Mikhail Loris-Melikov

 

 

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY 
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

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Birth of Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov

(November 2, 1824)

 

Among many Armenian soldiers who served the Russian Empire, the name of Mikhail Loris-Melikov was also relevant for his political labor.

 

His actual name was Mikayel Loris-Melikian. He was the scion of an ancient noble family from Lori, which owned the province in the Middle Ages. They later entered the aristocratic society of Georgia, and the princely family of the Loris-Melikovs was approved in 1832 as part of the Russian nobility.

 

Mikhail Loris-Melikov was born on November 2, 1824, in Tiflis (Georgia), and was educated in St. Petersburg, first at the Lazarian Institute of Oriental Languages and afterwards at the Guards’ Cadet Institute. In 1843 he joined a hussar regiment and was sent to the Caucasus in 1847. He would spend some thirty years there and make a career both as a distinguished cavalry officer and an able administrator, working to ensure a transition from military to civil administration. He was governor of the region of Terek (nowadays the northeastern Caucasus) from 1863-1875.


Loris-Melikov, who reached the rank of cavalry general in 1875, commanded an army corps on the Ottoman frontier in Asia Minor during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. He took the fortress of Ardahan and was rebuffed by Ottoman general Ahmed Muhtar Pasha at Zevin, but he subsequently carried a conclusive victory over his opponent at Alaja, took the impregnable fortress of Kars by storm, and laid siege to Erzerum. His distinguished military service in the war earned him the title of Count, and he was awarded the Order of Saint George of the second degree for his service in Alaja in October 1877.

 

In 1878 Loris-Melikov was transferred to the region of the Lower Volga as temporary governor-general to combat an outbreak of the plague. His effectiveness at the work earned him another transfer, this time to the provinces to Central Russia to combat the terrorist activities of nihilists and anarchists.

 

He was successful in his task, and he was appointed chief of the Supreme Administrative Commission created in St. Petersburg after an assassination attempt against Czar Alexander II in February 1880. He showed his preference for the use of ordinary legal methods rather than exception extralegal measures, believing that the best policy was to strike at the root of the evil. He recommended a scheme of administrative and economic reforms to the Russian emperor with the aim of alleviating the causes of social discontent. Alexander II, who was not convinced of the efficacy of police repression, dissolved the Supreme Commission in August 1880 and appointed Count Loris-Melikov Interior Minister with exceptional powers in November.

 

The scheme of reforms was never carried out. On March 13, 1881, the very day that the emperor signed a decree creating several commissions to prepare reforms in various branches of government, he was the victim of a conspiracy by nihilist terrorists. His son and successor Alexander III adopted an anti-reformist policy and started to undo the reforms promulgated by his father. This led Loris-Melikov to resign in May and retire from active life. He wrote several historical and political works, living in Germany and then in Nice (France) until his death on December 24, 1888. His remnants were moved to Tiflis and buried in the courtyard of the Armenian monastery of Tiflis. 

 

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Anton Kochinian

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY 
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

Birth of Anton Kochinian

(October 25, 1913)

 

Anton Kochinian

Anton Kochinian

 

Anton Kochinian was a remarkable, yet underrated figure in the history of Soviet Armenia during the 1950-1970s, despite being in top leadership positions for most of that period.

He was born in the village of Shahali (now Vahagni), in the district of Lori, on October 25, 1913, in the family of an agriculturist. He studied in the local school, then entered the youth organization of the Communist Party (1928) and studied in the school of the organization until 1931. He went to Tiflis to study at the Armenian pedagogical technical school in 1932, but left after a year and he was sent to Yerevan to study at the agricultural school of the youth organization (1933-1935).

After working on the editorial boards of local newspapers from Tavush and Vayots dzor (1935-1937), Kochinian rapidly rose in the party ranks. First he was secretary of the regional committee of the district of Azizbekov (Siunik) from 1937-1939, and from 1939-1940 secretary of personnel and then first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth Organization. In 1940 he was elected member of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party, and in 1941-1943 he led regional committees in Yerevan and Kotayk.

