670) Lesser-known facts about the Armenian genocide claims

The authors of some of the literature referenced in Armenian genocide claims. . .
There are many books, mostly from American, British, German and French sources, being used in the pro-genocide claims. I selected some of them written by well-known authors. Evaluation of events includes evaluation of the character of the authors. A well-known British proverb roughly says that if there is any statement to be discussed, first of all you should look at who said it and when and where it was said.

3. Arnold Toynbee

A much-respected historian. He wrote the "Blue Book" of the British government in 1915. In that book, the Ottoman rulers were accused of committing brutal massacres of Armenians.

Toynbee was an employee of the British Foreign Office at the time of his anti-Turkish publications. He was under orders to collect material to write propaganda against Turkey. The resulting book was published under the name of Viscount Grey of Fallodon, British foreign secretary, in 1915, under the title of "Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire." It is also known as the "Blue Book." Toynbee had never been in Turkey nor had he met the Turks personally when he edited this book and another small pamphlet in 1915. He first visited Turkey in 1920-21 during the Turkish-Greek War. At that time he was professor and chairman of the History of Greek Culture and Civilization Department at London University, an institution established by Greek donations. After seeing a Muslim-Christian conflict on the spot and its effects on the Western world, he changed his mind. He described his 1915 writings as examples of war propaganda. He became a critic of the prejudiced, unjust, and ill-informed anti-Turkish propaganda, and devoted his following publications to correcting this mental attitude. His first book was "The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the Contrast of Civilizations" in 1922.

4. Viscount Grey of Fallodon

British foreign secretary in 1915. The British "Blue Book" in 1915 was published under his name.

The ignorance of Viscount Grey was legendary, as he was known as the most ignorant foreign secretary Britain ever had. William Martin mentioned that Viscount Grey couldn't tell the Red Sea from the Persian Gulf (The Statesman of War in Retrospect, William Martin, New York, 1928).

In the same year of 1915, another book was published, and its author was Sir Mark Sykes. He was an orientalist who traveled in Turkey and Armenia with the knowledge of both peoples. He was undersecretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs and foremost expert of the Foreign Office for that area. He became a British delegate to a secret allied conference for partition of the Ottoman Empire between the three allied powers who also would decide the fate and future of the Armenians. He was co-signatory of the famous Sykes-Picot secret agreement. The notes of this secret conference were later published by the communist government of the USSR.

The name of his book is "The Caliph's Last Heritage: A Short History of the Turkish Empire" (MacMillan Co., London, 1915). Although this book does not touch on the 1915 Armenian relocation (it was written before it), it deals with the basis and essentials of the Turkish-Armenian conflict. What is written in the "Blue Book" to discredit and condemn the Turks and the Turkish administration, the exact opposite is written in "The Caliph's Last Heritage." Again whatever praise and admiration is expressed about the Armenians and their cause, exactly the opposite is written in Sir Mark Sykes' book. And curiously enough the British Foreign Office left the fate and future of the Armenians for their postwar partition plans to the hands of Sykes. The comments of Sykes about the Armenians and Armenian revolutionaries in this conference caused strong resentment on the part of Armenians, as expressed by an Armenian historian Richard Hovannessian ("Armenia on the Road to Independence").

5. Henry Morgenthau Sr.

Ambassador of the U.S. to Turkey in 1915, wrote the book "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story." According to the Armenian Encyclopedia, he is a champion of the Armenian cause. He mentioned the Armenian massacres in his other books also. His publications and campaign for the Armenian cause had a powerful effect upon U.S. public opinion.

During the period of the 1915 Armenian relocations and their aftermath (1915-23), two American ambassadors (Morgenthau, in 1912 to the end of 1915 and Abram Elkus, from February 1916 to April 1917), and after the defeat of Turkey, U.S. High Commissioner Rear Admiral Marc L. Bristol (1920-24), represented the U.S. in Turkey. Adm. Bristol later became the first U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Turkey and served until 1928.

Both Morgenthau and Elkus were of the Jewish faith and were both known to have strong interest in the Palestine problem and the Jewish homeland. Since the Armenian relocations started after April 1915, Morgenthau was in a position to get information only for its first six- or seven-month period, mainly to the first emotional reaction, fear and anxiety created in the Armenian community and to the widespread rumors created by this action. As an emotional man, he was deeply influenced by these rumors and third-hand information.

