Homenetmen Operations from Day One until its Ban in Turkey (November 11, 1918 to September 16, 1922)

November 16, 1918 – With the aim of establishing a sports organization, Krikor Hagopian invited a meeting in Constantinople at the offices of Hagopian Brothers. Krikor Hagopian, Levon Hagopian, Dikran Khoian, Hayg Jizmejian, Carlo Shahinian, and Sirouni were in attendance. The result was the formation of the Armenian General Union for Physical Education and Scouts (Homenetmen). A temporary Central Committee was formed to launch the organization’s operations. The attendees of the founding meeting, as along with Zhirayr Khorasanjian, Hovhannes Hintlian, Krikor Merjanof, and Vahram Papazian, formed the Central Committee.

November 1918 – Homenetmen Central Committee’s call to the Armenian youth to gather around the new organization was received with great enthusiasm in all the districts of Constantinople. District sports clubs joined the organization and formed its first chapters. The scouting units were mostly formed with students from Armenian schools.

December 1918 – The Political Council of the Armenian National Central Committee approved the Homenetmen bylaw. The Armenian community embraced the newly formed organization and supported its operations and activities.

January-February 1919 – Armenian Genocide refugees started arriving in Constantinople. Armenian organizations and community members were providing them with shelter, food, and relief. Homenetmen focused its operations on providing emergency aid to the refugees. Within a short period of time, Homenetmen established the first charity pharmacy in the backyard of the Armenian Church in Ghalatya, as well as a mobile hospital in Sgudar. Homenetmen scouts volunteered to take care of those in need. For two months, the scouts provided comfort and care for over 1,500 refugees. Only two patients, who were already in a critical condition, died within their care. With the formation of the Armenian Red Cross, Homenetmen concluded its efforts in healthcare.

Winter 1919 – Despite being a newly-formed organization, Homenetmen and its members focused their efforts on taking care of the needs of their displaced compatriots. Upon a permit from an Armenian landowner in Sgudar, the scouts felled dry trees and carried them to the refugee camp as firewood. They helped in rescuing orphans and putting them in the care of either foster families or orphanages. The scouts even helped to put out fires in different districts and maintained order during public events and ceremonies.

July 14, 1919 – To celebrate the French National Day, Homenetmen organized a torch-led night parade that was met with great enthusiasm from a crowd of people from all over the world. Over 200 scouts marched to the music of the Knar brass band. Krikor Hagopian and Hayg Jizmejian lead the parade that passed through the central streets of Constantinople up until the French Embassy and presented the ambassador with a bouquet of flowers and a congratulatory note. Following the great excitement generated by the scouts and the parade, Homenetmen received a large number of donations.

July 28, 1919 – The Homenetmen Central Committee received a Letter of Blessing from Archbishop Zaven, Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Constantinople. The letter read: “Become organized and virtuous. Rise up to the maximum and educate your hearts and minds, because you are to become the pillars of tomorrow’s fatherland.”

August 31, 2019 – Homenetmen organized the first Armenian Olympics in Constantinople at the Union Club Stadium. The he event was presided over by Patriarch Zaven, and among the guests was General Crocker, lieutenant of the English troops in Constantinople. The music for the ceremony was provided by the Knar brass band. The champion of the games was A. Apelian (from the Kadekyugh chapter), who won three top trophies. The champion chapter was Homenetmen Pera, with athletes winning nine first place, five second place, and one first place trophies.

September 14, 1919 – Homenetmen expanded its operations into nearby towns, such as Adapazar, Rodosto, Brusa, Bardizag, Izmit. The Homenetmen Adapazar Chapter held its first sports tournament.

October 1919 – Homenetmen was already operating with 25 chapters in almost every district in Constantinople, as well as in nearby towns. Ten chapters already had their own sports halls.

October 7, 1919 – An international scouting conference took place at the Center for Scouts in Pera between representatives from British, American, French, Russian, Greek, and Armenian scouting organizations. Homenetmen was represented by Ardavazt Kavanozian, Zhirayr Khorasanjian, and Krikor Hagopian. The focus of the conference was planning processes and procedures for a smooth collaboration.

October 25, 1919 – The first issue of “Hye Scout” (“Armenian Scout”) – Homenetmen’s semiannual official publication – was published under the editorship of Garo Oushaklian. The magazine featured a sports and scouting section and continued to be published until the summer of 1922.

November 9, 1919 – Homenetmen’s 10th chapter (for the regions Baltaliman and Bosporus) held the first-ever scouts oath ceremony for Armenian scouts.

November 16, 1919 – Homenetmen’s first annual General Assembly took place. The Assembly decided to hold another conference in the following weeks, with the participation of two chief scouts representing the chapter committees and two delegates from General Chapter Assembly.  

