Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan

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Azərbaycan Democracy Respublikası
Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan
Flag of Azerbaijan # history
Official language Azerbaijani
Capital Gəncə (from September 1918 Baku )
Form of government Parliamentary republic
Head of state Speaker of Parliament Alimardan Topchubashev
Head of government Prime Minister Fatali Khan Khoyski (1918–1919)
Prime Minister Nasibbek Usubbekov (1919–1920)
Prime Minister Mammed Hasan Hajinski (1920)
surface 99,908 km²
population 6 million
currency Azerbaijani manat
independence May 28, 1918
National anthem Azərbaycan Marşı
Time zone UTC + 4
Map of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan within the claimed borders 1918. Hatched areas outside are regions of the former Russia with Azerbaijani parts of the population, some of which were also claimed.  Hatched areas within were claimed in the west of Armenia, in the north of Georgia.
Map of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan within the claimed borders 1918. Hatched areas outside are regions of the former Russia with Azerbaijani parts of the population, some of which were also claimed. Hatched areas within were claimed in the west of Armenia, in the north of Georgia.

The Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan ( Azerbaijani : Azərbaycan Demokratie Respublikası ; short: ADR ) was the first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world after the People's Republic of Crimea . In addition, Azerbaijan was declared by the supporters of communism as the "People's Republic of Azerbaijan" (Azerbaijan: Azərbaycan Xalq Cümhuriyyəti , short: AXC ), so that today both terms are used synonymously.

The Democratic Republic was founded by the Azerbaijani National Assembly in Tbilisi on May 28, 1918, after the fall of the Russian Empire , and bordered on the north with Russia, in the north-west with the Democratic Republic of Georgia , in the west with the Democratic Republic of Armenia and in the south Persia . The state had an area of ​​approximately 100,000 km² and a population of 6 million. Gəncə was initially the capital when Baku was still under Bolshevik control.

Among the most important achievements of parliament was the expansion of women's suffrage. With the introduction of women's suffrage , the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was not only the first Muslim-majority state to give women the same political rights as men, but also one of the first states in the world.

The present Republic of Azerbaijan regards itself as the legal successor to the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.

Founded from 1917

After the February Revolution of 1917 , the Azerbaijanis, like many other ethnic minorities in Transcaucasia, wanted a secession from Russia. Muslim National Councils were established in the provinces and districts where Azerbaijanis made up a significant proportion of the population.

The February Revolution caused the secession of the South Caucasus. Tsar Nicholas II was deposed and the Viceroyalty of the Caucasus was dissolved by the Russian Provisional Government on March 18, 1917. With the exception of the areas in which the army was active, all authority was transferred to the "Special Transcaucasian Committee" ( Russian Особый Закавказский Комитет (ОЗАКОМ), Osoby Sakawkasski Komitet (OSAKOM)). On March 27, 1917, delegates from the Muslim National Councils met and elected a central committee consisting of Mammad Hasan Hajinski , Mammed Amin Rasulzade , Alimardan Topchubashev , Fatali Khan Khoyski and other founders of the later ADR.

From March 31 to April 2, there were massacres of Muslim people in and around Baku. So Tbilisi became the headquarters of the Azerbaijani national movement. After the Transcaucasian Democratic-Federal Republic broke up on May 26, 1918, the Azerbaijani part of the former federation was renamed the Azerbaijani National Congress . He quickly took over parliamentary functions and announced the founding of the ADR on May 28, 1918. The congress, however, met the resistance of the ultra-nationalists, who saw it as too left. The Congress was dissolved after the opening of Parliament on December 7, 1918.


ADR spokesman, Mammed Amin Rasulzade

A form of government was developed for the ADR in which the parliament - elected on the basis of universal, free and proportional representation - was the highest organ of state power, which in turn assigned responsibility for individual departments to a cabinet of ministers. Fatali Khan Khoyski became the first prime minister.

