Mustafa Shokay

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

Template:Infobox Governor Mustafa Shokay (Shokay, Chokay, Chokay-ogly; Kazakh language: Мұстафа Шоқай (ұлы); Russian language: Мустафа́ Шока́й); born on 25 December 1890, in Akmeshit (now Kyzyl-Orda, Kazakhstan) - died 27 December 1941, Berlin, The Third Reich) - was Kazakh social and political activist, publicist, thinker, scholar, statesman and public figure, ideologist of the struggle for freedom and independence of the Common Turkestan. He is the grandson of the ruler Torgai son begs Yer Shokai, maternally derived from the Kazakh Khanate of Khiva.

At the beginning of his life

Mustafa Shokay was born into an aristocratic family. During this period the status of family was evaluating by the number of cattle, and Mustafa’s family was pretty rich in their village. Mustafa’s paternal grandfather was the Datkha, which in Persian means - "a wish, request, Justice", also Datkha was equal to a Sultan and was higher in title than Bey. Mustafa’s grandfather was electing Prime Minister - Datkha of Khiva’s khan. Datkha could subordinate only to the Khan and help him to manage the Khanate. The mother of Mustafa was Bakty, she was intellectual in her own right and she was a descendant of the famous Batu Khan. Bakty was well-educated, owned Arabic and Persian languages. Mustafa Shokay was born on 25 December 1890, in Akmechet, (today Kyzyl-Orda), Kazakhstan. He was from the Middle Juz (horde) of the Kypchak’s tribe, Torgai clan, Shashty popliteal, Boshay knee, Zhanay popliteal. Before October Revolution in 1917 Shokay’s Family and about 30 of his relatives lived in one village, which was located in 5 kilometers from the station of Sulu-Tube. They lived in nice yurts, (nomad’s houses). The father of Mustafa had 2 wives and the mother of Mustafa was his second wife. He had 2 sisters and 3 brothers. Mustafa was the last one in their family and the difference between his Sadyk brothers was 15 years. Another brother’s name was Nurtaza. Based on Mustafa’s word, his mother taught to read and right in childhood. When he was 5 year old he learned to play on the dombra. From childhood he was musically gifted, and had a great ear and for music. From a young age, Mustafa was highly educated. In their village was a mullah, who was taught to read the Koran. Mustafa was distinguished by the fact that he had perfect memory and he knew all, of the sura from the Koran by heart. When he was 7 years old his father took him to Akmechet Mustafa had to go to school, in Akmechet, where he would study in Russian; it was feared that he would forget the Kazakhs and forever be Russian. Moreover, the mullah added to all of this, that Russians will put on you the cross. Mustafa was really afraid, he did not want to go, but his father calmed him and persuaded him. Mustafa started his studying in the Russian school, but he became very sick and left his studies. In the 1902 he was admitted to Tashkent gymnasium and in 1910 he graduated with the school’s gold medal. General Samsonov(Alexander Samsonov (1859–1914), a Russian military commander during World War I) was against of Mustafa’s gold and insisted another student should win. The gold was had handed to Zeprometov, he was Russian. The director of Tashkent gymnasium disagrees and also Zeprometov said that Shokay should get the gold medal. It was the great event in 1910. The intentions of Samsonov caused outrage not only within the ranks of the local youth, but also from the Russians. All of the professors and Russian intellectuals were ready to strike. That strike was provoked by the administration, showing the unfair treatment to the student in favor of the officials. Trying to smooth over the scandal, Samsonov proposed Mustafa as an interpreter in his administration, but Shokai refused and went to St. Petersburg, where he entered the law faculty of the University (1910-1917). In 1912 Mustafa’s father died and the local village people asked him to return home for a time at the request of fellow to replace the post of his father – a judge. Moreover, because of death of his father Mustafa interrupted his education for a time. Then, in connection with the Stolypin agrarian reform in Kazakhstan have become massively resettled peasants of Russia, the land for which was collected from the local Kazakhs began land disputes.[1]

Activities in St. Petersburg

During study in St. Petersburg, Mustafa was trying to protect not only the interest of his countryman, but the whole Kazakh nation. However, on 3 July 1907, Tsar Nikolai II issued a decree depriving the electoral rights of the indigenous peoples of Siberia and Central Asia. They lost their way with little representation in the State Duma of Russia. But the Kazakh politicians and intellectuals continued to fight for the interests of the people. Working in the Duma, Shokai met with prominent Muslim political leaders of Russia and became friends with Ahmad Zaki Validi, the future chairman of the Bashkir autonomy.

