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Cornell University Library 
D 567.A2P94 

War & revolution In Asiatic Russia 

a 1924 027 963 762 

|l Cornell University 
J Library 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 




Translated by JEAN E. H. FINDLAY 
Crown 8vo. Ss. net. 

M. Vandervelde's book gives in broad outline a 
compreKensive view of the Russian Revolution in its 
political, military, and industrial aspects. M. Louis 
de Broukere, the vrell-known Belgian Socialist, and 
Lieutenant de Mann, who accompanied M. Vander- 
velde on his recent mission to Russia, contribute 
valuable material on the industrial and military 
problems. The book is characterized by a lucidity 
and breadth of view which enable us to arrive at 
definite conclusions regarding the much-discussed 
question of the future of Russia and her share in 
the reconstruction of Europe. < 

London : George Allen & Unwin Ltd. 




(Special Correspondent of the " Manchester Guardian ") 




saw, and sent frequent dispatches to my newspaper. 

Part II of this volume is made up out of my diary and 

out of articles which ' appeared during these months in 

the Manchester Guardian. During the summer and 

autumn of 1916 I was doing relief work among refugees 

in the Trans-Caucasus and the neighbouring regions of 

Turkey. While on this work I travelled through a 

large part of the province of Fars and Lazistan, both 

of which little-known regions I describe in Chapters 

VI and VII. Part I is a short history of the Caucasus 

campaign which I compiled during the winter of 1916, 

while living in Tifiis. In the Introduction I try to connect 

the great events that were taking place in the Middle East 

with the past history of Central Asia, and to sketch the 

lines along which an international settlement might be 

made. I was just completing this when the Russian 

Revolution broke out, and I became a witness of its effects 

in the Asiatic provinces. In Part III, I lead up to this 

theme. I show in Chapter IX the real state of Asiatic 

Russia, as I saw it in the months preceding the 

Revolution. In Chapter VIII I show how the Russian 

reaction was in "part responsible for the disastrous state 

of affairs in Armenia, and was contributing with the 

Turkish Government to bring that unhappy country to 

the verge of ruin. In the last Chapter, I describe tHe 

Revolution in Asia and the dawn of the new era which 

Russia has now made for the people of that continent. 


May 19, 1917. 

Note. — A chapter on " Persia and her Future " will be included in later 
editions after the itiar or when there is no Censor to be consulted. 


Preface .......... 5 

Introduction . . . . . , . . .21 

The two " gateways " between Europe and Asia — the 
incessant race movements passing across them — the 
physical features of Central Asia — the two types of 
humanity that live there— the nomad invasions into the 
West — the penetration of European influence into Asia 
— the movement of races from the Russian plain across the 
Caucasus isthmus — the connection between race move- 
ments and economic interests — the regions of the Middle 
East — the Greek sea-board — the Anatolian tableland — the 
Armenian plateau — ^the Iranian plateau — the Caucasus 
isthmus — the six ancient trade routes across the Middle 
East — modem lines of trade and economic development 
between East and West — Imperial exploitation and 
spheres of interest — the proletariat movement of the 
West and the hopes of its influence on the Eastern Question 
— possibility of a settlement among the financial groups 
— the force of " world economics " — the internationalizing 
of Constantinople and the Trans-Persian railway. 


CAMPAIGN (1914—16) 


Early Stages of the Campaign (1914-15) . . .49 

The mistake of ignoring the Asiatic fronts — the import- 
ance of the Caucasus campaign for the general strategy of 
the Allies — the geographical structure of the Armenian 




and Trans-Caucasian plateaux — the strategic problems 
before the Russian and Turkish General Staffs — ^the 
bases at Kars and Erzerum — the possibilities of flanking 
movements in the Chorokh depression and in north-west 
Persist — the opening of the campaign — Enver Pasha's 
ofiensive and the Turkish invasion of the Caucasus — 
Ishkhan Pasha's defeat at Sary-Kamish — ^the Turkish 
spring ofiensive in Azairbij an— defeat of HaUl Bey's 
division at the battle of Dilman — the Armenian rebellion 
at Van and the Russian advance — ^their occupation of 
the Van vilayet — ^the July retreat and the Russian 
reoccupation of Van. 


The Erzerum Offensive (February 1916). ... 64 

General state of the Caucasus army during 1915 — danger 
of a Turkish concentration — great value of the Anglo- 
French expedition at the Dardanelles in saving the 
Caucasus army — the Grand Duke Nicolas succeeds in 
strengthening the Asiatic fronts — Turkish concentration 
against British in Mesopotamia and consequent weaken- 
ing of their forces in Armenia — the opportunity for the 
Caucasus Army — ^the fortress of Erzerum and its physical 
surroundings — Turkish dispositions and plan of defence 
— the Russian dispositions and plan of attack — ^the 
capture of the Azap-keui positions — retreat of the Turks 
to the Deve-boyun — Halid Bey's counter-attack in the 
Chorokh depression repulsed by the Russian Turkestans 
— Russian advance a semicircular line 130 miles long — 
difiiculties of holding the line across the high mountain 
ranges — attack of the ist Caucasus Army Corps on the 
Deve-boyun positions — capture of outer forts — ^Turks 
repulse the Elizabetopol and Baku regiments before 
Chaban-dede with heavy loss — Russian attack in danger 
of breaking down — wonderful feat of the 4th Composite 
Division in crossing the Kargar-bazar heights and joining 
the 2nd Turkestans — forts Chaban-dede and Tufta in 
danger of being surrounded — Turkish retreat from 
the forts and evacuation of Erzerum — moral and political 
efiect of the capture of Erzerum — its strategic value 
for the campaign in Asia. ' 




With the Russian Expedition in North-West Persia 

AND KhuRDISTAN. . ^ . . . .. 

I leave Tiflis — visit Ani — ascend Mount Alagyoz — visit 
Echmiadzin and the Armenian Catholicos — reach Djulfa 
and cross the Persian frontier — arrive at Tabriz — the 
political atmosphere there— educational revival among 
the Persians — I buy horses and make up my caravan 
— start oflE from Tabriz — reach the Lake of Urumiah — 
visit Dilman — a town without a governor — visit General 
Chemozubof — start off for the town of Urumiah — the 
Russian retreat in progress and the flight of the 
Assyrian refugees — I reach Urumiah and find it un- 
occupied — am taken in by Dr. Packard at American 
Mission — story of the Khurdish invasion of Urumiah 
in the winter 1914 — the national movements among the 
Khurds — their habits and race movements along the 
Turco-Persian border — evil effect of Russian and Turkish 
poUtical intrigues on the morale of the Khurds — history 
of Simko — the Russian Consul in Urumiah declares an 
amnesty to the Khurds just after my arrival — I accom- 
pany Dr. Packard on a mission to pacify the Khurds 
— ^we visit the Begzadis of Mergawer — ^meet the armed 
tribesmen at Dize — are escorted to the chief — spend 
the night with Abdull a Agha — secure a passage for the 
Assyrian Christians — ^return to Urumiah — ^go out again 
to meet Bedr Khan Bey — bring him in to the Russian 
Consul — ^visit the Begzadis of Tergawer — ^ride up on to 
the high plateau — meet the outposts of Khurdu Bey^ — 
arrive in his camp — rare received with Oriental pomp 
— discover Turkish agents in the camp — discover great 
loot from Urumiah — negotiate with Khurdu Bey — the 
fanatical sheikh — Khurdu Bey agrees to release his 
Christian slaves — ^bring the Christians back to Urumiah 
— the American Mission in Urumiah, its history and 





With the Armenian Volunteers round Lake Van . 122 

I return to Dilman — witness the retreat of the Assyrians 
into Persia — visit their Patriarch and hear his story 
— ^history of the Assyrian Christians — start out for 
Armenia — reach the valley of the Great Zab — visit the 
monastery of Deer — spend a few days in a Russian 
camp — cross the Chukha-Sadik pass — ^my first sight of 
Lake Van — I reach the city — meet the Armenian volun- 
teers under Ishkhan — join the Red Cross detachment 
— we start out for the front — in camp at Shah-bagi — I 
visit the great rock at Van — the inscription of Xerxes 
— ^we start for the front — pass the camp of Andranik 
— my interview with the Armenian revolutionary leader 
— ^types of Armenian revolutionaries — ^we go into camp 
at Ang— our life there — life in the neighbouring camps 
— a review of the troops — three Armenian scouts come 
into camp — they tell us stories of the Turks — Yegishey 
tells me stories about the Khurds — ^the orders for advance 
come — our column on the march — ^we reach the head- 
waters of the Tigris — come to a desolate upland plateau 
— our first sight of the Turks — descend into a deep 
valley — camp in the darkness beneath the Turks — an 
outpost affair — attacking the Turks in the early morning 
— we gain the summit of the pass — a gorgeous panorama 
— witness the advance of the Russian columns from 
the pass — a great battle scene — descend towards the 
lake — the attack on the following day — I witness the 
bombardment from the artillery observation post — talk 
with my friends among the infantry just before the 
attack — witness the attack from a hill — the capture 
of Narek Vank by the Armenians — walk over the field 
of battle — help a Cossack to bury a dead Turk — we all 
gather together in the evening — our fight against famine 
begins — we are caught in a blizzard — a terrible night 
at Vostan — the food arrives — ^we reach Van again — 
return to Persia — wayside scenes at Serai and in the 
Kotur defiles — reach the oasis of Khoy — I return to 
the Caucasus. 

My visit to Erzerum after its Capture by the Russians . 163 

I arrive at Kars — I stay with the Vice-Governor — pre- 
parations for the advance — the Kars plateau in winter 




— news of the Erzerum ofiensive comes — I leave for 
Sary-Kamish — join my colleagues of the Russian press — 
start off in transport wagons — reach the Passan 
plain — ^the scenes in the wake of the advance — arrive 
at Kupru-koui — -the rumble of the artillery on the 
Deve-boyun — Hassan-kaleh — I climb on to the great 
rock — scenes on the upper Passan — the ravages of war 
and changes of nature — we are received by General 
Eudenitch — reach the Deve-boyun chain — a distant 
view of a rearguard action — arrive in Erzerum — scenes 
in the street — start out to visit the forts — inspect 
the old Turkish guns — ascend the high plateau — 
terrible cold — the abandoned Turkish batteries — dead 
bodies in the snow— the last sleep of two Russian 
and Turkish peasants — we reach fort Chaban-dede — 
^the great panorama of the Deve-boyun — sleep in 
the highest fort in the world — visit the snow-fields 
on the Olugli — the scene of the great struggle — return 
to Erzerum — I visit Mr. Stapleton — his heroic work 
with Mrs. Stapleton in the cause of the Armenians — 
Zdanevitch and I ride up to fort Palan-teken — view 
from the summit of the pass — with the soldiers in the fort 
at tea — we discuss the war — their attitude towards 
it — return to Erzerum — and to Tiflis. 


My Summer Journey on the Kars Plateau and in the 

Upper Chorokh Basin (1916) .... 183 

The organization of relief work for sufferers from the 
war on the Caucasus front — I go to Kars to investigate 
the state of the refugees — the population of the Kars 
plateau — relations between the races before the war — 
disastrous moral effect of the war upon them — material 
losses of both Moslems and Armenians — impossibility of 
attaching the blame now — international commission 
desirable to make restitution to occupied regions of 
Turkey from a common fund of all belligerent countries 
— I visit Moslem villages — the Khurdish population of 
the Kars plateau — the Ali-AUahi sect — tendency of the 
Moslem sects in this region to unite since the war 
into one national group — I set out on a journey to 
the Chorokh — springtime on the high plateaux— the 



ruined villages — I cross the Allah-ak-bar pass — magnUi- 
cent view of the Kars plateau and the Olti depression 
— descend through pine forests to the village of Arsenek 
— am entertained by the Turkish peasants — their poli- 
tical outlook — " Who is our Padishah?"—! reach 
Olti — start out with M. Kuzetsef for the Upper Chorokh 
— we pass the Gey Dag — Russian engineering feats in 
the Upper Chorokh and the strategical value of the 
new roads — reach Tortum — ^tea under the mulberry- 
trees — I climb up to the old castle — ^find ruins of a 
Christian church — probabilities of the ancient Georgian 
frontiers being once here — investigate the condition 
of the natives — estimate of the population and its losses 
from the war — we cross the Kazan Dag — magnificent 
view of the whole Upper Chorokh basin — reach the 
Staff of General Prejvalsky — the " peasant-general " 
and his character — discuss the native racial problems 
in Asia — I see the refugees — ^we return to Tortum valley 
— ^population seen en route — return to Olti — on the 
road to Kars again — I travel with Russian peasant 
soldiers — their views on the war — fatalism and the 
military machine — visit the Kars prison — A Russian 
conscientious objector — reach Ardahan — condition of 
the town and district — effect of the war on the native 
population — visit the summer encampment of the 
Ali-AUahi sect — their religious practices — visit Turkish 
villages — their views on the Arab rebellion against the 
Sultan and the Caliphate — visit the vUlages of the 
Russian Dissenters — a typical Malakan village — ^history 
of their sect — their high moral character — their pro- 
gressive "habits — their high standard of husbandry — 
its effect on the Asiatic natives — their social relation 
with their Armenian and Moslem neighbours. 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan. . . .216 

I buy food and warm clothing for the Lazis — Dr. Sultanof 
and I arrive at Batum — difficulties of transporting 
our material to Lazistan — the geographical structure 
of Lazistan — ^liistory of Lazistan — Tamara's dream — 
probable population of Lazistan — effect of the Turkish 
retreat and the Russian occupation on the natives of 



Lazistan — we reach Morgul — we can get no farther — 
the natives save us trouble by carrying all the food on 
their backs-r-capacity of the Lazi for carrying heavy 
weights — ^we pass through lower Adjaria — ruined and 
deserted condition of the country — ^history of the Turkish 
invasion here at commencement of war — the return of 
the Russians — the massacre of the Ad jars — statistics for 
the population of Adjaria — ^we reach Artvin — wonderful 
situation of the town — ^we stay with Captain Zasemovitch 
—the inhabitants of Artvin — the Catholic Armenians 
and their history — set out for Lazistan — a wonderful 
pass — see all Adjaria and the Caucasus range at one 
glance — our first sight of Lazistan — ^look into an abyss 
— descend two thousand feet sheer — reach Melo, 
the first village of Lazistan — meet the Russian ofiicials 
— " I don't know where my district ends " — terrible 
condition of the natives — we distribute our food and 
clothing — walk on foot farther up the gorges — reach a 
true Lazi village — starving people wish to entertain us 
— ^the Lazi, his life and habits, his character and the 
beauty of his women — ^we find Greek Christians — ^their 
underground church and secret custom — return to 



The Armenian Question and its Settlement . . 237 

Armenia's fate between two Imperial Powers — the 
Eastern Question in relation to Armenia — the weakness 
of Turkey's rule in Armenia and its cause — -the three social 
elements in the population of Armenia — Turkish in- 
capacity to assimilate — ^the Turkish Revolution and 
the two political parties in Constantinople — ^liberal 
nationalism and the party of Enver Pasha — ^proposal for 
peaceful solution of Balkan Question — Russian policy at 
Constantinople and M. CharikoS — attitude of Russian 
authorities in Caucasus — ^the raising of the question of 
Armenian autonomy — failure of the propps^ — the Balkan 



war — ^triumph of Enver Pasha's party — the policy of 
blood and iron — ^process of natural reconciliation between 
Khurd and Armenian— effect of Powers' Armenian 
reform scheme on this reconciliation — the outbreak of 
the European war — the Erzerum conference — Young 
Turk Committee's proposal to the Armenians — the 
" chain of buffer States " in the Caucasus — Turkish 
Government's pretexts for demands on Armenians — 
the Armenian volunteer movement in the Caucasus and its 
origin — disagreement among the Armenians on ques- 
tions of policy — ^the Armenian massacres — probable 
number of survivors — the losses of the Khurds and 
Moslems during the war — the losses of the Assyrian Chris- 
tians — race movements in Armenia resulting from wars 
in last hundred years — figures of Armenian and Khurdish 
piopulation of Armenia before the war — ^the pressure 
of the Khurds on the Armenians and its economic causes 
— ^the problem of the future race settlement — ^need for 
re-establishing friendly relations between Armenians and 
Khurds — right of people of Armenia to decide their own 
fate — ^need to summon a Khurdo-Armenian assembly 
— the future political structure — will natives decide for 
union with Turkey or with Russia? — reasons for preferring 
union with Russia. 

Nationalism and Internationalism in the Caucasus . 255 

The development of nationalism among small races as 
result of Imperialist policies of Great Powers — ^the principle 
of " Divide et impera " — national revival in Caucasus and 
Middle East during eighteenth century — ^its purely cultural 
aspect in its early stages — ^the growth of political national- 
ism — ^it spreads from Europe to the Near and then the 
Middle East — ^the effect of the Russian Revolution of 1905 
on the Near and Middle East — ^the beginnings of the 
proletariat " international " movement and its speedy 
collapse — the Russian reaction and its policy for dealing 
with revolutionary movements — development of an aggres- 
sive nationalism among races of Caucasus as result of 
the crushing of the proletariat revolution — ^the Nationalist 
parties among the Armenians — the Nationalist parties 
among the Georgians — Nationalist movements among 




the Tartars^— their development of political self-conscious- 
ness — the two forms of Pan-Islam movement, the political 
and the cultural — nationalism in the Caucasus after 
the outbreak of the great war — the balance of power 
between the races — influx of the Armenian refugees 
from Turkey and its effect on creation of Tartar-Georgian 
Block — ^policy of Russian authorities embitters the 
national feuds — Prince Vorontsoff-DashkofE and the 
Alashkert Cossack proposal — the Grand Duke Nicolas 
introduces the Zemstvo scheme — attitude of Armenian 
Nationalists — attitude of Tartar-Georgian aristocracy 
— attitude of Social-Democrat parties — the Grand Duke 
and landowning classes insist on conservative franchise 
— ^beginnings of rapprochement between Caucasian nation- 
alities during winter 1916-17 — the strengthening of the 
international-revolutionary movement in response to 
developments in Russia — ^the March Revolution in the 
Caucasus and the appearance of the Council of Workers 
and Soldiers' Delegates — the attitude towards it of the 
Armenian and Georgian Socialist societies — the reac- 
tionary forces among the Georgian aristocracy — ^the 
Armenian bourgeoisie and the Russian Liberal ImperiaUsts 
— ^the difficulty of reconciling the National with the 
International movements in the. Caucasus — ^the possi- 
bility of a compromise on the basis of federation. 


The Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia. . 270 

The Russian reaction and the war — suppression of move- 
ments for liberty — ^persecution of small nationalities — 
the responsibility of the " Northcliffe " Press in its rela- 
tions with the Russian Government — ^the apparent 
hopelessness of the revolutionary movement in Russia — 
the rebelhon of the natives of Central Asia against Russia 
in 1916 — the decisive factor w£is the food crisis — statistics 
showing the depletion of Russia's food supplies as the 
result of the war — the approach of famine and its efiect 
in reviving the revolutionary movement — ^the three social 
elements in Russia on the eve of the Revolution — (i) the 
peasant proletariat — (2) the aristocracy, higher bureau- 
cracy, and the Court party — ^their desire for a separate 



peace as a means of crushing revolution — English support 
of the Russian reaction— the " Northcliffe " Press and 
its sympathy for Nicolas II— (3) the Russian middle-class 
parties and the Progressive Block— their capitalist 
connections and Imperialist aims— their estrangement 
from the peasant proletariat— the " inteUigentsia," 
and its union with the middle classes — the social elements 
in Asiatic Russia on the eve of the Revolution — in 
Siberia — in Turkestan and Bokhara — in the Caucasus — 
spread of the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus 
during the winter 1916-17 — ^the Government's attempts 
to suppress it — the collapse of the economic system — 
the appearance of brigandage and famine — ^mutiny 
among the troops — plan for the advance on Nosul across 
Persia falls through on account of impossibility of feed- 
ing troops — ^the British advance on Bagdad alone- 
first news of the revolution in Petrograd reaches the 
Caucasus — ^the Socialist-Revolutionary societies in Tiflis 
seize the reins of government — garrison goes over to 
the revolution — ^the great meeting in the Nahalofsky 
Square on Sunday March i8th — the gathering of all the 
races of the Caucasus — I witness the first elections for 
the Caucasus Union of Soldiers' and Workers' Delegates 
— observe its proletariat and anti-Bourgeois attitude 
from the outset — ^listen to peace speeches welcoming 
the immediate establishment of the International — 
receive a note to call on the Grand Duke Nicolas — ^meet 
the Grand Duke in the palace — his agitated appearance 
— ^he informs me that he recognizes the new regime in 
Russia — send ofi 'a telegram — ^find the palace sur- 
rounded by revolutionary guards — the Grand Duke 
becomes virtually a prisoner — his Cossacks go over to 
the revolution — ^he leaves for Europe — his character — 
his attitude towards democratic movements — ^his desire 
for a palace revolution to preserve the autocracy — I 
leave for Kars — meet a Tartar friend on the platform 
— " We have arrested them all " — see Kars in the hands 
of the revolutionaries — ^find my friend the Vice-Governor 
arrested — visit the executive of the Kars revolutionary 
Committee — notice the reconciliation of nationalities 
formerly hostile — see Tartars, Armenians, and Russians 
serving on the same committees — ^visit the Council 
of Soldiers' Delegates — return to Tiflis — the Tiflis 
Revolutionary Committee gets to work — ^its syndicalist 
method of formation — visit Mtschet — ^the Georgians 



decide to elect their own Exarch — ^visit Elizabetopol 
for a Conference of the Tartars — news arrives about 
the progress of the revolution in Central Asia — the 
Turkestan Council of Workers' and Soldiers' Delegates 
is formed — ^native Mohammedans work with representa- 
tives of Russian soldiers and colonists — the preliminary 
programme of the Turkestan Council — equal rights for 
all nationalities — reversal of the " colonial " policy — ^the 
arrest of the Governor-General — the revolution reaches 
Bokhara — the Emir's attempt to crush it — ^the Russian 
Resident supports him — ^the arrival of the revolutionary 
soldiers from Tashkent and Samarkand — ^the Emir of 
Bokhara declares a Constitution — the revolution among 
the Cossacks — I cross the Cossack steppes — observe the 
formation of the Council of Soldiers' Delegates among 
the Cossacks — ^mountain tribesmen and Cossacks serve 
on the same Committee — ^Tersk Cossacks declare for a 
republic — causes of the spread of revolutionary ideas 
among the Cossacks — ^the widespread influence of the 
Russian Revolution in Asia — the downfall of old des- 
potisms — its influence on India — will Western Europe 
follow the Star in the East ? 




If we look at a map of the old hemisphere, we shall be 
struck with two important facts. We shall first observe 
that what is known as Europe is a westerly projection 
of the much greater continent of Asia ; and secondly that 
there are two passages between these two portions of 
the continent. One of these passages leads from the 
deserts of Central Asia across a wide plain into Central 
Europe and covers what is known politically as Russia ; 
and the other, a narrower one, leads from the plateaux 
in the heart of Asia across a projecting promontory, 
known as Asia Minor, into south-eastern Europe. These 
two passages are separated from each other by a depres- 
sion filled with water, which is the Black Sea. People 
in the heart of the continent, if they wish to move west, 
must cross by one or other of these two passages. For 
the sake of convenience let us call them the gateways 
between the two portions of the cQntinent. 

Now if we think of the great events of human history 
that have helped to build up modern Europe, such as 
the rise of Greek civilization, the birth of Christianity, 
the fall of Constantinople and the invasion of Russia 
by the Tartars, we shall see that they have all taken 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

place either in or near these two passages. It would 
seem in fact as if from the earliest times action and re- 
action, movements and counter-movements, have been 
going on between the peoples of Europe and Asia. What 
has caused this continuous unrest ? One may attribute 
it perhaps to religious impulses, like that which in- 
spired the Arabs, or to abstract ideas, which aimed at 
giving to mankind a uniform political and legal system, 
such as those which moved the Romans. This explanation 
will only suffice if we assume that the impulses which 
lead man to change his modes of thought and his habits 
of life, come direct from the '" free spirit ", imtrammelled 
by the chains of material existence. If that is so, then 
these spiritual movements cannot be traced to peculiari- 
ties of climate or geography. But if on the other hand 
they are connected with the material side of life, then 
the structure of continents, their temperature, soil and 
climates, must influence the human ts^es that live there, 
and must affect the forms of society and the different 
political and reUgious movements that take place there. 

Now Central Asia is a huge expanse of alternating 
high plateau and low plain, divided by great ranges of 
mountains. The climate of one part of it is widely different 
from that of another. Physical obstacles have prevented 
the people of Asia from uniting in one common political 
system. The history of Central Asia from the Islamic 
renaissance to the Mongol Empire may be regarded as 
an attempt to create this unity. But the caprices of 
nature have always frustrated the ideals of man. The 
rulers of the Bactrian oases could subject their own 
neighbours, but they could not make their influence 
felt beyond the Pamirs or the Tian-shan. The Bedouin 



shepherds of Arabia, inspired with the simple faith of 
Islam, were ignorant teachers and but transitory rulers 
of the refined Persians of Isfahan. Two separate types 
of humanity can be observed in Central Asia from the 
earliest times down to this day. There are the inhabitants 
of the oases, who live a sedentary life, and are able 
with little labour to satisfy their material needs. On the 
other hand the nomads of the mountains and deserts are 
obliged to resort in years of drought to raids on their 
neighbours' territory, or else to go hungry. Such extremes 
of severity and luxury have produced these two types 
of men ; one the submissive peoples of the oases, prone 
to abstract thought, with their schools of philosophy 
and their mystic sects; the other, predatory by instinct, 
and from- time to time sending forth hordes of invaders 
with their tyrant emperors. 

For these reasons a stable political system in Central 
Asia has been hitherto impossible. Hungry nomads 
to this day periodically invade the fertile oases ; and 
in earlier times they often banded together and pushed 
their migrations far into the West. The Mongols, 
Tartars and Osmanlis, whose movements had such a 
profound effect upon Eastern Europe, are all examples 
of this process. Following the lines of least resistance, 
they passed through the two gateways between Europe 
and Asia, the Russian plain and the Asia Minor plateau. 

The reverse movement from West to East has also 
been taking place. 'Europe for the last hundred years 
has slowly, but systematically, penetrated western Asia 
and established its economic influence there. Now the 
western peninsula of the Europeo-Asiatic continent has 
to a large degree acquired a common standard of culture 


War and Revalution in Asiatic Russia 

and ideals, and has, been saved from the instability which 
results when fierce nomads live, as in Asia, beside defence- 
less oasis-dwellers. Protected from these hordes in the 
middle ages by the races which inhabited the Russian 
plain and the Asia Minor plateau, European man com- 
menced his political and cultural development as soon 
as the Reformation had cast off the shackles of ecclesi- 
asticism, and set free the spirit of reason and enquiry. 
Assisted by an even climate and a soil of moderate 
fertility, he learnt early to develop the material side of 
civilization, and to conquer nature by the arts and crafts. 
Accumulations of energy stored up in the form of capital 
were then exported abroad. The tide of human movement 
turned to Asia once more, and Europe began to swing 
back the pendulum, which the Turanian hordes had 
pushed towards her in the middle ages. Again the " gate- 
ways " between the two halves of the continent became the 
scene of race-movement and political struggle. The first 
move was made by the Slavs, who began their migrations 
eastwards as far back as the nth century. They took 
as their sphere the northern gateway, or the Russian 
plain. To the lot of the Western Powers, some centuries 
later, after the decline of the Ottoman Empire, fell the 
southern gateway. Then began the competition between 
the Powers of Europe over the Balkans, and over rail- 
way concessions in Asiatic Turkey. All these movements 
and conflicts were indications of Europe's " Drang nach 
Osten ". 

Besides the eastern and western movements through 
the two " gateways " of Europe and Asia, one can also 
trace all along the centuries a movement from North 
to South. For many centuries the nomad races from the 



Russian plain have passed across the narrow isthmus 
of the Caucasus, which connects the northern with the 
southern gateways. In very early times the Parthians 
invaded Persia by this route, and established their d3masty 
there. So also in the middle ages did the Scythians 
and Alans. In recent times the Russians have done the 
same, penetrating North Persia and Armenia by way of 
the Trans-Caucasus. These movements may be attri- 
buted to the natural tendency of a people, living in a 
temperate or sub-arctic region, to establish commercial 
relations with the peoples of sub-tropical countries. 

Thus we observe three principal trends of race move- 
ment in the regions that lie between Europe and Asia. 
There is first the movement from Asia to Europe (now 
at an end) ; then there is the niovement from Europe 
to Asia, which is taking place at the present day'; and, 
thirdly, there is the movement from the Russian plain 
into the southern gateway across the isthmus of the 
Trans-Caucasus. In all these we can trace the effect 
of economic necessity. The exchange of sub-arCtic timber 
and cereals for southern cotton and fruit establishes a 
close relation between the Russians and the people of 
the Middle East. The existence also of undeveloped 
regions in the southern "gateway" gives the financial 
interests of Europe the opportunity to export capital and 
acquire spheres of exclusive economic rights. As a result 
the financial groups of Europe have contended with 
each other for this Eastern booty, while the proletariat, 
not yet organized sufliciently to control the production 
of wealth and the application of capital, has become 
the victim of wars for "spheres of influence". It is no 
accident, therefore, that this great war has been fought 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

not only on European battlefields, but far away in 
Mesopotamian deserts, Armenian plateaux, and Persian 
oases. For in these regions lie the prizes for the financial 
" interests " of London, Paris and BerUn. In these 
Eastern dominions also the now vanished Court of the 
Romanoffs hoped to find governorships and vice- 
royalties for Grand Dukes, Thus in that region of Asia 
lying in a triangle between the Caspian Sea, the Black 
Sea and the Persian Gulf, all the conflicting interests 
of East and West meet to-day, just as they met during 
the migrations of the nomads in the middle ages. In 
the struggle that has ensued, the Caucasus campaign 
has played no mean part. 

In order more clearly to understand the political 
problems of the Middle East, let us consider a little 
more in detail the geographical and ethnological char- 
acters of these regions. Asia in its main physical features 
consists of a system of mountain chains and parallel 
plateaux running from the Far East of the Chinese Empire 
to the threshold of South-East Europe. In its most 
westerly limit this great plateau is narrowed down to 
the area between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf : 
but owing to compression in this comparatively small 
space, the plateau is puckered and folded into a number 
of regions varying greatly in altitude and consequently 
in climate. Each climatic zone and geographical region 
possesses its corresponding human type, and hence we 
find between the Caucasus mountains and the Levant a 
most varied assortment of human beings, each type with 
its own culture and social habits. The region with 
the lowest altitude of all is found along the coast of the 
pi^ck Sea and the Levant. The whole of this region 



has a uniform sub-tropical climate, producing the same 
kind of vegetation and the same human type all along 
its sea-board. Shut in by high ranges of mountains, 
this narrow strip of coast-line is protected from the cold 
plateau winds, and moistened by the soft sea breezes. 
The produce of the tiny maize-fields, perched up amid 
forested slopes, and the fruit of the terraced vineyards, 
which surround the red-tiled houses, are brought along 
narrow by-ways to the cool bazaar towns, from which 
they are transported by ship to the West. Thus the 
inhabitants of this coast are by nature a race of small 
cultivators of sub-tropical produce, merchants and 
mariners. From the earUest times the waves of Greek 
civilization have lapped along these shores, and the 
people, though their racial origins are various, have turned 
their eyes in each successive generation to the mother- 
cities of Athens and Constantinople. Their commercial 
life brings them into constant contact with the maritime 
peoples of the West, and tends to make them keen 
business men. Their great historic past, and their 
position on a sea highway, have made them politicians 
with imperialist leanings.- The sub-tropical climate also in 
which they Uve, and the moderate degree of leisure which 
most of them can enjoy, have been favourable conditions 
for controversial and speculative thought. 

Behind the ranges bordering the sea-coast the country 
opens out into the wide table-land of Anatolia,' varying 
from 2,500 to 4,000 feet above sea-level. The tempera- 

I The Greek name for Asia Minor, corresponding to the 
"Levant" of the Italians — ^the "Orient," or "Land of the Rising 
Sun." Anatolia is by the Greeks strictly Umited to Asia Minor; 
Levante is by the Italians extended to all the lands Ijdng East of 
the Mediterranean, and Orient is applied to the East in general, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

ture of this region is continental and extreme, ranging 
from the heat of the sub-tropical zone in summer to the 
cold of the sub-arctic zone in winter. Irrigated oases are 
found in many parts of the plain, and grazing areas in 
the mountains. But the difference between life in the 
mountains and life in the plateau plains is not so sharp 
as it is in the regions farther to the east, in Armenia 
and Persia. This is largely due to the more broken 
structure of the table-land, the pastoral country 
being interspersed among the land suitable for oasis 
cultivation. Thus the people of Anatolia are roughly 
speaking of one type. They are village-dwellers and 
corn-growers at one time of the year, and tent-dwellers 
and cattle-grazers at another. There is not that strong 
permanent distinction between shepherd and agricul- 
turist which is found fartfier to the east. The political 
history of Anatolia has been largely determined by the 
fact that it is situated at the converging points of all 
the land routes between Central Asia and South-East 
Europe. It has thus become the channel for race 
movements of all kinds. Invading hordes of nomads 
shook the foundations of its society at one time, while at 
another wandering bands of Dervishes inspired it with the 
ideas and thoughts of the Madrasas (colleges) of Isfahan 
and Tabriz. Periods of disturbance alternated with 
periods of reconstruction, during which the invading 
elements became modified by the native elements of 
the plateau. Fierce Tartars were tamed by a few genera- 
tions of life on the quiet upland pastures of Angora ; 
the human driftwood that crossed the plateau has 
been gradually converted by agricultural pursuits into 
materials for a military Empire. Anatolia has received 



from the earliest times the outpourings of Europe and 
Asia ; but she has always reduced them to her one single 
type of humanity — agricultural, pastoral and military. 

Coming to the regions to the east of AnsitoUa, we 
observe a considerable rise in the table-land. Here 
the table-lands lie at an average height of from 4,000 
to 6,000 feet, and the mountain ranges from 7,000 to 
10,000 feet. The cause of these high altitudes is the 
large outpourings of volcanic detritus, which has raised 
the level of the land by some i,oao to 2,000 feet, 
leaving on either side, to the east and west, the Iqwct 
levels of the Persian and AnatoUan table-lands.* The 
cUmate of Armenia is in the main sub-arctic. The long 
cold winters render wheat and barley the only cereals 
that will endure the atmospheric conditions. Irriga- 
tion is less necessary than in Anatolia, fox the rains of 
the short summer months generally provide for the 
needs of vegetation. The severe climate of the plateau 
breeds a hard and vigorous race of agriculturists and 
shepherds. But, unlike Anatolia, Armenia has never 
been able to unite her nomad and settled populations. 
The regions suitable for pastoral pursuits are geographi- . 
cally quite distinct from the agricultural regions, and so 
two economic types have been formed and have become 
quite stereotyped. 

The great mountain system of the eastern Taurus 
from Diarbekr to the Persian frontier is generally 
known as Khurdistan.'; It consists of parallel ranges 
and TOgged valleys between 7,000 and io,qoo feet 
high, where the rigofous. cUmate permits only sheep and 
cattle-grazing. In favoured spots barley can be grown ; 

I See Map. 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and those that occupy themselves with this, hibernate 
during the winter in underground houses. But over the 
greater part of these regions the natives live in tents 
and rhigrate to the lowlands in the winter. In the 
parallel range of the Ala-Dag, farther to the north, 
although this is not, strictly speaking, Khurdistan, the 
same conditions as those in the Taurus are repeated 
on a smaller scale. Throughout these two mountain 
regions the predominant population are of Iranian 
extraction and are known as Khurds. The climatic 
conditions under which they live are very severe. A 
great struggle for existence is necessary, to enable them 
to wring sustenance for their families from the land. 
Thus there is created a hardy and virile race, always 
ready for expansion, to' relieve the pressure of popu- 
lation. Hence also its tendency to restlessness and to 
turbulent encroachments on its neighbours, which is so 
frequently observed among the Khurds. 

The other region of the Armenian plateau lies at the 
lower levels of from 4,000 to 5,000 feet^ where the country 
opens out into wide, sweeping downs, covered with layers 
of volcanic soil. Here the Armenians are found in 
numbers varying from 25 per cent, to 75 per cent, of the 
population. It is often imagined that the Armenians 
are a commercial people like the Greeks ; but this idea 
is far from accurate. The Armenians are essentially agri- 
cultural, and their ancestors, from the dawn of history, 
have cultivated corn in the basin of Lake Van and the 
plain of Mush. In these regions life can only be sustained 
by hard work, and the Armenian peasant is forced to be 
more practical and industrious than his neighbours in 
the fertile oases of Persia. On the other hand Nature 



is not so hard upon him as she is upon the Khurd, whom 
she ahnost overwhelms in the struggle for existence. 
The soil of the Van and Mush plains can even product 
sufficient to enable the people to support a leisured class 
and develop a culture of their own. There is no exuber- 
ance of luxury, such as in the Persian oases tends to 
produce all kinds of hot-house culture. But the numerous 
monasteries of the Van basin and the Mush plain testify 
to the cult of art and letters among the Armenians at 
a- very early date. The Armenian's ideas of life have 
settled down into a simple creed — a practical form of 
Christianity. He has brought reason and logic to bear 
upon the problems of life, and in this respect he is not 
unlike the Bulgarian, whose mode of existence is very 
similar. Both these peoples differ markedly from the 
Greeks and Georgians with their acute intellect and 
passion for controversy. The separate development of 
the Armenian Church, and its steady refusal to unite 
with the Greek and Georgian Churches, is undoubtedly 
connected with the difference in temperament of the 
two peoples. 

In the region to the east of Armenia and Khurdistan 
the land sinks into the lower levels of Persia. The 
mountain tanges that run across Anatoha from west to 
east, and are covered in part by the volcanic eruptions 
of Armenia, reappear with a slight south-easterly bend 
in Western Persia. The Iranian plateau is less sharply 
divided than Armenia by great ranges of mountains. 
True, the Elburz range on the southern shores of the 
Caspian Sea, and the Bakhtiari mountains along the 
northern shores of the Persian Gulf, form barriers 
against .movements from north and south. But apart 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

from these impedinxents, movements along the plateau 
are easy, and roads lead travellers south-east to India, 
north-east to Turkestan, west to Armenia, and south- 
west to Mesopotamia. Persia therefore, not less than 
Arnienia, has been the track for races moving from 
the farther p9,rts of Asia through the southern 
"gateway" into Europe. But while Arpienia has been 
the scene of passing hordes, destroying and enslaving, 
Persia has succeeded in assimilating the invaders to 
herself, and passing the newly formed humanity on 
to the West, It has therefore played a very impor- 
tant part in the history of the peoples inhabiting the 
southern "gateway", and it is necessary to see what 
circunistances have brought this about. The climate 
of the Iranian plateau presents a marked contrast to 
that of Anatolia, aiid an even gret^ter contrast to that of 
Armenia. The Central Asian, table-land east of Ajmienia, 
as I mentioned above, tilts slightly south-ea^t, causing 
the mountains and plains of Western Persia, to lie between 
latitudes 30 and 39, i.e. some three or iova degrees 
south of the latitude of Armenia and Anatolic^. The 
levels of the plateaux lie from 4,000 to 5,000 feet 
above the sea, i.e., from 1,500 to 2,000 feet higher than 
thqse of the Anatolian plains, and 1,000 to 1,500 feet 
lower than those of Arnienia. On the s^ssuiQption there- 
fore that altitude compensates for latitude, one would 
expect that the climate of Western Persia would be 
similar to that of AnatoUa. But here another factor 
comes in. The farther on.e goes e?ist across the Central 
Asian plateau, the less one feels th^ moj^tenicig influenqes 
of sea breezes. Thus the rainfa,ll coming from the sea, 
which is precarious in Anatolia, is entirely absent ovqr 



the greater part of Persia, while, owing to the more 
southerly latitudes, tremendous dry heat is experienced 
in the summer months. The little rivers flowing from 
the low mountain ranges of the plateau trickle down 
on to the plain, and would dry up in the parching desert, 
were they not instantly caught up by the thousand irriga- 
tion canals built by the natives to water their vineyards, 
melon-gardens and rice-fields. Conditions exist for in- 
tensive cultivation unknown in AnatoUa and Armenia, 
and thus the cultivation of fruit and rice has become 
the great industry of the Persian oases. The unsurpassed 
excellence of Persia's sub-tropical produce has given 
rise to a great trade with the inhabitants of the Russian 
plain to the north. This has materially enriched its 
people and has enabled them, in spite of invasions and 
disturbances, to develop a high culture. Throughout all 
the ages, in spite of Mongol, Tartar and Arab invasions 
and devastations. Nature through the agency of the 
fertile oases has restored to Iran the damage inflicted 
on her by man, and has given the Persian that material 
wealth which has enabled him to build up a culture of 
undying fame. Every foreign race that has subdued Persia 
politically, has within a short period become cultur- 
ally assimilated to her. The barbarian Hulagu Khan who 
overran her in the 13th century was the founder of the 
Ilkhan dynasty, which within a generation had accepted 
Islam and acquired Persian names. Iran has always 
been the creator of abstract ideas, philosophies, mysteries, 
and schools of thought, which she has sent forth to the 
East and to the West. 

But the oasis-dwellers do not form the only element in 
^he population. Like Armenia, Persia has been afSicted 

33 c 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

by race questions, though the results have been different. 
Both countries contain two races living side by side, one 
a settled, and the other a nomad population. What the 
Khurds in the upper Tigris valley are to the Armenians, 
the Lurs and Bakhtiaris on the edge of the Iranian table- 
land are to the Persians of the oases. But while in 
Armenia the nomad and settled populations maintain 
each its separate existence, in Persia there is continually 
going on a fusion of the one type with the other. The 
mountain tribes are constantly descending and raiding 
the plain ; but instead of being resisted, as in Armenia, 
numbers of them adopt Persian customs and culture, 
and finally become absorbed as natives of the oasis. 
The Armenian climate on the other hand creates a stub- 
born people, that resists nomad invasions ; hence the 
continual conflict between Khurd and Armenian, and the 
sufferings of the settled population. But living in the 
luxury of the oases, the Persian has lost all desire to fight 
invaders : he welcomes all, and conquers them by other 
means than force. The atmosphere of the isolated bazaar- 
town, with its cool Mosques and dignified Madrasas, 
calls forth the spirit of compromise in dealing with 
hungry tribes camped outside the gate. In Persia there 
has never been a government in the European sense of 
the word. Some tribal chief among the nomads, or some 
caravan-thief, collects followers and proclaims himself 
governor of a province. He becomes governor and per- 
haps Shah, and founds a dynasty. The people of the 
oases submit, and go on with their fruit-growing and 
mysticism. The Persian is always being ^:onquered by 
the sword, but in turn always subdues the conqueror 
by his intellect. 



North of the Persian and Armenian table-land we come 
to the isthmus between the Caspian and Black Seas. 
Along this isthmus runs the great Caucasus range, which 
rises like a wall out of the Russian plain on the north, 
and is bordered on the south by the rolling downlands 
of Georgia. The whole of this region forms the land- 
communication between the Russian plain on the one side, 
and the Armenian and Iranian table-land on the other. 
It is thus a sort of corridor or side-passage between the 
northern and southern gateways of Europe and Asia. 
The Caucasian isthmus is, geographically, very com- 
plex. The main range contains rocky valleys and 
secluded comers, where the racial drift of ages has been 
stranded, and can be seen to this day. A northern 
spur of the volcanic Armenian highlands, known as the 
Kars plateau, comes at one point (a Uttle south of 
Tifiis) within a short distance of the main Caucasus 
range.'' South-east of the range also the land rises 
in the Kara Dag uplift on to the Iranian plateau. 
Between the Armenian and Iranian plateaux and the 
main range of the Caucasus there is an expanse of 
open plain and downland lying at levels of 1,500 to 
2,500 feet. Protected by the great Caucasus range on 
the north from the winds of the steppes, and by the 
Kars plateau on the south from the cold of Armenia, 
this region, known as Georgia, is favoured with a mild 
winter and a hot summer. It has, moreover, an abun- 
dant rainfall, thanks to the proximity of the Black Sea 
and the absence of any large mountains to catch the 
rain-bearing winds from this quarter. The climate of 
Georgia is thus between the sub-tropical conditions of 

« See Map. 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the Black Sea coast and the sub-arctic conditions 
of the Armenian plateau. The vine flourishes, along 
with cereals, without irrigation, on a rich and easily tilled 
soil. Forests on the hill-sides assist the husbandry of 
man. The Georgians, who are the most important 
representatives of the native races of the isthmus, are 
thus favoured by nature with an even climate and a good 
soil. They have in times past reached a high degree of 
wealth and culture. The absence of the unmeasured 
luxury of the oases of Persia has prevented them from de- 
veloping an excessive aesthetic tendency. The comparative 
ease with which they can gather the produce of their 
cornfields and vineyards contrasts with the difficulties 
besetting the Armenian peasants on the Van plateau. 
They are therefore a more easygoing people, with a 
gentler and more pleasant nature than the Armenians. A 
temperate climate and a condition of moderate ease, 
together with intercourse with the West, makes the 
Georgian very similar in type to the Roumanian, the 
Servian and the Little Russian. Some, however, of 
the Western Georgians (Imeretians, Gurians and Min- 
grelians) show a marked resemblance to the Greek 
cultural type. Living on the sea-board in constant 
contact with the Greeks, these people have devdoped 
the commercial instinct, and the political, controversial 
type of mind. But the inhabitants of the rolling 
hill-country between Kutais and Tiflis are more 
quiescent in temper. The impressions of nature 
around them, the sight % of waving cornfields, shady 
vineyards, forested hills and distant snow-mountains, 
have become woven into their lives, and have given 
them the strain of mysticism characteristic of the 



Slav. In some parts of Georgia, especially in the valley 
of the Rion, malaria is prevalent, and tends to weaken 
the vitality of the natives. The country inhabited by 
the Georgians is therefore very varied, and the human 
types are numerous. Nevertheless they are all united by 
one common tie, the Greek tradition of Christianity, 
which has made them look to the West for culture, and 
to the. North for protection. The mutual sympathy 
between Slav and Georgian has played no small part in 
uniting these two peoples politically ; and the Russian 
advance into the Caucasus was very materially assisted 
by the presence beyond the mountain ranges of a race 
of co-religionists. Thanks to the sympathy of Georgia, 
a voluntary union with the Russian Empire became 
possible, enabling the latter to extend its influence into 
the Trans-Caucasus and on to the Armenian plateau. 
The Georgians have always been a people in Asiatic 
sm-roundings, looking wistfully towards Europe. In 
earlier days they looked to Greece for their culture and 
religion ; more lately they have become the political 
allies of the Eastern Slavs. 

We thus see that the region l5ang in the triangle 
between the Caucasus mountains, the Black Sea, and the 
Persian Gulf, generally known as the Middle East, con- 
tains very diverse physical and cHmatic zones. Each zone 
produces its special human type with its own mode of 
life and industry. Each of these types correspondingly 
affects the political systems of these regions. Thus the 
sea-board has created a mariner and trading race with 
a restless character and a capacity for politics. The 
inhabitants of the highest plateaux are hard-working, 
but their country is broken into rugged mountain ma,sses, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

where live simple and hungry nomads. Between these 
two elements political fusion has been impossible. The 
oasis regions on the other hand have created the most 
cultured types of humanity, ever absorbing the raw 
nomads from the mountain and desert. All of these 
human types have played their part in the history of the 
Eastern Question to a greater or a less extent. Their 
countries have become bones of contention between the 
Western Powers, competing for political and economic 
influence there. For with the development of capital- 
ism and industrialism in the last century, the raw 
material wealth of these regions- has become valuable. 
It is possible, therefore, to interpret the political con- 
troversies that have affected this southern gateway 
between Europe and Asia, as a struggle of outside 
influences for the possession of trade routes and spheres 
of influence. 

The material instincts of man, which have always 
urged him to increase the products of nature to his advan- 
tage, have led him from earliest times to look beyond his 
own valley, and to exchange what he has for something 
belonging to his neighbour. The exchange, if it took place 
voluntarily, became trade; if involuntarily, and under 
the influence of superior force, imperial exploitation. In 
early times, when man's power over nature was not yet 
strengthened by science, the relations between peoples 
generally took the form of exchange of raw materials. 
The temperate regions of Europe and the sub-arctic 
Russian plain produced hides, tallows and furs, which 
were reacHly exchanged for the sub-tropical products 
of the Levant, the Persian and Mesopotamian oases. 
Thus there sprang up across the southern gateway a 



whole series of trade routes along which this traffic used 
to pass. Imperial Powers like Rome and Byzantium, 
and armed Merchant Guilds like Genoa and Venice, used 
to struggle for the possession of these great trade routes, 
six of which can be discerned crossing the southern 
" gateway " during the middle ages. The most southerly 
one was controlled by the Greek mariners, who, starting 
from Hellas, visited in their ships every bay and natural 
harbour of the Levant. This important sea-route was 
continued overland from the Syrian coast to the Mesopo- 
tamian oases by way of Palmyra. Farther north came 
the great land route across Asia Minor, which led from 
the coast of Lydia to Mesopotamia. The control of the 
trade that passed this way frequently changed hands, 
as the imperial power of Byzantium or the Caliphate 
waxed or waned. In the 14th century the invasion of 
Turkish nomads and the fall of the Greek Empire caused 
the exchange between East and West along this line to 
dwindle. It was only renewed when the Western Powers 
in the rgth century commenced their colonial expansion. 

Across Armenia during the middle ages went a third 
route, which, starting from the Greek sea-board at Trebi- 
zond, passed through the city of Ani and ended in the 
fertile oases of northern and central Persia. There were 
many suzerain powers along this route — Byzantium, the 
Armenian kings, the CaUphate and the Shahs. The 
fortunes of each varied, but with the decline of the 
influence of the Armenian kings, who were squeezed 
between the Eastern and Western Powers, most of the 
authority along this route after the 12th century passed 
to the Greek Empire and Tartar Khans, who divided 
the tribute and royalties between them. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

The fourth, fifth, and sixth trade routes passed across 
the southern "gateway" from the Russian plain. Very 
early in their history the Slavs began to exchange the 
produce of their northern forests for that of the sub- 
tropical oases, and to carry on this trade along definite 
routes. The first of these came from the South of the 
Dnieper and passed across the Black Sea to Constanti- 
nople. The second left the steppes north of the Sea of 
Azov, and connected with the shores of the Caspian, whence 
merchandise passed either by land or water to the Persian 
oases. The third came down the Volga from the northern 
part of the Russian plain, and reached the north shores 
of Persia through the Caspian. The desire to control 
these three important trade routes led the Tzars of Moscow 
to embark upon their eastern campaigns. From these 
times dates the expansion of the Russian Empire in 
Asia, the conquest of the Caucasus, and the penetration 
of Turkestan and Persia. 

Looking at the directions in which trade between 
Europe and Western Asia flowed during the 19th century 
and the early years of the 20th, we observe that they 
are almost identical with those in the middle ages. 
The maritime trade of the eastern Mediterranean, for- 
merly controlled by the Greeks, is now imder the sea 
power of the British Empire. One important change, 
however, has been made. The opening of the Suez Canal 
has diverted the trade that once went overland to 
Persia and India via Syria, and sends it now direct by 
sea. The second route, passing from the West by land 
across Asia Minor, follows to-day almost exactly the 
same line as in the middle ages. The only difference 
is that the merchandise is carried by the German Bagdad 



railway instead of by Arab camel caravans. Of the 
third route across Armenia little remains. Before the 
European war some Western goods were carried from 
Trebizond to north Persia via Erzerum and Bayazid ; 
but the importance of this trade was fast declining 
as the economic exchange between the Russian plain 
and the Persian oases developed. This trade is carried 
by the railways from Central Russia to Baku, and 
thence by sea to the north Persian coast. Another 
branch of it comes down the Volga. In both these cases 
the trade takes exactly the same line as was taken in 
the middle ages. On account of the valuable natural 
resources tapped by this route, (resources only now made 
realizable under modern industry,) the trade from the 
Russian plain to Persia is likely to become one of 
the principal exchanges between the East and West in 
the future. Along this route will flow the cereal products 
of the Cossack steppes. North Caucasus oil and the rice 
and dried fruits of Persia. The construction, therefore, 
of a Trans- Persian railway is one of the most important 
enterprises of the future. The fifth great trade route of 
the present day across the southern " gateway " follows 
the line taken by the ancient Greeks from the Sea of 
Azov and the mouth of the Dnieper through the Turkish 
Straits. Along it will pass the corn exports of Russia 
to the Western world. 

Thus we see that with some modifications the exchange 
between the productive regions of East and West across 
the southern " gateway " passes along the same routes 
as it did in the middle ages. Each route is controlled 
by one of the European Powers, which competes with 
its neighbouring Power for these channels of comrauni- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

cation. Formerly Byzantium, Rome and the Caliphate 
used to collect imperial tribute from the merchandise 
that passed by, but to-day the prizes are sought in 
exclusive mining and irrigation rights along the course 
of the railways, and preferential rates in favour of the 
trade of one or other Power. We have seen how this 
competition for spheres of influence is a fertile cause 
of war ; and the danger will not be eliminated until the 
proletariat of the western countries unites and takes 
the control of the export of capital into its own hands. 
When that day arrives the whole face of the Eastern 
Question will be changed. But until that time, inter- 
national settlements will always be endangered by the 
imperial " financial interests ", that seek to carve out for 
themselves monopoly " rights " in undeveloped regions 
of the earth. If these " rights " are not controlled, the 
settlement of the Eastern Question will probably be 
made on the lines of the abortive agreement over the 
future of Asiatic Turkey negotiated by the European 
Powers in 1913 and 1914. Thus instead of an inter- 
national agreement between the proletariat of all lands 
to distribute and apply all the surplus capital of 
Europe for the development of these regions on a 
common plan, we shall have the old form of agreement 
between the capitalists of the Powers to divide the spoils 
among themselves. The ideal solution can only be ob- 
tained if the proletariat of the whole world develops suffi- 
cient class-consciousness to realize its true interest and 
act accordingly. Failing this, we can at any rate hope 
that even among the propertied and ruling classes of 
Europe there will at last be some recognition of the 
signs of the times, and that they will begin to survey 



the Eastern Question from the point of view of " world 
economics". For the common interests of mankind 
cannot much longer be thwarted by the parasitical few. 
A revolution of ideas is no less the interest of the 
European bourgeoisie than of the proletariat. 

In the last hundred years European sciences have 
conquered distances, made hitherto remote regions of the 
earth accessible, and have tended to cosmopolitanize 
industries of public utility. If they have not overcome 
the financial groups that work for private profit, they 
have at least made great enterprises matters of world 
interest. Across the trunk lines and through the great 
ports will go, if allowed, the goods of all nations. It 
will not be such an easy thing in future to establish a 
trade monopoly in far-off seas, or claim, as special pre- 
serves, points where land and sea routes meet. The muni- 
cipal commercial Unit of the middle ages expanded, till 
in the course of time it became the national unit. In 
the 19th century the national has become the Imperial 
trading unit. It is therefore in keeping with the 
evolution of things that the Imperial unit should 
develop into the International right. Now how does 
this affect that vital point in the southern " gateway " 
where land and sea routes cross each other — that is, 
Constantinople and the Straits ? There has now 
come into being a great trunk line, the shortest and 
most direct route between Europe and the Middle 
East, which goes straight across this point. Under 
modern industrial conditions, railways can successfully 
compete with sea routes for the carriage of all but the 
bulkiest materials. The Bagdad railway and the land 
route between Europe and the Persian Gulf is therefore 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

a great economic world-factor. The unhindered passage 
of trade through this point is to the interest of all, not 
merely proletarian, Europe. With Constantinople a free 
port under an international commission, on which all the 
world Powers and the smaller States are represented, 
neither the manufacturing export firms of the Central 
Powers nor the financial interests of London or Paris 
will be adversely affected. Through-trafhc from America, 
France and England will pass through Germany and 
Austria on its way to Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, and 
the rates along the line wiU not discriminate in favour 
of the manufacturers of the Central Powers. If it is 
impossible as yet to obtain a settlement on the basis of 
internationalizing all the undeveloped areas of Western 
Asia, the next best thing is to interna:tionaUze those 
points where great trunk lines meet, or where important 
trade routes cross. The unhindered flow of merchandise 
at the vital points of the world's economy would then 
be secured. It would remain to control the flow of 
capital. In the meantime, the intervening spaces be- 
tween these vital points could be handed over as special 
spheres of influence for the capitalist groups of the 
Western Powers. The irrigation and mining works of 
Anatolia could go to the Central Powers, those of Lower 
Mesopotamia to Great Britain. Beyond these regions 
would come the territories traversed by the future Trans- 
Persian railway. As a great highway of world impor- 
tance, this should be brought under the same kind of 
international control as the Turkish Straits. 

We have now looked at this region of the Middle East 
from many points of view. We have examined its geo- 
graphical and climatic features, its human types and their 



methods of living. We have seen how its different regions 
have been the object of competition between the Im- 
perialist governments of Europe ; how the trunk routes, 
along which economic exchange passes, have developed 
throughout the centuries, and how contention for the 
control of these routes has been an important factor in 
the circumstances leading up to the great war. We 
have even ventured to forecast a possible solution of 
these problems on an international basis. But enough 
has been said to show that the region between the 
Caucasus, Black Sea and Persian Gulf . has played a 
great part in international poUtics before the war, and 
will be of no less importance in the economic development 
of the world's resources after it. In the following chapter 
we shall see what part Russia's military forces played in 
the Eastern campaign that followed the outbreak of the 
great war, and what effect this campaign is likely to 
have on the final settlement of those regions. 



CAMPAIGN (1914-16) 



Contemporary writers on the history of the war are 
inclined to turn the whole of their attention to Europe, 
as though they were unaware of any events of importance 
outside Belgium, France, or Poland. The idea of hurling 
masses of men against Germany's West flank got such a 
firm hold upon the public mind from the first days of the 
war, that two very weighty considerations were almost 
entirely ignored. First, it was forgotten that the mere 
hurling of raw masses in overwhelming numbers does not 
decide the fate of a modern campaign. This has been 
proved by the Germans themselves, who by organization 
and technical skill have largely succeeded, in spite of 
inferior niunbers, in holding their West front, while they 
were advancing victoriously against Russia's millions. 
Secondly, it was forgotten that very important victories 
might be won without crushing Germany's military 
forces in Europe at all. For instance, the professed 
object of the war would have been attained if, as the 
result of intelligent political propaganda on the part of 
the Allies, the German masses had learnt that their real 
enemy was in their own country. But even if the war 
be considered less in terms of ideas than of more material 

49 D 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

aims, such as the conquest of Eastern markets, spheres 
of influence for financial interests, control over trunk 
railways, etc., we shall see that substantial victories could 
have been gained without this hurling of miUions against 
Germany's lines in Belgium and France. The war, in 
fact, on its purely strategical side, ought to have been 
regarded as extending far beyond the confines of Europe. 
For by occupying parts of the Middle East, and by 
driving the Turks out of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Persia, 
the Allies would have completely eliminated the influence 
of the Central Powers from these Eastern markets and 
areas of exploitation. The capture of Constantinople, 
indeed, would have put the solution of the whole Eastern 
Question entirely into the hands of the Allies, and 
Germany would have been definitely confined to Europe, 
as a State with no colonial future. Thus the theatre of 
warfare both in Europe and Asia should have been 
regarded from the outset as a fiery ring surrounding the 
peoples of Central Europe, and the task of a united 
Allied Staff, if such could ever have been obtained, 
would have been to close this ring ever tighter round 
the prisoners. 

Now the Caucasus campaign, when looked at from this 
point of view, becomes no mere insignificant skirmish in 
a third-rate area of war, but an important link in this 
chain surrounding the Central Powers. Along with the 
Mesopotamian and Egyptian campaigns, it has helped to 
decide which of the economic world-states is to control 
the southern " gateway " between Europe and Asia. 
There have been three competitors for this prize : the 
Central land Empires, the Western maritime Empire of 
Great Britain, and, before the Revolution, the land 


Early Stages of tke Campaign 

Empire of Russia. The fortune of war might give to any 
one of these the control of the southern " gateway ", or 
else it might decide, as up to the present it has decided, 
in favour of a political Balance of Power in the Middle 
East, pEirt of Mesopotamia and Arabia coming under 
Great Britain's influence, Anatolia and Upper Meso- 
potamia under Germany's, and Armenia under Russia's. 
Now all these territorial gains are cards which at the 
Peace Conference will play no insignificant role in the 
settlement of the Eastern Question. In so far, therefore, 
as military events affect the ultimate world-settlement, 
the Caucasus campaign of 1914-16 has its place in 

In the period preceding the Russo-Turkish war 
of 1877, Russia had been engaged in eonsoiidatiug the 
position in the Trans-Caucasus, which she had acquired 
by her voluntary union with the ancient kingdom of 
Georgia. This had given her a hold over the lowlands 
lying immediately South of the main range of the Caucasus, 
and had established her upon the first step of the ladder 
leading onto the Central Asian plateau. But after 1877, 
by the occupation of Kars, Russia acquired a footing 
upon the next step of the ladder in Greater Armenia. 
This region is, as it were, a bridge connecting Asia Minor 
and the Iranian plateau. The Central Asian plateau 
in its western extremity is founded upon two main ranges 
of mountains which are the spines of the continent ; 
these are the Taurus to the South, and the Anti-Taurus 
to the North, both running in a parallel direction East 
and West from Anatolia to Persia.' The Taurus, start- 
ing along the south coast of Asia Minor, curves North- 

» See Map. 

War a4id Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

east in Cilicia, and then East in the Assyrian highlands as 
far as the Persian frontier, where it bends South-east, 
and is continued along the shores of the Persian Gulf 
in the Bakhtiari highlands. The Anti-Taurus commenceii 
East of Kaisarieh in Anatolia, and running in a North- 
easterly direction passes Sivas on the South and Erzinjan 
and Erzerum on the North, finally joining up with the 
Azairbijan mountain system East of Mount Ararat in 
the basin of the Middle Araxes. But this chain is broken 
in one place by the volcanic plateau of Kars and Erzerum, 
which is piled upon the Anti-Taurus chain, burjang 
it under a mass of detritus. The whole of this plateau 
is a great volcanic bed composed of layers of lava and 
dykes, which were erupted here at a comparatively 
recent date in the earth's history. This volcanic activity 
has completely altered the original structure of the 
plateau, and has raised the level of the land some two 
thousand feet above the sijrrounding regions. Thus to 
the North of this great volcanic uplift lies the relative 
depression of the Chorokh Basin and the Upper Kura 
valley, so that the upper table-land is laid upon the older 
table-land of Georgia and Lazistan, while both of these 
two regions are one step higher than the coast of the 
Black Sea. On the highest volcanic table-land stand 
the two fortresses of Kars and Erzerum. It was natural 
that after Russia had established herself upon the northern 
strip of this volcanic plateau, she should make Kars 
her base, facing the Turkish base at Erzerum. These 
two fortresses were the pivots upon which the Russian 
Caucasus army and the Turkish Armenian army hinged 
their operations, since they were the commanding posi- 
tions on the highest of the plateaux. But it is clear 


Early Stages of the Campaign 

that no operations were possible here with safety, unless 
both sides had secured themselves against flanking move- 
ments of the enemy in the depressions on each side 
of the plateau.* To the North lay the depression of 
the Chorokh valleys, through which a Turkish army 
could pass by a short cut into the valleys of the upper 
Kura and the fertile lands of Georgia, thus cutting off 
the Caucasian army at Kars from Tiflis. To the South 
lay the broken country of the Mush and Bitlis vilayets, 
across which a low range runs parallel with the Taurus 
and Anti-Taurus. This South Armenian volcanic plateau 
is much broken up by dykes and irregular outpourings 
of lava to the North and West of Lake Van.' To the 
South rises the gireat barrier of the Taurus, passage 
through which is only possible by the defiles caused by 
faults and fractures. But a Turkish army, once estab- 
lished in this South Armenian plateau, would be able 
to break through into the depression of the lower Araxes, 
and so outflank from the south-east the Russian base 
on the high plateau at Kars. On the other hand, it is 
clear that both these depressions, the Chorokh and the 
South Armenian plateau, could be used by the Russians 
(as they actually were) to turn the left and right flanks 
of the Turkish army, based on the highest plateau at 
Erzerum. The outflanking of the fortress-bases of 
their enemies was therefore the main problem before 
the Russian and Turkish Staffs in Greater Armenia. 

Farther to the East, on the extreme Russian left and 
Turkish right, is the relative depression of the north- 
west Iranian table-land. Azairbijan extends between 
the basin of the lower Kura in Eastern Trans-Caucasua, 

« See Map. 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and the lowlands of the Tigris and Euphrates. The 
basin of the Kura is of the utmost importance to Russia, 
as it is the railway and oil centre of the whole Caucasus ; 
while Mesopotamia is the region where the Bagdad 
railway is to end, and the scene of the great future 
development of European enterprise. The occupation 
of Azairbijan by Turkey would therefore threaten the 
industrial heart of the Caucasus, while its occupation 
by Russia would open the road to Mesopotamia, and 
forge the link between the British and Russian Empires 
in Asia, so as to surround the Central Powers and Turkey 
on the East. Azairbijan could be occupied by the 
Turks coming in from the West by the South Armenian 
plateau. Between the basins of Lake Van and Lake 
Urumiah there is no natural obstruction, for the ranges 
of Taurus and Anti-Taurus here run East and West, 
piarallel with each other ; so that once a Turkish force 
is in Van, it can easily drop down to Khoy, by the valley 
of the Kotur Chai. In the same way a Russian occupa- 
tion of the road-centre at Khoy, and of the Dilman and 
Urumiah plains, would make the whole Turkish position 
upon the South Armenian plateau insecm-e. Thus we 
see that the outer wing of the front in Persia was of 
great importance to the main Russian and Turkish 

When on October 31st, 1914, the war between the 
Central Powers and the Allies spread to the Asiatic 
fronts, the Caucasus army, which had been already 
mobiJized, took the initiative at once. The 2nd and 
3rd Army Corps had been previously transferred to 
the European front, leaving only the ist and the 
4th Caucasian Army Corps, and some frontier guards, 


Early Stages of the Catnpaign 

to hold the 3rd Turkish Army. This consisted of the 
loth, nth and 12th Army Corps, which, with the 
Khurdish Hamidiehs and the gendarme regiments, 
numbered about 120,000 men. But the slowness 
of mobilization, and the lack of railways and good 
roads in Turkey, caused a delay of at least six 
weeks in bringing these forces into the field. The 
Russians meanwhile began to form a fresh force, which 
became the 2nd Turkestan Army Corps. 

During the first days of November the Russian frontier 
troops advanced from Sary-Kamish and Kagisman in the 
Kars plateau over the hills into Turkish territory. Here 
they occupied a part of the Passan plain to the East of 
Erzerum in the Araxes valley. From Kagisman they 
occupied the Alasgert valley, while from Igdir on the 
Araxes they occupied Bayazid, just South of Mount 
Ararat. For the moment Russia was content with this 
success in occupying a small strip of Turkish territory 
parallel with the old frontier. The attention of the 
highest Russian command was at this moment chiefly 
occupied with the problems of the Polish and Galician 
fronts, where the plan of seriously invading Austria was 
still thought possible. For the Turks, on the other hand, 
the Caucasus front was the main interest. A con- 
ference had taken place at Erzerum during October 
between the leaders of the Committee of Union and 
Progress and the Turkish Armenians (described else- 
where, see Chapter VIII) in which a great plan was un- 
folded for invading the Caucasus, driving the Russians 
back to the Cossack steppes, and forming three autono- 
mous provinces under Ottoman suzerainty between the 
Black Sea and the Caspian. With this political object 


War atid Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in view, the Turkish military plans were laid for a grand 
offensive. As soon as the mobilization of the whole 
3rd Army of the " Armenian Inspection Area " was 
completed, Enver Pasha himself came to take charge of 
the campaign. He was assisted by a German officer, 
von Schellendorf, as Chief of his Staff. It soon came to 
their knowledge that the Russian preparations in the 
Caucasus were not making very rapid progress, and 
that there were some weak spots in the long line across 
the plateau, stretching from the Black Sea to north- 
west Persia, particularly in the Olti region- (middle 
Chorokh basin),' where only a regiment of frontier troops 
had been put to guard the fortress of Kars and the 
supply-base of Sary-Kamish from flanking movements 
on the North. Some years before a Georgian officer, 
Amiradjibi, on the Russian General Staff for the Caucasian 
Army, had warned his colleagues of the danger of a 
flanking movement on Kars via the Olti depression. 
Little attention was paid to his warnings, because it was 
thought that the Bardus Pass, leading up from this 
depression on to the Kars plateau, was impassable for 
an army, especially during the winter, when it was known 
to be covered with snow. But the Caucasus Staff had 
not reckoned on the endurance of the Turkish soldier. 
Sending the gth and loth Army Corps into the Olti 
depression, and holding the main force of the Russians 
on the Passan plain with the nth Corps, Enver Pasha 
took the field in spite of frost and deep snow, which on 
December 3rd was falling fast all over the plateau. He 
was warned of the rashness of his plan by one of his 
Staff officers, who saw the danger of leading two Army 

' See Map. 

Early Stages of the Campaign 

Corps into a roadless country in mid-winter with only 
horse and mule transport. But Enver Pasha hoped 
by initial success to find supplies to guarantee his further 
progress through the Caucasus. Up to a certain point 
his confidence was justified, for on December 15th he 
had entered Olti, driving the small Russian force out, 
and capturing prisoners and booty ; after which he and 
the loth Army Corps crossed the Bardus Pass in the 
rear of the Russian army on the Passan plain, and on 
December 26th were within a few hours of Sary-Karaish, 
the Russian supply base. The Caucasus army was now 
literally surrounded. It was held in front by the nth 
Army Corps, while the 9th and loth had suddenly appeared 
between them and their bases at Kars and Sary-Kamish. 
The Turks, however, had not yet occupied these two points. 
Their advanced posts were within 20 versts of the fortress 
of Kars ; and their extreme left, which had come up 
from the Olti depression, was east of Ardahan and 
within two days' march of Tiflis. But their main 
force was still on the wooded heights above Sary-Kamish. 
A terrific snow-storm had hampered the movements 
of its commander, Ishkhan Pasha, and prevented him 
from keeping in touch with his rear. In the valley 
below him lay Sary-Kamish, the Russian supply centre, 
where he would be safe, and from which he could demolish 
the Caucasus army at leisure, if he could only get there. 
But now the little Russian garrison in Sary-Kamish began 
to direct a vigorous artillery fire upon the hills above the 
little town. They had only one battery, and ammunition 
which would not last twelve hours against the force that 
was opposing them. But with the energy of despair they 
poured out all the shot they had,^ in the hope that relief 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

might come to them from Kars. Ishkhan Pasha, thinking 
that he was confronted by a division instead of by one 
battaUon, feared to advance. But now his ammunition 
was giving out, the snow-storm showed no signs of abating, 
and his men were being frozen and were suffering from 
hunger. Moreover by this time the Russian army on the 
Passan plain had somewhat recovered, and a successful 
regrouping of their forces had been undertaken by General 
Eudenitch (the Commander, General Meshlaefsky, having 
in the meantime run away to Tiflis). On January 2nd 
the left wing of the Russians, now facing north in the 
valley of Mezhingert, advanced to attack the half-frozen 
Turks on the heights above Sary-Kamish. In twenty- 
four hours the danger was over, and the Caucasus army 
was safe. Ishkhan Pasha with the 9th Army Corps was 
taken prisoner, while of the loth Army Corps half was 
captured, and the rest escaped over the Bardus Pass into 
Turkish territory. The Russians had passed through 
a serious crisis. Apart from the material losses, the effect 
of this blow on the morale of the native races in the 
Caucasus was not small. The Caucasus had been invaded, 
and whispers began to go round in the bazaars of Tiflis, 
Erivan and Kars, that a new Shamyl Beg would appear 
to welcome the Turks. The rest of the Winter of 1914-15 
was spent, both by the Russians and by the Turks, who 
had suffered very heavily in men and guns, if perhaps they 
had gained in prestige, in strengthening their old positions 
and organizing their rear. 

In the Spring the offensive again rested with the Turks, 
who decided now to pay attention to their extreme right 
wing in the Azairbijan province of Persia. During the 
Winter there had been some intriguing between Djevdet 


Early Stages of the Campaign 

Pasha, the commander at Van, and the Khan of Maku, 
a powerful Persian chief living in the corner of Azairbijan, 
where the Persian, Turkish and Russian Empires meet. 
The Sirdar Khan was beUeved by the Russians to have 
come to an understanding with the Turks to help them, 
if they invaded his corner of Persia. He was therefore 
removed, and his cousin put in his place. This some- 
what arbitrary violation of Persian neutrality was the 
r^ult of a policy pursued for many years before the war. 
Persia had been rendered so weak by her revolution in 
1909, that she had become unable to protect her own 
frontiers from violation, and the country had been revert- 
ing to the tribal state, in which any mountain brigand 
or caravan-thief, if he had sufi&cient support from the. 
Russian consular and military authorities, could set 
himself up as a local ruler. Both Russian and Turkish 
forces had been roaming about the territory between 
Mount Ararat and Lake Urumiah for at least four years 
before the war ; so the temptation was now too strong, 
and Persia too weak, to prevent a considerable develop- 
ment here of military activity on both sides. During 
November a small Russian detachment, with a battalion 
of Armenian volunteers under Andranik, had advanced 
from Khoy, and in an engagement with the Turks west 
of Kotur had entered Turkish territory and occupied 
Serai. During the crisis at Sary-Kamish this force had 
retreated to the Persian frontier at Djulfa, whence it 
advanced again to Khoy in January 1915. At the same 
time the Turks were preparing a new division of Nizam 
troops under the command of the able Turkish general 
Halil Bey. This division left Mosul in March, and 
crossing the extreme eastern Taurus by the defiles of 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the Great Zab, reached the Urumiah plateau about the 
middle of April, Halil Bey's plan was the same as 
Enver Pasha's at the Sary-Kamish battle, namely, to 
advance into the enemy country, and trust to getting 
supplies on the way. He had to be very sparing in his 
use of ammunition, for unless he could capture large 
amounts, he could not be sure of replenishing his stock. 
Once his army had crossed the Taurus to the Persian 
plateau, he was absolutely cut off from all communication 
with his base. Such were the primitive methods employed 
by the Turks in their campaigns upon their extreme flanks. 
But no less remarkable was the daring of their com- 
manders, and the endurance of the askers in carrying 
out movements and attacking with vigour in these 
remote regions. 

In occupying the rich Urumiah plain, and pushing up 
to the eastern shores of the lake to the plain of Dilman, 
Halil Bey was aiming at the Russian railhead at Djulfa, 
whence he hoped to cut across the plains of the lower 
Araxes to Baku. On the morning of May ist, 15,000 
of his Nizams with 3,000 Khurdish cavalry were drawn 
up on the Dilman plain, facing a small Russian force 
numbering about 5,000, with 1,000 Armenian volunteers. 
The Russians had entrenched themselves very hastily, 
and were waiting for reinforcements from Djulfa. During 
the day the Turks attacked the village of Muganjik, 
but the Russians managed to hold their own by an 
effective use of artillery. On the second day Halil 
Bey sent his cavalry to get round the Russians in the 
hills on each side of Muganjik. With the greatest 
difficulty the Russians held out until dark, and then 
decided to retreat during the night, fearing that they could 


Early Stages of the Campaign 

not hold their positions for another day without help. 
Strange as it may seem, Halil Bey on the night of the 
2nd also decided to evacuate the Dilman plain and retire 
into Turkish territory. His ammunition was running 
very low, and he saw no means of replenishing his stock 
even if he forced the Russians to retire. He had no wish 
to be left isolated in Azairbijan to face probable Russian 
reinforcements : he knew also that the Armenians at 
Van had risen in revolt on April 20th against Djevdet 
Pasha ; so he decided that it was wisest to retreat. The 
astonished Russians, just as they were evacuating the 
plain of Dilman, suddenly found themselves alone in 
possession of the field. Halil Bey retired by an unfre- 
quented route to the south-west across the Baradost 
and Gawar plateau into the upper waters of the Great 
Zab. From thence he passed by Bashkale to Nordus, 
where he entered the head-waters of the Tigris. March- 
ing westwards parallel with the Taurus, he traversed 
the wild country bordering the Assyrian highlands, and 
finally reached Bitlis, This retreat is characteristic of 
this wonderful Turkish general, for he succeeded in 
keeping the Russians off his track the whole way. They 
did not dare to follow him into the country through 
which he passed, for fear of being trapped, or dying of 
starvation. But Halil Bey did not get through without 
very heavy losses from exhaustion and hunger, and he 
arrived at Bitlis with a greatly reduced division. 

In the meantime the Russians had begun an advance 
with a view to occupying the basin of Lake Van, and 
putting an end to further danger of the Turks invading 
Persia and threatening their flanks in the Caucasus. 
They advanced in three columns. One, starting from 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Khoy in Persia, approached Van by way of Serai from 
the East. Another, starting from the Alashgert, crossed 
the Ala-dag range and approached Van from the North. 
A third column, from the 4th Russian Army Corps, went 
by the Eastern Euphrates valley to Melashgert and to 
the Mush plain. The advance was highly successful. 
Djevdet Pasha, seeing himself threatened from the North, 
and knowing that Halil Bey had retired from Persia, 
evacuated Van ; and so the besieged Armenians were 
relieved on May 19th, Melashgert was occupied, and 
advanced Russian patrols reached the plain of Mush. 
Thus the second Turkish offensive ended unsuccessfully, 
and the Russians came into possession of the eastern 
portion of the Van basin. 

But the Turkish command was not inactive for long. 
Again the energetic Halil Bey organized a fresh force 
at Bitlis of two divisions, and by, July 20th was 
advancing up the valley of the Eastern Euphrates into 
the Alashgert again. The Russians speedily evacuated 
Melashgert, and, owing to a misunderstanding, they also 
retired from Van, though its communications with 
Persia were secure. When the Turks reached Kara- 
kilisse on July 30th, the Russian command thought that 
Van would have to be abandoned ; but before long a 
Russian counter-manoeuvre from the Passan plain brought 
Halil Bey's advance to a standstill. A Russian division, 
formed from the ist Army Corps in the Passan plain 
between Sary-Kamish and Erzerum, crossed the Sharian- 
dag into the valley of the Eastern Euphrates, and so 
threatened Halil Bey's rear, causing him to retire quickly 
to the Mush plain. The effect of this Turkish move was 
very disastrous for the Armenian population of the 


Early Stages of the Campaign 

eastern Van basin. Large numbers of them perished, 
and their villages were burned wholesale by the retreating 
forces. By the Autumn of 1915, after the third Turkish 
attempt, the situation was the same as it had been in 
the Spring. The Russians had cleared the Turks defi- 
nitely out of North-west Persia, and were in occupation 
of the eastern end of the South Armenian plateau. Thus 
the campaign which had begun badly for the Russian 
Caucasus Army at Sary-Kamish, had during the Summer 
of 1915 turned in its favour, and the first successes were 
obtained on the Russian left in Azairbijan and the Van 



(February 1916) 

We have seen in the last chapter that the war on 
the Asiatic front began unsuccessfully for Russia with 
the big Turkish advance at Sary-Kamish. Even after the 
defeat and capture of Ishkhan Pasha, the threat of 
Turkish invasion of the Caucasus was still imminent. But 
towards the Spring of 1915 the Caucasus army was 
strengthened by bringing the 2nd Caucasus Army Corps 
from the European front, where it had been sent on the 
first day of mobilization. Also by this time the formation 
of the 2nd Turkestan Army was completed ; and this 
brought up the numbers of the Russians to about 70,000. 
But the Turks with their three Corps of the Armenian 
Army (9th, loth, and nth) numbering 80,000, and with 
40,000 irregulars in the Van basin and near the Black 
Sea, were still in superior strength, and in a position to 
assume the offensive at any moment. This was done, 
as we have seen, by Halil Bey with his Constantinople 
division in North-west Persia during May, and later 
in the Van basin in July. Fear of an invasion of the 
Caucasus, and of the serious effect which this might 
produce in Asiatic Russia, was undoubtedly one of the 
motives which inspired the Anglo-French expedition to 


The Erzerum Offensive 

the Dardanelles in April 1915. This move certainly 
had the effect of preventing the Turks from sending any 
further reinforcements to the Armenian front, since now 
for the first time they were occupied with two fronts 
instead of with only one. Moreover the defence of the 
Dardanelles was vital to the safety of the capital, and 
placed a special strain on their reserves. In those days 
the Turks had to rely chiefly upon their own efforts, 
since the German road to the East had not yet been 
opened by the adhesion of Bulgaria to the Central Powers. 
It is now clear that the Westeirn Allies had at that time 
a great opportunity, if they had but known it, to strike 
Tvu-key in her weakest spot. But if the Dardanelles 
campaign is generally regarded as a failure, it must not 
be forgotten that its indirect effects on the eastern 
theatres of war were far-reaching. The holding up of 
large Turkish forces for the defence of Constantinople 
without doubt saved the situation in the Caucasus, and 
gave the necessary time to Russia, who is always slow 
to develop her fttll military strength. Russia's other 
occupations in Poland and Galicia had drawn away much 
of her energy. She could not mobilize her forces at 
all more quickly than Turkey, who had only the 
Caucasus front to attend to. Both Empires are equally 
badly supplied with railways, and both are in a primitive 
industrial state. 

The indirect value of the Dardanelles campaign was 
perhaps even more clearly felt in Russia during the 
Summer and Autumn of 1915 than it was in the Spring, 
for in May the Germans commenced their great Galician 
drive, and continued during the summer months their 
victorious advance through Poland. The 2nd Caucasus 

65 E 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Army Corps, which had been brought back to the 
Caucasus front in March to act as a reinforcement in 
case of a second Turkish invasion, was after a short stay 
on the Black Sea coast region hurriedly sent back again 
to Galicia. Every shell that could be scraped up was 
sent off to the European front, to stop the oncoming 
German and Austrian tide. The Turks would there- 
fore once more have been in a position of great 
superiority on the Caucasus front, if the Anglo-French 
expedition to the Dardanelles had not drawn away their 
attention. Nor was the Caucasus the only place where 
danger threatened. The situation in Persia became 
more and more unsatisfactory as the Summer advanced. 
In July a Germanophile Cabinet was in power at 
Teheran, and was supported by a large section of the 
Persian people. Tribal chiefs, Persian magnates, and 
the Europeanized intellectuals of the chief towns, 
remembering the Tabriz hangings and the suppression 
of their revolution by the Cossacks, were only too ready 
to avail themselves of Russia's difficulties, by joining 
the Turkish bands and co-operating with German agents. 
Also, the failure of England and Russia during the first 
half of 1915 to relieve in any way the financial difficulties 
of the Persian Government, or to make any statement 
to assure the Persians that the Allies were genuinely 
fighting for the small nationalities, and were ready to 
apply their principles to Asia as well as to Europe, all 
this did much to alienate a small nation, whose moral 
support at a time like this would have been invaluable. 
During the Autumn the pressure of the Anglo-French 
expedition on the Dardanelles was felt as far off as 
Armenia and the Caucasus, and when it was abandoned 


The Erzerum Offensive 

after the entry of Bulgaria, then the British expedi- 
tion in Mesopotamia, which by November had almost 
reached the walls of Bagdad, took up the task of re- 
lieving the Russians in the Caucasus. After this, how- 
ever, the roles were changed. Russia with her strength 
mobilized on the Asiatic front for the first time, and with 
a new and active commander at Tiflis in the Grand Duke 
Nicolas, was able not only to assume the offensive in 
Armenia, but by so doing to relieve the British force 
in Mesopotamia, which had now got into difficulties. 

During December 1915 the Caucasus Army was con- 
siderably reinforced. Up to this time it had been com- 
posed as follows : the ist Army Corps based on Sary-Kamish 
in the upper Araxes valley ; part of the yet unformed 
2nd Turkestan Army in the Olti depression ; the 4th 
Army Corps (only up to half strength) in the Alashgert 
region ; small detachments on the Black Sea coast, in 
North-west Persia and the Van vilayet. By Christmas, 
however, the 2nd Turkestans and the 4th Army Corps had 
been brought up to strength, the 4th Rifle Division had 
been added to operate in special regions, wherever needed, 
the Azairbijan detachment had been strengthened, and 
a new expeditionary force had been sent under 
General Baratoff to clear Central Persia of the Turks. 
Russia had had time to recuprarate after the blows 
delivered against her the previous Summer, and had 
succeeded in equipping her Caucasian Army, and in- 
creasing it to 170,000 men. The Turks, on the other 
hand, were now at a considerable disadvantage. At the 
end of October there had been a re-grouping of their 
forces in Armenia. The British threat to Bagdad, and 
the increasing importance of Persia, caused the Turks 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

to strengthen themselves in these regions. From Mush 
and Erzerum the 3rd and 5th Composite Divisions were 
withdrawn and sent to Bagdad. Three batteries of 
artillery were also sent from Erzerum to the South. 
Evidently at this time the Turks did not feel insecure 
in Armenia, and were ready to take risks to save Bagdad, 
They must have been ill-informed as to the nature of the 
Russian reinforcements, for in December they gave leave 
of absence to a number of officers in the Erzerum garrison, 
while they made no haste to send back to Erzerum the. 
heavy artillery from the Dardanelles. Instead, they 
concentrated all their eiforts on Mesopotamia, where 
they succeeded in surrounding General Townsend in 
Kut, and in . threatening the whole British expedition 
with break-down. Thus it was clear that a Russian 
offensive on the Caucasus front would not only relieve 
the situation in Mesopotamia, but would stand a good 
chance of driving the Turks back on their last line of 
defence round the fortress of Erzerum, and possibly even 
of taking it. The Russians were now superior by about 
50,000 men along the whole of the Asiatic front from 
the Black Sea to Persia, This enabled them to under- 
take flanking movements, which always count for so 
much in Asiatic warfare. In Asia, with its wide expanses, 
the chances of an enemy digging himself into positions 
which cannot be outflanked are very much less than in 
Europe. Everything, therefore, favoured an offensive in 
the direction of Erzerum, and a series of manoeuvres and 
flanking movements in the mountains and valleys at 
the head-waters of the Araxes and the Euphrates, The 
eastern approach to Erzerum lies aXoag the Passan plain.* 

» For Erzerum region, see Map. 

The Erzerum Ollensive 

Its outer chain of forts lies on the Dev6^Bbytin, a range 
of rolling hills from 7,000 to 8,000 feet high, dividing the 
head-waters of the Araxes from those of the western 
Euphrates. Bounding the Passan and upper Euphrates 
plain on the South is the great range of the Paldn-teken, 
rising to 10,000 feet, and running east and west like most 
of the ridges of Armenia outside the volcanic zone. To 
the North of the plain lies a confused area, where volcanic 
effusions have overlaid the original plateau ranges. To 
the East, not far from the Russo-Turkish frontier, lie 
the masses of the Djelli-Gel and Kodjut-Dag, which to the 
West merge into the great Uplift of the Kargar-bazar. 
Further West still rise the Giaur and Dumlu Dags, between 
which and the Kargar-bazar is ^e only gap in the 
whole length of the mountain-wall that shields Erzerum 
on the North. This gap is the defile of Gurji-Bbgaz,' 
and the road through it, at the height of 7,000 feet, is 
the only approach to Erzerum from this side. Coming 
up fiom the South and passing through this defile, one 
enters the valley of the Tortum river and descends into the 
relative depression of Olti Chai and the middle Chorokh. 
The problem for the Turks was to hold the approaches 
to Erzerum along the Passan plain on the East (this was 
effected by the 9th and part of the loth Army Corps), 
and to block the narrow gap in the mountains on the 
North-east (this was done by the nth Army Corps, which 
had entrenched itself some months previously on the 
mountain mass of the Gey Dag, just South-west of Olti). 
To the South of Erzerum, across the Palan-teken, lay a 
part of the loth Army Corps, protecting the road leading' 
into the Van basin and on to Mesopotamia. 

• Turkish for "Georgian Gates." 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

The Russian plan, worked out by General Eudenitch, 
the Grand Duke Nicolas's commander in the field, was 
to attack the Turkish positions in three columns.' The 
2nd Turkestan Army Corps at Olti in the Chorokh 
depression was to attack the Turks guarding the Gurji- 
Bogaz defiles in the positions on the Gey Dag, and by 
this demonstration to draw off their strength from the 
Passan plain, where the main blow was to be struck by 
the 1st Army Corps, which was to make a frontal attack 
on the Azap Keui positions between Hassan Kaleh and 
the old Russo-Turkish frontier. These positions had 
been carefully prepared for some months, and had all 
the signs of permanent field-fortifications. To make 
them untenable, a third force, the 4th Rifle Division, 
was to be sent into the mountain country of the Djelli- 
Gel, to hold the line between the ist Army Corps and 
the Turkestans, and to threaten the flanks of the Turks 
at Azap Keui and on the Gey Dag. It is interesting 
to note that this was the same sort of plan as that which 
Enver Pasha iadopted, when he attacked the Russians 
just twelve months before. He, however, demonstrated 
on the Passan plain, and made his main attack on the 
Olti and Chorokh basins. His plan ultimately faUed, 
because he could not guarantee supphes to his advanced 
forces in the country that they had occupied. But the 
Russians were brilliantly successful, because they had 
given the necessary attention to roads and transport 
for their main advance along the Passan plain. 

On January 13th the Russian advance began. The 
2nd Turkestan Army Corps attacked the Turkish nth 
Army Corps, which was strongly entrenched on the Gey 

• See Map, 

The Erzerum Offensive 

Dag west of Olti.^ The Russian losses were heavy, and 
they did not succeed in dislodging the Turks ; but the 
real object of the attack was obtained by causing the 
Turks to draw off forces for the defence of the north- 
east (Gurji-Bogaz) gateway to Erzerum, and by masking 
the main blow, which was delivered on the Passan plain. 
Information brought by airmen, who flew over Erzerum 
during these days, showed that AbduUa Kerim Pasha, 
the Turkish commander, had withdrawn one regiment 
to the North to protect his left flank in the defiles. This 
gave the necessary opportunity for the Russian ist Army 
Corps to carry the main Turkish position, and on January 
13th the Azap Keui line was attacked. In spite of the 
withdrawal of a regiment, the Turks made a very stub- 
born resistance, and for three days there was severe 
lighting with great losses on both sides. But on January 
15th the 4th Composite Division, which had been given 
the task of connecting the 2nd Turkestans with the ist 
Army Corps, crossed the high rugged country of the 
Djelli Gel at a level of 9,000 feet, and joined up with 
the Turkestans in the valleys of the upper Olti Chai.' 
The Turkish nth Army Corps on the Gey Dag, and the 
9th and loth in the Passan plain, were thus in danger of 
being outflanked. Moreover, the Russians had so severely 
pounded the Azap Keui positions, that they were now 
practically untenable. So on January i6th Abdulla 
Kerim Pasha ordered a general retreat to the last line 
of defence on the Erzerum forts. Then followed what 
is frequently met with in Turkish retreats, and is very 
characteristic of that race. The Turk has all the stub- 
bornness and endurance of a highlander and an agricul- 

■ See Map. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

turist. He does not see at once when he is outmastered : 
but when he does, then the untrained Oriental comes 
out strong in him ; he throws everything away and bolts 
in a genera.1 sauve qui peut. In this case he just ran till 
he reached Erzerum. The Russians reached Kupri Keui 
on the i8th, and the next day were in Hassan Kaleh, 
thus getting into their hands the whole of the east Passan 
plain and the basin of the Araxes right up to the outer 
forts of Erzerum. On January igth the last Turkish 
column was seen disappearing behind the rolling banks 
of the Deve-Boyun. The Cossacks pursued right up 
to the outer chain of forts under cover of darkness, and 
cut off 1,000 prisoners. Next day field artillery shelled 
the outer forts, and so after thirty-nine years Erzerum 
saw a Russian shell again within its precincts. 

Up to this time it was not really part of the Russian 
plan to attack Erzerum. The original plan was to break 
the Turkish line on the Passan plain, and to put such 
pressure on the Turks along the whole line from the 
Chorokh to Bitlis, that the pressure on the English at 
Bagdad would be relieved. The extraordinary success of 
the advance in the second week of Ja,nuary took no one 
more by surprise than the Russians themselves. The 
Grand Duke Nicolas would not believe the news, when 
he heard that Hassan Kaleh and Kupri Keui had fallen. 
Indeed, it was not until January 23rd that General 
Eudenitch informed him that he thought it possible to 
take Erzerum, and asked for permission to work out a 
plan. This was done in the next few days by himself. 
General Tomiloff, one of his Staff officers, and General 
Prejvalsky, the commander of the 2nd Turkestans, who 
for many years had been Russian military attach^ at 


The Erzerum Offensive 

Erzerum and knew the forts and their surroundings. 
Meanwhile, information which strengthened this decision 
came to hand in the shape of a wireless telegram, inter- 
cepted between AbduUa Kerim Pasha and Enver Pasha, 
in which it was stated that " the condition of the 3rd 
Army is serious ; reinforcements must be sent at once, 
or else Erzerum cannot be held." On January 31st 
a demonstration was made from Hassan Kaleh by the 
Russians against the outer forts of the Deve-Boyun to 
test the strength of the Turks. The bombardment con- 
tinued all day, and by evening it was seen that the Turks 
had poured water down the slopes in front of the forts, 
which on freezing covered the mountain sides with 
icy sheets. According to accounts given me by some 
officers, as the sun was setting that evening the sign 
of a cross appeared in the clouds of white smoke that 
accompanied the bombardment and lay over the forts. 
During the first week of February heavy artillery was 
brought up, and the Russian dispositions were made and 
developed with extraordinary skill. General Paskevitch, 
when he captured Erzerum in 1828, confined his atten- 
tions solely to the approach from the Passan plain. 
Meeting with sUght Turkish resistance and with primi- 
tive forts, he had no great difficulty in breaking through 
the Deve-Boyun. He had not to trouble about the 
defiles and the northern approaches to Erzerum, nor had 
he to force a passage across immense mountainous tracts 
of snowy wastes in order to keep his line of advance 
intact. But in these days the methods of modern 
warfare have to some degree overcome nature. The 
Gurji-Bogaz defiles were now passable for artillery, and 
porepyer the Turks had built two forts there. On their 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

extreme left wing a whole Turkish Army Corps held 
positions far away in the isolated valleys of the Upper 
Chorokh Su, where it had before been impossible to keep 
and feed a battaUon. The devices of the engineer and 
transport services had made all this possible. The Russians 
therefore were threatened with the danger that, if they 
should make a frontal attack on the DeVe-Bo5mn forts 
and carry them, the Turks in the upper Chorokh might 
suddenly make a great counter-move, break into the 
Olti depression, reach the Kars plateau, and so get into 
the rear of the whole Russian army, as they did in Decem- 
ber 1914. This in fact is exactly what AbduUa Kerim 
Pasha tried to do. He ordered Halid Bey (the exceed- 
ingly brave, if somewhat rash, commander of the frontier 
regiment which had retreated from before Artvin through 
Southern Lazistan when the Azap Keui positions v/ere 
captured) to call up reinforcements from Baiburt, break 
through the narrow Tortum valley and cut off the 2nd 
Turkestan Army Corps at Olti. During the first ten 
days of February severe fighting took place on the passes 
of the Kabak-tepe east of Igdir,' and on more than one 
occasion Halid Bey seemed on the point of outflanking 
General Prejvalsky. By February loth, however, the 
Russian Turkestans had succeeded in repulsing him 
and were secure in the Tortum valley, and it was 
safe for General Eudenitch to begin his advance on 

The plan was to foim the whole of the Russian forces 
in this part of Armenia into a great semicircular line 
stretching from the Upper Chorokh Su across the great 
volcanic chains of the Dumlu and Giaur Dags and the 

' See Map. 


The Erzerum Offensive 

Kargar-bazar, across the Passan plain, and the heights 
of the Palan-teken to the valley of Khunus.' The line 
was some 130 miles long, and it had to be covered by 
two Army Corps and some detached forces. All the 
different sections of the line had to keep in touch with 
each other, and to advance over snow-bound plateau 
or icy mountain skree, whichever fell to their lot, thus 
gradually converging upon the great fortress, and threat- 
ening to surround it. The object of General Eudenitch, 
in this most ably conceived and brilliantly executed 
plan, was to force AbduUa Kerim Pasha either to evacuate 
Erzerum, or else to be locked up in it with no hope of 
relief. It is safe to say that the struggle was much 
greater in this operation with the natural enemies, cold 
and hunger, than it was with the Turks. The Russian 
troops had to cross mountain ranges with deep snow- 
drifts at 10,000 feet, and to go for at least three days 
cut off from supplies of food, with nothing but the few 
crusts of bread they could carry with them. No other 
race of human beings, except those accustomed to the 
cold of sub-arctic climates like that of Russia, could 
have performed this feat. The Anatolian Turk is in 
no degree inferior to the Russian in physical endurance, 
but he lacks the habit of husbanding his resources. The 
Russian, whenever he gets the smallest chance, sets him- 
self down in some little hollow, and somehow or other 
makes himself a cup of tea by burning bits of grass or 
moss. But the Turkish soldier literally goes without 
anything for two or three days, and then eats a whole 
sheep or a perfect mountain of " pilaff," so that he cannot 
move for hours. Moreover, the Turkish army has in 

« See Map. 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

it Arabs and Syrians, who can ill endure a winter cam- 
paign in Armenia. 

The Russian dispositions by February loth were as 
follows I : The 38th Division of the ist Army Corps on 
the Passan plain was to demonstrate on the left wing 
before forts Kaburgar and Uzun Ahmet, while the 39th 
Division was to deliver the main attack on the right 
against forts Dolan-gyoz and Chaban-dede. The 4th 
Division of the 2nd Turkestan Armj?^ Corps was to hold 
Halid Bey before Igdir in the Upper Chorokh Su, and the 
5th Division was to advance southward from the valley 
of the Tortum Chai. One of its columns was to cross 
the Dumlu Dag and break into the Euphrates plain in 
the rear of Erzerum, and the other column on the left 
was to pass through the defiles of the Gurji-Bogaz and 
join up with the 4th Composite Division,* thus surround- 
ing forts Eara-gyubek and Tuf ta, which guarded Erzerum 
from the North-east. The task of the 4th Composite 
Division was one of extreme difficulty, for it had to cross 
the snow-bound ridge of the Kargar-bazar at the height 
of 10,000 feet, in order to hold the hne between the ist 
Army Corps and the Turkestans, and so forge the Unk 
in the chain that was to close in on fort Chaban-dede 
from the North and fort Tufta from the South. The 
artillery of the 4th Composite Division had to be hauled 
up the mountain-side to positions whence the Turkish 
lines connecting forts Tufta and Chaban-dede could be 
shelled. The snow lay six feet deep in drifts, and the 
rocks were covered with icy sheets. At first the attempt 

» See Map. 

» This was made up partly from Tiflis drafts and partly from 
4th Armjr Corps reserves. 


The Erzerum Offensive 

was made to haul the artillery up by hand ; but this 
proved impossible. Then each gun was taken to pieces, 
and the wheels, the fittings, and the body of the gun 
were carried on their shoulders by parties of men. This 
silmost superhuman task was accomplished in twelve 

The Turkish dispositions were as follows ' : The gth 
Army Corps with the Erzerum garrison held the Deve- 
Boyun forts, while the nth Army Corps, greatly dimin- 
ished by the retreat from Azap Keui, was kept in the 
rear as a reserve. The loth Army Corps was in the 
northern sector, holding forts Kara-gyubek and Tufta, 
and the Gurji-Bogaz defiles. 

On February nth the order for the general Russian 
advance was given. The Ehzabetppol and . Baku regi- 
ments attacked forts Chaban-dede and Dolan-gypz 
respectively. The latter fort is situated on a little knoll 
which juts out into the Passan plain, and is, as it were, 
the advanced guard of the outer chain. By 5 a.m. on 
the 12th Dolan-gyoz was surrounded, but the battalion 
of Turks holding the fort managed to retreat to the Uzun 
Ahmet fort, a powerful redoubt which rests upon a trapeze- 
like rocky mass with cUffs on three sides. At the same 
time the 2nd Turkestans, advancing through the defiles 
of the Gurji-Bogaz, surrounded the advanced fort of 
Kara-gyubek. Two outposts were already in the hands 
of the Russians ; but the main struggle was yet to come. 

On the Kargar-bazar heights to the North all through 
the day and night of the loth and nth of February 
the 4th Composite Division attacked the Turks across 
snow-fields and skrees of rock. The summit of the range 

' See Map. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

was in the hands of the Russians, but the Turks held 
stubbornly on to the snow-fields to the West of the 
summit which connected forts Chaban-dede and Tufta, 
Here they had made snow-trenches, which were invisible to 
the naked eye at a distance of more than a hundred yards. 
On the night of the 12th the right wing of the 39th Division 
was ordered to attack fort Chaban-dede, which, with 
Tufta, was the key to Erzerum. The Baku regiment, 
which had taken Dolan-gyoz, now joined the Elizabeto- 
pols, and together they advanced from the village of Buyuk 
Tuy on the Passan plain up the rocky valley of the Tuy 
towards the towering cliffs, on which fort Chaban-dede 
rested.' The Russian soldiers were clad in white coats, 
so that in the darkness and against the snow they were 
invisible. Silently creeping up the rocky slopes to the 
fort, they got to within 250 yards of it before the Turkish 
searchlights discovered them. At once from the Uzuu 
Ahmet and Chaban-dede forts a murderous cross-fire was 
poured upon them, which in two hours caused them to 
lose one third of their number. However, one battalion 
of the Elizabetopols pushed right up, till they got under- 
neath the cliffs of fort Chaban-dede. Here the guns 
from the fort could not fire at them, the angle being 
too high : but the guns from Uzun Ahmet could 
still rake their lines. At this moment also the io8th 
regiment of the nth Turkish Army Corps on the Olugli 
heights at the head of the Tuy defile began a flanking 
movement. The right wing of the Elizabetopol regi- 
meilt was exposed, and as there was no sign of the 4th 
Division, whose appearance alone could fill the gap, the 
position was critical. The 4th Division was in fact 

' See Map. 

The Erzerum Offensive 

at this moment struggling tinder almost more terrible 
conditions at the height of 10,000 feet on the Kargar- 
bazar. The men were engaged not with the Turks, 
but with the frost and snow. During the nights of 
the 12th and 13th they lost 2,000 of their number 
from frost-bite alone. In addition to their sufferings 
from cold, they had the Herculean task of carrsdng their 
artillery across the snow and rocks, which alone was 
enough to account for their delay. Accordingly, there 
was nothing for the Elizabetopol and Bakintsi regiments 
to do but to retreat to the bottom of the Tuy valley, 
where respite could be obtained, and this they did on 
the morning of the 13th. All that day they waited in 
vain for the 4th Division ; but when evening came and 
no one appeared, it was seen to be useless to wait any 
longer, for time only aided the Turks, whose re- 
inforcements were being hurried up from Erzerum. So 
it was decided that the Derbent regiment, which had 
hitherto been held in reserve, should come up on the 
right wing and try to turn the flank of the io8th Turkish 
regiment, which was now occup57ing the heights of the 
Sergy-kaya, a desolate knoll on the rocky mass of Olugli.' 
At 7 p.m. the advance began. The Derbent regiment 
left its position in the rear, and crossing in the darkness 
the head of the Tuy valley, ascended a defile and reached 
the snow-fields round the Olugli mass. ' Iminense diffi- 
culty was experienced in the advance. The snow lay 
in drifts often five to six feet deep, and in places the 
soldiers in order to move had to take off their coats and 

' These names are given to the south-westerly projecting parts 
of the Kargar-bazar range, and are only marked on the large scale 
Turkish military map. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

walk on thep in the snow, throwing them forward every 
three feet to avoid sinking in up to their necks. In this 
way they advanced painfully all night. The Turks, 
suspecting nothing, were lying in their snow trenches, 
their attention chiefly concentrated on how to prevent 
themselves from freezing to death. At last daylight 
began to break upon this arctic scene, and through scuds 
of snow broken by the icy wind, the Turks saw a chain 
of dark forms slowing closing in on them. They could 
hardly believe their eyes, for it seemed to them impossible 
that a human army with rifles and ammunition could 
cross the country that lay in front of them. By 5.30 a.m. 
the Turks saw that their trenches on the Sergy-Kaya 
were being surrounded from the North-east and East, 
and only a narrow neck of snow-field to the South con- 
nected them with the fort of Chaban-dede. So they 
hastily left their trenches and retreated as fast as the 
drifts would allow thern across the Olugli snow-field till 
they reached the fort. Chaban-dede was now surrounded 
on the North-east, but the retreat of the Turkish garrison 
was not cut off on the South and West, and the Turks 
with characteristic stiAbbornness and bravery continued 
thpir deadly cross-fire from forts Uzun Ahmet and Chaban- 
dede, as if nothiiig had happened. Thus the Derbent 
regimept had by this manoeuvre gained important ground ; 
but the Russians had not yet broken the Turkish cordon 
that united the forts, nor did the three regiments of the 
39th Division dare to advance farther for fear of becoming 
separated from the Russians to the right and left of them, 
and so giving the Turks a chance to break through in a 

But what had happened meanwhile to the 4th Com- 


The Erzerum Offensive 

posite Division and the 2nd Turkestans ? They alone 
could save the situation by piercing the plateau between 
forts Chaban-dede and Tufta, and so joining up with the 
Derbent regiment on the heights of Olugli.i The critical 
question was whether they had been equal to their stu- 
pendous task of penetrating the 50 miles of rugged snow- 
bound ridges and plateau. The morning of February 
the 14th showed that they had accomplished this task, 
and so sealed the fate of Erzerum. 

During the previous day the 4th Composite Division 
had been finishing the transport of their artillery to the 
summit of the Kargar-bazar ridge. The guns had again 
been dismembered, and carried to positions whence they 
could drop shells on the Turks defending the right 
flank of fort Tufta. The Turkestans had also prepared 
their artillery to sweep the fort from the North. On 
the morning of February the 14th the infantry of the 
4th Division descended the north-western slopes of the 
Kargar-bazar, sUding down the snow on their coats to 
the open plateau, out of which the Tuy river rises. From 
here they moved on to the north-west and reached the 
foot of the Grobovoye heights, which form the eastern 
side of the Gurji-Bogaz defile.' "This is the north-eastern 
" gateway " to Erzerum through which the 2nd Turkestans 
were to advance, and which the Turkish loth Army Corps 
was defending from forts Kara-gyubek and Tufta. The 
plan was that the Turkish positions on the Grobovoye 
heights, connecting forts Kara-gyubek and Tufta, should 
be attacked simultaneously by the Turkestans coming 
through the northern defiles, and by the 4th Division 
coming down from the Kargar-bazar on the South, The 

» See Map,' 

81 F 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

critical moment for the Russians had arrived. Woul( 
these forces unite and press their attack together, o 
had one of them failed and been overwhelmed in thi 
snow-fields or defiles ? About midday the artillery o 
the 4th Division began to drop shells on the Turkisl 
snow-trenches on the Grobovoye heights. The bombard 
ment went on for half an hour and then stopped, th( 
commanders waiting in suspense to hear whether then 
was any reply from their comrades, the Turkestans 
who should by this time be attacking from the North 
Hope was beginning to wane, and they were faced by th< 
prospect either of a single-handed encounter with i 
greatly superior enemy or of a disastrous retreat. Bui 
about one o'clock a faint rumble was heard, and a few 
minutes later shells were seen dropping on the Grobovoy* 
heights. They were Russian shells, yet not fired by the 
4th Division. The situation was saved, for the Turkes- 
tans had forced their way through the Gurji-Bogaz defile 
capturing fort Kara-gyubek, and pressing on to the 
Grobovoye heights and towards fort Tufta. The Turks 
now on the Grobovoye heights were in danger of bein§ 
surrounded from the North, South and East. Thej 
could see that Kara-gyubek was already in Russiat 
hands. The left wing of the 4th Division, moreover 
was pressing on to the heights of Kuni-tepe, a masi 
lying North of the Olugli and commanding fort Tufts 
from the South. This they occupied at three o'clock 
and the Turks on the Grobovoye heights retired at onc< 
on fort Tufta. In another half-hour the Turkestan: 
appeared upon the sky-line ; and here, on this desolati 
Grobovoye height, at this historic moment, they greetec 
their brothers of the 4th Division, The gap in the Russiai 


The Erzerum Offensive 

line was now filled ; the mountains and the snow-fields 
had been overcome, and it was now only a question 
of a few hours before the Turks would be overcome 

Just as this memorable meeting v/as taking place, the 
Russian artillery observation posts at Ketchk noticed 
a great stir in the Turkish lines surrounding fort Tufta. 
The Staff of the loth Army Corps knew that the game 
was up, and, to escape being surrounded, at once began 
the evacuation of fort Tufta. That night also Abdulla 
Kerim Pasha ordered the evacuation of all the forts of 
the Deve-Eoyun. The reserves of the nth Army Corps 
were the first to leave, followed by those of the 9th. 
Then explosions in forts Kaburgar, Ortayuk, Uzun Ahmet 
and SivishU were observed from the Russian lines. The 
evacuation of fort Chaban-dede was begun at 2 p.m., 
and by four o'clock the Russians were in possession of 
all the forts of the Deve-Boyun, while the 4th Composite 
Division and the Turkestans were pouring into the 
Erzerum plain, in the hope of cutting off the Turkish 
retreat. But here they met with less success. The 4th 
Division, with orders to advance South, were ten miles 
ahead ot the Turkestans, who had orders to advance 
West. The confusion caused by columns crossing on 
the march gave a good start to the Turks, v/ho had 
speedily evacuated the forts, as soon as danger v/as 
imminent. Yet one of their Divisions, the 34th, was 
captured at Ilidja, and a large part of their artillery 
was lost. But the 9th and loth Army Corps lost little 
in men or ammuiiition, and thus the ^rd Turkish Army 
was able to retire on Erzinjan to await reinforcements and 
continue the struggle. It is curious that the Russians 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

lost much less in the operations before Erzerum than 
they did in the fighting before the Azap Keui posi- 
tions in the previous month, when they lost not less than 
30,000 killed and wounded in four days' ' fighting. But 
in the five days' fighting along the whole length of the 
Erzerum forts from the Deve-Boyun to the Gurji-Bogaz 
defiles their losses were not more than 12,000, a large 
part of which were deaths or injuries due to frostbite 
and exposure. 

The capture of the great fortress, hitherto considered 
impregnable, sent a thrill through the whole continent. 
Every bazaar from Shiraz to Samarkand, from Konia 
to Kuldja, began talking of the great Urus, who had 
taken Erzerum from the Osmanli. Russian military 
prestige in the East had fallen very low since the Sary- 
Kamish battle and Enver Pasha's advance into the Caucasus 
in December 1914. But the Dardanelles expedition had 
given the Turks something else to think of than con- 
quering the Caucasus, and had thus afforded the Russians 
the necessary respite to prepare for their attack on 
Erzerum, which in its turn saved the British from being 
driven completely out of Mesopotamia. 

The capture of Erzerum was the first great success that 
came to the Allies in Asia. -It might be regarded as the 
turning-point of the war in the East. Till then it was 
not clear who were going to be masters of the great road 
from Central Europe to Central Asia. Germany had 
done well in Europe at the end of 1915 ; she had held 
the lines in France, occupied Poland, broken through 
Servia, and joined up with Bulgaria and Turkey. In 
fact the Central Powers had estabUshed themselves as 
masters of Central Europe, and were dominating the 

The Erzerum OfFensive 

road into the Middle East. But could they drive their 
wedge further, and realize their great plan, Berlin to 
Bagdad, and so prepare the way for the downfall of 
the Russian and British Empires in Asia ? The answer 
came on February i6th, 1916 : the thunder of the Russian 
guns before Erzerum told the Central Powers that what- 
ever they were or might be in Europe, they could never 
be masters in Asia ; for their centre of gravity was too 
far to the West to allow them to be lords of two con- 
tinents. But England and Russia, both by nature and 
position Asiatic Powers, began to organize their Eastern 
dominions during the early months of 1916. From that 
time forth their success in these areas of the war has 
developed and increased. 

The poUtical importance also to Russia of the capture 
of Erzerum was immense. It established her finally 
on the Armenian plateau, and completed a process which 
had begun in the Trans-Caucasus more than a century 
before. Once in possession of the great routes that 
converge at Erzerum from Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Persia 
and the Caucasus, the conquest of the rest of the Armenian 
plateau. Mush, Bitlis and Erzinjan, followed as a matter 
of course. Regarded as tactics the Erzerum operations 
were perhaps not of great importance. The Turkish 
counter-attack at Ognut in August 1916 was certainly 
more important from this point of view, because there 
for the first time European methods of warfare, close 
columns of infantry and concentrated artillery fire, were 
used in Asia. But, in its moral and political effect, there 
is nothing in the whole course of the war in the East 
more important than the capture of Erzerum and the 
estabUshment of the Russians on the Armenian plateau. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

It means also that the Armenian and Khurdish races will 
in future years be guided and influenced largely by their 
great Northern neighbour, and that the road to the East 
across Persia and Armenia will not fall to the exclusive 
political influence of the Central Powers of Europe. 





After the evacuation of Galicia by the Russian armies 
in June 1915, I decided to leave the European and come 
to the Asiatic fronts. I travelled by Vladikavkas and 
the Georgian military road, and reached Tiflis in the 
first week of July. I presented my letters of introduc- 
tion from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the 
Viceroy's diplomatic attache, and after spending a few 
days in making myself acquainted with the Caucasus 
capital, decided to leave for North-west Persia in order 
to study the conditions on the extreme Russian left. 
On my way by train to the Persian frontier I stopped 
at Alexandropol, and drove to the ruins of the ancient 
Armenian city of Ani, where I found Professor Marr, 
the famous archaeologist of Petrograd University, 
engaged in his summer research work. The Professor 
invited me to stay with him in his little house among the 
ruins, and I spent two days watching him at work. One 
evening Colonel Schmerling, the Vice-Governor of Kars, 
arrived on horseback with a retinue of servants to visit 
the ruins. I was presented to him, a,nd he kindly pro- 
cured me a horse so that I could ride across country to 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Echmiadzin. I passed Talish and Talin on the way, 
following roughly the line taken by Mr. Lynch, as 
described in the first volume of his " Armenia." From 
Talish I made a side excursion for two days to the high 
country that surrounds Mount Alagyoz. I reached an 
encampment of Yezidis late in the evening, and next 
day set out with a native to ascend the snow slopes of 
the extinct volcano, I reached one of the three peaks 
at midday, but the mist came up and obscured the. view. 
On the- way down, however, it lifted, and I obtained a 
magnificent view of the volcanic plateau of Kars, the low- 
lands of the Araxes, and Mount Ararat, capped with eternal 
snow and sheathed in mystery. In the far distance to 
the south lay the South Armenian plateau and the basin 
of Lake Van, amid which the snowy cone of Mount 
Zipandar was just discernible. Amid this scenery of 
solemn grandeur I could not help reflecting how, while 
Nature was at peace, contemplating and regenerating, 
mankind was now engaged in murdering and destroy- 
ing. But perhaps, after all, the war had no greater sig- 
nificance than the thunderstorm which just then was 
passing over the valley of the Araxes below me. It 
thundered and looked terrible for a while ; then slowly 
dispersed. The sun came out, and the world went on 
as before. 

I found that there are three villages and summer 
encampments of Yezidis on the slopes of Mount Alagyos. 
While staying with them I tried to find out about their 
beliefs, for I knew that they were supposed to reverence 
the Devil, whom they regard as a fallen angel. All I 
could discover was that they dress and speak Uke Khurds, 
but are less friendly to them than to the Christians. 


With the Russian Expedition 

Their belief is probably a slightly corrupted form of the 
ancient Persian cult, which conceived of the universe as 
controlled by the two gods of good and evil, continually 
warring with each other. 

On July 25th I reached Echmiadzin, where the 
Cathohcos of the Armenians kindly gave me a room in 
the hostel. Next morning I had an interview with his 
Holiness, who was much perturbed about the news which 
had come through from Turkey, where the deportations 
were just then beginning. I made the acquaintance of 
Archdeacon Haloust, one of the most intellectual of the 
Armenians at Echmiadzin. He showed me the ancient 
Armenian book, " The Key of Truth," which is sup- 
posed to prove that the Armenians before the 3rd century 
came under the influence of the earliest forms of Christ- 
ianity. But it must be borne in mind that the conversion 
of the Armenians is generally attributed to Gregory the 
Illuminator in the 4th century. On July 27th I left by 
train for the Persian frontier at Djulfa, where I was 
passed over the river by the frontier guards into 
Persian territory. The heat of Djulfa is very great 
at this time of year, and I accepted with much pleasure 
the kind invitation of M. le Jeune, the Belgian chief 
of the Persian customs, to rest and sup with him in 
his cool house. At midnight I set out in a phaeton, 
which M. le Jeune had hired for me from a Persian, 
and in the early hours of the morning I was on the 
road for Tabriz. The Russians were constructing the 
Djulfa-Tabriz railway, and gangs of Persians were 
hard at work making deep cuttings in the hills that 
run east and west across the Tabriz table-land. After 
Marand I passed Sofian, where the Russians defeated a 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

small force of Turks and Khurds, who had occupied Tabriz 
during January 1915, On the afternoon of July 29th 
I reached Tabriz, and went straight to the British Con- 
sulate, where I found the Consul, Mr. Shipley, who 
kindly asked me to stay with him, and gave me a room 
in his spacious Consulate. , 

My object in coming to Tabriz was to learn how the 
educated Persians of this important border province felt 
about the war, and what their attitude was towards 
the contending Powers in Europe. With Amir AU Khan, 
the dragoman at the Consulate, I went to visit some 
of the prominent merchants and teachers in Mahommedan 
schools. I found a feeling of scepticism on all poUtical 
matters, the result of disillusionment after the failure 
of the Constitutional movement. But they all agreed that, 
but for outside interference, the movement would have 
been a success. I was interested to find a marked cleavage 
in the ranks of the once united Constitutionalists. Like 
so many such movements, it had at first gained the 
support of many conflicting interests, which after a time 
were bound to show signs of divergence and discord. 
The Persian Constitutional movement began as a revolt 
of the Mahommedan clergy and the intellectual classes 
against the corrupt government at Teheian. The clergy 
wished to retain their religious privileges and ecclesiasti- 
cal emoluitients, which the Shah was threatening ; and 
the intellectual classes, under the influence of Western 
education and the Russian revolution of 1905, had deter- 
mined to put an end to Oriental despotism. When the 
Constitution was promulgated, the Mahommedan clergy at 
once attempted to get a clause inserted, which would give to 
a commission of five Muj tabids (ecclesiastical dignitaries 


With the Russian Expedition 

among the Shiahs ') the right to reject all laws not in accor- 
dance with the Sheriat (the religious canon of Islam). 
Hitherto the civil and religious law had been kept apart 
in Persia. The more free-thinking section of the Consti- 
tutionaUsts were not of course in sympathy with this 
clause, and only agreed to its insertion in order to avoid 
an open breach with the MoUahs. Thus, as with most 
revolutions, the forces that brought it about did so for 
different and conflicting reasons ; and this became clear 
as soon as the common enemy had been removed. The 
MoUahs were of course joined by the powerful land-owning 
khans, and by many of the chieftains of the non-Persian 
tribes on the northern and western fringe of Persia, 
especially the Khurds and Lurs. In the subsequent 
disorders Russian influence supported the latter, with the 
result that the whole movement came to grief. Shortly 
before my arrival in Tabriz there had died a well-known 
character, whose career gives a typical picture of what 
went on in Persia after the Revolution. Sujar-ed-Dowleh 
had started life as a caravan-thief on the road between 
Tabriz and Maragha. Having acquired enough in the 
first few months to bribe off all the gendarmes and police 
that were sent to bring him to justice, he then developed 
a desire to become a Governor-General. The disorders 
during the siege of Tabriz and its occupation by the 
Russians had left it without a Governor. The appoint- 
ment of Sujar-ed-Dowleh was convenient to the reactionary 
Russian Government, and in due course he was installed, 
although another Governor had already been appointed 

I That is, followers of Ali, first cousin of Mahomet, and the hus- 
band of his daughter Fatimah. The Shiahs regard themselves as 
the orthodox Muslims. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

by the Persian Government. The combined caravan- 
thief, arch-briber, and Governor-General then proceeded 
to rule the greatest province of Persia for upwards of 
four years. This is only an example of what has gone 
on in Persia since the dawn of history. In the centuries 
before Christ the nomad Parthians descended from the 
Scythian steppes and became rulers of Persian cities. 
The Sassanians, also nomads, and probably freebooters, 
came and overthrew the Parthians. The present Qajar 
dynasty in Persia was founded by Turcoman shepherds 
from the Trans-Caspian. In more recent times caravan- 
thieves like Sujar-ed-Dowleh descend and rule the cities 
of Azairbijan. To-morrow' Russian engineers and revo- 
lutionary committees may prove to be the element which 
will lead to the regeneration of Persia. 

But the most effectual and lasting agent of progress 
was to be seen at Tabriz in the schools. Since the Con- 
stitutional movement began, fourteen schools have been 
opened there, entirely by the efforts of the intellectuals 
and merchants, by whom they are supported voluntarily. 
I visited several, and found that in spite of the war and 
the Russo-Turkish invasion of the province, they were 
showing remarkable results. There were 5,089 boys and 
400 girls at these schools. Persian and Arabic were 
taught by Hoddjas, and History, Geography, Arithmetic 
and Algebra from Persian text-books. I questioned the 
pupils, and found that some of them had learnt a little 
French. The chief difficulty seemed to be the absence 
of a training-place for teachers. These were mostly 
Armenians, who, as may so frequently be observed in 
the East, are the first to become influenced by the new 
culture penetrating from the West. The Persian popu- 


With the Russian Expedition 

lation of Tabriz is about 100,000, and the number of 
Persian children attending schools is 5,489. Small as 
this figure may seem, it is an immense improvement 
on what there was before the Revolution, when there 
was nothing in Tabriz but old schools kept in the mosques 
by Mollahs, where the boys learned to mutter the Koran. 
Such has been the effect of two years of the Constitutional 
movement, inspired by Western civilization, upon the 
population of Tabriz. I could not help feeling, however, 
what a pity it was that Europe had not confined the 
culture it transmitted to spiritual things, and had not left 
behind its guns and militarism for home consumption. 
As it was, the wretched inhabitants of Azairbijan were 
compelled to watch two of the latest converts to the . 
culture of Europe, Russia and Turkey, brawling over 
their beautiful plains and turning their rice-fields and 
oases into deserts. 

On August 20th I left Tabriz and the hospitality of 
Mr. Shipley. I had for some days previously been making 
up a caravan, and had purchased two horses, a riding- 
saddle and a pack-saddle, string, rope^ food, leather, and 
aU other appurtenances of travel in Asia. I also took 
with me Solomon Melikiants, the son of an Armenian 
merchant, to look after the horses. 

I set out across the Tabriz plain towards the northern 
shores of Lake Urumiah, passing the fertile oases of 
Gunai, where the peaceful Persian peasants cultivate 
rice and the vine under the cool shade of sombre 
poplars. The summer heat was great, and I could 
only travel from 6 to 10 a.m., and from 4 to 8 p.m. : 
but the wonderful dryness of the air tempered the fierce 
rays of the sun. Several times I bathed in Lake Urumiah. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

which is more salty than the Dead Sea and in whose 
waters it is impossible to sink. The beaches of the lake 
are covered with barren shingle. Not a sign of life is 
seen in its waters, except for a tiny crustacean, like a 
minute sea-horse. But some of the lagoons were alive 
with wild duck and geese. Away across the lake to the 
South lay the great wall of the Assyrian highlands, glow- 
ing with red and gold in the August sun. The waters 
of the lake were deep blue, heaving in hmpid waves. I 
thought of the lines of the famous Persian Sufi, Jalalu 
'ddin RQmi, which Mr. Nicholson has translated : 

The vessel of my being was completely hidden in the sea. 

The sea broke into waves, and again Wisdom rose 

And cast abroad a voice ; so it happened and thus it befell. 

Foamed the sea, and at every foam-fleck 

Soraething took. figure and something was bodied forth. 

Every foam-fleck of body, which received a sign from that sea. 

Melted straightway and turned to spirit'in this ocean. 

It was while I was waiting, I had almost said dreaming, 
by the shores of the lake, that I met Dr. Shedd, the well- 
known American missionary, who was passing on the 
road from Urumiah. We sat for an hour in the shade 
of an olive-tree, while he related to me the terrible experi- 
ences that he and his brother missionaries had Under- 
gone during the siege of Urumiah the previous winter. 
His sufferings had been great ; and to crown all his wife 
had died. He and his girls were on their way back to 
America for a rest. 

On the evening of August 22nd I reached the plain 
of Salmas, which runs out in a long oblong form from 
the north-west corner of Lake Urumiah. I made my wdy 
at once to the city of Dilman, which is surrounded by 


With the Russian Expedition 

an old mud wall, now crumbling to decay. I rode 
into the bazaar and enquired for the Persian Governor, 
I was told he had gone to Tabriz. I then asked for 
the Assistant Governor, but he, they said, had gone 
off on a hunting journey into the mountains. Then I 
asked if there were any officials, poUce, gendarmes, or 
perhaps a new caravan-thief who might be aspiring to 
any of these posts. No. There were none of these as 
yet, though they were to be expected. " Who is in 
authority, then ? " I asked. " There is no one ", they 
said. " Every one is the authority." And it was true. 
The city had no government, and to all appearance 
required none. The merchants were going about . their 
business in the bazaar as usual ; the peasants were 
coming in to sell their produce ; the Governor's house 
was empty, and there were no officials or police. Here 
indeed was a people, who had got as near as seems 
practicable to a state of passive anarchy. Again I 
saw Persian history written in these people. A town 
has no governor, and wants none, for he is an expense. 
A Khurdish shepherd from the mountains sees a town 
without a governor, so he appoints himself, becomes 
Viceroy, and finally Shah. 

I spent the night in a caravanserai with a large company 
of Persian merchants, and an even larger company of 
vermin, and next morning went out to the Armenian 
village of Havtvan, where Uved the Armenian bishop, 
Nerses. He kindly gave me a room to stay in while I 
was in Salmas. Next day I rode off to visit the Russian 
general in command of the Russian forces in North-west 
Persia. He was Uving in a Uttle village at the edge of 
the plain. I arrived at the small Persian village after 

97 G 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

a hot, dusty journey across the desert. An endless maze 
of mud walls surrounded the houses. Before several 
doors dust-covered sentries lounged, while down the 
narrow streets Cossacks on shaggy ponies dashed on 
errands. By the wall surrounding a leafy orchard, on 
the outskirts of the village, I halted and handed in my 
papers to the sentry. In a few .minutes I was enjoying 
the shade of the apricot-trees, while a sparkUng stream 
watered the dusty grass at my feet. In the orchard 
stood a round felt tent, like a great bee-hive, which I 
recognized at once as the abode of a Central Asian nomad, 
a Tartar or Turkoman from Trans-Caspia. But instead of 
a Mongol face in a long cloak and shaggy cap, I beheld 
the face and uniform of General Chernozubof, sitting 
at the edge of his tent, glancing over the telegrams and 
orders for the day. I was at once cordially welcome 
in this ingenious army head-quarters, so much in keeping 
with its Asiatic surroundings. We were soon joined by the 
Cossack commander, and the generals related to me with 
the aid of a map the recent operations of their troops 
against the Khurds and Turks. A cup of Russian tea 
was served, as we squatted on the ground ; and before 
I took my leave I was furnished with passes to enable 
me to travel in the region occupied by the Russian army 
in North-western Persia. 

On August 25th I left the Salmas plain for Urumiah, 
passing down the western shore of the lake. In the hills 
to the east of the plain, a little off the road, I went to see 
a bas-relief carved in the rock. A king is receiving two 
persons, who are apparently requesting something from 
him. In view of the fact that north of this point in the 
plain of Salmas and Khoy there are old Armenian churches, 


With the Russian Expedition 

and an Armenian population to this day, while to the 
south there are none, it is probable that this bas-relief 
represents a Persian, probably a Sassanian king, receiving 
tribute from some Armenian princes of this district, 
which perhaps he had lately conquered. 

As I proceeded southward towards the Urumiah plain, 
I became more and more aware of the disturbances caused 
by the war. All along the road I met bands of refugees 
coming northward, bringing terrible tidings of oncoming 
Turks and retreating Russians. The wayside inns were 
full of emaciated people, some among them dying or 
dead. Most were in rags, with nothing to subsist on 
but a few melons picked up on the roadside. They were 
all Assjnrian Christians from the Urumiah plains, with 
a sprinkling of their kinsmen from the mountains at the 
head-waters of the Tigris. Knowing how to discount 
the Eastern imagination in war-time, I decided to push on 
to Urumiah to see if there really was a serious danger 
of a Turkish invasion. It was true that the Russians, 
hearing of Halil Bey's second advance into the Alashgert 
in Armenia, had ordered the withdrawal of their infantry 
from Urumiah. Such was the fright of the Assyrian 
Christians, after their experience of the Turkish invasion 
the previous winter, that they fled in panic. When I 
arrived at the gates of Urumiah on August 26th I found 
no Russians, nor even Cossacks ; but neither had any 
Turks arrived, as the refugees had asserted. But this 
time I found a Persian Governor, and best of all. Dr. 
Packard, of the American Presbyterian Mission, living 
in the mission-compound surrounded by a beautiful grove 
of lime-trees about a mile from the city. He and his 
wife welcomed me with open arms, for they were q-'-.w 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

alone, the last missionary, Dr. Shedd, having left. They 
were clinging on devotedly to their noble work of saving 
life, and relieving sufferings, in this unhappy land that 
lay between the two armies which advanced and re- 
treated over it in turn. Dr. Packard is six feet tall, 
with the eye of an eagle and the courage of a lion. He 
has travelled during the last thirteen years in every 
remote valley of this wild Turco-Persian borderland ; he 
is intimately acquainted with every tribal chief of the 
Khurds, and can go among the fiercest and most intract- 
able of them, such is his moral hold over these men, 
his medical skill, and the confidence which they place 
in a man who is not engaged in political intrigue. 

All through the winter of 1914-15 there had been 
terrible disorders in Urumiah. First a small Turkish 
force came in and drove the Russians out in December. 
Instantly all the Khurdish tribes of the moimtain swooped 
into the plain of Urumiah like vultures on a carcase, and 
began to plunder the Assyiian Christians and even the 
Moslems themselves. The Turkish civil officials, Neri Bey 
and Raoub Bey, took part in the pillage, and it was not till 
the army of Halil Bey arrived that anything Uke public 
security existed. This part of Persia was in fact wit- 
nessing one of those incursions of nomad tribes from the 
mountains into the peaceful oases of the plains, which 
have been going on all through her history. The same 
thing occurred in 1880, when Sheikh Obeidulla, the great 
Khurdish chief of Neri, invaded Azairbijan right up to 
the walls of Tabriz. On the present occasion the Khurds 
of the Turco-Persian borderland, profiting by the political 
disturbances created by the Great War, invaded the 
plains of Urumiah, partly with a view to loot, but also, 


With the Russian Expedition 

as far as the tribal chiefs were concerned, with the idea 
of creating a large Khurdish kingdom, with themselves 
as the rulers. It was undoubtedly a quite spontaneous 
movement, called forth by the steady growth of national- 
ism among the Khurds during the last thirty years ; but 
it is curious that it coincided with the plan of Enver 
Pasha and the Young Turks, set forth at the Erzerum 
Conference of September 1914, to create a, chain of buffer 
States under Ottoman suzerainty between Russia and 
Turkey. Religious fanaticism probably played a much 
smaller part in the movement than in previous years. 
The governing factor throughout seems to have been 
nationality. It was in fact the desire on the part of the 
Khurds to reaUze themselves as a unit in human affairs ; 
and that idea was far more powerful than the idea of 
Jihad (Holy War). The Khurds of the Turco-Persian 
borderland had for many years past seen Russian influence 
creeping slowly down from the north. They had also 
watched the rise of the Ottoman imperialism of the Young 
Turks, so that their attitude towards both Ottoman and 
Russian imperialism was one of hostility. Frequent con- 
flicts between Khurds and Turks took place in the Bitlis 
region before the war, and even after its outbreak many 
of the Khurds merely observed a suUen neutrality towards 
both sides. But the Khurds of the Persian borders, 
being farther away from Ottoman influences, feared 
Russian imperiaUsm more, and hence their readiness to 
join the Turks, fronci whose imperialism they had less to 
apprehend. Dr. Packard showed me a letter which 
Karini Agha, the head of the Mamush Khurds of Sulduz, 
wrote to the Russian Consul at Urumiah just before 
he entered the city. The letter showed that his chief 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

concern was to establish himself and his house as the 
ruling dynasty of this part of Azairbijan. " I am Karini 
Agha ", the note began. " I am not Khurdu Bey, nor Bedr 
Khan Bey, nor even Sheikh Mahommed. These are 
my servants.; and when I speak the mountains tremble. 
Your Cossacks shall be my hewers of wood, and their 
wives shall be my delight. As for you, you shall accept 
the faith of Islam or perish as a giaour." 

The scenes that followed the Russian evacuation were 
indescribable. Thirty thousand Khurds poured down into 
the plain, and for two days the whole place was given over 
to plunder. Karini Agha and Rashid Bey set themselves 
up as dictators with a puppet of a Persian Governor. 
During the next week 800 Assyrian Christians were 
massacred, and 5,000 families robbed of all they possessed. 
About this time Dr. Packard did a courageous piece of 
work. At the risk of his Ufe he went to Geok-tepe, a 
village in the plain, whither some 2,000 Christians had 
retired to make their last desperate stand in the chiurch 
buildings against a host of Khurds. The doctor went 
straight to the Khurdish chief commanding the besiegers, 
and begged him in the name of humanity to spare the 
Christians, telling him that Mahommed had never counte- 
nanced cruelty, and had always taught his disciples to be 
kind and merciful. The effect of a personal appeal for 
mercy from one who inspires confidence even in a wild 
mountaineer was instantaneous. The Christians were 
liberated on condition of giving up their arms. 

The reign of terror in Urumiah lasted for three months ; 
then after the retreat of Halil Bey's army from Dilman, the 
Russians occupied the city and plain. The Persian Khurds 
retired with them, and Karini Agha soon became a Pasha 

With the Russian Expedition 

with high Ottoman military rank. Whether he still 
imagines that he will some day establish an independent 
Khurdistan may perhaps be doubted. But at any rate 
he looks to Ottoman protection for his national ideals, 
whatever form they may take. 

The territory inhabited by the Khurds may be said 
to cover almost exactly the region of the Taurus chain, 
beginning from Cilicia, and passing the region between 
Kharput and Diarbekr, through Bohtan and the head- 
waters of the Tigris to the Turco-Persian borderland. 
Here the Taurus bends south-east, and Khurdish 
tribes are found over its whole length, and in the 
plains bordering it as far south as Kasr-i-Shirim. Their 
chief mode of life is cattle and horse-raising, for which 
abundant mountain pasturage is necessary : so a very 
large part of them live as nomads, taking their flocks 
up to the alpine meadows for the Suihmer, and retiring 
in Winter to sheltered valleys in the foothills. Being 
a strong and very virile race, their numbers are continually 
increasing, the pressure of population and the insuffi- 
ciency of pasturage thus making it necessary for them to 
expand. The deserts of Mesopotamia do not attract 
them, owing to the absence under Turkish rule of any 
development of irrigation in the basins of the lower 
Tigris and Euphrates. On the other hand, to the north 
in Armenia they find upland plateaux, where indus- 
trious Armenian peasants grow corn, while on the Persian 
table-land fertile oases abound, where rice and the vine 
flourish. Everything attracts them northward, and this 
is One of the prime causes of political disorders in Greater 
Armenia and North-west Persia, and can only be dealt 
Tyith by development of the irrigated lands of Mesopq- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

tamia, so as to give the Khurds a chance to migrate 
south. The Khurds are quite capable of acclimatizing 
themselves, and of taking to agriculture, as is shown 
by the colonies of Sunni Moslems on the plains of 
Urumiah. These people are really Khurds, who have come 
north from the Taurus range, and settled in the plain 
among the Persians, learning from them to cultivate the 
land, and forgetting their former nomad existence. 
There are also Khurds in the transitional stage between 
nomad and settled life. Thus the Harkai tribe winters 
on the Mosul plains, and in the Summer comes up to the 
Turco-Persian border near Nochia, Gawar and upper 
Mergawer. Many of these Harkai families have begun 
during the last ten years to settle in lower Merga,wer, 
and to intermarry with the Khurds whom they find there. 
They even go to the length of dispossessing some of 
th*e local Persian landlords of their barley-fields on the 
northern slopes of the hills overlooking the Urumiah plains. 
While I was in Urumiah, I more than once heard Persians 
speaking of the encroachments of the Khurds, as bitterly 
as the Armenian peasants of the Van district. This 
necessity of the Khurds for expansion is one of the most 
potent causes of their national unrest. It is the absence 
of a guiding and controlling hand that has turned this 
natural movement into undesirable channels. Unfor- 
tunately, good influences from outside have been con- 
spicuously absent on the Turco-Persian borderland during 
the last decade. 

As an example of border politics, the story of the well- 
known Khurdish chief Simko of the Kotur region will 
suffice. In 1904 Jaffar Agha, the head of the Avdois 
Khurds of Somai and Chiari, rebelled against the Vice- 


With the Russian Expedition 

roy of Azairbijan, who sen,t troops to arrest him. Jaffar 
escaped into Turkey, where he was well treated by the 
Governor of Van. In time he obtained Turkish money 
and some rifles, and, returning to Chiari, again defied 
the Viceroy, who now tried the usual Oriental game. 
Messengers were dispatched with presents and a hearty 
invitation to. come as an honoured guest to Tabriz. Jaffar 
was deceived, and went, only to be received not with 
hospitality but with bullets, one of which passed through 
his head and finished him. His house was then burnt, his 
lands were seized and given to the chief of the Shikoik 
tribe of Baradost. Thereupon the murdered man's 
brother, Simko, fled into the hills, and established himself 
at Kotur, an old castle in a narrow valley, some two 
days' journey south of Mount Ararat. Now this Kotur 
valley was an important strategic point, for it guarded 
the passage between the Van vilayet and the Khoy plain, 
through which a Russian army might invade Armenia, 
or a Turkish army might invade the Caucasus. Simko 
was therefore worth a price. Caravans began to arrive 
at his castle from the north early in the year 1912 with 
guns and rouble notes. He suddenly became very rich 
and powerful, and acquired control over aU the Khurds 
of the borderland, from Mount Ararat down to the 
Baradost plateau. Meanwhile the Turks, profiting by 
the disorders, had sent troops into Persian territory, and 
were claiming a rectification of the frontier, so as to 
bring it down to the south-west comer of Lake Urumiah. 
The ostensible reason was to protect the Sunni Moslems 
of the Urumiah plains, formerly nomadic Khurds, but 
now settled. But the real reason was that the Turks 
wished to get control of the important strategic points 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

of the Urumiah and Sulduz plains in the event of war 
with Russia. Simko, the Russian stalking-horse, mean- 
while began raiding the Van vilayet, and carrsdng off 
Armenian cattle and women. The Turks could not 
touch him, because he always managed to escape across 
the Persian frontier to his castle, where it was dangerous 
to follow him. Moreover, he had the protection of Russia. 
The Armenians of Van began to complain loudly of Simko 
and his depredations, and next year, the disorder 
created by this Khurd having reached the desired pro- 
portions, Russia came out with the Armenian Reform 
Scheme, declaring that the disorders in the Van vilayet 
were no longer endurable to her. The history of the 
Armenian Reform Scheme I deal with in Chapter VIII. 
When war broke out in August 1914, Turkey, before 
she had joined the war, sent guns and ammunition 
to the Sunnis and Shikoik Khurds of Somai and Bara- 
dost, while Russia strengthened Simko. In November 
1914 Simko, assisted fey Russian troops, advanced south- 
wards, and occupied his former home at Chiari, while 
the Turks with the Shikoiks captured Somai. Then 
came Enver Pasha's great Sary-Kamish advance in 
December, and Djevdet Pasha's Van army of 10,000 
men occupied Salmas. The Russians retired to Khoy, 
and their protege, Simko,' who had cost them so dear 
the last three years, — stayed behind ! After the arrival 
of Halil Bey's army in April, while Djevdet Pasha was 
busy with the Armenians at Van, an attempt was made 
to win Simko back, and by a secret messenger he was 
offered untold wealth, if he would only assassinate Halil 
Bey. Simko was in his old castle at Chiari entertaining 
some Turkish officers when he received this secret 


With the Russian Expedition 

message. Halil Bey was on the plain of Dilman, some 
ten miles to the east, while the Russians were in the hills 
to the south of the Khoy plain. Hearing of the Armenian 
rebellion at Van, and thinking that probably the Turks 
would not see the business through, Simko decided to 
try the Russians again. He set out one night with aU 
his Khurds, and ordered his Turkish guests to follow him. 
They rode through the darkness all night, and at dawn they 
saw the camp-fires of the Russians. " Here," said Simko 
to the Russian commander, " behold my loyalty ! I 
have delivered your* enemies into your hands." But 
the Russians were not quite so much impressed as he 
had hoped ; and for the next six months Simko, chief 
of Kotur and Chiari, retired to the Caucasus accom- 
panied by an ever-watchful Russian poUceman. Now 
that Russia has undisputed control of this corner of 
Azairbijan, Simko has been allowed to return, having 
duly served the purpose of puppet, intriguer, assassin, 
and spy, meanwhile changing sides at least twice. This 
is a typical story of Turco-Persian bordgr-poUtics, as 
they have been going on for 2,000 years, right up till 

It is customary in Europe to look upon the Khurd 
as cruel and bloodthirsty by nature, and given to creating 
disturbances for sheer devilry's sake. But when a race 
is situated in a country lying between two greedy 
Empires, both continually intriguing, bribing, threatening, 
invading, and always thinking more of their own selfish 
imperial interests than of the interests of the people 
they are deaUng with, is it Ukely that such a race will 
fail to develop the character of fickleness towards 
foreigners ? There is only one way to secure the peace 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and development of Khurdistan, and that is by the 
exercise of a little honesty, that quality so rare in 
diplomacy. If the governing power deals fairly with the 
natives, improves roads, irrigates the land, and builds 
schools, the object of which is not merely to teach the 
children garbled history about their own country, the 
natives will then become confident, and turn their 
activities to works of production rather than of destruc- 
tion. Khurdish unrest is very largely a symptom of 
dissatisfaction with the neighbouring Powers, that are 
tr5dng to gain control of the country by dubious methods. 

The Khurds are probably the descendants of that race 
which at the dawn of history occupied the highlands 
of the Taurus range. Periodically descending into the 
rich lands at their feet, and founding dynasties over the 
lazy inhabitants of the oases, they have in times past 
acquired powerful influence over Persian affairs. The 
ancient kingdom of Media was probably formed by one 
of these Khurdish incursions. They have in turn fallen 
greatly under Persian cultural influences, and their lan- 
guage is distinctly Iranian. But since the rise of the 
Ottoman Empire, part of them have fallen under Turkish 
influence. Setting aside the Kizil Bashis, who are prob- 
ably the relics of another partially Khurdicized high- 
land race, and the Jaff Khurds in Mesopotamia, there 
are two main cultural groups. The western group, in- 
habiting eastern Asia Minor up to the Turco-Persian 
border, speaks a Kirmandji dialect of Khurdish, con- 
taining a certain admixture of Turkish words. The 
eastern group in north-western Persia speaks Mukri, 
which shows strong traces of Persian influence. 

Socially, the Khurds are divided into two castes. The 


With the Russian Expedition 

military Asshirets are the rulers, and comprise the chiefs 
with their horsemen and retinue. They are the landowners, 
exacting tribute and holding every privilege. Beneath 
them are the Rayats, the hewers of wood and drawers 
of water for the Asshirets. They do not as a rule bear 
arms, and confine themselves in the main to cultivating 
the land on the edge of the Taurus highlands. I am 
incHned to think that the Rayat Khurds are tending more 
and more to settled habits, while the Asshirets cling 
more stubbornly than ever to nomad life, and to their 
habits of raiding, in order to find grazing-lands for their 

A few days after my arrival in Urumiah, Russian 
infantry began to come in from the north, and with 
them the Russian Consul, M. Basil Nikitine. There 
had been no military authority here for two weeks, since 
the Russians had left at the beginning of August, and, 
fortunately, the Turks, who only had a company of 
askers at Sujbulak in the Sulduz plain, judged it unwise 
to venture up to Urumiah. Their main force lay on 
the southern slopes of the Taurus to the north of Mosul. 
So a large strip of territory, including the eastern end 
of the Taurus, was entirely unoccupied. In this no- 
man's-land were living all the Khurdish tribes with their 
chiefs, who at the outbreak of war had made the great 
raid upon Urumiah and Sulduz. At the advent of the 
Russians they had retired to the mountains, and were 
now left high and dry between the two armies. 

Shortly after his arrival in Urumiah, M. Nikitine 
wisely decided upon a policy of conciliation towards 
these Khurds. He thereupon announced a general am- 
nesty, if they would come in and make their peace with 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Russia. The situation was serious. In the mountains 
were large forces of Khurds, who at any time might 
receive reinforcements from the Turks, and descend upon 
Urumiah again. They had with them large numbers 
of Assyrian Christians, whom they had made slaves in 
their first raid. They Were also occup3dng the uplands, 
where the Persians and Christians of the plain had their 
barley crops ; the season was advancing, and these crops 
ought to be gathered or famine would threaten the plain- 
But the Khurds were too frightened to come in and 
make peace. Knowing that Dr. Packard had great 
influence among them as a disinterested medical man, 
the Russian Consul proposed to him that he should visit 
them in order to explain the conditions of the amnesty 
and tell them not to be afraid. I accompanied him ; 
and in case we should meet any Tiurks, I arranged 
beforehand with the doctor that I should pose as his 
medical assistant. When travelling in the East you 
must always impress yourself in some way or other upon 
the natives. If you have come for the purpose of political 
propaganda, you should represent yourself as at least 
the Ambassador of an Emperor. If you have come 
with the intention of converting souls, you should pose 
as a religious fanatic, preferably a Dervish. If on the 
other hand you are a student of racial questions, or are 
anxious to act as a mediator or pacificator, the best role 
that you can adopt is that of a doctor ; whether real 
or qiiack depends upon your medical knowledge. In 
Dr. Packard's case it was the former ; in mine, unfor- 
tunately, it could only be the latter. 

On September 8th we started off on our horses from the 
Mission-compound at Urumiah to visit the Khurds upon 


With the Russian Expedition 

the foothills of the Taurus. We heard that there were a 
number of Assyrian Christians, whom AbduUa Agha, the 
head of the Begzadi tribe of Mergawer, was holding up 
from returning to their homes in Urumiah. Our road 
lay along the plain parallel with the mountains in a south- 
easterly direction. We passed the Cossack outpost, 
stationed on a Uttle knoll to guard the way to the city, 
and reached large open spaces covered with drooping 
wheat and barley, for the war had stopped all the work 
of harvesting here. Burnt villages and ruined vineyards 
were seen on every side. A little farther on an over- 
powering stench was wafted to our nostrils. By the 
side of a stream lay the bodies of two dead Khurds, 
blackened and twisted by the sun. They had been 
killed a few days before in a skirmish with a Cossack 
patrol. We crossed the Dizerteke river by an old bridge, 
and after resting our horses in the cool shade of the willows 
by its banks, we pushed on. An hour later we reached 
an encampment on an open flat, where we found a large 
party of Assyrian Christians, who were afraid to move 
lest the Khurds should attack them and prevent them 
from reaching Urumiah. They were in a pitiable plight, 
clad in rags, and with no means of support except a few 
rapidly emptying bags of maize. They welcomed us 
with joy, for their situation was becoming desperate. 
The Khurds, they said, were only a short distance beyond. 
We told them to pack up their tents and go north, as 
there was no one in their way in that direction. We 
now set out to find the Khurds, and crossing the low 
hills that overlook Dize. reached the borders of Dole. 
Suddenly there sprang out of the ground all round us 
the figures of men who came running towards us calling 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

out. " Hakkim Sahib ! Hakkim Sahib ! " The Khurdish 
outposts had recognized Dr. Packard, and were running 
to him with salutations. We had no military escort 
with us, and we carried not a single rifle or revolver ; our 
sole protection was a medicine-bottle and some presents 
of silk and sugar. Yet not only were we not harmed, but 
these rough Khurds actually started fighting among them- 
selves as to who was to escort us to their chief. Some 
had horses ; others had not ; and those who had none, 
stole the horses of those who had. So for the rest of the 
way we were accompanied by a group of superb horsemen 
all glittering with Oriental trappings, while behind us 
followed on foot a bawling, screaming, cursing crowd, 
threatening the most appalling death, destruction, muti- 
lation, and finally utter damnation in heU, if their fellow- 
warriors did not instantly give up their horses. In this 
triumphal procession we entered Dize, where in the large 
caravanserai Abdulla Agha was residing. Hearing the 
noise, the chief ordered some of his bodyguard to go 
and find out what it was all about, and on being told, 
ordered the insubordinate soldiers to be driven out with 
thongs. What happened we never saw, but from the 
sound of the whackings and squealings it would appear 
that dire punishment was meted out. When we entered, 
Abdulla Agha was squatting on a carpet in the upper 
storey of the caravanserai. He rose instantly and treated 
us with all the civility and hospitality that Oriental 
manners prescribe, even if it is the intention of the host 
to put strychnine in your coffee that evening, or smother 
you with pillows during the night. The Agha was a 
picturesque middle-aged man, with baggy trousers, short 
tunic and peaked head-dress. After the evacuation of 


With the Russian Expedition 

the Turks he had, like many European Powers, persuaded 
himself that it was in the interests of civilization to plant 
himself down on his neighbour's property, and gather 
all the fruits he could lay his hands on. Dize, being 
the road-centre between the Uruniiah plain and Sulduz, 
was a convenient spot in which to set himself up as 
dictator of the countryside, and levy tribute from the 
surrounding villages and from any passers-by upon the 
roads. It was in the hope of putting a stop to this state 
of affairs, as well as of passing the Christians on to 
Urumiah, that we had come to visit the Agha ; and the 
conversation of Dr. Packard with him during the evening 
turned upon these subjects. As a result the Christians 
were told to accompany us back to their homes next 
morning, and promises were given that not quite every 
cow and chicken should be taken from the village of 
Dole. I then asked the Agha about the history of his 
tribe, and he confirmed my idea that many of these 
Khurdish tribes have been moving in a northerly direc- 
tion for the last fifty years. His father, he said, used to 
live near Mosul, and came up to the Persian frontier for 
the summer pasture ; but after some years he remained 
where he brought his flocks in summer, because he found 
he could get on better there. The Agha himself had 
been born within the boundaries of Persia, and had 
evidently acquired a certain degree of Persian culture. 
I asked him about the Persian classics, and found him 
acquainted with them " The words of Saadi", he said, 
" bring light to the eye and warmth to the heart ". He 
had even learnt to speak, like a Persian, in metaphors. 
Like all his ancestors who had invaded this land before 
him, he was himself being slowly invaded by its culture. 

113 H 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

On the evening, of September 9th we were back again 
in Urumiah, having brought some two hundred Assyrian 
Christians back to their homes. On September i2th 
Dr. Packard heard that Bedr Khan Bey, the chief of the 
Begzadi tribe of Dasht, was oil the hills above the city, 
wanting to come in and make peace. A Khurdish horse- 
man with a white flag had come down the river-valley 
to announce his master's approach. We set out on our 
horses at once, but on reaching the appointed spot, we 
could see nothing. We then lay down among a grove 
of poplars and sent forward a native Assyrian to scout. 
Presently we saw a large body of horsemen coming 
towards us, and recognized the Khurdish chief among 
them. There are few more picturesque sights in Asia than 
a cavalcade of Khurds surrounding their chiefs. Their 
quaint head-dresses, brilliant tunics and baggy trotisers, 
all combine to tone down the ferocity with which 
they display their arms and ammunition, and are 
indeed an echo of the middle ages. Our next problem 
was how to pass them through the Cossack posts without 
frightening them, for at the sight of Russian soldiers 
their first impulse was to take to their heels, or else to 
get behind a rock and open fire. On being assured 
of Russia's good intentions, they were persuaded to 
approach ; and, after the necessary explanations with the 
Cossacks, we passed on into a shaded spot, where under 
a poplar-tree a conference took place between the chief 
and the Russian Consul. The Consul began : " Why 
have you been fighting against us ? " " Effendi ", was the 
answer, " I could not help it. My own men compelled me 
to do so ; and they were compelled by Karini Agha." 
" Don't you see the uselessness of fighting against Russia, 


With the Russian Expedition 

who has been successful in every war that she has ever 
waged with Turkey ? There are twenty million Moslem 
subjects in the Russian Empire, and all of them are loyal 
and contented." These words had their effect. The 
chief agreed to make peace and keep it. But on the 
next Turkish invasion some two months later, he bolted 
with all his men, and has not been seen again. 

On September i8th Dr. Packard and I decided to visit 
an important and powerful chief, Khurdu Bey, the head 
of the Begzadi tribe of Tergawer. He had refused to 
make peace, and was holding in his encampment on 
the mountains about forty Assyrian Christiaijs, whom 
he had carried off from Urumiah and enslaved the 
previous winter. Early in the morning we rode off in a 
westerly direction over the Urumiah plain till we reached 
the Naslu river. Here we turned sharp to the south, 
and mounted onto a high plateau. This was Tergawer, 
the summer grazing ground of the Khurds, where many 
of the Assyrians and Persians used to grow their barley 
before the war. We passed over wide sweeps of down, 
and occasionally through barren stony defiles. The 
atmosphere became oppressive, and the silence weird 
and uncanny. Suddenly we saw against the sky-line the 
gaunt figure of a gigantic man, armed to the teeth, and 
standing with his arms folded. We recognized the for- 
bidding outline of a Khurd, one of the outposts guarding 
the encampment of Khurdu Bey, an apparition of a kind 
to freeze a man's blood. But Dr. Packard made straight 
for him in a bee-line. About a hundred yards from him 
he called out at the top of his voice, " Ho ! my brother ! 
The Hakkim Sahib has come to see you. Greeting and 
peace be to you ! " Instantly the forbidding demon on 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the rock became a child-like slave, and rushing down, 
fell before the doctor and kissed his hands and feet. 
We had stormed the outpost of the enemy, and our only 
ammunition was a pill which the doctor gave him, as 
he complained of a stomach-ache. Soon this Khurdish 
brave was leading us along a narrow path to where his 
chief lived. At last we reached the camp of Khurdu 
Bey in an alpine meadow under a great rock, from which 
fell a picturesque The spot marked the frontier 
between Persia and Turkey. To the east lay the whole 
plateau of Tergawer covered with grassy downs, and 
away beyond we could see the plain of Urumiah glowing 
with the golden light of distant corn-fields. The dark 
patches in the gold denoted poplar groves and leafy vine- 
yards, and away beyond lay Lake Urumiah, blue as a slab 
of lapis lazuli. A Persian proverb says, "Azairbijan is 
the eye of Persia ; Urumiah is the eye of Azairbijan ". 
Behind us stood tier upon tier of rugged and forbidding 
mountain-ranges, with their dark, wndy valleys in which 
the Turks were waiting. From this spot Khurdu Bey 
could run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. If a 
patrol of Cossacks came up across Tergawer towards 
him, he could see them and bolt to the Turks. If the 
Turks came up these dark valleys from Neri, he could 
see them in time to bolt over to the Russians. 

