Baku – August 1905 – The Second Pogrom of Armenians – Black Hundreds on the Side of the Turks

Baku - August 1905 - The Second Pogrom of ArmeniansThe storm began after 7 months. In August 1905, a second pogrom began, this time more organized and more ferocious. Fires engulfed Armenian neighborhoods. The mines belonging to the Armenians in Balakhani, Sambuichi, Romani, and Bibi-Heybat were completely burned down.

But the Armenians have been prepared for the pogroms: Transcaucasian Tatars (modern Azerbaijanis) lost 270 people, while the Armenians only 130.

The total damage from the pogroms was 25 million rubles. However, after that, the Tatars didn’t give up. In October, the pogroms resumed, this time with the participation of the Russian ultra-nationalist movement called “Black Hundreds”.

It is impossible to describe the details of all these pogroms. But it should be noted that only the Dashnak party with honor endured this unequal struggle.

The world media described in detail the events in Baku. Foreign observers and journalists were sent there, especially after the fires in the oil fields. The general conclusion was that the Armenian-Tatar clash was a war of civilization against the Asian barbarism.

The Paris newspaper “TAN” wrote on September 15, 1905: “Armenians are the most educated and able-bodied nation among the peoples of the Caucasus. And the Turkish people have a conservative mindset that dictates them to respect the traditions of the royal autocracy.”

The French newspaper “Matin” on September 20 wrote: “An abyss separates these two peoples. Instincts and civilization clashed in Baku. The Tatars undertook to punish the freedom-loving Armenians whose ideals pose a great danger to the imperial government.”

And the well-known publicist Villari published a book (in English) entitled “Fire and Sword in the Caucasus”, in which he wrote: “Bloodshed in the Caucasus is just a share of the war that modern civilization is waging against the Asian barbarism.”

However, the Armenians had a different opinion. They understood perfectly well that they were protecting their own people rather than civilization and that they were alone, for none of the civilized nations came to their aid in the name of civilization.

The Tatar press, in particular, the newspaper “Caspian”, published articles by the representatives of Tatar ideologues such as Agayev, Topchibashev, Vezirov, and Jivanshir. They were full of hatred towards the Armenians and blamed the Dashnak party for all their troubles.

The position of the Georgian Mensheviks who blamed Armenian nationalists and tried to find class roots in the Armenian-Tatar conflict was also incomprehensible and unforgivable. This idea was supported by both Plekhanov and Lenin. For them, the Armenians were the bourgeoisie who exploited the Tatar proletariat, and the Dashnak party was allegedly a blind tool in the hands of this bourgeoisie.

It was a lie. Even in the oil fields, the land and capital were in the hands of the Tatars. Armenians only mined and sold the oil. As for the Armenian peasants, they huddled on the scraps of stony land, while the Tatars occupied the most fertile lands. Armenians grew on their stones, but Tatars could not cultivate on their lands. This image in no way fits the idea of exploitation.

But back to the bloody events. After Baku, pogroms began in Nakhichevan where the Tatars constituted the majority of the population. There were 47 Armenian villages in the area.

Nakhichevan pogroms began on May 12, 1905, and lasted until May 15. Houses were burned down, Armenians were killed and raped, and Armenian shops were robbed. Of the 182 Armenian stores, only 4 survived.

And again, Armenians had to resort to self-defense. When the retaliatory strikes of the Armenian fedayis created confusion among the leaders of Russia, General Alikhanov was sent to the South Caucasus with a peacekeeping mission.

But, being a Tatar by nationality, he immediately joined his fellow brothers and instead of establishing peace set the Tatars against the Armenians. And under the leadership of the Nakhichevan khans, they began pogroms with a new force.

The leaders of the Tatars called their people to wage a holy war against the Armenians who had allegedly caused the seizure of the Nakhichevan and Yerevan khanates by Russia in 1828.

At the same time, the leaders of the Tatars tried to unite the Shiites and Sunnites – Tatars (modern Azerbaijanis) and Turks, who essentially were a single nation – under a Muslim banner. But these attempts did not have much success: religious differences turned out to be stronger than racial community.

Meanwhile, the Armenian pogroms began to acquire a mass character: they spread to Daralagyaz, Zangezur, Karabakh, and other areas with a mixed Tatar-Armenian population. Under these conditions, the Dashnak party threw its best forces into the fight against the Muslim fanatics.

Two experienced fedayis took the defense of the two most important areas into their hands: Nikol Duman undertook to lead the self-defense of the Yerevan province, while Vardan led Karabakh defense.

An excerpt from the book of Edward Oganesyan “Age of Struggle”

Pogroms of the Armenian population – Baku

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