Musa Dagh Resistance
|Musa Dagh defense|
|Part of Armenian Genocide|
Map of the Musa Dagh Armenian Self-Defense.
|Ottoman Empire||Armenian irregular units|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Initially 250. Then 5000, 10,000 and by the end, close to 20,000.||250|
|Casualties and losses|
|In the thousands||18 dead|
Musa Dagh (Turkish: Musa Dağı, Ottoman Turkish: موسى داغ, Arabic: جبل موسى Jebel Musa, Armenian: Մուսա Լեռ, Musa Leṛ, meaning "Moses Mountain") was the site of resistance by the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide. The denizens of that region had been given an official order from the Turkish government to perform violent expulsions of six Armenian villages: Kabusia (Kaboussieh), Yoghunoluk, Bitias, Vakef, Kheter Bey (Khodr Bey) and Haji Habibli. This was a fragment of a wider operation conducted by the Ottomans since 1915 - the Armenian genocide. As Ottoman Turkish forces converged upon the town, the populace aware of the impending danger fell back upon Musa mountain and repeatedly thwarted assaults for fifty-three days. Allied warships, most notably French, in the Mediterranean sighted the survivors, as Werfel was told, just as ammunition and food provisions were running out. The warships then transported them to safety in Port Said, Egypt.  French and British ships, beginning with the Guichen, successfully helped evacuate 4200 men, women and children from Musa Dagh.
Nearly 250 men took part in the defense, fighting off Turkish armies in June of 1915. The Armenians had refused deportation and fled to the highest mountain in the town, and from July to September of 1915 they defended themselves until French ships rescued them. Starting in 1918, when Sanjak of Alexandretta came under French control, six Armenian villages returned to their homes. On June 29 1939, following an agreement between France and Turkey, the province was given to Turkey. Afterwards Armenians from six of the villages emigrated from Hatay, while some of the residents of Vakıflı village chose to stay. Vakıflı is the only remaining ethnic Armenian village in Turkey, with a population only 140 Turkish-Armenians. Those who left Hatay in 1939 immigrated to Lebanon where they resettled in the town of Anjar. Today, the town of Anjar is divided into six districts, each commemorating one of the villages of Musa Dagh.
As the French squads came to the rescue of the remaining survivors, the chief priest was quoted to say: "The evil only happened... to enable God to show us His goodness."
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh
These historical events later inspired Franz Werfel to write his novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933), a fictionalized account based on Werfel's detailed research of historical sources. A movie of the same name was released in 1982.
Werfel had told reporters: "The struggle of 5,000 people on Musa Dagh had so fascinated me that I wished to aid the Armenian people by writing about it and bringing it to the world".
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- Official Website
- Home of All Musa Daghians & Anjarians
- Armenian National Institute entry on Musa Dagh