Excerpts (By Sukru Server Aya ) from: “War & Revolution in Asiatic Russia” By M. Philips Price
(Manchester Guardian correspondent - 1918, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. London
11 March 2011
p.6: During the summer and autumn of 1916, I was doing relief work among refugees in the Trans-Caucasus and the neighboring region in Turkey.
(Turkish soldier’s morale)
p.60: Such were the primitive methods employed by the Turks in their campaigns upon their extreme flanks. But no less remarkable was the daring of their commanders, and the endurance of the askers in carrying out movements and attacking with vigor in these remote regions.
p.80: Chaban-dede was now surrounded on the North-east, but the retreat of the Turkish garrison was not cut off on the South and West, and the Turks with characteristic stubbornness and bravery continued their deadly cross-fire from forts Uzun Ahmet and Chaban-dede, as if nothing had happened.
p.84: But the Dardanelles expedition had given the Turks something else to think of than conquering the Caucasus, and thus afforded the Russians the necessary respite to prepare for their attack on Erzerum, which in turn saved the British from being driven completely out of Mesopotamia.
p.156: A single battery was all they had against three columns advancing along an eight-mile front. Nevertheless they held on stubbornly.
p.165: I would marvel at the race whose soldiers can fight in such a climate as this, and who in the dead of winter at a height of 6,000 feet, in wind and snow, from frozen trenches and on impassable roads, can attack a great fortress, defended by an enemy as brave as they.
p.61:…he knew also that the Armenians at Van had risen in revolt on April 20th against Djevdet Pasha; so he decided it was wisest to retreat….This retreat is characteristic of this wonderful Turkish general, for he succeeded in keeping the Russians off his track the whole way…. But Halil bey did not get through without heavy losses from exhaustion and hunger, and he arrived at Bitlis with a greatly reduced division.
p.75: The Anatolian Turk is in no degree inferior to the Russian in physical endurance, but he lacks the habit of husbanding his resources. The Russian, whenever he gets the smallest chance, sets himself down in some little hollow, and somehow or other makes himself a cup of tea by burning bits of grass or moss. But the Turkish soldier literally goes without anything for two or three days, and then eats a whole sheep or a perfect mountain of pilaf, so that he cannot move for hours.
(When did deportations begin? Was Morgenthau correct in his telegram of July 16th, 1915 to Washington?
p.91: On July 25th I reached Echmiadzin, where the Catholicos of the Armenians kindly gave a room in the hostel. Next morning, I had an interview with his Holiness who was much perturbed about the news which had come through from Turkey, where the deportations were just then beginning.
p.100: All through the winter of 1914-15 there had been terrible disorders in Urumiah. First a small Turkish force came and drove the Russians out in December. Instantly all the Kurdish tribes of the mountain swooped into the plain of Urumiah like vultures on a carcass, and began to plunder the Assyrian Christians and even the Moslems themselves.
p.105: Simko (the Kurdish tribe chief) was therefore worth a price. Caravans began to arrive at his castle from the North in early in the year 1912, with guns and ruble notes. He suddenly became very rich and powerful, and acquired control over all the Khurds of the borderland from Mount Ararat down to the Baradost plateau.
p.119: In 1834 the Rev. Dr. Perkins went out from America to Urumiah under the Presbyterian Board to work among the Nestorians, or Assyrian Christians of the ancient church of the patriarch Mar Shimon. .. The Orthodox Church, being largely a political organization, became a useful instrument for Russian influence in Azerbaijan. All the old Nestorians had found it convenient to go over to the Orthodoxy in response to bribes, and the offer of political privileges.
p.121: German educational influence is extremely small, and Russia non existent outside of the frontiers of the Empire. The American and Anglican Evangelical Missions in the Near and Middle East can therefore be said, without an exaggeration, to be the chief agents of Western European culture among the people.
p.125: We shall soon have all the Caucasus at our feet. Then the Empire of the Islam will be great, and all its sons will be sure of Paradise and its houris. But among the Khurds also there were dissensions; some would go, and some would not. “If we go to the Turks”, some argued, “they will take us and make us serve in Europe or Gallipoli. Let us rather stay in our homes, or if we must fight, then let us fight our neighbors and get all the loot we can. If we fight elsewhere, there will be not loot for us, but only for the Padishah”.
p.128: Armenian revolutionary bands in 1896 had armed themselves in Persia and had entered the Van Vilayet from this pass. Their object appeared to be to hold the Upper Zab valley, and prevent the Turks from extending the massacre to this district.
p.132: I was now in the very heart of Armenia. On my arrival at Van I found more than two thirds of the city in ruins. Six weeks before, the Russians had hastily evacuated the place, when Halil Bey threatened their flanks in the Alashgert. During the retreat a large part of the town had been burnt, and untold damage inflicted. Van had been recently occupied again, for the Turks had no force of any consequence on this side of the lake…. The roofs of the houses were being used as firewood.
p.136: Here was the camp of the 1st Armenian volunteers commanded by Antranik…. He introduced me to Antranik, the famous Armenian revolutionary leader who is worshipped by his fellow Armenians with the same sort of hero worship which used to be practiced by the ancient Greeks and Romans…. He had fought the Ottoman government all his life, and a dozen times a price had been put upon on his head. In the course of his revolutionary plots he had disguised himself as a Turkish soldier, and even as a Turkish official.
p.138: For such purposes these Armenian revolutionary soldiers of fortune are very suitable, and it is unfortunate that the Russians did not make more use of them than they did. Of course they were often too apt to look upon the war as a chance for loot; and this no doubt put the more conscientious Russian commanders against them..