In the midst of heavy the First World War June 25, 1916, Tsar Nicholas II issued a decree "On the requisition of foreigners", attracting the indigenous population of Turkestan and the Steppe region in age from 19 to 43 years to rear work - digging trenches, despite the fact that the Muslims were exempted from military service due to the deprivation of electoral rights. The decree came in the days of Ramadan and the height of the agricultural work that has outraged the entire nation. Then was launched a powerful uprising in Turkestan and the Steppe region. In the Kazakh steppes rebellion led Amangeldy Imanov. In the State Duma there were protests. Mustafa Shokai entered his commission as a secretary and translator of the Muslim faction. Subsequent performances of Kerensky in the Duma with the analysis of the Turkestan uprising against the imperial government policies brought him huge popularity throughout Russia. When he returned to Petrograd, Shokai prepared materials for their performances in the State Duma of their faction. However the State Duma was dissolved by Tsar Nicholas II, and then he himself abdicated.[2]

Character of Mustafa Shokay

During his student life, in fact during his all life, Mustafa was not involved in any political party. He was a democrat, with big heart without the slightest hint of socialism, who loved his homeland and his nation. Mustafa never spared himself in the name of the future of his people. There were politicians for peace or for the war and Mustafa belonged to the politicians for peace. Mustafa’s character was soft and easily vulnerable. He knew that to work in the State Duma he had to be a strong person. He never tired of studying; solving his mistakes and works on building his character. Shokay admired and highly valued Mustafa Kemal. Shokay considered that Turkestan needed a political reformer like himself. Although Mustafa Shokay did not have any hostile emotion to bigots or to representatives of other nations. He loved to make discussions or argue with person, who has different political opinion. In arguments he was calm and ever respected his opponent’s standpoint. The big mistake of Mustafa in all his life was that he trusted others because of that he had a lot of trouble. He always took any inhumane acts to his heart. He was able to find the way to heart of people throughout honesty and the ability to empathize with others. Sometimes he stood really heatedly, defending his position, but in all cases did not hurt the feeling of his opponent. Mustafa was the enemy of narrow-minded nationalism. He defended his interest for position of Turkestan’s people union. However, the Russian nationalist recognized Mustafa’s position, but they did not want to regard with interest of Turkestan’s nation, also with non-Russian nations. These principles of Russian democracy really hurt the feeling of Mustafa Shokay and for this reason he severed good relations with the Russian periodical press in 1923 (mass-media).[1]

The first political steps

In 1914 World War I began and Mustafa as a student became a member of State Duma as a secretary. Mustafa was introducing to the Muslim fraction on the recommendation of Alikhan Bukeikhanov. Until 1917, before the October revolution Mustafa was a member of State Duma and he joined the political life of Turko-Tatar peoples. The formal political activities began in 1917 when Mustafa Shokay was delegated to congress of Muslims in Moscow. This big congress of Turkestan’s was held by his initiatives. Mustafa was a member of Turkestan committee of Interim Government and after he was elected as a Chairman of Turkestan’s national committee. On 10 December 1917 the project of creating autonomy was submitted. On the 4th Congress in Turkestan, Turkestan autonomy, known as the Kokand Autonomy. After overthrowing the Russian Provisional Government was declared in Petrograd during the armed uprising on October 25, the Bolsheviks carried out popular measures for the people in the election-Russian Constituent Assembly of Russia. But in election November 12, 1917 the Bolsheviks received only 23.9% of the vote against 40.4% for the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries. In such circumstances, the Kokand government announced its intention to create on March 20, 1918 its parliament by universal direct, equal and secret ballot. Two thirds of the seats in parliament were for Muslim MPs and one third - representatives of non-Muslims. The existence of such a parliament was to be the first step towards the democratization of Turkestan. Chairman of People's Commissars of the Turkestan Republic Fedor Kolesov, said: "We can not allow Muslims to the supreme authorities, since the position of the local population against us is not defined and, in addition, they have no proletarian organization"[3] But on 11 February 1918 Bolsheviks sent troops to Kokand. The power was on equal and Kokand was completely destroyed, the troops were armed with machine guns and cannons, which were not in Kokand, Turkestan. Mr. Shokay moved through Fergana to Tashkent. On his head a bounty of 1000 rubbles was placed. At that time Mustafa Shokay was the youngest politician, who advocated for Turkestan Autonomy, but he was against separatism. When he was in hiding Mustafa met his old friend Maria Gorina, whom he married in April 1918, After this event Mr. Shokay said:” We called the soviet power then established in Tashkent the «enemy of our people». I have not changed my view on the matter in the last ten years.”[3] During the following years Shokay wrote and published a book:” Turkestan under the Soviet Union (On the characteristics of the dictatorship of the proletariat)”.


