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6 Tatar Resistance Fighters Around Musa Dzhalil

The soldiers of the Red Army captured by the Germans are subjected to unspeakable brutality. Hundreds of thousands of them starve and freeze to death. Officers, political commissars, Jews, many Caucasians, and members of Central Asian and Tatar nationalities are singled out and murdered. However, the German Wehrmacht also seeks to recruit collaborators among the prisoners of war to create auxiliary forces for the war against the Soviet Union. Volga Tatars, Bashkirs, and Mari are to fight for National Socialist Germany in the Legion Idel-Ural established near Radom, Poland, in the autumn of 1942.

Among the soldiers of the Legion and the propaganda units are a few Tatar intellectuals and officers. Their intent is to escape as quickly as possible after completing their training and then to take up arms against the German troops. While still under German control, they succeed in influencing other Tatars with patriotic literary texts, songs, and leaflets. The first time a battalion of the Legion Idel-Ural goes into action in February 1943, 950 of its soldiers desert to the Soviet partisans in Belorussia.

A few months later in August 1943, the Gestapo discovers the actions of the group headed by the prominent Tatar author Musa Dzhalil. After he spends months in custody in Germany, the second tribunal of the Reich Military Court in Dresden sentences eleven Tatars to death on February 12, 1944, for ”subversion of national defense, aiding the enemy, and military treason.” They are murdered in Plötzensee on August 25, 1944, between 12:06 and 12:36.

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