Summer 2001 (9.2)
War II Map
Photo: Britain's Royal
Air Force map to bomb Baku during World War II.
had taken Baku in his quest for oil supplies during World War
II, the Allies had plans to bomb the oil fields to thrawt his
expansion efforts. Specific targets included: (1) Black Town
where most of the oil wells were located; (2) White Town; (6)
power station; (10) airport; (11) military stores and depot;
(12) oil storage (18) Shollar Waterworks receiving tanks; and
(19) main railway sidings and marshalling yards.
buffs will appreciate this World War II bombing map of Baku that
I came across at the Map Library of the National Library of Scotland
in Edinburgh. My job as an Environmental Geologist often involves
running environmental projects where there is a requirement for
"desk-based research". This includes reviewing published
current and historical maps that are held at the Map Library
for all of Scotland, the UK and a vast number of current and
historical maps from overseas.
In the summer of 1997 I spent a number of days researching historical
maps and mentioned to the librarians that I was going to work
in Baku. They said "Where?" So we got out an atlas
and I showed them where Azerbaijan is. Over the past few years
when I have been back in the library, they always ask, "Colin,
so how is Azerbaijan these days? Where did you go this time?
What is it like?" I even tried teaching them a few greetings
and phrases in Azeri.
Last year I asked if they had ever come across historical maps
of Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea or even the Caucasus region. I
arrived at the library one day to be asked questions like, "Why
is the 'Black City' called the 'Black City'?" Apparently,
they had searched through some archived maps and come across
a Royal Air Force (RAF) map. I had heard that during World War
II, the Allies had drawn up plans to attack Baku's oilfields
and installations if the German Army ever took them. There it
was! The evidence was right before my eyes in great detail! The
RAF appears to have done its research rather well, pinpointing
various targets, while attempting to avoid attacks on populated
centers in the city itself.
I was fascinated with the map, even though it is quite unnerving
to think about its original purpose. I would love to say that
I spent hour upon hour searching through dust-covered papers,
manuscripts and the like, but in truth, it was simply handed
to me to assuage my curiosity. It's a fascinating map, which
thankfully was never put to its original use.
(9.2) Summer 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.
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