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Socio-economic and political circumstances at the beginning of the 20th century

The world economic crisis of 1900-1902s, also influenced Azerbaijan. The extraction of oil fell from 667,1 million pud in 1901 to 601,5 million pud in 1903, the activity in other fields, which were related with oil decreased, the number of jobless people grew. In 1901-1903s, about 30% of Baku workers were dismissed, the number of workers in oil industry decreased from 35,9 thousand to 26,8 thousand people. But nevertheless, the oil industry was being the leading field of national industry of Azerbaijan.

The metallurgy, mechanichal industry (there worked about 10 thousand people), transport (10 thousand people), chemical and weaving fields developed at the beginning of the 20th century. There shaped new groups of proletariat in the uyezds of Northern Azerbaijan. There worked 10 thousand people only in silk-weaving field.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the confrontation between governing and exploited population became strained, there shaped conditions for the enlargement of revolutionary-political ideas. In the spring of 1901, there was founded first Baku Committee, which maintained the positions of Lenin’s “Spark”. The created typography of “Nina” in Baku played an important role in providing the city with revolutionary literature, newspapers and lists. In the realization of revolutionary work among working staff, social-democratic organization “Hummet”, which was the part of Baku Committee RSDRP and that was founded in 1904, played significant role. Among the founders of these organizations, who played great role in the preparation of national professional revolutionists and who maintained wide ties with many regions of Azerbaijan, we can notice M.E.Resulzade, N.Narimanov, S.M.Afendiyev, M.A.Azizbeyov and others.

Strikes in the enterprises of Baku, which occurred in 1902-1903s, political demonstration and general strike of 1903, prooved the transformation of labour movements into new stage in Azerbaijan.

December strike of 1904 raised all proletariats of Baku to political struggle against the capital. This strike ended with the victory of workers-with the first collective agreement between workers and businessmen in the history of labour movements of Russian Empire. There occurred peasantry uprisings in Shamakha, Baku, Yelizavetpol, Nakhichevan, Lenkoran and other uyezds in this period. They were expressed in various forms: peasantsm who revolted against emigration policy of tsarism and conquest of their lands refused to pay taxes and to implement obligations, they cut the state forests, plundered private properties, refused to implement the orders of government and so on. But all of these uprisings possessed calm and unorganized character.

One of the extended forms was Gachag movement. In Elizavetpol guberniya, there were famous such Gachags as Qandal Naghi, Ali Muharrem oghlu, Kerbalai Asker, in Karabakh and Zangezur-Gachag Nebi and others.

At the beginning of the 20th century, labour and peasantry movements enlarged in Northern Azerbaijan. Russian government, which frightened from the size of revolutionary movements organized Armenian-Muslim slaughter in Baku in 1905, in order to distract the workers from such movements and improve material circumstances. In 1905-1906, there were killed thousands sinless Azerbaijani Turks, were destroyed tens of Azerbaijan villages and thousands of people became refuges in their motherland at the result of criminal activity of Armenians, by the support of Russia in Baku, Shusha, Nakhichevan, Iravan, Ganja and others regions of Azerbaijan.

Tsar government restorated governance system in the Caucasus at the end of February of 1905 and so, there was restorated military- administrative governance in whole South Caucasus, as well as Northern Azerbaijan.

Russian October political strike of 1905, extented to whole Azerbaijan as well. The workers of Baku, Shusha, Nukha, railway workers and students of Yelizavetpol joint to this strike. Tsar government, which frightened from the enlargement of this national movement, gave manifest, in which there was promised the freedoms of expression, press, assembly and etc. on October 17, 1905.

Among Azerbaijan intelligency there were appeared people, who devoted themselves to the work among Muslim workers at the  beginning of the century. Some of them–S.M.Afendiyev, A.Akhundov, M.A.Azizbeyov were the members of RSDRP, but most of them did not enter to the party, although they maintained socialistic ideas. These people were M.E.Resulzadeh, M.A.Mir-Kasimov, M.Q.Hajinsky, A.Kazimzadeh and others. According to memory of M.B.Mamedzadeh, in 1903, M.E.Resulzadeh and his colleques founded the “Circle of young revolutionists of Azerbaijan”, which was consisted of young students that were the basics for the shape of “Hummet”.

At the result of united attempts of revolutionary Azerbaijan intelligency there began to activate the first social-democratic organization of “Hummet” (“Energy”) in Muslim world in October of 1904, as well as there was published the paper with the same name. The branchs of this organization existed in Yelizavetpol, Shusha, Nakhichevan, Culfa; but the most essential branch with its number and political activity was Tiflis branch of “Hummet”, which was created in 1905. At the result of the activity of its leaders there were created branches of the organization in Nakhichevan and Yelizavetpol.

