"Although most Armenians
maintained a correct attitude vis-à-vis the Ottoman government, it can
be asserted with some substantiation that the
manifestations of loyalty were insincere, for the sympathy of
most Armenians throughout the world was with the Entente, not with the
Central Powers. By autumn 1914, several prominent Ottoman Armenians,
including a former member of parliament, had slipped away to the
Caucasus to collaborate with Russian military officials."
Richard Hovannisian, "Armenia on the
Road to Independence," 1967, p. 42
So why did Ottoman-Armenians stop become
disloyal, after being known for centuries as the "Loyal Millet,"
or Faithful Nation?
Deceptive Armenian propaganda would have us believe that Turks and other
Muslims suddenly decided to start killing Armenians for sport in the late
1890s, and has concocted baseless theories for the 1915 period, such as
"pan-Turanism" or "Muslims hate Christians" (without fully
explaining why these reasons were absent in centuries past... and also without
explaining why other minorities escaped the Armenians' fate of
"deportation," the propagandists' synonym for "genocide").
Events do not suddenly exist, without reason, as though history takes place in
a vacuum. In order to understand why something happened, it is necessary to
delve into the sequence of events that transpired in the past.
Prof. Justin McCarthy, in his extremely scholarly book "Death and
Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922," instructs
us on the genuine, historical backdrop... without bias, which is what makes
him such a historian par excellence. (This book is a must-have
for any truthful party interested in the "genocide" matter.)
The professor basically ties in the reason, also by examining the period that
transpired before the "seventy years," with exactly what Jemal Pasha
had written in his memoirs :
"As to the
occurrences which took place during the deportations these must be ascribed to
seventy years of accumulated hatred between Turks, Kurds, and Armenians. The
responsibility must lie with Muscovite policy which made mortal enemies of
three nations who for centuries had lived together in peace."
(Perhaps why at least one Armenian scholar
from Armenia, Rafael Hambartsumian,
gave Russia "equal genocidal guilt." It's the rare Armenian who goes
even beyond, acknowledging that "The real enemy of the Armenians were the
Russians, not the Turks"... as William Saroyan wrote, in "Antranik
In studying the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia, one becomes aware that they can and should
be treated as one region, despite political boundaries. Throughout the 100-year period of
this study, the histories and the peoples of the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia cannot be
understood separately. Economically, socially, linguisti- cally, and religiously the
connections among the peoples of the region remained strong well into the 1920s, perhaps
To understand the closeness of the histories of the peoples of the "Russian
South" and "Ottoman East" one has only to consider them by religious
groups, rather than by political borders. It is impossible to consider the Anatolian
Armenians as if they were not intimately connected to the Armenians of Erivan. Too many
migrants crossed from the Ottoman Empire to Russia, too many bishops from the jurisdiction
of Istanbul to that of Echmiadzin and back, too many revolutionaries crossed and recrossed
the borders for the Armenians to be accurately styled as Turkish Armenians and Russian
Armenians in any but a political sense. The same was true of Muslims, especially the Turks
and Kurds of the southern Caucasus and eastern Anatolia. Although most Muslim migration
was outmigration from the southern Caucasus to eastern Anatolia, there was considerable
ongoing migration for purposes of trade, employment, and family. Muslim nomads crossed the
political borders freely. New infusions of forced migrants brought news of the Caucasus to
their fellow Muslims in the east.
Armenians under Russian and Ottoman rule obviously viewed each other as brothers, no
matter their citizenship. The same was true of Muslims. It is doubtful if the concept of
citizenship, as opposed to religious affiliation, had taken any great hold in either the
Caucasus or eastern Anatolia before the 1920s. In the east, a Caucasian Muslim felt closer
to an Anatolian Muslim than to a Caucasian Armenian, just as an eastern Anatolian Armenian
affiliated himself with Armenians of the Caucasus, not Anatolian Muslims. For this reason,
it is ridiculous to speak of a large group of loyal Muslim subjects of Russia in the
Caucasus or loyal Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire in eastern Anatolia. Both
regions had Muslims and Armenians who were integrated into the political system and could
be considered as loyal, even patriotic subjects. Most Armenians and Muslims, however, were
peasants or nomads who knew no real affiliation above tribe or village, except their
religious affiliation. Their primary loyalty to their own religious groups was proven
again and again in the Caucasian and eastern Anatolian wars.