In addition to the majority of the Azerbaijani nationalist Müsavat party (“equality”), there were also the Əhrar (liberals), Ittihad (“Union” - Islamists) parties, the Muslim Social Democratic Party and representatives of the Armenians (21 of 120 seats ), the Russians , the Poles , the Jews and the Germans . Some members supported pan-Islamic and pan- Turkish ideas.

Although the republic only existed for two years, the multi-party Azerbaijani parliament and coalition governments made great strides in the areas of state building, education, army formation, finance, economic systems, international recognition of the AXC as a state, diplomatic relations with a number of states, writing a Achieve constitution or equal rights for all. Another important achievement of the ADR was the establishment of the Baku State University , which was the country's first modern university.

This was an important basis for the re-establishment of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 1991.

Domestic politics

In the session room of Parliament, the tricolor raised. December 7, 1918

Political life in the ADR was shaped by the Müsavat party, which won the 1917 elections. The first parliament was opened on December 5, 1918. Müsavat provided 38 out of 125 MPs. With other independent candidates, the Müsavat formed the largest group.

The republic was ruled by a total of five governments. All governments consisted of coalitions of the Müsavat with other parties such as the Muslim Socialist Bloc, the Independents, Ehrar, and the Muslim Social Democratic Party. The Conservative Ittihad Party was the major opposition party that never participated in any government except for one member who was Inspector General in the last government. The prime minister of the first three governments was Fatali Khan Khoyski , that of the last two governments Nasibbek Usubbekov . The formation of the sixth government was entrusted to Mammed Hasan Hajinski . But he was unable to form a government because of the great opposition in parliament, lack of time and the invasion of the Bolsheviks. The head of parliament, Alimardan Topchubashev , was considered the head of state. He represented Azerbaijan at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Foreign policy

League of Nations

Between 1918 and 1920 the republic had diplomatic relations with several states. Relationship contracts have been made. 16 states had representations in Baku. The government has always remained neutral in relation to the Russian Civil War and has not sided with the Red Army or the White Army .

Because of the occupation and the end of the existence of the ADR on 27./28. On April 1st, 1920, the request for de jure recognition and membership in the League of Nations from November 1st on November 24th, 1920 was rejected.

Relations with the Entente

A 1919 postage stamp depicting Ateshgah of Baku

The Azerbaijani delegation took part in the 1919 peace negotiations in Paris . Upon arrival, the delegation handed Woodrow Wilson a letter containing the following requests:

  1. The independence of Azerbaijan should be recognized.
  2. The Wilson principle should also be applied to Azerbaijan.
  3. The Azerbaijani delegation should take part in the peace conference.
  4. Azerbaijan is to become a member of the League of Nations .
  5. The US Department of War should provide military aid to Azerbaijan.
  6. Diplomatic relations between the USA and the Republic of Azerbaijan are to be established.

President Wilson gave the delegation an audience at which he was cold and unsympathetic. As the Azerbaijani delegation told the government in Baku, Wilson said that the conference did not want to divide the world into small pieces. Wilson advised the Azerbaijanis that it would be better for them to seek a confederation of all Transcaucasian peoples, and that this confederation could achieve some power on the basis of a League of Nations mandate. Wilson concluded that the Azerbaijani question could not be negotiated while the Russian question was still unresolved.

Despite Wilson's attitude, on January 12, 1920, the Allied Supreme Court expanded the de facto recognition of Azerbaijan along with Georgia and before Armenia.

The Bulletin d'information de l'Azerbaidjan wrote:

“The Supreme Court recognized the de facto independence of the Caucasian republics of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia at one of its last sessions . The delegations from Azerbaijan and Georgia were informed by M. Jules Cambon from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 15, 1920. "

In addition, the Secretary for External Relations Hamar Greenwood was asked in the British House of Commons when the recognition was extended to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia and whether official representatives were exchanged in connection with the recognition and the borders of the Transcaucasian republics were defined. Greenwood replied:

"Instructions have been sent to the British High Commissioner of the Georgian and Azerbaijani Governments that the Allied Powers represented in the Supreme Council have decided to guarantee de facto recognition to Georgia and Azerbaijan, but that this decision does not address the issue of their respective borders before decides ... There was no change in representation as a result of recognition; As before, Her Majesty's Government has a British High Commissioner for the Caucasus with headquarters in Tbilisi, and the three republics have their appointed representatives in London ... "

The Allies accept the republics partly because of the fear of " Bolshevism ", but their actions against Bolshevism, at least in the Transcaucasus, did not go beyond words.

