Continued: Part II.

The Memoirs of the National Liberation Movement in Azerbaijan


Naki Keykurun



The Minister of National Security of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920)



Copyright © 1998 by Tomris Azeri

Published by Tomris Azeri

All rights reserved.

Reproduction or translation of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act without the permission of the copyright owner is unlawful. Requests for permission or further information should be addressed to Tomris Azeri.

The Memoirs of the National Liberation Movement in Azerbaijan.

Printed in the United States of America

The Return to the Caucasus

At five o’clock in the evening I boarded the Reshid Pasha steamer heading to Kostence. I met a few members of the Special Services that were on their way to the Caucasus as well. These gentlemen were Fuat bey, the son of late Parliament speaker Kamil Pasha, Shevket bey, the son of Bekir Sami bey, pilot Jamal and others. On arrival in Kostence we found out that there was a floating mine in the river of Tuna, and the boat would avoid entering the Tuna and stay at Kostence. The army corps was supposed to reach Kostence on train. Under such circumstances we decided to obtain the permission from the German military authorities in order to travel to Bucharest. We stayed in the Romanian capital for a week. I managed to ask for a translator from the German army. I took the German translator with me on visits to many Romanian museums and palaces. We were dining in German military camps. One of the Turkish officers once told me that a German officer would like to talk with me. He introduced me to the German. The German official was very much interested in the situation in the Caucasus. I described the deplorable conditions of the Russian military infrastructure in the region. “The Russian army was rapidly disintegrating in the Caucasus,” I told him. I explained to him that the Muslims of the Caucasus were conscious of their Turkic heritage and behaved and thought just like the Turks of Turkey: “ We, the Caucasian Turks, like the Germans too. During the war the Russians intended to confiscate the property of five German villages and exile their residents. The Azeris stood up to the Russian authorities and prevented the Germans from being deported to Siberia. The Russians have always had to take our interests and sentiments into account.”

The Romanian Front army commanded by Hilmi Pasha boarded the Reshid Pasha ship. We left Kostence for Trabzon. We were informed of the developments in the front via the telegraph of the ship. On the second day of our journey the wire reported that the Turkish army seized Batum. We arrived in the city of Batum on the same day.

The ship was slowly approaching the wharf. I picked up the field glasses to observe the port. I could not believe my eyes. I knew half of the people who came to welcome us. Hundreds of Azeris from Genje, Baku, Garabagh, Sheki and other regions of Azerbaijan arrived in Batum to greet us. They could not, of course, see me. They thought I was still in Turkey. They would never suspect that I would be among the army arriving from Romania. As the ship was preparing to dock the people on the wharf began recognizing me. They were all confused but exuberant. It was a magnificent picture: a Turkish ship with a beloved Turkish flag hoisted on its deck. The Turkish soldiers who were around the ship and the port were excitedly observing the people and the army on the ship. I disembarked the ship and was immediately surrounded by my friends and acquaintances. They inquired how I ended up on the ship carrying the soldiers from Romania. I explained: “ My dear brothers, I was on an empty ship heading from Istanbul to Romania. I am leading the glorious Turkish army that completed its mission in Romania to the Caucasus.” Everyone was ecstatic. Then we went to the hotel where I met with all my compatriots. I asked why so many of them traveled to Batum. They replied: “ The roads are open. There was no hurdle on our way to reach Batum. You have brought the Turkish army to Batum, and we plan to take them all the way to Azerbaijan. It is wonderful that you came at this time too. Your leadership will be indispensable. The Azeri members of the Seym wish to establish an independent state. We, however, support the idea of union with Turkey.” I was dumbfounded by these words. I realized that it would be incongruous to do anything at this point. I kept silent. They were very angry and aggressive. They declared with a loud voice: “ Let them not anger us. Otherwise, we can drag them on the streets of Batum as we wish.” I was very upset and sad at this ultimatum. There were a few friends of mine among this group who always loved and respected me. They would always accept my directions in regards to our national liberation cause. They surely knew that the goal of our struggle was independence. Nevertheless, I knew that if I admitted that I was a pro-independence fighter, they would revolt against me.


            Historian Ahmed Refik bey has written a book “ The Roads of the Caucasus” in which I found a noteworthy section regarding the events I took part in. The following is an excerpt from the Roads of the Caucasus (page 72):

            “ Within half a month mind-boggling changes happened in the life of Batum. The streets were being congested with traffic and pedestrians while the hotels were full of the Ottoman officials and Caucasian delegates. One could encounter a great number of the representatives from all parts of the Caucasus on the streets of Batum. They arrived to express their desire to join their territories to Turkey. These representatives (page 75 of The Roads of the Caucasus) would engage in fiery arguments in main casinos of the city. Some of them were very vexed. These people from Genje, Baku, Tiflis and Garabakh were discussing the urgent matters with the Ottomans. You could notice how animated and at the same time pensive these individuals were. Every single one of them had a determination to take advantage of the current conditions in order to ensure that the past oppression would never recur. Their goal was “ not independence of the Caucasus, but immediate and final union with the Ottomans. The people who had freedom of religion and thinking made no difference between Shiism and Sunnism. They held the national unity and values above any other concept. Batum became the center of the Caucasian peace talks. Sheykhulislam of the Caucasus from Genje would visit Batum as would the popular delegates visit Tiflis. The negotiations, speeches, wire dispatches were following one another. The Caucasians indeed demonstrated their resolution to break away from the Russian domination. They viewed Russians as the occupants of their motherland. Now all their attention was riveted to the Turks. The only problem of these delegates was that they knew nothing about the major deficiencies of the Turkish regime in Istanbul.


            I found the struggle with the unionists to be intractable. I did not face so many adversities when we fought against the Russians. I breathed freely only after I managed to resolve this issue.

            I met with the rest of the activists later. Almost all of them were of the same opinion. The group included lawyers, doctors, merchants, artisans, businessmen, professors and officials. They were pressuring me as I refused to express my stance on this crucial question. I finally suggested that they forge a representative group, with which I could meet and openly discuss the problem of our future status.

             After that short meeting with the unionists I immediately went to see Memmed Emin Resulzade and Nesib bey Yusufbeyli. I presented them with a detailed report of my mission for an hour and half. I informed Nesib bey that I had completed my mission. Nesib bey responded: “ I wish you knew what is happening here.” I assured Nesib bey: “ I am aware of the recent developments. Tomorrow I will meet with the leaders of the unionists. I hope I will succeed in my efforts to persuade them.”

            I headed to the Headquarters of the Turkish Peace Delegation to hold talks with Halil bey. We had a long conversation during which I tried to describe the situation as clearly as possible: “ You are the only power that can put an end to this tendency. I will meet with the heads of the unionists tomorrow. If I fail to convince them to give up the idea of union, please, meet with a small group of them. They will definitely listen to you. You always defended our independence in your thoughts even when we first met at the headquarters of the Party of Union and Progress. Today, however, our independence is under the threat of the ignorant and obscurantist groups.” Halil bey agreed with me: “ I perfectly understand your position. Meet and talk with them. If they do not change their views, invite them to meet with me a day after tomorrow at ten in the morning. I am sure that you will succeed. Naki bey, I have also met with the members of the Seym. The negotiations were very fruitful and satisfactory.”

            I had a long conversation with Nesib bey at a dinner table that night. Nesib bey was complaining: “ The pressure from the unionists is much more powerful than that during the years of anarchy.” I calmed him down: “ Don’t worry. I have already talked to Halil bey. A day after tomorrow I will take a group of the unionists to conduct negotiations with Halil bey. I think we will succeed in implementing our plans.”

            The following day I met with the unionists. I gave an exhaustive report on the current political situation in the country and region. I also briefed them about Talat and Enver Pashas’ decisions. They softened their positions a little. However, I could tell that they were not certain about the truthfulness of my words. I insisted: “ If you wish, I will take you to meet with Halil bey tomorrow. You will see that he has the same conviction.”

            In the morning ten men and I headed to the office of Halil bey. At our meeting I introduced the gentlemen one by one to Halil bey. After the formal introduction and greetings they pulled the papers from their pockets to present to Halil bey. These petitions contained thousands of signatures. They expressed their stance in almost unison: “ Our esteemed bey, our people do not want independence. We want to become a part of the Ottoman Empire.” Halil bey managed to persuade them to the contrary with his eloquent speech: “ We came to the Caucasus with an army. Even if you did not want to unite with us we could have annexed you easily. However, it is impossible. Neither our enemies nor our friends will accept the unification of Turkey and Azerbaijan. We will support you in everything. We will provide as much military assistance as needed to establish and develop an independent state. We will defend your country as if it were our own motherland. Return to your home towns and support the future independence of your motherland.”

            The same night I met Emin bey and Nesib bey in order to inform them of the outcome of the meeting. They were both very satisfied. I told Nesib bey that we needed to prepare for the arrival of Nuri Pasha in Genje.

            The unionists were dining at one of the restaurants at the expense of the Turkish government. I joined them too. I found out that they had considerably modified their position: “ All we want is for the Turkish army to clean all of Azerbaijan. We were told that the Turks were coming, but the Seym members opposed their intervention.” I responded: “ My brothers, there is no need for them to stay here. I am leaving tonight. Enver Pasha’s brother Nuri Pasha will arrive in Genje any day. Our main task now is to give him a proper reception.”

            I caught the train heading to Genje. After a four-month separation I hugged my mother. My mother was crying: “ I will never let you travel for so long. You are my youngest child. I can not live without you.” How could my mother foresee that the inexorable Russians would revive their aggression against our country this time disguised in a different color? How could my mother know that the Russian occupants would execute her older son and force her youngest son to leave the motherland forever?

            While in Genje I heard that Nuri Pasha had reached Garabakh and would come to Genje the following day. I immediately left for the Yevlakh station. We waited for an hour at the station. The delegation from Genje had met Nuri Pasha in Garabakh the previous day. A large number of soldiers accompanied Nuri Pasha with as the train entered the station. Nuri Pasha said: “ I was inquiring about your whereabouts at every meeting.” The people gave a red carpet reception to Nuri Pasha in Genje. As we had last talked in HaydarPasha station in Istanbul, Nuri Pasha and I exchanged the information regarding the latest developments. Nuri Pasha immediately sent his officers, soldiers and colonel Nazim bey to the Baku front.

            The Georgians who had colluded with the Germans prevented the forces that were dispatched from Batum to join Nuri Pasha from traveling to Azerbaijan. In response to such a situation the battalion under Jemil Jahit bey moved from Kars to Armenia. Then they took over Kazakh and arrived in Akstafa. They reached Genje on train. The troops were welcomed in a stately ceremony. The people of Genje flocked in to the main square of the city. The state offices and schools were off that day. The students formed rows on the square, as did the orphan Turkish children who had been brought to Azerbaijan by the Philanthropic Society after the Russian occupation of eastern Anatolian regions. These orphans were accommodated in Azerbaijani families during all this time. Men and women of all ages surrounded the square. Everyone was in tears of happiness. The orphan kids were running to the soldiers and hugging them. They were trying to explain where they had come from. The soldiers were talking to and kissing them. It was then that someone gave out a cry. It was a nine-year-old son and his father who recognized each other. They embraced one another in tears. The tears of joy could be seen in the eyes of thousands of people on the main square.

            Jemil Javid bey’s battalion besieged the Armenian quarters of Genje. The beleaguered Armenians were left without food or any other provisions. They decided to send a delegation to meet with Nuri Pasha and thank him for establishing peace and order in the city. The animosity between Armenians and Turks was lifted. The Ottoman and Azerbaijani Turks under the command of Nuri Pasha moved to liberate Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Russian, Armenian and English forces were defending Baku. Did these troops have any chance to withstand the offensive of two Turkic brothers? On September 15th, 1918 joint Ottoman-Azeri army threw the Russians, Armenians and English into the Caspian Sea. The government of Azerbaijan moved from its temporary capital of Genje to Baku. The Azerbaijani people led by its independent government began an indefatigable work in all directions. The first thing Nuri Pasha did was to found a military academy in Baku to train and develop Azeri national military cadre. I asked Nuri Pasha to assign Husamettin bey Tugac who was in Batum under the command of Vehip Pasha to Genje. Baku was completely liberated from the enemy. However, some Russian armed units were controlling several districts of Lenkoran region. We had to clean Lenkoran, an integral part of Azerbaijan, from the occupants. The Russian troops that occupied Lenkoran informed Moscow that they were Bolsheviks. The White Russian forces that were in charge of the Caspian fleet despite their anti-Bolshevik stance joined the Bolshevik Russian units in Lenkoran for the sake of “great” Russian cause.

            In order to free Lenkoran from the Russian armed gangs Nuri Pasha intended to engage the Azerbaijani Turkic tribes of Shahseven, famous for their heroism in the world. The Shahseven tribes resided in the northern regions of Iran. Nuri Pasha initiated the creation of military organization among the Shahsevens with the purpose of unexpected offensive on Lenkoran from the south. Husamettin bey and I were entrusted with this important mission. That’s why we immediately moved to Salyan. However, while we were getting ready to cross the border into Iran we heard bad news: Turkey was defeated in the war and had to sign peace accord with the victors. We returned to Genje at once. Later we discovered that Turkey was forced to sign the Mondros peace agreement. Under the pressure of England newly established cabinet of Tevfik Pasha ordered Nuri Pasha to withdraw the Turkish troops from Azerbaijan. Thus, the Ottoman State, which was the only ally of Azerbaijan, ceased to exist, and Azerbaijani people had to face all the challenges on their own.

            The Azerbaijani government dispatched a three-man delegation to meet with English general Thomson in Enzeli, Iran. Thomson fled to Enzeli with the remnants of his troops after the entry of the Azeri-Turkish troops into Baku. The delegation hoped that there would be some kind of agreement with the English general. However, proud Englishman Thomson whose country was victorious in the World War saw no need for any negotiations: “ As far as we know there is no republic established by the Azerbaijani people. There is only the government that was created as a result of the political intrigues of the Ottoman Empire. If you claim the contrary, then I will make the appropriate decisions once I am in Baku.” Thus, Thomson who did not reckoned with the interests of the Azerbaijani people led his units to Baku.

            Meanwhile, the Russo-Armenian forces of Russian general Bicherakhov landed in the port of Baku. The English and Russians disseminated their own declarations to the residents of the city. While the Russians and Armenians were exuberant, the pensive and dejected Azeris were waiting for their government to take the next step. Under such circumstances, Azerbaijani State Chairman late Fath Ali Khan arranged a meeting with General Thomson. The negotiations were very tough and argumentative. Thomson insisted that he did not recognize the Azerbaijani republic, and as far as he was concerned he stepped on the soil of their ally Russia. Feth Ali Khan in his turn declared that the Azerbaijani people had declared the independence of their country and sent telegraphs to all the major powers of the world. Feth Ali Khan continued with his persuasion: “ You are a great nation and a powerful Empire. At the same time you are a very civilized nation. You should comprehend and support our independence.” General Thomson reacted: “ These are political matters and should be discussed between two countries. I am a soldier.” Feth Ali Khan responded: “ In that case, I am the State Chairman of independent Azerbaijani Republic. We did not invite you to Azerbaijan. I demand that you immediately leave our country.” General Thomson turned to the translator: “ Tell the Chairman that in order to oust any military force one needs to have military power. According to the information I have your government has not finished the creation of the army yet.”

            Feth Ali Khan was expeditious and wise in his answer: “ Please, let the respected General know that he is just a military man. He has no idea what the power of the people means. Perhaps, he mistakes our nation for the people of India. We, the Azeri Turks, before declaring our independence drove over a hundred thousand Russian troops out of our motherland. Our armed but untrained people carried out this operation. If your current position does not change, our people can throw a handful of English soldiers into the Sea within a few hours. However, we don’t want to hurt them, and we want no harm to ourselves.”

            The cool-headed English General began altering his stance: “ Fine. However, Mirza Esedullah bey will be the Prime Minister.” Feth Ali Khan fervently opposed the demand: “ Absolutely not. This proposition is the direct interference in our internal affairs.” Finally, both sides came to an agreement. First, Azerbaijan would be ruled by the national government. Only the English units would be allowed to stay in Baku. Bicherakhov would leave Azerbaijan with his troops. The Azerbaijani army would not enter Baku. The Ottoman army would leave all regions of Azerbaijan. Both sides were observing the terms of the accord.

            The Azerbaijani police detained Lalayev, the Armenian millionaire who colluded with Bolshevik murderer Shaumian in organizing the massacres of tens of thousands of Azeris in March of 1918. The Armenian was transported to a prison in Genje. He died in detention while waiting for his trial.

            Under the terms of the Mondros armistice the Turkish army was leaving the territory of Azerbaijan. The Turkish troops converged in Genje in order to head to Turkey. The Azeri soldiers were saying farewell to the Turkish officers and soldiers who helped to create the Azeri armed forces. Again one could see the tears in the eyes of the people of Genje. However, this time they were the tears of grief and separation. The Anatolian and Azeri boys were hugging each other in tears. The people were crying as well. The brave and tough Anatolian soldier was cheering up his Azeri brother: “ You have already established a good army. You are capable of defending your motherland. If it were not for the tragedy in Turkey, we would stay longer. What can we do? We have to return home. Turkey is torn apart by the enemies. We have to liberate our motherland as well.”

            Thus, we were left on our own. Now besides our God we relied on our people, the young graduates of the military academy founded by Nuri Pasha and the soldiers who gained their invaluable experience fighting shoulder to shoulder with their Turkish brethren to liberate Baku. The grateful Azerbaijani nation has always remembered the fraternal and critical help of the officers, soldiers and ordinary citizens from brotherly Turkey. This sincere and heart-felt gratitude is passed from generation to generation.

            Once in Genje I found out that the English had arrested Nuri Pasha and transferred him to Batum. The British intended to prosecute Nuri Pasha at the English Court Marshall. He was accused of the alleged Armenian massacres in Baku. I immediately confirmed this news via the telephone conversation with Baku. I decided to obtain a document from the Armenians of Genje that Nuri Pasha had not harmed any Armenian in Genje, and on the contrary, he ensured the security of the Armenian citizens in the city. I thought that in return to his kindness the Armenians could send a delegation to Batum to disprove the allegations against Nuri Pasha. I appealed to the leaders of the Armenian National Organization in Genje. There was no doubt in my mind that I would get this written statement from the Armenians because I just needed the Armenians to confirm the truth. Nevertheless, the Armenians rejected our request: “ We are not kids. We perfectly knew that there was a good reason that Nuri Pasha did not inflict any harm on us. He was aware that if an Armenian massacre occurred in Genje, he would not be able to locate one single Turk alive in Baku region. He planned to occupy Baku and finish off the Armenians there first. Then he intended to deal with us in Genje. However, the armistice was signed, and the Ottoman army did not have sufficient time to commit massacres.”

            I was utterly disappointed and angry. I traveled to Baku to meet with late Nesib bey. I related a story to him. Late Nesib bey was surprised at my state: “ I have never seen you so dispirited.” I rejoined: “ Nesib bey, the Armenians are very ungrateful. I could not obtain the statement on the actions of Nuri Pasha who has more than deserved it.” Nesib bey laughed: “ Don’t worry now. There is an easier way to save Nuri Pasha. I have just heard from our people in Genje. They designed a plan to free Nuri Pasha in an assault. However, they need money. You should travel to Batum at once with 200 thousand manats.” I was invigorated again: “ Order to release the funds, and I will leave tonight.”

            On my arrival in Batum I met Dr. Mahmud bey, the Azerbaijani consul. I explained the purpose of my trip and asked him whether I could meet with Nuri Pasha. The Doctor replied that it was impossible to see Nuri Pasha. “ But you can talk to Mursel Pasha. He is in the English military headquarters under arrest,” he added. I immediately arranged a meeting with Mursel Pasha. Mursel Pasha was preoccupied: “ Don’t worry about me. They can’t do anything to me. But they will definitely sentence Nuri Pasha to death. We have to think of some way to free him.” I briefed him of the purpose of my visit. He was very content and gave me a piece of paper with a very long text. It was a declaration sent from Germany. The Pasha stressed the importance of this statement: “ We need to copy this and disseminate to the Islamic World. We must call on the Muslims of the world to begin a Holy War. This is the only way to win. We have no other resort.”

            I read the paper and after having listened to Mursel Pasha expressed my view on that appeal: “ My Pasha, this is a religious appeal. It is written beautifully and powerfully. However, only tears can answer these sorrowful words. There is no unity in the Muslim world. They have no strength and won’t have any. Even if they had one, it would lead to nowhere. Just as I believe in the existence of God, I firmly believe that the whole Islamic world does not have the dedication, honor, patriotism and loyalty that a single Turkish village has. The authors of this declaration do not believe in their own words either. If they had sincere convictions they would find refuge in Muslim world, not a Christian country. Power and strength are in national unity and ideology. Nevertheless, I will take this declaration so that you know that you accomplished your task.”

            Everyone who read the declaration agreed with me regarding its futility. Four days after my return to Baku I heard about the successful liberation of Nuri Pasha. Four more days passed before I met with Nuri Pasha in Baku. I also met with Nesib bey and gave him the same declaration. He started scanning it, then turned to me: “ Were not you afraid that the English could have captured you?” I said I had not even given my fear a thought. Nesib bey informed me of the new establishment: “ Naki, we have just founded National Security Ministry. I would like to appoint you as a Minister of National Security. Do you accept my offer?” I confessed that I would take the job if no one interfered with my activities. Nesib bey concurred: “ Fine. Here are the rules and charter of the new ministry. You will see that the Security office will be subordinate directly to the Cabinet of the Ministers, not the Ministry of Internal Affairs.” I accepted the position and began my work.

            The creation of National Security services was necessitated by the constant threats by Czar General Denikin, his attacks on our borders and other subversive actions during the first year of our independence. That’s why the government submitted the proposal to set up security services to the Parliament. The national legislative body passed the bill with overwhelming majority. Two thirds of the members of the Security office belonged to Musavat Party, and the rest were from the Socialist Hummet Party. The charter stipulated that the Minister would be a Musavat member, and his deputy should be from Hummet. Lavrenty Beria was among the Socialist members of the Security Ministry.

            I realized how responsible the task was, and I was musing on the degree of difficulty. However, soon I understood that due to the effective and productive cadre that we recruited the job would be substantially facilitated. The officials rolled up their sleeves and were exerting their utmost effort in their work. Besides, the Ministry was obtaining valuable information from the ordinary citizens on a daily basis. We would immediately investigate a lead and reach the results.

            When I took the office our northern borders were under the pressure of Czar General Denikin. The Armenians and Russians who resided in Baku were looking forward to Denikin’s occupation of Baku. One day an officer of the ministry was having a cup of tea in the store of an Iranian man. He noticed a Russian who entered the store and left a package in the back of the store. Our official inquired about the identity of the Russian, and the Iranian explained that the man was a former Russian officer who frequently visited the store to drink vodka and write some letters. The shopkeeper continued: “ He always leaves a briefcase in the back of the store. The briefcase is full of some papers, but I can’t read Russian. When I asked him about his occupation he said that he was a commission-agent. Feel free to inspect the documents in his briefcase.”

            Our agent’s suspicions came true as soon as he glanced at the documents in the briefcase. The Russian was a spy of the White Russian army. The agent requested another person from the ministry, and they began waiting for the Russian to come back. When the Russian returned, he became suspicious of the young Azeri who had been in the store since the Russian had left three hours ago. He notified the shopkeeper that he would not visit the store that night. The agent who was seated in the store left right behind the Russian and asked another agent to escort the Russian to the Security Ministry. The confounded Russian was also ordered to take all his belongings from the store. The Russian refused that he had any items in the store. However, the Iranian summarily disproved the allegations of the Russian spy. The Russian was brought to the Ministry, and the agent in charge of the operation directly reported to me on the situation. During the investigation and examination of the documents we found out that the Russian was an officer Starkov who collaborated with Denikin. The spy managed to obtain important classified data from Azerbaijan for the last month and a half. To crown it all, some documents came directly from the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry. I immediately visited the Defense Ministry and presented the documents to the Chief of Staff late General Hamid Gaydabash. He confirmed that the documents were the copies of the originals kept in the safes of the ministry. According to the written statement of Starkov these documents were obtained through the governess of Defense Minister General Mihmandarli’s grandchild. I submitted the report to the Cabinet as well. As the investigation continued I concluded that the governess method was a legend. The Russian got the papers via other sources. I should also note that after we discovered the aggressive plans of the White Russians the government set up a four-member Defense Committee. The Committee comprised Nesib bey, the Prime Minister, Defense Minister Mihmandarli, Minister of Communications Aslan bey Melik Aslanli and Foreign Minister Mehmed Yusuf bey.

            When I presented the secret report to the Committee General Mihmandarli was extremely angered. The following day I saw Mihmadarli’s car park in front of the office. I knew the reason of his visit. The officer on duty informed me of the arrival of General Mihmandarli. I met him at the door. He was very angry and did not want to sit down: “ Naki bey, do you believe this bastard?” I answered: “ My Pasha, we have already begun to investigate the governess affair. We will conclude our work in that direction within two days. But I would like to get your permission to investigate some officers from the Defense Ministry.” The General gave his consent: “ This is our national security issue. You can investigate anyone you want. You don’t need my permission. However, I would like to see that coward.”

            I instructed to bring in the Russian. The General was still pacing the office when Starkov entered the room. The Russian immediately knelt down as he saw the General. The General was disgusted: “ Coward, pathetic figure. Death is your only punishment. I have never seen such a craven and disgraceful officer in the entire Russian army.” Then Mihmandarli said good bye to me and left. The Russian captain was still on his knees. I ordered him to be taken back to prison.

            According to Starkov’s report all the Armenians of Azerbaijan were anticipating the invasion of the Russian army. He also noted that the wealthy classes of Azerbaijan sympathized with the Russian army as well. The Russian captain added that famous Gatir Memmed who escaped from Azerbaijan and skirmished with the Azeri army everywhere he encountered it desired the arrival of the Russian army. During the investigation Starkov confessed that he had concocted the part about the wealthy Azerbaijanis who allegedly wanted the Russian invasion. The Russian officer was duly punished.



            I employed Beria at the recommendation of the Hummet Party. At that time our main foe was the Czarist General Denikin who fought to restore the Imperial regime. Beria as any other Socialist obviously opposed the Czar regime. I hired him, as I knew that he could be of substantial assistance. I found a 21-year-old Beria to be a very serious man. I assigned him to censorship department. Within a brief period he distinguished himself with his hard and diligent work as a result of which I promoted him to the chief of the department. I was aware of his economic hardships. Thanks to his salary and foodstuff provided by the ministry he could feed himself and his mother. His honesty, intensity and being a Georgian who genuinely disliked the Russians were the reason I liked Beria. Beria was furnishing the secret services with important information obtained from the passengers of the ships docked at Baku Caspian port. I could see his dedication and hard work every day.

            One morning Beria did his regular reporting to me when I noticed how unusually taut he was. He handed me a letter: “ We found this letter in the bags of one of the passengers. We suppose that the author is a student. This is apparently a letter written by a son to his mother - … Mother, very soon the victorious Russian army will enter Baku. They will clean up the city, and the Russian flag with two-headed eagle will embellish all the buildings in the city. After that operation the Russian flag will replace the Georgian flag in Tiflis as well.”

            In the end of the letter the student mentioned the name of the ship that would take him to Baku after fifteen days. Beria insisted that I allow him to “meet” that student to which I gave my permission.

            Fifteen days after this conversation Beria brought the student to the office. When I came to the ministry at nine in the morning I noticed an elderly Russian woman and a thirteen-year old girl waiting in the corridor. I entered my office and called Beria. He gave me the statement of the Russian student after which a seventeen-year-old Russian boy scared to death entered my office. He turned out to be a college student. I cast a harsh look at the kid who almost fainted from fear. I asked: “ What Russian literature works did teach you these filthy words that you used to decorate your writing?” The boy was in no condition to respond. He had cried so much that he had no strength to resort to tears again. The kid was taken to the administrative office, and I received the Russian woman and the girl. No sooner had they entered the room than they fell to my feet. I immediately lifted them. Both the mother and the daughter were imploring: “ He is my only son. Please, do not kill him.” The girl was begging: “ Please, forgive my older brother for my sake!” I advised both of them: “ Stop crying and listen to me! Madame, your son is a child, and we are not barbarians either. There is no reason to fear for his life. However, you should tell me what your son is involved in.” The woman replied: “ He was a student. He did not obey me and ran away to volunteer to the Russian army. He is very sorry now. Please, have mercy!” I asked the woman whether they lived in Baku or not. She said that they were renting an apartment and were getting by doing housework for people. I consoled the lady: “ Madame, go home and pack your belongings. In three days I will release your son and ensure that you leave for Russia.” The lady was exuberant. Two days later I arranged their departure from Baku.

            Beria was dissatisfied with my actions. He grumbled: “ Naki bey, I find your stance against Russians wavering. How could you allow that little snake to escape to Russia without proper punishment?” I scolded him: “ Beria, I did not know that you were so cruel and savage. As I have heard you told your classmates in school that when you grew up you would travel to America to become a gangster. Therefore, you do have such a spirit. Frankly, I could not believe it first. Beria, he was just a kid. He just succumbed to the nationalistic rhetoric.”

            After the Bolsheviks eliminated Denikin’s army in the Caucasus, the White Russian threat to Azerbaijan disappeared as well. Instead, a new, Bolshevik, menace surfaced. We began targeting the Bolshevik organizations too. Despite the new direction of our activities I did not terminate Beria. Although the local Bolsheviks launched their subversive work against the Republic we were crushing them everywhere and did not give them a chance. It was at this period that Beria suddenly vanished from Baku. After a long search for him I concluded that he had left Azerbaijan altogether. 

            I continued sending his salary to his mother for two months. After the Bolshevik occupation of Azerbaijan I emigrated to Georgia. I met Beria in a pastry shop one day. The Menshevik Georgian government was persecuting the Bolsheviks in Georgia at that time. Beria approached me as soon as he noticed me and shook my hand. However, I observed that he was not happy to see me. Furthermore, he seemed to be frightened as well. But my attitude calmed him down. I immediately inquired why he had left for Georgia without notifying me. He explained: “ Your government began persecuting my Communist comrades. I could not stay at such an organization. Our paths have completely diverged. I know that you were sending my salary to my mother. Thank you for that.”

            I asked him: “ Beria, do you receive the news about the actions of the Russians in Azerbaijan? They made the Czar look like an angel.” Beria responded: “ Naki bey, you make a mistake in your assessment. You are escaping the Bolsheviks. However, the Bolsheviks do not express the ideas of Russian Imperialism. The Bolsheviks are bringing freedom and happiness to the Caucasus. Tomorrow your beloved Turkish, Islamic and Eastern world will throw off the chains of capitalism with the help of the Bolshevism. The future will prove my words. Tell me what you are planning to do? Are you staying here or moving further?” I had prepared to leave, but told him that I had not made up my mind yet. Beria was sanguine: “ Naki bey, believe me that the Bolsheviks will soon take over Georgia too. I advise that you get away from here.” I was curious: “ In other words, you are telling me that if I stay and get arrested, you will not be able to secure my release?” He was resolute: “ No, I won’t be able to.” I told him: “ Look Beria, we can talk to each other freely. Let’s assume that I am arrested, and you are a judge. You know me very well. What crime would you charge me with? You can not say that I have done anything unjust. I have never allowed the poor to be ill treated by the wealthy. On the contrary, I always sided with the working class. Your Bolshevik associates declared me a public enemy number one, and they felt no shame while doing that. Tell me. Be honest with me. What action of mine was against the interests of the public?” Beria kept silent, but I could sense that he wanted to reply somehow. Finally, he broke his silence: “ Naki bey, this is a Bolshevik revolution. If one person out of a hundred is guilty, they will execute all hundred of them without hesitation.”

            I said to him: “ Beria, what else can I tell you? Ali Heydar was a member of the Parliament. He was trying to convince me that if the Musavat Party surrendered the power to the Socialists, then the Bolsheviks would not invade Azerbaijan and recognize our independence. I dissuaded him that those coming were the Russians no matter what color disguise they had. They would do what the Russians normally do. In other words, first they would eradicate us, then destroy you. Beria, believe me, your turn will come, and the Russians will not think twice.” Although late but Beria did finally understand the truth in my words before his death. All the Azeris who supported the Bolshevik invasion like Ali Heydar were shot dead by Beria’s hangmen.

            Beria was also killed in Kremlin. Then they did not leave Stalin alone after his death and “punished” him. It was understandable, as Moscow was building and protecting the Russian Empire. Khruschev was not any better than Stalin or Beria. If the Khruschevs of Kremlin attempt to blame all the atrocities and crimes on non-Russian Stalin and Beria, they should also keep in mind that non-Russian nations of Russia, the prison of nations, have always been subject to the oppression by the organized Russian nationalism. These crimes were perpetrated in the name of the Russian people. The mankind has already condemned Stalin. However, the Russian people had no right to denounce Stalin since it was Stalin and not Czars who expanded the boundaries of the Russian Empire. If the Russian nation denies this fact, they will be ungrateful.

Beria committed horrific atrocities against the Azeri youth in Azerbaijan and especially in Baku. Those young people went to school with Beria and were always hospitable to him. The Azeris will always curse Beria who hanged his schoolmates and childhood friends. Beria carried out the worst persecutions in Azerbaijan the likes of which were not seen in Russia or Georgia.

When I condemn Beria, I also curse my memory of him. Beria worked in the intelligence service of the National Security Ministry. We cared for that serpent without knowing him. I was not the only one who was nice to him. Everyone in the department treated him fairly. During the World War II many Azeris who went over to the German side from the Russian Red Army heroically and bravely fought against the Russians. I would always ask those young, nationalist and idealistic Azeris about Beria. They would tell me how Beria had mercilessly executed many Azeris.  “Besides, he shot his former associates from the National Security Ministry first,” they were recounting.

It was 1950. I was operating a small antique shop in one of the districts of Istanbul. One day a stranger entered the craft shop next door. The stranger asked my neighbor how he knew that a particular item was made in Russia. The storeowner answered that I knew Russian, and I had told him. The stranger approached me and in perfect Turkish asked me how I learned Russian. I informed him that I was from the Caucasian Azerbaijan. He inquired whether I was engaged in antique business back in Azerbaijan. I replied that I owned lands and was involved in agricultural industry. I told him more: “ I was also active in national politics. Our goal was the independence that we finally established. Unfortunately, we could not save the republic. We came under the attack of Moscow. They occupied our country. Who am I talking to, by the way?” He told me that he was a Soviet citizen of Russian nationality. I could never guess. His Turkish was impeccable: “ You speak Turkish perfectly. Your accent does not indicate your Russian origin. What do you do in this country?” As he began telling me that he was an official at the Soviet Consulate I interrupted him: “ I got it. You must be a higher ranked official.” He was surprised as to how I had determined that he was a high official. Our conversation was taking a serious turn. I said: “ Here is why. I believe your words. You must be an official from the Soviet Consulate. Let me explain why I think you hold a high position. I do not know any junior or senior official of the Soviet Consulate. I have never come in contact with them, and I have no intention to do so in the future. They know me very well but are afraid to meet with me. You are well aware of this fact. They fear the political commissar of the Communist Party at the Consulate. If the commissar slightly suspects anyone, that person would be either discharged from his position or secretly escorted to Moscow for further “measures”.”

 Another customer entered the store at this time, and I attended to his needs. The Soviet official left at that moment. The same day I found out that he indeed was an official at the Soviet General Consulate. Five days after that meeting the man showed up in my shop again. He realized that I did not receive him warmly at all. He explained that he had a business to discuss with me. Surprised I looked at his face: “ There is nothing I can discuss with you.” He persisted: “ You are very acrimonious. Please, control your temper and listen to me. If you dislike my offer, you can reject it right away. Wouldn’t you help the cause of the peace in the world? You must know that after Stalin’s death three men rule the country: Beria, Malenkov and Molotov. According to the information I have Beria has worked in your organization, and today he is the only one who differs from the other two in his views. Everyone in Moscow knows that Beria has liberalistic tendencies. He supports the idea of eliminating the Kolkhoz system. Why don’t you write a letter to him so that he can find a common language with the Western world? Perhaps, he will follow your recommendations, and you will have contributed to the peace in the world. Please, write a letter to him and expand on the times you worked together so that he understands that the letter is authentic. I will mail the letter via courier. He will receive it within a week.”

He was waiting for my reaction. I gave him my answer: “ I obviously champion the cause of peace in the world. The entire mankind desires that. Nevertheless, I doubt that one letter will resolve such a global issue. I refuse to write a letter to such a degraded person. Furthermore, I don’t think your visit to my store and this conversation are relevant or necessary.”

He never returned to my place. After a while the news agencies spread the news on Beria’s execution in the Kremlin to the whole world. A reporter from the Vatan newspaper that was published in Istanbul those days came to interview me regarding Beria. I answered all his questions.

Several years later I was reading the summary of the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party held in Moscow. In his speech at the congress Khruschev told Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovich: “ If Beria was not killed, you would not be alive today. That bastard worked for the intelligence services of the Azerbaijani Republic and was still in contact with the Musavat émigrés abroad. He was plotting to overthrow the Soviet regime.”

These words immediately clarified the hidden agenda of the Soviets when they had asked me to write a letter to Beria. I was glad that I had not. Evidently, they faked a letter from me. They used the letter against Beria in his sentencing. Those who are interested in this matter will find out the details in other publications. The only thing I am certain about is that Lenin, Stalin, Zinoviev, Kaminev, Kaganovich, Kirov, Khruschev, Vishinski and others are all of the same type that is butchers of innocent people.

The Russian Bolshevik forces occupied Baku and put an end to our national independence. I stayed in Baku that night. I turned the lights off in my apartment on the second floor and sat in front of the window. The street was brightly illuminated by the electric lamps. I was watching as my associates were taken to Cheka. It was the most difficult and tragic night of my life. I had insomnia. I smoked one cigarette after another. In the morning I heard the paperboys yelling: “ The first newspaper of the Bolsheviks. The issue number one!” I asked the landlord’s son to buy a newspaper for me. The paper described the arrests and executions of the “public enemies”, and the search for the ones who escaped. The newspaper ordered any Communist who saw Naki Sheyzamanli, the public enemy number one, to shoot him dead on spot. I dropped the paper. The twelve-year-old kid picked it up and read the same lines. “This is horrible,” he sighed. I could only confirm his words with a nod. Thank God, the owners of the house did not know me just like I did not know them. A friend of mine brought me to this house a day before and was going to pick me up the following night. “You did not sleep at all,” observed the boy pointing to the bed that was not touched. I said: “ Yes, son. Let me take a nap.” I slept about an hour and half. In the evening my friend came, and after a supper we left for the town of Merdekan in Baku suburbs. He returned to Baku, but I stayed in Merdekan for about a week. I was receiving the news from the city everyday. I decided that it was becoming too dangerous to stay in Merdekan. I stayed another night at my sister’s house. I told them that I was planning to travel to Genje. At night my nephew came to see me: “ Uncle, someone is here to see you. Although I repeatedly told him that you were not here, he insisted on meeting with you.” I asked my nephew to let the person in. A young man whom I had never met before entered the room. After greeting me he said: “ Naki bey, you don’t know me. You have saved my life. I have learned that you are here and decided to come to help you. Please, trust me.” I said: “ Brother, why shouldn’t I believe you? You can do both good or harm to me. I want to go to Genje and need help.” The stranger suggested that we depart the next morning. I explained that I was suspicious of the Armenian neighbor. Then he said we should leave at once. In the street we ran into a group of armed men who were running towards us. I turned my face aside as they ran by us. As we were making a turn at the corner I felt someone’s strong hands grab my collars. He inquired where I was heading. I tried to struggle my way out of his grasp, but he was too strong. I finally reached out to my gun and pointed it his stomach: “ Let me go, or I will blow you away.” He immediately released his grip. I put the gun in my pocket and began running as fast as I could.

It was at this moment that I noticed a horse carriage following me. It was following me even in narrow streets. I could not run anymore. I was so exhausted that I decided to counter the “escort”. I was going to shoot the driver. But when the carriage approached me I recognized that young stranger in it. He told me to climb on, but I was too exhausted to make another step. He got out of the carriage and helped me board. He took me to his sister’s house and told me that it was a safe place. I asked him to get my cousin Riza. The following morning my friend whose name I did not know and Riza came to see me. All three of us left the city in a carriage. When we approached the village of Gozdek, the locals warned us: “ Don’t proceed to the village if you carry weapons. The Bolsheviks are there. They have already rounded up a few villagers.” My friend quickly figured out what to do: “ Naki bey, you stay at this house. I will ride to the village and then meet you at this house.”

After a few hours my friend returned from the village. We called the owner of the house. An elderly lady came out on the porch and asked what we needed. “ Madam, is your son Memmed home? We are his guests.” The lady was sad: “ Son, guests destroyed my family. Three days ago three government ministers stayed one night at my house. The enemies at the village informed the Bolsheviks, and they arrested and escorted both my son and husband to Baku.”

We immediately left the village. I told my friend: “ I don’t want to bother you anymore. Please, show us the railway and return to Baku.” He told us that the railway was behind the hill in front of us, and we parted. Riza and I made our way through the wheat fields towards the hill. We suddenly felt that a shadow was following us. We stopped and called a man who was coming behind us. He had an explanation: “ I know that you are high-ranking Musavat officials. I am a Musavatist too. I would like to assist you.” We were curious as to how he could help us. He went down to business: “ Let’s go to the train station. I will buy your tickets, and you will board the train without anyone noticing you.” I gave him money as he took off. He came back ten minutes later. He handed us the tickets: “ The train will leave in thirty minutes. May God protect you! I am confident that you will reach your destination safely.” I said farewell to the man and boarded the train.

