Author: Oleg KUZNETSOV, Moscow
In 1932, Bulgarian Armenians elected Garegin Nzhdeh, who was living in Sofia at that time, as their official delegate to the 12th Congress of the Dashnaktsutyun party. Seizing the opportunity, Nzhdeh created a right-wing radical nationalist theory of Tseghakron, which he believed could reform the Dashnaksutyun ideologically. Together with Hayk Asatrian (also known as Hayk Assaturian), another leader of the Bulgarian Committee of Dashnaksutyun, he has soon prepared and published a series of articles setting forth the new ideological concept for Armenians, which has been changed several times until being logically complete by the beginning of the World War II.
According to the testimonies of the former agent of SD and Abwehr, ethnic Armenian Peter Kamsarakan (see our previous issues), "tseghakron", as a term denominating both the ideology and organisation, can be translated into English as "racism" and "Racists", respectively. In other words, Armenian hatemongers later invented the term "carrier of race" in order to hide or replace the authentic translation of tseghakron by a consumer-friendly version. As a matter of fact, in his memo of October 18, 1948 to Joseph Stalin and other top Soviet leaders, the USSR Minister of Internal Affairs, Colonel-General Sergei Kruglov mentioned that Nzhdeh had become acquainted with Kamsarakan's testimony in full and confirmed that he had been the creator of the ideology of Armenian racism.
But not only Nzhdeh and Kamsarakan defined the tseghakron theory as racist. In 2007, the memoirs of Colonel V. M. Ovsepian, Garegin Nzhdeh and the KGB: Memoirs of a Scout, were published in Yerevan. In 1952-1953, Ovsepian was in the rank of a captain overseeing the operations with Nzhdeh as a senior security officer for the First Department (foreign intelligence) of the Ministry of State Security (KGB) of the Armenian SSR. As the chairman of the Council of Veterans of Armenian State Security Bodies, having access to the archives of Armenian secret services, Ovsepian included in his memoirs a number of documents from the investigation file on Nzhdeh (no. 11411 filed in 1945-1947), as well as the interrogation report on Hovhannes Devejian, Nzhdeh's associate in Dashnaktsutyun. These documents are currently available in the archives of the National Security Service of Armenia under file no. 8882). Devejian also lived in Sofia in 1923-1933 and was a member of the Dashnak Committee in Bulgaria. In 1932, he was also elected to the 12th Congress of Dashnaksutyun held in Paris. Then he moved to Romania, worked for the Nazi intelligence during the World War II, was arrested by Soviet military counterintelligence, transferred to Yerevan for interrogation, and even kept in the same prison ward with Nzhdeh. During the interrogation, which took place on August 28, 1947, O. Devejian said: “In fact, Tseghakron means admiration for race and preserving racial purity, which is equivalent to Nazism-Hitlerism. Thus, Nzhdeh and his Tseghakron promoted fascism in Armenian reality.”
As we can see, the educated intellectual of Armenian nationality of the mid-twentieth century who had a good command of several languages, same as Kamsarakan, Devejian, and Nzhdeh who were fluent in at least three to four foreign languages, used the specific and understandable word racism or Nazism, not the mythical concept of carrier of race to translate the word tseghakron into Russian. He was fully aware that tseghakron is an ideology of racial or national superiority of Armenians.
To promote his theory, Nzhdeh, as the veteran leader of the Armenian diaspora in Bulgaria, published the nationalist magazine Khrovk in Sofia, followed by the less costly newspaper Razmig. His associate Hayk Asatrian has been the permanent editor-in-chief of both publications. In 1932, Nzhdeh published his first article, Tseghakron as a pledge of victory, describing the theory of tseghakron, and tsekhamard, an Aryan Armenian. Thanks to Nzhdeh’s active journalistic and publishing activities, Bulgaria actually gave birth to modern Armenian nationalism in its worst ideological form.
It was not by coincidence that the publication of the above article took place at that time. It was the logical outcome of Nzhdeh’s long-standing efforts to adopt Adolf Hitler, Führer of German Nazism, as a role model. On July 7, 1932, NSDAP secured a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections, grabbing most of the seats in the Reichstag. Earlier on April 10, Hitler took the second place with one-third of votes in presidential elections, which made him the main contender for the position of the Reichschancellor. Due to the growing popularity of Nazism in Germany and the neighbouring countries, as well as among the conservatives in the UK and the US, Nzhdeh intuitively felt that his new ideology for the Armenian diaspora should be similar to the ideology of Nazism, which turned out to be so popular in several European countries.
According to the theory of tseghkron, all Armenians are divided into three “sensually-conscious groups”: tsekhamard, zhoghovurd and takank. In Nzhdeh's interpretation, tsekhamard is the best portion of Armenian nation, aiming to crown the Armenian presence in Armenia. Thus, tsekhamard is the carrier of the ideology of Armenian people through generations, who consciously fights and sacrifices himself for the salvation of the honour of his homeland. Zhoghovurd is the swinging and hesitant group of Armenians. Zhoghovurd can be easily affected by the crowd and enjoys his routine life, while the tsekhamards cherish eternal ideals and goals, the memory of the past, keeping a firm faith in the future and fighting daily with the enemies. Takank, by contrast, is an apostate, an internal enemy pandering to external enemies. Absence of pride, egoism and mercantilism define takank's gutless nature. His mind is void of any obligations before his nation and state, but he always demands something for himself. Takank does not have a national identity. He speaks Armenian only because that is the language of his parents, as he has not yet found another means of communication. For a typical takank, Armenia is not the homeland. The only reason he lives within the diaspora is to secure material welfare, which is the only highest value for him. According to Nzhdeh, the active tsekhamards should lead the ordinary zhoghovurds and expel degenerate takanks from the Armenian nation.
