From 17-19 October, The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) cooperated with Yahad–In Unum to hold an international symposium, The Role of Azerbaijan in World War II and as a Refuge from the Holocaust in the Caucasus.
It is fair to say that this was a groundbreaking event in Baku, not just for the scholarly level of participants and presentations, but also for the level of discussion it encouraged on important areas of history which have previously received little attention. The symposium opened with introductions by TEAS Chairman Tale Heydarov, Ali Hasanov, Head of the Socio-Political Department of the Presidential Administration, Father Patrick Desbois, President of Yahad-In Unum and Paul Shapiro, Director of the Centre for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
As well as leading Azerbaijani historians, distinguished international scholars from the USA, Germany, the UK, France, Ukraine, Turkey and Russia, delivered 18 papers in all. They presented valuable information and insights into the centrality of Azerbaijani oil in the planning of both the German leadership and the anti-Hitler allies, as well as the country’s other contributions to the Soviet war effort. The effect of and response to the Holocaust in Eastern Europe was also a major subject of discussion.
The symposium’s first themed session discussed the Nazis’ strategic plans for capturing Baku and its oil, the military operations conducted in fighting their way to the Caucasus and the actions of Einsatzgruppe D to annihilate Jews, other ethnic groups and Communist Party officials and activists by shooting and gassing. There was also input on the USSR leadership’s attitude towards the people of the Caucasus.
This was followed by an examination of Azerbaijan’s situation and role in the war, focussing especially on military service and industrial support. The difficulties in making an accurate assessment of losses sustained were highlighted, necessitating further research, but there were undoubtedly large numbers killed on active service. The specific approaches to the people of the Caucasus planned and adopted by the Nazi command were considered, along with the motivations for some singular policies.

The final session of the first day was moderated by Father Patrick Desbois of Yahad-In Unum and examined the treatment and fate of Jews in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. This included Nazi deliberations on policy towards Jews, with exceptions in some cases being made of Mountain Jews, possibly because of their close integration into Caucasian society. However, mass extermination was clearly the main drive and the horrifying methods and effect were described. Jewish evacuations, rescue and escape, including to Azerbaijan, were also discussed and illustrated with specific incidents by Yahad-In Unum and Holocaust researchers from Ukraine and the USA.

The second day opened with the focus on Azerbaijani oil – its importance to the Soviet war effort, Allied plans (Operation Pike) to destroy Baku’s oilfields in 1940, which at that point were being used to supply Germany, and the manner in which its contribution to ultimate victory over the Nazis was downplayed by Soviet historians.
The final themed session revealed the massive movements of population during the war, perhaps up to 17,000,000 people evacuated west to east and a million ethnic Germans deported. The evacuation of Jews and Krymchaks (Turkic-speaking Jews) from Crimea to the Caucasus is still under-researched.
The presentations opened up new questions and perspectives on the country’s role in World War II and invariably generated lively debate among the attendance of seasoned academics, journalists and students, all fascinated to be engaged in a symposium of this level. Both local and international participants expressed their eagerness afterwards to continue cooperation. There will be further rigorous work on aspects of World War II that have received too little attention in the past. TEAS and Yahad-In Unum are committed to building on this landmark initiative, especially with research in the Azerbaijani archives on the fate of Jewish evacuees from Eastern Europe and clarifying the basic information on the cost to Azerbaijan of its part in the war effort. The exchanges and cooperation in research methods will also enhance investigations of events like the Khojaly massacre during the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

We highlight here just a few of the contributions and responses from participants international and Azerbaijani.
LtoR: Tale Heydarov, Ali Hasanov, Karim Shukurov, Father Patrick Desbois, Paul Shapiro

“A fresh look at the history of those times”

Taleh Heydarov – Chairman, TEAS

The theme of World War II and Azerbaijan’s role in it has been researched for many years. But it was research based on Soviet ideology. Here, historians and the other distinguished guests invited to this Symposium will perhaps take a fresh look at the history of those times. Five main themes will be the focus of this event: Soviet and German policies on the Caucasus during World War II; Azerbaijan´s role in the war; the extermination and rescue of Jews in the Caucasus; the contribution made by Azerbaijani oil and population resettlement during World War II. It is so important to study the results and aftermath of war in order to predict possible conflicts in the future. It is all the more important for us as well because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict caused by the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, which is seen as the major aggression in the Caucasus against the Azerbaijanis.

