The Reports and the Testimonies About Russian - Circassian War and the Circassian Genocide

Collected by Circassian World

Grand Duke Michael: “We wouldn’t leave our duties thinking that Mountaineers are not surrendering. To wipe out the half, the other half needed to be destroyed.”

Caucasus Armies General Staff Head Milyutin: “We should send the Mountaineers by force to the places we want. If we need, we should deport/exile them to Don region. Our main goal is to settle Russians in the regions on the skirts of Caucasian Mountains. But we shouldn’t let the Mountaineers know about this.”

In the letter Earl Yevdokimov sent to the Ministry of War in October 1863 he said: “Now we have to clean the coastal strip as part of our plan for the conquest of West Caucasia” (from the State History Archives).

Russian Historian Sulujiyen: “We wouldn’t abandon our cause just because Mountaineers are not surrendering. Half of them needed to be crashed in order to take their weapons. Many tribes were totally annihilated during the bloody war. In addition, many mothers were killing their kids in order not to give them to us.”

Russian Historian Zaharyan: “Circassians do not like us. We exiled them from their free meadowlands. We destroyed their houses and many tribes were totally destructed.”

Russian Historian Y.D. Felisin: “This was a real and brutal war. Hundreds of Circassian villages were set on fire. We let our horses run over their crops and gardens to destroy them, in the end it turned into a ruin.”

Earl Lev Tolstoy: “To enter the villages in the darkness became our usual thing. Russian soldiers were entering the houses one by one under the darkness of the night. This and following scenes were such horror scenes that none of the reporters were courageous enough to report them.”

From the Oppositional group N. N. Rayevski: “The things we did in Caucasia were very similar to the negative things that Spaniards did during the war in American lands.  I wish God almighty would not leave any blood marks in Russian history.” 

In the congratulating message Czar II. Alexander sent to Earl Yevdokimov: “You cleaned up and destroyed the rebellious autochthon nations in West Caucasia in the last 3 years. We can recover the cost of this long bloody war from this fertile land in a very short time.”

“A Russian detachment having captured the village of Toobah on the Soobashi river, inhabited by about a hundred Abadzekh (a tribe of Circassians), and after these had surrendered themselves prisoners, they were all massacred by the Russian Troops. Among the victims were two women in an advanced state of pregnancy and five children. The detachment is question belongs to Count Evdokimoff’s (Yevdokimov) Army, and is said to have advanced from the Pshish valley.
As the Russian troops gain ground on the Coast, the natives are not allowed to remain there on any terms, but are compelled either to transfer themselves to the plains of the Kouban or emigrate to Turkey” (F.O. 9-424, no 2, Dickson to Russell, Soukoum Kale,17 March 1864).

Jan Karol: “The Russian conquest of Caucasia is a terrible example of our barbarian times. It took 60 years of military terror and massacre to break the resistance of the Caucasian Mountaineers.”

Hakhurat S.Y.- Lichkov L.S in  their book entitled Adygheya: “Czarist administration deported/exiled hundreds of thousands of Circassians from their homeland Caucasia. They expelled Mountaineer nations from their homeland by way of a bloody war.”

Grand Duke Michael: At the end of the war, when Grand Duke Michael came to Caucasia, Circassian Elders visited him and they said that they were defeated, and they demanded to be allowed to live in their lands accepting Russian administration. The answer Grand Duke Michael gave was: “I give you a month. In one month, you either go to the land that will be shown to you beyond Kuban, or you go to the land of the Ottoman Empire. The villagers and mountaineers who are not leaving for the coastal region in one month will be treated as prisoners of war.”

Russian St. Petersburg Newspaper: “They started escaping through the coasts which were immortalized by their resistance and defence. There is no more Circassia. Our soldiers will clean out the remainders in the mountains very soon and the war will be over in a short time.”

Dekabrist Lorer: “Zass, near his encampment, on top of a specially prepared small hill, fixed Circassian heads on top of lances, with their beards flying in the air. It was very disturbing to see this scene. One day Zass, agreed to remove the heads from the lances after the request of a guest lady. We were also his guests at the time. When I entered the study room of the General, I was struck by a strong, disgusting smell. Smiling, Zass told us that there were boxes in which the heads were placed under his bed. Then he pulled a big box in which there were couple big-eyed, horribly looking heads. I asked him why he keeps them there. He replied: “I boil them, clean them, and send them to my professor friends in Berlin for the study of anatomy”.

