Səməd ağa Ağamalıoğlu

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Səməd ağa Ağamalıoğlu

Səməd ağa Ağamalıoğlu ( Arabic صمد آغا آغامعلی اوغلی, Russian Самад ага Агамалы-оглы / Агамали-оглы ; * 15. jul. / December 27,  1867 greg. in Qıraq Kəsəmən , Kazach County, Elizavetpol 'Governorate, Russian Empire ; † October 6, 1930 in Moscow ) was an Azerbaijani politician who held high government offices after the Bolsheviks came to power in Azerbaijan in 1920, and a pioneer of cultural revolutionary transformations in Azerbaijan and other Muslim areas of the USSR . He is particularly regarded as the “spiritus rector” of the Azerbaijani and Soviet movement for the introduction of the Latin alphabet in the 1920s and 1930s.

On the way to becoming a politician: the first five decades of life (1967–1917)

Səməd ağa Ağamalıoğlu was born on December 27, 1867 as the son of a wealthy Bey in the village of Qıraq Kəsəmən not far from Elizavetpol '(today Gəncə ). He received his first instructions from a mullah. From 1877 he started the Russian educational path. The completion of a one-year preparatory class at the Progymnasium in Elizavetpol 'was followed by a visit to the military Progymnasium in the North Caucasian fortress town of Vladikavkaz . In 1887 he finished his training as a surveyor at the Land Surveyor School (zemlemerno-techničeskoe učilišče) in Tbilisi and worked as such in the civil service until 1912. This activity was interrupted in 1896 when Ağamalıoğlu found a job for a short time with the Baku oil entrepreneur Ter-Arutjunov, and from 1897 to 1903 when he retired to his home village and worked there as a clerk.

As with many Azerbaijani Bolsheviks, Ağamalıoğlu's later political activity was rooted in the radical wing of the Muslim enlightenment movement. The suffering from the miserable and backward living environment of the Transcaucasian Muslims met here with the conviction that progress can only be achieved by rigorously adopting European cultural techniques. From the end of the 1880s he was a member of changing and short-lived Enlightenment circles. After the turn of the century, he exceeded its limited reach with the publication of numerous articles in various Transcaucasian newspapers. He intervened in the Azerbaijani modernization discourse with contributions on the question of women, the problems of the Azerbaijani-Turkish literary language, the possibility of Latinization of the Arabic-based literature of the Transcaucasian Turks and problems of agriculture.

After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Ağamalıoğlu first appeared as a political activist. As a member of an underground group, he distributed leaflets calling for the overthrow of the tsar. In the year of the Russian Revolution of 1905 , he founded the Muslim Socialist Democratic Workers 'Party in Elizavetpol' with like-minded people , a local branch of the Tbilisi Hümmət . At that time, however, his political convictions were not - even if the party name might suggest - the product of any preoccupation with Marxist literature. Nevertheless, the social question also played a central role for Ağamalıoğlu. In a speech given at the time in the shadow of the Armenian-Muslim pogroms, he explained to his Muslim audience, who had gathered in a mosque, that the Russian State Duma to be elected would not be about resolving religious disputes between Muslims and Christians, but about financial compensation between the poor and get rich.

In 1913 Ağamalıoğlu fell ill with a disease he himself called "rheumatism", which tied him to bed until 1916 and would plague him for the rest of his life. Probably because of this ailment he had to finally quit the physically demanding job as a surveyor, for which he had toured the Russian governorates of Transcaucasia every year from April to October.

After the February Revolution and the withdrawal of the central power from Transcaucasia in 1917, Agamalıoğlu - still weakened - joined the RSDRP and became a member of the Council of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers of Elizavetpol '. However, he left the party again after a short time, fearing that his Muslim environment would perceive him as a stooge of Russian interests, and again became a member of the Tbilisi Hümm , t , which, unlike the Bolshevik party of the same name in Baku, followed a Menshevik course.

Member of the Transcaucasian Sejm and the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918–1920)

In February 1918, Agamalıoğlu traveled to Tbilisi as a deputy of the Transcaucasian Sejm, the parliament of the short-lived Transcaucasian Democratic-Federal Republic . After its disintegration and the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan on May 28, 1918, Ağamalıoğlu stayed in Tbilisi until the end of November of the same year. Since June he has been editing the organs of the Menshevik Hümmət he founded : the Turkish- speaking Gələcək (future) and the Russian- speaking Probuždenie (awakening). During the next two years he criticized a. a. the policy of the Azerbaijani ruling party Müsavat , the temporary Turkish and British occupation of Transcaucasian areas and called for land reforms to be carried out.

When the Azerbaijani parliament was constituted on December 8, 1918 in Baku, Ağamalıoğlu became one of 13 members of the socialist faction part of the parliamentary opposition. How much his positions differed at that time from the Bolsheviks, who boycotted parliament, can be seen at least in part from his autobiography, which he wrote for his cadre files at the beginning of the 1920s: a revolution was always his real goal, but he had parliamentarism held on for fear that a premature revolution could lead to a renewed outbreak of ethnic pogroms. He was of the opinion that only a parliamentary government could ensure the orderly conditions that were necessary for the construction of a revolutionary front. In October 1919, as head of the parliamentary agricultural commission, he even agreed to suspend talks on land reform, although he had allegedly recognized such a reform as the only means of eliminating rural “depravity, backwardness and indolence” long before the turn of the century. Even after the establishment of the Azerbaijan Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in February 1920 as a merger of the Baku branch of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks), different cells of Hümmət and Ədələt remained Ağamalıoğlu member of the Menshevik wing of Hümmət. Curiously, he did not join the Azerbaijani Communist Party until months after the Bolsheviks came to power in Azerbaijan, when he had long since become a member of the new Soviet-Azerbaijani government. Nevertheless, Ağamalıoğlu seems to have radicalized and drawn closer to the Bolsheviks even before the fall of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan. 1919 marked the year in which he probably first dealt with the writings of Lenin (namely: State and Revolution and The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky ).

Soviet politician and cultural revolutionary (1922–1929)

People's Commissar for Agriculture (1920–1921)

On April 28, 1920, the Bolsheviks took power in Baku. In the evening of the same day, Ağamalıoğlu took up the post of People's Commissar for Agriculture that had been offered to him and thus became a member of the first Azerbaijani Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom). A week later, on May 5th, he issued a decree on the nationalization of the soil. According to this decree, local soil commissions were established across the country, which distributed a total of 1.3 million desjatins to the rural population, which until then had belonged to the rural elites - the Beys and Khanen.

State and party offices since 1922

On April 28, 1922, Ağamalıoğlu was elected chairman of the Azerbaijani Central Executive Committee (AzCIK) at the Second Azerbaijani Council Congress, as whose deputy he had served since 1921. Since January 15, 1923, he was one of the three chairmen of the Central Executive Committee of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic (CIK ZSFSR), a newly formed union of the three Transcaucasian Soviet Republics. On March 19, 1925, he was elected to the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR (CIK SSSR). In addition to his government offices, he also held higher positions within the party hierarchy, became a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan (CIK AKP [b]) and the Transcaucasian Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Zakkrajkom VKP [b]).

Introducing the New Turkish Alphabet

The second phase of Ağamalıoğlu's government activity was dominated by the radical cultural-political campaigns he played a key role in, both within the Azerbaijani Soviet Republic and in the entire Soviet Orient. These campaigns aimed at a break in the world and tradition of Muslims in favor of a modern way of life which, in the understanding of Ağamalıoğlu and his colleagues, was borrowed from European models. The central element and starting point was the conversion of the Arabic-based Azerbaijani literature to a Latin alphabet. The old Arabic alphabet, he explained to Lenin in August 1922 , was inaccessible to the majority of the population, could only be learned with great effort, and a non-Arab could never master it with complete certainty. The Latin script, on the other hand, he wrote in 1928, not only allows the previously illiterate masses of "the backward Orient" to be literate quickly, it "revolutionizes the consciousness of the masses and thus prepares the ground for overcoming deeply rooted venerable traditions."

From the beginning of his tenure as chairman of the AzCIK, Ağamalıoğlu made the introduction of Latin script a top priority. In April, a Latin commission had already presented a draft named New Turkish Alphabet (Yəni turk əlifbası). A little later this commission was affiliated to the AzCIK as the Committee for the New Turkish Alphabet (KNTA). Ağamalıoğlu took over the office of "honorary chairman and political chairman". As early as July 1922, he asked for the first time all Azerbaijani authorities to familiarize themselves with the New Turkish Alphabet and to accept documents written in it. On October 20, 1923, he signed a joint decree of the AzCIK and the Azerbaijani Council of People's Commissars (AzSNK), which declared the new Latin alphabet to be an equal state alphabet with the Arabic alphabet. A decree of the AzCIK and AzSNK of July 22, 1928 set the deadline for the final transition from the Arabic to the Latin alphabet on January 1, 1929.

