Tyro Herald, December 10, 1914
"Armenians Aid Russians."
Help Czar's Troops Win Three-Day Battle Against Turks.
Petrograd, Dec. 9.— A Tiflis message says after several days of hot fighting the Russians have won a success on the Perso-Turkish frontier, receiving substantial assistance from the Armenian irregulars and the population.
At one critical juncture an Armenian priest pointed out the Turkish artillery on the summit of a hill and offered to raise guides to lead the Russian troops to it. The offer was accepted.
The Russians divided into two parties. One made a frontal attack. The other under the direction of the Armenian guides got into the rear. After two days battle the Turks were defeated and the village destroyed.
At another point the battle lasted three days. Finally, the Russians clinched matters with a bayonet charge. On the Presensk front an entire division of the regular Turkish cavalry was destroyed.
Let 's put this article in historical perspective
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the 1912 Balkan War, Ottoman-Armenians as a whole hoped more than ever to establish an Armenia under Russian protection, particularly the Armenians in the east. British Consul J. Molyneux-Seel wrote a June 11, 1913 communication that the Armenians "have thrown off any pretense of any loyalty they may once have shown, and openly welcome a prospect of a Russian occupation of the Armenian vilayets." Consequently, the Dashnaks increased their activities in selling arms to the people, at the usual high prices and thereby fleecing their own, taking advantage of the surplus of weapons from the Balkan Wars. Consul Molyneux-Seel reported in Feb. 17, 1913 that the Dashnaks were telling the Armenians that the Turks would massacre them, thereby "obliging the villagers to buy (overpriced Mauser pistols) must prove a lucrative business."
Boghos Nubar, in Paris, was talking to the European powers, working toward the establishment of a virtually autonomous Armenia in the Six Provinces; Nubar was an agent of the Armenian Catholicos in Echmiadzin, who was practically under Russian control. (See August-September 1914 exchange, at top of this page.)The Russians had succeeded in strong-arming the Ottomans with the infamous "inspectorates" deal in early 1914, paving the way for the dismemberment of Eastern Anatolia. During the years preceding WWI, the Russians were stirring the Kurdish tribes against the Ottomans (a primary leader, Abdurrezzak, was rewarded with governorship of Russian-occupied Bitlis during WWI), and these Kurdish rebellions caused great disarray in southeastern Anatolia, weakening the Ottomans further. (Most Kurds remained loyal, however.)
After Russia's invasion of Iran in 1908, the northwest of that country came effectively under Russian control. This is the focus of the newspaper article above, with the reference of the "Perso-Turkish frontier." Nearby Van was thus threatened by the Russians. The Ottoman Third Army had stationed a cavalry brigade around this border (at the Bargiri Pass; perhaps it was this brigade the above article was referring to, writing about how an "entire division of the regular Turkish cavalry was destroyed"), and the Van Mobile Gendarme Division was in Van, also near the border. (The gendarmes were not traditional soldiers, and were ill-equipped to deal with a real army; they, along with the border guards that made up this division, were called out of desperation.)
Ottoman manpower was already depleted, and not just by the thousands of Ottoman-Armenians who crossed the border (or stayed behind to form guerilla units) to join the Russians, as well as the ones who had deserted the army. A typhus outbreak in the winter of 1913-14 was a disaster in its own right (in Van alone, 2,500 soldiers were struck down), but of course the worst disaster was Enver's decision to go on the attack in the northwest, in Sarikamish. Thanks in no small part to the actions of treacherous Armenians, as well as the Armenians who were expected to serve but did not, the Third Army was practically decimated.
As the Sarikamish campaign began shortly after the middle of December, most of the army must have already left the southern region, by the time this newspaper article was written; in other words, the Russians and Armenians were dealing with not-much-more-than-a-token force. Ottoman forces at the eastern front were already spread thinly, and the desperateness of the situation was apparent by the following communication (by the Gendarmerie Division commander, Kazim, to Third Army headquarters, Nov. 29, 1914):
"Today the enemy attacked Deyr (Dir). They are equipped with artillery and machine guns. Our defending force is very small, and I believe we will have to withdraw in the direction of Hoshap. From the testimony of two captured spies we have learned that there will soon be an uprising in Van and the Van Province. I will move in the direction of Hoshap with a detachment from the forces at Saray. Due to the weakness of our force, however, if there is an uprising in the province, we will be hard pressed. The promised units from Revandiz have not arrived." (ATASE Arsivi, I. Dunya Harbi Kolleksiyonu, K. 2818, D-59, F-2-54.)
What briefly saved the Ottoman forces is that the Russians pulled out a good part of their men from Iran, and moved them out to Sarikamish, just in case. Whatever slight advantage the Ottomans had, however, was undone once the Armenian Rebellion turned on full force, mainly beginning in February of 1915. The revolutionaries were hungering for this moment, to strike while the Ottomans were at their weakest, that is, while at war (as spelled out in their charters). In 1910, for example, the "Instructions for Personal Defense” was distributed throughout Eastern Anatolia, the blueprint for their impending rebellion; with sections such as "To Attack Villages,” this pamphlet was far from a manual on self-defense. As the excellent 2006 book by Dr. Justin McCarthy and co., "The Armenian Rebellion at Van" (where much of the above information and chronology was taken) spells out (on p. 189):
"The Armenians in the East attacked the army's supply trains and commissariat, cutting communications lines and ambushing and killing columns of the wounded sent from the front. Roads and communications lines needed to supply troops at the front were cut. Gendarmes, who were scattered over the eastern provinces to provide some security, were ambushed and killed. Key villages and towns at crossroads and natural defense points were burned, with increasing loss of civilian lines. Bridges and fortifications were destroyed. It was impossible to see the nature of these attakes without understanding that they had a military purpose."
We can see elements of such treachery at work with the details of the newspaper article. We don't know which of the described Armenians were Ottoman, Russian or Iranian, but when it came down to it, the nations of origin did not matter; they were all "Armenians." Those from the Ottoman Empire served a particularly deadly purpose, however, as it was Ottoman-Armenians who were familiar with the terrain.
We don't know whether the events described took place in Ottoman or Persian territory; what we do know is that the Russians received "substantial assistance from the Armenian irregulars and the population." (Note the key word, the "population." It was practically the entire Armenian community providing support that the Ottomans had to deal with, and not simply the Armenian men who were firing their weapons.) But if the above events were taking place in Ottoman territory — as was likely, since the Ottomans did not have enough forces to go on the attack — note how it was the Ottoman-Armenian priest who offered to help the Russians with the knowledge of the terrain. And who but Ottoman-Armenians (at least those who recently had moved from the Ottoman Empire) could have had the knowledge to have served as the guides, leading a part of the Russian force to the rear of the Ottoman army? ("...[U]nder the direction of the Armenian guides [the second Russian force] got into the rear.")
While Armenian propaganda insists the poor, innocent Armenians were only acting out of "self-defense," we even have Turk-hostile Western newspaper articles to confirm this lie. The Armenians were doing the attacking. The Armenians served as an extremely serious threat to the survival of the Ottoman nation. If it were any other nation threatened by such a dangerously treacherous community, that nation would have dealt with the Armenians ruthlessly, very likely in a far less humane manner than the Ottomans' decision to relocate their disloyal Armenians. (Britain and Russia acted against minorities who only had the potential of turning disloyal during WWI, and Russia in particular treated their Germans and Turks/Muslims with great savagery; perhaps two million innocent Germans were sent to Siberia; a good segment of the innocent Muslims were cruelly deported with the shirts on their backs, often through the front lines of war.)
The source site of this article gets revised often, as better information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, links and the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing the direct link as follows: