18 August 2006
We often hear how badly British POWs were treated by the Turks. (Sometimes we even hear how well they were treated in Gallipoli.) But how were Turkish POWs treated by the Brits?
The source of the following article is a 2004 book (Katran Kazaninda Sterilize) that is not known to me. But if the story is accurate, it's pretty amazing going, folks. Nothing the Turks could have done to the British POWs could possibly compare with this.
Original article, in Turkish:
With great thanks to the translation of Ms. Damla Ozdemir. (A few translation notes follow.) Thanks also to reader M. Niyazi Odyalmaz, who brought this story to my attention.
Turkish POWs, 1917
These Turkish POWs surrendered to Lt.-General Stanley Maude, after
the capture of Baghdad in March 1917. Perhaps some of these very men
were among the victims in the story you will read.
Dispersed Armenians’ defamation campaigns are spreading with full speed.
However, there is no reaction but a few weak objections from the accused (1) Turkish Republic Government.
Yet we have such important documents…
For example, I don’t think most of us know the things I am going to tell in this article. From the book “Katran Kazanında Sterilize” ("Sterilized in Tar Cauldron") by Imge Publications, written by Ahmet Duru who revealed the diary of the sub-lieutenant (2) Ahmet Altinay from Karaman…
In WWI, 150 thousand of our soldiers were captured by the British. And some of these soldiers were imprisoned in Seydibesir Useray-i Harbiye Camp (3) near the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The full name of the camp was “Seydibesir Kuveysna Osmanli Useray-i Harbiye (4) Kampi”. In this camp, the Ottoman soldiers of 16th Division’s 48th Regiment who were captured at the Palestine fronts in 1918 were interned. For two years until June 12th, 1920, they were subjected to any kind of torture, oppression, heavy insults and humiliation.
The reason for this inhumane treatment was the Armenians.
The British commanders of the camp, because of the wrong, mendacious translations and provocations of Armenian translators who knew Turkish, had become fierce Turk enemies.
The war was over. Nevertheless, to release the soldiers besides the ones who died because of heavy conditions in the camp was not to the benefit of the British. Because the British were brainwashed by Armenians, being told that in a potential new war they could come up against these soldiers again. The solution was massacre…
Our soldiers, forced by bayonets, were put in disinfection pools with the excuse of wiping out germs. But the chemical, krizol, was added a lot more than normal in the water. Even just when they put their feet, our soldiers got scalded. However, the British troops didn’t let them get out of the pool by threatening with rifles (5).
Our soldiers didn’t want to put their heads under the water that reached waist level. But then the British started shooting in the air. Our soldiers knelt and put their heads under water not to die.
But the ones who got their heads out of the water couldn’t see any more. Because the eyes were burned…The resistance of our soldiers who saw what happened to the ones that got out was no use and our 15 thousand men got blinded.
This savagery was discussed in May 25th, 1921, in the Turkish Great National Assembly. The congressmen Mr. Faik and Mr. Seref proposed that 15 thousand sons of this country were blinded in Egypt by being put in the “krizol” pool; and wanted the Assembly to make an attempt for punishment of the British physicians, commanders and soldiers who were guilty of this act.
Of course the newly founded government had a thousand other problems. Demanding an explanation for this act was easily forgotten.
But they don’t forget. They show even their own betrayal as a fact of genocide and present it to the world.
The most regrettable of all is that some people, you know who, are also behind, supporting these defamation campaigns.
Sinan AYGUN – The President of ATO
(1) “Saldırının muhatabı”, when translated, could be something like “the offended of the offender”. “Accused” may be an alternative that doesn’t change the meaning critically.
(2) “Yedek subay” is not used in English-speaking countries. “Sub-lieutenant” or “3rd lieutenant” may come close.
(3) “Useray”: unknown.
(4) “Kuveysna” unknown as well.
(5) “Dipçik darbeleri” has no exact English equivalent. Basically it means that they were threatened with rifles; not exactly, though.
Arshag K. Schmavonian
Arshag Schmavonian: Morgenthau's man
The reliability of the Armenian accounts that reached the diplomatic corps was further weakened by their need to be translated by interpreters, who almost always were Armenians. The American consul in Beirut, Mr. Hollis, who served there from 1911 to 1917, complained in a report rendered after he had left Turkey about the inordinate and inappropriate influence of the Armenian dragoman at the American embassy in Constantinople, Mr. Schmavonian. Hollis felt that he "did not always have the American point of view." This situation was not unique. Armenian functionaries in Constantinople, the American official wrote, "no matter for what Government they worked had a reputation throughout the Near East of being extremely slippery and much given to intrigue." Their loyalty to the government they served was not to be taken for granted, he noted, and this opinion was shared by his German colleague in Beirut.
Guenter Lewy, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, 2005. Hollis to the Secretary of State, Feb. 2, 1920, NA, RG 59, 867.00/1115 (M353, roll 8, fr. 585.)
Pretty horrifying! Harold Armstrong had pointed to an evil Ottoman POW camp commander in his book, but I don't think the demon he pointed to could have concocted anything as barbaric. (Ahmet Altinay, the credited author of "Katran Kazaninda
Sterilize," was actually the counterpart of Armstrong, a prisoner who spent three years in British POW camps. It was his memoirs or diaries that were evidently edited to shape the book.)
Unfortunately, because too many Armenians, in their misguided zeal for "patriotism," throw their sense of ethics out the window and incorporate the unscrupulously Dashank "end justifies the means" manner of operating. Because the better educated Armenians usually served as the "dragomen," or translators, in the Ottoman Empire, imagine the stories they told to Westerners they served, such as Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and Consul Leslie Davis (both of whom employed Armenians), further deepening the Westerners' anti-Turkish prejudices.
An honorable Armenian woman who hated the crimes committed by her own brethren was dressed in Turkish attire while the Harbord Commission came to town. She caught the Armenian translators' dishonesty (the American-Armenian among them instructed the rest to do their translations as they pleased, which pretty sums up their M.O.), and Harbord made the woman a part of his entourage, as a result. (Harbord still prepared his report as a friend of the Armenians, but no doubt his eyes were opened at least a little.)
Yet, returning to the POW story, it matters not how much hatred the Armenian translators instilled in the British guards and other personnel. The decision to perform this horrendous cruelty rests with the British.
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: