13 November 2006

1229) An Austrian Eyewitness: Dr. Stephan Steiner

In a March 18, 2005 paper, Dr. Mete Soytürk wrote that a name caught his attention in pg. 230 of Prof. Justin McCarthy's "Death and Exile," that of Austrian newspaperman Dr. Stephan Eshnanie. I must say, when I ran into this name, I had wondered about this Austrian myself. (Mentioned as well in McCarthy's “The Destruction of Ottoman Erzurum by Armenians,” having written the following report: "All the villages from Trabzon to Erzincan and from Erzincan to Erzurum are destroyed. Corpses of Turks brutally and cruelly slain are everywhere. I am now in Erzurum, and what I see is terrible. Almost the whole city is destroyed. The smell of corpses still fills the air.") It's rare to have a Western observer from the period to have conquered his prejudices and to have seen the truth, and I wanted to learn more about him and his writings. But who was he?

Kudos to Dr. Soytürk for having conducted the necessary research and for finding out. Having lived for years in Germany, Dr. Soytürk became aware that the name "Eshnanie" did not have Germanic roots. He went to the source provided in the book, and dug up the 23.05.1918 report written by the Austrian, this time under a byline that was spelled with a slight difference. Dr. Soytürk then investigated the German and Austrian journalists covering WWI, and one thing led to another. Reading the memoirs of Ahmet Emin Yalman in a 1917 series of the Turkish newspaper "Vakit," Dr. Soytürk learned the Austrian had a connection with "Vakit." (As well as the "Neues Wiener Tageblatt" in Vienna, "Pester Lloyd" in Budapest, the "Lokalanzeiger" in Berlin, and the "Algemeen Handelsblad" in Amsterdam.) But his real name turned out to be Dr. Stefan Steiner!

This rang a big bell with me, because another pair of mystery Westerners I have had my eye on are the German writer Dr. Weiss and the Austrian Dr. Stein, with whom Ahmet Refik recorded the cruelties of the Armenians in April-May of 1918. No doubt the "Dr. Stein" in question here is none other than the Stefan (or Stephan) Steiner, whom Dr. Soytürk had uncovered.

In fact, Dr. Soytürk brings up Refik, who mentions that German ex-consul Anders had accompanied him on these investigations. Another lead brought up a book by Kazim Karabekir having to do with Armenians "From Erzincan to Erivan, 1917-1920" ("1917-1920 arası Erzincan'dan Erivan'a Ermeni Mezalimi," 2000, İstanbul); here there is a photograph where Refik is observing wells filled with the bodies of Muslims, and beside him are the "foreign newspapermen," "Doktor Vays, Doktor Stayn (Avusturyalı)." These names were "Turkified," but they were obviously the aforementioned Weiss and Stein.

Dr. Soytürk also recalled having read a 1921 book entitled "Armenische Lügengewebe," uncovering the lies of Armenian propaganda, and here is where a Dutch newspaper account was noted, dated May 25, 1920. Dr. Soytürk got a hold of the article, and noticed that the writer's name was not revealed, but that his identity was obvious: it was the elusive Dr. Stephan Steiner himself.

In this very revealing article the Austrian candidly admits his ingrained prejudices, but has the honor to "revise" his views, once he comes face to face with uncomfortable truths. The article appeared in Algemeen Handelsblad, and the Dutch version may be read on this very page if you click here.


ARMENIE
De Armenisch-Turksche kwestie

Van een onzer medewerkers in den Balkan ontvingen wij den volgenden interessanten brief, waarvan de inhoud een anderen kijk geeft op de Armenische quaestie dan de in West Europa gebruijkelijke. Wij stellen in de objectiviteit van dezen medewerker het grootste vertrouwen. - Zijn betoogtrant bevat het bewijs dat hij dit verdient - en drukken daarom zijn correspondentie ongewijzigd en zonder commentaar af.

Evenals onder de regering van Sultan Abdulhamit komen uit Cilicie weer weerzinwekkende berichten over massaslachtingen van Armeniers, waardoor de zenuwen van de tamelijk afgestempte wereld weer opniew worden geschokt. Het valt mij in de verste verte niet in om slachtingen, door wie de ook worden gehouden, te rechtvaardigen en den weerzinwekkendsten van alle moorden, de gooddienstmoord, in bescherming te nemen. Maar elke waarheid heeft twee kanten, en wanneer de Armeensche perspropaganda het Armeensche bloodbad in Cilicie teger de Turken weet uit te buiten, in dezen zin, dat zij daardoor de volledige vernietiging van Turkije door de Entente bewerkt, dan meen ik dat het in het belang der waarheid is, om te onderzoeken of werkelijk alleen de beestachtigheid van de Turken aan deze massamorden schuldig is.

Ik geloof, dat ik eenig recht heb om dit uit te maken, want ik had gelegenheid om Turkije gedurende den oorlog bij wijze van spreken, in neglige te zien en wel juist daar, waar de Armeensche en Turksche stammen in den meest verbitterden haat elkaar te lijf gaaan.

In de lente van het gedenkwaardige jaar 1918, toen ten gevolge van de Russische nederlaag, Turkije het offensief weer begon, en de vlag van den profeet zegevierend in vreemde landen woei, wat sinds den vrede van Küçük Kaynarca niet meer gebeurd was, bevond ik mij in het Armeeinsch-Russische grensgebied, en maakte een deel van den Turkschen opmarsch in het voornamelijk door Armenieers bewoonde gebied mee.

Een ieder die weet wat oorlogvoeren betekent, zal moeten toegeven, dat er geen betere gelegenheid is, om een land en volk te leren kennen, als juist in den oorlog, waar alle menselijke hartstochten met geweld tot uiting komen, en waar het laagje cultuur en veinzerij voor de ruwe, hoogere noodzakelijkheid van de oorlogsvoering verdwijnen. Als eenige Eoropeaan bevond ik mij toen ter tijd in de kritieke omgeving en ben misschien de eenige Europeesche getuige ervan geweest op welke wijze de gebeurtenissen gedurende den Turkschen opmarsch in Russisch-Armenie zich hebben toegedragen, en hoe deze beide volkeren tot elkander stonden.

Voordat ik mijn reis begon, was ik reeds Armenisch gezind. Ik had gedurende mijn oponthoud te Konstantinopel, in de jaren 1916/17, genoeg weerzienwekkende details over de Armeensche massamorden in Turksch-Armenie gehord en de Europeanen, die meer of minder goed over de gebeurtenissen in Armenie ingelicht waren, gaven dan Turken alleen de schuld en beschouwden de Armeniers als de onschuldige offers van den Turkschen goddiensthaat en van de dierlijke hartstochten van een barbaarsch volk.

Mijn verhouding tot de Turken was goed genoeg om hen ook over dit netelige punt, wat een Europeaan bijna niet te berde durft te brengen, te spreken. De houding der Turken moest mij in mijn overtuiging sterken, dat de Armeniers onschuldig waren en de Turken alle shuld hadden. Want met een eigenaardige bruuske afwijzing werd mij steeds door iedereen Turk, wien ik ver het pro en contra van de Armeensche quaestie om inlichtingen vroeg, geantwoord: "Ja alles is waar wat men over ons verteld. Wij hebben een millionen Armeniers afgemaakt; het was afschuwelijk bloodbad, maar wij waren in ons recht en wij zijn daarvoor alleen tegenover ons zelf verantwoording schuldig." Het gelukte mij niet nog verdere details, of de gronden van deze verschrikkelijke daden te, weten te komen. En ik kon alleen tot den slotsom komen ..... In de loogelaten hartstochten van den oorlog het goddienstfanatiesme tegenover de Cristenen zich liet gaan, waar het maar gelegenheid daartoe zag. En dat gebeurde in het hoogland van Armenie, waar de van de gehele wereld afgesneden. Armenieers aan den Turken overgeleverd waren.

In het voorjaar van 1918 kwam ik in Trabzon van waaruit -gelijk bekend is -de einige beganbare weg naar binnenland van Hoog-Armenie loopt.

Trabzon zelf was in 1915 getuige van een Armeensch bloedbad en drie jaar later wisten Grieken en Levantijnsche Europeanen mij nog in kleuren en geuren te vertellen van de onbeschrijfelijke gruwelscenes, die zich binnen de oer-oude muren van de Trabzon in 1915 afgespeeld hebben. Hoe op de straten van Trabzon het bloed der Armeniers vloeide! Hoe de Armeensche wijken in rook en vlammen opgingen en nog dagen en weken na het bloedbad de lijken van kinderen tegen den oer-ouden Konstantijnschen dijk en in de haven van Platana aanspoelden. Ik zag geruineerde streken en men vertelde mij, dat dit eens Armeensche wijken waren geweest. Men toonde mij Cristelijke kerken. Dit waren de kerken der Armeniers. Men rakelde de mesthoopen op en beenderen en vergane lijken kwamen te voorschijn. Dat zijn lijken van Armeniers, zeide men mij.

Dit zijn zulke ontzettende gewaarwordingen, die men nooit vergeet en die bij iedereen maar een wensch doen opkomen: God behoede onsen een ieder voor deze barbaarscheid en voor den godsdiensthaat der Mohammeden! Maar een prior der Franciskaner monniken, een envoudige oude prister, die ongetwijfeld aan de zijde van de Cristenen stond, schudde zijn hoofd, toen ik in verwenschingen tegen de Turken uitbrak. "Gij vergist u" zeide hij, "de Turken hebben niet alleen schuld. Ja voor iemand die uit Europa komt en die met Europesche begrijpen over Azie will oordeelen, die zal de misdaad van het uitroeien van dit volk verwenschen. Maar het is niet de geheele waarheid, die gij gezien en gehoord hebt. Gij moet deze dingen door een Aziatische bril bekijken en begrijpen, dat hier twee volken elkaar met eeuwenouden haat en verbittering te lijf gaan. Men heeft hier twee mentaliteiten, de Turksche en de Armeeensche en beide mentaliteiten zeggen, dat een van hen te gronde gaan. Ja, in 1915 waren het Armeniers, die te gronde zijn gegaan.Alles werd tegen hen in werking gesteld, en zij moesten de nederlaag lijden. Maar zijt gij er wel van overtuigd, dat de Armeniers in dezelfde omstandigheden niet hetzelfde zouden hebben gedaan of deden? Ik heb mijn rapporten van missies, uitgezonden door mijn orde in Beyazıt, Van, Erzurum, Erzincan; uit de rapporten weet ik, dat in 1915 toen de oorlog met Rusland begon, het de Armeniers waren, die achter het Turkse leger de revolutie aanwakkarden en de Turksche dorpen en nederzettingen ontvolkten en met den grond gelijk maakten. De verdere gebeurtenissen, die daarna in Turkije voorvielen, waren alleen de gevolgen van deze eerste vijandelijke houding der Armeniers. Ik geef toe, dat er verschrikkelijke dingen gebeurd zijn; er is zooveel bloed gevloid als nog nooit te voeren. Maar onschuldig waren de Armeniers aan het ontstaan van het bloedbad niet. En wanneer de Turken dan verder gegaan zijn dan nodig was, dan ligt daarvan de schuld niet alleen bij de Turken, maar bij de mentaliteit van Azie, waar de volkenhaat dieper gaat dan bij de Europesche volken en waar de oorlog beesachtige vormen aanneemt."

"Zie b.v. naar Trabzon. Gij hebt de platgebrande Armeensche wijken gezien, maar hebt hij ook de platgebrande Turksche wijken aanschouwd? Hebt gij op de nog frissche graven van de Turksche bevolking gelet? Neen! Ziet toen de Armeniers zich in de zelfde positie bevonden als de Turken, toen zij zegevierend voortrukten onder de bescherming van het Russische leger, toen herhaalde zich het schouwspel van het jaar 1915, maar toen moesten de Turken het ongelden. Waar de Armeniers een Turk vonden, daar werd hij onbarmhartig neergehouwen, waar zij een Turksche moskee zagen werd deze geplunderd en in brand gestoken. Turksche wijken gingen even goed in rook en vlammen op als Armeensche wijken. Gij gaat thans het land in en gij zult de sporen van den oorlog kunnen volgen: Bayburt, Erzincan, Erzurum en Kars. Gij zult nog rookende puinhoopen zien; gij zult nog bloed en lijken ruiken, maar dat waren echter Turkse lijken."

De Franciscaner pater heeft slechts de waarheid gezegd. Maandenlang ging ik dwaars door Armenie en Kurdistan en ik vond bevestigd, wat hij mij verteld had. Na den terugtocht van het Russische leger, die op de Russische vreede volgde, namen de troepen van het z.g. Armeensche leger, de militaire operaties in de bezette Turkse gebieden over. Gedurende de Russische bezetting beschermden de Russen het leven en eigendommvan de Turken. Wat na dan terugtocht van de Russen gebeurd is, is hartverscheurend. De kleine Turksche nederzettingen werden door de benden van generaals Adronits en Murat tot den laatsten man afgemaakt, kerken tot den laatsten steen vernield.

Toen waren de Armeensche verwactingen nog hoog gespannen. Hun plannen reikten ver, omspanden het geheele Turksche rijk. En zij hoopten dat zij met den erfvijand zouden kunnen afrekenen tot den laatsten man, de laatste vrouw, het laatste kind. Ik heb in Erzincan ruines gezien, waar honderden lijken van gewurgde Turken lagen tusschen de puinhoopen. Ik heb licht laten schijnen in putten, die vol lijken waren. Ik heb met eigen ogen gezien, dat graven open gemakt werden, waarin mannen-en vrouwenlijken overelkaar lagen, bij honderden. Wie hadden dit gedaan? Die overwinnende Armeniers.

