The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis (1926).
During the creation of this web site, much of
the material was a rehashing of pre-existing research others had already uncovered. One in
particular appeared to be an extremely valuable source, documentation of Armenian
atrocities by an Armenian... a book that, it has been speculated, the Armenian Diaspora
has worked to eradicate from the world’s libraries; the presented evidence is far too
damaging against the “Myth of Innocence” that the Armenians had cultivated so
carefully these many years.
I was excited to have the opportunity to examine a copy of this book firsthand, and to
provide more of its revealing excerpts on the Internet... along with my impressions.
The book is 1926’s “Men Are Like That,” parts of which had already been provided on
this site’s page devoted to rare testimony by Armenians revealing their murderous ways.
Ohanus Appressian was born in the village of Khankandi, Shusa District, Azerbaijan in
1892. He was among over a thousand refugees engaged in agricultural reconstruction work in
the Caucasus during Feb. 1922-Mar. 1924. The American Leonard Ramsden Hartill employed
these workers, and Ohanus Appressian soon became indispensible. One night, Hartill and his
crew were camped in a half-ruined Tartar (the word used for the Turks of Azerbaijan)
mosque near the border of Persia and Armenia. When asked whether Appressian knew anything
of the history of the village and its destruction, the Armenian replied matter-of-factly,
"Yes, I assisted in its sack and destruction, and witnessed the slaying of those
whose bones you saw to-day scattered among its ruins. There was a Tartar of this village.
He was a man. There was no one braver than he, not even in my old Russian regiment,"
Boss-man Hartill must have been hooked, recognizing a story of
incredible human dimension. He prevailed upon Appressian to tell his story over the period
of almost a year. Sensing how unbelievable the tale must appear to Western audiences
accustomed to Armenians presented solely as victims, the author made certain to assure his
readers: "I have personally verified the complete truth of most of what is set
down in the following pages."
The world owes a debt of gratitude to Mr. Hartill for documenting
this rare “slip-up” among the Armenian faithful to state matters as they really
What I did was not only select the passages that are damaging to the Armenians, but also
the ones damning the Turks. I want the reader of this page to understand that Mr.
Appressian was no traitor to his cause. Quite the contrary, he possessed a conscience, and
must have been haunted by the mindless slaughters he continually witnessed, committed by
his kind against the innocent. It must have been a relief for him to get this heavy load
off his chest, with a powerful American guiding him along the way. (One reason that makes
me wonder why there was no Turkish counterpart equally wishing to unload his guilt,
documenting his criminal experiences in print, if the Turks committed such wide-scale
systematic destruction against the Armenians.) Yet, Appressian makes sure to spout the
typical Armenian propaganda, making sure to tell the world what primitive beasts these
Turks were... reinforcing what the Western world had already heard countless times during
the war years, and earlier.
This is an important point to
consider, as we can accept the tales he tells that he was directly involved in as
the truth, for the most part. (Interestingly, he does not dwell on the part he
played during the many slaughters he was involved in, contrary to the admission he
made to his boss in the book’s introduction. He prefers to show himself as
performing humanitarian deeds which, to his credit, I believe he did.) However, when
he gives his opinion about historical matters that he heard secondhand... we can
understand he has come to believe the Armenians’ own propaganda at best, or serves
to deceive, at worst. Appressian is a proud Armenian patriot. While he acknowledges
the Dashnaks as fanatics and does not hero-worship them, we can see how the
terrorist organization has played an important part in his development. Dashnaks
went in and out of his father’s home, for example (“Armenian secret
society whose purpose was to secure the independence of Armenia. Members called
Dashnacks....I was aware that strange men came to my father's house from far places
and that these men were Dashnacks... To me, a boy of 13 years, the name Dashnack
became one of glorious though sinister intelligence”), and
even his wife’s father was the Dashnak leader and head of government at
Alexandropol. Appressian had a duty to maintain the party line.
Therefore when he tells us the Ottoman Turks were “sunk in
barbarism,” that they “oppressed and restricted in every way” the Armenians,
and that “Turkish Armenians could not rise above the level of their masters,”
none of that makes sense in a nation where Armenians were allowed to rise to the
highest ranks of society and government, and where Armenians were generally members
of the wealthy upper class (as examined on this page). As a Russian Armenian, either
he heard the horror stories and believed in them, or felt it was his obligation to
“embellish” the truth.
For example, when he relates the tale that two-thirds of the 3,000 Turkish P.O.W.’s
under Armenian care were cruelly put to death, we can believe him; he saw the events
with his own eyes. (And probably participated in the murders, although he says he
wished he could have lodged a protest.) But when he says the Turks got their revenge
by, for one thing, cramming a church with Armenian peasants, and then setting it on
fire... that is a story he only heard about. (Not to say it couldn’t have
happened; it probably did. But once again, the Turk-damning testimony is only based
on hearsay... as usual.)
My moment of discovery that the man was not a credible witness describing events he
was not a direct party to occurred when he stated on pg. 206 that “The Georgians invaded Armenia in an effort to seize Armenian
territory.” That is absolutely false. It was the
Armenians who attacked Georgia, forcing the leader of that country to state this
There is no question that Appressian experienced pure hell
relating anecdotes where men behaved worse than animals, as he poignantly keeps
reminding us that “Men are like that.” He gets married and has two children (one
of whom dies), and it’s heartbreaking to see the many times he had to leave his
loved ones to a questionable fate, so that he could go off and perform his slicing
and dicing, and other duties.
One tale about how a “giant” Azeri Turk faced a whole group of Armenian soldiers
(P. 200 or so) was particularly moving. Around pg. 300, we are reminded of the
despicable conditions of the countryside where famine and disease claimed untold
Armenian victims... a reminder of how many Ottoman citizens lost their lives during
the war years, where even Ambassador Morgenthau reported in his phony book that
thousands of Turks were dying daily, and where even Turkish soldiers were dying in
the thousands. This is an important point to bear in mind, because we can better
understand the bulk of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire did not die from
massacres as is usually presented, but by the same factors that claimed all Ottoman
Appressian gives us a valuable idea of
the roots of Armenian racism, so prevalent in Armenian guestbooks and forums today, where
Turks are regarded as less-than-human. On p. 15:
I can see now that we Armenians frankly despised the Tartars, and while holding a
disproportionate share of the wealth of the country, regarded and treated them as
inferiors. The fact that the Russians looked down upon all Armenians in much the same way
as Armenians regarded Tartars, far from proving a bond between ourselves and our racially
different neighbors, intensified an attitude and conduct on our part that served only to
As a boy, I was taught that the Tartars were always at fault. My reading of Russian
literature helped to confirm this teaching, for Russian writers have emphasized Tartar
ferocity. However, I always liked our Tartar servants and workmen. Many nights I have
spent guarding our sheep on some lonely mountainside with only the stars above and Tartar
shepherd boys for my companions. (p. 21)
For too many years Armenian mothers had lulled their children to sleep aith songs whose
theme was Turkish fierceness and savagery. (p. 128; we can see the proud tradition of
Armenian parents and even churches raising their innocent with hatred goes back a long
In the Armenian-Tartar War of 1905 the Armenians had much the better of the fighting. Many
of our men had served in the Russian Army, and were trained soldiers. We Armenians were
rich and possessed arms. The Tartars had never received military training. They were poor,
and possessed few arms beyond knives. (p. 23; little differently than during the outbreak
of war, where Ottoman-Armenians had advanced weaponry stored in secret caches throughout
the nation, while the Muslims -- like the ones at Van -- had to contend with old-fashioned
rifles and limited ammunition.)
But at times, as in 1905 during the Japanese-Russian War, the Cossacks would be
withdrawn,or made a tool of disorder, to send Armenians and Tartars at each other's
throats ao that neither would be able to struggle against their common Russian oppressors.
When one remembers the length of time during which we Armenians have been an oppressed
people, and knows our traditions, is it to be wondered at that we should have developed
something of a slave psychology which manifests itself in many disagreeable traits, or
that we should possess -- perhaps I should say, be possessed of -- a heritage of fear and
hate where Turks are concerned? This inheritance explains why our men, when in contact
with Turkish troops have lost heart and broken in panic, and why in moments of victory
agaisnt Turks or Kurds or Tartars, they have been remorseless in seeking vengeance. (p.
Prisoners are too great a hindrance to the free movement of guerilla bands that depend for
their safety on their ability to travel far and fast; consequently, all captives are
slaughtered. (p. 130)
(Referring to Hamidian, a soldier in his command while in
Akhalkalaki): I know that he had been a Turkish Armenian and that he served with
the British in Mesopotamia (p. 166; how revealing there were some
Ottoman-Armenians who did not strictly join on the side of the Russians; when Armenians
fault the Ottomans for subjecting more treacherous Armenians to the relocation policy than
the ones in the war zone, they’d do well to remember practically the whold country was a
war zone — and not just the eastern front.)
(Describing events in 1918): The Armenian villages we passed
on the road were deserted. The Tartar villages were in ruins. (p. 181)
(Armenia) was badly governed by the Russians. It suited the Russian policy to keep
the people in ignorance and the country backward economically and socially. The
Russians, it is true, built a railroad through the country and a number of hard
surfaced roads; but this construction was dictated by military considerations.
Russian ambition was fixed on obtaining Constantinople. Armenia was to the Russians
merely a step toward the attainment of that goal. Some of the roads built by the
Russians ran as straight as the flight of a bullet to the Turkish border, where they
stopped abruptly. Beyond their point of termination was a wilderness of desert and
mountains. Any purpose the roads could serve in the economy of the country was
merely incidental to that for which they were built, the military invasion of
I stress this point because Russians boast that they are responsible for the only
developments in modernization that are to be found in Armenia, and they instance the
military roads and the railroads as proof of the progress and benevolence of Russian
rule. I think it is important to understand that such benefits as accrued to Armenia
were incidental and not intentional. Armenia under the Czar was in fact a victim of
imperial exploitation. However, as a rule, good order was kept throughout the
country and there was security for life and property.
Turkish Armenia was far more backward than was Russian Armenia. Such education and.
culture as were possible of attainment by Armenians living under Turkish rule was
due to the generosity of America, France and Germany. These countries established
schools and colleges in the Turkish province for the benefit of Armenians.