“The Azerbaijani people vigorously opposed the Nazis”

Ali Hasanov - Head of the Socio-Political Department, Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan

World War II was the bloodiest and most terrible war in the history of humanity. It is no wonder that its events have been investigated for the 67 years that have passed since victory over the Nazis. Even after 100 years, people will remember and study all aspects of the war in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The Azerbaijani people vigorously opposed the Nazis. More than half of the 645,000 Azerbaijanis who went to the front, died. Azerbaijan also bore the main burden of supplying fuel for the struggle.

In our country people of different nationalities live side by side and Azerbaijan has always been distinguished by its hospitality and tolerance. However, some parties are still unable to draw reasoned conclusions from the tragedies that took place during World War II and people in Azerbaijan have since suffered massacres in Khojaly... Despite this, Azerbaijan continues its policy of tolerance towards ethnic and national minorities. We believe that the more people live in the country, and the more languages used in it, the richer the country.

Pascal Meunier - Ambassador of France to Azerbaijan
H. E. Pascal Meunier
I think a very little-known part of Azerbaijani history has been revealed today. For me the main interest was in the fact that during World War II the Nazis planned to occupy Azerbaijan to gain access to Baku’s oil. Fortunately the Soviet Army frustrated this plan in the South Caucasus and the Nazis were defeated. As for the Jewish aspect, it should be noted that Azerbaijan has always been a place where tolerance is highly valued, so refugees from different parts of the world came here to find shelter. Today, when Muslims and others are sometimes classed as extremists it is very important to deliver your historical message of tolerance. And Azerbaijan does this successfully, despite Khojaly and other suffering during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Indeed, what happened in Khojaly is quite different from the Holocaust. I know Azerbaijan would like to promote Khojaly as genocide. Obviously, I’m not an expert on genocide, but I think that Khojaly was a great tragedy of the soul. One of my first contacts with Azerbaijan in Paris was to attend a seminar on Khojaly organized by the French National Assembly. When I came to Baku I went with my wife to Martyrs’ Avenue and saw many graves of Azerbaijanis who died in the Karabakh war. Almost every Azerbaijani family was touched somehow by that conflict, so it is a very painful and sensitive issue. I think that the main message should be this: we can’t forget what happened. But at the same time, Azerbaijan and Armenia have to enter a new phase of dialogue, you know, as France and Germany did. As you know, those two countries have fought many wars with each other in history. And one day they decided that they have to live together and avoid wars in the future.

“The world must never forget the Holocaust”

Dr. Jamil Hasanli – Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences

Azerbaijan with its human resources and energy reserves played a key role in the fight against fascism. Baku’s oil provided the basic energy required for the war. And now, as more historical facts emerge, it is recognised as unfair that Baku was accorded the status of Hero City. The single fact that Azerbaijani oil workers toiled day and night to extract the fuel for Soviet equipment during World War II was enough for Baku to be given that status. And when we talk about Azerbaijani people, we have to make clear that they were not only Turks, there were other nationalities as well. The Azerbaijan SSR gave more than 120 heroes, of whom 43 were Azerbaijanis; the rest were from the other nationalities living in the Azerbaijan SSR in that period.
Centre: Dr. Jamil Hasanli

Without doubt, during World War II the people who suffered most in terms of human losses were the Poles and, especially, the Jews. It was indeed a huge catastrophe. To understand the magnitude of the tragedy, visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, USA. The Museum is extensively stocked with materials and archives related to the genocide of the Jews. The world must never forget the Holocaust.

“One of the purposes is to learn by comparison”

Paul Shapiro - Director, the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Washington DC

We are a public institution of the USA, so all archives and newly-discovered materials, including photographs, videos, recorded testimonies and others are absolutely open to all. Researchers come from all over the world to use the collection we have in the museum. During the Soviet period the theme of the Holocaust was taboo. About 17 million Jews were evacuated from around 8 Soviet republics. In our institution we have a lot of materials about that and we are still collecting.
Paul Shapiro