Russian-Cossack women were walking in the battlefields and cutting the heads of Circassian men, after the war is over. Originally German, General Zass was paying them a good amount of money for doing that. Until he was warned by his supervisors to give up this, Zass continued to boil, clean and send many heads to Berlin.

General Zass

Tercüman-ı Ahval ve Tasvir-i Efkar Newspapers: “Russians destroyed all of Caucasia. They set the villages on fire. They were exiling the autochthon people from their homelands after the war.”

French reporter A. Fonvill: “Sailors were acquisitive. They were letting 200-300 people in to the ships that have a capacity of 50-60. The people left with a little bread and water. In 5-6 days these were all consumed and then they caught epidemic illnesses from starvation, they were dying in the way to Ottoman Empire, and those who die were dumped into the sea. The ship that started the trip with 600 people ended up with only 370 people alive.”

The Ubykh and Fighett tribes are… fast embarking for Trabzon. In fact, after their land had been laid waste by fire and sword, migration to Turkey is the only alternative allowed to these mountaineers who refuse to transfer themselves to the Kouban steppes and contribute periodically to the militia (F.O. 881-1259, Dickson to Russell, Soukoum Kale, 13 April 1864)

Most of the Abkhaz have been plundered of everything by the Russians before embarking and have barely been allowed to bring with them the strict necessities of life for a short period. In many villages, and especially in the district of Zibeldah, their houses have been wantonly burnt by the Cossak soldiery and their cattle and other property forcibl taken away or sold under compulsion to Russian traders at a nominal price. (F.O. 97-424, # 13, Palgrave to Stanley, Trabzon, 16 May 1867)

Polish Colonel Teophil Lapinsky: “The situation of the exiled people was turning into a catastrophe. Hunger and epidemics were at their peak. The group who came to Trabzon decreased from 100,000 to 70,000 people. 70,000 people arrived at Samsun. The dead toll per day was about 500 people. This number was about 400 in Trabzon. 300 people in Gerede Camp, the daily death toll in Akcakale and Saridere is about 120-150 people. Italian Dr. Barozzi in his report makes the following important note: People are trying to stay alive for long time with herbs, plant roots and bread crumbs.”

Report to the Board of Health of the Ottoman Empire, Samsun, May 20, 1864

“Gentlemen –  I arrived at Samsun  six days ago. No words are adequate  to describe  the situation  in  which  I  found  the  town  and  the  unfortunate  immigrants.  Besides  the Circassians  (from  8,000  to  10,000)  heaped  up  in  the  khans,  the  ruinous  buildings,  and stables of the city, upwards of 30,000 individuals, coming from the encampment at Irmak and  Dervend,  encumber  the  squares,  obstruct  the  streets,  invade  enclosed  grounds, penetrate everywhere,  remain  stationed  there during  the whole day, and  retire only  late after sunset. Everywhere you meet with the sick, the dying, and the dead; on the threshold of gates  in  front of shops,  in  the middle of streets,  in  the squares,  in  the gardens, at  the foot  of  trees.  Every  dwelling,  every  corner  of  the  streets,  every  spot  occupied  by  the immigrants, has become a hotbed of infection. A warehouse on the sea-side, a few steps distant  from  the  quarantine-office,  hardly  affording  space  enough  for  30  persons, enclosed  till  the day before yesterday 207  individuals, all  sick or dying.  I undertook  to empty this hotbed of pestilence. Even the porters refused to venture in the interior of this horrible hole, out of which, assisted by my worthy colleague Aly Effendy, I drew several corpses in a state of putrefaction. This fact may convey a faint idea of the deplorable state of the immigrants whom they have allowed to take up their abode in town. What I saw at Trebizond will not admit of comparison with  the  frightful  spectacle which  the  town of Samsun exhibits.

The  encampments  present  a  picture  hardly  less  revolting.  From  40,000  to  50,000 individuals  in  the most absolute state of destitution, preyed upon by disease, decimated by death, are cast there without shelter, without bread, and without sepulture.