A family that I knew from Genje was also in the same train. They were confounded to see me in the train: “ Naki bey, they should not spot you.” They helped me climb to the second level of the train. The family also provided some food to me. After a meal I soundly fell asleep. I woke up the following morning. The train attendant was also dumbfounded to find me there: “ Naki bey, how? The Bolsheviks frisked the train very thoroughly in Baku and arrested three men. How come they have not detected you?” I told him that I had not gotten on train in Baku. There was no danger left on the way to Genje. We passed the Yevlakh station. In that place I knew every village and every family in those villages.

A vendor of Communist newspapers was in our train car. He carried a large quantity of newspapers and handed them to people at the stations free. Besides, he would give a propagandistic speech. A group of passengers boarded the train at Leki station of Aghdash. A very talkative man among this group was loudly lauding the Bolsheviks and criticizing the National government. Everyone was intently listening to him. I could not tolerate this situation any longer. I whispered to Riza: “ Riza, my patience is running out. I have to shut this loud mouth now.” I got up and walked towards the man. “ You bastard! How do you know that the Bolsheviks are so good?” I exclaimed as I hit him hard in the ear. This very moment the Communist newspaper vendor ran out of the car. I returned to my seat. The car was in dead silence.

Ten minutes later the newspaperman returned to the car with two Russian soldiers. He pointed at me and placed the soldiers at both doors of the car. The train was approaching Genje. It meant we would be arrested upon arrival. I instantaneously made a decision and warned Riza to be ready for action. I noticed that the Russian who was guarding the nearest door looked very weak. He was looking out of the window when I grabbed the back of his neck and pushed him on to the floor. He fell on his face like a dead man. Riza and I slipped out of the car. We jumped out of the train when we reached the third car. We had to tramped through the wheat fields again. For almost a week we stayed at the villages in Genje outskirts.

The entire population of Genje was preparing for the rebellion against the Bolsheviks. Everyone was involved in the process. The resolution was that the Bolsheviks in Genje would be attacked and eliminated. Late Colonel Jahangir bey, the commander of the Genje battalion was at the meeting as well. The conference decided to dispatch me to Tiflis in order to ensure the assistance of the Georgian government.

I invited a group of activists to go to Georgia with me. At the village of Eldar at the Georgian border the villagers gave us a warm reception. We placed our weapons against the wall and began talking as we waited for the lunch. The border guard with a cruel and unattractive face kept quiet throughout our conversation. After the lunch we got up to cross the border. However, the villagers warned us against doing so in broad daylight: “ You should return to the city. We will help Naki bey cross the border at night.” A man from the group that accompanied me was very resolute and aggressive: “ We are going to kill all the Bolsheviks. Naki bey is traveling with an important mission. It is a national cause. We must make sure that he establishes contacts with the Georgian government.” In response to this the brutal looking guard exploded: “ Don’t tell me about my responsibilities. I know them very well. My duty is to arrest this gentleman, tie him up and hand him over to the Bolsheviks.” After this threat everyone immediately jumped to arms. Outside the house two sides were threatening each other. “ Do you think he is a sheep to tie his hands and legs and sacrifice to the Bolsheviks? Give it a try!” shouted uncle Rustem. The women who came out of the houses began imploring the men to stop the confrontation. They were both scolding the guard and begging us to return to the table for lunch. We went back to the table. I said to uncle Rustem: “ I will not cross the border without you.” He was as determined: “ Naki bey, what are you talking about? I will not return to motherland until I see that you are under the protection of the Georgian officials. Everyone in Genje knows that I am responsible for your successful trip. Your mother will inquire from me as to what has happened to you. Don’t worry!”

After the lunch we crossed the border. Except for me everyone else returned home. On my arrival in Tiflis I met with Hasan bey Agaoglu, the vice speaker of the Parliament. The following morning two more gentlemen joined us at the meeting with Georgian Interior Minister Ramishvili. We informed him of our plans to rebel against the Bolsheviks, and asked him how he could assist us in this struggle. Ramishvili retorted: “ As you know we have a Socialist government. We intend to come to terms with Russians. Therefore, we can not support your cause.”

I stayed in Tiflis until the fall of the Georgian government. The perfidious Armenians began assassinating our political figures. First, they killed Fetheli Khan Khoylu the former Speaker of the Parliament. Then Halil bey Hasmemmedli, the Justice Minister, was wounded. Hasan bey, the vice speaker of the Parliament also became the target of the Armenian terrorism. Meanwhile, the Georgian government realized the futility of trying to conclude any kind of agreement with the Russians. The war broke out. But this time we began helping the Georgians.

There was a village of Garayazi on the Georgian-Azerbaijani border that the Georgians planned to use as a resistance point. They provided a train carload of weapons destined for our villagers. Mustafa bey and I left for that village in order to distribute the arms to the local population. At the station of Demirchi Hasanli village Mustafa bey asked me to stay at the house of Ahmed Efendi. Ahmed Efendi was supposed to notify the surrounding villages of the arrival of weaponry and ammunition. I stayed at Demirchi Hasanli that night. At four o’clock in the morning the Russians launched an offensive. The Georgians were fleeing everywhere. I with several hundred men on horses moved towards Poylu where I saw a train heading to Tiflis. I recognized the train that had previously brought us from Tiflis. The car with weapons was still there. Thus, Mustafa bey and I came back to Tiflis on board the same train.

I lived in Tiflis for another week. The situation of the Georgians was hopeless. They offered to sign armistice. The Russians agreed. The Georgians asked to determine the place and representatives for the talks. The Russians deridingly gave their answer: “ The venue will be Tiflis, and our representative will be Georgian prisoner Kaftaradze who is held in the prison of Kutaisi.” The Georgian government was evacuating the foreign diplomats and citizens. They were assigning one train car per embassy. The Azerbaijani Committee was also given a train car to leave Tiflis. We reached Batum. The Bolshevik takeover of Batum followed right after our arrival. Most of the people intent on emigrating had already fled the city. I stayed in Batum with another friend of mine.

We were strolling on the beach as we noticed the ship of Ahmed bey Shahinzade from Hopa. Ahmed bey recognized us too as he sent a boat to pick us up. Our attempts to board the boat were frustrated by the Russian soldiers. We began using the colloquial Russian in order not to be recognized by them. Our begging was giving no result as the Russians’ position was immutable. At this moment I noticed a Georgian soldier walking by. I immediately approached him: “ We are Azerbaijani high officials. Our lives are in peril. Please, help us!” The Georgian suddenly got courage and almost ordered the Russians: “ Let these cowards go! The Bolshevism won’t benefit from these people.” The Russians changed their minds and allowed us to climb into the boat.

I will describe my life in emigration in another book. Let me just state that after the occupation of Azerbaijan we spread throughout the world. The ones who found refuge in Turkey did not feel like immigrants. We became the Turkish citizens. We have been fulfilling our civic duties and will do so in future. On the other hand, we have been doing all in our power to liberate Azerbaijan, and will always fight for that cause in the future.

After the fall of the Azerbaijani republic the prominent political and intellectual figures rallied in Istanbul. Seven or eight ministers from the Azerbaijani National government were also in Istanbul. As a result of our sacrificial work we could succeed in spreading the word about our struggle to the world community.


The Causes of the fall of the Azerbaijani Republic

            On April 27th, 1920 the Red Army invaded Azerbaijan at Moscow’s order and occupied our country. The independence was ended. This tragic anniversary is commemorated every year. The causes of this failure have been discussed and analyzed relatively well. I will try to describe such aspects of this sad event that I witnessed and that never appeared in the press. In order to understand me I would recommend that you read a 1400-page book by Kazim Karabekir Pasha where he dwells on these events in detail. You will encounter the causes and details of the fall that I am about to relate in that book as well. In the same book you can read about a number of adventurists who pretended to be Ankara’s representatives in Azerbaijan. These people instigated political instability and chaos in Azerbaijan. Finally, they betrayed our nation by receiving large sums of money from Moscow. However, the Azerbaijani people did discern the provocation, propaganda and subversive acts of these mavericks from the official representatives of the Ankara government. These acts of sabotage were the results of the treachery of the impostors. Let me recount one case. At the Independence Trials Ali Cetinkaya asked Nail bey, one of the saboteurs, the following question: “ What objective did you pursue in destroying the Azerbaijani Republic? Who backed you in this operation?” Nail bey did not say a word. Later he was duly sentenced and executed.

            The Azerbaijani government issued a decree that allowed recruiting the Turkish officers into the Azeri army. These officers joined the Defense battalion of the Parliament. In addition to the wages paid by our government, their chiefs were also receiving payments from fake special envoys. Moscow entirely funded the “representatives”. On the eve of the invasion our cabinet of ministers decided to transfer the capital back to Genje and fight the Red Army from there. In order to ensure the success of this operation the government needed large funds. With this purpose the Azerbaijani Central Bank was ordered to transfer 100 million manats to its Genje branch. The officials of the Bank packed the funds into safes and loaded the special train destined for Genje. However, a short, Turkish officer by the name of Halit from the Parliament Defense battalion stopped the train’s movement with about fifty armed men.

            Memmed Hasan Hajinski who played a despicable role in the history of our republic colluded with secret services in Moscow and worked against our government and people. He followed Moscow’s directives. When his activities were discovered, it became clear that this unfortunate man was not bribed, but was just a vile character. The second unpardonable person was Defense Minister Ali Agha Shihlinski. The General who earned his fame as the Commander of Artillery forces of the Russian army during the World War I became a victim of his innocence and purity as he was deluded by impostor-“envoy” Halil bey.

            When the Red Army was at our northern borders our government ordered the mayor of Kuba to dismantle railways for at least one kilometer. The mayor carried out the order the following day. However, deceitful Halil bey misled General Shihlinski: “ My Pasha, the Government demolished the railways at the border. The Red Army will not be able to proceed to Anatolia to provide the assistance to Ataturk. Please, take appropriate measures!” Deceived by this appeal Shihlinski ordered to restore the railways.

             On April 27th the Red Army marched into Baku and took over the strategic buildings and installations in the city. They changed the name of the Parliament Defense battalion to Assistance battalion. After two days of utilizing this battalion the Russians disarmed and disbanded them. They shot any officer who failed to escape. As far as the Bolsheviks were concerned these mavericks had fulfilled their task. Some of these traitors such as Halil Pasha, Baha Sait, Nail and others managed to save their lives by fleeing to Georgia.

            On the second day of the occupation Doctor Garabeyov, the leader of the Islamic Union Party and naïve General Shihlinski visited the barracks in Baku. Garabeyov was motivating the soldiers by his speeches about Islamism. Senior General Shihlinski spoke on a different matter: “ My sons, the Turkish army under the command of their Pashas came and helped us to liberate Baku. Today it is our turn to help our brothers. The enemies occupied Istanbul. We must clean Istanbul from the occupants. I will lead you to war against the enemies of Turkey. Do you swear to march to Turkey and fight to death?” The soldiers roared with joy and pride in their voices: “ Yes Sir, we will fight and die.” Shihlinski was exuberant: “ My children, you are not the only ones who will go to help. Enver Pasha managed to gather former Turkish POW’s in Russia and one million Tartar volunteers. They will travel via Baku. We will join that force.”

            Credulous Shihlinski was saying those words with sincere belief. He did not betray us to the Bolsheviks. The General was simply deceived by the propaganda of the traitors. The enemy’s propaganda proved to be the lethal weapon to us. The Russians spread the rumor that Enver Pasha was traveling with the Bolsheviks. The people crowded to the railway station. Then they lied that Enver Pasha would arrive a day later.


The Traditions of the Azerbaijani People

            Throughout my conscious life I felt myself closely linked to the traditions of the Azerbaijani people. The Azerbaijani people hold their traditions and customs above any notion or value. The Azerbaijani traditions have grown so sophisticated that they almost became customary laws. The people live with their ancient and central traditions. The Azerbaijanis managed to incorporate the religious and humanistic ideals into their national culture. They established secularism thanks to their cultural heritage. Let me give you the example of thieves. Even they do have their lore. Thieves break into houses at night and fill their bags with anything they can get their hands on. On return to their houses thieves will separate women’s cloths from the rest of the booty. The reason is that they refuse to be called the shameful “women’s items thief”. The next evening thieves will drop those items at the victim’s backyard. The robbers will not take women’s belongings either. They will not even touch the women’s jewelry found on men.

             The vendetta is a widespread phenomenon in Azerbaijan. However, if a woman accompanies a man, he will never be shot in her presence. A woman walking with a man is never leered at or teased. The man’s pride and honor are always respected. Our people are faithful to Allah, Islam and Holy Koran. They will tell the truth if they swear by Koran. The Russians were well aware of this fact and always made Azeris swear by the Koran in criminal trials. Our people would never appeal to the Russian civil courts. In order not to swear by the Koran they would avoid the Shariat courts as well. The elderly of the community were entrusted with resolving disputes or conflicts. Our traditions had tremendous influence on all our social activities. If anyone did something wrong, say, a married man seduced a girl, he may get either heavy or light punishment. But his worst punishment will come from the community. All his relatives and friends will condemn and ostracize him. The perpetrator will be kept out of the community. There was no salvation for that man. Such a person will have to leave the locale and reside somewhere else.

            Another important tradition of the Azeris is Kirve custom. During the circumcision of a boy the family chooses its most beloved and revered friend or relative as their Kirve. Kirve is the person who holds a boy during the circumcision operation. From that moment on the Kirve becomes as close to the family as the blood relatives. Kirve enjoys the same status as kid’s father and uncle. It is also in Azeri tradition to call their Armenian friends Kirve. Our Armenian neighbors are familiar with our traditions as much as we are. The Azeris do not address Armenians or any other Christian as uncle or brother. Instead they use the term Kirve. Because of deep respect to Kirves when one Kirve reproaches the other he uses famous saying: “ You have rejected God. But how could you dare forget about your being Kirve?”

