An Open Letter to My Armenian Family
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
As a nation with a history that extends well before the time of Christ, the Armenian nation has many opportunities to learn lessons from its past. Fortunately, in this case and for a lesson applicable to our time, one need not go back very far – to a time well-known to the modern generation via stories from our grandparents and great-grandparents. This is a story set in the aftermath of the Genocide, the Battle of Sardarabad during May, 1918, and the formation and dissolution of the shirt-lived First Armenian Republic.
The Turks, having slaughtered the Armenian population of Turkey, were now moving into Armenia itself. Armenia, previously under Russian rule, was left to fend for itself in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution and the Brest-Litovsk Treaty.
The Turks were far superior in number and strength, amassing an army of 35,000, against an Armenian force of 12,000. Further, there were perhaps 300,000 Armenian refugees of the Genocide – disease-stricken, starving. A plague was moving through the people and the troops.
The Turks were within ten minutes of Etchmiadzin, the home of the Armenian Church and home to the oldest cathedral in the world, dating back to the first decade of the fourth century (the existing cathedral dates to the fifth century). This was the last stand: victory would mean life and hope; defeat would have placed Armenians as another footnote to history, going the way of the dozens of tribes in the region lost since the time of pre-history.
Catholicos Kevork V was advised to leave Etchmiadzin, but he refused – ordering the priests and deacons to fight alongside the others. The most sacred place on earth for Armenians would be the site where their fate would be determined.
General Silikian made an emotional appeal – all men, women, and children are needed now. He organized a counter-attack, eventually forcing the Turks to retreat. With the enemy on the run, 750,000 Armenians in Yerevan were saved. Saved to survive a horrendous winter, homeless, starving, filthy, emaciated, surviving on dead cats and dogs. Perhaps 200,000 people died that year – about twenty percent of the country’s population.
The First Republic
From this victory, such as it was, the short-lived First Republic of Armenia was born. The time was as the Great War was in its final months. This Republic was somewhat larger than the current state of Armenia, extending into regions that are today Eastern Turkey. While some form of stability was found, internal strife, political disagreements, and external military pressures continued.
Delegates were sent to the Germans, asking that influence is used against its ally Turkey. The situation was so dire, that a second delegation was sent to the Turks – to Enver and Talaat, two of the masterminds and perpetrators of the genocide – expressing gratitude that the Turks allowed an Armenian state to exist while asking for relief. Such was the condition of Armenia, that it would ask for help from those who would see it removed from history. No help came from this quarter.
Armenians would send a delegation to Paris – the treaties that would deal with the end of this first phase of the two World Wars. Arriving in Paris, it was learned that Armenia was not even on the official list of participating states.
Further complicating matters: there were two Armenian delegations in Paris. The official delegation was led by Avetis Aharonian, and represented a minimalist position: secure provinces in eastern and western Armenia, and a corridor to the Black Sea. A second delegation, led by Boghos Nubar Pasha represented a maximalist position: basically, every region that ever in history was somewhat governed or occupied by Armenians – including access to both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In order to present a united front, the delegations settled on the maximalist position.
The Armenians believed Wilson’s Fourteen Points would carry the day. Of course, political realities weighed more heavily, as Allied powers were either unwilling or unable to implement such ut
Article from LewRockwell