782) “Two Pastermadjian and other things which we do not know” by Yasemin Congar

* * * Attention: This is an online Google Translation from French in origin * * *
“We are obliged to distinguish the colors from hundred years ago. To know us ourselves there is no other way”.
During the last time of the Ottoman Empire, if one does not look at beyond the portraits solidified in black and white of the official history, if we do not manage to distinguish the colors from hundred years ago, it is difficult to know us ourselves.

If we are interested in the last period of the Othoman Empire, we are very little not to know the name of Karekin Pastermadjian. We know that he is the leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, that which controlled the operation of the occupation of the Othoman Bank.

If one worries about the details of the history which were not told to us by the official history in the schools: with the constitution of 1908, the Armenian political parties were legalized and a bringing together began with the Ottoman parties Turks. Precisely at that time, Karekin Pastermadjian is made elect twice in 1908 and 1912, appointed of its birthplace of Erzeroum to Méjlis (Parliament) Othoman, it collaborated with the Committee Union and Progress (Ittihad and Terraki).

Its profile corresponds completely to the table of “Armenian Treason” that the official history learned us well. During the First World War, it organizes the troops of Armenian volunteers who fought with with dimensions Russians against the Othoman Empire. He was Ambassadeur in Washington of the first Republic independent of Arménie which had one lifespan four years, founded after the revolution of October 1917. Pastermadjian died in 1923.

If I summarized you the life of Karekin Pastermadjian it there a reason. My goal is to be able to tell you the history of another member of the same family, perhaps never intended us to speak, Vahan Pastermadjian, which did not stick to him absolutely with the stereotype of “treacherous Armenian”.

I learned the existence from Vahan Pastermadjian by Rober Koptas, of the University of Bogazici, thanks to his intervention with the fifth meeting of the working groups on arméno-Turkish research (WATS).

Koptas knew that Karekin spoke in its memories about his/her Vahan brother, Sûrement same Vahan as it found in the memories of the commander of brigade Ziya Yergok. Afterwards, it discovers a photograph of the two brothers in a book entitled “Erzeroum” of Hratch Tarbassian printed into 1975 in the USA. On this photograph, Vahan Pastermadjian poses in its uniform of Othoman officer, It fought in Sarikamis against the Russians at that time under the orders of the general of Yergok brigade in the 83ème division.

Let us read together in this book prepared by Sami Onal, published in 2005 by the publisher Remzi, “the memories of the general of brigade Ziya Yergok; of Sarikamis to the captivity”:

“One of the daring and valorous officers of this regiment, which made its studies at the military academy of Istanbul at the time of the constitutional government, was the second lieutenant Vahan Pastermadjian d' Erzeroum. This officer was wounded with the leg with the combat of Koprukoy”.

Yes, here almost hundred years, in the same war but on opposed faces, two brothers of Erzeroum, on the one hand the former Karekin deputy who goes up to the attack with the Russians against the Othomans, other that which makes the Military academy, is wounded with the combat, the daring officer Vahan.

“With the First World War, the destiny of the family Pastermadjian d' Erzeroum, it is the microcosm of the tragedy lived by the Armenians in Anatolia” known as Rober Koptas.

The history of both Pastermadjian de Koptas is a voice against the official history which teaches us that “the Ottoman Armenians, which lived in peace and without history, have suddenly all collaborated with the enemy, they betrayed the State” and which on the other hand does not say a word of the Armenian soldiers which fought under the Othoman uniform with Cannakalé, to Sarikamis.

Reflect a little, is not this a majority among us which learned that in the Othoman Empire, all the Armenian political organizations were named “committees” (subversive organizations) without any exception? One overlooked the period of the legalization and the collaboration of Dashnaks with Ittihad, of Hentchaks with Hurriyet and Itilaf. Isn't this that one believed in this history which was unaware of lived of hundreds of thousands of Armenians of Istanbul and of Anatolia who had any bond neither with the policy nor with the political parties?

However the sentences of Koptas make us say: “This Is possible differently?”.

“The Ottoman Armenians were not a homogeneous community. Ca included Hentchacks, Veragazmial Hentchacks, Dashnaks, Ramagavar Libéraux preserving, the nationalists, the apolitical ones, those which were against the policy, that included/understood even Ittihadistes in which there were many groups. At the same time there were workers, merchants, intellectuals, a bourgoisy in formation and peasants, various socio-economic classes. These social groups had various visions of the future of the Othoman Empire and the Armenian nation. Here why during the war, in the Othoman-Armenian company, it was possible to cross at the same time Karekin Pastermadjian and Vahan.

It is for that, like all the phases of our history, over the last period of the Ottoman Empire, we must see beyond generalizations in black and white.

We are obliged to distinguish the colors from hundred years ago. To know us ourselves there is no other way.

Yasemin Congar
June 17, 2006, Stéphane/armenews
Date: 04/06/2006


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