Kazakhstan History

By | June 9, 2021


The territory of today’s Kazakhstan has been proven to have been crossed by nomads since the Stone Age. Excavations show the settlement in later centuries. From the 6th – 3rd century BC. the Saks (ie representatives of the Scythian culture) ruled the Kazak steppes. The Altyn Adam (Golden Man), the image of which one often encounters in Kazakhstan today, is a particularly elaborate knight armor from the time of the Sack rulership. Similar finds have been made several times in recent years. In the following centuries there were several large migrations in the entire Eurasian steppe area with various rule and empire formations, mainly Turkic-speaking peoples. From 1218-1395 the Mongols ruled over most of what is now Central Asia. According to Kazakh archaeologists, new excavations show that routes of the “Silk Road” also ran through northern Kazakhstan.

While archeology provides new, valuable knowledge on the one hand, there are complaints about the destruction of archaeological monuments on the other.

Origin and Kazak Khanate

According to cheeroutdoor, the Kazakhs as an independent ethnic group emerged in the course of the 15th century as a mixture of Turkic-speaking and Mongolian population groups. The preliminary stage was the merger of their individual tribes into three large units, kas. Zhus called (Russian Ordy, dt. Horde): the members of the large or older horde moved in the south / southeast as nomads through the steppe during the year, the middle horde in the center and in the north and those of the small or younger horde in (Southwest. In 1465 a single khanate was formed, which today is considered the first Kazakh state entity and was celebrated as such in 2015. In the first half of the 16th century under the rule of Kasym Khan when the khanate was at its greatest extent, then it broke up. The following centuries were marked by constant internal power struggles and secession, which led to a weakening and called foreign opponents on the scene. Particularly remembered are the invasions of the Djungars from western China, handed down as “years of great need”.

The Kazak Steppes in the Tsarist Empire

In search of allies against external and internal enemies, the Kazak khans also came into contact with representatives of their northern neighbor, the Russian Empire. First, the Khan of the Small Horde swore allegiance to the Russian Tsarina in 1731, the Khan of the Middle Horde and several tribes of the Great Horde followed him a few years later. The majority of the tribes of the Great Horde came under Russian rule in the 19th century. The Russians were not interested in the steppe as such, but in a safe passage through this area into the adjoining southern emirates of Bukhara and Samarkand and on to India, etc. They therefore interfered little in the political and socio-economic conditions under the Kazakhs. For large voltages on the other hand made the advance country seeking Russian peasants in the Kazakh Steppe, beginning as early as the second half of the 19th century., But especially after 1905. The resistance of Kazakhs against the Russians the greatest erupted in several uprisings in 1837 under Khan Kenesary Kasymow and in 1916 throughout the Tsarist part of Central Asia.

Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic

In response to the end of tsarist rule and the establishment of Soviet power in Russia, a small group of Kazakh intellectuals tried to create a statehood for the Kazakhs in 1917 with the so-called Alash Orda. As early as 1919, however, the steppe was forcibly sovietized, in 1920 the Autonomous Republic of Kazakhs was formed within the RSFSR, and in 1936, as the Kazakh Socialist Soviet Republic, it received the status of a Union Republic within the USSR.

The Soviet era, which lasted until 1991, brought radical changes in all areas of life. Particular mention should be made of the forced settling of the nomadic Kazakhs at the end of the twenties of the 20th century, which was associated with the all-Soviet collectivization. The thus -related famine fell 2 million people to sacrifice, one million fled to China and Mongolia. Before and during the “Great Patriotic War” (1941-1945), Koreans, Germans, Crimean Tatars and members of various Caucasus peoples were deported to the steppe through forced deportations ordered by Stalin. In particular city and Karaganda area gained notoriety for the forced labor camps established there under Stalin. The economic and social structure, especially in the north of the republic, was greatly changed by industrialization (mining, heavy and armaments industries) and the new land campaign in the fifties of the 20th century. Kazakhstan was the most Russified non-Slavic union republic.

After long-time Kazakh party leader Dinmuchamed Kunajew was deposed from the Kremlin in 1986 and replaced by a non-republican Russian, peaceful student protests broke out in Alma-Ata in December 1986, which escalated when troops from the Interior Ministry were used against them. The number of victims, as well as the exact background of the processes, have not really been clarified to this day.

As in all Central Asian republics, unlike in the Caucasus, the Baltic States and the Ukraine, during the period of perestroika there was no national movement that campaigned for the independence of their republic from the Union. Kazakhstan only declared its independence on December 16, 1991, at a time when the Union no longer existed.

According to the Marxist dogma of progress, nomads were considered backward in the Soviet era, which was reflected in history and the consciousness of the people. Since independence, Kazakh history has been reevaluated and researched. In Kazakhstan, as in all of Central Asia, it serves to create a new national identity, which finds its visible expression, for example, in the erection of new monuments. The 550th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s statehood, which was celebrated in 2015, is more political than historical. The population has very different views of the past. This finds its visible expression, for example, in the local dispute over monuments; In view of the problems of the present, the socialist past is sometimes glorified, but also a reappraisal of the trauma of the Stalin era called for and the victims thought of. In 2017, the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution was the occasion for various reflections on its long-term consequences for Central Asia as a whole, as well as Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan History