The Great Azerbaijani Land Grab


The map that was stolen and later recovered

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
FRANKFURT, OCTOBER 19, 2017— Friday, October 13, started out as a normal day at the Armenia stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair, with little indication of trouble. The books had been carefully arranged on the shelves, the banner was hanging in full view, and two young women were on hand to present new books to visitors and answer whatever questions they might have about the country and its literature. Then, suddenly without forewarning, out of nowhere appeared two young men who leapt onto the platform and headed straight to a map that was hanging on the wall. Without further introductions or explanations, the duo grabbed the map off the wall and disappeared into the crowds. Gone! Just as swiftly, an Armenian man from the stand made off in the same direction, racing through the throngs of visitors, and reached the stand of Azerbaijan just in time to apprehend the would-be robbers, whisk the map from their hands and return to the stand. The police were duly informed of the attempted land grab.

The map was a page out of a geography book. As the title indicated, it represented the “Republic of Armenia and Republic of Mountainous Karabagh.” When the assailants had ripped it off the wall, they had been overheard saying, “This is not Armenia, this is Azerbaijan!”

A couple of American visitors passing by, apprised of the curious theft, mused, reminiscing of times gone by. “Now, wasn’t that Woodie Guthrie’s song?” asked the man, “that went – ‘This land is your land, this land is my land….’?” “Yes, of course,” said his wife, chuckling in reverie, “Woodie Guthrie, yes, yes, of course, a wonderful song” and taking her husband’s arm affectionately in hers, walked on.