After spending two years in Moscow as an auditor at the higher school for party organizers, in 1946 he was elected third secretary of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party, and in 1947 secretary of personnel.

In November 1952 Kochinian was promoted to the post of president of the Council of Ministers. He would occupy this position of prime minister for almost fourteen years, during the tenures of Grigori Arutyunov (1937-1953), Suren Tovmasian (1953-1960), and Yakob Zarobian (1960-1966) as the party’s first secretaries. Kochinian was selected by the Moscow leadership to replace Zarobian in February 1966 after the latter failed to contain the demonstrations of April 1965 on the fiftieth anniversary of the genocide.

During his more than two decades both as prime minister and first secretary of the party, Kochinian recorded a series of important achievements. The economic progress of Armenia was backed by an important program of industrialization. This included the construction of chemical factories in Alaverdi and Kirovakan (nowadays Vanadzor), the industrial complexes of Hrazdan and Charentsavan, and factories in Sevan and Dilijan, complemented by railways that ensured transportation of raw materials and production. The “Yeraz” truck factory (1964) in Yerevan and big electronic factories in the city of Abovian were added in this period. Thermoelectric centrals were built in Yerevan, Kirovakan, and Hrazdan, as well as the hydroelectric central of Tatev and the cascade of Vorotan. The construction of the 48 kilometers-long Arpa-Sevan tunnel, which would bring the waters of the Arpa River to Sevan Lake, started in 1963. Kochinian’s active participation was instrumental in the decision to build the nuclear central of Metzamor, started in 1969, which would lead Armenia to energy self-sufficiency. Several thousand hectares of orchards were planted, along the construction of the canal of Aparan and the reservoir of Garni. The Yerevan-Sevan highway and the Kapan-Goris route were also built.

Besides a network of sanatoria, pioneer camps, and tourism areas throughout the republic, the sports complex of Tzaghkadzor, which would be used to train the Soviet winter sports teams, was built in the 1960s, and some important public works in Yerevan started in the early 1970s, such as enlargement of the Zvartnots airport (1973), the Hrazdan stadium (1971), and the Rossiya movie theater (1970). The first steps to build the subway network were taken in 1972.

Kochinian was also instrumental in the inauguration of the genocide memorial of Tzitzernakaberd (1967), the monument of Sardarabad (1968), and the Erebuni museum (1968). The latter coincided with the celebration of the 2750th anniversary of the foundation of Yerevan with great fanfare. He also raised the issue of Karabagh in 1966.

During Kochinian’s tenure as first secretary, Soviet Armenia earned three of the five all-Soviet decorations it had throughout its history for reaching high marks in economic activity (1968, 1970, and 1972). Kochinian himself was twice decorated with the order of Lenin.

In November 1974 he was replaced by Karen Demirjian under pretexts of “serious flaws in leadership” and practically left unemployed. He passed away on December 1, 1990. On the centennial of Kochinian’s birth, two busts were inaugurated in Yerevan and in his birthplace in Vahagni (Lori).

 

SOS SARGSYAN

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY 
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

BIRTH OF SOS SARGSYAN

(October 24, 1929)

Sos Sargsyan

Sos Sargsyan became one of the most renowned Armenian actors in the second half of the twentieth century.

 

He was born in Stepanavan, in the Lori region of Armenia, on October 24, 1929. He debuted on the stage in 1947 as David Copperfield in a homonymous play based on Charles Dickens’ novel. He moved to Yerevan in 1948 and started performing at the Theater of the Young Spectator. Meanwhile, he entered the Yerevan Fine Arts and Theatre Institute, from where he graduated in 1954. Upon graduation, at the age of twenty-five, he entered the Gabriel Sundukian Drama Theatre, the premier theatrical ensemble of the country, where he worked for the next thirty-seven years.

