The following choice bits are from:
A History of Armenia
by Vahan M. Kurkjian
published by the
Armenian General Benevolent Union of America
From an online publication
Russians take the Erevan province from the Persians
The army of Abbas was defeated and the city of Tabriz was occupied by the Russians. By the treaty of Turkmen-Tchai in 1828, Persia surrendered the Khanates of Erevan and Nakhjevan, their sole remaining possessions on the left bank of the Arax. Etchmiadzin, the spiritual capital of the Armenian people, was thus delivered from incursions, often humiliating and sacrilegious. However, the creation of an "Armenian autonomous province" under Russian suzerainty, which had been promised or hoped for, did not meet with the approval of the Viceroy of the Caucasus, General Paskevitch.
Shah-Abbas seized upon this excuse to attempt a revenge for the reverses inflicted upon Persia by the Turks. He promptly invaded Azerbaijan, took the province of Ararat and advanced towards the West. He was brought to a halt, however, when confronted by a powerful force under the general, Sinan Pasha, sent against him by the new Sultan of Turkey, Ahmed I (1603-1617). Shah-Abbas, realizing his inferiority, had to give up Armenia, but not before he had burned and destroyed everything within reach, reducing the country to a waste and making it useless for the victorious Turks. At the same time, he ordered the Armenians to emigrate to Persia and settle there as colonists. The entire population of Eastern Armenia was thus deported, and those who were unwilling to quit their ancestral homes were forced to do so under the threat of whip and bludgeon, even of steel. Weary caravans did finally, after a long march, reach the banks of the Arax River, the crossing of which cost the lives of thousands. Those of the evacuees who could manage to evade their conquerors slipped away to the north, to seek refuge in Astrakhan, on the Volga River, to join eventually the preceding Armenian emigrants in Moldavia, Bukovina and Poland.
The news of a Russian campaign was therefore joyfully hailed by the harassed people, and their courage was revived to the point of aiding the army of liberation. General Paskevitch captured a dozen important towns and cities in Armenia — Kars, Akhalkalak, Akhaltzikh, Bayazid, Diadin, Alashkert, Hassan-Kala, Erzerum, Khnous, Baiburt, etc. The Czarist armies, victorious also in European Turkey, were threatening Constantinople when Western powers, intent on maintaining the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, interceded. By the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829, Russia was persuaded to restore to Turkey all her new acquisitions in Asia with the exception of the districts of Anapa, Poti, Akhalkalak and Akhaltzikh.
The Armenians were bitterly disappointed, and fearing Turkish vengeance for their adherence to the Russian cause, ninety thousand of them emigrated towards Alexandropol and adjacent Russian territories. This was a pitiful exodus; half of them died from starvation and exposure on the way. The survivors found themselves confronted with another oppression. The Russian administration, heir to the Byzantine policy of championship of the Orthodox Church, was not in sympathy with the faithful Armenian churchmen, who, being orthodox too, had clung to the autonomous existence of their own creed. Greek intolerance of bygone centuries seemed to have been transmitted in force to these Slavs of the East. Despite the periodical incitement of religious fanaticism by the Russian Orthodox clergy, the Armenians have always acknowledged their gratitude for the full security given to them within the Russian frontiers in those early days of the 19th century.
The main body of the deportees was, after a toilsome journey, herded through Azerbaijan and Kurdistan towards Ispahan, where Shah-Abbas established in 1605 an Armenian town, New Julfa, not far from his capital city. The King evinced a real sympathy towards the exiles, and as soon as they had settled in their new home, he proclaimed religious liberty within his realm. He himself occasionally attended the ceremonies of the Armenian Church, and did not tolerate any molestation of Christians by his Moslem subjects. Unfortunately, many of his successors failed to adhere to his wise policy, and under the influence of fanatical mollahs, mistreated the Armenians.
The reforms were to be executed in the six Armenian provinces, Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Diarbekir, Sivas and Kharput. Scarcely had the paper been signed when secret orders were issued from the palace of the "Red Sultan" for the general massacre which took place in 1895 and 1896. The number of the dead, almost all of them able-bodied men, reached 100,000 — according to the conservative estimate of the British Blue Book, 63,000.
In November 1918 the British landed in Batum and in the middle of the following year they withdrew from Trans-Caucasus. During the critical period of the Armenian Republic they did not help our people, but merely sold to the Armenians some rifles and military uniforms. They tried to use the Armenians as tools in their fights against the Bolsheviks. General Stokes, in the name of the British Foreign Secretary gave the only honest advice to the leaders of the Republic. "England cannot do anything for you," he said, "Try to come to an understanding with the Bolsheviks."
On November 25th, Ohanchanian and the Tashnak Bureau relinquished their powers and Simeon Vratsian, the chief of the Bureau was elected Premier. To halt the Turkish army, he sent Khatisian to Alexandropol to meet Karabekir and arrange an armistice. In the meanwhile he called an extraordinary council (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) with government and party officials dominating it, to decide whether Armenia should adopt Russian or Turkish orientation. The majority voted for the Russian tie. Immediately following the decision, Vratzian informed LeGrand that Armenia had now become an "Independent Socialist Republic." The next day, December 2nd, 1920 an agreement was signed with LeGrand, according to which Armenia should have a Soviet regime; the Republican army should not be held responsible for its past opposition, the members of the Tashnak party should not be persecuted; on the contrary, two members of the party would be admitted to the ministerial cabinet and Dro, another member, would be appointed military governor of Erevan. Thereupon, Vratsian and his government withdrew from office, after serving only seven days. The Turks remained [p487] static for the moment, waiting watchfully. On December 6th, the Revolutionary Committee arrived in Erevan under the presidency of Gassian, to whom Dro surrendered the reins of government.
Treaty of Alexandropol; February revolution
It was at Alexandropol that the Turks and the Armenian delegation under Khatisian first heard of the bolshevization of Armenia. Karabekir was urging the delegation to sign the armistice the same day. It is rumored that Khatisian telephoned Erevan, asking whether he should sign the armistice, and received an answer, attributed to Vratsian, that he was authorized to do so. It is a known fact that sixteen hours after the bolshevization of Armenia, toward midnight on December 2nd, Khatisian signed the Alexandropol treaty, which can be summarized as follows:
"Turkey recognizes the independence of Armenia; the Armenians yield their rights in the Sèvres Treaty (that is to say the cause of Turkish Armenia); the Akhourian river will be the boundary between the two countries; the Armenian army will not have more than 1,500 soldiers; military service will not be compulsory; the gendarmerie will be responsible for internal security; Turkey will defend Armenia against attack; Sharour and Nakhitchevan will be autonomous territories under Turkish protection," etc.
Scarcely three months later, there occurred a civil war in Armenia known as the February revolt, which claimed thousands of new sacrifices from a bleeding people. The opposing sides have different versions of this ghastly event. The Armenian Bolsheviks accuse the Tashnak party of inciting the people to rebellion, that Vratsian organized a "Liberation Committee" whose sole aim was to overthrow the communist regime. His immediate colleagues were Rupen "Pasha" and commander Nezhteh, who was in Zangezur. On the other hand, the Tashnaks accuse the Bolsheviki of persecuting their members, beating and shooting their former opponents, thus forcing the people to defend themselves.
The Tashnak revolt lasted about 45 days — from February 18th to April 2nd, 1921. It is reported that this fratricidal war cost the unhappy nation more than 20,000 lives. Through an unfortunate twist of fate, there was simultaneously a conference in Moscow between the Russians and the Turks, and another in London between British [p488] and Turks. To both of these conferences Vratsian who had again become the Armenian Premier, sent telegrams confirming the treaty of Alexandropol. But while Vratsian was dispatching these messages, A. Aharonian, the delegate of the Armenian Republic declared before the Allied Supreme Council on February 26th that he and the government he represented "do absolutely reject the treaty of Alexandropol."
This dissension had a disastrous effect on the cause of Turkish Armenia.
However, when the Bolshevik army reached Erevan, the Tashnak revolt was crushed, and Vratsian fled to the mountains of Sewnik carrying with him the treasury of the Republic. After a futile attempt to set up an independent government in Zangezur, he and his followers moved on to the city of Tabriz in Persia.
Lenin thereupon sent Alexander Miasnikian to pacify Armenia and establish a stable government there, on the Soviet pattern.
The Armenian historian is telling us:
The British used the Armenians as pawns.
The Armenians willingly joined the Soviets.
The Turks had nothing to do with this decision, remaining "static."
The Gumru/Alexandropol Treaty is the first time the Turks had heard of the Bolshevization of Armenia.
The violence of early 1921 was between Armenians only, resulting in a "self-genocide" of 20,000 lives. When some writers refer to the "Armenian Genocide of 1915-1921," they are including these victims as having died at the hands of the Turks.