Deze tooneelen vergezelden mij op den verren, langen weg door Opper-Armenie, Kurdistan tot in Russisch-Armenie. En is het een wonder, dat de Turken, toen zij weer overwinnaars waren, wraak namen, kwaad met kwaad vergolden? Ik moet erkennen dat tijdens den Turkschen opmarsch naar Russisch- Armenie het moorden voortgezet werd door de Turken. Aan den anderen kant van de grens van de Sarıkamış werden de Armeensche vestigingen, die daar tamelijk gezaaid zijn, ontvolkt met vuur en ijzer. De meest verbitterde volkshaat woedde tegen de vroegere overwinnaars, thans overwonnenen , in den beestachtigen vorm, een wild land van Azie eigen. Onze Europeesche hersens begrijpen deze onverbiddelijke haat niet, die volkeren tegen volkeren opzweept tot de ergste gruweldaden. Maar wij mogen niet vergeten, dat Opper-Armenie een land is, waarvan de beschaving vergeleken kan worden met de oer-cultuur der Europeesche volkeren. De volkeren daar zijn geen naties, doch horden. En zoals in den oertoestand der volkeren een ontmoeting van twee hordende vernitiging beteekende van een dezer twee, zoo is men in de bergen om den Grooten Ararat heden ten dage nog niet bedacht op samenleven, doch op vernietiging. In de kale bergen van Opper-Armenie bestaat er geen compromis, alleen strijd op leven en dood. De overwinnaar leeft, de overwonnene kan alleen sterven.

Tijdens mijn verblijf in Alexandropol (Gümrü) gebeurde het volgende, dat een goed licht werpt op de mentaliteit van de menschen aldaar. Uit de richting van de bergengroep Alagöz hoorde men op een dag kanongedonder. De Armenische bevolking, die achter het Turksche front in angst en beven leefde, legden dit kanongedonder zoo uit, dat de Engelschen oprukten tegen de Turken. En zij leefden in de overtuiging, dat de Turken binnen enkele uren verslagen zouden zijn. Onmiddelijk ontstond achter het Turksche front een opstand, en de zwakke Turksche posten in de Armenische dorpen werden op de geraffineerde manier dood gemarteld. Maar de Engelsen kwamen niet. Een detachement van Kafkas- Armeniers had getracht door het dunne Turksche front te breken. Vandaar het kanongedonder. En toen het gevecht een paar uur later voorbij was, kwaam de wraak. De dorpen, waarin Turksche soldaten vermoord waren werden vernietigd. Kan men zeggen, dat de Armeniers geen schuld hadden?

In Alexandropol zelf, in een zuiver Armeensche stad, waar, niettegenstaande de Turksche bezetting, de Armeniers rustig hun werk deden , kwam ik veel in aanraking met toonaangevende Armeniers. Zij leefden voortdurend onder een verschrikkelijke angst, dat op een dag door een onbedachtzame handeling van Armeensche benden de Turken wraak zouden nemen en dat zij dan het eerst er aan zouden moeten gelooven. Een gedellte van Armeensche volk, het beste deel- was voor een vreedzame overenstemmming met de Turken. Men was nu eenmaal gedwongen samen te leven. En dan zou toch alleen verdraagzaamheid een eind kunnen maken aan het moorden. Mat het grootste gedeelte en de benden, de zoogenaamde militairen wilden van vreede niets weten. Hun leuze was : "Zij of wij, een moet te gronde gaan."

De mannen, die verdraagzaamheid en verzoeninig predikten, werden verwenscht door het gros van het Armeensche volk. Men zei mij openlijk in Armeensche kringen: "Nu zijn de Turken baas. Maar spoedig zullen wij weer heer en meester zijn en dan zullen we geen enkelen Turk, die in onze handen komt in leven laten. Tusschen ons is geen overeenstemming mogelijk. Wij hebben een rekening eeuwen oud te vereffenen. Onze strijd is zoo oud als ons volk. Deze strijd begon op den dag, waarop de Turken in ons land kwamen en zal tot den dag duren, waarop wij op zij te gronde gaan. Een verzoening willen wij niet. Vervloekt zijn zij , die vriendschap sluiten met de Turken. "

Zoo was de stemming in een tijd, waarin de Armenen geen hoop hadden ooit van de Turken bevrijd te worden. Het zag er naar uit, alsof de overwinnende halve maan geheel Russisch- Armenie tot zich zou trekken. Hiernaar kan men beoordelen, wat er gebeurd is, toen de Turken moesten terugtrekken en de Turksche vestiginggen weer in handen van de Armeniers vielen.

