Krymchaks - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. At present a majority of Krymchaks are involved in intellectual professions or in industry and service. Traditional occupations included various handicrafts and, to a lesser extent, petty trade. The restrictive policy of the czarist governments prohibited their participation in agriculture, except for a short period during the reign of Nicholas I. In the 1920s and 1930s the Soviet authorities forced some Krymchaks to settle on the newly organized collective farms (kolkhozy); however, this program soon failed.

Industrial Arts. Until the Revolution it was considered necessary for a Krymchak youth to learn a trade. In 1913, 55.3 percent of the gainfully employed Krymchaks were craftspeople, 28.8 percent of them having been shoemakers (this profession remained widespread among them until World War II). Apart from shoemakers, there were many hatters, tinsmiths, blanket makers, and harness makers; fewer in number were watchmakers, tailors, joiners, metalsmiths, glass cutters, and house painters. During the 1930s craftspeople were forced by the Soviet government to enter factories and workshops as wage laborers.

Trade. In 1913, 34.7 percent of the gainfully employed Krymchaks were involved in trade and commerce; however, many of them lacked capital of their own and worked as shop assistants and salespeople. After the Revolution the Krymchaks' involvement in trade drastically diminished.

Division of Labor. At present, division of labor among the Krymchaks does not differ much from the general pattern existing in the European part of the former USSR, with most of the women working as wage laborers and at the same time performing most household tasks. In the past, provision of a livelihood for a family was considered a man's job, whereas domestic duties were assigned to women.

Land Tenure. The right to own land in the rural areas was denied the Krymchaks, just as it was to other Jews, by the czarist government. Under the Soviet system, no land was held privately.

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