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электронный журнал "Новые исследования Тувы"

Tuva: The Unknown War

The forgotten ally of USSR in Second World War

It seems that there are no more “white spots” left in the history of WWII. However, some pages of the history seem to have been more of less forgotten. The part of Tuvan National Republic as an ally of the USSR has been almost completely left out. Even though the help from Mongolia has been described in detail, there was practically no mention of Tuva.

Remember that Tuva was independent from 1921 to 1944, then voluntarily entered into the system of USSR.

According to the opinion of experts, the aggregate contribution of supplies from Mongolia and Tuva was only by one third less that the complete volume of contributions to USSR from “Western” allies, that is, USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, all together!

Is it possible that Tuva was forgotten because afterwards it became a part of a huge country, even though not as one of the republics, but retaining its autonomy? If that is so, well, that is some “gratitude”.

Now let us look shortly at the interesting history of this country. Just like the Tzarist Russia, the USSR conducted extremely cautious politics in the national regions of Eastern Siberia. Already in 1914, Tuva accepted the protectorate of Russia, without becoming one of its provinces.

In Soviet times, the policy of co-existence with the independent pro-soviet countries, Mongolia and Tuva, was continued. More than that – Buryatia was , until the mid-fifties, Buryat-Mongolian Autonomous republic of RSFSR. The reason of Moscow’s caution became clear during the WWII – specifically Mongolia and Tuva provided a very dependable rear for the USSR, without becoming marionettes for Japan or China.

On June 25, 1941, Tuva declared war to Germany. Soon, not just all the gold reserve, but also the whole of Tuva’s production of gold, to the total sum of 35 million rubles (the ruble then had a buying power several tens of times greater than now), was given over to the dispostion of the USSR. Beside that, in 1941-1945, the USSR received from Tuva, free of charge, 50 thousand war horses; the money collected by the population of Tuva paid for three squadrons of fighter airplanes and two tank brigades. On top of that, the Red Army received from Tuva 52 thousand pairs of skis, 10 thousand fur coats, 10 thousand pairs of gloves, 16 thousand pairs of felt boots, 67 tons of meat, butter and flour. Almost all of this was free of charge, not even speaking of honey, fruit and berry preserves and concentrates, bandaging materials, medicinal herbs and other medicaments of national medicine, wax, resin, pitch…

Out of these supplies 30 thousand cows were gifted to Ukraine in 1944. It was specifically these cows that gave the beginning to the post-war re-birth of Ukrainian cattle farming.

In a telegram from the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Ukrainian SSR to the Presidium of the Small Khural of Tuva, it was said:”The Ukrainian nation, just like all the nations of the USSR, deeply appreciate and will never forget this help to the front and the liberated regions, which was shown by the workers of Tuvan National Republic…” .

Altogether, during the war years, Tuva sent to the USSR, as export operations, almost 750 thousand heads of cattle. There was not a single Tuvan family that did not contribute, free of charge, 10 to 100 heads of cattle to the front. The total sum of material help, by the Tuvan citizens, to the USSR almost reached 70 million rubles.

In the fall of 1942, the soviet government permitted to accept volunteers from Tuva and Mongolia into the Red Army.

The first Tuvan volunteers, about 20 people, entered the ranks of Red army in May 1943, and were assigned to the 25th separate tank regiment ( from February 1944, it was a part of the 52nd army of the 2nd Ukraine front). The regiment fought on the territory of Ukraine, Moldavia, Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In September 1943, the second group of volunteers, 206 people, was assigned to the 8th cavalry division, which participated, in time, in raids to the fascists’ rear and nationalistic armed groups in western Ukraine. Altogether, about 8 thousand Tuvan citizens served in the ranks of the Red Army during the war years. About 20 Tuvan soldiers became Cavaliers of the Order of Glory, and about 5 thousand Tuvan soldiers were awarded other Tuvan and Soviet Medals and Orders. For example, Hero of Soviet Union, Tuvan Khomushku Churguy-ool, spent the entire war as a mechanic-driver of tank T-34 of the 52nd Army, of that above-mentioned 25th tank regiment. Another Tuvan, Kyrgyz Chamzyryn, cavalier of many Soviet Orders, including the Order of Glory, welcomed May 9 in Prague.

…January 31 1944, in a battle for Derazhno, (Ukraine), Tuvan cavalry charged on small hairy horses, with sabers, at the forward German forces. Only much later, a German POW officer remembered that the sight had an extremely demoralizing effect on his soldiers. On subconscious level, “these barbarians” appeared to be the hordes of Attila… After this battle, the Germans started calling the Tuvans “der Schwarze Tod” - Black Death. The terror of the Germans was connected with the fact that the Tuvans, according to their own principles of warfare, never took prisoners.

…And, what is definitely unprecedented, was the political longevity of Salchak Kalbakkhorekovich Toka, (1921-1973), who was the head of Tuva from the end of 1920’s until his death in 1973. No other leader has led his country for such a long time! He was respected by Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, (leader of China 1928-1949, then of Taiwan until 1975, and leader and Marshal of Mongolia (1930-1952) Khorlogiyn Choibalsan, and his replacement Yumzhagiyn Tsedenbal.

After the reorganization of the republic in October 1944 into Tuvan autonomous region of RSFSR, Toka became the first Secretary of the Tuvan general communist party. From 1971, he was a member of the Central Committee of the CPSS and a Hero of Socialist Labor. Beside that, S.K. Toka is considered the founder of Tuvan literature. His stories and essays started showing up in Tuvan and Soviet press even in the early 30’s. His autobiographic novel, “Slovo Arata”, (1950), received the Stalin Prize in Literature in 1951.

The help of Tuva to USSR in the war years completely fits into a well-known saying: a gold coin is tiny, but very valuable. And, putting all metaphors aside, the Tuvan nation shared to the last with the nations of the USSR in the name of Victory.

Aleksei Chichkin, “Rossiyskaya gazeta”, translated by Heda Jindrak
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Event announces

1) 21.04.2023: Local governments Day (Russia)

2) 01.05.2023: May Day

3) 06.05.2023: Tuvan Constitution Day

4) 09.05.2023: Victory Day

5) 01.06.2023: Childrens defence Day

6) 06.06.2023: Russian Language Day - Pushkin's Day

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