Andranik Ozanian, Famed military commander

Andranik Ozanian, Famed military commander

“During my life, I’ve never attended to my personal pleasure or welfare. I’ve always sought only one thing and have had only a singular pursuit: the freedom and well-being of my people.”

Who he was

Andranik Ozanian — known among Armenians simply as “Andranik” — was a military commander par excellence, exalted among his compatriots and respected by outsiders. His heroics in battle during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire exemplified the few instances of armed resistance by Armenians against Turkish and Kurdish violence, both before and after the Genocide.

After leaving the Ottoman Empire, Andranik went to fight against the Ottomans in Bulgaria, but returned to Armenia where he defended the Armenian populations of Artsakh, in the east, and Zangezur, in southern Armenia, during the First Republic. He and General Garegin Nzhdeh are credited with safeguarding the Armenian populations of those lands in the face of Azerbaijani aggression. 

In 1919, he visited the United States to fundraise for survivors of the Genocide and Armenian war refugees, and was able to raise $500,000 — almost $7 million in today’s currency. Shortly thereafter he moved to the United States permanently and settled in Fresno, where there was a large Armenian community. 

He died in California, but memorial services were organized by Armenian communities throughout the world. He was reinterred in 2000 at Yerablur, Armenia’s military cemetery. A memorial now sits atop his grave, reading “General of the Armenians.”

Interesting fact

A comic of Andranik based on his exploits was published in the New York Journal-American in 1920.

Learn more about him

The Battle of Holy Apostles Monastery