafa Shokay’s title and legacy by way of tutorial publications and commemorations in recent times is a captivating improvement that ought to function an encouragement to additional analysis the function of Central Asian people throughout Soviet occasions and to assist separate truth from fiction.

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