Traveling through the Kazakh steppe and the Caspian Sea, Mustafa Shokay manage to safely arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, then Tbilisi, Georgia where he lived with his wife of two years, from spring 1919 till February 1921. Shokay moved to Turkey, because The Red Army led by Ordzhonikidze, defeated the Volunteer Army of General Denikin, captured the North Caucasus, then Azerbaijan, Armenia, and February 16, 1921 came to Tiflis. The democratic Republic of Transcaucasia was overthrown by the Soviet Union.[4] After events in Transcaucasia Mr. Shokay with his wife Maria Shokay emigrated to Istanbul, Turkey. Shokay in Istanbul wrote articles in English for “The Times” and for publications like “Şafak”, also for “Yeni Dünya”- “New World”. Then he found that Alexander Kerensky, who also emigrated to Paris from Russia. Kerensky helped Shokay to get a French visa and in the summer of 1921 Mustafa with Maria moved to Paris. He was writing articles for the newspaper of Kerensky “Days” and Milyukova’s “Last News”. In 1923 Mustafa and Maria Shokay moved to Nozhan-Sur-Marn, spoke for the European public with the speech "The policy of Russia and Turkestan National Movement". The time during the exile it was the most darkness period for both of Mr. and Mss. Shokay. Mustafa Shokay was trying to write books, newspapers, magazines; held meeting with his speech for whole world to submit and to hear about the problems in Turkestan and Central Asia. These editions was published in Istanbul, Paris, Berlin, London, Warsaw, he published articles about Central Asia, theoretical studies, historical and political review. Mustafa Shokay created newspaper in Istanbul:”New Turkestan” in 1927 and it was existed till 1931. In 1929 he settled in Berlin edition of the magazine "Yash (Young) Turkestan" and became its editor in chief. The magazine last until the outbreak of World War II in 1939, was released 117 editions. Mustafa Shokay spoke foreign languages such as English, French, Russian, German, Turkish, and Arabic.

Unsuccessful collaboration with the Nazis in the name of Turkestan

On the day of the attack June 22, 1941 in Paris, the Nazis arrested all the well-known Russian emigrants and imprisoned them in the castle of Compiègne (Château de Compiègne). There numbers included Mr. Shokay.

After three weeks he was taken to Berlin and a two weeks offered to lead the Turkestan Legion, which was planned to recruit Soviet military prisoners of Turkmen descent held in German concentration camps. The Germans relied on the Mustafa Shokay's authority, yet still Legion has been partially replenished by elite German troops which had combat experience against Soviet troops on Eastern Front, while Shokai was required to familiarize Turkmen with circumstances of their fellow countrymen in the camps. He was shocked by inhuman conditions of Asians kept behind barbed wire.

Detailing the journey of Mustafa’s life, he entertained the possibility of creating a union of Muslim states of Germany. To achieve this goal, it would be necessary to organize Muslim - Soviet prisoners of war - particularly the army. And acquired goals should be overthrowing Soviet governments in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Mustafa Shokai said that he was ready to consent to be the head of this noble movement. The collaboration made known to the imperial leader of the National Socialist party on matters of ideology and foreign policy, the Minister for the "Eastern Territories" General SS Alfred Rosenberg.

