849) Talat Pasha's "Black Covered Book"

In April of 2005, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet published a series of articles based on Talat Pasha's "Black Book." I was ambivalent about the legitimacy of the goings-on (particularly after getting the opinion of a historian that I greatly respect), and aside from a note of the numbers in TAT's "census" page, decided against highlighting the information. However, a reader assures me the information appears to be on the up and up (and certainly the 702,905 figure is convincing; this was the number (702,900, actually, from a Dec. 7, 1916 report) that Kamuran Gurun used in his book, "The Armenian File," to indicate the total of Armenians relocated; Ara Sarafian, through his research in the Ottoman archives, announced the figure was a mistake, and actually pertained to Muslims moved. The Talat Pasha black book material uses the same figure for the Muslims, as you can see from the first article); on that basis, let's feature this information, at least as a point of reference.

The reader tells us that Murat Bardakci, the historically knowledgeable Hurriyet journalist, has other documents that used to belong to Talat Pasha. "He has also published letters written by Talat Pasha to his wife and family, also letters and telegrams of the Ittihat Terakki [CUP] officials. He wrote that he took some of these documents from Talat Pasha's wife Hayriye Talat Bafrali in 1982."

What these documents demonstrate is that the CUP officials "never sent orders to kill Armenians, they only moved Armenians, and also Muslims to other parts of the empire." The reader mentions that these documents have been a matter of debate in Turkey, "mostly because the number of moved Armenians (924.000) is two times bigger than the 'official' numbers (which is about 400.000)." Bardakci is said to have written that he has compiled documents from the families of other CUP members, principally the granddaughter of Talat Pasha (Aysegül Bafrali), and that he refrained from making this information public earlier because of his reading of Turkey's political climate.


1) "1915-1916 saw the displacement of not just Armenians but 702,905 Turks"

2) "Here is the Truth in the Black Covered Book"

"1915-1916 saw the displacement of not just Armenians but 702,905 Turks"

(This article appeared in the English version of Hurriyet, April 27, 2005. The bold text follows — more or less — the original Turkish version, in an effort to be true )

By Murat Bardakcı

Ottoman Grand Vizier and Interior Minister Talat Pasha, in black books that he kept from the period he was in office, recorded that in the years between 1915 and 1916, not only Armenians but hundreds of thousands of Turks were displaced from their homes in eastern Turkey.

The notebooks show that up to 800,000 Turks from provinces under invasion threat from Russian forces took to the road as "emigrants," and that a corridor stretching from Izmit to Halep was used to resettle up to 702,905 Turkish citizens. The area most emigrated to was Mosul, with 150,000 resettled, and the least emigrated to was Icel (Mersin), with only 426 people.

The so-called "black books" from the archives of Grand Vizier Talat Pasha record not only the migrations that took place from the European side to Anatolia during the Balkan War, but also lists of citizens displaced by the Russian invasion of eastern provinces during World War I. The lists of people removed from their homes and out of the way of fighting between Turkish and Russian forces reveal that while Armenians were moved, Turks were also moved.



In its English edition, Hurriyet apparently only translated the first three paragraphs. Below is the rest of this article (here is the original Turkish), with great thanks to the translation of N. S. Sevilir; the first paragraph conforms to the third one above.


In Talat Pasha's book (Talat Pasha was the "Sadrazam" and the internal affairs minister) there are other informations such as the number of refugees during the Balkan War (from Balkans to Anatolia) and also, as stated above, the number of people who have left eastern Anatolia during the Russian invasion in the WW1.

In December 1914 the Turkish forces were literally destroyed in Sarikamis. After this the cities in eastern Anatolia were invaded by the Russians one by one. First Van, then Erzurum, Bitlis, Mush, Trabzon and Erzincan were taken over by Russian and the control of Van was given to Armenians.

According to Talat Pasha's book, an area of over 140.000 km2 had been invaded and within this area 1,800,915 people had lived. It is written that 800,000 people were "deported" to another region, however it states that only 702,905 deportees could be relocated.

When one reads this list one can clearly see that during 1915 and 1916 Armenians weren't the only people who were deported but rather thousands of Turks were too.

(A part explaining the meanings of words such as "tehcir" has been skipped.)

"Ittihad and Terakki"'s leaders had fled Turkey and went to Europe after the Turkish defeat in the World War.