I  found  the  Mutessarif  dismayed,  and  altogether  at  a  loss  how  to  act  in  such  an emergency. Atta Bey is without money and credit; he has not got enough to pay the men who  remove  the dead.  In  the market nothing  is given him except  for  ready money, not even  a  few  yards  of  longcloth  for winding-sheets. There  is  no  one  to  take  care  of  the immigrants, no service organized for the burial of the dead, no horses, no carts, no boats, nothing.

I  considered  it  essential  at  once  to  devise  means  to  feed  the  immigrants,  the  greater number of whom had  received nothing  for several days.  I had  recourse  to several corn-dealers,  more  especially  to  Mr.  Serkiz  Kirorkian.  I  put  them  in  relation  with  the Mutessarif, and  it  is on  the  flour  they  supplied  that we are  living.  Ismail Bey, whom  I brought  with me,  takes  care  that  50  drachms  of  bread  be  given  daily  to  each  of  the immigrants. I obtained, also, some Indian corn-flour, and  it  is out of  these scanty means that we have been able to afford some relief to these 70,000 to 80,000 exiles.

My next care has been  to organize a service  for  the  removal of  the dead. For  this  I had recourse to the chest of the quarantine office, wherein I found a few hundreds of piastres. I then took steps for the evacuation of the town, and the landing of the Circassians I had detained  on  board  the  11  ships  and  the  seven  cutters  lying  in  the  harbour.  All  the   70 passengers were  landed at Kumjuzah, a few miles distant from  the  town. To  this place I sent 3,000 or 4,000  individuals I have during the last  three days extracted from  the dens they filled in the city. The evacuation is progressing, but the funds of the chest will soon have been exhausted.

The question which we have to deal with is absolute deficiency of money and of a police force. Government must make haste  to send  these pecuniary supplies, as well as a body of police, in order to avoid disturbances. There are at present here from 70,000 to 80,000 individuals without bread, and  there  is no one  to keep  them down  in case of disorderly conduct. I wish it were possible that his Highness  the Grand Vizier could come here and witness the spectacle which this ill-fated town and the encampments present.

I  am  fully  aware  that  it  is  not  easy  for  the  Turkish  Government  to  transport  quickly elsewhere so large a population; but it is the Government alone that is able to come to the assistance of  the Mutessarif, by  sending him  the  sum necessary  for  the maintenance of the  immigrants. With money  the  town and  the  Irmak will be evacuated;  the  immigrants may be kept  in healthy camps either at Kumjuzah or Dervend; clothing, linen, soap will be  readily purchased, supplies of provisions be secured.  I once more  repeat  it,  there are here  between  70,000  and  80,000  immigrants.  In a  few  days  hence  this  number will  be doubled. How is it expected that such a mass of men should be kept in order? How is it to be fed and provided for? This immigration thus left to itself is an actual calamity.

There  are  in  the  harbour  from  10  to  20  large  vessels,  which  I  sought  to  employ  in transporting  about  10,000 Circassians  to Bujuk Liman,  at  the mouth  of  the Bosphorus. Want of funds has obliged me to postpone their departure.

I conclude by stating that the Mutessarif is without any money. There are between 70,000 and 80,000 people needing their daily bread, and  that if we had here an adequate supply of  flour  the  number  of  ovens  would  be  insufficient;  we  need  biscuits.  There  are individuals who die  from starvation, and  the number of  those who have been  four days without receiving their rations is very large.”

The Sanitary Inspector on Service, Barozzi (Reproduced in ‘The Circassian Exodus’, The Times, June 13, 1864, page 10.)

Russian researcher A. P. Berge: I will never forget the 17,000 people I saw at the Novorossisk Bay. I am sure those who saw their situation couldn’t bear it and would definitely collapse no matter what religion they belonged to, Christians, Muslims, or atheists. In the cold winter, in the snow, without a house, without food, and without any proper clothing, these people were in the hands of typhoid, typhus and chicken pox diseases. The babies were searching for milk in their mother’s dead body. This terrible black page in the Russian history caused great harm to the Adygean history. The exile caused an interruption in the history of social, economic and cultural developments and in the process of becoming one political union/confederation.”

English Delegate Earl Napiyer: “Slavs and other Christians were being settled in the lands that is emptied from Circassians.”

English Consul Gifford Palgrave: “I traveled through all of Abkhazia on the day of April 17th, 1867. It is very painful to witness the destruction of the land of Abkhazia and to witness the annihilation of Abkhazian people whose only guilt is to be non-Russian.”

English Consul R.H. Lang: “When 2718 people who left from Samsun to come to Cyprus arrived, 853 of them were dead and the others were not very different from being dead. The daily dead toll is about 30-50.”

From the speech of the English Member of Parliament M. Anstey: “I blame Lord Palmerston for betrayal of Circassia, which is made English-adherent and which is to have trading relations with England. You also betrayed England by surrendering Independent North Caucasia to Russia while you knew about our interests in India.”

8 Years later while Lord Palmerston was talking at the same parliament: “Dear Lords, it is true that we left Circassians alone with their terrible misfortune. Yet we wanted help from them and we used them.”

Pinson: “The death percentage of Circassians along the Black Sea coasts is about 50%. 53,000 people died just in Trabzon alone. We don’t know how many ships, which are “Floating graves” had sunk. The number of families exiled from Caucasia to Balkan region is about 70,000. Edirne: 6.000, Silistre-Vidin: 13.000, Niche - Sofia: 12.000, Dobruca-Kosovo-Pristina-Svista: 42.000 families. Total about 350.000 people. Death percentage is less and is about 15-20%.”

Y. Abramov in his book entitled Caucasian Mountaineers: “There are no words to describe the situation of the Mountaineers in those days. Thousands of them died in the roads, thousands of them died due to illness and hunger. The coastal regions were full with people who are dead or on the verge of dying. The babies who are searching for milk in their mother’s cold dead body, mothers who didn’t leave their kids from their laps even they are already dead from cold, and people who are dead while they got closer just to keep warm, are examples of the scenes that were normal in the coasts of the Black Sea.”

Russian I. Dzarov : “Half of those who left to go to Ottoman Empire died before they reached there. Such a state of wretchedness is rare in the history of the humankind.”


ADDRESS OF THE CIRCASSIAN DEPUTIES (HADJI HAYDEN HASSAN and KUSTAR OGLI ISMAEL) TO THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND, LONDON, 26 AUGUST 1862 (published in Supplement to the FREE PRESS, Journal of the Foreign Affairs Committees) January 7, 1863

“As Your Majesty is aware, since the world existed, no nation has attempted to conquer our country. Russia only some time ago, under the pretence that she got our country by treaty from the Ottoman Government, invaded us with an overwhelming force, and began against us a war of extermination, which she has waged for forty years, and which she is still waging, at the cost of many thousands of human lives.

The Ottoman Government, never having possessed our country, had no right whatever to give us over to the Russians. There is no other affinity between us and the Ottomans than the similarity of creed and faith which makes us both look upon the Sultan as the successor of our Prophet.

The tyranny of the Russians was not confined to capturing our cattle, burning our dwellings, and temples, and other unheard-of atrocities, but in order to starve us on the mountains they destroyed all our growing crops in the plain, and captured our land. In fact, they have treated us in an unbearable and barbarous manner, unprecedented in the annals of war. Driven to despair, we resolved to make a last firm stand against our enemies with all the energy we possessed, and the war was carried on with fresh vigour, eight months ago, causing the sacrifice of twenty-five thousand human lives, on both sides, and an immense destruction of property. While we are on one side repelling our enemies, and on the other trying to improve the government of our country, Russia by brute force, is trying to conquer us; on the neutral Black Sea she is capturing, whenever she can, every ship carrying any of our countrymen, so that we have no home on land, no means of traveling or refuge by sea. Still we would rather die than submit to the yoke of Russia. If we were to emigrate, abandoning our homes, for ages protected by our forefathers, who shed their blood for them, our poverty would prove a great obstacle to our doing so; in fact, how could we take away our own wives and children, and the widows, orphans, and helpless relations of those slain in this war? Such an undertaking would decimate the emigrants, and blot it\out for ever our Circassian name from the face of the earth.”