The ultimate objective of the above ranking system invented for the Armenian ethnos was the politicization of the members of the Armenian diaspora rather than an effort to raise the national and patriotic spirit among them. Traditionally, Armenians hold strong ties with each other based on blood and ethnic-religious affiliation. Therefore, for many members of the Armenian diaspora, the status of an individual within the community is more important and subjectively significant than his or her position in the society of the country of residence. That was precisely this communal feeling that Nzhdeh was appealing to when he was creating his theory of Tseghakron: considering himself a tsekhamard, or a carrier of the Armenian national idea, he demanded from other Armenians, or zhoghovurds, submission to himself emotionally, morally and materially. Those who did not acknowledge his authority were considered takanks, or traitors, betraying the interests of the people and the Armenian national idea. This method of management is widely popular in most non-traditional churches and totalitarian sects today, and has been described in detail in scientific literature. However, in the 1930s, very few people knew about it. Thus, Nzhdeh sensed it either intuitively based on his rich empiric experience, or borrowed from the outside, having it fit the self-consciousness of the Armenian people. In fact, he had not many options to select from: given the historical realities of that time, his only sources of inspiration were either the Italian fascism of Benito Mussolini, or the German Nazism of Adolf Hitler.
Without further ado, Nzhdeh introduced the same concept of seven moral dominants or cults used by German Nazis in his theory of Tseghakron. Apparently, he did not think that this could provoke his critics to see in Tseghakron an analogy with the Jewish menorah, the menorah, thereby casting a shadow of suspicion on him in accordance with the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition. Theoretical basis of Nzhdeh's ideology was the 25-point Program of the NSDAP (National Socialist Workers Party of Germany) issued on April 1, 1920 and declared as “unshakable” principles of German Nazism in 1926.
The cult of Motherland demanded devotion and worship of the land on which the Armenian nation had naturally formed and built its state and civilisation, created its original culture. A similar requirement was contained in points 10 and 20 of the Nazi program: "10. The first obligation of every citizen must be to productively work mentally or physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interests of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all."; "20. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the state must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding."
The cult of kinship by blood forbade Armenian men to marry the women of other ethnic groups, while Armenian women could give birth to children from men of different nationalities provided that their children were raised in accordance with the teachings of Tseghakron. Nzhdeh believed that only an ethnic Armenian who fulfilled his duties to the country could be a citizen of Armenia. The cult of kinship by blood was identical to the content of points 4 and 6 of the NSDAP program: "4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed."; "6. The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen."
The cult of language obliged the Armenians to speak with each other only in Armenian and assumed leveling of the dialects. The objective was to develop the literary Armenian language. Of paramount importance was the ideological interpretation of the cultural content and meaning of the words. As the German literary language, the language of Schiller and Goethe, had developed in Germany since the mid-nineteenth century, Nazis did not consider this issue relevant. However, point 23 of the NSDAP program established the domination of the "German press", demanding that all "employees, editors and publishers of German newspapers printed in German were members of the race", or ethnic Germans. Also, "non-German newspapers were required to have the express permission of the state to be published. They might not be printed in the German language."
The cult of martyrs fallen for the Armenian nation declared the dead tsekhamards as the saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) in accordance with the traditions of the Armenian-Gregorian religion, and demanded the appropriate common prayer for their memory. Thus, AAC established a special clerical holiday, Vardanank. It is still celebrated on Thursdays eight weeks before the Easter in mid-February, also in memory of those who were killed in the Battle of Avarayr, although the battle actually took place on May 26 or June 2, 451. On this day, all those who died for Armenia are commemorated as the holy martyrs of the Armenian Apostolic Church. This tradition is closely associated with the cult of kinship by blood, which strengthens its significance in public mentality.
The cult of ancestors declared the interruption of spiritual connection between previous and next generations of the Armenian nation as the greatest atrocity, and demanded that tsekhamards and zhoghovurds know the national history in its official interpretation, even if it did not comply with the traditions of classical historical science. This cult introduced Hayk Nahapet, allegedly the grandson of Prophet Noah, as the "progenitor of the Armenians". This, in turn, provoked the idea that the Armenians are the first nation among all other existing nations.
The cult of force, according to Nzhdeh, demanded active physical development and constant training of Armenians, since life gives way to those who are strong in spirit, mind, and body. Those win who are strong, not just. This cult was fully consistent with or was borrowed from point 21 of the NSDAP program. Thanks to this aspect of Nzhdeh's theory, neo-paganism began to develop among the Armenians in the 1930s when the followers began to worship the ancient Armenian deity Vahagn, similar to the cult of the ancient German deity Wotan, which was the patron saint of SS in Nazi Germany. Nazi propaganda borrowed this ideology from Austrian philologist and philosopher Guido von List, whose ideas had strongly influenced Hitler at the beginning of his political career. He considered the neo-pagan Wotanism to be a form of the ancient Germanic religion, designed "for the lower social classes". This doctrine was presented in the form of popular parables and myths.
The cult of the leader demanded the admiration and unconditional submission to sparapet, the supreme leader or führer of all Armenians from among the tsekhamards, whose power was limited only to his subjective vision of the interests of the Armenian nation. Naturally, Nzhdeh consider himself as the Sparapet of all the Armenians of the world. In Nazi Germany, this practice was introduced on August 9, 1934, when Hitler united two senior positions, the president (Reichspräsident) and chancellor (Reichskanzler) of Germany, also known as the Führer Principle (Führerprinzip) and formulated as the slogan One People, One Empire, One Leader (Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer).