Who Are Armenians

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Genesis 8:1-4

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. Genesis 2:10

Eden denotes pleasure or delight; but was certainly the name of a place, and was, most probably, situated in Armenia, near the sources of the great rivers Euphrates, Tigris, Phasis and Araxes.

At the end of the second millennium BC, another Indo-European ethnic group, migrated to the Armenian Highland from Northern Balkans. According to a Greek myth, which actually reflects this tribal migration, the forefather of Armenians - Armenios - was one of the Argonauts, accompanying Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece.

Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world with a recorded history of about 3500 years. The oldest known ancestors of modern Armenians, the Hayasa-Azzi tribes, also known as Proto-Armenians, were indigenous to the Armenian Highland in Eastern Anatolia. The legendary forefather of Armenians, Hayk, is famous for his battles with Babylonian ruler Bel. (Babylon being in Iraq, I guess Armenians were fighting the Iraqis long before United States was established.)

The Armenian people have inhabited parts of modern Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus Mountains for more than four thousand years. Around 95 BC, under King Tigran The Great of Armenia, the Kingdom covered parts of what is today Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Azerbaijan and all the way to the borders of Judea (Israel today). The Armenian armies traveled to several cities in Judea before leaving Israel. It was at this time that Jews may have come to trade with Armenia and settle in that far away land when likewise some Armenians came to know of the lands around Jerusalem and may have traded with Israel. Following the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 the Romans imported "Armenian traders, artisans, Legionaries and government administrators."

Armenians are ethnically and religiously Armenian. The reason for their ethnicity does not need to be elaborated on except to say that they have remained a homogeneous group, intermarrying over the years and keeping their culture intact.

Armenia, which embraced Christianity in 301, has identified itself as the world's oldest Christian nation. Armenia became a Christian nation more than a decade before the Roman Empire was Christianized under the Emperor Constantine.

Between the fourth and eighth centuries Armenians built as many as seventy monasteries throughout the Holy Land.

In 387 Armenia was divided between Byzantium and Persia.

In 404, with the help and encouragement of the Catholicos and the King, St. Mesrop Mashtots invented the Armenian alphabet. His alphabet precisely reflected the sounds of the Armenian language; it was written from left to right, initially with 36 letters. Armenian rapidly progressed from being a marketplace vernacular - for Greek and Syriac were the languages of scholarship and of the liturgy - to the status of a literary tongue. The alphabet is still in use today, and has unquestionably assisted the survival of the Armenians as a people.

In the middle of the 5th century the Persian court for the second time tried to have the Armenians renounce their faith. In 448 Yezdegerd II (438-457) sent a message to Armenia demanding them to adopt Zoroastrianism. In 449 a National-Ecclesiastical Council was convened in Artashat in order to respond to the message of Yezdegerd. The Council replied that in state matters the Armenians admitted the power of the Persian king, but in the matters of faith they admitted only God's power. "Nobody can move us away from this faith, neither angels, nor people, nor sword, nor fire, nor water, nor any severe ordeal. For we have a covenant of faith not with human beings, in order to lie to you like children, but an indissoluble vow with God, from whom it is impossible to stay away neither now, nor tomorrow, nor for ever and ever" (Eghishe¢ II, 40-41). In this way the Council refused the proposal of adopting Zoroastrianism.

In May 451 the famous battle of Avarayr took place. Under the leadership of the commander-in-chief, Vardan Mamikonian, 66 thousand Armenian soldiers, women, monks and old people resisted the Persian army, which had 200 thousand soldiers.

The battle of Avarayr was the first example of armed self-defense of Christianity in the world history, when light and darkness, life and death, faith and renunciation resisted each other.

The Armenians went to their death with the slogan "Unconscious death is death, conscious death is immortality". The historian Eghishe, who lived during that period, wrote that there were neither winners nor losers in the battle of Avarayr. Though the Armenian troops were defeated and had losses, the battle of Avarayr ennobled and strengthened the spirit of the Armenians so much that they were able to survive forever.

By the middle of the seventh century a new conquering force emerged, this was Islam. Islamic armies captured Palestine, Syria and Egypt from Byzantium, and in a series of battles as remarkable as those of Alexander they shattered the Persian empire. Islam, with which the Armenians were to be in contact for the next thirteen centuries, was already a political system by the time the armies swept out of Arabia against the exhausted frames of Rome and Persia.

The basis of this system is the Koran, and the Hadith (traditions of the Prophet). Unlike the Bible, the Koran contains a number of political and quasi-political directives, concerning the organization of a state. One of the matters dealt with is the position of non-Muslims. This developed from the Prophet Muhammad's own relations with Jews and Christians. As is well known, Islam drew heavily upon Judaism and Christianity, and Muhammad held that these religions in their purest form were Islam ('submission', to the will of God), but had become corrupted by their turbulent adherents.

At the end of the 10th century the Byzantine Empire, although ruled by an imperial dynasty of Armenian origin, adopted a near-sighted policy of weakening Armenia and eventually annexed it in 1045, thus depriving itself of an effective shield against disastrous invasion of Turkic nomads from Central Asia.

By twelfth century, before the fall of the Bagratuni kingdom, a number of Armenian princes managed to escape from Armenia and found refuge in Cilicia, a region at the north-eastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea in what is today southern Turkey. The Armenians steadily consolidated their position amid the craggy mountains and fertile plains of their new homeland, and in 1198 Prince Leo II was crowned king in the cathedral of Tarsus, receiving his crown, significantly from Cardinal Conrad of Wittelsbach, archbishop of Mainz. Cilicia was a strong ally of the European Crusaders, and saw itself as a bastion of Christendom in the East. It also served as a focus for Armenian nationalism and culture, since Armenia was under foreign occupation at the time.

The kingdom was independent from around 1078 to 1375.

Much of the twelfth and early thirteenth century was, despite the darkening omens to the south of her, a period of stability and cultural development for Cilician Armenia: the epoch of Kings Leo (1186-1219) and Hetum I (1226-69) has been called Armenia's Silver Age. Economically Cilicia flourished as the main gatway for east-west trade, exporting spice, perfume and silk to Europe. Culturally, perhaps most notable was the religious poetry of Catholicos Nerses IV Shnorhali (‘the Gracious'), the manuscript illuminations of Toros Roslin, and the medical advances of Mëkhitar Heratsi. But in the late thirteenth century, as repeated assaults were launched upon Cilician Armenia from Seljuks in the north and the Mamluks to the south, the country's prosperity evaporated and political nightmares materialized into reality.

Since the conquest of Armenia and Cilicia in the early part of the sixteenth century, the larger portion of the Armenian population of the Middle East was absorbed into Ottoman Turkey.

In 1461 sultan Muhammad II Fatih established the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople by appointing Bishop Hovagim as Patriarch. Since the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the administrative center of the Armenian Church was under the authority of Persia, by establishing the Patriarchate, the Sultan intended to control the Armenians living within the boundaries of the Ottoman state through the Patriarch.

Somewhat surprisingly to many, Armenians and Turks lived in relative harmony in the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Armenians were known as the "loyal millet". During these times, although Armenians were not equal and had to put up with certain special hardships, taxes and second class citizenship, they were pretty well accepted and there was relatively little violent conflict.

Things began to change for a number of reasons. Nationalism, a new force in the world, reared its head and made ethnic groupings self-conscious, and the Ottoman Empire began to crumble. It became known as "the sick man of Europe" and the only thing holding it together was the European powers' lack of agreement on how to split it up.

The eastern area of Armenia was ceded by the Ottomans to Russia in 1828; this portion declared its independence in 1918, but was conquered by the Soviet Red Army in 1920.

The origin of Armenian unrest can be traced, in large part, to the success of Imperial Russia in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78. At the end of the war, based on the Treaty of San Stefano the Ottoman government had to give away a large part of territory (including the cities of Kars and Batumi) to the Russians. The Russian government claimed they were the supporters of the beleaguered Christian communities within the Ottoman Empire and clearly, the Russians could now beat the Ottomans. The Treaty of Berlin - which reduced the magnitude of Russia's gains on the other side of the Black Sea - stated that the Ottoman government had to give legal protection to the Christian Armenians, but in the real world, the treaty's protections were not implemented.

Although the Ottomans had prevented other revolts in the past, the harshest measures were directed against the Armenian community. In the period of 1894-96, when the Ottoman Empire was ruled by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians were massacred, what is knows as the Hamidian Massacres. This was the situation in 1896: Armenians were the nation; the Sultan and his soldiers were the devil's scourge; the Anglo-Saxon race is the cold-hearted spectator.

In 1908, the Ottoman Empire came under the control of the so-called "Young Turks". A secular movement aiming to restore "constitutional and parliamentary rule", the movement was welcomed by religious minorities throughout the Empire. In 1909, as the authority of the nascent Young Turk government splintered, Abdul Hamid II briefly regained his sultanate with a populist appeal to Islamism. 30,000 Armenians perished in the subsequent Adana Massacre.

Turkish nationalists took complete dictatorial control, Enver, Jemal and Talat. It was they who masterminded the plan to completely eradicate the Armenian race in a step towards fulfilling their pan-Turkic dreams.

World War I gave the Young Turk government the cover and the excuse to carry out their plan. The plan was simple and its goal was clear. The remarkable thing about the following events is the virtually complete cooperation of the Armenians. For a number of reasons they did not know what was planned for them and went along with "their" government's plan to "relocate them for their own good." First, the Armenians were asked to turn in hunting weapons for the war effort. Communities were often given quotas and would have to buy additional weapons from Turks to meet their quota. Later, the government would claim these weapons were proof that Armenians were about to rebel.

On April 24th 1915, commemorated worldwide by Armenians as Genocide Memorial Day, on Easter morning hundreds of Armenian leaders were murdered in Istanbul after being summoned and gathered. The now leaderless Armenian people were to follow.

The able bodied men were then "drafted" to help in the wartime effort. These men were either immediately killed or were worked to death. Now the villages and towns, with only women, children, and elderly left were systematically emptied. The remaining residents would be told to gather for a temporary relocation and to only bring what they could carry. The Armenians again obediently followed instructions and were "escorted" by Turkish Gendarmes in death marches.

The death marches led across Anatolia, and the purpose was clear. The Armenians were raped, starved, dehydrated, murdered, and kidnapped along the way. The Turkish Gendarmes either led these atrocities or turned a blind eye. Their eventual destination for resettlement was just as telling in revealing the Turkish government's goal: the Syrian Desert, Der Zor. Those who miraculously survived the march would arrive to this bleak desert only to be killed upon arrival or to somehow survive until a way to escape the empire was found. Usually those that survived and escaped received assistance from those who have come to be known as "good Turks," from foreign missionaries who recorded much of these events and from Arabs.

The United States had several consulates throughout the Ottoman Empire, including locations in Edirne, Elazig, Samsun, Izmir, Trabzon, Van, Constantinople, and another in the Syrian town of Aleppo. The United States was officially a neutral party until it joined the Allies in 1917. As the orders for deportations and massacres were enacted, many consular officials reported back to the ambassador on what they were witnessing. One such report came in September 1915 from the American consul in Kharput, Leslie A. Davis, who described his discovery of the bodies of nearly 10,000 Armenians dumped into several ravines near Lake Göeljuk, later referring to it as the "slaughterhouse province".

A telegram sent by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr. to the State Department on 16 July 1915 describes the massacres as a campaign of race extermination.

The United States contributed a significant amount of aid to the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide. An article by the New York Times dated 15 December 1915 states that nearly one million Armenians had deliberately been put to death by the Ottoman government.

In his memoirs, Morgenthau later suggested that, "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact..."

In the United States and Great Britain, children were regularly reminded to clean their plates while eating and to "remember the starving Armenians".

Many Americans spoke out against the Genocide, including former president Theodore Roosevelt, rabbi Stephen Wise, William Jennings Bryan, and Alice Stone Blackwell.

Major General Otto von Lossow, acting military attaché and head of the German Military Plenipotentiary in the Ottoman Empire, spoke to Ottoman intentions in a conference held in Batum in 1918:" The Turks have embarked upon the "total extermination of the Armenians in Transcaucasia...The aim of Turkish policy is, as I have reiterated, the taking of possession of Armenian districts and the extermination of the Armenians. Talaat's government wants to destroy all Armenians, not just in Turkey but also outside Turkey. On the basis of all the reports and news coming to me here in Tiflis there hardly can be any doubt that the Turks systematically are aiming at the extermination of the few hundred thousand Armenians whom they left alive until now."

