Author: Natig NAZIMOGHLU
The coronavirus pandemic has upended many plans and events around the world, including the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Victory over fascism. The grand parade planned for May 9 in Moscow with the participation of the heads of state and government was postponed indefinitely. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not name a new date for the V-Day events, but said that they all are still planned for 2020. Instead, air parades were held to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War over Red Square and in 47 Russian cities.
Because of the pandemic, the celebrations in the former Soviet countries also were held modestly. Even the patriotic Immortal Regiment event was held online in Moscow. The only country where the V-Day was celebrated solemnly was Belarus. A military parade took place on the main square of Minsk. Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko decided not to cancel the military parade, despite the spread of coronavirus and the recommendations of the World Health Organization to refrain from any mass events. According to media reports, 3,000 troopers and 150 units of military equipment were involved in the parade, including the residents of Minsk. The event was followed by a concert program and fireworks.
In Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva visited the grave of the Hero of the Soviet Union Hazi Aslanov, laid flowers at the monument and paid tribute to the sons of Azerbaijan who died in the war.
According to Trend News Agency, on behalf of the First Vice-President of Azerbaijan, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva, the veterans of the World War II were visited at home because of the existing quarantine regime.
President Ilham Aliyev issued an order to award the veterans with jubilee medals on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Victory. In addition, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation presented holiday gifts to 256 veterans across the country.
According to Interfax-Azerbaijan, on April 24, President Aliyev signed a decree on the provision of one-time financial assistance (₼1,500) to 256 veterans of the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, as well as to the widows of the deceased, persons awarded orders and medals.
Another ₼750 ($441.2) was provided to 7,126 widows of those who died in the World War II or veterans, as well as to rear officers and the victims of the blockade of Leningrad awarded orders and medals.
In total, he Reserve Fund of the President of Azerbaijan provided ₼5.9 million (about $3.5 million) from the state budget for the provision of one-time financial assistance.
Every fifth is a hero
The Second World War was the worst war in history and one of the turning points for the humankind. The world faced the threat of total submission to the dark, hateful force that elevated the ideas of racial hatred and national exclusivity to the rank of the only possible way of being. Tens of millions of people were victims of this monstrous ideology.
The historical truth is that the Soviet Union, of which the Azerbaijan SSR was a part, made a decisive contribution to achieving the Great Victory over fascism. Every fifth resident of the republic fought against the Nazi invaders. With a population of 3.3 million people (as of 1940), about 700 thousand residents of Azerbaijan went to the front. Over 300 thousand of them did not return from the battlefields.
Five national rifle divisions were formed on the territory of the Azerbaijan SSR. The personnel of the 416th, 77th, 223rd, 402nd and 396th divisions largely consisted of natives of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani soldiers and officers participating in the defense of the Caucasus, the liberation of Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, other European countries and, finally, in the capture of Berlin, forever inscribed their names in the glorious annals of the Great Victory over fascism!
It is also worth mentioning the glorious deeds of the 416th Taganrog Division, which took part in the Berlin offensive. An assault group led by senior lieutenant Vahab Osmanov attacked the palace of Kaiser Wilhelm. On May 1, 1945, Osmanov himself and junior sergeant Alekseyenko hoisted the red Victory flag over the palace. However, Vahab Osmanov was deadly wounded and died…
In the early morning of May 2, fighters of the 1373th regiment of the division, Gazanfar Mammadov, Sohbat Ahmedzade, Konstantin Berezhnoi and Vladimir Andreyev, led by the head of the political department, Colonel Rashid Majidov, hoisted the Banner of Victory over the Brandenburg Gate. As Lieutenant General Fyodor Bokov writes in his book Victory Spring, Major-General Vladimir Pavlovich Zyuvanov, commander of the 1373th regiment, who led the operation, was an ethnic Azerbaijani Eybat Atamoghlan oghlu Eybatov, adopted by a Russian officer in the village of Mashtagha, Baku.
Yet another heroic Azerbaijani division was the 223rd Rifle Division, which was actively involved in many battles of the war, including the liberation of Vienna, Belgrade, and Budapest. For military merits during the liberation of Belgrad, the 223rd division was awarded the honorary name Belgradskaya.
Everyone knows the the names of twice the Hero of the Soviet Union, Major General Hazi Aslanov, legendary intelligence officer Mehdi Huseynzade, also known as partisan Mikhailo, as well as the hero of the French Resistance Movement, Ahmediyya Jabrayilov, personally awarded by General de Gaulle with the Order of the Legion of Honour. In general, for the heroism shown on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, 123 natives of Azerbaijan were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
Baku strikes from the rear
It is difficult to find words that could describe the invaluable contribution of Azerbaijani oilmen to the victory over fascism in entirety. In those years, up to 80% of the oil of the entire USSR was extracted in Azerbaijan.
Marshal of the Soviet Union, Georgy Zhukov, wrote: "The oil workers of Baku gave the front and the country as much fuel as was necessary to protect our Fatherland, to quickly defeat the enemy."
The fascists repeatedly attempted to gain access to Baku, and were well aware of the critical importance of Azerbaijani oil. “Hitler was presented with a decorated cake including an inscription in German, the Caspian Sea. It was made of black, liquid chocolate. Hitler takes a chocolate bar in the form of a swastika and puts it upon the spot on the cake representing Baku,” Ilham Aliyev told Mir-24 TV channel, and explained that Hitler was presented this cake on his birthday in April 1942. “At that time, the Germans were rapidly moving in the easterly direction. Since they had occupied Kuban, they hoped that in a few months they would be able to capture the whole Caucasus,” Mir-24 TV said.
It is also difficult to overestimate the contribution of Azerbaijani scientists to the victory over fascism. The people of Azerbaijan are proud of the luminaries of science, who have raised the image of the country to the international level. These scientists include Yusif Mammadaliyev, Mir-Asadulla Mirgasimov, Mustafa Topchubashov, Mir-Ali Gashgai, Heydar Huseynov and others. We will remember the research activities of Y. Mammadaliyev in chemical laboratories. His discoveries played an instrumental role in defeating the enemy army. It was Y. Mammadaliyev who invented the incendiary mixture, which became known as the “Molotov cocktail”. In addition, under the leadership of this great scientist, a process for the production of high-quality aviation gasolines was developed, which became a great contribution to the development of the Soviet defense industry.
The contribution of the Azerbaijani people to the victory over fascism is countless. As a result, the evil of Nazism was defeated also thanks to the heroic efforts of the Azerbaijani people.
Condemning the distortion of truth
Today, Azerbaijan demonstrates its principal position on the issue of upholding the historical truth, condemning the attempts of certain forces to distort the essence and significance of the events of the Second World War in favour of certain political and other considerations.
In his recent interview with TASS, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said: “We strongly condemn attempts to rewrite history, distort the truth about the Great Patriotic War, and attempts to glorify fascism and fascist criminals... Some time ago, it seemed that there were such immutable truths that did not require proof. And the history of World War II was one of them. Unfortunately, we sometimes see the coordinated efforts of certain circles to distort historical truth, to downplay the role of the Soviet Union in the victory in the World War II and to glorify fascism. This trend must be stopped.”
In this context, the fact that Azerbaijan condemns the glorification of fascists in the neighbouring Armenia is of particular importance. In essence, Armenia continues the military aggression against Azerbaijan and holds to the idea of national exclusivity of Armenians and hatred towards neighbouring Turkic peoples. This trend has been elevated to the rank of state strategy. In this sense, the cult of accomplices of fascism established in Armenia and the glorification of those guilty long before the start of World War II in the genocide of the civilian population of Azerbaijan and Turkey are not surprising. And during the war against fascism, they fought on the side of Nazi Germany, killing the Russians, Jews, representatives of other peoples, whom the Third Reich denied the right to life.
In his interview with TASS, President Aliyev noted: “Of course, it is disgusting to see the ongoing events in some countries, including the acts of vandalism in relation to the monuments of the World War II, as well as the erection of monuments to the Nazis.”
When a "hero" turns out to be a "fascist"
Ilham Aliyev raised the issue of the glorification of Nazism in the CIS even at the CIS summit in Ashgabat last October. He sharply condemned the construction of a monument to the fascist executioner Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan, also known under his nickname, Nzhdeh, in Yerevan. In fact, Nzhdeh was a war criminal who participated in the Holocaust of the Jewish population of Europe, organized in 1942 the Armenian Legion, which fought against the Soviet Union. The main slogan of Nzhdeh was "Whoever dies for Germany, dies for Armenia." The President of Azerbaijan expressed regret that the new government of Armenia has not dismantled the monument to the fascist minion yet.