A Petition from the Abkhazian refugees to Mukhlis Pasha, Governor of Trabzon regarding the forcible detention of Abkhazians by the Russians

“We,  the undersigned, address  this our Petition  to His Excellency Mukhlis Pasha,  that  it may be by him transmitted to the Government at Constantinople; in the view that suitable representations may thence be made to the Russian Government demanding the execution of  the Convention made between  the Russian Government and  the Porte; and according to  which  Convention  the  Abkhasians,  to  the  number  of  four  thousand  five  hundred families were to be sent into Turkish territory. Now up to this moment only one thousand five hundred families have been so sent; the remainder have by the Russian Government been hindered  from  following. This conduct has occasioned  intolerable misery; since  in consequence  of  such  division  of  families,  and  the  retention  of  so many  in  Abkhasia, wives  have  in many  instances  been  shipped  off  for Turkey while  their  husbands  have been  detained  in  Russia;  mothers  have  been  sent  hither  without  their  children,  and children without their mothers, and the like.

Now since the Government of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan has been pleased to accept us, we have come hither, and we count for nothing the loss of our lands and of our goods; only  this  division  and  ruin  of  our  families  and  this  forced  separation  from  our  own children  is more  than we can bear. The Russians are over-powerful, and we are utterly disheartened.

We demand accordingly  that  the  families and  the  individuals now kept behind, may be set at liberty to follow and rejoin their country-people and relatives.”

Signed Shereem Beg, Marshian  and 23 other chiefs each by name 8th                     Rebia’-ul-Awwal, AH1284 (July 10 1867)

Enclosed  in Despatch No.32 From Consul Palgrave  to Lord Lyons, Trebizond, July 14, 1867 (FO 97/424)


THE FREE PRESS, Journal of the Foreign Affairs Committees. June 3, 1863

“A scene of cannibalism has been enacted at the village of Hafifa in the country of the Chapsoughs. The men of that village were at the frontier for the service of the outposts. Taking advantage of their absence, the soldiers of the Czar fell on the rest of the population, which was defenseless, and killed, burnt, and pillage them. Among the number of the victims were eighteen old women, eight children, and six old men. On the back of one of the slaughtered women there was left a board bearing these words: ‘Go and complain to the Kraalitza (Queen) of England, to whom your Deputies went to demand assistance”. On the body of a little boy was found this inscription: ‘Remain here instead of going to sell yourself to your protectors, the Turks’. Finally, on the corpse of an old man, the eyes of which had been put out, was read: ‘Go and rejoin your Deputies, you will find some good oculists at Paris” – Courier d’Orient


THE FREE PRESS, Journal of the Foreign Affairs Committees. December 2, 1863

“The Russians, jeering and deriding us, have begun to be more violent and oppressive, and, hearing of the arrival of the above things, they pushed forward some troops, and surrounded two hundred houses belonging to our people, and even also to our neighbours, by night, and killed the men and took the women and children prisoners; and the number of persons they killed amounted to one thousand and eighty, and those whom they took prisoners to one thousand three hundred.”

THE FREE PRESS, Journal of the Foreign Affairs Committees.
3 August, 1864


The following letter having been refused insertion in the TIMES, we make room for it, as one of the documents connected with the operations of the Circassian Committee:

Reception of the Circassians in Turkey, Constantinople, July 7, 1864

My Dear Sir,

I confidently hope that my letters to you and Viscount Stratford De Redcliffe safely and in due time, reached their destination, as well as the copy of the documents therein enclosed. I was anxious – knowing how strong an impression Dr. Barozzi’s official report from Samsoun had produced throughout England – to forward the one he presented, on his return from his sanitary mission, to the Board of Health; convinced as I am that the facts he has brought to light are such as not only to keep up, but increase tenfold, the interest displayed in favour of the Circassian exiles.

I deeply regret, however… that the author of this able report should have made himself liable in a most serious reproach; that of having, when enumerating the various causes which engendered the diseases which have occasioned and still continue to occasion the most awful mortality, among the Circassians, not said one word concerning the principal among these causes – i.e., the barbarous treatment these exiles met with on the part of the Russian military authorities previously to their embarkation for Turkey.

The limits of a letter do not permit me to unfold the tale of horrors perpetuated under the auspices of the Grand Duke Mikhail, in Circassia, by Generals Balibitch and Eudikimoff. The narrative of the sufferings its inhabitants had to undergo after the conquest of the country by Russia, might fill several volumes. The question to be dealt with , at present, is, whether the measures adopted by the Russian Generals to accomplish the ‘pacification’ of the conquered provinces, were not calculated to occasion the diseases which have already destroyed upwards of two hundred thousand of their inhabitants, and continue yet to decimate the ranks of the survivors, after finding a refuge in Turkey?

