“Repression and Deportation of Gagauzians 1940-1941” at Comrat Library
Updated: Apr 15, 2019
As soon as she starts speaking, she has the audience’s full attention. Cameras are clicking, pencils are scratching on paper. “She”, that is Eugenia Liulenova, librarian at the Comrat library. But the real reason why professors, guests and journalists gathered there on the 20th of December is the tall man with the white hair next to her, who seems very athletic, and, most importantly, energetic for his rather high age. This is not surprising, because, as Liulenova soon explains, he – that is, Konstantin Ivanovich Kurdoglo - is a former sports teacher. However, the point is that he is a historian and an author, who is here today in order to present his new book “Repression and Deportation of Gagauzians 1940-1941”.
Totally in the spirit of the book, Liulenova introduces the presentation, which will even be described as a “celebration” by the author himself later on, as an opportunity to remember that tragic chapter of Gagauz history together, to remember the sad faith of their ancestors who had to face hunger, repression and deportation. She shows the audience the first pages of the book, which contain a map on which the places Gagauzians were deported to can be seen. The map is only one of the many documents and visual elements that the book includes.
Before Kurdoglo finally begins to speak, a video is shown on the huge screen next to the front desk, where he sits next to the librarian. While the short clip plays, the audience, sitting in a U-shape in the huge room filled with book shelves, also gets to listen to a rather spiritual music, dealing with thankfulness towards god. Not by accident, as it turns out, as Kurdoglo confesses that he had given up on the book, had he not felt a strong support from god. He explains that while writing, it felt to him as if he would experience all the harm done to his people again.
Although greeting the audience in Gagauz, he has another very important message: although the main topic of his book is the repression of Gagauzians, they were by far not the only ones who suffered during Soviet times. Kurdoglo, who was part of a legion in Russia, stresses that people there, in Bulgaria or also in the rest of Moldova lived in similar circumstances. Yet it is the story of a Gagauzian girl that he chooses to tell at the presentation, a girl who, torn apart by homesickness, was forced to live in Siberia for 10 years, only to discover that her family’s house was long taken when she returned. According to the author, this is only one of more than forty similar experiences that he describes in his book.
Konstantin Kurdoglo ends his speech with the one inevitable topic: money. He talks about how he had to go in debt to publish his book, because some sponsors did not stick to their promises and because he did not get any funds from the Gagauzian or, as he says, the Turkish government. Luckily, the American Embassy recently agreed on assisting him financially.
Before the whole event is finsished, the audience gets the chance to see some more of the pictures and scans that make Kurdoglo’s book so appealing. According to himself, pictures help a lot to empathize with the situation of the people who lived in the past. That is also why he is thanking everyone who gave him access to the visual material he used, lightening the mood by interacting with the audience, whose members have a lot of comments.