April 11, 1920 – Homenetmen organized a charity fundraising event to provide clothing for orphaned children. The scouts raised approximately 4,000 Turkish Liras by selling cockades.

May 9, 1920 – Homenetmen’s General Assembly was held at the Yessayian School in Constantinople with delegations from almost every Homenetmen chapter. Arshag Hagopian, Krikor Merjanoff, Krikor Hagopian, Zhirayr Khorasanjian, Dr. G. Moutafian, Hovhannes T. Hintliam, and Boghos Shaboyian were elected as members for the new Central Committee.

June 11, 1920 – Homenetmen scouts from Pera, Beshigtash, and Khaskyugh chapters had a scouting siege operations under the leadership of Ardavazt Alaverdi.

June 20, 1920 – Homenetmen scouts took part in an international scouting parade. General Wilson and General Maxwell, the President of World Organization of the Scouts Movements, attended the event. The fitness and mastery of skills of the Armenian scouts were met with high praise.

July 26, 1920 – On behalf of the Homenetmen Central Committee, Vahan Cheraz, Onnig Yazmajian, and Diran Khoian visited Armenia with the goal of organizing a scouting and sports movement in the homeland.

September 5, 1920 – The first Pan-Armenian Olympics were organized at the Union Club in Constantinople. They were presided over by Archbishop Zaven, the Patriarch of the Armenian Orthodox Church. Noubar Jelalian from the Armenian Sports Club in Sgudar, became the champion of the Games.

October 3, 1920 – At the Silver Mug International Tournament, Homenetmen’s team won the cup against the Irish military team with a score of 1-0.

November 1-25, 1920 – During the 24 days of a fundraising campaign titled “Scouts for Fatherland”, all Homenetmen chapters raised money and collected clothing for scouts in Armenia.

March 20, 1921 – Homenetmen’s General Assembly was held at the Shishli Orphanage in Constantinople. 46 representatives from 16 chapters attended the Assembly. Zhirayr Khorasanjian, Hayg Jizmejian, Boghos Shaboian, Krikor Hagopian, Carlo Shahinian, and Vahram Papazian were elected as the new Central Committee. Krikor Hagopian and Hayg Jizmejian declined their positions and Ararad Krissian and Hrachya Der Nersessian were elected instead.

March 1921 –A fundraising campaign was carried out by Homenetmen scouts in all the districts of Constantinople. They collected24 sacks of donated clothing and over 2,500 Turkish Liras to send to their peers in Armenia.

May 1, 1921 – In another fundraising campaign, Homenetmen scouts sold cockades and collected 2,525 Turkish Liras for scouts’ gear and clothing.

May 12, 1921 – In an appeal to all Armenian political parties, an appeal was made by the Homenetmen Central Committee against enrolling youth under the age of 18 into their party ranks.

May 13, 1921 – The Constantinople Executive Committee of Armenian Social Democrat Hnchagian Party accepted Homenetmen’s appeal.

May 18, 1921 – The Constantinople Central Committee of Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) also accepted Homenetmen’s appeal.

May 24, 1921 – A similar response was received from the Regional Committee of Armenian Liberal Party.

May 29, 1921 – The Constantinople Regional Committee of Armenian Democratic (Ramgavar) Party also sent a positive reply to the same appeal.

June 8, 1921 – Lieutenant-General Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout Movement and first Chief Scout, wrote Homenetmen the following letter*:

The Boy Scouts Association

25 Backingham Palace, Road London

June 8

Dear Mr. Khorasanjian,

Captain Thesiger has informed me about a visit he paid to your scouts. His account was so positive that I feel obliged to congratulate you on the exceptionally successful inclusion of the ideology of scouting into the education of your boys and girls. It was a pleasure to hear about the warm feelings your scouts have for both their English brothers and for my person. It is my wish that you will inform them how interested I am in their accomplishments and how pleased I am to hear of the good deeds they have done in such a short period of time. I have just recently returned from Palestine, Egypt, and India and would have loved to have the time to visit Constantinople. In Palestine, I had the good fortune of having an Armenian boy scout as a “messenger” and, if he was representing your boys, then your youth are excellent scouts – and in good spirits at the same time – because that boy was always full of enthusiasm, always with a smile and willing to do more, even though he had suffered greatly at the loss of his dear ones in the war. He himself had barely escaped the horror of being killed by some neighbors – he was shot, but was fortunately thought to have died immediately upon being wounded. Please convey my dearest wishes to you scouts.

Yours truly,

Baden Powell

* This is a translation from the Armenian translated version kept in Homenetmen archives.