Battle of Van: Wikis


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Van Resistance
Վանի Հերոսամարտ
Part of the Caucasus Campaign of World War I
Van Defenders.jpg
Armenian troops holding a defense line against Turkish forces in the walled city of Van in May 1915.
Date April 19 - May 6, 1915
Location City of Van, vilâyet of Van
Result Armenian victory
 Ottoman Empire Armenian residents of Van
Ottoman Empire Jevdet Bey
Ottoman Empire Rafael de Nogales
Armenak Yekarian
Aram Manougian
3rd Army
5,000[citation needed]
1,500[citation needed]
Casualties and losses
55,000 civilians[1][2]

The Resistance at Van (Armenian: Վանի Հերոսամարտ) was an insurgency against the Ottoman Empire's attempts to massacre the Armenian population in the vilâyet of Van.[3] De Nogales' assessment substantiated the reports of the other witnesses who maintained that the Armenian posture at Van was defensive and an act of resistance to massacre. Based mostly in the city of Van, it was one of the few instances during the Armenian Genocide when Armenians fought against the Ottoman Empire's armed forces. The fighting lasted from 19 April to 4 May 1915, when the Ottoman army retreated as Russian forces approached the city.



During the late Ottoman period, Van was an important center of Armenian cultural, social, and economic life. Khrimian Hayrik established a printing press in Van, and thereafter launched Artsiv Vaspurakan (Eagle of Vaspourakan), which was the first periodical publication in Armenia.[citation needed] In 1885, the Armenakan party was established in the city of Van. Soon after, the Hnchak and Dashnak parties, whose missions were basically the overthrow of the Ottoman rule in Eastern Turkey (see Armenian Revolutionary Federation), established branches in the city.

Throughout 1895–96 Armenians in the Ottoman Empire suffered in a wave of violence commonly known as the Hamidian massacres. While Van largely avoided massacres in 1895, the Ottomans sent a military expedition in June 1896. Armenians were initially able to defend themselves in Van, but upon agreeing to disarm in exchange for safety, massacres continued, culminating in the death of over 20,000 Armenians.

The pre-war (World War I) demographic values of the Van Province, Ottoman Empire had different values based on different sources. In 1914, Armenians lived on the shores of the lake Van. The major Armenian inhabited localities were the city of Van (consisted of three sub-sections which were Havasor, Timar and Erçek (Artchak)). Armenians also lived in the district Erciş (Artchesh, Akants) which was in the north of the province, and district Çatak (Shatakh), district Başkale (Bashkaleh) and district Bahçesaray (Moks) in south of the province. In 1896 census, there were 79,998 Armenians.[4] In 1896 census, Armenians were located in the city of Van 35%, Erciş 64%, Çatak 37%, Başkale 18%, Bahçesaray 48%.[5] The 1912 local Patriarch statistic stated that Armenian population was 110,000.[6] The original 1914 Ottoman census stated that Armenian population was 67,797 and Muslim population was 179,422.[7] The 1914 official census was challenged both on Armenian and Muslim population size. The original 1914 Ottoman statistics claimed to be under-representative for the children. The corrected values for Van province stated as 313,000 Muslim, 130,000 Armenian (25%), and 65,000 or so Syrian, Chaldean, Nestorian and others[8] Population estimate for the city of Van is more difficult. Extensive population movements in and around the city happened with the deterioration of the economic and political situation before the World War I. Ottoman population count at the time recorded 79,000 Muslims and 34,000 Armenians in the city of Van including the immediate surrounding areas.[9] The city of Van's Armenian population was about 30,000 people in the fall of 1914.[10].

Prelude: Caucasian Front

On October 30, 1914, after an exchange of fire during the pursuit of Goeben and Breslau Ottoman Empire entered the World War One. The Van province positioned between the Persian Campaign and Caucasian Campaign. The most accessible routes that linked the Persia, Russia, Mesopotamia and Anatolia laid through this province.[14] Van had a very high military value as a consequence of its location.[14]

November 2, 1914 was the first engagement of the Caucasus Campaign with the Bergmann Offensive.[15] The Russian success was along Karaköse and Doğubeyazıt which Doğubeyazıt was located at the north of Van Province and Armenian volunteers were effective in capturing these regions.[16]

During December 1914, Nicholas II of Russia visited the Caucasus Front. Nicholas II with the presence of head of the Armenian Church along with the Alexander Khatisyan who was of the president of the Armenian National Bureau in Tiflis: "All countries Armenians are hurrying to enter the ranks of the glorious Russian Army, with their blood to serve the victory of the Russian Army... Let the Russian flag wave freely over the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, Let your will the peoples [Armenian] remaining under the Turkish yoke receive freedom. Let the Armenian people of Turkey who have suffered for the faith of Christ received resurrection for a new free life ...".[17] Ottoman War Minister Enver Pasha wanted to encircle the Russian forces between Sarikamis and Ardahan. The Battle of Sarikamis (December 29, 1914 - January 4, 1915) was a stunning defeat for the Enver Pasha. In this success, the Armenian volunteers was credited as they were natives of the region, adjusted to the climatic conditions, familiar with every road and mountain path, and had real incentive to wage fierce and resolute combat.[18] The Armenian volunteers were small, mobile, and well adapted to the semi-guerrilla warfare.[19] They did good work as scouts, though they took part in many severe engagements.[19] Armenian volunteers challenged the Ottoman operations during the critical times: "the delay enabled the Russian Caucasus Army to concentrate sufficient force around Sarikamish".[20] Enver blamed this defeat on Armenians living in the region actively siding with the Russia after he returned to Constantinople.[21]

On December 11, 1914 Ottoman preparations for the Persian Campaign began with the Enver Pasha's order to form of a provisional force that would be channeled using the roads in Van Province.[22] Russians transferred Armenian General Tovmas Nazarbekian to the Russian-occupied Persian Azerbaijan.[23] Theodore G. Chernozubov and his Persian Cossack Brigade was in the Persia since 1906. At this period Russian authorities distributed 24,000 rifles to the Kurds in Persia and the district of Van.[23] I Expeditionary Force assigned to Chief of Intelligence Lieutenant Colonel Kazim Bey.[22] I Expeditionary Force was structurally self sufficient, capable of independent operations, supplemented with the 7 and 9th Infantry Regiments, a cavalry detachment, a field hospital, a transportation unit, an intelligence section, a mountain howitzer battalion with two batteries, a telegraph section, a field battery, equipment repair battalion, a replacement depot and transportation assets.[22] On January 10 1915, while I Expeditionary Force was on its way to Persian Azerbaijan the original plan was scraped. I Expeditionary Force assigned to the 3rd Army because of the disastrous battle of Sarikamis.[24] The Van Jandarma Division was the only force available to the Persian frontier. On December 14, 1914, Van Jandarma Division assumed the role of securing the road to Persia through the Kotour valley (Kotour Pass). This paramilitary formation was lightly equipped with artillery and machine guns, and it was suited for internal security functions rather than for an invasion of a neighboring country.[24]

In addition to this, during this time between 1914-1915, massacres of Armenian populations were said to be occurring by American and German missionaries who were present in the area. According to one source, all of the 52 Armenian villages near Dogubeyazit and Eleskirt were raided, pillaged and destroyed by the Kurdish Hamidiye. Similar attacks occurred by Armenian forces after they achieved success against the Turks. [25]


After the disastrous depletion of the 3rd Army in the battle of Sarikamis, the gendarmerie which originally charged with police duties among civilian populations transferred to the 3rd Army. The army tried to restore combat effectiveness. On February 24, 1915, Turks were forced to send the Harput, Diyarbakir, and Bitlis gendarmerie units to the city of Van.[26] There were 52,000 Turkish forces existed in the Caucuses war zone in this period, and 75% was located at the northern war zone beyond the province of Van.[27] The Ottoman units in the Van province were Van Gendarmerie Division under the control of the Governor. Van Gendarmerie Division had also the Rafael de Nogale's artillery unit. 36th infantry Division was assembled from Mesopotamia with the order to control the southern part, near Lake Van.[28] The 1st Expeditory Force held the front to the south of Lake Van.[28]

The 3 Army units in Van province (June 4)[27]
Van gendarmerie Division 2,500
36th infantry Division 5,400
1st Expeditory Force 7,500
Bagdat Regiment 560
Total 15,960

A battalion named "butcher battalion (Turkish: kesab taburi)" numbering some 5,000 men.[29]

From Ussher, Armenians making cartridges by hand[30]

The Armenian population in the city has taken measures. For the management established unified military authority ( "The military authority" ), which consisted of Armenak Ekaryan, Aram Manukyan, Kaytsak Arakel, Bulgaratsi Gregory, Gabriel Semerjian, Grant Galikyan and Panos Terlemezian. Set up support services and distribution of food, medical aid, arms shop (it was established manufacture of gunpowder, arms, were cast two guns), and the Women's Union (mainly engaged in manufacturing clothing for men). In the face of imminent danger rallied together representatives of various Armenian political parties (Ramkavar, Dashnaks). Van defenders had no more than 1500 soldiers, who had only 505 rifles and 750 Mauser with a small supply of ammunition (military authority defense gave an indication of use ammunition with caution). Angestan was divided into 5 areas of defense, which were built 73 position.[31]

Resistance at Van

Aram Manougian had been the leader throughout the conflicts. He was made governor of the province[32]

The most important change for Van was the transfer of Governor Hassan Tahsin Pasha to Erzurum and his replacement with Jevdet Bey.[33] Jevdet Bey was the brother-in-law of Enver Pasha, nad was accompanied by Rafael de Nogales Méndez. Méndez was assigned with the permission of the 3rd Army's commanding German officer to oversee the Ottoman Gendarmerie units under the new governor. The Armenian leaders were Aram Manougian, who was the regional party leader of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), Armenakis Yekarian from the ranks of Armenakans, Nikoghayos Poghos Mikaelian (Ishkhan) who was member of ARF, and Arshak Vramian who was the deputy of the Ottoman Parliament from Van. Vramian was also Jevdet's classmate.[33]


