Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Armenian troops in the Ottoman Army  
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Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems

 In 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 (troops).”


1) General Discussion

2) American Numbers

3) Ottoman-Armenian Troops Defect to the Enemy (de Nogales)

4) Contact with Russians (Philips Price)

5) What were some Armenian Troops up to? (Hovannisian)

6) Soghoman 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 on Sarikamish

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 army..."

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 Inn.

"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, p. 23

"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.

“The Turkish 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 dysentery..."

Wilfred T. F. Castle, "Grand Turk," 1943?, p. 103, describing the state of Ottoman soldiers defending the southwestern frontier in the late summer of 1918.

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."

Professor Turkkaya 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 doubtful."

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

"Committees (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 159-160


According to Prof. Yusuf Halacoglu ("Facts Relating to the Armenian Displacement [1915]," 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)

"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 the country?

Non-Armenian sources for the numbers of Armenians

Non-Armenian 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 sites.

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 Armenians."



"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

Holdwater: Some 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 Russia?


What 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, (California 1967)


The Armenians 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.

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 Regiment?"

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.

Of Armenian 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. [26] 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. [27] 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. [28] 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. [29] 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, [30] 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. [31]


Prof. Justin McCarthy, Death and Exile, 1995, p. 186


[26] Investigation Report to Acting Supreme Command, Ottoman Army, n.d., Van, Belgeler II, no. 99.

[27] 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.

[28] 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.

[29] Message of Abdurrahman, Commander of the Reserve Cavalry Division at Karakilise, 25 October 1914. Belgeler I, no. 8.

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.

[30] 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.]

[31] 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.



Numbers of 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 for conscription?

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 Armenian File:

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 were enlisted.

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 people."

November 2: War begins for Ottoman Empire.

Feb. 21, 1915: Bitlis governor: "Armenians have revolted in many villages."

March 20, Van governor: "rebels number more than 2,000."

April 20, Van governor: 4,000 insurgent Armenians; request to "deport" Muslims westward.

May 8: Van evacuation.

In addition:

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.





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.

Ill-fated Ottoman soldiers of Sarikamis

Ill-fated 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

Gen. 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 near future.

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 K
ent has been slightly modified


Armen Garo

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.


(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. 18th.

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 "genocide."

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Armenians Fighting on the Side of the Allies

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Geno. Scholars


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