11 January 2008

2279) We Betrayed The Turkish State

A document at the Russian Federation State Archive (GARF), which was formerly called as USSR October Revolution Central State Archive (TsGAOR SSSR), demonstrates the role of the Armenian masses in Turkey during the World War I clearly, in addition to the activities of the Armenian voluntary units which have even terrified the Russian officials. It is evident that the report that was registered at “fond 1167 list 1 folder 1878 leaf 1-7, 1 back-6” in the collection of P. N. Milyukov, who was assigned as the Minister Foreign Affairs at the Kerenski government following the February Revolution, was presented to the Tsarist posts by an Armenian official in the summer of 1915.

Prior the relocation, the massacres and the lootings perpetrated by the Armenian voluntary units at the regions invaded by the Russians, had prevented an order to be founded, to an extent, which also disturbed also the Russian authorities and led the Tsarist posts to take measures. (1) . . On the other hand, not being affirmative towards the “Great Armenia Project” that would be purified from the Muslims, since it included her lands as well, the Tsarist Russia, opposed the Armenian population to consist the majority by itself. As a result, the promises that were given to the Armenians were left aside. So a report was given to the Russian officials for expressing the disturbance of the Armenian voluntary movement over the afore-mention situation in that era. The Armenian official expressed that there were fanatical thoughts against the Muslim people while indicating that they were in an evident betrayal against the Turkish state to cozy up to the Russians. Of Course, the stance of the Tsarist Russia, which was officially fighting against Turkey, towards the Armenian voluntaries, who were working for her, called attentions.

The Armenian official started his report by indicating that the attitude of the Russian powers against the Armenians at the military operation area was incredible and disappointing. A mutual disagreement was being developed, which was contrary to the interests of both the Russian armies at the Caucasus fronts, and the Armenians. According to the writer of the report, the Armenians wanted to be treated by the Russian officials in a definite way that would not include personal attitudes. Later, the Armenian official indicated the following two main facts that should be determined:
“The first fact: The Armenians were an unchanging loyal ally of Russia, at this war. The second fact: The Armenians were not only loyal but also they were the helpful ally of the Russia. These facts were so clear that repeating these facts, was like knocking an open door. Despite these facts, you need to conflict frequently with the judgments and efforts that cause main suspicions. Can’t the Armenians be understood enough? That’s why, it would not be unnecessary to explain our stance once again. The Armenians have determined their stance without any hesitation, just like the Russians and the Turks, until the eternity from the moment when the war between Russia and Turkey was inevitable: NEXT TO RUSSIA AND AGAINST TURKEY”.

The writer of the report indicated that all the groups and layers of the Armenian people from the social democrats to extreme nationalists and from various political and social thoughts united around this slogan in such a surprising way that could be coincide hardly ever. The Armenians demonstrated their devotion to Russia not with words but with their definite actions, which would require responsibility. And while Russia was forming its own voluntary units, they had raised the flag of riots in Turkey.

According to the expression of the senior official, the Armenians had determined their position against both sides of the war with the two activities they had realized and had entered to a way that they would never be able to return again even if they wanted to. That was the definite guarantee of their commitment to the Russians. Their whole future was tied to the success of the Russian weapon. In such a way that, if the Russians were to lose the war, that would be their end and they had been waiting their victory with great excitement.

At this point, the writer clearly confessed that Turkey had every reason to give no quarter. He stated: “Forming voluntary units independent from their quantity and roles at the war, was a challenge that was done against Turkey. Turkey will not forget and forgive that since three quarters of the voluntary forces were consisted of the Ottoman Armenians.

According to the writer, the Armenians had committed the greatest crime at their home. They had betrayed, rioted against the country, and took side near the enemy, when the existence of Turkey was put forward. This move could not forgive and the outcome is evident: The Armenians were declared illegal, they were sent to exile. However, the writer stated that this was not something unexpected and added the following:
“We didn’t know where we were going to, and what kind of a horrible examination we were going to take. However, we moved ahead at this way and we saw that we can solve the national question of Turkey by giving many victims. The Turkish Armenians could make a selection between Turkey and Russia, which would present attractive perspective that could tempt itself, a year ago.

The Armenians, of course knew what these words meant; they knew very well that if they simply were committed to the Ottoman regime, their lives and existence would be protected during the great conflict of the nations, which was approaching day by day. However, they gave up Turkey by risking everything they possessed. They believed in the historical mission of Russia at the Middle East sincerely and deeply; they believed that the Armenian lands would be brought into life by shedding blood instead of taking the reward of their loyalty. That was because they did not have any political prudence; it was a romantic exaggeration which was put forward by a historical conjuncture. However, they had made their choice, and there was no way back. From that point on, the Armenians would not live in/ with Turkey. They had no choice but either to found a separate state or to die.”