In his interview with TASS on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Victory over fascism, Ilham Aliyev touched this issue again. He recalled that a memorial plaque in honor of a Nazi accomplice, Nzhdeh, was also installed in the city of Armavir, Russia. “The plaque was removed only after I raised the issue at the summit of the heads of state, followed by a wide media coverage. Did not Armenia have the heroes of the World War II? Why was the memorial plaque near the Armenian church in Armavir not installed for them, but for a fascist criminal? What does it mean? These issues should be widely discussed, without selectivity, without political correctness, directly and clearly. Each country should express its position on this issue. On the one hand, Armenian authorities say that they will celebrate the anniversary of the Victory, while on the other hand, they lay flowers at the monument to the fascist Nzhdeh. This is at least contradictory, but in fact is a manifestation of hypocrisy,” President Aliyev noted.
The glorification of Hitler’s minions in Armenia causes even greater outrage among the Russians, who also hoped that the Nzhdeh monument in Yerevan would be dismantled on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory. Pravda.ru published an open letter to the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, noting that the glorification of Nazi criminals in Armenia is a shame, because Armenia is considered Russia's strategic ally.
“With a great regret we note that the efforts of the previous authorities of Armenia created the cults of Nazi collaborators such as Drastamat Kanayan (Dro) and Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan (Nzhdeh), who participated in special operations of the Wehrmacht and other criminal organizations of the Third Reich convicted by the Nuremberg Tribunal,” the letter says.
Pravda.ru also called on Nikol Pashinyan to condemn the attempts to revise the outcome of the World War II and the glorification of fascism, in particular to initiate the dismantling of monuments erected earlier to honour Dro and Nzhdeh. In addition, the Armenian Prime Minister was informed that the representatives of the Russian community demanded that no official delegations of states supporting or tolerating the attempts to glorify the Nazi collaborators are allowed to take part in solemn events in Moscow dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory. Authors hope that the postponement of the Victory Parade due to the coronavirus pandemic will give Pashinyan a chance to “dismantle the monuments to Nazi accomplices and to represent allied Armenia with good conscience at the Victory celebrations in Moscow. Lest we forget!!! ”
However, Nikol Pashinyan did not bother to take necessary measures, which would demonstrate his intention to put an end to the glorification of Nazis in Armenia. Most likely because he has no such intention at all. But at the same time, one of the reasons why Pashinyan is reluctant to “disturb” the memory of the Armenian minions of Hitlerism can, perhaps, be found in the following piece of information published by the Armenian media. It says that Pashinyan’s grandfather, Nikol Pashinyan, served in the fascist Germany as part of the Armenian SS legion. Moreover, Pashinyan Jr. himself gave a hint by publishing a photo of his grandfather and making a note: “Nikol Pashinyan, 1913-1943. He served in the 554th Infantry Regiment of the 138th Infantry Division (Soviet Army)." However, the Armenian newspaper Iravunk searchedfor Pashinyan Sr. in the generalized Memorial database on the website https://obd-memorial.ru, which contains documents about the dead and missing veterans of the World War II. It turned out that Nikol Pashinyan from the village of Enokavan of the Armenian USSR did participate in World War II, but as part of Hitler’s Armenian legion of the same Garegin Nzhdeh. The archive certificate shows that Pashinyan Sr. "collaborated with the enemy and died," (in Russian).
Either way, this clearly shows the political and ideological position of the incumbent Armenian authorities. The glorification of the Nazi executioners by the ruling regimes of Armenia offends primarily the memory of the sons of the Armenian people who fell in the struggle against fascism.
As President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev noted, “the contribution of each people of the former Soviet Union to this Victory is invaluable... This is a holiday that we should celebrate forever. This is a holiday that unites all progressive humanity, all peaceful humanity."
The key words in this message are “progressive and peaceful”... The memory of the defeat of fascism in 1945 means a lot to modern world, which often forgets the lessons of history.