“We thought they were taking us to be shot”:Gulnar Kalaidzi (Musanif)

She was born to a family of Fevzi Musanif, People’s Commissar for Agriculture of the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and Ediye Musanif. When Gulnar was 9 years old, her father was arrested at night on typical charges of that time: founding an anti-Soviet organization with the aim to overthrow the Soviet rule. A year later, in 1938, he was executed by shooting together with other representatives of Crimean Tatar intellectual class. Her mother was arrested soon after as a family member of the ‘traitor to the country’. Ediye Musanif was sentenced to eight years in correctional labour camps and sent to ALZHIR [Akmola camp for wives of traitors to the country], which was a part of KARLAG [Karaganda correctional labour camp].

They wanted to send Gulnar to an orphanage, but her aunt Uriye Kalaidzi adopted her, thus saving the girl. From then on, Gulnar received a new surname and patronymic – Gulnar Asanivna Kalaidzi. On May 18, 1944, they were deported from Crimea together with other Crimean Tatars. They travelled to Uzbekistan in a cattle truck for two weeks. 

“The military came early in the morning (it was still dark outside). They burst into the house and said we had 15 minutes to pack. We shouldn’t take a lot, as we will be walking for a long time (…) Me and Emma [my sister] tore down the curtains (we used some of them later in Samarkand to make ourselves pinafore dresses to wear). My granny grabbed a Swiss hand sewing machine; my grandpa took half a sack of flour. My uncle Abdul didn’t let us take anything; he panicked and kept saying: “They are taking us to be shot, like they did with Jews in the past”. We went out of our house; there were trucks near the gate, and bewildered people (with children and the elderly) were getting on those trucks. The unknown was scary; everyone was crying, thinking we are being taken to be shot”.

Gulnar and Ediye, 1947




Two years later, having served 8 years in prison for no crime, her mother was released. Ediye instantly started searching for her daughter; however, when they reunited, she also became a ‘deportee’, deprived of any civil rights. Still, the main thing was that the mother and her daughter were together at last.

Fevzi Musanif was rehabilitated in 1958 “for lack of body of crime”. Gulnar died in Moscow (the Russian Federation) in 2021.

The story is presented in the exhibition “Lost Childhood: Heard and Unseen”, which is part of the international project “Lost Childhood”, which is supported by the European Union under the House of Europe program. The Territory of Terror Museum is implementing this project together with the NGO Post Bellum (Paměť národa) (Czech Republic, Prague).


Expect the opening of a platform of the same name with 30 stories of people who witnessed violence, repression and crimes against humanity as children, lectures, art reflections, photos, videos and documentaries about the post-war deportations from Western Ukraine in the late 1940s and early 1950s.