The proclamation of Azerbaijan Republic took place in late May, 1918 in Tbilisi. Indeed, this phrase is conditional, since no one neither seen nor read declaration of Azerbaijan Republic Proclamation. By the way, this fact let to change the day of Azerbaijan proclamation from May 27 on May 28, 1918. Hard to say what caused this "rejuvenation” of Azerbaijan Republic: however, until recently, the official date of Azerbaijan Republic’s proclamation was considered May 27. Probably, it’s due to the concealment of the declaration, where the new-born republic was called the East-Caucasian Muslim Republic (VZMR) (according to other sources - Azerbaijan Muslim Republic).
Both of the options indicate the desire of Transcaucasian Turks and Turkey to establish in Caucasus - first time in history! - state only for the Transcaucasian Turks, since word "Muslim” in the South Caucasus has been converted for a long time into denominational ethnonym. All other nations of the region had their traditional time-honored ethnonyms: Armenians, Talyshs, Avars, Tats, Lezgins, Udis etc. Although a lot of them confessed Islam, the "ethnonym” "Muslim” was privatized by nomad Turkish tribes.
Meanwhile, in the name of Azerbaijan Muslim Republic (later - the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic) on the territories, having no relations to the historical (true) Azerbaijan, clearly reflected desire "to justify” future territorial claims to Persia (Iran) its Northern provinces from the immemorial time called Azerbaijan. Thus, the proclamation itself became a threat and a warning for the nations of Eastern Caucasus and Iran of the impending aggression against them.
Well, the proclamation of Azerbaijan Republic itself same as its intention to seize the lands of indigenous people, doesn’t mean anything: "Azerbaijan” had to demonstrate the potential to implement proclaimed objectives. Well, Transcaucasian Turks didn’t have that potential – political, military, ethnic nor social. At that time, Transcaucasian Turks were majority of the population only on Kura-Araks interfluve; in all other regions of the proclaimed republic dominated indigenous people: Armenians, Talyshs, Lezgins, Tats, Udis, Avars… Forces and opportunities of "Azerbaijan Republic’s” "government” were enough only to have a foothold of the left-bank of Gandzak city.
The authority in Baku, "capital” of the proclaimed "Azerbaijan Republic” was lead by Stepan Shaumyan head of Baku commune; and self-proclaimed "masters” of the city were not welcomed. Baku revolutionary forces were intended to break military detachments of Transcaucasian Turks that terrorized the interfluve population; moreover, atrocities committed by the remnants of the defeated wild division of Transcaucasian Tatars, and also illegality and invalidity of Azerbaijan Republic proclamation had to be stopped. Throughout the Eastern Transcaucasia rampaged the individual predatory forces of Transcaucasian Turks, burning down villages and killing indigenous population.
Under these conditions limited forces of Baku commune (among the most distinguished heroism and dedication troops were under command of Amazasp, Dashnak orders, Petrov orders, Bicherahov and others) took control of most of the "Azerbaijan Republic”. Necessary to say, it would be impossible without active support and participation of indigenous peoples, who also didn’t want to live under "Muslims” thumb. Baku commune’s forces didn’t enter only in Talysh, where local population was able to drive the gangs of Transcaucasian Turks by themselves.
By early summer Baku commune’s troops extended through almost entire "Azerbaijan” except the territory from Gandzak’s left bank to the border with Georgia. The "government” of "Azerbaijan Republic” was in a state of agony since it didn’t see its "capital” when Turkey’s aggression took place. There were first fighting of Baku commune’s forces with combined troops of Anatolian and Transcaucasian Turks. Baku commune’s forces deprived the assistance of raging in war Russia, without possibility to provide full supply of food and ammunition, slowly, with battles, retreated.
Turkish army advanced by a broad front, at the same time committing the horrific acts of violence against the villages of Lezgins, Avars and Udis, who assisted commune and drove troops of Transcaucasian Turks from their lands. There were villages where everyone was cut. Interesting, nowadays Baku ideologists try to present the mass graves of indigenous peoples by… the impact of Armenian "atrocities”.
August 1, 1918, Turkish troops were in suburbs of Baku. There was a hope to protect a city, especially with a fact, that behind enemy lines remained some unconquered Armenian regions of Artsakh. Turks also couldn’t gain foothold of the Greater Caucasus populated by Lezgins and Avars. However, at that day Baku Bolsheviks decided to leave the city by sea together with the armed forces. British troops located in Baku also abstained from taking part in fighting and moved on ships. Thus, the city was defended almost only by the Armenian troops.
The archival documents point at that fact, when Turkish troops besieged Baku together with German officers made their suggestions and ultimatums to surrender the city only to Armenians and representing Armenian population Armenian National Council of Baku. Exerts from one of those ultimatums is here below.
To Mr. Ter -Gazarov
I came as German envoy of General Staff that is in front of Baku in order to discuss the possibility of putting Baku without a fight…
We owe the Armenians, our subjects (Mr. Neelo and his people) were warned in time and they’ve been let to leave the Baku city, when they were in danger. The more because of this we are ready to help you.
In case if you don’t want to leave this oil city intact in everyone’s free use, then, there must be fight. Armenian life and Armenian property will be destroyed.
We require you only:
1. to leave the Baku city not destroyed and intact, and permission to use this oil city…
General Staff Colonel Paraken.
Turkish troops Commander Mursel
AI Ra, f.223, op. 1, d. 112, sheet 1 rev
Such ultimatums (there were many) confirm that: a) until 1918 Baku didn’t belong to Transcaucasian Turks; b) Transcaucasian Turks didn’t have enough of strength and abilities to capture the city by themselves (they aren’t even mentioned in one of those ultimatums); c) the assistance of Germans in Baku capture was due to the Turks promises to pass them right to produce and use oil. This topic is very interesting, and we’ll return to it, now let’s come back to our issue.
The heroic defense of Baku by the troops of Armenians lasted exactly 45 days. However, the forces were unequal; deprived of water, food and ammunition city could not resist. September 15, Turks stormed the city they’ve been followed by Transcaucasian "brothers”. Massacres and slaughter of the Armenian population bore horrendous nature and scope. During first three days were cut more than thirty thousand Armenians, mostly, women, children and old men. There are thousands (!) of archival documents, at our disposal narrating about those terrible days. Baku was flooded with the Armenian blood. The genocidal Azerbaijan Republic was originated on that blood.