Dr. Packard and I rode up to a great tent of horse- 
hair matting stretched on poles. Round it stood pic- 
turesque bands of Khurds with curved daggers and 
scimitars. Khurdu Bey came out to meet us, and after 
many salaams and much bowing, led us into his tent. 
Here we sat down on mats, with rows of armed warriors 
all round us. Khurdu was a comparatively young 


With the Russian Expedition 

man, small but well built, and with the sly eye of a fo3£. 
He had eleven wives and ten thousand sheep — a sign of 
wealth in Khtirdistan. He was surrounded as he sat 
with us by a large retinue of relations, friends, advisers, 
and counsellors. Soon we became aware that some 
emissaries from the Turks were present. A small group 
of clean-shaven young men with fezzes kept to them- 
selves and talked in whispers. They had evidently come 
up to induce Khurdu to come over to their side. Dr. 
Packard began by suggesting that the Urumiah plains 
were pleasant and healthy at this time of the year, and 
that the grapes were now ripe. Khurdu replied that he 
did not want to stay up on the cold mountains, for the 
winter would soon be coming on ; but he did not know 
if it was safe to come to the Urumiah plains. He had the 
idea of going down to the Mosul plains in Mesopotamia 
for the winter. The Turkish emissaries had got there 
before us, and had the first say. Seeing that it was im- 
possible to do anything unless we could be alone with 
him, when we should be able to appeal to his personal 
feeUngs, Dr. Packard suggested that we should go into 
his private tent. To this he agreed, and so we entered a 
tent in which we found a large and varied assortment of 
things : china vases, silk embroideries, carved book-shelves, 
an inlaid table, a wardrobe, a four-post bed, and a piano, — 
all of them last winter's loot from Urumiah. Now we 
understood the very potent reason why their owner was 
not anxious to visit Urumiah. We squatted down on the 
floor, and Dr. Packard began to talk to him about the 
Assyrians, whom he held in slavery. Could he not release 
them ? It was written in the Koran that he who shows 
justice and mercy will be rewarded with Paradise. The 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

families of these poor Christians were pining for those 
whom they loved, and the women were starving in the 
absence of the breadwinners. Those who did a kind deed 
would be rewarded by the Lord. So spoke the doctor. 
Outside the tent a fanatical " sheikh " in a green turban 
walked up and down. He was trying to influence Khurdu 
Bey not to give up the Christians, and kept quoting from 
the Koran in a sing-song voice : " Kill those who join 
other gods." But the magic of the doctor's words pre- 
vailed upon Khurdu. He nodded thoughtfully and said 
nothing; but much was passing through his brain. 

Early next morning the Christians were there, and as 
soon as they saw the Hakkim Sahib, they fell down and 
kissed his feet. We said good-bye to Khurdu Bey, and said 
that we hoped to see him in Urumiah. Then we started 
back for the plain with the forty Ass3aians, yelling and 
running ahead of us in their joy. For five months they 
had -been kept on the mountains as slaves and camel- 
herdsmen for the chief, living from hand to mouth and 
half starving. All hopes of ever seeing their famiUes 
had been abandoned by them, and they were sinking into 
a melancholy of despair. Now by a few simple healing 
words the doctor had cut the cord and set them free. Such 
is the power of a strong character, protected only by 
honesty, even among the untutored border-raiders of 
Khurdistan. We never saw Khurdu again ; he left with 
the Turks a month later, and during the winter died of a 
disease. On the evening of the next day we reached 
the Mission-compound at Urumiah with our deUvered 
Assyrians, who speedily dispersed to their families. 

In the last week in September I was laid low by the hand 
of fate. Jumping out of a carriage when the horse had 


With the Russian Expedition 

run away, as we were driving back from the city to the 
Mission-compound on the evening of September 23rd, I 
suffered concussion of the brain, and was laid up for two 
,weeks. When I got well it was nearly time for me to 
get on my way again, for I intended to visit Van. Before 
I left, however, I learned something about the American 
Presbyterian Mission at Urumiah and its history. 

In 1834 the Rev. Dr. Perkins went out from America 
to Urumiah under the Presb5^erian Board to work among 
the Nestorians, or Assyrian Christians of the ancient church 
of the Patriarch Mar Shimon. The object at first was to 
educate the people, but to leave the church alone. In 
1855 however a misunderstanding arose. The adherents 
of the old church, thinking there was a tendency on the 
part of the missionaries to estabUsh an EvangeUcal church 
in competition with that of the Patriarch, broke away 
and refused to have anything more to do with the 
missionaries. From that time forward both the reformed 
Evangelical church and the unreformed Nestorian existed 
side by side on the Urumiah plain, until the Nestorian 
disappeared within the last ten years, owing to the Russian 
Orthodox . propaganda. The Orthodox church, being 
largely a political organization, became a useful instru- 
ment for Russian influence in Azairbijan. All the old 
Nestorians had found it convenient to go over to Ortho- 
doxy in response to bribes, and the offer of political 
privileges. In 1879 the Urumiah college was founded, 
consisting at present of the boys' section in the compound 
outside the city, which, when I was there, had about eighty 
boarders, and of the girls' school for Moslems and Christians 
(sixty boarders) within the city. A general education 
with elementary science and industrial handiwork is given, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and Bible teaching is obligatory for both Christians and 
Moslems. The pupils are of course mainly Christians ; 
but of late years Moslems have begun more and more to 
send their children to these schools. The excellent in- 
fluence of the education given by the American colleges is 
unfortunately marred by the fact that it tends to touch 
only the Christian section of the community, leaving the 
Moslems until recently almost unaffected. The result is 
that the Christians tend to absorb Western ideas very 
rapidly but too often superficially, while the bulk of the 
Moslems remain in the apathy of the old school of Islam 
The Constitutional movement among the intellectual 
Moslems, wh^le dominating large centres like Tabriz, 
Teheran, Isfahan, and Kermanshah, hardly affected 
border cities like Urumiah. Hence the Assyrians and 
Persians of these regions have shown a tendency to drift 
apart in educational and political thought. Dr. Shedd, 
the head of the college, is however fully aJive to these 
facts, and is doing all he can to deal with this aspect of 
the education problem. 

It is not too much to say that the American Mission 
schools in Asia have been far better ambassadors of Euro- 
pean culture than the whole of the diplomacy and military 
force of the Powers. They are the only institutions in all 
this land, with the exception of the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury's Anglican Misision, which are absolutely disinterested 
and exist solely for the welfare of the people of the country. 
Every time that I have met with Armenians, Assjnians 
or Greeks, or sometimes a Persian or a Turk, who have 
been through one of the great American Mission-colleges 
of Asia Minor or Persia, I have always found that they 
have been perceptibly drawn towards Western Europe, and 


With the Russian Expedition 

are thinking on much the same lines as yoimg American! 
Englishmen, Frenchmen, or even Germans. If a youn 
man has been for a few years to America, he generall 
returns a keen man of business, interpreting the phrase 
" getting on ", in terms of the dollar. If he has been t 
Paris, he is perhaps too much inclined to dally wit 
decadent art and Uterature ; but is also probably strongl 
imbued with some Western form of SociaUsfn. Germa 
educational influence is extremely small, and Russia 
non-existent outside the frontiers of the Empire. Th 
American and Anglican Evangelical Missions in the Nea 
and Middle East can therefore be said, without an 
exaggeration, to be the chief agents of Western Europea 
culture among the people. 




On October 14th I said farewell to my friends in Urumiah, 
and with my little caravan of two horses set out for the 
Armenian highlands. I returned the same way that 
I came as far as Dilman, which I reached on the i6th, 
having spent the night in a Russian military post at 
Jellalabad. In Dilman I found hospitality in the 
house of an Assyrian doctor, David Johanan, and during 
the four days I was with him, he gave me the benefit of 
his great knowledge of this part of Persia. Soon after 
my arrival at Dilman, the whole plain of Salmas, in which 
the city lies, was flooded with Assyrian refugees. Thirty 
thousand starving and ragged human beings, headed 
by their Patriarch Mar Shimon, came pouring down from 
the mountains at the head-waters of the Tigris. Every 
day along the road to Bashkale, I met with streams of 
them in a terrible state of emaciation and exhaustion. 
On the arrival of the Patriarch I went at once to see him. 
He was a young man of little more than thirty, and had 
been elected at his birth from the patriarchal family by 
general agreement among the people. He and an old 
trusted adviser of his, Kashi Daniel, had a pitiful tale 
to tell. 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

The Assyrians of the Nestorian Church, acknowledging 
the Patriarch Mar Shimon, Uve in the wildest and most 
inaccessible parts of the Taurus at the headwaters of 
the Great Zab, a tributary of the Tigris. I had looked 
into some of this country, when I went with Dr. Packard 
to visit Khurdu Bey, and had seen from a distance those 
steep precipitous valley slopes, where Uttle villages, 
half dug in the rocks, are connected with each other 
by almost impassable tracks. One of the most ancient 
Churches in all Christendom still survives in this region. 
The Assyrians claim that they accepted Christianity 
directly from Simon Peter. At any rate, it is recorded in 
the 3rd century a.d. that they acknowledged a Patriarch 
in Syria.. In time their form of Christianity spread all 
over Asia. Circumstances seemed to be favourable to 
them. The Roman Empire and its culture was decaying, 
and Persia was undergoing one of its usual revolutions 
and disorders, while the Sassanians were driving out 
the Arsakids. From the 5th to the 8th century the 
Nestorian Church had spread its influence right through 
Central Asia into China and India. According to Dr. 
Wigram, in his interesting book on the Assyrian church, 
the Assyrian Nestorians resisted union with the Greek 
Church largely from poUtical motives. They themselves 
were mostly subjects of the kings of Persia, who were at 
constant war with the Romans, so it was naturally safer 
for them to have an entirely separate ecclesiastical organi- 
zation from the Greeks, in order to escape persecution 
from the Persians. . 

A considerable degree of tolerance, broken by occasional 
fits of persecution, was accorded the Assyrians till the 
rise of Islam. Then, just as fire-worship fell before the 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

wave of Arab culture, the Nestorian form of Christianity 
also began to wane. Apathy, corruption and superstition 
had for centuries been creeping into both these religions, 
so that the Arabs with their simple faith from the desert 
could easily make converts. All that is left of this ancient 
Church has for the last three hundred years been clustering 
in those inaccessible valleys of the Upper Zab. Living in 
the same regions and under the same conditions as the 
Khurds, the Assyrians may possibly be derived from 
the same primitive mountain stock, which is found all 
through the Taurus. They are divided into six tribes or 
Asshirets, named after the valleys they occupy : Thuma, 
Tiari, Baz, Gelu, Heriki, and Girdi. Each have their 
hereditary chiefs, or Mehks, and all acknowledge the 
Patriarch Mar Shimon. Before the war, they numbered 
79,000 persons, according to Lalayan (vide " Assyrians 
of the Van Vilayet," published Tiflis 1914). Now, in 
October 1915, barely 30,000 of them were retreating 
from their abandoned homes. 

The story of the disaster which had befallen them is 
the same as that of every little people sandwiched in 
between two Empires. The relations between the Khurds 
and Assyrians at the commencement of. the war were 
friendly. They were neighbours who grazed their flocks 
together on the mountains and traded with each other, 
while their children played together over the dirt- 
heaps outside their underground villages. Turkey joined 
the war, and still nothing happened to disturb the 
peace ' of these mountain . valle}^. AH through the 
Winter of 1914-15 there was peace in the Taurus, 
while Russians and Turks were battering each other 
at Sary-Kamish, Then, in March, two Assyrians arrived 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

with news from Russia at Kochanes, the village of 
the Patriarch. Russia, they said, would come and take 
the Assyrian highlands, and liberate the Christians 
groaning under the tyranny of the Turk. The Cossacks 
would be here any time now ; guns, ammunition, money, 
all would be forthcoming; only let them rise up now 
against the common enemy of Christendom. Hasty 
counsels took place in dark underground rooms ; young 
men jabbered, and old grey-beards shook their heads. 
Some wanted to go at once to join the Russians ; others, 
seeing danger if the Russians should after all fail to come, 
counselled delay. All feared that if something were 
not done, and sides were not taken, the victors, whoever 
they might be, would turn on them and say, " He that 
was not with us was against us ". While this was going 
on among the Assyrians, Turkish emissaries came to 
the Khurds. " The Giaour is coming ", they said. " Rise 
up and smite him. Your fellow Khurds are serving 
in the Hamidian regiments. We shall soon have all the 
Caucasus at our feet. Then the Empire of Islam will 
be great, and all its sons wUl be sure of Paradise and its 
houris." But amongst the Khurds also there were 
dissensions ; some would go, and some would not. " If 
we go to the Turks ", some argued, " they will take us and 
make us serve in Europe or at Gallipoli. Let us rather 
stay in our homes, or if we must fight, then let us fight 
our neighbours and get all the loot we can. If we fight 
elsewhere, there will be no loot for us, but only for the 
Padishah." While they were still discussing, news came 
that some of the more warlike among the Assyrian Meliks 
(chiefs) had gone to join the Russians. At once the more 
hot-headed among the Khurds saw a chance of plunder, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and also the possibility of escaping service with the Turks 
in Europe. They jumped on their horses, raised the war- 
cry, and fired a few shots into the air. So war began in the 
Assyrian highlands. At the beginning of June a division of 
Turkish soldiers under Haider Pasha arrived at Tiari from 
Mosul. The Khurds in the meantime attacked Baz and 
Heriki, and the Assyrians retired to the passes north of 
*Julemerk. But there were no signs of the Russians. Haider 
Pasha kept his division in Tiari, and made no serious 
attempt till August, Then some Turkish askers that had 
been left behind in Halil Bey's retreat from Dilman, 
joined with the Khurds, and in great force attacked the 
Assyrians, whose plight was now desperate. There was 
no help coming from Russia, and their ammunition was 
rapidly becoming exhausted. They abandoned Julemerk 
and Kochanes, and retreated as fast as they could to the 
plateau of Gawer. They found nothing but ruined villages 
and trampled crops on the way, for this was the line of 
Halil Bey's retreat three months before. They began to drop 
from starvation and exhaustion. The rear-guards were cut 
off, and killed or captured by the Khurds. All through 
September they withdrew northward, headed by their 
Patriarch, and at last reached the plain of Dilman, where 
they found the Russians. 

This is the story told me by the leaders of these 
AssJ^rians just after their arrival in Dilman. Seeing 
the tragic pUght of this ancient race, I sent a messenger 
at once to Mr. Shipley, the British Consul at Tabriz, and 
asked him to appeal for help to England. The American 
missionaries, foremost among whom was Mr. McDowall, 
set to work to find food and shelter for the refugees. The 
money sent out from England was of very great assistance 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

to the Patriarch in his efforts to save the remnants of 
his people. 

On October 24th I started out from Dilman, the last 
Persian town before reaching the Turco-Persian frontier. 
I said farewell to the fertile plains of Iran and the warm 
shores of Lake Urumiah, where I had been basking in the 
sunshine for the last two months. In front of me lay 
Armenia, wild and grim, cold and hungry. I followed 
the road taken by the Russian army-transport, which 
wound up the mountains forming the watershed between 
lakes Van and Urumiah. The road lay through the 
desolate rolling hill-country north of the Chiari valley, 
leading up to the Khan-Sor pass. Not a living soul 
was to be seen anywhere, and all the villages of the district 
had long ago been burnt. Towards evening a bitter 
blast from the North came on, so I stopped in a little 
side-valley to pitch my tent. I tethered the horses in a 
spot where some coarse grass grew by a stream, while my 
Armenian servant prepared a dish of hot rice and fat. 
We squatted down over a fire of camel-dung, and smelt 
that unforgettable smell which is so typical of Asia. In 
our tea we soaked Persian lavash, thin bread which keeps 
for two months in the dry. Next morning we rose early 
and rode up to the lop of the pass. Here was the frontier 
between Turkey and Persia, and the hills dividing the 
basin of the Zab from that of Lake Urumiah. This is one 
of the passes over which the nomad hordes from Central 
Asia used to invade Asia Minor. I could see at once 
that there was no hindrance to their eastward and 
westward movement. The hills of the Turco-Persian 
frontier, although they run north and south, present 
no insuperable barrier to a passage east and west, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Here then was the main cause of Armenia's misfortunes ; 
there were no mountain barriers to protect her people 
from invasion from the East. At the same time I could 
see far away to the South the outline of the Taurus, the 
natural boundary between the Powers that control 
Armenia and Mesopotamia. Until modern science pierces 
those jagged walls of rock with a Hne of railway, there 
can be no outlet to the sea that way. 

In front of me now was the great Armenian plateau. 
It looked cold and uninviting after the luxurious warmth 
and vegetation of Persia. I descended into a small 
upland meadow in the centre of which was the ruined 
village of Khan-Sor. My Armenian servant began to 
tell me tales about a great raid that took place here when 
he was a boy. Armenian revolutionary bands in 1896 
had armed themselves in Persia, and had entered the 
Van vilayet by this pass. Their object appeared to be 
to hold the Upper Zab valley, and prevent the Turks 
from extending the massacre to this district. They do not 
seem to have been very successful, and my servant gave 
me full particulars of the torturings, burnings and hangings, 
with the a4ded imagery of the East. On the afternoon 
of October 25th I descended into the broad valley of the 
Upper Zab. On a little hill above the river stood the 
ancient Armenian monastery of Deer. I found there an 
old Armenian monk living in the great cold building 
all by himself. The church was of the loth century, 
and was surrounded by massive walls. In a fight between 
Russian and Turkish soldiers last winter, the Turks had 
used it as a fort. Much debris and stones lay about ; 
and as I wandered about inside the church I found all 
the pictures and icons destroyed by the Khurds. The 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

old monk showed me the grave of St. Bartholomew the 
Apostle, who was buried here, according to Armenian 
tradition. It is said that he came up the Tigris after 
the death of Christ, and found a heathen Armenian king 
living here. The old monk showed me some stones in 
the wall of the church with curious signs on them ; these, 
he said, were the signs before which the Armenians wor- 
shipped, when they were heathen. St. Bartholomew 
converted the king, who in return buried the saint here. 
In the evening we cooked and ate a little food on the 
cold floor of the church, and then lay down to sleep in 
company with bats and owls. Such was the life of this 
old Armenian monk, who had escaped massacre the 
previous winter by hiding in the roof. Now he was living 
the life of an ascetic, fasting and praying and living at 
peace v/ith the world, while all around was wild ruin, 
the product of war and civilization. How many an 
Armenian St. Francis may have Uved in times past 
in this ancient monastery, burning his candle, mur- 
muring prayers, and worshipping in quiet that unseen 
light in the heart of man which teaches him, in 
solitude and silence, the nature of his being, and the 
insignificance of his self. Here on the Armenian plateau, 
amid war, pestilence and famine, that light was 

Next day I went on down the Zab valley, and soon 
came to a Russian camp, where a battalion of infantry 
was stationed to watch any movement of Turks from 
the direction of Gawer. I sent in my papers from the 
General to. the Commander, Colonel Ivanoff, who asked 
me to come in and pitch my tent among the officers 
Many of them were educated men of the Moscow, Kiev 

129 i 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

ahd iCharkoff ititdlig^htsia, and their thirst for news 
from the outside world vi^as great. They were particularly 
interested in the Duma and its relations to the Govern- 
meilt. I told them all I knew, Svhich was hot much, 
for I too had hot seen a Russian paper for many weeks. 
Round the camp-fires ih the everting We settled down 
to talk over the relative merits Of Tolstoy, E)ostctyefsky 
and Oscar Wilde. The group quickly split up into 
opposing camps of decadents, lyricists ahd realists. 
Other officers from the less educated class kept rather to 
themselves. They were engaged most of the evening in 
selling the horse-fodder, which the commissariat supplied, 
to passers-by on the road from Van. Next day, October 
2;7th, I stayed in the camp, arid had occasion to talk to 
some of the common soldiers. Their first (juestiOh to 
me, oh hearing that I had come from the outer world, 
v?as: "When is the war goihg to end? " The impression 
left on my mind after a talk with them was that they 
were anxious for the war to end, yet Were prepared for 
it to go on for a hundred years if it was so Ordered by 
fate. Their only idea of the causes Of the war was that 
their governments had quarrelled, and therefore they 
had to fight. Once or twice I heard it remarked, that the 
cause of the war was that Germany was tr3dng to take 
all her trade and wealth away from Russia ; but this 
cariie from sonie Meschanin, or toWn-dweller of the 
middle class. The others were all peasants, and seemed, 
completely submerged in a passive fatalism which bid 
them gO like sheep Whithersoever they were told, ahd do 
what they Were ordered till the end of time. Cehttlries of 
life upOh the great Russiah plain, struggling hopelessly 
against nature, Tartars ahd autocrats, seemed to haVfe madfe 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

them the convenient tools of all who care to control 

On October 28th I continued my journey, and at mid- 
day reached the ruins of Bashkale on the slope overlook- 
ing the river Zab. In some rock-caves close by I came 
upon 2,000 Assyrian Christians, who had just escaped 
from the Thuma regions. They were dressed in rags, 
and living on raw wheat, which they roasted over fires 
of grass and straw. Many of the women and children 
were dead and dying, and disease was rampant. I gave 
them a letter to Colonel Ivanofi, who, I knew, would 
give them food, and direct them to Persia and the plains 
of Salmas. After passing Bashkale, I left the valley of 
the Great Zab and rode up a side-valley. We ascended 
steeply for three hours, till we reached the summit of the 
Chukha-Sadik pass (9,000 feet) . From here I saw beneath 
me the basin of Van, but the lake and city were hidden 
by long sweeps of rolling hills. I descended into the 
plateau, and pitched my camp for the night by a little 
stream where I could pasture my horses. Several caravans 
of camels and donkeys passed by, led by Russian soldiers 
and Persians. This was the army-transport working 
between Dilman and Van. 

On the morning of the 29th we continued our journey, 
passing the town of Hoshab at midday. Here a magni- 
ficent castle, Arab or Seljuk, towered over the little town. 

' This was written before the Revolution 191 7 ; but I think it 
accurately describes the state of. mind of the common Russian 
soldiers in 1915. Beneath their apparent fatalism lay that other 
nature, to which I refer in Chapters V and VI. . That nature 
was full of bitterness against the rulers of Russia, and was ready 
to burst into action when the favourable moment came. The 
fatalism, which I here observed, was only a psychological shield. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

We went on down the Hoshab river all day, and at 
nightfall reached the Armenian village of Norkeui, where 
I spent the night with the Russian officer in charge of 
the transport. On the morning of the 30th we ascended 
a little pass, and suddenly there was unveiled before me 
that marvellous picture of beauty — the basin of Lake 
Van. It was one of those perfect autumn days of clear 
air, dryness, brilliance and freshness, such as can only 
be experienced in Asia. Beneath me lay the deep blue 
sheet of the lake, and near its shores the ancient city of 
Van, nestling under its famous rock. To the West Mount 
Zipandar rose as a great snow-capped cone out of the blue 
sheet of water. To the North a line of dazzling whiteness 
lay along the horizon, and I recognized from my map 
the mountain chain of the Ala-Dag. To the North- 
east, where the snow-line sank down and disappeared 
in the sombre grey of the plateau hills, there arose another 
great cone, its brilliant crest of white more faintly strug- 
gUng through the haze of distance. This was a far-off 
glimpse of Mount Ararat. I was now in the very heart of 

On my arrival at Van I found more than two-thirds 
of the city in ruins. Six weeks before, the Russians had 
hastily evacuated the place, when Halil Bey threatened 
their flanks in the Alashgert. During the retreat a large 
part of the town had been burnt, and untold damage 
inflicted. Van had recently been occupied again, for the 
Turks had no force of any consequence on this side of 
the lake. I passed along the main street of the Arme- 
nian quarter. The American missionary buildings were 
all in ruins, and nothing was standing but the chapel. 
Cossacks and Russian infantry were quartered in the 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

garden, and the roofs of the houses were being used as 
firewood. I went first to call on General Chernozubof, and 
then on the Commandant, an Armenian, who introduced 
me to his compatriots, Aram and Armenak Yeganian. 
From them I was able to gather much information 
about the events in this part of Armenia during the 
last twelve months. 

On my second day at Van it was suggested to me by 
the Commandant that I should go out to a camp of 
Armenian volunteers, who were quartered near the city. 
We rode out past the Toprak-kaleh to the little village 
of Shah-Bagi. There we found the 6th Armenian 
volunteer battalion commanded by Ishkhan Argut- 
insky, a well-known Caucasus Armenian, who gave 
me a very hearty welcome, and insisted on my staying 
with him. That evening the battalion-doctor, Ter 
Stepanian, came in. He had lived in Boston since 
childhood, and spoke excellent English. During the 
course of the evening he suggested that I should come 
with his little Red Cross detachment, and join them on an 
expedition to the hill-country south of Lake Van. Having 
some knowledge of the management of horse-caravans 
in the East, I offered myself as a member of his little 
unit, and along with another young Armenian from 
America, Vahan Totoriantz, took charge of the horses, 
which were to carry the Red Cross supplies. I then 
shifted my baggage and effects from the city of Van 
to the village of Shah-Bagi. For the next five days we 
stayed here in the camp surrounded by vineyards. The 
leaves had all turned to autumn tints, and the luscious 
grapes provided half our daily fare. 

While we were waiting, I used often to ride over to 


War and Revolutipii in Agiatiq Russia 

the great rock of Vaji about three miles distant across 
the plain. This fatuous rock prpspryes the j:eGor4§ pf the 
ages since the dawu of human history on the Armenian 
plateau. Much hi^s teen writteu ^bout its caves and 
JneQrjptious. and much still femajns to be wptlteu, \yhjen 
the soil has been excavated from the northern base pf 
the cliff. Lake Van evidently at one time extencje^ 
up to this point, but has since retreated, covering the 
base pf the cUfjf "tyith accumulations of silt. I wandered 
alpug the narrow rocky paths of the southyern face into 
the great square chamber^ wif:h giganjtic dpprw^ys aui* 
curious niches in the wajl. Here no doub|; the X^lefs 
of the ancient Vauuic Empire held their courts. On 
the face of the clifj I looked at the great inscriptipu 
of Xerxes, which proclaimed the might and glory of feis 
JEmpire, aiid numbered the people who owned his suzerr 
ainty. There was the Seljuk castle with Qre.nulate4 
walls, the symbol of the Tartar Empires long ago crumb)£4 
tp dec^y. Above that was the modern Turkish fort, 
all littered with empty cartridge cases, abandoned rifles, 
and a few human bones. That was all tliaf was left 
of the Ottoman Empire here. I looked from this pjatp 
the country at my feet. The plain between Mount 
Var^g and the lake, now Ut up by the golden spl£ndour 
of the autumn sun, had seen days of richness and splendour 
alternating with day? of ruin and misery fpr 3,000 year?, 
and was a witness to the power of man to create, an(| 
of rulers to destroy. When Xerxes inscrihed th^ 
tablet, ijn the dim ages ^,500 years ago, he w^s the 
great lord who brought civilization ^d culture frqm 
the East. He passed away, and his gifts wit^ h^m : 
lure and swprd replaced the plough and pen ; Chal4ean 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

dynasties rose and fell : Pprsians brought the delicate 
plant of their culture from the South ; Tartars blasted 
it from the North. To-day again a storm of de- 
struction was sweeping over the Ijand. The villages of 
the plain were deserted and in ruins ; not a living soul 
was to be seen except a few black spots, that indicated 
a patrol of Cossacks. What was recently a paradise 
of richness and beauty was now a desert. What Xerxes, 
the Arabs and Persians, and the Arrnenians had each 
in turn created, had all in turn been destroyed ; and 
I could feel, as I looked fjrom the inscription of the 
great Persian king on the rock to the ruined villages 
around me, how change and movement come and are 
resisted by what went before. Man may call what is 
new, good, and what is old, bad ; and he is ever trpng 
to enlarge the one and to destroy the other. But I 
wondered whether he is any nearer his goal now, than 
he was when Xerxes carved his tablet. 

On November 7th the 6th Armenian volunteer battalion 
pipved from Shah-^Pagi for the front at Vostan, near 
the south-east comer of the lake. We hfid risen early, 
and packed our Rpd Cross boj^es, and for three hours 
we were busy Ipading up the horses with the packs in a 
cro\yded village street. Infantry kept on barging into 
us ; cavalry squads got mixed up in our caravan train ; 
horses started kicking and squealing, and my pack-horse, 
as soon as my baggage had been tied on his back, consider- 
ately sat down and began to roll. Then the rope tying 
the last horse of the caravan got under my horse's belly, 
whilp the dqctqr was having a violent altercation with 
one of his men, in which a whip enforced the significance 
of " \vinged words." At last somehow or other we managed 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

to get on the move ; and when once a caravan is moving, 
it is remarkable how things begin to adjust themselves. 
Ropes begin to find their right places, packs to settle 
down, and horses have more to think about than 
making a nuisance of themselves. We entered the city 
of Van, and passed along the main street of Hairistan. 
A few haggard and wretched-looking Armenian women 
looked out from door-windows, their eyes full of tears 
to see the Armenian soldiers. " May God protect you, 
our sons ! " they cried ; and, as if to add a Christian 
blessing to their send-off, they added, " Give them what 
they have given us". We passed out into the eastern 
suburbs. Here was the camp of the ist Armenian 
volunteers commanded by Andranik. I waited here 
to see my acquaintance, Dr. Bonapartian, a cheery 
Armenian who had studied in Beirut. He was now doctor 
to Andranik's battalion. He introduced me to Andranik, 
the famous Armenian revolutionary leader, who is wor- 
shipped by his fellow Armenians with the same sort of 
hero worship which used to be practised by the ancient 
Greeks and Romans. He is indeed a remarkable 
character. He is moderate in stature, thick-set and hardy ; 
he has a kind, almost benevolent face. A few moments' 
conversation with him shows you that he is a simple 
child of the mountains, with all the resourcefulness, 
keenness, ferocity towards opponents, kindness to strangers, 
open-heartedness and candour, that revolutionary life 
in Asiatic Turkey engenders. He had fought the Ottoman 
Government all his life, and a dozen times a price had 
been put upon his head. In the course of his revolution- 
ary plots he had disguised himself as a Turkish soldier, 
and even as a Turkish official. One of his men told me 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

a story of how he was once in hiding among the Sassun 
mountains, until the Turks tracked him down to a valley 
from which there was no way of escape. In the night 
he crawled up to them, quietly killed a sentry, and dressed 
himself in his clothes. Next morning he rode into their 
camp as a Turkish officer, upbraided them for their 
failure to catch the rebel, and went away without creating 
any suspicion among the simple Turkish soldiers. I 
doubt whether that sort of warfare is still possible outside 

After an hour's rest in Andranik's camp, we went 
on with our caravan to catch up the infantry. We 
were joined by Jakub Bey, a Persian Armenian, who was 
commanding the cavalry attached to the Ishkhan's 
battaUon. He had been a revolutionary fighter all his 
life. He had been in the thick of the revolution of 1906 
in the Caucasus, and had taken part both in the Turkish 
and Persian revolutions. Now he had heard that there 
was such a thing as a European war. He neither knew 
nor cared what it was about ; but he knew there was 
fighting between Turks and Russians in Armenia, and 
that the Armenians had organized volunteers to help 
the Russians. So he managed to get out of Turkey either 
by assassinating, poisoning or bribing ; and now here he 
was. He was a young man with a kindly look, very 
jolly and fond of sport. He insisted on my galloping off 
with him across the downs for half an hour to hunt a 
flock of bustards that had been sighted. He had appar- 
ently never been under modern artillery fire in his Ufe, 
but he had a wonderful sense of direction, and of where 
to go in a foodless and unknown country. He was invalu- 
able to the Russians as a scout before an advancing 


War and Revolutioii in Asiatic Russia 

column in mountainous country. For such purposes tjiese 
Armenian revolutiq]:jary soldiers of fortune are very 
suitable, and it is unfortunate that the Russians did not 
make more use of them than they did. Of course they 
were often too apt to look upon the war as a chance for 
loot ; and this no dpubt put the more conscientious 
Russian commanders against them. 

By the evening we ha4 reached Ardamet, a lovely village 
on the lake, surfounded by ppplaf grqves and vineyards. 
It was now deserted, and the houses were mostly in ruins. 
We unloaded our horses in an orphard, and pitched pur 
tents. Smqke rpse, camp-fires crackled, kettles bpiled 
arid fat sizzled. Wp slept to the sound pf passing caravan- 
bells and the camel's platintive moan, \yhile the waves 
pf the lake plashed gently pn the pebbled beach. 

Next day, after a short rijde we reache4 the empty 
village of Ang in the Timara valley, a short distance 
behind the front at Vostan. Here we camped in an opei^ 
space by the side of a regiment of Russian infantry. 
The doctor and I unloaded our baggage and Red Cross 
cases under a willo\y-tree, where we pitched our tents, 
digging them about a fppt deep into the ground, an4 
covering the flaps vvith earth and straw. The nights 
were getting cold now, for it was November, and we \yere 
at a height of 6,pop feet. At night ^ crawled into my 
camel's-hair sack and pulled the coyer over my head. 

For the npxt fortnight we lived all together as a happy 
family, the doctor, Vahan Totoriantz, the Armenian 
officers a;;d myself. '\Ve began to be primitive in our 
instincts, and to think largely of food and the next meal. 
The books we had were soon devoured, so we had recourse 
to telling stories. I related my travels, and they told 


Witl; the Armenian Yolui||:p0fS 

me Armenian revolutioiiary tales. The Armenian officers, 
the common soldiers, apd our men of the little Red Cros^ 
detgicljj^ient, all ate togetlier in a largp open place in the 
centre of the camp. We squattpd on the ground, and 
so tools Qur soup, and ate our crushed wheat a,nd fat. 
Each received his rations of sugar and tea every vyrpek. 
The iatmpsphere of the whole camp was yery demo- 
cratic, the diiitererice between officers a;id men being 
ypry piuch less noticeable than in the Russian regiments. 
TJle whole battalioi). \yas a sort of communist society, 
in which things \yere fJjOjae after endless talking by the 
general consent: of every one ; or if some one did not 
agree, they were not done at all. This was certainly 
the case with the sanitary arrangements, and our little 
unit had Jhe utiiiost diffipujlty in keeping the camp clean. 
Long talks used to take place roun,d camp-fires between 
officers and men ajjout njatters whipli in a Russian regi- 
ment would have been sin^ply dealt with by a plain order 
from an officer, followed by the r,eply, " Tak tocbua, 
vashy blagorody " (Exactly so, your honour). I uspd to 
see beneath the uniforms of those Armenian officers the 
spirit of the Asiatic Aksakal (gjreybeard) , whose func- 
tions are more to give a4viGe than to comrnamd with 
authority. But there was a mucli keener " esprit de 
corps " th9.n with tbe Russian regiments. Every one 
seemed to feel a common interest in the task of the war ; 
every one felt the preseace pf the spirit of Armenia, for 
whiclj they were fighting. On the oth.M" hand, the idea 
that Armeiua was theirs, that the Russians had nothing 
to do with it, and were indeed intruders, led to a good 
deal of misunderstan(Ung .and friction. It was clear 
that tjhfi Armenians liad very ainbitipus pohtical preten- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

sions concerning the future of Armenia. They would 
take no orders from the Russians. According to them, 
it was Andranik and the volunteers who had taken Van 
and saved the situation at Sary-Kamish. Magical feats 
of bravery, performed by obscure Armenian soldiers 
in the Russian army, were related to prove that the 
Armenians had been the sole cause of Russia's successes. 
Therefore, it was argued, Armenia should be for the 
Armenians, and for no one else. The day after our arrival 
at the Ang camp, an order came from the General at 
Van to the Ishkhan to send a company of his volunteers 
to dig a series of trenches on the hills south of the Timara 
valley, so as to prevent any movements of the Turks 
from this quarter. Loud were the complaints against such 
an order. This was no work for the Armenian volunteers. 
Let the Russians do it themselves. If the volunteers 
had it their own way, they would not be wasting their 
time building trenches, but would be charging the Turks 
with loud hurrahs, and driving them out of Bitlis. It 
seems that quite early in the campaign there developed 
among the Armenians the same sort of jealousy and fear 
towards Russia as the Balkan Slavs, particularly the 
Bulgarians, showed towards their Uberators. It was, 
I suppose, only another manifestation of the national 
spirit. Sometimes it took a more harmful form. One 
day I rode out from the camp and came across a little 
Khurdish village. The inhabitants had most of them 
fled with the Turks, but on riding down the street I came 
across the dead bodies of a Khurdish man and two women, 
with recent wounds in the head and body. Then two 
Armenians, volunteers from our camp, suddenly appeared 
carrying things out of a house. I stopped them and 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

asked who these dead Khurds were. " Oh ", they said, 
" we have just killed them." " Why ? " I asked. A look 
of amazement came into their faces. " Why ask such 
a question ? Why, we kill Khurds at sight. They 
are our enemies, and we kill them, because if we leave 
them here they will do us harm." This was all the reply 
I could get. The mind in this attitude sees absolutely 
no difference between combatants and non-combatants. 
Once your race is at war with another, you are at liberty 
to kill at sight every member of that race, and his property 
is lawfully yours. This no doubt has been the law of 
war all through the ages in Armenia, and in fact through- 
out Asia. Europe, after a short and not very successful 
period in which she attempted to estabUsh rules for war, 
and to separate civilians from combatants, has now drifted 
into the same primitive methods. This shows the impos- 
sibiUty, in Asia at any rate, of making one side alone 
responsible for damage done in war areas. 

In the evenings I used frequently to walk across to 
the Russian infantry camps and chat with officer friends. 
In these camps I found a very different atmosphere. 
Things were more orderly and discipline was better, drill 
was not neglected, and orders were carried out with 
promptitude. On the other hand, there was an absence 
of keenness, amounting almost to stagnation and apathy. 
" Why are we here in this wilderness ? " I seemed to hear 
them saying. Perhaps they were thinking of the silent 
northern forests, and pictured to themselves the great 
white snow-fields and clustering villages, and heard 
the pine-trees sighing for their return to Russia. 
About eight o'clock a Cossack bugle would break the 
still air, and then a voice would be heard, " To prayer, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

brothers ! " The battahon was gathering for evening 
service before supper. Presently the swelling note of a 
Russian hymn would be heard. Then once again would 
come the silence of night, broken only by the distant 
lapping of the waves on the shores of Lake Van, and 
the coughing bark of a starving pariah dog from a 
ruined village across the valley. 

On November 15th General Chernozubof came to 
inspect the front and visit the camps. The Russian 
infantry battalions, the Cossack sotnias, and the Armenian 
volunteers all turned out for a review. It was a gorgeous 
morning when the troops lined up in an open space in the 
plain. In the background lay the blue sheet of Lake 
Van with its golden shores, and behind it the rocky 
slopes of Mount Ardost rose up glistening with the powdery 
snow of autumn. The march past took place : the 
Cossacks first with their long black waving tunics, mounted 
on shaggy ponies ; then the long grey Unes of Russian 
infantry covered with the flashing thread of bayonets ; 
last the companies of dark-eyed, hooked-nosed Armenians 
in their gigantic sheepskin caps. It was indeed a pic- 
turesque assemblage of Asiatics and semi-Asiatics. 
The Turks meanwhile were looking down on us from 
the rocky heights to the South of the lake. The white 
tents of their camps were distinctly visible with the 
aid of a field-glass. 

In November three Armenians came into the camp 
after a long scouting journey. They were Turkish Arme- 
nians, who had escaped from the Turks and come over 
to the Russians at the beginning of the war. One of 
them, Yegishey, was a native of Shattakh, and was 
familiar from his earliest childhood with every inch of 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

the Van vilayet. He knew where water and pasture 
Were to be found, and what mountain-tracks led to them ; 
what sort of food could be obtained in each district, and 
whether barley grew there. Best of all, he could speak 
like a Turk, and dress like one ; he knew the workings 
of their minds, and could guess what a Turkish com- 
mander would do in a given situation. He and his two 
companions had come in from a trip undertaken at the 
command of the Ishkhan, to find out what the Turks 
were doing. And very successful they had been. By 
following devious mountain ways they had penetrated 
right into the rear of the Turkish force on the south 
shore of Lake Van, and had got into touch with a 
friendly Khurd in the Turkish transport service, who 
had told them the numbers and disposition of the 
troops. Five days they had been in the mountains 
dressed as Khurds ; they had eaten nothing but 
some dry bread which they carried, and had drunk the 
water of the streams. None but native Asiatics could 
have performed such a feat. The gfeatest value of 
the Armenian volunteers to the Russians in my opinion 
was that they Were able to bring out such men, and could 
get them to work for them, whereas they probably would 
not have worked for the Russians. Yegishey described 
how the Turks had advanced their outposts from the 
Bitlis region, and had Occupied some rocky heights, a 
movement which, he considered, was threatening the 
left wing of the Russian force, and might become serious 
if they received reinforcements. The news was at once 
sfeht tt the Generial cbittttianding at Van, and a council 
held to decide what measures to take. 
Meanwhile I got Yegishey to tell me something about 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the recent history of the country to the South of Lake Van, 
and about the relations of his people with the Turks 
and Khurds, amongst whom he had lived all his life. He 
gave me a long story, part of which his father had told 
him, while part ha,d happened in his own lifetime. It is 
worth relating, as a first-hand account of the sort of thing 
that has been going on in the Van vilayet for centuries ; 
and it also throws some light upon the movement of 

Eighty years ago, said Yegishey, there were no Turks 
at all in Khurdistan. The only inhabitants were Khurds 
and Armenians, and the relations between them were 
very friendly. Both Armenians and Khurds recognized 
the suzerainty of Bedr-Khan-Bey, the great Khurdish 
chief who lived in Bohtan. Under him Khurdistan 
became independent, Armenians and Khurds paid no 
tribute to the Ottoman Porte, but only to him. There 
was a Turkish Kazi or magistrate in Van, but his 
authority did not extend outside the city. The 
Armenians of Nordus, Shattakh and Mokus were all 
rayats, and did the agricultural work for the Khurds, 
getting in return sheep, wool, horsehair and fat, while 
the Khurds protected them from the raids of other Khurds 
from over the Persian border. The Armenians, being 
industrious, became rich, and in time began to excite 
jealousy. At Khizan, about a day's journey to the south 
of Bitlis, lived Betanir Kyuru, an Armenian trader, 
who was rich, and had a vessel full of ancient Armenian 
silver buried in the ground. Knowledge of this money 
came to the ears of a small Khurdish chief who lived in 
the Khizan valley. He sent a messenger to the Armenian 
to say that he had dreamed a dream. The Prophet 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

had appeared before him and had said : " That money 
was given to your ancestors by the Caliph of Islam. 
Rise up and take it, for it is your own ". The Armenian 
at first was unwilling, but at length he agreed to part 
with some of it, which he sent to the chief as a present. 
Then the chief demanded a tithe of his silver coin every 
year, in addition to that which he paid to Bedr-Khan-Bey. 
The Armenian therefore loaded up his goods and left, 
going north to Van. The Khurds then took pos- 
session of Khizan, and made there a " takia " or 
resting-place where all travellers could rest for the 
night on their journey. From the poor the chief took 
no money ; but from the rich he took payment in 
silver. He built himself a house on the spot where 
Mahomet had appeared to him and told him to take the 
Armenian's money. He called himself the Sheikh of 
Khizan. He was the first Sheikh ; and after him his 
son Jelal-ud-din became Sheikh, and then his son Se5dd 
Ali. The Sheikhs of Khizan had great influence, and the 
Turkish Government became jealous of them. Towards 
the middle of last century Bedr-Khan-Bey raised a 
great force and tried to drive the Turks out of the 
whole of Armenia. This was the beginning of the Khurd- 
ish national movement in these parts of Khurdistan. 
But Bedr-Khan-Bey only succeeded in estabhshing his 
independence in Bohtan ; and in this he was assisted 
by the Sheikh of Khizan, who after driving the Armenians 
out obtained a sort of poKtico-reUgious influence over all 
Shattakh, Mokus and Nordus. After Bedr-Khan-Bey's 
death the Turks became more and more powerful in 
Khurdistan. They began to play one Khurdish chief against 
another, t6 isolate, and then attack them separately. 

145 K 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

The .last Sheikh of Khizan but one, Seyid Ali, was hanged 
by the Turks at BitUs in 1914, just before the war, for 
fomenting rebelUon. Naturally, this policy of trying 
to destroy the power of the Khurdish chiefs and Sheikhs 
brought the Turks into direct relations with many Arme- 
nians, who had up till now acknowledged no overlords 
except the Khurds. According to Yegishey, the relations 
between Khurds and Armenians remained good until 
the Balkan wars. The Armenians of the Shattakh, 
Mokus and Nordus districts paid taxes in money to the 
Turkish Vali of Van, and also tribute in corn to the Khurd- 
ish chiefs, in return for which they were protected against 
Turkish extortion. Then came the Balkan wars, and the 
Armenians said that since the Christians of Turkey were 
liberating themselves, they could pay no more taxes, 
nor acknowledge suzerainty. Then followed the events 
that I describe in Chapter VIII. Yegishey's story shows, 
first, that the Armenians have been slowly shifting North- 
ward into the Van basin during the last eighty years ; 
secondly, that in response to influences from Europe 
they have been emancipating themselves from a loose 
and not very irksome form of feudalism ; lastly, that 
the Turks have succeeded in getting more and more 
poUtical hold over Khurdistan in recent years, but in 
so doing have roused the Khurdish national feeling. 

On November 23rd orders came for an advance against 
the Turks. The information that Yegishey had brought 
had convinced the General that the Turks must be driven 
out of the positions they had occupied South of the lake. 
Campaigning on the Caucasus front and in Armenia 
is very different from that in Europe. Owing to the 
great distances, a front of fifty miles may be defended 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

only by a battalion of infantry, whose outposts croucli 
behind boulders and rocky ridges, and watch for days a 
party of Khurds or askers across a desolate valley of snow 
and stones. When it is decided by one side to drive the 
other out of their positions, the methods used are the old 
ones. There is no violent concentration of artillery and 
" popping over parapets " to the attack. The old maxim 
of " making a flank and turning it "has to be followed. 
And indeed in such a country flanks are easy to make. 
If only one side can find a way across the mountain- 
passes by sufficiently devious tracks, and keep well out 
of sight, it should not be difficult to surprise the enemy 
in the rear. The ; attacking party must of course be 
superior in numbers, and he requires a good transport, so 
that his supplies may reach him in whatever out-of-the- 
way valley he finally fetches up. The great danger is 
that the enemy, unless considerably outnumbered, can 
often make a countermove and cut off the flanking column 
from its base. In the operation now decided upon the 
General's plan was to advance in three columns, each 
with one battalion or more of infantry, three sotnias of 
Cossacks, and a mountain- or field-battery. One column 
was to advance from Vostan along the shores of the lake ; 
the other was to move parallel, but further to the South 
in the foothills of Mount Ardost, while the third was 
to make a wide flanking movement further South still. 
This was to be the task of the Armenian volunteers, 
accompanied by some Cossacks and a mountain-battery. 
It was necessary to get to the South of Mount Ardost 
by a pass, to descend to the headwaters of the Tigris 
near Shattakh, and then sweep round northwards onto 
the flank of the Turkish positions near Nareg Vank on 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the shores of the lake. This movement would naturally 
take a few days, for the country to be covered was very 
difficult to travel in. So the Armenians were given a 
start, the other columns being timed to move three days 
later. The little Red Cross detachment of Dr. Ter Stepan- 
ian, which I was accompanying, was to keep in the rear 
of this column. 

On the morning of November 23rd we started from the 
camp at Ang and crossed the rolling hills of Timara 
southwards. On the march the plaintive Armenian 
songs about their national heroes echoed through the 
valleys along which we slowly wound, while the boisterous 
songs of the Cossacks reminded one of the scene in Riepin's 
famous picture of the Cossacks addressing a letter to the 
Sultan. We entered a rocky defile, rested for an hour, 
and then rose up onto the pass. We now looked into 
the wild covmtry at the headwaters of the Tigris, which 
contained both human and natural enemies. In the 
upland plateau the streams flowed in all directions ; 
but the main one, to which all the others were tributaries, 
flowed eventually into the - Tigris, along whose lower 
reaches the British were fighting in Mesopotamia. But 
between us and them lay the impenetrable barrier of 
the Assyrian highlands, their jagged snow-bound ridges 
rising formidably before us, and bidding us turn westward 
along a valley of limestone cliffs, dotted with dark green 
junipers. Here we reached the deserted Khurdish village 
of Kiurandasht, where we pitched our camp. All next 
day we halted, waiting for the food transport, which was 
late in coming up from Van. When it arrived we each 
received rations of tea and sugar, one pound of meat, 
and a large loaf of black bread. On the 24th we set 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

off down the valley for some distance, and then struck 
up a side-valley, till at nightfall we reached a great deso- 
late open plateau. We camped in the ruined Armenian 
village of Arekh-khan. Not a soul was anywhere to be 
seen. Ruined houses and a few unburied corpses, that had 
lain about for three months or more, told of fighting between 
Khurds and Armenians earlier in the Summer. It snowed 
and froze all night. Our tents were like pieces of sheet 
iron by morning, and our horses stood sheepishly round 
the camp, as the wind ruffled their winter coats. Early 
in the morning of the 25th news came that the outposts 
on the pass leading over into the basin of Lake Van 
had sighted the Turks. Camp was struck at once, and 
a seriousness came over the faces of all. The Armenians 
became less talkative, and the Cossacks crossed them- 
selves as they mounted their horses. On the summit 
of the pass a Turkish outpost could be seen, some five 
miles distant across a great valley on a snowy ridge 
10,000 feet above the sea-level. Sending one company of 
Armenians along a track, which led towards the rocky 
eminence occupied by the Turks, we descended slowly and 
painfully into a deep valley, down a terrible slope of ice 
and snow. Here the pack-horses of the mountain battery 
kept falling every minute, while we had the utmost diffi- 
culty in keeping our little horse-caravan, laden with the 
Red Cross boxes, from sliding down the abyss to de- 
struction. In pitch darkness we reached the valley- 
bottom, almost directly under the Turkish positions, 
but prqtected from their rifle fire by a cliff. Not far off 
lay the ancient Armenian church of Hi, and round it a 
deserted village. That night we lit no camp-fires, but 
§at shivering under the rocks, listening to the click-cUck 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

of the portable wireless telegraph apparatus, by which 
the Cossack commander and the Ishkhan were trjdng 
to communicate with Van, and to the moaning of the 
icy blast that swept down the valley. At midnight the 
company, which had been sent along the ridge to recon- 
noitre, returned, after having floundered about in snow- 
drifts and on impassable skrees of frozen rock. They 
reported some seventy Turks on the heights above. 
Unfortunately, just as they were approaching the camp, 
our outposts, thinking they were Turks, had opened a 
sharp fusillade upon them. We rose from our resting- 
places in the rocks where our Red Cross boxes had been 
deposited, surprised by hoarse shouts mingled with the 
whine of bullets. Pitch darkness lay all round us, and 
we stood half-paralj'sed, not knowing which way to turn. 
Suddenly the crackling of rifles ceased. The mistake had 
been discovered ; but one of the volunteers was wounded, 
and we had to treat him. The Turks perched up on 
the rock were no doubt wondering what it was all about. 
Long before dawn we were on the move. A loaf of 
black bread was served out, and we knew it was all we 
should get for at least two days. Slowly the column of 
Cossacks and Armenian volunteers toiled up a winding 
track that led to a commanding position. As dawn ap- 
peared the crackle of rifles broke the still air. The advanced 
Armenian company had reached tihe summit of the ridge, 
and could be seen deplojdng along a rocky slope leading 
to the heights occupied by the Turks, where they had 
constructed little cairns of rough stones, behind which 
they could lie and sweep the slopes with rifle fire. The 
Armenians with difficulty kept their chain formation over 
the rugged ground. Two of them fell wounded ; then 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

another company was sent on to help them, and one of 
the mountain guns dropped a shell onto the heights, 
which ploughed up the snow and sent the boulders fljdng. 
A few minutes later we saw dark forms against the sky- 
line to the North. It was a detachment of Russian infantry 
from the central column on our right, which had advanced 
from the lake that day to meet us. They rushed up the 
slopes, keeping magnificent order in spite of the boulders, 
amidst the cheers of the Armenians and Cossacks. That 
was too much for the Turks, who being only seventy in 
number, sought safety, in flight ; and within half an hour 
all the positions were in Russian and Armenian hands. 
The column of the left had now done its work, for it had 
cleared the mountain ridges of the watershed between 
the Tigris and Lake Van. It was now the turn for the 
other two Russian columns of the right and centre to 
assume the offensive ^and drive the Turks back on Bitlis. 
From the heights which had been captured we could 
see, spread out before us like a chess-board, the whole region 
which was to be the field of battle that day for the other 
wing of the advance. Could any battlefield in all the 
European theatres of war equal this one ? Every moving 
piece in the great war-game could be seen with the naked 
eye. Nature combined with man to make one gigantic 
panorama. If there is such a thing as a " beautiful 
battle", what I was now watching was the nearest ap- 
proach to one. There lay Lake Van before us, a sheet of 
halcyon blue, deeper even than the cloudless sky above it. 
Its shores of sand and reed-beds, and the rocky foothills 
and neglected cornfields that clothed its banks, glowed 
round it like a necklace of gold. On the horizon rose 
Mount Zipandar, twin brother of Mount Ararat, it? 