            Every Azeri’s heart is full with two sacred loves. One is the love for religion, the other is love for one’s nation. The Azeris have also emblazoned their national flag with these two sentiments. The tri-color Azeri flag stands for the following notions. The green color signifies Islam. The red together with star and crescent symbolize Turkism. The blue color stands for nobility of our blood. Every Azerbaijani lives with infinite desire and aspiration to be free and independent.

            The Azerbaijanis have never succumbed to the influence of religion. They held their national traditions as sacred as the religion. The nation that has for centuries elevated its religion, traditions, customs, mentality and human feelings to the level of a law has earned its right to exist as an independent state. Not every oppressed nation did succeed in creating rich literature, preserving its language and traditions, keeping its language free of foreign terms especially from those of the dominant nation, creating a language competition with the dominant country (thus, some non-Russian minorities in Azerbaijan refused to learn Russian when they could learn Azeri and communicate in that language) defending its nationhood and national consciousness. The Azeris managed to fight the Russians despite cruel and inhumane oppression. They established various cultural and scientific societies, created such a radical organization as Difai, and organized Gachag groups across the country that terrorized the Russian Imperialism. Very few nations under the colonial rule have accomplished these feats. All these achievements demonstrate once more how successful the Azeris were in their struggle.


The Period of Independence

            The religious fanatics were divided into two Islamic denominations: Shiism and Sunnism. The Azerbaijani people, however, have rejected this schism. Nevertheless, as the saying goes: “ Water snoozes, but the enemy does not.” The Russian political circles do not miss a chance to interfere and instigate a problem. The Russians incited both movements. On the other hand, they established two separate headquarters for Sunnis and Shiites. After the revolution of 1917 All-Caucasian Congress was convened in Baku. The leaders of both sects embraced each other at the Congress and promised to back the independence drive and unity of the nation.

            The Sheykhulislam (leader of Shiites) and Mufti (leader of Sunnis) approached Feth Ali Khan, the Prime Minister of the Azerbaijani Republic, with a request to allow them to hold a seat in the cabinet as representatives of religious organizations. Feth Ali Khan did not approve of their appeal: “ Your request is incongruous and inappropriate. We don’t discuss religious matters at the meetings of the cabinet. As a matter of fact, we are not knowledgeable of the religion at all. If we face any issue in regards to the Muslim countries, then we will ask for your advice. All the deputies and ministers will follow your recommendations in that regard.” The Mufti retorted: “ As you know, the Sheykhulislam who represents the religion has a portfolio in the Ottoman government.” Feth Ali Khan was firm in his opinion: “ Look, it is one of their mistakes.”

            Feth Ali Khan continued: “ We have declared our independence and established our republic. Our entire nation must work hard as one in order to succeed in strengthening our statehood. Our government is expending every effort in order to minimize our dependence on exports by building new plants and factories. God willing, we will succeed in our endeavors. However, you are aware that under the Russians the Azerbaijanis were obtaining their supply of wheat from the North Caucasus, as we had no sufficient resources ourselves. Today the north of the Caucasus is left beyond our reach. We must do all in and beyond our power in order to provide our people with wheat, which is mainstay of our population. Our people are mobilized. However, if our farmers do not speed up their work on fields, our nation may face famine. You know that we are in the middle of the Holy month of Ramadan. Farmers, women and men, are not anywhere to be seen on the fields. I have a request to you. Can you utilize your knowledge of the religion and postpone the Ramadan considering our present situation? Look, the educated and responsible citizens in the cities have realized the seriousness of the situation and postponed the Ramadan.”  The religious leaders left the Prime Minister’s office without giving any response either because of their inability or unwillingness to do so. The similar situation repeated 45 years later in 1963 in Tunisia when the Tunisian President declared an economic war by ordering citizens to mobilize and banned fasting for that period.

            In 1919 General Denikin of White Russian forces constantly provoked skirmishes at our northern borders and threatened our Republic. These provocations did not intimidate our people or government. At one of the receptions Denikin’s menace was brought up. Everyone at the reception directed his look at General Mihmandarli, the Defense Minister of the Republic. The iron willed 75-year-old lion stood up. After glancing around his table he slowly began his speech: “ My dear children, Denikin’s threats are bluff. Denikin knows me better than the Russian army, Czar or people. He is also aware that the Russian armies under my command were always superior to other Russian armies. My sons, I have spent all my youth and energy for the good of the Russian army. I am so happy that in my old age I am honored to build the army of my beloved nation. I am a Commander-in-Chief of our country’s army. Denikin will never dare attack the army under my command. Relax and enjoy yourselves.”

            Since Denikin’s efforts to intimidate Azerbaijan miserably failed, he dispatched a delegation of two officers to Baku. They offered to create an alliance against Moscow. After the discussions at the Cabinet of Ministers, Defense Minister General Mihmandarli and two Russian officers drove to the Defense Ministry building. In front of the building two Russian young men who turned out to be Bolsheviks tossed a bomb at the automobile carrying the Minister and two White Russian officers. The bomb was not powerful and did not harm anyone. In fact, the Moscow services never intended to kill anyone. Their main objective was to proclaim the terrorist act to the whole world, and undermine the potential Denikin-Azerbaijan pact. After the explosion General Mihmandarli and the Russians got out of their car that rammed into the fence. Two Azeri soldiers on duty at the main gates of the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry caught Mihmandarli’s eyes. Mihmandarli approached those two soldiers and hugged them, then told the Russian colonels: “ These are live monuments. I have never witnessed the courage and stamina of our Azerbaijani soldiers in any Russian.”

            On May 28, 1919, the anniversary of our independence General Mihmandarli wired the Army commander in Genje: “ Prepare the list of the servicemen who earned the military honors. I will be in Genje for the award ceremony.” A few days after the telegraph Mihmandarli arrived in Genje and examined the list. The name of Captain Suleyman Mihmandarli displayed on the list as well. The General immediately inquired whether it was his nephew Suleyman. As the response was positive, the General objected to the list: “ This means that other officers on this list are at the same level of competence as Suleyman. I don’t think I can award these people.” The list was re-examined and renewed. Suleyman and two other officers were removed from the document.

            Another interesting event: a former captain of Czar army Shahverdihan who was recruited into our army in the rank of colonel asked General Mihmandarli: “ Uncle, I have become a colonel. However, I did not get a battalion. When will I become a commander of the battalion?” Mihmandarli calmly gave his answer: “ Don’t you know the reason? As soon as you quit drinking alcohol.” Ashamed, Shahverdihan responded: “ I guess I will never get a battalion.”


The Letter of Gratitude


            The Azerbaijani President received the following letter from the Episcopate of Genje.

            “ His Highness, Feth Ali Khan,

It is my great honor to express my sincere gratitude to You and Your government for the assistance you render to the Orthodox Church and its parishioners. I feel terribly sad that I could not meet with you and convey my feelings in person. I pray God to help You, and I express my deep respect to you.

The Episcopate of Genje.

Feefilant  January 8, 1919

(Azerbaijani Newspaper Issue #15, published in Baku)

The North Caucasus


            The people of the region profess Islam and are extremely religious. Their political structure is still a tribalist system. These tribes comprise Circassians, Ingush, Ossetians, Kabardins, Chechens, Kumiks, Avars, Lezgins and others. All these tribes have different languages. Sometimes even residents of two neighboring villages have difficulty understanding each other’s language. Because of the lack of a common language they have never been formed as nations. They call themselves Islamic nations. After a thorough research in the north Caucasus the Arab scientists failed to make any definite conclusions regarding their origin. The Russians explorers in turn named them “ the country with innumerable languages.”

            From ancient times the peoples of the north Caucasus preferred to use Arabic in administrative and other affairs. They established mosques and trained imams. Their mayors, generals, administrators and even local chiefs all come from the community of imams. Obviously, Arabic could not become the language of the ordinary citizens. Only the graduates of the religious schools could converse in Arabic. Since there was no effective means of communication with the people the leaders managed the people through the system of muridizm. The essence of the muridizm was unconditional obedience to an imam, even if he ordered you to die. The religion via muridizm tied these people to each other.

            If you meticulously analyze the factors that contributed to the incredible resistance of these peoples to the Russian invasion you will discover one undeniable truth: every inch of this land had steep rocks, steel-willed men, eagle-like heroes. Faithful to their religion, dedicated to holy wars, these people fought the Russians for many years. The Russians exerted many efforts in this country and suffered enormous losses. Finally, they completely cut the region off from the outside world. The heroic peoples of the Caucasus did not surrender to the enemy. The Russians took the whole nations as prisoner of war. The Caucasians who did not suffer a defeat at the Russian sword fell victims to the skillful Russian diplomats. As far as I know the Russian Empire resolved to occupy the Caucasus in the 18th century. The long-term objective of the Russians was to exert influence over Turkey and Iran, acquire access to the Straits and reach the Persian Gulf. In order to achieve their ends the Russians had to wage bloody wars in the north Caucasus. Since the north Caucasians qualified the Russian influx as aggression against Islam they declared Jihad or Holy War against Russia. The Caucasians were accomplishing feats in battlefields in order to be called martyrs. In the end the war was over, and the peaceful times came to the north.

            Now the Czar was the protector of Islam. He ordered to repair mosques, equip them and pay salaries to religious figures. On the other hand, the doors of the Russian military schools were wide open to the youth of the north Caucasus. The sons of all beys, khans and other wealthy citizens began attending the Russian military academies. The result was a vast number of officers of the Caucasian origin. The Czar also set a special commencement ceremony for these graduates. For this event the Czar authorities invited a special guest, the Mufti from Kazan. Then Holy Koran written by Saint Osman from the Czar museum together with a sword was a part of the oath ceremony. The following was the pledge of the graduates: “ I swear by the Holy Koran. I will use the sword girded on me for the sake of the Russian Czar just like I will sacrifice my life for the Czar.” Then they placed their hands on Koran. The graduates filled the ranks of the Russian army.

            I think if we cast a quick glance at the history of the Russian soldiery, we will understand the situation. The results of this tacit agreement left both sides satisfied. The north Caucasians were in full control of their religious affairs and were free to profess their faith. The economic and social standards were rising at a stupendous pace. What else did they need? The Russians in their turn took advantage of the lack of national consciousness and encouraged the religious beliefs. On the other hand, using the religious rites they harnessed the bravery and heroism that stemmed from religious zeal to the benefit of the Czar.

            May 11, 1918 is the day of independence of North Caucasus. I was present at one of the anniversary ceremonies. Late Pishimaho, the former President of the North Caucasian Republic made a morose speech at the event: “ I have invited all our officers and two generals who gained experience in the Russian army to assist us in our independence drive. We have declared our freedom. An independent country needs a strong army. You, the officers, must take the responsibility for building a powerful army. The servicemen replied that they had sworn on the Holy Koran that they would use their sword only for the Russian Czar.”

            Then Seyid Shamil bey, the grandson of Sheykh Shamil, began speaking: “ We have much more officers than other Caucasian nations such as Azerbaijanis, Georgians and Armenians. I should stress it with great lamentation that when I visited Daghestan in 1920, all our villagers were waging ruthless wars against the Bolsheviks while all of the officers refused to take part.” Everyone gave a speech at the ceremony. They finally asked me to speak. I said: “ I listened to the sorrowful words of Pishimaho and Seyid Shamil with regret as well. Since they started on this note, I will express my dissatisfaction as well. In 1919 when I was the National Security Minister, a group of thirty men in civil clothes was brought to my office. These people had served in the Russian army in different officer ranks. Our agents arrested them when they tried to cross the border illegally. To my question where they were heading they responded that they were on their way to volunteer into Denikin’s army. I immediately offered: “ If you are officers, we can enlist you into the Azerbaijani army.” They rejected my offer at once.”

            I cast a glance at Ahmed bey, the Avar, who was present at the ceremony and went on: “ Then Ahmed bey the Avar attempted to persuade them, but to no avail. I finally decided to deport them to North Caucasus.” Ahmed bey spoke after me and confirmed my story: “ I witnessed that case. Haydar Bamat bey and I used to visit Baku in order to learn about the current developments in the Azerbaijani State.”

             I witnessed another noteworthy event that involved the North Caucasians. There were eight North Caucasian officers among soldiers and officers of 27 ships that carried the remnants of Denikin’s army after his rout. I notified the officers of our government’s decision: they could keep their daggers and swords, but had to turn in their firearms. Eight North Caucasian officers approached me: “ We are Circassians. We can’t give up our guns.” I was not impressed: “ I can not make an exception for you. However, you can jot down the serial numbers of your pistols. Tomorrow when you are released you can come to my ministry. You will be my guests and pick up your weapons. I observed as the officers discussed the issue and decided to throw their guns into the sea. I could not help commenting on that action: “ Since you are of Caucasian descent I can not approve of your action. That action was not a heroic feat. If you had a little bit of Caucasian spirit you would not wear the shoulder straps of the Russian Imperial Army which is universally loathed by the Islamic and Turkic world. The Russian people have executed the Russian Czar whom you deify. Those generals who fight to restore the Czar regime have scattered across the country. You, the bits and pieces of officer corpse, find refuge in Azerbaijan. Do not remove those shoulder straps. They are a memory to you from the Russians.”

            I remember reading my friend Pishimaho bey’s booklet about the North Caucasus. On page 40 of that booklet he described the intrigues of famous Communist Jelal Gorkhmaz: “ At last a handful of religious figures who denied any contradiction between Islam and Communism were found in the Caucasus. The Bolsheviks needed a renowned Islamic scholar to confirm this theory in order to proselytize the common people. The Communist activists managed to locate such a man in the person of Ali Haji, an old and deaf man from the village of Akusha in the mountains of Daghestan. Ali Haji’s sons were close associates of Jelal Gorkhmaz. Despite all the existing facts this fanatical Muslim gave the following interpretation of the theory: “ There is no antagonism between the Bolsheviks and us. We have agreed to alliance with the Bolsheviks provided that they will not jeopardize our religion. They will help us in protecting our faith.” 

