...The selection of the general and officer corps for the Armenian army and its staffing with national cadres was based primarily on combat experience and professional criteria. The initiators of the Armenian National Corps were the Russian army officers Lieutenant-Colonels I. Tigranyan and N. Melik-Farsadianyan, the Deputy Commander of the Petrograd Military District, Major-General of the General Staff Levon Tigranyan, and the Chief of Staff of the Petrograd Military District, Major-General of the General Staff Hakob Bagratuni.
However, Major General Tigranyan soon refused to create the Armenian National Corps. In February 1918 he joined the Red Army of the Russian Bolsheviks. As a "military specialist", he spent the next few years at the headquarters of the Red Army's Petrograd Military District in various positions in the supply service. In August 1917, the Armenian Corps was planned, with a structure similar to that of the Russian Army Corps.
According to Tsatur Agayan, a Soviet writer of Armenian nationality, doctor of historical sciences, and academician, the formation of the Armenian Corps was entrusted to General Hakob Bagratuni. According to his calculations, the number of personnel in the Armenian Corps should reach 80,000.
The plan for the Armenian National Corps was submitted to the Russian Deputy Defence Minister Savenkov in Petrograd for consideration. The office of the Armenian military commissar was established in Tbilisi, and Major General Ivan (Hovhannes) Akhverdov, who became the first military minister of Armenia after the proclamation of the Republic of Armenia in June 1918, was appointed commissar by decision of the Dashnak Party Bureau.
It was planned to transfer a total of 40,000 Armenian officers and soldiers from the fronts of the First World War to the Caucasian front. Generals Akhverdyan, Bozoyan, Lieutenant-Colonel N. Melik-Farsadyanyan, and others actively participated in this work. Since 15 December, General Bagratuni has also been actively involved. Special importance was attached to the western direction, and the command of this direction was entrusted to General Tome Nazarbegov. Generals Areshiev, Silikov, Dro (Drastamat Kanayan), Korganov, and Araratyan were gathered in this direction. In the southern direction there was General Andranik Ozanyan, under whose command were both regular and mostly volunteer units, and in the eastern direction - Generals Bagratuni and Baghramyan, as well as - Amazasp... acted.
The Armenian side had a great advantage over the Georgian side in terms of purposefulness and a unified military-political vision of the national armed forces on the part of the state.
In general, the morale of the personnel of troop formations, military units, and sub-units is one of the most important factors for the armed forces of any country. In many cases, it is of decisive importance in the solution of a particular task. The history of wars and military art recalls many such instances when this factor played a decisive role in the course of various operations, and the seemingly doomed side even emerged victorious.
This time, we will avoid historical relics and will not discuss the attitude of the Georgian and Armenian ethnic groups to war in general, their historically characteristic and well-known bellicose spirit. For one thing, "war was a casual affair for the Armenians". They were particularly fond of trade and handicrafts". This assessment belongs to the Russian author.
Let us return to the Caucasian front of the First World War and the events that took place there. The point is that while the units of the Russian Caucasian Army were carrying out successful offensive operations in the first stage of the war, Armenian volunteer detachments were moving forward confidently with the regular army and were engaged in liquidating the bloody traces of war. They set fire to villages and settlements left by the Kurds and Tatars, killed the wounded left on the battlefield, executed prisoners escorted by Russian soldiers and Cossacks," the famous Georgian writer Petre Geleishvili-Karibi tells us in his book "The Red Book".
Lest we be accused of one-sidedness, let us quote a passage from the work of the Armenian writer, statesman and scientist, Minister of Justice of Soviet Armenia in 1921-1923, full member of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and Honoured Scientist of Soviet Armenia, Artashe Karinyan, "Towards the Characterisation of Armenian Nationalist Currents" ("On the Characterisation of Armenian Nationalist Currents").
The author informs us: "Volunteers, inspired by the victories of the Russian army, entered the occupied territories and tried in every possible way to strengthen their influence. Moreover, all this was accompanied by an influx of non-Armenian population. The reports and orders of the commanders of the Russian army show that the Armenian volunteer detachments were mainly involved in massacres of non-Christian civilians".
The second Armenian author Anahit Lalayan in her work "Counterrevolutionary Dashnaktsutyun and the Imperialist War of 1914-1918". (Counterrevolutionary Dashnaktsutyun and the Imperialist War of 1914-1918, noted that "the volunteer movement was characterized by the fact that they, led by bloodthirsty humbapets (Andranik Pasha, Amazpi and others) from the Dashnak units, showed maximum 'bravery' in killing Turkish women and children, old people and the sick. The Turkish villages occupied by the Dashnak troops were emptied of living people and turned into ruins strewn with mutilated corpses...".
These were the "combat merits" of the famous Armenian units, these so-called "Armenian regiments" and the Armenian soldiers who fought so bravely. In other words, the so-called Dashnak fighting units were allegedly engaged in "guerrilla warfare", but in reality, they were engaged in massacring the Muslim population of Turkey (and not only them), looting, devastating, and destroying their property.
Here is what we read in a private file of the headquarters of the Russian Caucasian Army, where one of the Russian officers says: "Almost all of our officers witnessed how not only members of the [Armenian] detachments but also their commanders violated military discipline. We saw among them discord and intrigues, insolence, cowardice, robbery and banditry, and above all, in the Turkish districts we occupied, sometimes violence against the Muslim population of the Caucasus. In order to prevent such acts, a military tribunal was set up in Van, which 'sentenced three volunteers to death': Kutrik Tiosov, Azis Minasov, and Mesrop Melikov" for the murder of Kurdish prisoners. The governor of Van, Aram, angrily demanded: "All Kurds captured by the Russian army should be considered as war criminals and be sentenced to extreme punishment, i.e. death".
Like the Caucasian and Anatolian Armenians, the "volunteer" Armenians in the Balkans also engaged in "evasion, desertion, self-mutilation and politics".
See an extract from the memoirs of General Lehmann von Saunders, a German officer, head of the German military mission in the Ottoman Empire and chief military inspector of the Ottoman armed forces: "All Muslims capable of bearing arms were in the Turkish army, so the Armenians had no difficulty in killing civilians mercilessly. The Armenians did not confine themselves to stealthy attacks from the rear and flanks. They were busy killing the peaceful Muslim population. The facts I know about the atrocities committed by the Armenians were many times greater than the atrocities attributed to the Turks".
For the sake of complete objectivity, let us once again examine the words of the Armenian writer Anahit Lalayan from his work "The Counter-Revolutionary Dashnaktsutyun and the Imperialist War of 1914-1918", where Varam, one of the leaders of the Armenian "fighting unit", gives his news of "heroism": "I destroyed the Turkish village of Basar-Gechar in spite of everything. But sometimes it is a pity to waste bullets. In my opinion, the safest way against these dogs is this: after the battle, you must gather all the survivors, throw them into a deep well and cover them with heavy stones so that no one can survive. That's the best way, and that's what I did: I gathered all the men, women and children, threw them into the well, and filled it with stones".
Such wells were dug in the 1990s of the 20th century. There are relevant documentary videos of these events, which clearly show the reality of the facts presented.
The famous Turkophobe Jose Arfa writes: "After the defeat of the Turks in 1914, Turkish and Caucasian Armenian "volunteer detachments" appeared in the Russian-occupied territories near Sarykamysh. One of them was led by a bloodthirsty man named Andranik..... These Armenians took revenge on the Kurds and committed unheard-of atrocities against them. Between 1915 and 1918, 600,000 Kurds were killed in the eastern provinces of Turkey".
Armenia's politicians used state power not to govern the state, but to extort the Muslim population and confiscate their property. When voices were raised in Armenia against this bloody policy, the country's leaders responded: "Turks have always robbed Armenians, so why shouldn't Armenians rob Turks at least once?"
Boryan concludes: "...these facts give us reason to believe that the Armenian Dashnaks outnumbered the Turks...".
In the 11 December 1983 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle magazine, an article was published in response to a publication by a certain B. Amaryan (he spoke about the so-called "Armenian Genocide"), in which a Jewish author from Arzrum openly talks about the Armenians' ruthlessness towards Jews during the First World War. The article reads: "We have unmistakable and primary information about the Armenian brutality against our people (Jews) that preceded the so-called Armenian genocide of 1915, as you claim. We are witnesses to the execution of our fellow countryman at Arzrum by our Armenian neighbors, who destroyed everyone and everything that belonged to Jews and Muslims. .... (Eliu Ben Levy. Vacaville, California)
General Kiazim Karabekir Pasha, commander of the 2nd Ottoman Army Corps, describes the story of the atrocities committed by the Armenians in the village of Alazhakey near Arzrum as follows: "The bodies of those who were killed were in such a state that it is difficult for a sane person to imagine. Children were beaten with bricks, women and old people were locked in a building and burnt. Young men were hacked to death with axes. Their entrails were hung on nails".
