22 September 2020

Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov, Azeri-born French Resistance Leader

Azerbaijan: Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov, 22 September 2020. Images from Colnect.

Technical Specifications:

Issued on: 2020-09-22
Size: 130 x 85 mm
Colors: Multicolor
Format: Souvenir Sheet
Perforations: 12
Printing: Offset lithography
Denomination: 1.50 manat
Print run: 7,000

Photo of Jabrayilov published in Nedelya (1960). The original is in his house-museum in Shaki.

Ahmadiyya Mikayil oglu Jabrayilov (Əhmədiyyə Mikayıl oğlu Cəbrayılov, Ахмедия Микаил оглы Джебраилов: 22 September 1920 – 11 October 1994) was a French Resistance member of Azerbaijani nationality. However, the factual existence of Jabrailov has been questioned, with some alleging that his official wartime biography was Soviet propaganda.

Jabrayilov was born in Okhud village, Shaki District, Azerbaijani SSR, on 22 September 1920. In 1941, he began his service in the Soviet Army.

In 1960, the Soviet newspaper Nedelya published the following version of the biography of Jabrayilov by Soviet journalist Nikolay Paniyev and Azerbaijani historian Garash Madatov:

Wounded, Jabrayilov was taken hostage by the Germans. After several failed attempts, he managed to flee from the German camp. In August 1944, Jabrayilov was told by the leadership of the French Resistance to organize an escape from the camp of the town of Rodez that contained several thousands of Azerbaijanis. However, on 15 August a traitor exposed the plot to the Germans. While the plotters were being transported to the execution yard, several of them managed to escape. Later, the plotters joined the Soviet partisan regiment and formed a task unit that, together with the French patriots, liberated the town of Rodez from the German occupation. For his participation in the Resistance movement, Jabrayilov was awarded seven French medals.

The same author, Garash Madatov, in the book Azerbaijan in the Great Patriotic War, puts the biography of Jabrayilov in the following way:

Participated in the Resistance since its inception, liberated Paris from the Nazis and was awarded the highest French order. On 20 August 1944 at a rally in the liberated Paris (Paris was liberated on 25 August 1944) Jabrayilov delivered a speech on behalf of the Soviet soldiers.

According to the article of Azerbaijani historian H. Mehtiyev (published in Ever Living Traditions in 1968), Jabrayilov fought in France within “the first Soviet partisan division”. While he was with them, the division liberated Paris. In total, Jabrayilov was awarded 8 highest orders and medals of France.

Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov (with rifle) with his comrades in France during the Second World War. Photo was published in the article about Jabrayilov in Bakinskiy rabochiy (1966).

According to the captain B. Karpov (Soviet Military Review, 1975), Jabrayilov was placed in a camp near Montauban under the number 4167. A French woman, Jeanne, saved dying Jabrayilov by burying an empty coffin instead of his body. Jabrayilov joined the French partisans, with whom he carried out numerous dangerous combat operations. With the “Poppies squad” he liberated the city of Toulon, making his way through the sewers to the center of the city and striking behind the lines of the enemy. Jabrayilov also took part in the liberation of Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse and Paris. In 1945, Maurice Thorez invited Jabrayilov to his home and awarded him with orders and medals on behalf of the French government.

According to the French newspaper «Sud Ouest» (1975), maqui Jabrayilov was saved from a prison in Montauban while he was the prisoner of the Germans during the war. Later with the maquis of the region, he had to participate in the liberation of Montauban, Toulouse and Rodez.

According to the Azerbaijani Soviet Encyclopedia, Jabrayilov was captured in May 1942 in course of the battle for Donbas, and was kept in Dachau and Alsace-Lorraine concentration camps. In November 1942, he fled to join the partisans in France, took part in battles for the liberation of France, received several French awards (including Médaille militaire for personal bravery) and was retired in 1946.