There are now 156,000 resettlement cards stored in the museum. I do not believe that there was ever a special corner in the museum for any genocide other than the Holocaust. However, we do have exhibitions dedicated to contemporary genocide and we also have research programs dedicated to post World War II genocides. One of the purposes is to learn by comparison. We are here to define genocide according to the United Nations treaty on genocide, there are mass crimes that under that definition would not be called genocide. But of course, it doesn’t make the level of suffering or level of injustice any less. I think the key answer is that there is a part of the museum dedicated to the study of contemporary post World War II genocides and mass crimes, crimes against humanity. People come to us to study those subjects. We organize public programs on reading those subjects. And, for instance, if there is serious scholarship produced on what happened here in Azerbaijan, we would welcome receiving it in our library.
Mehman Aliyev

“We lived in an atmosphere of stereotypes”

Mehman Aliyev- Director, Turan News Agency

During the Soviet period, when history was written within the framework of its own communist ideology, we had a different vision of what happened in those times. Nowadays, with new facts coming to light, new opportunities are being opened to us and a new vision of history is formed. For example, the history written in the Soviet period was silent about western participation in World War II and people were implanted with the notion that only the Soviet Union and Stalin had defeated fascism. On the other hand, the Russians were mainly credited as the people who had done great service to the USSR and its victory over Hitler. Baku’s oil wasn’t given special importance or its due. In general, we lived in an atmosphere of stereotypes. I can give an example from my childhood. As I remember, I was 8 years old when German guests came to Baku and walked in the streets speaking German. We, some children, ran up to them and called out loudly “fascists, fascists”. They were frightened by this, saying “no, no fascists”. What I want to say is that if you were German in that period you were fascists for us. As you see, that was the result of stereotyping.

“We should do serious research into accounting for the exact numbers of Azerbaijanis who lost their lives”

Professor Kerim Shukurov – Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences

One of the big problems in counting human losses during World War II is the lack of proper statistical data. There were different calculations in different periods of the USSR. For example, in 1946 Stalin declared that about 7 million died in World War II. When Nikita Khrushchev came to power in the USSR several years later, losses were then declared to be 20 million. While during Brezhnev’s rule, the number was over 20 million. By 1990, in Gorbachev’s period, it was 27 million. And recently, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, they have begun to talk of 40 million people lost. So, as you see, we don’t yet know the exact number of people who died. The same situation is seen in terms of Azerbaijani losses, which used to be 600,000. Some research states 700,000. I think we should do serious research into accounting for the exact numbers of Azerbaijanis who lost their lives.
“A lot of interest from both sides”
Stephen Tyas – Freelance researcher and historian, UK
You’re listed as a freelance historian. So what is your interest in this region? Where did it come from?

Stephen Tyas
I spent forty years working in chemical engineering and forty years working on Nazi war crimes. As a result of an article I published in 2001 with a German fellow historian we used some recently-decoded German police messages available in the national archives at Kew to create a ground-breaking history of the killing of European Jews in Poland. This research was published by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in their journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies. That was in 2001 and since then I have retired from chemical engineering and now devote all my time to this kind of research. In the period since 2001 I have published maybe a dozen articles and presently have proposals to write three books.

So, how did you hear about this symposium and why did it interest you?

I received by e-mail Yahad-in Unum’s newsletter and it said that they were attending a conference in Baku. I already had, as a result of my own research, the material to write the article on mass murder involving Azerbaijani nationals involved in death squads in the Caucasus with Einsatzgruppe D. I was also invited to write the article on Operation Pike whereby I would consult archives, in the national archives in Kew; that is where all the material came from.

And, from your experience in the past two days, what has been the response to your papers?

The paper on mass murder, I think, was out of the ordinary, the audience really, I thought, did not know how to react. They were… I wouldn’t say uncomfortable, but they were totally unaware that such acts had happened and that Azerbaijani nationals had been involved. The second article, the one on Operation Pike, created a lot of interest. I think that some of the information that has been available in Baku for Azerbaijani historians is not… I’m not saying it’s not true, but I think that they have taken it too much for gospel the fact that this was going to happen. I am particularly mentioning here the fact that one or two members of the audience did mention the fact that in their eyes Britain was going to land British soldiers in Baku. I think personally that was just interplay with the British foreign office and the Soviet foreign office as a possibility that might happen, but I don’t think Britain was particularly active in pursuing it. I don’t think they had the manpower to devote to such an expedition.

What have you gained from this symposium?