 

Sargsyan was one of those actors who did not need to make recourse to external emphasis and emotions in order to reflect his feelings. During his lengthy career, he performed roles in many plays both by Armenian and non-Armenian authors. Roles like Ben Alexander (William Saroyan’s My Heart is in the Mountains), Don Quixote (Mikhail Bulgakov’s homonymous play), Iago (William Shakespeare’s Othello), or King Lear (Shakespeare’s homonymous play), among others, cemented his fame.

 

He played in over forty films, including unforgettable roles in Armenian classic movies like Guys from the Army Band (1961), Triangle (1967, Armenian SSR State Prize in 1975), We Are Our Mountains (1969), Khatabala (1971), Nahapet (1977), Dzori Miro (1981), Gikor (1982), and others. His cinematographic participations included various Russian films, most particularly Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972). He was the narrator of the documentary Matenadaran (1988, Armenian SSR State Prize).

 

In 1992 he established the Hamazkayin Theater, which he headed until the end of his life. Sargsyan continued directing and playing, both in theater and cinema. Simultaneously, he was the dean of the Yerevan Institute of Theater and Cinema from 1997-2005, and served as a member of its board of directors from 2006 until his death. He published several novels, memoirs, and collections of essays between 1991 and 2013.

 

His lengthy career of more than sixty years earned him many distinctions. He was named Popular Artist of Armenia in 1972 and of the Soviet Union in 1986). He was also awarded the Mesrop Mashtots medal of the Republic of Armenia (1996), the St. Sahak-St. Mesrop medal of the Armenian Church (2000), and the Mekhitar Gosh medal of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh (2001). He was named honorary citizen of Yerevan in 2000 and earned the title of Professor in 2003.

 

Sos Sargsyan was also active in the political field. He was elected deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 1989-1991, and in October 1991 he was nominated by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation as candidate in the first presidential election in independent Armenia. In 2009 he was elected to the National Assembly on the A.R.F. list. On the same year, he was elected as member of the Public Council, an advisory body to the President of Armenia.


The famous actor passed away on September 26, 2013, in Yerevan, and was buried at the Komitas Pantheon.

 

Vilmos Lázár

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY 
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

Death of Vilmos Lázár

(October 6, 1849)

 

Vilmos Lázár

Vilmos Lázár

 

The centuries-old Armenian community of Transylvania—currently part of Romania–had essentially lost the language by the nineteenth century, but had kept a strong sense of identity. They were fully integrated to the life of Hungary, which was part of Austria since 1526. It should not be surprising that several military leaders of the Hungarian-Revolution of 1848-1849 were Armenian. One of them was Vilmos (pronounced Vilmosh) Lázár.

 

Lázár’s (originally Lazarian) ancestors had moved from Gherla (Armenopolis), the Armenian center of Transylvania, to the region of Banat—currently divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary—and received a title of nobility. He was born in the city of Nagybecskerek (nowadays Zrenjanin in Serbia) on October 24, 1815. In 1834 he began his military career in the service of the 34th regiment of infantry in the imperial army. He was commissioned by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria as a second lieutenant in the Hussar regiment, but in 1844 he retired and returned to his estate farm in Zemplen with his wife, Baroness Mária Revitzky. He worked at the railway company in 1847.

 

The echo of the French revolution of 1848 spread throughout the continent and found fertile ground in Hungary, where nationalist trends had generated an awakening of patriotism. On March 15, 1848, a revolt against the Habsburg dynasty exploded. Led by Lajos Kossuth, poet Sándor Petöfi, and Mór Jókai, it soon became a war of independence. Emperor Franz-Joseph asked for help to Czar Nicholas I of Russia to fight against the revolution.

 

Lázár took the revolutionary side and volunteered his services to the Hungarian army. He successively became a lieutenant (October 1848), captain (November), major (January 1849). In April 1849 he was appointed as commander of a brigade stationed in Zemplén. At the end of the month the brigade was reassigned to the legion forming in Upper Hungary. In mid-June Lázár became the commander of division in the legion and participated in the Dukla Pass battle against a Russian army. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in July and fought in the last battles of the war of independence. He was promoted to colonel on August 12, but the next day the revolutionary army surrendered to the Austrian-Russian forces. On August 19 Lázár had to do the same with the remainder of his troops (4,600 people).

 

The promise of an amnesty went unfulfilled. On October 6, 1849, thirteen Hungarian officers were condemned to death by the Austrian forces of occupation in Arad (Transylvania). The date was purposefully selected, because it marked the first anniversary of the failed insurrection of Vienna in 1848 and the supremacy of Austrian power.

 

Although Lázár only had the rank of colonel, he was considered to have equal status with the generals in the Arad military court martial. He was sentenced to execution by firing squad together with three other colleagues, including General Ernö Kiss, also of Armenian origin. Nine others were hanged.

 

Vilmos Lázár’s remnants were uncovered in 1913 at the cemetery of the fortress of Arad. His body was then laid to rest in the crypt with a monument that honors him as one of the 13 Martyrs of Arad. Four streets in Budapest and other cities are named after him.

 

Since 1997, on each October 6, the Armenian community of Hungary organizes a tribute to Vilmos Lázár and Ernö Kiss at the square that remembers the martyrs of Arad in the city of Veszprém.

 

ŞAHAN ARZRUNI

Saturday, September 29, 2018 @ 7 pm

ArzruniWordpress

Although Şahan Arzruni played the straight man alongside Victor Borge in concert for several years, the Istanbul-born, New York-based musician has enjoyed an accomplished career in his own right as concert pianist, recording artist and musicologist. He has performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the White House as well as on The Tonight Show and the BBC. His discography of over a dozen albums includes recordings of Chopin and Bartok. For his concert at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, Arzruni will focus on music by fellow Armenian composers such as Aram Khachaturian, Alan Hovhannes, Gomidas Vartabed and others.

For all ages. General Admission. All tickets $25. Children 11 and under are free. Run time 90 minutes plus 15 minutes intermission.

tickets.milwaukeearmenians.com

 

DEATH OF ENVER PASHA

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY 
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

Death of Enver Pasha

(August 4, 1922)

 EnverPasha

Anyone who is aware of the history of the Armenian Genocide has heard the name of Enver Pasha as one of its key executors.

Unlike its mastermind, Talaat, Ismail Enver Pasha was a military officer, born in Constantinople on November 22, 1881. He studied in different military schools and graduated in 1903 with distinction. In 1906 he was sent to the Third Army, stationed in Salonica. He became a member of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) during his service.

When the Young Turk coup broke out in June 1908, Enver became one of its military leaders. He was actively involved in the suppression of the attempt of countercoup of April 1909, which tried to restore Abdul Hamid’s absolute powers. Afterwards, he was sent to Berlin as a military attaché, where he strengthened the ties between German and Ottoman military.

During the Italo-Turkish war of 1911, Enver left Berlin and organized the defense of Libya, where he was appointed governor of Benghazi. He was called back to Constantinople when the First Balkan War started in October 1912 and ascended to the grade of lieutenant colonel. In the same year, the CUP fell from government and was replaced by the Liberal Union party. However, the severe Ottoman defeat in the First Balkan War weakened the government and Enver organized a coup in January 1913. The power returned to the CUP and the triumvirate formed by Enver, Talaat, and Jemal Pasha took charge until the end of World War I. Enver became Minister of War and married into the royal family. When in June 1913 the Second Balkan War broke out, he reversed some of the losses by recapturing Adrianople (nowadays Edirne) from the Bulgarians.

Enver was an architect of the Ottoman-German alliance in World War I, expecting a quick victory that would benefit the empire. He assumed command of the Ottoman forces in the Caucasus. Pursuing his quest for a Pan-Turkic empire stretching to Central Asia, he wanted to force the Russians out and take back Kars and Batum, which had been ceded after the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878. His offensive in the thick of winter ended with a catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Sarikamish in December 1914 – January 1915 and tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers dying in the subsequent retreat. On his return to Constantinople, Enver blamed his failure on his Armenian soldiers, although in January 1915 an Armenian soldier had carried him through battle lines on his back and saved his life, and a letter written by Enver himself to the Prelate of Konia, Bishop Karekin Khachadourian, praised the Armenians for their bravery and faithfulness in February 1915.

Enver played a major role in the Armenian Genocide. He took the first steps by ordering the Armenian recruits in the Ottoman army to be disarmed and reassigned to labor battalions before their summary executions. These instructions were explained on the basis of accusations of treasonous activity, but the defeat of his army only provided the pretext for escalating a campaign of extermination that was also unleashed against the civilian population with the use of the secret paramilitary Special Organization (Teshkilât-i-Mahsusa) to systematically massacre deported Armenians.

After the collapse of the Russian front in 1918, the Ottoman armies advanced into the Caucasus. The Third Army, commanded by Vehib Pasha, entered the territory of Eastern Armenia, and was halted at the battles of Sardarabad, Bash Aparan, and Gharakilise in May 1918. A new military force called the Army of Islam, commanded by Enver’s half-brother Nuri, advanced towards the territory of today’s Azerbaijan and, in combination with the Tatars (Azerbaijanis), occupied Baku on September 15, organizing a massacre of the local Armenian population.

However, the Ottoman Empire was faced with defeat. Enver was dismissed from his ministerial position in October 1918, and a month later he fled into exile together with other CUP members. Tried in absentia by a postwar courts-martial for crimes of “plunging the country into war without a legitimate reason, forced deportation of Armenians, and leaving the country without permission,” he was condemned to death in July 1919.

Enver first went to Germany, and shuttled back and forth between Berlin and Moscow trying to build a German-Soviet alliance. He went to Baku in September 1920 and took part in the Congress of Eastern Peoples. In July 1921 he tried to return to Turkey, but Mustafa Kemal did not want him among his forces, as he explicitly rejected Enver’s Pan-Turkic ideas. He traveled to Moscow where he managed to win the trust of the Soviet authorities. In November 1921 he was sent by Lenin to Bukhara, in Turkestan, to help suppress a revolt against the local Bolshevik regime. Instead, along with a small number of followers, he defected to the rebels and united their different groups under his own command to fight against the Red Army.

On August 4, 1922, a cavalry brigade of the Red Army under the command of Hakob Melkumian (known in Russian sources as Yakov Melkumov) launched a surprise attack over Enver’s headquarters near the village of Ab-i-Derya. The attack ended with Enver’s death. There are different versions. According to Melkumov’s memoirs, Enver managed to escape on horseback and hid for several days in the village of Chaghan. After the hideout was located, the Soviet troops stormed the village and Enver was killed by Melkumov himself in the ensuing combat.

Enver’s body was buried near Ab-i-Derya. As it happened with Talaat in 1943, the remains of this executioner of the Armenian people were brought to Turkey in 1996 and reburied at the Monument of Liberty cemetery in Shishli, Istanbul.

 

MILWAUKEE ARMENIAN FEST

Milwaukee Armenian Fest

By David Luhrssen

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On July 22, St. John the Baptist Armenian Church in Greenfield, WI, held Milwaukee’s annual Armenian Fest. The festival has grown in recent years from its origins as a church-family picnic into a regionally recognized event that draws attention from the local news media and has gained a large non-Armenian audience.

The lack of leftover food from this year’s Armenian Fest is an indicator that 2018 was the event’s most successful year to date.

Armenian Fest’s main attraction remains the food. The offerings are almost entirely homemade from old family recipes and include pilaf, boreg, sarma, yalanjee, hummus and desserts such as paklava and borma as well as beef and chicken shish-kabobs grilled over an open fire. But the festival also kept the crowd engaged with live music by Chicago’s Hye Vibes, Racine’s Stepan Froonjian and performances by Chicago’s  Hamazkayin Sardarabad Dancers. Armenian wine, beer, preserves and honey were sold along with books, CDs and t-shirts.

Armenian Fest has become the Milwaukee Armenian community’s opportunity to give southeastern Wisconsin a taste of Armenian food, culture and hospitality.

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