For the next fortnight we lived all together as a happy family, the doctor Vahan Totoriantz, the Armenian officers and myself. We began to be primitive in our instincts, and to think largely of food and the next meal.
p.140: It was clear that Armenians were very ambitious political pretensions concerning the future of Armenia. They would take no orders from the Russians. According to them it was Antranik and volunteers who had taken Van and saved the situation at Sari-Kamish.. Magical feats of bravery, performed by obscure Armenian soldiers in the Russian army, were related to prove that the Armenians had been the sole cause of Russia’s successes.
…but on riding down the street I came across the dead bodies of a Khurdish man and two women, with recent wounds in the head and body. The two Armenian, volunteers from our camp, suddenly appeared carrying things out of the house. I stopped them and asked who these dead Kurdish were. “Oh” they said, “we have just killed them”. “Why?” I asked. A look of amazement in their faces; why ask such a question?” Why, we kill Kurds at sight. They are our enemies, and we kill them, because if we leave them here they will do us harm.
p.146: The Armenians of the Shattakh, Mokus and Nordus districts paid taxes in money to the Turkish Vali of Van, and also tribute in corn to the Khurdish chiefs, in return for which they were protected against Turkish extortion. Then came the Balkan wars, and the Armenians said that since the Christians of Turkey were liberating themselves, they could pay no more taxes, nor acknowledge suzerainty.
p.149: We camped in the ruined village of Arekh-khan. Not a soul was anywhere to be seen. Ruined houses and a few unburied corpses that had lain about for three months or more told of fighting between Armenians and Khurds earlier in the summer.
p.159: But when the transport did arrive, there was a frightful scramble for food; and then the instinct of hoarding came into play. Men wanted to get all they could for themselves, and store it against bad times…. The Turks were no doubt that evening in just the same condition as we were. The one object in life for each was to get something to eat.
p.183: In the meantime the Lord Mayor’s Fund had sent out three of its members from England to organize relief work for the Armenians. The Secretary, Rev. Harold Buxton, himself visited Erzerum to administer the relief.
p.185: The proximity of war and the march of armies had roused that herald of ill-will, the spirit of Nationalism.
The Armenians and Greeks began to accuse their Moslem neighbors of having assisted the Turks in their invasion, and betrayed their suzerain, the Tsar. Armed agents of the Armenian National Societies in Tiflis began to appear in some villages; hooligans from the bazaar towns began to prowl on the look out for disorder and plunder. The Russian authorities paid no attention, and the rural police closed their eyes. Then Chrsitian bands began to be formed, and to march into Moslem villages. There would be some pillaging, a few shots would be fired, and then begin a general massacre. A large part of the Kars province was laid waste; cattle fled to the mountains and died of want and cold, and the Mohamedan population was reduced by some 30 per cent through hunger and disease during the following months…. The summer of 1915 brought the hour of trial for the Armenians. The Russians and the Armenian volunteers advanced victoriously to Van, but were compelled to retreat. Then followed the exiling and massacre of the Armenian population of the six vilayets! During August of that year 180.000 refugees from Van and Bitlis poured into Kars plateau and Erivan plain. The 80.000 Armenians of the Kars province had to take in their brethren from Turkey as best as they could. Pestilence carried off nearly fifty per cent of the refugees, besides inflicting untold sufferings upon the native Armenians. So, this was the net result of the efforts of the Russians and Armenian volunteers to liberate their Christian brethren from Turkish rule.
p.194: After enjoying the hospitality of the Turks of Arsenek for one night, I bade farewell and passed my way down the valley.
p.197: And when Enver Pasha brought his army through here to invade the Caucasus, he had no transport but horses and donkeys. This indeed was one of the reasons of his defeat; for he found himself unable to supply the troops, after they had gained their first success.
p.208: When the Cossacks re-occupied Ardahan, according to the accounts of Russian eye witnesses who told me themselves, a massacre and pogrom took place. The Cossacks looted the bazaar, burnt the Moslem quarter and killed at sight all Turks they could see. The town was still in the state in which the Cossacks had left it.
p.212: The men were discussing religious questions, and interpreting the scripture by reading and judging for themselves. Their whole mental attitude is the outcome of deep religious conviction, and they may be regarded as the most easterly outpost of that rational form of Christianity which has inspired Protestantism and the various non-conformist Churches of the West… a number of Baptist sects, and Baptist preachers have come to Tiflis, some from Germany, some from Russia. I found also in the village of Nikolaef a sect of Adventists, who observe Saturday like the Jews and believe in the coming of a Messiah.
p.214: Here religious barriers are still too strong, and it will probably a long time yet before they are broken down. But between the native Christians, both Greeks and Armenians, and the Malakans, I found there had been instances of intermarriage in recent years…Instances of Russian woman marrying native Christians did not exist in this district; but it is common enough in Georgia, where Russian colonists have in some places become completely Georgianized.
p.247: The deportations which began on June 26th, 1915 and the abominable massacres that followed have been so fully described in the official Blue Book that I will not weary the reader with the tale of horror. I will only remark that it is another example of what happens to a small nationality sandwiched in between two empires at war.
p.248: The Assyrian Christians have been reduced from 79.000 to 30.000 during their retreat in the summer of 1915 from their highland homes to Persia. …At present however the bulk of Khurds are with the Turks, about 200.000 Armenians are with Russians in the Caucasus and 30.000 Assyrians are in Persia.
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War & Revolution In Asiatic Russia by Philips Price, 1918