Turkey was sunk in barbarism. Turkish Armenians could not rise above the level of
their masters. Under the government of the Turks there was no security for life or
property from one day to the next. Armenians were oppressed and restricted in every
way and often were the victims of massacres at the hands of the Turks or the allies
of the Turks, the Kurds and Tartars. For this reason there was more need for some
force to oppose the government in Turkish Armenia and more justification for extreme
measures than was the case in Russian Armenia. En consequence the Dashnack
organization developed more rapidly in the former province.
Within a few years, following the beginning of the movement, an invisible government
of Armenians by Armenians had been established in Turkish Armenia in armed
opposition to the Turkish Government. This secret government had its own courts and
laws and an army of assassins called “Mauserists” (professional killers) to
enforce its decrees.
Ramifications of the organization took root everywhere throughout Turkey and to a
lesser extent in Russian Armenia. Its strongholds were the American, German and
French schools and colleges in Turkey. In perhaps every one of these, chapters or
branches existed, usually under the guise of literary societies. It was from among
the students of the schools and from the Armenian members of the faculties that the
leaders were recruited.
The Dashnacks were in continual open rebellion against the Turkish Government. The
Turks took severe measures to stamp out this society but without achieving any great
success because they had nothing tangible against which to direct their rage. It was
as though they were battling with the air. The Russian Government joined with the
Turks in this effort, for while Russia had no love for Turkey it was not in the
Russian plan to see an independent Armenia thrown across the road to Constantinople,
to say nothing of the dislike of the Russian governing class for revolutionary
movements of all kinds.
Russian fear of revolution was even greater than Russian greed. This was shown when
for a time it became the policy of the Dashnacks to stir up trouble between Russia
and Turkey in the hope that Russia would conquer Turkish Armenia from the Turks and
unite it with Russian Armenia. The Russian Government would have nothing to do with
any movement inspired by revolutionaries, even when, as in this instance, the
intention was to give Russia a pretext for seizing additional Turkish territory.
In 1896 the Dashnacks engineered a general revolt of Armenians in Turkish Armenia
under the mistaken belief that European nations would intervene and secure
independence for Turkish Armenia. The Turks were absolutely merciless in putting
down this revolt. The massacre of one hundred thousand Armenians was but an incident
of its suppression. England intervened to the extent of extorting certain
concessions for herself from the Turks. The revolt was suppressed; nevertheless the
Dashnack party continued to exist.
The Dashnacks were fanatics and as ruthless as the Turks
were merciless. In planning the great revolt of 1896 the leaders knew full well that
they had not at their command the strength necessary to success and that the Turks
would retaliate with indiscriminate massacres of Armenians. Their one chance for
success lay in European intervention, and to secure this they counted on the
inevitable massacres that the Turks would perpetrate.
The revolution in Russia in 1905 following the Japanese-Russian War made it seem
possible for a time to secure the independence of Russian Armenia. The Dashnacks
took advantage of this situation and extended their revolutionary activities into
the Russian province. They instituted a campaign of terrorism and employed threats
and force in securing contributions to the party funds from rich Armenians. A
wealthy man would be assessed a stipulated sum. Refusal to pay brought upon him a
sentence of death.
Every member of the party was pledged to carry out orders without question. If a man
were to be assassinated, lots might be drawn to select an executioner or the job
might be assigned to one of the mauserists of the party.
The revolution in Russia was reflected also in the adoption by the Dashnack Party of
certain socialistic principles. However it retained its own national aims and
remained entirely independent of the Russian Socialistic Party. The introduction of
socialism caused a split in the ranks of the Dashnacks that has never been mended,
one branch remaining purely nationalist and the other national socialistic even to
the present day.
The Russian Government through its agents, in order to suppress the revolutionary
movement in Russian Armenia and in other provinces in 1905 when her hands were full
with revolution at home, incited a Tartar-Armenian war throughout the Caucasus, some
of the events of which I witnessed as a boy in Shusha, and which I have already
Since its conquest by the Russians, Russian Armenia has been the spearhead of the
threatened Russian advance to Constantinople. A pretext for the invasion of Turkey
by Russia was usually available in the never-ending disturbances in Turkish Armenia
that frequently reached a climax in the wholesale massacring of Armenians by the
Turks. Although these disturbances were frequently fomented by the Armenian Dashnack
Society, it must be remembered that the society had its genesis and justification in
It was not the strength of Turkey but the unwillingness of the governments of Europe
to see Russia in command of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles that held the Russians
at bay. It required only a situation in which the great European nations would be
powerless to intervene to start the Russian invasion. In anticipation of this
longed-for opportunity the Russian Government kept a large army in instant readiness
in Russian Armenia. Great army bases were built and strategic positions, chief among
which was the city of Kars, were strongly fortified.
Russian administration did nothing to develop the resources of the country either in
its people or industries, existing or potential; and the great mass of the
population lived, as it had always lived, in a condition of extreme primitiveness,
ignorance, squalor and poverty.