Een vergelijk is alleen mogelijk tusschen beschaafde volkeren. Bij de volkeren van het wildste Azie bestaat alleen haat en vernietiging. "De Turken zijn schuldig. Zij hebben gemoord." Zijn echter de Armeniers minder schuldig, die ook hebben gemoord, zoodra daartoe de macht bezeten?

Azie kan men alleen beoordeelen met Aziatische ogen.




Algemeen Handelsblad article, "Armenia"

"I am of the opinion that it is in the interest of truth to investigate"


ARMENIA
The Turkish-Armenian Question

Algemeen Handelsblad
Amsterdam
25.05.1920 - Tuesday

From one of our colleagues in the Balkans, we received the following interesting letter, the contents of which gives a different view on the Armenian question from the customary one in Western Europe. We have the greatest confidence in the objectivity of this colleague. The way in which he relates his story contains the proof that he is deserving of this trust, and therefore we are printing his correspondence unchanged and without comment.

Just as during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid abhorrent reports of mass slaughtering of the Armenians have been coming in again from Cilicia, through which the nerves of the already relatively unnerved world again are being shaken. In absolutely no way is it my intention to justify slaughter, no matter by whom it is performed, and to try and protect the most heinous of all murders, [that is] murder committed on religious grounds. But there are two sides to every truth and when the Armenian media campaign’s intention is to exploit the Armenian bloodbath in Cilicia against the Turks in the sense that she thus is trying to realize the complete destruction of Turkey by the Entente, then I am of the opinion that it is in the interest of truth to investigate whether only the Turkish animalism is to blame for these mass murders.

I believe that I have some right to state this since, during the war, I had the opportunity to observe Turkey, in a manner of speaking, in her negligee and of all places there where the Armenian and the Turkish clans going at each other with the bitterest of hatreds.

In the spring of the memorable year 1918, when as a result of the Russian defeat, Turkey went on the offensive again and the flag of the Prophet waved victoriously in foreign lands, which had not happened since the peace of Kücük Kaynarca, I was at the Armenian/Russian frontier and so witnessed a part of the Turkish advance in the area that was predominantly inhabited by Armenians.

Anybody who knows what war is about shall have to admit that there is no better opportunity for getting to know a country and a people than during a war, where all human rise to the surface, and where the thin layer of culture and pretense disappears before the higher necessity of waging war. At the time I happened to find myself as the only European in this critical environment and have been possibly the only European witness of the manner in which the events occurred during the Turkish advance into Russian-Armenia and how these two people related to one another.

"...Years later the Greek- and the Levantine Europeans still managed to relate to me in every detail the indescribable scenes of horror... God preserve every one of us for this [Turkish] barbarity..."

Before beginning my journey, I was already a sympathizer of the Armenians. During my stay in Constantinople, in the years 1916/17 I had already heard plenty of revolting details on the Armenian mass murders in Turkish Armenia and the Europeans, who were more or less well informed about the events in Armenia, therefore attributed blame to the Turks alone and they regarded the Armenians as the innocent victims of Turkish religious hatred and of the bestial passions of a barbaric population.

My relationship with the Turks was good enough to also discuss with them this difficult issue that nearly no European dared to bring up. The Turkish attitude strengthened my conviction that the Armenian people were innocent and the Turks were to blame for everything. Because again and again, with a nod of dismissal, each Turk whom I had asked for information in regards to the pros and cons of the Armenian issue, answered: “Yes, all is true what people say about us. We killed a million Armenians; it was a terrible bloodbath, but we were justified in doing so and are only accountable to ourselves for that.” I was not successful in finding out further details of the reasons for these terrible acts. And so I could only arrive at the conclusion … In the released passions of the war, the religious fanaticism towards the Christians were let loose wherever there was opportunity. And that happened in the highlands of Armenia, where, cut off from the entire world, the Armenians were entirely in the hands of the Turks.

In the spring of 1918 I arrived in Trabzon [Trebizond] from where, as is known, runs the only passable road to the interior of Upper Armenia.

In 1915 Trabzon itself was witness to an Armenian bloodbath and three years later the Greek- and the Levantine Europeans still managed to relate to me in every detail the indescribable scenes of horror that occurred within the ancient city walls of Trabzon in 1915. How the streets of Trabzon ran red with the blood of Armenians! How the Armenian quarters went up in smoke and flames and that for days and weeks after the bloodbath the bodies of children continued to wash up against the ancient Constantine Dam in the harbor of Platana. I saw ruined stretches [of the city] and people told me that these had once been the quarters where the Armenians had lived. People showed me Christian Churches. These were the Churches of the Armenians. People raked over dung heaps and bones and decomposed bodies appeared. These are the bodies of Armenians, people told me.