In time of war, the sympathies of Armenians and Muslims emerged openly. There was no doubt
as to the loyalty of either group. Despite the fact that some Muslims fought on the side
of the Russians, particularly in the Crimean War, and many middle- class Armenians
supported the Ottoman government, both Arme- nians and Muslims in the east generally
assumed that their place was alongside their coreligionists. This was true in both the
Caucasus and eastern Anatolia. In the Caucasus, Muslims responded to Ottoman calls for
rebellion against their Russian masters in time of war and fought as guerrillas and
regular troops against their Russian masters, as stated by W. E. D. Allen:
[In World War I] In the Valleys of the Coruh and the Oltu-cay there were
very mixed elements: Christians (Armenians) predominated in the towns of Artvin, Ardanuch,
Ardahan and Oitu, while Muslims were in the majority in the countryside; these Muslims
included Groups of Georgian origin, like the Laz and Acars, Turks, remnants of the old
Tatar hordes, and Cherkesses who had settled, after 1864, on what was then the Turkish
side of the border. Irrespective of their racial origins, all the Muslims proved more or
less ready to help the Turks, particularly when they came as an invading army. Thus the
Cherkesses of Upper Sarikamis stubbornly defended their stone saklyas by the side of the
Turkish askers, and the needy inhabitants of the uplands provided scanty food to the
divisions ofHafiz Hakki during their desperate march across the Allahuekber Mountains [in
the ill-fated invasion ofthe^south- ern Caucasus].
McCarthy (from "The Armenian Revolt")
Some Armenians began to act as adjuncts of
Russian policy and the Russian army as early as the early 1700s, in the time of Peter the
Great. The dependence of Armenians on Russia and their expectations of assistance from
that quarter had begun to grow from the first incursions of the Russians into the
Caucasus. As far back as the reign of Peter the Great, when they organized a military
force to assist the Tsar's invasion of the region, Caucasian Armenians had promised
loyalty and support to the Russian tsars. During ihe 1700s and 1800s, Armenian secular and
religious officials sup- ported the Russian invasion of the Muslim khanates in the
Caucasus and the overthrow of their Muslim rulers. At the same time, Armenians first acted
as spies for the Russians against their Muslim overlords, in this case the Persian
Empire. When the city of Derbend was under siege by the Russians in 1796, its Armenian
residents sent the invaders information on the town's water supply, allowing the Russians
to defeat the Khan of Derbend. An Armenian Archbishop, Argutinskii-Dolgorukov,
proclaimed publicly (1790s) his hope and belief that the Russians "would free the
Armenians from Muslim rule." Armenian subjects of the Persian and Ottoman empires,
as well as Armenians living in the Russian Empire, fought on the side of the Russians
against Persia and the Ottoman Empire in the 1827-29 wars and the Crimean War.
For their part, Armenians in Ottoman Anatolia also first showed their loyalty to the
Russian cause by acting as spies for the Russians. Armenians from Anatolia crossed
the lines and reported on Ottoman troop movements in all the east Anatolian wars.
Anatolian Armenians assisted invading Russian armies in 1827; many thousands
followed the Russian army out of Anatolia when they left. During the Crimean War,
Armenians brought intelligence out of besieged Kars to the Russians. Armenian guides
from Ottoman Anatolia led the Russian invaders in 1877. The Armenians of the
Eleskirt Valley welcomed the invading Russian armies in 1877 and, when the Russians
retreated, left en masse with them. In the First World War, as will be seen, the
Armenians in eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus were, as a group, allied to the
In Anatolia, the reliance of Armenian revolutionaries on the Russians began to be
evident by mid-century in the revolution at Zeytun. When funds were needed to
strengthen the defenses of Zeytun against the Ottomans in 1854, while the Ottomans
fought the Russians in the Crimean War, Armenian rebels attempted to get financial
assistance from the Russians. In 1872, the Armenians of Van wrote as a
"community" to the Russian Viceroy for the Caucasus asking for assistance
against their own government. They asked to become Russian subjects and, more
concretely, began to collect arms. The connections of Ottoman Armenians with the
Russian Empire carried on in the activities of the main Armenian revolutionary
groups, especially the Dashnaks (Dashnaktsuthiun). Russian Armenia was a center for
arms collection and revolutionary organization aimed at the Ottomans. The
activities of the revolutionaries were greatly facilitated by their relationship to
the Armenian Church. As a body, the Church naturally crossed the Ottoman- Russian
border, because its two centers were in Echmiadzin, in Russian Armenia, and in
Istanbul; and clerics, bishops, and ideas freely crossed between the two
ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Using the facilities of the Church, revolutionary
clerics easily kept up communication between revolutionaries in the southern
Caucasus and Anatolia and between the Russian government and the revolutionaries.