Relations with Persia

The decision to use the name Azerbaijan generated some protests from Persia. According to Tadeusz Swietochowski:

“Although the proclamation limited its claim only to the territory north of the Macaw, the use of the name Azerbaijan would soon raise objections from Iran. In Tehran , suspicions were expressed that the Republic of Azerbaijan was serving as an Ottoman instrument to separate the province of Tabriz from Iran. Likewise, the national revolutionary Jangali movement in Gilan , which otherwise welcomed the independence of every Muslim country as a source of joy , asked in its newspaper whether the choice of the name Azerbaijan implied the new republic's longing to join Iran. If so, they say, it should be made clear, otherwise the Iranians would be against the Republic of Azerbaijan being called. As a result, the Azerbaijani government would be accommodating in order to allay Iranian fears and use the term Caucasian Azerbaijan in its documents for foreign countries. "

On July 16, 1919, the ADR Council of Ministers appointed Adil Khan Ziatkhan, who until then had been Deputy Foreign Minister, as Azerbaijan's diplomatic representative at the court of the Persian Shah. A Persian delegation headed by Seyyed Zia al Din Tabatabai came to Baku to negotiate transit, customs, mail, goods, and other such issues. Speeches were given to emphasize the common bond between Caucasian Azerbaijan and Iran.

Territorial disputes

Azerbaijan's territorial demands for the 1919 Peace Conference.

Like its counterparts in the Caucasus, the ADR's early years were marked by border disputes. In detail, these consisted of disputes with Armenia over Naxçıvan, Nagorno-Karabakh and Sangesur (today the Armenian provinces of Syunik and the Azerbaijani Rayon Qazax ) and with Georgia over Balakan , Zaqatala and Qax . The ADR also claimed areas of the mountain republic of the North Caucasus, but they did not insist on these claims as much as on claims against Armenia and Georgia. Of the 113,900 km² territory claimed by the Azerbaijani Republic, 16,900 km² were disputed with its neighboring states, roughly in equal parts with Georgia and Armenia. While an accepted border course could be established with Georgia by mutual renunciation of the areas claimed by the other state, the conflict with Armenia remained unsolved.

War with Armenia

Baku only became the capital of the ADR in September 1918. Until then, the Azerbaijani national movement was based first in Tbilisi, then in Gəncə. Baku was previously ruled by various powers. Following the October Revolution, a local Soviet was formed there: the Baku Commune (November 1917 to July 31, 1918). The commune consisted of 85 Social Revolutionaries and Left Socialist Revolutionaries, 48 ​​Bolsheviks, 36 Armenian Nationalist Dashnaks , 18 Müsavat members and 13 Mensheviks .

The Armenian Bolshevik Stepan Shumyan and the Georgian left-wing socialist revolutionary Prokopius Dzhaparidze were elected chairmen of the Council of People's Commissars of the Bakus Commune. The Baku Soviet was at odds with the emerging Transcaucasian Federation and supported Bolshevik policy in many areas apart from the peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire. A difficult calm prevailed between the various factions until the Brest-Litovsk Treaty exposed the coalition's weakness.