In response to these actions of the Armenians, the highest authorities of the Ottoman Empire began to take appropriate measures in 1915, namely the resettlement of the Armenian people from the eastern provinces of the Empire, far from the war zone, to the interior of the country, to Mesopotamia.
In his book "The Alashkert and Hamadan Operations on the Caucasus Front of the World War in 1915", General Nikolai Korsun, who cannot be classified as an Armenophobe, wrote: "...up to one million people were evacuated during the mentioned period. The military authorities and the Turkish people behaved correctly towards the evacuees... Epidemics and various difficulties caused the death of about 50 percent of the evacuees. This evacuation left the 3rd Turkish Army without officials, specialists, and workers of Armenian nationality".
As we can see, General Korsun cites epidemics and "various difficulties" as the reason for the death of a certain part of the Armenian population deported from Eastern Anatolia. At the beginning of 1918, the pattern of 1914-1915 was repeated. Armenian units retreating from Erzincan and Dashnak fighting units organized another genocide of local Muslims and other non-Armenian civilians.
Eduard Hovhannisyan, an apologist and Odopisian of the Dashnak party, described the news as follows: "After several days of merciless fighting, the Armenian troops left Erzincan together with the Armenian population. The Turks followed them closely and the Kurds attacked them from the right and left, making the retreat, which was actually a fighting retreat, incredibly difficult. The retreating troops were soon joined by other military units and refugees. This huge crowd of many thousands suffered heavy casualties in the harsh winter conditions: some had frozen hands, some had frozen feet, and most were simply left lying in the snow. As a result, 40 percent of the soldiers were incapacitated and hundreds were killed and wounded in the fighting. Understandably, this mass of people, driven by suffering, attacked the Turks they met along the way. Thus, from Erzinjan to Arzrum, no Turkish village remained untouched: all these villages were either burnt or destroyed, and the inhabitants either fled for their lives or were all killed. This revenge of the Armenians further enraged the Turks and this war became an Armenian-Turkish massacre. No prisoners were taken by either side - they were killed on the spot. The sides no longer followed any rules of warfare, and people turned into beasts.
On 11 February, the retreating Armenian army and the population of Erzincan reached Arzrum. On the same day, Turkish troops occupied Trebizond and seized the huge stores left behind by the Russian army. The valuables seized by the Turks were estimated to be worth millions of Russian gold rubles. Western Armenians rushed to Eastern Armenia and their first caravans had already reached Yerevan and Tbilisi. In the decisive battle of Arzrum, the Armenians were defeated, despite being commanded by Andranik, whose bravery was always admired by the people. Here even Hovhannisyan himself acknowledges that the Armenian Zinvorians, confused by fear, committed massacres of the peaceful Turkish population during their retreat from Erzincan.
It is also interesting to read the memoirs of Lieutenant-Colonel Tverdokhlebov, an officer of the Tsarist Army, chief of the artillery position of Deve Boinu, commander of the 2nd siege artillery regiment of Arzrum, about the events in Arzrum in early 1918, which he witnessed at first hand. In his memoirs, he writes that after the Russians left, a Bulgarian Armenian, Torgom, was appointed commander of Arzrum, at the same time as the mass raids and massacres of the peaceful Turkish population began. According to Tverdokhlebov, Armenians killed 800 peaceful Turks in Erzinjan. In the village of Ilia, near Arzrum, the entire population was also slaughtered. (Incidentally, as in the case of Basar-Gechar, there is video footage of excavations carried out in the village of Ilija, vividly showing the "exploits of the invincible Armenian warriors". Lieutenant-Colonel Tverdokhlebov continues: "We, Russian officers, who lived side by side with the people of the town for almost two years and knew them very well, did not believe in the imaginary uprising of the population and openly laughed at the cowardice of the Armenians.
