Shaumian, Stepan Georgievich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shaumian, Stepan Georgievich


(party pseudonyms include Suren, Surenin, and Aiaks). Born Oct. 1 (13), 1878, in Tbilisi; died Sept. 20, 1918, between Pereval and Akhcha-Kuima stations on the Transcaspian Railroad. Communist party figure. One of the leaders of the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus; journalist; literary critic. Member of the Communist Party from 1900.

The son of a shop clerk, Shaumian graduated from the Tbilisi Realschule in 1898. In 1899, in the village of Dzhalal-Ogly (present-day city of Stepanavan), he organized the first Marxist circle in Armenia. He helped found the Union of Armenian Social Democrats in 1902 and emigrated late in that year to Germany, where he graduated in 1905 from the faculty of philosophy at Berlin University. He worked in foreign organizations of the RSDLP and published Social Democratic literature in Armenian and Georgian. He translated works by K. Marx, F. Engels, and V. I. Lenin into Armenian. Shaumian returned to Tbilisi in 1905.

One of the leaders of the Caucasian Union Committee of the RSDLP, Shaumian was a delegate to the Fourth and Fifth Congresses of the RSDLP in 1906 and 1907. He helped establish the Bolshevik organization in Baku. Shaumian founded and edited a number of Bolshevik newspapers and journals. In 1911 he was a member of the Russian Organizing Commission for the Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the RSDLP, which was held in 1912. He was co-opted at the conference as a candidate member in the Central Committee of the party. Shaumian became head of the Bolshevik organization in Baku in 1914 and a member of the Caucasian Bureau of the RSDLP in 1915.

After the February Revolution of 1917, Shaumian was chosen as chairman of the Baku soviet. A delegate to the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, he was elected to the All-Russian Central Executive Committee. At the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP(B) he was elected a member of the Central Committee. In October 1917, Shaumian directed the First Congress of Bolshevik Organizations of the Caucasus, and in December he was appointed by the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR extraordinary commissar for Caucasian affairs. He led the suppression of the anti-Soviet revolt of the Musavatists in Baku in March 1918 and became chairman of the Baku Council of People’s Commissars and commissar of external affairs in April. Shaumian was one of 26 Baku commissars executed by the Socialist Revolutionaries and British interventionists.

Shaumian was the author of works on Marxist-Leninist theory and philosophy and on art and literature. During their formative stages, his literary and esthetic views were influenced by the Russian revolutionary democrats. Shaumian considered literature and art specific forms of ideology and weapons in the class struggle. He defended the Leninist principle of partiinost’ (party spirit) in literature and advocated the principles of realism and narodnost’ (popular nature) of art. He wrote articles about L. N. Tolstoy and M. Gorky—for example, “Letter to the Editor in Memory of L. N. Tolstoy” (1910), “A Little About L. N. Tolstoy’s Religion” (1911), and “Gorky” (1911). Shaumian’s articles and letters contain original evaluations of Russian and foreign classics. With S. Spandarian, A. Miasnikov, and A. Karinian, he laid the foundations of Armenian Marxist criticism and esthetics.

Shaumian deserves considerable credit for the development of proletarian literature in Armenia and is known to have had a direct influence on the work of A. Akopian. In his articles “V. Papazian as Historian” (1912) and “Concerning the Anthology of Armenian Literature” (1916), Shaumian dealt with complex aspects of the history, literature, and social thought of the Armenian people in the 19th and early 20th centuries, singling out in particular the work of Kh. Abovian and the activities of M. Nalbandian.


[Shahumyan, S. G.] Erker, vols. 1–3. Yerevan, 1955–58.
Erkeri liakatar zhoghovatsu, vols. 1–2. Yerevan, 1975–76. (Five volumes planned.)
Namakner, 1896–1918. Yerevan, 1959.
Grakanut’ yan masin. Yerevan, 1948.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1957–58.
Literaturno-kriticheskiestat’i, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Pis’ma, 1896–1918. Yerevan, 1959.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See Index Volume, part 2, p. 485.)
Dubinskii-Mukhadze, I. M. Shaumian [2nd ed.]. Moscow, 1968. (Contains bibliography.)
Garibdzhanian, G. B. Revoliutsionnaia deiaiel’nost’ S. G. Shaumiana za granitsei (1902–1907). Yerevan, 1971.
Voskerchian, A. K. S. Shaumian i voprosy literatury, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1959.
Akopian, G. S. Stepan Shaumian: Zhizn’ i deiatel’nost’, 1878–1918. Moscow [1973],
Barseghyan, Kh. H. S. G. Shaumian. Moscow, 1975.
Barseghyan, Kh. H. Shahumyan: Kyank’i eu gortsuneut’yan vaveragrakan taregrut’yun. Yerevan, 1968.
Sargsyan, G. St. Shahumyan grakan k’nnadat. Yerevan, 1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.