Azerbaijan International

Spring 2006 (14.1)

Gumral Sadigzade (1932 - ) was only five years old when both her father Seyid Husein and mother Ummugulsum were arrested. Her father was shot almost immediately, while her mother was sentenced to eight years in a prison camp in central Russia. Gumral and her three older brothers were left in Baku in the care of a niece. We have Gumral to thank for organizing her mother's poems, prison diary and the correspondence with her children. Gumral's diligence has led to the publication of what is, perhaps, the most sensitive Azerbaijani literary record of a mother's pain and anguish during that period. Pages 40, 46, 48.
Mirza Baghirov After a three-months' search, we finally found the son of the author who penned the insightful memoirs, "Bitter Days of Kolyma" (originally published in Russian as "Gorkiye Dni Na Kolime" in 1999, and a shorter version in Azeri in 2001). Dr. Mirza Baghirov (1927- ) was only a child of 10 when his father Ayyub Baghirov (1906-1973) was arrested in 1937. He saw his father again 18 years later. Thanks to Mirza for publishing this superb account as soon as he could after Azerbaijan gained its independence. Mirza holds a doctorate in technical sciences and has served as Rector of the Polytechnic Institute (14 years) and Lankaran State University (8 years). p.58.
We have Turan Ibrahimov, son of the late Aziza Jafarzade (1921-2003) and the nephew of Ahmad Jafarzade (1929-2000), to thank for introducing their works. Excerpts from the works of both Aziza and Ahmad are published here in English translation for the first time. See Aziza's "Burning Our Books" (24), and Ahmad's poetry "Hey Yusif" (31) and his short story "Seven Days in 1937", which reflects the fears of children growing up at that time (26). Unfortunately, space precluded our publishing Ahmad's other valuable memoirs here such as "Unfinished Diary" and "Unnamed Heroes" and collected bayatis (traditional poetry).
Sunyakhanim Javadova Without a doubt, there's not a single person in Azerbaijan who has been left untouched by Stalin's purges. The Repression Society (President Ashraf Mehdiyev) has undertaken the gargantuan job of identifying names, dates and locations. Sunyakhanim "Husniyya" Javadova, who works there, helped us enormously in tracking down the stories for our last two issues about Stalin. Without her constant initiative in suggesting names and telephone numbers, our job would have been so difficult to document this tragic era in Azerbaijan's history. To our knowledge this is the first time any of these life stories are being published in English. Thank you, Husniyya.
Fazil Najafov Fortunately, Fazil Najafov (1935- ) never set foot in any Gulag camp himself, but he has done an incredible job, recording in bronze and stone, the psychic pain of the injustice of that period. See his works here, in Ayyub Baghirov's depiction of the forced labor camp of Kolyma. For more about Fazil's work and per-spective on life, see earlier features in Azerbaijan International: "Frozen Images of Transition" in AI 3.1 (Spring 1995), and "The Expressive Magnificence of Stone" in AI 7.2 (Summer 1999). Search at Also visit Page 58.

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