ON THIS DAY in 1937 (10 Dec) Movses Silikyan passed away.

Silikyan was born in the town of Vartashen in the Nukhinsky Uyezd of Elisabethpol Governorate, then part of the Russian Empire. In 1915 during the early stages of World War I, Colonel Silikyan commanded a regiment during the Van Resistance. In 1916, he led an Armenian battalion in the Battle of Mush. He also played a pivotal role in the retaking of Bitlis and Erzurum in the Battle of Bitlis and the Battle of Erzerum. After his regiment entered the Erzurum, Silikyan was promoted to General. He was rewarded with many governmental honors, including the Order of St. George following his 1916 victories in the Battles of Erzerum and Bitlis. He was promoted to Major General before the Russian Revolution.

Following the collapse of the Russian Empire, the Armenians reorganized their units, and Silikyan became the commander of the 1st Armenian rifle division in January 1918. In 1918, he effectively commanded the Armenian forces in Yerevan. With the declaration of independence of the First Republic of Armenia on April 24, 1918, his forces united under the Armenian military. In May 1918, the Ottoman Third Army began to advance toward Batum, Kars, and Ardahan. Silikyan commanded the regular troops and militia. In the Battle of Sardarabad and the Battle of Bash Abaran, his forces defeated those of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian Army included numerous talented military officers of the time: Andranik Ozanyan, Drastamat Kanayan, Garegin Nzhdeh, Christophor Araratov, and Ivan Bagramyan, the future Marshal of the Soviet Union. After participating in the Battle of Sardarabad, Bagramyan noted that “Silikyan was the most gifted military leader of all Armenian Generals of that time…”

In 1937 during the Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge against the military and other suspected enemies, his secret police arrested Silikyan, imprisoned him and finally executed him in Nork gorge, together with Christophor Araratov and other military heroes of Sardarabad. The charges were “nationalism,” as they had earlier fought for an independent Armenian state.

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