Andranik Toros Ozanyan (February 25, 1865, Shapin Garahisar, Western Armenia – August 31, 1927, Chico, Byut County, California, USA). National hero, also known as General Andranik, Andranik Pasha, Armenian military commander, statesman, head of fedayeens(Haydukapet). He played a special role in the Armenian Liberation Movement. He took part in the defense of the settlements of his native country. Andranik Toros Ozanyan was born on February 25, 1865 in the town of Shapin Garahisar in Western Armenia. Andranik means “firstborn” in Armenian. His ancestors came from the neighboring village of Ozan in the early 18th century to settle in Shapin Garahisar to avoid persecution by the Turks. Andranik’s mother died when he was one year old and his older sister Nazeli took care of him. Andranik attended the local Musheghyan school in 1875-1882, then worked in his father’s carpentry shop. He got married at the age of 17, but his wife died a year later, giving birth to their son, who also died one day after birth.
One year after graduating from the local Musheghyan College, he was imprisoned for beating a gendarme who intimidated the Armenian population. After a successful escape from prison, Andranik moved to Constantinople, and then headed to the Crimea and the Caucasus to deliver weapons to the Armenian combat detachments.
In 1895, Andranik crossed to Sasun for the first time as a member of the Hrayr Djhokhk group, but he went abroad in 1896. In 1897, Andranik entered Western Armenia for the second time as a member of Vazgen Teroyan’s group, where he remained until 1904. In Western Armenia, Andranik joined the well-known Fidayee Serob Vardanyan (Aghbyur Serob) partisan detachment, becoming the recognized leader of several guerrilla groups fighting the Turkish massacres and regular army units.
He led the assassination of Bshare Khalil, who killed Serob, and the 1901 battles of the Apostles’ Monastery. In 1902-1904, Andranik’s detachments fought against the Turkish-Kurdish Muslims in Sasun, Taron and Vaspurakan. In 1905, Andranik went to the Caucasus, where he discussed with the leading figures of the Armenian national movement the issues of further struggle against the Ottoman yoke. After that, Andranik went on a long journey, during which he visited France, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Bulgaria, Iran, informing the public about the national liberation struggle of the Armenians of Western Armenia and the need to acquire weapons in connection with it. In Bulgaria, Andranik wrote his “Combat Instructions”, generalizing the experience of guerrilla warfare. Later this experience served the Bulgarians well during the First Balkan War. In 1912, Andranik organized a detachment of Armenian volunteers, which became part of the Bulgarian army. The Armenian warriors showed heroism in the battles for Mistanli, Uzun, Merefte, Shar-Kyo and other cities. Andranik took part in the defeat of General Yaver Pasha’s Turkish corps. The Bulgarian command highly assessed the participation of the Armenian detachment in the First Balkan War. As soon as the First World War started, Andranik hurried to the Caucasus. On August 12, 1914, in Tbilisi (Georgia), he met with the Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasus Military Forces, Mishlasky, and announced his readiness to take part in the war against Turkey. Andranik was instructed to form and lead the first Armenian volunteer regiment. Leading that regiment, Andranik fought unequal battles against the Turkish troops and gained authority among the Russian military command. Lieutenant-General Chernozubov, in particular, wrote: I always saw a warm patriot, a freedom fighter of Armenia in Andranik who deeply loves his homeland. It was with great pleasure that I always read excerpts in Russian translation from articles in Armenian newspapers, where Andranik was revered as a national hero who always bravely held his head to realize national ideals in the fight against the age-old enemy of Armenia.
The other, no less famous Russian general Yudenich said that Andranik was “brave like a madman”.
For his personal bravery in the battles of the Caucasian Front in 1915-1916, Andranik of Sasun was awarded the Georgian 4th degree medal, the Georgian 4th and 3rd degree crosses, St. Stanislav 2nd degree sword and with the 4th degree of St. Vladimir. The regiment led by Andranik bravely took part in the battle under Mughanjug (Dilman) on April 15-18, 1915, in which the Caucasus was saved from the invasion of the enemy.
