3225) German NGO Helps Armenian, Turkish Students Overcome Grudges/ Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform (VAT) Press Relase

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The students found much in common through discussions

Relations between Armenia and Turkey have been tense for decades. But students from both countries are working to improve ties, looking to Germany's reconciliation with the Jewish people and other groups for guidance.

Dusk at Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an eerily beautiful sight. One recent evening, it was also host to an unusual mix of visitors.

A group of Turkish and Armenian students went to the memorial to walk through its somber rows of concrete slabs together. It was a striking scene, given that Armenians have long accused Turks of committing genocide themselves

The visit was part of a weeklong trip that about 20 Turkish and Armenian students made to Berlin to study the German experience of reconciliation with the Jewish people, the French and the Polish. The students also visited a concentration camp, the German parliament, the archives of the German Foreign Ministry and other sites.

The itinerary seemed to invite comparison between the Holocaust perpetrated by Germany in World War II and Ottoman Turkey's massacres of Armenians around World War I. That is a tough charge to swallow, but it was not news to the Turkish students, who had been studying the issue.

"I'm also bitter towards Turkey," said Turkish university student Eda Tarak. "I don't feel offended when I hear something bad about Turkey, because I'm also criticizing Turkey [over its public handling of the massacres]".

Another Turkish student, Burcu Ege, said visiting places like Berlin's Jewish Museum gave her ideas about how Armenians and Turks can reconcile.

"They [Germans] seem quite open to this healing issue," she said. "I would like to see places like this in Turkey, too."

Disputed past

Turkey has disputed the number and nature of the killings

Early 20th century massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turkey are a subject of heated debate to this day. Many scholars agree Ottoman Turkey ordered the deaths of more than 1 million Armenians during World War I, with Armenians marking April 24, 1915 as the start of the killings.

In spite of strong protests from Turkey, governments including France, Belgium and Russia have recognized the events as genocide. Turkish officials have acknowledged some killings, but have said they took place in an Armenian rebellion and that at least as many Turks died during the same period.

Turkey and Armenia still have no diplomatic ties, and their border is closed. Political talks on normalizing relations have stalled, but in 2009 the German Adult Education Association (DVV) started working towards building bridges between students.

Within Germany, DVV promotes community colleges that offer skills training and job qualifications to adults. Outside Germany, the organization has projects in areas ranging from basic literacy to intercultural dialogue in more than 40 countries.

The role of oral history

In 2009, DVV organized a project for students in Istanbul and Armenia's capital Yerevan to research first- and secondhand oral accounts of early 20th century interactions between Armenians and Turks. That work went into both a book and a museum exhibit that is touring Turkey and Armenia. Since 2009, the students have also participated in several conferences together.

Turkey is home to a large Armenian population

In the process, the Armenian and Turkish students, who speak to each other in English, have spent a lot of time working side-by-side. And DVV's Matthias Klingenberg said that interaction is crucial.

"The main challenge is that most Armenians and most Turkish people have never seen a real Turk or a real Armenian from the Republic of Armenia," said the coordinator for DVV's projects in Asia. "You need to get to know each other, and then you can start to talk about problems."

Armenian student Seta Grigorian said the project marks the first time she has regularly interacted with Turks, and that their work has gone smoothly.

"It was interesting that we could notice that both Turks and Armenians have a very similar culture," she said. "It's not actually difficult for us to work together."

New questions

However, another Armenian student said he has been struggling with broader questions about his country's relations with Turkey. Avedis Keshishyan said the Berlin trip gave him food for thought, but in the Turkish-Armenian case, acknowledging genocide so long after it happened might be ineffectual.
Listening to one another is the project's leitmotif

"This slow process doesn't work for the good of reconciliation because there is nobody to reconcile with," he said. "The real victims and the real perpetrators are already dead. If somebody from Turkey apologizes, do I have the right to accept or deny it?"

Nevertheless, Leyla Neyzi, who teaches anthropology at Istanbul's Sabanci University, is optimistic about the impact projects like DVV's could have in Turkey. She accompanied her students on the trip to Berlin.

"Ordinary people might begin to recognize that the history they were taught is extremely one-sided and limited," she said. "Civil society in Turkey will put pressure at the political level to change the official line."

At the end of the week in Berlin, Grigorian summed up what many students got out of the trip.

"I learned about the German-Jewish experience of reconciliation," she said. "I wasn't quite familiar with the process. It was interesting to see how German society came to the mood of reconciliation."

Author: Shant Shahrigian, Berlin
Editor: Martin Kuebler

© Deutsche Welle 2011

Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform (VAT) Press Release (mentioned by a commenter) embedded below



Erika, (24.107.220.xxx) Alton, Illinois, United States said...

This trip,organized by a German NGO, does indeed seem to aim at indoctrinating young minds to believe that there is a correlation between what happened to the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, and, what happened to the Jews a quarter century later, during the Second World War, in Europe.

This is like comparing apples to oranges. The Jews did not have an army; they did not revolt and kill their neighbors; and they did not ask for territory from the Germans. By contrast, the Armenians revolted, burned down Turkish villages, formed an army of over a hundred-thousand men, they sided with occupying forces, and they asked for a chunk of territory on which the Turks, and not they, were the majority. Also, the land that they claim belonged to them did not belong to them since 1071 when the Turks took it from the Byzantine Empire.The Seljuks and the Ottomans ruled over Eastern Turkey, and it has belonged to the Turkish Republic since its founding.

One wonders if the Germans want to have a "partner in crime" that would make them feel that they were not alone in planning a genocide. This would perhaps make them feel less guilty.

Also, one wonders if these young students were told about the Nurembert Trials that found Nazi Germany guilty of genocide; versus the Malta Trials that could not find the Turks guilty of war crimes.

One wonders about the neferious aims of the NGO that organized this trip.


(68.144.5x.xx) Calgary, Alberta, Canada said...

1. "I'm also bitter towards Turkey," said Turkish university student Eda Tarak. "I don't feel offended when I hear something bad about Turkey, because I'm also criticizing Turkey [over its public handling of the massacres]".

I hope Eda Tarak would learn some day what she is doing is called as "having an idea without having any knowledge" Being an university student does not necessarily mean being an educated person and you are a good proof for that.I am so dissapointed about the young people who are speaking about something that they have no clue and they think this is "criticizing".

I would like to say couple of things to Shahrigian;

You say "many historians agree on genocide label" well I say many historians do NOT agree with genocide label! So what are we going to do about that?

The point is; history is not a matter of "conviction, consensus, political resolutions, propaganda, or public relations."

History is a matter of research, peer review, thoughtful debate, and honest scholarship. Even historians, by definition, cannot decide on a genocide verdict, which is reserved only for a "competent tribunal" with its legal expertise and due process.

Now my questions to you ;

1)Why are Armenians afraid of discussing their thesis in historical joint commissions?

New generations may not be aware of these facts. However, their parents and the Armenian authorities are aware of all these fact very well. Remember that in 2004, the Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform (VAT) composed of Austrian, Turkish and Armenian historians was founded to exchange documents about the 1915 events. After receiving 100 Turkish documents, the Armenians abondened the project refusing to continue to fulfil their commitments
(I. Press Release 11.1.2005 Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform – VAT
The Viennese Armenian-Turkish Platform deeply regrets to announce that she will not carry through her starting initiative „The First Viennese Armenian-Turkish Round Table” (FVATR Vienna 2005) originally planned for spring 2005. The reason is that the Armenian partner has not provided us with the necessary confirmation as agreed in August 2004...

On the other hand, the Turkish partner accepted already to participate in the dialogue, in which each part was supposed to present 180 documents on the year 1915 showing their understanding of this delicate matter.


(68.144.5x.xx) Calgary, Alberta, Canada said...

2)Why Armenians have never applied to any court but brought this issue to the parliaments?

3)Why did Armenians not open their archives up till now, while the Turkish archives are open?

4)How can you explain the fact that the Armenians who were most under Ottoman control, those in Western cities such as Izmir, Istanbul, and Edirne, were neither deported nor molested, presumably because they were not a threat.If there was a genocide how come it did not affect all Armenians?

According the Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University:

"The point that was being made was that the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the same as what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany and that is a downright falsehood. What happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale."

5)What do you think about your very own first PM Kachaznouni's confessions about what really happened?

