Talaat Pasha’s Black Book Documents His Campaign Of Race Extermination, 1915–17, By Ara Sarafian March 13, 2009
The proportion of the Armenian population deported and missing in 1917 according to Interior Minister Talaat Pashas Black Book is shown in black. © 2009 Ara Sarafian, Armenian Reporter (International)
Reader’s Counter Comments By Sukru Aya (Bold & Blue) . .
"[Talaat stated that]... they had already disposed of three quarters of them [Armenians], that there were none left in Bitlis, Van, Erzeroum, and that the hatred was so intense now that they have to finish it. He said they would take care of the Armenians at Zor and elsewhere but they did not want them in Anatolia. I told him three times that they were making a serious mistake and would regret it. He said, We know we have made mistakes, but we never regret."
8 August 1915 diary entry of conversations between Talaat Pasha and U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, United States Diplomacy on the Bosphorus: The Diaries of Ambassador Morgenthau, 1913-1916, comp., ed., and intro. Ara Sarafian (Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute, 2004)
Mr. Sarafian is employed by Gomidas, and despite the fact that he is well informed on many subjects, has been in the Turkish Archives, has my book “The Genocide of Truth” and the facts referred there-in, his concern is not to relay the truths, but to distort them to reconfirm the Genocide myth. In doing so, Sarafian, unscholarly skips the information in other sources; he uses whatever suits him, and adds something from his own, twisting facts. Mr. Morgenthau may be did speak to Talat on that day, but he did not have a tape recorder in his pocket and the in-between interpreter was A. Schimovanian! They had no way to remember verbatim when the book was ghost written by Mr. Hendrick three years later, what and how it was said ! Mr. Sarafian should have quoted verbatim the following conversation as well, noted in the same diary, if he was to be a neutral scholar. (see (P.269 – The Genocide of Truth)
"Zenop Bezjian, vekil of the Armenian protestants called! schimavonian introduced him, he was his schoolmate. he told me a great deal about the conditions in the interior. i was surprised to hear him report that Armenians at zor were fairly well satisfied, that they have already settled down to business and are earning their livings; those were the first ones that were sent away and seem to have gotten there without being massacred. he gave me a list where the various camps are and he thinks that over 500.000 have been displaced. he was most solicitous that they should be helped before winter set."
Mr. Sarafian omits this conversation when claiming that the number of persons displaced as per notes of Talaat were indeed killed. What an intentional fabrication, or sloppy job!
A handwritten black book that belonged to Mehmet Talaat Pasha, the Ottoman minister of interior in 1915, was published in facsimile form in the end of 2008. It is probably the single most important document ever uncovered describing the destruction of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915-17. The Black Book draws on Ottoman sources no longer available to answer many questions about what those sources showed.
Why is Mr. Sarafian surprised? This is a hand written “unofficial personal note book” the contents of which should be taken into consideration alongside with other Ottoman, or Relief-Consular-Memorandum etc. figures. By now, we have to at least admit that owing to the discrepancies between different sources, we can only make an estimate of numbers and for which we should count a +- 10% error margin.
Looking through the Sifre Kalemi or cipher telegram collection at the Prime Ministry Archives in Istanbul some years ago, I was struck by the number of telegrams in 1915 from Talaat ordering the deportation of individual communities, inquiring about the state of convoys, giving instructions for further deportations. What emerged was a picture of a ruler obsessed with the progress of his signature program. Much of the responses to Talaat's inquiries were not available. What the Black Book does is to summarize the data he collected.
Mr. Sarafian contradicts himself, when making negative scenarios and writing history on assumptions. For me, these telegrams show that Talaat was following all movements as best as he could when his country was at war on five fronts, he was short of soldiers, money, food and everything. He makes further assessments, that there were not enough replies to Talaat, forgetting that the only communication line was limited telegram used by all, mainly army.
Turkish state intellectuals in recent years have insisted that the 1915 deportations of Ottoman Armenians were not part of a genocidal exercise, but an orderly population transfer and resettlement. They have insisted that Ottoman archives in Turkey today support their contention. Yet, between them, they have only managed to cite an amalgam of official deportation and resettlement regulations, certain reports related to deportations, and no substantial account of what actually happened to deportees.
Indeed, no historian working in Turkish archives has managed to present a coherent picture of the deportation and resettlement of Armenians from any region in the Ottoman Empire based on Ottoman records. This is because Ottoman records do not support the official Turkish thesis on the Armenian Genocide.
The Ottoman records are good, given war conditions, first time experience of such a vast relocation and shortage of all necessary means. Differences or discrepancies exist also in the various reports and official documents, presented by diverse parties involved in this period or movement. All we can do, is to make an estimate between different figures, considering the dependability or error margins. I am asking, if all Armenian-British-American-French records have the same consistencies? So, why blame Ottoman records only, when they had so many problems?
While there is broad agreement between Turkish archives and other sources that thousands of Armenians were removed from their homes in 1915, there is no solid account of what happened to these deportees in Ottoman records. However, foreign archives, such as the consular records of the United States, give a better qualitative assessment of actual developments than the available Ottoman documentation.
Yusuf Halacoglu, gave a fairly good list of the arrivals and settlements for a portion of the relocations. Mr. Sarafian is demanding too much, overlooking the conditions, shortages and priorities of the hard days! Chapters 14-15 of my book gives quite an extensive analysis from different sources, and there is nowhere any evidence of mass killings or large losses of people, other than the scattered ones due to deprivations, epidemics, starvation. The deaths reported in bilateral banditry according to reports are not even twenty thousand on all sides.
This absence of Ottoman records could seem perplexing, because according to Ottoman regulations, Ottoman officials had to keep detailed records of the deportation of Armenians, as well as an inventory of their properties, as well as details of the final settlement of the people concerned. The total absence of such registers in Turkish archives today is therefore remarkable.
Oh Mr. Sarafian, aren’t you asking-expecting too much in the country side under war and live-or-die conditions?
A Handwritten Book
The recent facsimile publication of Talaat Pasha's Black Book may well answer many questions with the authority of Ottoman records. At 77 pages, the book includes a substantial section on the deportation of Armenians in 1915-17. The book and its content were never disclosed in Talaat's lifetime, including in his posthumous memoirs published in 1921. After his assassination in 1921, the book was kept by his widow and given to the Turkish historian Murat Bardakci in 1982. Mr. Bardakci made parts of the booklet public in Hürriyet newspaper in 2005. The full account was not published until the end of 2008.
Mr. Sarafian, could have at least clarified that Talaat was murdered by a young gunman Tehlerian, and who was acquitted by the German kangaroo court, as if Talaat “deserved to be killed”. Even Generals Sanders and Schellenderdoff, were not called by the court or their affidavits required!
The significance of the Black Book lies in the authority of the owner, the fact that its content was drawn from Ottoman administrative records no longer available to historians in Turkey, and the actual data that it gives about the deportation of Armenians. Neither the book nor the data it yields bear clear dates, though Mr. Bardakci thinks that the figures refer to 19151916 though I think that could be the end of 1916 or even the beginning of 1917.
Messrs Sarafian and Bardakci, admit that there are no dates! Hence, supposing that everything was correctly reported to Talaat by lower officials, we do not know when and if more than one relocation of the same people happened, which is highly probably, because some Armenians went to Russia and came back, some of them sent to Mousual-Aleppo zones, had to be dispersed in smaller settlements later. Under the circumstances, we have to depend on other detailed consular or Relief records and WE DO HAVE THESE, and these do not show a large paradox with the figures of Bardakci.
The state perspective
The data presented in this book can be considered to be a view of the Armenian Genocide from the perspective of the state. This state perspective still needs to be evaluated critically, which I am doing in a separate study. The purpose of this article is to introduce the core data that informed Talaat Pasha about the actual state of Armenians.
Mr. Sarafian is misusing this two page displacement list, to suit his perspective, adding his own core to it!
The statistics regarding the destruction of Armenians in the Black Book are enumerated in four categories covering 29 regions (vilayets and sanjaks) of the Ottoman Empire.
These statistics are supposed to reflect:
The Armenian population in each region in 1914
Armenians who were not deported (presumably 191516)
Armenians who were deported and living elsewhere (1917)
Armenians who were originally from outside the province they were living in (1917)
From these statistics, we can also have an idea of the number of Armenians who were deported but not accounted for in 1917. Some of these missing Armenians undoubtedly fled the Ottoman Empire, such as those in the province of Van (where there was fierce resistance) or parts of Erzurum (which fell under Russian occupation after the Ottoman offensive collapsed in the east). However, very few Armenians were able to flee in such a manner, and for our discussion today, we will assume that the vast majority of the "missing Armenians" in 1917 were killed or died during deportations.
I do have the referred book and I cannot see how the writer can draw above conclusions from page 77, giving the total number of persons (924.158) sent out from their original or secondary homes. Page 109 gives a list of transferred and remaining persons per province, evidencing that no one was sent out from certain West coast cities.
The list concludes that total population inclusive Syrian Provinces was around 1.3 millions with about 300-400.000 Armenians living partly in the cities from where deportations were made. We must bear in mind that Catholics and Protestants were exempted at the end of August 1915 and some families should have returned back to their homes.
The figures from Talaat Pasha's Black Book answer some fundamental questions about the Armenian Genocide. Two such questions concern the nature of the actual deportations of 1915, and the specific fate of those deportees as they were pushed into the deserts of Der Zor, one of the main areas identified for resettlement.
Mr. Sarafian regrettably continues his slanders or blunders. He alleges the word of “genocide” and implies that they were pushed into the “deserts of Der Zor to perish”. Mr. Sarafian knows by looking into the maps, that Der Zor was no desert but rarely populated farmable land on the banks of Euphrates River. I am surprised that Mr. Sarafian is unaware of the part of Morgenthau’s diary about his conversation with Zenop Bezjian, quoted verbatim above!
Talaat Pasha's information contradicts the official Turkish thesis that deportations were an orderly affair governed by Ottoman laws and regulations, or that deportees were actually successfully settled in Der Zor. Interestingly, Talaat's Black Book also shows the number of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire to have been were much higher than supposed by official figures.
No Turkish authority or person claimed that the deportees were successfully settled! They were settled “within the best available and capable means”. As a neutral scholar, he could have added that not even a sack of flour was given by Relief Organizations to Camp Kitchens, which in rare cases even served yogurt to typhus patients, and that the ports were all blockaded by the Allied Navy to starve the enemy the Ottoman people…including the Armenians to which they distributed directly relief supplies, guarded by famished Turkish soldiers.
Talaat’s figures (1.3 millions) are in compliance with the dependable figures on Page 303 of my book and in particular report dated March 1, 1914 by Armenian-French land distribution committee asserting total population 1.280.000 and those in 6-vilayets to benefit from land distribution as 542.421. I hope Mr. Sarafian cannot claim that this report is untrue!
Talaat Pasha's figures confirm that most Ottoman Armenians outside Constantinople were indeed deported, and most of these deportees had disappeared by 1917. On average, 90 percent of provincial Armenians were deported, and 90 percent of those deported were killed. The number of people who went missing was over 95 percent for such provinces as Trabzon, Erzurum, Urfa, Diyarbekir, Mamuret-ul-Aziz, and Sivas. These figures clearly show that deportations were tantamount to a death sentence, and they give credence to United States consular reports that said as much, especially for those deported from the eastern provinces.
Mr. Sarafian, again makes a gigantic slander, which does not become his reputation, by saying that 90% of those who were relocated (924.158) were killed, without submitting any evidence whatsoever!
The numbers of survivors are enlisted on pages 307-308 of my book, and Mr. Sarafian must explain why all of these documents are wrong but his imagination is correct! According to new documents that surfaced after printing of my book, the joint US Congress-Senate report of April 22, 1922 gives a total number of 1.414.000 Armenians alive at the end of 1921; Boghos Numbar officially declared at Paris Conference on Dec.11.1918, that 6 to 700.000 were deported and out of these 390.000 needed urgent help! Report by US High Commissioner in Istanbul addressed to Secretary of State on March 1,1921 gave a detailed list of Armenians distributed over the old Ottoman Empire soil totaling to 624.900, excluding those living in the Republic of Armenia, estimated 850.000 by Lalaian and Katchaznuni, 400-500.000 of which were emigrants that came from Anatolia!
The Der Zor massacres of 1916
The data at hand also tells us about the scale of the Der Zor massacres of 1916. There is general agreement that hundreds of thousands of deportees were sent into this desert region in 191516, the main resettlement zone according to Ottoman decrees. Ottoman sources yield little information on what happened to these deportees. Survivor accounts and sources outside Turkey (such as those in United States archives) attest to the fact that deportees in the Der Zor region mostly wasted away.
The diary and hand note of Morgenthau plus above report of commissioner totally belies this slander. Mr. Sarafian, unless lying, must produce valid archival document, to discard above referred evidences!
By 1917, even those Armenians who had been able to settle in this area, mainly because of the efforts of the provincial governor Ali Suad Bey, were taken away and massacred after a new governor, one of Talaat Pasha's henchmen, was sent. Deniers of the Armenian Genocide who do not have adequate records from Turkish archives cite United States records to argue that up to 300,000 people were sent into this area omitting the fact that practically none of them survived to 1917. Talaat Pasha's records show 6,778 Armenians in this province in 1917.
Mr. Sarafian speaks in general accusations without producing any evidence and hides behind cheap slanders such as deniers! Mr. Sarafian himself is either a DENIER or LIAR of above referred USA-Armenian records!
The Black Book also gives interesting insights into the number of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire circa 1914. While these figures are still smaller than some statistics cited outside Turkey, Talaat Pasha's dataset contradict the figures cited by deniers of the Armenian Genocide, who minimize the number of Ottoman Armenians as part of their strategy.
These again are simple unscholarly cheap talk. I give written records, he writes in general personal opinion.
The Black Book cites official figures from the 1914 Ottoman population survey, with a note explaining that this figure, like the figures for Armenians registered in 1917, should be increased by a factor of 30 percent to account for undercounting.
Mr. Sarafian is distorting or lying again. What Talaat indicated in the footnote on page 109 of his book was: he noted that 80.000 Armenians were living in Istanbul plus another 97.247 in the Anatolian provinces at that time! (1915-1916?) This adds to 177.247. Then, he counts another 106.910 living in the other cities of Anatolia and arrives at the figure of 284.157. He states that this total can be increase by a margin of 30% (85.247) which would mean that about 370.000 persons should be counted alive for that section only!
The note thus increases the main Apostolic (or Gregorian) Armenian community from 1,187,818 to 1,500,000 people before deportations. The note also mentions the figure for Catholic Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as 63,967 (which could also be revised upward to 83,157). There is no figure given for Protestant Armenians. These figures bring the number of Ottoman Armenians, based on official figures, close to 1,700,000 people. According to these figures, the total number of Armenians who were missing in 1917 was around 1,000,000 people. If one discounts those who might have fled to Russia, the number of missing Armenians was still in the region of 800,000 to 900,000 people.
Mr. Sarafian is again jumping into conclusions by his imagination, disregarding solid figures of survivors by 1918-1919-1921 and 1922! Why he prefers not to see the solid numbers referred in my book, plus new ones referred above? Or is this part of his oriented scholarship. A decent scholar does not have the liberty to be selective in sources! Mr. Sarafian, does not see the written ones, and he make his own dreaming. In fact, the number of Protestants and Catholics within the Armenian community has not been separated and is not too important for the argument. It can be found with some additional research but generally speaking, the Protestants should be around 10% or say 130.000 and Catholics around 5% or 65.000, subject to written data and errors. My estimate of the incurred total Armenian losses is a minimum of 300.000 for the period 1914-1918, plus another 180.000 or 200.000 under the Armenian Republic 1918-1921 due to starvation in Armenia. The Armenians which went to Turkey with Russian and French armies, had to go back again to Caucasus and Syria etc. when these armies pulled back. Mr. Sarafian’s imagination is not supported by simple arithmetic and existing irrefutable records!.
Talaat Pasha's Black Book gives us invaluable insights into the type of bureaucratic control Ottoman officials wielded over Armenians and the type of information they gathered as a matter of course. The existence of such information in Talaat Pasha's Black Book again raises the question of what happened to the archival trail that underpinned his data. The Black Book also provides actual details about the apparent destruction of Armenians in 1915-16, and it dismisses the official Turkish assertion that deportations were an orderly affair in moving and resettling people between 1915 and 1916. Indeed, the image painted by the Black Book validates the more impressionistic or passing accounts of atrocities against Armenians reported throughout the Ottoman Empire by foreign observers and survivors between 1915 and 1916.
The two pages of figures given in the book, apparently has given very large intuition and excuse to the writer, to distort-reverse figures and facts. No one said that “deportations were orderly” but the book displays a sincere effort of best trial, without a single word of atrocity or ill treatment. Mr. Sarafian should have seen in the Turkish archives during his studies, that even “scolding, insulting of Armenian deportees” was punishable by order dated July 30,1915 of 3rd Army Commander Mahmut Kamil Pasha.
Conclusion: This article and its objective, to use any available excuse to slander Turks and invent another evidence for Genocide mythomania shows that Ara Sarafian too, (like Taner Akcam, Muge Gocek and Dadrian school) are continuing their propaganda to avoid any rapprochements between the people of Armenia and Turkey, because such pacification will make the existence of institutes such as Zorian, Gomitas and others, as well hate museums and monuments, totally unnecessary, and in which case these trouble mongers will go out of their business! Mr. Sarafian knows that all the damage done to the relatively well doing Armenians living in Turkey, was imposed by Hunchak and Dashnak etc. outside Revolutionists who came to “save their compatriots” but caused all these calamities, and they all ran away. The same game is being played today by the Genocide pipe blowers outside of Armenia keeping the hate fire aflame, on which they roast their stakes in USA or France-Britain, but no loaf of bread or comfort to those living in Armenia! Sad indeed! Compliments for being able to brainwash people with such distortions.
Clarification: I am no “fake scholar” or historian. I am a trying to be a “decent reader” because many shallow historians-writers-politicians take their readers to be “dupe” (Reno Evening Gazette, Oct.15,1915) and I wrote the truths I have found from several sources, not using the Turkish ones which genocide addicts would immediately disqualify as denialist! I imagine there will be a flood of counter comments and bad mouth against this commentary of mine. Before such youngsters (half or quarter of my age) start throwing their mud, I invite them to have the courage to first look into the given references and clarify which Armenian historian-or authority or American official document etc. they find as untrue! If you say “I know them all”, sorry but you have been taught the wrong. If you are right, then teach me my wrong, or else stay quiet!
Sukru S. Aya - Istanbul 25.3.09
This response has been emailed to Mr Ara Sarafian as well as published in Armenia Cafe as a response to Ara Sarafian and no counter comments have been made by Mr Sarafian or received by us.
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Dear Sukru S. Aya:
I am not an expert or historian but I know what genocide is!
Dear Mr. Anonymous,
When speaking on "serious" matters, there is no room for "sentiments, feelings, assumptions" etc. Bare documents do speak. I have no idea about your age, but it looks that you have been brainwashed to believe in it, like you believe in your religion, which you make references and comparisons. When we are speaking "science-bare knowledge" I am sorry that we have "no room for holy books (derived from old pagan stories)". It seems that "you have only read my comment on posting 2788 in reply to Ara Sarafian, and nothing more than that. If you want to discuss matters with me, you have to "pinpoint by documents" where I have talked wrong. For a start I would suggest that you read my essay :
and other essays of Ara Baliozian and mine (over 250). Sir, unless yo read these 50.000 or more pages of diversified sources and knowledge, how can you arrive to conclusions with your simple logic?
Let us ASSUME, Armenians were the “Christian Chechens” seeking real reforms, autonomy or even independence in 1915. Could all these be a reason to “deportee” and annihilate at least 1 million Armenian within a period of two years, using different pre-texts?
I am not sure if "Turkis" knows what "genocide" is and nothing can justify genocide. As I wrote - for a better understanding what “genocide” means- we like to call/"rename" these “rebel and deported Armenian women, men and children” for Turkish nationalist/Genocide denier just “Christian Chechens or Christina Dagestani or Christian Kosovars”- to have a better understanding , what genocide means
In scholarly arguments, "we do not assume" but we base our arguments on "several authentic documents" and arrive to a conclusion, until such time that new evidence, proves that our earlier dependence was wrong. Speaking of "Christian Chechens, Moslem Kosovars" are dangerous distortions which brings no light to what has happened and what we are trying to discover. And please do not teach me the meaning of "genocide" a word that was never used even by Armenian diaspora, until they started to launch their ASALA attacks and fabricated this excuse, which still runs good!
Sukru S. Aya : How comes that after the "deportation” of Armenians always everything become all of sudden “Turkish”? What happened to “Turkish Armenia”? What happened to more than 2500 Armenian churches - ("Culture heritage ad Russian spies too?" ) Just as an example?
Sir, this is not a way to discuss history and I cannot teach you in a few lines, what I learned in several years. You have no right to occupy my time. To the best of my knowledge, I have no clue whatsoever that a staggering figure of 2500 Armenian churches ever existed (not even so many villages existed in those days) and what kind of dependable reference you give for that figure. The answer to your question is the number of Mosques that remained in present Armenia and Caucasus. In 1850 about 60-70% of the population of Erivan were Moslem. What happened to them, what happened to their mosques ?
First the ottoman statistic of Armenian population was falsified for political purpose after „Berliner Congress“.
Turkish historian do not make an mention about the number of “ethnic Turks” (instead Turkish is using the term “Muslims”- Is this not funny – While the same Turkish historians use to divide Armenians in at least three different groups (Gregorian’s, Catholics, Protestants) . Catholic and protestant Armenians were subject to genocide too!
Sir, you are speaking based on hearsay, rumors and ask explanations "blaming the Monster" for what happened. The POPULATION figures are detailed in a chart in Chapter 15 of my book with an explanation of movements, arrivals, deaths etc. If you do nor read and can tell me WHICH ARMENIAN - FRENCH - AMERICAN - LEAGUE OF NATIONS documents and indicating are lie, we can go nowhere. For a start you may write to the US Congress and ask them "how dare they declare 1.414.000 alive" in Russia-Syria-Anatolia on 31.12.1921. If you get a satisfactory answer supporting your view, send it to me so that I can publicly apologize. Make your choice from the various figures but give me PROOF, such as the Land Distribution French-Armenian Committee report dated 1.3.1914 (1.280.000) GIVE ME DOCUMENT, stop empty words!
Armenian Patriarchate Statistics is more trustworthy!
Could you please provide number of “ethnic Turks” (“not Turkish speaking people” but “ethnic Turks”!) for each Ottoman Vilâyet in 1914, by taking in account the non stop flew of “newcomers” to “Anatolia” a and in 6 “Armenian Vilâyets”- West Armenia ?
There is a huge difference in your standards of evaluation of history and mine, I do not think that we are communicating on the same frequency of knowledge, objective and your "racial-religious-national" and similar "fabricated strong faiths" which is your strong belief, no less than your belief in Christ, God and the Heaven which awaits you. I used to think like you up to the last twenty years...Now I no longer believe in these discriminatory nonsense, splitting the people so that the clergy classes can always make a good living, by simply selling "hope and sights in heaven".
Dear Mr Anonymous, I suggest that you at least read Ara Baliozian and "start questioning". You cannot learn anything, if you do not DOUBT what you know, if you DO NOT QUESTION and if YOU ARE UNWILLING TO LEARN AND CHANGE FOR YOUR OWN intelligence and logic.
If you have any questions, they must be based on my previous "excerpts taken from anti-Turkish sources" and must be proven by you to be wrong.
Best of luck Mr. Anonymous, learn for yourself, I will not write you again Good luck, stay happy with what you believe in...
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