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Kaligian to Lecture in Belmont on the Battle of Bash Abaran

Battle of Bash Abaran Secured Independence for Armenia

BELMONT, Mass.—Historian Dr. Dikran Kaligian will present a lecture titled “The Battle of Bash Abaran: Winning Independence for the First Republic of Armenia,” on Oct. 19, at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, Mass. 02478.  The program is co-sponsored by NAASR and the Armenia Tree Project.

Historian Dr. Dikran Kaligian will present a lecture entitled “The Battle of Bash Abaran: Winning Independence for the First Republic of Armenia,” on Oct. 19, at NAASR Center

In the spring of 1918, the Armenian people faced a desperate situation. The Russian Revolution meant that the Russian armies that had liberated much of Western Armenia had gone home and Turkish armies were now attacking Eastern Armenia. Russian-Armenian troops and former fedayis were joined by streams of civilian volunteers in three battles on the three roads that led to Yerevan.

At Bash Abaran, General Drastamat Kanayan (Dro) fought Turkish forces more than twice the size of those he led. Despite the odds, Dro and his forces not only stopped the advance on Yerevan but also drove the attackers back beyond Hamamlu (Spitak).

The breakneck changes in diplomatic, political, and military fortunes during those key days will be outlined during the talk, as they led to the establishment of the first independent Armenian state in nearly six centuries.

As the 100th anniversary of the battle approaches, the Armenia Tree Project has begun to beautify and improve the Abaran site, planting trees and shrubs and developing walking paths. This project will culminate in May 2018 with a ceremonial tree-planting at the park.

Dikran M. Kaligian is the managing editor of the Armenian Review. He received his Ph.D. in history from Boston College. His book, Armenian Organization and Ideology under Ottoman Rule, 1908-1914 was published by Transaction Publishers. His articles have been published in the Journal of Genocide Research, Genocide Studies International, the Armenian Review, and in the books Through a Lens Darkly: Films of Genocide and Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks.

For more information about this program, contact NAASR at 617-489-1610 or hq@naasr.org.

2 Comments on Kaligian to Lecture in Belmont on the Battle of Bash Abaran

  1. avatar Perouz Seferian // October 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm // Reply

    Resistance: a Diary of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1922 is available in the NAASAR bookstore. In it, you will find information not only about the resistance battles, but also about Dro and Hagop, and Mardig, and Markar, who were from Bash Aparan. It is the only seven-year primary source documentation of the Armenian Genocide and the beginning of the Russian Revolution written by a resistance fighter who kept a daily diary of the events he participated in or witnessed as they were happening. It is a front-line report on the period from 1915, when Misak Seferian’s village in historical Western Armenia was invaded by the Ottoman Turks, to 1922 when he escaped from a Bolshevik prison.

    Misak Seferian came to Canada in 1923 and immediately began to write from his notebooks. Hundreds of his articles were published in serial form in the Armenian edition of The Hairenik newspaper in the 1930s and early 1940s. This book is a translated and edited version of those writings. It is available in the NAASAR bookstore.
    Here is an excerpt from May 1918.
    Enemy artillery shelled us the entire night of May 21, 1918. Both of
    our regiments remained at their positions the entire night without rest,
    becoming very fatigued and less able to resist. At dawn on May 22, the
    Turks doubled their artillery and attacked us. After a furious battle of
    three or four hours, their much larger forces invaded the heights on our
    left wing. Both of our regiments retreated to the north after losing many
    martyrs. Hamamlou Station was invaded later the same day. That night, all
    of our forces retreated to a point very close to Gharakilisa and formed a
    new front. Several battalions from Gharakilisa joined us. They told us that
    the entire population had vowed in one voice, “Either liberty or death.”
    “Boys,” said Ardoush, one of the new arrivals, “tomorrow morning,
    these fields and mountains will be filled with Armenian soldiers. Fifteen
    to sixty-year-olds will come, and together, we will defend our fatherland
    against the Turk.”
    I was so happy that I did not know what to do with myself. I ran from
    position to position, repeating the joyous news coming from Gharakilisa.
    “Our positions here are advantageous for both offensive and defensive
    tactics,” said Officer Arshag. “I’m sure the enemy will not succeed here, but
    I’m very concerned about our right wing.”
    That night more than one thousand youths arrived from Gharakilisa.
    Our battalion of seventy soldiers rose to 150, and our general regiment
    went from four hundred to seven hundred. With the newly arrived forces
    from Gharakilisa, the First Division’s regiments nearly doubled. We also
    expected to receive assistance from new forces coming from the rear. Our
    greatest hope was that we would not be attacked for one or two days, so we
    could organize our troops. However, the enemy did not ignore us.
    Before noon on May 24, 1918, Turks attacked the entire length of
    our front with tremendous force. The battle that then took place was
    later commonly known as the Great Battle of Gharakilisa.39 As soon as
    enemy advance guards appeared, we forced them back with a strong fire.
    They returned in three ranks, their cannons shelled our first and second
    positions simultaneously. They moved to the outer range of our rifles and
    machine guns, where the most intense battle then followed. The roar of
    machine guns and the screaming of rifles intermingled with the thunder
    of cannons. The world became only what I could see before me. There was
    nothing beyond that, not even thought.
    Officer Arshag directed our machine gun fire, and I commanded the
    battalion. The position holders on my right side were soldiers from the
    Eighth Regiment. Our regiment’s three other battalions protected our left
    side. We were holding a front with a length of about twenty-five miles.
    Two hours after the battle started, I ordered my men to advance. They fired
    while moving forward on their knees. The enemy sifted their bullets on us.
    We had barely gone fifteen to twenty steps when they killed two of our men
    and injured five. We returned to our positions and continued to fire with
    the same

  2. avatar Perouz Seferian // October 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm // Reply

    For those not able to attend the lecture at NAASR, Resistance: a Diary of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1922, is also available at Abril Books in Glendale, California.

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