At the beginning of January 1918, Torgom organized a great parade under artillery fire, in which the commander-in-chief of the Caucasian army, General Odishelidze, took part. In his speech, read in Armenian, Torgom announced the creation of an "Armenian autonomy" in Arzrum and appointed himself its ruler. For this behavior, General Odishelidze immediately expelled him from Arzrum.
Analyzing the actions of General Andranik and the personnel of the Armenian units in general, Tverdokhlebov concludes: "I don't know, perhaps Andranik was very competent in military matters, but his orders on artillery, which Colonel Dolukhanov passed on to me, were striking in their unprofessionalism and dilettantism. It was clear that the Armenians under Andranik's command had pinned all their hopes on Russian artillerymen and Russian artillerymen... Their main aim was clear from the beginning: to cover their escape with Russian artillerymen. And that is exactly what happened. Turkish units approached the city. In such a situation, the scale of looting, destruction of property, and massacres of the population of Arzrum by Armenian soldiers increased even more".
From the same memoirs: "I informed 'Dr' Zavriyev that raids and illegal destruction of property were taking place in the city... Then I asked him why the police were taking the city's Muslim population somewhere. He replied that they were being rounded up to clean the railway. And when I asked him why they were still being killed in the middle of the night, mostly old and poor people, he said that he knew nothing about it.
General Peter Averyanov was appointed 'Chief Commissar-General of the Conquered Districts' by the Provisional Government, but the real power lay with the Dashnak leaders, General Andranik Ozanyan and Hakof Zavaryan.
As soon as a small Turkish vanguard appeared on the approach to the town, the defeated Armenian troops immediately retreated and surrendered their carefully fortified positions without a fight. General Odishelidze gave the following information about the Ottoman capture of Arzrum to the Chairman of the Transcaucasian Commissariat: "The main reason for the retreat from Arzrum was the failure of the army to carry out military orders. Besides, the Armenians who were subjects of Russia wanted to return home and the Ottoman Armenians were completely unprepared. Therefore, the 3,000 infantrymen in Arzrum turned into one big mob and returned to Sarykamysh, while most of the officers remained in Hasankal. The only reliable army units are the cavalry of Murad (Ambartsum Boyajian) and Sefu (Arshak Nersesian), who have been ordered to ensure the retreat of our army and will march in military style. They have six mountain guns. Hasankala has been attacked and is in flames. When Arzrum was taken, the order was given to destroy all the artillery, but Colonel Zinkevich is almost certain that they would not have succeeded in doing so, as the retreat was so sudden that 20 officers were left in Arzrum. The intendant's and other warehouses were burned down, except for a large grocery store. According to Zinkevich, a regular Ottoman army of 3,000 men entered Arzrum with 4 muskets and 4 cannons, 3 cavalry regiments, and an airplane. We lost about 200 wounded and dead. General Andranik moved his headquarters to Caprikei. On 28 February, General Andranik informed me that Kaprikei was devastated and that the army from Hasankala was disorganized and frightened by the retreat of the Armenian units, which left their fortified fighting positions until the enemy appeared".
"...The retreating units made a pitiful and disgusting impression. Sometimes they split up into short battle lines, sometimes they regrouped. It was obvious that they did not dare to move forward because of cowardice and fear...", - Lieutenant-Colonel Tverdokhlebov noted in his notes.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tverdokhlebov: "Everything happened exactly as I had imagined. They were on the run, with cannons and Russian officers behind them. While the Russian officers were loading and aiming the cannons themselves, thus delaying the attacking enemy, the Armenian 'warriors' were slaughtering and killing civilians behind their backs. .... It turned out that the brave Armenian infantry almost completely escaped from the battlefield at night under cover of darkness, saving themselves and scattering towards the Kars highway. This escape had the appearance of a hurricane ..... but no... not even a hurricane could have caused Arzrum to fall from the Armenians so quickly, with the speed with which the Armenians themselves abandoned the town. The fact that there were literally no Armenian soldiers killed or wounded on the defensive line and in the town itself spoke volumes about how hard and long they had fought...".
There is no need to make any additional comments when familiarising oneself with the documentary material presented, everything is clear. This story would be repeated very soon - in response to the attack of a Georgian unit, with such speed and success, Armenian units and combat units during the Armenian-Georgian war, on 29 December 1918, in the early hours of the morning, evacuated the town of Shulaveri and rushed headlong towards Ayrum.
From Archil Chachkhiani's book "The Armenian-Georgian War"
To be continued