Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  "Armenia's Services in the War"  
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Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems

 Examining a chapter from:






(Avetoon Pesak Hacobian), 1918.




I HAVE spoken earlier in these pages of the services of the Armenians to the Allied cause in the war. What are these services?

The Armenian name has been so long and so often associated with massacre that it has given rise to the general but utterly unfounded belief by those who have not gone deeper into the matter, that Armenians are devoid of physical courage and allow themselves to be butchered like sheep.[14] Where this belief is not based upon ignorance of the facts and circumstances, it is, I am bound to say, a particularly dastardly piece of calumny upon a people who have groaned for centuries under a brutal tyrant's heel, with an indomitable spirit that has ever been and is even to-day the Turk's despair. The struggle that has gone on for five or six centuries between Armenian and Turk symbolizes, perhaps better than any event in history, the invincibility of the spirit of Christianity and liberty and the ideal of nationality against overwhelming odds of ruthless tyranny, the savagery of the Dark Ages and the unscrupulous and mendacious exploitation of religious passion. That struggle has been as unequal as can well be imagined, but we have not permitted the forces of darkness to triumph over the spirit of Light and Liberty, though the price paid has come very near that of our annihilation. Nevertheless, we have been able, in this worldwide struggle, not dissimilar to our own long struggle in the moral issues involved, to render services to the cause of the Allies, which is the cause of Right and Justice, and therefore our cause also, quite out of proportion, in their effect, to our numbers as a race or our contribution of fighting men as compared with the vast armies engaged, although that contribution has been by no means negligible.

On the eve of Turkey's entry into the war the Young Turks employed every conceivable means — persuasion, cajolery, intimidation, the promise of a large autonomous Armenia, etc.— to induce the Armenian party leaders to prevail upon the Russian Armenians to join themselves in a mass rally to the Turkish flag against Russia. They sent a number of emissaries to Russian Armenia with the same object. The Turk must have a peculiar understanding of human nature, and not much sense of humour, to have the naiveté to make such overtures to Armenians after having persecuted and harried and massacred them for centuries. All the Armenian leaders promised was a correct attitude as Ottoman subjects. They would do neither more nor less than what they were bound to do by the laws of the country. They could not interfere with the freedom of action of their compatriots in the Caucasus who owed allegiance to Russia. They kept their promise scrupulously in the first months of the war. Armenian conscripts went to the dépôts without enthusiasm. How could it be otherwise? What claim had the Turks upon the sympathy and support of their Armenian subjects? Is sympathy won by tyranny, or loyalty bred by massacre? They (the Armenians) were placed in a most difficult position. They were naturally reluctant to fight against the Russians, and the position was aggravated by the fact that the Russian Caucasian army was largely composed of Russian Armenians. But in spite of these sentimental difficulties, mobilization was completed without any serious trouble.

Soon, however, Armenians began to desert in large numbers; the Young Turks had joined the war against their wish and advice; they had not their heart in the business, and, last, but not least, they were harried, ill-treated and insulted by their Turkish officers and comrades at every turn: there were exceptions, of course, but that was the position generally in the closing months of 1914. Let me add that there were large numbers of Turkish deserters also, and that the Armenian leaders did all they could to send the deserters of their own nationality back to the ranks, doing so forcibly in some cases. Then came the defeat of the Turks at Sarikamysh and the ejection of Djevdet Bey and his force from Azerbaijan. On his return to Van, Djevdet Bey told his friends: "It is the Armenians much more than the Russians who are fighting us."


 The massacres and deportations began soon after the collapse of the Turkish invasion of the Caucasus and Northern Persia, and it is only after it was seen clearly that the Turks were determined to deport or destroy them all that the Armenians in many places took up arms in self-defence. There was no armed resistance before that, and the Turkish and German allegations of an Armenian revolt are a barefaced invention to justify a crime, a tithe of which not one but a hundred revolts cannot justify or palliate. This is proved beyond all question by Mr. Toynbee's concise and illuminating historical summary at the end of the Blue-book on the Treatment of Armenians by the Turks during the war. There was no revolt. But when the Armenians were driven to self-defence under the menace of extermination, they fought with what arms they could scrape together, with the courage of desperation. In Shahin-Karahissar they held out for three months and were only reduced by artillery brought from Erzeroum. In Van and Jebel-Mousa they defended themselves against heavy odds until relieved by the Russians and the Armenian volunteers in the first case, and rescued by French and British cruisers in the second. The Turkish force sent against the insurgents of Jebel-Mousa was detached from the army intended for the attack on the Suez Canal.