Ruins of the dwellings of the ancient Armenians testify that there has been no
improvement in the homes of the peasants during the past thousand years. Now, as in
the remote past, the houses are one-storied affairs with walls built of undressed
stone, and floors sunk several feet below ground level. The roof of a house is
constructed of soil and sod, supported by a few brush-covered rafters. A pit in the
center of the floor serves as a fireplace; a hole in the roof permits the smoke to
escape. Windows are nonexistent or a rare luxury.
Too often the live stock share these semisubterranean huts with the family. In the
summer when the live stock is kept in the open, conditions are bearable; in the
winter they are bad beyond description. The door is kept tightly shut. The only
ventilation is that provided by the hole in the roof intended for the escape of
smoke. In this almost air-tight chamber the family lives shut in with the cattle,
sheep, chickens and dogs. Naturally there are many diseases epidemic among the
people and the animals; measles, typhus, smallpox, malaria and tuberculosis being
very common. In whole villages there is scarcely a person not suffering from
The only fuel used, because it is the only fuel available, is dried animal manure,
and the use of this is confined almost exclusively to cooking. The body heat of the
animals occupying the huts with the people suffices for heating purposes except in
extremely cold weather when a leuzzi or toniz is used. This is a large stool covered
with a quilt or carpet. Fire of dried dung is placed in a pot and put beneath the
covered stool. The members of the family keep warm by sitting around this
contrivance, with their feet beneath the quilt.
The people live on the floor. Chairs, couches and beds are a rarity. For sleeping
purposes a mattress protected by a grass mat is spread on the dirt floor. During the
day the bedding is folded and placed in a corner. The bedding is always damp. For
this reason rheumatism is common, especially among the women, as they spend a much
greater portion of their time in the house than do the men, In their persons the
people are extremely filthy. Vermin are a commonplace.
Hard work in the open throughout the summer enables the peasant to survive. He
arises at daybreak, eats a piece of bread washed down with a glass of vodka, and
goes to his work in the fields. At about eight o’clock he eats a breakfast of
bread and water. At midday he has a lunch of bread and inatzoon or cheese. In the
evening he finishes whatever remains from lunch and then returns to his home. Just
before going to bed he dines again.
Women occupy an inferior status in the household. They take their meals with the
children apart from the men. In the home, food is served in a single clay pot from
which all help themselves with their fingers. At the end of the repast should
anything remain in the pot, it is customary to offer it to the bachelor present if
there be one. The host presents it to him with the admonition, “Clean the pot well
if you wish for a brave wife.”
A typical village in Armenia exists largely independent of the rest of the world.
Every man is his own mechanic. He builds and maintains his own house. The building
materials are wholly indigenous to the locality; and so while the houses of all
villages are alike in that they represent almost absolute minimum of shelter and
comfort necessary in a home, they differ in that the houses of one village may be
built of rough stones and those of another of sundried mud. In sections where clay
suitable for tile-making is available, the houses are usually roofed with tiles. It
is typical of the economic condition of the country that tile roofs are never seen
elsewhere than close to the claypits. Tiles are never transported to districts where
clay suitable for tile-making is not found. This is explainable in the mountainous
nature of the country, which makes transportation both slow and costly. Away from
the railroad, goods are carried on oxcarts and pack animals. As a consequence there
is comparatively little intercourse or exchange of goods between different sections
of the country. Each distinct region has therefore developed an economy sufficient
unto itself and peculiar to itself.
Each village grows sufficient bread grains for its own needs. Fat-tail sheep supply
meat, milk, cheese, wool for knitting, sheep-skins for warm overcoats, hats and
bedding. It is necessary to obtain outside the resources of the community only a few
articles and these mostly luxuries, such as tea, sugar and tobacco.
There is almost as great a diversity of climate in the small area that constitutes
Armenia as in the whole of Europe. Climatic conditions, particularly rainfall,
determine the type of agriculture, which in turn determines for the peasants, in
their primitive mode of life, the architecture of their houses, their food and
clothes and to a great extent their social customs and institutions.
Armenia is an old, old country. The origin of our people is unknown, though Armenian
mythology credits us with being direct descendants, of the voyagers in the Ark.
There is a small village at the foot of Mount Ararat which most Armenians believe to
have been built by Noah. Mythology aside, there can be no doubt of our extreme
antiquity as a people in this land of Armenia. Our occupancy through thousands of
years has left its record plainly written in the ruins that dot the country, in the
very rocks of the mountains.
The Armenian people have never known liberty, for even in the days of our
independence the country was divided among a number of petty kings continually
warring among themselves and holding the common man in serfdom; while during the
past seven hundred years, during which time so many peoples have gained freedom and
progressed far in civilization, we have been a conquered people under the galling
yoke of Arab, Persian, Mongol, Tartar, Turk or Russian.
The conquerors have left an indelible Oriental stamp upon Armenia and her people. It
is to be seen in our customs, dress and manners, our music and dances, our art and
literature. There is one fundamental difference, however, that has served to mark us
from the Oriental peoples with whom we are surrounded. I refer to the fact that we
are Christians, it is said the oldest Christian people in the world.