According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, de Gaulle met with Jabrayilov three times. Arriving in Moscow in 1966, de Gaulle included a meeting with Jabrayilov in his agenda. Jabrayilov was awarded the title of the “National Hero of France”. He was also awarded the Legion of Honor and a number of other French decorations, including the Cross of Military Valour, which entitled him to march in parades ahead of the French generals.

According to the Translation Centre of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan, Jabrayilov was a prisoner of war numbered 4167 and was placed in the camp near Marseille, which he fled to join French guerillas. In course of one of the combat operations, dressed in a German uniform, Jabrayilov was wounded and taken to a German hospital. Upon recovery, he was appointed commandant of the city of Albi, where he remained for eight months, gaining respect and credibility among his superiors and subordinates. Jabrayilov’s actions to rescue prisoners of the concentration camps earned the admiration of de Gaulle. After the war, Jabrayilov, “one of the most respected members of the Union of Veterans of the Resistance” and “a legend of the Resistance”, married a French woman, with whom he had two children, and worked in the office of Charles de Gaulle. In Dijon, an automobile factory was named after Jabrayilov. However, in 1951, Jabrayilov decided to return to the USSR. The United States offered “the famous reconnaissance man” American citizenship, France offered to gift Jabrayilov the factory named after him, but Jabrayilov rejected the offers. Upon his return to his native village, Okhud, he barely managed to avoid arrest and was forced to work as a shepherd. In France, a two-part film was made dedicated the life of Jabrayilov.

Photo of Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov with his French medals (including Médaille militaire, Croix de Guerre, Medal for the War Wounded, Combatant’s Cross and Croix des services militaires volontaires

From 1960, Jabrayilov was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In 1970, Jabrayilov graduated from Azerbaijan State Agricultural University, worked as an agronom at kolkhoz named after Nariman Narimanov in Shaki Rayon. Jabrayilov took part in the 29th and 30th Congresses of Communist Party of Azerbaijan.

According to Rugiya Aliyeva, in 1972, 1975, and 1980 Jabrayilov visited Rodez, Montauban, Toulouse, Albi and Paris, and met with his fighting comrades. In Paris, Jabrayilov was admitted by a member of the French Senate, Jacques Duclos, who gave him a memorable icon.

In 1985, Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov was awarded with the Order of the Patriotic War (second class). He also was awarded with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Order of the October Revolution and medals.

In 1990, Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov’s son, major of Militsiya (police) Mikayil Jabrayilov was killed in Nagorno-Karabakh and honored with the name of the National Hero of Azerbaijan.

Jabrayilov died in Shaki, Azerbaijan on 11 October 1994. The telephone box, where Jabrayilov was, was hit by a truck with failed brakes.

Monument and grave of Ahmadiya Jabrayilov (right) and his son Mikayil Jabrayilov in Okhud village of Shaki

There are several Soviet plays, stories and documentary films about Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov. In 1975 the film Hero of France (in Azerbaijani) was shot by Azerbaijani director Khamiz Muradov.

According to the order of Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev, a bronze monument of Jabrayilov (by sculptor A. Tsalikov) was erected over his grave in Okhud village cemetery. One of the streets in Shaki is named for him.

There is a house-museum of Ahmadiya Jabrayilov in Shaki, which was organised by his son, Javanshir Jabrayilov.

In November 2007, the French embassy in Azerbaijan, Baku French Cultural Centre and Sheki museum organized the exhibition He was called Armed Michele in France on the life of Ahmadiyya Jabrailov. Photos, original of documents and a documentary film about Jabrayilov were presented at the exhibition.

In June 2016 in front of the Mausoleum of Cabertat, close to Montauban (50 km from Toulouse, where the remains of the Resistance heroes, including those from Azerbaijan lay) Ahmadiyya Jabrayilov (aka Akmed Michel) and other Azerbaijani members of the French Resistance who participated in the Maquis de Cabertat and the Third Hussars Regiment during the Second World War were commemorated. The commemoration also included the unveiling of a plaque with the portrait of Jabrayilov.

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