In parallel to the introduction of the new script in Azerbaijan, Ağamalıoğlu began to advertise the New Turkish Alphabet to the governments of other Soviet Turkic peoples as early as 1922 . In a circular he sent to the People's Education Commissariats of Turkestan, Tatarstan, Chivas and the Crimea in December of this year, he let them know that Azerbaijan was also thinking of the "cultural progress" of the other Turkic peoples in terms of writing policy. In autumn 1924, Ağamalıoğlu and a small delegation went on an advertising tour for the new script in the republics of Crimea, Tatarstan, Bashkiria and Turkestan, without being able to convince the local governments of the need to exchange letters. From February 26 to March 6, 1926, the 1st All-Union Turkology Congress in Baku took place in Baku under the direction of Ağamalıoğlu. At the end of the congress, the vast majority of delegates surprisingly passed a resolution according to which "with a view to the new Latin alphabet [...] all Turkic peoples and other peoples should study the experience and methods of Azerbaijan [...] and an introduction should consider this reform on their own territory ". The clear vote (101 for- against 9 against) was prepared by Ağamalıoğlu and other Latin supporters parallel to the congress events behind closed doors at the meetings of the Partfrakcija (party faction), in which the delegates of the congress, who were also members of the Communist Party, participated. Immediately after the congress, Ağamalıoğlu began building an organization to coordinate the introduction of the Latin alphabet in the Turkish-speaking areas of the USSR. With the recognition of the All Union Committee for the New Turkish Alphabet (Vsesojuznyj Komitet Novogo Tjurkskogo Alfavita) under the chairmanship of Ağamalıoğlu by the organizational office of the Central Committee of the CPSU on February 28, 1927 and an instruction from the Central Executive Committee of the CPSU from May of the same year Now that the introduction of Latin script in the republics and national areas could begin, the most important course for Latinization in large parts of the Soviet Orient had been set. By the time Ağamalıoğlu died in October 1930, the new alphabet had been introduced for 37 languages ​​of the Soviet Union (including only 18 Turkic languages).

Political withdrawal and death (1929–1930)

On September 19, 1929, Bakinsky Rabočij , the Baku party organ, reported in an inconspicuous announcement that Ağamalıoğlu had been temporarily replaced from his position as chairman of the Central Executive Committee of Azerbaijan by his deputy Sultan Məcid Əfəndiyev the day before . Three months later, Ağamalıoğlu also lost his post as one of the three chairmen of this authority by decision of the Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic of January 26, 1930.

As early as the summer of 1929, Stalin had decided to replace the party and state leadership in Azerbaijan. It was not difficult for a delegation of the Central Control Commission of the CPSU to go to Baku to find valid reasons: the failure of the Cultural Revolution and the first attempt at collectivization due to the resistance of the Azerbaijani population, the affair of the Azerbaijani GPU , which Moscow did not know about had carried out mass shootings, the development of a national political class in which old clan and family relationships were reproduced more and more clearly, as well as the scandal surrounding the central women's club Ali Bajramov in Baku, which had used the leading communists - including Ağamalıoğlu, to bring in new women. In 1930 the rumor circulated among Azerbaijani emigrant circles that Ağamalıoğlu had forced his 18-year-old secretary to marry him after the death of his wife in 1929, thus providing Moscow with the real reason to oust him. His retreat from politics, which began in autumn 1929, was probably not causally related to the wave of purges that year. The historian Jörg Baberowski wrote that Ağamalıoğlu was said to have been spared due to his rapidly deteriorating health. Both legs had already been amputated in August and he has been in a wheelchair ever since.

On October 6, 1930, Ağamalıoğlu died in Moscow after a long illness. The following day, an obituary appeared on the pages of the Soviet government newspaper Izvestija , which highlighted his services to the Latinization movement. His body was transferred to the Rykov Club in the House of Soviets on October 9, and opened to the public on October 10. The cremation took place in the evening of the same day. Ağamalıoğlu's remains, like those of the first head of state of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic, Nəriman Nərimanov, were buried on the Kremlin wall in Red Square.


