Thursday 14 December 2017 Last Update: 12:12 AM

An Ottoman Army Report on the Armenian Revolt

Published: 09-16-2017


Intriguing! Yes, the "raw" translation leaves something to be desired... but here we can get the idea of how the Ottoman military reported the Armenian uprisings among themselves -- that is, not meant to be seen by outsiders and therefore cannot constitute as propaganda.

From "Armenian Claims and Realities," Dr. Hüsamettin Yildirim, Ankara, 2001; the book has reproduced all twenty pages of the original documents; the page below is the first.

Ottoman army report on Armenian rebels, first page

 

DECISIONS OF THE ARMENIAN REBELS

 

Document No:1903

Ottoman Royal Army

Deputy Head Commander

Branch

Number

The end of the first form

It is announced everywhere that Turkey is very close to disappear. The parliament members Papasyan and Viremyan came to Erzurum in order to declare the results of the major congress agreed in Istanbul and to undertake the necessary organizations. They organized a major meeting in Erzurum with the Dashnak delegates from Caucasia.

 

The Agreement with the Russians indicates that the Russians would occupy the Ottoman land and give it to the Armenians in order to provide their independence, as discussed in the Erzurum meeting. The Congress confirmed the Russian-Armenian cooperation and agreed on the following summarized decisions in order to inform the committees.

 

1- To stay quiet and loyal until the declaration of the war, but in the mean time to become equipped with the weapons provided from Russia from the inside.

 

2- In case of a war declaration the Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army to join the Russian army with their weapons.

 

3- The quietness will be kept, if the Turkish army takes progress.

 

4- If the Turkish army retreats and comes to a position where it cannot go further anymore, the guerilla gangs will start to operate behind the army according to the program. After the Congress declared the decisions and adjourned, the parliamentary Viremyan went to the govemor of Erzurum and made the following suggestions:

“If the Ottoman govemment declares war against Russia and the Ottoman army occupies Caucasia, the Ottoman government has to promise and show with its actions that Armenia will be established, so that it will propagandize in order to provide the Armenians to cooperate with the Turks.”

 

By going to the governor of Erzurum , Viremyan was trying to serve two purposes:

1- To protect the national purposes in case the Ottoman government will be victorious.

 

2- By leading the Ottoman Government into error, to protect the secret Armenian organization from being examined and watched.

After Viremyan and Papasyan completed their duties, they went to Mus(h), to the C(h)ankeli Monastery with some of the leaders of the Dashnak committee and invited the Armenians who were around, in order to inform them about the content of the Congress. Papasyan stayed in Mus(h) to conduct (coordinate?) the area around Mus(h). Viremyan went to Van with his friends.

The Third Army finds out the above mentioned incidents and warns and orders the governor and the local commanders to be observant.

The Third Army came upon the following information about the provisions of the Armenians in Turkey and in Russia until the declaration of the war:

1- On the east side of the border “in Russia’ the Muslim houses in the villages and the towns were combed and the weapons were confiscated, and given to the Armenians.

 

2- It has been found out that the son of the Russian General Loris Milikof with the Dashnak leaders Melkon and Ohannes went to Van via “Abaga” on October 10, 1914 in order to decide about the provisions to take in the future and the weapons to be distributed in Van and Bitlis; and furthermore, that a lot of guns, bullets and bombs are stored in “Oltu”, in “Sankamis(h)’”, in “Kagizman” and in “lgdir” in order to arm the Ottoman Armenians in the villages and towns especially near the west side of the border “In Turkey”.

 

3- It is also understood that the Russian consuls in Iran promised to the Armenians in Iran to give them part of the Turkish land and convinced the Iranian Armenians especially from “Rumiye” and “Selhas” to move towards the inside of the border.

 

4- Some of the committee leaders from Caucasia and from Dashnak Turkey are establishing the Armenian guerrilla inside the border as follows.

a- It has been found out that the Russian Government gathered and armed six thousand Armenians — most of them from “Pasinler”, from “Erzurum”, from “Eles(h)kirt’, from “Hinis”, from “Malazgirt” and from the deserted soldiers — in Kagizman, and the Russian officers with the Armenian leaders provided their subsistence through the armed inhabitants with regard to the war duty and this way three thousand five hundred of them have been sent to Iranian Azerbaijan on October 31, 1914 and the rest stayed in Kagizman.

