WATERTOWN — Dr. Susan Pattie will present her newly published book, The Armenian Legionnaires: Sacrifice and Betrayal in World War I, at the AGBU New England Center, 247 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, on Thursday, November 29, at 7:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR).
Pattie will be joined for this lecture by Varak Ketsemanian (PhD student, Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University), author of a chapter in the book.
Following the devastation resulting from the Armenian Genocide in 1915, survivors of the massacres were dispersed across the Middle East, North and South America and Europe. Not content with watching World War I silently from the sidelines, a large number of Armenian volunteers joined the specially formed Légion d’Orient. Trained in Cyprus, the Legion fought courageously in Palestine alongside General Allenby, playing a crucial role in defeating the 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, would be part of an occupying army in their old homelands, laying the foundation for a self-governing Armenian state.
Pattie describes the motivations and dreams of the Armenian Legionnaires and their ultimate betrayal as the French and the British shifted their priorities, leaving the Armenian homelands to the emerging Republic of Turkey. Complete with eyewitness accounts, letters and photographs, The Armenian Legionnaires provides an insight into relations between the Great Powers through the lens of a small, powerless people caught in a war that was not their own, but which had already destroyed their known world.
Pattie is an honorary senior research associate at University College London and former director of the Armenian Institute in London. She holds a PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan and is also the author of Faith In History: Armenians Rebuilding Community.