Armenian Refugees Movements and Genocide Claims

Many reputable sources account to 1.5 – 1.6 million of Armenian population within Ottoman Empire before WW1. Only the number provided by the Armenian Istanbul Patriarchate in 1912 is way above these general numbers, being around 2 million.

Patriarchate’s 2 million figure highly contradicts with the detailed population numbers provided by British H.F.B Lynch and French Vital Cuinet for the periods ending 19th century and beginning 20th century. When we look at the numbers given by Lynch and Cuinet, it’s easy to see that Patriarchate’s number for before WW1 is nearly 100% higher than the British and French sources for the periods ending 19th century and beginning 20th century which is nearly impossible considering populations cannot rise by that much for over only 15 to 20 years. Also the number provided by Armenian Patriarchate for Muslim population in Ottoman Empire in 1912 is 20-30% lower than the other reputable sources. In addition to sources of Lynch and Cuinet, many other reputable sources show that Armenian population with in Ottoman Empire before WW1 was around 1.3-1.6 million.
Hence in Lozan Peace Conference, 2 million figure introduced by the Armenians had been found quite an exaggeration and 1.6 million figure by David Magie had been taken into account.
Another disinformation Ottoman Empire had been a victim of during WW1 about Ottoman Armenians is the number of Armenians that had been killed in Anatolia. It’s almost like this number had been introduced to an auction in last 100 years. ( Numbers given by the Red Cross is between 600.000 and 800.000, numbers given by Morgenthau is 1 million and today Armenian Diaspora claims the number to be around 1.5 to 2 million. Some historians that support the Armenian Genocide allegations ignore this debate by saying that; ‘Numbers are meaningless, it’s the crime that matters’. There is no legal document that highlights or clarifies how many Armenians had died or had been killed under what conditions during 1915 phenomenon. Today the main allegation is that most Armenians (1.5 million to 2 million) had faced ethnic cleansing in Anatolian camps or North Syrian camps.

However when we look at legal documents with European or United Nations origins for the period commencing WW1 and ending 1924, we see just the opposite of these allegations. If we take into consideration the documents of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun) as well as Czardom Russia and Bolshevik Russia documents together with the above mentioned documents, we can see the mobility of Armenians together with how they ended up and their fates.

The most important official document indicating the ‘Armenian Armed Movements’ before WW1 is the 1910 speech given by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation ideologist Mikail Varangian (aka Warangian) in Copenhagen during Second Socialist International.

The report shows that Dashnaktsutiun had organized and formed armed gangs in almost everywhere in Anatolia by adopting a terrorist movement. The report is in Belvedere archives.

Two other sources admitting the ‘Armenian Armed Movements’ that were seen long before WW1 are as follows:
1- Manifesto of First Prime Minister Hovhannes Katzhaznouniof Yerevan Dashnak Goverment published in Bucharest
2- The article of First USA Ambassador of Armenia Garekin Pastırmacıyan called ‘Why Armenian Should Be Free – Boston 1918’

The number of Armenians who had joined in these armed forces were around 200.000 as stated by Armenia Delegation Chairman Avetis Aharonian and World Armenians Delegation Chairman Boghos Nubar in Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

The act of organizing and arming these 200.000 Armenians was naturally not something that Armenians could manage on their own initiatives financially and technically. The Armenian armed gangs were supported directly by Czardom Russia, Britain and France before WW1.

Two years before WW1 on 26th November, 1912, the confidential report sent by Russian Ambassador Zinovyev in İstanbul to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S. D. Sazanov included the following (Russian State Archives, Politics Department, nr 117/293):

The riots of Armenian armed gangs resulted in Russians occupying Van at the beginning of WW1.