 

b- It has been reported that, the Armenians who deserted from “Oltu”, from “Kars” and from “Sarikamis(h)” founded a guerrilla band of one thousand five hundred cavalrymen, one thousand travelling to “Beyazid’ in order to go to the “lgdir” region and five hundred of them travelling to Oltu in order to go “Hodicor”.

 

c- It has been discovered through Russian refugees, who were soldiers on the Russian border, and from other sources, that six thousand Armenians — most of them from “Bayezid”, from “Van” and from “Bitlis”, from ‘lgdir” and from the ranks of our deserted soldiers — gathered in Igdir to form as a guerrilla unit.

 

d- It has been understood that the Armenian guerrilla organization is practicing in “Biyecek’ Church, which is near ‘Koni”, and they will all come to “Van” with the guerrillas founded in Selhas.

5- It has been understood, that in the region of “Kars”, “Sankamis(h)”, ‘Kagizman” there are the well known leaders “Antranik”, ‘Ersan” from Bayburd, “Aram” from “Bitlis”; in lgdir and around there are the following officers in the organization: ‘Rupen Migirdicyan”, who has been a pharmacist for a long time in Erciç, ‘Toros Karakasyan”, ‘Portakalyan” and “Surpin” from Beyazid Dashnak.

 

6- It has been found out that there were intelligence offices founded in Trabzon, in Erzurum, in Mus(h), in Bitlis in Van and further in Sivas and in Kayseri, in order to inform the Russian army about the conditions and operations of the Turkish army.

 

7- It has been understood that the leftover fire-armed materials passed through the border are stored in storages in Karahisar, Sivas and in Kayseri.

 

8- It has appeared that there has been an active committee founded in Batum formed by Russians, Armenians and Greeks in order to cause rebellion through the Armenians and the Greeks on the Turkish side of the Black Sea.

Ottoman Armenian soldiers desert in droves to the Russian side


The following summarized incidents came across in the files of the Third Army from that time regarding the behavior and the manner of the Armenians in Turkey until the declaration of war with Russia.


1- It has been seen that the Armenians, who were supposed to be armed according to the laws, on the Black Sea coast in the villages and towns on the east side of the Hopa-Erzurum-Hinis-Van line didn’t conform with the order and crossed the border in order to join the organization in Russia.


2- A lot of Russian weapons have been found in the house of Papas in Yagan and in the house of Ovanis — son of Manuk — in Koprukoyu, when the Fourth cavalrymen- group went to the gathering point on the Yagan Isigi — Yanan Kaprükoy line on October 3, 1914. And in the mean time, also in Hasankale, Russian weapons were found stored in several houses and the criminals ware sent to the Court of War in order to execute the first part of the conditions of the Congress.


3- Twenty-five rebels conducted (commanded?) by Strak, son of Ekçi, from lzaksa Village of Yumra Town and the child of Aralik killed the Muslims they saw in solitary places in the region of Hodicor. After that on October 18, 1914 they attacked a post car, which was going from Trabzon to Erzurum, near Gumus(h)hane; they killed the driver and stole the post. Through the investigations they found some of his helpers and sent them to the court of the war. It is also obvious that these are from the above-mentioned guerrillas, who came to Oltu.


4- It has been seen that across our police stations on the border in “Hehas”, “Kotek”, “Mecingerd”, “Pasin Kara Kilisesi”, “Gorc(h)u Bulak” and the ones to the south of these there are mobile Armenian guerrillas instead of Russian Post. Kegork, from Malatya, who escaped from the Pasin Kara church Border Army Group with his gun, attacked from the Gurcu Bulak direction with his 26 friends. The other attacks to Kotek Border Army Group planned by Armenian guerrillas from Karaurgan direction and the attacks made by the pharmacist Rupen and Surpen from Bayezid with the number of five hundred people around Moson effected the disagreement between Russia and the Ottomans. It is also obvious that they will be the advance guard of the Russian Army.


