Armenian web sites, I've been reading how mistreated the Armenian soldiers in
the Ottoman Empire were; they add there were 100,000 such soldiers (an
invented number, says a Turkish source). As always, such writers never look at
the other side of the equation.... it's only the Armenians who are victimized.
I further examined the topic in
the Burning Tigris
page... since Peter Balakian predictably wrote, "the
Armenian men in “the army were disarmed, thrown into labor battalions and
then the army began an organized plan of massacring most of the Armenian
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1) General Discussion
Ottoman-Armenian Troops Defect to the Enemy (de Nogales)
4) Contact with
Russians (Philips Price)
5) What were some
Armenian Troops up to? (Hovannisian)
Tehlirian joins Russians (Armenian Review)
7) Of Armenan
Guerillas and Deserters ("Death and Exile")
8) Numbers of
Armenian Rebels from Ottoman Ranks
9) The Armenian
Role on Sarikamis
10) Book excerpts
11) The French Make "Pack Animals" of
their Armenian Soldiers
"According to the terms of the
Constitution of 1908, the government of Enver could indeed mobilize the Armenians as
well as the Turks in age to be in the armed forces. But an armed opposition started
immediately, notably in Zeytoun. At the oriental border, the Armenians began to
desert to pass in the Russian armies and the government of Enver, doubtful of the
loyalty of those that stayed, separated them from the fighting forces to allocate
them to battalions of engineers... In April, 1915, Lord Bryce and ’Friends of
Armenia’, in London, began to collect money to arm these deserters. One can’t
claim that the Russians remained indifferent in front of the supplement of these
volunteers. Finally, at the end of April, they seized Van... And, having massacred
the Turkish population, they delivered what remained of the city to the Russian
Clair Price, "The rebirth
of Turkey", New York, 1923
So what happened to these Armenian soldiers? There were
times their weapons were taken away when it was learned their people were stabbing the
nation in the back during the nation's darkest hour... and these soldiers were assigned to
backbreaking labor, treated as animals. So say the Armenians. Makes me wonder how the
Turkish soldiers were treated... perhaps they were given access to the pool at the Holiday
"Underfed, misused, paid
but little and that rarely, ragged and dirty, these Turkish troops were as wretched
in their liberty as we were in our captivity."
Harold Armstrong, British POW,
“Turkey in Travail,” 1925,
"Even before the war
many Turkish troops had been in the most wretched condition. In 1916 some were
fighting with ‘no overcoats and no boots’..."
Akaby Nassibian, “Britain and
the Armenian Question, 1915-1923,” 1984, p. 121
"...[E]ven the Moslems
suffered. I felt sorry for these recruits. They were such a miserable, submissive
lot, just resigned to their kismet. They never joked or laughed. Some of them were
barefooted. They lived on bean soup and brown bread, but the soup was like
dishwater, and lucky was the man who fished out a bean. They were starving."
Leon Surmelian, "I Ask You Ladies and Gentlemen," 1945, pp. 74-5.
soldier...was not protected from heat and cold, nor from sickness.”
Dr. C. D. Ussher, American ABCFM missionary and
physician in Van, whose memoirs were the basis for the film, ARARAT
"The condition of the soldiers was terrible: brave men
ragged and verminous, bullied by German officers and dying by the thousands of
Wilfred T. F. Castle, "Grand Turk," 1943?, p. 103, describing the
state of Ottoman soldiers defending the southwestern frontier in the late summer of
Two Ottoman Turkish soldiers by the airfield of the 1st Aviation company at Gallipoli. The
one at right does not even have boots. These pitiful men, far from perpetrators of
genocide, better resemble genocidal victims.
As a witness for the defense in the trial of Talat Pasha's
Armenian assassin, General Liman von Sanders asserted: "...The economic situation
was so dismal that not only many Armenians, but thousands of Turkish soldiers as well died
of the lack of food supplies, disease, and other consequences of poor organization in the
Turkish government. In my division alone, after the battle of Gallipoli, thousands
died of malnutrition."
Some Armenians claim these soldiers of Armenian origin were
massacred. Of course. The Armenians and their sympathizers would say that.
Not to say some were not massacred; Vehib Pasha, for
example, hanged a few of the criminals who killed many Armenian troops under their
command. The question is... were these Armenian troops killed as a matter of policy? For
example, hostile sources like this missionary
and U.S. Consul Leslie Davis (See "P. 181")
have reported Armenian troop movements over long distances. If the idea was to kill these
Armenian soldiers, it wouldn't make sense to transport them to and fro, all the way up
until the end of the war, if the idea was to liquidate them.
Interestingly, the officers, soldiers and their families
were exempt from the relocations. Also exempt were the ill, the blind, Catholic
and Protestant Armenians (the ones the missionaries succeeded in converting), and
"merchants," along with some "workers and masters." Telegrams examined
by Prof. Dr. Yusuf Halacoglu (in "Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement
(1915)," TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001) also request the ill, the blind, the
disabled and the old to be settled in the city centers. As this information comes from a Turkish source, can it be trusted? Well, somebody had to go through
the telegrams and interpret them... the professor cites the source for each of these (2.
Coding Office, no 54-A/271; no 54-A / 272 [July 22nd 1331/ August 4th 1915] and 3. Coding
Office, no 56/27; no 67/186), so he could be called on his research; it's doubtful he
would be misrepresenting the facts. Whether the instructions were always faithfully
carried out was another thing... but these telegrams certainly reveal what lay at the
heart of the Ottoman officials. And it sure doesn't sound like genocide.
"...[T]he Armenian troops under
Emperor Romanus IV had deserted the field of battle."
Ataov, from a paper examining What Happened to the Ottoman Armenians.
How loyal were the Armenian troops to their own country?
Commandant M. Larcher, in his 1926 book ("La Guerre Turque dans la Guerre Mondiale")
wrote, "the loyalty of the Armenians recruited in the Turkish troops seemed
Rafael de Nogales, in his 1926 book ("Four Years Beneath the Crescent")
wrote that Garo Pasdermadjian, the Armenian deputy in the Ottoman parliament, "passed
over with almost all the Armenian troops and officers of the Third Army to the
Russians...burning hamlets and mercilessly putting to the knife all of the peaceful
Musulman villagers that fell into their hands."
"The altogether unjustifiable desertion of the Armenian troops, united to the
outrages they committed outwards, on their return,...did not fail to alarm the Turks and
rouse their fear lest the rest of the Armenian population in the frontier provinces of Van
and Erzurum revolt likewise, and attack them with the sword. This indeed is precisely what
happened." (See below.)
"The army consisted of Turkish subjects of all nationalities, being drafted just as
ours are drafted. At the front the Armenians used blank cartridges and deserted in
droves," wrote Arthur Tremaine
Chester, in his The New York Times Current History article (Feb.1923), "Angora and the Turks."
"Armenian conscripts deserted the Ottoman Army with their weapons
and gears to join the advancing Russian troops in Eastern borders of the Empire. This, as
verified from both the Russian and the Armenian sources, is about 30,000 troops. Russians
acknowledged the great service of these troops and their Armenian commanders in making
occupation of the Eastern provinces much easier," wrote Dr. Tunch M. Kuzay, in a
January 31, 2000 letter to the editor of The London Daily Telegraph
(Armenians) divided on internal questions came to an agreement to facilitate the
advance of the Russian armies: they used to hamper the retreat of the Turkish
troops, to stop supply convoys, to form franc-tireurs bands. There were desertions
en masse in the eastern provinces, the Armenians formed thus several battalions
supervised by Russian officers. Local revolts took place here and there; the leaders
showed the example ; two Armenian representatives of the Turkish Chamber ran away to
Russia. This created a whole lot of hatred literature: ’let the Turkish mothers
lament... Let us try to make the Turk suffer some bitterness ...’ Armenian fault
does not make any doubt."
Philippe de Zara, "Mustafa Kemal, the dictator", Paris, 1936, pages
According to Prof. Yusuf Halacoglu
("Facts Relating to the
Armenian Displacement ," TTK Publication, Ankara, 2001), Fifty thousand (50,000) Armenian soldiers serving in
the Ottoman Army joined the Russian forces; the letter of an Armenian called Murad
Muradyan provides evidence. Thousands of others might have even traveled to America to be
trained in the U.S. Army. Probably the immigration gates to America were thrown wide open
to help the fellow Christians who seemed to be so persecuted. A tradesman in the United
States sent a letter to the Chieftain of Security on January 19, 1915 and stated that
thousands of Armenians migrated to the U.S.A., facing hunger and hardships.
"Djano Tutundjian, volunteers
(from the USA)
in the Caucasus," read this caption from an
Armenian web site; look, he's in the woods!
What about this connection with Armenians from America? In a
December 15, 1915 story from The New York Times, penned by
Gregory Mason (entitled, " The Black
Company"): "By the 15th of last October 26,000 Turkish Armenians had taken
the field against their ancient overloads, and 15,000 more were drilling at Tiflis, these
groups being entirely distinct from the 75,000 Russian Armenians that had already been
welded into the Czar's army. Fully 2,800 of these Turkish Armenians had been contributed
by the Armenian colony in the United States. At the time this article goes to press
it is safe to state all of the above figures with a twenty-five per cent increase."
("The Armenian colony"... that's how Richard Hovannisian
referred to Armenian-Americans in his The Republic of Armenia. Really, Do Greeks and Armenians
Make True Americans?)
That would have made 3,550 Turkish Armenians from
America... if the author estimated a 25% increase in only two months, you can bet that
3,550 figure grew even larger in the months ahead. But where did all of these
Armenian-Turks come from?
The Canadian records show that 1,244 Armenians
had come from Turkey between 1912 and 1914 (Imre Ferenczi, International Migration,
Vol. 1, New York, 1929, p. 891).
In the same period, 34,136 Armenians emigrated to the United States, all of them
from Turkey (Robert Mirak, Armenian Emigration to the U.S. to 1915).
From Kamuran Gurun
Say, that's an awful lot of
Armenians who emigrated before the big, bad "genocide" year, wasn't it?
After 1914, you can bet the 34,000 number swelled up to a much higher figure, what
with America's Near East Relief taking care of their beloved Armenians. And this
doesn't take into account the Armenians who left for other countries, around this
period, all from the Ottoman Empire. Maybe... maybe the remaining Armenians within
the Ottoman Empire after the "Genocide" reached its lower figure, not
because the Armenians were "exterminated," but... but... because they left
sources for the numbers of Armenians
Don't forget, Armenians themselves claim a million
Armenians survived the "genocide." So if we have a pre-war Armenian
population in the Ottoman Empire of 1.0 to 1.5 million (all based on neutral
sources; see the census page), with an
average median figure of 1.3 million (which just happens to be the number from the
Ottoman census), figure the difference of Armenian dead. (1.3 million minus 1
million survivors.) HOWEVER, WHAT ABOUT ALL THE ARMENIANS WHO EMIGRATED BEFORE 1915?
The above figures for Canada and the United States are from up until 1914; by 1915,
the combined total of over 35,000 no doubt increased... now add to that the number
of Armenians who emigrated to France and to other countries. Before the
"genocide" began, would it be reasonable to assume at least 100,000
Armenians had slipped away? Then the calculation to figure the number of dead
Armenians becomes 1.2 million minus the 1 million survivors.
|Ottoman-Armenian Troops Defect to the Enemy
After hostilities had actually
commenced, the Deputy to the Assembly for Erzurum, Garo Pasdermichan, passed over with
almost all the Armenian troops and officers of the Third Army to the Russians; to
return with them soon after, burning hamlets and mercilessly putting to the knife all
of the peaceful Mussulman villagers that fell into their hands. These bloody excesses
had as their necessary corollary the immediate disarmament by the Ottoman authorities
of the gendarmes and other Armenian soldiers who still remained in the army (probably
because they had been unable to escape) and the utilization of their labour in the
construction of highways and in carrying provisions back and forth across the
mountains. The altogether unjustifiable desertion of the Armenian troops, united to
the outrages they committed afterwards, on their return, in the sectors of BashKaleh,
Serail, and Bayacet, did not fail to alarm the Turks and rouse their fear lest the
rest of the Armenian population in the frontier provinces of Van and Erzurum revolt
likewise, and attack them with the sword. This indeed is precisely what happened a few
weeks after my coming, when the Armenians of the vilayet of Van rose en masse against
our expeditionary army in Persia; thus giving rise to bloody and terrible occurrences
which, under the circumstances, might have been foreseen.
Rafael de Nogales, Venezuelan adventurer, on Armenian atrocities victimizing
the Turks of Erzerum, "Four Years Beneath the Crescent" (translated from
Spanish by Muna Lee from the original Spanish version: "Quatro Anos Bajo La Media
Luna"), Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, London, 1926, page 45
Holdwater: Armenians like to charge the
Ottoman-Armenian troops were used as "pack animals" by the brutal,
discriminating Turks, simply because they were poor, defenseless Armenians. As the author
above gives us a good idea as to the true picture of the reasons behind these events,
let's bear in mind his book is anti-Turkish enough to be offered for sale on Armenian web
Henry Wood, the correspondent of the United
Press Agency (U.S.A.) reported that the Armenians not only were in open revolt but
were actually in possession of Van and several other important towns. He relates that
in Zeitun when the Turkish authorities tried to enlist the young Armenians for
military service, the soldiers were attacked and three hundred killed.