These measures of pacification were as follows: -- Wheresoever the Russians made themselves masters of a district, the principal inhabitants were summoned to present themselves before the commander of the troops, and were told by him that the Emperor, instead of consenting to the general extermination they had merited, graciously ordered the evacuation of their country and left to their own judgment the alternative of either migrating with their families to the steppes beyond the Kouban, where lands would be allotted to them; or of taking their departure for Turkey. Three days, they were told, were granted to them to come to a decision, and to make preparations for the journey. On the fourth day fire was set to their dwellings, and their inhabitants who had manifested the intention of seeking an asylum in Turkey, were forthwith marched down to the nearest point of the coast. On their reaching the spot, a military cordon surrounded the encampment to prevent any further communication with the interior. The men-of-war and other sailing ships – which as it is officially stated in Lord Napier’s dispatch, had been, at the Grand Duke Michael’s request, placed at his entire disposal, in order to facilitate the Circassian emigration – having never existed but on paper, the thousands of individuals congregated on the beach were doomed to remain there exposed to the inclemency of the elements for weeks and months, waiting for the providential arrival of a vessel from Turkey. The scanty supply of provisions they had brought with them, once exhausted, hunger drove them to have recourse for subsistence to roots and the bark of trees within their reach. Hundreds of women and children died from either starvation or from the effects of a food so noxious to the constitution; for in no instance was the slightest assistance afforded by the Russian authorities. It stands to reason that the mortality grew from day to day at the most frightful rate, and that the survivors were, at the moment of their embarkation, looking more like walking specters than living beings. Of course, when a mass of individuals, reduced to so sad a condition, congregates on board a vessel hardly capable of carrying one-tenth of their number, and sea-water is the only liquid within their reach, the inevitable consequence will be an awful increase of mortality, and contagion will spread like wildfire. It is a matter of surprise that they did not all die to a man before reaching the encampment prepared for their reception”

T. Millengen



July 1st
– A Turkish cutter arrive din port, from Heraclea, with 80 Circassian recruits.

July 2nd – The Taif came from Samsoun, with 2200 Circassians; 30 sick, 11 deaths. This steam-frigate towed in two vessels; the first with 700, the second with 535 passengers, of whom 150 sick – 44 deaths. Sent down to Gallipoli, where they are to settle.
The Tounah, from Trebisond, with 1600 passengers, of whom 60 died at sea, and 62 sick…
A ship towed in by the Tounah had 550 passengers, 15 of whom died at sea, 35 sick.
The Shahper from Trebisond,750 passengers.

July 5th – The Malakoff with 1468 passengers, 34 deaths, 38 sick.

July 6th – A telegram from Gallipoli announces the landing of 3340 Circassians.
The total of the immigrants hitherto landed on various points of the coast of the Sea of Marmora, 21,703.
Letter dated Samsoun 30th ult., report 100,000 immigrants, and 300 deaths daily.
Fresh arrivals from Circassia balance the departures.
Reports from Batoom, 26th ult., announce the arrival of 8500 Circassians from Ardilar.
June 30th, Varna. 530 Circassian passengers from Theodosia.
A report from Widdin says that the 35,000 emigrants had been distributed between Zohmpalanka, Sofia, and Nich, 664 deaths after their departure from Widdin. They spread typhus and small-pox wherever they settle. Nearly 200 men from the crews of Turkish vessels which convey the emigrants, have had the typhus fever, and have been sent to the Naval hospital. This circumstance does not deter the Government from sending as before the vessels appointed to transport the immigrants.


The response of Shutsejuko Tseyko to Czar II. Alexander (Czar II. Alexander came to Caucasia in 1861, and he stipulated Circassians to surrender without any resistance and come down from mountain areas to low lands):
“May be Caucasia will be Russian, but as long as there is blood flowing in Circassians vessels, they won’t be slaves of Russian Czar and we won’t surrender our homeland as long as we live. Dying is better than living as slaves. We won’t let our ancestor’s great warrior glory be stained.  “Ye tl’ın Ye tl’en - Either be a hero, or die.”