Excerpts from the novel ‘Zangezur’

Excerpts from the novel ‘Zangezur’


Azerbaijan State Translation Centre (AzSTC) presents excerpts from a two-volume historical novel ‘Zangezur’ by Eyyub Abasov, a notable Azerbaijani writer, which depicts the scenes of massacre committed in 1918-1920 by Armenians in the ancient Azerbaijani district of Zangezur. AzSTC has distributed the material in English, Russian, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, Georgian, French, Ukrainian, Spanish, Czech and German languages among influential global internet and social networks. 


Eyyub Abasov - Azerbaijani poet and writer, Honoured Art Worker of Azerbaijan.

Born in 1905, in the village of Shaki of Zangezur uyezd (present Sisian district, Armenia).

In 1918, lost his family as a result of the genocide committed by Armenian militants in Zangezur under the leadership of General Andranik Ozanian. At the age of 13, moved to Nakhchivan with a small number of fellow villagers who had survived the massacre, and lived in Nakhchivan at his relatives. After graduating from the Language and Literature faculty at Azerbaijan State Pedagogical Institute in 1930, studied at the editing and translation courses in Leningrad (present St. Petersburg) in 1934-1937.

The author wrote a two-volume historical novel “Zangezur”, where he masterfully depicted the scenery of bloodthirsty masaccre commited in Zangezur district and images of  Armenian ‘butchers’, such as Andranik, Dro, Nzhdeh.

The 52-year-old writer passed away on December 18 of the same year, shortly after the publication of this novel, in 1957.

AzSTC provides readers with parts of the historical novel.



    Excerpts from the novel ‘Zangezur’


“There had never been so many people in Giziljig village as there were that night. The houses, streets and thrashing-floors were overcrowded. On this beautiful summer night, they hadn’t come here as guests, they had escaped death. These people had come from different destroyed and burned villages - Agudi, Vagudi, Urud, Garakilsa... They all ran from Andranik's cannon and rifle. But trouble followed them again ... Screams, the groans of burning hearts were heard from everywhere... ‘Oh, my baby’, ‘Oh, my sister’, ‘ Oh, my father’, ‘Poor my son, stayed there’', ‘My land and my hut are burnt out’, ‘Bread’... Even there was neither grass nor nettles left to eat ... Andranik gathered his army and the Armenian population on the square in Gorus district, congratulated them on their “victory” and said: “Did you see me  take revenge on the Muslims in Zangezur for the massacre of Armenians in Turkey? Now I will leave no stone unturned in the rest Muslim villages’.


“It was the end of April 1919. Except the rich and some villagers who managed to take their properties and money with them, the livelihood of refugees from Zangezur steadily deteriorated. Thousands of people lived in poverty; they did not have land planting and growing crops, bread and clothing. They could find no way or opportunity to break the chain of disasters. They had to endure all the suffering and humiliation not only to live well, but also not to die. Refugees from Zangezur were waiting for the sunrise of a happy life from somewhere in their miserable life. Although theie native lands were burned and destroyed, they strove to return to their villages, to their homeland and make their lives again. But it was impossible to return to the lands where the Dashnaks ruled ”.


‘They say that a drowning man is grasping at straws. Life and needs forced the unfortunate to do just anything. Someone was employed in domestic services, someone herded cattle, someone watered fields, someone was dealing with wool tangles, someone combed wool, someone could get some money for pretty trading, and someone went begging.

Some of the refugees did not leave the villages where they had settled. They used to say, ‘if we die, we will die here’; and some refugees  wandered through the villages to find a filling meal and looked for a suitable job. There was not a day that refugees did not die of a disease or hunger in this or that village. During ten months of deportation, thousands of refugees fell victim to fever and typhoid fever in summer, and pneumonia in winter.


“… Peasants, poor people! The Dashnak government is the government of the rich, kings and landowners. Your life has radically worsened since the Dashnaks came to throne. People in the villages are starving and begging. The Dashnaks do not want to end the fight against Muslims and Georgians, on the contrary, they exacerbate it more and more. They loot more or less grain and livestock from you and feed their army. At home, your family is starving. They deceive you with all kinds of false promises. The poor are forced to sell their land to buy some bread and feed their crying children. The rich used to say: ‘I have no more extra land to give you. I cannot lend you seed, so, go and take care of yourselves.”


An Armenian officer said:

“You, crazy Muslim, don’t brag, don’t speak indecently! How can you get back to Zangezur? Don't you know that the Americans and General Denikin are also on our side! I am sure we will drive you out to Askeran. You will see, we will take Karabakh and Nakhchivan from you!’


“To the Chairman of the Gubadli Revolutionary Committee!

“I suggest that you should send to my disposal the Armenian communists and partisans who fled from Zangezur and found refuge in your uyezd as soon as possible. If they do not return, their homes will be set on fire and their families from small infants to the elderly will be shot. I promise to save the life of returnees. G. Nzhdeh. June 10, 1920.’


“The struggle, which they began with the aim of conquering new lands, sowing the seeds of national enmity between the two peoples and inciting them to attack eaah other, did not last long, but caused great damage. There were many killed and wounded on both sides. The houses were looted, but the Armenian villages were not destroyed. The population did not leave their lands and homes.”




“There was a large crowd in front of a two-storey house. People in shabby clothes were talking to one other and waiting for some news. After a long while, a man of 58-60, of average height, broad-shouldered, with grey mustache and hair, in clothes of a Russian general, went out onto the balcony. As soon as everyone saw him, they applauded him. ‘Andranik Pasha! Andranik Pasha!’

Andranik raised his hand with a gesture to calm down. Everyone looked at him in silence. Andranik said:

‘Qakhdagans! ' (In Armenian it means ‘refugee’ - H.N.) You,  Armenians are separated from your lands and villages! I know your pain. You have no home to live in, no land to plant, no bread to eat. You have left them in Ardahan, Qars (also, Kars), Sarikamish. And here no one cries for your grief , no one cares about you. And now you have come to me asking for help. I will do my best. If I could not take revenge on the Turks in Turkey, who led you to this situationa, then I will take revenge in the Caucasus, just here, in Zangezur. Wait, wait for that day! Now, go home!’

But then some voices were heard. ‘And when will it occur? We can't get along! Andranik ignored their questions, their words and went inside.

People looked at each other. There were heard talks going on slowly and loudly. ‘Whom does he want to take revenge against in Zangezur? He didn't say what assistance he would provide. Come on, let us go. Don't expect anything of Andranik Pasha ...’


Andranik smiled and said.

“Which government is that?”

“National government of Armenia.”

“Do you mean the Tiflis government? That is a toy, not a government!”

“I think the military should be more watchful in politics. There is no Tiflis government now. There are three governments in the Caucasus: Menshevik, Musavat and Armenian. As you are Armenians, you must obey the Armenian government. We have found out where you are from, what you have been doing and from where you have come here. You and we must have the same goal. I want to say that you are here and you must join the Armenian National Army. And you must serve as an officer in the Armenian army. You ...

   Andranik interrupted him.

“I am not a regular officer, sir, I am a general!

“It's not about just the name, people still name you as Pasha. However, this Turkish military name does not suit you because you are Armenian. After all, Gorus will be the seat of the troops we have gathered in Zangezur. Care must be taken to avoid clashes between the soldiers.”


The priest said:

“I want to say a few words before I drink.”

Everyone stared at him. The priest continued.  “The bailiff agha said that he was studying the languages ​​of the Caucasian peoples. It's good. But it will be better if he starts learning Armenian first, because the Armenian language and Armenian history are more ancient.”

The bailiff smiled and said.

“We will learn it too, priest.”

The priest Mesrop, feeling a mysterious mockery in his laughter, got upset.

“Yea, bailiff, I can prove that the Armenian people have a very ancient history. What I wish is to open a school in the Armenian language.”


  “The priest Mesrop’s words are manifestation of thoughts of the Armenian Church: “My people are above all nations. No nation’s history is as ancient as the history of the Armenians. If you lift each stone, the Armenian history will come out from there ...”


“Andranik did not want to repeat the mistake he had made in the first battle. He had to block all exits in the second attack, and leave no one alive... None of the Muslim villages should survive.”
“Priest, you must leave for Tehran just now,” said Nzhdeh.

“To Tehran””

“Yes, priest. Knowing that you are committed to me, I send you to the British Consul in Tehran. Meet and talk to him as a representative of the Syunik government and the Armenian people. Tell them that the Syunik government promises to give forests, copper mines and all underground resources of Zangezur to them. Especially note that Nzhdeh surrenders to the Red Army because he relies on them. Why doesn’t the British army move on? Why does it leave us alone on the battlefield? Why does the British government allow such a pearl as the Caucasus to remain in the hands of the Bolsheviks? Then through the intermediary of the British consul meet with the heads of the Iranian government. Tell them that if the Bolsheviks strengthen their position in the Caucasus, Iran will always be in danger. Let the Iranian government help us in whatever way it can ...’


“Soon our troops will launch attacks. We will capture)Muslim villages near our border. We plan to enter Karabakh in the near future. We have nicely disposed of Vedi settlement and the surrounding villages. Now these villages are in the hands of our Armenian brothers. Some of them are dead, and the survived Muslims fled to Iran and Nakhchivan.


“Snowy, foggy mountains and green meadows, which lost their freshness and turned yellow, could not hold the refugees from Zangezur for a long time. As if it seemed tired of listening to their cries ... People without clothes, blankets and hungry, like migratory birds, went to other places in search of life. Some families left for Nakhchivan uyezd. Some headed  towards Kurdistan, Jabrail, Barda, Aghdam and Yevlakh. Some of them who were too elderly, horseless and without donkeys, sick, and wounded settled nearby. They went to Minkend, Mollahmedli and Garakeshish. As they could not find any place or shelter to settle, they got into grottos.


                                   Eyyub Abasov