In the spring of 1915, columns of exiles began to pass through Urfa, which caused concern among the local Armenians. Soon, arrests of Armenians and house searches began in Urfa. The young people of the Armenian city of Germush in Urfa and Armenian youth from other regions climbed the St. Hovhannes Mount, where they began to prepare for resistance-genocide. The writer Zia Chalyshkan, who studies the history of the Armenian people of Urfa, thanks to his research sheds light on the still-obscure details of the self-defense organized by the Armenian youth of Urfa against the genocide, already forgotten today on St. Hovhannes Mount. Zia Chalyshkan answered our questions like this:
Can you give some information about the aforementioned town of Germush and St. Mount Hovhannes?
Located 5 km east of Urfa, Germush was an Armenian city in the 1900s, and then became the Dagh Etey district controlled by the center of Urfa. St. Hovhannes Mount is located north of the town of Germush. Today, it is called Chiayi Sirp Vanesh (Çiyaye Sirp Vaneş).
Where do you know that this mountain has turned into a center of resistance to genocide for Armenian youth?
It was the first time I came across a book. It was said that the Armenian youth, having gathered on Mt. Hovhannes at Urfa, organized resistance to genocide. However, there was no information about where exactly the mountain is located. So, I tried to figure out where this mountain is. In the center of Urfa, in the territories close to the Armenian quarter, I have not met such a name. There were no records of the mountain in the monastery of Ter Hakob in the same place and around it. The eastern and southern sides of the city are flat. The mountain on which the Armenian youth took refuge should have been located elsewhere. Only one book had the name of the mountain, there was no other record besides it. I accidentally heard the name of the mountain from a villager. He said that this is a high mountain to the north of the old Armenian town of Germush. At the first opportunity, we set off with him on the road. We climbed the mountain. Although it seemed easy from afar, it was actually a very tall mountain.
What did you discover on the mountain?
The first noticeable image was the arrangement of the stones, as if they were used for defensive positions. I constantly thought that the name Saint Hovhannes is connected with the history of very ancient times. The presence of processed bricks on top of the cliff proved that I was right. On the south side, the ruins of regularly carved caves and buildings overlooking Germush showed that it was a very old place of worship. There were water wells dug in the rocks. The rocks were carefully polished so that the temple was protected from rainwater. There were Armenian inscriptions on the rocks.
When and under what conditions do the young people of Germush begin their resistance?
An eyewitness of the events, a native of Germush, the Baptist described those days to me as follows: “Various caravans began to appear in the villages. They came from Tigranakert, Harberd and Siverek. When people reached us, they told us about the pogroms: men were killed in these places, everyone was forced to leave their homes, women and children were sent to the desert. Later, several people were sent to our city. Urfa and its villages were filled with Armenian refugees. Most of the Armenians took them to their homes. As a result of these developments, the Armenians of Urfa, who became officers of the Ottoman army, came up with various ways of protection. Armenian officers who had left the army and young people from the surrounding area gathered on Mt. Hovhannes. On the one hand, they were preparing for resistance, on the other – on the instructions of the officers, shooting exercises were conducted. After this, young Armenians and Assyrians from different regions came here to participate in the preparatory work of the resistance. Of course, when this situation became known to the Ottoman authorities, government officials immediately began to take measures against it-the possible resistance of Mt. Hovhannes should have been suppressed before it started. One day a huge contingent with thousands of armed men came there. An armed conflict has begun. Until midnight, the battle continued. Our guys were shooting too. As a result of intense clashes, many fighters were killed. Some managed to escape. At dawn, the resistance stopped. The next day, according to a typical state-classical scenario, the head of the army ordered all the men to gather in the church. All the men obeyed the order. They were forced to tell who was on the mountain. The Turks selected thirty-five young men from our village among these people, tied them up in pairs and took them to Urfa. ”
What happened after the resistance in Germush?
After the resistance and pogroms of 1915, Germush was completely devastated. A short time later, after the formation of the republic, with a green view of the Harran plain from the north, numerous and diverse fruit trees and gardens, stone houses built with magnificent architecture, Germush was donated to the new owners. It is said that it was presented to Ujeimi Sadun Pasha for his participation in the War of Independence. Ujaimi Sadun Pasha came from a Bedouin family who migrated from Mecca to Iraq. His descendants and some Arab residents currently live in the village. Today, in addition to the Armenian churches and ruins of stone houses belonging to Armenians, olive gardens planted at that time also remain.