Elkus was in a position to obtain information for a period of two years, from April 1915 to April 1917. Therefore he was in a much better position to know the real causes, aims, and significance of the Armenian deportations, and knew much better about it than Morgenthau. The reports and evaluations of Elkus were very different from those of Morgenthau. (The characters, political views and activities of these two U.S. ambassadors to Turkey, particularly in terms of the Armenian and Palestine problems, were evaluated in a book, Germany, Turkey and Zionism: 1897-1913, Isaiah Friedman, Oxford, 1977)

Morgenthau was described as a "charming, but over-emotional, erratic and particularly untactful personality and sometimes acts as a bull in a china store." He thought a British victory would provide the best solution to the Palestine problem and Jewish homeland. He was strongly in favor of U.S. participation in war on the side of Britain for a complete defeat of Turkey. As the campaign manager of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, he raised the Armenian problem as a moral issue to convince the U.S. people in favor of war.

Elkus was an entirely different personality and had very different political views than Morgenthau. He was described as a quiet but extremely effective diplomat, achieving practical results of far-reaching consequences. He greatly valued good relations between the U.S. and Turkey, and restored them to an excellent relationship which had been in poor shape due to Morgenthau's lack of tact. He was against U.S. participation in the war and strongly opposed a U.S. declaration of war against Turkey and achieved it. Instead of publicity or agitation, he devoted his efforts to provide help to the relocated Armenians.

Adm. Bristol was the third U.S. top official to serve in Turkey during the years of war and its aftermath. He was one of the high commissioners of the four victorious allied powers in occupied Turkey. He was in a position to reach and obtain all the records and documents of the Ottoman government. He was able to see all the grieved Armenians, their religious community and political leaders and also all the American missionaries and relief workers who stayed in Turkey and helped the Armenians during the whole period of war. He visited the Republic of Armenia and met its leaders and people.

Additionally he played host to two very important American commissions assigned by President Wilson:

1. The General Harbord Commission - assigned to investigate the feasibility of a proposed American mandate to Armenia and Turkey.

2. King-Crane Commission - in charge of investigating the aspirations and wishes of the different various communities of the Ottoman Empire, including the Turks and Armenians, and to advise President Wilson for his policy at the Versailles Peace Conference.

Both commissions had staffs of experts including Armenians in each. The Armenian claims and grievances were thoroughly investigated by both commissions. His staff members were eyewitnesses to those in Armenia, and he himself chaired a commission formed by four Allied military commanders who investigated atrocities and massacres of the civilian Turkish population by the Greek Army during their invasion of western Anatolia.

Therefore the whole Turkish-Armenian conflict during and after World War I was open to Adm. Bristol. All the official reports of Bristol and Elkus expressed views contradicting the writings of Morgenthau. (The official reports of these two figures are available for historical research. Adm. Bristol's papers are in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. His reports were also used as reference in some books, for example United States Policy and the Partition of Turkey, 1914-1924, Laurence Evans, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1965; The Partition of Turkey, Harry Howard, New York, 1966; and An American Inquiry in the Middle East, The King-Crane Commission, Harry N. Howard, Beirut, 1963.

According to these historical studies, the reports of Adm. Bristol and these two American commissions of inquiry revealed the baselessness of wartime Armenian and British atrocity and extermination allegations. All these also strongly opposed Allied plans for the future of Armenia and described them as impractical and impossible. Bristol's reports were also full of atrocities and massacres committed by Armenians and Greeks against the Turkish population. Some reports also strongly warned the U.S. government against British, Greek, and Armenian political intrigues and violent propaganda activities.

An anecdote of Talat Pasha

There is an important story mentioned in the book Story of Near East Relief: 1915-1930 (James L. Barton, MacMillan Co. 1930). When diplomatic relations between Turkey and the U.S. were cut upon the U.S. declaration of war against Germany, Talat Pasha promised Ambassador Elkus that he would let all American missionaries and relief workers stay in Turkey and continue their relief work for Armenians. This was done against strong German opposition and despite very heavy anti-Turkish propaganda organized by the Near East Relief Agency. It is an interesting example of such a humanitarian gesture in diplomatic history: A combatant country gave permission to the citizens of another country fighting against its side to stay, feed, clothe, treat, educate and give moral support to the people which it was accused of exterminating. At the same time, because of a great famine, Turkish people were starving to death.

Recep Guvelioglu

16 May 2006



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