THE ARMENIAN LEGION (1916-1920)
The First World War remained and will remain in the memory of generations as an unprecedented cataclysm not only for its calamities and catastrophic consequences but also for the most horrendous crime – the Armenian Genocide – the 20th century's first mass ethnic extermination and expulsion. The crime, which can never be condoned and which became possible to commit in conditions of taking advantage of the confrontation of the Great Powers. The Allied (Entente) Powers – France, Great Britain and Russia -- were the first to condemn the Armenian Genocide in their Joint Declaration (May 24, 1915): “... new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization…”
Different segments of the Armenian people witnessing indescribable scenes of rampant carnage and sufferings of their compatriots and regarding atrocious acts of brutality as sufficient grounds for taking revenge to punish the evildoer for hitherto unheard-of anguish, threw themselves into a fight against the infamous enemy. Tens of thousands of Armenians fought within Russian, British and French armies. Already in 1914 volunteer troops largely comprised of Western and Eastern Armenians had been formed on the initiative of the Armenian national parties and fought within the Russian Army showing great valour on the battlefield. Famous for glorious victories, outstanding and skillfully conducted military operations, and, alas, accompanied by tragic events, the Eastern or Armenian Legion has its own place in the history of the Armenian voluntary movement. The vast majority of the soldiers in the Legion were Armenians, so, first it was called the Eastern and later Armenian Legion.
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