The Armenian people were converted to Christianity during the third century of the
Christian era. Since that remote day, wave after wave of pagan and Mohammedan
peoples has swept across the country, reduced it and imposed the rule of the
conqueror upon it; but still the country has remained Christian. By virtue of their
religion the Armenian people have remained to their non-Christian neighbors alien,
suspected, despised, hated and oppressed; and for the same reason they have retained
their identity and unity.
Such was Armenia, a country of culturally primitive people isolated among the
mountains of the Caucasus from all friends and allies, and surrounded by alien and
hostile nations and races, when Bolshevism invaded the Caucasus, and the Armenian
people, with no experience in self-government, divided among themselves into warring
factions, were thrown upon their own resources upon the breakdown of the Russian
CHAPTER VIII, THE RUSSIANS DEPART (p. 107)
NEWS of the Bolshevik revolution reached the troops of the Caucasus Army, at that time
engaged in operations against the Turks. The Bolshevik doctrine of the universal
brotherhood of man, with its corollary, immediate peace, and liberty to all to return to
their homes at once, there to share in the division of wealth that the revolution was to
secure, made an irresistible appeal to the soldiers who had struggled in a theater where
warfare was particularly arduous and cruel, When the Russians and Turks engage in war
against each other, they discard the conventions that seek to make war more humane, and
both sides revert to the practises of the days of the Mongol hordes. The responsibility
for this certainly does not adhere to the poor devils of soldiers, whether Turk or
Russian, who are the immediate instruments. Russian literature has little of good to say
for either Turk or Tartar but rather abounds in stories of Turkish and Tartar savagery and
cruelty. The Russian taught to expect nothing else from these hereditary foes, often
anticipates savagery with savagery.
(As the Armenians retreated) a blighted country in which nothing consumable remained.
Every abandoned house was destroyed, torn down to secure fuel—and there were few houses
not abandoned. The few wooden rafters that support the dirt roof of the hut of an Armenian
peasant were sufficient inducement to cause its destruction.
In every village there remained a small residue of the inhabitants, mainly old men and old
women, and children who elected to remain and trust to the mercy of the Turks. When the
Turks arrived, they would find a country almost deserted of its inhabitants and apparently
utterly without resource of wealth or even of food; but in every village, there would, in
fact, be buried stores of grain and treasure. In secret caves and in secluded mountain
valleys cattle and sheep would be held in concealment against the day when the invader
would retire. There is an art in survival, an art that Armenians have mastered through
bitter experience. It constitutes the Armenians’ defense against invasions and conquests
and attempts at their extermination. It consists, mainly, in clinging until death to the
pitifully little of worldly wealth needed as a nucleus for a new start, a few sheep or
cattle, a few poods of grain to be used as seed.
The main body of our troops in Northern Armenia was stationed at Karaklis, a town situated
on the railroad about sixty versts from Alexandropol. It is the third largest town in
Russian Armenia. On the approach of the Turks toward Alexandropol we fell back to
Karaklis, there joining with our main force.
In this movement we took with us three thousand Turkish soldiers who had been captured by
the Russians and left on our hands when the Russians abandoned the struggle. During our
retreat to Karaklis two thousand of these poor devils were cruelly put to death. I was
sickened by the brutality displayed, but could not make any effective protest. Some,
mercifully, were shot. Many of them were burned to death. The method employed was to put a
quantity of straw into a hut, and then after crowding the hut with Turks, set fire to the
straw. One thousand of these prisoners were spared because it was known in Europe that we
had inherited a large number of them from the Russians, and that no doubt an accounting
would have to be made for them some day. The thousand who were spared were later
liberated, as we had no means of caring for prisoners. No doubt they again took up arms
against us; so in a way the killing of the two thousand was justifiable.
As was bound to be the case, the Turks soon took full measure of vengeance for this
atrocity. Every verst of the road from Alexandropol to Karaklis became witness to
reprisals. In one village a church was crammed with Armenian peasants, and then set on
fire. All perished.
Our army took positions in the mountains near to Karaklis and awaited the coming of the
The English were in possession of the town. The English soldiers were black men from
India, though their officers were white. They were fine troops and splendidly
equipped. They had everything in abundance, including artillery, machine-guns and
tanks, doctors to care for the sick and wounded, medical supplies, blankets,
everything in fact that we Armenians had so badly needed.
In the advance on the Kars the English troops went ahead. The Armenian forces
followed them. The Turks did not fight, but merely retreated before us. In this way
we entered the, ancient fortified city that had once been the capital of an Armenian
kingdom, that had been the scene of innumerable battles and sieges, and that still
was the keystone in the defenses of the country.
Great swarms of peasants who had come out of their hiding-places on the retreat of
the Turks followed our army as it advanced. They were gruesome creatures that had
been men, women and children—now only the semblance of such—starved and in rags,
their emaciated bodies covered with festering sores. They dogged the footsteps of
the army, scavenging and thieving. They entered into the city with the army and
immediately began plundering the stores that had been left by the Turks. The attempt
on the part of the English commander to prevent this resulted in mêlées in which
several English soldiers were injured. The looters were emboldened by the fact that
the soldiers were under orders not to shoot or use their bayonets upon the refugees.
