1943 US Intelligence Report: All Armenians Demand Return of Lands from Turkey

The recently announced demand for lands from Turkey by the Prosecutor General of Armenia attracted much attention from Armenians worldwide and harsh criticism from the Turkish government. While this was the first time that an Armenian official had raised this issue since the country’s independence in 1991, the demand itself is not new. Armenians have been seeking the return of their historic territories from Turkey for decades.

A confidential 1943 document, declassified by the Central Intelligence Agency, reveals that the US government was well aware of the Armenian demands for recognition of the “atrocities” and return of Turkish occupied “provinces.”

The document dated December 13, 1943, authored by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, stated: “All the Armenian press in the United States is active in keeping the Turkish Armenian massacres fresh in the minds of its readers. Fearful that the Axis atrocities of the present war [World War II] will eclipse the atrocities of the last when the final reckoning comes, they are anxious to keep alive the Armenian case against Turkey. Armenians have present as well as past grievances against Turkey, whose capital levy tax ‘Varlik’ falls harder on Armenians than on any other minority group in Turkey. Even more unforgivable in the eyes of Armenians is the fact that Turkey holds provinces which, they are firmly convinced, belong rightfully to Armenia. Restitution of these provinces to Armenia is the goal of all Armenians.” Elsewhere in the document, OSS accurately reported that “Armenians, almost without exception, entertain feelings of deepest suspicion, hostility, and fear” toward Turkey.

A second declassified confidential document dated July 31, 1944, carries a surprising title: “Tashnags Turn to Soviet Russia.” The OSS indicated that “the once uncompromisingly anti-Soviet Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Tashnags) officially changed its spots, and the swing toward support of the Soviet Union, which has been growing gradually more perceptible during the last few months, has culminated in the adoption of a pro-Soviet policy at the Federation’s annual convention held in Boston the first week of July.” This OSS report was prepared as the Soviet Union had announced its intention to claim the Eastern provinces of Turkey (Kars, Ardahan, and Surmalou) in a post-World War II settlement. The Soviet claim was backed by the Armenian Church, the Soviet Armenian government and the Diaspora, including the anti-Soviet Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).

The OSS astutely reported: “The Tashnags have never actually renounced their dream of a free and independent Armenia, including the Turkish irredenta, which has kept them at loggerheads with the USSR, ever since Armenia was established as a Soviet [illegible] in 1920. … With the vision of independence fading, the now Soviet-friendly Tashnags are turning their attention to the acquisition of the Turkish provinces of Armenia by the Soviet Armenian Republic.”

In explaining ARF’s post-war expectations, OSS stated: “If, as the Tashnags believe and hope, Turkey remains neutral [in World War II], she will be in a highly vulnerable position, and one item of payment for her neutrality, according to Mr. [James] Mandalian [editor of the Boston-based ARF newspaper Hairenik], would be the cession of Turkish Armenia to Soviet Armenia.”

The 1943 OSS document also contained a lengthy report on the Armenian-American press, focusing its attention on six of the 17 Armenian newspapers in the United States: “Hairenik and Asbarez (Tashnag)” classified as “rightist-nationalist;” “Baikar, Nor Or (Ramgavar)” and “Eritassard Hayastan (Hunchag)” classified as “liberal;” and Lraper (Armenian Progressive League of America)” classified as “leftist-Communist.” The last two newspapers are no longer in publication.

According to OSS, Hairenik and Asbarez are “strongly nationalist, anti-Soviet, and anti-Communist,” while Baikar is “resolutely opposed to the Tashnags and their principles. The Ramgavars have accepted the incorporation of Armenia into the Soviet Union as the most satisfactory way out of Armenian problems, and many articles are printed in Baikar extolling the Soviet regime in Armenia, particularly in its relations to the Armenian Apostolic Church.”

OSS estimated that the 95,000 Armenians in the United States in 1943, mostly settled in Massachusetts, New York, and California, “retain a keen interest in the affairs of their homeland [Soviet Armenia], though few, if any, would go back there.”

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. Stalin used the Armenian Church to repatriate diasporan Armenians in order to increase the population to further justify the return of lands. Unfortunately, Armenian demands were opposed by the British and actually they threatened against those demands, as if they had any right.

  2. Informative article. This is the basis of the Armenian repatriation and what I have been presenting with my research encompassing interviews with surviving repatriates. Of the Armenian-Americans, two caravans went back to Soviet Armenia with a total of 312 individuals, among them was my father and his family.

  3. Armenia’s past and sad history, where Soviet Bolshevik and Ottoman’s Turks destroyed and divided Armenian Highland among themselves, was unforgettable act of discriminatory against Armenian Nation of the world. The pain and suffering of Genocide and consequences of deportation, still very much alive within Armenian Nation of the world!!

    Our future generation must learn from the past and act against our national enemies rightfully, in order Armenia to survive as a nation and country in volatile region, such as Caucasus, where some certain old powers, still looking for instability, threatening our unity with their evil destructive intentional policy toward our little left over land.

  4. There really is one way to establish your own sovereignty on the lands that do not belong to you where you have no presence. It is further folly to seek Western sympathies for these ridiculous notions coming form a military outpost of Putinistan. Further justifies current policies of the Turkish Republic towards Armenia. What a shame. It is as if time has stopped over there.