War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

majestic cone sheathed in snow, and shrouded in the 
midday mist of blue and grey. Behind us lay the moun- 
tains, snow-fields and defiles, through which we had been 
struggling for four days. The sight of those hungry 
desolate rocks, and the chilly blasts and snow-flakes that 
still descended from them, reminded us of our fight against 
nature there. Suddenly four distant gun-reports told us 
that the fight with man was now beginning. These were 
followed by four puffs of woolly smoke, which broke the 
harmony of colour in the scene at our feet. The Russian 
batteries of the right and centre were trjang to find 
the positions of the Turks. Soon a more muffled and 
distant sound told of a Turkish battery somewhere 
near the lake. It was followed by three loud cracks, 
and three puffs of woolly smoke that broke over the 
hills below us. Presently some shrapnel broke over 
the lake, and mottled its deep blue surface with little 
snow-white crowns of smoke. Immediately afterwards 
dark lines could be seen moving slowly along the foot- 
hills by the lake. They were the Russian columns of 
the right and centre led by the Cossacks, whose sotnias 
pulled up behind some low hills, and formed a black 
motionless square. The little specks of infantry could 
be seen deploying in the open spaces on the lake shore, 
while Turkish shrapnel broke the clear sky over their 
heads. Next I could discern a battery of Russian field- 
guns — four black spots out of sight of the enemy. 
From them issued forth every few minutes faint puffs of 
smoke, followed by woolly crowns upon the distant hills. 
So the great drama of war went on all day in these 
grand surroundings of nature, every figure acting in it 
being visible to the naked eye. The beautiful scene of 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

mountain, lake and plateau was not sullied, but rather 
embroidered by the sights of war, by the ant-like chains 
of infantry on the hills, and the white jewels of bursting 
shrapnel on the azure lake. 

Late in the afternoon the artillery duel ceased^ The 
Russians had advanced to a chain of hills facing the 
positions in which it was now certain that the Turks 
had entrenched their main forces. As the sun set, we 
brought our little caravan with the medical supplies down 
a steep slope into a narrow valley, to a ruined Turkish 
village. Here we tended some wounded, made our camp 
for the night, and waited for the dawn. 

Before the first sheen of silver had begun to Ught the 
eastern sky, the mountain batteries of the Russians, 
who had joined our left column during the night, were 
securely lodged under a rocky ledge. From here one 
could look out over a beautiful valley, where stood the 
ancient monastery of Nareg, the home of the famous 
mediaeval Armenian poet and mystic. On the right 
was a field-gun battery, and on the top of the ridge 
the Armenian infantry took up their positions ready 
for attack. Across the valley on the other side was a 
chain of hills which connected the moimtains with the 
lake, and barred the road to Bitlis. Here the Turks had 
taken up their positions. At eight o'clock the batteries 
opened fire, and from the artillery observation-post I 
watched the Russian shells for two hours plasdng on'the 
hills where the Turks lay concealed. The whole country 
in front of me looked as if it were not inhabited by any 
human beings at aU, and yet I knew that those grim 
lifeless knolls were full of hidden askers, and those faint, 
almost imperceptible lines that pencilled the hills just 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

below their crowns were trenches. Once or twice I 
saw groups of human forms issuing from the hollows 
and advancing towards us. They were Turkish attacking 
parties ; but at once the well-aimed Russian shrapnel 
drove them in again. Time after time the roar of the 
Russian field-guns was followed by columns of black dust, 
as the ground was ploughed up all rotmd the faint lines 
that marked the Turkish trenches. The Turkish batteries 
also replied by a well-aimed fire upon the advancing 
Russian infantry, but they were obviously deficient in 
battery sections, and could not cover with shell fire 
more than a small area of the valley in front of them. 
I walked up to the Armenian infantry who were waiting 
under a rocky ledge expecting the order to attack at any 
minute. Several of my friends were there. Seriuniantz, 
a young lieutenant, was pretending to be very busy with 
his maps, and could not speak a word ; but he seemed to 
be turning over one map after another, his eyes running 
over the names of places without taking them in. He was 
to lead the attack, and upon him much depended. A 
young Armenian from America, who was going into 
battle for the first time, came up to me and began to talk 
very rapidly. He pointed out a white spot far in the dis- 
tance, and said he thought it was a tent ; then suddenly 
he turned round and looked at Seriuniantz, who was still 
busy with his maps. Then he asked me if I had any 
friends in America, but before I could answer he had dis- 
appeared among a crowd of soldiers. I walked on and 
passed by Georg, a young Armenian from Tifiis, who looked 
away as if the sight of any one was a pain to him. 
Another friend I met was cursing the transport, which 
had not brought them any rations of meat that day. 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

" Never mind ", said another ; " you will get double 
rations to-night". But the first man looked away and 
said no more. Where would he be to-night, if he were 
still anywhere at all ? I passed on to the place where 
one of the Russian batteries was pounding away at the 
Turks from under the crest of a hill. Here I found Vahaft 
Totoriantz, who was pretending to be calm and unaffected. 
We squatted on the ground together, and watched the 
shells dropping on the distant hills. Presently there 
was a puff of white smoke followed by a loud crack in 
front of us. We pretended not to notice it, and went 
on talking about the Turkish positions. After a minute 
there was another puff of smoke, rather nearer, and 
followed by a rather louder crack. We remarked to each 
other that the Turks were probably sending a few shrapnel 
our way, and went on looking out across the hills. A 
little later we saw a flash, and heard a very loud report 
almost over our heads ; and somehow after that we 
remembered that our horses of the Red Cross caravan 


needed attention, and set out for that purpose. But 
on the way we passed the artillery observation-post, 
whence could be seen a magnificent view of the battle- 
ground. So we stayed and watched the infantry attack. 
It was the task of the Armenian infantry to cross the 
valley, occupy the Nareg monastery, and scale the heights 
above it, so as to turn the Turkish right. They were 
supported across the open space by two companies 
of Russian reserves. The Armenians were not so well 
practised as the Russians in advancing in open order 
on the level, for their strength lay mostly in the 
mountains, where the Russians could not go. From 
the artillery positions I could now see them sw.arming 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

across the valley, utilizing every now and then the 
cover of small streams against the Turkish bullets. 
They appeared as a waving line of black specks mov- 
ing towards the monastery, one portion now holding 
back under the cover of shelving banks, while another 
pushed forward to a grove of poplar-trees. At last the 
monastery and surrounding village were reached amid 
a fusillade of Turkish rifle fire. The Armenians were 
now in their element, for ieyond them lay the slopes 
of the mountains which dominated the Turkish right. 
A few minutes later they were swarming up the slopes 
like ants on a mound, while the Russian infantry occupied 
the Nareg village and kept up a steady fire on the Turks. 
Meanwhile the Russian infantry detachments of the 
centre advanced along the open, their columns alternately 
taking cover in the streams, so as to confuse the range 
of the Turkish gunners. Surrounded by the Russians 
and Armenians from both sides, the Turks were obviously 
in difficulties, and their artillery was inadequate to the 
task. A single battery was all they had against three 
columns advancing along an eight-mile front. Never- 
theless they held on stubbornly. The measured rattle 
of their machine guns near the lake produced a tem- 
porary wavering of the Russian , right, while more than 
once their shrapnel broke exactly over a Cossack sotnia 
which was floundering ift the marshes behind the infantry. 
But this was only the last flare of the spark ; and as the 
Armenians reached the summit of the heights on the 
extreme left, it could be seen that the Turks were in 
full retreat. Their infantry had already, unseen by us, 
evacuated their positions ; but their artillery remained 
to the last. In another half-hour the Armenians were 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

in full possession of the hills that dominated the shores 
of the lake, and were commencing the pursuit. But 
the Turks had carefully planned their retreat, and by now 
were withdrawing in good order along the valley tracks 
to the next range of hills, some ten miles distant, that 
guarded the road to Bitlis. The opportunity for cutting 
off their retreat and of making many prisoners was lost 
by delay in ordering the Cossacks to pursue. When 
they did go they were like a flood let loose, long black 
lines streaming across the open, and raising clouds of 
dust. When they reached the foot of the hills, the Turks 
were already in safety, having passed up a narrow valley 
the entrance of which they could control by artillery fire. 
As the afternoon wore on, the weary troops began to 
assemble in companies near the shore of the lake to wait for 
the transport and the much-needed food, which, with the 
exception of black bread, had not been tasted for three 
days. Meanwhile I inspected more closely the abandoned 
Turkish positions, and saw the result of the day's fighting. 
Along the shores of the lake the Turks had made a series 
of trenches, hacked out of stony ground, the boulders 
piled up like a sort of barricade. Here I came across 
three dead horses and a Turk shattered by a shell. They 
had come up to bring ammunition ta a field-gim, when 
thefr fate overtook them. A quantity of German-made 
shells lay strewn all over the ground, and a party of 
Cossacks was busy carrying them off. A little further 
on I found a dead Turkish asker l5ang with his face to 
the sky, the gentle smile of death upon his lips. His 
sharp pointed beard, jet-black eyes, and kindly features; 
reminded me of many like him that I had met and talked 
with during the Balkan wars. In his hand was an open 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

copy of the Koran, which in his dying moments he had 
taken out to read ; but his strength had failed him, and 
the book lay open at a page headed by the words " In 
the name of Allah, the Compassionate^ the Merciful". 
I remembered the time when in Asia Minor before the 
war I had enjoyed the hospitality of many such as he, 
and talked with them by their firesides. If he was one 
of those I had met, he had felt no hatred to any one. And 
yet he had now been killing, and had in turn been killed 
by my friends, who also wished no evil to him personally, 
but were compelled, as he had been, by that unseen 
evil which works through the ages, and whose force 
I had realized as I looked on the tablet of Xerxes on 
the Van rock a few days before. A kindly Russian 
soldier passing, by was moved to say that at least he had 
gone to a place where he would be happy. We then dug 
a little grave for him and turned his face towards Mecca. 
I then rode back t® the Nareg monastery, which had 
been the scene of such strife earlier in the day. Here I 
found the Arraemiaa volunteers eating the few morsels of 
black bread that remained to them. But the food trans- 
port was still struggling in the mountains, having lost 
its way and failed to find us. We all grew morbid 
under the influence of hunger. I have sometimes heard 
it said that mider these conditions man becomes hke a 
brute and fights only for himself. It is true that hke an 
animal he thinks only of food ; but I saw that evening 
many acts of kindness among those Russian and Armenian 
soldiers. One perhaps had a little more bread than 
another, so he cut off a bit and shared it with the one 
that had less. The spirit of comradeship does not seem 
to die under the influence of common suffering. On 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

the contrary, it is probably strengthened. But when the 
transport did arrive, there was a frightful scramble 
for food ; and then the instinct of hcra.rding came 
into play. Men wanted to get all they could for 
themselves, and store it against bad times. Yet when 
no one had had more than a crust, and all were feeling 
hunger, then each was ready to share whatever little 
pittance he had. But one thing hunger in war-time 
certainly does : it lessens the feeling of hatred towards 
the enemy. That feeling is left to well-fed editors of 
newspapers, or middle-aged civiUans at home. When the 
great enemy is in want of food, human enemies take a 
back place. When most of the day you are fighting 
cold and hunger, you have less inclination to fight your 
brother man. The Turks were no doiibt that evening 
in just the same condition as we were. The one object 
in life for each was to get something to eat. 

Next day, November the 30th, as the General had left 
his reserves in the captured positions, aU the rest of 
the troops who had taken part in the advance were 
ordered back to Van. A two days' journey now lay before 
us. By evening we reached the ruined Turkish village 
of Vostan ; and as we entered, a terrible wind from the 
mountains began to warn us of a coming blizzard. We 
had again received no food that day, and I was reduced 
to a crust of black bread the size of my thumb. To 
add to our misery, a gale with sleet now began to blow, 
preventing us from lighting any fires. No cover could 
be obtained, for every house was in ruins, and no tent 
could be pitched in the teeth of that terrible blast. We 
huddled our horses into the ruined houses, tied them 
to the walls and lay down beside them. But the sleet 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and icy blast forbade all sleep. Morning came and showed 
a scene of desolation. The land, two days ago resplen- 
dent in the sun, which embroidered mountain and lake, 
now lay hard and terrible, hungry and ice-bound. Winter 
was upon us, and an Armenian Winter is a fearful thing, 
all the more so when war has ruined every hut, and 
deprived the land of every particle of food. Fortunately, 
during the morning the transport arrived, and gave us 
that nourishment without which many of us could not 
have held out against the elements for another day. 

On December ist we started back for Van, passing Ang, 
where our former camp was. , After eight hours' riding, 
the famous rock peered through the snowy mist before 
us, and so we reached the ancient capital of Armenia, 
where we found a respite from the terrors of the blizzard, 
and a chance of recuperating after our late hardships. 

On December 8th we left Van. The Armenian volun- 
teers and their Red Cross detachment were going to 
Persia to winter in the Urumiah plain. I desired to 
return to the Caucasus. The direct road over the Ala 
Dag by the Alashgert being closed by snow, I decided 
to go with the volunteers as far as Khoy. We rode out 
of Van eastward, and camped the first night in Archak, 
a large Armenian village on the shores of the lake of 
that name. Winter was coming on fast, and icy winds 
cut through us as we made our way across the broad 
uplands towards the Persian frontier. We found an 
empty house without doors and windows, but with a 
roof — a wonderful thing in those days ; and having got 
a blazing fire of sticks going, we lay down beside it for 
the night. Next day we rode on eastwards, and at 
midday stopped to make a little fire of dried grass for 


With the Armenian Volunteers 

a cup. of tea. At nightfall on December 9th we reached 
Serai, the last town before the Persian frontier. The 
narrow streets were crowded with transport-wagons ; 
grey-coated Russian infantry were camping in the street ; 
chains of Cossack ponies were being led out to water, 
while crowds of horsemen were struggling to get hay and 
straw from a fussy commissariat officer, who was weighing 
out the loads. The air was full of hoarse shouts, the 
clattering of hoofs, the crackling of burning wood, and 
the plaintive and melodious songs of Cossacks round the 
camp-fires. I spent the night in a deserted stable with a 
Cossack officer and some Armenian volunteers. We made 
ourselves a tremendous brew of mutton and millet seed, 
which we boiled into a thick soup in a bucket over a 
large fire. On December nth we left Serai, and made 
towards the hills of the Turco-Persian frontier. We 
crossed upland valleys and marshy meadows, now all 
frozen over, and then sank down through a narrow gorge 
into the valley of the Kotur Chay. The narrow road 
which had been made by the Russian engineers was soon 
blocked with large columns of troops. Caravans of com- 
plaining camels got mixed up with the pack-horses of 
artillery batteries. Often we had to wait an hour while 
some upturned wagons were being put right, or some 
guns were being got across a difficult piece of road. 
We reached Kotur by the evening, and found a miserable 
collection of underground hovels clustering under a rock 
upon which stood a castle. Here had lived the famous 
Khurdish chief, Simko, whose exploits in Turco-Persian 
border politics I have already described. From this 
castle he used to make his raids westward into Turkey, 
arming his men with rifles received from Russia. An 

j6i L 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Armenian villager took me into his underground house, 
where I slept by a fire of camel-dung. On December 
I2th we continued the descent of the Kotur Chay, 
following the rocky valley, the sides of which were 
covered with juniper. The next night we spent in an 
open camp under a rock. We felt we were getting 
nearer to Persia, for the nights were warmer, and 
the wind less piercing than on the Armenian plateau. 
On December 13th at midday the narrow valley sud- 
denly opened out, and we saw in front of us the wide 
expanse of the plain of Azairbijan. We were in Persia 
again, the land of warmth and plenty, the land of the 
Lion and the Sun, of Hafiz and Saadi. Soon the fertile 
oasis of Khoy came into view, surrounded by groves of 
poplars and willows, gardens, orchards and vineyards, 
bazaars and caravanserais. I found a room in one of 
these caravanserais, and forthwith set out to demolish 
all the food I could lay hands on in the bazaar. 

After resting some days, the Armenian volunteers 
and the Red Cross detachment left for Urumiah, and 
I made my way to Djulfa. I crossed the Russo-Persian 
frontier, arid was once more in the Caucasus after an 
absence of five months. 




On January 6th I travelled up by train to the fortress 
of Kars, after resting a few days in Tifiis from my long 
journey in Armenia and Persia. I knew that great things 
were afoot, and I wanted to be where I could keep in 
touch with them, I found the streets of the fortress 
alive with troops hurrying up to the front, which lay 
away across the table-land to the South. How often 
in the last hundred years has Kars witnessed such sights ! 
In 1828 and in 1854 the Russian wave swept over this 
once Turkish outpost only to recoil. In 1878 the wave 
came again and finally submerged it. Now it was soon 
to surge round the outposts of Erzerum. The Russian 
tide sweeps slowly onward, and the Turks themselves 
with their pensive fatalism seem to feel it to be irresist- 
ible. A Turkish Mudir (head of a village) whom I met 
at Kars, said to me : "I am one 'of the Turks who did 
not leave in 1878 for Anatolia when the Russians came 
here. But many of my brothers left and settled round 
Erzerum. Fools ! They will have to move from there 
too some day. Better have stayed where they were." 

Kars looked bleak and terrible in its winter clothing 
that first week in January. It was the depth of the 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Armenian winter, a foretaste of which I had just ex- 
perienced in the region of Van. An icy wind blew in 
violent gusts, and the hills, in which lay buried the great 
fortress artillery, loomed dark and gloomy through the 
mist of snow. One envied the Cossacks in their burkas, 
as they swung upon their shaggy ponies. The grey- 
coated infantrymen looked cold beside them. I walked 
along the streets to the house of Colonel Schmerling, 
the Vice-Governor of Kars, whom I had met at Ani 
earlier in the previous summer. I was welcomed as 
his guest for so long as I wished to be in Kars. A 
warm house is indeed something to be thankful for, when 
the Armenian winter is raging outside, and the more 
so when friendship is Ihere as well. My host was one 
of that rare type of bureaucrats, who have not allowed 
their minds to become crusted over by the routine of 
office. German by extraction, his father and grand- 
father had -Spent the whole of their Uves in the service 
of ^Russia. The third generation still retained some 
of the German thoroughness, but had lost the offensive 
characteristics of Prussian oficiaidom through contact 
with the warm-hearted Slav. I spent the next fort- 
JHight reading the Russian classics in the Colonel's well- 
stocked little library, while I awaited events on the front. 
I rode out often onto the Kars plateau in the direction 
of Sary-Kamish, returning to the fortress at night. Signs 
Of warfare against winter as well as against the Turks 
were to be seen on every side. Snug little zemliankas, 
dug into the earth and covered with grass, dotted the 
plateau and the sheltered hillsides. From the holes, 
that served as doorways, hairy Cossack faces looked 
jout on wintry scenes of snow and rock. Here the reserves 


My Visit to Erzerum 

were waiting to be ordered up to the front. Mankind 
in this country becomes a troglodyte in winter, and the 
natives hibernate as well. This oi course the soldiers 
cannot do ; so they build themselves huts, half buried 
in the ground and covered with straw, where they can 
keep warm and rest for a few days. But the native 
Tartars, Armenians, Greeks, Karapapachs, Osmanhs- and 
Khurds all live in underground dwellings during winter, 
and sleep like dormice. Nothing can then be seen of 
their villages but a few dark lines marking the terraced 
approaches to the houses, and black spots marking the 
doorways. A deathly silence reigns over the white 
expanse of snow ; and only the wolfish bark of a miser- 
able pariah dog tells one that there is any life at all. 

I would often see moving across the plateau towards 
the front platoons of grey-coated infantry wrapped in 
bashliks and papachs, so that nothing could be seen of 
their faces but two eyes, a nose, and icicles of frozen 
breath. Such sights would remind me that prepara- 
tions were being made for the advance against Erzerum, 
and I would marvel at the race whose soldiers can fight 
in such a climate as this, and who in the dead of winter 
at a height of 6,000 feet, in wind and snow, from frozen 
trenches and on impassable roads, can attack a great 
fortress, defended by an enemy as brave as they. 

Gn February 12th news came of the fall of fort Kara- 
gyubek to the North-east of Erzerum, This would pro- 
bably have decisive results along the whole of the Deve- 
Boyun ridge. I at once left my host's house, and took 
the train which passes Kars every afternoon for the 
terminus at Sary-Kamish. The train crawled along the 
white sea of snow, through the wooded valleys of a little; 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

stream, and pulled up at Sary-Kamish, I went straight 
to the Commandant of the garrison, showed him my 
papers, and asked if I could get on to Erzerum. He 
told me that he had orders not to let any correspondents 
or civilians go on until the Grand Duke Nicolas had 
passed ; that he was coming up from Tiflis for the front, 
and would probably pass some time that night. So 
I hunted about for a place to sleep in, and in so doing 
came across my three colleagues of the Russian press, 
IKa Mikhailovitch Zdanevitch of the Retch, Lebedef of 
the Russkoye Slav, and Sukhovich of the Kiefskay Muysl. 
We spent the night together on the floor of a bare room. 
Next day we looked for some form of transport that 
would take us up to the front, as soon as the Grand Duke 
should have passed. We got in with the nachalnik of 
the transport, who told us that a train of wagons 
was leaving next day in order to reach Erzerum if it 
should have been taken, or faiUng that, to get to the 
nearest point on the front and there deliver supplies. 
We waited all day, and to our reUef the Grand Duke 
passed through that evening: so early on the morning 
of February 14th we started out in the transport train. 
The road followed the windings of little streams, now 
all frozen and snow-covered. On either side lay the 
rolling forest-clad hills of Surphatch and Bardus. It 
was here that Enver Pasha made his famous attempt 
to surround the Russian army ; and it was on one of 
the knolls to the North that Ishkhan Pasha was taken 
prisoner. The heavy rumble of our transport wagons 
was only occasionally broken by the howling of the wind, 
as some particularly violent gust swept into us and blew 
the snow-dust into our benumbed faces. 


My Visit to Erzerum 

At nightfall we reached the old frontier station of 
Karaurgan ; but there was no customs-post here now. 
The Russian frontier had shifted far to the South, and 
nothing now stopped the endless flow of wagons and 
columns on their way to the front. We spent the night 
in the little house of the " All Russian Union of Cities ", 
that great institution which, with its brother, the " Union 
of Zemstvos", did so much to organize the rear of the 
Russian army. Next morning we continued with our 
transport train, passed Zivin, a deserted Turkish village, 
and began the ascent of the downs that divide the Kars 
plateau from the Passan plain. The road now practi- 
cally came to an end, and in place of it a dark line of 
ruts and wheel-tracks could be seen going straight over 
hill and dale, rock and frozen stream. Wheels began to 
creak, some of the wagons were overturned, and our 
rate of progress was reduced to half. Already however 
the Russians had begun to remedy the situation, and 
gangs of Persians and Tartars, loudly jabbering, were 
hard at work under the supervision of Russian soldiers 
getting these so-called roads into some sort of order. 
From the top of the downs we descended a long slope, 
and about midday reached the great Passan plain, over 
which meanders the frozen Araxes. To the South stretched 
a long wall of mountains from one end of the horizon 
to the other. The eastern end of it was the Kisslar- 
Dag, dividing the Araxes from the Eastern Euphrates, 
Immediately to the South the range lowered somewhat, 
and showed the pass which leads from Hassan Kaleh 
over the Sachkal-Tutan mountains to Khunus, Mush 
and Mosul. This important road connects the Armenian 
plateau with Mesopotamia ; and its junction here with 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the roads coming in from the Caucasus gives the Passan 
plain and Erzerum their strategic importance. To the 
North-west lay the confused masses of the Djelli-Gel 
and the«Kodjut-Dag, with passes leading over into the 
Olti depression. Both mountain and plateau were 
covered by one great sheet of white, which glowed like 
embers in the afternoon sun.' Between Zanzack and 
Azap Keui the country was scarred with lines of trenches 
and barbed wire entanglements. Here had been the 
heavy fighting of the first week of January. We saw 
many signs of the Turkish retreat, as we continued our 
way. Through the snow on the roadside protruded 
a number of objects, camels' humps, horses' legs, buffaloes' 
horns, and men's faces, with fezzes and little black 
beards, smiling at us the smile of death, their coun- 
tenances frozen as hard as the snow around them. 
That was all that was left of the " Drang nach Osten " 
in this part of the world. Darkness came on and we 
continued our journey along the Passan plain. Towards 
ten o'clock the outlines of the famous old bridge of Kupri 
Keui loomed out before us. Across this bridge the 
armies of the Mongols, Tamerlane, the Arabs and the 
Osmanhs had passed many hundred years ago. To-day 
the invaders of Asia Minor came not from the East but 
from the North, and once again this great highway of 
nations was resounding with the tramp of armies and 
the cry of the refugee a,nd of the dying. 

Shortly before midnight we turned into the little 

house of the Commandant of Kupri Keui village, where 

we could get some tea and bread, and rest for the night. 

Puring the night the rumble of a,rtillery far away to the 

' For this region see Map, 

.' x68 

My Visit to Erzerum 

West oh the Deve-Boyun told us that the fate of 
Armenia had not yet been decided. News however 
arrived in the small hours of the morning of the i6th 
that the forts Chaban-dede and Tufta had been evacu- 
ated by the Turks, and that Erzerum would probably 
be entered on the morrow. We slept little, and made 
our transport train hurry away as soon as the horses 
had had a bite of barley and hay. To the West a great 
nose of rock jutted out into the Passan plain, and upon 
its top we could make out the castle of Hassan Kaleh. 
A little later we could see a great mist hanging over the 
hills on the horizon. That was the smoke of the bom- 
bardment ; but the deathly silence told us that it was 
over now, and Erzerum had been won. Towards after- 
noon we drew near to the little Turkish town of Hassan 
Kaleh, lying under the castle on the rock that gives it 
its name. The town was emptied of Turkish civilians, 
who appeared to have retreated with the Turkish armies ; 
but the streets were crammed with Russian troops. 
Here were the Staff-headquarters of General Eudenitch, 
who, we found, was up at Erzerum, which had been 
entered by advanced guards of Cossacks at seven o'clock 
that morning. We could not go forward until we had 
seen him, and so waited in Hassan Kaleh for the rest 
of that day. With my friend Zdanevitch I climbed 
up to the rock of Hassan Kaleh, and looked out over 
the white snow-field of the upper Passan plain, and 
on the jagged mountains to the South. The sun was 
setting, and every living thing that stood above the snow 
could be seen for miles, silhouetted against the white. 
Long trains of camels were sailing up from the north- 
eajSt tp the sound of deep-toned bells. Little camps 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

of round Asiatic tents clustered under some bare willow- 
trees beside a frozen stream. The smoke of fires, rose 
up, and soldiers could be seen huddling round to keep 
themselves warm. Bunches of black objects dotted about 
the plain showed the existence of villages half-smothered 
in snow. A few black dots languidly moving round 
their outskirts proved to be the pariah dogs, the sole 
remaining inhabitants. They were fat and puffy. No 
wonder, for they had had plenty to eat lately. The 
sights we had seen earlier in the day, the half-eaten car- 
cases of camels, and the torn bodies of men, had shown 
us that war means a rich harvest for the Asiatic pariah 
dog. In the Kars province, amid active human life, 
the pariah dogs were miserable and starving. Here, 
with death and destruction on every side, they were 
contented. Then I remembered that three years before 
I had passed through this district on a journey from 
the Black Sea to Persia. But the circumstances were 
very different then. It was Autumn, and the Passan 
plain was alive with_busy Armenian and Turkish peasants, 
gathering the golden fruits of their year's labour. Those 
desolate black dots were then houses, full of grain. Round 
them were industrious women and playful children. 
Those bare, leafless willows were a canopy of green, shading 
a cool spring. Instead of those Unes of grey-coated 
infantry, there were then long trains of bullock-carts, 
bearing the peasants home from the fruitful fields. Just 
as the seasons had changed from ripe Autumn to deso- 
late Winter, so had the mind of man abandoned the 
works of production, and become the prey of destructive 
passions. But just as the winter snow enriches the 
land, and brings it warmth and the renewed fertility 


My Visit to Erzerum 

of Spring, so perhaps these days of hatred and folly may 
cleanse the psychology of man, and usher in the Summer 
of reason and goodwill. But if so, why should it be 
necessary for man to attain this end by such cruel and 
painfiil means ? He certainly has always done so since 
the dawn of history, as was witnessed by the old castle 
where I stood, the memorial of the Arab, Persian, Tartar 
and Greek empires, which had .introduced with the 
sword the culture of their own day. But now my 
friend came up and reminded me that it was time 
to return, because the General would, probably be back 
from Erzerum by now. 

General Eudenitch received us in a large house, 
the former residence of the Turkish Mudir. A short, 
bullet-headed man with long moustaches, he sat, sur- 
rounded by the statue-like forms of two staff-officers. 
His voice was sharp and abrupt, his manner that of one 
who is accustomed to command. The atmosphere 
was thoroughly military. It suggested that the human 
mind was manufactured to order and turned out 
according to specified pattern. The General gave us 
a very interesting account of the military operations 
which he had just conducted with such success. He 
pointed out to us some of the more important positions 
and movements on the large-scale maps. He then kindly 
gave us a permit enabling us to visit the forts at Erzerum ; 
we thanked him, congratulated him on his new medal, 
which the Emperor had just given him by telegraph, 
and then retired. 

Next day, February 17th, we got onto another trans- 
port train that was going straight for Erzermn. A fog 
lay over the plateau all morning, as we rolled along 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

westward. We passed through a village, outside which 
stood a row of heavy guns and forbidding-looking howit- 
zers, like gigantic squatting frogs, looking skjrwards. 
They were being overhauled after the bombardment 
by busy engineers. Then through the wintry mists 
loomed the Deve-Boyun, that famous chain of rounded 
hills dividing the waters of the Araxes from those of the 
Euphrates, behind which stands the city of Erzerum. 
The weather now began to clear. First fort Kaburgar 
appeared on a little pyramid of rock, on the slopes of 
which spread little zig-zag trenches and lines of wire 
entanglements;! then further to the South the out- 
Hnes of fort Ortayuk emerged, and the mounds and 
terraces of its summit indicated the positions of the 
abandoned Turkish guns : next Uzun Ahmet unveiled 
itself on its precipitous trapeze-Uke mass ; then fort 
Dolangyoz; while far away, perched up on an Olympus 
of rock and snow-field> stood Chaban-dede. The whole 
of the outer chain of the Deve-Boyun was now disclosed 
to us. As our wagons slowly wound up the narrow 
roads that lead across the chain, we became aware that 
we were in the rear of an advancing army. Immense 
quantities of stores and ammunition and columns of 
infantry reserves were on the road ahead of us, so our 
pace was slowed down to theirs. As we crossed the 
last neck of rising ground before sinking down into the 
Euphrates plain, we heard the rumble of artillery, and 
far in the distance, with the aid of glasses, we could make 
out detachments of retreating Turks fighting rear-guaard 
actions. The dark lines moving hke worms across the 
snow-fieldis were the pursuing Cossack columns. Before 

« See Map. 


My Visit to Erzerum 

long the famous Kars Gate of Erzerum, with its pyramidal 
Seljuk tomb, became visible. We drove through tunnels 
and fortress mounds, past rickety old Turkish sentry- 
boxes with the Star .and Crescent painted on them, in- 
habited now not by black-eyed, thickTnosed askers, but 
by round-faced men with grey eyes and flaxen hair. 
After passing through -the gate we saw on the left hand 
a Turkish barracks, blown up by an explosion of ammu- 
nition, and close by a whole phalanx of captured 
artillery. Beyond us lay the city of Erzerum, which had 
been entered by the Russians the day before. In the 
streets were men wearing baggy trousers, and with fezzes 
on their heads. The Turks with their characteristic 
fatalism were going about their business, as if nothing 
had happened. "Allah had given Erzerum to the 
Uruss. Allah gives and takes away, and Allah is great." 
Nowhere could the philosophy of the East be. more plainly 
exhibited than in the caUn and dignified faces of those 
Turks. On the door of a house I saw written up in 
Russian, "Here we take in prisoners". As an instance 
of the simple character of the Turkish soldier, a number 
of them were standing outside this house, asking Russian 
officers where they could give up their rifles. They had 
failed to escape with AbduUa Kerim Pasha's army, and 
had hidden in the houses when the Russians entered. 
But when they saw that no harm was going to happen 
to them, they came out and asked to be taken prisoners. 
" Tufenk vererim. Nerde alajak ? " (We give our rifles. 
Where will they take them ?) From here we went on 
straight to the Staff of the ist Army Corps, where ' 
General Kalitin received us most hospitably in the 
house that was formerly the British Consulate. I had 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

stayed here in very different times, when I passed 
through Erzerum three years before. 

Next day the General gave us an escort of Cossacks 
and sent ^ Captain of his Staff to accompany us to the 
forts on the Deve-Bo3nin. A narrow path led us across 
the rolling downs of the central chain. We had to pick 
our way carefully, to avoid falling with our horses into 
snow-drifts six feet deep. A terrible wind was blowing, 
a myatel, as the Russians call it ; and in spite of bashliks, 
noses and ears soon lost all feeling. We suffered agonies 
when we came into the warmth again, and the numbed 
portions of our bodies began to thaw. The first fort 
we visited was Sivishli, qn a rounded knoll in the centre 
of the Deve-Bo3mn chain. This fort had served as the 
supply-centre for the Turks, and from it ammunition 
columns and reserves had been sent out to keep the outer 
forts going. Everything was in perfect order inside. 
There were no signs of the explosion of any shells, and 
it could be seen that the fort had been evacuated without 
any fighting in or round it. The fort itself was of a very 
old type. In the days of the Crimean and Russo-Turkish 
wars they used to make such redoubts. Great stone 
bastions and parapets were mounted upon hard rock, 
and the floor of the great inner yard was paved with 
slabs of limestone. If a modern shell fell here, the splinters 
and fl3dng stone-work would do more damage than the 
shell itself. I could see why so much of the fighting 
in the capture of Erzerum was done in the open on the 
snow-fields that lay around. As far as safety was con- 
cerned it was better to be there than in the forts. Also 
the guns that the Turks had left behind were of a very 
old pattern. Some of them were dated 1873, and had 


My Visit to Erzerum 

been made in England. Evidently they had been lent, 
sold, or given by the British Government to the Turkish 
in the days when the integrity and independence of the 
Ottoman Empire were considered to be the keystone 
of British foreign poUcy, for which seas of blood might 
be poured out with honour. Now, for the destruction 
of this same Empire even greater seas of blood were 
being poured out by the obedient masses of England. 

We contiuued on our way, rising gradually all the 
time onto the desolate snow-fields that joined on to the 
Kargar-Bazar. The cold became more and more intense, 
and the going more and more difficult. Every now and 
then I would anxiously feel my nose and ears to find out 
if they were becoming frost-bitten. We traversed a narrow 
track leading across _ a slope which fell almost precipi- 
tously into the valley below. Beyond this came a wide 
snow-field scarred with zig-zag lines, which proved to 
be abandoned Turkish snow-trenches. The snow had 
been piled up to the height of a man, so that an enemy 
in front could not see his body. It was no protection 
of course from bullets, but it was a good method for 
making the defenders of the forts invisible. The Russians 
however had gone one better, for some of their battalions 
had been clothed in white sheep-skins, which enabled 
them to move about at night unobserved. Beyond the 
snow-field stood a great mass of jagged rock and cUfis. 
Up these we toiled by narrow winding paths. Field-gun 
batteries were here dug into the snow. They had been 
abandoned by the Turks, and one or two of them had 
been exploded. These field-gims placed between the 
forts seem to have been the chief defence of the Deve- 
Boyun chain, and to have been more effective in kee 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the encircling moveipent of the Russians in check than 
the batteries of old siege-guns in the antiquated stone 
forts, which, were useful cl^iefly as centres for ammunition 

On a rocky eroijneirice commanding a magnificent view 
of the plateau was the Turkish artillery observation-post. 
Here lay the bodies, of several young men, in the prime 
of life, an Ari^b, a Ki?il-Bashi, and two or three 
Anatolian Turks, mangled by shell-fire, but preserved 
in the exact death-pose by the frost. Not far from 
them was a young Russian, who had evidently climbed 
up tjie rock on scouting .work, and had died the same 
death as those that lay around him. In their homes 
in the Caucasus and Anatolia these peasant youths had 
lived peaceful industrious lives, with no thought of 
hatred towards each other. Then the war came ; they 
were called, and obeyed like sheep, following the example 
of qthers. Now they were lying dead together, and the 
snow was busy covering up all relics of the struggle, 
which none of them had wanted. 

We reached the top of the rocks, and in front of us 
was a great platform protected by mounds and snow- 
trenches all around. This was Chaban-dede, the famous 
fort, , whiph, with :Tufta, was the key to the Deve-Boyun 
chain. It was now evening ; the wind had dropped, 
and the scuds of snow had cleared away. The sky had 
a pale-blue arctic tint, and the sun was sinking down 
behind the dark hills that surrounded the sources of the 
Euphrates. , It struck the landscape at our feet with its 
slanting rays, turning the rocks into glowing gold and 
the SApwif^elds into idazzling silver. To the South was 
the great wall of the Palan-tjeken range. On the East 


My Visit to Erzerum 

lay the level plain of the Araxes, and on the West the 
frozen marshes at the head of the Euphrates. Rising 
up between these two plains lay the rounded hills of 
the Deve-Boyun, covered with deep snow, like silvery 
billows of a sea. Each knoll was capped by a black 
spot, a mound or a circular ring. These were the forts 
which seemed to connect the billows as it were with a 
chain of dark beads. I could now see how the capture 
of these heights around fort Chaban-dede decided the 
fate of Erzerum. Looking behind me to the North- 
east, I saw snowy mountain-ranges rising in tiers one 
above the other. The only way to reach this point, 
which commanded the Deve-Boyun chain, without being 
exposed to the terrible fire of the forts and the artillery 
positions in between, was across this range. It seemed 
impossible that any human army could cross this country. 
But that was just what had happened, as our investiga- 
tions next day showed us. 

That night we slept with our Russian officer com- 
panion and the Cossacks in a Uttle stone hut in 
the precincts of fort Chaban-dede. Not three days 
before Turkish askers had been there, and signs of 
a hasty retreat were evident on every side. An un- 
finished meal, a mass of blankets, some stores of sugar 
and coffee, all proved useful to our needs. And so 
we enjoyed Turkish coffee 10,000 feet up in the highest 
fort in the world. Next day, February 19th, as we could 
go no further on horseback, we struggled northward on 
foot, accompanied by a Georgian officer, who had been 
the first to enter fort Chaban-dede at the head of the 
scouting" column. Our progress was slow and painful ; 
but at last we reached the head of the Tuy defile, and 

177 M 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

looked down upon the country along which the Derbend 
regknent and the right wing of the 4th Division had 
advanced on the night of February 14th. Their tracls 
were still visible in the snow. We could see where the 
guns had been taken to pieces and carried on the men's 
-shoulders, and where the infantry had struggled in deep 
isnow-drifts. The tracks led us right up to the highest 
snowr-fields on the Olugli, and there debouched into open 
chains towards the heights of Sergy-Kaya. Away to the 
North we saw the snow-fields commanding fort Tufta, 
where the znd Turkestan Army Corps had made their 
wonderful and fateful union with the 4th Division.' All 
round us was a wilderness of rock and snow, 10,000 feet 
high. The mists of sleet were driving, and the wind 
howled about the waste. We had reached the goal of 
our journey. It was here on this desolate plateau, where 
the Tuy defile breaks out from the Kargar-Bazar, that 
the fate of the greatest fortress in Asia Minor was 

We returned to fort Chaban-dede, and spent the even- 
ing listening to our officer friend and the Cossacks telling 
us tales of the war. Next morning, February 20th, we 
returned the way we had come, and reached Erzerum 
by evening. I went to call on Mr. Stapleton, the Ameri- 
can missionary, whom I found with his wife and children 
at their evening meal. They were greatly surprised to 
see an Englishman, and welcomed me with open arms. 
They had seen no one from the outer world for months 
and months, being practically imprisoned here in the 
fortress of Erzerum. He gave me a long and touching 
story of the good work he and his wife had done for the 

» See Chapter II. 

My Visit to Erzerum 

cause of humanity in these terrible times ; how they had 
fought against the fever and sickness which had decimated 
-the Turkish soldiers, and had turned their place into a 
temporary hospital; how they had done all they' could 
to relieve the sufferings of the Armenians, who had been 
condemned to exile the previous Summer, and ha,d thai 
been treacherously massacred on the road ; and how 
he had pleaded with the Turkish Vali Pasha, and used 
all his influence with him on their behsiU. 

Oh February 23nd my friend Zdanevitch and I rode 
out, accompanied by two Cossacks, to the Palan-teken 
pass to visit the fort there. We crossed the Euphrates 
plain and reached the entrance of a narrow valley, up 
which we mounted by a small path. Soon we came to 
the zone where the snow mists began to descend upon 
us. We had to pick our way with gr^at caution, to avoid 
falling into ravines and snow-drifts. After two hours 
we reached a high open country, with rocky peaks risit^g 
at various points. This was the head of the PaUn-teken 
pass. Beyond us lay the great mountain complexes 
which build up the South Armenian volcanic plateau. 
The forms of dark mountains would appear towards 
the South-east for one moment, and almost at once be 
blotted from our sight. The blurred outline of the famous 
and beautiful Bin-gel Dag, " the mountain of the thousand 
lakes ", showed itself, only to disappear the next moment. 
It was like looking at a great panorama across which 
curtains were continually rising aiid falling. Weird shapes 
seemed to emerge from the mist, and the imagination 
could twist the mouiitain forms, as they appeared . and 
vanished, into countless faittasies. f My ■ friend and I 
looked on this scene for a time, and then made our way 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

to fort Palan-teken, which, witli Chaban-dede, is the 
highest fort in the world (10,000 teet). It stood on a 
rounded knoll, its walls and parapets built of material 
from the surrounding rocks. There was not a sign of 
life anywhere, and we could hear nothing but the howling 
of the wind. We rode into the great courtj'ard, in the 
centre of which was an underground ammunition-store. 
From the hatchway leading down to it some faces looked 
out on us. They were the Russian guards who had 
been stationed on the pass ; but they had wisely decided 
that this was no suitable weather either for them or for 
the enemy to be out in the open. They welcomed us 
inside, and began to make tea for us. They told us 
stories .of the advance across the Palan-teken pass by 
the little Russian column to which they had been attached. 
The Turks had retired without fighting as soon as the 
news came of the evacuation of the Deve-Boyun forts. 
Palan-teken fort was built to guard against an advance 
from the region of the Bin-gel and the Mush plain. Our 
hosts had spent nearly a week in the open mountains 
and valleys, as they- came up from the Khunus. All 
the food they ate was taken with them in their pockets. 
When they reached the Palan-teken pass, the Turks had 
retired, and had fortunately left something eatable behind 
them. As the tea was brewing, one of the soldiers said 
to me : "When is the war going to end? " I replied 
that I did not know, and asked him if he was tired of it. 
" Oh no ", he said ; " I have been wounded twice. I 
have fought for my country, and wth pleasure will 
fight again." The others were all silent for some minutes, 
and so were I and my friend. Then I asked the other 
soldiers what they felt about the war. After a short 


My Visit to Erzerum 

hesitation, one of them said : " War is war. I suppose 
it will end some day. Till then we will fight." Again 
a long silence. If I had been correspondent for a sensa- 
tional EngUsh paper, or had been sent by the powerful 
Press Syndicate that manufactures opinion for the English 
public, I suppose I should have immediately sat down 
and written an article on the wonderful spirit and keen- 
ness of the men of the Russian army, on their readiness 
to fight to the bitter end and die in the last ditch. But 
I waited a few minutes ; and then, just as one of the 
soldiers was handing me a nice cup of steaming tea, I 
remarked, " Don't you think that war is very stupid 
and viTong ? Man kills man, and does not know why 
he does it. It is fratricide, and no good comes of it ; 
at least not to you or to me." Instantly it was as if 
a wet blanket had been taken from round us. A new 
psychological atmosphere was created. " Indeed your 
words are true ", said one. " We have no quarrel with 
the Turkish peasant." " If Nicolas and the Sultan want 
to fight ", said another, " why can't they fight each other 
single-handed ? " Even- the soldier, who just before had 
said he had been wounded twice and would fight again, 
now remarked : " This is good for our lords and masters, 
because it keeps us from getting strong at home " ; and 
then he treated us to a long story of how in his village 
on the Volga his brother peasants had only so many 
dessatines of land ; how the landlord's land lay all around, 
and how the peasants worked for a few kopecks a day, 
the produce all going to the landlords ; how all power 
was in the hands of the zemsky nachalnik, who was under 
the thumb of the landlords. " Is it not likely that they 
want us to fight ? " he added. " If we stay at home, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

we think about all this too much." I then turned the 
conversation onto another subject, thinking that if it 
became known that I was spreading revolutionary ideas 
in the army, there might be trouble. I had heard enough 
to know now what these soldiers were really thinking. But 
I did not sit down and write an article to my paper; 
for I knew that that wise controller of news and opinion, 
the censor, would regard any description of this con- 
versation as " prejudicial to the interests of the State." 
About three o'clock we parted with our friends at fort 
Palan-teken, and began our journey down the steep 
valleys to the Erzerum plain, which we reached as dark- 
ness was coming on. Next day, February 23rd, we said 
good-bye to General Kali tin, who had entertained us 
so hospitably, and got onto an automobile transport 
bound for Sary-Kamish. All that afternoon we jolted 
along the tracks that led north-east. We passed Hassan 
Ealeh, and began our journey over the middle Passan 
plain during the darkness. The morning of the 24th 
found us on the rolling hiUs of the old Russo-Turkish 
frontier. We got a bite of food at Karaurgan, and then 
passed along through wooded vaUeys, reaching Sary-Kamish 
in the evening. On the afternoon of February 25th 
we took the train for Tifiis, and reached the Caucasus 
capital after an absence of nearly a month. 



BASIN (1916) 

It was not till May that I returned to the Armenian 
plateau from Tiflis. This time I had eome, not to watch 
and describe military events, but to investigate the con- 
dition of the civil population in the rear of the armies, 
and to help in the administration of relief to the innocent 
sufferers, for whose so-called liberation those great mili- 
tary operations were supposed to be necessary. In the 
meantime the Lord Mayor's Fund had sent out three of 
its members from England to organize relief work for 
the Armenians. The Secretary, the Rev. Harold Buxton, 
himself visited Erzerum to administer the relief. During 
April I had, in a letter to the EngUsh press, called attention 
to the condition of the Moslem population in the occupied 
regions of Turkey, while my friend M. Zdanevitch had 
done the same in the Russian press. The nucleus of a 
small fund for the reUef of Moslems on the Asiatic front 
was in process of formation by May, so I decided to go 
up to the Kars plateau to investigate, and see what could 
be done, 

I arrived at Kars on May 29th, and went straight to 
my friend the Vice-Governor, Colonel Schmerling, who 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

again extended his hospitality to me. He put me in 
touch with the local representative of the Baku Moslem 
■ Benevolent Society, who had charge of all relief work 
in the Kars Government. This was Ali Khan Eanti- 
mirof, an Ossetine. He lived in a little house off one of 
the main streets, and with a band of young Tartars from 
Baku and Dagestan was grappling with a whole swarm 
of refugees, who kept drifting in from the newly occupied 
provinces. Not far from him was the headquarters of 
the Armenian relief committee, run by Armenians from 
Tiflis, who were doing similar work among their people. 
From both the Tartar and Armenian committees I was 
able to get a fairly clear idea of what had happened to 
the luckless inhabitants of northern Armenia, when the 
calamity of war broke upon them. At the beginning 
of the war the province was inhabited by about 80,000 
Armenians, 50,000 Greeks 170,000 Turks, Khurds, Turco- 
mans and Tartars, and perhaps 15,000 Russian colonists 
(Dissenters). These people had all lived peaceably together 
ever since the country had been annexed to Russia after 
the war of 1877. Even the Russian Revolution of 1905 
created very httle effect among the docile inhabitants. 
While all around in Erivan, Tiflis, Batum and Elizabetopol, 
Black Hundreds were organizing pogroms, the people 
of the Kars plateau were quietly going on with their 
agriculture and stock-raising. During the years that 
followed there was nothing to disturb their tranquillity, 
except perhaps an occasional dispute between the Sunni 
and Shia Mahommedans as to who was the twelfth Imam, 
and whether or no Ali was divine by nature. Then came 
the Turkish invasion of December 1914. Enver Pasha's 
army swept across a large part of the Kars plateau like 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

a hurricane. The Greeks, Armenians and Russian colonists 
mostly fled to the North, abandoning all they had ; but 
the Moslems stayed on, feeling that no harm would come 
to them from their co-religionists. When the Turks 
retired, the Greeks and Armenians came back, and found 
their Moslem neighbours still there. But there was 
no longer the old relationship, born of friendly daily 
intercourse. The proximity of war and the march of 
armies had roused that herald of ill-will, the spirit of 
Nationalism. The Armenians and Greeks began to accuse 
their Moslem neighbours of having assisted the Turks 
in their invasion, and betrayed their suzerain, the Tsar. 
Armed agents of the Armenian National Societies in 
Tiflis began to appear in some villages ; hooligans from 
the bazaar towns began to prowl on the look out for 
disorder and plunder. The Russian authorities paid no 
attention, and the rural poUce closed their eyes. Then 
Christian bands began to be formed, and to march into 
Moslem villages. There would be some pillaging, a few 
shots would be fired, and then would begin a general 
massacre. A large part of the Kars province was laid 
waste ; cattle fled to the mountains and died of want 
and cold, and the Mahommedan population was reduced 
by some 30 per cent, through hunger and disease during 
the following months. This then was the net result of 
Enver Pasha's attempt to deliver his fellow Moslems in 
the Caucasus from Russian rule. The Summer of 1915 
brought the hour of trial for the Armenians. The Russians 
and the Armenian volunteers advanced victoriously to 
Van, but were compelled to retreat. Then followed the 
exiling and massacre of the Armenian population of the 
six vilayets. During August of that year 180,000 Armenian 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

refugees from Van and Bitlis poured into the Kars plateau 
and the Erivan plain. The 80,000 Armenians of the Kars 
province had to take in their brethren from Turkey 
as best they could. Pestilence carried off nearly 50 per 
cent, of the refugees, besides inflicting untold suffer- 
ing upon the native Armenians. So this was the net 
result of the efforts of the Russians and the Armenian 
volunteers to liberate their Christian brethren from Turk- 
ish rule. Then came the Russian advance on Erzerum 
in February 1916, and this time the country of some 
250,000 Moslem Turks was occupied, after it had been 
duly cleared by the retreating Turks of every sheep, cow 
and horse, of all hay, barley and wheat, and of all housing 
accommodation. Thus the inhabitants that remained, 
about 150,000, were left to bear the pangs of hunger and 
face the horrors of pestilence. And this sort of thing 
went on with every glorious advance of the Russian or 
Turkish army. Yet Armenian and Russian politicians 
in Tiflis, and Turkish politicians in Constantinople, were 
all this time writing articles demanding indemnities 
from their enemies after the war for the losses sustained 
by their co-religionists in the war areas. To any one 
who has seen with his own eyes the destruction caused 
by two years of war on the Caucasus front, it is obvious 
that it would be impossible to apportion the blame and 
assess the damage. As far as Armenia is concerned, 
on the cessation of hostilities an international commission 
should be appointed, supplied with funds, derived either 
from all the beUigerent Powers, or from Russia and Turkey. 
This commission should carefully go over the whole of the 
regions affected by the war, and make good the material 
losses as far as they are capable of being repaired. 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

After a week in Kars I went with the representative 
of the Baku Moslem Benevolent Society to the Turkish 
village of Karahamse on the road between Kars and Sary- 
Kamish. Here we arranged to open a store, from which 
flour and sugar could be given out to the destitute Moslems. 
We stayed here for two days, while the refugees from 
all the villages round about came to us, and we registered 
their names, and the numbers in each family, and esti- 
mated their losses as far as possible. The Moslems of 
this western part of the Kars province are of a very mixed 
type. There are first the typical Osmanli Sunrii Turks, 
the descendants of the Seljuks, or of the Ottoman colonists 
who have come into these regions from Asia Minor. Next 
come the Karapapachs or Shia Tartars, who are in every 
way similar to the East Caucasian Tartars and the Per- 
sians of Azairbijan. They speak a Tartar dialect, and 
are Shias. The boundary between Persian Shia and 
Turkish Sunni may roughly be regarded as running along 
the valley of the Arpar Chai from near Alexandropol 
to a point on the Middle Araxes river near the town of 
Igdir. The regions that extend for some distance on 
either side of this line contain a mixture of both these 
types of Moslems. Next come the Khurds, of whom 
there are large numbers, chiefly in the Kagisman region 
and in the upland valleys of the AUah-ak-bar Dag north 
of Sary-Kamish. They are generally to be found in the 
higher grounds where the grazing is best in Summer, 
for they leave the corn-growing for the most part to the 
Turks, Tartars, Greeks and Armenians. The Khurds 
of the Kars province and those of the Karabach are the 
most northerly branch of their race. They belong to 
the great tribal division, known as the Zilan, which ex- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

tends to the South as far as the mountain valleys of the 
Ala Dag and Alashgert. They used to be divided into 
the two castes of military Asshirets and serf Rayats. 
This social system still prevails in the Ala Dag under 
Turkish rule, but since the Russian occupation of the 
Kars province the caste system has broken down, and 
those Asshirets who did not migrate into Turkey after 
the Russian occupation have given up being soldiers and 
plunderers, and have joined the Rayat Khurds in pastoral 
pursuits. Thus the first and most important effect of 
the Russian occupation on the natives of the Armenian 
plateau is to break down the caste system, and to reduce 
the natives to one level before the law. More than this, 
the differences between the races and religious sects 
among the whole Moslem population are beginning to 
disappear under Russian rule. The oppressive hand of 
the Russian bureaucracy under the regime of the Tsars 
has tended during the last twenty years to create a feeling 
of mutual sympathy between all Moslems, which has 
been doubly strengthened through the war, and by the 
abominable policy of the Russian Government in sowing 
dissensions among the Caucasian races. This was brought 
home to me very forcibly the second day that I was at 
Karahamse. I and my Tartar friend were making out 
the lists of refugees to receive relief. There were a immber 
of Turcomans from a neighbouring village who belonged 
to the Ali AUahi sect. I asked them how their beliefs 
differed from those of their Sunni and Shia neighbours. 
" Ah ", said their old head of the village, " before the 
massacre ' we used to think about differences of religion, 

' He was referring to the massacre of Moslems in the Kars 
province after the battle of Sary-Kamish, mentioned above. 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

of how we differed from the Sunni, and who was the 
twelfth Imam. But now we feel that we are all one people." 
This growth in solidarity of feeling among the Moslems 
of the Middle East is, I believe, a wide-spread phenomenon, 
and is likely to be of immense importance in the future. 
From this national self-consciousness will grow the de- 
mand for education ; and with the spread of knowledge 
fanaticism will decay. When this is accomplished, the 
regeneration of Islam is assured, and a new element in 
the civihzation of Asia will appear.' 

On June 13th I hired a horse from a Turkish peasant, 
and with a Khurdish guide rode across the plateau in 
a north-westerly direction. There had been tempestuous 
weather and terrific thunderstorms the last few days, 
as is usual on the Kars plateau in Spring. To-day how- 
ever was fine and clear. The wide, open sweeps of the 
plain were like a boundless sea of waving grass and flowers. 
The heat-waves quivered above the hills ; from the marshes 
by the streams rose the scent of marigolds ; the herons 
stood like marble statues, and the sandpipers with their 
fluty cry winged across the carpet of green. Nature 
seemed speaking to Man to-day and saying : " It is 
springtime, the time for creation and for growth. Leave 
your works of destruction and imitate me ". The Khurd 
who was with me rejoiced at the scene, for the Khurd 
is above all a child of Nature, and understands her when 
she speaks. " Aho ! " he cried aloud. " You are my 
brother. I will go with you to the end of the world. I 
fear nothing." And so saying he grasped my hand in 
his. At that moment I had an indescribable feeling, 
as if I could see into Nature, and in one bright vision 

» See also Chapter IX. 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

interpret all that was around me. And my Khurdish 
companion felt it too, and hence his joyous cr^. 

We passed along the watery meadows to the foot of 
a stony ridge, through which a gorge led into an upland 
valley. The scene changed, and we saw the charred 
ruins of a bumt village. The timber roofs of the half- 
underground houses were all destroyed or fallen in. Under 
canvas sheets some Khurds with their famiUes were 
trying to live, while they attempted to rebuild what 
had once been their homes. They were in rags, and their 
children naked. A few thin sheep were all that remained 
of their flocks. Yet there had been a prosperous village 
here before the war. Several of the inhabitants had 
owned 500 or 800 head of sheep and cattle. They used 
to wear gaudy dresses and ride on Arab horses, and their 
underground houses were little, palaces of warmth and 
comfort. And all this disaster had befallen these people 
for no fault of their own. But it was only one example 
of the hundreds and thousands of villages, from Meso- 
potamia and Palestine to the Caucasus and Persia, where 
the same ruin and disaster had taken place. As I looked 
upon the scene I kept thinking of the w^ork of restoration 
that will be required in all these countries, to say nothing 
of Europe, in the days after the war. 

It was still early in the day, and I decided to cross 
the pass of the Allah-ak-bar Dag, and descend that even- 
ing into the valley of the Olti Chai. We rode up by Uttle 
mountain tracks, rising steadily all the time, till at last 
after two hours we reached a great open downland at 
a height of 9,000 feet. From the top of one of the 'hills 
on this open space I could see unfolded before me the 
whole of the Kars plateau, a wide expanse of green, falling 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

sharply into the lowland plains of the Araxes near Erivan, 
beyond which I could just make out the distant form of 
Ararat, clothed in its eternal snow and cloudy wreath. 
On the green carpet of the plain were countless little 
dots, which marked the villages surrounded by their 
patches of corn. Here and there ridges and rounded 
hills rose up out of the plateau, and among them conical 
shapes, weirdly suggesting old volcanoes. Where th? 
green grass gave place to tountless specks of darker green, 
I knew were the forests at the head of the Sary-Kamish 
river. Patches of grey on the open spaces near these 
forests were the flocks of sheep and cattle feeding on 
the upland meadows, all that was left after the war and 
massacre. Far in the distance were the gnowy moun- 
tains that divide the Kars plateau from the Alashgert, 
and out of them rose a great pyramidal shape, the extinct 
volcano of the Kessar Dag (11,262 feet). To the South' 
west I saw the hiUs that border the Kars plat^u on the 
side of the Chorokh. Here lay the forested pass of Bardus, 
where Enver and Ishkhan Pashas broi^ht their army 
across when they invaded the Trans-Caupasus. Beyond 
this pass I saw a great drop in the earth's surface. The 
Kars plateau seemed suddenly to break off. A country 
of deep valleys and scarred ridges lay to the West of me, 
into which I was about to descend on my way to Olti. 
I was standing upon the edge of the volcanic plateau of 
Kars, and looking down into the Olti and Chorokh depres- 
sions,' whgre lay the fundamental rocks, the continuation 
of the Anti-Taurus range, which, running in one long 
ridge- from eastern Anatolia, passes under the reeently 
erupted lavas of the Kars plateau. I could see at ,a 

' See Map. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

glance the line followed by Enver Pasha's army. It 
had come from the Erzerum plateau, and sinking down 
into this Olti and Chorokh depression had passed along 
its narrow valleys, unseen and unsuspected by the Russians, 
till it reached the edge of the Kars plateau, and then, 
rising up over the Bai-dus pass and the pass where I now 
was standing, it arrived within sight of the Kars ifortress 
itself. The whole strategy of the earlier part of the war 
on the Caucasus front, and also the first part of the opera- 
tions that led to the fall of Erzerum, became clear to 
me as I stood on the edge of the Kars plateau and looked 
down into this Chorokh depression to the North-west. 
I could see that the weak spot in the Russian defences 
was this depression, through which an enemy could slip 
and stab the Russian army in the back, if the passes 
guarding the entrance to the Kars plateau on the North 
and West were not securely held. 

After gazing on this interesting scene for some time, 
I proceeded with my Khurdish companion along alpine 
meadows and grassy slopes to a steep ridge, down which 
we began to descend. We came to beautiful forests of 
pine, through the winding paths of which we threaded 
our way. The evening sun shone through the forest 
glades and lit up the pine trunks, making them glow like 
pillars of fire. Where its rays could not reach, the pines 
stood dark and sombre, as though hiding the mystery 
of the forest which the sun was trying to disclose. Again 
my Khurdish friend shouted to me : " The forest is 
beautiful. Let us make a house and hve here always, 
and become the kings of the valleys". Soon we began 
to perceive signs of human life. A little Turkish shepherd- 
boy was grazing sheep in a forest glade, and playing a 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

tune on a reedy pipe, that echoed through the woodlands. 
It might have been the pipe of Pan, and the boy himself 
the spirit of the forest. That same tune I had heard 
some years before when I had been travelling in Asia 
Minor. We came to some fields of corn ; and beyond 
us lay the little Turkish village of Arsenek, We entered 
its narrow street, along both sides of which stood houses 
built of huge logs. At the door of one of them a group 
of old Turkish grey-beards were squatting. I addressed 
myself to them, and on hearing who I was and where 
I was bound for, they led me to the guest-room which 
every village in the East keeps prepared for strangers 
and wayfarers. They took my horse and gave it corn, 
while others sat beside me on the carpet and brought 
me coffee and -milk, bread and honey. They called me 
a Millet Vekil (the representative of a people), and I 
think they firmly believed that I was . the ambassador 
of the Emperor of India, who had come to help the 
stricken Moslems of Armenia and the Caucasus. They 
themselves had very hazy ideas as to who was their 
Sovereign Lord. " Where does your Padishah (Emperor) 
live ? " said the old headman of the village. " Far 
away in Hindustan ", I answered. " Does he wish us 
to become his children ? " they asked me. " No ", I 
replied. " You have a Padishah already." " Is your 
Padishah fighting against ours ? " he asked. " No ", I said. 
"Your Padishah and ours are like brothers, and they 
fight together against the Padishah in Constantinople." 
" Where does our Padishah live then ? " he said. " Yours 
livefe in Petrograd far away in the North", I answered. 
"Then the Padishah that lives in Constantinople is not 
our Padishah ? " they all asked. " No ", I said. " He 

193 N 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

used to be, but is not now." " Ah ! that is the will of 
Allah ", they all said ; and they looked at each other 
and stroked their beards. This village of Arsenek was 
of course a particularly remote village, and being shut 
away from any road or centre of trade, the people were 
exceptionally isolated, rarely meeting any one who could 
tell them about the outside world. They told me about 
the passage through their village of a battalion of Turkish 
soldiers a year before, evidently a detachment of Enver 
Pasha's army, when he was invading the Kars plateau. 
To them this was an event of vast importance. Left 
thus isolated and forgotten by the outer world, they had 
themselves forgotten who was the Emperor, llie Turkish 
suzerainty had passed away forty years before, and no 
Russian had come to tell them of their new allegiance. 
They only knew that a person called a strajnik (rural 
guard), himself a Tartar who knew no Russian, used to 
come every now and then to collect a poll tax and a little 
levy on the land they sowed and on the timber they cut. 
I have often since then wondered how I would have 
managed to explain the Russian Revolution to them, 
and to make them understand what is meant by a 

After enjoying the hospitality of the Turks of Arsenek 
for one night, I bade farewell and passed on my way down 
the valley. I reached the Penak river in the course 
of the afternoon, and spent that night in a Khurdish 
village. Next day, June 15th, after a long, hot, dusty 
ride along the valley of the Olti Su, I reached the little 
town of that name, and went straight to the Russian 
official in charge of the district. 

Olti is the chief town of that administrative district 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

in the Kars province. Situated on the south-eastern 
side of the Chorokh depression, it consists of about a 
hundred houses, of which perhaps half are native shops, 
and the rest are the dwellings of Russian officials and 
the garrison. There is a mosque and an old castle on 
a rock, and the inhabitants are mainly Turkish. M. 
KuznetsoJff, the administrative chief of the district, 
was a typical bureaucrat of the petty type. He had no 
initiative of his own, and could do nothing in the world 
without official documents from above ordering him to 
do this or that. However, a letter I carried from the 
Vice-Governor of Kars satisfied him, and I was quickly 
given a room in a Turkish house with carpets, a divan, 
cushions, coffee and a quiet young Turk to wait on me. 
The next two days I spent looking at the environs of 
Olti, and waiting for arrangements to be made for going 
on into the Upper Chorokh valley. It was my purpose 
to go westwards through Tortura in the direction of Ispir 
I wanted to explore some of the newly occupied country 
between Erzerum and the Black Sea, which had been 
captured after the fall of that fortress. Hitherto no one 
from the outside world had been here, and we knew 
nothing of the condition of the inhabitants. Occasion- 
ally rumours would come through of starving Moslems ; 
and it was generally known that a considerable popula- 
tion used to live in these regions where the Chorokh 
rises. The 2nd Turkestan Army Corps, commanded by 
General Prejvalsky, was somewhere near Ispir ; and as 
M. Kuznetsoff wished to see the General on matters con- 
cerning the refugees in his district, we arranged to go 
together. We left Olti on June the i8th in a little 
cavalcade accompanied by four strajniks We rode 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

^ong a narrow valley, the sides of which were covered 
with bushes and scrubby forest, past the post-house 
which before the war marked the Russo-Turkish frontier. 
To the South of us rose the great mountain mass of the 
Gey Dag (9,500 feet), on the heights of which the Turks 
had entrenched themselves and had sat facing the Russians 
in the valleys below for ten months. When the Russians 
began their advance on Erzerum, these mountain slopes 
had been the scene of desperate fighting, 9,000 feet high 
in the dead of winter. Passing along the northern slopes, 
I could see the heights above scarred with zigzag lines 
leading up to little knolls, that appeared on the sky- 
line all along the summit. These were the mountain 
tracks up which the Turkish soldiers used to climb to 
reach their positions, overlooking the vast expanse of 
mountain and valley on each side. We spent the night 
in a little military halting-place, where a Russian officer 
provided food and a night's rest for soldiers bound for 
the front. Next day we crossed the Sivri Dag by a low 
pass. The road had only recently been constructed by 
the Russian engineers for the passage of heavy guns. 
Along the whole of this Olti and Upper Chorokh depression 
engineers were busy road-making all through the spring 
of 1916. This rough plateau country, scarred with 
countless low ridges and narrow valleys, was by May 
of that year covered with a network of roads. Never 
before in the history of man had the inhabitants of these 
regions seen a road. Up till now they had used goat- 
tracks, and carried their produce to market on the backs 
of donkeys. The armies of the Kings of Georgia, that 
used to pass through here in the middle ages to fight 
the Seljuks, must have used these rocky mountain-tracks 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

and the little devious paths that wound along the valleys. 
And when Enver Pasha brought his army through here 
to invade the Caucasus, he had no transport but horses 
and donkeys. This indeed was one of the causes of his 
defeat ; for he found himself unable to supply his troops, 
after they had gained their first success. Now, suddenly, 
the remote valleys of the Chorokh basin resounded with 
the blast of dynamite and the blow of the pick-axe. Paths 
for goats were converted into roads for howitzers, and 
four-wheeled transport-wagons rumbled along where the 
tinkle of the donkey-caravan was heard before. Such 
is the effect of Russian influence in these Asiatic lands. 
The construction of these roads in the Chorokh valley 
was of prime importance from the ttiiUtary point of view, 
for it enabled the Russians to advance on Baiburt and 
Erzinjan, and so complete ;their conquest of the north 
Armenian plateau. The Chorokh basin was a weak 
spot all through and after the Erzerum operations, until 
the Turkestan Army Corps was secured in this region 
by the construction ot these roads. Before this was done 
there was a danger of the Turks repeating the move 
which Enver Pasha tried in December of 1914. When 
the roads were made, it was possible for the Turkestans 
not only to hold the Chorokh depression, but to continue 
their advance on Erzinjan and still be sure of suppUes. 
Erzinjan would have been taken long before July 1916, 
had it not been necessary to wait for the construction 
of these roads. 

By midday we had reached the Tortum valley, where 
a tributary stream flows northward into the Chorokh. 
We passed through narrow gorges with barren cliffs on 
each side. The road was cut into the steep valley-side, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and zigzagged along boulder skrees. Towards afternoon 
the valley widened out, and we entered an open space 
where meadows were watered by the rushing Tortum 
river, and groves of walnuts and apple orchards clustered 
round a little village. On each side were towering cliffs 
of limestone, and on a projecting peak rose the outlines of 
a mediaeval castle. The rays of the sun struck its bastions, 
so that they shone like the halls of Valhalla, and in these 
surroundings of surpassing grandeur one was made to 
think of the abode of mediaeval knights. We stopped at 
a little military post, where in the cool shade of walnuts 
and mulberries we drank tea and listened to the mellow 
notes of the Golden Oriole piping above our heads. I went 
to explore the old castle, clambering up over crags by 
narrow winding paths. I had to creep inside by a narrow 
portal, and there came upon the ruins of au ancient 
church. This Tortum castle was evidently a Christian 
stronghold in the middle ages. It may have been either 
Armenian or Georgian, but I am inclined to think it was 
the latter. This side of the Upper Chorokh basin is full 
of Georgian names, such as Tepkha, Khartkha and Orudjuk, 
although the inhabitants of these villages are now Turks. 
Besides, in the mountains of the Dumlu Dag to the South 
is the defile of the Gurji-Bogaz, which clearly indicates 
that the Turks once regarded the country North of this 
defile as Georgian territory. Tortum was probably one 
of the outposts of the Georgian Empire during the reign 
of Tamara, when Georgian influence extended furthest. 

I found that the native population consisted almost 
entirely of Moslem Turks. If some famiUes were Georgian 
by origin, they had long since been completely Turkified 
in dress, speech and manners. There were three Arme- 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

nian villages in the Tortum neighbourhood, but the 
wretched inhabitants had all been exiled in the previous 
summer, and had probably been massacred. In the whole 
of the region watered by the Tortum river, from the 
Dumlu Dag to the point where it flows into the Chorokh, 
there used to be a population of about 40,000. Since 
the Turkish retreat in 1916, a portion of these had fied 
into Asia Minor, a portion had died of cold, hunger and 
disease after the Turks had for military reasons destroyed 
all the food and forage, and burnt the villages. I roughly 
estimated the surviving population at 20,000. I found 
them in a pitiable pUght. Hundi'eds came to me in the 
village of Tortum half naked, begging for food. It was 
more than one could bear to turn them away, yet it was 
impossible to do anything for them, since we had not 
got the food with us. After finding out the state of affairs 
so far as we could, we wrote a short report, and sent a 
rider back to Olti with a letter requesting the dispatch 
of flour from the stores of the Moslem Benevolent Society 
at that place. 

On June 20th we continued our journey westwards. 
All morning we ascended the pass over the great range 
of the Kabak-tepe (marked in the lo-inch Russian map 
Kazan Dag). This range is a northerly projection of 
the volc£inic Dumlu Dag, separating the valley of the 
Tortum from the Ispir region of the Upper Chorokh. ' 
On reaching the summit a grand panorama opened out 
before our eyes. To the East lay the Tortum Chai, 
with its narrow valleys and steep Umestone cliffs. We 
could see every inch of the road we had come by, and 
mark each point where we had rested. In the middle 

' See Map. 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

distance the Gey Dag stood boldly out against the sky- 
line, while far away, very faint in the haze of distance, 
I could make out the outline of the Kars plateau from 
which I had descended a week before. To the South 
lay the jagged snowy ranges of the Dumlu Dag ; to the 
South-west a gap in the mountain wall enabled me to 
catch a glimpse of the plain of the Upper Euphrates near 
Erzerum. To the West lay the confused table-land of 
the Upper Chorokh Su, out of which rose irregular masses 
of rock in the neighbourhood of Baiburt and Ispir. Far 
away to the North I could see against the skyline the 
rugged and serrated snow-peaks of the Pontic chain. 
This was Lazistan ; and beyond it lay the Black Sea. 
From this point of vantage on the Kazan Dag I could 
see beneath me the whole of the north-western end of 
the great Armenian plateau. It is a region which 
has hardly been visited at all by travellers, but it is 
well worthy of attention. It played no small part in 
the military operations of the Caucasus campaign, and 
it is inhabited by a Moslem people which cannot be 
forgotten in the future political settlement of these 

We descended the pass into one of the tributary 
vaHeys of the Upper Chorokh, and about eleven o'clock 
in the darkness reached a little deserted Turkish vUlage. 
Here was the Staff of General Prejvalsky, the commander 
of the Russian Turkestan Army Corps. We gave our 
horses to the Cossacks, and asked the, sentry whether 
the General was still up. To our surprise we were told 
that he was ; and on entering a little room, we found 
him walking up and down with his hands behind his 
back. He was dressed in a Cossack tunic, very shabby 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

and torn ; he wore the rough boots of a common soldier, 
and had evidently not shaved for a long time. This I 
subsequently found out was his usual get-up, and by no 
means due to the conditions of active service. General 
Prejvalsky is quite one of the characters of the Caucasus 
campaign, and certainly one of the most able and useful 
generals in the Russian Asiatic service. For many 
years before the war he was the Russian military agent 
at Erzerum. He speaks Turkish quite well, and used 
to walk about on foot dressed like a Turkish peasant 
or caravan-driver. In this way he gained access to 
places where otherwise he would never have been able 
to go. He had been close up to several of the Erzerum 
forts. He had tramped over a large part of the Upper 
Chorokh plateau where we now were, and knew every 
upland meadow and every pass where guns could be 
brought. After having been constantly among Turks 
for many years, and getting to know their minds, and 
no doubt some of their secrets, he was now commanding 
one of the Army Corps in the campaign against them. 
He is a nervous man and sleeps little. All the earlier 
part of the night he paces up and down in his room, and 
sometimes goes out, talks to the soldiers and hears what 
they are saying about their officers. This night he was 
walking about in his room. He stopped at once, and 
on hearing who I was, came up and shook hands, and 
then said : " What has brought j'ou to this unearthly 
place ? " I told him my mission was to enquire into the 
condition of the natives, and the possibility of relieving 
them. He paused, and suddenly asked me : " Who 
are the happiest people in the world ? " I was too sur- 
prised to answer ; but he did so for me. " Why, these 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Turks and Khurds here on the mountains ", he said ; 
" because when trouble comes, they have less to lose 
than so-called civilized people, A man with a goat and 
a sack of barley is happier than a general with 10,000 
roubles a year." He then told me how he used to live 
amongst these natives ior weeks on end ; and I told him 
of some of my experiences and travels in Asia. I found 
him remarkably well-informed on all racial and political 
matters, besides being a man of deep understanding of the 
life and spirit of Asia. He is not like the typical general 
and bureaucrat, who has become dehumanized by monoto- 
nous ofhcial work. He is in many respects more like 
the Russian peasant colonist in Turkestan and the Cau- 
casus, who, without losing his Slavonic character, mingles 
with the natives and learns their ways and customs. 
Next day, June the 21st, he took me alone into his little 
room, and we discussed all sorts of questions concerning 
the races and peoples of these regions. In the afternoon 
he gave me a horse and a Cossack, and I rode to some 
villages to see the refugees that had just come in from 
Ispir. While the army was in these regions they were 
being well provided for ; but I learned that an advance 
was expected, and then all the Upper Chorokh region 
would soon be deserted and the natives left to fend for 
themselves. After taking notes of the number and needs 
of the peasants who were left here, I returned to the Staff. 
That evening I dined at a wooden table, sitting on the 
right of the General, with all the Staff Officers and a 
number of Divisional Commanders. Next day, June 
22nd, M. Kuzetseff and 1 took leave of this remark- 
able peasant general, and commenced our journey 
back to Olti. 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

We followed another route in order to investigate the 
state of the population north of the region we had already 
passed through. We crossed the Kazan Dag by another 
pass to the North, and descended into a little tributary 
oi the Tortum river. Towards afternoon we stnick the 
road just built by the engineers, running from the Tortum 
valley to Ispir, and followed it down to its junction with 
the road we had come by. On the way we passed ruined 
Turkish villages, and found a popiilation of some 10,000 
Moslems living between Lake Tortum and ' Ispir. We 
also came across fifteen Armenians, all that was left of 
five villages in the neighbourhood of Ispir.. All their 
companions had been massacred the previous sunmier, 
and they had only escaped by disguising themselves 
as Turks. We gave them letters to the Commandant 
of the military stores on the road to Olti, and directed 
them to the Armenian refugee committee at Kars. On 
June 24th we reached Olti, where my journey in the 
Chorokh ended. 

On June 26th I set out to return to Kars, riding in a 
transport-wagon with some Russian soldiers. On the 
way I talked with them about the war. They were 
very anxious to know when it would end, and I told 
them of course that it was very uncertain what would 
happen. There was certainly none of that keenness 
to be giving their lives for Holy Russia which sentimental 
travellers and correspondents from England have been 
trying to persuade their readers is felt by the Russian 
soldier. There was none of that mystic patriotism and 
feeling of sacred duty to country which one sees in the 
German and French soldier, or of the jolly, sporting 
spirit of the British Tomm}'. Amongst these soldiers 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the war was felt as something terrible that had come, 
and must be gone through with, because those above 
had ordered it. But of the least personal interest in 
the war 1. could not see a sign. " Ah, fight, fight ! " said 
one of them. " So much suffering, so many dead. But 
-when it will finish, it is not certain." I felt inclined 
to say, " It will finish when you silly fellows learn where 
your real enemies are, and turn your rifles behind you 
instead of in front of you". Perhaps something Hke 
that did pass through their minds, for when I called 
their attention to the fact that war did nothing to help 
them, and only brought them misery and loss, and was 
contrary to the moral precept that we should love one 
another, they responded very readily. It was as if their 
real subconscious nature was true to everything that is 
best in man, but that it was inarticulate, and hidden by 
the more superficial nature which had been artificially 
imposed upon them by centuries of serfdom and mili- 
tarism. An unutterable feehiig of weariness came over me 
as the wagons rolled over the dust}' road, and I looked 
on these young fellows prepared for the sacrifice to Mars, 
and too much overwhelmed with a sense of inexorable 
fate to understand the truth. But if I had known more, 
I should have realized the existence of that subconscious 
better self. One of them indeed began to complain of 
the evil state into which Russia had fallen, how the police 
were cruel and corrupt, and how in their village they had 
not land enough. That was the other self speaking, 
and drowning the voice of national pride that bade them 
fight the Turks, the self that brought about the great 
events of March 1917. 
We reached Merdenek on the Kars plateau on June 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

27th. This was a great transport and supply centre, 
and from here a light railway went to Kars. I slept 
in a common room for Russian soldiers, ate some bread 
and drank some tea with the soldiers, and also acquired 
some lice from the noisome quarters. The wagons left in 
the early morning of the 28th, and travelling on them 
all day I arrived at Kars that evening, where I again 
put up in the house of Colonel Schmerling. I intended 
to go on to the Ardahan region of the Kars province 
to enquire into the state of the refugees there. While 
I was waiting in Kars for a carriage, I heard of some 
Russian peasant youths. Baptist sectarians from a village 
in the Kars province, who had refused military service 
on conscientious grounds, and had been sentenced to 
two years' penal servitude. I asked Colonel Schmerling 
if he could arrange for me to visit them in the prison, 
and after seeing the Commandant, he obtained leave for 
me. I went up to the fortress prison, where prisoners 
were kept before being sent to Tifiis or Siberia or 
some other large centre. Up a flight of stone stairs 
I came to an iron door, where I rang a bell and handed 
my paper to the warder. I was led into a courtyard 
where there was a little of&ce, and told to wait here, 
because soon other people from the town would be coming 
to visit their friends in prison. Gradually the courtyard 
filled with Tartars, Armenians, Greeks and Russian women, , 
all waiting to get in. A door opened in the main prison 
wall ; every one rushed in, and I accompanied them. On 
a raised platform, to which wooden steps led up, there 
was a long wire lattice erected. Beyond this wire was 
another, leaving a space between. Behind this second 
wire I could see the prisoners walking about. Then 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

followed a scene almost exactly like that described in 
Tolstoy's " Resurrection ", when Nekludof visits Katusha 
in prison. Every one rushed to the wires, and for the 
next five minutes there was a ceaseless yelling and shout- 
ing, so that not a word could be heard, and my attempt 
to find the young Baptists was unavailing. When the 
five minutes was up, the warder ordered the visitors to 
leave, bttt I was allowed to stay a few minutes longer. 
I asked through the wires for the young men, and one 
of them came forward. He was a pale fair youth, dressed 
in the grey prison dress; In his eyes was an indescribable 
look of mental suffering and resignation. All around 
him were criminals of the coarse type. Many of 
them had been sent there for murder, and he had been 
sent there precisely because he had refused to murder : 
a curious commentary on oui so-called civilization. I 
asked him how he felt. He replied, " AU right, thank 
you. I am at rest in my spirit, and that is the chief 
thing. I have done my duty". I told him who I was, 
and he asked at once what they did with those who 
renounced military service in England. " They treat 
them better than they do here, I expect", he added. 
I then told him of the conscientious objectors who had 
been sent to France and condemned to death, and a look 
of surprise and pain came over his face. " I thought 
that England was a free country ", he said. " So did 
I ", I answered, " once upon a time." He then told me 
that in his village the majority of peasant families were 
of the Malakan sect,' but that some years ago a number 
of families had become Baptists. Among them there 
were some who in reading the Gospels had come to the 

' I describe this aegt wbeu dealing with the Ardahan district. 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

Dnclusion that it was sin to take life, and this had led 
[lem to refuse military service. It appears that their 
onversion to this belief was quite spontaneous, and due 
no influence from without. Some thirty years ago 
he Dukhobors had come to the same conviction, had 
een persecuted, and with Tolstoy's aid had migrated 
America. Now once again in the Trans-Caucasus the 
ame belief was developing among these Baptists, whose 
ncestors had come as Malokans to the Caucasus a hundred 
ears before. I wished to stay longer and say more, 
ut words failed me, and I could not express all that I 
elt and longed to say. Wishing him and his brothers 
trength for their heavy spiritual struggle, I gave one 
ist look through the iron wires at those peaceful suffering 
yes, and then turned and went out. 

On July 1st I left Kars and travelled by posting carriage 
Ardahan, passing the village of Djelaus on the way. 

arrived at Ardahan next day. The town is situated 
n the extreme northern edge of the Kars plateau, almost 
,t the head-waters of the Kura river. North and West 
if it the plain suddenly breaks off, and the land falls 
tito the great depression of the Middle Chorokh and 
Ldjaria, The plateau in this neighbourhood is inhabited 
aainly by Moslems of all kinds, but there are a consider- 
ble number of Greeks, who migrated into the Caucasus 
rom the Gumush Khaneh region of Turkey after the 
/ar of 1877. The town of Ardahan is surrounded on 
hree sides by fortified hiUs, not unlike Erzerum, while 
n the eastern side is an open plain. The forts have 
irgely fallen into disuse ; but they were of great impor- 
ance during the Russo-Turkish war, and many bloody 
lattles were fought around them. I found the town 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

half in ruins. The bazaar had been half-burnt, and 
all the native quarter by the castle on the north side of 
the Kura had been completely gutted. In December 
1914 a column of Turks had advanced from the Black 
Sea via Artvin to Ardahan, from which the Russian 
troops had retired. The Turks pressed on a little further, 
but on the arrival of the Cossacks they fell back on Artvin. 
When the Cossacks re-occupied Ardahan, according to 
the accounts of Russian eye-witnesses who told me them- 
selves, a massacre and pogrom took place. The Cossacks 
looted the bazaar, burnt the Moslem quarter, and killed 
at sight all Turks they could see. The town was stiU 
in the state in which the Cossacks had left it. I went 
to see Ali Verdi Bey, a Tartar doctor who had charge 
of a small hospital and dispensary in the town. He 
at once invited me to come and stay with him. I readily 
accepted, and spent the next few days enquiring into the 
state of the refugees and natives of the district. I found 
that there was great distress among at least 40,000 of 
the population, owing to the disorders and band-warfare 
that followed the retreat of the Turks in December 1914. 
I visited several villages with the doctor, and on July 
5th rode over to Hanach, a Greek village about a day's 
journey to the north-east. From here we made several 
excursions to the Moslem villages situated on the edge 
of the plateau and off the beaten track. On the 
afterrioon of July 6th we arrived at a summer encamp- 
ment of Turcomans, who had taken their flocks up from 
the village to the high pastures where it was cool. The 
spot was so delightful that we decided to stay there for 
the night. These Turcomans belonged to the AU-Allahi 
sect, and by questioning the headman of the encampment 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

I obtained the following information. The Ali-AUahis, 
or Turcomans of the Kars plateau, . have lived in their 
present villages for many generations ; but according 
to their own tradition they originally came from the 
Sivas vilayet of Asiatic Turkey. They regard with 
special esteem the Kizil Bashi Khurds of the Dersim 
region, south of Erzinjan, whom they look upon as having 
the same faith as themselves. Before the war, Mullahs 
and Sheikhs used to come from the Dersim to visit them 
and instruct them in their form of worship. Marriages 
also between the Kizil Bashi Khurds and the Ali-Allahi 
Turcomans used to be frequent. They did not appear 
to have any very strong convictions on matters of dogma, 
except that they seemed to hold the name of Ali in very 
great reverence. It was the feast of Ramazan while 
I was among them, but they were not observing it. They 
told me that on the day before Easter Sunday they make 
a special kind of soup, which they call Asshir Chirbassi, 
and make a feast with it. Also during the first week of 
September one of their Sheikhs comes round and performs 
a ceremony over bowls of water, like a Christian priest. 
Each family then takes some of the water home and 
keeps it. What the ceremony actually consisted of I 
could not gather, but it is clear that there are survivals 
of Christian customs practised among this sect. In 
the Kars province there are three Sheikhs among the 
Ali-AUahis who have come originally from the Dersim, 
and have studied in the madrasas at Constantinople. The 
language of the sect is Ottoman Turkish, and the men 
dress like Turks, but the women are got up more in the 
Khurdish style, with a white kerchief tied round their hair 
and a network of hne chains hanging down their necks. 

209 o 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

In the Hanach valley we visited also many village's 
of the pure Osmanli Turks. It happened about this 
time that news was leaking through about the great 
Arab revolt against the Turks. In almost every village 
old and young Turks would ask us if it was true that the 
Arabs had declared war on the Turkish " Padishah ". 
The news seemed to interest them, and they wanted to 
know why the Arabs' were fighting with the Turks, and 
whether they wanted a separate kingdom of their own. 
We told them that the Arabs had once been independent, 
and a very great people ; that it was they who had charge 
of the Holy places, and that a struggle was now begin- 
ning between the Sharif of Mecca and the Sultan of Turkey, 
as to who should become the Caliph of Islam. But 
the actual question of the Caliphate seemed to concern 
them very little. It was the national and territorial 
aspect of the conflict that interested them most. 

On July loth we returned to Ardahan, and next day 
I rode off alone across the plateau to the west of Ardahan 
to visit some of the Russian settlements in these regions. 
In the afternoon I reached the Malakan village of Niko- 
laefka. It was a typical Russian village, and looked 
strange in its surroundings. All round were the dirty, 
disorderly villages of the Turks, Greeks and Khurds, 
little better than collections of mud hovels. But here 
I found a wide street with a long row of substantial, 
well-built wooden houses on either side. In the yards 
round the houses women of a European type were tend- 
ing cattle or digging in the little cabbage gardens, and 
in the fields Russian mujiks were ploughing. I went 
to the starshina, or head of the village, and obtained leave 
to rest the night with them. My host was a fine old 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

peasant, with a Tolstoyan face and beard, who showed 
me about the village and told me the history of their 
colony. Early in the 19th century their forbears lived 
in the government of the Kherson in South Russia. They 
were Little Russian in origin, and used to confess the 
Orthodox faith, and live like the other peasants around 
them. Then in the early years of that century there 
appeared among them some preachers, who began to 
teach a new mode of living. They read to them the 
Bible, which had been translated from the German ; 
they told them that the priesthood was bad ; that the 
priests did not follow the teachings of Christ; that it 
was wrong to smoke, to drink, and to eat pig's-meat. 
Soon others in the village became affected, and them- 
selves got up and spoke. Meetings were held every 
Sunday ; the Orthodox church was left empty, and 
the priest without a congregation. In fact, there 
had arisen in the country north of the Black Sea a 
religious revival of the same type as that led by John 
Wesley a generation earlier in England. The Orthodox^ 
Church began a campaign of -persecution against them ; 
but Alexander the First was too liberal and humane to 
take any steps against the new Dissenters. On his 
death, however, the tyrant Nicolas the First commenced 
a wholesale persecution, and when he could not prevail 
against them, he exiled them to the Caucasus. Soon 
after 1830 they settled in the government of Elizabetopol, 
but in 1881 moved to the Kars plateau. When they 
arrived here their numbers were only 300, but now they 
have increased to over 1,000 in less than forty years. 
On the Ardahan plateau there are five of these settle- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

I was tak^n to see the meeting-place where they 
assemble every Sunday to read the Bible. One of their 
number is elected to preside and conduct the service, 
for they hold that priesthood is strictly forbidden. They 
do not christen children, but every Saturday all adults 
wash their whole body. All the people that I met in 
this village gave me the impression of being remarkably 
serious and conscientious. I saw several meetings in 
private houses in the evening after work was over. The 
men were discussing religious questions, and interpret- 
ing the Scripture by reading and judging for themselves. 
Their whole mental attitude is the outcome of deep 
religious conviction, and they may be regarded as the 
most easterly outpost of that rational form of Christianity 
which has inspired Protestantism and the various Non- 
conformist Churches of the West. From these early 
Malakan settlers the Dukhobors broke off, according to 
the accounts given me in this village. The latter are 
another product of deep religious conviction, whose 
particular tenet is the renunciation of military service. 
In more recent years there has grown up among 
these Dissenters (also as offshoots from the Malakans) 
a number of Baptist sects, and Baptist preachers have 
come to Tiflis, some from Germany, some from Russia. 
I found also in the village of Nikolaef a sect of Adventists, 
who observe Saturday Uke the Jews, and believe in the 
coming of a Messiah. In fact every Nonconformist sect 
seems to be represented among these Russian colonists 
in the Transcaucasus. Their presence, however, does 
not seem to give any trouble to the authorities. In 
fact my friend the Vice-Govemor of Kars, who was 
also head of the local Court of Justice, informed me that 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

he had never had up before him for trial a single Russian 

In matters of husbandry and the practical affairs of 
life these settlers are an example to the Moslems, Arme- 
nians and Greeks among whom they live. Their villages 
are models of industry and thrift. Their whole standard 
of Ufe is higher than that of the natives : they eat better 
food, and more of it, and the infantile mortality among 
them is very much less. They grow barley, potatoes 
and rye, and all kinds of garden vegetables. ' They also 
keep large flocks of cattle and sheep, and hire the Khurds 
to pasture them on the mountains in the summer. They 
have introduced co-operative creameries; and in the 
village of Nikolaefka I saw a fine cheese factory, where 
large Dutch cheeses were made three times a week and 
sent every two months from the remote Trans-Caucasus 
to the towns of Central Russia. The higher standard 
of living and industry cannot be without its effect 
upon the natives in their midst. The difference between 
the types of villages, one Asiatic and the other European, 
is still very striking ; but it seemed to me that the in- 
dustrious Russian colonists were already beginning to 
inspire the natives with a desire to imitate them. Their 
neighbours were constantly coming to this village to buy 
good horses and cattle, or hire themselves to the Malakan 
husbandmen, and earn their money. This is an example 
of the influence which the Eastern Slavs exercise upon 
the native Asiatics. Instead of coming into 'the country 
as rulers and members of a governing class, like the 
English, French and Germans, they come as simple 
villagers, settle down among the natives, work hard, 
give work to others, sell to their neighbours, and let 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

their children play with the Moslem children ; in fact, 
by a slow process they infuse their culture into their 
neighbours and modify the original type. They are by 
far the truest harbingers in the East of what is best in 
Western civilization, the more so because, under the 
influence of their strong religious faith, they have^left 
behind them in Europe most of what is bad. 

But I could find no evidence that they went so far 
in their intercourse with the Moslems as to intermarry 
with them. Here religious barriers are still too strong, 
and it will probably be a long time yet before they are 
broken down. But between the native Christians, both 
Greeks and Armenians, and the Malakans, I found there 
had been instances of intermarriage in recent years. 
In the village of Nikolaefka there had been a dearth of 
young marriageable women, and several of the young 
men had gone to the Greek and Armenian villages over 
the plateau, and had asked for and obtained some of the 
girls for wives. Instances of Russian women marrying 
native Christians did not exist in this district ; but it 
is common enough in Georgia, where Russian colonists 
have in some places become completely Georgianized. 

I spent two nights in the village of Nikolaefka with the 
old peasant who was my host. Then I went on to Michael- 
ovka, another similar village, where I stayed a night, 
and then returned to Ardahan. On July 20th I started 
northward, travelling in a transport-wagon, and on the 
22nd reached Akhalkalak. From here I drove over the 
beautiful Tsara-Tsara pass, from the top of which I could 
see the whole of the Caucasus range, and then descended 
into the lovely fertile valleys of Georgia, through the 
dense forests of Bakuriani and Tsagver to the luxurious 


My Summer Journey on Kars Plateau 

Borgeom, the haunt of the tourist. My long journey 
over the North Armenian plateau came to an end on 
August 13th, when I reached Tiflis. I had been away 
for nearly two months, and had covered more than 
500 miles of little kiiown territory, and I may claim to 
have been the first to make any investigations as to the 
effects of the war's ravages upon the native populations 
of these regions. 




During the latter half of 1915 and the first six months 
of 1916 I had covered the greater part of the regions 
affected by the war on the Asiatic front, from the 
centre of Western Persia to the plateau of North Armenia. 
There still remained to be visited the little strip of moun- 
tainous country between the Black Sea coast and the 
Upper Chorokh, known as Lazistan. During the Autumn 
of 1916 the bitter cry -of suffering that had gone out to 
the Western world from the Christian and Moslem peoples 
of these Eastern lands was met by liberal donations of 
money for their relief. Mr. Backhouse had been appointed 
to administer in Tifiis the Lord Mayor's Fund for 
the relief of Armenians and Ass3Tians. The American 
Missionaries from Van settled during the Autumn of that 
year in Erivan, and were an untold blessing to thousands 
of homeless and starving Armenians, thanks to generous 
financial assistance from the United States. About this 
time also the Red Crescent Society of the Indian 
Moslems began to take interest in the fate of the Moslem 
population of the Caucasus regions. A fund was thus 
built up for relief work among the Mahommedans, and 
the management of this little fund fell to my lot. Hearing 
in October of the terrible condition of the population of 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

Lazistan, I decided to make a journey there, and organize 
a method for sending up food and clothing into those 
remote valleys on the Black Sea coast before the winter 
set in. In October I had bought warm clothing out of 
the money sent by the Indian Red Crescent, and the 
British Consul at Batum, Mr. Patrick Stevens, and his 
sister prepared and made up the packages. Each one 
contained for girls five archenes of flannelette, one pair 
of shoes, a handkerchief, and a needle and thread ; for 
boys a bashlik, two and a half archenes of cloth for 
trousers, three archenes of cotton shirting, one pair of 
shoes, and a needle and thread. Out of money also assigned 
by the Lord Mayor's committee, I bought 6,000 pouds of 
maize from the Government stores, by permission of General 
Romanofsky, the Governor-General of Batum. On Nov- 
ember 7th I came to Batum from Tiflis with Dr. Sultanof, 
the representative of the Baku Moslem Benevolent Society, 
to begin the work of transportation and distribution. 
But what a task lay before us ! As I looked from the 
sea beach at Batum at the towering ranges of Lazistan 
which rose almost perpendicularly before me, I feared 
that I was undertaking the impossible, if I tried to trans- 
port 6,000 pouds of maize and 300 packages of warm 
clothing through those yawning defiles and apparently 
impenetrable mountain-chains. 

Lazistan may be geographically divided into three 
parts. First, there is the thin strip of coast-Hne com- 
prising the northern slopes of the Pontic chain, where 
the little rivers flowing from the high watershed fall steeply 
into the Black Sea between Trebizond and Batum. Then 
there is the upland plateau where the Chorokh river rises 
in the country round Baiburt, Ispir and Olti, described 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in Chapter VI. This is really the extreme, northern end 
of the Great Annenian plateau, the second step, as it were, 
up to the., high volcanic plateau of Kars and Erzerum.* 
Thirdly, there is the intermediate country lying between 
the high plateau and the sea coast, an almost impassable 
maze of rocky valleys, snow-clad chains and defiles, 
through which the Chorokh river bursts its way to the 
sea. All these three regions may physically be regarded 
as Lazistan. 

Historically this country played a considerable part 
in the struggles of Christendom with Islam in the middle 
ages. It seems from the very earliest times to have 
been inhabited by the Georgian race, speaking a Japhetic 
dialect. Their presence here is reported by the ancient 
Greeks, who visited the coast and founded the colonies 
of Trebizond, Rize and Atina. They seem in fact to have 
been the aboriginal inhabitants of this part of Asia, who 
retired gradually northward towards the sanctuary of 
the Caucasus before the advance of other races. In the 
13th century the kingdom of Georgia rose to great 
power, and became an Empire extending from the main 
Caucasus range far into the Armenian plateau. It was 
the policy of Tamara, the famous Queen of Georgia, to 
create a chain of allied Christian States along the southern 
shores of the Black Sea, and thus to link up Georgia 
with the Byzantine Empire, and bar the advance of the 
Moslems. For a time her policy was partly successful.^ 
The family of the Comneni, who ruled the Greek state 
of Trebizond, was established by her efforts, while she 
herself appointed a Georgian Viceroy to rule over 
Lazistan, But the dream of a chain of Christian States 

» See Map, 

Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

tnnecting with Constantinople was never realized, for 
. the 14th century the Seljuk Turks broke through 
I the Black Sea, and occupied the coast where Sinope 
id Sanisun now stand. From that day onward the 
azis have fallen more and more under Turkish influence 
id custom ; they have adopted Islam, and over the 
■eater part of Lazistan have become completely Turkified. 
Iso a considerable number of purely Turkish people have 
ligrated thither in the last three hundred years. But in 
le remoter valleys there are still to be seen many Lazis, 
ho speak an Iraeretian dialect of Georgian, and are fully 
rvare of their Georgian origin. The. figures of the popu- 
tion of Lazistan are incomplete. The Turkish Govern- 
icnt before the war made a census of the Trebizond 
layet, but they made no attempt to separate the Lazis 
om the Turks, regarding them all as Moslems. In the 
isiii of the Middle Chorokh, in the Kaimakamliks of 
kdem and Kishkim, they gave a population of 60,000. 
urther South in the Tortum region, where I travelled 
I the Summer, I could find no traces of Lazis. On 
le Black Sea coast the Lazis are found up to a point 
etween Kop and Rize, and according to the Turkish 
msus there are 50,000 of them in this district. 
When the country was occupied by the Russians in the 
,te Winter of 1916, there was an indescribable state of 
)nfusion. The Turks retreating from Erzerum tried to 
»rce the inhabitants to come away with them. AU the 
ten between twenty and forty had already been taken for 
le Turkish army. Those that remained hid in the moun- 
lins for a time, and then returned to their homes during 
le course of the Summer. They found that their little 
,rms and dwelling-places had been destroyed, especially 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in those places through which the Turks had retreated 
or the Cossacks had passed. But much more serious for 
them was the fact that the harvest for the year had been 
lost, and all their cattle and live-stock had been driven 
away by the Turkish army. Of the population of the 
Middle Chorokh in the regions of Melo, Okdem and 
Kishkim, which before the war had numbered 60,000, 
only 20,000 now remained. The rest had either been 
pressed into the Turkish army, or had died of hunger 
and fever during the Winter. These remnants, to 
10,000 of whom in the Melo region I distributed food and 
clothing, were during the remaining months of 1916 trsdng 
to re-estabUsh their ruined homes and husbandry. In 
normal times they Uve by cultivating grapes, olives, apples 
and plums, which they dry and take down Ihe Chorokh 
in boats to Artvin and Batum, and there exchange for 
maize, which they carry home on their backs across the 
mountains. Since the war came into their country, the 
vineyards and orchards on the slopes of the rocky valleys 
have not been irrigated or tended, and consequently the 
people had to go for eighteen months without their harvest 
of dried fruits to exchange for maize. 

After my arrival at Batum I arranged to send half the 
maize in transport-wagons up the road along the Chorokh 
defile to Morgul and Artvin. From there it was necessary 
to find other means of sending it further. On November 
17th I left Batum vath Dr. Sultanof, and drove to Morgul, 
where the Caucasus Copper Company have their mines 
and smelting works. The road turned off from the Chorokh 
valley at Borchkha, and went up a narrow valley, the 
sides of which were covered with scrubby forest, as far 
as the copper mine, where it stopped. Beyond rose th«! 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

;reat snow range of Kvahid and Magara. It was impos- 
sible to go further with any wheeled vehicle, and of mule 
or donkey transport there was none, since the whole of 
this part of Adjaria was now absolutely uninhabited. It 
was difficult to know what to do, for the villages of the 
Kevak region, where we wanted to distribute the maize, 
lay across the frowning ranges ahead of us. The Winter 
was coming on fast ; a bitter wind was blowing ; the snow 
was beginning to fall in downy flakes, and the passes ahead 
lay at the height of 9,000 feet, and were only fit for foot- 
travelling in Summer. In the deserted village near the 
copper mine we found about 300 old men and boys with 
some women. They had crossed the mountains from 
the Kevak villages, on hearing that we were coming with 
maize to MorgUl. " We have brought food for you ", said 
Dr, Sultanof to them ; " but how shall we get it to your 
homes?" "Do not fear, effendi", said an old Turk; 
" we will carry it on our backs." And they meant it too. 
During the next day we apportioned its share to each 
village, and then, to our astonishment, these old men and 
women and boys tied sacks containing three and even 
four pouds (90 to 120 pounds) of maize on their backs, 
and proceeded to walk with this terrific weight in the 
direction of the 9,000 feet pass. They disappeared in a 
mist of snow and sleet, toiling steadily up the gorges of 
Morgul Ghai, And they accomplished the feat and 
reached their homes, as we heard afterwards. The people 
of this mountainous country, where horses and even 
mules can hardly go, are used to becoming beasts of 
burden themselves, and scaling tremendous heights with 
huge weights on their backs. So our difficulty was 
solved, as far as the Kevak region was concerned. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

On November 19th we left for Artvin in a carriage, 
driving along the defiles of the Chorokh by a road 
which zigzagged up the most precipitous slopes. We found 
the whole of the region of lower Adjaria deserted. Not 
a living soul was to be seen. Before the war it was 
inhabited by the Adjars, a Georgian race who are 
Mahommedans, and in every way just like the Lazis. 
They became Russian- subjects when this country was 
annexed to the Caucasus after the war of 1877. At 
the beginning of this war Enver Pasha included an ex- 
pedition fpr the recapture of Adjaria in his plan for 
invading the Caucasus. This part of his plan was 
somewhat more successful than the other part for the 
invasion of the Kars plateau. He not only occupied 
the whole of the basin watered by the Chorokh and 
its tributaries, but approached and for a time practi- 
cally surrounded the fortress of Batum. His troops 
remained in Adjaria for three and a half months, 
thus driving a great wedge into the Russian lines along 
the Caucasus, and occup5dng a large strip of Russian terri- 
tory, ITie invasion commenced in December 1914, when 
Halid Bey with a battalion of good Constantinople troops 
and about 1,500 Chettahs (local volunteers), advanced from 
Kop on the Black Sea coast, occupied the copper mine, 
and pushed on to Artvin, while the Russians retired on 
Batum. A Georgian officer in charge of the Russian 
frontier guards, who was in the confidence of the natives, 
told me that the Adjars came to him weeks before and 
warned him that the Turks were coming. They implored 
him to let them go to Batum and save their wives and 
families, for some of them had been across the mountains 
into Turkish territory, and had seen the preparations 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

he Turks were making. The Georgian officer reported 
his to his general at Batum, but was given the reply that 
iverything was all right, that the Turks could be resisted 
f they came, and that the natives were not to be allowed 
o leave. No preparations, however, were made, no guns 
vere sent up the Chorokh defiles, and the natives became 
nore and more uneasy, fearing for their families and homes. 
Suddenly on December i8th Halid Bey's forces appeared 
in the heights above the Morgul copper mines. The news 
pread like wild-fire : the general at Batum ordered a 
peedy retreat, and there was a general sauve qui peut. 
Jut the majority of the native Adjars, after being treated 
a this fashion, felt under no obHgation to leave, and so 
emained behind, feeling that the Russian authorities 
lad no further interest in them. For over three months 
hey lived in their homes under Turkish control. In April 
i 1915 the Russian Caucasus anny began to recover and 
o reorganize. General Liakhoff, with a considerable 
orce, was sent to retake Adjaria, and commenced his 
.dvance up the Chorokh from Batum. The Turks 
>eing too heavily engaged with the British and French 
n Gallipoli to send any reinforcements, Halid Bey 
ras compelled to retire gradually from Adjaria before 
he Russians. This is another instance of the indirect 
'alue of the GallipoU expedition from a strategical point 
if view, when all the Asiatic fronts are taken into con- 
ideration. But on the return of the Russians some sad 
vents took place. General Liakhoff, who had acquired 
ame during the Persian revolution by ordering his Cossacks 
o fire on the Persian Majlis, and by generally bolstering 
ip the corrupt and abominable government of Mahommed 
^li Shah, was now transferring his activities to Adjaria 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

and Lazistan. He accused the Moslem natives of 
treachery, and sent his Cossacks from Batum with orders 
to kill every native at sight, and bum every village and 
every mosque. And very efficiently had they performed 
their task, for as we passed up the Chorokh valley to 
Artvin not a single habitable dwelUng or a single living 
creature did we see. Yet it was clear that there had 
been a large population here at one time, judging from 
the mass of ruined villages and the wide areas of orchards, 
fields and gardens, all now run wild. According to the 
Russian official statistics for the Batum government, 
there were 52,000 Adjars in the Artvin district, but 
when we passed through it only 7,000 remained, cluster- 
ing round the Morgul copper mines and Artvin. General 
Liakhoff could not have been unaware that the Adjars 
had entreated the general commanding at Batum to be 
allowed to leave their homes, when they knew the Turks 
were coming. But, as he told a friend of mine in Tiflis, 
who told me, " The order came from above ". This is 
just what the Turkish Governor of Adana said after the 
Armenian massacre in that place in 1908. The whole 
affair, however, was not creditable to the late Prince 
Vorontsoff Dashkoff, the Russian Viceroy, and to his 
chief advisers. 