Of course ill-armed, poorly equipped bands without artillery, wanting in almost all necessaries of modern warfare, brave as they may be, cannot possibly maintain a prolonged resistance against superior forces of regulars well supplied with artillery, machine-guns and all that is needed in war. Nevertheless, some of these bands seem to have succeeded in holding out for many months, and it is believed in the Caucasus that there are groups of armed Armenians still holding out in some parts of the higher mountains behind the Turkish lines. [15] It will be remembered that some weeks ago — I do not recall the date — a Constantinople telegram reprinted in The Times from German papers stated that there were 30,000 armed Armenian rebels in the vilayet of Sivas. This is an obvious exaggeration, and it may simply mean that a considerable number of Armenians were still defending themselves against the menace of massacre. When the Russian army entered Trebizond a band of some 400 armed Armenians came down from the mountains and surrendered themselves to the Russians. Quite recently a band of seventy men cut through the Turkish lines and gained the Russian lines in the neighbourhood of Erzinjian.

The Turks have repeatedly declared that the "Armenian revolt" threatened to place their army between two fires. The particle of truth that there is in this assertion is, as may be judged by the facts so far known as cited above, that the Armenian resistance to massacre and deportation proved to be more serious than they had anticipated, and that they had to detach large numbers of troops and in some cases artillery and machine-guns to keep these "rebels" in check. It is consequently undeniable that Armenian armed resistance to deportation and massacre has been a considerable hindrance to the full development of Turkish military power during the war and has, in that way, been of material, though, indirect assistance to the Allied forces operating against the Turks. To this may be added the demoralizing effect that the deplorable state of affairs created by the Turks in their dominions must have exercised on the morale of their people.

Such in general outline have been the services, of the Turkish Armenians to the Allied cause. It is not my purpose here to endeavour to appraise the possibly ill-concealed, but not by any means ostentatious or provocative, sympathy of the Armenians for the Allies, upon the sinister designs of the Young Turks. I will content myself with the description of a significant cartoon that appeared early in the war in the Turkish comic paper Karagöz in Constantinople. The cartoon depicted two Turks discussing the war. "Where do you get your war news from?" asked Turk number one. "I do not need war news," replied Turk number two; "I can follow the course of the war by the expression on the faces of the Armenians I meet. When they are happy I know the Allies are winning, when depressed I know the Germans have had a victory."

The following extract from a dead Turkish officer's notebook, reproduced in the Russkaia Viedomosti (No. 205), throws some light on the Turkish estimate of the value of Armenian support in the war. "If our Armenians had been with us," wrote this Turkish officer, "we would have defeated the Russians long ago."[16]

If the young Armenian males of the "zone of desertion" had served in the Army, they would have provided more than 50,000 troops. If they had served, there might never have been a Sarikamis defeat.

The Armenians from Hopa to Erzurum to Hinis to Van were not the only Armenians who did not serve. The 10s of thousands of Armenians of Sivas who formed chette bands did not serve. The rebels in Zeytun and elsewhere in Cilicia did not serve. The Armenians who fled to the Greek islands or to Egypt or Cyprus did not serve. More precisely, many of these Armenian young men did serve, but they served in the armies of the Ottomans' enemies. They did not protect their homeland, they attacked it.

Justin McCarthy, March 24, 2005, in a speech before the Turkish Grand National Assembly.

 The services of the Russian Armenians to the Allied cause, but principally, of course to the Russian cause during the war, have been of a more direct and positive character and of far-reaching importance. They may be divided into two distinct parts, namely, military and political; and in order the better to explain the full meaning of the Armenian "strong support of the Russian cause" (in the words of The Times) , I will deal with each of the two parts separately.