In a speech from 1936, the leader of the Azerbaijani SSR, Mir Cəfər Bağırov, coined the term Narimanovščina (Narimanovtum) in reference to the first chairman of the Azerbaijani Council of People's Commissars, Nəriman Nərimanov, who died in 1925 . During the "purges" from 1936 to 1938, the ranks of the first Azerbaijani communists were collectively marked as enemies of the people regardless of their actual attitude towards Nərimanov. Nərimanov, who had died more than ten years ago, was also punished posthumously by removing everything that reminded of the ostracized Azerbaijani revolutionary leader in the public space - monuments, memorial plaques, writings in the libraries. Jörg Baberowski assumes that the same thing was done with the memory of Ağamalıoğlu. To what extent this was actually the case is unclear. It is true that in his writings - as Ingeborg Baldauf z. B. noted for Ağamalıoğlus alphabet propaganda - effortlessly find passages that would have given rise to public condemnation of his person as “deviations from the right” or “left”. However, the fact that there were kolkhozes and a street in Baku that bore his name at the beginning of the 1940s make such a conviction seem unlikely. In 1941, the Izvestija published several articles in which an oil tanker named after Ağamalıoğlu was mentioned. After a successful repair, it ran on March 2, 1941, together with the tankers Berija and Kaganovič, named after two close friends of Stalin, from the port of Baku - a symbolic honor that would probably not have been granted to an enemy of the people.

Nevertheless, in the case of Ağamalıoğlus, too, a preoccupation with his person seems to have started only with the beginning of the rehabilitation of repressed communists after Stalin's death. In November 1957, a small series of articles appeared in an issue of the journal Azərbaycan sosyalist kənd təsərrüfatı (Azerbaijani socialist agriculture) dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution , in which, in addition to the role of the recently exculpated Nərimanov, the Ağamalıoğlusar agriculture was the first Sketch was appreciated.

Ağamalıoğlu's writings (selection)

Ağamalıoğlu published a number of smaller papers during the 1920s in which he presented his negative view of the traditional Muslim culture of the Turkic peoples of the Soviet Union and called for or defended the use of radical measures to overcome it.

In Azerbaijani

  • Türk aləmində mədəni məsələlər [Cultural Issues in the Turkish World], Baku 1924 [in Arabic script].
  • Iki mədəniyyət [Two Cultures], Baku 1927.
  • Əlmdən və tarixdən [Of Science and History], Baku 1927.
  • Namus , Baku 1929.

In Russian

  • Kuda my idem? (O novom tjurkskom alfavite) [Where are we going? (About the New Turkish Alphabet)], Baku 1924.
  • Neotložnye nuždy tjurko-tatarskich narodov [Unavoidable needs of the Turkic-Tatar peoples], Baku 1925.
  • Dve kul'tury [Two Cultures], Baku 1927.
  • V zaščitu novogo tjurkskogo alfavita [In defense of the New Turkish Alphabet], Baku 1927.
  • Namus v zatvorničeskich obščestvach musul'manskogo mira [Namus in the closed societies of the Muslim world], Baku 1929.