A lot of interest from Azerbaijani historians, a lot of the materials that not only myself, but others have presented is completely new to them, some of the materials the Azerbaijani historians themselves have presented has been completely new to me and I think to some of the other members who have come here. Overall, a lot of interest from both sides. I’ve gained a lot and I’m sure they have. A number of historians from here have asked me for details of some of the information I have provided and I’m more than happy to pass it on to them.

Do you foresee future cooperation or future directions in your own work?

As a result of this… only if the Azerbaijani historians decide they want to take this a step further and they would like me to pursue more information from British archives. The information they gave is of interest …. But not pointed in my own research. What’s your overall impression of the symposium and of Baku? As much as you’ve seen…

Excellent… I must admit, it does look an extremely modern city and we had difficulty in finding the Old Town, and a lot of the people speak English, certainly the younger generation, we have noted especially the young women speak English; we haven’t noticed it to be that common amongst younger men. And the weather is warm!

How does it match your expectations?

Expectations! This is only my second visit to former territory of the Soviet Union… My previous and only visit was to Moscow a few years ago, and I thought it was dire! Coming here presented a completely different face. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I enjoyed it; I think there’s been a lot of interest. There seems to be a lot of traffic, maybe that’s the sign of a modern capital city. I’ve been absolutely astonished, if I can say that, by the completely new buildings. That was completely unexpected.
Dr. Felix Römer

“It was Baku that the 1942 campaign of the German Army was all about”

Dr. Felix Römer – German Historical Institute, UK

Firstly, what is your general line of interest in history?

Well, I’m a German historian of contemporary history, and after working especially on the history of World War II with a particular focus on the German Army and its role in the Nazi state and another important issue which is related to that is the history of the German war crimes on the Eastern front and I’ve done extensive research on how these crimes were committed, and implemented by the German Armies on the eastern front and apart from that I also did research on the mentalities in the German army during World War II, based on new materials from the US archives and the key questions were how did the average German soldier think about Nazi regime, about the dictatorship and about the war itself. Dealing with Hitler’s campaign in 1942 and events in the Caucasus is part of my general interest in the history of the World War II.

And how did you hear about this symposium?

I was actually invited by Yahad-in Unum and I have been in contact with them for two years already, and we’ve been maintaining cooperation. So you’ve been aware of the investigation in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union?

Yes, absolutely, their work is very important, especially from the perspective of a German historian, given the fact that in German historiography what was always missing was the perspective of Eastern Europe. And the people, the locals, in the occupied Soviet territories. Our research so far is focused primarily on the German perspective. Because we have all the German records at our disposal, so that’s what our research primarily relied on. But what our perspective was somewhat lacking was the view from the locals, the other side of the story, so it is very important for historians to include the perspective of the others in the story, not only the strain of the German perspective. Yahad- In Unum in their research they cover the perspective of the locals in the Soviet Union and reflect their perspective and that’s a very, very important side of the story.

What turned you to the East rather than to the West?

It’s just simply that the East was the most crucial theatre in World War II. It was here on the Eastern Front where the bulk of the Germany Army was deployed, where they fought the most decisive battles, where the 2nd World War, you can say, was decided, where the German Army suffered the greatest defeats and it was also the place of the greatest crimes that the Germans committed; in Poland, as well as in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. So when it comes to dealing with the question as to what extent the German army and the Germans more generally were involved in the Nazi genocidal policy, you will have to look at the Eastern Front.

Which makes the issue of Azerbaijan’s involvement perhaps more important, being involved in eastern side.

Yes, absolutely, Azerbaijan in the 2nd World War didn’t become a battlefield because the German advance came to a halt outside the territory of today’s Azerbaijan, but it came very close and Azerbaijan wasn’t a battlefield but a strategic objective for the Germans. It was Baku that the 1942 campaign of the German Army was all about; it was about capturing Baku oil. And so it was the strategic objective for which the German Army ran a very, very high risk and finally even gave away what was probably the last chance to win the war in the east and … Azerbaijan played a very significant part in this theatre as a strategic objective as I said, world history took place, so that’s why it is important to look at the events of 1942 in this region.

What’s been the reaction to your contribution, to your paper in the symposium?

