Shamkhor massacre

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Shamkhor massacre
LocationŞəmkir, Azerbaijan
TargetRussian military train holding military equipment
DeathsEstimates vary from several hundreds to 1000+[1]
PerpetratorsMilitary Council of Nationalities, Azerbaijani nationalists

The Shamkhor massacre[1][2] happened in January 1918, Şəmkir, Azerbaijan,[3] when Azerbaijani armed groups, acting on orders from the Military Council of Nationalities, killed several hundred armed Russian soldiers who were returning home from the Caucasus Front,[4][5][6] in an effort to obtain sufficient arms.[7][8][9]


After the October Revolution the Russian Army ceased to exist as an organized force and its soldiers in large numbers moved into Transcaucasia, trying to get home and often terrorized the Armenian population, forcing it to flee. The leaders of Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic needed to act quickly to prevent the sacking of cities and the fall of their regime. Therefore they organized a Military Council of Nationalities in which the Armenians, the Georgians, and the Azerbaijanis were represented.[10]

When a particularly large and militant group of Russian soldiers began to move along the railroad away from the front in January 1918, the Military Council of Nationalities decided to disarm them. The operation was ordered by Noe Ramishvili, the Interior Minister of Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic.[11]

A large group of Azeris had stopped a Russian train near the village of Shamkhor,[11] riding along what is known as the Tbilisi-Baku rail line,[12] and demanded the handover of the military supply on the train, but the Russian soldiers had refused to give the military equipment away. It is impossible to determine who fired the first shot, but eventually Azerbaijanis stormed the train, which led to hundreds of deaths in the aftermath of clashes.[13] Azeris had gained significant amount of war equipment after their attack. Thousands of Russian soldiers were disarmed and sent on their way.[11] The events also had angered Bolshevik and Azeri leaders which had led to confrontations later on in that year. The incident at Shamkhor was also followed by organized attacks against Russians throughout Azerbaijan.[14]


  1. ^ a b Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920: The Shaping of a National Identity in a Muslim Community By Tadeusz Swietochowski – page 113
  2. ^ The New review, Volumes 13–15 – World Federation of Ukrainian Former Political Prisoners and Victims of the Soviet Regime – page 27
  3. ^ The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule By Audrey L. Altstadt – page 85
  4. ^ The formation of the Soviet Union: communism and nationalism, 1917–1923 By Richard Pipes – page 103
  5. ^ the Modern encyclopedia of Russian and Soviet history, Volume 39 by Joseph L. Wieczynski – page 170
  6. ^ Wladimir S. Woytinsky: La Democratie. p. 113
  7. ^ The making of the Georgian nation by Ronald Grigor Suny – page 191
  8. ^ Historical dictionary of Azerbaijan by Tadeusz Świętochowski, Brian C. Collins – Page 85
  9. ^ The Berlin-Baghdad express: the Ottoman Empire and Germany's bid for world power By Sean McMeekin – page 331
  10. ^ The struggle for Transcaucasia, 1917–1921 by Firuz Kazemzadeh – pages 82–83
  11. ^ a b c The struggle for Transcaucasia, 1917–1921 by Firuz Kazemzadeh – page 83
  12. ^ The Russian Revolution, 1917–1921:From the Civil War to the consolidation of power by William Henry Chamberlin – page 409
  13. ^ The Caucasus Under Soviet Rule By Alex Marshall – page 87
  14. ^ Commissar and Mullah: Soviet-Muslim Policy from 1917 to 1924 By Glenn L. Roberts – page 20