The inhabitants of six peaceful villages located in a vast, but crumbling, empire receive an edict from government officials telling them to pack their things and prepare for their relocation, which will take place in eight days. Having heard rumors of terrible massacres resulting in the death of their kinsmen elsewhere in the empire and guessing that a similar fate awaits them if they comply with the order, the villagers, who are mostly artisans and farmers, ascend a nearby mountain with the few antiquated guns they own and small herds of livestock.
Atop this mountain, they build a compound to hold off their attackers. There they wait, atop a mountain that looms over a vast sea to the west and a wide plain to the east. They fly banners telling passing ships of their plight in hopes of being rescued.
Soldiers from this crumbling empire repeatedly attack this poorly armed band of villagers, but fail each time to overrun their compound. In one instance, the villagers cause an avalanche to fall down on their attackers in a scene reminiscent of the Red Sea crashing in on the Egyptians as they chased the ancient Israelites into the wilderness. Eventually, the soldiers give up trying to overrun the compound and decide to simply starve them out.
Things look pretty bad for the villagers, but just when things look the bleakest, warships from a powerful navy see the banners. The villagers send out swimmers who tell their story to a ship’s captain. After learning of the villagers’ plight, the captain orders that they be rescued. A battleship lays down a barrage on the empire’s soldiers. The villagers are ultimately delivered to their new homes out of reach of the regime intent on marching them out into the desert to die.
Yes, it sounds like a fantastic story imagined by someone who spent his adolescence playing Dungeons and Dragons.
But it’s true. These events took place on the Anatolian Peninsula in 1915. The heroic villagers were approximately 5,000 Armenians slated for destruction by the Young Turks, the founders of modern-day Turkey. Their rescuers were the French navy and their new home was Anjar, a city in Lebanon. (READ MORE)