Armenia and Armenians in World War I

Armenia and Armenians in World War IOn November 11, the international community celebrates the centenary of the end of the World War I, in connection with which are scheduled official events in Paris with the involvement of the leaders of countries-participants of the war.

WWI, which lasted 1568 days from July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918, was one of the most expansive conflicts in human history. It took over 20 million lives.

Exactly 100 years ago, early in the morning of November 11, in the suburbs of Paris in the Compiegne forest, a peace treaty was signed between the victorious Allies of the Entente (including France, Great Britain, and the US) and defeated Germany. Since 11 AM, all hostilities have been put to a stop.

Armenian people participated directly in WWI. However, this important fact of Armenian history has always been diligently hushed up by Soviet propaganda.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenian soldiers throughout Europe were involved in the military conflict against Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria, which made up the Quadruple Alliance.

At the same time, on the first days of the war in the south Caucasus, Armenians were forced into the invasive Russian-Turkish wars. Within the scope of these actions, Armenian people scored brilliant victories and experienced the greatest tragedy in its history.

In order to ensure the security of the Armenian population of Western Armenia, volunteer detachments were created within the active Russian army. However, at the decisive moment of the war in April-May 1915, without any explanation, the Russian troops were unexpectedly withdrawn from the Caucasian front. As a result, an irreversible crime would be committed.

Taking advantage of the Russians’ withdrawal, the Ottoman Turkish government set in motion its criminal plan of the mass deportation and elimination of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. The civilized world would recognize this horrendous crime as the Armenian Genocide.

Despite the hopeless situation, the Armenian self-defense forces were able to resist the Turkish rioters. The most famous such encounter was Van’s heroic self-defense (April-May 1915), thanks to which more than 150 thousand Armenians were saved from inevitable death.

At the end of 1917, after the full withdrawal of the Russian Empire from the region, an opportunity to create the Transcaucasian Sejm – including Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – presented itself. The Sejm would declare a war against Bolshevik Russia.

In the first months of 1918, Armenian troops conducted large military operations in Yerznka and Erzrum, trying to stop the onset of the Turkish army in Western Armenia. In May 1918, as a result of the heroic battles won in Karakilisa, Bash-Aparan, and Sardarapat, Armenia finally gained its long-awaited independence, making a big step towards the civilized world to become its part.

Noteworthy excerpt from a letter from the President of the United States (1901-1909) Theodore Roosevelt dated May 11, 1918:

“The Armenian massacre was the biggest crime of the war (World War I), and the absence of counteraction from Turkey was synonymous with allowing this crime… The fact that radical actions were not taken against Turkish horrors makes all future speeches meaningless.”

The First Armenian Republic met the end of WWI as a member state of the Entente. That is, it was a member of the “club” of European countries-winners. After the war, the Supreme Council of the Entente countries (the prototype of the modern EU) took measures to split up the south Caucasus.

In April 1919, thanks to the efforts of Great Britain, the Republic of Armenia took control over the Kars Region and then Nakhichevan. In January 1920, the Supreme Council of the Entente countries officially recognized the Republic of Armenia as an independent state along with its state borders with Ottoman Turkey, including the Yerevan Province, the Kars Province, and Nakhichevan.

At the same time, the official delegation of independent Armenia attended the Paris Peace Conference, which resulted in the signature of the Treaty of Sèvres in August 1920. This treaty recognized the accession of parts of Western Armenia to the already existing state of the Republic of Armenia.

It is worth noting that the Treaty of Sèvres was signed by the Republic of Armenia together with the victor countries of WWI (Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Belgium, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Armenia, Czechoslovakia, the kingdoms of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes). Armenia was an equal among equals.

After all, it is necessary to note with regret that in today’s Armenia, there is not a single monument that could remind our future generations about the victories and losses of WWI.

The establishment of a monument in memory of the victims and heroes of WWI in the capital of Armenia Yerevan is a matter of our national dignity.

Ruben Shukhyan

3 thoughts on “Armenia and Armenians in World War I

  1. One sided story told by people the way they want to hear it! I guess the truth is almıst always the greatest victim.

    1. In fact, the article lists only dry facts. The truth is that the Turks during the period of the First World War, as well as at all times, behaved like real beasts and murderers. The truth is that by not recognizing the fact of the Armenian Genocide, the Turks confirm their bestial essence.

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