A letter to deliver to heaven...

  • 18/02/2024
It has been more than a year since Haydar Bammat left his homeland. After spending several months in Trebizond, Istanbul, and Batumi, the wind dragged him to Bern, at the other edge of Europe. While looking at the Swiss Alps from the window of the Bellevue Palace Hotel in Bern, most probably he dreamed of the view of the chain of the peaks of the Caucasus seen from Temirkhan Shura. While he was trying to explain the Caucasus cause to the central powers, now he was in search of ways to express himself to the Allied powers.

Temirkhan Shura early 1900s (Click on the image for larger view)
Hotel Bellevue Palace Bern - Switzerland (Click on the image for larger view)
View of the Swiss Alps from Hotel Bellevue Palace (Click on the image for larger view)
On the one hand, he was worried about the Red and White terrors that burn the Caucasus, and on the other, he was trying to find ways to attend the peace talks in Paris which was supposed to determine the fate of the world. In such a chaotic atmosphere, he did not even have the opportunity to communicate with his family at all.
One of the members of the delegation, Ismail Abay decided to return home.  This allowed him to write to his family after a long time. He wrote a letter addressed to his older brother Temirbulat Bammat on February 18, 1919. Temirbulat was supposed to be in the Temirhan Shura in those days. After the declaration of independence, Temirbulat Bammat, as the head of the Dagestan Executive Committee, was struggling to organize resistance against the Bolshevik threat in the mountains of Dagestan and was killed by bandits during one of his expeditions in the mountains in the autumn of 1918. Nevertheless, Haydar Bammat didn't know the bitter truth. So, he didn't know that his letter was addressed to heaven indeed. The letter, which had never been delivered to Temirbulat, was delivered to his mother and returned to Haydar Bammat when he left the Caucasus after the Bolshevik occupation. 
After 105 years, the letter that was preserved in Haydar Bammat's archive, came to light again today.
While I leave you with the English translation of this letter, which describes the suffering, homesickness, and melancholic solitude of Haydar Bammat, I also share the original, Russian transcription and Turkish translations of the letter with our followers in separate links.

Click on the image to access the original document from our archive
Türkçe Tercüme
Транскрипция на русском языке

"This time, dear Temirbulat, I hope that my letter will find you. I entrust it to my secretary Ismail Bey Abaev, who must personally visit Shura and deliver it to you. Since March 7, I have had no news of either you or dear mother for almost a year, and God only knows in what anxiety, in what endless melancholy my thoughts are carried away to you, to our wretched shack, and how painful this separation and complete unknown is to me...
Where are you, what do you think about me, what are the conditions of your life - these conditions are difficult for everyone, but for you, they were even more difficult in the era of the triumph of Messrs. Dakhadaev and the Bolsheviks he invited. You were exposed to dangers and hardships, and I did not know what it was like for you. Where was the mother? What did she experience and feel, could she understand my absence and the nature of the complex and difficult role that fate and my conscience placed on me - does she think that in the complex cycle of political events, largely brought to life and directed by my by personal will, I can forget about the poor suffering mother, for whom, I know, there is no other joy and there is nothing in life like our well-being...
This thought torments me. Where was she during your forced absence from Shura, where were you, I was unable to obtain any information about you during my stay in Constantinople. Osman, whom I sent from Batum to you, as I learned later, did not reach Dagestan. Having the opportunity to write to me through couriers who were sent to me from Tiflis to Constantinople, he did not write anything. What does it mean? All this deeply depresses me. I thought that my trip to Europe would last about two months, that during this period I would be able to visit both London and Paris and arrive home at a certain time, but now it’s almost 4 months since I left Constantinople and I still can’t get out from Bern, and when I return, only God knows.
Instead of Paris, I will probably have to go to the Princes' Islands near Constantinople, where a conference on the Russian question is proposed. One thing that is essential for my mother is that I am completely healthy and live in conditions of absolute material well-being. My only personal grief is the lack of information about you and concern for your fate. Politically, of course, I have many inevitabilities and complications, but in good conscience, I do what I consider to be the good of my native land. The thorny path that I set out on I decided to go through to the end. Friends and enemies may have different opinions about me, but I put our question forward, like the war of independence on the international stage and no matter how the future turns out, no matter what political grouping our peoples find themselves in, the struggle for political independence and the Caucasian confederation can be only for the good - this struggle acquaints the governments of Europe and America and the public opinion of the West with our national and social quests, tells them about our rights and our suffering.
I see that we are completely forgotten, no more is known about us than about the Zulus, and the Russians, without distinction or regret, are trying to convince the cultured peoples of Europe that we are savages dangerous to civilization, who must, for the good of the world, remain under the cultural despotism of Russia.
I have always thought that it is impossible exclusively in the sphere of local political struggle in petty disputes with Messrs. Dakhadayevs and Korkmasovs, that it is necessary to rise to a greater objective height and present the question in all its breadth, in all of which they demand that our people lived in the centuries-old struggle for freedom and the hardships suffered under the Russian yoke.
If not everyone understands me in my homeland, if I have many enemies, this is of course bitter, but I want and must be above this - if I have to die on this path, I prefer such an end to any other, but I believe in our peoples, I believe in your star.
I would like to think that you share my sentiments with all my heart. I wait with excitement for the hour when I can hug you and my endlessly painfully beloved mother.
In a life in which everything personal is excluded, in a life in which I do not look for anything and do not expect anything, I have two attachments - this is my mother and you, may God bless you, support, and strengthen your spirit.

I kiss you, your Gaidar.

P.S. I am sending you two copies of my brochure Le problem du Caucase, is this a separate edition of the article? published in “Revue Politique International”. I already sent you this brochure and card with a letter once, but I don’t know if you received it."

I would like to express our gratitude to our dear friend Hadji Murad Donogo for his priceless help in the transcription of this manuscript.
Additionally, I am sharing a copy of the pamphlet entitled "Le Problème du Caucase" that Haydar Bammat mentions at the bottom of his letter which he published in Switzerland shortly before he penned this letter to his brother.

Click on the image to access the book in our reading rooms
Cem Kumuk
Istanbul, 18 February 2024