5- The Armenian soldiers in our regiments, especially the ones on the border and near the border, escaped with their guns and transferred to Russia.


6- It has been seen, that the Muslim soldiers, who went to their villages because of holiday or walking around lonely for any other reason, have been killed near Armenian villages. Furthermore, Mr. Sabri, who is an artillery officer connected with the Lazistan and region Commander Group, was killed by the Armenian Bedros, who lived in “Hosmasa” village, in a very brutal way, cut in pieces and graved in his garden. After (the murder) was discovered and the gendarme went there to arrest (Bedros), he committed suicide with his gun. Because of this his accomplices were unable to be identified. And many isolated events such as this increase and continue.


The 3rd Army, from the preparations listed above, understood that the rebellion was being prepared. It was actually seen with proof that the rebellion was being organized in the important areas by stocking necessary weapons and explosives. As will be stated below by order, in the Eastern part of the country, the most important cities for the rebellion were;


“Van”, ”Bitlis”, Erzurum”, “Karahisar”, and the second most important cities were; “Sivas”, “Kayseri”, “Diyarbekir”. It was understood from the confessions of Armenians after the Sivas events that in all those cities, functionaries and soldiers were recruited and that every male 13 years and over was forced to enroll in the committee.


Upon examination of the places that were in the center of the rebellion, one may see that the main points through which supplies would come from were chosen. Actually, the Ottoman government, during the call to arms had assigned a large part of the gendarmerie to the infantry and the Kurdish areas were put under the supervision of the 2nd class gendarmes. The rebellion that was to come would result in assigning a part of the infantry to the Kurds and would put the army in a bad position.

(Armenian) gangs ... destroyed the property of the Muslim villages and killed even the children in cradles.

There were some quarrels with Russia, and it was seen that a part of the Russian army had crossed the border. A Plaston regimen from the Russian army, First Kazakh Cavalry and Armenian gangs from Oltu, Sankarmis(h), Kagizman were sent to the direction of Id, Kotek, Pasin Kara Church and Bayezid, armed with machine guns and cannons. These gangs raided and destroyed the property of the Muslim villages and killed even the children in cradles. The women and children from the villages surrounding the (Armenian) gangs would flee, leaving all their belongings behind, upon hearing of this heart breaking wildness and monstrosity.

 

In a short period, Erzurum, Bitlis and Van became a center of misery. The young Muslim men of these villages had left for the army, and the women, elderly and the disabled had either been slaughtered by the Armenians, or had died behind in misery.

The Armenian cruelty will be recorded by the 11th Army Corps. The 2nd division could still not find it. The draft of the 3rd Army is at Sadik Bay. The list that is to be taken from the Immigration Office will also be given there.

The situation of The Ottoman Army at the Caucasian front during the declaration of the war:

The detachment that brought on the establishment of the 3rd Army would be taken from the 9th, 11th, and the 13th Army Corps coming from Baghdad. To this, detachments from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th reserve cavalry forces, and the 2nd trained cavalry forces, Van and Erzurum Gendarmerie forces would be added. This regiment, which had in part declared its independence, was still not fully organized. Part of this regiment was in movement and another part was around Erzurum.

The army, 10 days before the declaration of the war, upon an order received from the headquarters, has traveled towards a reserve camp that was assigned to it. Because of this, the political decision of the government was still suspicious. It was understood by the 3rd Army that a winter war was undesired and for that reason they forced the Muslim villages living near the border back into their houses.

Such was the situation of the 3rd Army during this threatening movement of the Russian army inside Turkish territory, in order to wage the negative effects of the war upon this land. Furthermore, the Russians succeeded in arriving up to Hasankale in their first movement. Under these circumstances, until the 3rd Army managed to gather strategically, they decided to move back the regiments near the border in order to take cover in the Erzurum castle and they moved to the Hoyukler area near Erzurum. But after four days of waiting for the 2nd Cavalry corps that was sent forward, and the fact that no Russian forces (could attack) from behind, the 3rd Army decided to advance as a whole toward the Russian forces made up of Armenian gangs, a Plaston regiment and the Kazakh cavalry regiment. And this way, the advancing Turkish forces defeat the Russian forces that they encounter and are forced to stop before the prepared front lines.