            The Soviet author Ataho-Godi also dwelled on the events in the North Caucasus in his book “ Daghestan: Revolution and Counterrevolution” published in 1917. On page 137 it says: “ Jelal Gorkhmaz obtained a document disproving the conflict between Islam and Communism. Soon Shuayib Mullah from Chechnya backed the ideas of Ali Haji. In Kabartay young intellectual Nazir Kothan claimed that Communism and Islam were in harmony as well.”

            I have never read Ataho-Godi’s work referred to by late Pishimaho, however I did read the book entitled “ The History of Daghestan” by a Daghestani gentleman Samurski. Samurski’s History of Daghestan says: “ All the religious leaders and students laid claim to the Republic that was declared on May 11th, 1918. They neither supported nor undermined it. They took a wait-and-see position. This situation continued until General Denikin’s occupation of Chechenya in 1919. This military action caused the division of the imams into two camps. Thus, all North Caucasian officers were urged to join Denikin’s army. Imam Nejmeddin was elected the senior imam and declared a Mufti by Denikin. On the other hand famous fighter Uzun (tall) Haji and other imams notorious for their Russophopia forged a joint front against Imam Nejmeddin. Denikin’s army backed Imam Nejmeddin, while district Bolshevik chief Gigale supported Usun Haji. The emergency congress of all the religious leaders and students was convened. Deaf imam Ali Haji from Daghestan chaired the session. The congress had a very concise and clear agenda: condemn Imam Nejmeddin and establish contacts with Moscow. The final resolution of the congress was disseminated in Turkish, Arabic and Russian. The following is the text of the declaration:

            “ We are authorized to announce to the Caucasians and Islamic world that we must obey the Soviet power and together defend it from the enemies. The shameless enemies of the Soviet authorities are not only those who desire the end of Bolshevism, but also are the enemies of the Islamic world. Keep in mind that the Holy Koran states very clearly that you should obey your rulers. We must obey the authorities because the Bolsheviks fight to save the Islamic world. Down with Imam Nejmeddin and all enemies of Bolshevism! Long live the Soviet leaders who strive to save Islam!”

            The telegraph dispatched to Lenin and Stalin contained the following words in Arabic: “ Congratulations! We pray Allah to keep you healthy. The leaders of the Congress.”

            According to Samurski Uzun Haji was a staunch religious zealot. He always strove to establish a society based on Islamic law. He never agreed with the Czarist Russia and was anti-Russian. However, although he hated the White Russians, he sympathized with the Bolsheviks. Being a very capable leader and brave warrior Uzun Haji managed to unite all Avars, Andis and Chechens under his rule within a short period. Uzun Haji attempted to turn the clock back. In the 20th century he was reversing the time to the Middle Ages. In late 1919 he finally established the religious state in the north of the Caucasus. Uzun Haji tied his new emirate to the Ottoman Empire. The official declaration of the emirate stated:      “ The first Emir Uzun Haji of North Caucasian Emirate under the protection of Ottoman Sultan and Caliph Mohammed Vahdeddin Khan.”

            Uzun Haji interpreted the establishment of his Emirate as follows. “Thus, we have founded an autocracy based on Shariat according to the will of Allah. The simple reason is that we can not proclaim a republic on the Islamic land. If we indeed did declare a republic, then we would reject the Islamic Caliph, and therefore, Prophet Mohammed. In the end we would wind up denying the existence of Allah.”

            The influence of Imam Ali Haji and Uzun Haji was enormous at this stage. Nevertheless, failing to withstand the outside pressure this guerilla emirate soon collapsed and disappeared like a burst bubble (Samurski – The History of Daghestan. Pages 70, 71, 74).


Nesib Bey Yusufbeyli

            I was not appointed the chief of the National Security yet. I visited Baku frequently, and naturally, I met with Nesib bey every time. Nesib bey just became the Prime Minister. In order to congratulate him I went to the government building at 10 o’clock in the morning following my arrival from Genje. I let Nesib bey know about my arrival through his secretary. Nesib bey asked me to wait. At 11:30 AM I asked the secretary to check with the Prime Minister assuming that the PM may have forgotten about me. The secretary came out of his office and informed me that the Prime Minister had not forgotten and wanted me to wait little longer. I waited until 2 PM. The government officials in Azerbaijan had their lunch breaks at 2 in afternoon. At 2 PM sharp Nesib bey came out of his office and greeted me. I got up to shake hands with him. I did not tell him that I had waited for hours. I just asked: “ Nesib bey, would you like me to come and see you tomorrow morning before you start work?” Nesib bey’s smile became wider: “ No, dear. I asked to wait so that we could go out together.” We got into the official government car and left for Nesib bey’s house. We sat at the table prepared for two people. Nesib bey explained: “ If I received you immediately, we could not talk for long. Now, however, we can both discuss many issues and have a lunch.”

            When I asked Nesib bey about his wellbeing he responded: “ Thank God, I have never complained about my health. My problems have always been financial. After I became the Prime Minister, those problems got resolved as well. When I was the education minister at the Seym, I did not see the money I was receiving from home. I used to get money from my father in Genje. Then we declared the independence of Azerbaijan, and I was appointed the Education Minister of our country. Again my salary was not sufficient to cover my expenses. You know that people from different classes both in our Parliament, government and political parties respect me. There is not one single day that I am not invited to different events. I have to donate to all of them. I felt ill at ease that I could not afford to contribute more. Finally, when I became the Prime Minister, those obstacles were removed. You know that such expenses are paid from special government funds.

            I designated one of the gardens of my father to be modernized and re-equipped. For the last three years I have been so occupied in national politics that I had no time to take care of the garden. I asked my father to buy reed and work on the garden. My father sent me a reply. Let me read you his letter:

            “ My dear son, I have been very patient, but this time I have to express my thoughts. I struggled and borrowed money to send you to the best universities. My thought was that you would graduate, work and take care of me too. After the university you returned and became the Chief of Food Services at the City Council. However, you looked to me for financial assistance again. Then you became the Education minister of the Seym in Tiflis. You could not get by with your salary either. You requested funds several times, and I furnished them. Later we declared the independence of Azerbaijan, and you were assigned the post of the Education Minister of our motherland. You worked in our capital Baku, but your salary was not sufficient again. I sold a part of the building plot I had in order to help you out. Today you are the Prime Minister, in other words the chief of our country. Do you still want me, your father, to buy the reed for your garden? Perhaps, you do not know how to send money?”

            During his university years Nesib bey used to return to Genje on summer vacations just like other students. We would meet him at the City Club the same evening. There was always some sense of festivity in Nesib bey’s arrival. When other students came home their relatives would be happy, and friends would welcome them. However, Nesib bey’s homecoming would make everyone in the Club happy. Every member of the Club would invite him to dinner at his house. Nesib bey would thank them and excuse himself: “ I am booked for tonight. I have to have my first dinner with the students of the city.” The Azeris would eat dinner at 2 PM, and supper at 10 PM.


What I heard about Nesib bey from others

            Suleyman bey Memmedzade was recalling in Istanbul: “ In 1908 after the declaration of the Constitutional Government Nesib bey spoke at two meetings. Both speeches were listened to with great pleasure and attention. In Sultanahmed Nesib bey spoke with his deep voice. He spoke about the Great Turkism and the unity among the Turks worldwide. Then he spoke on the bridge. His speeches were received with standing ovations.

            Nesib bey would frequently participate in many meetings and demonstration. He would ask us different questions. Those were wonderful days. Nesib bey was the beloved teacher of our independence. He was a teacher who was eager to spread his knowledge and enthusiasm.  All the strata of our people loved and revered him. Nesib bey had immense belief in our youth. He would give first priority to the Azerbaijani youth. Nesib was everything to us, the Azeri young people, just like we were everything to him.

            I remember the lines of the Azerbaijani poet Almaz Ildirim:

            “If I have a point of support

             In one movement I would turn the world.

             I say if I had the power of fiery youth,

             In one strike I would change the earth.”

            Nesib bey succeeded in directing the power of fiery youth. Just like a commander would trust the army he trained, Nesib bey relied on his young associates whom he had raised. It is the courage that Nesib bey drew from this trust that enabled him to use the fledgling young forces of our people to fight and drive out over 100 thousand Russian troops from Azerbaijan. Thus, he paved the way for Azerbaijan’s independence.

            In late March 1920 I visited Nesib bey in his house. We were discussing different issues when we touched on the Independence War in Anatolia. Nesib bey said: “ Although late and in small amounts I finally managed to send some hard currency to Turkey through Memmed Ali Ahmedzade, the nephew of my sister’s husband Peshnamazzade.” I did not inquire about the amount of funds, and he did not clarify either. In 1961 I met with Ahmedzade in Tehran. Despite my questions regarding the financial assistance in 1920 Ahmedzade refused to divulge any information. His reluctance dissuaded me from insisting further.

            According to the information I have obtained Ahmedzade sent the money given by Nesib bey to Istanbul. The English and French were controlling Istanbul at the time. He could not reach Ankara to hand over the funds. Meanwhile, the Red Army invaded Azerbaijan on April 27th, 1920. In May 1920 the Azerbaijani officials began emigrating to Georgia. Ahmedzade immediately wired one thousand British Pounds to a bank in Tiflis via an Italian bank so that Nesib bey could retrieve the money. He was not aware that unidentified people had already murdered Nesib bey. Nesib bey’s colleagues from the Cabinet managed to get those funds with the help of Perviz bey Vekilli, the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Georgia. Ahmedzade found out about Nesib bey’s assassination later. According to the documents I have located in October of 1920 Ahmedzade transferred 19 thousand Turkish paper Liras and one million French Francs to the government in Ankara.


My last meeting with Nesib bey

            During the days that followed tragic April 27th, 1920 the Russians were killing any Azerbaijani intellectual or activist they could find. The brutal hangmen of the Cheka were hunting down the Musavatists in Baku. I went to meet with Nesib bey secretly. It turned out to be my last meeting with him.

            He was staying in a house with a group of his associates. I was overwhelmed with my sadness. The enemy pierced an armored (the Red Army invaded Azerbaijan on board the armored train, the translator’s note) dagger in the heart of our national entity. I could not speak. Every time I tried to open my mouth my eyes would be filled with tears. Everyone was silent for a moment. I could discern the lines of sorrow on Nesib bey’s face. All of a sudden Nesib bey broke the silence with his beautiful and grieving voice: “ Brothers, we declared our independence having done a superhuman work. Unfortunately, we failed to preserve it. Our eternal enemies, the Russians, attacked our country with outnumbering forces and put an end to our freedom. Our sacred motherland came into the Russian yoke. However, one thing that we believe in gives us infinite hope. No matter what atrocities the Russians commit, what kinds of destruction they wreak on our country, they will never be able to hold a foot in our motherland. They will never manage to destroy or eliminate the ideals and concepts of freedom in our nation that we worked so hard to instill. Even if the Russians make use of Neuron famous for his brutality and atrocities, they will not prevail.”

            Nesib bey’s sincere words contained irrefutable truth. Only a month after the invasion did the glorious rebellion in Genje that was emblazoned in our history with golden letters occur. The rebellion that lasted nine days and nights was a rare event in the history of mankind in which the national pride, honor and consciousness were demonstrated in the face of the oppressive invader. The Genje insurrection was not just a rebellion, but a natural display of heroism by the people. It became a legend from which the poets derived their inspiration.


The best article about Nesib bey

            (I have included this superb and veritable article in my memoirs.)

            Memmed Emin Resulzade, Odlu Yurd (Land of Fire, Year 1, Issue 3, April 27th 1929).

The Martyrs of Independence. Nesib bey Yusufbeyli.

            As a result of this horrible day (April 27th, 1920. Translator’s Note) the most important loss of the Azerbaijani Independence Movement was Nesib bey Yusufbeyli. Although he had resigned before the invasion, Nesib bey was still performing the duties of the Prime Minister. When the Russian Red Army occupied Baku, Nesib bey and his close associate Ibrahimli left Baku for Georgia. However, he died in a very mysterious accident the details of which are still not known.

            Nesib bey’s role in the Azerbaijani Independence Movement can not be characterized only by his duties as a minister or Prime Minister. His real contribution to the Movement had begun well before he took those posts. His important role started with the Turkish Decentralization Party that Nesib bey founded in Genje, 1917. We must credit Nesib bey for shaping the Azerbaijani national ideals. My interaction with Nesib bey began before that date. It was during the World War I when he worked at the city council in Genje, and I was in Baku. I founded a newspaper Achiq Soz in 1915. Nesib bey would frequently come to the headquarters of Achiq Soz during his visits to Baku. From day one of our meeting to his last day in May 1920 late Nesib bey, God rest him, and I established sincere and cordial friendship. Evidently, our common views and goals were the cement that bonded us together. The common objectives and convictions inspired both of us to write almost the same political articles in Genje and Baku.

            Nesib bey possessed one of the rarest abilities that few educated Azeri intellectuals had. He spoke and wrote in literary Turkish with the equal grace and beauty. Nesib bey used to be a teacher at a religious school in Genje and initiated the establishment of the Turkish-language library. Then he obtained his law degree from the law department of Odessa University. Nesib bey married Shefiga, the daughter of late Ismail bey Gasprali, and the couple lived in Bahchisaray for some period. During his stay in Bahchisaray Nesib bey ran Tercuman newspaper. Besides his work in periodicals Nesib bey also left an indelible mark in the Azerbaijani literature with his work “Surrender” where he philosophically described the victory of a professor utilizing modern teaching techniques over the one who employed old-school methodology.

            After the First Muslim Congress of the Caucasus in 1917 Nesib bey became a gigantic figure of the Azerbaijani and Caucasian politics. His passionate words “ Who alleges that we are not the nation that is capable of running its own affairs?” are still ringing in my ears. At that Congress Nesib bey vehemently and compellingly defended the political platform of his Turkish Decentralization Party. He based his speech on his deep faith in nationalism, Turkism, and modernization. Nesib bey did not limit himself to just defending his Party’s program, but also lent his support to the Musavat People’s Party, the publishers of Achiq Soz newspaper and other similar trends. He also initiated the process of coordination and unification of all these nationalist forces into one solid and robust organization. As a living witness of the events I have to demonstrate how critical a role did Nesib bey play with his sincerity and intellect in the union of different Baku and Genje nationalist movements represented by Nesib bey on one hand, and Memmed Ali Resulzade and A. Kazimzade on the other. 

            Thanks to this union, the first Congress of the Turkish Federalist Musavat People’s Party convened in Baku and became the most significant landmark in the political life of Azerbaijan. Ingenious Nesib bey proved himself as a people’s man not only at the conference but also in the subsequent stages of our struggle. Nesib bey performed the most complex national duties be it at the Russian Parliament, or the Caucasian Seym. Late Nesib bey was the Minister of Education after the establishment of the Azerbaijani Republic, and twice held the office of the Prime Minister. He was one of the most trusted and virtuous leaders of the nationalist classes and defended the idea of national independence even during the most convoluted and dangerous times for our movement. Nesib bey will always be remembered by the Azerbaijani nationalist generations as an honest, nationalist democrat and a true radical.

            Nesib bey captivated hearts of the youth with his immense knowledge and devotion to the European culture as well as the beauty and strength of Turkish language, national literature and history. A modest man, politician-idealist, staunch democrat, a liberal with unflinching principles, a disciplined manager, Nesib bey made a tremendous impression on those with whom he communicated. At the same time a great number of people disliked Nesib bey. He owed this dislike to his uncompromised principles. There was nothing strange in Nesib bey’s making adversaries in the course of defending his ideals. However, these opponents could never accuse Nesib bey of seeking personal gains in politics. Even the Bolsheviks did have to disown the accusations that they had previously launched against Nesib bey. One can not analyze Nesib bey’s personality, the characteristics of the environment in which he grew and his correct political stance in a small article. We can simply state that he was a typical representative of the Azerbaijani democracy: a representative whose name is intricately connected with the formulation of the national independence objectives of the Azerbaijani Independence Movement. Such a devotion to the national cause is suffice to make the name of Nesib immortal and unforgettable in the Azerbaijani history. Undoubtedly, Nesib bey’s martyrdom became one of the most powerful causes for our nationalist generations to pledge a revenge for the April tragedy. One of the first duties of the victorious and grateful future nationalists will be the perpetuation of the name of Nesib bey, one of the founders of the political Azerbaijanism, and erecting a monument to him both in Baku and Genje.

M. Emin



            Azerbaijanis, Georgians and Armenians constitute three largest nations populating the Caucasus. Immediately after the 1917 Revolution the Caucasus was administered by the Caucasian Commissariat, then the same three nations set up the Seym to run the Caucasian affairs. The researchers of the history of the Seym administration will notice that this office was under the influence of the Georgians and Armenians. At one time the remnants of the Russian regime together with the Armenians organizations and Russian sailors of the Caspian Flotilla managed to suppress the Musavat members and Azeri activists in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. These elements rejected the authority of the Seym and subordinated themselves to Lenin’s Moscow. The result was the declaration of independence by three nations. The Azerbaijani Republic that was declared on May 28th, 1918 transferred its capital to Genje (from Tiflis, the translator’s note) and ruled Azerbaijan from that city until Baku was liberated from the enemy. On September 15th, 1918 after driving the occupants out of Baku the government moved to the capital. However, this victory did not come easily. The Azerbaijani people had fought fierce wars against the Czar regime for long years. Thousands of martyrs fell in this struggle. After 1917 the people of Genje engaged in various armed clashes with the Russian forces. Nevertheless, the Genje people who deemed their forces insufficient for the liberation of Baku appealed to their Ottoman brethren for help. Together with the Turkish brothers who rushed to aid, the Azeris cleaned Baku from the aggressors under the command of heroic Turkish Pashas.

            The Azerbaijani people will never forget these glorious pages of its history and will eternally be grateful to their Turkish brethren for their critical help. As the years pass the significance of this aid will become clearer and more eminent. This historic event was the masterpiece created by two fraternal Turkic nations. This honorable day came to be true thanks to the sacrifices by the Turkish boys of Anatolia and Azerbaijan. These glorious pages of the Turkic history will be commemorated for as long as the world goes on.


The Independence

            The government of our newly established Republic together with the people was working day and night to build statehood. The Government was printing books in Azeri Turkish for primary, secondary and high schools. All the state and private enterprises were being regulated. The lack of teachers and professors was filled with the personnel from Turkey. The authorities were also planning to open the first University. More and more books were translated from different languages into Azerbaijani.

            The world powers recognized our Republic both de facto and de jure. In the second year of our independence the university was founded, and students were sent to different universities in Europe. The Azerbaijani Republic began minting its own national currency. The national awakening and rebuilding could be observed in all the fields of the country’s life. Our neighbors, Armenia and Georgia, were still using the money printed by the defunct Seym. In order to print new series the Seym needed the unanimous decision. The Georgians and Armenians perennially complained about fund shortages. They asked Azerbaijan’s agreement for new series. On the other hand, the Azerbaijani Government was providing 50 million Manats, which was one seventh of our budget in aid to North Caucasus. The philosophy of the Azerbaijani Government was to assist the Caucasian nations to become strong and self-sustainable in the face of the Russian threat. However, the Azerbaijani Republic survived only 23 months. During this period we did not impose any taxes. We set up the Customs Office without taxing exports or imports. The government’s expenses were covered with the funds that flowed from the sale of oil and other oil-related materials produced at the state-owned plants and factories.

            Two more projects were primed, but the government could not implement them because of the invasion. The first plan was to swap the Azeris living in Armenia with the Armenians who resided in Azerbaijan. The second project was to meet all the financial needs of the railway system so that the citizens could ride trains free of charge.

            The Prime Minister was also the President in Azerbaijan. The country was a multi-party democracy. Both the members of the Parliament and cabinet ministers were honest and diligent individuals. These idealist politicians had no personal wealth and never sought it. Their sole objective was to make our nation a prosperous and democratic member of the world community.

            At this point those of you who have researched the events of that period and are aware of many developments may pose a question: “ Did any event similar to those that usually occur in other countries happen in this wealthy country during two years of independence?” As far as I know three major negative episodes took place in those years.

            First, as I related early in the book English General Thompson refused to recognize the legitimacy of our Republic. Then as one of his conditions the British general demanded that Baku millionaire Mirza Esedullah bey form a new cabinet. However, Prime Minister Feth Ali Khan rejected this demand as a gross interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Mirza Esedullah was not a corrupt person. He was a millionaire who was never involved in our national liberation movement.

            Later for unknown reasons Prime Minister Feth Ali Khan appointed Esadullah bey the Commerce Minister. No sooner had Esadullah bey become the Minister than he attempted to set up an Azerbaijani-English Friendship Society. However, every individual that he approached refused to have any part in such a society asserting: “ Not only don’t we want to be friends with the English people who have historically caused terrible misfortunes to Muslims of the world, but also we don’t even want to see their faces.”  When in office Esedullah bey gave a very valuable exports document to his Russian sweetheart by the name of Madame Yazikova. The news of this transfer became public, and the Prime Minister was promptly informed of this act. The government annulled the document, and Esedullah bey was forced to resign.

            The second event involved Vahabov, a trader who was famous in the Caucasus and Iran. Vahabov approached Prime Minister Nesib bey Yusufbeyli with a business offer: “ Nesib bey I have purchased a tanker full of sugar in Europe. I had it delivered to Batum. However, I don’t have enough funds to pay for freight charges. I need a specific amount of money. You have no sugar-refining factory in Azerbaijan. I will transport this sugar to Iran via Azerbaijan. I will provide as much sugar as you need. You can not buy sugar at the prices I offer.” Nesib bey promised to meet and discuss the issue with the government.

            The Government decided to purchase 800 tons of sugar and instructed the Commerce Minister to pay the total sum in advance. A letter sent to Vahabov advised him to contact the Ministry of Commerce. The Minister delegated the matter to his councilor Yusuf Ali bey who inquired how much sugar Vahabov could supply. Vahabov’s answer was as much as needed. Yusuf Ali bey notified Vahabov that the government needed one million and six hundred thousand kilos of sugar. He also added: “ The half of the total bill will be paid now, and the other half upon the delivery.” Vahabov left content with the deal. Besides 800 tons of the government ordered sugar councilor Yusuf Ali bey sold the other 800 tons in black market at three or five times the regular price. A week later he paid the balance of invoice to Vahabov. Thus, Yusuf Ali bey stored 800 tons of sugar at the government warehouses, and sold the other 800 tons for personal profit. Some time later the details of this illegal operation became public, and the government launched an investigation into Yusuf Ali bey’s dealings. The government took him to the court. Yusuf Ali bey was discharged from his position as a councilor as well as from the Musavat Party. The society ostracized Yusuf Ali bey for betraying our government.

             The third scandal involved the Foreign Minister Memmed Hasan Hajinski who also had held other ministerial posts. Hajinski who became popular among our people colluded with Moscow and served the Imperial interests against our national government. He helped to facilitate the invasion by the Red Army and thus earned the universal hatred and condemnation of our people.

            I belong to the Sheykhzamanlis one of the most ancient families in the Azerbaijani city of Genje. Since the members of extended family lived in different streets of Genje, the only indication of their blood relations was their common last name. However, these relatives had no idea what branch of the Sheykhzamanli family they originated from. Some of the relatives had some connection with the Sheiks. Our family’s name contains Sheik because of our Imam ancestors. This Imam’s name was Ibrahim, and his shrine is located in three kilometers from Genje in our family estate. His shrine reminds of a small Mecca. A large cemetery surrounds the shrine. The famous people from all over Azerbaijan and even from Georgia are buried in this cemetery.

            I would like to note one point about my family. During the Khanate period in Genje one of our great grandfathers had three sons: Sheik Memmed, Sheik Hasan and Sheik Jefer. The Sheik commanded a great deal of respect among people. Because of this attitude of people to him his sons were spoilt. One day when the Khan passes on the street everyone steps aside in order to clear the path for the Khan. However, three boys continue to play in the middle of the street. The Khan gets perplexed and inquires whose children they are. His retinue informs him that they are the Sheik’s sons. The Khan orders the Sheik to his presence. Our ancestor appears in front of the Khan. The Khan pries: “ Sheik, how do you like the behavior of your children?” Our Sheik great grandfather responds: “ Your Excellency, it is not the upbringing. There is another reason.” Then he proceeds in Persian:

“ Tohm-u chahar Shembe-I mahi sefer

            In kadar u, in kadar u, in kadar

                       Sheykh Memmed-I, Sheykh Hasan-I, Sheykh Jefer.”

            The Khan understands the point and laughs. He treats the kids and their father with kindness. Let me clarify what my great grandfather meant by those words in Persian. At that period we used the Muslim Calendar. According to the Azerbaijani traditions the month of Sefer (the second month of the Muslim year) is unlucky. The Wednesdays of Sefer are even worse. The last Wednesday of Sefer is considered simply disastrous. In our Azerbaijani beliefs the last Wednesday is very dangerous. You have to be extremely careful on that day. The myth goes that a stone can swirl into air and fall on your head for no apparent reason. The Sheik’s wife began ovulating on that day.

            I do not possess scientific or proven facts pointing to the relation of Nizami, the unrivaled poet of Genje, to our family. In the end of his The Materials of the Azerbaijani Literature about my paternal uncle Sheik Ibrahim Qudsi, Firidun bey Kocherli wrote: “ Some legends had it that Sheik Ibrahim Qudsi was related to Sheik Nisami.” I have the following facts or suppositions that may strengthen that argument. 1 – Nizami bore the title Sheik. There was no tradition in literature for the poets to carry that title. In that case, poets Firdowsi, Hafiz and others would have been honored with that title as well. 2 – If Nizami ever referred to his family origin in his works, there would be no questions regarding his family roots. 3 -–The presence of such poets in our literature as my grandfather Sheik Hasan, his son my uncle Sheik Ibrahim Qudsi, his son Haji Isa, our other relative Sheik Ali Shevki. 4 – The fact that Nizami’s Mausoleum is located on the lands that historically were the property of our family points to the relation of Nizami with my family.

            When I was young, that is 60 years ago, my favorite hobby was to converse with the senior citizens and learn facts about their lives. I had an elderly relative by the name of Sheik Rza. The grandfather was 90 years old in 1902 when I was asking him questions about interesting things that had happened to him in his youth. He began talking about religion, faith and praying. He was fond of me. He did not have children, and his wife aunt Nebat was 80 years old. Once I asked Sheik Rza: “ Grandpa, did you fight with other boys when you were young?” The grandfather got very agitated: “ Son, I would pray. A Muslim should not fight. My friends and I all prayed together.” I posed another question: “ Why do those who visit the grave of Sheik Imamzade refuse to go to Sheik Nizami’s Mausoleum?” I noticed how the grandfather’s temperature rose. He was obviously very irate at my question: “ My child, Sheik Nizami is a Muslim, sheik and ordinary human being. He would make pilgrimage trips just like us. People do not perform pilgrimage to his shrine because he was neither Imam nor descendant of one.”

            Here is another story from my grandfather Sheik Hasan. My father Sheik Saleh told me this tale. One day Sheik Hasan mounts a tamed and fearful horse in order to visit Imamzade’s tomb. The kids on the street figure out that the grandfather barely manages the horse. They decide to toss their sheepskin hats at the horse. The horse gets scared and rears. Sheik Hasan calms and controls the horse with great difficulty. Then he turns and sees the kids laugh at him. The grandfather in his mind: “ These rascals come from my marriage. Only God knows what kind of children my son Ibrahim’s matrimony will produce.”