Talat Pasha (with the pseudonym "Ali Sai") had also fled to Germany with his wife Hayriye Talat Hanim, and started living in Berlin. The Pasha spent his days in Europe with "organizations (of Turks)", travelling from one country to another.

Talat Pasha wrote a letter to his wife just 20 days prior to being murdered by Armenians. The letter contained information about his future prospects:

"My dear wife,

I finally arrived in Berlin. Yesterday I had a dinner with Baha Bey (one of the leaders of İttihad and Terraki, Bahaeddin Şakir Bey).. Hadice Hanım is renting a house in Potsdam and she'll give us a room there.. We can stay in Munich for a week and then we can go back to Berlin and then maybe to Dresden or Baveira. I will be going to Halle tomorrow. My friend will meet me there. I will write to you from there.. Tell Nazım Bey (also a leador of İttihad and Terraki) to come to me urgently. If you are bored there, you can come with him or wait for me there.



Calal Bayar not only had Talat Pasha's memoirs published, but was behind the bringing of his remains back to Turkey

Talat Pasha wrote his memories during his exile in Germany but never published it.

The Pasha's memories were only published in 1946 by Celal Bayar (who was also an old İttihat and Terraki member). The book's foreword was written by Hüseyin Cahid Yalcin.

The following are the letters of Celal Bayar to Talat Pasha's wife, Hayriye Talat Hanım. He always had shown a great respect towards her as "my boss' wife." In these letters one can read Celal Bayar's suggestions to bring back the Pasha's coffin to Turkey and to publish his memories.

"Ankara 21.11.1942

Dear Hanım efendi,

Thanks for sending me Pasha's memories. The content was really interesting, he had said in the foreword that these were written to protect İttihad and Terraki's politics.. I would really regret it, if these won't get published. Therefore since it's written in German, we will have to get it translated.

You probably know the Pasha's old friend Rahmi Bey? We here have decided with Rahmi Bey that Talat Pasha's coffin should be brought here and be buried in Turkey. Rahmi Bey will take care of the processes.

With best regards, and awaiting your reply.

-Celal Bayar"

(The second letter is as follows):


Dear Hanım efendi,

I have received your letter dated 27.11.1942

I would like to publish all of his memories, not less. They are in German so I would like to know if there is a Turkish text? It would really be good if you can find the Turkish text as they will be in Pasha's style of writing. However if the Turkish version doesn't exist, then we will have to get it translated. The copyright will be yours.

As for the bringing of his coffin: Turkey has officially asked the German authorities for the process.

With best regards.

Celal Bayar"

(The third and the last letter):

"Ankara, 02.02.1943

Dear Hanım efendi,

I have received your letter dated 9.1.1943. I was late to answer as I had an illness. We have yet to receive any dates for the bringing of the coffin. We are still waiting for an answer from Germany.
Currently I am getting the memories translated.

With best regards.

Celal Bayar"

Holdwater wonders: The process of translation means Mr. Bayar was only able to obtain Talat's memoirs in German. But why would Talat have not written his memoirs in Turkish? (Perhaps a friend of his took the originals and translated to German at one point, and the original Turkish version got lost over the years.)

Furthermore, I have reluctantly come to accept the "Posthumous Memoirs of Talat Pasha," printed in a 1921 edition of the New York Times, as genuine. (After reading Guenter Lewy's book, primarily.) But the above exchange with Talat's wife makes it seem as though Talat's memoirs were to be released for the first time.
"Here is the Truth in the Black Covered Book"

From a series appearing in the Istanbul daily Hurriyet, 25 April 2005 (The original page, in Turkish)

By Murat Bardakci

Prime Minister Talaat Pasha had carefully recorded the post 1915 population movements and statistics in a 10x15 cm size notebook, kept with care to this day by his wife Hayriye and Talaat’s granddaughter Aysegul Bafrali.

According to Talaat Pasha’s notes, the number of Armenians subjected to mandatory deportations in accordance with the “Temporary Deportation Law” issued on 27 May 1915 is 924,158. The city where the exile was enforced the most extensively was Sivas with 141,592 people, while the province of Konya was the least with 4,381 people.

The figures about the Armenian deportations make up the third section of Talaat Pasha’s black covered notebook. The Pasha first notes the number of Armenians that were subjected to mandatory deportations on the pages devoted to the deportations. Then, he provides a list of how many Armenians and the provinces of the Empire against which the Law of Deportations were enforced.

Later in the notebook, the breakdown of Armenian orphans not deported is given per province, followed by a summary of the buildings, real estate, farms, mines and franchises left behind by or expropriated from Armenians.

According to Talaat Pasha’s notes, the number of Armenians subjected to mandatory deportations in accordance with the “Temporary Deportation Law” issued on 27 May 1915 is 924,158. The city where the exile was enforced the most extensively was Sivas with 141,592 people while the province of Konya was the least with 4,381 people.

However, it can be seen that the Pasha shows 270 fewer deportees in one of the provinces.


Being a primary document on the Armenian deportations, the above list appears in the black covered book of Prime Minister Talaat Pasha as shown. After this page comes a breakdown of the orphans and a summary of the buildings, real estate, farms, mines and franchises left behind by the Armenians.

Talaat Pasha Joins the Debate 90 Years Later

The Prime Minister “the Minister of the Interior and the architect of the Deportations” Talaat Pasha, is speaking today for the first time since the events of 1915 exactly 90 years ago and taking part in the deportation discussions with documents in his private archive that haven’t been published up to now!

Yesterday, I had written the following on my page in my introduction of the article series as well. The deportation numbers and other information found in this series are based upon a 10x15 cm size notebook I took with the intention of publishing from Talaat Pasha’s wife Hayriye and Talaat’s granddaughter Aysegul Bafrali that belonged to the Pasha and other documents of his that have been with me for years. The black covered book in which the Pasha had the post 1915 population movements and statistics recorded has three parts: the Muslim refugees, the Armenian deportees, those Greeks and Arabs that likewise have been deported for anti-state activities and the real-estate that was left behind by the non-Muslims.

At the very start of the series, I must draw your attention to one matter:

Due to the lack of essential, realistic studies on these subjects up to now, the numbers in the black covered notebook of Talaat Pasha and his other documents may sound very strange or even high to some of us. However, with every single one of them being a primary source, these numbers are like defense exhibits against the ˜genocide” accusations full of exaggerated figures.

Let the willingly ignorant among us who say, “We not only slaughtered the Armenians but the Kurds too. Let us apologize for the genocide we perpetrated and let the issue be settled” cast no shadow and let our academics lay the shallow “we didn’t kill them; they killed us” aside and take a learned approach.

Let Leylegian rest assured. We turned Talat Pasha’s tomb into a dump.

You must have seen it in the newspapers: the president of the organization based in Brussels called ˜European Armenian Federation”, Laurent Leylegiyan, made some strange demands last week from the Turkish government.

Evidenced by his demands that betray a complete harmony between his name and his mindset, Mr. Leylekyan wanted the demolition of the mausoleum of Talaat Pasha in Istanbul, and a change to street names named after ˜Talaat” and “Enver”; and the closing of the museums showing the Armenian crimes against the Turks; and the laws banning the mention of the “genocide”.

After reading Leylegian’s drivel, I remembered an old Iranian saying, 'Divane ra kalem nist', in other words, “˜the fool will not be charged for sinning” and laughed. However, what I saw in the vicinity of Sisli turned my smile into a bitter grimace and I thought we had already carried out some of Leylegian’s demands on our own.

Talat's mausoleum in less dumpy days

Yesterday morning I went to photograph the tomb of Talaat Pasha on the Hill of Eternal Liberty at Sisli for the purpose of using the pictures in the series and instead of a tomb, I came across a dump! As if a new revolt had taken place at the site where the mausoleums of Talaat, Enver, Mahmut Sevket, and Midhat Pashas along with the martyred soldiers in the revolt of March 31 are found. The lock of the mausoleum below the monument was broken and the tomb downstairs had now become the destination for drunkards. The tombs in the park were being used as beer cases. In short, everything was heart rending.

The same place was in the same shape days before the reinterring of Enver Pasha’s ashes from Tajikistan. After I had brought the situation to light, it was hastily cleaned up but following the funeral of the Pasha, all had returned to the same routine.

Let the president of European Armenian Federation, Laurent Leylegian, rest assured and not go through the trouble of making such demands of the Turkish government. As long as the Metropolitan Municipality which is in charge of the Hill of Eternal Liberty maintain its indifference, there will not remain a any evidence of the tombs “ not only Talaat Pasha“ but also those martyrs who are in their eternal sleep here, unless the site is turned over to the Military!

He was a Postal Clerk but Became a Prime Minister

You must surely know of Talaat Pasha, for whom we have been naming boulevards, streets, neighborhoods and schools, but let me briefly remind you anyway.

His full name being Mehmed Talaat, Talaat Pasha was born in Edirne on 20 August 1874. He lost his father at a young age and entered the Postal and Telegraphic service to feed his family. He became a founder of Ittihad & Terakki. He was arrested for his activities against the regime of Abdul Hamid and was jailed for 25 months and then was exiled to Salonica.

Employed as a mailman here, Mehmed Talaat was elected to Parliament from Edirne after the proclamation of the Second Constitution in 1908. He was made Interior Minister in the cabinet of Hussein Hilmi Pasha, and Minister of Postal and Telegraph Service in the cabinet of Kucuk Said Pasha. Talaat was one of the planners of the raid on the Sublime Porte on 23 January 1913, and one of the three top leaders of the Ittiahad & Terakki Party together with Enver and Jemal Pashas. He became the Interior Minister once again in the cabinet of Said Halim Pasha created on June 13, and personally oversaw the Armenian deportations in 1915. He was made prime minister on 4 February 1917 and received the title “pasha”.

Having resigned on 8 October 1918, upon our defeat in WWI, Talaat Pasha left Turkey with the other Ittihad & Terakki leaders during the night of 2 November on a German submarine. He first went to Russia, then to Germany.

Talaat Pasha was declared as the “greatest enemy” by Diaspora Armenians because of the measures he took in the Armenian events in Anatolia during the war years, and was murdered in Berlin in the morning of 15 March 1921, by an Armenian partisan called Sogomon Tehlirian with a bullet to his neck. Tehlirian was acquitted in the German court where he was tried. The ashes of the Pasha were brought to Istanbul from Berlin on 25 February 1944, 24 years after the murder and were interned at the Hill of Eternal Liberty with great military ceremony.


Holdwater: The above translation comes courtesy of "The Genocide Archive Project," based in the "Armenian country" of Massachusetts, and headed by that tireless "professional Armenian patriot," David Davidian. While faithfully rendered, the translation understandably has a slight "pro-Armenian" slant; for example: "Deportations" has been used for the word "Tehcir." The word "deportation" is incorrect, because Armenians were moved within the country, and not out of the country... and ultimately allowed to return to their homes.

Kamuran Gurun spells out the difference, from The Armenian File:

The term tehjir (relocation) is Arabic and derives from the root hijret (emigration). It is used in the sense of `having one emigrate. This word has no connotation of putting one in a concentration camp, but indicates 'changing one's location'. For this reason, the term "deportation" used by the British and French is incorrect. Deportation has the connotation of forcing one to settle in a place under custody, that is, having one exiled. The individual who is exiled, who is deported, is not free in the place he is sent to. He lives in a specific place, in a prison, fortress, or camp, without any contact with the outside world.

(Let us add that deportation, to my mind, best means banishment outside a country's borders. For example, Russia's innocent Muslims were cruelly booted out forever from their centuries-old homes during WWI, as were the Balkan Turks, a few years earlier. These people were truly "deported.")

In addition, as a point of reference countering the Turkish text, Jemal Pasha, in his own memoirs, claimed that Talat was never a postman. Furthermore, it was established in the Tehlirian trial that Talat was shot in the back of the head, and not in the neck. (To nitpick, the original Turkish article described Tehlirian as a "committee member" (komitaci), that is, a member of the revolutionary committees, and not as a "partisan." At this stage, Tehlirian was more than a mere party member; he was a hit man, serving the Dashnak assassination squad, Nemesis.)

Finally, let's hope the "dump" of Talat's resting place should come as a lesson to the genocide nuts, up in arms as they can be over Turkey's neglect in the upkeep of Armenian churches. (They never talk, of course, about the upkeep of Turkish mosques in Armenia, probably because Armenia got rid of all the Turkish mosques.) If Turkey is neglectful of an important leader's tomb, then it's not as though the negligence of churches should be regarded as a sign of "cultural genocide."

© Holdwater

The source site of this article gets revised often, as better
information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, and
the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing
the direct link as follows:



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