 

Ottoman-Armenian soldiers slay wounded Turkish soldiers behind the lines


Let us look at the actions of the Armenian officers, doctors and people of Armenian origin behind the lines:


The Armenian gangs that advanced up to Erzurum have moved the Armenian villages to Russia with their families and have taken the people capable of holding a gun with themselves. While they were retreating as explained above, they burned and destroyed the Muslim villages. The Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army would run away with their guns to join the Russian army every chance that they got. The officers and the doctors would also join the Russian army. And under the most intense moments of the fight, they would signal the positions of our ammunition depots and bunkers to the enemy. Upon discovering that Kirkor, son of Ohannes from Gumus(h)hane, serving at the Pazacur front, had signaled the enemy, he was sent to the Military Court and had confessed his actions. Some of the Armenians would also push the Turkish soldiers into fleeing in order to break the lines. Some of the Armenians within the army did not hesitate to slay the wounded Turkish soldiers behind the lines. They would also conduct spy activities in order to inform the Russian army of the position of the Turkish army and they would try to plan escape routes in order to join the Russian army. Coded letters were found many times on these spies. It would not be wrong to give examples of some of the messages that they used to inform the Russian army of the position of the Turkish army and that they used to inform the Armenian gangs to send ammunition:


An exact translation of a letter written to the Dashnak Committee of Van in Armenian, found sewn under the lining of the jacket of “…” captured while coming to Van:


Our Beloved (This is an expression used between the guerillas):


We received your letter on time. The goods that are known by you and us have been sent by the way that you requested. “Talking about guns, ammunition and bombs”. It is dangerous to send goods to you right now. Even though the roads are being controlled, there are fights near the borders. It seems like the movement that is coming towards us would participate in these. S(h)ekyager “Uncle”, “Name of a guerilla that escaped and that is in Bursa does not support that idea. As you might have heard, he placed a lot of unmoving objects around you. We and he still receive moving things.

We are drowning with belongings here. You are in need of things. This is unsupportable... The death of Dervis(h) has affected us all. If ours do not come to you fast, send our messenger back in hurry. Write about the forces in movement and about the types and number of the army “soldiers”. “He is asking about news from the Turkish army”.

Friendly greetings, Minaryan

“Send us ink to write... You already have sent it anyway. M. “This is sure to be a code between the guerillas because there is no need for ink in Russia”.


Another letter:


“We leamed by mail that friend Mihak “Sinom” “10” has arrived with his soldiers and wants to come to our village. He wants to come to gather soldiers and to train us. We are in no position to put our houses on fire by our hands without any reason. And we do not want to enter under the orders of our children. As you also do not have any forces ready to help us, we have to hide our ammunition in our village, or come and we’ll all go to the mountains, If there are any yoruk (settler) or Greeks that want to work around us, keep Revine informed. Tell him to come and help. If this does not happen, we do not have enough forces to stand against the government. Let us not act foolishly. March 1915”


Signature: Headquarters

From this document, we understand that the Armenians were working as if on fire. Until the Sankarnis(h) battle, they tried to do everything to help the Russians and to protect themselves from behind the lines. They also saw that the Turkish army was strong and that they could stop the Russians from all sides.


Furthermore, they did not dare an overall rebellion. The Turkish army, which lost the Sarikamis(h) battle, retreated to the position shown on the map number 2 and their numbers decreased from 130,000 to a mere 20,000. The typhus that erupted in the army would completely destroy the survivors. The Russians were also suffering the same conditions. The Russian advance had stopped and both sides were busy tending to their forces.

 

 


During these days the news was spreading everywhere that the Armenian revolutionary movement would start. This meant that these guerillas were passing the borders with their comrades, they were spreading to Van and Bitlis, the residents of small Armenian villages located among Islamic villages would secretly migrate to larger Armenian villages that were located in closer proximity and that only the elderly and the handicapped would be left in the evacuated villages in order to hide themselves.

Finally the first revolutionary movement took place in the City of Bitlis. The most complete and the strongest committee organization of the City of Bitlis was in the ‘Karkar’ section of the ‘Hizan’ county which bordered Van in ‘Mus(h)’. Both in Mus(h) and in Hizan, various incidents resulted in the assassination of soldiers and gendarmes in fifteen days.


It all started by:

The two gendarmes deployed to the ‘Sekur’ village of the Ahkis section of the Karkar section of the county of Hizan on February 9, 1915 were told that the Armenians would no longer obey the demands of the state and and they threw the gendarmes out of the village and told them not to never come back to this village.

It is understood that due to the trap formed by the gangs on the direction of the unit from Gevas an attack occurred and six of the gendarmes were killed while one was wounded. The unit took additional force and continued on its direction. The units deployed from Van and Bitlis protected the ‘Kapan Road’ and ‘Arnis’ from being occupied and protected Hizan from being surrounded. The units replied with counter attacks toward Ahkis. Two days later the Ahkis and the Bigeri villages were taken, but the revolting Armenians escaped.

On February 17, 1915 the units gathered in Tasu village and moved towards the areas viewed as threat areas. A day after serious struggles the aforementioned village was also taken back. The villages Korsu and Sigor were also taken back following battles that lasted two days. Many Russian hats and equipment were found in these areas. It was realized that these areas were turned into war zones. In the beginning the bodies of the soldiers killed in Sigor village were on served to be dismantled, their eyes being ripped out, their lungs removed, and their heads smashed among rocks.


After taking the village of Viris, the horse of the committee leader lshan was captured. Among the dead bodies were the body of the son of the priest of the village of Hurunis who became the famous gang leader and the body of Sekur area leader Kalon. The fact that Vahan was among the dead proves that he was sent from Van for a specific purpose. As the revolution started, rebellion fires were stated in Mus(h) valley villages. On February 10, 1915, only a day after the Hizan incident, the military unit passing by the Serunek area of the Central Mus(h) County faced an unexpected attack and could not continue with its travel orders. They returned fire. Many animals and humans lost lives. The units sent from under the command of three surgeons arrived on time and surrounded the guerrillas. As a result they captured nine of the guerrillas dead. The others could break away from the surrounding forces and escaped. During the same day, the town director and the building housing the gendarme unit was surrounded for eight hours in the Kumes region of the Akaan town. Nine gendarmes under the command of the directors were assassinated by cruel means and the building was set on fire by the guerrillas. The directors and one soldier accompanying could escape the fire under the darkness of the night. The units sent from the Mus(h) Army Base in order to capture and prosecute the perpetrators were unsuccessful after the two days long search because the guerillas had escaped. The fact that Mus(h) Dashnak guerrilla leader Rupen and Esro of the Mus(h) Dashnak organization were present on the day of the Kumes incident and the fact that the guerrillas were organized and commanded by these individuals gave an idea about the real story behind the scenes. As a matter of fact, Rupen and Esrodid not come to Mus(h) following these incidents but rather started to attack the region with their men and threatened the government. The government was informed that the perpetrators of the Kümes and Seronik incidents were hiding in the Arak monastery of Mus(h) and a unit was deployed on February 25, 1915 under the command of Lieutenant Ahmet Efendi. When the unit approached the monastery, the soldiers faced cross fire from the sides and the front. The unit commander Lieutenant Ahmet Efendi and four of his soldiers lost their lives and the remaining soldiers withdrew at the darkness of the night.

Although a second regiment was sent from Mus(h) on February 27, 1915 in order to strengthen this regiment, it was seen that the guerillas had escaped and that the monastery was emptied. But they constantly kept this monastery that the guerillas could use to hide on constant supervision.