On January 30, 1918, the Turkish troops launched large-scale operations in the directions of Erzurum, Van and the Mediterranean under the command of Mehmed Vehib Pasha. On January 30, they captured Yerznka, on February 11, Trabzon, and on April 14, they entered Batumi without a fight, and started moving towards Sukhumi. On April 25, Kars fell, and on May 15, Alexandropol fell. The statue of General Andranik in Yerevan (sculptor: Ara Shiraz) was lost and the retreat of the Assyrian emigrants, on whom a terrible danger hung again after the retreat of the Russians. The threat of Turkish occupation of most of the Caucasus and the recurrence of the genocide in Eastern Armenia seemed almost inevitable. And although some enemy groups managed to get 20-25 km closer to Tbilisi, their main mass was stopped and thrown back. Taking the initiative from the enemy, the commander fights in the direction of Gharakilisa. In the battle of Lori on May 25-28, 1918, which was very fatal not only for Armenia but for the whole Caucasus, Andranik aborted the main attack of Turkish troops in the direction of Dilijan, who were trying to reach Baku via Dilijan.
As a result of the defeat, the Turkish command was forced to leave most of the Nagorno Lori region. Soon Julfa and Bitlis were occupied. On June 14, Andranik issued an order stating that his troops were subordinate to the central Russian government, and Nakhichevan was declared an integral part of Russia. General Andranik also sent a telegram to Shahumyan, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Caucasus to the President of the Baku State Committee, in which he expressed readiness to assist the Baku Commune, which was defending itself against Turkish troops attacking Baku. Occupying, in particular, the Iranian cities of Maku, Salmast, Tabriz, Serab, Ardabil-Khoy, the Turks intended to send new troops to Persia via the Alexandropol-Julfa railway to attack Baku. But in Nakhichevan Andranik’s detachments cut the railway, and in Julfa they captured the Turkish garrison.
In the Khoy region, Armenian forces struck an unexpected blow to the Turkish army stationed in northwestern Iran, which forced the Turks to stop the attack on Baku and send significant forces against Andranik. The battles in Khoy lasted for several days. The Turks suffered heavy losses, but the constantly arriving additional forces posed a threat of capture for the Armenian division. In those conditions, Andranik had to leave Khoy and breaking the blockade, retreating to Julfa-Baku region. Then, under the pressure of a large number of Turkish troops, General Andranik was forced to leave Nakhichevan and cross to Mount Zangezur, aiming to break through to Nagorno-Karabakh through Baku and block the retreating Turkish army.Andranik played a huge role in the defense of Zangezur. During the battles, up to 40% of the Turkish troops went to Zangezur against Andranik. When the leaders of the newly formed Caucasian republics addressed the Turkish government in January 1918, expressing their readiness to sit at the negotiating table, they heard that Turkey was not interested in their opinion, it was only concerned with what General Andranik thought about it, which was completely logical. It was because Andranik’s troops remained the main obstacle to the occupation of the Caucasus by the Turks. Faced with the betrayal of the Entente allies, some of the leaders of the Republic of Armenia, the Bolsheviks, the commander was forced to go abroad. On the way, when he was passing through Tbilissi, he said:
I have never sought personal happiness or well-being in my life. I have always strived for only one thing, I have fought only for one thing – the freedom and well-being of my dear people. I do not look for the evaluation of my merit, I only want the people I serve all my life to be happy.
Andranik continued that service in the inscription.
In 1919 he arrived in Paris at the invitation of Poghos Nubar Pasha, in 1919 he arrived in New York as a member of the Armenian national delegation, then visited Boston. He was engaged in the affairs of the Armenians of Western Armenia.
In December 1919, the Washington Post wrote:
“General Andranik stands on the top of Armenian heroism. Everywhere Armenians greet him with joy. They listen to his every word with great attention and admiration. And he, the soldier, who fought unequal battles against the Turkish army after the destruction of tsarist Russia, has something to say. Now his words are as sharp as his sword. ”
In 1921, General Andranik wanted to enter Cilicia to take over the self-defense of the Armenians there and to fight against Kemalist Turkey. However, the French government banned General from entering Cilicia.
He settled in FresnoIn 1922.
Andranik died of a heart attack on August 30/31, 1927, at the Richardson Springs Mineral Water Resort in Chico, Sacramento, and was buried in Ararat Cemetery, Fresno, in September. In January 1928, his body was transported to Paris, buried in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and years later (2000) it was moved to the Homeland, to the Yerablur Pantheon in Yerevan.
When Andranik was once asked what were the saddest moments of his life, he answered that the first was to hear the news of his son’s death, the second to hear the news of George Chavush’s death.