After the tsar decree of October 17, 1905, there were shaped national parties in Azerbaijan, such as “Ittifag-ul-muslimin”, “Difai” and “Mudafie”, led by A.Topchubashov, A.Aghayev and I.Ziyadkhanov.

These parties were related with popular-liberative fought of the nation against tsarism. For instance, the party of “Difai”, founded by Ahmed bey Aghaoghlu (Aghayev), was engaged in under-ground activity in Baku, Ganja, Nakhichevan and Karabakh, as well as it did great work in the protection of civil population of Azerbaijan against dashnaks’ aggression.

During 1st and 2nd all-Russian Congresses, organized in Nijney- Novqorod and Petersburg in 1905-1906s, the party of “Ittifag-ul- Muslimin”, which program and manifest were composed by A.Topchubashov, conducted great work on the protection of national rights of Muslim nation of Russian Empire, on preparation of unit tactics of Muslim-deputies in state Duma, as well as in other spheres of political activity.

Although the uprisings in other places of the empire were suppressed, revolutionary movement lasted in Azerbaijan with wide size. At the end of 1905 and the beginning of 1906, there worked the Union of workers deputies of Baku, were published “Workers’ voice” (“Fehlenin sesi”) (in March, 1906), “Devet-Qoch” (in May, 1906) and other illegal publications, shaped new worker organizations (for instance in the autumn of 1906 – professional union of oil workers) in Baku.

And in 1907, when revolutionary movement fall in Russian Empire, the struggle of Baku workers stayed in high level. This feature could be explained with aggravation of workers’ circumstances, which were related with violation of December agreement by businessmen, suitable conditions of oil industry and attentive policy of governing circles, who threatened from the aggravations in Baku.

The role of national bourgeoisie was also big in popular-liberative struggle of 1905-1907s. Progressive representatives of national bourgeoisie actively participated in socio-political life of Azerbaijan by the vehicle of various communities, unions and publications. It’s enough to mention the activity of A.Topchubashov, I.Ziyadkhanov, A.Khasmamedov, M.Jafarov, M.Aliyev, F.Khoysky, M.Shakhtakhtinsky and others in the 1st, 2nd, as well as 3rd and 4th state Dumas of Russian Empire. A.Topchubashov was the chief of all muslim fraction in the 1st Duma. Although the representatives of Azerbaijan, as other muslim deputies in Duma stayed in the positions of “Kadets” party, they conducted severe struggle against colonial emigration policy of tsarism, national discrimination as well as for radical solvement of agrarian problems in village during suitable circumstances.

Namely in this period there were set most of fundamental provisions of Azerbaijan socio-political idea, which explained the necessity of creation of independent Azerbaijan Democratic Respublic on May 28 of 1918. Namely in this period the development of general cognition in Azerbaijan gained strong increasement-social idea and national cognition, which began from cultural enlightenment passed the way from democratic enlightenment to the understanding about the necessity of administrative-territorial antonomy and then-till the position of independent statehood in a very short time.

Even in the period of suppression of revolutionary movement, which prevented the extension of poplar-liberative and class struggle, Azerbaijan was the biggest centre of revolutionary movement in Russia. It was not casual that Baku guberniya was in the first line among the strikers with its 37 thousand rebels.

After world economic crisis, lasted till 1910, there began new revival in economy. There were applied technical innovations in oil industry, the concentration of industry increased. In the eve of World War I all oil industry was concentrated in the lands of three monopolies company of “Shell”, “Nobel brothers” and “Oil”. The number of oil- refinery plants increased, there began to be utilized oil-carrying ships with mechanical movings in the Caspian Sea. ¼ of all copper, extracted in the empire came from the uyezds of Azerbaijan. There worked 40 thousand workers in fish-bands in 1913. There were created big fabrics of silk-production in the cities of Nukha, Shusha and Ordubad. All cotton-refinery industry passed to the stage of fabric production. All of these events shaped suitable conditions for the growth of cities and urban-settlers; during the decade of 1906-1916, the number of urban population in Azerbaijan increased in twice and reached to 573 thousand people.

The production of silk, cotton and grape increased in the beginning of the 20th century. Although there passed 40 years from land reform of 1870, there were continuing the preserve of social dependence in villages. Obligatory bought of land parts by peasants was legalized only on December 20, 1912. According to this law, the peasants who had never been dependers, who payed taxes for utilization of lands, who were not under feudal dependence, but in economic dependence became into the owners of their land portions. But for the fiscal peasants, who constituted 70% percent of rural producers tsarism did not give such law-according to the law of May 1, 1900 they were declared only permanent users of their portions.

