Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic 1987: Photos, Culture, Economy, History & more -- Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union Series

In the mid-1980s the Soviet press agency Novosti released a series of small books looking the USSR's 15 republics. Each book dealt with a republic's history, culture, development, industry, agriculture, etc. They provide a fascinating look at the Soviet Union's accomplishments and plans. The series was known as the "Socialist Republics of the Soviet Union".

Over the coming months we will be taking a look at these books and the republics. The books will be slightly edited for length and repetition in some cases and the photographs and illustrations will be dispersed more evenly throughout the text.

In our two most recent posts in the series we looked at the Ukrainian and Georgian SSRs in 1987. Written by Afrand Dashdamirov, this booklet looks at the Azerbaijan SSR in the same year.

The book begins with a really interesting and relatively in-depth look at the geography and history of Azerbaijan going back thousands of years. We learn how Baku rose to become a major early oil center and as a result developed a more modern working class. Almost half of the world's oil production came from the area early in the 20th Century and due to this the city experienced a boom that drew over 60,000 workers of 30 nationalities.

These workers were terribly exploited and became a revolutionary force during the various periods of unrest that culminated in the Russian Revolution of 1917. It is related how in 1918 Soviet power was established there only to be overthrown with the help of British invaders leading to the murder of the 26 commissars that is a significant event in Soviet revolutionary history. In 1920 Soviet power was reestablished.

The book then goes on to show the development of the sciences, economy and agriculture as well as the spread of education and healthcare. As usual, the accomplishments in these areas under socialism were remarkable.

The book ends with an overview of Soviet Azerbaijani culture, sport and art including the fascinating history of opera in the republic, traditional games like a version of field hockey known as chovgan, equestrian traditions, crafts, carpet-making and more. There is also a section related to the practice of Islam at the time.

  (Click on scans to enlarge)

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