“A separate state could only be founded if the Russians gained a definite victory at the war. That’s why, the Russian cause, was their own case and that’s why, if they betrayed Russia, they would have betrayed to themselves under these circumstances. In this vein, being doubtful about the loyalty of the Armenians would be simply closing eyes to this evident fact. The Armenians were the ROYAL ally of Russia and they would always be so, since every kind of avoidance would be a national suicide.

Indicating that he did not have an intention for exaggerating the historical collaboration hysterically, the Armenian official expressed that also he did not wish to despise the collaboration by being too modest. Despite the immense military power and its resources that does not exhaust, particularly this kind of support, even though too modest in a war such as this one, should not turned a blind eye. Five Armenian units, which was consisted of more than one thousand volunteers at the war zone, and two units, which was due to be formed in Yerevan, was nothing besides the size of the Russian army, which had millions of soldiers. However, the role and the meaning of the Armenian voluntaries under the special conditions of the Caucasus front could not be compared with their quantity. Knowing the language and the region, their ties with the population, the organic hatred they feed against Turkey and the hopes that were nourished for the victory of the Russian weapon doubled the power and the meaning of the Armenian volunteers, which created a special type of a warrior.

Furthermore, the voluntary units in front of the Russian armies, made an alive and firm connection between the armies and the people. While the voluntaries, at the eyes of the public, symbolized the Russian- Armenian union, it also supported and strengthened the military, political belief towards Russia. The guerilla activities of the Armenian rebels were more significant. Distracting Turkish armies at the back of the front by causing problems, preventing the communication among the units, destroying barracks and depots and seizing the supply materials, the rebels had simplified the movements of the Russians. It would not be an exaggeration saying that without the uprisings Van could not be seized so easily, in such a short period of time and with so small quantity of losses.

Pointing out the role of the voluntary movement, the writer lately indicated that an explanation was needed for the Russians’ view over the Turkish Armenians. If the Armenians, who shed blood, risked its present day and future, and was a loyal and functional ally of Russia, then their approach should be different than of today. If they were regarded as a part of a population that would live at the lands that were sized, then that means that for Russians the Armenians didn’t have any difference from the Turks or Kurds.

This stance, which was not friendly, was observed mostly in the region, where General Abatsiyev’s unit was situated. The Armenians, who were not sheltered and protected at this region, were treated as criminals. The Armenian immigrants, who were gathered at the Malazgirt and Dutah regions, were forcedly sent to “Patnos” located at the South-east of the country. The Muslims in “Arces,” and “Van” were not relocated. The local administration of the Russians regarded all the Armenian population around the province of “Antep” as they had come from outside. The Armenian assets in “Antep” were assessed as they did not belong to them and those assets were confiscated by the administration.

The Second-lieutenant Yermolov confiscated an Armenian villager’s wheat in village of “Mlan” on the 8th of June, saying that Armenians has never lived in “Mlan” and dispersed all the wheat of the village to the Kurdish immigrants. The other commissary officers thought and acted in the same way. Armenian oppositional views were also reflected on the views over the Armenian voluntaries. However, those people, who committed their lives voluntarily to the Russians should be thanked and should be encouraged. While they were silent over the service of the volunteers, some small incidents were exaggerated and reflected as a crime. The instruction which was numbered as 6348 and dated 1 June, which was sent to A. I.. Hatisov, the chief of the Armenian voluntaries, was one of the examples of the many: “General Nikolayev informed that the Armenian voluntaries in Van had opened fire against our armies…Despite that, the Armenian volunteers had attended to looting activities at numerous times. The Brigadier General Bolhovitinov stressed that these kinds of incidents had never occurred, and these incidents were invented for accusing the Armenian volunteers.

These attitudes towards Armenians, which are not friendly at all were, unfortunately countless. There was no point to dwell upon this subject. Nevertheless, the instruction of General Nikolayev should not be disregarded. According to the instruction, permission was given to Kurds from Bergri Kale, Arçak, Saray, Bas,akal and Norduz for returning to their villages. And the Armenian population was prohibited from getting on and planting the fields and gardens of the village and confiscating the cattle of the Kurds. It was also said: “Every kind of bloody conflict that is based on economical causes or any other reasons that would occur among the Armenian population and the Kurdish population will be under the responsibility of the Governor of Van (Aram Pasha), who is an Armenian.”

