Abstract: The paper makes a case for the suppression of Azerbaijani scientists and academics by Stalin in the 1920–1930s in the Soviet Union. Those policies left an indelible mark in the fields of history, economics, philosophy and philology in Azerbaijan which resonate even today. After independence, the secret archives of the Soviet Union revealed the extent to which Stalin’s purges impacted the state of the scientific community of Azerbaijan. The accusations leveled against top level scientists and artists in Azerbaijan ranged from nationalism, pan-turkism, religious affiliations among others, much like in the rest of the Soviet Union. The purges not only attacked the academic community but also imposed other policies to suppress the national culture of Azerbaijan, including changing the alphabet to Cyrillic and imposing Russian language on the population. The paper brings to light the importance of those lives lost not only for Azerbaijani science but also for the nation. The ways and means through which the Soviet machinery made the people of Azerbaijan forget the contributions and achievements of the people who were important and influential figures. The paper lays the foundation for the understanding of Azerbaijan’s unique historical place in the world by taking into account the account of the early years of Azerbaijan as part of the Soviet Union.
Keywords: Stalin’s Purges, Repression, Azerbaijan, Science, Nationalism, Academy of Sciences, Soviet Union
Today more facts continue to come to light regarding the acts of lawlessness and tyranny committed in the 1930s in the USSR, calling for description of that period not only as an epoch of great achievements but also as a time of bitter trials. In 1932–1933, a new tragedy took place after the period of famine, which covered a number of regions of the country and affected many people’s lives. This tragedy along with the purges caused much destruction of lives effecting a large part of the population across Azerbaijan and still resonates in peoples’ memories.
This past haunts the minds and hearts of people in Azerbaijan and requires an investigation into the magnitude of loss suffered by the nation of Azerbaijan in the 1930-1940s Shot down thoughts, strangled dreams and broken lives haunts our contemporaries’ mind and hearts taking us back to the recent past. The analytical approach in the appraisal of these events is topical today, especially when the process of democratisation is changing the bureaucratic culture of Azerbaijan. The fact that repressions of that period were not adequately analysed in the Soviet epoch is accounted for by lack of access to serious secret archival materials for researchers, so they used unverified sources and sometimes approached this topic subjectively being guided by personal political interests. This factor had a negative effect on the study of that challenging and tough period. Only following the collapse of the Soviet Union and independence of Azerbaijan did ample opportunities present themselves for thorough historical analysis to take place.