It was mentioned in our previous work that in the Soviet period, Armenians themselves talked about those activities of the Tashnaks that sparked the Muslim-Armenian massacres. Gerogians were definitely among the important witnesses of the period. Filipp Maharadze (1868-1941), who was one of the important Georgian statesmen, was one of these. The lines written by Maharadze, which are witnesses to what has been experienced since the Tashnaks appeared on the stage of history, are significant also in terms of the claims today.
Filipp Maharadze, who had been a party member since 1903, talked about the Tashnaks in his work titled “Menshavik party Dictatorship in Georgia,” which was published in Moscow in 1921.
Maharadze, who served in top level posts, such as the head of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissioners (Ministers) after the Soviet Government was established in Georgia, emphasized in his book that the Tashnaksutyun Party was firstly organized in the form of gangs in Turkey at the end of the 1800s and that it had nothing to do with socialism. According to the Georgian statesman, the Tashnaks turned into a blind weapon in the hands of the British-French invaders and the Russian great state chauvenists, who pursued expansionist and colonialist goals in Turkey.
Maharadzade indicated that the Tashnaks emerged as a conspiratorial organization and that almost their only active method was terror and murder. With their provocative actions, the Tashnaks caused the relations between the Armenians and Turks to deteriorate so much that they ended up in terrible bloody conflicts.
The Tashnaks, who could not reach the results they wanted and lost the opportunity to continue their activities in Turkey, moved their work to the Southern Caucasus, the territories of the Tsarist Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. Maharadzade underlines that the Tashnaks turned all their hatred of the Turks towards the local Muslim people, the Azeri Turks during this period.
In the same period, the Tashnaks increased their influence by getting the Armenian clerics and the big bourgeoisie behind them. Almost all of Armenia and the Armenian people joined the ranks of the Tashnaks suddenly. The other parties came close to disappearing.
Maharadzade says that the Tashnaks increased their power over the Armenian people through backstage intrigues and games. The Tashnaks caused significant damage to the Armenian working class masses.
The Tashnaks, who found themselves in power, but they had no possibility of holding on to that power, sought the assistance of Germany, the Allied imperialists, and even Denikin. According to the Georgian statesman, the Tashnaks were loyal to the counter-revolution both in Russia and in the world. The fact that the Tashnak Party took part in the 2nd International was one of the most important indicators of this (Maharadzade, 1921: 110).
Maharadze made some comments on the Tashnaksutym Party in his book titled “Notes on the Revoltionary Movement in the South Caucasus,” which was published in Tbilisi in 1927. In this book of his, Maharadze described the Tashnaks as the Satan of the Armenian people. The Tashnaks dragged almost all of the Armenian people behind them for a period. However, the path to which they dragged them caused the Armenians to be ruined. According to the author, the role that the Tashnaks played in the destruction of the Armenian people is known by everyone. Maharadze reported that the Tashnaksutyun Party was not only nationalist, but also an exteremely chauvenistic structure and that it continued that way.
Maharadze emphasized that the Tashnaks never really opposed the Tsarist regime and even started rebellions in Turkey with their support. The Russian Government sometimes monitored them, but the reason for that, was the fact that they committed terror acts against the government officials for the purpose of taking revenge. Apart from that, they formed armed units within the framework of their chauvenistic activities and collected large amounts of money from the Armenian people through extortion. It is natural that the government did not act as a spectator of such actions.
Maharadze presents a document regarding the protest that the Tashnaks organized in Tbilisi on 20 October 1905. According to the official report of the state, the retinue of the Tashnaks were in military units in the protest and every unit was headed by a commander. They were marching in straight lines like soldiers. A military organization had stamped its form on the whole retinue. It was even said that they were armed.
Maharadze thought that these miltary units were not established to support the revolution or to defend the workers. They were supposedly established to protect the Armenian people. However, they produced very different results (Maharadzade, 1927: 320).
Maharadze pointed out that the Armenians did not have a state, but that they had established a religious center (All Armenian Catholicos). This Catholicos (patriarch) became the tsar of the Armenians in practice. This situation led to clerical inclinations developing among the Armenian people. Therefore, the people came under the influence of religion and the clerics.
In this way, national feelings were intertwined with clericalism. The clerical class and the Church became the symbols of the national thought and national tendencies. The clerics, who robbed the Armenian people, supposedly became the carriers of the national ideals. According to Maharadzade, this situation inevitably produced fatal consequences.
On the other hand, the British Empire and Russia, who benefited from the weakening of Turkey in the 19th century, wanted to use the Armenians who lived in Turkey. Especially after the Bulgarians left the Turkish rule in 1878, Armenians started to prepare to revolt against the Turkish government. The Armenian intellectuals, to whom the British and Russian governments promised support secretly, decided to go down this road.
Suddenly the attention of all the Armenians in the world focused on the Armenians in Turkey. Each Armenian undertook to help this cause by sacrificing themselves or by providing material assistance, regardless of their profession or class.
Tashnaks undertook the organization and administration of this task. After talking about this process, Maharadze says that this party dragged the Armenian people into a terrible adventure. Armenians were to get rid of Turkish sovereignty through revolt. The British and Russian governments were to help them in this cause. In the end, the Armenian peasants revolted after getting instructions from the Tashnaks, they committed murders, but neither the British Empire nor Russia moved a finger.
Maharadze said that in this way, the Tashnaks could not achieve their goals, but they sowed the seeds of hatred between the Armenians and Turks (Maharadze, 1927:7).
In conclusion, when we assess the findings of Maharadze, we see that the Tashnaks provoked the mutual massacres with the terrorist actions that they committed from the time they were established and with their chauvenistic policies, and Armenians from all classes were pulled by this. On the other hand, the Tashnaks were openly part of the plans of the imperialist states to divide up Turkey. The responsibility of the Tashnaks in the painful events that were experienced especially in the First World War is a fact that cannot be denied.
Georgian Mensheviks agree with these findings of Maharadze. Karibi, whose real name was P.P. Goleyshvili, one of the important publishers and party administrators of Georgian Menshevism. Karibi served as a deputy minister during the Jordanie government, then joined the Bolsheviks. Therefore, he was one of the close witnesses of the period as a top level administrator.
Karibi wrote his “Red Book” of the Georgian state as a response to the Armenian claims when he was a duputy to the minister of territories in 1920. The findings of the Menshevik Georgians regarding the Armenian Question and the Tashnaks in the book that was published in Tbilisi is compatible with those of the Bolshevik Georgians that we mentioned above.
We can summarize some of the findings in the Red Book as follows:
Filipp Maharadze (1927), Oçerki Revolyutsionnogo Dvijeniya v Zakavkazi, Tiflis.
Karibi (2007), Gürcü Devleti’nin Kırmızı Kitap’ı, İstanbul.
Maharadze (1921), Diktatura Menşevistskoy Parti v Gruzii, Moskova.