Armenian Atrocities in Maraş During World War I And The Struggle For Independence
Keywords: Ottoman State, Maraş, Halep, Zeytun, Süleymanlı, Armenian, World War I
Prodded and encouraged by foreign forces, during the First World War the Armenian populace of Maraş rebelled against the Ottoman State. They struck the Turkish soldiers in the back during the time of the battles taking place in Gallipoli. The Armenian rebels were active in the environs of Maraş, Pazarcık, İslahiye, Nurdağı and Bahçe, committing outrages against that which the people held sacred. The Armenians living in the region also collaborated with the French invaders. Armenian legionnaires donned French uniforrns as they massacred innocent and unarmed civilians in Maraş and its surrounding villages. A general curfew was established in the city between the hours of 06-18, thus disallowing people to go to work or into the streets. During the 22 day tong defense of Maraş, from 22 January through 11 February, 1920, the Armenians, failing to realize that it was their own country that was being invaded, collaborated with the French in attacking the city. They set fires in various parts of the city. They especially selected Turkish dwellings to set alight The citizens of Maraş waged a noble struggle against the French invaders and the Armenian collaborators. The cannon war that was carried out under the orders of General Querette failed to hamper the people. Armed battles were led by the Armenians from the churches and homes in which they had taken refuge. The attack of the invading forces in Maraş was finally repulsed by the Kuva-yı Milliye (National Independence Army) that had been formed by, and was acting under the order of, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In the face of the Turkish defense, the now hopeless French command and the Armenian legionnaires took refuge in the American college in the city. Understanding the danger of the developments, the invading forces secretly decided to fiee the city. On 11 February 1020 the French and their collaborating Armenians left Maraş and retreated in the direction of Tükoğlu.