We reached Artvin on the evening of November 19th. 
The town is remarkably situated on an ahnost precipi- 
tous slope rising from the shores of the Chorokh river 
for over 1,000 feet. The little zigzagging lanes are cut 
into the mountain sides, and the wooden houses and 
patches of orchard are scooped out in level spots all 
the way up. Above rises an immense slope of rock 
and forest for another 3,000 feet, leading to the pass 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

?hich divides Adjaria from Lazistan. We toiled up 
lie slope to the top, where we reached the fine stone 
ouse of the Russian chief of the district, Captain Zace- 
lovitch, who received us with typical Russian cordiality, 
nd invited -us to stay with him as long as we liked. He 
^as a great sportsman, and dangled before us all sorts 
f hunting and shooting expeditions after bears and 
solves, in which the mountains abound. From the 
ining-room in his house we had a magnificent view of 
[ount Karchkhal, a peak 11,248 feet high, which rose like 
giant out of the confused -jumble of rocky valleys and 
igged ridges that we saw all round us. The town of 
jtvin itself contains one modern mosque, and the ruins 
E the residence of the former Mahommedan governor of 
.djaria in the days of the Turkish dominion. Here Arslan 
iey, of the old Georgian Mahommedan family, used to rule 
I the name of the Sultan, and the remains of his sumptuous 
alls, with gardens, fountains, cypress-groves and latticed 
arems, are still to be seen in an open space near the 
anks of the Chorokh. But the town of Artvin is chiefly 
ihabited by Armenians, 9,000 in all, who have an inter- 
sting history. They are nearly all Roman Catholics ; and 
ccording to one of the priests with whom I talked, their 
ffbears came from the Mush and Van region a hundred 
id fifty years ago, and settled here for the purpose of 
irrying on trade between the coast and the Armenian 
[ateau along the Une of the Chorokh river. There was 
Adently an old trade route leading up from the Black 
ia. near Batum, and following the Chorokh past Artvin 
ito the Kars plateau. Enterprising Armenians came down 
lis route, and opened up trade between the Adjars, La.zis 
id Greeks on the sea coast and the Armenians on the 

225 P 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

high plateau. But the religious persecution to which they 
were subjected by the Turks made their lives a burden, so 
that a large number of them decided to become Roman 
Catholics; and missionaries, who had been allowed by 
the kings of Georgia to work among their own subjects, 
were invited into Adjaria. It seems that the Turks did 
not persecute the Roman Catholics to the same extent as 
they did the Orthodox and Gregorian Christians, whom 
they feared as having some political influence. Especially 
during the Napoleonic wars, when Turkey was for a time 
allied with France against Russia and England, the safest 
plan for a Christian in these parts of Turkey was to 
become a Roman Catholic, and so escape suspicion of 
having any sympathy with Orthodox Russia or with her 
Gregorian sympathizers. During the Turkish invasion 
of the Caucasus at the beginning of this war, the Turks 
themselves, according to Armenian accounts, behaved 
well. On their arrival at Artvin they appointed an 
Armenian Catholic to be mayor. But with the Turks 
came a number of Lazi volunteers, who plundered 
and pillaged the Armenians, and at Ardanutch, a little 
distance up the Chorokh, massacred some hundreds. 
These so-called Lazi volimteers, according to the account 
of an old Turk who was in Artvin all this time, were not 
Lazis at all. At the commencement of the war the 
Turkish Committee of Union and Progress sent some 
of their hired scoundrels, together with two Germans, 
who before the war had lived in Batum, to Trebizond, 
for the purpose of inducing the Lazis and Adjars to form 
volunteer bands and invade the Caucasus. They hoped 
to get the Adjars to rebel against their Russian over- 
lords. Their propaganda however met with no success, 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

because the simple peasants and mountaineers wanted 
nothing better than to be left alone. So the Turkish 
Governor of Trebizond had a bright idea. He opened 
the gaols and let all the inmates out, promising each 
person a medjidieh a day with food, a rifle, unlimited 
bullets and unlimited loot, when they arrived in the 
Caucasus. A number of hangers-on, who loiter round 
every Turkish bazaar town, joined them, and so was 
formed the famous Lazi Volunteer Corps. 

In Artvin I found the 4,000 pouds of maize that had 
been sent on from Batum, together with the 300 packages 
of warm clothing. My next task was to get the trans- 
port to take them across the mountains into the Melo 
region of Lazistan, where I was going to distribute them. 
After some days we succeeded in getting mules and load- 
ing them up, and on November 24th set out with a long 
caravan winding along the little bridle tracks that lead 
from Artvin up the mountain sides towards the old Russo- 
Turkish frontier. We mounted slowly through scrubby 
forests and belts of fir. The range of our vision widened 
continually. We saw to the North the towering crags 
of Karchkhal, and the deep valleys of Imerhevi, Shafsheti 
and Upper Adjaria. In a long grey ridge, with conical 
mountains standing out boldly on the sky-line, we 
recognized the Kars plateau. But far away to the 
North, beyond the rolling wooded ridges of Adjaria, 
I saw a thin pale streak of white faintly penetrating the 
haze of distance. I thought at first it was imagination, 
but I looked again and recognized the main range of the 
Caucasus. There was mighty Elbruz, and the gigantic 
fields of snow and ice that divide Georgia from the Cossack 
steppes and Southern Russia ; and there below was the 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

faint blue of the Euxine. A little further on we reached 
the summit of the pass. The pine forest opened, and 
I saw in front of me a no less marvellous scene. The 
whole of central Lazistan lay before me. From the 
pass where I stood at the height of feet, the ground 
fell away almost like a precipice into a gigantic abyss, 
the bottom of which I could not see. Rising out beyond 
it as precipitously, was another ridge with boulder-skrees 
and forested crags. Beyond this lay another trough, 
dark and purple in the distance, and beyond this yet 
others. Tier upon tier of mountains rose majestically 
before me as far as the eye could reach. I was looking 
into the heart of the great Pontic chain, through which 
the Chorokh river bursts in a series of gorges as magnifi- 
cent as can be seen ansnvhere in the world. This country, 
unknown, unmapped, almost unexplored, has been crossed 
by only one modem traveller, the Georgian Prince Kazbek, 
about seventy years ago. And yet here is boundless 
interest for the geologist and geographer; imtouched 
mineral wealth, and great archaeological treasures. It is 
one of the few places left in the world, where systematic 
exploration has never yet been undertaken. 

We began the descent into the abyss that lay below 
us. The tiny tracks were often no more than three feet 
wide, and nothing lay between us and a sheer drop of 
two thousand feet down the precipices into the raging 
torrents of the Chorokh. I got off my mule and led it 
carefully. But what was to become of the caravan with 
the maize and warm clothing ? Each mule had a great 
pack on each side of him, and as he came up to a pro- 
jecting ledge of rock, his pack on one side might barge 
up against it, upset him, and send him hurtling to destnic- 


Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

tion. In such places we had to unload the mules and 
drag the packs round the dangerous corners ourselves 
Our progress was slow and tedious. We zigzagged down 
and down, and it seemed as if we should never get to the 
bottom. At last we saw far down below us an open 
space of green, where a gash in the mountain-side had 
formed a great skree of soil and detritus. We could see 
orchards of apple and olive, through which peeped little 
wooden houses. This was Melo, a typical village of 
Lazistan. We reached the valley bottom, crossed a tor- 
rential stream and wound along a Uttle path towards the 
village. We were met by a party of natives, who had 
heard of our coming and were waiting for us. But what 
a terrible sight they presented ! Their faces were thin 
and pale ; they looked like ghosts and skeletons, and their 
clothes were simply rags. When Halid Bey's battalions 
had left Adjaria, they had come along some of these 
mountain tracks, and carried off all they could lay their 
hands on. Later a Russian column came, and finished 
off what the Turks had left. Such was the story they 
told us. We then saw a Russian officer coming out from 
the village to meet us, and we found that he was the 
administrator left liere by the column that had passed. 
He was the only official in this vast isolated region. 
" Thank heavens, you have come ", he said to us. " I 
have not seen a European for six months. Here I am, 
exiled without telephone, telegraph, post or paper. It 
is worse than being in Siberia. I have been here all 
this, time ", he added ; " but I have not visited half the 
region that I am supposed to look after, because I can't 
get about over its impassable valleys. I know where 
the region under my charge begins, but I don't know 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

where it ends." And so saying he pointed to tiers 
upon tiers of snowy ranges rising beyond each other as 
far as the eye could reach. He took us to his little 
wooden house, while the emaciated and starving people 
crowded round outside. Our mule caravan was un- 
loaded, and the packs put in a large store, ready for the 

In the village of Melo before the war there were 2,000 
inhabitants ; now there were only 700. For every man, 
there were at least eight women. We found that they 
were mostly Osmanli Turks, probably descendants of 
settlers from Asia. There were also some who called 
themselves Gurji. They spoke Georgian as well as 
Turkish, but in other respects they dressed and lived 
just like Turks. They were Lazis in fact, in an advanced 
state of Turkification. 

Next day we began to distribute the clothing to the 
children. We found an immense number of orphans. 
The old Mullah of the village had no less than fourteen 
under his care alone. We suggested that we should 
take these orphans back with us to Batum, and put them 
in an orphanage ; but the men and women would not 
hear of this. Just as a wild animal clings to its native 
haunts even after its lair is burnt out, so these Turk and 
Lazi natives preferred to live crowded and in want, rather 
than be relieved of these orphan children. On no 
account would they let them go to the towns, for they 
feared the corrupting influences of so-called civilization, 
which is all the more pernicious in war-time. Moreover, 
the Koran tells them that if they bring up an orphan in 
their family, they will be rewarded in paradise. Thus 
their anxiety to do the bidding of their prophet is strik- 

- 230 

Work among the Refugees in Lazistan 

ingly and pathetically evident. We spent the whole of the 
day in distributing 300 packets of clothing to the orphans, 
and doling out rations of maize to the women. Those 
that got portions went away happy and glad, guaranteed 
against the Avinter's cold, but when our supply gave out 
we had gently to turn the rest away. It was the most 
tragic moment in the whole journey ; but nothing could 
be done ; and one could only promise to send up another 
consignment as soon as possible. 

The day after we had finished the distribution, the 
Russian officer proposed to me to go on a short journey 
further into the interior to see something of this extra- 
ordinary country. It was impossible to ride, so we 
left our horses behind and walked on foot to the South, 
winding up and down the ridges by tiny paths. Towards 
midday we reached a lovely little village called Chelchim, 
tucked away under some frowning cliffs, and protected 
from every wind, a perfect sun-bath, facing the South. 
Here were hundreds of little terraces, which diligent 
workers had built up against the rocks, and many little 
irrigation canals for bringing water from the torrent 
that rushes down the valley. The houses were built 
of wood on trestles, with stones on the roofs to prevent 
the wind from blowing off the boards. The vineyards 
and orchards had a desolate appearance. They had not 
been irrigated for a whole year since the inhabitants 
fled away. They were all wild and unpruned, and the 
last year's fruit lay rotting on the ground. The in- 
habitants had not long returned, and looked at us with 
half-scared faces. A fine old man then came out to 
see us. He was a Lazi patriarch, dressed in a short tunic, 
with Caucasian braids and cartridge-pouches, tight leg- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

gings of black cloth, and a bashlik tied round his head. 
His large clear eyes of a wonderful orange hue, his oval 
face and aquiline nose, showed at once that he was a 
descendant of the true Kartvellian or Georgian stock. 
He took us into his wooden house, and insisted on giving 
us all the hospitality he could offer. We knew that 
the people here were half starving, and wished to refuse ; 
but he compelled us to eat his Uttle cakes of coarse maize, 
and we knew that it is an insult in the East to refuse a 
host's proffered hospitaUty. The women of this Lazi 
village were tall and dark, and extraordinarily beautiful 
with the typical beauty of the East. They went about 
unveiled ; though I believe that nearer the coast they 
veil strictly. These Lazis were very fond of guns, and 
almost the first thing they asked us was whether we 
:ould sell them a rifle. According to my Russian com- 
panion, they have constant feuds, and are always killing 
;ach other on account of women and love affairs. The 
Turks of the neighbouring villages look down on them, 
md say that they are a disorderly and lazy lot. The 
lisorder however is never carried so far as to disturb 
>r rob neighbours, and only extends to these private 
)lood-feuds among themselves. 

We stayed the night here, and next day went on to 
nother village of Lazis called Kheviskiar. Here we made 
, remarkable discovery. We found some Greeks practis- 
ng Christian rites in an underground room. There was 
lo apparent reason for hiding the fact that they were 
Christians. It must have been known to the Moslem 
Ulagers, and probably to the Turkish authorities, when 
hey were in charge of the country. And yet in 
tie cellar under a wooden house, where these Greeks 


Work among the Refugees in Lazlstan 

told us that they held their services, we saw a little 
table with a white cloth upon it and a wooden cross. 
Apparently they had always been accustomed to hold 
them there, and had not troubled to build a church ; 
but the custom dates back to the time when such secrecy 
was necessary to escape persecution by the Turks. In 
recent years religious persecution has practically ceased 
in Turkey, and its place has been taken by political per- 
secution of subject races. But why were these Greeks 
here, so far from the sea coast ? They certainly were 
Greeks, for they dressed in European trousers and jackets, 
and the women wore white kerchiefs on their heads ; they 
spoke Greek, and there was a young priest, who had come 
from Trebizond. They themselves told me that Greeks 
had been there from time immemorial ; and one can only 
conjecture that they penetrated centuries ago into this 
remote part of Lazistan from the coast, and settled there 
for the purpose of trading with the natives. We also 
heard of, but did not see, Armenian Catholics, who live 
in a village called Katejar, further up the Chorokh. They 
too are probably descendants of Christian immigrants, 
who came in times past to open up trade. 

On November the 28th we returned to Melo on foot, 
and the next day I made my way back to Artvin. I 
remained there a week longer to arrange about sending 
up further consignments for the starving people, and 
then returned to Batum. Thus in the course of the 
summer and early winter of 1916 I had completed my 
travels over the northern section of the Caucasus front. 
These last two journeys, in Lazistan and Adjari, were 
particularly interesting, because in relief-work I was able 
to come into closer contact with the natives of these 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

little-known countries. It also gave me an insight into 
the character of the war, and the appalling havoc and 
cruelty that it inflicts upon innocent civil populations. 
More than that, I now see clearly that the guilt of war- 
atrocities upon civil populations cannot be put down 
to any one combatant. The whole of war is an atrocity, 
and wherever it comes, hunger, disease, massacres and 
burnings come in its train. One side with threats forces 
the civil population into a course of action, and then 
the other side comes in and accuses them of treachery. 
A massacre follows with all its attendant horrors. This 
is the history of the war on the Caucasus front, as far 
as it concerns the civil population ; and no doubt the 
same has occurred everywhere. The more one looks 
dispassionately at the facts, and collects the stories told 
hy sufferers of all races and creeds on the spot, as I have 
done in the course of eighteen months, the more it 
becomes clear that it is impossible to charge any one 
government with the crime. The only just method of 
settlement in the future is to set up an international 
commission to restore, as far as this is possible, the ruined 
homes and husbandry of these innocent people, the victims 
of Russian and Turkish imperialist greed, and of the 
cynical intrigues of Western Powers. The funds that 
go for this work might be supplied either from a common 
fund of all the Powers, or by those Powers whose terri- 
tories adjoin the devastated regions. 





Ever since the industrial revolution of the West began, 
the imperialism of the European Powers, working along 
economic channels, has produced a competition for the 
undeveloped countries of the earth, of which Armenia 
is one. Lying on the marches of two Imperial Powers, 
she has been the victim of their ambition to control her 
future and exploit her wealth, The expansion of Russia 
into the Caucasus at the beginning of the 19th century 
brought that country into direct contact with the Arme- 
nian people, and made it to some degree responsible for 
their fate. The concession for the Bagdad railway at 
the end of the century brought the Central Powers of 
Europe trlso to the borders of Armenia, and laid a similar 
responsibility on them too. How these two Empires 
have lived up to their responsibilities I shall now 
endeavour to show. 

The political and economic expansion of Russia and 
Germany in the Middle East was the direct result of the 
decay of the Ottomg-n Empire ; and the steady decline 
of Turkey's political independence is the principal factor 
in the Eastern Question. The fundamental weakness 
of Turkey was nowhere more clearly seen than in the 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Armenian vilayets. Here there were three main racial 
and political elements : a large Christian population, 
commercial and agricultural ; the tribal organization 
of Khurdish nomads ; and, lastly, the Turkish official 
class, which ever since the aboUtion of the Janissaries 
has become increasingly effete and incompetent, through 
lack of fresh blood from below. 

The industrial revolution of the 19th century, and 
the steady expansion of its economic influence to the 
undeveloped parts of the earth, tended to widen the gap 
between the nomad and the settled populations of the 
Armenian highlands. The Armenian has become more 
and more attached to the soil as a cultivator, and the 
Armenian trader more and more involved in the Euro- 
pean economic network. The Turkish official class, on 
the other hand, owing to its political and social privileges 
as a ruling race, has remained stationary and sunk in 
apathy, while the nomad Khurdish tribes have been left 
in a state of feudalism and serfdom under their semi- 
independent chiefs. Thus the official class was incap- 
able of commanding the respect or confidence of these 
other elements ; and that alone is enough to account 
for the state of chaos and disorder that has been chronic 
in these regions during the last thirty years. 

It would be untrue, however, to say that the Ottoman 
Turks were uninfluenced by the movements of Western 
Europe. The attempt to throw off absolutism in Russia 
in 1906 awakened similar ideas among the more intelli- 
gent section of the Turkish educated classes. But owing 
to the disunited and chaotic state of the eastern parts 
of the Empire, the Turkish reform movement quickly 
acquired a purely nationalist aspect, and the leaders, 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

concentrating upon the only^ real problem, as the first 
step, have aimed at reforming the political status of the 
Empire by uniting the various elements of the popula- 
tion. It seems, however, that there were in the ranks 
of the Young Turk party from 1908 onward two schools 
of ideas, which, though in agreement on fundamentals, 
were in disagreement as to the methods by which the 
principle of national unity should be realized. Thus 
the group in the Committee of Union and Progress led 
by Ahmed Rize Bey inclined for a time more to the 
liberal " Ikhtilaf " party, of which Sherif Pasha and Prince 
Sabah-ed-din were the leaders. They were inspired more 
by French ideas, and held that the absorption of the 
non-Turkish races of the Empire could be effected on 
democratic lines, and by the general trend of economic 
forces. The right wing of the Committee, however, led 
by Enver Pasha, bore the stamp of Prussianism, and 
held that unification could only be effected by vigorous 
administrative action, and by the centralization of power 
in the hands of a military bureaucracy. The struggle 
between these two groups continued right up to the 
outbreak of the European war, when the militarist group 
succeeded in gaining the day. 

To the influence of the first group, and of that of the 
more enlightened Progressives among the Balkan Slavs, 
may be attributed the autonomous reform scheme for 
Macedonia and Albania, which was set on foot just before 
the Balkan wars, and also the plan to create a Balkan 
confederacy with Turkey as a partner, to act as a barrier 
against Austrian expansion eastward and Russian ex- 
pansion southward. M. Charikoff, the Russian ambassador 
at Constantinople in the year before the Balkan war, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

is believed to have worked in the direction of this solution. 
There certainly was a body of opinion in Russia at this 
time which favoured a peaceful solution of the Balkan 
question, and the settlement of the problem of the Straits 
by mutual concession. The failure of the original idea 
of the Balkan alliance was due to the two Powers against 
whose interference in Balkan affairs it was * aimed. 
The economic influences that backed these Powers, and 
partly no doubt inspired them, were to be seen in the 
Austrian project for a railway concession through the 
Sanjak of Novibazar to Salonika, and in the competing 
Russian project of the Danube- Adriatic railway. This 
latter project is said to have been agreed upon in principle 
by the Balkan States in 1912. Other influences, however, 
worked against this Balkan settlement. During the early 
years of the Viceroyalty of Prince Vorontsoff Dashkoff, 
the Russian authorities in the Caucasus were particu- 
larly nervous about raising the question of Macedonian 
autonomy, fearing that it would become a precedent 
which might be applied to Turkish Armenia and the Trans- 
Caucasus. The interference of the Viceroy of the Caucasus 
at Petrograd undoubtedly effected the withdrawal of 
M. Charikoff, and helped to alter the trend of Russian 
policy at Constantinople. 

After the Balkan war Turkey was left greatly weakened, 
and it was now possible for the party in Russia which 
had opposed autonomy for Macedonia twelve months 
before, to propose it for Armenia now, knowing that 
this step would accelerate the process of disintegration, 
and help Russia to gain control of the marches of the 
Ottoman Empire, thus bringing her nearer to the Straits 
and Constantinople. Accordingly the reform scheme pro- 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

posed by Russia at the end of 1912 aimed at establishing 
a Umited form of autonomy in the six Armenian vilayets, 
which would have the effect of weakening the control 
of Constantinople over these regions. The intervention 
of Germany at this moment to limit the principle of auto- 
nomy and bolster up the Constantinople regime in Armenia 
was, like that of Russia, inspired by desire of territorial 
privileges and ultimate gains, and had no sort of altruistic 
concern for the welfare of the inhabitants of these regions. 
The policy therefore both of Russia and Germany greatly 
strengthened the group among the Young Turks, that 
wished to solve the racial question in Armenia by 
applying the principle of " blood and iron ". It was then 
that they decided to put into practice Dr. Rohrbach's 
plan for colonizing the frontier districts of Asia Minor 
with Moslems from Macedonia, and bringing about a 
removal to Mesopotamia of the Christians and the 
non-assimilable racial elements. The Armenian reform 
negotiations for 1913-14 undoubtedly strengthened Enver 
Pasha's group, and weakened the liberal elements in 
Constantinople which hoped for a gradual and natural 
reconciliation between the Christians and Moslems, the 
nomads and the peasants in the Asiatic vilayets. This 
process of reconciliation seems to have made consider- 
able progress among the native populations of these 
regiofls in the months before the war, in spite of all that 
European diplomacy had been doing. 

The Khurdish population of the Van and Bitlis vilayets 
is divided into two distinct social castes : the military 
landowning Asshirets and the unarmed peasant Rayats. 
The Armenians inhabiting the more fertile plains, round 
the lake, are independent cultivators of the soil living 

241 Q 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in peasant communities. Some of them also live in the 
northern foothills of the Taurus, and have eome under 
the power of the Khurdish Asshiret chiefs. For years 
pa;st these chiefs have tyrannized over both Armenian 
a:nd Khurdish iRayat alike, between whom a tacit under- 
standing to defend themselves against the common enemy 
had begun to grow up. The Ottoman revolution in 1908 
sent eddying currents as far as the highlands of Khurdistan 
and Armenia. The words " liberty, equality, fraternity " 
began to be whispered in the taverns of the Armenian 
revolutionaries and in the tents of the Khurds. An agree- 
ment was arrived at between the Armenian Dashnakists 
and the Khurdish party in the Turkish Parliament to 
support the Turkish Government, so long as it remained 
ttue to its ideals. There even began to spring up a mutual 
understanding between some of the Asshiret chiefs and 
the Armenians. The economic tie between the Khurds 
as stock-raisers and the Armenians as agriculturists 
and traders was becomii^ stronger, and in the Van 
region several Khurdish chiefs even sent their children 
to Armenian schools^ and became interested in Armenian 
commercial enterprises. Thus the process of reoonciUa- 
tion between Khurd and Armenian was devdoping when 
the European Powers hegsxi. to whisper about Mace- 
donian and Armenian reform schemes. The idea got 
about that they were going to ^vide up Turkey in the 
interest of one or oth«r of the subject races. The effect 
in Armenia was instantaneous. At once the delicate 
plant of brotherhood began to wither and die before 
the rays of the sun of nationalism. The Khurds seem 
to have been the first to break with the Porte. 
GoUisiohs between Ottoman troops 4ind Khurdish As^irets 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

occurred in the Bitlis vilayet and in Bohtan from 1912 
onward. As late as the summer of 1914 there was a 
big rebellion of the Bedr-khan tribe of Bohtan, which 
ended in the hanging of several of the chiefs by the Turks. 
Meanwhile the Armenians seem to have kept in with the 
Porte, and to have avoided a breach till much later. But 
the interference of the Powers apparently convinced the 
Porte that they were determined to prevent the union 
of the Ottoman people, and to dismember the Empire. 
The result was to strengthen still further the party 
of Prussianism at Gonstantinople, and to weaken the 
moderate elements of Young Turkey. The years 1913-14 
saw the commencement of the trade boycott against 
the Greeks, and the attempt to spread fanaticism among 
the Khurds by secret propaganda. It was hoped thereby 
to drive the wedge in between Armenian agriculturists 
and Khurdish nomads, and so, by provocation, to prepare 
for the forcible transportation of the Christians to Meso- 
potamia. Thus the hopes of peace and brotherhood 
between the natives of Armenia were dashed ; the fire 
of nationalism was lighted, and the European P&wers who 
had helped to light it were growling at each other over 
the sharing of the future spoils. Thus all the ground- 
work was prepared for the Armenian massacre of 1915. 

At the outbreak of the European war the Committee 
of Union and Progress became alU-powerful, and all 
reform schemes and reconciliation plans fell to the 
ground. The Armenian party, " Dashnaktsution ", 
happened to be holding a conference at Erzerum when 
the war began. Turkey had not yet entered ; but at 
the beginning of August Hilmi Bey, Behadin Shekir Bey, 
and Nedji Bey were delegated by the Committee to make 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

certain proposals to the Armenians in the event of war 
with Russia. These delegates arrived at Erzerum at the 
end of the month, and their first proposal was that the 
Armenians should observe complete neutrality, the popu- 
lation of Armenia and the Trans-Caucasus doing its 
military duty, to whatever Empire it owed allegiance. 
This the Armenians accepted, and all seemed to point 
to an agreement. But a few days later the Turks suddenly 
made another proposal. Turkey, they said, could never 
be secure until there was a chain of buffer States between 
her and her arch-enemy, Russia, and they claimed that, 
if war broke out, the Armenians should assist them in 
carr5Hing out their plan. They then produced a map of 
the Middle East in which the following poUtical divisions 
were made. Russia was to be pushed back to the Cossack 
steppes beyond tlie main range of the Caucasus. Tiflis 
and the Black Sea coast, with Batum and Kutais, were 
marked as belonging to an autonomous province of 
Georgia. The central part of the Trans-Caucasus, with 
Kars, Alexandropol and Erivan, were to be joined to 
the vilayets of Van, BitUs, and East Erzerum, as an 
autonomous Armenia. Eastern Trans-Caucasia, includ- 
ing Baku, Elizabetopol and Dagestan were to become an 
autonomous province of Shiite Tartars. The Armenians, 
feeling the impossibility of the Ottoman Empire ever 
being able to realize such a grandiose scheme, and 
knowing that, should they fail, the Turks had up their 
sleeves Rohrbach's plan to transplant all the Christians 
to Mesopotamia, refused to have anything to do with 
the proposal. So the Young Turk delegates, unable 
to make any impression in Erzerum, proceeded to Van, 
where they met with no greater success. 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

According to statements made to me during 1915 by 
prominent Van Armenians, it is clear that the action of 
the Tiflis Dashnakists, about which the Committee of 
Union and Progress had doubtless been informed by 
the end of August, was the principal cause of these 
Turkish demands. Early in August 1914 the Tifiis 
Armenians seem to have decided that a Russo-Turkish 
war was inevitable, and thereupon the Dashnakist 
leaders there at once offered 25,000 volunteers to assist 
the Russians in conquering the Armenian vilayets. 
This offer was made before the outbreak of the war 
with Turkey, and in the interval the volunteers 
were busy training and forming at the various 
centres in the Caucasus. At the end of October, 
when Turkey came into the war, preparations had 
been so far advanced that Andranik, the famous revo- 
lutionary leader from Turkey, at the head of the 
first volunteer battalion, took part with the Russians 
in the advance throu^ North-west Persia, capturing 
Serai early in November. Meanwhile five more battalions 
had been formed and were ready to leave for the 
front, as soon as they could get rifles and equipment.' 
Fifty per cent, of these volunteers were Armenians who 
had left Turkey, Bulgaria and Roumania since the 
outbreak of the European war, and had come to the 
Caucasus to offer their services. 

There can be little doubt that this volunteer movement, 
started under the auspices of the Caucasus Armenians, 
was the cause of the Young Turk demands on the 
Armenians of Erzerum, Van and Bitlis for a similar 
volunteer movement against Russia, and of the subse- 
quent persecution when this demand was refused. Pro- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

minent Armenians, whom I met in Van, told me how the 
attitude of Djevdet Pasha towards them and their people 
became much more unfriendly as soon as the news arrived 
that Armenian volunteers were on the front fighting 
against the Turks. He at once demanded the return 
of a number of Armenian deserters, whose absence had 
hitherto been winked at. He accused them of going 
over to the volunteers with the Russii;.ns, and commenced 
the policy of forcing the Armenians into special labour 
battalions, where they had very hard work and bad 
food. Thus the Van Armenians were at the mercy of 
the Turks, who avenged on them all the rash acts 
of their kinsmen in the Caucasus. That their conduct 
was keenly resented by the Turkish Armenian refugees 
in the Caucasus, was made clear by some articles in 
the Van Tosp, the organ of the Van Armenians in Tiflis 
early in 191:6. In its issue for January 9th, 1916, Pro- 
fessor Minassian took the Dashnaktsution party to task 
for having entered into negociations with the Russian 
authorities without consulting its kindred societies in 
Turkish Armenia. It had spread^ he said, baseless 
rumours of a Russian promise of autonomy for Armenia, 
and then had proceeded to organize volunteer battalions, 
regardless of the effect that this would have on their 
kmsmen in Turkey, whose position under the nose of 
the Turks was very precarious and required tactful 
handUng. He denied that there was any serious nego- 
ciation with the Russian Government about Armenian 
autonomy, and said that the Dashnaktsution leaders 
of the Caucasus were pretending to represent re- 
sponsible opinion, whereas they really only represented 
a group. The Orizon, the organ of the Dashnaktsution 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

in Tiflis, defended itself by saying that the massacre 
would have happened in any case, and that Prince 
Vorontsoff Dashkoff had not only verbally proniised 
Armenian autonomy in return for the service of the 
volunteers, but had actually signed a document to 
this effect. Whether this document ever existed 
is however exceedingly doubtful. This poUtical split 
between the Russian and Turkish Armenians is nothing 
new. Being constantly in touch with Khurds and Turks, 
the Van and Bitlis Armenians have understood better 
bow to deal with them^ and have more than once deve- 
Ic^d. a policy of their own. In 1883 the first split took 
place, when the Armenaganz party with moderate tenden- 
cies was started in Van in opposition to the socialist 
leanings of the Dashnaktsution, From this again there 
broke away some years later the Hunchakanz, also inspired 
from Van. Its policy was socialistic, like that of the 
t)ashnaktsution, but it kept aloof from them, feeling that 
the Van Armenians required a special group to represent 
their interests. By the Spring of 1915 all the groundwork 
was prepared for the Armenian massacres. Three factors 
seem mainly to have contributed : the rjse of Enver 
Pasha's party at Constantinople, the dissensions among 
the Armenians, and the time-honoured, policy of " Divide 
et impera " at Tiflis. 

The deportations which began on June 26th, 1915, and 
the abominable massacres that followed have been so fully 
described in the official British Blue-book that I will 
not weary the reader with the t4le of horror. I will 
only remark that it is another example of what 
happens to a small nationality sandwiched in between 
two Empires at war, of which we see other examples 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in the Adjars, Lazis, Khurds and Assyrians. Indeed, 
the losses of these peoples through massacre and disease, 
as far as they can be accurately computed, are roughly 
in proportion. Of the 1,800,000 Armenian inhabitants 
of the six vilayets, according to reports from Turkey, 
only 800,000 remain. Of the 900,000 Khurds inhabiting 
the vilayets of Van, Bitlis, Erzerum and Kharput, 
according to information received by the Russian 
miUtary authorities and published by the Kavkaskoye 
Slovo at Tiflis, November 1916, only 250,000 are 
now left. The Assyrian Christians have been reduced 
from 79,000 to 30,000 during their retreat in the 
summer of 1915 from their highland homes to Persia. 
For the Lazis and Adjars I give figures in Chapters 
VI and VII. 

With regard to the restoration of Armenia after the 
war, it is probable that what still remains of its three 
races could speedily repopulate the land, in view of the 
healthy climate and prolific nature of the people. The 
disaster that has befallen them is probably no greater 
than that which took place during the invasion from 
Asia in the middle ages. At present however the bulk 
of the Khurds are with the Turks, about 200,000 of the 
Armenians are with the Russians in the Caucasus, and 
30,000 Assyrians are in Persia. 

It is not easy to predict what proportion of these 
refugees will return to their homes after the war. During 
the three Russo-Turkish wars of the last century there 
was a similar influx of Christians from Armenia into 
the Caucasus, and of Moslems (Turks, Khurds, and 
Cherkess) from the Caucasus into Asia Minor. In 1829, 
120,000 Armenians migrated into the Erivan and Akhal- 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

kalak regions. In 1854, 24,000 came into the Erivan 
government, and in 1877, 21,000 into the Erivan and 
Kars governments. In 1895, 35,000 Armenians migrated 
to these regions, and between the wars and massacres 
a good deal of northward migration went on. In fact, 
during the 19th century the Armenian population of the 
Caucasus increased from one million to 1,600,000, Also 
during the last fifty years 30,000 Cherkess left Dagestan 
for Asia Minor, and an unknown number of Khurds 
migrated from the Erivan and Kars governments to the 
Van and Bitlis vilayets. Exactly the same process is 
taking place to-day. One hundred and eighty thousand 
Armenians from Van and the east part of the Erzerum 
vilayet have gone to the Caucasus. All the Asshiret 
Khurds to the South and East of Lake Van have fled 
into the interior of Asia Minor. Thus each Russo-Turkish 
war has been accompanied by a reshuffling of the popula- 
tion of the Armenian plateau, a portion of the Christians 
flying to Russia, and a portion of the Moslems to Turkey. 
On peace returning, some go back to their old homes, 
and some stay in the place to which they have fled. 

In considering the prospects of settlement in the Van 
and Bitlis vilayets, we can assume that all that remains 
of the Armenian population will return. But the question 
of the large Khurdish population which has fled to Asia 
Minor is a more difficult one. The population figures of 
the Armenian vilayets are the playthings of the political 
propagandist, and it is not difiicult to see interested 
motives in those pubUshed by the Turkish Government 
on the one hand and by the Armenian Catholicos on 
the other. The figures of Mr. Lynch, probably accurate 
for twenty years ago, are not sufficiently up to da,te in a, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

country where the population is in a continuous state of 
movement. M. Mayefsky, for many years the Russian 
Consul in Trebizondi.has compiled tables during his travels 
through Armenia, which are probably accurate for the 
northern parts of Armenia. Also the Armenian writer. 
Ado, has compiled figures for the population of the 
more southern districts. Coming from these sources, one 
neutral in respect to Armeno-Khurdish affairs, and the othei: 
purely academic, these figures, if put together, are probably 
as near to actual fact as it is possible to obtain. One 
point in their favour is that they are attacked by both 
Moslems and Armenians as unfair to their national asjara- 
tions. The figures are as follows : in the Van vilayet 
112,000 Armenians and 224,000 Khurds ; in the Bitlis 
vilayet 156,000 Armenians and' 249,000 Khurds ; in the 
Erzerum vilayet 180,000 Armenians and 249,000 Turks. 
The question now arises what will happen to the lands 
of this large Khurdish population, scattered about over 
the plateau. There is no sort of geographical unity 
in the regions inhabited by Armenians and Khurds. 
The Khurds are most numerous in the hill country to the 
South of Eake Van, in the Sassun region, in the Bin-gel 
Dag and Ala Dags. The Armenians are concentrated 
m the lower lands, on the plain of Mush, and to the East 
of Lake Van. But any traveller in Armenia finds, if he 
attempts to draw a line between the regions inhabited 
by Khurds and Armenians, that he will cover his map 
with endless spider' s-webs and scrawls. In addition to 
this the land question has been complicated in the past 
by the fact that the two races in many regions claim 
each other's land. 
Before the war the Khurdish Asshiret tribes, who had 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

insufficient pastures in the headwaters of the Tigris, 
were constantly shifting northwards, encroaching on 
the Armenian lands in the regions of Van and Mush. 
The low standard of husbandry among the Khurds has 
forced them to look for new lands, and it has been 
most convenient for them to expand northward at the 
expense of their Armenian neighbours, using the feudal 
rights of their Asshiret chiefs to reduce the Christians 
to a state of dependence and serfdom. Hence there has 
been an economic war between the nomad and the 
settled elements of the population of Armenia, which 
has been far more deep-seated than their religious antagon- 
ism. To this must be attributed the steady migration 
of the Khurds from the headwaters Of the Tigris north- 
wards to Mush and Van, and their conflict with the Arme- 
nians in these regions. As a result of this movement 
much of the lands in the South Armenian plateau were 
in disputed possession before the war. Armenians would 
often claim lands which they said the Asshirets had 
taken from them, while the Asshirets based many of 
their claims on the fact that the land was unoccupied, 
as the owners had migrated to the Caucasus, or else had 
agreed to become Rayats, paying tribute in corn. There 
can be little doubt that this economic conflict has been 
an important cause of the migration of Armenians into 
the Caucasus, where they have increased during the last 
hundred years by 600,000. This process is periodically 
reversed by the outbreak of a Russo-Turkish war, when 
Russia has always annexed territory in Armenia, from 
which part of the Moslem natives and Khurdish nomads 
have fled, their vacant lands being at once filled by 
^menians from the Caucasus. On the restoration of 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

peace the old tendency for the Khurdish nomads to press 
the Armenian peasants northward, always recommences. 
During this war, too, Russia has occupied another slice 
of the plateau which she has been nibbling at for a hundred 
years. Most of the Khurds have fled, leaving their 
lands unoccupied, but on the advent of peace a large 
number, responding to that instinct which draws a wild 
animal back to the caves where it was bom, and the 
meadows where it fed, will wander eastward and north- 
ward to their old camping grounds. Once again then 
the Armenian plateau will be occupied by a mixed 
population scattered about without any geographical 
division between the two chief races. 

Under these circumstances it is impossible to talk of 
Armenian autonomy in any sense which does not imply 
also autonomy for the Khurds. If justice is to be done to 
small peoples, and if the settlement of the war in Asia 
is to be based on the high moral principle that each nation- 
ality is to choose its own form of government, then the 
interests of the Khurds must be taken into consideration 
as well as those of the Armenians. Some method must 
be found whereby both these peoples can give expression 
to their desires as to the new order to be created after 
the war. This can only be done by summoning an 
assembly, in Van or some convenient centre, of the 
Armenian peasantry and the Khurdish tribesmen, in 
order to ascertain their views. But who is to summon 
such an assembly ? The greater part of the country 
is at the moment in the hands of Russia. The 
Armenians who have not been massacred are eithfer 
in exile in Mesopotamia or in refuge in the Caucasus. 
The Khurds who have escaped death or disease are 


Armenian Question and its Settlement 

scattered about over the highlands of Anatolia. The 
only practical way seems to be to appoint an international 
commission, perhaps the same which should have the 
task of assessing the damages of the war and making good 
the losses. This commission could be instructed by all 
the Powers who have been at war, as well as by 'the 
neutrals, to summon an assembly of all the natives 
of Armenia. The Armenians are already fairly well 
organized into political and other societies, so that the 
ascertaining of their views will not be a matter of great 
difficulty. But with the Khurds, who are hardly yet 
beyond the tribal state, the task will not be so easy. In 
most cases the tribal chiefs will probably be elected by 
the Asshirets who still remain, while the Rayats, their 
former serfs, will almost certainly elect their representa- 
tives on a democratic basis. 

The problem before such an assembly will be to decide 
whether the future political fate of the Armenian high- 
land is to be bound up with Russia or Turkey. It is 
inconceivable that the people of Armenia should cut 
themselves off from the rest of the world, or create a 
separate political unity in these days of railways, tele- 
graphs and international trade. It is no less inconceiv- 
able that Armenia should have its own state railways, 
posts and customs. These are too obviously general 
services, and should operate over a very much wider area 
than the basin of Lake Van and the Upper Euphrates. 
Indeed the ideal should be to bring all such services, 
as far as national prejudices will allow, under international 
control. If the state of the world after the war will not 
permit of so ideal a solution, then the next best would 
be to induce small countries like Armenia in such matters 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

of general human interest to co-operate with their larger 
neighbours. The difficulty of attaching Armenia to 
Turkey again, would be that the rulers of that Empire 
have been guilty of such crimes towards the Christian 
population that, even if there were a change of govern- 
ment at Constantinople, it would be difficult altogether 
to forget the past. On the other hand, even the Khurds 
would probably have no objection ^o union with Russia, 
where already miUions of their co-religionists are living. 
Whatever may be decided, one point is clear, that if the 
democratic principle, which the Russian Council of Workers 
and Soldiers has set before the world, that all peoples 
shall have a right to decide their own destiny, is faithfulty 
observed, then the fate of Armenia must be put in the hands 
of the Armenian and Khurdish peoples. We have seen 
how in the past before the war these two peoples showed 
themselves able to work together, and would indeed have 
become reconciled to one another, but for the imperialist 
policies of Russia and Turkey, and for the C3mical intrigues 
of the European Powers. What was done in the past 
under the influence of the Ottoman revolution can be done 
again in response to the message of hope, which went 
forth from Russia in March 1917. 




It is an interesting fact that the growth of national con- 
sciousness among the smaller peoples of Europe coincided 
with the period of industrial development and the 
accumulation of capital in the larger countries, and with 
their consequent scramble for colonies, and competition 
for spheres of economic influence. It is very probable 
that the development of nationalism was in part a method 
of protection for the smaller peoples against imperialist 
aggression and economic exploitation. At any rate 
the two processes went hand in hand, and it is clear that 
the growth of national consciousness was not looked upon 
with favour by any of the Great Powers bent on imperial 
expansion, for their relations with economically backward 
races is one long story of repression. In cases where 
nationalism in a small people had readied a point where 
it could not be crushed, the efforts of imperial neighbours 
were then directed towards destroying it by different 
means. Other small peoples with a xising national con- 
sciousness were set iip against them, in order that by 
fratricidal strife they might reduce each otherto impotence. 
This policy has been carried out with great efficiency 
by the Ottomian Government in Armenia, and by Russia 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in the Caucasus, where each succeeding Viceroy has 
done his best to set Georgian against Armenian, and 
Armenian against Tartar. This was the old time-honoured 
principle of the Roman Empire — " Divide et impera." All 
great Powers ruling Eastern dominions have adopted it 
at one time -or another ; nor can it be said that the rule of 
the British in India has been any exception. In Europe 
we see how reactionary and capitalist governments are 
able to use national passions (irredentist desires, as in 
Italy and Serbia, or revenge, as in France), in order to 
create wars and enslave the working classes. So too in 
Asia the policy of setting one race against another, of 
crushing any movement for freedom by bolstering up 
reactionary groups or Oriental despotisms, is necessary 
to Empires controlled by groups of financial exploiters 
on the look-out for concessions. 

When the Russian power first extended into the Caucasus 
over a century ago, the native population was split up 
into countless nationalities and tribes, each having little 
in common with one another. At that time political- 
nationalism was almost extinct among the Armenians, 
and was beginning to wane among the now vassal 
Georgians, while the Mahommedans were still recognizing 
the Viceregent of the Almighty on earth in the person 
either of the Shah of Persia or of the Sultan of Turkey. 
The change to the suzerainty of the Tsar made but little 
difference to the psychology of these peoples. Their 
political apathy had not even been affected by the echoes 
of the French Revolution, as had been the case with 
the Christians of the Balkans. The Middle East still 
lay slumbering in mediaevalism. Towards the middle 
of the 19th century, however, a cultural revival began, 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

centring round the small educated circles of Georgian 
aristocracy and Armenian bourgeoisie in Tiflis and some 
of the principal towns. The Armenians, who throughout 
the ages have kept alive the muse of poetry in their 
mountain homes, began to develop their modern literary 
language, and produced a new school of writers, who 
revived the love of Armenia in the breasts of its people. 
Among the Georgians also Chafchavadze brought lyrical 
poetry to the firesides of the people, and struck the note 
of human sympathy. But the revival of Uterature 
contained as yet no germ of political nationaUsm, 
although it prepared the ground for it. The Georgians 
began to look to the gems of their ancient literature, 
and to read again the works of the bard Rustevelli, 
while the Armenians once more turned to Narek and 
other mystic poets of the middle ages. Thus the tender 
plant of nationalism grew subconsciously in both peoples, 
as each learnt to prize the literature of its ancestors, 
and to recreate it in a new form. The whole move- 
ment was no doubt a late wave of Romanticism coming 
from Western Europe, and reaching the Middle East 
some thirty years after its appearance in the West. 

In the same way the movement towards poUtical 
nationalism was late in spreading into Asia. While it 
was growing in Europe throughout the latter half of 
the 19th century, the peoples of the Caucasus were 
still only developing it in its cultural form. The spread 
of political nationalism from Italy and Greece to the 
Balkans was stimulated by educational propaganda, and 
also by the interference of international diplomacy. But 
these influences left the Middle East as yet unaffected.. 
There the impulse which set practical nationalist ideals 

257 R 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

in motion, came primarily from the Russiatt Revolution 
of 1905. The partial freedom won by the Russian people, 
though speedily withdrawn, inspired the subject peoples 
of the Balkans with the yearning for emancipation from 
foreign rule. The impulsive and idealistic character of 
the revolutionary movement in the Caucasus during 
the years 1905-6, is shown by the rising of the people 
like one man, over a large part of the country, to 
demand political and social rights which had not even 
been conceded to Western Europe. Thus the district 
of Guria formed a republic, while the proletariat of Baku 
demanded the eight hours day. Moreover the whole 
movement was definitely international in its ideals. But 
the Government of the Tsar knew how to deal with the 
situation, and from that day onward the Black Bands 
got to work to arm one race against another and 
organize massacre and pogroms. In 1908 the revolution 
in Turkey broke out, also a response to the Russian 
Revolution, Again the idea of Liberty was speedily 
diverted by a ruling oligarchy into the channels of 
narrow nationalism, and the brotherhood of Christian 
and Moslem was drowned in a bloody sea of intrigue 
and massacre. In the following year the wave swept 
into Persia and deposed a Shah ; but here the ruling 
caste in Russia united with its fellow workers in the 
task of stemming the tide of freedom. It was as if 
the people of Russia and of the Near and Middle East 
had aliiiost simultaneously grasped the idea of the 
brotherhood of man and the solidarity of the workers, 
thus passing with one stride from mediaeval apathy to 
modern internationalism. For an instant they seemed 
to see the light, and then the powers of darkness closed 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

upon them, blinding them with national hatred. Europe 
had given a message of hope to Asia, but the ground was 
not yet prepared. The failure of this great and noble 
idea was due to the premature and unhealthy growth 
of political nationalism. The young plant had been 
stunted, and so it grew fungus-like, and sent forth poisonous 
fumes. We all know how the Balkan wars at first brought 
liberation through blood and tears, and how quickly the 
ideals which were supposed to inspire them deteriorated. 
It was exactly the same story further East, though the 
development was a little slower. In Armenia the recon- 
ciliation between Khurd and Armenian was turned into 
bitter race feuds, which culminated in the appalling 
massacre of the Armenians in 1915. In the Caucasus 
the national idea began to develop strongly among the 
three races, Georgian, Armenian and Tartar, and thus 
a sort of unstable balance of power was produced between 
them, with which the Russian reaction played as with 
a toy. It was very similar to the balance created on the 
Balkan peninsula between Bulgarian, Greek and Serb, 
with the so-called Concert of the Powers intriguing for 
the support now of one and now of the other. And the 
results were almost as disastrous ; for, as I have shown 
above in the account of my journeys in Armenia and 
Persia, the national feuds engendered by this balance 
caused nothing less than band-warfare and massacre 
when the war broke out. 

