Transmigration or deportation? Forced migration of Azerbaijani people between 1948-1953. The idea of creating Greater Armenia without Turks.

By Dos. Vazeh Asgarov

French-Azerbaijan University (UFAZ), Baku, Azerbaijan

December 2, 2020

Transmigration or deportation?

Forced migration of Azerbaijani people between 1948-1953. The idea of creating Greater Armenia without Turks. 

Açar sözlər: deportasiya, miqrasiya, tarix, sosiologiya, diaspora, imiqrasiya

Keywords: deportation, immigration, history, sociology, diaspora, migration

Ключевые слова: депортация, иммиграция, история, социология, диаспора, миграция

Deportation is a Latin word that means to be forcibly moved from one place to another. The term is used in 1791 in France to express the deportation of suspects. Rather, this process affected revolutionaries who were sent for life to uninhabited places. In France, according to the law of March 23, 1872, special zones for deportation were created. During the period of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, various methods of deportation were also used.

Deportation concerns people who no longer have the right to live in the territory of origin, people no longer having their nationality, or residing illegally in a foreign country. On the other hand, the deportation of tens of thousands of Azerbaijani workers during the years 1948-1953 is far from the original movements for the simple reason that they were driven from their land where they were indigenous. The Armenian policy of creating a Sea-to-Sea (the Black Sea to Caspian) Greater Armenia without Turks did not fully materialize but succeeded in building an Armenian country.

This project of rebuilding a Greater Armenia from sea to sea is based on the fact that all the lands on which Armenians live or have lived are de facto Armenian and must therefore belong to Armenia. During 70 years of the Soviet Union governance, Armenia pursued a policy of reserving “Armenia for the Armenians”, expanding its territory to the detriment of Azerbaijani lands and using all possible means to expel Azerbaijanis from their historical and ethnic lands. During this period, the above-mentioned policy was implemented systematically and methodically [Orbaki, Gandjali, 1991].After the installation of Soviet Union (USSR) governance in Armenia, most Azerbaijanis living in Turkey, Iran, and Georgia succeeded in returning to their “homeland” in Armenia, which they left at the beginning of the 20th century due to the ethnic conflicts.

Until 1922, despite all the difficulties, 100,000 people were able to return to their land. According to the statistics of the 1926 year, 743,573 Armenians and 840,717 Azerbaijani lived in Armenia. On the other hand, the Armenian authorities became increasingly concerned about the Turkish (Azerbaijani) demographic growth representing 56.8% of the population [Arzumanli, Mustafa, 1998: 105-111]. Wanting to repatriate the Armenian community to Armenia, the Armenian diaspora took advantage of the Tehran conference in 1943 to reach out to the USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs. This request initiated the beginning of the transmigration of Armenians living in Iran to the USSR. [Arzoumanli, Mustafa, 1998: 112-122].

In November 1945, the Council of Ministers of the USSR ordered the great return of Armenians living in various countries of the world. For this purpose, a committee under the Armenian government was created. At the same time, the USSR sent a delegation to the countries from which the return was planned. At the beginning of 1946, 130,000 return requests had been counted. In 1946 alone, 50,900 people settled in Armenia, coming from Syria, Greece, Lebanon, Iran, Bulgaria, and Romania. This figure decreased in 1947 to 35,000 Armenians coming from Palestine, Syria, France, the United States, Egypt [Qafarov, 2008]. The Armenian authority explains this decrease by the fact that there is not enough housing available in the cities to settle these people. At the same time, Moscow receives daily lists of people wishing to return to Armenia.


The following is a copy of the USS Council of Ministers Decree Translated into English.


USSR COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DECREE №4083 of December 23rd 1947

Kremlin, Moscow

On resettlement of collective farmers and other Azeri population from the Armenian SSR to Kur-Araks lowlands of the Azerbaijan SSR.

Amendment 10/III-48 г. N: 754 

The USSR Council of Ministers hereby DECIDES:

1. To voluntarily resettle 100,000 collective farmers and other Azeri population from the Armenian SSR to the Kur-Araks lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR from 1948 to 1950, including 10,000 persons in 1948, 40,000 persons in 1949 and 50,000 in 1950.

2. To oblige the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR:

a) to arrange the explanation of conditions and privileges offered by the state to migrants to the Kur-Araks lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR, among collective farmers and other Azeri population;

b) to ensure the settlement of accounts between kolkhozes and collective farmers – no later than 10 days prior to their departure as per workday units envisioned by production plans of kolkhozes;

c) to ensure the transportation of personal belongings, cattle and poultry by the migrants.

3. To oblige the heads of ministries and institutions, establishments and enterprises to dismiss those persons who migrate from the Armenian SSR to Kur-Araks lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR.

4. To provide the following privileges to Azeri population resettling to the Kur-Araks lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR:

a) to provide free transportation and carriage of cattle and properties in the amount of up to 2 tons per family;

b) to apply the decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Soviet People’s Commissariat №115/2043 of November 17th 1937 “On privileges for agricultural resettlement”, except for the privileges on compulsory supplies of milk;

c) to provide migrating families with irrevocable cash benefits of 1,000 roubles per head of the family and 300 roubles per each family member;

d) to sell for cash payment bread grain in the amount of 1.5 centners per head of the family and 0.5 centers per family members, to migrant families resettled to the Kur-Araks lowlands of the Azerbaijan SSR.

5. To allow Azeri population migrating from the Armenian SSR to the Kur-Araks lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR to exchange agricultural products (grain, potatoes) and cattle prohibited for transportation by the quarantine laws for exchange coupons in places of departures, in order to receive an equal amount of products and equal number of heads of cattle in the place of destination.

6. To oblige the Agricultural Bank: a) to provide credits for the construction of dwelling houses and dependencies in the amount of up to 20,000 rouble per farm with the repayment period of 10 years, starting from the third year after receipt of the credit; b) to award longterm loans worth 3,000 roubles per family of migrants for the period of 5 years with the repayment beginning on the third year after receipt of the loan.

7. To oblige the Ministry of Communications a) to ensure transportation of Azeri population with their properties and cattle by request of the Council of Ministers of Armenian SSR, by special echelons with the equipped and disinfected wagons; b) to get wagons ready by the Railroad Department on the schedule, approved by the Ministry of Communications, the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Council of Ministers of Armenian SSR, without collecting the payment for wagons in the destination point. The settlements for transportation of Azeri population shall be centralized by the accounts, provided by the Railroad Department.

8. To oblige the Ministry of Public Health of USSR to ensure medical examination of all migrants in the point of destination and medical and sanitary control in the process of transportation. The staff and appropriate medicines shall be provided to accompany the echelons.

9. The Ministry of Finances of USSR shall envision in the budget of the Azerbaijan SSR for the year of 1948 the funds for the resettlement of Azerbaijani population from Armenian SSR to the Azerbaijan SSR.

10. The Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR and the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijan SSR shall joint develop the appropriate specific measures for the resettlement and placement of population from the Armenian SSR to the Azerbaijani SSR, within a period of one month for the purposes of the fulfillment of this decree. The measures shall be reported to the USSR Council of Ministers.

11. To allow the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR to use buildings and living houses abandoned by Azerbaijani population in light of their resettlement to the Kur-Araks lowland of Azerbaijan SSR for the settlement of foreign Armenians arriving into Armenian SSR.

J. Stalin, chairman of the Council of Ministers of USSR

Y. Chadayev, manager of the Council of Ministers of USSR


 Under the pretext of sending labor to the cotton-growing regions of the Mil-Mugan steppe in the Azerbaijan SSR, Azerbaijanis had to leave the Armenian SSR so that Armenians from abroad could be received on the lands thus freed. During the meeting between Mir Jafar Baghirov (communist leader of the Azerbaijan SSR from 1932 to 1953) and Stalin on December 23, 1947, Stalin opposed the law on the transmigration of collective farm workers and other Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR. On December 27, 1947, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted Decision No. 4083 on the collective migration of collective farm workers and other members of the Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR in the Koura-Araxes plain, located in the Azerbaijani SSR. On March 10, 1948, the first decision No. 754 was completed, which set out the measures planned to transfer the Azerbaijanis [Həsənli, 2008].

In 1948, a total of 10,584 Azerbaijanis left Armenia to settle in various regions of Azerbaijan. Between 1948 and 1950, 34,383 people were expelled from Armenia. This large-scale population displacement continued until Stalin’s death (1953) after which the numbers began to drop. According to official statistics, 53,000 Azerbaijanis are transferred to the Koura-Araxes region alone.

Most of the mountain people from the plateaus of Armenia could not adapt to the environment of the steppe of Mil-Mugan. They die, otherwise, they are forced to move to other areas. Thousands of Azerbaijani families are even forced to immigrate to other republics of the USSR [Vəliyev, Muxtarov, Hüseynov, 1998]. On the other hand, on September 21, 1949, the Council of Ministers of the Azerbaijani SSR asked Moscow to reduce the deportation of the population for the current year to 10,000 people. In 1949, 54,373 people were still displaced, settled mainly in the regions of Zerdab, Ali-Bayramli, Kurdemir, Goygol, Mirbechir, Salyan, Imichli, Sabirabad and Yevlakh [Vəliyev, Muxtarov, Hüseynov, 1998]. Throughout deportation from 1948-1953, it is noted that no Azerbaijanis are allowed to settle in Karabakh, in more suitable territories or climates [Arzumanli, Mustafa, 1998]. 

It can be concluded that the deportation of Azerbaijanis from Armenia was neither designed for the establishment of Armenians from abroad nor the development of cotton in Azerbaijan. The deportation process ended by the time of the death of Stalin [Vəliyev, Muxtarov, Hüseynov, 1998].

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the mass deportation of Azerbaijanis by Stalin on 28 January 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe issued a written declaration No. 419 on Mass deportations of Azerbaijanis from Armenia (1948-1953 and 1988). The declaration intended to put pressure on Armenia to recognize and uphold the fundamental right of Azerbaijanis deported from their historic homeland in 1948-1953 and in 1988 to return to their country of origin, Armenia.