Van tradegy was described as follows in the telegraph sent by German Ambassador in İstanbul Hans Von Wangenheim to Ministery of Foreign Affairs of Germany on 10th May, 1915:

‘Armenians in the city of Van started rioting and started to attack Muslim villages and the castle. The Turkish headquarters in the castle had lost 300 soldiers and as a result of the street combats for days, the rebels took over the city. Russia occupied the city on 17th May, 1915. Armenians sided with Russia afterwards and started to massacre Muslims. Approximately 80.000 Muslims around Bitlis started to flee. [Wangenheim,Deutschisches und Armenien 1914-1918,Postdam 1919 p.65]

The massacres of Muslims by Armenians were also documented in Czardom Russia archives. A report sent by Russian Commander Brigadier Bolhovitinov in Caucasus to headquarters on 11th December, 1915 included the following:

‘The Armenian Volunteer Legions had killed Muslims brutally with racist motives.’ [Brigadier General Leonid Bolhovitinov’s Report,1915,Russian Military History Archives (RGVIA) fond2100,list1,folder557,p.303-307]

While these tragedies were taking place in East Anatolia, Russian, British and French were helping Armenians getting armed in East Mediterranean.

The telegraph dated 5th November, 1914 sent by Francois George Picot and French Middle Ambassador Defrance of Egypt stated:

‘Greece accepted to send 15.000 rifles and 2 million bullets to the volunteer legions in Syria and in a possible intervention of France in Syria there are 30.000 – 35.000 volunteers readily avaliable to side with France in the region’[Guerre Mondiale Turquie Vol.867 XCIII-document 237,Legion d’Orient 1914-1918]

The report sent by the French Admiral in Syrian shore to the British military headquarters in Egypt indicated that the riot in Cilicia had lasted for over one month as of 28th May, 1915 and a total of 300 Turkish gendarmes had been killed.
[U.K.Archives W.O. 157/691/8, 28 April 1915,Cairo]

The memorandum sent by Russian Ambassador to British Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24th Feb, 1915 expressed that an Armenian from Cilicia had contacted Kont Warentzoff Dachkoff in Caucasus and had indicated that they had gathered a force of 15.000 to raid the transportation lines of the Turkish Army but that they had not had enough arms and arsenal to perform and those could have been provided by British and French over through Alexandretta Harbour. [U.K. Archives F.O. 371/2484 No.22083,15 Feb.1915]

    As can be seen clearly from documents and information like the ones mentioned above, Armenian Dashnak Forces were committing war crimes behind the battles when Ottoman Empire called all men to the army to fight in Çanakkale, Palestine and Caucasus battles. This situation resulted in Ottoman Empire deciding to relocate Armenians in war zones as well as Armenians in Anatolia who were working for Dashnak Party to Syrian region.

The ones claiming that there is genocide are accusing Ottoman Empire of ethnically cleansing 1.5 million Armenians in the Empire with the application of this relocation decision dated 27th May, 1915.

Many official documents were obtained in relation to the fate of Armenians forced to relocate during WW1 and after which were highly contradicting with the idea of a genocide.

Although Ottoman Empire decided to relocate Armenians in above mentioned locations, Batumi Ambassador of Britain P. Stevens indicated that many Armenians were not even subject to obligatory relocation and were taken away by Russians to Caucasus in the report he sent to London on 25th Feb, 1916. [Halaçoğlu,Ermeniler:Sürgün Ve Göç,p.84-85]

This is also confirmed in the report of British Lord Major Found which he wrote about 1915. 250.000 Armenians moved to Caucasus Armenia from Anatolia fighting against illnesses and war conditions. [U.K.FO 96/205]

250.000 figure was confirmed in the report sent by Armenian National Delegation Chairman Boghos Nubar to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France in addition to the figure of 40.000 Ottoman Armenians being in Iran.

When we can reasonably confirm that 250.000 Ottoman Armenians arriving at Caucasus and 40.000 Ottoman Armenians arriving at Iran at the beginning of WW1, we also obtain some other related information from US National Archives: American Counsel J. B. Jackson of Aleppo indicated in the letter he sent to American Ambassador  Henry Morgenthau in İstanbul(8February1916) that 486.000  Armenians were located in the camps between Aleppo and Damascus and there were two charities helping the migrants. [U.S. Archives State Department Record Group 59,867.48/271]
The ones claiming that there was a genocide can not answer the question of why Ottoman Goverment allowed American charities or American ambassadors to help the Ottoman Armenian refugees located in camps between Aleppo and Damascus, locations which were under the control of Ottoman Goverment back then.