‘… The war with us was inevitable... We had not done all that was necessary for us to have done to evade war. We ought to have used peaceful language with the Turks.. We had no information about the real strength of the Turks and relied on ours. This was the fundamental error. We were not afraid of war because we thought we could win... Our army was well fed and well armed and [clothed] but it did not fight. The troops were constantly retreating and deserting their positions; they threw away their arms and dispersed in the villages. .. In spite of the fact that the Armenians had better material and better support, their armies lost. .. the advancing Turks fought only against the regular soldiers ; they did not carry the battle to the civilian sector. .... the Turkish soldiers were well-disciplined and that there had not been any massacres…’

Source: The 1923 Bucharest Manifesto of Hovhannes Katchaznouni, the first PM of the Independent Armenian Republic, published by the Armenian Information Service Suite 7D, 471 Park Ave., New York 22-1955.

6)Why Armenians ignore the quotes from Joseph Stalin where stated as: “The agents of the Allied Powers are exaggerating Turkey’s campaign in Transcaucasia, take it easy.”

In the rest of the documents, he points out the large scale Armenian revolt against Ottoman military camping before the relocation. In past couple years, historians and their studies in Russia brought significant evidence from Bolshevik archives.


I also would like to point that, you say,

"governments including France, Belgium and Russia have recognized the events as genocide."

The problem is "the politicians are NOT historians". Beware that the parliaments who recognized your genocide thesis, did so, depending on the vote of the Armenians not on the historical documents which were presented them by the Armenians.

(78.187.137.xxx) Ankara, Turkey said...


This German attitude depends acceptance of that the Turks committed a (so-called) Armenian genocide and the death of the Armenians in WWI is equivalent of the Holocaust the criminals of which is themselves.

That is the German attitude demonstrated by this activity and others are not different from the attitudes of the EU and parliaments of some EU countries which had assumed themselves as organs of judgement, not execution, and therefore adopted resolutions recognizing the events occurred in 1915 as a genocide which is the greatest crime of humanity by infringing the 11th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1948) :

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense and No one shall be held guilty of any penal offense on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offense, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed.

Additionally, after the Ottoman State was defeated in the 1st World War in 1918, the English and their allies arrested 144 high level Ottoman veteran or civil Ottoman officials including the ex-prime ministers, ex-deputies, governors and many newspapermen, and banished them to Malta Island, claiming that they were responsible for the death of Armenians.

However, the English authorities had to make them all free in 1921, since they could not find any proof to be able to verdict them neither in the Ottoman Archives to which an Armenian official was assigned nor in non-Ottoman (American, English) Archives.

Here is the letter of Mr WS Edmonds minuted after receipt of Attorney General’s opinion ‘From this letter, it appears that the chances of obtaining convictions are almost nil… ‘The American Government, we have ascertained, cannot help with any evidence…‘In addition to the ABSENCE OF LEGAL EVIDENCE there is the extreme unlikelihood that the French and Italians would agree to participate in constituting the court provided for in art.230 of the Treaty (of Sevres)…. ‘On the other hand we certainly can not release any Turks until our own prisoners are returned…. The proper time for the release of the Turks seems to be when It can be done as part of a general settlement with Turkey.’ ‘It Is regrettable that the Turks have been confined as long without charges being formulated against them….’

(PRO-F.O. 371/6504/E.8745: Minutes by Edmonds of August 3rd,1921)From: Simsir, Bilal. Malta Sürgünleri. Bilgi Yayinevi, Ankara, 1985.

Pay also attention that none of the famous Blue Book a book prepared by the English Propaganda Office, the telegrams of Aram Andonian and the diary of Ambassador Morgenthau which had already been published at that time were accepted as evidences.

Therefore, like these European parliaments, the aforementioned German organization should have found a new and reliable proof of a genocide which could not be found by no means by their ancestors and their allies themselves just at the time of these events.

Until now, no official from Germany and no parliament proposed such an evidence.

(78.187.137.xxx) Ankara, Turkey said...


See the declarations of the non-Turkish scholars who disagree with the tale of Armenian genocide:

Many Reputable Scholars Challenge The Conventional, One-Sided Anti-Turkish Narrative And / Or Refrain From Alleging The Crime Of Genocide.


Moreover, here are evidences, some of which are Armenian, showing that Armenian genocide thesis depends on forgeries, distorted historical documents and lies:


Unfortunately, the real feelings that drove the German to make such organizations, spending their own money, is far away from humanistic and sincere feelings.

If they really were regretful for the Holocaust and wanted to heal the wounds of the Jews really, they should have made this study together with the Armenian and the Jews, since the Armenians closely cooperated with the Nazi in the Holocaust, as documented in the following documents:

** A report in The Times, (19.7.1941,p.5) claimed that the Nazis had picked on the Dashnaktsutiun to do fifth-column work, promising the party an autonomous state for its cooperation.

Some excerpts from the document signed between Nazi Germany and the European Dashnak Council which was made public on February 15, 1943:

1.The Armenian National Council was organized in Berlin under the patronage of the Ministry of the Eastern Occupied Areas on December 15th 1942. Thus, the Armenian National Council undertakes to become an agent between Germany and the Armenians.
3. In order to carry out these objectives and programs freely, to achieve and to establish them firmly, the Armenian National Council considers the political protection of the German Reich over Armenia the most secure guarantee..
7. The Armenian National Council is convinced that the efforts of its people should be crowned with success because Armenia, through the powerful help of the German Reich, will become a self-governing country and such, will be built up…
8. The Armenian National Council will do everything to facilitate the work of its patron government, including the national wealth of the land, taking into consideration the economic reconstruction of Armenia and the interest of the two peoples…
11. Realizing the historic, political, economic and cultural intimate ties between Great Germany and her protectorate, Armenia, the Armenian National Council will consider it its high duty to strengthen these mentioned ties and torender them unbreakable. For this purpose are already called, and hereafter will be called, those auxiliary Armenian forces, which are now active and fighting with the Germans for final victory and liberation.
12. The Armenian National Council is an agent in the present period of transition. Its jurisdiction and activity cease the moment when, under the leadership of Germany and the help of the Armenian National Council, a new government is created in Armenia.

*Armenian Lalaian stated ‘All groups were under the protection of the enemies of peace. Hitler was using the Armenians (Dashnaks) as German troublemakers; they served Japanese militants and got arms from them. Polish officers and others used them as well (A.A.Lalayan’s Editorial. Kaynak Yayinlari, pg. 52)

(78.187.137.xxx) Ankara, Turkey said...


Then, what does drive the German and the Europeans to conclude that the Turks committed an Armenian genocide?

There is not any reasonable answer other than that the German and the other European people WANT to think that the Turks not only committed a so-called Armenian genocide but also the first genocide of the 20th century, so as to be able to reach the relieving conclusion that other nations (mainly the German) exemplified the Turks!

It is a fact that Germany is also one of the main founders of EU and also the prime oppositional country which vehemently resists to joining of Turkey to the union. From the speeches of the German officials, we, of course can recognize their dislike which reaches the extremes of hatred, towards the Turks!

The German activity introduced in the above article displays the great effort of the German to get rid of their guilt which they suffered deeply, by projecting them to the shoulders of the Turks whom they hate.

By this way, the German WANT to FORGET that they are themselves who are the criminals of the first genocide of the 20th century also, which they perpetrated upon people of Herero and Nama , in Naminya (the then name: German Southwest Africa) during 1904-1907 and do not WANT TO REMEMBER that these events were recognized as the first genocide of the 20th century in the Whitaker Report of the United Nations in 1985 and in 2004 Germany admitted its crime and the then German Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul had to say ‘As Germans, we acknowledge our historical responsibilities and mistakes on these events’.

However, I am afraid the German have not evaluated the physiological conjuncture of the WWI and II properly yet. I want to remind them the generally accepted view that the humiliated pride of the German by the relentless Versailles Treaty had been the main predisposing factor that drove the German to support the Hitler regimen.

The Turks, no matter how much the German dislike and hate them, are sensitive on their honor as much as the German, at the least.

And today, the German themselves are making the same mistake of hurting the pride of a nation, the pride of the Turks, in cooperation with the other members of the EU.

So, are they aware that they chose the Turks as the new JEWS and the new sin goats of our era?

We have already realized that the king named EU is naked and is suffering from a large tumor which consists of remnants of Ancient Rome Democracy, remnants of the dark years which Galilei Gallileo fought, remnants of Crusader soul and very little, if not, spirit of Renaissance and Magna Carta! We do not have anything to share with it.

Neither of us, the Europeans including the German and the Turks need to cooperate and live under the same union as EU. It depends us to be or not to be in the same union: EU.

However, it is certain that we do not have any choice other than living on the same earth! The German and the European should reconsider what they want very well. Is what they want another World War?

I recommend them read the article of Guillaume Perrier in Le Monde about Turkey,
and about a probable WW III !

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