Defense of Baku 1918

In the summer of 1918, after the Turkish troops’ invasion of the Transcaucasia, the Ottoman government’s main purpose was to capture oil-rich Baku and the oil-producing complex located there. Placing the two Turkish divisions in Ganja with a real support of the irregular troops of the local Caucasian Turks, the Turkish military forces moved towards Baku where the Soviet power was established in the face of Baku Commune at the head of Stepan Shahumyan. 

On July 15 the Turkish troops started the planned advance on Baku. Suffering heavy losses, on July 31 the Turkish- Azerbaijani military units captured Sumgait.

The Turkish 9th and 15th divisions under the control of Nuri Pasha fought against Commune’s troops and suffered heavy losses, nevertheless they could gradually approach the outskirts of the city. For recruitment of new soldiers to the Turkish divisions from the local Muslims the Ottoman commanders committed even violence against the local Muslims. On the whole the Turkish military forces hung almost 600 Caucasian Turks for their refusal to take part in the military operation to capture Baku. 

At the beginning of August the Turkish side had planned to enter Baku with general attack but at the outskirts of the city met the resistance of the Armenian forces. As a result of the attack the Turkish troops lost 2000 soldiers and officers nearby the army barracks of Salyani and in the valley of Khoja-Hasan. 

On August 3 during the defensive battles of Baku the Armenian side also had losses; Sebastatsi Murad, commander Sahakyan, battalion Captain Dovlatov and many others were killed. Soon Bicherakhov’s, detachments, which had come to Baku from Iran and the English limited military unit under the leadership of Dunstervill also jointed the Armenian forces.

On September 15 after getting a reasonable reinforcement the Turkish –Azerbaijani troops could force down the Commune’s and other Armenian units’ resistance and invaded Baku from two directions. The Turkish soldiers and the Azerbaijani forces put the city to massacre and robbery. During the three day about 10 000 Armenians of Baku were killed.

The defense of Baku was significant at least for two reasons: firstly, it gave the Armenian and other Christian citizens of the city to leave the city and hence survive the upcoming Turkish – Azerbaijani pogroms. Secondly, the defense of Baku, which lasted for two and a half months, had its influence on the general outcome of the WWI; it was fatal in terms of providing oil the Turkish and German armies. It's hard to guess the upshot of the attack made by the German troops in the direction of Paris on the Western front if the fuel necessary for the German tanks had been provided from Baku oil. 
Thus, the heroic defense of Baku city is one of the brightest pages of the Armenian military history.