Baku Commune of 1918
Baku Commune of 1918
the Soviet power established in Baku and in several regions of Azerbaijan in the spring and summer of 1918. On Oct. 31 (Nov. 13), 1917, on the initiative of the Baku committee of Bolsheviks, the Baku soviet was the first in Transcaucasia to pass a resolution about the transfer of power to the soviet; and it also carried on the struggle for the strengthening of that power. On Mar. 30, 1918, an antisoviet revolt was incited by the Musavat supporters and suppressed by the armed forces of the Baku soviet. In the spring and summer of 1918 the Soviets took power in Kuba, Shemakha, Lenkoran’, Sal’iany, Dzhevat, and other districts. On April 25, at a meeting of the Baku soviet, the Baku Council of People’s Commissars (CPC) was formed to be the organ of proletarian dictatorship in Azerbaijan. It consisted of Chairman of the Baku CPC S. G. Shaumian, People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs P. A. Dzhaparidze, People’s Commissar of Labor Ia. D. Zevin, Provincial Commissar M. A. Azizbekov, People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs G. N. Korganov, People’s Commissar for Affairs of the City Economy N. N. Narimanov, Commissar for Affairs of the National Economy I. T. Fioletov, People’s Commissar of Justice A. B. Karinian (Gabrielian), and People’s Commissar of Public Education N. N. Kolesnikova. Among the members of the Baku CPC were representatives of left Socialist Revolutionaries: People’s Commissar of Agriculture M. G. Vezirov, People’s Commissar of Railways, Naval Transportation, and the Post Office and Telegraph I. Sukhartsev, and others. The Baku CPC acted under the authority of the CPC of the RSFSR and, taking local conditions into account, carried out its decrees and instructions. The Baku CPC began the socialist reorganization in Azerbaijan: decrees on the nationalization of the oil industry, banks, and the Caspian merchant fleet were published, as were decrees on reform of the court system and on confiscation of the land of the beys and khans and its distribution among the peasants. In business enterprises and in institutions, control by workers and the eight-hour working day were instituted, and workers’ wages were raised. Despite the general decline in the oil industry stemming from destruction and sabotage by the administration of the oilfields, the Baku workers increased the production of oil. The Baku CPC also brought about revolutionary changes in the area of culture.
Under the extremely difficult conditions in the country in the summer of 1918, the Baku Commune was the only stronghold of Soviet power in Transcaucasia, where all the forces of internal counterrevolution and English and German-Turkish intervention carried on a struggle against it. The Central Committee of the Party, the CPC, and V. I. Lenin personally gave help to the Azerbaijan Bolsheviks. In June 1918, by the order of Lenin, Baku was supplied with seven armored cars, 13 airplanes, 80 artillery guns, 160 machine guns, 10,000 rifles, military supplies, and bread. The Soviet government through its ambassador in Berlin, A. A. Ioffe, demanded that Germany immediately cease attacks by Turkish troops on Baku. But the Soviet government could not at that moment give enough military support to the Baku Commune. Azerbaijan, like the entire country, was suffering heavily from food shortages. The position of the Baku Commune was complicated by the lack of durable union between the multinational Baku proletariat and the broad masses of working peasants of the Azerbaijan rural areas. Power in many districts of Azerbaijan was in the hands of the bourgeois nationalists—the Musavatists. In the complex situation of intervention and the struggle with the Musavatists, the Baku CPC could not solve the problem of creating Soviet autonomy in Azerbaijan, and the nationalists took advantage of the opportunity. In July 1918, Turkish troops began attacking Baku. Musavatists served as agents for the German-Turkish interventionists. On July 25 at a meeting of the Baku soviet they, the Musavatists, and also the Socialist Revolutionaries, Dashnaks, and Mensheviks were successful in passing a resolution inviting an English detachment into Baku.
In the last days of July, Turkish troops approached the city. From the south (out of Iran), English troops moved on Baku. Under these circumstances, on July 31 the Soviets temporarily fell from power in Baku. On Aug. 4, 1918, British troops occupied Baku.
After the fall of the Baku Commune, the deaths of the Baku Commissars and the seizure of all of Transcaucasia by interventionists, Dashnaks, Musavatists, and Mensheviks, the persistent struggle for Soviet power in Azerbaijan continued. On Apr. 28, 1920, Soviet power in Azerbaijan was restored.
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E. A. TOKARZHEVSKII