Under Soviet rule, Azerbaijani cultural expression was circumscribed
and forcibly supplanted by Russian cultural values.
Particularly during Stalin’s purges of the 1930s, many Azerbaijani
writers and intellectuals were murdered, and ruthless
attempts were made to erase evidence of their lives and work
from historical records. Cultural monuments, libraries,
mosques, and archives were destroyed. The two forcible
changes of alphabet in the 1920s and 1930s further isolated
Azerbaijanis from their literary heritage. Never completely
extinguished during the Soviet period, however, Azerbaijani
culture underwent a modest rebirth during Khrushchev’s
relaxation of controls in the 1950s, when many who had been
victims of Stalin’s purges were posthumously rehabilitated and
their works republished. In the 1970s and 1980s, another
rebirth occurred when Moscow again loosened cultural restrictions.
Under Aliyev’s first regime, publication of some mildly
nationalist pieces was allowed, including serialization of Aziza
Jafarzade’s historical novel Baku 1501.