In March 1918, ethnic and religious tension increased and the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict began in Baku. The parties Müsavat and Ittihad were referred to by the Bolsheviks and their allies as Pantürkists. Armenian and Muslim militias attacked each other in armed confrontations, with the formally neutral Bolsheviks supporting the Armenian side. All of the city's non-Azerbaijani political groups joined the Bolsheviks against the Muslims: Bolsheviks, Dashnaks, SRs , Mensheviks and even the anti-Bolshevik Cadets found themselves on the same side of the barricades for the first time because they were all for the "Russian cause." “Fought. By equating the Azerbaijanis with the Ottoman Turks, the Dashnakzutjun massacre against the Azerbaijanis began as revenge for the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire. Between 3,000 and 12,000 Muslims were murdered in the so-called “March days”. The Muslims were expelled from Baku or went underground. At the same time, the Baku Commune was involved in heavy fighting with the advancing Ottoman-Caucasian " Army of Islam " in and around the city of Gəncə. Major fighting broke out in Yevlakh and Agdash, where the Turks were found and defeated by Dashnaks and Russian forces.

The Bolshevik account of the events of March 1918 in Baku was set out by Victor Serge in the work Year One Of the Russian Revolution :

“In the meantime, the Soviet in Baku, led by Schaumyan, made itself ruler of the area, discreetly but unequivocally. After the Muslim uprising on March 18th, he had to establish a dictatorship. The uprising, instigated by the Musavat, turned the Tatar and Turkish people, led by the reactionary bourgeoisie, against the Soviet, which consisted of Russians with Armenian support. The races began to slaughter each other in the streets. Most of the Turkish dock workers (the Ambal ) were either neutral or supported the Reds. The dispute was won by the Soviets. "

Schaumyan dispatched Armenian Dashnakzutjun fighters to eastern Azerbaijan, where they carried out massacres in Şamaxı and Quba, killing around 8,000 and 4,000 people, respectively.

From May 11 to June 4, Armenians and Azerbaijanis as well as representatives of the Ottoman Empire discussed their territorial claims at the Batum Conference . At the urging of the Ottoman delegation, Azerbaijan ceded Yerevan to the Armenians, who in turn lost large areas to the Ottoman Empire.

In the summer of 1918 the Dashnaks, along with the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, repudiated the Bolsheviks, who refused to ask the British for help, and founded the Central Aspic dictatorship (August 1, 1918 to September 15, 1918). The Central Aspic dictatorship was supported by the United Kingdom . The British sent an expeditionary force to help the Armenians and Mensheviks. 26 fleeing Baku commissioners of the Soviet commune were captured by British troops in Turkmenistan and executed by firing squad. The intention of the British troops, led by Major General Lionel Dunsterville , was to protect the oil fields in Baku from Enver Pasha's "Army of Islam" and from the German troops in neighboring Georgia, and to consolidate the Bolsheviks stop in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Unable to stop the Turkish troops in the Battle of Baku , Dunsterville evacuated the city on September 14 after six weeks of siege in order to withdraw to Iran. Much of the Armenian population fled with the British troops. The Ottoman Army of Islam and its Azerbaijani allies, led by Nuri Pasch, entered Baku on September 15 and killed between 10,000 and 20,000 Armenians in revenge for the March days . The capital of the ADR then finally moved from Gəncə to Baku. However, after the Mudros armistice between Great Britain and Turkey on October 30th, the Turkish troops were replaced by allies. Led by General William Montgomery Thomson , who declared himself military governor of Baku, 5,000 Commonwealth soldiers arrived in Baku on November 7th . Martial law was imposed in Baku on Thomson's orders.

Conflict with Russia

The ADR found itself in a difficult position. It felt constricted between the north, with the advancing commander of the Russian " whites ", Denikin , and unfriendly Iran in the south. The British administration, while not hostile, was indifferent to the plight of Muslims. At first, General Thomson did not recognize the republic, but cooperated with it for tactical reasons. On April 25, 1919 broke a violent protest that of pro-Bolshevik Talysh organized workers in Lankaran and sat the Provisional military dictatorship of Mughan , which was led by the Soviet Russian colonel VT Sukhorukov, from. On May 15, the Extraordinary Congress called the Council of Representatives of the workers and peasants , the Soviet Republic Mughan out. In mid-1919 the situation in Azerbaijan was more or less stable. The British troops left the country on August 19, 1919. This enabled the ADR to continue its neutral policy in the Russian Civil War. On June 16, 1919, the ADR and Georgia signed a defense agreement against the white troops of General Denikin's volunteer army, which threatened an offensive against both countries. Denikin concluded a secret military agreement with Armenia. The Democratic Republic of Armenia and its troops formed the 7th Corps of Denikin's Army and provided military aid to the White Army. This fact heightened tensions between the ADR and Armenia. Even so, there was no fighting because Denikin's army was completely defeated by the 11th Red Army. The Red Army began to concentrate its troops on the Azerbaijani border.

