They Preferred Death to Surrendering Kars – Mazmanian’s Patriotism

They Preferred Death to Surrendering KarsIn 1919, the new government ordered the Transcaucasian (Armenian) troops occupying positions in the Kars region to conclude an armistice with the Turks. The commander of the Armenian corps General Nazarbekov instructed the commander of the 2nd division Colonel Silikov and the head of the fortress of Kars General Deyev to cease hostilities and begin negotiations with the Turks on the establishment of a demarcation line.

Receiving a ceasefire request from the Armenian side, the commander of the Turkish troops demanded the withdrawal of the Armenian troops to a considerable distance from the fortress to allow the Turkish troops to enter the city of Kars before the beginning of negotiations.

Armenian troops received an order from Tiflis to immediately cease hostilities and accept the conditions of the Turkish side. On April 25, the Armenian troops left Kars along with the city’s 20 thousand inhabitants.

The control over the front was surrendered to the Turks. However, several people who preferred death to surrendering the city: it was the fortress’ patrolman Colonel Melik-Hovsepyan, Hazarapet Chilingaryan, battery commander Bagratuni, and the commander of the 1st regiment Colonel Mazmanian. The heroic death of the latter became the most famous and symbolic.

At 9 PM, the 11th Turkish division entered Kars.

According to eyewitnesses, the last words of Mazmanyan were: “I have one life, and I give it to the Motherland.”

Armenian writer Kostan Zaryan recorded the moment of the announcement of the surrender of Kars in the National Assembly of Armenia and the suicide of Mazmanian. Mazmanian became a symbol of the behavior, psychology, and worldview of a true Armenian soldier.

The phrase “Mazmanian’s patriotism” (Armenian: մազմանովյան հայրենասիրություն) would henceforth be used to denote the strongest love for the motherland. Another phrase, “Mazmanian’s syndrome” (Armenian: մազմանովյան սինդրոմ), would denote an act of self-forgetfulness or suicide in the case of powerlessness against traitors.

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