The Armenian Genocide is often speculated to have influenced Adolf Hitler, owing to his various references to the Ottoman killings of Armenians. The most notable quote attributed to Hitler on the Armenians is excerpted from an August 1939 military conference, prior to the invasion of Poland: "I have issued the command -- and I'll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad -- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Today's Turkish government denies the Genocide and prosecutes anyone who dares to think about it in Turkey. Hrant Dink, the ethnic Armenian chief editor of the Agos newspaper in Turkey, was prosecuted by the Turkish state three times for "denigrating Turkishness", for his having criticized the Turkish state's denial of the Armenian Genocide. In 2007, he was gunned down by a Turkish nationalist. Leaked photographs of the assassin apparently being revered as a national hero while in police custody caused a scandal in Turkey.

The region shown as Armenia Today, on a map of the world, is - 29,000 square kilometres, smaller than Belgium, about the same size as Albania. This is a fraction, one-tenth, of the historic land of Armenia, and of the region shown as 'Armenia' on maps of sixty or more years ago. Even Mount Ararat, closely identified with Armenia throughout her history, towering today over the Armenian capital of Yerevan now stands in Turkey. Armenian population living worldwide (in 2004 estimated to be 9,000,000).

Turkey today uses the Armenian churches as tourist attractions instead of places of worship. It does not acknowledge the Armenian Genocide claiming it to be self defense against revolting Armenians.

It is so sad that the voice of justice and righteousness have been silenced by political and military interests in the case of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, by Turks, in the United States.

On February 19, 2005 the US ambassador to Armenia, John Evans said to a group of American Armenians: "Today I shall call this Armenian genocide. I think that we, the US government, owe you, our fellow citizens, a more straightforward and honest discussion of this problem. I can tell you as a person who has studied this problem - I have no doubts about what happened. I think that it is inappropriate for us, the Americans, to play with words in this case. I believe that we must call a spade a spade."

No matter how many years it takes, no matter how long the duel may be, we will endure, and the truth will be told. Armenia today is an Independent Republic, Armenian nation is alive and well, and has contributed plenty in the last century to the progress of humanity.

Willian Saroyan: "It is simply in the nature of Armenian to study, to learn, to question, to speculate, to discover, to invent, to revise, to restore, to preserve, to make, and to give. "

Turkey Failed in its plan of killing all Armenians except one, whom they were going to put in a museum and say "once there was a nation called Armenians."

Gabriel came to the Lord and said "I have to talk to you. We have some Armenians up here in the heaven who are causing problems. They're swinging on the pearly gates, my horn is missing, chemen and barbecue sauce is all over their robes, their dogs are riding the chariots, and they're wearing baseball caps and cowboy hats instead of their halos. They refuse to keep the stairway to Heaven clean. There are watermelon seeds all over the place. Some of them are even walking around with just one wing!"

The Lord said, "Armenians are Armenians, Gabriel. Heaven is home to all my children, even if they are Armenians. If you want to know about real problems, call the Devil."

The Devil answered the phone, "Hello Gabriel...? Damn it, hold on a minute."

The Devil returned to the phone, "OK I'm back. What can I do for you?"

Gabriel replied, "I just wanted to know what kind of problems you're having down there at your end."

The Devil said, "Hold on again. I need to check on something." After about 5 minutes the Devil returned to the phone and said, "I'm back. Now what was the question?"

Gabriel said, "Tell me what kind of problems are you having down there?"

The Devil excitedly said, "Man I don't believe this.......Hold on again....!"

This time the Devil was gone for at least 15 minutes. The Devil returned and said, "I'm sorry cousin Gabriel, I can't talk right now. Those damn Armenians have put out the fire down here and are trying to install instead air conditioning in Hell.....!!!! I can't believe such unruliness...!!! I wonder if you would consider taking them back in Heaven...???"

About The Demirdjian Family
Spot Light
Did You Know
Special Occasions

Help make The Demirdjian Family website better

Your assistance is most welcome. Don't criticize, instead help me make it better.



Your assistance is most welcome. Don't criticize, instead help me make it better.

Please email all your comments, suggestions and submissions to webmaster@jdemirdjian.com


There are currently 34 online visitors browsing The Demirdjian Family website.