The Armenian population of Russian Armenia and the Caucasus numbers, roughly, 1,750,000 souls, and there are probably another 100,000 to 200,000 Armenians scattered over the other parts of the empire. They are liable to military service as Russian subjects, and it is estimated that they have given to the Russian army some 160,000 men. Apart from this not negligible number of men called to the colours in the ordinary course of mobilization, the Armenians, as a result of an understanding with the authorities, organized and equipped at their own expense a separate auxiliary volunteer force under tried and experienced guerilla leaders, such as Andranik, Kéri and others, to co-operate with the Caucasian army. This force contained a number of Turkish Armenians, mostly refugees from previous massacres. Some twenty thousand men responded to the call for volunteers, though I believe not more than about ten thousand could be armed and sent to the front. The greatest enthusiasm prevailed. Armenian students at the Universities of Moscow and Petrograd and educational institutions in the Caucasus vied with each other in their eagerness to take part in the fight for the liberation of their kinsmen from bondage. Several young lady students offered to enlist, but I believe all but two or three were dissuaded from taking part in actual fighting. Boys of fourteen and fifteen years ran away from home and tramped long distances to join the volunteer battalions. It is recorded that an Armenian widow at Kars, on hearing that her only son had been killed in battle, exclaimed, "Curse me that I did not give birth to ten more sons to fight and die for the freedom of our country."

The volunteer force was not large, but it was a mobile force well adapted to the semi-guerilla kind of warfare carried on in Armenia, and the men knew the country. They seem to have done good work as scouts in particular, though they took part in many severe engagements and were mentioned once or twice in Russian communiqués as "our Armenian detachments." Generous appreciation of the services and gallantry of the volunteers as well as of Armenians in the army has been expressed by Russian military commanders, the Press, and public men. High military honours were conferred upon the volunteer leaders, and His Imperial Majesty the Czar honoured the Armenian nation by his visit to the Armenian Cathedral in Tiflis, demonstrating his satisfaction with the part played by Armenians in the war.[17]

There are, of course, many Armenian high officers in the Russian Army, including several generals, but so far they have not had the opportunity of producing in this war outstanding military leaders of the calibre of Loris Melikoff and Terkhougasoff. General Samsonoff, "the Russian Kitchener," was killed early in the war in East Prussia in his gallant and successful attempt to relieve the pressure on Paris.


 The political effect of the strong and enthusiastic support of the Russian cause by Armenians has been to keep in check the discontented and fanatical section of the Tartars and other Moslems of the Caucasus, who would have been disposed to make common cause with the Turks whenever a favourable opportunity should present itself to do so without much risk to themselves. The Tartars and other Moslem elements of the Caucasus are as a whole genuinely loyal to Russia, but the existence of a minority who would welcome the success of the Turkish invasion cannot be denied. Some of the Ajars did, in fact, join the Turks during their invasion of Ardahan.

All things considered, therefore, those who have any knowledge of the racial and political conditions in the Caucasus will not, I think, regard it as in any sense an exaggeration to assert that the whole-hearted support of the Armenians — and I may also add, though in a lesser degree, the Georgians — has contributed very materially to the success of Russian arms in the Caucasian theatre of the war. The absence of that support, or even mere formal or lukewarm support, would not only most probably have had serious consequences for the Caucasus, it would have left the whole of Persia at the mercy of the Turks; and who can say what the consequences of such a catastrophe would have been on Arabia, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan and even the northern frontiers of India itself?

Nearly all the able-bodied Armenians in France, between 1000 and 1500 strong, joined the French Foreign Legion quite early in the war. Some Armenians came from the United States to fight for France. Only some 250 have survived, I understand, most of whom are proud possessors of the Military Cross.

Propaganda in neutral countries has played an important part during the war. The just cause of the Allies has had no stauncher supporters or better propagandists than the hundred and twenty-five thousand or more Armenians in the United States, while the Great Tragedy of Armenia has incidentally added to the armoury of the Allies a melancholy but formidable moral weapon.


 Chapter VI

14.. Pierre Loti, the well-known French writer, who was an ardent Turkophile before the war, after adding his quota to the current, and, one is constrained to say, cheap, comments on the lack of courage and numberless other failings of the Armenians, adds the following P.S. in his Turquie Agonisante (pp. 94-95) after a longer sojourn in the country and closer contact with realities. (I give the translation from the French.)