Developments during the Independence Period

            As our government and people worked towards strengthening our freedom and democracy the Russian internal affairs were sinking into deep abyss. Two major forces opposed each other on the vast territory of Russia. One of the forces was the party of Lenin who skillfully deceived his opponents. The other one was a number of Czar Generals who strove to restore the Czar regime. The latter group under the command of General Denikin occupied North Caucasus and turned the region into their bastion. The ultimate goal of Denikin was to follow the footsteps of Czars and recruit all the North Caucasian officers trained in the Czar armed forces into his army. Under such circumstances General Denikin, relying on some factors inexplicable to me, submitted a protest note to Azerbaijan: “ According to the Turkmenchay Treaty (treaty signed by Russia and Iran in 1828, translator’s note) only Russian ships can sail in the Caspian Sea. Any other ship under a non-Russian flag shall be prohibited from sailing in the Caspian.”

            I should state that the Turkmenchay Treaty is no more than a bogus paper in the history of our nation. The brief history of that treaty is as follows. In the beginning of the past century the Russian Empire invaded and occupied the Azerbaijani Khanates without any reason, provocation or official declaration. The Russians did not recognize the authority of the Khans, and granted no civil rights to the peoples of the Khanates. Thus, the Russian Empire pressed against the Iranian borders with all its might and power. The Shah and government in Tehran could not make appropriate military preparations, and consequently, they waited for their fate as a sacrificial goat.

            With its voracious imperialist appetite the Czar wanted to annex the Azerbaijani Khanates permanently. The Russians sent a note to Tehran: “ We have broadened our Imperial borders to the Iranian frontiers. Send a delegation to discuss peace, friendship and agreement on frontiers.” The Tehran government was ecstatic. The Iranian delegation arrived in Azerbaijan, and without any international right or legitimacy the Shah who had no authority over the Azerbaijani Khanates recognized the Russian dominance in the Azerbaijani Khanates. The question of navies in the Caspian dragged on. When the Iranian delegation relayed the news to Tehran, the Shah impetuously gave his infamous order: “ Bideh, abi shorchi menfaat dared.” (“Give this Caspian Sea to the Russians. Who needs this salty water?”)

            A few months later the Bolshevik forces crushed Denikin’s army. The General fled to Europe while his officers boarded 27 ships and sailed into the Caspian Sea. The rank and file soldiers joined the Bolsheviks like a herd of sheep. Having failed to invade our motherland in the Czar General’s forces those elements dreamed of occupying Azerbaijan in Moscow’s Red Army.

            Three colonels from Denikin’s army found political asylum in Azerbaijan. I met with these colonels at the National Security Ministry. One of them was a naval colonel. The second was in infantry, and the third had served in cavalry. They visited Baku as a delegation that was supposed to meet with the Azeri government and resolve the issue of 27 peripatetic ships. The officers with large quantities of ammunition were on the ship. After the telephone conversation with Prime Minister Nesib bey I accompanied the colonels to the Prime Minister’s office. After the discussions it was decided that the officers would transfer the weaponry and ammunitions to our government upon arrival. In return they would be given European currency. The ships were docked at the port of Enzeli at the Caspian. As the colonels walked to the lobby Nesib bey instructed me: “ Request one ship so that it can take you and three colonels to the Russian vessels. Talk to two representatives on every ship and inform them of our agreement. If they acquiesce with us, bring all the boats to Baku.”

            We boarded the ship the same evening, and in the morning we reached Iranian port of Enzeli. It was a sunny winter day. The colonel of navy invited two officers from each ship by signaling with flags. We watched boats with two officers in each descend into the sea and row towards us. They approached our ship and met with the colonels and me. The officers were served drinks. After the colonels conveyed the news of the agreement with the Azerbaijani government, the officers accounted for all the arms and ammunition on the ships. The officers were so contented with the deal that they were emptying one glass after another in honor of the Azerbaijani Republic. They also told me about their hardships after the Bolsheviks had defeated them: “ We pleaded with the Iranian government when we were stationed in Enzeli. They did not even want to meet with us. Then we sent a message to General Thompson, the commander of the English forces. His suggestion was that we surrender our weapons and ships then leave for any country of our choice. Our representatives offered to turn in all the ammunition and weaponry but asked the English central command to arrange our safe trip to Europe. Thompson replied that he could not promise anything definitive. He would inform London and would follow the orders from the British capital.”

             Our discussions with the Russian officers were brief. However, drinking and casual conversations went on. Finally, the fun was over. I had brought 30 Azerbaijani national flags with me that day. These were my last words to the Russians: “ Friends, your ships now belong to us, and you are our guests. In our ethos an Azerbaijani must protect the wellbeing of his guest as much as his own. I am going to hand you 27 Azerbaijani State flags. Hoist them on your ships. I have just received a telegraph from Baku saying that the enemies will try to sink the ships. We must be vigilant. As you know the Czarist flags that are hung on your ships do not represent any power, and to crown it all, they have no legitimacy. Place our flags on the masts. I am confident that no one will dare jeopardize the safety of the ships under the Azerbaijani flag. “

            The officers nodded and took the flags. I watched the officers depart on their boats through my binoculars. The residents of Enzeli as well as the Iranian authorities and even the English forces that were lying in wait were all observing the warships. It was a grandiose scene. The flag of the Russian Empire that occupied Azerbaijan, the dominant power of the East and Turan, the Empire that always terrorized the weaker nations was now being lowered at the wish of a son of Azerbaijan. Instead our beloved, cherished, newly born and tri-color flag was raised. The tears of joy and pride were overwhelming me. Our ships set on to Baku in a shape of a steel chain. The Turkmenchay Treaty signed past century by the victorious Russians and Iranians at the Iranian border was now torn apart ironically on the Iranian territory again. It was an extraordinary day in my life. I had a chance to bring down the last 27 flags of the Russian Empire.

            I am a dedicated and allegiant supporter of the Azerbaijani independence. The credit goes to Nesib bey for making me a fighter for independence. My God bestowed me with the infinite love for freedom. I thank God that he let me witness and help the most momentous, strenuous and resplendent days of the independence movement. I can state with all my being that I have faithfully served the cause of our independence my entire life.


Our Relations with Georgians

            The Georgians have lived with Azerbaijanis in peace and friendship for centuries. These two nations have never had any significant disputes or conflicts throughout their history. When in 1907 Azerbaijani freedom fighter Hüsü assassinated Russian General Kalashov who had aided the Armenians, the Georgian women saved his life in Tiflis by hiding him in their houses. They prevented Hüsü from being captured by the Russian police.

            Nevertheless, in contrast to the historical friendship between these two peoples their political philosphies were fundamentally antipodean. The Azeris lived with the idea of liberty and complete independence from the Russian domination. However, the Socialist Georgians contemplated co-existing with the Russian Socialists in one state. The idea of an independent state never crossed their minds. They repudiated the concept of nationality. The Georgians headed many Russian Socialist organizations and played a considerable role in the Russian Communist Revolution. The Georgians aspired to alter only the regime. Just as their Socialists were in the same league with the Russian Socialists so did the Georgian people desire to be in union with Russians. Let me recount one incident.

            It was the days when I was far away from the atrocities of the Russians in “red cloak”. I was in Batum, the last free place of the Caucasus. I arrived in Trebizond from Batum, and after living in Trebizond for two years I moved to Istanbul. One day I stumbled into General Ordushelidze, the former Defense Minister of Georgia. During our conversation I noticed that the General had notably modified his political views. I asked why such a shift in opinion had taken place. He told me the following story: “ On arrival in Istanbul I found out that the Soviet Trade attaché was Ordjonikidze of Georgian descent. In order to insult him I made an appointment with him. I sent my business card. He agreed to receive me and inquired as to the purpose of the meeting. I said: “ You are a Georgian just like myself. Forget about my service as a Defense Minister. I would like to hold an honest and straightforward conversation with you like two Georgians would. We established a Socialist state. The International delegation visited Georgia and studied our administration. They were elated at our success. Why did you feel the need to invite the Russians to Georgia under such circumstances?” Orjonikidze responded: “ General, I am not a soldier. However, you are an experienced general. Let’s reflect at our recent past. Mustafa Kemal Pasha disobeyed the Sultanate in Istanbul. He advanced to Anatolia and destroyed his enemies. He seized the power in the country and established a Republic. He also managed to get the world powers to recognize his new republic. Now, what would we do if another general appeared who did not obey the orders from Ankara and marched to the Caucasus? You must remember that in 1918 we could not stall the Turkish offensive on Batum even with joint Georgian-Armenian forces. What kind of Republic are you referring to? General, if you refuse to accept this reality, then I will have to conclude that you are not lucid and thorough in your analysis. If you love the Georgian nation as much as I do, then bear in mind that without Russia there would be neither Georgians nor Georgia.” I admitted that he was right, and after thanking him we parted as two brother Georgians.


Our Relations with Armenians

            The Armenians declared their independence on May 28th, 1918 as well. The Armenians have never been in friendly relations with the Azeris. The Armenians aided the Russian armies during their occupation of the Caucasus, and have always served the Russians loyally. The Armenians have committed horrible acts not worthy the honor of a Caucasian against the Azeris. The malicious actions of the Armenians towards the Azeris are as incalculable and indescribable as those carried out by the Russians.

            In 1920 when the Red Army invaded our country some political leaders of Azerbaijan immigrated to Georgia. At that time although Tiflis was the capital of Georgia, the Armenians had a sizeable minority, and they wielded substantial clout in the city. The Armenians first shot our first Prime Minister Feth Ali Khan and Justice Minister Halil bey. Unlike Halil bey who was wounded Feth Ali Khan died from the assassins’ bullets. A month later the Armenians murdered the Azerbaijani Speaker of the Parliament doctor Hasan bey. This was the face of the Armenian savageness. The Azeris and Armenians were two neighboring Caucasian nations that declared their independent Republics; two peoples that had lived next to each other from ancient times.

            The Red Army struck the Caucasus as a natural calamity. Azerbaijani cities and towns were in raging fire of war and persecution. The defenseless people with their children had to confront the Red Army. This army did not have either honor code or conscience. Under such circumstances good neighbors help and console. However, it was futile to look for such virtues in our Armenian neighbors. They were massacring every Azeri they encountered on streets. The Armenian Dashnak Party was primarily responsible for this terror. I should accentuate that these Dashnak leaders foremost dragged their own people to the tragedy. They dedicated their lives to annihilating the Turkic nations. However, they overlooked one thing that by killing Feth Ali Khans, Hasan beys, Behbud Javanshirs in one part of the Turkish nation, and murdering Talats, Shakirs, doctor Nazims, Jamal Pashas in another part of Turkish lands the Turk will not cease to live. The Turkish poets’ words sound in my mind:

            “ They say the Turkish cradle is the nest of the genius.”

My last meeting with my elder brother Memmed Baghir

            Immediately after the occupation of Baku by the Red Army on April 27th, 1920 the Bolsheviks began hunting down the Musavatists. One of the first leaders who were arrested by the Cheka was my elder brother Memmed Baghir. My brother was a member of the Parliament from Genje and belonged to the Musavat Party. I found out about his arrest the following day. I spent the whole day designing and planning his release. I also learned that the Cheka agents promised my brother: “ If your young brother turns himself in, we will free you.” I immediately went to the Cheka building. As I approached the Cheka I saw my brother who noticed me and was trying to warn me against something from one of the above floors of the Cheka building. He was angry: “ Why haven’t you left yet?” I told him what I had heard about the Cheka’s conditions. My brother was furious: “ You, leave right now. They will not be able to harm me. If you do not listen to me and enter the office, I will jump from the window and commit suicide. Go to Genje without delay. Do not stay here.” I began walking away as I looked at my brother at the window. This meeting with my brother turned out to be the last time that I saw him. When I arrived in Genje I learned that my innocent brother was killed.







Achiq Soz




Agaoglu, Ahmad bey




Agaoglu, Hasan bey


15, 109




















11, 73, 140






Armenian clashes


12, 13




Bagirbeyli, Zulfugar bey


12, 26




52, 58, 60


77, 90




63, 84, 86


Beria, Lavrenti






100, 105,






Caucasian Army








76, 77


Cheka, Bolshevik Secret Services


31, 105,


129, 146


Chinese, Laborers






Dashnaks, Armenian


23, 146


Denikin, Czar General


95, 141


Difai, Azerbaijani Underground




Dikaya Diviziya, Savage Division


24, 29




Enver Pasha


71, 76, 80


Esedullah Bey, Mirza






Fraternal Care


37, 38




Gachags, Azeri guerillas


8, 26


Garabakh, Azeri region


5, 12, 89


Gazakh, Azeri town








National Committee


23, 31




14, 142


German, settlers




Gokalp, Ziya




Greeks, Trebizond


64, 67








Hajinksi, Memmed




Hadi, Mohammed




Halil bey


74, 87




15, 32, 110

Husameddin, Tughac






Ihsan Pasha






74, 90, 140

Ismail Khan






Javad Khan


5, 6


Javad, Ahmed


32, 36, 63


Jews, Pogroms in Russia








12, 53, 54


Kerenski, Russian Premier


21, 52, 76


Khoylu, Feth Ali Khan


91, 116,


136, 145


Kirve, Azeri Tradition












29, 125, 140




Memmed, Gatir




Mihmandarli, General


97, 118


Mohammed, Mirza


18, 20




58, 105


107, 137




National Security Ministry




Nesib bey, Yusufbeyli


124, 127


Nizami, Genjevi




North Caucasus




Nuri Pasha


77, 81, 89


90, 93




Omer Faik bey








32, 42


Philanthropic Society


37, 63, 83




Rafibeyli, Alekber bey


13, 15, 27


Rasulzade, Memmed Emin


58, 87,


130, 132


Reshat, Sultan




Russian, Imperialism


5, 101, 116




Sariqamish, offensive


33, 41, 44




58, 133


Shaumian, Stepan






56, 59


Sheykhzamanli, the family




Shikhlinski, General






102, 105




9, 16




Taghi, Haji Zeynalabdin




Talat Pasha


73, 77










Thompson, General


136, 142




13, 44, 58




Decentralization Party


23, 58, 131






Turkmenchay, Treaty






Vezirli, Yusuf bey








12, 43, 89


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Published in VAR and ASA with permission from the author.

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