Author: Oleg KUZNETSOV, Moscow
Winston S. Churchill is credited with the following brilliant phrase: "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history." We recall it every time there is a chance to study the documents of the Soviet security authorities concerning their activities against Armenian nationalism, extremism, and terrorism. Unfortunately, the political class of modern Russia (and other countries with deep anti-fascist traditions) either forgot or is reluctant to remember and learn from the past, which is the main reason why the civilisation has completely lost influence on the establishment of the state ideology of modern Armenia.
Region Plus begins publication of articles by the Russian historian and lawyer Oleg Kuznetsov. His materials are based entirely on the declassified documents of the Soviet special services, which always had a clear understanding about the true and permanent enemy of the Russian statehood in history no matter who ruled the state – the emperor, the Bolsheviks, or the Soviets. And as soon as the Kremlin had a different (not that of the NKVD) view of the situation behind the Great Caucasian Range, it would immediately lose its geopolitical positions in the region one after another.
In the second half of 2016 and throughout 2017, the Russian-speaking media in various countries of the world was actively discussing the installation of a monument to the main ideologist of Armenian nationalism Garegin Nzhdeh (Ter-Harutyunian). The debates eventually split the information space into two antagonistic camps. Armenian press called Nzhdeh a national hero of the Armenian people and the founder of Armenia's state ideology, while the mass media of Russia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and some other post-Soviet countries called him a fascist and protested against the glorification of a Hitlerite henchman in Armenia. Meanwhile, official Moscow, as well as other capitals of Europe and America decided to consider these actions as an "internal affair of Armenia." The situation was most evident in Russia though, when Russian political class, which had always been known for its raving condemnation of the glorification of any manifestation of Nazism and fascism in the Baltic countries and Ukraine, flatly refused to do so with regard to Armenia as it did not want to "offend" its only ally in the South Caucasus. Thus, seeing Russia's reluctant stance, the rest of the countries of the former anti-Hitler coalition, who lost 50 million of souls in the struggle against German Nazism and Italian fascism, did not bother either.
Garegin Nzhdeh, whose monument is flaunting in front of the Armenian government headquarters, left an infamous mark on history by committing the massacre of the Muslim population of Thrace as a member of the Bulgarian army during the 1st and 2nd Balkan wars (1912-1913), as well as the subjects of the Ottoman Empire as a member of the Russian Caucasian Army during the First World War (1914-1918), civilians in Azerbaijan and Northern Iran as a serviceman in the army of the Dashnak Republic of Armenia (1918-1920), as well as the founder of the Tseghakron Theory (Tseghakronism), which actually spurred the heated discussions around his monument in Yerevan as an act of hailing (or condemning) the fascism in Armenia. In fact, the motive for debates has developed since 2004, when the Republican Party, ruling in Armenia until recently, published a brochure entitled Garegin Nzhdeh and his teaching, which explained the essence of Nzhdeh's theory and declared it as an official state ideology of the country. In other words, for Armenian political establishment, the monument of Nzhdeh was a logical conclusion of a fifteen-year process of implanting the Tseghakronism into the mass consciousness of Armenians and a triumphant evidence of this ideology.
According to Wikipedia, Tseghakronism in essence is a "nationalist ideology, which claims that the highest value for an individual is his nation beyond which he cannot fully exist. The objective of Tseghakronism is the unification of all Armenians on the territory of their historical homeland under a unified Armenian state." Tseghakronism has not been finalised as a valid theory based on a philosophical treatise or an independent conceptual publication; rather it was developed through a series of articles. According to the anonymous author of the above-mentioned brochure, Garegin Nzhdeh and his teaching, Tseghakronism should not be confused with Italian fascism, German Nazism and Jewish Zionism, as it is an independent intellectual phenomenon specially developed for the Armenian people. Yet another article in Wikipedia ("Armenoid race") confirms that this ideology still officially exists in Armenia. According to the article, Armenians are no longer representatives of one of the peoples under the Semitic group, but an independent race of people rooted thousand years deep in the past. Incidentally, it was the French anthropologist G. Monthodont who originally claimed the existence of "Armenoids" in 1933 – precisely at the time when Nzhdeh began formulating his theory of Tseghakronism.
However, this view, which was readily accepted by the Russian authorities and the media under their control, followed by institutions of other countries, did not exist always. In the 1930s, when this ideology was only formulated, the attitude towards it in the USSR was completely negative.
While studying a set of selected documents of the State Security Directorate (SSD) of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (ZSFSR) for Azerbaijan SSR, a formerly-classified "top secret" SSD directive no. 138 to its territorial divisions (city departments and local branches), dated April 7, 1935 drew my attention. It was surprising that I found it on the first pages of a large archive file. The document mostly included local reports about the implementation of instruction, hence providing full and detailed evidence on one of the large-scale operations carried out by the Transcaucasian officers of the NKVD. The directive began with a detailed analysis of the problem and demanded fully concentration of forces from all regional units of the Soviet state security authorities to solve the problem (the original text was adjusted to be in line with the grammar of the modern Russian language):
"It is clearly visible that the Dashnaks became active after the 12th Congress of the [Dashnaksutyun] party both abroad and in the country and this activity is gradually develops into fascism.
Having remained as an uncompromising opponent of the Bolshevism, the Dashnaktsutyun has affirmed this struggle in the form of fascisation as the only way to strengthen its authority and militant spirit. To ensure a "consistent" transition to fascism, the Dashnak ideologists put forward the notorious theory of Aryanism for the Armenian nation.
These issues were most clearly formulated by the key figures of the Dashnaktsutyun in Europe. For example, Nzhdeh writes the following in his article "My word for the younger generation of Armenians":
"... Religion is a new wave raising the Armenian life and opposing our spiritual organism to the threatening death in an alien environment..."
"... Keep the Armenian spirit inaccessible to suicidal offensives of the Leninists..."
"... Bolshevism preaches that a nation must die to give life to the class; ...Fascism preaches that a class must die to give life to the nation..."
Strengthening of fascist tendencies is also observed among the Dashnak assets developed underground and is expressed as follows:
"If, after seizing the power, the Dashnaktsutyun's domination is based on its vague program of socialism, then we all will leave this party. We must finally learn action from Hitler".
At that time, Nzhdeh's call to "the younger generation of Armenians to learn action from Hitler" sounded quite symptomatic. That was way before the infamous Kristallnacht, an organised mass pogrom of Jews in Germany in 1938; the hellish gas chambers and crematoriums of the "death factory" in Auschwitz-Birkenau, although the theory of the "final solution of the Jewish question" had already been formulated and proclaimed; SS Untersturmführer Leopold Itz, Edler von Mildenstein had already established his Jews department under the auspices of the SD Central Board, and Otto Adolf Eichmann had already written a review of The Jewish State by Theodor Herzl, in which he recommended mass extermination of Jews as "enemies of the Reich". In other words, Nzhdeh urged his followers to learn doing the same with the Turkic and generally Muslim peoples as the Nazis will with the Jews in the near future – first in Germany, then in the territories of all the occupied countries of Europe. It was not something new for him anyway, as he had successfully practiced this in four preceding wars.
As can be seen from the above quotes found in the directive no. 138, for the security authorities of the Soviet Transcaucasia, the Armenian nationalism, as formulated by Garegin Nzhdeh, was nothing but fascism. Alas, the same cannot be said of modern Russia and other countries of the world, which still consider the case an "internal affair of Armenia", hence supporting and encouraging organised adherents and bearers of this ideology. And when the people of Armenia, who did not want to live according to the rules of Tseghakronism, which was considered a fascist theory in the USSR, hit the streets of Yerevan in April 2018 to fight for its freedom, dignity and democracy and to throw off the shackles of nationalism and fascism, politicians and public figures in Moscow expressed their resentment considering the events as a threat to Russia's national interests. Then what kind of Armenia does the political class of Russia need as its main ally in the Caucasus – openly Nazi or democratic?