Jevdet's reign

During July 1914, Arshak Vramian who was the deputy of Van province, attended the negotiations with the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) as a liaison for the Armenian congress at Erzurum. The public conclusion of this congress was "Ostensibly conducted to peaceful advance Armenian demands by legitimate means".[34] Armenian sources say that local Armenian leaders Aram Manougian, Arshak Vramian, Nikoghayos Poghos Mikaelian (Ishkhan), and Armenak Yekaryan told the Armenians of Van to remain loyal to the Ottoman government and not to antagonize it.[35] The CUP regarded the Armenian congress as the seedbed for establishing the decision of insurrection.[36] Historian Erikson concluded that after this meeting the CUP was convinced on strong Armenian — Russian links with detailed plans for the detachment of the region from the Ottoman Empire.[36] Later on September 1914, the army operations for the search of arms, ammunition and operational documents began. October 20, 1914, the 4th Reserve Cavalry Regiment patrolling Hasankale discovered rifles cached in Armenian homes.[36] During this period, large numbers of Armenians with weapons were moving into Mush, Bitlis, and Van.[36] Historian Erikson concluded that "before the war began indicators of potential violent intent accumulated, as the authorities found bombs and weapons hidden in Armenian homes".[36] Although, Nogales witnessed Turkish army units photographing their own weapons, claiming they had been found in Armenian houses and churches.[37]

As early as November 5, 1914, a major attack on the 3rd Army's defensive lines at the Van Province developed. The Russians began larger operations toward Saray and Van by November 19.[38] In November, the Gendarme units of the provincial security apparatus of the Governors changed hand to the military command. This change included the units commanded by the governor of Van. The Van Gendarme and Van reserve cavalry divisions were assigned to the Third Army.[39] The Van Gendarme division placed under the command of Major Ferid. Governor Jevdet kept a small contingency.

During December 1914, Jevdet Bey ordered to secure the west of the Van province as Ottoman forces moved to the Persian Campaign. CUP negotiators were sent to Erzurum and Van before Jevdet Bey left the city. These negotiators and Jevdet Bey wanted to test the loyalty of the Van Armenians. They wanted to see once again [first one was at Armenian congress] if they agree to stage an uprising in the Russian Armenia.[40] Jevdet demanded that Armenian's furnish him 4,000 soldiers according to the conscription in the Ottoman Empire. Armenians have refused to furnish. Ussher states that "it was clear that Jevdet's goals were to massacre the able bodied men of Van so as there would be no defenders, as he had done in the villages under the pretexts of arms searches, which had turned into massacres. The Armenians, parleying to gain time, offered to furnish five hundred soldiers and to pay exemption money for the rest." The Armenian conscription became an issue again when Jevdet returned to the city at the Armenian Ester (April) of 1915.[33] This time Jevdet asked one more time from Armenians to give conscripts to be used for the establishment of Ottoman fortifications. Ussher would say "the Armenians who had practically decided to give the Vali [Jevdet] the four thousand men he had demanded now dared not do so for they felt certain he intended to put the four thousand to death." Jevdet did not have Armenian soldiers neither at the first nor the second request from the city.

The Persian Azerbaijan had a large Christian population. They were Armenians and Assyrians. Many fled with the retreating Russian army, in a winter trek to the Russian border town of Julfa. Those that remained endured a period of looting and massacre; many villages were plundered and destroyed. After an unsuccessful campaign led by Djevdet Bey to capture Khoi, 160 km north-west of Tabriz, Djevdet ordered the killing of about 800 people – mostly old men, women and children – in the Salmas district (to the north-east of Lake Urmia) in early March. [41]

On February 25, 1915, 3rd Army and the all Jandarma commands, including the Van Jandarma command, received Directive 8682 titled "Increased Security Precautions".[42] This directive noted increased dissident Armenian activity in Bitlis, Aleppo. Dortyol. and Kayseri, and furthermore identified Russian and French influence and activities in these areas.[42] The Operations Division directed that the Third and the Fourth Armies increase the surveillance and security measures.[42] Although, Felix Guse, commander in chief of the 3rd Army wrote, that there was no proof that the Armenians had planned or any intentions of mounting a general uprising.[43]

On March 23, 1915, I Expeditionary force arrived to the vicinity of the city of Van and later stayed in the south of Van during the conflicts.[24]

Armenians digging trenches

The revolt begins

Prior to these events, killings of Armenian males in the Van region were reported by neutral observers.[44]

Jevdet's extremism towards Armenians was more open: "a man of dangerously unpredictable moods, friendly one moment, ferociously hostile the next, capable of treacherous brutality" [45], he had been nicknamed "Nalband Bey" (Lord Blacksmith) after atrocities committed at Bashkale in which he had nailed horseshoes onto his victims' feet. [46]

