Hero who inspirited Armenian champions of independence – today marks Andranik Ozanyan’s birthday

11:44 • 25.02.15

February 25 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Andranik Ozanyan, a legendary Armenian commander and champion of freedom, and a national liberation hero of Armenia and Bulgaria.

Taking the lead of the Armenian Feedayi troops after the murder of Aghbur Serob (military leader; 1864 - 1899), Andranik decades later became the symbol of the new Armenian statehood’s champions of independence and freedom, says Gagik Ginosyan, an Armenian ethnographic dance master and a veteran of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation war.

“As [great Armenian novelist] Khachik Dashtents stated years later (in his novel “Call of the Ploughmen” dedicated to the early 20th century Armenian liberation struggle), we all should one day kiss their rebellious foreheads,” he told Tert.am, sharing his thoughts on the great hero’s heritage and feats. 

According to Vardan Devrikyan, a deputy head of the Manuk Abeghyan Institute of Literature and a member of the Karabakh war veterans’ volunteer union Yerkrapah (Defender of Land), Andranik and all the Armenian feedayis of the early 1900’s are central images for all those who appreciate the country’s independence and the value of the liberation campaign.

Andranik Ozanyan (aka Andranik or Zoravar /commander/ Andranik) was born in 1865 in Shabin-Karahisar, a town now situated in northeastern Turkey, and died at age 62 in the United States (Sacramento area). First buried in Fresno (the Soviet authorities banned the hero’s funeral in Armenia), his body was a year later moved to the Pere Lachaise cemetery of Paris. In 2000, the Andranik was reinterred in Yerevan’s Yerablur Pantheon.

Engaged in carpentry in his teens, Andranik had to later replace the craftsman’s adze with rifle, dedicating himself to the fight for his homeland’s liberation. Jailed by Turkish Janissaries but later managing to escape from prison, he soon joined Aghbyur Serob’s troops, committing himself to the delivery of arms supplies to the Armenian Feedayis.

In 1904, Andranik led the rebellion of Sasun. He also twice demonstrated his striking talent in the Second Balkan War (in which he took part as a military leader of a voluntary command formed jointly with Garegin Nzhdeh, a prominent Armenian statesman public figure and military strategist; 1886 -1955). Destroying the Turkish army on the river Maritsa, he was later honored with Golden Cross, the highest award by the Bulgarian Government.

Andranik brought a great a glory to tհe Arakelots (Holy Apostles) Monastery  in Mush with his invincible heroes who managed to break through and later escape from the enemy's circle.


“As a carpenter, he initially repaired Fedayis’ gun butts but the God’s providence, as they say, is unpreventable. So he was to later become the key figure and the symbol of the Feedayi campaign,” Mr Ginosyan noted.

In the war veteran’s words, the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation struggle would have been impossible without the inspiration drawn from the legendary commander's image. For him, Andranik was the very symbol of the hero warriors in the early 1990’s.

“He took part in the Balkan war when the Bulgarians were waging a battle against the Turks to liberate themselves from the Turkish yoke. During World War One, he commanded the first of the seven Armenian regiments; it is a unique example for a movement leader to later also head a regular army, attaining the general’s title,” he added.

Mr Ginosyan said he very much wishes to see the understanding that Andranik’s 150th birthday is not just a regular anniversary. “Such a serious jubilee year should not be insignificant,” he said, noting that Armenia this year had the first ever chance to celebrate the legendary hero’s birthday on a state level.

Mr Devrikyan more focused on Andranik’s smartness and wit as a military leader.

“His first Feedayi operations were something that ran counter to common sense, but they had a brilliant result,” he said, noting that the hero’s plans were often treated with skepticism by his warriors.

Literary critic David Gasparyan says Andranik’s dedication and efforts in the early 20th century’s national liberation campaign were tantamount to Commander Vardan Mamikonyan’s great contribution to the Armenians’ success in the Battle of Avarayr in the fifth century.

“Andranik is among those heroes who cleared the Armenian nationhood of strange, hostile elements to give the migrant Armenian a space to live. Andranik’s image was evaluated differently in different periods; from the 1920s until the 1960s, the attitude to him was negative. But later everything was settled down,” he added.


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