    • {“There really is one way to establish your own sovereignty on the lands that do not belong to you where you have no presence”}.
      Indeed: your nomadic, Asiatic, Turkic ancestors left their miserable boondocks near Uyguristan and established their sovereignty on the lands that did not belong to them: we have figured that one out already, Denialist.
      And the invaders conveniently arranged for “no presence” by massacring indigenous unarmed civilians, women, children, babies.
      And don’t get too cocky, Denialist: Armenia is still too weak, and Turkey is too strong. But Turkey is on its way to breaking up: Kurdistian, Islmamists vs Kemalists, Alevis vs Sunnis.
      Lots of interesting possibilities.
      And the days when unarmed Armenians would meekly walk to their deaths are over. Your savage AzeriTatarTurk cousins found that out the hard way during the NKR war.
      They were hoping to repeat 1915: about 30,000 of them, cooking in Hell, are trying to figure out what went wrong with their splendid little plan to massacre another 150,000 Armenian gyavurs.
      We got time. We can wait. We will get our retribution: nomadic Turkic savages will get theirs for murdering 2 million of our Armenian civilians, one way or another.

  5. I just think it’s funny how Stalin got to keep the lands he conquered during World War II, (did the West even oppose this?) but he could not get the lands that belonged to the Armenian people.

  6. Avery, why do you keep referring to Turks as Nomads, after I have pointed out to you the existence of abundant DNA-based academic papers showing that Turks and Azeris are a local people, with no material traces of Central Asian DNA ancestry? Either disprove the facts brought to your attention, or stop repeating the same nonfactual nonsense. Or, of course, there is another alternative. Ignore facts and science and wallow in your hatred. Just look at your post above. Murat must have really touched a nerve! And even if he has been a nomad, what does that have to do with his current point, which is, Armenia is in no position to ever hope to get any land from Turkey. And it is utter delusion and wishful thinking that Turkey is likely to collapse. Yes, there are ethnic tensions. But Russia, China, and all other multi-ethnic countries are the same. Does it mean they are all on the verge of collapse? Don’t confuse your daydreams with reality. And check facts. Turkey is a thriving country, and Armenia heading towards either oblivion in 100 years or becoming an outpost of Russia.

  7. Karim – Today’s Turks and Azeris appear to be ‘local people’ only because over the centuries and as newcomers (mostly men/warriors), they intermingled with the local population by necessity. The reality is that the current population is actually much more Armenian than anything else, other than Persian. And, the culture they inherited is also largely Armenian, as there was no one else around when they showed up a thousand years ago. They walked in on a civilization that had existed for thousands of years before….and had nothing to do with them. They were so impressed by everything they saw, that they stayed and eventually stole whatever they could and called it their own. But please don’t try to tell us that Turks brought anything of value to Anatolia or the Caucasus, because that’s a royal fallacy of the highest order.

  8. I am surprised that even dear Mr.Sassounian is incognizant of the fact that the Turks have repeated several times over that land is not available -to be returned, or given back-to Armenians.Fact of the matter is the lands in question, were in the past also partially populated by KURDS for millenia(alongside mainly the Armenians) and are NOW ten times or more in number there.This is because they took over*-after hel`ping the turks evict and kill as many Armenians as possible.They have since then becpome ,near self supporting and live on those lands.
    If we are to try to get back our land(in the future) have to start negotiating with those who ARE ON THOSE LANDS.Turks promised the kurds these lands and plus all loot,if they helped thme uproot the Armenians.That simple!!!!!
    This even I doubt if Turks will readily consent /agreet to.THEY , BY NATURE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ON THE RECEIVING SIDE.But I have pointyed out again and agian.The Oil companies that passed the Oil pipe line via BTJ Baki Tiflis jeyhan,are to be ASKED(through thier govt.s when the Armneian Case is brought up at ICJ at Hague and U.N. and acknowledged as <GENOCIDE AND EVICITON HAS BEEN COMMITTED THERE ONM THOSE LANDS and the survivors/inheritors DEMAND BLOOD MONEY -LIKE THE JEWS DID AND RECEIVED-FROM GERMANY.Armenia was the shortest route to the Meditarranea,but those oil companies Intentionally? once would ask bypassed Armenia.Thence they are to pay hafl of the yearly(used to be 8 yrs ago)$1.5 billion to Armenians.half to Armenian Gov.t and other half to the AGBU to distribute to survivors inheritors.

  9. Gumru treaty signed on December 2, 1920.
    It states that the Turkish and the Armenian Governments, « for the purpose of putting an end to the hostilities and to find a basis of agreement, have sat down for an examination of the facts. » Kâzim Karabekir Pasha (Commander on the Eastern Front) on behalf of the Turks, and Alexander Khadissian (Prime Minister) on behalf of the Armenians, participated.

    The discussions resulted in the following agreement : The state of war between Turkey and the Armenian Republic was to be ended. The frontier between Turkey and Armenia was established. The territories designated for Turkey were to remain as such « by irrefutable historical, ethnic and legal rights. » The two parties agreed to the return of refugees across the old boundaries, with the exception of those who, during the First World War, went over to the enemy’s army and those who crossed occupied territories and participated in massacres. Those claims of the refugees who do not return within one year after the ratification of the Treaty would not be heard. The two parties agreed « TO FORGO THEIR RIGHTS TO ASK FOR DAMAGES» They had thus CLOSED THE DOORS FOREVER FOR REPARATIONS. The cancellation of damages also included the great expenses of Turkey incurred during two years because of the urgency of the war it had to wage against Armenia. The Erevan Government declared the Treaty of Sèvres null and void. It promised to recall « delegations who have been tools in the hands of the imperialist countries » and to keep away from such men « who are after imperialist aims. » Armenia agreed to consider null and void all treaties signed by the Armenian Republic with any country that related to Turkey or were harmful to Turkish interests”.
    You may have tore up your copy but we are hanging on to ours…

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