Garegin Nzhdeh – Selected Works In English


By Antranig Bedrossian, President of ‘Nakhijevan’ Institute of Canada, Montreal, 10 September 2011

These Selected Works of Garegin Nzhdeh have been chosen for an English translation for the first time. The texts represent his thoughts as well as his political and philosophical approaches. They cover the period from the early 1920s till his prison writings, in a Soviet prison camp, in the mid-‘50s. They also include an interview (1943) with Nzhdeh by “Razmik” newspaper of Sofia and a testimony by Nzhdeh. A chronological survey of his life and work, bibliographical sources and a glossary of place names complete this volume.

The selected writings reflect the evolution of his thoughts shaped by the turbulent political events and the intense ideological battles that characterized most of the 20th century in the Armenian and international political scene. The Armenian national liberation struggle of late 19th and early 20th centuries, the worldview of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun), the struggle for survival of the First Republic of Armenia, and subsequently, its forced partition and sovietization had their impact upon the development of his political thinking and philosophy. Nzhdeh witnessed the collapse of the Ottoman Turkish and Tsarist Russian Empires, faced the destruction and the dispossession of Western Armenians during the First World War.  He participated in the struggle for the independence and territorial unity of the first Republic of Armenia, and saw its forced partition, sovietization and its incorporation into the Soviet Union. Finally, as part of the Diaspora, he joined the struggle for national survival, experienced the Second World War and always focused on Armenia’s preservation and territorial unity. His fame was kept alive in the popular memory of Armenia, despite the prohibition of his name during the Soviet era (1921-1990).
Nzhdeh possessed a strong personality and embodied three prominent talents: that of an orator, military strategist and philosopher. These attributes made him one of the outstanding Armenian political and military leaders of the first half of the 20th century. His political and intellectual achievements acquired significance, his legacy spreading during his lifetime and after.
As a political and military leader, Nzhdeh played an important role in shaping the outcome of some of these events of modern Armenian history. He played a major role in organizing and leading the Armenian forces into reversing the trend in the battle of Gharakilisa in 1918, which became pivotal along with the decisive battles of Sardarabad and Bash-Abaran fought against the Ottoman Turkish army (Hambardzumian, 2005). The victorious struggle for Zangezur (1920 to 1921) under his leadership against the combined forces of the Red Army and Turco-Tatar reinforcements, secured for Armenia her southern territories in Siunik (Zangezur), bordering Iran thus creating a wedge between Turco-Tatars of eastern South Caucasus (subsequently identified as Azerbaijanis) and Turks of Turkey (Lernahayastani goyamarte, “Mountainous Armenia: the Battle for Survival”, 1923). His organization of the National Covenant (“Tseghakron”) movement, which constituted later the basis of the founding of the Armenian Youth Federation of the United States and Canada, affiliated with the A.R.F., prevented the assimilation of thousands of Armenian youth.
According to R. Hampardzumian (2007), the texts point to his ideology: Christian Armenianism whose self-defence system focuses on David Bek’s, St.Vartan’s and the Mamikonian Covenant, revived by him in the ‘20s and the ‘30s.
In this volume Nzhdeh raises many political, strategic, historical and social issues pertaining to the Armenian people in particular and to international developments in general. His Prison Writings and Self-Testimony reflect the culmination of his thoughts, reinforced by his experience. The selected texts also indicate Nzhdeh’s acquaintance with his contemporary European political, military and philosophical currents of thought. Certainly, Nzhdeh approaches many of these issues with clear perspective of his own and formulation.
The debate between spiritualism and materialism; the role of the state in politics; the relationship between the individual, the nation and the state; the role of history, culture and ancestral territory in nation-building; the value of social justice in human societies; the interrelationship between national and universal values; the role of intellectual, spiritual and military elites in shaping the national life of peoples are issues discussed by Nzhdeh. They are all relevant today. Indeed, today the debate around these issues is conducted within the interwoven and multifaceted relations of the world and within the parameters of new theoretical approaches and empirical results.
The strengths and weaknesses of the Armenian people; education, self-knowledge and the spiritual renewal of Armenian generations; unity among various Armenian currents of thought; the emancipation of the Armenian homeland forcefully incorporated into the Republic of Turkey (Western Armenia) are also issues addressed by Nzhdeh. These also are presently part of the discussion agenda among Armenians, albeit, under more complex objective and subjective conditions. Moreover, his thoughtful and realistic analysis of Armenia’s strategic priorities and security threats has a contemporary significance in light of recent geopolitical transformations in the South Caucasus.
His philosophical inclination is best reflected in his aphorisms, characterized by its fragmented, but deeply reasoned style.
Nzhdeh’s style is fragmentary, but his reasoning is powerful and complete. Few, very few people speak, write or act with “blood and vein”. His writings are the psychological features of a distinctively temperamental and powerful individuality, which are remarkable for their unique style and pious qualities of expressed ideas and truths (Hayk Asatrian, philosopher and one of his closest companions-in-arm).
The texts reveal a talented writer, who with newly-coined words and with new styles of representing them, enriched the Armenian language. “His colourful thinking reminds us of Yeghisheh, the 5th century Armenian historian; the mystic Grigor Naregatsi among ancient writers; Hakob Oshakan and Avetis Aharonian, among  modern writers”(Hambardzumian, 2007).
Aphorisms of Nzhdeh preserve a value of reflection for the new generations of Armenians and inspire them with patriotism, self-knowledge, self-confidence and self-reliance. By singling out a few of them, their contemporary relevance can be seen outright:
“History, it is not an unfinished novel but an unfinished battle.” What an eloquent way to prepare the Armenian long-term struggle for the recovery of the lost homeland!
The more socially just, the more powerful is the fatherland.” Here isa guiding idea upon which to anchor the state-building processes of post-soviet Republic of Armenia and Artsakh!
Sword or pen? As one as well as the other – both I liked and used. But I appeared before an alternative and I had to choose the first because there are times when to advance, pen, word, truth need a sword. I like the pen, which at the same time is a sword that knows how to raise thousand arms with swords to defend justice.” This resumes Nzhdeh’s life, but it also describes the hard and complementary choices facing the Armenian people in their historical journey to their homeland.
Finally, this publication of Selective Works of Garegin Nzhdeh make available to scholars, researchers, students and general readers the political, military and philosophical reflections of a great 20th century Armenian patriot, while paving the way for further studies into his worldview and his relevance to posterity. Comparative links between European political, military and philosophical currents of thought and his approaches can be explored further.  ———————————
To obtain a copy of Selected Works of Garegin Nzhdeh contact Antranig Bedrossian at  [email protected]
The Cost is Can. $ 22.00 plus shipping and handling
  1. Event Not Mentioned

    Dear Mr. Antranig Bedrossian, parev.

    I believe you have not mentioned in your very interesting post above something important from the four-volume "Republic of Armenia" by Prof. Richard G. Hovanissian. When  Garegin Nzhdeh had successfully liberated Zangezur/Siunik and declared "Lernahayastan" as an independent republic, Armenia had already been declared a Soviet Socialist Republic. When the Kemalists threatened to enter Eastern Armenia and the Red Army was planning to enter from the other side, the fledgling Free Independent Army was compelled to act. There was fear of  war between S.S.R. of Armenia and Lernahayastan.

    Nzhdeh would not budge and every day that passed war seemed  more imminent.  Then a distant relative of my mother’s (Ter Nerces Archebiscopos Melik-Tangian) intervened and somehow convinced Nzhdeh to give in and dissolve his army and leave Lernahayastan to avoid bloodshed between brother Armenians of the S.S.R. Armenia and his troops. We owe that to that venerable spiritual leader and Nzhdeh for comprehending the seriousness of the hour. 

    I know a bit more about the Nakhichevantsis being half one on my mother’s side. She hailed from a well-known family which was massacred by Tatars, incited by Turkish officers who had entered Nakhichevan. In a recently-released 18-minute trailer for a documentary, I speak for a few minutes. The feature film, which is an hour-long, is titled "Orphans of the Armenian Genocide". It deals with the turkification of the orphans by Jemal Pasha and his lover Fetieh Hanum, near Beirut.  

    Robert  Fisk of "The Independent" British newspaper also appears in the above

  2. Puzzled

    I am puzzled. Why Keghart would publish anything about Garegin
    Nzhdeh, a known racist and Nazi collaborator?

    Yes, in Armenia another Nazi collaborator is on pedestals, Tro Ganayan.

    Both have argued that their collaboration with the Nazis was to "free" Armenia, and "protect" the Armenians of Eastern Europe. From what?

    Is it any wonder that later he was imprisoned by the Soviets?

    There is no need of either Nzhdeh’s or Tro’s "patriotism". It seems some people confuse patriotism with adoration of the race, a far cry from what patriotism is, a humanistic, all inclusive attitude towards not only one’s people but others too.

    1. No Need to Remain Puzzled, Shant


      I have described below what transpired–the truth–that can be varified not only by Prof. Richard G.Hovannisian but also other sources in Yerevan.

      Nzhdeh did give in, but only after accomplishing important work. accomplished. It is important I make it clear that I´m not a Tashnak nor belong to other political party or affilitate, but I admire what Nzhdeh did.

      There were many Azeri-Tatar people in the Zangezur-Siunik area who had ¨squattered in¨ as herdsmen during the 19th century. When war broke out,  he successfully fought them,and none of these squatters were left. No Tatar vilages either.

      Nzhdeh a Nazi? No, he as well as Tro,  were astute and cunning. If they, sort of, collaboarated on the surface with the Germans–not  necessarily the Nazis–but the German war machine. You will not  hear this from a Tashnag partisan, naturally, because of the outcry from those in the other camp, namely pro-Soviets or pro-Russians. They will try to justify the contrary, that  he was a traitor, etc.

      But I´m nonpartisan and respect all. This is  what I learned first- hand when I, as a student in London, went with my brother on a month-long vacation to Budapest in 1947.  My father and his brother had purchased two landmark buildings on Hosok Tarra main square. When the German army was approaching the North Caucasus, Tro went into action. In the interim, few know that Tro, though a Tashnak , was also very friendly with  Russian revolutionaries and  Stalin had allowed  him to stay in Moscow till 1943 or 1944.

      At the time U.S was refurbishing the Soviet Union with countless  Studebaker  trucks loaded  with food, ammo, etc. We saw  them as they passed through Iran.

      It was right before this period that Tro gathered around him some 80 Germans or Austrians of Armenian origin. He had convinced  the Germans that  he would enter Armenia and declare it free of Soviets. This is what  my Budapest uncle narrated to us. My other uncle knew Tro since he was Sebouh Zoravar´s pharmacist-soldier.

      Some will remember  that  Turkey, encouraged by the Germans advance towards the Caucasus, was getting ready to once again invade Armenia.

      So Tro´s strategy was smart. I remember seeing his picture in an Armenian newspaper somewhere in the Middle  East with a German officer. Tashnags, at that time, would deny since Iran was occupied by Soviet/American/British and Fench troops. Tro was in uniform in the picture, but with a papakh headgear.

      This does not demonstrate that Tro or Nzhdeh were Nazis. We have to become like the Turks, Persians, Arabs, if not Europeans and tilt  to the side that is beneficial to us. Enough of the obstinate Armenian, always more babagan than the pope. Ideology  is not important but being An Armenian For Armenia and Armenians is.

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