C.F. Dixon-Johnson, British
author of the 1916 book, "The
"When war broke out
the Armenians of these regions [the Eastern provinces] made secret contact with the
Russian authorities in the Caucasus, and an underground network was created which
enabled recruits to be gotten from these Turkish provinces for the Russian Army.”
Philips Price, A History of Turkey, 1956, p. 91
Armenians (and "Armenians" in non-Armenian clothing... like this one and these three) like to claim
Armenians were innocent, and/or it wasn't the Ottoman Armenians fighting against the
Turks, but the Russian Armenians.
No doubt Armenians from Russia
were part of the Russian Army. (And who were these Russian-Armenians, anyway? Where
did they come from, originally? A strong clue is provided by the following figure: the number of Armenians who emigrated during the
First World War from Turkey to Russia was between 400,000 and 420,000. Before
that, there weren't many Armenians in Russia before the conquest of the Erivan
province in 1828, from Iran. Russia made sure to populate these areas with
Armenians, feeling they would be more reliable than Armenians, and the bulk came
from the Ottoman Empire.)
However, the extent of Armenian
treachery was such that not only did Armenian irregulars (converted civilians) and
Armenian troops (who deserted the Ottoman Army) hit the Turks from the back and
sides, while the Turks were paralyzed at the front desperately facing the
Russians... but regular Ottoman Armenian civilians actually joined the Russian Army.
Therefore, who is to say how many of the Armenians in the Russian Army were from
were some of these Armenian troops up to?
"Having agreed to the proposal of Vorontsov (to create volunteer
corps) the National Bureau selected a special committee to supervise the operations of the
volunteer corps. Functioning from Tiflis, Alexandropol, and Erivan, the committee began
its activities by assigning enlistees to the four authorized units, all of which were
immediately filled to capacity... The first group over 1,000 men, was led by Andranik, an
experienced revolutionary who had participated in the Balkan wars as commander of an
Armenian contingent in the Bulgarian army. Andranik's unit joined the Russian forces in
North Persia, while the other three advanced toward the Turkish border. Dro, assisted by
the former Ottoman parliament member Armen Garo, directed the second group, which, moving
over Igdir in the Erivan province, poised for an offensive in Van. The third and fourth
units, commanded by Hamazaps and Keri, took advance positions along the western border of
the Kars oblast, from Sarikamish to Olti." (p. 39)
"What the National Bureau did not know was that representatives
of the Romanov sovereign were earnestly negotiating the partition of Turkey with the other
members of the Entent. Moreover, Russian designs to annex the eastern vilayets included no
provisions for Armenian autonomy." (p. 57)
Richard Hovannisian, Armenia on the Road to Independence,
claim that the Armenian troops and/or volunteers under Russian command did not originate
from the Ottoman Empire. Let's take a look at who was in this force led by Andranik, that
Hovannisian reported above. (From The Armenian Review, Nov. 1960, p. 40+:)
"When the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation uttered the call to self-defense and formed the immortal Volunteer Regiment...
He reported for duty... the young volunteer was scarcely seventeen years old. But the
lad's spirit would not be dismayed, so he was recruited, and in deference to his age, as a
medical aide. No sooner had his regiment reached the front, then he maneuvered his way
into the infantry under the command of General Antranig. And to his surprise here
he discovered . . . his brother Missak, who had also answered the call to battle.
He acquitted himself with valor through the battles of Diliman, Sorp, and Grkoud. Wifh the
victorious Regiment, he entered the immortal Armenian city of Van, and then went on
to Bitlis and Moush. He participated in all the campaigns under Antranig's command until
the Russian defection from the war."
Assassin and Ottoman
traitor, Soghoman Tehlirian.
The Ottoman-Armenian in question? None other
than Soghoman Tehlirian, the Dashnak murderer who
assassinated Talat Pasha, and also assassinated the Armenian who helped compile the list
of the ringleaders arrested on April 24. His murders were many, if he served under Antranik, who was notorious for
putting defenseless villagers under the sword.
From the same article, Tehlirian meets a
Hunchak woman in 1919, and she asks whether he knew of a "Levon Madatian, formerly
of Istanbul, who had also served in the Russian campaign in the Armenian Volunteer
So just from this article (other excerpts), we have learned there
were three Ottoman-Armenians who betrayed their country and actively fought on the side of
the enemy. You can bet they formed the tippiest tip of the iceberg. Since Tehlirian was
reported to have "entered the city of Van," he committed his betrayal before
April of 1915.
As far as the A.R.F.'s "call to
self-defense" that "formed the immortal Volunteer Regiment," you can read
several such proclamations on the Quotes page,
such as the following:
"The entire Armenian Nation will join
forces — moral and material, and waving the sword of Revolution, will enter this World
conflict ... as comrades in arms of the Triple Entente, and particularly Russia. They will
cooperate with the Allies, making full use of all political and revolutionary means for
the final victory of Armenia, Cilicia, Caucasus, Azerbayjan. ... [H]eroes who will
sacrifice their lives for the great cause of Armenia.... Armenians proud to shed their
blood for the cause of Armenia...."
Does that sound like self-defense? We
know it cannot be, since this particular call to arms appeared in November of 1914... when
war was just declared upon the ailing Ottoman nation, and the relocations were the
farthest matter on desperate Ottoman minds.
Guerillas and Deserters
Armenian guerilla units went through Armenian villages,
recruiting men and assisting or forcing (depending on which version one ascribes to)
Armenians to migrate to areas of Russian control.  The guerilla units were
joined by a great number of deserters from the Ottoman Army, who both formed
guerilla/bandit gangs in Anatolia and went off to join the Russian and Armenian
forces who were preparing themselves in the Caucasus.  Great internal migrations
took place; Armenians and Muslims who lived in mixed villages migrated to purely
Armenian or purely Muslim villages. Large numbers went over, respectively, to either
the Ottoman or the Russian lines.  Around 6,000 to 8,000 Armenian guerillas,
primarily from Mus[h], Van, and Bitlis, gathered in the area of Kagizman and were
organized and trained by the Russians.  Another group of approximately 6,000
Anatolian Armenians was trained and organized in Igdir and formed into guerilla
bands. The Ottoman army estimated that 30,000 armed men from Sivas Vilayeti alone
joined the Armenian forces,  probably an exaggerated number, but indicative of a
great and long-planned rebellion.
Perhaps the most famous Armenian resistance was in the
mountainous area around Musa Dagi, near Antakya, where perhaps 5,000 resisted
Ottoman troops for 53 days until they were taken aboard a French warship. 
Prof. Justin McCarthy, Death and Exile, 1995, p. 186
 Investigation Report to Acting
Supreme Command, Ottoman Army, n.d., Van, Belgeler II, no. 99.
 The position of Armenian deserters
from the Ottoman Army is difficult to evaluate. Armenian historians and others have
long held that Armenians went off to military service without demur, but were
subsequently massacred. The Ottoman evidence is considerably different. Ottoman
officials complained that Armenians were not obeying the conscription laws and that
those who were caught and forcibly brought into the army often deserted. Did they
desert because of fear of Turkish attitudes toward Armenians or because of
nationalistic impulses? Probably both. After the original Armenian deserters began
to attack Ottoman troops, the other Armenians in the military were obviously at some
peril. They were surely not trusted by government or military authorities.
The attacks of Armenian deserters on
Ottoman troops and Muslim villagers were frequently mentioned in the Ottoman
sources, e.g., Belgeler I, no. 12 and 1 and 2 of no. 103.
 Investigation Report to Acting
Supreme Command, Ottoman Army, n.d., Van, Belgeler II, no. 99.
See also H. Pasdermadjian, Histoire
de l'Arménie, 3rd edition, Paris, 1971, p. 413.
 Message of Abdurrahman, Commander
of the Reserve Cavalry Division at Karakilise, 25 October 1914. Belgeler I,
Message from Amad Border, Battalion in
Eleskirt to 9th Army Corps, 20 October 1914. Belgeler II, no. 92.
Memoranda to Supreme Command from Third
Army General Staff, copied 23 October 1914. Belgeler II, no. 93.
Investigation Report to Acting Supreme
Command, Ottoman Army, n.d., Van, Belgeler II, no. 99.
 Special Service Volunteers
Battalion Commander to Third Army Command, Sivas, n.d., Belgeler II, no. 102.
The Ottoman Governor of Sivas believed that 15,000 of these had gone over to the
Russian Army, while 15,000 were guerillas within the Ottoman East, awaiting Russian
occupation ("Coded Message Received from the Governor of Sivas, Muammer Bey,
22/23 April 1915. Belgeler II, no. 107). [As reported
in Gurun's "Armenian File": click here.]
 Commander of Fourth Army Cemal to
Acting Supreme Commander, Jerusalem, 14 September 1915. Belgeler I, no. 36.
This was the action dramatized in Franz Werfel's Forty Days of Musa Dagh.
