Shusha Pogrom - Casualties - Remembering


The prominent Russian poet Osip Mandelstam who was in Shusha in 1931 wrote a poem ("The Phaeton Driver") dedicated to the Shusha pogroms:

So in Nagorno-Karabakh
These were my fears
Forty thousand dead windows
Are visible there from all directions,
The cocoon of soulless work
Buried at the mountains.

One of the Komsomol leaders of the Azerbaijan SSR, Olga Shatunovskaya, later wrote in her memoirs: "Azerbaijan didn't want to lose the power as Nagorno-Karabakh is a great region. It's autonomous but only nominally, during these years they ousted many Armenians, closed schools and colleges. Earlier, the main city was Shusha. When in the 1920s there was a massacre, they burnt all the central part of the town, and then they didn't even restore it."

Two prominent Armenian-Russian Communist activists, Anastas Mikoyan and Marietta Shaginyan, wrote about the pogroms in their memoirs. Mikoyan, who was in the region, later remarked: "According to the reconnaissance information, at Azerbaijani Mousavatist government's disposal was army of 30-thousands, of whom 20 thousands deployed near the border of Armenia... The army of Azerbaijan shortly before that massacred the Armenians in Shusha, Karabakh."

Russian-Georgian writer Anaida Bestavashvili in her "The people and the monuments" publication compares the pogroms and the burning of Shusha to the tragedy of Pompeii.

Historian Christopher J. Walker wrote, in regard of Sultanov's activities, "The Karabagh affair was a grave one for the British. Accusations of direct British complicity in Armenian massacre cannot really be sustained; but the killings were a result of the almost unconscious British tendency to support 'our traditional friends' – the wealthy – and to disregard the wishes of the majority".

Research analyst Kalli Raptis wrote in her book Nagorno-Karabakh and the Eurasian Transport Corridor, "In July 1918, the First Armenian Assembly of Nagorno Karabakh declared the region self-governing and created a national Council and government. In August 1919, the Karabakh national Council entered into a provisional treaty arrangement with the Azerbaijani government in order to avoid military conflict with a superior adversary". Azerbaijan's violation of the treaty culminated in March 1920 with the massacre of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh's capital, Shushi (called Shusha by the Azerbaijanis)".

Modern Russian politologist Timur Polyannikov in his Vityaz na rasputie publication marks the pogroms in Shusha among other events in Armenian history, "organized by Azerbaijani Pan-Turkists of "Musavat" party."

The Armenia, Armenia: about the country and the people from the biblical times to our days reference book considers the pogroms of Shusha as a part of genocide of Armenians practiced all over Eastern Armenia: "Shushi, the capital of Karabakh was seized by Azerbaijani nationalists on March 23, 1920, over 20.000 Armenians were killed and 7000 houses, libraries, churches, cemeteries and pantheons were leveled in three days and three nights."

Prof. Richard G. Hovannisian wrote about the massacres: "Finally, in August 1919, the Karabagh National Assembly yielded to provisional and conditional Azerbaijani jurisdiction. The twenty-six conditions strictly limited the Azerbaijani administrative and military presence in the region and underscored the internal autonomy of Mountainous Karabagh. Violations of those conditions by Azerbaijan culminated in an abortive rebellion in March 1920. In retribution, the Azerbaijani forces burned the beautiful city of Shushi, hanged Bishop Vahan, and massacred much of the population. It was the end of Armenian Shushi."

Modern journalist Thomas de Waal wrote in his book Black Garden about these events: "Terrible pogroms took place in Shusha in 1920 shortly after the Russians left the city because of the economic collapse and civil war. This time Azerbaijani forces crushed the higher, Armenian quarter of the city, burned whole streets and killed hundreds of Armenians... The ruins of the Armenian quarter stood untouched for more than forty years". In another place he wrote that the number of massacred people was 500.

According to the author Thomas de Waal:

In Karabakh, the Armenian community was split between the age-old dilemma of cooperation or confrontation. There were those – primarily Dashnaks and villagers – who wanted unification with Armenia, and those – mainly Bolsheviks, merchants, and professionals – who, in the words of the Armenian historian Richard Hovannisian, “admitted that the district was economically with eastern Transcaucasia and sought accommodation with the Azerbaijani government as the only way to spare Mountainous Karabagh from ruin”. The latter group was mainly concentrated in Shusha, but both groups were killed or expelled when an Armenian rebellion was brutally put down in March 1920 with a toll of hundreds of Shusha Armenians. He also wrote that "In March 1920, an Azerbaijani army sacked the town, burning the Armenian quarter and killing some five hundred Armenians."

According to Tim Potier: Following the October Revolution, Karabakh became part of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan, although its control was hotly disputed by Ottoman and British forces, as well as, of course, Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Eventually, however, the British re-affirmed Azerbaijani jurisdiction over Karabakh by appointing a Muslim governor at Shusha. Shusha had, by this time, come to be regarded by the Armenian people as an Armenian cultural center and it was not until 28 February 1920 that the Armenian elders of Shusha reluctantly agreed to recognise Azerbaijan's authority. The situation was to alter following the events of 4 April, when a mass exodus of Armenians from Shusha to nearby Khankendi (Stepanakert, today the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh), following an Armenian uprising put down by Azeri forces, transformed, almost overnight, Shusha into an Azeri city.

On March 20, 2000, a memorial stone was laid in Shusha on the site of the planned monument to the victims of the pogrom. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic government introduced a proposal to the National Assembly to establish March 23 as a day of memorial of the victims of the Shusha pogroms.

Read more about this topic:  Shusha Pogrom, Casualties

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