By Akbar Mammadov
Today Azerbaijan marks the 75th anniversary of World War II victory and commemorates those who fought and died for the cause of freedom over fascism during the Second World War.
The country entered World War II alongside the Soviet Union, after the German declaration of war on June 22, 1941.
Despite being a small country compared to the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China who ensured the victory over Hitler's Nazi Germany, Azerbaijan undoubtedly played an undeniably great role in the war of freedom and liberty over fascism and tyranny in military, economic and strategic areas.
How Azerbaijan economically secured the victory
Prior to World War II, Soviet Azerbaijan was one of the world's largest producers of oil, oil products, and petroleum equipment, hugely contributing to the Soviet Union to be ranked next to the United States and Canada in oil production.
Azerbaijan supplied 90 percent of engine oil, 80 percent of gasoline and 70 percent of oil for the Soviet army during the WWII.
Four out of the 5 Soviet aircrafts, tanks and trucks used in the war ran on Azerbaijani fuel. Therefore, invasion of Baku and its oil fields was a top priority for Hitler.
Despite ongoing military actions, Baku could remain the main supplier of fuels and lubricants, sending 23.5 million tons of oil in the first year of the war alone. A total of 75 million tons of oil were transported for military needs throughout World War II. The former ambassador of Russia to Azerbaijan Vasiliy Istratov said: "There wouldn’t be any victory in World War II without natural resources of Azerbaijan." It is enough to note that
In September, 1942 a military situation was announced in the South Caucasus and the situation in Baku became critical. Only 1.6 million tons of oil were sent instead of the 6 million tons stored until the end of navigation. Special oil wells, into which were pumped hundreds of thousands of tons of topped oil, were allocated. Scarcity of tanks led to the collapse of work.
On April 28, 1945, marshal of the Soviet Union Fyodor Tolbukhin wrote about Azerbaijan's irreplaceable contribution in his article under a subtitle of "Glory to Azerbaijani nation": "The Red Army owes Azerbaijani nation and courageous Baku oilmen for many victories, for on-time delivery of qualitative fuel to attacking units. Soldiers of our front under Stalingrad, in Don and Donbass, on the shores of the Dnepr and Dnestr, in Belgrad, under Budapesht and Vienna remember Azerbaijani oilmen with gratitude and greet brave workers of oily Baku."
Azerbaijan's military contribution in World War II
Over 600,000 Azerbaijanis were conscripted to the "Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army" during World War II from 1941 to 1945. Out of them, about 300,000 Azerbaijani troops were killed. Some 15,000 medical workers were deployed on the Eastern Front, along with 3,750 operators of motorized vehicles.
Not only Azerbaijani men and women fought in the regular Red Army against Germany, but also a number of Azerbaijanis combated against Italian and German forces as partisan groups in the Balcans, France, Italy and Eastern Europe. Azerbaijani women also participated in the fight against the Axis. Some notable women include partisan Aliya Rustambeyova, sniper Ziba Ganiyeva, anti-craft gunner Almaz Ibrahimova, and captain Shovkat Salimova.
In addition, Azerbaijani troops played a significant role in several battles that changed the historical course and save the victory over fascism, including: the Defense of Brest Fortress, the Siege of Leningrad, the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk, and the Battle of Berlin. These troops were stationed in the Crimean peninsula of the Ukraine, as well as Eastern Europe and the Baltics.
Azerbaijani civilians also played a major role in the Battle of the Caucasus, providing resistance to the German advance toward Baku and Grozny, which were main oil supplying cities of the Soviet Union.
Azerbaijani heroes who saved Europe from fascism
During the WW II, 123 Azerbaijani citizens were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for their heroic fight against fascism.
Lieutenant Israfil Mammadov was the first Azerbaijani awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union, and Major-General Hazi Aslanov received the title twice. Huseynrza Mammadov and Javad Hakimli were commanders of Azerbaijani Partisan Detachment in France and Italy respectively, while Mammad Aliyev were the commander of Azerbaijani Partisan Detachment in Belarus and Crimea.
Among Azerbaijani partisans, Lieutenant Mehdi Husenyzade (Mikhailo) and Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov (Kharko) have left a differently important mark in European against fascism, who fought for liberation of Yugoslavia and Italy, and France from Germany respectively. Particularly, Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov was awarded with the most important medals of France because of his roles in liberation of Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Paris, and his leadership in liberation of Toulon with his "Poppies squad": "War Cross" (Croix de Guerre), "Cross for bravery", "Insignia for the Military Wounded", "Partisan Medal" and the "Medal for personal bravery in combat.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz