Andranik, The Armenian Robin Hood – The Literary Digest, 1920

Andranik, The Armenian Robin Hood

“He is the Armenian Robin Hood, Garibaldi, and Washington all in one. He is an ideal patriot, about whom ballads are created everywhere and whose name inspires Armenians to sing songs to him at work or when lulling a baby.”

The Literary Digest, 1920

Andranik Ozanyan (1865-1927) was an activist of the Armenian national liberation movement.

In 1894-1896, during the Armenian massacres in Taron and Sasun, Andranik participated in the liberation struggle against the Turkish troops. From the end of the 1890s, Andranik has been the leader of hayduk groups operating in western Armenia.

Andranik gained fame as a national hero in the battles for the defense of the Holy Apostles Monastery in 1901. In 1902-1904, he took part in numerous battles in Taron, Sasun, and Vaspurakan. Notable is his victory at the village of Homer in May 1904.

In 1905-1914, Andranik, living mainly in Bulgaria, traveled to Switzerland, France, England, establishing contacts with the leaders of the Armenian national liberation movement and obtaining armament for Western Armenian hayduk groups.

In 1906, Andranik wrote the “Military Instructions”, which was a kind of an attempt to set up the rules for partisan troops. In 1907, at the 4th congress of the Dashnak party, Andranik announced his intention to leave the party due to disagreements on its activities.

In 1908, Andranik was invited to Constantinople to become a candidate for a member of the Young Turk parliament. He rejected the invitation, condemning the collaboration of the Dashnaks with the Young Turks.

In 1912-1913 in Bulgaria, as part of the Armenian volunteer military unit and as the commander of a signal detachment, Andranik participated in the First Balkan War. For his bravery, the Bulgarian government awarded him the rank of officer.

During WWI, Andranik arrived in Tiflis, where he was appointed the commander of the first Armenian volunteer detachment operating as part of the Caucasian Army. His detachment distinguished itself in the battles for Ashnak, Sara, Molla Hasan, Akhtamar, Karchkan, Datvan, Vardenis and, especially, Dilman (1915).

The command of the Caucasian Front highly appreciated the military service of the Armenian volunteers and the courage of Andranik, awarding him many military orders.

In January 1918, Andranik was awarded the rank of Major General. In February, he was appointed the commanding officer of the defense of Erzurum. In the battle of Erzurum, Andranik retreated in the direction of Sarygamysh-Kars-Alexandropol, thereby ensuring the safe resettlement of Western Armenians to Eastern Armenia.

Along with his military unit and a group of refugees, Andranik went from Dilijan to Nakhichevan. Then, in order to assist refugees from Van, he moved to Hoy (Persia).

Meeting the resistance of Turkish troops, Andranik returned to Nakhichevan, declaring it an integral part of Soviet Russia. On July 14, 1918, Andranik informed Shahumyan about the transfer of his detachment to the disposal of the central government of Russia.

In the context of the activities of the counterrevolutionary forces and the advancement of the Turkish troops, Andranik decided to leave Nakhichevan, cross Zangezur and Karabakh, and unite with the Baku Commune.

In Zangezur, Andranik detachment played a decisive role, protecting the region from the raids of the Turkish troops. Here, Andranik organized the accommodation of about 30,000 refugees.

At the head of his squad, Andranik moved to Karabakh to protect it from the encroachments of the Turks and Musavatists. However, he returned at the request of the representatives of the English army corps in the Caucasus that promised to resolve the issue peacefully.

Disillusioned with the policy of the Entente states towards Armenia and not reconciling with the Dashnak government, Andranik left Zangezur and along the Bazarchay-Daralagyaz-Vedi route arrived in Etchmiadzin in April 1919. Here, he disbanded his detachment, handed over its property to the Catholicos, and, with a view to departing abroad, arrived in Tiflis, where he stayed with Tumanyan for several days.

While in France and then in England, Andranik worked out plans to assist the Armenians of Cilicia in their struggle for independence. Since 1922, living in the United States, Andranik has continued to assist Diaspora Armenians, organizing charities for Armenian refugees and orphans.

Andranik passed away on August 31, 1927, and was buried in the city of Fresno in the United States. In 1928, the remains of Andranik were transported to Paris, to the Père Lachaise Cemetery, and in 2000 to Yerevan, to the Yerablur military cemetery.

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