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  • Writer's pictureTataria Blog

Kermen means fortress.

This time I interviewed Elvis Çolpuh, the founder and driving force behind Germany's cultural and educational organization of Crimean Tatars - "Kermen".

While we're on the topic, we encourage you to check out its Facebook profile for updates on upcoming events.

Tataria: Where are you from and how long have you been living in Germany?

Elvis Çolpuh: I was forced to leave Crimea in February 2022. I have been living in Germany for 2 years.


Could you share the name of your initiative and its origin?

Our organization is called "KERMEN," which means "fortress" in the Crimean language. As the logo of our organization, we have used stylized fighting snakes, reminiscent of those adorning the gates of Bakhchisarai Palace.There is a legend that once the Crimean ruler was hunting in the forest after a defeat in battle. On the bank of the river, he saw two fighting snakes. The defeated snake seemed not to survive the fight, but it drank water from the river and became stronger than before. And the Crimean ruler built a palace on the bank of the river. The two fighting snakes above the entrance of the palace were meant to remind his descendants of the power of snakes and to encourage them.


What are the objectives of Kermen and its pursuits?

Kermen strives to elevate awareness of Crimea's indigenous culture—the Crimeans (Crimean Tatars)—and safeguard the Crimean language.

Could you outline your forthcoming plans? Our immediate aim entails establishing the Crimean Cultural Center "Kermen," a venue for exhibitions, events, and lectures. Over the past two years, we've amassed a wealth of exhibition materials.


What initiatives, projects, or events have you spearheaded or regularly engage in?

Our initiatives include cultural events: Crimean music evenings "Aqşam," exhibitions of photographs and paintings dedicated to the history and culture of Crimea, musical performances "The Stolen Spring," mourning events dedicated to the victims of the genocide of Crimeans (Crimean Tatars) in 1944, as well as the Crimean Spring Festival of Hidirles in Weimar.


Does Kermen operate within a structured framework or rely on voluntary contributions?

Our organization exists and carries out its activities solely through donations from caring people on a voluntary basis.


What does being a Crimean Tatar mean to you?

Being Crimean [qrm. Qırımlar] (Crimean Tatar) signifies bearing the rich tapestry of Crimea's millennia-old culture. It embodies descent from diverse ancestries—Taurians, Goths, Alans, Greeks, Scythians, Sarmatians—and inheriting legacies from Chersonesus, the Principality of Theodorus, the Bosporus Kingdom, the Crimean Khanate, and the Crimean Republic. Since the 19th century, our people have championed freedom and democracy in the Black Sea region—a heritage I deeply cherish.


Where can one look for information about Crimean Tatar art?

It is a painful issue for us. Crimeans (Crimean Tatars) are not on the internet. Many singers, dancers, artists, writers are now in Crimea and will make themselves known with their work - a major problem due to the lack of an adequate number of translators and the production institute in our society under conditions of statelessness.


What message would you like to convey to Western Europe and the global community regarding Crimean Tatars?

Crimeans (Crimean Tatars) are Crimea's indigenous populace, with Crimea serving as our sole homeland for centuries. Enduring centuries of oppression, particularly since Russian colonization after 1783, we find ourselves a minority, our language perilously close to extinction. We implore the international community to safeguard our rights and aid in preserving and nurturing our cultural heritage in our ancestral land.


Do you maintain any ties with Crimea amidst the current circumstances, or is such communication untenable? Certainly, I uphold connections with Crimea and remain abreast of the prevailing situation.


Elvis Çolpuh - Born in Crimea in the city of Aqmescit (Simferopol). Psychiatrist by profession. He was forced to leave Crimea in February 2022 following Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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