"Before concluding I desire to make honourable, sincere and spontaneous amends to the Armenians, at least as regards their attitude in the ranks of the Ottoman Army. This is certainly not due to the protestations which they have inserted in the Constantinople Press by the power of gold." [This is a curious admission by Pierre Loti; one of the stock cries of the Turkophiles is that the Turk is above "bakshish."] "No, I have many friends among Turkish officers; I have learned from them, and there can be no doubt, that my earlier information was exaggerated, and that, notwithstanding a good number of previous desertions, the Armenians placed under their orders conducted themselves with courage. Therefore, I am happy to be able to withdraw without arrière pensée what I have said on this subject, and I apologize."

Of all British games and sports Armenians in different parts of the British Empire, the Dutch Colonies and Persia have manifested a natural predilection for Rugby Football, in which physical courage comes into play more than in most other games. In recent Years the Armenian College of Calcutta won the Calcutta Schools' Cup three years in succession, which gave it the right to retain the trophy. I am glad to see in the March issue of Ararat that the Boy Scouts of the same college, under Scoutmaster Dr. G. D. Hope, have won the King's Flag, presented by His Majesty to the troop having the largest number of King's Scouts in India and Burmah.

15.. I may here point out that — though it is stated in the admirable historical summary in the Blue-book (p. 649) that "the number of those who have emerged from hiding since the Russian occupation is extraordinarily small" — this number has been growing very considerably of late, as may be seen from Mr. Backhouse's telegram to the chairman of the Armenian Refugees (Lord Mayor's) Fund, dated Tiflis, November 27, 1916, published in the newspapers.

16.. Compare an Armenian officer's evidence, Blue-book, p. 231, ". . . they laid the blame for this defeat upon the Armenians, though he could not tell why."

17.. In an article on "The Armenian Massacres" in the April Contemporary Review, Mr. Lewis Einstein, ex-member of the staff of the United States Embassy in Constantinople, says: "Talaat attributed the disasters that befell the Turks at Sarikamish, in Azerbaijan and at Van, to the Armenian volunteers."

Holdwater's Thoughts

 "The struggle that has gone on for five or six centuries between Armenian and Turk symbolizes, perhaps better than any event in history, the invincibility of the spirit of Christianity ..."

With that statement, the author was already off in la-la land. The divide between "Armenian and Turk" mainly began after the end of the 18th century, as the Ottoman Empire increasingly weakened, and Armenians sought their share of the pie. Otherwise, there was a brotherly feeling between the two peoples — remember, the Armenians were known as the "loyal nation" — and the Armenians prospered as never before in their history. What Hacopian is deceitfully going for is the age-old Christian sympathy vote (It's civilized "us" against the heathen Mongol hordes!) that Armenians then and now have taken such shameless advantage of.

His questions, "What claim had the Turks upon the sympathy and support of their Armenian subjects? Is sympathy won by tyranny, or loyalty bred by massacre?" are most hollow, especially since the Armenians were loyal enough to have earned their special moniker. They were treated worse by their Byzantine rulers, and worse even by their big brother, the Russians.

But let's concentrate on Armenian activities in the war which was, as much as Hacopian attempted to distort the picture, nothing less than betrayal.


  From the chapter We Learn...


1) All the Armenian leaders promised was a correct attitude as Ottoman subjects, Hacopian explains, in trying to justify why Turkish overtures made to ensure Armenian loyalty were insufficient. Armenian historian K. S. Papazian fills us in on the Armenians' two-fold betrayal: "In August 1914 the young Turks asked the Dashnag Convention, then in session in Erzurum, to carry out their old agreement of 1907 and start an uprising among the Armenians of the Caucasus against the Russian government. The Dashnagtzoutune refused to do this and gave assurance that in the event of war between Russia and Turkey, they would support Turkey as loyal citizens. On the other hand, they could not be held responsible for the Russian Armenians.. The fact remains, however, that the leaders of the Turkish-Armenian section of the Dashnagtzoutune did not carry out their promise of loyalty to the Turkish cause when the Turks entered the war."

