The collapse of the
Russian Tsarist empire with the Russian Revolution
of 1917 gave a chance to the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation to create the new republic. The triumph
of Bolsheviks in 1917 put an end to the Russian
Empire. When it was established borders were with
the Democratic Republic of Georgia in the north, the
Ottoman Empire to the west, the Persian Empire to
the south, and Azerbaijan Democratic Republic to the
east. Armenians faced the total annihilation as the
100 thousandth Turkish army crossed the pre-war
Russian frontier, annexed the city of Kars and
approached the Armenian capital of Yerevan. After
having depopulated the Western Armenia, the Turkish
military were now about to destroy the rest of
Armenia and achieve their goal of eliminating the
The leaders of Dashnag party, recognizing the
problem under the slogan of "The fatherland is in
danger" started creating an Armenian army. The
Armenians raised an army of 40,000 men, including
soldiers, officers and volunteers.
The Turkish army starts attacking, hoping to
finish the Armenian issue once and for all with one
last stroke. By May 23rd they take Hamamlou,
Gharakilise, Pash Abaran, Sartarabad and Sourmalou
on the banks of the river Arax.
On May 21, ignoring the retreat, colonel Daniel Beg Piroumian gets behind the Turkish army in Sartarabad
and starts hitting them from the sides. The
surprised Turkish army gets disorganized and
This heroic act encourages the Commander of the
Araradian front, General Movses Siligian on May 23rd
to order the attack on Sartarabad. People and army,
rush the enemy.
On the Arakats front, General Tro's army counter
attacks and after fierce battles Armenians take back
Pash Abaran and start advancing towards the fields
The Armenian soldiers, gathered in Tilichan, go
on the offensive on May 26 under the command of
General Thomas Nazarbegian on the Gharakilise front,
stop the enemy and take control of the war.
On May 28, Armenian forces are victorious
everywhere and the Turkish army is in defeated
retreat. Some 30 thousand of
Turkish soldiers were killed; the Turks were flung
out. Vahib-Pasha, the defeated Turkish commander,
termed the Armenian soldiers as "the best fighters
in the world". The Armenians also held defenses at
Karaklis and at Abaran.
On the same day of May 28, 1918 Armenia was
proclaimed an independent republic. The Armenian
National Council, under the leadership of Avedis
Aharonian, declared the creation of the Democratic
Republic of Armenia.
Independence day in the Democratic Republic of
The Armenian government and the legislature are
transferred from Tbilisi to Yerevan in July 1918.
Quoting the Prime Minister "Under Rain, Chaos and
catastrophic conditions" the new government starts
Republic had four Prime Ministers during its
existence, all of whom belonged to the
Revolutionary Federation (more). Hovhannes Katchaznouni (30
June 1918 - 28 May 1919), Alexander Khatisyan (28
May 1919 - 5 May 1920), Hamazasp Ohandzhanyan (5 May
1920 - 25 November 1920) and Simeon Nazari Vratsyan
(25 November 1920 - 2 December 1920).
was the first minister of Interior.
the 1919, the leaders of the Republic had to deal
with issues on three fronts: domestic, regional, and
international. The Armenian Congress of Eastern
Armenians that took control in 1918 fell apart and
in June 1919, the first national elections were
held. During 1920's, which began under the
premiership of Hovannes Kachaznuni, Armenians from
the former Russian Empire and United States
developed the judicial system. January 1919 was an
important milestone as the first University was
The European powers found themselves unable to
solve the Armenian Question. The unification of the
Caucasian Armenia with the Turkish Armenia
proclaimed by the Armenian government in 1919 turned
out Utopian. After Armenia was officially recognized
by the governments of Allies and by the United
States, the US President Woodrow Wilson was invited
to determine the borders of the Armenian State.
According to Wilson's map, a new Armenia would
include most of its historically belonging lands.
The project would never come true.
In 1920, the Democratic Republic of Armenia
administered an area that covered most of
present-day Armenia, and Kars, Iğdır, Çıldır and
Göle districts of Ardahan, while the regions of
Nakhchivan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur (today the
Armenian province of Syunik), and Qazakh were
disputed and fought over with Azerbaijan. The Oltu
region (shortly administered by Georgia in 1920) was
also claimed by the Democratic Republic of Armenia.
The majority-Armenian area of Lori was disputed with
and administered by Georgia. The Armenian Army
managed to control the regions except for Karabakh
which came under stable but temporary Armenian
control, though Azerbaijan continued to assert its
claims over the areas.
The new state faced fatal internal and external
problems. Armenia exploded into anarchy as the
Armenian Bolsheviks rose in the cities of
Nakhichevan, Alexandrople and Kars. The Soviet
government hypocritically negotiated with both
Dashnak and Bolshevik leaders of Armenia.
First republic of Armenia -Western boarders as it
was drawn by than US President Woodrow Wilson
In August 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres, signed by
England, France and Turkey, bound Turkey to
recognize the independence of Armenia and the
Wilsonian boundaries. The new Armenian state was
recognized by most of the countries, including the
United States. However, after the triumph of Mustafa
Kemal, the Turks, supported by the Bolshevik Russia,
attacked the infant Armenian Republic again. The
Armenian and Russian Bolsheviks played a fatal role
in demoralizing the population and the Armenian
army. The Bolshevik propaganda now called the Turks
"socialists" and "friends of Russians". On the other
hand, the victorious Russian XI Red Army, after
successfully Sovietizing Baku, Azerbaijan, and
Karabakh, approached Yerevan to "overthrow the
Dashnaks". The disoriented Armenian army retreated,
surrendering Kars. The whole Armenian population
there was then pitilessly butchered by the Turks.
Armenia gave way to communist power in late 1920.
The Soviet 11th Red Army invasion started on the
29th of November 1920. The actual transfer of power
took place on December 2 in Yerevan. Armenian
leadership approved an ultimatum, presented to it by
the Soviet plenipotentiary Boris Legran - who was at
work as one of major Russian diplomats on Caucasus
at that time. Armenia decided to join the Soviet
sphere, while the Soviet Russia agreed to protect
its remaining territory from the advancing Turkish
army. Soviets also pledged to take steps to rebuild
the army, protect the Armenians, not to pursue
non-communist Armenians, etc.
When on December 4, 1920, the Red Army entered
Yerevan, the government of Armenian Republic
effectively stopped working. On December 5, the
Armenian Revolutionary Committee (Revkom; made up of
mostly Armenians from Azerbaijan) also entered the
city. Finally, on the following day, December 6,
Felix Dzerzhinsky's dreaded secret police, the Cheka,
entered Yerevan, thus effectively ending the
existence of the Democratic Republic of Armenia.
What was left of Armenia was under the control of a
communist government. The part occupied by Turkey
remained for the most part theirs - by the
subsequent Treaty of Kars. Soon, the Armenian Soviet
Socialist Republic was proclaimed, under the
leadership of Aleksandr Miasnikyan. It was to be
included into the newly created Transcaucasian
Soviet Federated Socialist Republic.