Posts Tagged ‘Sardarabad’

(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)



Opening of the Monument of Sartarabad
(May 25, 1968)

Sartarabad, located 25 miles to the west of Yerevan, became the last Armenian stance against the advance of the invading Third Ottoman Army in May 1918. A defeat would not only open the door for their penetration to the rest of Eastern Armenia, but also the follow-up to the genocide of 1915-1916. Major General Otto von Lossow, German delegate to the Caucasus, had reported to his government on May 15, 1918 that the Ottomans intended to advance the border further to the east, monopolize the economy of the region, and bring about “the total extermination of the Armenians in Transcaucasia also.” Two days before his departure from Tiflis, on May 23, he wrote in his final report: “The aim of Turkish policy is, as I have always reiterated, the taking of possession of Armenian districts and the extermination of the Armenians.”


The Armenian victory in Sartarabad, from May 22-28, 1918, became the cornerstone of the foundation of the first Republic of Armenia. However, the victories of May 1918 and the first republic remained taboo issues in Soviet Armenia until the national awakening of the 1960s that led to the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the genocide in 1965. Afterwards, there would be a historical reassessment, although within the ideological constraints imposed by the regime.


Part of that reassessment would be the construction of the monument dedicated to the battle, inaugurated on May 25, 1968. Its author was talented architect Raphael Israelian (1908-1973), who had already built popular memorials such as the arch of Charents (1957) on the road to Garni and the first monument to the genocide, built in the courtyard of Holy Echmiadzin (1965). Other projects would be completed during his lifetime and posthumously.

The entrance of the impressive complex, which extends over some 50 acres, is guarded by gigantic winged bulls, which symbolize the victory obtained by the people. The steps take the visitor to a wide square, dominated by the 115-foot high bell tower. The nine-bell structure, built from red-orange tufa stone, is the focus of the monumental complex. It reflects the critical moment that the entire country lived and that called the people to the fight. As it is well known, Catholicos Kevork V ordered all church bells in Armenia to sound day and night in the days of the three battles of Sartarabad, Gharakilise, and Pash Abaran. The bells sound every year on the day of the victory.


The bell tower square marks the beginning of the avenue, flanked by a series of eagles, leading to the 180-foot long Victory wall, which depicts the images of the battle, sculpted by Ara Harutunian and other artists. In 1978 the State Ethnographic Museum of Armenia was built on the end side of the complex, with an impressive collection. It also includes a section dedicated to the first Republic.


As the refrain of the famous song written by poet Baruyr Sevag exhorts, “Generations, know yourself in Sartarabad.” The monument to the battle is one of those mirrors that have helped know history for almost half a century.


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(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee [ANEC])


Birth of Movses Silikian

(September 14, 1862)


The battle of Sartarabad, from May 21-28, 1918, symbolized the defining moment in Armenian life. It is quite likely that, following an Armenian defeat, the Turkish armies would have had a free pass to occupy Eastern Armenia and liquidate its population, completing the process of annihilation that had been taken place with Western Armenians from 1915-1916. The victory had a military hero, General Movses Silikian.


General Movses Silikian

Silikian was born on September 14, 1862, in the village of Vartashen, in the province of Nukhi (currently Azerbaijan). He was not an ethnic Armenian, but belonged to the Udi minority (an ethnicity descending from the Caucasian Albanians, with a distinctive Northern Caucasian language), although he was a faithful of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He graduated from the Moscow Military Gymnasium (1882-1884) and the Alexander III Military School.

Silikian entered the military service in 1884 and was assigned to the military region of the Caucasus. After serving as company and battalion commander, he was awarded with the degree of colonel in 1914. He became adjutant to the military commander of Yerevan in 1915, commander of the Eighth Regiment in 1915, and commander of the Army Group of Van in 1916. He participated in the liberation of Mush and Bitlis, and became military commander of Erzerum after the occupation of the city. He was awarded the order of St. George in 1916 and rose to the degree of major general in August 1917.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the retreat of the Russian forces, Silikian was designated commander of the second rifle division of the Armenian army in January 1918, and afterwards, commander of the Army Group of Yerevan. He managed to organize a regular army in a short time, and by order of Aram Manukian, who had taken the leadership of the Province of Yerevan, Silikian led the Armenian troops in Sartarabad, where their victory stopped the advance of the Turkish army towards Yerevan.

After the independence of Armenia, Silikian, promoted to general commandant in 1919, became commander of the front of Nor Bayazid (nowadays Gavar) in the same year and was designated general commander of the front of Kars-Alexandropol (nowadays Gumri) in the fall of 1920.

The veteran soldier was exiled in January 1921 to Riazan after the establishment of the Soviet regime in Armenia. He returned in May 1921 to Armenia and settled in Yerevan. He was exiled once again, this time to Rostov-on-Don, and returned again to Yerevan. He worked at the Alexandropol branch of the Swedish “Baltic” company from 1921-1923, and from 1923-1929 or 1930 at the Armenian branch of the Near East Relief.

Silikian was arrested once again during the Stalinist purges of 1937 (he had been previously arrested in 1927 and 1935), and charged within the frame of the “Tukhachevsky case” (a fabricated case against Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky and other prominent Soviet military leaders), to which he bore no relation. As many other victims of the purges, he was executed in the gorge of Nork, together with General Kristapor Araratian and other heroes of Sartarabad, on November 22, 1937. He was rehabilitated fifty years later, on November 10, 1987.  A neighborhood in Yerevan has been named after him, as well as a medal of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia.



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