Armenian Rebels from Ottoman Ranks
Don't forget to note some of the offerings
above, as applied to this section, such as Dr. Kuzay's estimate of
30,000 Ottoman-Armenian deserters, based on Russian and Armenian sources. If that was the
number strictly from the Ottoman Army, what of the many who had refused to answer the call
Prof. McCarthy began a nice count of Armenian troops originating from Ottoman Turkey,
fighting mainly from behind the lines as a "fifth column," and some shuffling
off to join the Russian enemy. We learned there were 6,000-8,000 heading to Kagizman, 6,000 to Igdir, and as many as 30,000 from Sivas.
Here is another summation from the professor:
Even before the first world war began, Armenian guerilla bands had begun to organize in
the Russian Empire. These included Armenians from both Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Approximately 8,000 Ottomans went to Kagizman to train and organize. 6,000 went from
Anatolia to Igdir, more to other training camps. They returned to fight the Turks and to
aid the Russian war effort. Large caches of guns, ammunition, supplies, and even uniforms
had been hidden in depots in Anatolia, ready for use. These were not small units of
guerillas. They were not a few men committing random acts of terrorism. There were indeed
innumerable such individual acts, but the main Armenian attack came from well-armed and
trained rebel bands. They may have numbered as many as 100,000 men.
This Armenian source reveals
3,000 refusing to join in Van, fear of contagious diseases being one reason.
Abbreviated internal Ottoman telegrams from The
Sept. 13, 1914, Erzurum governor: Russians
sent Aramayis to organize bands; one band went to Pasinler,
instructing villagers to rebel when the Ottomans entered the war, and to desert if they
Oct. 8, 1914, Trabzon governor: 800 Ottoman and Russian Armenians sent
to Artvin, intending to spread out to Ardanuch, increasing numbers to 7,000.
Oct. 14, 1914, Beyazit governor: On Sept. 26, 600 Armenian volunteers
went to Selmas, most Ottoman citizens from Van, Mush, Bitlis, Kars, and Gumru.
Oct. 22, 1914: 30-40 brigands present in the
village of Pertos.
Oct. 25, 1914: 800, mostly "Armenian
deserters with Ottoman citizenship, have gathered in Kaghizma." "Armenians named
Surien of Beyazit and Hachik Sirup, who have gone to Russia, have each gathered 2,000
November 2: War begins for Ottoman Empire.
Feb. 21, 1915: Bitlis governor: "Armenians have revolted in many
March 20, Van governor: "rebels number more than 2,000."
April 20, Van governor: 4,000 insurgent Armenians; request to "deport" Muslims
May 8: Van evacuation.
February 24: the Russian Ambassador in London
went to the Foreign Office and stated: "An Armenian of Zeitun has consulted Count
Vorontzov-Dachkov, the King Regent of the Caucasus, and told him that they have gathered a
force of 15,000 to attack the communication lines of the Turkish Armies, but that
they lacked guns and ammunition, and that it would be very convenient to provide them with
their needs. The French and the British might send the provisions by way of the Antakia
harbour. How would England react to this possibility?" The project was abandoned as
the British refused.
ROLE ON SARIKAMIS
The assertion that Armenian troops were
affiliated with the Russian Army during the Sarikamis incident, considered as one
of the most striking tragedies of history and brought about the death of ninety
thousand soldiers, caused a repercussion.
Ottoman soldiers of Sarikamis
Professor Nursen Mazici of Marmara
University, the guest of Sky TV’s 28 December 2004 dated program called
"The Strategy Report," made noteworthy statements on the issue and
clarified the unknown aspects of the Sarikamis tragedy.
Prof. Mazici emphasized that, aside from wrong warfare tactics, the role of
Armenian troops collaborating with the Russian armies against Turks could be
considered as the reasons for the annihilation of the ninety thousand Turkish
soldiers in one night in 1914. The Professor also determined that the Armenian
troops cut the communications of the Turkish troops with the rear-front, and the
Turkish Army Corps — deprived of its communications — could not determine its
modus operandi, since it did not apply the orders of the headquarters on time;
this was proved by the archive documents.
Nikolai Yudenich was
the Russian commander at
Sarikamis. He also took
Erzurum & Erzincan in 1916
Prof. Nursen Mazici, underlining that the
historical comments should absolutely be supported with the archives (as otherwise
these would not have any scientific value and certainty), stated that she has
studied a number of documents, primarily foreign archives, to expose the inside
story of the tragic incident in question. She highlighted that within this
context, she has reached some documents containing dramatic evidence related to
the issue in the U.S. archives. The Professor also mentioned that she would share
her evidence about the Sarikamis incident and the role of the Armenian army in the
N. Mazici who was asked about the content of the abovementioned document stated
that one of the most striking documents that she found in the USA was the
correspondences among the Armenian troops; in a telegraph sent to the headquarters
by the Armenian commanders, it was clearly quoted that "the communications of
the Turkish army with the rear-front was cut off as earlier planned, therefore it
could be possible to annihilate at least sixty thousand Turkish soldiers,"
and they were extremely happy and proud of the advantages taken by that effort.