  • Ilk xalq torpaq komissarı. In: Azərbaycan sosyalist kənd təsərrüfatı. No. 11, 1957, pp. 25-26.
  • Guy Imart: Un intellectuel azerbaïdjanais face à la Révolution de 1917: Sämäd-ağa Ağamaly-oğlu. Contribution à l'étude des mouvements politico-culturels parmi les “minorités ethniques” de l'ancien Empire russe durant le premier quart du XXe siècle. In: Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique. Volume 8, No. 4, 1967, pp. 528-559.
  • Cəlil Nəcəfov: S. Ağamalıoğlunun ictimai-siyasi və ateist görüşləri . Bakı 1968
  • Ch.B. Nadžafov: Social'no-političeskie i filosofskie vzuljady S. Agamali-ogly. [Avtorereferat] Baku 1968.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ingeborg Baldauf: Written reform and correspondence among the Muslim Russian and Soviet Turks (1850-1937). A symptom of the history of ideas and cultural-political developments . Budapest 1993, p. 389 .
  2. See Azərbaycan Respublikası Dövlət Siyasi Partiyalar və İctimai Hərəkatlar Arxivi (ARDSPIHA), f. 1. op. 34. е. chr. 210, here l. 3. This curriculum vitae, written by Ağamalıoğlu in the early 1920s for his cadre files, is the most important source for his pre-Soviet biography. Unless otherwise stated, it is based on the corresponding chapters of this entry, which is not unproblematic depending on the type of source. The information about the wealth of Ağamalıoğlu's family comes from e.g. B. not from his curriculum vitae, in which, for obvious reasons, he tries to describe an origin from a modest background, but from: Guy Imart: Un intellectuel azerbaïdjanais face à la Révolution de 1917: Samäd-ağa Ağamaly-oğlu. Contribution à l'étude des mouvements politico-culturels parmi les “minorités ethniques” de l'ancien Empire russe durant le premier quart du XXe siècle . In: Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique . tape 8 , no. 4 , 1967, p. 531 .
  3. Imart (1967), p. 532. Ağamalıoğlu himself skips this last section of his educational path in his autobiography.
  4. ARDSPIHA, f. 1. op. 34. е. chr. 210, l. 23f. and Ch. B. Nadžafov: Social'no-političeskie i filosofskie vzujady S. Agamali-ogly. [Avtorereferat] Baku 1968, p. 5.
  5. ARDSPIHA, f. 1. op. 34. е. chr. 210, l. 19-21 .
  6. ARDSPIHA, f. 1. op. 34. e. chr. 210, l. 23.
  7. To the Hümm Ht see: I. Bagirova: Političeskie partii i organizacii Azerbajdžana v načale XX veka. 1900-1917 . Baku 1997, p. 29-44 and 309-312 .
  8. On the content of the newspapers briefly Imart (1967), p. 539.
  9. Imart (1967), p. 540.
  10. ARDSPIHA, f. 1. op. 34. е. chr. 210, l. 55f.
  11. Dž. B. Guliev: Bor'ba Kommunističeskoj partii za osuščestvlenie leninskoj politiki v Azerbajdžane . Baku 1970, p. 104 .
  12. Ibid., L. 8th.
  13. A, f. 1. op. 34. е. chr. 210, l. 104.
  14. Ibid. l. 63.
  15. X. Nəcəfov: Sovet hakimiyyətinin ilk illerində . In: Kənd həyatı . No. 6 , 1967, p. 9 .
  16. IA Gusejnova / MA Dadašzade / AC Sumbatzade (ed.): Istorija Azerbajdžana . tape 3-1 . Baku 1963, p. 287 .
  17. See Imart (1967), pp. 547f. and Nadžafov (1968), p. 7.
  18. Jörg Baberowski: The enemy is everywhere. Stalinism in the Caucasus . Munich 2003, p. 587-599 .
  19. Fundamental to this: Baldauf (1992) and A. Frings: Soviet written policy between 1917 and 1941. An action-theoretical analysis, Stuttgart 2007.
  20. Dž. B. Guliev (ed.): Vospominanija azerbajdžanskich kommunistov o VI Lenine . Baku 1958, p. 19 .
  21. SA Agamali-ogly: Kul'turnaja revolucija i novyj Alfavit . In: Kul'tura i pis'mennost 'vostoka . No. 3 . Baku 1928, p. 8 .
  22. On the general chronology of the Latinization in Azerbaijan cf. Baldauf (1993), pp. 679-682.
  23. İ. İsaxanlı: Fərhad Ağazadə və latın əlifbasına keçid . In: Khazar Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences . tape 6 , no. 3-4 , 2003, pp. 27 .
  24. Quoted from Frings (2007), p. 137.
  25. On the general chronology of the Latinization on an all-union scale, cf. Baldauf (1993), 709-712.
  26. Theodor Menzel, who was there as a German delegate, presented a detailed German-language congress report, see. Theodor Menzel: The 1st Turkological Congress in Baku . In: Der Islam, 1927-28, pp. 1–76 and 169–228. See also Baldauf (1993), 387ff.
  27. For the text of the resolution in English translation, see Andreas Frings: Playing Moscow off Against Kazan. Azerbaijan Maneuvering to Latinization in the Soviet Union . In: From Imperio . No. 4, 2009, p. 259.
  28. See Frings (2009), pp. 256-258.
  29. See Frings (2009), who also goes into the political background to this decision.
  30. Umar Aliev: Pobeda latinizacii - lučšaja pamjat 'o Agamaly-ogly . In: Kul'tura i pis'mennost 'vostoka . No. 7-8 , 1930, pp. 29 .
  31. Zakrylas' sessija AzCIK'a . Bakinsky Rabočij, 1929.
  32. ^ Entry: Aliev Samed Aga Agamali ogly. In: Spravočnik po istorii Kommunističeskoj partii i Sovetskogo Sojuza 1898-1991. Retrieved April 11, 2018 (Russian).
  33. See Baberowski (2003), pp. 777-791.
  34. Hilal Moonshee: The Republic of Azerbaijan. A historical and political sketch. Berlin 1930, p. 61.
  35. Baberowski (2003), p. 781.
  36. Tadžiev / U. Aliev: S. Aga Agamali-ogly . Izvestija, 1930.
  37. ^ Kremacija tela tov. Agamaly-ogly . In: Pravda . 1930.
  38. Imart (1967), p. 557.
  39. Baberowski (2003), p. 814.
  40. Baldauf (1993), p. 675, footnote 138.
  41. Pervye neftenalivnye suda vyšli v Astrakhan ' . In: Izvestija . 1941.
  42. For this and other biographical literature see #Literature .