The presence in the Armenian revolutionary movement of priests and bishops 
brought together the two foci of Armenian identity—the Church and modern
nationalism. It also gave religious blessing to secular nationalism and presented
Armenian nationalism in a religious context easily understood by eastern Anatolian
Armenian villagers. Moreover, church officials also gave practical assist- ance to
the revolution. For example, the monastery of Derik, on the Persian side of the
Ottoman-Persian border, was organized by its revolutionary abbot (Bagrat Vardapet
Tavaklian, or "Akki") into an arsenal and infiltration point for Armenian
revolutionaries acting in the Ottoman Empire.
The continuity of eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus explains much about seemingly
spontaneous violence that erupted in both regions. Traditional histories have treated each
outburst of eastern Anatolian or Caucasian intercommunal violence as an isolated in-
stance. Divorced of their historical and geographic context, the conflicts have only been
explainable as outpourings of irrational feelings. Because Armenian attacks on Muslims
have seldom been considered (only Muslim attacks on Armenians), it has been easy for
commentators to portray the Muslims as savages who occasionally felt the need to kill
Christians. In fact, Armenians attacked Muslims just as Muslims attacked Armenians,
sometimes without apparent provocation or immediate justification. At times this was an
outpouring of irrational hatred, but more usually it arose from an awareness on both sides
of their history. Because of that history and because of knowledge of events in the
Caucasus and Anatolia, Armenians and Muslims both knew that their fellows had been killing
each other in great numbers. They knew that both sides had been forced to flee from the
other or die, again in great numbers, and they knew that if intercommunal war came to
them, they would suffer the same fate as their coreligionists, unless they defeated their
enemies. This is a classic self-fulfilling prophecy—both sides killed because they knew
the other side would kill them—and makes perfect sense within this context.
In sum, to understand the history of the enmity between Armenians and Muslims, one must
view the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia as a whole, an entire region in which Armenians and
Muslims fought for supremacy for 100 years.
In many ways, the enmity between Armenians and Muslims had at its base Russian expansion
into the Caucasus.
(End of p. 29; From p. 40:)
The Russians had forcibly removed Muslim peoples in order to replace them with Christians.
This policy cannot help but have impressed itself upon Muslims who were themselves in the
path of future Russian expansion. They would soon see that the policy was ongoing. Ottoman
Christian revolutionaries would also see that the Russian policy potentially worked in
their favor. As will be seen in later chapters, this realization on the part of both
Ottoman Muslims and Ottoman Christians became an important part of the bloody history of
intercommunal warfare that was to come.
SUMMARY (p. 49)
In the nineteenth century, the equilibrium in the Caucasus and the Ottoman East was upset
by Russian invasions and the forced exile of Caucasian Muslims. By the standards of the
late twentieth century, this equilibrium was not satisfactory. Beset by external enemies
and a poor economy, the Ottoman government was not capable of properly policing its own
people. But the evil that replaced the traditional equilibrium was far worse. Whole
peoples were forced from their homes into refugee camps, where they died in great numbers,
and ultimately into regions where the inhabitants had no wish to receive them. Rather than
aiding the situation, Russian attacks on the Ottomans contributed to further deterioration
of civil order by removing the Ottoman Army, the one force that had, however deficiently,
kept the peace. Perhaps the worst effect of the Russian invasions was the creation of a
Muslim-Armenian polarity, a tradition of mutual distrust and animosity that was eventually
to doom both groups.