Upon returning to Van, Jevdet "instigated a reign of terror in the outlying villages of the province on the pretext of searching for arms." In the process, the Turkish gendarmes killed many Armenians.[47] The Armenian leaders of Van in the meanwhile exhorted the people to endure in silence. ". Better," they said, "that some villages be burned and destroyed unavenged than give the slightest pretext to the Moslems for a general massacre.".[48] However at the same time there were reports of some Turks lynching Kurds responsible for particularly harsh atrocities. [49]

Some of the rules for their men [the Armenian defenders of Van] were: 'Keep clean; do not drink; tell the truth; do not curse the religion of the enemy.[48][50]

In the meantime, the massacres, under the pretext of an arms search, continued.[51] Later, Armenians attacked a Turkish patrol to Jevdet's anger[citation needed]. Alarmed, Armenians in Van requested Dr. Clarence Ussher, missionary and representative of the United States, to mediate between them and Jevdet. Djevdet attempted to violate the diplomatic immunity of Ussher's compound by trying to garrison 50 Turkish soldiers inside.[52] It became clear to Ussher that mediation attempts would be futile. In the meantime however, reports were circulating thaat the Armenians had begun to gather volunteers for defense. [53]

On April 15, Armenians were mustered at Erciş (Ardjish) by Gendarmerie.[54] Earlier, the tax collectors accompanied with gendarme went to north of Van to count the sheep which the villagers taxation was depended on. Erciş was an administrative unit with 80 Armenian villages at north of Van.[55] The tax collector gave the Sultan's recital of order regarding the calculation of tax values.[54] Disagreement ensued between the villagers and the tax collector. The disagreement turn to conflict and extended to the gendarmerie unit in Banat and from Banat to other centers. Violence in the countryside reached a peak on April 19 with 2,500 males at the town Erciş killed in a single day.[56]

On April 17, Arshak Vramian was arrested.[57] A schoolmaster was arrested in Shadakh in mid-April. There had been a local demonstration in his favor. Several prominent Armenians led by Nikoghayos Poghos Mikaelian (Ishkhan) went to this town at the request of Jevdet. Nikoghayos Poghos Mikaelian and prominent Armenians stopped midway at Hirj and murdered on April 17. Only Aram Manugian among the three leaders of ARF escaped. Jevdet took action against the leaders of the ARF in Van. This was a sign that the city was not safe for the resistance. He undoubtedly thought that by killing leaders of the Armenian parties, he would destroy the cohesion of the resistance. The minister of interior Mehmed Talat Bey with his order on April 24 (known by the Armenians as the Red Sunday) requested the arrest of the leaders of Armenian community at the Ottoman capital and other centers to two holding centers near Ankara. Arshak Vramian send to capital with a guard and reported to be disappeared on the way.

City under Siege, April, 20

On April 20, According to Henry Morgenthau, the Ottoman soldiers seized an Armenian women who wanted to enter the city.[58] Two Armenian men that came to help were later shot dead.[58] Armenians attacked a Turkish patrol to Jevdet's anger. This act led the Turkish military forces to open fire upon the Armenian quarters of the city with artillery, effectively laying it under siege. This was a section of the city called "Western Garden City".[58] Henry Morgenthau's account of the activities do not mention the events of April 14, which a part of Armenians, named themselves Druzhiny seized the lake side city of Van in a fierce fighting.[59] In support the local forces, Turks rushed the Van Jandarma Division, under the command of Jevdet, to contain and crush this group.[59]

Armenian civilian forces fought in two disconnected sets of battles inside the city of Van. These were the "Old City" (Kale District) and in the "Garden City" (Aigestan). The conflict at the Garden City consisted of skirmishes along the Armenian and Muslim quarters. Both sides had fortified buildings and trenches to move along the opposition. The Armenian church at Arak was burned by Jevdet's forces. The initial line was held by Armenian civilian forces through out the conflict. As part of their strategy, they also attacked the nearby Turkish barracks, but besides this, they did not take many offensive actions. Though enemy artillery was largely ineffectual, they had superiority in men and arms.{{|fact}}

On April 25, the first small group of refuges from the country side arrived to the city through the road to Shushantz which was kept open by the Armenian civilian forces.[citation needed]

The Armenian defenders of Van with the leadership of Aram Manougian, established a local provisional government dealing with defense, provisions, and administration – and foreign relations, to ensure that the neutrality of foreign property was respected. Judges, police and health officials were appointed.[60] It soon became urgent to get a messenger out to inform the Russians of events. Several messengers with messages sewn into their garments were sent out, and twelve of them got through.[61]

Russian relief, May

On May 17, Russian cavalry and a detachment of Russian Armenian volunteers arrived to relieve the Armenian garrison of Van

On April 28, Yudenich ordered a brigade of Trans-Baikal Cossacks under General Trukhin and the Araratian volunteer brigade commanded by Sargis Mehrabyan (Vartan) to be dispatched from Erivan towards Van.[20][63] One of the twelve dispatched Armenian messengers reached the Persia[61] An Armenian volunteer unit commanded by Andranik and a division commanded by Chernoroyal dispatched from Persia was also dispatched on May 8.

On April 30, number of refugees totaled to 15,000, as the greater part of the refugees from the country side began to pour into city.[64] The Armenians in the city at this time reached to 30,000 residents and 15,000 refugees in an area of roughly one square kilometer of the Armenian Quarter and suburb of Aigestan. Jevdet allowed Armenian survivors from the villages to come to city. Refugees to enter the city through his lines. It is stated that his strategy was to subdue the defenders with more ease. After easily fighting off the initial assaults, Armenian forces had problems in supply of ammunition. They were very sparing of it. Armenians employed all sorts of devices to draw the fire of the enemy and waste their ammunition. Armenian bullet and cartridge manufacturing reached 2,000 a day. Armenians also improvised mortars and barricades. Armenians made use of anything they could find.

On May 6, a major Russian offense toward Anatolia developed.[28] Turks had defense lines using X, XI Corps, 5th Expeditionary Force at the north flank located beyond the province of Van.[28] The north flank of the Russian advance, from Tortum valley toward Erzurum, is not part of the operations in Van. However, part of this Russian offense, the 1st Expeditiory Force and the Van Cavalary Brigidate was pushed back by Russian and Armenian voluenteers advancing toward the city of Van from their initial position.[28] On May 12, the town Ardjish at the north of province of Van was relieved. Jevdet sent one cannon and two hundred man from the city of Van to face this group at the Muradiye. He was late and too weak to stop this advance. On May 6, the conflicts around the citadel of Van (in the Kale District) was over.[65]

On May 14, a Friday evening, a group of ships sailed from Van. More ships followed the next day. Turks were evacuating their women and children. On May 16, there was a bombardment of 46 shells to signal the retreat of Turkish units. At the same time however there were reports of up to 6,000 Armenians being killed. [66] However, contemporary New York Times reports during April-June 1915, attributed the massacres and fighting to Kurdish forces rather than Turks. [67]

On May 17, Armenian civilian forces had control of the town. At the same time, the advance guard of the Russian forces, which pushed the 1st and 3rd Ottoman Cavalry Brigades from the city of Malazgirt since May 11, reached the north of the province and extended up to the shores of Lake Van. At the same time, the advance guard of the Russian forces that were already in the town pushed the Ottoman forces with a continued press to the south of city. These retreating Ottoman forces experienced logistical shortages caused by the interdiction of lines of communication. Soon after the Russian regulars followed them.[68]

On May 18, the group dispatched from Persia reached the city of Van.[61] On May 20, main centers of the Van was occupied by Russians. On May 23, 1915, a detachment of Russian soldiers occupied the town of Van, thus bringing the eagerly expected relief to the Armenians, who were besieged by the Turks — besieged in their own country by their own countrymen.[69] However, Russians were fighting against Ottomans, and they did not control of the country side. The only power left in the country side was Armenian civilian forces.

General Yudenich received the keys to the city and citadel after his arrival. He confirmed the Armenian provisional government. Aram Manougian became the governor. Armenakis Yekarian became the police chief. Fighting shifted farther west for the rest of the summer with the city of Van secure.[63] Upon the arrival of the Russians the Turks retreated west of Lake Van in the direction of Bitlis.


The first post war census was conducted in 1927. The province of Van's population density showed a sharp decline compared to neighboring provinces. There were only 43 Jews.[70]

On May 15, 1915, the Russian consul at the city of Van reported that 6,000 Armenians had been massacred at Van, which has been the scene of so many similar outrages during the last twenty years.[69]

Henry Morgenthau referring to Doctor Ussher, "after driving off the Turks, Russians cremated the bodies of Armenians who had been murdered in the province, with the result that 55,000 bodies were burned".[71] The systematic massacre of 25,000 Armenians in the Bashkala district, of whom less than 10 per cent, were said to have escaped, appeared to have been ordered.[72]

Though Armenian refugees were the focus of attention of the Western powers and all the relief efforts, most of the Armenian deaths still occurred in the refugee camps where the toll was as high 300-400/day in the Russian Caucases from starvation and diseases as reported by the British Consul in the area.[73]

Contemporaneous reports and reactions

Many western writers and historians have concluded that the Turks themselves delibrately instigated the armed Armenian Resistance by enforcing the conditions on their subjects.[59] The United States, Germany and Austria-Hungary, recorded and documented the Van Resistance:

"I have told this story of the "Revolution" in Van not only because it marked the first stage in this organized attempt to wipe out a whole nation, but because these events are always brought forward by the Turks as a justification of their subsequent crimes. As I shall relate, Enver, Talaat, and the rest, when I appealed to them in behalf of the Armenians, invariably instanced the "revolutionists" of Van as a sample of Armenian treachery. The famous "Revolution," as this recital shows, was merely the determination of the Armenians to save their women's honour and their own lives, after the Turks, by massacring thousands of their neighbours, had shown them the fate that awaited them."

