Military operation on thy Caucasus Front from July 1914 to April 26, 1916. Copy-book 7 and 8: from January 1 to February 3, 1916.
Ruben O. Sahakyan
The 7th and 8th notebooks of Th. Nazarbekyan’s memoirs present the military operations that took place from January 1916 to February 3, which brought a radical breakthrough in the battles on the Caucasus front. Notwithstanding the unbearable weather conditions, the Caucasus Army took decisive actions aiming to capture Erzrum in the first place. The servicemen had to overcome enormous difficulties, about which Th. Nazarbekyan constantly informed the command.
But when, on the eve of Khnus’ operation, he considered it his duty to report to General Vl. De Witt – the Commander of the 4th Caucasian Army Corps, by the order of the latter, Th. Nazarbekyan was temporarily deprived of the opportunity to lead his attacking division because of his “audacity”. Only some time later, after a large number of victims who died due to frostbite or lost limbs, the command realized what complications and barriers were mentioned in Th. Nazarbekyan’s report.
In the unbearable winter conditions, not having enough food, but not paying attention to the difficulties encountered, on January 13, 1916, the Cossacks, the shooters supporting them and the Armenian 2nd Squad led by Dro captured Khnus, which saved more than 1.000 Armenian women and children.
At the end of 1915 and the beginning of 1916, the desire to dissolve the Armenian volunteer groups was already maturing among the Caucasian authorities. That is why various absurd, sometimes provocative rumors were spread about Armenian volunteers. The Labinskian Cossack Regiment, under the command of Noskov – the not-so-unknown Colonel of the General Staff, had entered Khnus, sending a false report from Mush valley to Th. Nazarbekyan in July 1915, claiming that he was being attacked by 12 Turkish battalions, thus contributing to the sudden retreat of Russian troops.
And after the capture of Khnus, the Cossacks of Noskov once again spread false rumors that Armenian volunteers had committed violence against local Kurds and Turkish casualties. Being in Khnus, Th. Nazarbekyan visited the wounded and sick Turks in the hospital and talked to one of them. According to the latter, the murders were committed by the Cossacks themselves.
In order to prevent the Armenian volunteers from being unjustly accused of organizing a massacre again, Th. Nazarbekyan ordered not to allow them to enter Mush first. However, Colonel Noskov, who sent him a telegram on February 3, 1916, about the capture of Mush, did not comply with that order. It turned out that if Taron’s Armenians had been annihilated by the hands of Turks and Kurds by organizing the July 1915 retreat, and now, in January-February 1916, by killing the Turks and Kurds with their own hands, the same Armenians would be held responsible.