Contrary To The Order – Salvation Of Van Armenians By Andranik’s Squad

In mid-April (16-18) 1915, Khalil Pasha’s troops suffered a heavy defeat in the Diliman battle (Դիլմանի ճակատամարտ). Thus, the Turkish plan of invading the South Caucasus through Persia failed.

The fierce attacks of the enemy were opposed by Armenian volunteers under the command of Andranik Ozanyan, thanks to which the victory of the Russian army was ensured.

The Turks retreated with heavy losses, destroying Armenian villages of Salmasta on their way. They took the direction of Van to help Van Governor Djevdet Bey finish the bloodshed in the province.

On the night after the victory, two Kurds arrived at Andranik’s tent and handed him a letter from Aram Manukyan. Aram Manukyan was writing:

“There are fights in Van – fierce battles. We are surrounded in Aygestan and in the city, cut off from each other and from the provinces. The strength of the popular resistance is great, but the more delayed outside assistance becomes, the more our self-defense capabilities will be weakened. I don’t know whether we will be alive or not by that time, but hurry to save these heroic people.”

To help the besieged residents of Van, Andranik addressed the command of the Russian army. He received an evasive answer from commander Nazarbekov: “I am not the one deciding where the army is to go.”

Then, Andranik decided not to rely on an order from the command. A detachment of Armenian volunteers began their march independently and occupied the heights of Bashkale before Khalil Pasha’s trooped reached Van, thereby closing the enemy’s road to the city. This step of Andranik became saving for the Armenians of Van-Vaspurakan.

In the photo below is the American hospital of Van before and after the shelling launched by the order of Van Governor Djevdet Bey on April 20, 1915. This shelling of the central area of Van destroyed the entire historical part of the city.

Arshaluis Zurabyan

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