[CAUCASUS THEATER / RUSSIA / THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE] Early six important photographs taken on the Caucasus Front of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 showing the mass executions

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MICHAEL VOGEL, ZEMEN, (Lager in Militärausrüstungen Fotografische Artikel und Apparate [i.e. Stores in military equipment photographic articles and apparatus]), [ca. 1877].

Original six albumen print photographs. Each 12x9 cm. Fine photographs in their original feuille in very good condition.

Very early, unique, and historically significant six albumen prints, showing the mass executions of Turkish soldiers by the Russian army on the Caucasus Front (probably in the Bayazid region) during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, in its original feuille of Gewaert - "Blaustern" Papier (L. Gewaert & Cie.) in Berlin and Vienna, with the seal of photographer "Michael Vogel; Zemen" on verso.

All photos focus on the executions on death rows taken from different angles. In the Turkish village where the events took place, military barracks, mosques in the background, and snowy ground in winter, Russian soldiers and captive Turkish soldiers are clearly visible.

'War of ’93', named for the year 1293 in the Islamic calendar; (Russko-Turetskaya Voyna, or "Russian-Turkish War) was a conflict between the Ottoman Empire and a coalition led by the Russian Empire, including Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro. Fought in the Balkans and in the Caucasus, it originated in emerging 19th-century Balkan nationalism. Additional factors included the Russian goals of recovering territorial losses endured during the Crimean War of 1853-56, re-establishing itself in the Black Sea, and supporting the political movement attempting to free Balkan nations from the Ottoman Empire. The Russian-led coalition won the war, pushing the Ottomans back all the way to the gates of Constantinople, leading to the intervention of the western European great powers. As a result, Russia succeeded in claiming provinces in the Caucasus, namely Kars and Batumi, and also annexed the Budjak region. The principalities of Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro, each of which had had de facto sovereignty for some years, formally proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire. After almost five centuries of Ottoman domination (1396-1878), an autonomous Bulgarian state emerged with the help and military intervention of Russia: the Principality of Bulgaria, covering the land between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains (except Northern Dobruja which was given to Romania), as well as the region of Sofia, which became the new state's capital. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 also allowed Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina and Great Britain to take over Cyprus. The initial Treaty of San Stefano, signed on 3 March 1878, is today celebrated on Liberation Day in Bulgaria, although the occasion somewhat fell out of favor during the years of Communist rule.

The Russian Caucasus Corps was stationed in Georgia and Armenia, composed of approximately 50,000 men and 202 guns under the overall command of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich, Governor General of the Caucasus. The Russian force stood opposed by an Ottoman Army of 100,000 men led by General Ahmed Muhtar Pasha. While the Russian army was better prepared for the fighting in the region, it lagged behind technologically in certain areas such as heavy artillery, and was outgunned, for example, by the superior long-range Krupp artillery that Germany had supplied to the Ottomans. The Caucasus Corps was led by a quartet of Armenian commanders: Generals Mikhail Loris-Melikov, Arshak Ter-Gukasov (Ter-Ghukasov/Ter-Ghukasyan), Ivan Lazarev, and Beybut Shelkovnikov. Forces under Lieutenant-General Ter-Gukasov, stationed near Yerevan, commenced the first assault into Ottoman territory by capturing the town of Bayazid on 27 April 1877. Capitalizing on Ter-Gukasov's victory there, Russian forces advanced, taking the region of Ardahan on 17 May; Russian units also besieged the city of Kars in the final week of May, although Ottoman reinforcements lifted the siege and drove them back. Bolstered by reinforcements, in November 1877 General Lazarev launched a new attack on Kars, suppressing the southern forts leading to the city and capturing Kars itself on 18 November. On 19 February 1878, the strategic fortress town of Erzurum was taken by the Russians after a lengthy siege. Although they relinquished control of Erzerum to the Ottomans at the end of the war, the Russians acquired the regions of Batum, Ardahan, Kars, Olti, and Sarikamish and reconstituted them into the Kars Oblast. (Wikipedia).