It is interesting to observe how parties among the 
different races in the Caucasus developed in the years 
after the Russian Revolution of 1905. Among the 
Armenians the Dashnaktsution was the most influen- 
tial of all. Its motive force and ideals were essentially 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

political, and its rise in the years before the revolution 
shows clearly that the old ideas of cultural nationalism 
were no longer sufficient for the Armenian youth. The 
Dashnaktsution in its inception was a revolutionary 
society among the Armenian peasants, and was in 
fact a product of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, 
which worked among the Russian peasants in the last 
half of last century. For a time its ideals were 
not specially nationaUst, except in so far as its 
propaganda spread mainly among Armenians. It 
seems to have been part of a general international 
movement, feebly commencing among the proletariat 
and peasants in the Near and Middle East. After the 
Russian Revolution the whole movement acquired a 
more definitely nationalist tendency. This was no doubt 
in response to the growing bitterness of the national 
feuds in Europe, and a result also of the deliberate sowing 
of dissensions among the small peoples of the Empire 
by the Russian Government. There were indeed always 
some Armenians, such as the Hunchakists and the Cadets 
(Constitutional Democrats), who kept aloof from the 
nationalist movement of these years. But the main 
driving force rested with the Dashnaktsution, which 
now conceived the idea of emancipating the Turkish 
Armenians and creating a united Armenia with poUtical 
autonomy. The history of this movement in the period 
just before the war I have dealt with in Chapter VIII. 
The same cross-currents of nationalism and inter- 
nationalism are to be observed in the poUtical develop- 
ment of the Georgians. During the Russian Revolution the 
Georgian peasantry and intelligentsia showed themselves 
ardent supporters of the international movement for the 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

emancipation of the wage-earner, and the division of the 
land among the people who work it. Thousands of them 
suffered for their faith in Siberia, while the Socialist and 
Revolutionary parties in Russia received many of their 
leaders from among them. But after the suppression 
of the Revolution of 1905, the international idea weakened 
in Georgia, and gave way to a narrow form of nationaUsm. 
This movement was encouraged by the Russian reaction, 
not with the intention of satisfying it, but of playing it 
off against the similar movement among the Armenians. 
The idea of political autonomy, which had been forgotten 
since the days of the last Kings of Georgia, began now to 
take the foremost place among the politicians of Tiflis. 
The National Democratic party was formed with the same 
idea as that of the Armenian Dashnaktsution, namely 
to realize political freedom by national emancipation 
first, before concentrating upon the international move- 
ment for emancipating the proletariat. Side by side 
with them worked the Georgian National Federalists, 
who not only demanded cultural, but also territorial 
autonomy. The Georgian aristocracy also stood for a 
form of political autonomy, not as a step towards the 
freedom of the proletariat, but in order to fortify their 
fast-decaying class privileges. This party received a 
certain degree of support from the Viceroys of the Caucasus, 
themselves aristocrats and ready to help their own class. 
But in spite of these nationalist societies, the idea of 
international Social Democracy did not die among the 
Georgians even during the recent dark years. Crushed 
under police persecution, they nevertheless kept their 
organization together, and waited for the dawn of 
better days. 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

Political movements among the Tartars and Moslems 
of the Caucasus have been but feebly developed. Of all 
the races of the Middle East they have been the last to 
become affected by influences from Europe, The Persian 
and Turkish Revolutions were of course not without their 
effect upon them, but in the main the Russian Government 
saw to it that they were kept in ignorance and darkness, 
fearing above all else a Pan-Islamic movement in Asiatic 
Russia. The utmost efforts were made to prevent the 
spread of Mahommedan education. No permission was 
given for the founding of Mahommedan colleges for the 
training of Mullahs, and "young Moslems were only with 
difficulty allowed to go to Constantinople or Cairo for 
higher education. During the Revolution of 1905 the 
Tartars were the victims of a particularly foul intrigue. 
The rumour was spread by agents of the Black Hundreds 
that the Armenians were arming to attack the Moslems 
and establish an Armenian kingdom. The simple Moslems 
fell into the trap, received arms from the Black Hundreds, 
and thus began one of the most horrible massacres in 
Armenian history. When it was all over, and the heavy 
hand of the Stolypin reaction lay upon the Caucasus, 
the Tartars recognized that they had been betrayed. 
The lesson has never been forgotten, and from that time 
forth there has been an ever-growing tendency to unite 
the forces of all Caucasian Moslems in a national revival. 
But it has not taken the form of Armenian and Georgian 
nationaUsm. The Tartars feel that their religion gives 
them a particular connection with all other Moslem 
neighbours. They feel a certain community of interest 
and fellow-sympathy with their co-religionists in Turkey 
and Persia. This form of freemasonry is characteristic 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

of Moslem movements, which are not nationalist in the 
narrow political sense, as among Christian races, but 
cultural, like the earlier movements in the middle of last 
century among the Armenians and Georgians. They aim 
at developing the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish Uterature 
and language, at spreading knowledge of the great Moslem 
writers and thinkers of the past in Islam, and, generally, 
at promoting intercourse between Moslems in different 
parts of the world. Nationalism, in the sense of separating 
out one group of Moslems from another on the basis of 
language or origin or past history, of dividing Turk from 
Caucasian Tartar, or from Persian, has not yet been 
developed ; and on the whole it does not seem likely 
that it will be. The old religious feuds between Sunni 
and Shia, between Shia and Ali-Allahi, are dying 
out. All over the Caucasus Moslems of various sects 
and racial origins are beginning to fuse into one 
cultural whole. What direction will this All-Islam 
movement take ? Will it try to convert the threat 
of Enver Pasha into actuality, and frighten Europe 
with a Pan-Islamic Confederation on a poUtical basis ? 
Or will it realize that the conquests of Islam, if they 
are to be abiding, must be spiritual and not temporal? 
I think that the second development is the more 
probable. The discredit into which the Pan-Islam pro- 
paganda of the Young Turks has fallen as a result 
of their behaviour during the war, is likely to show 
the Moslems of the Middle East and Trans-Caucasus 
that it is in the cultural Renaissance of Islam that the 
future of their people is to be found. This will more- 
over open the door for the spread of the international 
idea from the Socialist Democracies of Western Europe. 


W^r and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

On no soil would this seed bear richer fruit than 
on that of a regenerated Islam. That religion, even 
in its more primitive forms, is renowned for its 
democratic character, and to-day its chief need is to 
purge itself of those customs and superstitions which 
have largely crept into it from without. Much of 
course will depend upon the course of events in Persia, 
which is the great shrine for the regeneration of Moslem 

Since the Revolution of 1905 the political relations 
between the Armenians, the Georgians and the Mahom- 
medans in the Caucasus have been disturbed and embittered 
by national conflicts and jealousies. Before the war the 
Georgians numbered about 1,500,000, and the Caucasus 
Armenians about 1,400,000. For nearly a hundred years 
Armenians had been migrating into the Caucasus to escape 
massacre and disorder in Turkey, thus continually in- 
creasing the Armenian population, whereas the Georgians 
have remained almost stationary. The 200,000 refugees 
from the massacre of 1915 have now given the Armenians 
a definite majority. 

Besides this, the Georgians have long been feeling the 
steady pressure of Armenians coming up from the South. 
Several districts in the Tiflis province have become 
occupied by Armenians where there were none before, 
while the busy Armenian merchant has pushed into 
all the towns of the Caucasus. The Eastern Georgians 
are not by nature a very active race, but have now 
become aroused by what they regard as an invasion 
of their territory. This feeling has been encouraged 
by the Russian Government, in order to create national 
dissensions among the Caucasus peoples. Moreover, 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

when the Alashgert region of Turkish Armenia was 
occupied by the Russian troops in May 1915, the pro- 
ject was set on foot for colonizing this ancient Armenian 
country witji Cossacks, thus dispossessing the Armenians 
and forcing them northward into the Georgian country. 
The document setting forth this scheme, signed by the 
A^iceroy, Prince Vorontsoff Dashkoff, was discovered in 
Tiflis after the 1917 Revolution, and was published in 
the Armenian papers. The balance being thus disturbed 
between two of the most important nationalities in the 
Caucasus, the Georgians began to look for an ally who 
might join them in putting pohtical pressure on the Russian 
authorities to keep the Armenians back. This they found 
in the Tartars, whose landowners and hereditary khans 
joined with the old Georgian aristocracy to resist the 
Armenian invasion. The Tartars of the Trans-Caucasus 
number nearly two milUoiis, excluding all the Mahom- 
medan tribes of Dagestan. But politically they were 
not yet organized, and their various societies and cultural 
organizations represented only the views of the reactionary 
aristocracy. Nevertheless they and the Georgians during 
1916 started a campaign in the local Caucasus press against 
the Armenians, and formed the so-called " Tartar-Georgian 
Block." The policy of this Block was well exhibited in 
the spring of that year, when the Grand Duke Nicolas, 
then Viceroy, introduced a plan for the establishment 
of Zemstvos, or popular rural councils, into the Caucasus. 
Feeling between the three nationalities was running high, 
and each was determined to turn the establishment of 
local autonomy to its own advantage. The Armenians 
wanted to create special electoral districts, which would 
give them a majority over the Tartars in the provinces 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

of Kars and Erivan. These provinces have a very mixed 
population, and the presence of large irreconcilable minori- 
ties makes it difficult to establish local autonomy for the 
various nationalities. The Armenians proposed to meet 
this by re-drawing the boundaries between the Erivan 
and Kars provinces, in such a way as to group the 
Armenian population as far as possible in one ad- 
ministrative region. They also demanded a democratic 
franchise which should give the peasants, who were 
mainly Armenians and Tartars, a predominant influence 
over the landlords, most of whom were Tartar khans 
and Georgian aristocrats. The latter were particu- 
larly strong in the southern part of the Tiflis 
government, where a great controversy raged over the 
form of Zemstvos for the district of Borchalinsk. The 
Georgian and Tartar aristocracy, backed by the Russian 
authorities, insisted on the old franchise estabhshed in 
1892 by Alexander the Third, when he altered the con- 
stitution of the Zemstvos in Russia. These had been 
initiated by Alexander the Second upon a broad liberal 
basis, giving considerable representation to the peasants : 
but his son was so reactionary, that he changed the fran- 
chise and gave the predominant power back to the land- 
lords. The Grand Duke Nicolas, who was in sympathy 
with the Georgian and Tartar aristocracy, now introduced 
this reactionary franchise, in order to sow dissension 
between the Armenians and the Tartar-Georgian Block, 
and prevent the Armenians from having enough political 
power to put an end to aristocratic land privileges. The 
Georgian peasantry and Social-Dv mocratic parties had no 
say in this controversy. They were not represented at the 
conference held in April 1916 at Tiflis. But according 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

to their press they sympathized with the Armenians in 
their demand for a democratic franchise, although they 
took a broader view of the ultimate issue than the Armenian 
bourgeoisie, who were clearly only out for race predomi- 
nance. The results were a foregone conclusion, and the 
reactionary Tartar-Georgian Block had its way, aided by 
the Russian authorities, who were thus successful in 
fomenting feuds between the nationalities, and preserving 
the old ruling class. This then was the state of the 
nationality problem in the Caucasus on the eve of the 
great Revolution of 1917. But during the winter of 1916- 
17 signs of change became manifest. The peasantry, 
the intelligentsia, and the urban workers among the 
Georgians and Armenians, and, so far as they were articu- 
late, among the Tartars, began to realize that they were 
the victims of reactionary intrigues. The increasing 
discontent in European Russian moreover began to open 
their eyes. About January 1917 there was a movement 
among the Armenian Dashnaktsution, and other revolu- 
tionary parties, to bring about a rapprochement with the 
similar societies among the Georgians and Tartars. The 
aristocracy of course held aloof, and the organ of the 
Georgian land-owning class and National Federalists 
kept up its campaign against the Armenians to the last. 
The Armenian bourgeoisie also did not respond very 
readily. But the spell was broken. The peasantry and 
proletariats of all the nationalities were beginning to see 
the light, and to join hands once more for the first time 
since the evil days after the 1905 Revolution. When at 
last the joyful tidings of the great revolt at Petrograd in 
March reached the Caucasus, the flood was let loose. Once 
again the international movement came into full swing, 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

just as it did during the Revolution of 1905. But it is 
too early to say yet what will be the fate of this movement. 
The old forces of reaction are not yet dead, and the classes 
interested in racial feuds in the Caucasus and in the as- 
cendancy of one nationality over another, are still at work. 
The Council of Workers and Soldiers' Deputies, which was 
formed in the Caucasus in the first days of the Revolution, 
has an even more uphill task than its sister organizations 
in European Russia. Standing of course for the immediate 
re-establishment of the " International ", for thes'oUdarity 
of the workers t)f all lands, and for peace without annexa- 
tions or indemnities, based on the right of each people 
to choose its own form of government, the Council of 
Workers and Soldiers' Deputies in the Caucasus enjoys 
the whole-hearted support of the Georgian Social Demo- 
crats and the Armenian Dashnakists, as it does also of 
the peasantry of both peoples. The enemies of the inter- 
national movement are to be found now mainly in two 
quarters. The Georgian aristocracy, to which a number 
of the intelligentsia are now allied, are insisting upon an 
immediate realization of the narrow nationalist ideas for 
the political autonomy of Georgia. They remain entirely 
unaffected by the international movement, and are only 
using the Revolution as a means to reaUze their schemes. 
Furthermore, the Armenian capitalist and bourgeois classes 
are in close sympathy with the Russian Cadets and Liberal 
Imperialists, who are hostile to the international move- 
ment on the ground of class interest, and are still dreaming 
of plans of conquering foreign markets. How the new 
orientation will work out, and what will be the result 
of the struggle, is not yet clear. But one thing is certain ; 
the international movement is now working, and is begin- 


Nationalism and Internationalism 

ning to break down the old lines of division in the Caucasus, 
dividing the people horizontally ijito classes, instead of 
vertically into nationalities. But the process may take 
a long time to accomplish. Meanwhile some compromise 
may have to be found which will satisfy the national 
aspirations of some, and not conflict with the international 
ideals of others. Perhaps the best compromise would 
be the creation of a wide political autonomy for the whole 
of the Caucasus, with federated areas in which the Georgian, 
Armenian and Tartar democracies would respectively 
predominate. Each of these areas would have full power 
to deal with its own local affairs, and thus the nationalists 
might be appeased ; while the services that are of general 
use to the whole community would be controlled by a 
general assembly of all the Caucasian peoples at Tiflis. It 
is remarkable that it was some such scheme that Enver 
Pasha intended to set up, when he invaded the Caucasus 
in December 1914. German publicists, such as Rohrbach, 
and other imperialists of the Central Empires, have been 
working for its realization for many years. But if it is 
now realized, the difference will be that the autonomous 
and federated Caucasus will be in close alliance, not with 
the reactionary Central Empires, but with the grea 
Republic of Free Russia. 




The powers of darkness were tightening their grip upon 
Russia during the autumn and winter of 1916. The evil 
shadow of oppression and reaction, in the form of a corrupt 
and privileged ruUng class, lay over the land. The war 
from the very first days of August 1914 had been no war 
for freedom, but rather a diversion to keep the Russian 
people occupied at home, so that they should forget their 
internal troubles. Just as the reaction that overcame 
the Emperor Alexander the Second in his later years 
forced him into the Russo-Turkish war to escape revolu- 
tion, and just as the intriguing courtiers of Nicolas the 
Second forced on the war with Japan to stifle the cry 
for freedom, so ten years later the oligarchy in Petrograd 
hoped by the conflict with Germany to postpone the 
day of reckoning. During those two and a half years, 
during which took place the advance in Galicia, the 
retreat from Poland, the conquest of Armenia and the 
disaster in Roumania, Russia was waging two wars — 
the external war against the armies of the Central Powers 
and Turkey, and the internal war against her own suffering 
people. The religious persecution of the Ruthenes in 
Galicia was followed by the pogroms of the Jews in the 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

rear of the armies in Poland. The massacres of Moslems 
on the Asiatic fronts were no less criminal, if less extensive, 
than the Turkish massacre of the Armenians. Meanwhile 
the Russian peasants were driven by millions into the army, 
to be mutilated on the fronts or die of disease in the rear. 
Arrests and deportations of intellectuals continued with 
unabated vigour, and every protest from the enlightened 
few was met with imprisonment or Siberian exile. All 
this was common knowledge to any one in Russia who 
wished to know the truth, though silence was imposed by 
rigorous censorship. But the press syndicate that con- 
trols opinion in England was not silent. The sentimental 
travellers who wrote in the Northcliffe press, babbled 
of the " new era " in Holy Russia ; of a people on their 
knees to God and their little Father Tsar. Inspired 
articles and "Russian supplements", published for finan- 
cial considerations, expatiated upon the fine future that 
awaited Russia after the war under the fatherly protection 
of exploiters and concessionaires. But there were some 
who knew the truth, and who had to suffer in silence, 
till the dawn should lighten the night of iniquity and false- 
hood. My journeys over the Caucasus front, and my long 
sojourns in Tiflis during these months, enabled me to see 
what was going on in Asiatic Russia. The gulf between 
the rulers and the ruled was widening every day, and the 
only question was, when would the crash come ? I confess 
that, judging by the conditions in the Caucasus, it seemed 
to me as if the Revolution was not yet very near. The 
people were steeped in Asiatic fataUsm, and their suffer- 
ings from the war and from their rulers seemed only to 
deepen their despondency. Once during the summer of 
1916 we heard of a case where the people, maddened by 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

repression, had taken the law into their own hands, and 
had buffered an even more terrible penalty. The calling 
up of the Moslem races of Central Asia to serve in the rear 
of the armies, had caused one of the bloodiest episodes 
in the history of those regions. The Kirgiz Tartars had 
long had grievances against the Government because of 
the wholesale manner in which they had been deprived 
of their lands in the Semiretch province, in order to give 
artificial encouragement to Russian emigrants.. The addi- 
tional burden of military service, now suddenly imposed 
without consulting their wishes, lit the spark of revolt. 
The whole of the Moslem population of the Semiretch 
rose to a man, fell upon and annihilated the Cossack 
garrisons in Vierny and Pishbek, and carried 5,000 Russian 
colonists as prisoners into the mountains. The rebellion 
was of course suppressed with the customary ruthlessness, 
and General Kuropatkin afterwards succeeded in calming 
the population by the exercise of a Uttle tact. But the 
news of this rebellion, spreading into the Caucasus diuing 
the summer of 1916, fanned the flames of discontent, 
and exposed still more the Government's policy of sowing 
dissensions among its subjects in Asia in order to keep 
them weak and disunited. 

The decisive factor which seems to have brought the 
revolutionary movement to a head, was the food crisis. 
Mankind will endure much ; but when their stomachs are 
empty, they begin to demand the reason why. It is not 
difficult to trace a connection between the decrease in the 
food supplies of Russia during the war, and the increase 
of the revolutionary spirit. In normal years Russia 
used to export from 400 to 600 million pouds of cereals, 
leaving for the home market about 1,000 million pouds, 


Russian Revolution and its EjfFects in Asia 

One would naturally expect that at the outbreak of war, 
when all exports were stopped, this i,ooo million pouds, 
together with the 400 to 600 million pouds previously 
exported, would be more than sufficient to feed the people 
and the army. And so it was for the first twelve months 
from August 1914 to August 1915, when only 200 million 
pouds of cereals were purchased by the Government for 
the army and for other state purposes, leaving well over 
a milliard pouds on the home' market. In the next year, 
from August 1915 to August 1916, the army had become 
much larger, and the country was flooded with refugees 
both from Poland and the provinces of Asiatic Turkey. 
The number of persons who had been taken from works 
of production to works of destruction was steadily increas- 
ing, and the Government purchases, of cereals rose to 500 
million pouds. Meanwhile the villages were becoming 
depopulated, and the area of land under cereal cultivation 
decreased by 8 per cent. For the year August 1916 to 
August 1917 the needs of the army and the refugees called 
for state purchases of cereals to the amount of 900 million 
pouds, that is, nearly the whole amount ordinarily dis- 
tributed on the home market by private exchange, leaving 
only 500 million pouds for the rest of the population. So 
it was clear that, if in the spring of 1917 a sufficient 
area had not been sown with corn to make up for the 
deficiency of the harvest of 1916, Russia was threatened 
with famine. The knowledge of this impending cata- 
strophe caused the peasants all through the winter of 
1916-17 to hoard their stocks of grain. Moreover the 
flooding of the country with 10 milliard roubles of paper 
money (the figure reached in April 1917), made the 
peasants still more reluctant to sell. In the Caucasus 

273 S 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the people began to revert to primitive exchange by 
barter. In the bazaars of Tiflis, EUzabetopol, Erivan 
and Baku, the peasants would offer their produce in 
exchange for sugar, oilj and clothing material, and would 
take it back if they did not receive these articles. The 
industrial productivity of the country declined steadily. 
Those industries that did not turn to war-work were suffer- 
ing from a shortage of labour. Also the rolling stock on 
the railways could not be kept in repair, and so the whole 
transport system got out of gear. 

The suffering through shortage of food in the towns and 
large industrial centres during the winter of 1916-17, 
was no doubt the most potent cause of the revolutionary 
spirit. Privation united the wage-earning proletariat, which, 
although only 7 per cent, of the. population, is never- 
theless politically the best organized section of it. The 
peasants, of whom all the youngest and best were in the 
army, began to think as never before ; and the Russian 
army became for the first time in history a united revolu- 
tionary army. These two forces, the organized proletariat 
and the peasant army, between them guaranteed the 
success of the Revolution. Meanwhile two other classes 
in the community were struggling for the control of 
the government. First, the aristocracy and the higher 
bureaucracy round the Court, led by such characters as 
Rasputin, tried by fair means or foul to maintain the old 
autocracy. Their efforts did not stop even at intrigue 
for a separate peace with Germany. Scenting the danger 
of revolution as a result of the war and of Russia's eco- 
nomic collapse, they were anxious after the first year 
to put a stop to it, and concentrate upon the repression 
of revolutionary tendencies. Having taken their share in 


Russiaii Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

bringing about the war in order to divert the attention of 
their people from internal reforms, they now found that 
they had opened the flood-gates, and were in danger of 
being drowned themselves : hence their secret endeavours 
during the autumn and winter of 1915-16 and 1916-17 
to conclude a separate peace. It has been far too readily 
assumed in England that the Russian reactionaries were 
simply German agents. This idea has been fostered by 
the Northcliffe press and other tools of reaction in England. 
Yet those very organs were the first to shed tears over 
the Tsar when he abdicated, and to damage the reputation 
of the Russian revolutionary democracy with all the 
slander which their correspondents could concoct. The 
truth was that the corrupt and effete ruling class in Russia, 
whom the English reactionaries and the Northcliffe press 
had been doing their best for years to bolster up, even 
to the extent of suppressing information about the religious 
persecution in Galicia and the pogroms of the Jews in 
Poland, was not German at all. It was of course in sym- 
pathy with the Junker ruling class in Germany, just as 
two burglars in trouble are ready to help one another. This 
trade-unionism is characteristic of all ruling classes, not 
only in Russia and Germany, and is nowhere better seen 
than in the disreputable attempt of The Times after the 
Revolution to justify Nicolas the Second before the world 
as an innocent victim> The reaction in Russia was essen- 
tially Russian, just as the reaction in Germany is 
German, and in England is English. If Baron Friedericks 
and Hoffmeister Sturmer had German names and origin, 
Sukhumlinoff, Protopopoff, the Metropolitan Peterim, 
and Rasputin had Russian names and origin. They all 
worked together for the same ends, namely to keep 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

their piivUeges as the sole controllers of Russia's 

The other class in the commumty which was struggling 
for control of the government, was the capitalist middle 
class, which was small in numbers, but wealthy and 
influential, and hoped to swim into power on the tide of 
war. This bourgeois group, represented in the Duma 
by the Progressive Block, is the product of European 
capitalism which has been gradually penetrating Russia 
for some years past. They differed from the ruling aris- 
tocratic and bureaucratic class round the Court in that 
they were more Western in outlook and more efficient. 
But flourishing behind high tariffs and trade monopolies, 
their economic interests had become entirely hostile to 
those of the proletariat and peasants. They were, and 
still are, the great supporters of the high tariff, which falls 
so heavily upon the working classes in the form of high 
prices. They are the chief imperiaUsts of Russia, with 
dreams of economic expansion both East and West to 
increase their spheres of exploitation. They are the most 
enthusiastic supporters of the " economic war after the 
war " with the Central Powers. In recent years the bulk 
of the so-called intelligentsia, or educated people of the 
' ' free professions ", have been joining in aUiance with them. 
Up to this time the inteUigentsia had kept more or less 
to themselves as a class ; but with the growing antagonism 
between the capitaUsts and the proletariat, they threw 
in their lot with the former. Thus it is clear that before 
the Revolution there existed three main political groups 
in Russia, and that with the collapse of one of them a 
struggle commenced between the other two for the control 
of the government. Hence the conflict of interest, which 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

immediately appeared between the Council of Workers 
and Soldiers' Delegates, representing the proletariat 
and peasantry, and the Provisional Government, repre- 
senting the capitalist and intellectual classes. 

In the Asiatic provinces of Kussia the same class 
divisions with certain differences were in process of 
formation. Thus in Siberia only one of these three 
classes existed, namely the peasants ; and the Siberians, 
being always , by tradition the most progressive of 
all- Russian peasantry, were in the forefront of the 
revolutionary movement. In Turkestan the autocratic 
regime was represented by the higher officials, hacked 
by the native aristocracy, the Emir of Bokhara and 
his Kushbegs. The Mahommedan peasantry, as far as 
they were organized and articulate, formed part of the 
revolutionary force of the All-Russian peasant-prole- 
tariat. In the Caucasus all three classes were to be 
found, though with the coniplication of nationalist 
divisions. Russian officialdom with the Viceroy as its 
centre, together with the Georgian aristocracy, repre- 
sented the forces of reaction. The bomgeois element 
was to be seen in the Armenian middle class and the 
Russian colonists of the principal towns. The peasant- 
proletariat was represented by the vast bulk of the 
Armenian, Georgian and Tartar population, both urban 
and rural. The peasants, it is true, were up to the last 
engaged in national quarrels fomented by the Govern- 
ment ; but being more in contact with Western ideas 
than the people of Turkestan, they began to show signs 
of uniting for their common interest, as soon as the eco- 
nomic chaos in the country brought home to them that 
they were the victims of reaction and war. About Christ- 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

mas-time the Armenian revolutionary societies approached 
their kindred societies among the Georgians and the 
Tartar national organizations, with a view to calling a 
truce to all national conflicts and uniting for common 
action. All through January and February of 1917 
secret negociations were carried on, which succeeded to 
a certain degree in composing the national disputes that 
raged round the Zemstvo and refugee questions. In Baku 
the Socialist-Revolutionary societies among the oil- 
workers began to prepare for a general strike and waited 
the signal from Petrograd. The Russian authorities, 
getting wind of what was going on from their police-spies, 
sent a secret agent, Kutchubiesky, to Tiflis with power 
to arrest and deport without trial any single person that 
he thought fit, except the Grand Duke Nicolas. Wholesale 
arrests and raids on private dwellings began. Meanwhile 
the town of Kutais went fifteen days without any bread, 
because of the collapse of transport on the Trans-Caucasus 
railway. Brigandage began to break out in the Karabach 
region of the EUzabetopol government, owing to famine 
in the small towns. On the front in Armenia and Persia 
the conditions were even worse. The troops went for 
days without food, and typhus fever began to rage. On 
the Black Sea coast a regiment had been ordered up to 
the front, but had mutinied and refused to go unless 
food was sent with it. 

The Staff of the Caucasus Army had decided in 
January that an offensive should be begun in the Spring, 
in conjunction with the British in Mesopotamia and 
Palestine, so as to complete the process of closing in on 
the Turkish Empire from three sides. The Expeditionary 
Force in Persia was to demonstrate before Kermanshah, 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

and the Army Corps on the Armenian plateau was to do 
the same before Kharput and Erzinjan. An attacking 
force was to advance from the shores of Lake Urumiah, 
descend into the Mesopotamian plains, occupy Mosul and 
cut off the retreat of Halil Pasha, who would be at the 
same time pressed by the British from Bagdad. But the 
internal conditions of Asiatic Russia prevented the reali- 
zation of this plan. The troops could not be guaranteed 
supplies for the advance from Lake Urumiah. Conse- 
quently, when in the middle of February the Allied offensive 
against the eastern side of the Turkish Empire began, 
only a part of the programme was realized. Bagdad was 
occupied by General Maude, but the advance on Mosul 
had to be abandoned, and Halil Pasha's army was able 
to retire thither in safety. The news of the fall of Bagdad 
reached Tiflis on M^rch 12th, and created scarcely any 
interest whatever. People were thinking of other things. 
The Duma had just been dismissed, and news of disorders 
in Petrograd was secretly coming through. For the next 
two days there was the most intense suppressed excite- 
ment in the city. The Grand Duke Nicolas kept back 
all the telegrams from Petrograd, refusing to allow any 
to get out. Nevertheless the news was public property. 
One of the telegraph clerks knew the ciphers, and kept 
all the revolutionary societies informed. The revolutionary 
leaders of course decided to take the signal from Petrograd, 
but it was too early to move in the Caucasus until it was 
certain that the Revolution was secure in the capital. 
If it should fail, the Caucasus by itself could do nothing. 
On the night of the 14th, Kutchubiesky ordered the arrest 
of all the members of the- Armenian Dashnaktsution and 
of the Georgian Socialist-Revolutionary societies. But 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

the gendarmes, instead of being able to effect the arrest, 
found on the morning of the 15th that they them- 
selves were arrested by armed bodies of these same 
revolutionaries and locked up in their own quarters. 
On the same day came the news that Nicolas the 
Second had abdicated ; and then the flood was let loose. 
On the i6th and 17th the whole fabric of the Russian 
imperial authority was in process of dissolution. First 
the police vanished off the streets ; then the Govern- 
ment offices closed down ; then bands of revolution- 
aries and students arrested all the remaining gendarmes, 
and seized the premises of the secret police, where 
they arrested the chief and his wife. Prince Orloff, the 
head of the civil department, who had a liaison with the 
wife of the secret police chief, was in her rooms at that 
moment, and was arrested too, but was released on his 
identity being recognized. An executive committee was 
formed of the revolutionary societies, of the garrison, 
which had gone over wholesale to the Revolution, and of 
the principal middle-class members of the City Council. 
Sunday March i8th was the great day in the Caucasus. 
The Revolution was then known to be secure in the Asiatic 
provinces ; the old government had collapsed, and the 
hour for rejoicing had arrived. On the morning of that 
day I passed down the Golovinsky street of Tiflis, and 
crossed the bridge over the Kura to the outskirts of the 
city. The streets were full of silent and serious people 
walking in the same direction. They were all going to 
a great mass meeting of the Caucasian people on the 
Nahalofsky square to welcome this great day in the history 
of Russia. In a large open space six raised platforms 
had been built, and round them was assembled a vast 

Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

multitude composed of almost every element in the multi- 
racial population of the Caucasus. There were wild 
mountain tribesmen, Lesgians, Avars, Chechens and 
Swanetians in their long black cloaks and sheepskin caps. 
The eddies of the wave of revolution had swept up into 
the recesses of the Caucasus, where they had lived sunk 
in patriarchal feudalism until yesterday. Many of them 
did not know whether they were subjects of the Tsar of 
Russia or the Sultan of Turkey. Yet they had come 
across miles of mountain tracks out of curiosity to con- 
firm the rumours they had heard, and in order to pay their 
humble tribute to the Russian Revolution. There were 
the picturesque peasants of the fair provinces of Georgia, 
who had driven in on bullock-wagons. Doubtless many 
of them during the last ten years had been exiled to 
Siberia, where they had learnt irom Western Socialists to 
appreciate the principles of Marxism, and had caught 
the breath of the International. Then there were Armenian 
merchants from Tifiis, the staunch supporters of all pro- 
gressive movements in Russia. There were educated 
Tartars of the East Caucasus, who had helped to inspire the 
revolutionary movement in Persia in 1909. There were the 
representatives of the urban proletariat of Tiflis and some 
from the Baku oil-fields, the grimy products of Western 
European industrialism which is slowly creeping into the 
East. Among them was the intellectual Russian student, 
the Georgian poet and the Armenian doctor, who had 
hitherto been forced to hide their talents. In this great 
concourse of Caucasian peoples were standing side by side 
the most primitive and the most progressive types of the 
human race. For years they had been sunk in apathy, 
fatalism and scepticism, and their racial feuds had been 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

purposely fomented by the old government. Now the 
flood of their combined intellect and energy had burst 
forth and broken the crumbling banks of privilege and 
oppression. The spirit Demos had suddenly risen out of 
a multitude of suppressed individualities, and had mani- 
fested itself in the form of that great gathering of mediaeval 
mountaineers and twentieth-century working-men, all 
inspired by the same idea of brotherhood and freedom. 

The scene was indeed a memorable one. First upon 
the platforms mounted the Social-Democrat leaders, 
who until now had held their meetings in secret places. 
They called upon the people to preserve order., and to 
proceed immediately to elect deputies for the Council 
of Workers and Soldiers. Each district of the city of 
Tiflis was that day opening a committee-room under the 
auspices of the Social-Democrat and Socialist-Revolu- 
tionary societies. Any person who wished could write 
his name down to become a member of the Tiflis branch, 
which was to elect delegates for the Council of Workers. 
Every company of soldiers garrisoned in Tiflis and the 
district was to meet and elect one delegate for the Council 
of Soldiers, Throughout the whole of European and Asiatic 
Russia during these days the urban proletariat, the 
peasantry and the army were at work forming the great 
Council, which has since been so famous not only in Russia, 
but in international pohtics. It became the organ for 
carrying on the fight not only against what was left of 
the old Tsarism, but, much more important, against the 
capitalist bourgeoisie which had taken over the reins 
of government in Petrograd. While the instructions for 
the election of the delegates were being issued at one side 
of this great meeting, on other platforms speeches were 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

being made by Socialist leaders explaining the immediate 
policy of the Council. I heard speeches proclaiming the 
need for the revolutionary democracy to fight against 
the " old Tsarism and the parasitical bourgeoisie," 
showing clearly that the initiators of the Council of Workers 
and Soldiers' Delegates had in their minds the coming 
struggle with the middle classes and capitalists of the 
Progressive Block in the Duma, quite as much as that 
with the old reaction. Though in the Asiatic provinces 
the movement started a few days later, it took the same 
form as in Moscow and Petrograd. It was a genuine 
international movement, for it refused to consider any 
of the questions of nationality which had so long been 
troubling the Caucasus, and dividing the proletariat 
into hostile factions. 

From the very first day, Armenian, Georgian and Tartar 
working-people joined on terms of absolute equality. Of 
course the nationalist parties, like the Dashnaktsution and 
Georgian Federalist and Aristocratic Union, continued 
to exist, and indeed became very active after the Revolu- 
tion ; but side by side with these, for the first time in 
Asiatic Russia a democratic and international organization 
was growing up in close alliance with the great Petrograd 
Workers and Soldiers' Council, and expanding so giganti- 
cally that it now controls the government of the Caucasus. 
Even on that first Sunday, the international character of 
the movement manifested itself. While the revolutionary 
eaders were busy with their organization, the greater 
3art of the Tifiis garrison, headed by its commanders on 
lorseback, marched into the square. The commanders 
■ode up to the platform, and taking off their hats asked 
be allowed to take part in the proceedings. Several 


War and Rfevolution in Asiatic Russia 

soldiers then mounted the platforms and made speeches 
welcoming the Revolution, and the international soHdarity 
of the workers of the world. One common soldier to whom 
I listened said, " Comrades, let us not forget that over 
there in Germany we have brothers crushed under the same 
tyranny from which we have now been delivered: May 
God grant that the hour of their deliverance has also 
struck ! " Thus in its earliest stages, even in the Asiatic 
provinces, the Revolution was assuming the character 
of a movement for the liquidation of the war by appealing 
to the international solidarity of the workers. Such 
signs as these which I saw on that first week of revolution, 
developed into the great peace programme of the Petrograd 
Council of Workers and Soldiers a month later, which 
renounced annexations and indemnities, and called upon 
the peoples of the world to follow their example. A people 
that had just thrown off the darkest tyranny that has 
ever blackened the earth, was now appealing to its brothers 
throughout the world to heal the wounds of humanity. 
While I was watching this great scene and Hstening to the 
speeches, I heard a deafening roar of cheers. The political 
prisoners, who since 1906 had been pining in the dungeons 
of the Tiflis prisons, were being Uberated and brought to 
the meeting. They were carried on the shoulders of com- 
rades to the platforms, whence they addressed the multi- 
tude. The massed bands then struck up the Marseillaise. 
Every head was bared. The mountain tribesman took 
off his shaggy fur cap, the long hair of the Russian student 
fluttered in the breeze, and the troops, who a few days 
before had sung " God save the Tsar ", now presented arms 
to the great revolutionary hymn. Three times it was 
played amid frantic cheering. A young officer then got 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

up and said, " As one who took part and suffered in the 
last revolution, I know that it failed because the army was 
not united. Let us make no mistake this time. Let 
us all, officers and men, keeping the strictest discipline 
and the firmest union, stand by the Revolution with our 

The great meeting then quietly dispersed, the mountain 
tribesmen to their distant valleys, the peasants to their 
villages, and the townsmen to their homes, and one of 
the greatest days in the history of the Caucasus had come 
and gone. 

I returned to my rooms about half past three that after- 
noon, and found there a note from the military censor, 
informing me briefly that the Grand Duke Nicolas would 
receive me at three o'clock that day, in order to give me 
a communication for the foreign press. I immediately 
went off to the Viceroy's palace and presented myself. I 
was met in the great hall by Prince Orloff, who looked 
very serious and worried. After waiting a few minutes 
he took me into a small anterchamber, where I saw the 
Grand Duke Nicolas walking up and down with his hands 
behind his back and his head down, apparently deep in 
thought. When he looked up at me, I saw that his face was 
very thin and that his eyes were bloodshot. His hands 
were trembhng ; and for a moment I thought to myself, 
" Can this really be the great Grand Duke Nicolas, that lion 
of strength, whom England and France have been wor- 
shipping for so long ? " I had seen him frequently riding 
in his motor-car in the streets of Tiflis, but I could scarcely 
recognize him now. He had indeed been living through 
a time of terrible anxiety and mental strain during these 
dajrs when the throne of the Romanoff family, of which 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

he was a chief member, was tottering to its doom. The 
Grand Duke then began to speak to me in Russian. His 
voice was very faint, and I had difficulty in hearing many 
of his words. " I have called you here ", he began, 
" because I wish to make you a communication which you 
can send to the English press. I recognize the new order 
in Russia, for I regard it as the sole means of salvation 
for our fatherland. As Commander-in-Chief of the armies 
I will allow no reaction of any kind. But I appeal to my 
countrymen to preserve order, and not to break the 
discipline in the army ; for even in republican France the 
principle, ' L'arm6e est sacree ', is observed." When he 
had finished, I retired to the great hall, where I wrote 
out a telegram. On coming out into the street I saw 
that the palace was surrounded by civihan guards, members 
of the Socialist-Revolutionary Society. The information 
had leaked out, through revolutionary spies in the palace, 
that the Grand Duke had been in communication with the 
abdicated Emperor with a view to making a counter- 
revolution as soon as he arrived in Europe. A Tartar 
friend of mine in close touch with the revolutionaries 
told me that evening, when I met him in the street, that 
they had intercepted a telegram which the Grand Duke 
had just sent making preparations for the counter-revolu- 
tion. He was to be arrested at once, my friend said ; 
for the Caucasus people were determined not to let him 
out of their grasp. The palace was surrounded all the 
night of the i8th, and the Grand Duke was virtually a 
prisoner. On the next morning it appears that the 
revolutionaries were informed by M. Kerensky by wire 
from Petrograd that they could let the Grand Duke 
leave the Caucasus and come to Europe, for he would be 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

looked after the moment he arrived at Rostoff. So on 
the afternoon of the 19th the Grand Duke left in a. special 
train. His last passage through the streets of Tiflis had 
a touch of irony about it. He was accompanied by his 
faithful Cossack bodyguard, specially selected Tersk 
Cossacks, who had been always regarded as the most loyal 
of all the Caucasus troops. But on this day they escorted 
him to the station waving red flags and singing the 
Marseillaise ! This incident is enough to show the extra- 
ordinary change that had come over the whole country. 
On arrival in Europe the Grand Duke Nicolas was deprived 
of his command and sent under guard to the Crimea. Thus 
ended the career of this famous Romanoff. He had some 
good points. He had a strong character and a powerful 
will. He was not a military genius ; indeed his military 
qualities were quite second-rate. But he had managed 
while he was in Asia to get good soldiers round him 
and to keep them. In his civil administration of the 
Caucasus he showed fair-mindedness according to his 
lights. But there was no getting over the fact that 
he belonged to the Imperial Romanoff family, and 
was a possible candidate for the throne. Moreover his 
whole outlook, tradition and upbringing was that of 
an autocrat, and he could not understand that the 
world has now no place for that type of ruler. So 
when Nicolas the Second went, he had to go too. As 
a matter of fact, some months before the Revolution he 
had warned the Tsar of the coming danger to the Romanoff 
family, and when no heed was taken of his warning, it 
is said that he was put up by a certain section of the army 
officers as a candidate for the throne. During the winter 
of 1916-17 there was occasional talk of a " coup d'6tat ", 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

a palace revolution in fact, with the object of putting on 
the throne of Russia a more capable autocrat than Nicolas 
the Second, and so staving off the Revolution. The 
assassination of Rasputin was one of the steps in this 
palace revolution. But it was not carried out in itfr 
entirety, because the powerful hand of the Empress 
succeeded in crushing it. Had it come off, the great 
Russian Revolution might conceivably have been post- 
poned for some months, or even for some years. 

On March 2oth I left by the night train for Kars, as I 
hoped to see what effect the Revolution was having on 
the people of the Armenian plateau. When in the after- 
noon of the 2ist my train entered the Kars station, the 
platform was crowded with troops from the garrison, 
waving red flags and singing the Marseillaise. I recalled 
the days in February of the previous year, when I had 
been here and had seen the commencement of the great 
offensive against Erzerum. There was no talk then of 
anything but of war against the Turk, and every road 
was covered with troops marching to the slaughter. I 
also remembered how during the Summer I had talked 
to the soldiers on my way back from the Chorokh, and how 
I had despaired at their fatalism and helplessness in the 
clutches of the military machine, yet how I had felt 
their subconscious self tr3mig to assert itself and speak 
for humanity. Now at last I saw the triumph of those 
hopes that had seemed so far off in the Summer. The 
grey-coated men who had marched like sheep to the 
slaughter were now raising the red banners of revolt 
against militarism and tyranny, and were sending a silent 
message to their Turkish brethren across the plateau to 
follow their example. 


Russiail Revolution and its Eflbcts in Asia 

On the platform I saw a familiar face. It was that of 
All Khan Kantimirof, the Moslem with whom I had been 
engaged in relief work in June. " We have locked them 
all up ", he said to me. " Who is we ? " I asked. " The 
new provisional government of Kars", he said. "And 
whom have you locked up ? " I asked. " The Commandant 
of the fortress, the Governor and Vice-Governor and all 
the principal officials", he replied. They had not even 
spared poor Colonel Schmerling, the Vice-Governor, 
with whom I had stayed the last time I had been there. 
The change had been dramatic indeed. Within twenty- 
four hours the rulers of Kars had been locked up in the 
fortress, over which the red flag now flew, and a provisional 
government had been established over the whole province. 
I walked with Ali Khan to the offices of the former gen- 
darmes, which were now the headquarters of the new 
government. As soon as it was clear that the Revolution 
in Petrograd had triumphed, the people of Kars had arrested 
the military and civil authorities, and elected an Execu- 
tive Committee to carry on the government in co-operation 
with the Committee at Tifiis. The whole Empire being 
at this moment in a state of flux, each district became 
more or less independent, or at any rate had a wide measure 
of autonomy in the absence of a central authority. It is 
remarkable that everywhere, even in the distant parts of 
Asiatic Russia, the people just liberated from centuries 
of slavery began to create a popular system of government, 
which was the same in principle over all the'se vast terri- 
tories. Here in Kars a form of the Petrograd Council of 
Workers and Soldiers' Deputies was set up, modified to 
suit the circumstances. In European Russia the revolu- 
tionary masses were divided upon a purely social basis 

289 T 

War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

into the urban proletariat and the peasantry ; but in the 
Caucasus the fundamental units were found in national 
groups, which until yesterday had been in bitter conflict 
with one another. Hitherto there had been in the Kars 
province no internationalist body whose aim was to spread 
the ideas of Social Democracy. Now it was not only 
formed, but actually was the only instrument of authority 
in the province. I found in the executive Committee repre- 
sentatives of all the four nationalities of the Kars plateau, 
with many of whom I had become acquainted in the 
Summer of the previous year. The Greeks had a young 
advocate, the Armenians a doctor, the Moslems Ali Khan, 
the organizer of relief work among the refugees ; the 
Russian colonists had elected a Malakan peasant. I was 
shown the quarters of the local militia, which was being 
formed under the auspices of the executive Committee. 
The very people who two years ago had massacred each 
other when the Turks invaded the country, and who 
since then had been engaged in bitter mutual accusations, 
were now serving together , on committees and militias 
to preserve order and bring a new life to the people. It 
was a remarkable example of how mankind, when left 
alone to themselves with no one in authority over them, 
do not break out into anarchy and commit unsocial acts, 
but attempt to construct order on the basis of mutual 
toleration. It is only agents from without, provocators 
from the old regime, or sceptics from among the bour- 
geoisie, who can destroy this fabric of revolutionary 
socialism which is now being built up in Russia. It is 
this danger which the Russian Revolution is living 
through at this moment. 
The garrison in the Kars fortress were also working in 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

close union with the Executive Committee of the province. 
On the first day of the revolution they had arrested the 
Commanders who were reactionary or harsh with the men, 
and had elected those who were sympathetic to them. I 
found that the rank and file, all of them peasants from 
Enropean Russia, hiad begun to elect delegates for a Union 
of Soldiers. Together with the delegates of the natives, 
they were ruling the Kars province from their head- 
quarters in the fortress, the native delegates having charge 
of all civil, the soldiers of all miUtary affairs. The character 
of the Soldiers' Union was socialist-revolutionary from the 
first, for they had elected as the president of the Executive 
Committee a student civilian who was a former organizer 
of the secret revolutionary society. 

When on March 24th I returned to Tiflis, I found that 
the Executive Committee for the city and province, 
which had been formed in the first days of the Revolution 
by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, had begun to draw to 
itself members from all quarters for the task of forming 
a pitjvisional government. Besides the Union of Soldiers 
and Workers, many other organizations were now sending 
representatives to take part in the work of the Executive 
Committee. Delegates had been elected by the profes- 
sional alliances, such as the trade-unions of metal-workers, 
carpenters, motormen and tramway-workers, also by various 
educational associations, such as the school-teachers' 
union, and societies for the promotion of learning, by 
co-operative, insurance and benevolent societies, etc. 
Delegates also came from the bankers' and shopkeepers' 
alliances, from the local bourse and other middle-class 
organizations. Finally, the national organizations were 
represented, such as th? Georgian and Armenian political 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

parties. In fact, this great Tiflis Executive Committee 
elected uflder the auspices of the International Socialist 
parties, was a sort of union of syndicates of every kind, 
and from every class of the community. 

On Sunday 25th of March I visited Mtschet, the ancient 
capital of Georgia, not far from Tiflis. The Georgian 
nationalist societies had summoned a great meeting in 
the ancient cathedral, where after the service it was 
decided to elect an Exarch to be head of the Georgian 
Church. On the following day I went to Elizabetopol to 
a conference of the Caucasian Tartars. The educational 
and benevolent societies among the Tartars had got 
together, and had sent delegates to start political organizar 
tion in the Moslem villages in view of the elections for 
the Constitutional Assembly at Petrograd. 

That same week came the news that great events had 
taken place in Turkestan. The old order was changing 
even there. In Tashkent .the Russian garrison had formed 
a Union of Soldiers. The civil population had formed 
a Union of Workers from among the Moslem natives 
(Sarts) and the Russian colonists. These two bodies 
together formed the Executive Committee which super- 
seded the authority of the Governor-General, who was 
arrested and sent off to European Russia. On this Com- 
mittee were twenty-three members ; seven from the native 
Moslems, seven -from the Soldiers, and- nine from the 
Russian colonists. This caused some dissatisfaction at 
first, and the native members were afterwards increased. 
Smaller committees were formed in the principal towns. 
The race-feeling between Moslems and Russians dis- 
appeared. Russian common soldiers sat on public bodies 
with dark-skinned natives, whom the old Russian Govern- 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

ment used to treat as an inferior race. They recog- 
nized each other as brothers and as sons of free Russia. 
Regulations were drawn up to govern the policy of 
the future administration of the country. These in- 
cluded the immediate removal of all agents and 
officials of the old Government, and equal political 
rights for all nationalities ; natives were to elect 
their representatives from convenient local unions with 
proportional representation for minorities ; the Central 
Committee in Tashkent was to be the main authority, 
and to have a large measure of . local autonomy ; 
measures were to be taken against the colonial policy, 
by which the late Russian Government was continually 
depriving the natives of their lands, and settling on them 
colonists from Europe and Siberia. Thus the natives of 
Turkestan won their freedom with their brother Russians. 
But one dark corner remained in Central Asia, the native 
state of Bokhara, where the Russian Government had 
been bolstering up the tyrannous Asiatic despotism of 
the Emir. 

While the great wave of revolution was sweeping across 
the deserts and oases of Turkestan, the Emir of Bokhara 
was desperately trying to maintain his position as a 
despot, and to that end threw into prison all whom he 
suspected of fomenting revolution, and excluded from 
his territory the agents from the Council of Workers 
and Soldiers. In this he was ably seconded by the Russian 
Resident Agent, M. Miller, once the Russian Consul- 
General in Persia, where he had gained a reputation as 
a supporter of reaction. But the idea of revolution had 
evidently been long preparing, even in Bokhara, for as 
soon as the news came through that the Governor-General 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

of Turkestan had been arrested and the Union of Soldiers 
and Workers had been formed in Tashkent, the bazaars 
of Bokhara were filled with crowds of Young Bokhariots, 
who marched with red flags to the Emir's palace demanding 
" Freedom and a Constitution ". They were met by- 
reactionary Mullahs, armed agents of the Emir, and the 
Russian Resident Agent. An encounter took place in 
which there was some loss of life, and the Young Bo- 
khariots had to retire. As soon as news of the disorder 
reached Samarkand and Tashkent, the Union of Soldiers 
and Workers sent delegates with an armed force to Bo- 
khara. Finding that the Resident Agent had been sup- 
porting the Emir in his policy of resistance, they at once 
removed him and sent him to Tashkent. The Emir was 
forced to receive a deputation of his people, and within 
a few hours a manifesto was issued, declaring the abolition 
of capital and corporal punishment, equality of political 
rights for all Bokhariots, and a Constitutional Assembly 
to be elected by the people of Bokhara. Thus fell the last 
Asiatic tyranny in Russian Asia. 

It remains to say a word about the Cossacks. The 
Revolution was just as successful with them as with the 
other peoples of Asiatic Russia. On my journey from 
the Caucasus to European Russia during the last week 
of March 1917 I stopped at several of the Cossack centres 
in the North Caucasus to see the effect of the Revolution 
upon them. Everywhere was enthusiasm and rejoicing. At 
Mozdok the Cossacks in the stanitsas, who were not at the 
war, had elected their own committees and got in touch 
with the chiefs of the neighbouring mountain tribes, 
Chechens and Avars, and had asked them to send repre- 
sentatives. Even here a primitive form of Cauucil of 


Russian Revolution and its Effects in Asia 

Workers and Soldiers' Deputies had been created on the 
basis of equal rights and brotherhood between the workers 
of all lands. Cossacks were fraternizing with mountain 
Circassians, and the enemies of centuries were now united 
under the banner of liberty, equality and fraternity. In 
Vladikavkas and Grozny the Cossacks had arrested their 
fonner Ataman and elected their own, and had passed 
resolutions demanding a Republic. Perhaps one of the 
pr-incipal reasons why the Cossacks have gone over so 
whole-heartedly to the Revolution, is that in recent years 
they have deeply resented the Government's policy in 
depriving them of their ancient right to elect their mili- 
tary leaders. The Cossacks were originally emigrants 
who came for various reasons from the European provinces 
to colonize and hold the Asiatic frontiers. Gradually 
the Russian bureaucracy deprived them of their demo- 
cratic institutions and of the local self-government which 
they originally enjoyed. The grant of lands free of taxes, 
however, kept them contented for a long time, and enabled 
the Tsars to rely on them to help in crushing revolutions. 
But since the 1905 Revolution a great change has come 
over the Cossacks. The appointment of Atamans who 
had not their sympathy, and were corrupt and incompetent 
nominees of Petrograd, roused the feeling that they had 
been made the instruments of tyranny in 1905. Thus 
they came into the forefront of the revolutionary move- 
ment in 1917. The Cossacks have in fact returned to 
their original democratic state, and to-day are one of 
the bulwarks of the Revolution. 

I have now described how the great movement for the 
emancipation of man from military despotism came to 
the provinces of Asiatic Russia. The shots fired on the 


War and Revolution in Asiatic Russia 

banks of the Neva on those fateful days of March echoed 
far and wide across the plains of the Ukraine to the 
Cossacks' stepped, over the snowy peaks of the Caucasus 
to the bleak plateaux of Armenia, and across the Caspian 
to the sandy wastes and fertile oases of Turkestan. The 
people that live in the great plain between Europe and 
Asia have at last seen the light, and have freed themselves 
from the darkness of the middle ages. But they have done 
more. Situated between Asia and Europe, they have 
the elements of all that is best in the civilizations of both 
continents ; they are young and vigorous, creative and 
imaginative. They have seen through the mist of blood and 
misery which for so many weary months has enveloped 
both them and the other peoples of Europe, and they have 
dared to tell the world the truth, and show humanity 
the road to freedom. Their message to their brother 
men in Europe and Asia can be read in the abdication of 
Nicolas the Second, in the appeal of the Council of 
Workers and Soldiers' Delegates to the proletariat of 
the world, and in the declaration of the Provisional 
Government renouncing war for the sake of conquest. 
A fateful hour has come for Western Europe. Will its 
peoples drift back to mediaeval barbarism, or will they 
follow that star that has risen in the East and can lead 
them along the path of regeneration to a new life ? 

Printed in Gnat Britain liy