Stalin 1919

The Shooting of the Twenty-Six Baku Comrades by Agents of British Imperialism

First Published: Izvestia No. 85, April 23, 1919;
Source: J. V. Stalin, Works, Volume 4, pages 261-268. Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953;
Transcription: Hari Kumar for Alliance-ML HTML: Mike B. for MIA, 2005.

We present for the attention of our readers two documents [1] which testify to the savage murder of responsible officials of Soviet power in Baku by the British imperialists in the autumn of last year. These documents are taken from the Baku Socialist-Revolutionary newspaper Znamya Truda [2] and the Baku newspaper Yedinaya Rossiya [3], that is to say from the very same circles which only yesterday called in the aid of the British and betrayed the Bolsheviks, and which are now forced by the course of events to denounce their allies of yesterday.

The first document tells of the barbarous shooting without trial of 26 Soviet officials of the city of Baku (Shaumyan, Djaparidze, Fioletov, Malygin and others) by the British Captain Teague-Jones on the night of September 20, 1918, on the road from Krasnovodsk to Ashkhabad, to which he was convoying them as war prisoners. Teague-Jones and his Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik partners hoped at first to hush up the matter, intending to circulate false testimony to the effect that the Baku Bolsheviks had died a “natural” death in prison or hospital. But evidently this plan fell through, for it turns out that there exist eye-witnesses who refuse to keep silent and who are ready thoroughly to expose the British savages. This document is signed by Chaikin, a Socialist-Revolutionary.

The second document recounts a conversation that the author of the first document, Chaikin, had with the British General Thomson towards the close of March 1919. General Thomson demanded that Chaikin should name the eye-witnesses of the savage murder of the 26 Baku Bolsheviks by Captain Teague-Jones. Chaikin was prepared to present the documents and to name the witnesses on condition that a commission of inquiry were set up composed of representatives of the British command, the population of Baku and the Turkestan Bolsheviks. Chaikin furthermore demanded a guarantee that the Turkestan witnesses would not be assassinated by British agents. Since Thomson refused to agree to the appointment of a commission of inquiry and would give no guarantee of the personal safety of the witnesses, the conversation was broken off and Chaikin left. The document is interesting because it indirectly confirms the barbarity of the British imperialists, and not merely testifies but cries out against the impunity and savagery of the British agents who vent their ferocity on Baku and Transcaspian “natives” just as they do on Negroes in Central Africa.

The story of the 26 Baku Bolsheviks is as follows. In August 1918, when the Turkish forces had come within a short distance of Baku and the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik members of the Baku Soviet, against the opposition of t he Bolsheviks, had secured the support of the majority of the Soviet and had called in the aid of the British imperialists, the Baku Bolsheviks, headed by Shaumyan and Djaparidze, being in the minority, resigned their authority and left the field clear for their political opponents. The Bolsheviks decided, with the consent of the newly-formed British, Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik authority in Baku, to evacuate to Petrovsk, the nearest seat of Soviet power. But on the way to Petrovsk the steamer carrying the Baku Bolsheviks and their families was shelled by British ships which had followed in pursuit and was convoyed to Krasnovodsk. This was in August.

The Russian Soviet Government applied on several occasions to the British command, demanding the release of the Baku comrades and their families in exchange for British prisoners, but the British command invariably refrained from replying. Already in October information began to come in from private persons and organizations to the effect that the Baku comrades had been shot. On March 5, 1919, Astrakhan received a radio message from Tiflis stating that “Djaparidze and Shaumyan are not in the hands of the British command; according to local information, they were killed last September near Kizyl-Arvat by the arbitrary act of a group of workers.” This, apparently, was the first official attempt on the part of the British assassins to lay the blame for their atrocious act on the workers, who were boundlessly devoted to Shaumyan and Djaparidze. Now, after the publication of the above-mentioned documents, it must be taken as proven that our Baku comrades, who had quitted the political arena voluntarily and were on their way to Petrovsk as evacuees, actually were shot without trial by the cannibals from “civilized” and “humane” Britain.

In the “civilized” countries it is customary to talk about Bolshevik terror and Bolshevik atrocities, and the Anglo-French imperialists are usually depicted as foes of terror and shooting. But is it not clear that the Soviet Government had never dealt with its opponents so foully and basely as the “civilized” and “humane” British, and that only imperialist cannibals who are corrupt to the core and devoid of all moral integrity need to resort to murder by night, to criminal attacks on unarmed political leaders of the opposing camp? If there are any who still doubt this, let them read the documents we print below and call things by their proper names.

When the Baku Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries invited the British to Baku and betrayed the Bolsheviks, they thought they would be able to “use” the British “guests” as a force; they believed that they would remain the masters of the country and the “guests” would eventually go back home. Actually, the reverse happened: it was the “guests” that became the absolute masters, while the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks became direct accessories to the foul and villainous murder of the 26 Bolshevik commissars. And the Socialist-Revolutionaries were compelled to go into opposition, cautiously exposing their new masters, while the Mensheviks are compelled to advocate in their Baku newspaper Iskra [4] a bloc with the Bolsheviks against the “welcome guests” of yesterday.

Is it not clear that the alliance of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks with the agents of imperialism is an “alliance” of slaves and menials with their masters? If there are still any who doubt this, let them read the “conversation” between General Thomson and Mr. Chaikin reproduced below and honestly say whether Mr. Chaikin resembles a master, and General Thomson a “welcome guest.”

Signed J. Stalin.

1. The two documents – “execution of the Twenty-Six Commissioners” and “Conversation Between General Thomson and Mr Chaikin, March 23, 1919” – were appended to the article (Izvestia, April 23, 1919.)

2. ‘Banner of Labour’ – a newspaper published by the Socialist-Revoltuionary Committee in Baku from January 1918 to Novmeber 1919.

3. ‘United Russia’ – a newspaper of Cadet trend published by the so-called Russian National Committee of Baku from December 1918 to July 1919.

4. Iskra (Spark) – a newspaper published by the Menshevik Committee in Baku from November 1918 to April 1920.