According to the writer, the Kurds were taken under the protection of the Russia against the attacks of the Armenians. According to the official, who wrote: “We thought that the side that suffered was the Armenians and Kurds in Turkey until today”, Of Course, some extremist incidents had occurred at various levels in some parts of the Van province by the Armenians,which threatened the Kurds. However, the afore-mentioned situation does not acquit the soul and the content of the instruction.”

These Kurds, who were under the protection of the Russian weapon and are called on for returning their home, fought with the Russians armies at the past. The Armenian official, who wrote that after the invasion there is no use of expressing their commitment, indicated that the Kurds suffered hunger at the mountains so, Of Course, they would wish to return home for taking their fields back. The only opportunity for that was to present their commitment to the Russian state. And so, they did. Then could it possible to think that Russia was not an enemy to the Kurds any longer? Or was it possible to think them as a friend or just they were impartial? Kurds regarded Russians as an “infidel” whom it declared war against. And Kurd should know that “infidel” would bring an order, and will put an end to the anarchy, which is rooted at the instincts of Kurds. While it was possible for the semi-violent Kurds under the rule of Turks to maintain their privileges for a long time, they had to obey the system, which was new, foreign and which limited them, when the Russians came. Even though they presented their commitment to the regime, this was how the Kurds regarded the Russians. The only thing that should be done at the present day is to spread terror amongst the Kurds. Nevertheless, General Nikolayev`s instruction was to do just the opposite things.

Besides not being scared, also the Kurds were guaranteed on not giving account for their pasts. And also an opportunity was given to them for repeating the same things in the future as well. While they were fighting against the Russians only yesterday, today they are just saying that they gave in, and so the file closes down. The Kurds were not even considered as war prisoners and regarded as native civilian innocent people, who were in fear, and so, they were accommodated and fed.

While the Armenians had served Russia with great efforts, Kurds, on the contrary had struggle against it. However, the Russians seemed to forget that fact quickly; instead of punishing them, they attempted to comfort them. The following can be judged from the instructions of General Nikolayev: The Russian applied equal treatment to the Armenians and the Kurds, and they were at equal distance to both of them. Nevertheless, it is possible to think the following: The Russian government thought the interests of the hostile Kurds more than the friendly Armenians. It is not possible to evaluate this instruction as a reflection of the principles of equality-justice. Every kind of individual action, intended for realizing justice with the threat of punishment, was prohibited to Armenians. However, there was not even an implication about the responsibility of the Kurds at the instruction. As if Kurds were the people who suffered the attacks of the Armenians, and who were returning their home in hunger.

The Armenian official, who fiercely rejected the returning of the Kurds at the report, wrote that if the Kurds were left on the mountains, the Armenians would prevent them from going down the mountains by waylaying and holding the passages. According to the writer of the report; returning of the Kurds and their protection could not be explained by the circumstances of war. Since the Kurds were not hostile only against the Armenians but the Russians as well. The Kurds would brief nearest Turkish headquarters about the power of General Nikolayev`s unit, their movements, positions, in other words, they would inform all about their military movements. After they do the harvest, revive the economical life and do the necessary preparation for the winter, they would take their part in the Turkish armies again. That’s why, weakening of the Kurdish tribes would be under the guarantee of the Russian weapon; or else, encouraging or protecting them wouldn’t be so. The direct interests of the Armenians and the Russians in the war, was to expel the Kurds to the deepest point at the mountains that could be possible.

The official, who pointed out that the Armenians should know the realities, underlined that they had caused the masses to revolt and organized them in a certain direction as the leader of the masses. However, now they had encountered with a horrible question: Have they done the right thing? Have they committed a great crime by sending a populace to a way that is not possible to go? That horrible sense of responsibility, forced them to find a respond to the question and to raise their voices. The official, who wished the stance of the Russians towards them to be enlightened, at present and in the future gave an end to his report by indicating that the respond should be definite, which would not leave any question marks in the minds. These lines, which reminded the expressions at the report (2), which was written in 1923 of Kaçaznuni, first Prime Minister of Armenia and the founder of the Tashnak Party, is important since it points out that the Armenian movement was not the subject of the war, but the object of the imperialist plans.

Footnotes:
1- See “Mehmet Perinçek, The Armenian Issue in 100 Documents from the Russian State Archives, Dog(an Books, March 2007” for the examples regarding the massacres and looting policy of the Armenian voluntary units that was reflected to the Tsarist documents
2- See “Ovanes Kaçaznuni, There is nothing that Tashnak Party could Do, Kaynak Publications, November 2005” for the report.
Source: Mehmet Perinçek-Istanbul University AI.I.TE Researcher. - Cumhuriyet Daily Newspaper- 03.12.2007

Editor www.soykirimgercegi.com 28.12.2007