It is stated that this new document caused a repercussion and developed a passion
among the academicians who make studies on the aforesaid issue abroad.
On the other hand, while the question of how the so-called genocide was discharged
to "Armenians who had regular armies" causes a deep contradiction within
the context of the lasting assertions, it was emphasized that the scientific
antitheses are the indications of further historical arguments on the theses which
are proposed by the fanatical Armenians and have not been confirmed yet.
This account by Deya Kent has been slightly
Armen Garo, 1919
(Garegin) Pasdermadjian also stresses the important
role of the Armenian volunteers in the Russian victory at Sarikamis. See
his Bank Ottoman, p. 21. (Bank Ottoman: Memoirs of Armen Garo,
trans. Haig. T. Partizian.)
Guenter Lewy, The Armenian Massacres
in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, 2005, p. 294, footnote 82.
BOOK EXCERPTS ON SARIKAMISH:
(Thanks to Sukru S. Aya)
On the Caucasus front, the Russians were first to attack in
November (1914), but the Ottoman army managed to stop them. A counter offensive
under the personal command of Enver Pasha started at the end of December. After a
successful start, the Ottomans were heavily defeated at Sarikamis, on the road to
Kars, in January, Only 12,000 out of 90.000 troops survived, most of the others
dying of cold and exhaustion crossing a mountain ridge in the dead of winter.
(“Turkey, A Modern History," Erik J. Zurcher, p.119)
The troops settled down to a winter which was to be hard and
bitter. Izzet’s force, at the mercy of long and badly planned lines of
communication, was deficient not merely in guns but in foodstuffs. Nor could any
army any longer subsist here on the country, for the ironical reason that in the
earlier stages of the campaign the Armenians had been massacred or deported en
masse, leaving the land a virtual desert, without peasants to grow food or
artisans to provide service. One division was reduced to a third of a ration per
man and there was almost no fodder for the draft animals. Many of the troops had
only summer uniforms, with foot rags for boots and following blizzards, whole
detachments were found in caves, dead of hunger and cold. (“Ataturk
– The Rebirth of a Nation,” Lord Kinross, 1964, p.100 NOTE: This passage has been confirmed to be referring to the
1916-1917 winter campaign, and is not about Sarikamish, as originally believed.
It's been left here to give another idea of disastrous conditions. )
When Enver’s forces moved across
the Russian-Turkish border through the Bardiz pass, Russian-Armenian volunteers
held them up at Sarikamish. This Armenian effort gave Russian military unit time
to group and defeat the Turks. After this failure, CUP became convinced that
Armenians were traitors, that not only should the police imprison and execute them
but the Army should shoot them. ("Protestant
Diplomacy and the Near
East,” Joseph Grabill, p. 59)
Excerpts informally translated from the Turkish book,“OTTOMAN HISTORY”
Volume IX, Prof.Enver Ziya Karal ISBN 975-16-0010-3:
P. 417: The attacks made by the Ottoman Army on Nov. to get the Russian
positions had failed and Hasan Izzet Pasha had to stop the fight. This failure of
the 3rd Army to destroy Russian forces caused much sorrow for Enver Pasha, The CUP
Headoffice and Erzurum Branch, Van Erzurum governors and also the Special
Organization were sorry and grieved to Enver.
P. 418: Sections of Iran Forces and Special Organization were to provoke
Turks and local population and hit the Russian Forces from behind. These
principles were discussed by Enver Pasha with his German aides and the following
decision was reached: The moves to be made are not impossible, but they are
dangerous. All responsibility, should be left on the Turkish Headquarters and
particularly on Enver Pasha.
P. 419: This demand of Hafiz Hakki Pasha, who had not been even in command
of a Division, now to command an Army-Corps and the chance of his success of this
plan which was Enver’s thinking, could tarnish his reputation ! It may be
because of this reason that Enver with his German aide Gen. Bonzard, took off from
Istanbul on Dec.8th on battleship “Yavuz” and landed in Trabzon on Dec.8th,
thereafter continuing to Erzurum and arriving at Army headquarters at Koprukoy on
Dec. 13th. After meetings with 3rd Army Commander Hasan Izzet Pasha, he arrived at
an agreement on the attacks. He returned to Erzurum on Dec, 17th.
P. 420: Hasan Izzet Pasha resigned on Dec. 18th, saying: “I cannot see
myself strong and confident enough to execute these movements”. A day later (on
Dec. 19th) Enver Pasha undertook the command of the 3rd Army. The backbone of the
Ottoman forces was the 3rd Army, which consisted of three corps and had a fighting
manpower of around 90.000.
P. 421: The majority of the soldiers had no training or fighting experience
to execute such a large war planning. It was not sufficiently equipped in clothing
or feeding. Logistical and health services were left at God’s mercy. There was
practically no road network, but one in the battle zones. All roads were snow
covered. At some places the snow thickness was about 5 ft (1.5 meters). The
temperature varied between -20 to -25*C. And finally to all these the wholesaler
attitude of Enver as Deputy Army Commander, was to be added. The Pasha was brave,
patriotic and clever. But he lacked the experience to command large battles. He
had no pity for his commanders or soldiers. He was a victim of his belief that
harsh and endless discipline would resolve everything. On Dec. 22nd, the
encircling attack started as planned. IX.th army corps moved toward Bardiz, X.th
corps into Oltu directions. Owing to weak Russian resistance, some victories were
won. A Russian attack was defeated and the Ottoman armies finally entered Bardiz
and Oltu. On the other side they moved towards Ardahan and Kars. However, shortly
thereafter these successes were overshadowed. The movement of forces by Enver 15
km eastwards, entailed lack of normal communication between Divisions and Corps;
the fact that the exhausted soldiers were not permitted to rest even one day,
weakened the thrust force.
P.422: During this period. Russians were considering an evacuation of
Sarikamish and the retreat of forces. The Allahuekber Plateau was 25 km long and
the snow was deeper than 1 meter. Soldiers could only walk 1 km an hour. After
marching day and night and death of 10.000 soldiers because of hunger and cold,
only 3.000 entered Sarikamish on Dec. 27th. On Jan. 4th the Russians counter
attacked with a force of 30.000 against 7.000 soldiers holding the mountain ridges
some 20 km long. Enver Pasha’s problem now was to be able to pull back the
remains of the 3rd Army. He left the command of Sarikamish forces to Hafiz Hakki
Pasha, whom he promoted to 4-star general rank.. The same day, IX and X corps were
ordered to pull back. This order was given too late. Gen. Bronzard was wounded in
his arm. Ali Ihsan Pasha and IX Corps fell prisoner. Hafiz Hakki Pasha barely
escaped by the gallop of his horse. On Jan. 8th, Enver left the command to Hafiz
Hakki Pasha and took off for Istanbul via Erzurum. The Ottoman forces after
suffering great losses retreated to their previous positions at Sarikamish on Jan.
P.423: The braveries of the 3rd Army was much more than the Russians’,
but they lost more than half of its force (70-80.000) also weapons and vehicles.
Commanding headquarters of the IX Division fell prisoner. Army commander Hafiz
Hakki Pasha became ill with typhus and died later. As regards Enver Pasha, he had
a great depression during the retreat; he wrote his testament apologizing to the
Turkish nation and decided to commit suicide. He was persuaded by Talat Pasha with
great difficulty to to quit this decision. One should add to the physical and
moral losses of the Army, the loss of the Turkish and Moslem population of the war
zone. Several villages were destroyed and burned because of war rules. Local
people started to immigrate in the direction of Erzurum, leaving all their
belongings, frightened of Russian and mainly Armenian cruelties.
|The French Make "Pack Animals" of their Armenian Soldiers
...[A]cts of outrage by individual [Armenian] legionnaires, or by groups of them,
soon became... commonplace throughout Cilicia... For the French in Cilicia, the first
item of business in restoring order lay in bringing the Armenian Legion to heel...
French officers moved promptly to drum all habitual miscreants out of their service.
They completely disbanded the particularly unruly fourth battalion... four hundred
legionnaires of doubtful reputation at Iskenderun were formed into
an unarmed labor company and packed off to Port Said under close guard by
Algerian colonial infantry.
Dr. Robert Zeidner, The Tricolor over the Taurus: The French in Cilicia and vicinity,
1918-1923, The University of Utah, 1991, p. 155, 159. When
Armenians in the Ottoman army proved unreliable, they were disarmed and placed into the
engineering corps. The French followed suit with some of the unreliable Armenians in
their army. Only when the French did it, no one accused them of committing a
Fighting on the Side of the Allies