Armenia and Azerbaijan were engaged in the battle for Nagorno-Karabakh in 1919. The fighting intensified in February 1920 and martial law was introduced in Nagorno-Karabakh. Martial law was enforced by the newly formed National Army under General Samedbey Mehmandarov.


In March 1920 it was clear that Soviet Russia would annex Baku. Lenin justified the invasion by saying that Bolshevik Russia could not survive without the oil from Baku. The general opinion in Moscow was that the Russian Bolsheviks should protect the proletarians from the counterrevolutionary nationalists.

After a major political crisis, the fifth government resigned on April 1, 1920. On April 25th, the 11th Red Army crossed the border with Azerbaijan and entered Baku on April 27th. She called for the dissolution of parliament and established a Bolshevik government under Nariman Narimanov . The MPs were urged to act in order to avoid bloodshed, so that on April 28, 1920 the ADR was officially dissolved.

The Red Army encountered little resistance in Baku as other parts of the Azerbaijani army were tied up in Nagorno-Karabakh. On Narimanov's initiative, the first communist government composed entirely of Azerbaijanis from leftist factions such as Hummat and Adalet was established. In May 1920 there was a great uprising in Gəncə against the 11th Army with the intention of bringing the Müsavat back to power. The uprising was put down by troops on May 31st. AXC leaders either fled to Georgia, Turkey or Iran or, like Mammed Amin Rasulzade, like Generals Selimov, Sulkewitsch, Agalarov, were captured and executed by the Bolsheviks. Mammed Amin Rasulzade was later allowed to leave the country. Others like Fatali Khan Khoyski and Behbudagha Jawanshir were murdered by Armenian fighters. Most of the students and citizens abroad stayed there and never returned to their homeland. Other well-known military leaders of the AXC, such as the old Defense Minister General Samedbey Mehmandarov and Deputy Defense Minister General Ali-Agha Schichlinski , who was called the "god of artillery", were first arrested but released two months later through the efforts of Nariman Narimanov. Generals Mehmandarov and Shichlinsky spent their final years as instructors in the Azerbaijani SSR army .

In the end, the Azerbaijanis did not give up their brief independence from 1918 to 1920 so quickly or so easily. About 20,000 people died who resisted the actual Russian recapture. The formation of the Azerbaijani SSR was facilitated by the popular support for Bolshevik ideology, especially among industrial workers in Baku.


Flag of the Azerbaijani SSR from 1920 to 1921

On October 18, 1991, the country finally became independent from the Soviet Union as Azerbaijan . However, Republic Day is celebrated as Independence Day on May 28th every year in Azerbaijan . The country regards itself as the legal successor to the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. The flag and coat of arms of Azerbaijan largely correspond to those of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan.


  • Johannes Rau: Islam and Democracy. The first attempt: The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918–1920). Lang, Frankfurt a. M. 2001, ISBN 978-3-631-61052-7 .