Further down the text of the directive, we could see a list of achievements and drawbacks of the state security authorities of the Soviet Azerbaijan In fact, the list contains more drawbacks than achievements. The analysis of the real state of affairs concluded with a shocking statement: "It is particularly noteworthy that many peripheral authorities are completely inattentive and sometimes criminally negligent to reports about the presence of an important and worthy [Dashnak] object in their area". Specifically, the criticism concerned the Ganja city department, local branches in Shamkhor (Shamkir), Tauz (Tovuz), Aghdam and other areas. Towards the end of the document, we can see a set of guiding instructions or orders such as "Review all agents and get rid of the ballast of agents with low potential", "Improve educational work with agents", "Enhance vigilance against the Dashnak personnel who are still intact, returned from exile and moved to the region from Armenia or other areas, "Take the registration process seriously and under the guidance of our instructions, since there is no sound registration of Dashnaks in any of the regions..." (This is followed by the details of orders issued previously).
In other words, while the ideologists of Armenian nationalism and the Dashnaktsutyun Party did not publicly declare their adherence to fascism, the Soviet security authorities were completely loyal and even condescending to them. But when they started talking about the "Aryan roots of the Armenian nation" chiming in with German national-socialist ideology, preparations for mass repression of their party members began immediately. Until the 12th Congress of their party in the USSR, the Dashnaks and their ideology were not noticeable, but as soon as they openly and consciously switched to Nazi Aryan positions, they immediately became an object of interest and vocal opponents of the state security authorities.
State security agencies of the Transcaucasian Soviet republics registered the Dashnaks in three categories: 1) party members; 2) "participants of the Dashnak adventure in 1921", an anti-Soviet armed mutiny of Armenians in spring 1921 led by the last Prime Minister of the Dashnak Republic of Armenia, Simon Vratsian, who first handed over Armenia to the Ottoman troops and then the Bolsheviks. The rebels could seize a vast territory until Ganja and including Ninotsminde; 3) sympathizers. Two years later, in 1937, Dashnaks from the first two categories were executed systematically and methodically. Members of the last category were sent to the NKVD labour camps for "re-education". Security authorities of the Soviet Transcaucasia repressed the Dashnaks not because they were Armenians, nationalists, ideological opponents of Bolshevism or anti-Soviet, but because their leaders declared their support to Hitler and his misanthropic ideology. Garegin Nzhdeh and his theory of Tseghakronism (nothing else!) were the main reason why the Transcaucasian security authorities launched a bloody political repression against a significant portion of ethnic Armenians residing in the USSR.
Now Nzhdeh has a monument in Yerevan. Isn't it a glorification of Nazism in Armenia? Any form of friendship with fascists is immoral and no political reasons can justify this. Otherwise, the old Russian saying "Tell me who are your friends and I'll tell you who you are" becomes relevant.
P.S. On December 18, 2013, the 67th session of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution "Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance" (A/RES/68/150). In compliance with §23 of this resolution, the erection of a monument to the founder of the openly Nazi ideology of Tseghakronism, Garegin Nzhdeh, is one of the modern forms of propaganda "based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin" and is a direct violation of Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Also, in §12 of the same document the UN General Assembly "expresses concern at the human rights and democratic challenges posed by all extremist political parties, movements and groups." In addition, §19 emphasises "the importance of history classes in teaching the dramatic events and human suffering which arose out of the adoption of ideologies such as Nazism and Fascism."
Tseghakronism is Nazism, and its first victim during the second half of the 1930s was the Armenian people caught by Stalin's political repressions due to Nzhdeh's unwise public bravado in the world media. That is why his monument must be demolished and his name forgotten.