A Long-Long Way Home…
General Andranik’s One and Only Manuscript Returns Home after more than 90 years
The journey of the unique Manuscript of famous Armenian General Andranik is very similar to the journey of many Armenian survivors of the First Genocide of the XX century.
Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian, a well-known member of the Armenian Community in the UK, donated General Andranik’s original, 65-page Manuscript to Armenia’s History Museum on 22 April, as his family’s contribution to General’s 150th Anniversary next year.
The Director of Yerevan History Museum, on Republic Square, Dr. Anelka Grigorian expressed her gratitude to Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian, saying that this was an extraordinary event for the Museum, where General’s sward and several international and national awards are safeguarded. She mentioned that a manuscript was particularly valuable, as a vivid reflection of General Andranik’s personality, thoughts and feelings during very tormented times in the Armenian history at the beginning of the XX century.
Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian was awarded by Grigor Narekatsi award by the Vice-Minister of Culture Mr. Nerses Ter-Vardanian.
“The destiny of this manuscript is very symbolic”, said the Vice-Minister of Culture of Armenia handing the Medal to Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian. ”Like millions of our compatriots, this manuscript travelled first to France, then to Lebanon, to Greece, to England several times before returning to Homeland”.
Andranik Ozmanian, known as General Andranik (1865-1927) was a famous military leader renowned for his bravery, courage and extraordinary successes in defending the freedom not only in Armenia but also in Bulgaria, Russia, Greece and the Balkans. He gained the title of National Hero in Bulgaria, Russia and Armenia for defending these countries against the invasions of Ottoman Empire in early XX century. He was awarded the title of General during the war against the Turks in the Balkans. General Andranik’s courage was recongnised by numerous highest military awards and decorations from the Russian Empire, Golden Cross from Bulgaria, the highest Military Order Grigor Lusavoritch Medal from Armenian Republic as well as the prestigious Legion d’Honneur from French Government, which is the highest decoration in France for bravery, established by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 May 1802. There are sculptures and busts of the General Andranik in various cities across Russia, Bulgaria, Greece and Armenia where he had led his winning troops, and many streets are named after him to keep his legacy alive.
This manuscript is so far the only known handwritten document that has survived to this day, so the historic and emotional value of this document is immense. Dr. Hratch Guyumjian mentioned that the 65-page document was first sent to Paris based magazine “Apaga” in 1921 by the General himself. Afterwards, it was passed to Lebanon, to the publisher of “Zartonk” newspaper Mr. Hambarzum Hratch Kouyoumjian, the father of Hratch Kouyoumjian. During the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980s, his father sent the manuscript to Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian in the UK, only three year before his father’s death.
Dr. Hratch Kouyoumjian mentioned that for him and his family it was an honour to donate this precious manuscript to Armenia, particularly now, when the country is preparing to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and General Andranik’s 150th birthday next year.
By Hasmik Harutunian
London, May 2014