Web links

Commons : Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Firuz Kazemzadeh: The Struggle for Transcaucasia: 1917–1921 ; The New York Philosophical Library, 1951
  2. a b Kazemzadeh, Firuz: open citation , p. 222
  3. La Chesnais, PG: Les peuples de la Transcaucasie pendant la guerre et devant la paix ; Paris 1921; Pp. 108-110.
  4. ^ Azerbaijan: History
  5. Musavat Party (Azerbaijan)
    Jacob M. Landau: Pan-Turkism. From Irrendentism to Coopersation ; P. 55
    Firouzeh Mostashari: On the Religious Frontier. Tsarist Russia and Islam in the Caucasus ; P. 144
    Aviel Roshwald: Ethnic Nationalism and the Fall of Empires ; P. 100
    Neil Middleton, Phil O'Keefe: Disaster and Development. The politics of Humanitarian Aid ; P. 132
    Michael P. Croissant: The Armenian-Azerbaijan Conflict. Causes and Implications ; P. 14
  6. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan ( Memento August 4, 2008 in the Internet Archive ).
  7. Bulletin d'Information de l'Azerbaidjan , No. 1, September 1, 1919, p. 6 f.
  8. Report of the Delegation , No. 7, June 1919, Fund of the Foreign Ministry, Dossier No. 3, p. 7, cited in Raevskii: Английская интервенция и Мусаватское правительство , p. 53.
  9. Avtandil Menteshashvili: From the history of relations of Georgian democratic Republic with Soviet Russia and Entente. 1918-1921 ; Tbilisi: State University, October 1989
  10. Bulletin d'information de l'Azerbaidjan , No. 7, January 1920, p. 1
  11. Firuz Kazemzadeh: Struggle For Transcaucasia (1917-1921) ; New York: Philosophical Library, 1951; P. 269
  12. 125 HCDebs. , 58., February 24, 1920, p. 1467
  13. Firuz Kazemzadeh: Struggle For Transcaucasia (1917-1921) ; New York: Philosophical Library, 1951; P. 270.
  14. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski: Russia and Azerbaijan. A Borderland in Transition ; New York: Columbia University Press, 1995; P. 69
  15. Внешняя политика контрреволюционных правительств в начале 1919-го года ; Красный Архив , No. 6 (37), 1929; P. 94
  16. Kazemzadeh, Firuz: open citation , p. 229
  17. Audrey L. Old Town. The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule. - Hoover Press, 1992. - 331 p. - (Studies of nationalities). - ISBN 0-8179-9182-4 , ISBN 978-0-8179-9182-1
  18. Rüdiger Kipke : The Armenian-Azerbaijani Relationship and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2012. ISBN 978-3-531-18484-5 , pp. 23-24.
  19. Michael P. Croissant: The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. Causes and Implications ; ISBN 0-275-96241-5 ; P. 14
  20. a b Tadeusz Swietochowski: Russia and Azerbaijan. A Borderland in Transition ; ISBN 0-231-07068-3
  21. Firuz Kazemzadeh: The Struggle For Transcaucasia: 1917-1921 ; ISBN 0-8305-0076-6
  22. Michael Smith: Azerbaijan and Russia. Society and State: Traumatic Loss and Azerbaijani National Memory ( Memento of the original from March 10, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  23. a b Human Rights Watch: Playing the “Communal Card”. Communal Violence and Human Rights
  24. Michael G. Smith: Anatomy of a Rumor. Murder Scandal, the Müsavat Party and Narratives of the Russian Revolution in Baku, 1917-20 ; Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 36/2 (April 2001); Pp. 211-240
  25. Rüdiger Kipke : The Armenian-Azerbaijani Relationship and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2012. ISBN 978-3-531-18484-5 , pp. 23-24.
  26. Rüdiger Kipke : The Armenian-Azerbaijani Relationship and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. VS Verlag, Wiesbaden 2012. ISBN 978-3-531-18484-5 , pp. 25-26.
  27. Croissant: Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict ; P. 15
  28. Richard Pipes: The Formation of the Soviet Union: Communism and Nationalism 1917-1923 , pp. 218-220, 229 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997).
  29. List of Azerbaijani Generals and Admirals, Military Leaders and Heroes, May 2006
  30. ^ The Fate of some of the ADR Parliament Members ; Azerbaijan International (7.3), autumn 1999
  31. ^ Hugh Pope: Sons of the conquerors: the rise of the Turkic world ; New York: The Overlook Press, 2006; ISBN 1-58567-804-X ; P. 116
  32. ^ Svante Cornell: Undeclared War-The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Reconsidered ; Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 20/4 (Fall 1997)