The translation into the English language of the first published account of “The Heroic Struggle of Van-Vasbouragan” by Onnig Mukhitarian was decided at the 1966 Delegates Convention, in Detroit, of the General Society of Vasbouragan. During 1948-49, the Armenian Review published the first English translation by Hrair Baghdoian, it being a verbatim rendering of the original. This question has been discussed during previous conventions, with the feeling that the existing translation was not altogether satisfactory. However, this was not meant to be a reflection on the quality of the translation.
During the past two decades, several very valuable volumes have been published, in Armenian, giving the history, customs, tradition, legends, monuments, and the overall culture of particular provinces or areas which had been completely devastated by the Turks during the First World War. Similar undertaking by the General Society of Vasbouragan had been the subject of serious discussions at several of the conventions. Several factors militated against this type of undertaking; the complexity and magnitude of the task involved great expense, the fact that many scholarly works exist both in Armenian and foreign languages about its history and archeology, and the fact that these researches are being and will be actively continued in the future. Underneath all these deliberations the feeling exists among us of Vasbouragan origin that, though momentarily interrupted, the history of Vasbouragan will continue to adorn its pages with splendid achievements in the future.
Several other works have appeared since the publication of Onnig Mukhitarian's book in 1930. A comprehensive volume was published on the subject by the Compatriotic Union of Vasbouragan at Tabriz, Persia, also in 1930. In addition the “Memoirs” of Armenag Yegarian, “The Heroic Defense of Van” by Rev. Arsen Georgizian, “The Heroic Self Defense of the People of the Old City of Van” by Haig Gossoyan, as well as several novels based on this theme by Zarzand Darian, Gourgen Mahari, Mugurdich Khranian, ect., have added to our literary heritage. Unfortunately, varying degrees of partisan bias can be seen in practically all of these works. In their zeal to add accolades on their favorite heros and arrogate all merit to their own party, the authors seem to have missed the substance of the event.
The choice of Onnig Mukhitarian’s and Haig Gossoyan’s works for translation is justified on the ground that both were eye witnesses and participants, both kept a diary in which events were recorded in chronological order, and both are more statistical and better documented.
In the present translation we have attempted, as far as possible, to avoid military term, insofar as the Armenian resistance forces are concerned, to accentuate the fact that these were people, and not an organized military force. In self defense, they had to take up whatever arms they possessed, against a brutal and stupid government. While adhering closely to the text, your translator has deemed it advisable to modulate certain paragraphs devoted to personal adulation and has left out the party label of the fighting forces, as irrelevant.
Identical documents in both works have been included in Part I only with reference notes in Part II for the sake of brevity.