The publication of this book coincides with the fifteenth anniversary of the heroic defense of Van and the fifteenth anniversary of our genocide at the hands of the Turk. Vasbouragan, unpopulated and desolate, is usurped by our executioners. Her true sons of many millenniums and rightful owners, talented, honest, industrious, have been scattered to the four comers of the earth. The rest of Western Armenia fared even worse. The erstwhile independent Republic of Armenia has been crushed by the combined forces of Russia and Turkey and only a small portion of former free Armenia, now known as Soviet Armenia, is growing under the forcefully imposed yoke of the Bolshevik regime.
Deserted by all of the civilized powers, either by design or under the force of circumstances, and exposed to the full and unparalleled viciousness of the enemy who proclaimed “Holy War” against Christiandom, Vasbouragan distinguished herself as the only province where the population took up arms, resisted and defeated the enemies of humanity and Christianity. Erzeroum, Daron, Kharpert, Dickranagerd and all the cities along the shores of the Black Sea suffered the full measure of Turkish atrocities and were exterminated. The resistance at Van saved 200,000 of the population besides inflicting telling blows on the enemy.
The resistance at Van was the culmination of many years of revolutionary efforts to bring up a generation that was virile and uncompromising where basic human rights were concerned, among a people that had been steeped in fatalism and preferred unquestioning submission as a means of survival. Six centuries of uninterrupted persecution with unimaginable cruelty had made serfs out of the once proud Armenians and buried their souls under a thick blanket of trepidation and hopelessness. The Turks were past masters at persecution and enjoy the role even to this day.
The success of the armed resistance at Van was the supreme, uncontestable proof of the necessity, the wisdom, and the potential of our revolutionary efforts. In Vasbouragan these efforts found a more fertile soil.
For the first time, all the Armenian population of Van-Vasbouragan joined forces with singleness of purpose and a universal spirit of solidarity. All classes of people, of all ages and both sexes made themselves available for the defense work. It was collective, organized and creative. Differences, whether personal, partisan or denominational were buried, selfishness and profiteering disappeared. Survival and freedom were the exclusive preoccupation of all. No sacrifice was too great, no challenges were declined... A splendid pattern of national policy was established for present and future generations to follow.
The spirit of heroism was not confined to the elite alone. Many, like Vramian, knowingly let themselves be arrested and murdered if only the people could be spared; or like Ishkhan, and his three companions, knowingly sacrificed themselves so that peace could be reestablished; or like Shirin, knowingly sacrificed their own patriarchal family on the alter of love for the whole people. Legions were imbued with the same spirit and steeled with equal dedication in Van, in the old city, Shadakh, Pesandashd, Haiotz-Tzor and Timar. What of the thousand plus combatants who for thirty days, and every minute of the day, faced death? What of the labor corps who never flinched nor failed to repair the ramparts or dig trenches, exposed to murderous enemy fire? What of the teenagers who dashed out to recover unexploded shells, or defuse shells not yet exploded, so that we could have powder? What of the intrepid incendiaries who set fire to Turkish barracks and strongholds? Or the large number of high school boys so eager to join the defenders or attend the wounded; the women and girls who were busy supplying bandages, making clothes, socks and baking bread; ready to comfort the refugee or tie the wounds of their fighting brothers? No less heroic were the many craftsmen, teachers, and intellectuals who supplied bread, clothing, shoes, repaired weapons, manufactured gun powder, filled cartridges, made stretchers, and much more.
If it is true that heroism is valor combined with sacrifice, if it means accepting death to support a common ideal or to promote the common weal, if daring, endurance and ingenuity are of heroic substance, then we can say without fear of exaggeration that all the people of Van behaved like heroes during those thirty days of struggle.