Andranik Pasha 
(1865-1927)

 

The first name in the Armenian struggle for national liberation in modern times is
 Andranik. "Like an eagle he soars over the mountains and ridges." Andranik Toros Ozanian was born in historic Shabin-Karahisar ("Shabin, the black fortress," 80 miles northeast of Erzurum). He was destined more, perhaps, than any of the other Armenian revolutionaries, to provide leadership, rationality, acumen, prudence, and effectiveness to Armenia's rising up against the brutal Ottoman oppression. Even during his adolescence Andranik recognized the pattern of Ottoman oppression and the sufferings of his people. So it was that at the tender age of 22, having lost his wife and two children, Andranik joined a partisan group formed in his native town. Inspired with the ideals of liberation for his people, Andranik went to Constantinople to meet those who had already been deeply involved in the liberation movement. He readily accepted tasks assigned to him.
When the leader, Serob Aghbiur, of a fighting group which Andranik had joined, was killed, Andranik was named leader. It was in 1901 when his fighting group held out in the Arakelots Vank against an overwhelmingly superior force that Andranik's name became famous for his effectiveness as a revolutionary leader. There were many more similar occurrences to come. Andranik, at first, joined the Hunchak party; it was through party organization that he could be effective in securing men and materiel with which to carry on. But disagreement with party policies led Andranik to leave the Hunchak ranks and join the Dashnak party.

There too, when that party engaged in practices judged to be wrong in principle, Andranik resigned. During the period 1907-13 Andranik committed his energies to helping the Bulgarian liberation movement. In it he created an Armenian division, which brought honor to itself by its effective participation. For his efforts Andranik was decorated and commissioned an officer. With World War I under way (1914-1918) Andranik went to the Caucasus and assisted in organizing Armenian battle units to fight the Turks alongside the Russian army units. In 1915 Andranik was named commander of all Armenian volunteer units within the Russian army.

 

Gen. Andranik with his Men

 

The overthrow of the Tsarist regime in Russia (1917) and the consequent collapse of the Russian imperial army found Andranik on the side of the working class out of which the social revolution in Russia had arisen. Early in 1918 he began to organize a separate army to liberate western Armenia. Made a Major General, Andranik had many thousands under his command, Armenian soldiers from the old Russian army, and many thousand Armenians who had volunteered from all over the world. However, short on re-sources and back-up military fighting units, Andranik had to abandon his plan to take Erzurum. With the collapse of the Tsarist Russian government an independent Armenian Republic was set up in May 1918. Andranik was in sympathy with the social principles that came with the new Russian order and desired to maintain amicable relations with Russia. However, Armenia's ruling party, the Dashnaks, did not favor such a relationship. As a result Andranik once again had a falling out with them. The brilliant defense of Zangezur (1918-19) under Andranik's command marked the end of his  military career. 
Leaving Armenian lands he traveled to Europe and eventually to America (1922), finally settling in Fresno, California, with his new wife. His name and fame enabled him to be effective in fund-raising activities in America for aid to Armenian orphans. His life in Fresno, with frequent visits elsewhere in response to calls, was spent very much in the public eye. But his health was failing. While seeking to regain strength in a sanatorium in Chico, California, the death that he had eluded in his many years of fierce battle encounters, now finally caught up with him. The date was August 31, 1927. City-wide public attention was accorded him at his funeral in Fresno, where he was interred (September 7, 1927) in the Ararat Cemetery. A few months later Andranik's remains were exhumed and taken to Paris (accompanied by his widow) for a second funeral service and interment. Few heroes have been as well acclaimed during their lives as was Andranik.

 General  Antranik's Remains Arrive In Armenia; 
Reburial Set for Sunday

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)—The remains of Armenian National Hero Gen. Antranik were brought to Armenia Friday evening. Gen. Antranik remains were reposed at Paris's famed Pere La Chaise Cemetery in 1928.

The remains of the heroic general were gathered from Paris by an official delegation that was in the French capital on a special mission. The delegation was led by Interior Minister Hayk Haroutiunian and included Chairman of the "Yerkrapah" Union of Volunteers Board Major-General Manvel Grigorian, Major-General Arkady Ter-Tadevossian, as well as government and parliament representatives. The commission on the reburial of the hero's remains is led by Minister of Defense Vagharshak Haroutiunian.

At the airport the remains of Gen. Antranik were met by National Assembly Chairman Armen Khachatrian, Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan, Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian, other members of the government, parliament deputies, senior clerics, military officials, artists and cultural workers. Among those welcoming the remains of the legendary military commander was one of Antranik's soldiers, 102-year-old Grigor Ghazarian.

Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan told reporters that "the return of the Great Commander to the homeland, although sad, but still was a festive occasion."

 

"I believe that our people have always wanted the ashes of the Great Military Commander to be brought to his native land to be committed to the earth here," he said. The dream of Antranik and his brother Vazgen Sargsyan has come true at last, the premier added.


From the airport the remains of Gen. Antranik were taken to the Sports & Concert Complex of Yerevan where the public will pay tribute and attend a special requiem service.

 

A funeral rite service and a special requiem ceremony will be said at the Holy Etchmiadzin on Sunday, officiated by His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians.

On that day, the remains of Gen. Antranik will be taken to the Yerablur national cemetery in Yerevan—the burial place of all national heroes. The remains will be buried there as the great son of the Armenian people willed himself: "When I die, let my body belong to no one but the Armenian people, my valiant warriors, Armenia," said Gen. Antranik before his death.

President Robert Kocharian met Friday with relatives of Gen. Antranik, who arrived in Armenia from France to attend his reburial ceremony.

"The transfer of Antranik's remains to Armenia is a great event," the president said, adding: "It was our duty before his cause and memory. Today we have accomplished a dream of the great commander—to rest in peace in his native land."

At the meeting president Kocharian handed Antranik's relatives, Vardan Nranian and Bernard Kilinjian, Armenian passports of special residency status.

"It is a great honor for us to receive the passport of the independent Republic of Armenia, and we are proud of that," Vardan Nranian said.

Speaking of the last years of Antranik's life abroad, he noted the importance of national unity and accord.

"The common national interest must be prevailing and should unite all of us," he stressed

Credits to -Armenpres - Noyan-tapan - Asparez on line -Arra Avakian  


Information on this  page is
Written by Arra S. Avakian, Sc.D.


(A Journey Through History  Excerpt from Chapter 8 - Pages 280-282)