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News

THE SELF-DEFENSE BATTLE OF VAN, APRIL-MAY 1915
From the special project “100 photographic stories about the Armenian Genocide”

08.05.2015


A scene from the heroic battle of Van: a trench dug in one of the city streets during the battle. The defense battle of Van was organized in April-May 1915 to save 23 thousand Armenians over there, as well as, tens of thousands of Armenian refugees coming from the surrounding villages from impending massacre. Thanks to this imposed self-defense the Armenian population of Van and the surrounding Armenian villages were saved from the scourge.

This photograph was published in the American «The Literary Digest» newspaper in 9 October 1915. The photo was presented by an article titled “The Extermination of the Armenians” with the following inscription: “Armenians struggling for life”.



In April 1915, Turkish troops besieged Van cutting off the connection between districts of the city - Aygestan and Qaghaqamej. However the Armenians in Van managed to assemble quickly and turn to self-defense. A unit was established for the self-defense management headed by Aram Manukyan, a national figure.

1500 Armenian men capable of carrying weapons were fighting in Aygestan against 12.000 soldiers from the Turkish army, plus 500 Kurds from Bitlis attacking the Armenian positions. Governor Cevdet Bey, despite the overwhelming forces and numerous attacks was unable to break the heroic soul of the Armenians: the attacks on the Armenian positions were ending in failure.

In the beginning of May the advancement of the Armenian volunteer corps and Russian army forces made the Turkish authorities to end the siege of Van. As a result of nearly one month of resistance the Armenians gave 350 victims, whereas the Turkish victims were about 1000.

The self-defense battle of Van is one of brilliant chapters of Armenians’ liberation struggle. It has enabled more than 150,000 Armenians to be saved from slaughter.

“We took up the arms to resist the enemy bullets and bombs, which were aiming to give a final blow to the bent-back of our nation, and warp down the forehead of our youth and destroy the roots of our recovering race. We struggled against the violent attacks and arrogant actions of the enemy, and during our heroic and historical battle the enemy has not seen any of our soldiers defeated and our position abandoned”.

Military authority of Vaspurakan defense battle
6 May 1915


The source of the photo “The Literary Digest”, 9 October 1915
“100 photographic stories about the Armenian Genocide”




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