Armenian–Tatar massacres of 1905–1907

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Armenian–Tatar massacres
Part of Revolution of 1905
A Cossack military patrol near the Baku oilfields, ca. 1905.
Result Violence quelled by intervention of Cossack regiments

Armenian groups

Caucasian Tatar groups[1]  Russian Empire
Casualties and losses

128 Armenian and 158 Tatar villages destroyed

3,000-10,000 Armenians and Caucasian Tatars killed

The Armenian–Tatar massacres (also known as the Armenian-Tartar war, the Armeno-Tartar war and, more recently, the Armenian-Azeri War[2]) refers to the bloody bloody inter-ethnic confrontation between Armenians and Azerbaijanis (then known as Caucasian Tatars)[3][4] throughout the Russian Caucasus in 1905–1907.[5][6][7]

The massacres started during the Russian Revolution of 1905, and claimed hundreds of lives. The most violent clashes occurred in 1905 in February in Baku, in May in Nakhchivan, in August in Shusha and in November in Elizabethpol, heavily damaging the cities and the Baku oilfields. Some violence, although of lesser scale, broke out also in Tiflis.

The clashes were not confined to the towns, and according to Polish historian Tadeusz Swietochowski, 128 Armenian and 158 Caucasian Tatar villages were destroyed or pillaged.[8] while the Overall estimates of casualties vary widely, ranging from 3,000 to 10,000, with Caucasian Tatars having higher numbers,[9] which mostly was a result of Dashnaks on the Armenian side being more effective and Tatars being too poorly organized.[10]

In Baku[edit]

A Tatar victim of the massacres in Baku

According to Van Der Leeuw, clashes started in early February 1905 over the killing of a Tatar schoolboy and shopkeeper by Armenians.[11] 126 Tatars and 218 Armenians were killed during four days of fighting in Baku.[11] Other sources such as Dasnabedian, Luigi Villari or Walker claimed that Tatars had started the conflict by killing numerous unarmed Armenians in February 1905 which allowed the Armenian community to give a strong response.[12] Walker had stated that "Tatars were free to massacre with impunity".[11]

According to the Baku Statistical Bureau and statements provided in Saint Petersburg, 205 Armenians and 111 Tatars were killed in the clashes, of which 9 were women, 20 were children, and 13 were elderly, along with 249 wounded.[13]

In Nakhchivan and Shusha[edit]

The corpses of Armenians after the May massacre in Nakhchivan

After the Baku clashes, Muslim communities in the Nakhchivan district began smuggling consignments of weapons from Persia. By April, murders of Armenians in the district began to assume alarming proportions and the Armenian community applied to the Russian authorities for protection. However, Luigi Villari describes the district's governor as "bitterly anti-Armenian" and the vice-governor in Yerevan as an "Armenophobe".[14]

On 25 May, acting on a previously arranged plan, bands of armed Tatars attacked the market area in the town of Nakhchivan, looting and burning Armenian businesses and killing any Armenians they could find. Approximately 50 Armenians were murdered and some of the Armenian shopkeepers were burnt alive in their shops. On the same day, Tatar villagers from the countryside began attacking their Armenian neighbours. Villari cites official reports mentioning that "out of a total of 52 villages with Armenian or mixed Armenian-Tartar populations, 47 were attacked, and of that 47, 19 were completely destroyed and abandoned by their inhabitants. The total number of dead, including those in Nakchivan town, was 239. Later, in a revenge attack, Armenians attacked a Tartar village, killing 36 people".[15]

The situation in Shusha was different than in Nakhchivan. According to Thomas de Waal, out of the 300 killed and wounded, about two-thirds were Tatars as the Armenians were better shooters and enjoyed the advantage of position.[16]

In Ganja[edit]

Prior to the Armenian-Tatar massacres, Ganja had a sizable Armenian population.[17][18] Among the Armenians, the city is known as Gandzak (Գանձակ)[19][20][21]


According to Yale University history professor Firuz Kazemzadeh, "it is impossible to pin the blame for the massacres on either side. It seems that in some cases (Baku, Elizabethpol) the Tatars fired the first shots, in other cases (Shusha, Tiflis) the Armenians."[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BUTCHERY IN THE CAUCASUS.; A State of Civil War -- 30,000 Combatants of Various Races The New York Times
  2. ^ Nicholas W. Miller. Nagorno-Karabakh: A War without Peace. Kristen Eichensehr (ed.), W. Michael Reisman (ed.) Stopping Wars and Making Peace: Studies in International Intervention. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009
  3. ^ Suha Bolukbasi. Nation-building in Azerbaijan. Willem van Schendel (ed.), Erik Jan Zürcher (ed.). Identity politics in Central Asia and the Muslim world. I.B.Tauris, 2001. "Until the 1905—6 Armeno-Tatar (the Azeris were called Tatars by Russia) war, localism was the main tenet of cultural identity among Azeri intellectuals."
  4. ^ Joseph Russell Rudolph. Hot spot: North America and Europe. ABC-CLIO, 2008. "To these larger moments can be added dozens of lesser ones, such as the 1905-06 Armenian-Tartar wars that gave Azeris and Armenians an opportunity to kill one another in the areas of Armenia and Azerbaijan that were then controlled by Russia..."
  5. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Azerbaijan. History.
  6. ^ Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary. Turks
  7. ^ Willem van Schendel, Erik Jan Zürcher. Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Labour in the Twentieth Century. I.B.Tauris, 2001. ISBN 1-86064-261-6, ISBN 978-1-86064-261-6, p. 43
  8. ^ Cornell, Svante. Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, p. 69.
  9. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski. Russia and Azerbaijan: A Borderland in Transition. Columbia University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-231-07068-3, ISBN 978-0-231-07068-3
  10. ^ Cornell, Svante. Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, p. 56.
  11. ^ a b c Svante E. Cornell. Small nations and great powers. page 55
  12. ^ Luigi Villari. Fire and Sword in the Caucasus: ″The authorities were perpetually telling the Tartars that the Armenians were meditating a massacre of Mussulmans, and that they should be on the qui vive... and on the 19th of February they proceeded to massacre every Armenian they came across. The Armenians defended themselves as best they could, but the Tartars were much more numerous and better armed.″
  13. ^ Saint-Peterburg Vedomosti, 25 May 1905
  14. ^ Villari, Luigi. Fire and Sword in the Caucasus. London: T. F. Unwin, 1906 ISBN 0-7007-1624-6 p. 270.
  15. ^ Villari, Luigi. Fire and Sword in the Caucasus. London: T. F. Unwin, 1906 ISBN 0-7007-1624-6 p. 270-274.
  16. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-8147-1945-9.
  17. ^ Soviet Census in 1926-1979, Newspaper Pravda Press, Moscow, 1983
  18. ^ According to the 1892 official data, "10524 of 25758 inhabitants of the city were Armenians, there were 6 Armenian Apostolic (Gregorian) churches", Elizavetpol article, Brockauz and Efron Encyclopedia (in Russian)
  19. ^ "the union of Georgian and Armenian armies near Gandzak", Армянская Советская Социалистическая Республика, Great Soviet Encyclopedia
  20. ^ "Mkhitar Gosh was born in Gandzak", Мхитар Гош, Great Soviet Encyclopedia
  21. ^ "Gandzak (Ganja)" [ The death of the last 'Abbasid Caliph': a contemporary Muslim account, by Boyle J. // Semitic Studies.1961; 6: 145-161
  22. ^ Firuz Kazemzadeh. Struggle For Transcaucasia (1917—1921), New York Philosophical Library, 1951