In my paper I gave an outline of the military events of the 1942 campaign, the German advance to the Caucasus, as well as the role that Azerbaijan and Baku played in German strategy, in German planning. I tried to highlight that Baku was already part of the German strategy in 1941 when the German campaign started, but not as prominent as was the case one year later when the Germans had to seize Baku in order to keep up their own ability to wage warfare. So I think my contribution made the distinctions more clear, what the differences were between the Barbarossa campaign of 1941-1942 and what the significance of Azerbaijan and Baku was in this planning. And this is also, at least that was my impression, what the audience found most interesting, what plans the Germans had for Azerbaijan during the war but also after a possible German victory.

And what do you hope to take away from the symposium?

I think the most interesting insights that I get from this symposium are the views my Azerbaijani colleagues take on the subject. I know the research that has been done by Paul Shapiro and other Western European scholars and so I was most curious to see how Azerbaijani historians looked at the subject and the comparison between the interpretations of western historians and historians from Azerbaijan, that’s what I found most interesting.

Will it lead to future work or future cooperation?

Hopefully, yes. As one of our Azerbaijani colleagues on the last panel just pointed out, the archives in Azerbaijan are fully open and provide full access to historians, even to historians from abroad. And it could turn out as a fruitful field for future research and I keep my fingers crossed for Yahad- In Unum for their projects that are planned for the future in order to take advantage of the archive resources in Azerbaijan and collaboration with Azerbaijani historians.

Just one last question. You probably haven’t seen too much of Baku, but what’s your impression of it?

I already had an opportunity last night to take a stroll through the centre of Baku and I was very impressed by the beauty of the city and I was very glad to hear and glad to learn today from one of the papers given that the Allies didn’t realize their plans to bomb Baku, because all the beauty would have been destroyed. And I’m very glad that visits to Baku have been included in our programme, so tomorrow we’re going to visit the city and get a tour through Baku and I already heard that Baku’s Old City is very beautiful and as much as I’ve seen up to now I can only confirm that, and we’re looking forward to seeing more.
Forgotten History of Hero City
Professor Elmira Muradaliyeva
A further outcome of the International Symposium was a call from Azerbaijani historians to bring historical justice to the city of Baku, whose role as a centre of oil production was diminished by the Soviet leadership during World War II.
In addition to reports on victims of the Holocaust, some of whom found refuge in the Caucasus and Central Asia, a presentation by Professor Elmira Muradaliyeva of Baku State University attracted particular attention. The main message of her speech was that without Azerbaijani oil, the USSR would not have defeated Nazi Germany during 1941-45, its planes and tanks would simply have been scrap metal.
She noted that Baku had developed as a world centre of hydrocarbon production back in 1901. On the eve of entry into World War II, the Soviet government decided to establish a so-called ‘second Baku’ and moved all the advanced equipment and the best oil workers from Baku to a newly-created oil region near the Volga and Urals, ie. to Russian territory. But Baku itself remained the main source of the ‘black gold’. At that time it was responsible for about 80 per cent of the Soviet Union’s total oil production, and almost 50 per cent of the world’s output.
However, with such figures it wasn’t clear why the Soviet leadership needed to create an additional oil centre. However, much of the long-term oil infrastructure in Baku was destroyed and its oil field professionals evacuated. As it turned out, the impact made by ‘the second Baku’ was minimal.
The main reason for establishing the Russian field, said Prodessor Muradaliyeva, was the threat of occupation hanging over Baku early in World War II.
German troops were already in the North Caucasus and no other Soviet oil region was as close to the military action as Baku. Following the Soviet government’s decision, from 1941 to 1942 field equipment and, crucially, most valuable personnel were evacuated to the new field..

