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The Contribution of Armenians to World War II Victory

From June 1941 to May 1945, more than 500 thousand Armenians were called up for military service, and it was a significant part of the people (according to the statistics, in 1941 the population of the Armenian Republic was less than 1 million 400 thousand people). In the Soviet Army there were about 60 Armenian generals and 5 marshals, 106 Heroes of the Soviet Union; 175 000 Armenians were killed in the battles.

Armenian soldiers served in numerous military branches of the Red Army: in the infantry, armored troops, aircraft, artillery, navy, border troops, rear, sanitary troops. Among the Armenian soldiers there were combat performers and commanders at all echelons, up to the commanders of divisions, corps and armies.
Six divisions were formed from the sons of the Armenian people:

  1. The 76th Armenian Mountain Division, created simultaneously with the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. For the successful participation in the battle of Stalingrad, the 76th division was promoted to Guards status and became known as the 51st Guards Rifle Division.
  2. The 89th Rifle Division, formed in December 1941 in Yerevan. It was sent to the front in September 1942 and fought its way from the foothills of the Caucasus to Berlin.
  3. The 261th Rifle Division, established in Armenia in summer 1942. It protected the border from the Turkish invasion and regularly sent new soldiers to the army.
  4. The 309th Rifle Division, formed in autumn 1941 as part of the Transcaucasian Military District. In January 1942 it took part in the battles for the Kerch Peninsula.
  5. The 408th Rifle Division, established in spring 1942 in Armenia. It took part in the heavy fighting on the Black Sea Coast of the Caucasus.
  6. The 409th Rifle Division, formed in autumn 1941. After pre-military training in the various regions of Armenia, it joined the battle on the banks of the river Terek and then reached the banks of the Danube.

On the eve of the war, the following institutions were created: a military school, Yerevan special artillery school, and a special Air Force school. During the war years they trained numerous officers who distinguished themselves by their excellent knowledge of military affairs, political indoctrination, and feats of arms.

The most important elements in mobilizing the forces of the Soviet Army were the creation of assault battalions and militia and military and defensive actions involving 12 thousand participants. Along with performing their tasks, these battalions sent 8 thousand soldiers to the front, including 700 paratroopers.

The Armenian people, together with all the peoples of the USSR, became a nation-warrior fighting for the great victory in World War II.

Before the war, Armenia was a country that had already experienced profound changes. In addition to collectivization, it had been largely exposed to urbanization and industrialization. The Church, which has always been the life center in the village, gave way to the canonical forms of the Soviet public life: the party, trade union, Komsomol, collective farm… The Church was definitely losing its influence - it was on the verge of extinction.

But with the beginning of the war, the situation had hanged again: to affect the feelings of the people, Stalin suddenly adopted the classic argument used in any war - patriotism, which had had the “reactionary ideology” mark before.
In addition, Stalin openly asked the Church to help, first of all – the Russian Church, and then all other Churches operating in the country. In June 1941, acting Patriarch Sergius (Stragorodsky) and other bishops of the Russian Church urged the faithful to give their life for the Motherland. In return, Stalin formally allowed the Russian Church to have a modest, but legal existence. After the appeal of the Russian clergy, the similar appeal to the Armenian people was almost immediately (after a month) launched by Chorekchyan, the Archbishop of Gevorg. By that time Chorekchyan was the only Armenian archbishop who had survived, and later he became Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne.

Since the early days of World War II, 120 industrial enterprises were reconstructed to produce defense-oriented goods necessary on the front. In addition, the state invested 180 million rubles in the construction of new factories, in the development of the military economy of the Armenian Republic. Twenty plants and factories were built - their output served the needs of the wartime.

A lot of Armenian workers and peasants were called up for military service. They were replaced by women and girls, elderly and young people. During the war, the Republican industry began to produce 270 kinds of new products. In general, they sent up to 300 kinds of products, including weapons, ammunition, and uniforms, to the front. Mining and non-ferrous metal production was almost entirely defense-oriented.

To meet the needs of the front, part of the horses, cars and tractors was taken. In agriculture, there were a lot of difficulties, but thanks to the selfless work of the home front, they were overcome. Thousands of young men and women were qualified as tractor drivers, combine operators and mechanics in various fields. And in 1944, the breeders of Soviet Armenia headed the list of the All-Union socialist competition and received the challenge banner of the National Defense Committee; 400 thousand farm workers were awarded orders.

At the expense of the personal savings of Armenian farmers the tank column “Armenian Collective Farmer” was established, at the expense of the workers of Artashat district the armored train “Soviet Armenia” was built and sent to the defenders of Moscow, and the workers of Stepanavan region transferred about 1million rubles to the Leningrad restoration fund.

During the wartime, Armenian intellectuals gave all their strength and knowledge, and many of them even their lives for protection of their Motherland. Amo Eloyan was a director of the largest artillery plant. During the war he was awarded the title “Hero of Socialist Labor”, and four times the Order of Lenin in recognition of his services.
One of the most talented Soviet aircraft designers was Artem Mikoyan. He created a lot of fighters that won many battles for the Soviet Army. Subsequently, Mikoyan was awarded the rank of general-colonel and became the “Hero of Socialist Labor” twice. Legendary Hovsep (Joseph) Orbeli headed Hermitage, and thanks to his talent, managing skills and compassionate attitude, no masterpiece was lost – they were safely evacuated to Perm.

The employees of Armenian literature and art had also great achievements. From the first war days 40 Armenian writers were called up for military service. The writers located in the rear dedicated their works to the defense of the homeland. Derenik Demirchian created the heroic epic “Vardanank”. Many works of Armenian literature were full of faith in the victory, and they raised the morale of the people.

Hundreds of Armenian doctors worked hard in the front and rear hospitals. Many of them died on the battlefield. 


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