Melek Çolak

Keywords: Ignácz Kúnos,Hungarian Turcologists,Hungarian Turan Association,Tatar Prisoners of War,Turcology


The Muslim-Turkic soldiers (Kazan Tatars, Crimean Tatars, Bashkirs, Mishars, Nogais, Kumyks, Turkmens) under Russian domination had to fight in the Russian armed forces during the First World War. Two prison camps were built in the Austro-Hungarian territory for these soldiers of Turkic origin who were in the Russian army and captured by the Austro-Hungarian army. During the World War I, war prisoner camps located within the borders of Australian-Hungarian lands provided opportunities for Hungarian scholars to conduct research in different fields such as linguistics, anthropology and folklore. Two camps where Tatar war prisoners were kept were of special importance for Hungarian scholars and the Hungarian Turan Association aiming to investigate the kinship relations between eastern nations and Hungarians and to intensify the relationships with these eastern nations. The proposal of this association for conducting research in war prisoner camps was approved by Hungarian Academy of Sciences and they appointed some scholars to conduct this research. One of these scholars was Hunarian Turcologist Ignácz Kúnos. Kúnos collected some folkloric data from war prisoners during the war. He presented the collected data and his personal opinions as a report in a meeting of Hungarian Academy of Sciences on 3 January 1916. The reported presented to the academy with the name of "Jelentés a mohamedan fogolytáborokban végzett tanulmányokról" (Report of the investigations conducted in Muslim was prisoner camps) was also published in a journal called Budapesti Szemle in the same year as an article entitled as "Tatar foglyok taboraban" (In the camp of Tatar war prisoners). After revising his reports, Kúnos published them again in Magyar Figyelő in 1918. In his reports, Kúnos gives information and examples about the worlds of emotions and thoughts of war prisoners including Crimean and Kazan Tatars, Bashkirs, Mishars, Nogais and Turkmens. His reports have become important sources for Turcology and anthropology studies and also served the function of a school for war prisoner camp researchers and thus, reveals the importance of Hungarian Tucology. Moreover, information about socio-cultural atmosphere in the war prisoner camps is also provided. Prisoner camps established during World War I have not been researched adequately in terms of socio-cultural aspects. The prison camps established on the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire need to be examined in this context. Kúnos' reports that shed light on this period have hardly been the subject of research in our country. In this study, the sociocultural conditions of Muslim Turkish prisoners living in the camps mentioned in line with the reports submitted by Kúnos to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences will be revealed within the framework of the Turkish-Hungarian relations of the period in order to contribute to the cultural history. In addition, the reports submitted by Kúnos to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Archive (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Levéltára), the personal letters of Kúnos at the Hungarian Museum of Ethnography Museum (Magyar Néprajzi Múzeum Levéltára), and the archive material for the entry process will be used and presented to the world of science.