UK researcher Stephen Tyas confirmed that in 1918 and from February 1942, the British developed plans to blow up the Absheron oil fields. A plan had been discussed even during the First World War; responsibility for the action had first been assigned to British occupying forces. Stalin issued a similar order during World War II, the situation was recorded in the memoirs of Oil Industry Minister Nikolai Baibakov.
On the eve of the Second World War (1939), Britain and France also developed a joint plan to blow up the oil fields of Baku in the event of hostilities. These countries felt then that the socialist Soviets were more dangerous than Nazi Germany, but after France was invaded by Germany and British cities were bombed, their plans were completely changed.
Even in the light of these threats, the Soviets were mistaken in believing that the new field could be expected to provide all the fuel required.
Production from the new oil region turned out to be negligible. Just 4 million tons of oil - a drop in the ocean compared to Baku’s output of 75 million tons. Once the Nazis were defeated and the war was over, there was no drive to restore Baku to its pre-war position. Specialists were not returned, nor was the infrastructure reinstated.
In 1941, before the ‘second Baku’ was created, Baku itself extracted 23.5 million tons of oil, exceeding expectations, but once the infrastructure had been destroyed, such levels could not be repeated. There was a recovery after the 1943 victory in Stalingrad; oil production rose again, but not to previous levels.
A note from MirJafar Baghirov, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Azerbaijan SSR, replied to Moscow’s demand to increase oil production, saying: It is not possible in conditions of a devastated infrastructure. However, the oil still had to be pumped by any means possible to support Soviet military commitments. So Baku did everything possible to defeat the fascists.
Despite the threat hanging over Baku and the hardships experienced by its people, despite the city’s heroic efforts to maintain fuel production, without which patriotism would have been empty rhetoric, Baku was not awarded the title Hero City.
In discussing the Soviet victory, historians have alluded to many factors, including the people’s patriotism (Russian historians tend to refer exclusively to the Russian people), as well as the roles of the Party and government, the unity of front and rear, internationalism etc., while remaining silent about Azerbaijani oil. It is also a fact that from 1941-45 more than half the oil workers were women and children who worked with the fear of explosions in the oilfields and of resettlement in the event of Baku falling to the Nazis.
Thus the case was made at the symposium that Baku deserved the title ‘Hero City’. Perhaps only historians can now achieve hypothetical justice.

Yahad-In Unum - Pleased to see such a big audience, especially young people, for such a conference
Father Patrick Desbois

Since 2004, the international association Yahad-in Unum has conducted research trips in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Poland and Moldova to collect witnesses’ accounts of the Holocaust by Bullets, the systematic shooting of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators. Last year, Yahad started investigations in Southern Russia and the North Caucasus.

During its research, the Yahad team interviewed some Jewish survivors who had escaped to the Caucasus, and especially to Baku, before the arrival of the German army. Yahad-in Unum was eager to learn more about the strategic role of the Caucasus in the war and the system of evacuation. One of the purposes was also to assemble high level Azerbaijani and international researchers, in order to share research findings.

According to the Yahad members attending the conference – Father Patrick Desbois, President of Yahad-in Unum, Marco Gonzalez, Director, Andrej Umansky and Marie Moutier, research fellows – the symposium was a success. The exchanges between researchers were very rich. “I am pleased to see such a big audience, especially young people, for such a conference”, said Patrick Desbois. Paul Shapiro, from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, presented a paper on the evacuation archives which was very helpful in giving a general overview of the material available to go on with our research. Also, Ikram Aghasiyev talked about the little-known deportations of ethnic Germans from the USSR and the Caucasus. Stephen Tyas highlighted the strategic importance of Azerbaijan’s oil during the war for the Allies, a presentation to be compared with the one of Ilgar Niftaliev about the role of Baku in the outcome of the war. Yahad researchers presented two topics based on the testimonies and archives we had gathered. First of all The Reichskommissariat Caucasus: this was the German plan for the occupation and future administration of the Caucasus. Secondly, the Mountain Jews and their extermination in Crimea and Northern Caucasus: many Jews couldn’t be evacuated in time and were shot by the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units of the Nazis.

The capture of Baku…

would have changed the course of the war

This allowed us to better understand the key role that Azerbaijan played during the Second World War, for strategic, military and human reasons. This has strengthened the testimonies that Yahad have previously collected during our research trips in southern Russia, in the Rostov and Krasnodar regions. The witnesses of the German occupation and of the war recounted seeing the collapse of the German army without fighting: soldiers abandoning their tanks and destroying them because of lack of fuel. Thus the Symposium concluded that the capture of Baku by the Germans would have changed the course of the war. Furthermore, during our interviews we found many cases of evacuations of Jews but also of the evacuation of industries towards Baku. This demonstrated the organization of the city during the war and its significance in the victory of the Allied forces.

Now Yahad researchers will study the fate of these Jewish refugees from Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and Russia who fled the Genocide committed by the Nazis on occupied Soviet territories, Jews who have remained in Baku. Yahad plans to organize interviews of these survivors in Baku. We hope to get material from the archives – especially from the Azerbaijani archives. It will give us the opportunity to make a complete study of the evacuation and emphasize Azerbaijan as a refuge from the Holocaust.