On February 26, 1915, 4 gendarmes that were traveling from Mus(h) to Sason were killed and cut to pieces by axes near Kelikozan while they were eating, and their bodies were buried in an hour’s distance from there. The fact that these gendarmes disappeared suddenly indicated that they were killed by guerillas. After examining the place of murder, the investigation was forwarded to the area of Kelikozan because of certain clues found. At the end of the investigation, the guilty were apprehended and sent to military court. The guilty did not hesitate to explain the murder in all its detail to the military court. These kinds of actions would follow one another from then on. The fact that the government could still apprehend and punish these kind of rebellions showed the guerillas that the government was still stronger then them and that they should keep their peace. The fact that the government protected the Armenians that have not taken up weapons against the army had incited the non-Dashnak Armenians in Mus(h) and Bitlis dreading these monstrous activities.

Papasyan and the Armenian Patriarch cover treacherous tracks

Papasyan was in Mus(h), controlling this movement from the headquarters. When things did not turn out as he planned, he immediately contacted the government to state the people involved in the “Hizan”, “Kumes(h)”, “Seronek” and “Manastir” events were uneducated army deserters; that the events that took place in Kümes(h), Seronek, and Manastir were all because the army advanced on army deserters and that the Dashnak committee had nothing to do with any of these. He even offered to help the government in these kind of events. Papasyan who gave excuses of some Armenians and their escape as reasons of these events was scared that his actions would be discovered. He immediately sent letters to the Armenian bishop in Istanbul in order to inform him of these events in a different way.

And the Armenian Patriarch appealed to the government with this resolution: “Because of the assignment of men such as Yas(h)ar C(h)eto and Mehmet Emin to the city of Bitlis to protect the security and the discipline; the Armenians have faced disasters, and the public who got excited because of the killings of the wardens of Halsi, Hinz Ruhte villages belonging to ‘Karkar’ region, have killed 4 gendarmes in return; In the village of Zigo, after gendarmes’ killing a child publicly and the killings of the four of eight deserters by their guards, in return two gendarme privates have been killed and against the cruelty and the attacks of the gendarmes, if the public do not protect their sacred things and the public become desperate defending themselves; taking this to mean to rebel and attempting to burn their houses, to loot and to kill the people; do not fit to justice…” It is demanded from the Commandership of the 3rd Army to examine the problems and if the events occurred in that way, the ones who were responsible to be punished; and other than that he notices the Army Commandership about the manager’s causing the happening of the “Meksi’ event from Elaziz. Because of that, the Army orders to the 11th Army Corps Commandership in Elaziz, to send an Investigation Committee with 33rd Division Commander Deputy as soon as possible.

 

At the end of the investigation:

 

1 — It was understood that assignments of Yas(h)ar C(h)eto and Mehmet Emin to the security of the city of Bitlis were unreal. In reality, it was proved to be true that Yas(h)ar C(h)eto went to Azerbaijan voluntarily during the mobilization commencement and died in the war of Hoy as a martyr.

 

It was determined that, on the other hand, Mehmet Emin was ambushed by the Armenians and went back home wounded and he was still under medical treatment.

 

2 — It was understood from the result of the investigation of the Investigation Committee that in the city of Bitlis there were no Armenian wardens killed.

 

3 — When it comes to the child, which it was claimed by Patriarch Etendi that he was killed in the village of “Zigo”: It became clear that there was no village in the city of Bitlis with the name ‘Zigo’ and the killing of a child by the gendarmes within the city of Bitlis was not supported by the facts.

4 — It was proved to be true that those (actions of the Armenians) were not reprisal attacks or legal defenses against the attacks and the cruelties of the gendarmes as Patriarch Efendi claimed, but (the Armenians) were the ones who had done the attacking.

As it was understood clearly from the investigation and examination; the claim that connecting an event of security protection for which Yas(h)ar C(h)eto and Mehmet Emin were held responsible; to a man who became martyr so no longer exists today, and not expressing openly which part of the city they were appointed for protection of safety and security, and claiming a killing of a child in a village which is not within the city borders were all great evidence for the accuracy of the claim. With these terms the heat of rebellion in the city of Bitlis was relieved. As it could be understood from the following Van and Karahisar general revolts, it was proved to be true that this action here was targeted to confuse the government and causing the scattering of the forces and they thought to hit the sudden impact from Van. In consequence, following these events the Van general revolt occurred.

 

Sükrü

- Van

 

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