Mustafa Shokay wanted to give some relief and grasped the chance to save prisoners' lives, he compromised with the German authorities. He set his conditions:

  1. Create staff for the future of Turkestan state schools in Germany;
  2. Create military forces from follow prisoners, which will be used only when approaching the borders of Turkestan.

Mustafa Shokay wanted to receive some benefit from the collaboration with Nazis. Unfortunately Adolf Hitler declined in all queries, because Hitler considered the Turkestan Legion as “cannon fodder”. Later Mr. Shokay wrote a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gruppenführer Joachim von Ribbentrop: “Seeing how representatives of the nation, who raised such geniuses as Goethe, Feuerbach, Bach, Beethoven, Schopenhauer, treat prisoners of war ... I can not accept the offer to lead the ... Turkestan Legion and refuse further cooperation. All the consequences of my decision, I realize.”[3] Adolf Hitler realized his attempted manipulation of Mustafa Shokay was going to fails; the German leadership decides to remove him. On December 22, 1941, Hitler signed a decree for the establishment of the Turkestan and other national legions. At that time Mustafa was in hospital in Berlin "Victoria". On December 27, 1941, he died. The official report stated that he "died of blood poisoning on the background of an emerging epidemic of typhus,"[1] he was infected when visiting concentration camps. But the same symptoms could be poisoning. Moreover, in the memoirs of his wife Maria Gorina-Shokai, she pointed that Mustafa has been ill with typhus in Turkestan and he was supposed to be immune. Mustafa Shokai was buried in the Turkish Muslim cemetery (Osmanidov) in Berlin. On the tombstone just below the date at the behest of his wife M. Shokai, Maria Jakovlevna, there are three letters in Latin and four numbers: JOH.15.13. They point to the thirteenth verse of the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John: "There is no greater love than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends." ("There is no greater love than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.")[1]

Turkmen Legion army was later granted to nazi-loyalist Veli Kayum, long standing cooperative of German anti-Soviet conspirative movement Prometheus. He was honorifically titled Khan after he had no problem embracing nazi vision to build Turkic-Muslim army which would fight Soviets.

Selected works

  • Mustafa Shokay. «Chez les Soviets en Asie Centrale», Paris, 1928.
  • Mustafa Shokay. «The Basmati Movement in Turkestan», «The Asiatic Review», vol. XXIV, 1928.
  • Mustafa Shokay -oghly: «Туркестан под властью советов», Paris, 1935.
  • Mustafa Shokay. «Избранное» (в 2-х томах), Алматы, Кайнар, 1998.
  • Mustafa Shokay. “Revolution in Turkestan, February’s era” 2001.
  • Mustafa Shokay. ”New Turkestan”, Istanbul, 1927.
  • Mustafa Shokay "Yash (Young) Turkestan", Berlin, 1929 was released 117 editions.

Mustafa Shokay perfectly owned foreign languages such as English, French, Russian, German, Turkish, and Arabic.


  • 2000 - In Kazakhstan, a documentary book published Amirhana Bakirova "Operation" France "," Kyzyl-Orda, 2000.[5]
  • 2001 - Kazakhstan has translated and published the memoirs of Maria Shokay: "I am writing to you from Nozhan" (Memoirs, Letters, Documents, 1958), Almaty, "Kynar"[6]
  • 2001 - In the Nogent-sur-Marne, in the park at the La Fontaine house number 7, where he lived 18 years, Mustafa Shokai, a monument-stele[7]
  • 2003 - At the "Kazakhfilm" came dock. Film "Zar, or excommunication from the Motherland" (dir. - Makhmetova C. and O. Rymzhanov, the scenario B. Sadykova).[8]
  • 2006 - His name streets in Kzylorda and Almaty.[9]
  • 2007 - Magazine "Continent" (Almaty) has published an article B. Sadykova "In Memory of Turkestan Jadid (Mustafa Chokai)"[10]
  • 2008 - In the Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne memorial plaque in memory of Shokai[11]
  • 2008 - Went film "Mustafa Shokai", dir. S. Narymbetov, "Kazakhfilm" in Sec. Starring Aziz Beyshenaliev and Karina Abdullina[12]
  • 2011 - Went document. film "Дорогами Мустафы Шокая" (directed by K. Begmanov)[13]



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