These are such awful realizations that one is never able to forget them and they evoke the same wish with everyone: God preserve every one of us for this barbarity and for the religious hatred of the Mohammedans!

"...it is not the entire truth that you have seen and heard."

But a Prior of the Franciscan monks, a simple old priest, who undoubtedly stood on the side of the Christians, shook his head, when I started to curse the Turks. “You are mistaken”, he said, “the Turks are not the only ones to blame. Yes, someone who comes from Europe and who wishes to judge Asia with a European understanding will [undoubtedly] condemn the crime of the extermination of this people. But it is not the entire truth that you have seen and heard. You ought to look upon these things through Asian eyes and have understanding for the fact that here two peoples have been going to battle with a hatred and bitterness that are centuries old. One has two mentalities here, the Turkish and the Armenian and both mentalities were saying that one of them had to go down. Everything was arraigned against them and they were made to suffer defeat. But are you convinced that the Armenians, under the same circumstances, would not have done or in fact did exactly the same!? I have my reports from missions, sent forth by my order in Beyazit, Van, Erzurum, Erzincan; from the reports I know that in 1915 when the war with Russia started, it was the Armenians who, behind the Turkish army, were fanning the revolution and who were depopulating Turkish villages and settlements and razed them to the ground. The subsequent events that happened in Turkey afterwards were only the consequences of this first hostile attitude of the Armenians. I admit that horrible things have happened and that never before so much blood was spilt. But the Armenians were not [exactly] innocent in how this bloodbath came about. And when the Turks went further than they had to, then the blame for that does not solely lie with the Turks, but with the mentality of Asia, where the hatred for a people runs deeper than with the European peoples and where war assumes beastly shapes.” Just look at Trabzon, for instance. You have seen the burned down Armenian quarters, but did you also see the burned down Turkish quarters? Did you happen to pay attention to the graves of the Turkish population that were still fresh? No! You can see that when the Armenians found themselves in the same position as the Turks, when they advanced victoriously under the protection of the Russian army, the same spectacle occurred as in the year of 1915, but that time it was the Turks who got it in the neck. Wherever the Armenians found a Turk he was mercilessly hacked down, wherever they saw a Turkish Mosque it was plundered and set on fire. Turkish quarters went up in smoke and flames just like the Armenian quarters. You are presently about to travel round the country and you will still be able to follow in the footsteps of war: Bayburt, Erzincan, Erzurum, and Kars. You will still see smoldering heaps of rubble; you will still smell blood and corpses, but it so happens that these were Turkish corpses.”

The Franciscan Father only told the truth. For months I traveled all across Armenia and Kurdistan and I found confirmation of what people had been telling me. After the withdrawal of the Russian army, which followed after the Russian peace, the troops of the so-called Armenian army, took over the military operations in the occupied Turkish areas. During the Russian occupation the Russians protected the lives and properties of the Turks. What happened after the withdrawal of the Russians is heart rendering. The smallest Turkish settlements were killed down to the last man by the gangs of the Generals Antranik and Murad and churches were destroyed down to the very last stone.

Back then the Armenian expectations were still in high spirits. Their plans were far reaching, and encompassed the entire Turkish state. And they were hoping that they could settle the score with the old hereditary enemy, down to the last man, the last woman, the last child. I have seen ruins in Erzincan where hundreds of bodies of strangled Turks lay amidst the rubble. I have had light shone down wells that were full of bodies. I have seen with my own eyes that graves were opened in which the bodies of men and women were thrown haphazardly across one another, hundreds of them. Who had done this? The victorious Armenians.

"Can one then say that the Armenians were not to blame?"

These spectacles accompanied me on the distant and long road through Upper-Armenia, Kurdistan right up into Russian-Armenia. And is it a wonder that the Turks, when they in their turn became the victors, exacted revenge, repaid evil with evil? I have to admit that during the Turkish advance to Russian-Armenia the murdering was continued by the Turks. On the other side of the border of the Sarikamish the Armenian settlements, of which there were many, were depopulated with the aid of fire and iron. The most bitter of racial hatred was raging against the former victors, presently those who were conquered, in a bestial form, a wild country particular to Asia. Our European brains fail to comprehend this unrelenting hatred that sets people against people whipping them into a frenzy in which the worst atrocities are committed. But we should not forget that Upper-Armenia is a country the civilization of which can be compared to the primitive culture of the European peoples. The peoples there do not form nations, but rather tribes . And just like in ancient times, the meeting of two tribes meant the destruction of one of them, thus in the mountains around Great Ararat, people’s minds are still not directed towards coexistence, but rather towards destruction. In the bare mountains of Upper-Armenia there exists no compromise, only a fight to the death. The victor will live, the defeated can only die.

During my stay in Alexandropol (Gümrü) the following happened, which casts a good light on the mentality of the people there. From the direction of the group of mountains, the Alagöz, people one day heard the thunder of cannons being fired. The Armenian population, which lived in fear behind the Turkish front line, explained this rumble of cannons as that the English were advancing against the Turks. And they were under the conviction that within several hours the Turks would be beaten. Immediately there arose a rebellion behind the Turkish front line, and the weak Turkish posts in the Armenian villages were being terrorized and abused in a most refined way. But the English did not come. A detachment of Caucasian-Armenians had tried to break through the thin Turkish front. Hence the reason for the rumbling cannons. And when the fight was over only a couple of hours later there followed the revenge. The villages, in which Turkish soldiers had been murdered, were destroyed. Can one then say that the Armenians were not to blame?

"Cursed are they who befriend Turks."


In Alexandropol itself, a pure Armenian city, where, despite the Turkish occupation, the Armenians quietly continued to do their work, I often came in contact with leading Armenian figures. They were continually living under a terrible fear that one day due to an ill-considered act of Armenian gangs the Turks would take revenge and that they would then be among the first to bear this revenge. A number of the Armenian people, the best part, were in favor of a peaceful coexistence with the Turks. For it so happened that they were more or less compelled to live together. And in that case only tolerance could put a stop to the murdering. But the greater number of the people and the gangs, the so-called soldiers, did not wish to know of peace. Their slogan was: “Them or us, one will have to go down.”

The men, who preached tolerance and reconciliation, were cursed by the greater part of the Armenian people. People in Armenian circles openly said to me: “At present those Turks are in control. But soon we will be lord and master again and then we will not suffer a single Turk that falls into our hands to live. No agreement is possible between us. We have a score to settle that is centuries old. Our fight is as old as our people. This fight started on the day on which the Turks entered our lands and it will last until the day on which they will be brought down. We do not wish to have reconciliation. Cursed are they who befriend Turks.”

Such was the mood in a time in which the Armenians had no hope ever to be liberated from the Turks. It looked as if the victorious crescent would be making the whole of Russian-Armenia her own.

With this in mind one can judge what happened when the Turks were forced to withdraw and the Turkish settlements once again fell into the hands of the Armenians.

A comparison is only possible between civilized peoples. With the peoples of the wildest [part of] Asia there exists only hatred and destruction. “The Turks are guilty. They have murdered [people].” However, are the Armenians less guilty, who also murdered as soon as they had the power to do so?

One can only judge Asia with Asian eyes.

(Thanks to Sukru Aya and also to Johan B.)

"But there are two sides to every truth" —Steiner

Holdwater's Reflections

Ahh, the Europeans. How they love to present themselves as civilized superiors. Wasn't it an Austrian corporal who rained massive carnage and destruction upon the world in recent world history?

Before we commend the remarkable testimony that you have read, let's put our cards on the table. "Kill or be killed" is a universal concept. Dr. Steiner's nation has had the good fortune to never historically experience the fate of extinction, as the Ottoman Empire faced during and in the aftermath of World War I. (With the implementation of the Sèvres Treaty and murderous Allied-implanted Greeks in the west and murderous Allied-implanted Armenians in the east, there would have been no Turkey today, if not for Ataturk.) But you can bet if some hateful nation had in mind to wipe Austria and Austrians off the face of the earth, all of that superior notion of European civility would vanish, and the ugly, primitive reality of "tribalism" would surface in most Austrians' hearts. (We have seen other evidence of Austrians' acceptance of "tribal favoritism" when Hitler peacefully occupied Austria; a lot of Austrians loved the idea of being part of the Aryan Brotherhood.)

Another notion to be corrected is the Franciscan monk's contention that "two peoples have been going to battle with a hatred and bitterness that are centuries old." The Turks felt no hatred and bitterness toward the Armenians at all (quite the contrary; for centuries, the Armenians were regarded in a brotherly way as the "Loyal Millet"), and even Armenians did not develop their hatred until the later centuries. As these developments grew out of control, and particularly after the coming of the Dashnaks and Hunchaks, it was the Armenians guided by hatred. Not the Turks. The Turks even made sure not to poison the minds of their youth by excluding (in Turkish classrooms) the horrific crimes of Armenians and Greeks perpetrated against Turks/Muslims. Turkish parents also censored themselves, in the noble goal of letting bygones be bygones. The Turks stress brotherhood and love. Too many Armenians and Greeks thrive on the hatred that has been injected into their hearts, from parents, churches and schools.