We can provide more detailed information related to Armenian refugees in Caucasus and Syria from documents obtained after WW1.

WW1 ended with Mondros Armistice signed on 30th October, 1918 for Ottoman Empire. In 1918 after the war when the Bolshevik Revolution was over, the massacres of Muslim civilians in East and South East Anatolia by Armenian Dashnak Goverment which was continuing to fight, reached the maximum possible. In the same year, Cilicia was Occupied by the French (on 24th December, 1918). It is seen that after Cilicia was occupied by the French, some Armenian refugees in Syria were relocated here.
        However we obtain the exact number of Armenians living under Ottoman Empire after WW1 from the official document presented to the US by İstanbul American High Council. This document is in US National Archives and was confirmed by İstanbul Armenian Patriarchate. According to this official document, there were 624.900 Armenians living under Ottoman Empire in 1921. We also know that apparently around 200.000 were located in Cilicia (in Adana, Antep, Maraş etc.) which was under French control.
[U.S. Archives NARA, T 1192 R2.860J01/395]  This document shows that there were 624.900 Armenians under Ottoman borders after WW1 until these Armenians were refugees again.

There is also another visual document related to Armenians obtained for these years. The photo of Armenian refugees living in Novorossisk (Black Sea shore – South Russia) taken by G. P. Lloyd is in Frank Carpenter archives and it was taken in 1920. Unfortunately we can not obtain any information related to the number of Armenian refugees in Novorossik.

It is discussed in the Near East Relief Report dated 31st December, 1921 that around 500.000 Armenian refugees in Dashnak Goverment in Yerevan (which was in Caucasus) were being provided aid.

The exact number of Armenian refugees who went to Armenia during the Turkish – Armenian War which started with WW1 and ended with Gümrü Treaty signed on 3rd December, 1920 and Bolshevik Russians occupying Armenia on 4th December, 1920, was provided by Fridjof Nansen, Refugees High Commissar of League of Nations.

Fridjof Nansen indicated that 400.000 of the 1 million population of Yerevan Armenian Government was comprised of refugees who came during the war as answer to the question of an Indian representative during the 8th meeting of League of Nations held on 19th October, 1928.

Even if Fridjof Nansen did not give any indications related to the number of Armenians in whole Caucasus or South Russia, he definitely indicated that 400.000 Ottoman Armenians moved to Caucasus Armenia.

Meanwhile the Ankara Treaty signed between France and Ankara government resulting in France withdrawing from Cilicia also resulted in 200.000 Armenians leaving the region (who were located there before) and migrating to other countries without ever coming back. 500.000 Muslims being massacred by Armenian Armed Forces in Anatolia made it impossible for the Armenians and Turks living together.

The document about the ‘Armenian Population around the World’ dated 1922 and included in US National Archives gives information about the Armenian emigration that started with the French withdrawing from Cilicia. We can follow the refugee movements of the 624.900 Armenians in Ottoman Empire beginning 1921 with the help of the activities of League of Nations. [U.S. Archives, NARA 867.4016/816.Janunary 10,1923]

This refugee movement was also indicated in the declaration prepared by Armenian National Delegation for Lausanne Treaty on 2nd February, 1923. [League Of Nation,Armenia, Geneva, February 2nd.1923, 0.153. M.56 1923 VII]


From the beginning of WW1 to 1921, there were 624.900 Armenians in Ottoman Empire, at least 400.000 in Yerevan Armenia and finally at least 40.000 in Iran. Unfortunately we can not conclude as to how many Ottoman Armenians immigrated to South Russia, Georgia, Egypt, Greece, USA or Europe.

However the most certain thing we get out of all these documents is that the Armenian population which was around 1.6 million before WW1 was at least around 1.1 million after WW1.