French writer of Azerbaijani descent Ummulbanu (Banin)
Ummulbanu Mirza kyzy Asadullaeva, a French writer of Azerbaijani descent, who is in one of the section of the museum, is one of the witnesses of the March events of 1918. She writes in her "Days in Caucasus" autobiographical novel :
A pro–socialist Armenian organization created a military dictatorship in the country under the slogan "save the country from the communist coup." But there was talk among the people that the Bolsheviks were at the head of this organization. One night at 2 o'clock my nanny Anna woke me up. The whole city was without electricity.Sounds of firing could be heard from unknown directions in this terrific dark, bullets were whistling everywhere. The sound of machine–gun fire could be heard in the distance. Horrified, we were expecting arrival of the Dashnaks ( this was the name of an Armenian party) at our home, and thinking how they would destroy our home and kill us... Armenian neighbours living opposite side offered us a shelter in their home...We had to cross the street. But endlessly raining bullets from all around made even this distance a deadly threat... However,God took compasion upon us... On the following daw we saw trucks before our home. Men with full cartridge–belts were loading the trucks with items thrown out of our windows. Dressed on dirty military clothes, these men's appearance was terrifying. However, looking at this disgusting scene of robbery, we felt happy inside, as they would have thrown us out the same windows without any hesitation, had we stayed in our home...
After power passed to the Bolsheviks in 1920, the family was forced to leave Azerbaijan. The place of emigration was France. Banin was known in France not only for her novels, but also as a fine translator of Russian, English and German fiction.
“We all know families that are poor but ‘respectable’. Mine, in contrast, was extremely rich but not ‘respectable’ at all.” These are the opening lines of Days in the Caucasus by Banine, the pseudonym of Ummulbanu Asadullayeva, published in France in 1945. Banine was born in Baku in 1905, the great–granddaughter of a peasant who became fabulously rich “thanks to the oil gushing from his stony land”. Aged 13 she became a multi–millionairess, only for her fortune to vanish when the Russian Revolution reached the newly independent Azerbaijan