2) The Young Turks had joined the war against (the Armenians') wish and advice. Number One: war was declared against the Ottoman Empire, not the other way around. Number Two: it's a peculiar condition of any government on earth not to solicit permission from their minorities, before going to war. Few wars in history have had the complete backing of the people. Unfortunately, especially when the nation's existence is threatened, when there is a war, the people have a duty to comply. Once again, Armenians expect to be a "special exception" to the rules.

3) Armenians deserted in large numbers. The author correctly states there were Turkish deserters as well, but these mainly deserted as conditions deteriorated in later times. Many of the Armenians who deserted treacherously joined the ranks of the enemy, by the close of 1914, as Hacopian specified. That's why they were disarmed and made to serve in the engineering corps (that's "labor battalions" and "pack animals," in genocide-speak.)

Hacopian tells us some were urged to return to the ranks by Armenian leaders. I wish we had more than his "word," although it's possible such took place at times. Not all Armenians were disloyal, and were caught between their desire for their lives to continue normally, and the demands made by their greedy and dangerous revolutionary leaders. As for the mostly truthful charge that Armenian soldiers were harried, ill-treated and insulted by their Turkish officers and comrades at every turn, what he doesn't mention is that their Turkish "comrades" were ill-treated by the officer corps no less. We've all seen war movies where higher ranked ones in charge can behave pretty insensitively, and the officers of the Turkish military were evidently no exception. As for ill treatment by comrades, the Armenians could not have been treated worse (at least "in the closing months of 1914") than blacks in WWII's American Army, who were so looked down upon, they were segregated. That did not give permission for black American soldiers to desert to the Nazi side.

Here's a soldier who was harried, ill-treated, and insulted at every turn!


Jerry Lewis: Army Sad Sack 

Why, it's Jerry Lewis, in "AT WAR WITH THE ARMY." Click on Jerry's picture to hear what he had to say, while playing a WWII soldier in the U.S. Army... getting picked on by his officers and comrades at every turn.

While this is a movie, make no mistake: being "At War with the Army" is the lot of every poor grunt trapped in any nation's military machine, especially in "olden" days. It's a peculiarly Armenian trait to claim because misery is encountered, the reason must have to do with being Armenian! This must go with Prime Minister Hovhannes Katchaznouni's analysis of the Armenian character... Armenians can't accept responsibility. If something goes wrong, it has got to be the other guy's fault.

Military Treatment Preferred by Armenians?

At Arabkir they were hospitably housed by an Armenian silk merchant, who had a Russian servant, made prisoner during the Crimean War. His conversation in his native language with Captain Burnaby showed pretty plainly why he had not returned to the ranks of the Russians. "I was beaten all day and night. My Colonel kicked me. We were all beaten then." When Captain Burnaby pointed out to him that, perhaps, if the Russians conquered the country he might be hanged, he declared he would sooner suffer that fate than go back. Turkey was much better than Russia, which was "a dreadful country for the poor." "I hope my brothers will not come here. Allah has given our father, the Czar, much land; why does he want more?"

"On Horseback through Asia Minor," Captain Fred Burnaby, 1877

4) Djevdet Bey told his friends: "It is the Armenians much more than the Russians who are fighting us." That's important; remember, Armenian propaganda tells us that villain of villains, Cevdet Bey, the governor of Van who loved to hammer horseshoes upon Armenian feet, set about to massacre the poor innocent Armenians. And the Van Armenians fought back only as "self defense," a myth Hacopian is only too happy to perpetuate.

5) Arnold Toynbee's "Treatment of Armenians" Blue Book work proves there was no revolt. Ri-i-ghhtt. And the Armenians were far from "ill-armed," having stockpiled sophisticated weaponry throughout the empire, including, at times, artillery. It's particularly amusing for the author to have written, "The massacres and deportations began soon after the collapse of the Turkish invasion of the Caucasus." In other words, the Turkish Army disintegrated in the east, the Russians were crashing through the gates, and it was this particularly dangerous time that the Turks chose to go on a resource-depleting "genocide" course. It was only at that point the Armenians decided to "defend" themselves because, as Hacopian shamefully continues, "There was no armed resistance before that."

6) A Constantinople telegram... stated that there were 30,000 armed Armenian rebels in the vilayet of Sivas. This is an obvious exaggeration. Is it? Since the report came from Armenian prisoners (they broke the figure down to 15,000 joining the Russians, and 15,000 staying to fight from behind the lines) maybe Hacopian suffered here with a "Freudian slip" that Armenians are known to exaggerate. Since the Armenian population in Sivas was nearly 200,000 before the war, these numbers are very believable.