On April 15, 1915, the German ambassador in Constantinople, reported:

Armenians have given up their ideas of a revolution since the introduction of the Constitution and that there is no organization for such a revolt".[74]

Atrocities at Van Province

Most of killings were attributed to Circassian and Kurds, although some reported Turkish troops. Rafael De Nogales, a Venezuelan soldier fighting for the Turks, mentions in his memoirs that Ottoman officials had received orders to exterminate all Armenian males of twelve years of age and older.[75] According to Ussher, on April 19, Jevdet issued an order throughout the Van province, which read: "The Armenians must be exterminated. If any Muslim protect a Christian, first, his house shall be burnt; then the Christian killed before his eyes, then his [the Muslim's] family and himself."[76] After the order for mobilization, Jevdet became the subordinate of 3rd Army under General Halil Kut. Halil Kut was the general who had defeated the British at Kut al Amara.[77] He was later accused of war crimes at Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 against the Armenians during operations around the city of Van during the spring of 1915.[77]

The aftermath

The first evacuation, July 1915

Armenian refugees at Van[78]

Throughout June and July, as the conflicts moved toward east thousands of Armenians from Mush and other neighboring provinces flood into the city of Van. There were as many as 250,000 Armenians crowded into the city of Van.[79] This included many who broke away from the deportation columns as they passed the vicinity on their way to Mosul.[79] Before the crises city of Van had housed and fed no more than 50,000 people.

On June 5, the north shores of lake Van was devote of Turkish forces.[28] Russians were threatening moving toward Mush.[28] The Russian army moved its forces from Van province to the town of Malazgirt for a new offensive into Anatolia toward Mush. The losts taken by the 3rd Army created a salient in the southern flank, which created an opportunity for Russia.[28] However, this did not last long, and six weeks later, the Russian forces suffered reverses.

On July 11, Van province was assigned to the responsibility of the "Right Wing Group" of the 3rd Army, along the other southern provinces. Mirliva Abdulkerim Pasha assigned as the commander and Enver Pasha ordered this unit be an independent operational level from the 3rd Army. Mirliva Abdulkerim Pasha managed to stop the Russian advance by July 16.

On July 16, the Ottoman Army finilized pushing the Russian Army at Battle of Malazgirt (July 10 - 26, 1915) to its initial line. This followed the battle of Kara Killisse. As a result of the defeat, the Russians had to evacuate Van. Armen Garo, and his assistant, Khetcho, who died in July, 1915, on the shores of Lake Van, asked from General Abatzieff to permit the Armenian inhabitants to move with the Russian army toward Igdir. This request was rejected on the grounds that the army transports could not be performed soon enough with the refuges.[80] For eight continuous days during July, General Nikolaeff made the Armenian leaders remain idle. Russian General told them every day that he would not retreat under any circumstances, and that therefore it was entirely needless to remove the people.[80]

On July 18, General Nikolaeff sent a dispatch to Aram Manougian, and Sargis Mehrabyan (Vartan) for evacuation.[80] General Trokin was in the city at this time. He offered to evacuate the Armenian population to Russian territory through the north passages. General Trokin received a dispatch just after five hours leaving the city and returned back to make his exit through Persia.[81] This left the Armenian volunteers only defenders of the Armenian refugees. "The panic was indescribable. After a long resistance to Jevdet bey, after the city's liberation, after an establishment of an Armenian governorship, all was blighted."[79] Armenian civilian forces occupied the attention of four Turkish divisions and tens of thousands of Kurds during the retreat.[82] The battalions of Armenian volunteers took no active part in the battles of July. They were undertaking the heavy duty of rear guard work for the Russian army and the Armenian refugees in the district of Van.[80]

Refugess at the Mountain Passes, such as the Bargiri Pass

On August 4, Russian forces at Van that exit through Persia took into defense positions at the Bargiri, Saray and Hosap districts of Van province. The refugee group following the Russian forces interdicted by Kurdish forces while they crossed the mountain passes at north of Bargiri Pass. At Bargiri Pass Armenian refugess had major casualties. On refugess that passed to the other side were assisted by Armenian agencies.

On August 5, Russian forces which exit through Russia from Van was advanced 20 kilometers into the Russian territory followed by the Right Wing Group. Abdülkerim Paşa earlier asked for permission before leaving the van Province into Russian territory. Enver Paşa personally gave the order to advance up to of Eleşkirt and Karaköse and clean up the border region from all Russian elements.

Early August, nearly 200,000 refuges fled behind the retreating Russian forces swarmed into Transcaucasia.[79] There were two major group of refuges that left the city. One group left with the protection of Armenian volunteers and other group tried to leave by their own means. Nearly 150,000 Armenian inhabitants were compelled to leave all their property at the mercy of the enemy's fire and flee toward Erivan under the protection of volunteers.[82] The refuges who had protection suffered a loss of 8,000 to 10,000 men, women, and children.[80] More than 5,000 refuges died in the fighting and tribal attacks at the mountain crossings. As many as 40,000 Armenians perishing during the flight.[79] The commander of Armenian volunteer units, claimed "If the Russian general had given an opportunity of seven or eight days to organize the retreat, it would have been possible to direct the people to Erivan without the loss of a single life.[80]

On September 29, the Ottoman Army left the city of Van after staying only roughly a month. They had to retreat once more from defeats suffered on the field. Some of the Armenian residents who were escaped to Transcaucasia returned.