From the year 1960, Azerbaijanis working in positions of high responsibility were replaced by Armenians. The second and third secretaries of the regional (departmental) committees were released from their posts only because they were Azerbaijani. The Jafar. Jabbarli drama theater was closed and did not work until 1966. Newspapers published in the Azerbaijani language were closed and then banned in several regions (Sisyan, Kafan, Vedi, Zanguibasar Kalinin, etc.), but also a series of publishing houses of republican ministries and departments edited literature in the Azerbaijani language [Vəliyev, Muxtarov, Hüseynov, 1998]. If the term “transmigration” refers to USSR it will be correct to mention the systematic policy of repression against the Azerbaijani minorities living in the Republic of Armenia.



  1. Arzumanlı Vaqif, Mustafa Nazim (1998), Tarixin qara səhifələri, Deportasiya. Soyqırım. Qaçqınlıq, Bakı, Qartal.
  2. Arzumanliı Vaqif (2001) Azerbaycan Diasporu, Bakı, Qartal. 
  3. Əliyev Zaur (2005), Dünya diasporaları, Bakı, Qismət. 
  4. Həsənov Cəmil (1993) Azərbaycan Beynəlxalq münasibətlər sistemində, 1918-1920, Bakı, Azərnəşr.
  5. Həsənli Cəmil (2008), Azərbaycanda milli məsələ. Siyasi rəhbərlik və ziyalılar 1954-1959, Bakı, Adiloğlu.
  6. İbrahimli Xaləddin (1996), Azərbaycanın siyasi mühaciratı (1918 – 1991), Bakı, Elm. 
  7. Qafarov T. (2008), Bakı, Elm.
  8. Orbakı Ramiz, Gandjali Aydin (1991), Garabagh entre le passé et le future III, Paris.
  9. Rizvan Nazim (2002), Azərbaycan diaspor tarixi, Bakı, Borçalı HPM.
  10. Tahirli Abid (2001), Azərbaycan mühaciratı, Bakı, Tural-Ə.
  11. Tahirli Abid (2007), Azərbaycan mühacir ədəbiyyatı (1921-1991), Bakı, Çinar Çap. 
  12. Vəliyev Y., Muxtarov K., Hüseynov F. (1998), Deportasiya, Azərbaycanın Ermənistan ərazisindəki tarixi-etnik torpaqlarından deportasiyası, Bakı, Azərbaycan Ensiklopediyası.
  13. Vəlixanlı Nailə (2007), Azərbaycan tarixi II cild, Bakı, Elm. 
  14. Altstadt Audrey L. (1992) The Azerbaijani Turks: Power and Identity under Russian, Rule, Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Studies of Nationalities in the USSR Series. 
  15. Asgarov Vazeh (2014) L’immigration des Azerbaïdjanais, L’immigration générale des Azerbaïdjanais, histoire et perspectives : le cas de la France, Allemagne, PAF, p.425.
  16. Balçi Bayram (2008), La place de la « diaspora » azerbaïdjanaise dans la politique de l’Azerbaïdjan postsoviétique : esquisse d’analyse, EurOrient, 28, pp. 185-204. 
  17. Constant Antoine (2002) L’Azerbaïdjan, Karthala (Méridiens), Paris.




XX əsr Dünyada gedən proseslər – sovetlər birliyinin dağılması, qərb ölkələrinin mədəniyyətlərinə inteqrasiya, demokratik ruhlu siyasi sistemin və pluralizmin yaradılması eləcə də bazar iqtisadiyyatına keçid yeni bir idarəetmənin formalaşmasına gətirib çıxartdı. Uzun müddət əlçatmaz qalan mövzular məhz bu dövrdən etibarən tədqiq olunmağa başlandı. Azərbaycanda diaspora mövzusu yeni olsa da mühacirət və əhalinin köçü əsrlər boyu davam edir. Buna baxmayaraq sovet dövründə bu mövzu uzun müddət əlçatmaz qalmış və yalnız 1980-ci illərin sonları tədqiqatçıları maraqlandırmağa və öyrənilməyə başlanılmışdır.




Процессы, происходящие в мире в двадцатом веке – распад Советского Союза, интеграция в западную культуру, установление демократического плюрализма и политические реформы, а также перехода к рыночной экономике привели к формированию новой системы правления. Многие проблемы, которые в течение длительного периода оставались недосягаемыми, стали предметом исследования. Несмотря на то, что тема диаспоры является относительно новой, процесс иммиграции и переселение народов длился на протяжении веков. Хотя, эта тема оставалась труднодоступной в советскую эпоху, но с конца 1980-х годов стала объектом внимания и изучения исследователей.




The processes taking place in the XX century, namely, dissociation of USSR, integration into the western culture, establishment of democratic pluralism and political reforms, and transition to the market economy had given away to the formation of a new system of governing. A lot of problems that were unattainable till this period began to be investigated. Even though the theme of diaspora was sufficiently new, the process of immigration and resettlement of people has been enduring for centuries. Although this issue was arduous in the Soviet period, from the end of the 1980s it turned into the object of investigations and studies.