2. On the geography of the Caucasus and Eastern Anatolia, see: W. E. D. Allen and
Paul Muratoff, Caucasian Battlefields, Cambridge, 1953; J. C. Dewdney, Turkey:
An Introductory Geography, New York, 1971; W. B. Fisher, The Middle East,
London, 1950, 1978; John F. Baddeley, The Rugged Flanks of the Caucasus,
London, 1940; "Al-Kabk" in E.I.2, vol. IV, pp. 350-51 (D. N. MacKenzie).
3. Muslim irregular cavalry, including Kurds and mountaineers, served with the
Russians in the east in the Crimean War. See Caucasian Battlefields, pp. 60,
67, 72, and 83.
4. Caucasian Battlefields, p. 293.
5. Muriel Ann Atkin, "The Khanates of the eastern Caucasus and the Origins of
the First Russo-Iranian War," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University,
1978, p. 7.
6. Atkin, pp. 25-27. Atkin also notes (pp. 199-200) other examples of Arme- nian
clerical support for the Russsians in the early 1800s:
Armenians and Georgians, especially those who had relatives in Iran
or did business there, continued to be valuable sources of information for Russian
officials and so had an effect on Russia's political and tactical decisions. Daniel,
the Russian-backed candidate for Catholicos of the Armenian Church (after
Argutinskii-Dolgorukov's death), provided the Russians with information. [Tsar]
Alexander specifically instructed Tsitsianov to seek out Catholicos Daniel and his
followers for information and to rely on Daniel's advice. In 1808, Alexander
rewarded Daniel with the Order of St. Anne, First Class, for his services in
providing the Russians with information. Over the next few years, as Russia fought
to extend its frontier to the Kur and the Aras, Armenians continued to send Russian
officials messages encourag- ing them to conquer Muslim-ruled khanates and save the
Armenians from Muslim oppression.
The Russians may have been the only Christian power upon whom the Armenians could
depend, but Russian actions were completely self-serving and their concern for
Christianity questionable. For example, see the development of early Russian policy
and Russian conquest in the Caucasus in Atkin, particularly pp. 30 and 37.
7. Atkin, p. 139.
8. Atkin, p. 144. See also pp. 210, 219.
9. H. P. Pasdermadjian, Histoire de I'Armenie, Paris, 1971, pp. 307 and 309.
Some Armenians themselves obviously felt that their support was decisive to the
Russian conquests in the Caucasus. See G. Pasdermadjian, Why Armenia Should Be
Free, Boston, 1918, p. 16.
10. See Caucasian Battlefields, pp. 148 and 149.
Not all the Armenians who went to Russia were happy there. British Consul Taylor in
Erzurum reported that "several hundred families" of Armenians had returned
to Erzurum Vilayeti from Russia (F.O. 195-799, no. 2, Taylor to Lyons, Erzurum, 19
May 1866). This was almost surely an exaggeration of the numbers of migrants. See
also F.O. 195-1237, no. 2, Everett to Trotter, Erzerum, 4 November 1879 on later
For an interesting story on Armenian villagers' attachment to Russia, see SS no. 54.
Bilal N. Simsir, British Documents on Ottoman Armenians, Ankara, 1983, Volume
I ( -1880).
11. Louise Nalbandian, The Armenian Revolutionary Movement: The Development
a/Armenian Political Parties through the Nineteenth Century, Berkeley and Los
Angeles, 1963, p. 68.
12. Nalbandian, pp. 81-82.
13. Nalbandian, pp. 173-76.
14. For example, Nalbandian interviewed one revolutionary bishop "the late
Mushegh Seropian, former Armenian Archbishop of Cilicia, and one of the first
members of the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party," Nalbandian, p. 208. See also Documents
sur les Atrocites Armeno-Russes, pp. 22-24.
The significant place of American Protestant missionaries in the development of
Armenian nationalism and Armenian expectations cannot be considered here, but those
interested should consult Joseph L. Grabill, Protestant Diplomacy and the Near
East, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1971, especially pp. 46-53.
15. Nalbandian, p. 174.