In our special series on the War to End all Wars, XenoxNews.com will tell you the stories the others keep hidden. That’s because unlike the pathetic patriotic crap dished up by the lamestream media, XenoxNews.com scribes have actually been working. They have been researching the role played by all the nations involved, not just the usual players. The stories they have uncovered will amaze you. Tales of apparitions, spiritual visitations, and just the plain old bizarre, events that really happened during the First World War and shaped the world we live in today.
First up, a story about the little known Siege of Van which took place in the Caucasus …
The Miracle at Van
At the start of the war in 1914 the Russians struck the Ottoman Empire through the Caucasus. After overrunning the weak border outposts, the Russians soon captured the Summer Palaces of the Turkish Pasha, and in no time caravans laden with booty were streaming back to Moscow. To celebrate their early victories, the triumphant Czar Nicholas II presented Princess Anastasia with the mythical Diamond of Ankara, a rock as big as her fist. For the Romanovs it was gloating on a grand scale. But for the Turks it was humiliation, and with the little Aussie battlers threatening to attack the Dardanelles and strangle their strategic lifelines, things were looking grim.
The Caucasus Battles 1914-1915
To bolster his attack, Czar Nick had promised Armenians a free state of their own in the Caucasus if they would join with him and help crush the Turkish infidels. Thousands heeded the call, and they rushed back from overseeing their sweatshops and dilapidated factories to fight for a homeland. An army quickly formed, headed by the famous Pierre Gulbenkian, and he decided that the new Armenian army would give the Russian monarch a Christmas gift - the city of Van.
Tsar Nicholas II. Or one of his relatives.
Van. It was a city of legend and wonder. Set upon the shores of the beautiful Lake Van, it is located at the foothills of the Caucasus, just over the border, on the Turkish side. It was mentioned in both the Bible and the Koran as the home of the mythical Scythian people, who had green hair and flashing red eyes. Herodotus had been said to have visited it on his travels. And supposedly Alexander the Great also spent a night there, lying beneath its golden trees while being pleasured by a local lad. But by the early 20th century its glory days had well and truly gone, and it had fallen into sullen disrepair. Now it was just another bleak outpost of the Ottoman Empire; garrisoned by a regiment of unruly Arab soldiers who had been conscripted into the ranks.
So it was in December 1914 that the newly formed Armenian Independence force streamed over the border from Russia. On Christmas Eve they surrounded the city, and after a brief desultory fight, the ragged Arabs laid down their arms and fled south. It is said that as a celebration, Armenian leader Pierre dressed as Santa Claus and fed the city inhabitants with gooseberries and Georgian wine. Of course the remaining Muslim inhabitants took none too kindly to this, and soon they were plotting to help the Turks retake the city.
One of the many Castles at Van.
Unbiased observers at the time noted that the Armenians were a pious and hardworking people, though partial to wine and perverted animal sex(1). It seemed many had the dream of building their own Jerusalem in the now conquered city of Van. So it was that thousands of Armenian refugees flooded the city, keen to start a new life for themselves. But they were about to get a rude awakening, for soon they would be engulfed by the maelstrom of the Great War!
For the first half of 1915 the Turks were pre-occupied, attacks in Arabia, and the arrival of the Aussie diggers at Gallipol, kept them busy. But after disposing of the ragtag ANZACS, the Turkish General Ataturk decided to reassemble his armies to the east and face the Russians. Soon after their arrival there his emissaries bought news of a fifth column in the city of Van, and so a major assault was planned.
The attack was made in August. It was a total surprise for the Armenians. Thousands of their civlians from the surrounding area streamed into the town, fleeing from the brutal Turkish assault. Undermanned and out gunned, the city was quickly surrounded. However, though cut off, the Armenians remained staunch, withstanding any final attack to take the city. Unable to defeat them in a frontal attack, the Turks decided to strangle them. And so begun the frightful Siege of Van…
Turkish troops keeping themselves occupied outside the Walls of Van.
The defenders of Van were only armed with 1023 rifles, 3 small canons, and a catapult. Ammunition stocks were low, and their water supply was limited. It wasn’t long before they resorted to their own urine to survive. Being an enterprising race, some Armenians even took to bottling their stuff and selling it. The Turks took pleasure in taunting the besieged inhabitants, often holding massive feasts in front of the walls safe in the knowledge that the Armenians could not afford to waste their ammunition on them. The smell of the kebabs, tabouli, and fragrances of the hookahs drove many of the besieged mad…
The boys in Van would have killed for a drop of this; Yerevan's finest Kilikia Ale(2)
Locked inside the grim city walls, the defenders began to take refuge in the Church. The Armenian Church was a unique faith, and its followers were as fanatical as any Muslim layabout. Mass prayer meetings were held, and Priests would bless the rifles of the defenders by sprinkling holy water and laying their hands. For the small numbers of women trapped inside Van it was diabolical. Many were forced to manufacturer ammunition from scraps of metal and refuse, while others serviced the defenders in any way they could. The siege had gone on for a 100 days, and soon the religious meetings turned more chaotic and intense. Open air masses were held as the Churches were used for the injured. Inside the temples, some of these brave wounded defenders of Van were hallucinating. Many howled at the cross and grasped at the Priest skirts. Others thrashed about madly as if possessed by some demonic spirit.
And then the Visons began. Soldiers on the frontline reported seeing winged figures flying through the night. Raids by Turkish troops were apparently stopped by bolts of lightning from the sky. There were even reports of dragons belching flame at the infidel attackers.
The whole city was reaching a gruesome climax of mass hallucination and religious fervor. The combination of starvation, seige mentality, and the underlying craziness of the Armenian psyche, had just about reached a boiling point. And it was then the Savior of Van appeared…
A contemporary artist's rendition of the Savior of Van.
Reports at the time tell of a cataclysmic storm that encompassed the city and its surrounds. The skies darkened, the wind shrieked, and giant hailstones as big as a rock pounded both defender and attacker alike. Suddenly the clouds split asunder and a blinding light shone forth. A solitary figure floated down from the clouds, glowing and glistening. He raised his right hand and a mighty roar lifted from the lake of Van; a gigantic wave was heading straight for the Turks! Their soldiers threw down their weapons, turned tail and fled at its sight. Many however couldn’t run fast enough and were engulfed in its raging torrent of water. The exhausted defenders let out a mighty cry and hugged each other in relief. The siege was over!
For the Armenian people this seeming miracle felt like proof from God that their time had come. They evacuated the city and regrouped back at Yerevan, after which they thought they would be ready for a final showdown with the Turks. But history proves otherwise for this blighted people, for they then suffered one of the worst genocides of the 20th century.
Nowadays the question still remains; who was this figure from the skies? Archangel Gabriel? Or perhaps a less hirsute Jesus himself? Other researchers believe it was the initial appearance of the UFO phenomenon. Whatever the case, the Miracle at Van remains one of the World War Ones great mysteries.
1. “Yolanda and her Yak does Yerevan” Pimpitupproductions, 1998.