1666) Inside Constantinople During The Dardanelles Expedition : Book Review

A Diplomatist’s Diary, April – September 1915

By Lewis Einstein, Former Minister Plenipotentiary United States Diplomatic Service; Late Special Agent at the American Embassy, Constantinople

Published in 1917, London . .

In an article, ‘’Who is justified to Talk About the so-called Armenian Genocide’’(1), Assist. Prof. Dr. Yucel Acer states that ‘’Distortion of the past events is unavoidable in most cases simply because what happened in the past is widely dependent on the writings of some insiders and statesmen, who are themselves directed by feelings and concerns. If historians comment on these writings with further preferences in their minds, the oucoe is inevitably one-sided account of these events. Thus, rather than to explain truthfully the past to illiminate the now and the future of us, the history is sometimes used in the hands of some as a tool of propoganda to manipulate the present and future world affairs for specific interests and purposes.’’

The book by Lewis Einstein is an example of such distortion of what really happened in 1915. The diaries covers the period from April to September 1915, a crucial time in the history of the Ottoman Empire, when Armenians claim that a genocide was carried against them. The main topic is the Dardanelles Expedition that started with the naval attack on March 18, 1915. However, the author constantly refers to massacres throughout his diaries which he hears about without giving any specifics. The diaries begin on April 23 and this is what he records on April 24, 1915:

April 24 – The Director of the Bon Marche called here this morning at the Embassy. The police entered his premises yesterday and seized some French toy soldiers. To-day, he was asked to sign a paper by which he acknowledged French uniorms, flags, and military emblems had been found in his possession. Word will be sent to Bedri (The Chief of Police) not to allow his men to make themselves ridicilous. When I mentioned it at dinner at the C.’s, Munir Bey flared up and said that it was impossible.

I have just heard that my old Turkish master, G. Bey, is editing their news bulletins of victory. He is strong Committe man now. Once he told me that the Committee and the enemies were ‘’Tous les deux des canalies,’’ and wept at his country’s fortunes.

That is all. No mention of the arrest of Armenian revolutianaries and the agitators by the Government authorities on April 24, which has been selected as the alleged Armenian Genocide commemoration day since 1965. Mr. Einstein spends most of his time at dinner parties, balls and excursions with the staff from various Embassies. He never mentions the US Ambassador Morgenthau, who is famous for his diaries also, which led to the publication of a book, ‘’The Murder of a Nation’’ from one of his chapters by the Armenian organizations.

On April 25, he writes that ‘’word came of the bombardment at the Dardanelles and that the Allies were landing’’. On May 11, Epstein states that ‘’the Allies secured their first landing at Ari Bournu, where a Turk was in command’’. There is no mention of Mustafa Kemal, who fought against the invading Anzacs commanding the 57th Regiment which was lost to the last soldier. This was a turning point not only in the Turkish but also the World history.

In the preface of his book, Mr. Epstein states that he had resided in Istanbul from 1906 to 1909 first as secretary, and later as Councillar and Charge de Affairs at the American Embassy, a powerful poisition with access to all the information in and outside of Constantinople. He was sent there again in 1915 by the Secretary of State as Special Agent to assist the Ambassador. The Dardanelles Expedition, the author claims, propelled him taking daily notes, and later, publishing it as a book. Without any proof, he boldly states that ‘’The policy of murder than carried out was planned in the coldest blood’’.

The author also mentions the expulsion of Jewish families living along the Bosphorous, referring to them as the children of Jews fighting in the Turkish army, which I have not come accross in any other book. Epstein writes about the expulsion of Armenians from Zeitoon (Suleymaniye), a town in southeastern Turkey, but does not mention the Armenian uprisings that caused the expulsions. On the capture of Van by the Russians on April 11, 1915, he mentions the excessives of the Armenian Volunteers in the Russian army, but no mention of the destruction of the Moslem quarters of the city. Than he makes reference to the members of the Committee of Union and Progress interned at Malta.

His main thesis is that if the fatal attack of the Allies on March 18 had never occurred, the massacres of the Armenians might have never taken place. However, Mr. Epstein conveniently ignores the uprisings of the Armenians and the killing of Turks by the Armenians. On the relocation of the Armenians in the central and eastern Anatolia, Mr. Epstein refers to this as ‘’massacres and officially styled deportations, undertaken under the plea of military necessary.’’<(b> The last entry in the book is on September 15 when he departs to Sofia as American Diplomatic representative in charge of British interests, which might have led him to work with Prof. Toynmbee on his infamous ‘’Blue Book’’.

This is a book that has been in print for close to 90 years, read by the thousands and used as reference by the Armenians and their supporters. The diaries are all one sided, never mentioning the nationalistic ambitions of the Armenians and the activities of the revolutinary parties that later sided with the Russians and took over the city of Van, killings thousands of Turks.
The book, which was located at a bookstore of historical books in London, was donated to the Institute of Armenian Research in Ankara, within the ASAM Center for Eurasian Strategic Stdies, which has an extensive library, so it can be made available to interested readers.

Yuksel Oktay
New Jersey, USA
March 1, 2005

(1). Review of Armenian Studies – A Quarterly Journal of History, Politics and International Relations. Vol 2, No 5 2003. Published by the Institute for Armenian Research.

Copyright © 2003-2004 Turkla.com


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