Taking a look at the book" Black Friday of Lahijan

The Bombing of the Day 29th of August 1941 in Lahijan According to Eyewitnesses

Mohammad Ghasemipoor
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


"As we were all waiting for the announcement papers to fall from the plane over us, we suddenly saw a black object falling over us. One of the children, who I think he was Reza Mahyar, shouted "Bomb!"Last night, it was announced on the radio that if we were under bombing, we should try to jump in a river; I immediately jumped myself in a river near a road and next to a public house named Ekhvat. Suddenly, I heard a horrifying sound of a bomb; then, I was not able to hear any sound, it was for the sound of the explosion."

The passage you read is part of the oral narrative of one of the witnesses of the bombing of Lahijan on Friday, 29th of August in 1941, and quoting from the book "Black Friday of Lahijan".

Nearly eighty years after the occupation of Iran by the Allies, the book "Black Friday of Lahijan" was published this spring with the long-term efforts of a patient researcher. This book provides an untold and fascinating narratives of the days after the occupation of the northern territories of Iran by the Soviet Red Army for the readers interested in the oral history of Iran. Despite the delivery of the letter of peace from the Iranian government to the Soviet and British embassies in Tehran on the morning of August 28, its immediate communication to Moscow and London and its official announcement on the radio and press, the Red Army bombarded Lahijan city, and the the violent and ruthless figures from this invading northern neighbor were recorded in the history of Iran despite the people's disbelief with hostile military actions.

The book "Black Friday of Lahijan" with the subtitle "Bombing of the 29th of August 1941 in Lahijan according to Eyewitnesses" has a simple but precise content. A brief introduction about the motivation and interest of Mr. Ali Amiri is the main theme of his book, which begins with his attending in a retail shop in Lahijan in the early 1380s.

In the following, we find out that the process of recording the oral memoirs of the narrators and witnesses of the bombing of Lahijan on the 29th of August 1941 started several years later and in the early 1388 and continued until the mid-nineties.

After the introduction, during a relatively comprehensive and long preface (47 pages), some issues have been examined using written sources and documents published in books as follows: the political and social events leading to World War II and the invasion of Iran by Allied forces on 25th of August 1941, the situation in Gilan during the first days of occupation by the Red Army and how to resist, and the short-term resilience of the 11th Guilan Division.

The main part of the book, entitled "Part One: Memoirs", seriously presents the product of conversations and field interviews using the method of oral history, and follows the narrative of the narrators and living witnesses.

In the memoirs section, the possibility of an independent and separate narration has been provided for each of the interviewees and witnesses of the Lahijan bombing incident on the 29th of August 1941. with his active and research presented at the beginning of each narrative, the author and editor of the interviews have introduced the narrator in detail and shared the necessary information about her life with the reader.

The independent narratives of the 12 alive narrators and eyewitnesses of the bombing incident contain readable and attractive examples of oral history from about eighty years before contemporary Iranian history. The narrators have all been interviewed in the ninth and tenth decades of their lives. After reading their memoirs and based on the information provided by the author, A careful and conscious reader will find that perhaps only two of them are alive in the year of the book's publication; most of the narrators during the nineties and before the book was published were passed away.  It is a bitter and sad perception that confirms the importance of "time" and the need for agility and timely action to carry out oral history projects.

The content of the narrations of the first part illustrated the situation of unarmed and defenseless people in Lahijan city who were attacked and bombed by Red Army bombers in the early days of the military aggression of the northern neighbor and in the days when the central government of Iran insisted on leaving any military conflict. Accurate memoirs with the details of most narrators make this section attractive to those interested in history and culture and art. One of the narrators of this section, named Edison Malek Shah Nazarian, who was from an Armenian living in Lahijan and was 9 years old on the day of the incident, narrated as follows: "I was at home on Friday morning when I heard the sound of a plane flying in the sky and curiously climbed to the roof to watch the planes. I saw from the side of Rasht Street towards the green mountain of Lahijan Square, and saw that two multi-engine planes with several passengers were approaching. The altitude of the plane was so low that it was possible to see the pilot with his equipment without the naked eye. They were double-engine planes heading for the pool, and on the way back I saw a small object fall to the ground. In the blink of an eye, a rustling sound echoed, and the next moment it turned black everywhere. At that moment, the people nearby started rushing from the main square of the city and it became crowded around the main square in the shortest time. Some ran to the market. The large windows of Farvardin Pharmacy, which was near our house, broke completely. The sound of breaking pharmacy windows was so loud that it attracts everyone... Among those injured in that moment was Alizadeh Rastan's son, who was holding his stomach in front of the current location of Farrokhzad Pharmacy, in front of Isa Bakhsh's shop, next to a dead-end alley. When I looked closely, I saw that his intestines were removed and he did not endure and died. From the top of the house, I saw that the arm bone of a people, named Ali Darabi, was removed out of were running screamingly. The whiteness of his bones could be easily seen. Moments later, I saw a bicycle with a half-dead man and perhaps a dead man on it, and they were taking him from our alley to the cemetery of Agha Seyyed Mohammad Yemeni"(p. 113)

In the second part, entitled attachments, we come across interesting marginal information about the historical event of the bombing of a defenseless city. the interesting and historical topics of this section include Introducing the martyrs and wounded of the bombing, the statement of the people of Lahijan to thank the medical staff and the Lahijan Health Department addressed to the Minister of Health after the bombing on 29th of August 1941, the announcement of Soviet forces to the people of Iran, and the report of the Rasht governor to the Interior Ministry.  

Historical documents presented in the attachment section, like the narrators in the memoirs section, have good and significant sociological and anthropological values that are very useful and effective in re-reading and recognizing a war event imposed on the unarmed people of a city. For example, the efforts of the residents, the injured in the bombing incident to appreciate and thank the head of the city health and medical services to rescue and recover the victims of the bombing, and the organization of martyrdom with signatures and fingerprints is remarkable.

In the third part of the book "Black Friday of Lahijan" are presented with the titles includes Documents and Pictures, Photos of the Bombing Martyrs, Witnesses and Narrators of the Book and Administrative Officials of Lahijan in 1320

Lahijan Black Friday is the first independent study of the events of September 1941 focusing on the geography and specific cities of the occupied areas of Iran in that year, which uses the style and method of oral history and interview method well to analyze a field event.

Mr. Ali Amiri, a young and unassuming researcher of this work, has managed to compile a valuable book of oral memoirs of Lahijan’s people for twelve years and during the days of occupation in the Second World War, far from the noise and with great patience.

The book "Black Friday of Lahijan" by the Office of Culture and Resistance Studies of Guilan Art Centers and published by Nekoafarin Publications 1400 in April in 1000 copies and with a price of 500,000 Rials has been provided to those interested in the oral history of Iran.


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