The strengthening of national and class struggle, increasement of schools, national theatres, development of literature and music in the beginning of the 20th century became the basics of national identity of nation.

There was founded the party of “Musavat” in 1911, which played important role in popular-liberative movement of Azerbaijan. It is important to mention that the evoluation of this party as nationalistic- bourgeoisie party in Soviet historical science was far from the truth. It is enough to mention the role of party in the restoration of sovergnity of national Azerbaijan state, activity of M.E.Resulzadeh, A.Kazimzade, A.Shafizadeh, V.Mikayilzadeh and other representatives of party in 1918-1920s. Namely the party of “Musavat”, which in the spring of 1917, united with the party of “Turk Adami-Merkeziyyet (federalists)”, created by Nasibbey Yusifbeyli and got the name of “Turk-Adami- Merkeziyyet Musavat Xalq Firqesi” after the Congresses of Caucasian Muslims and the muslims of Russia played essential role in the restoration of national independence of Azerbaijan statehood on the 28th of May, 1918.

The uprisings of labour class of Azerbaijan extended in the years of World War I. The strikes, made in summer monthes of 1913-1914, were much more powerful. There participated more than 40 thousand workers in universal strike of 1913 in Baku and most part of them attained the acception of their economic demands.

In the eve of World War I the revolutionary and popular-liberative movement of Azerbaijan extended. Peasantry uprisings, which were characterized with obligatory occupation of fiscal lands, rejection from payment of taxes, military struggle against colonial state organs were much more powerful in Elizavetpol guberniya. Such Gachags as Meshadi Yolchu, Kerbalai Asker and peasantry detachments, led by them became mercy revengers against tsar officers.

The one of active participants of World War I, which began between Antanta and Triple Alliance in the summer of 1914, was Russia. The war influenced to political and socio-economic circumstances in all parts of Russian Empire.

Azerbaijan, first of all oil of Baku, possessed special place in stratejic plans of both fighting sides.

The war influenced negatively to industrial life of our country.

Approximately, in all industrial fields the output decreased, the circumstances in agriculture aggravated. The output of productions decreased, the implemented mobilization and military obligations damaged to agriculture.

There began new uprisings against national and religious yoke in cities and villages. Beginning from the summer of 1915, there began new stage of labour movements, revolutionary movements, occupied new territories.

It is important to mention great work of B.M.Aghayev and M.Alekberov, as well as social-democratic organization of “Adalat”, created after February revolution and which conducted activity among the workers of Southern Azerbaijan, who played an important role in the formation of Azerbaijan proletariat and etc.

In this period the party of “Musavat” possessed powerful influence in economic-political life of the country. The party began to wide propaganda among the mass. It is enough to mention the article of M.E.Resulzadeh, called “Bizim ehtiyaclarimiz” (“Our demands”), which was published in the bodies of this party-newspaper of “Achiq soz” (“Open word”). Soon, the party of Musavat became the mass organization and political leader of the nation. M.E.Resulzadeh, A.Huseinzadeh, A.Aghayev and other leaders conducted struggle for enlightenment, culture, for innovation in state governance and realization of measures, directed to the achievement of national interests and independence by any means.

In the beginning of 1917, despite of all attempts of tsar governing circles, the class and national-liberative movement reached to its highest level. Azerbaijan workers went to the first lines of liberation, fought among the nations of Russia. The political parties and organizations, which stood in various positions also played essential role in the attraction of the mass to the struggle against tsarism. In December of 1916, January of 1917, approximately all enterprises of Baku were occupied by strikes. The victory of February revolution was greeted by pleasant in all regions of Azerbaijan. Both proletarian and small- bourgeoisiec political parties began to legal activity.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Southern Azerbaijan, which was under the yoke of Iran, spent difficult times, the class and national yoke aggravated here. During the revolution of 1905-1911s in Iran the cities of Azerbaijan, especially Tabriz became the centre of revolutionary movement. Labour mass, united in the organization of “Ictimaiyyun-e- amiyyun” and in its “secret centre , which were led by prominent leaders as, “Sardari-milli” Sattarkhan and “Salari-milli” Bagirkhan turned Tabriz into cradle and fortress of revolution, prevented many attacks of Iranian reaction to the revolution. Qajars could suppress this national-patriothic revolution only with the aid of Russia and England.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"