Finally, two soldiers were killed. This so enraged the English commander that he
gave orders that all robbers be shot on sight. A number of peasants were killed on
the day this order was given, but following that there was no further trouble.
Everywhere the Turks retreated without fighting before the advance of the English,
until the former had abandoned all of their conquests and Armenia was free of
hostile invaders. The English were just in their treatment of all people. They
protected Moslems equally with Christians. They even put Turks and Tartars in
positions of authority in districts where Moslems predominated. This policy was
greatly resented by the Armenians.
As long as the English remained in the country they were the real government and
authority. The government formed by the Dashnack Party was a government in name
only. The English did not remain for long, however, and when they left, the
Dashnacks again had full control.
There was a recurrence of jealousy, hate and dissension. Many men were murdered by
their political foes. No one of importance was free from espionage, or knew but that
at any moment he might be executed by some mauserist with a mandate from a secret
tribunal. Terrible vengeance was taken upon Tartars, Kurds and Turks. Their villages
were destroyed and they themselves were slain or driven out of the country.
Russian troops did terrible things in the Turkish villages. The world knows the fate
of the Armenians in Turkey. We Armenians did not spare the Tartars. It is all a
circle of hatred and revenge, an endless chain plunging ever farther into the depths
and bringing forth the worst there is in human nature. If persisted in, the
slaughtering of prisoners, the looting, and the rape and massacre of the helpless
become commonplace actions expected and accepted as a matter of course. Men are like
that. We Armenians, brutalized by the horrors we had endured and inflicted during
our war with the Turks, were to be no more merciful toward one another in the civil
war that was soon to come.
We live in a universe beyond the understanding. The serenity of God troubles the
spirit of the thoughtful. I have been on the scenes of massacres where the dead lay
on the ground, in numbers, like the fallen leaves in a forest. They had been as
helpless and as defenseless as sheep. They had not died as soldiers die in the heat
of battle, fired with ardor and courage, with weapons in their hands, and exchanging
blow for blow. They had died as the helpless must, with their hearts and brains
bursting with horror worse than death itself. The earth in such a spot should rot,
and the air above it be black forever; but always the sun shines as warmly there,
and over it the canopy of the blue sky spreads itself as protectingly as elsewhere.
Birds sing as sweetly there, and flowers bloom with as much beauty.
I had been at my post in Kagisman only a weeks when I received instructions to secure the
submission of a Tartar village that was situated out of my district. My orders informed me
that the Tartars were a menace to a neighboring Armenian village. When an Armenian and a
Tartar village are adjacent to each other, you have a situation that gives rise to much
trouble in times when the country is disturbed. The stronger takes advantage of the
opportunity to oppress the weaker. The weak retaliate or are said to have done so, and are
massacred. A job of cold-blooded butchery requires some justification, however slight;
although it is remarkable how easily and quickly the necessary hate, envy and resolution
can be engendered. Since I did not apprehend any difficulty from the Tartars, who,
considering the location of their village, were probably in greater need of my protection
than were their Armenian neighbors, I took with me but eight men. I established myself in
an Armenian village that was barely four versts from the Tartar village. I sent two of my
soldiers to summon to me for a conference the head men of the Tartars. My men did not
return. I waited until the following day, and then, taking the rest of my men with me and
bearing a white flag as evidence of our peaceful intentions, I started for the village
where presumably my men were being detained.
As we approached the village we were fired upon. I had not sufficient force to make an
attack and so retired. I dispatched a messenger to Kars to communicate the details of the
situation to headquarters. It seems that, on receipt of my message at headquarters, the
Turkish consul at Kars was informed of the trouble, for a few days later he arrived on the
scene. He went to the Tartar village, and on his return reported to me that my men were
safe, but were being held as hostages. He said that the Tartars wished to leave the
country and go to Turkey and that, if permitted to do so unmolested, they would not harm
my envoys. I had no way of stopping the Tartars if they undertook to leave and no
authority to give them permission to go to Turkey. In view of this I was compelled to send
another messenger to Kars requesting reinforcements and fuller authority.
The following morning I learned that the Tartars had abandoned their village during the
night. I immediately rode over to the village and entered it. I found my men dead. What
tortures they had endured may be left to the imagination. I found them with the skin
removed from their bodies. They had been flayed alive. Some Tartar chief would have a
highly valued pair of saddle blankets.
Incidents such as the above furnished the Dashnack Government with the needed excuse for
undertaking a war of reprisal against the Tartars. This war quickly developed into one of
extermination. Horrible things happened, things that words can neither describe nor make
you understand. The memory of scenes I witnessed and of incidents in which I participated
still makes me feel sick. But war is always horrible, for it liberates all the fear and
hate and deviltry that are in men.
As the Turks had solved the Armenian problem in Turkey by slaying or driving the Armenians
out of the country, so we now proceeded to solve the Tartar problem in Armenia. We closed
the roads and mountain passes that might serve as ways of escape for the Tartars, and then
proceeded in the work of extermination. Our troops surrounded village after village.
Little resistance was offered. Our artillery knocked the huts into heaps of stones and
dust, and when the villages became untenable and the inhabitants fled from them into the
fields, bullets and bayonets completed the work. Some of the Tartars escaped, of course.
They found refuge in the mountains, or succeeded in crossing the border into Turkey. The
rest were killed. And so it is that the whole length of the border-land of Russian Armenia
from Nakhitchevan to Akhalkalaki, from the hot plains of Ararat to the cold mountain
plateaus of the north, is dotted with the mute mournful ruins of Tartar villages. They are
quiet now, those villages, except for the howling of wolves and jackals that visit them to
paw over the scattered bones of the dead.
In the capture and sack of one village, there occurred an incident illustrating the hate
which made unavoidable the massacres that were common to both sides.
There was a giant Tartar who fought well. I saw him spring from behind a hut into the
midst of a group of Armenian soldiers and with a clubbed rifle brain men, left and right.
Shots were fired at him, but he continued to swing his rifle and shout, “Allah, Allah,“
the while he battled. A soldier succeeded in driving his bayonet through the Tartar. I saw
the point of the weapon emerge through his back. The Tartar grabbed the muzzle of the
rifle to which the bayonet was attached. The Armenian tried in vain to
wrest it from him. In the struggle the Armenian inadvertently stepped in close to the
Tartar, who instantly let go his hold on the rifle and clutched his opponent by the
throat. By this time a circle of soldiers had formed about the combatants, urging them on
with shouts and laughter. They both fell to the ground. Another soldier seized a rock and
pounded the Tartar’s head with it. The Tartar ceased to struggle and lay still. The
Armenian who had bayoneted him sprang to his feet, wrested the weapon from the Tartar’s
body, and, raising it to his lips, licked it clean of blood, exclaiming in Russian, “Slodkeyl
One evening I passed through what had been a Tartar village. Among the ruins a fire was
burning. I went to the fire and saw seated about it a group of soldiers. Among them were
two Tartar girls, mere children. The girls were crouched on the ground, crying softly with
suppressed sobs. Lying scattered over the ground were broken household utensils and other
furnishings of Tartar peasant homes. There were also bodies of the dead.
I was late in the matter of the girls, but I did what I could for them. I spoke to them in
their own tongue and assured them that they had nothing more to fear. When they understood
that I intended them no harm and sought only to help them, they gave way to their grief
and wailed piteously. They were in terror of the soldiers and would not be comforted as
long they were near. I took the girls along with me, leaving the soldiers in an ugly mood;
for they considered that I was depriving them of what had become a recognized prerequisite
of victory. A verst or two further on I came to another village that had met with the same
fate as the first. As it was now dark, I decided to spend the night there. I shared the
food that I had with the two girls, found them a shelter and another for myself. I was
soon asleep. In the night I was awakened by the persistent crying of a child. I arose and
went to investigate. A full moon enabled me to make my way about and revealed to me all
the wreck and litter of the tragedy that had been enacted. Guided by the child’s crying,
I entered the yard of a house, which I judged from its appearance must have been the home
of a Turkish family. There in a corner of the yard I found a woman dead. Her throat had
been cut. Lying on her breast was a small child, a girl about a year old. I soaked some
bread in water that I warmed for the purpose and fed the child until she would eat no
more. I placed her for the night in the care of the two Tartar girls. The next day I had
an opportunity, of which I availed myself, to send all three unfortunates to Kars, with
instructions that they be placed in the American orphanage there.
Shortly after the cleaning up of the Tartar villages I returned with my regiment to Kars,
where for a short time I enjoyed a period of comfort and peace in the companionship of my
wife and son. The little fellow was developing rapidly and was for me a never-failing
source of joy. I felt that the hopes and plans ambitions I had held for myself had been
irretrievably destroyed; but now as I held my son in my arms, his little fingers tugging
at my mustache, my heart was sweetened with dreams for him. I would realize
through him the things that I had yearned for and struggled to attain.
It was during this interlude between wars that the Armenian Government received from the
English a great shipment of cannon, rifles, ammunition, food, blankets and much besides,
so that we were then able to expand and better equip our forces. Following this event I
was assigned to patrol duty along a section of the Turkish Armenian border. This proved to
be monotonous, lonely, uneventful work. The Turks were quiet and appeared to be thoroughly
At this time, on the face of things, Armenia would have been judged to be in a favorable
position. True it was, the country had been ravaged from end to end and the people
impoverished to a point where they had nothing more to lose. Famine and pestilence took
daily toll, lengthening the long roll of those who had died. The old who had endured
beyond their strength and the young who had no strength with which to endure were dying
like flies at the coming of frost. But in spite of all calamities Armenia was again free
and at peace. A great territory more than sufficient for our needs, was ours. We possessed
friends among the powerful nations of the world who were pledged to protect and assist us.
Our ancient enemies, the Turks, were badly beaten. It was understood that their country
was to be dismembered, forever removing the ancient menace to us. Russia, who, under the
guise of protecting us from the Turks, had swallowed a large part of our country and
incorporated it into her imperial system, was prostrate under the Bolshevists and
The fair promise of those days was never realized. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia engaged
in a three-sided quarrel. The Georgians invaded Armenia in an effort to seize Armenian
territory. Our men fought like heroes. They defeated the Georgians in every battle, drove
them out of Armenia and half across Georgia, and would have captured Tiflis had not the
English intervened to prevent this.
The Armenians in Baku, supported by the English, seized that great oil city and massacred
twenty-five thousand of the Tartar population. The Armenians paid dearly for this when, a
short time later, the Turks captured the city and massacred an equal or greater number of
The incapacity of the government established by the Dashnack Party, combined with the
pitiable condition of the people and the long years of war that our soldiers had endured,
made of Armenia a fruitful field for Bolshevist propaganda. The communists seized their
opportunities and were successful in undermining the morale of the army. Intrigue and
dissensions among the great powers who were our allies left us without the support we
needed and had counted on. Turkey saw its chance and again sent an army into our country.
(Armenia) has been occupied by a great Russian Army located in many huge military posts
thickly scattered over the country. Each of these posts became the center of the district
in which it was located and dominated the life of the district economically, socially and
morally. About each post there quickly developed a class of Armenian speculators and
contractors notorious through the country for their greed and cunning. They became rich
but remained subservient to the Russian officers and officials. They snared the peasants
in a net of debt and destroyed their independence. Alexandropol, where was located one of
the army posts, became a sink of vice. Its people were disliked and distrusted throughout
the rest of the country.
Zangazour had remained free from the evil of great army posts, and its people retained the
homely virtues generally associated with mountaineers. The British recognized this when
they seized Baku and the great oil fields near that city, for at that time they attempted
to send a mission to Zangazour for the purpose of organizing an army of the mountain
people to operate against the Turks. The latter advanced so rapidly, however, that
Zangazour was isolated; and the British, prevented from carrying out this plan, resorted
to the expedient of creating an army from among the city-bred Armenians of Baku. When the
Turks attacked the city, the Baku Armenians threw down their arms and fled. The British,
left alone to struggle against vastly greater numbers, were cut to pieces by the Turks.
Had the mountaineers of Zangazour been with the British, there would have been a different
story to tell.
We, who were in flight from Erivan, hoped to find refuge with these sturdy people in their
wilderness. We reasoned that they would be immune to Bolshevist propaganda, and strong
enough and courageous enough to defy Bolshevist force.
We quit Erivan on the second day of April, 1921. A few versts out of the city we met with
snow, which became deeper as we climbed higher. The plain of Ararat, from which we had
departed, smiled with all the beauty of spring. There fruit trees were laden with
blossoms. Over the floor of the plain the tender green of barley and wheat spread like a
luxurious carpet blending with the red and gold, the mauve and purple of the spring-born
plants of the deserts.
The farther we advanced into the mountains the colder, became the weather, and the deeper
the snow we encountered. After a few days of travel, most of the women and children had
dropped out through inability to continue. Groups of them were left in the various
villages through which we passed. We, who were now refugees seeking in flight safety from
the Bolshevists, had been the leaders of Armenia. Our numbers were made up of army
officers, government officials, leading merchants and professional men, in short, all who
were important and prosperous.
At that time railroad travel was free in conformity with the early extreme
communistic theories of the Bolshevists. It seemed as though every one in the world
was riding or seeking to ride. At every station an appalling mass, lured by the hope
of better things elsewhere, fought to board the train that could hold no more. What
pitiful human wreckage these people were! They had no objective other than to escape
from where they were. In their flight death strode with them, and marked their way
over mountains and plains with unnumbered bodies. Victims of famine and pestilence,
the old and the young lay down by the wayside and died, while old and young with
sufficient strength to continue on passed them by.
In Alexandropol I was successful in securing work with the Americans. During the
period of acute famine I received a wage that was calculated as being sufficient
merely to sustain life. Yet from this small sum I sent something each month to my
It must have seemed to any observer in Armenia, during the year of acute famine,
that the entire population of the country was doomed to extinction. Even Red
soldiers in the Russian Army of Occupation died of starvation. ! It was a famine
such as the country had never before seen. The contending armies had drained the
country of its food. Pestilence added to the horrors of starvation. Typhus, cholera,
typhoid and malaria reaped their harvest of death, more so than did the battles and
massacres of the war. The people had no strength, and died as flies die with the
coming of frost. I have, in my story, given you a brief account of horrible things,
but things having to do mainly with the savagery and cruelty of wild people. I say
wild people, because we, of this land, are not civilized. We are still living with
the social and ethical conceptions of the days of the Mongol conquerors. Indeed, in
many aspects of civilization we are not so far advanced as we were ,in those distant
times. Awful as were the incidents I have described and related, they are not
comparable in sheer horror with the happenings during the time of famine.
Compared with pestilence and famine all other calamities of war are merely mishaps.
What words can convey the meaning of hunger and disease when these agents of death
and bestiality have stricken an entire people! The young and the old lie dead on the
streets, in the fields and on the roads. Each day in towns and villages the death
carts rumble over the cobbles, bearing their ghastly loads to an open ditch in the
fields. The wolves fatten and become bold. At night they range the streets to feast
on the toll of the day.
I would not offend your ears with words about the awful acts of men at such times.
Enough to say that men became beasts. But then there is a brighter side, for in such
a pass there are men and women who become saints. There are those who give the last
of their strength in the service of others, beasts and saints. Men are like that.