Following the devastation resulting from the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915, the survivors of the massacres were dispersed across the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. Not content with watching World War I silently from the sidelines, a large number of Armenian volunteers joined the Legion d'Orient. They were trained in Cyprus and fought courageously in Palestine and Cilicia alongside Allied commander General Allenby, eventually playing a crucial role in defeating German and Ottoman forces in Palestine at the Battle of Arara in September 1918.
The Armenian Legionnaires signed up on the understanding that they would be fighting in Syria and Turkey, and, should the Allies be successful, they would be part of an occupying army in their old homelands, laying the foundation for a self-governing Armenian state.
Susan Paul Pattie is an Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London and former Director of the Armenian Institute. In recent years she has served as Director of the Armenian Museum of America and was Program Manager of the National Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration in Washington , DC. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and is the author of an ethnography, Faith in History: Armenians Rebuilding Community (1997).
The Armenian Institute is grateful to the Wiener Library for generously making the venue available for this event.