May 23rd, 1915 - In Aftermath of the Defense of Van, Entente Powers Publicly Denounce Turkish Killing of Armenians
Pictured - The cavalry arrives at Van, May 17th 1915.
For a month, the citizens of the Armenian city of Van had fought for their lives against a force of Turkish and Kurdish soldiers intent on massacre. With smuggled rifles and cartridges made by hand, the men and women of Van successfully fought off attack after attack, making every shot count as ammunition dwindled, and using homemade mortars and bombs to try and even the odds. An organized government dealt with health, defense, and provisions, and by Herculean effort kept open a road to the city that allowed thousands of refugees to make it to safety in the city. As things grew desperate, messengers were sent out to the Russians with requests for help sewn in their clothes; a couple made it through. On May 17th, Russian cavalry from the 2nd Transbaikal Cossack Brigade arrived, as well as local volunteers, part of a large Russian offensive into Anatolia. When the head of the Russian effort in the Caucausus, General NIkolai Yudenich, arrived, he confirmed the Armenian government with Aram Manukian at its head. Manukian had headed the resistance effort for the last month.
However, the killing continued in a swath of territory around Van and beyond the Russian front. 15,000 Armenians would be killed in the city of Bitlis in June. Not only Armenians died, so did members of other Christians sects like the Jacobites and the Nestorians. On May 24th the Russian, French, and British governments issued a joint denouncement of the Turkish government, decrying “sub-human crimes… against humanity and civilization’. The Turkish government responded on June 4th by blaming the Entente powers, who had ‘organized and directed the revolutionary movement’ in Armenia.