7) ...The Armenian resistance to massacre and deportation proved to be more serious than (the Turks) had anticipated, and... they had to detach large numbers of troops... to keep these "rebels" in check. Naturally, Hacopian got the order "mixed up" in his duties as an Armenian propagandist. Attacks from Ottoman-Armenian "rebels" came first, as soon as war broke out, resulting in the relocation decision of May, 1915. The rebellion was no laughing matter; as military history Ed Erickson remarked, "It is beyond question that the actuality of the Armenian revolts in the key cities astride the major eastern roads and railroads posed a significant military problem in the real sense. In point of fact, there were heavily armed and organized bands of Armenians operating in concert with their Russian allies." Furthermore, attacks from Armenian rebels upon the poorly guarded convoys did not take place, a curious factor if Armenians thought their women and children were marked for murder.

8) On the Turkish estimate of the value of Armenian support in the war. "If our Armenians had been with us," wrote this Turkish officer, "we would have defeated the Russians long ago." I don't know if Armenian support would have made the difference against the powerful Russians, but this statement is certainly revealing about the cost of Armenian treachery.

9) (Armenians) have given to the Russian army some 160,000 men. This estimate deviates from Boghos Nubar's 150,000, and Nubar's figure of 50,000 also contrasts with Hacopian's downplayed 20,000 volunteers (containing "a number of Turkish Armenians, mostly refugees from previous massacres"; hoo-boy! Actually, a New York Times article revealed only 75,000 of the Armenians in the Russian Army were "Russian Armenians," the rest mostly coming from the Ottoman Empire. Ones arriving from other lands such as France and America were primarily "Turkish Armenians," as the Times article referred to them, not that long ago.)

Hacopian's claim that there were nearly 2 million Armenians in Russia is highly exaggerated. 1.1 million, according to encyclopedias of the period, is closer to the mark.

10) Several young lady students offered to enlist... Boys of fourteen and fifteen years ran away from home and tramped long distances to join the volunteer battalions. Especially Ottoman-Armenians. Yes, many young Armenians by this time were whipped to a fever pitch by Dashnaks and others, cultivating this intense hatred against the Turks. The 17-year-old Ottoman-Armenian Dashnak, Soghoman Tehlirian, along with his brother, were among those who joined the Russians at the end of 1914; here are a few other "famous" examples.

11) "Curse me that I did not give birth to ten more sons to fight and die for the freedom of our country."As a point of interest, another Armenian historian, Vazkene Aykouni, also related the story about the Armenian widow in Kars, but she was quoted differently, as she "struck" her aged womb: "May it be cursed for being no longer capable of bearing children for our glorious army!"

12) The just cause of the Allies has had no stauncher supporters or better propagandists than the hundred and twenty-five thousand or more Armenians in the United States. Truer words have rarely been spoken! And even Hacopian may not have been able to imagine how effectively those Armenian-Americans, now numbering around a million, have continued in their role as "better propagandists," well into the 21st century.

13) The volunteer force was not large, but it was a mobile force well adapted to the semi-guerilla kind of warfare carried on in Armenia, and the men knew the country. By "Armenia," the author is talking about the eastern region of the Ottoman Empire, since the Republic of Armenia was established after the writing of this book. As gently as he is treading, the Armenian author is corroborating the fact that Ottoman Armenians (and they had to be Ottoman Armenians, since "the men knew the country") engaged in guerilla warfare. (Despite Hacopian's attempts at sugarcoating, there was nothing "semi" about it. And as far as his hopes in downplaying the size of the volunteer force, Prof. McCarthy reached a different conclusion:"...the main Armenian attack came from well-armed and trained rebel bands.  They may have numbered as many as 100,000 men.  In Sivas Vilâyeti alone Ottoman officials estimated 30,000 Armenian partisans.") This significant figure is not much less than the number of American soldiers who invaded and occupied Iraq.

14) Regarding the statement by Talat Pasha on the Armenian role in Sarikamish (Footnote 17), here is a bit more on the subject.






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