(Probably the priest was referring not to Turks, but to the Kurdish tribes, where an "ages"-old enmity between Kurds and Armenians existed.)

That is not to say Turks are incapable of hatred; despite what the omnipresent and hateful pro-Armenian propaganda tells us, Turks are actually human beings, and all humans are capable of feeling both love and hate. In point of fact, when we speak of Armenian massacres committed by Turks, the brunt occurred not during the relocation (or what pro-Armenians refer to as "genocide," where the killers were usually Kurds and Arabs) process (where most Armenians died of non-violent reasons), but in eastern Anatolia during the changing tides of war. Dr. Steiner hits it on the head:

"...[W]hen the war with Russia started, it was the Armenians who, behind the Turkish army, were fanning the revolution and who were depopulating Turkish villages and settlements and razed them to the ground. The subsequent events that happened in Turkey afterwards were only the consequences of this first hostile attitude of the Armenians."

In other words, the Armenians fired the first shot, as they almost always have done in Turkish-Armenian conflicts. And this wasn't mere killing; based on accounts of their own allies, the Armenians engaged in the most sadistic deviltries. (The Armenian-sympathizing Raphael de Nogales wrote: "[T]he Armenians felt excessive pleasure at having killed such unfortunate people.") Van resident Mehmet Resit, for example ("p. 105") had only three survivors from his family of twenty-three. So what would be the reaction of any people, even those of "civilized" Europeans, when their loved ones are ruthlessly murdered and mutilated? The human reaction is not a pretty one, but most would think thoughts of revenge. ("Of course they were also killed; were we to look in their mouths while they were killing us? But this happened after they revolted." Read similar comments by Van Turks on "p. 106.")

And that is how Dr. Steiner sized it up above: "Is it a wonder that the Turks, when they in their turn became the victors, exacted revenge, repaid evil with evil?" In other words, as usual, crimes committed by Turks were a REACTION to Armenian ACTION. (However, let's add a caveat: ones who performed violent acts of vengeance generally were the ones whose families had been murdered. The Turks were, by and large, forgiving. Otherwise, 644,900 Armenians could not have remained in what was left of the Ottoman Empire by 1921 [as attested to by the Patriarch himself], and of those who had emigrated, no Armenian would have been allowed to return, as the Gumru and Lausanne Treaties stipulated. Furthermore, as we may learn from Turk-hostile Westerners who were on the spot — such as Near East Relief representatives in Kars 1920 — we know Turkish soldiers behaved professionally and did not engage in massacres.)

And we must thank Dr. Steiner for summing up, in a nutshell, how his feelings reflected those of lazy-minded and prejudiced Westerners, then and now:

"... I was already a sympathizer of the Armenians... I had already heard plenty of revolting details on the Armenian mass murders in Turkish Armenia and the Europeans... attributed blame to the Turks alone and they regarded the Armenians as the innocent victims of Turkish religious hatred and of the bestial passions of a barbaric population."

What comes to mind is Vahakn Dadrian's contention: "It is inconceivable that a military and political ally, during the war, would try, would venture to discredit another ally. It is inconceivable." Now we can evaluate this propagandistic defense for the hot air that it is. The fact that the Germans and the Austrians reluctantly allied themselves with the Ottomans in no way erased their centuries-old prejudices of the "Terrible Turk." Most Germans and Austrians, as we can see from Dr. Steiner's own admission, could not rise above their Christian sympathies and anti-Turkish bigotry, accepting Armenian and missionary-provided tales at face value.

(Incidentally, the passage where Dr. Steiner asked Turks to explain the Armenian situation was most revealing. "With a nod of dismissal, each Turk whom I had asked for information in regards to the pros and cons of the Armenian issue, answered: “Yes, all is true what people say about us. We killed a million Armenians." Turks are perhaps the most incompetent people in the world, when it comes to defending themselves.)

With the world so mindlessly simpatico with the unholy alliance of racist and hateful Dashnak Armenians and their unscrupulous "genocide scholar" allies, hiding behind the "noble cause" of their hypocritically selective "human rights," one must be grateful to honorable Westerners such as Dr. Stephan Steiner, who can manage to rise above their prejudices and allow only for truth to be their determining guide.


----------------------------------------------------

© 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:

www.tallarmeniantale.com/austrian-witness.htm
-----------------------------------------------------

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