On January 19, 1916, the defeat at the Battle of Koprukoy brought the front line farther west from the province of Van. The Province of Van was under the Administration of Western Armenia until 1918. The conflicts between 1916-1918 were shifted to the north-east at battle of Mush and to the south-east at battle of Bitlis of the Van Province.

The final evacuation, April 1918

1917, The church became the military headquarters

In 1917, the Russian Revolution of 1917 changed the situation in the region. The Russian armies began to disintegrate.[83] Van was completely cut off from the Allies. The British Army did not move very far beyond Baghdad in the Mesopotamian campaign.[83] Armenians of the Van attempted to hold their own.[83] and were joined by the Assyrians in defense.[83]

On March 3, 1918, the Grand vizier Talat Pasha signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stipulated that the border to be pulled back to prewar levels and the cities Batum, Kars, and Ardahan to be transferred to Ottoman Empire. Early in 1918 Ottoman 3rd Army moved to offense against Armenians. Mehmet Vehib Kacı Pasha executed the offensive in three wings. On the right wing, Van province was assigned to IV Corps. IV Corps assignment was to extend to Dogubeyazit.

In April, 1918, Armenians of Van resisted in Van one more time. On April 4, the city of Van changed hands. The total control of city of Van was on April 6, which followed by Dogubeyazit on April 14.[27] Armenians of Van were eventually forced to evacuate and withdraw from the province of Van. Armenians of Van retreated eastward toward the Persian Azerbaijan.[84] They made a stand near Dilman. They repulsed the Turks once there at Battle of Dilman (1915), but, on being attacked again, were compelled to retreat southward around Lake Urmiah.[84] In pursuit of the Van Armenians and mountaineer Assyrians, 3rd Army clashed (harrash) with Urmian Assyrians, which made them part of the refugees in their retreat southward toward Mesopotamia.[84]

Armenians from Van districts; passing through Ruz on their way to Bakuba refugee camp

During July, 1918 the British Army occupied the greater portion of Mesopotamia with the Mesopotamian Campaign, as well as a large part of Persian Azerbaijan with the Persian Campaign. Preparations were made for the establishment of a large camp for Armenians refugees near Bakubah, Iraq.[85]

In the first week of September, 1918, retreating Armenians of Van came to Bakubah refugee camp in parties of 1,000 or 2,000, partly by road and partly by train.[85] Many of them were suffering from dysentery, typhus and relapsing fever, and there was a certain amount of smallpox among the children.[85] There were many died along the road because of weakness and starvation.[85] All through September and the first half of October, until about 40,000 had been received in all.[85] Towards the end of September it was decided to raise four battalions from the Armenians on the lines of an Indian Infantry battalion.[86] 2nd Battalion was established by Van Armenians. 3rd Battalion was established by Armenians from other regions. The G.O.C. North Persian Force decided to locate 2nd Battalion to Senna. 3rd Battalion moved to Bijar.[86]

In October 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros and the military operations ended.

Cultural references

The resistance occupies a significant place in Armenian national identity because it symbolize the Armenians’ will to resist.[87] The Ararat (film), directed, written, and co-produced by Atom Egoyan re-stages the events at Van. Ararat won several awards. To commemorate the defenders of the battle a memorial was created during the 1970s in Soviet Armenia in Agarak, Talin village.[88] The town was populated by the emigrants from Van in 1920. Nerkin Bazmaberd located at the north of Agarak was also populated by the descendants from refugees in 1915.

