THE UNPUBLISHED MEMORIES OF TOVMAS NAZARBEKYAN – 2020-1

Military operations on the Caucasus Front from July 1914 to April 26, 1916
Copy-book 5 and 6: from August 14, 1915 to December 31, 1915

Summary

Ruben O. Sahakyan-Doctor of Historical Sciences
In the 5th and 6th notebooks of his memoirs, General T. Nazarbekyan describes the military operations that took place on the Caucasus (Russian-Turkish) Front from August 14, 1915 to December 14.

The commander again revisits the examination of the issue of the tragic retreat of July 1915. According to him, the retreat caused great discontent among the Armenian society. News was spread that the Russian government wanted to liquidate volunteer groups, as well as refusing to give autonomy to Western Armenia. The discontent of the Armenian public and political circles was further heightened when they learned that the Russian authorities were taking effective steps to resettle the Alashkert Valley with Russians and Cossacks. This tendency became clearer under the newly appointed Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasus Army Nikolay Romanov-Jr. Moreover, he was taking steps to win over the Kurds fighting against the Russian army on their side. Whereas, the Kurds remained loyal to the Ottoman Empire, and more precisely, the war was a convenient occasion for them to plunder and “cleanse” the territories from the Armenians.

On November 18, 1915 the brigade of Th. Nazarbekyan was reorganized into the 2nd Caucasian Rifle Division. Th. Nazarbekyan describes the large-scale fortification works being carried out at the defense sites occupied by the Caucasian 4th Army Corps. Rumors were circulating within the troops that the units would be wintering at the locating sites, so they were thoroughly being prepared for it. Barracks, bathhouses, canteens, warehouses, etc., were being built.

In fact, Commander of the Caucasian Army, General N. Yudenich was preparing for the Erzrum (Karin) capture operation and the news of a hibernation on the spot were misinformation intended to deceive the enemy and not to reveal the offensive operation in advance. N. Yudenich was in a hurry to seize Erzurum as it became known that the Allies – the British and the French, had decided to finally halt the Gallipoli landing operation, the ultimate goal of which was was the capture of Constantinople. It was clear to N. Yudenich that the Ottoman troops stationed in the straits would be directed against the Russians in the spring of 1916, so he decided not to delay but to seize Erzrum – the last powerful Turkish stronghold in Western Armenia.

Th. Nazarbekyan notes with regret that the advancement of the division led by him was accompanied overcoming many obstacles, especially emphasizing the harsh climatic conditions and the almost non-existence of shelters, in the result of which not only humans but also pack animals suffered.

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