Armenian notables deported from the Ottoman capital in 1915

Armenian notables deported from the Ottoman capital in 1915

The Red Sunday - ( _hy. Կարմիր Կիրակի) is the night which the leaders of Armenian community of the Ottoman capital, Constantinopole, and later extending to other centers were arrested and moved to two holding centers near Ankara by than the minister of interior Mehmed Talat Bey with his and later deported with the passage of Tehcir Law on 29 May 1915. In the larger framework of the Armenian Genocide the date 24 April, Genocide Remembrance Day, commemorates the Armenian notables deported from the Ottoman capital in 1915, which was a precursor to the ensuing events.


In a first wave in the night from 24 to 25 April 1915 235 [Kamuran Gürün, Tarih Boyunca Ermeni Meselesi, p. 213] Christopher J. Walker: "World War I and the Armenian Genocide" in: Richard G. Hovannisian (Editor): "The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume II: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth Century to the Twentieth Century" Palgrave Macmillan 1997 ISBN 0-333-61974-9, p. 252] to 270 Armenian leaders of Constantinople, clergymen, physicians, editors, journalists, lawyers, teachers, politicians, etc. were arrested upon an instruction of the Ministry of the Interior. [The differences in number may be explained by the uncertainties of the police as they imprisoned people with the same names. Identification of the imprisoned was the first task during the 1 day stay in Constantinople (Emniyeti Umumiye and Central Prison). The Turkish policemen proved repeatedly to be unfamiliar with Armenian names e.g. Komitaci instead of Komitas.] A second wave brought the figure to 500Zaven Der Yeghiayan: "My Patriarchal Memoirs", Mayreni Publishing, Barrington (RI) 2002 ISBN 1-931834-05-9, p.63] –600. [Razmik Panossian: "The Armenians. From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars", Columbia University Press, New York 2006 ISBN 0-231-13926-8, p.237] [George A. Bournoutian: "A Concise History of the Armenian People", Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa (CA), 2002 ISBN 1-56859-141-1, p.272]

There were further deportations from the capital. In the end of August 1915 about 150 Armenians with Russian nationality were deported from Constantinople to Ankara and Mudshur.


The action of 24 April 1915 was operated by Chief of Police of Constantinople Bedri Bey. Few of the detained were released the same weekend as writer Alexander Panossian (1859-1919) before even being transferred to Anatolia. Most of the arrested were sent after identification of the particulars from Central Prison over Sarai Burnu by steamer No. 67 of the "Şirket" company to the railway station of Haydarpaşa. After waiting for ten hours they were sent by special train in the direction of Ankara the next day. The train was under way with 220 Armenians.Avedis Nakashian: "A Man Who Found A Country", Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York 1940 pp. 208-278] An Armenian train conductor got a list of names of the deportees. It was handed over to the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, Zaven Der Yeghiayan, who right away tried in vain to save as many deportees as possible. The only foreign ambassador to help him in his efforts was US ambassador Morgenthau.Zaven Der Yeghiayan: "My Patriarchal Memoirs", Mayreni Publishing, Barrington (RI) 2002 ISBN 1-931834-05-9, p.58] After a train journey of 20 hours the deportees got off in Sincanköy (near Ankara) Tuesday noon. At the station Ibrahim, the director of the Central Prison of Constantinople, did the triage. The deportees were divided into two groups.

One group was sent to Çankırı (and Çorum between Çankırı and Amasia) and the other to Ayaş. Those separated for Ayaş were transported in carts for a couple of hours further to Ayaş. Almost all of them were killed several months later in gorges near Ankara. Only ten (or thirteen) deportees of this group were granted permission to turn back to the capital from Ayaş. [According to Teotik’s year book 1916-20 these were: Dikran Ajemian, Mkrtich Garabedian, H. Asadurian, Haig Tiriakian, Shavarsh Panossian, Krikor Siurmeian, Servet, Dr. Parseghian, Piuzant Bozajian, Dr. Avedis Nakashian]

A group of 20 latecomers arrested on 24 April arrived in Çankırı around 7 or 8 May 1915. About 150 "political" prisoners were detained in Ayaş, about 150 "intellectual" prisoners in Çankırı. [Raymond Kévorkian: "Le Génocide des Arméniens", Odile Jacob, Paris 2006 2-7381-1830-5, p. 318]


Those sent to Çankırı continued their journey first by train until Ankara and then in carts till Çankırı. After a week in the military barracks they were allowed to stay in town at their own expensesMikayel Shamtanchian: "The Fatal Night. An Eyewitness Account of the Extermination of Armenian Intellectuals in 1915" translated from the Armenian by Ishkhan Jinbashian, H. and K. Manjikian Publications, Studio City (CA) 2007 ISBN 0-9791289-4] , with the condition that they remain under supervision, whereas those sent to Ayaş were kept jailed in garrison.

A first convoy with 56 prisoners left Çankırı on 11 or 18 July with no survivors. Raymond Kévorkian: "Le Génocide des Arméniens", Odile Jacob, Paris 2006 2-7381-1830-5, p. 663]

A second convoy (with 30 deportees) left Çankırı on 19 August. Their fate is better known as (one Yves Ternon: "Enquête sur la négation d'un génocide", éditions parenthèses, Marseille 1989 ISBN 2-86364-052-6 p.27] or) two of them survived (Aram Andonian being one of them).


Totally twelve deportees were granted permission to come back to the capital from Çankırı. [According to Teotik’s year book 1916-20 these were: Komitas Vardapet, Piuzant Kechian, Dr. Vahram Torkomian, Dr. Parsegh Dinanian, Haig Hojasarian, Nshan Kalfayan, Yervant Tolayan, Aram Kalenderian, Noyig Der-Stepanian, Vrtanes Papazian, Karnik Injijian, Beylerian junior.] The deportees who came free did this through the intercession of influential persons who they found through their own means.Zaven Der Yeghiayan: "My Patriarchal Memoirs", Mayreni Publishing, Barrington (RI) 2002 ISBN 1-931834-05-9, p. 66] Five deportees from Çankırı were freed upon intervention of ambassador Henry Morgenthau.

The remaining deportees were under the protection of governor Mazhar Bey who defied the secret instructions of Talat Pasha, minister of the interior. Mazhar was replaced end of July 1915 by central committee member Atif Bey who started the elimination of the Armenian population of the province of Ankara in August 1915.

Four deportees were granted permission to come back from Konya. [According to Teotik’s year book 1916-20 these were: Apig Miubahejian, Atamian, Kherbekian, Nosrigian.]


After the Armistice of Mudros several surviving Armenian intellectuals came back to Constantinople, which was under allied occupation. They started a short but intense literary activity that was ended by the kemalist victory (1922-1923).


"Below is a list of Armenians deported from the Ottoman capital (Constantinople) during the First World War, as made available by the Ottoman archives and Armenian sources. The names are in English and Armenian. The 'armistice' mentioned in the list refers to the Armistice of Mudros 30 October 1918."


Further reading

* Garine Avakian: "Եղեռնահուշ մասունք կամ խոստովանողք եւ վկայք խաչի [Relic of the Genocide or to those who suffered in the name of the cross and died for their faith] ", Yerevan, 2002 ISBN 99930-2-436-8 [gives an account of the events that lead to Çankırı (place of deportation in Anatolia) and 100 short biographic descriptions of deportees on the basis of a rosary/worry-beads (Hamrich) in the History Museum of Yerevan with the engraved names of the deportees, that a deportee himself, Varteres Atanasian, created.]
* Krikor Balakian "Հայ Գողգոթան [The Armenian Golgotha] ", Mechitaristenpresse Vienna 1922 (vol. 1) and Paris 1956 (vol. 2) (a new edition in French: Georges Balakian: "Le Golgotha arménien", Le cercle d'écrits caucasiens, La Ferté-Sous-Jouarre 2002 (vol. 1) ISBN 2-913564-08-9, 2004 (vol. 2) ISBN 2-913564-13-5)
* Krikor Beledian: "Le retour de la Catastrophe", in: Catherine Coquio (Hg.): "L'histoire trouée. Négation et témoignage", éditions l'atalante, Nantes 2003 ISBN 2-84172-248-1 [essay about the survivor literature 1918-23]
* Raymond Kévorkian: "Le Génocide des Arméniens", Odile Jacob, Paris 2006 ISBN 2-7381-1830-5
* Teotoros Lapçinciyan (Teotik) "Գողգոթա հայ հոգեւորականութեան [The Golgotha of the Armenian clergy] ", H. Mateossian, Constantinople 1921 [gives an account of over 1.500 deported clergymen all over the Ottoman Empire with selected biographical entries and lists 100 notables of 24 April 1915 by name out of 270 in total and classifies them roughly in 9 professional groups]
* Teotoros Lapçinciyan (Teotik): "Ամէնուն Տարեցոյցը. Ժ-ԺԴ. Տարի. 1916-1920. [Everyman’s Almanac. 10.-14. Year. 1916-1920] ", G. Keshishian press, Constantinople 1920
* Mikayel Shamtanchian: "The Fatal Night. An Eyewitness Account of the Extermination of Armenian Intellectuals in 1915" translated from the Armenian by Ishkhan Jinbashian, H. and K. Manjikian Publications, Studio City (CA) 2007 ISBN 0-9791289-4
* Rita Soulahian Kuyumjian "Archeology of Madness. Komitas. Portrait of an Armenian Icon." Gomidas Institute Taderon Press Princeton, New Jersey, 2001 ISBN 0-9535191-7-1
* Yves Ternon "Enquête sur la négation d'un génocide [Investigation of the Denial of a Genocide] ", Editions Parentèses, Marseille 1989 ISBN 2-86364-052-6 [gives an account of the arrests of 24 April 1915 in the 1st part of his book]

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