See also


  1. ^ Morgenthau, 227
  2. ^ Balakian, 207
  3. ^ Balakian, Peter, The Burning Tigris, (Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 2003),208
  4. ^ a b (Krikorian 1978, p. 34)
  5. ^ Values as printed on Image:Armenian population of Van province in 1896.png
  6. ^ a b Raymond H. Kevorkian and Paul B. Paboudjian, Les Arméniens dans l'Empire Ottoman à la vielle du génocide, Ed. ARHIS, Paris, 1992 see appendix, p60
  7. ^ Values as printed on Image:Proportions des populations en Asie Mineure statistique officielle d1914.png
  8. ^ Muslims and Minorities, Justin McCarthy, Ney York UNiversity Press, 1983, pp. 110–111
  9. ^ Memalik'i Osmaniye'nin 1330 Senesi Nüfus İstatistiĝi
  10. ^ Hines, Walter (1919). " The World's Work. Doubleday, Page & Company.,260,481,269&source=bookclip".  in page 106
  11. ^ (Shaw 1977, pp. 239-241)
  12. ^ Justin McCarthy, Muslims and Minorities: The Population of Ottoman Anatolia and the End of the Empire, New York Univ Press, 1983. pages 110-111
  13. ^ (Krikorian 1978, p. 33)
  14. ^ a b (Montegue 1917, pp. 294)
  15. ^ (Hinterhoff 1984, p. 500)
  16. ^ (Erickson 2001, pp. 54)
  17. ^ (Shaw 1977, pp. 314-315)
  18. ^ The Hugh Chisholm, 1920, Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Company ltd., twelve edition p.198.
  19. ^ a b Avetoon Pesak Hacobian, 1917, Armenia and the War, p.77
  20. ^ a b (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 22)
  21. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p.200
  22. ^ a b c (Erickson 2001, pp. 63)
  23. ^ a b (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 20)
  24. ^ a b c (Erickson 2001, pp. 64)
  25. ^ Akçam, Taner. "A shameful Act." Translated by Paul Bessemer. Metropolitan Books, New York. 2006, 139
  26. ^ (Erickson 2001, pp. 62)
  27. ^ a b c (Erickson 2001, pp. 106)
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h (Erickson 2001, pp. 105)
  29. ^ Walker. Survival, p. 211.
  30. ^ (Ussher 1917, pp. 254)
  31. ^ Walker, Christopher J., Armenia, The Survival of a Nation, 1980
  32. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 288)
  33. ^ a b c (Ussher 1917, p. 233)
  34. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, 244
  35. ^ Walker, p.206
  36. ^ a b c d e (Erickson 2001, pp. 97)
  37. ^ Akcam, 199
  38. ^ (Erickson 2001, pp. 46)
  39. ^ (Erickson 2001, pp. 42)
  40. ^ David Gaunt; Massacres, Resistance, Protectors page 57
  41. ^ Walker, Christopher J., Armenia, The Survival of a Nation, 1980, p205.
  42. ^ a b c (Erickson 2001, pp. 98)
  43. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn,"The Armenian Question and the Wartime Fate of the Armenians as Documented by the Officials of the Ottoman Empire's World War I Allies: Germany and Austria-Hungary", International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Feb., 2002), pp. 59-85.
  44. ^ Erickson, Ordered to Die,99-100
  45. ^ Walker, Christopher J., Armenia, The Survival of a Nation, 1980, p206.
  46. ^ Ter Minassian, Anahide, Van 1915, in Hovannisian, Richard G., ed., Armenian Van/Vaspurakan, 2000, p215.
  47. ^ Ibid
  48. ^ a b Blue Book, British Parliament - 1916 p. 35
  49. ^ The Armenian Genocide. "Compiled by Richard Diran Kloian." 1980. page 11
  50. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 251)
  51. ^ Brumlik, Micha. Völkermord und Kriegsverbrechen in der ersten Hälfte des 20, p.129. Campus Verlag, 2004. ISBN 3593372827
  52. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 239)
  53. ^ The Armenian Genocide. "Compiled by Richard Diran Kloian." 1980. page 11
  54. ^ a b Arnold Toynbee, "The Treatment of Armenians", p. 109.
  55. ^ Arnold Toynbee, "The Treatment of Armenians", p. 38.
  56. ^ Hovannisian, "The Armenian people", page 251.
  57. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 236)
  58. ^ a b c (Montegue 1917, pp. 298)
  59. ^ a b c (Erickson 2001, pp. 99)
  60. ^ Walker, Survival, 207.
  61. ^ a b c (Ussher 1917, p. 286)
  62. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 254)
  63. ^ a b (Hinterhoff 1984, pp. 1153–1157)
  64. ^ (Montegue 1917, pp. 275)
  65. ^ Verzhine Svazlyan, Armenian massacres, 1915-1923, page 43
  66. ^ New York Times. 6000 Armenians Killed. London. May 17th, 1915, reproduced in: The Armenian Genocide. "Compiled by Richard Diran Kloian." 1980. page 17
  67. ^ The Armenian Genocide. "Compiled by Richard Diran Kloian." 1980. page 11-17
  68. ^ Hovannisian, Richard G.,(1967) Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1918. University of California Press
  69. ^ a b Francis Joseph, The Story of the Great War, page 478
  70. ^ Kara Schemi, Turcs ey Armeniens, page 61
  71. ^ (Morgenthau 1917, p. 229)
  72. ^ (Halsey 1919, pp. 45)
  73. ^ FO 371/2768, Stevens to H.M. Principle Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Batoum, January 1916
  74. ^ Wolfgang & Sigrid Gust, "The Armenian Genocide during the First World War", 2005
  75. ^ Nogales, Rafael de, Fours Years beneath the Crescent, (Scribner's, 1926), 60.
  76. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 244)
  77. ^ a b (Erickson 2001, pp. 219)
  78. ^ (Morgenthau 1917, p. 314)
  79. ^ a b c d e (Shaw 1977, pp. 316)
  80. ^ a b c d e f (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 30)
  81. ^ (Ussher 1917, p. 312)
  82. ^ a b (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 24)
  83. ^ a b c d (Northcote 1922, pp. 788)
  84. ^ a b c (Northcote 1922, pp. 789)
  85. ^ a b c d e (Northcote 1922, pp. 790)
  86. ^ a b (Austin 1920, pp. 13)
  87. ^ Razmik Panossian, Armenian Genocide Insert, Vol. 73, No. 16, April 21, 2007
  88. ^ Self-defense Battle Memorial of Artsiv Vaspurakan in Agarak village, Armenia


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