09 March 2012

3341) The Convergent Analysis of Russian, British, French, and American Officials Regarding the Armenian Volunteers (1914-1922)

WWII German Armenian Volunteers Shield By Maxime Gauin*

Abstract: The Armenian nationalist parties, after decades of revolutionary action against the Ottoman Empire, supplied in 1914 and during the following years dozens of thousands of volunteers for the Russian and the French armies. The Russian and French officers in addition to the American observers and the British, who cooperated with Armenians in the Caucasus in 1918, initially praised the military value of the Armenian volunteers, but sooner or later, deplored their attacks against Muslims and their lack of loyalty. This article illustrates the convergence of the reports, across the nationalities of the officers, the geography (northeastern Anatolia, Cilicia, the Caucasus), and the time periods (World War I, Russian civil war and Turkish War of Independence).

Keywords: Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnak, Armenian volunteers, Armenian Republic, Caucasus, Cilicia, Ethnic cleansing, Hunchak Party, Boghos Nubar, Ramkavar, Turkish War of Independence, World War I.

“I must not dissimulate from you that this troop no longer inspires confidence in me.”

Report of Captain Josse, commanding the 7th Company of the Armenian Legion, April 20, 1920.2

The Ottoman archives are definitely the most important sources for Ottoman history, including the Armenian issue3, the war crimes perpetrated by the Armenian volunteers, and their other misdeeds. However, the foreign archives provide supplementary and useful evidence, since the authors of these documents worked for countries which were enemies of the Ottoman Empire (UK, France, Russia), or at least allied with its enemies (U.S.). These Russian


*Maxime Gauin, Ph.D.-candidate, Department of History, Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ-METU), Ankara - Turkey; researcher at International Strategic Research Organization (USAK-ISRO), Ankara - Turkey

Maxime Gauin graduated from Camille-Jullian High School (hypokhâgne, khâgne) and from Bordeaux-III University, earning his BA in history. He received his first half of MA in contemporary history from the École normale supérieure de Lyon and Lyon-II University, then the second half from Paris-I-Sorbonne University, Center of Social History. He is currently researcher at International Strategic Research Organization (USAK-ISRO, Ankara).

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