Updated at 15 Dec 2011
November 16, 2011
Reflections on the Inner-Turkish Debate on 1915/1916
Why does Turkey have such difficulty in dealing with its historical past? Why can the Turkish authorities not acknowledge that in 1915 the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire was the victim of genocide? If the German post-war political elite was capable of facing up to the Holocaust and establishing relations with the Jewish people, in Israel and elsewhere, why cannot the Turkish leadership do as much?
The question was raised during a seminar in Potsdam, Germany on November 5, on “The Inner Turkish Discussion of 1915/1916.”
Other issues discussed were the history of Turkish denial and . . .
how Turkish publications have attempted to deal with this, as well as subjects related to the genocide itself, the fate of the survivors, and how Armenians have been struggling with their traumatic past. What made this gathering sponsored by the Lepsiushaus in Potsdam quite special was the list of guest speakers, almost all of them prominent Turkish intellectuals, most of them from Turkey. Their task was to present the current status of the discussion process inside the country regarding 1915/1916.
The title of the event itself is symptomatic of the problem: instead of referring to the Armenian genocide, one had to cite "1915/1916," perhaps to protect those Turkish participants from being subjected to punitive measures from state authorities on their return home. In fact, one planned guest speaker, Ragib Zaragolu, a prominent publisher who has issued books on the Armenian question, was prevented from attending the conference by an arrest on October 28, when he, along with 48 others, were detained on trumped-up charges of membership in or association with a terrorist-linked organization.
Thus, the Potsdam gathering was a special event, because the themes addressed and the personalities involved constituted a challenge to the current Turkish establishment, albeit neither political nor militant, but nonetheless a challenge on the intellectual/psychological level.
The comparison to the German treatment of the Holocaust was historically relevant and instructive. In answer to the question, why Turkey has such difficulties in dealing with its past, some suggest that they fear demands by the Republic of Armenia and/or the Diaspora for territorial concessions and reparations, the latter on the German model. But there is more. Elke Hartmann, an Ottoman expert from Berlin, explained that Turkey, unlike Germany, was neither defeated nor occupied. To be sure, the Ottoman Empire lost in World War I, but the Turkish Republic emerged victorious from its struggle for national sovereignty and independence. In post-war Germany, it was the occupying powers who organized the Nurnberg trials which tried, convicted, and executed leading Nazis for crimes against humanity. In subsequent years, especially in the 1960s, historians worked through the Nazi experience, and the broader German public was educated about the reality of the Nazi regime.
In Turkey, immediately after the Ottoman defeat, trials were also held and leading Young Turk officials who had not managed to flee the country, were put on the dock, convicted, and in some cases executed. Others, including the leading figures Talaat Pasha and Jemel Pasha, were hunted down in their exile and assassinated by Armenian assailants. But after the establishment of the Republic in 1923, Mustafa Kemal declared the assassinated Turks to be martyrs, and, where possible, had their remains returned to Turkey for heroes’ burials. To grasp the import of this act, one should reflect on what would have happened had Konrad Adenauer rehabilitated Goring.
As Rober Kaptas, the new editor in chief of AGOS, Hrant Dink’s newspaper, explained, the 1919 trials had been made possible because an opposition government had come into power after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the flight of the leading Young Turks. One could write about it, discuss it openly, and Turks knew a lot about the genocide in 1919. But with the establishment of the Turkish Republic under Mustafa Kemal, that changed radically. He arranged for 150 CUP members on trial in Malta to be freed, and redefined the perpetrators as martyrs. Thus, the policy of "forgetting" began with the establishment of the Republic.
The Phases of Denial
The history of the Turkish Republic's handling of 1915/1916, was summarized by Elke Hartmann, who stepped in for Prof. Dr. Halil Berktay on short notice. In a speech on "1915 and Scientific Reappraisals since the founding of the Turkish Republic: Between State Guidelines and Freedom of Research," she showed how at the time of the events, the perpetrators knew exactly what they were doing, and demonstrated it in their memoirs, for example, those of Talaat, which well full of justifications for what had occurred. After Turkey's independence war, the policy was one of silence and forgetting. Attempts from the outside to address the genocide, as in the 1934 film on Musa Dagh, were blocked, then and again in 1938, by Turkish political pressure.
Although the dramatic revelations of the dimensions of the Holocaust after World War II overshadowed discussion of the Armenian genocide, in 1965, when Armenians abroad demonstrated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their tragedy, and began to erect monuments, the issue was again on the political agenda. A turning point occurred in 1973, when the first Turkish diplomat was assassinated by an ASALA assailant, which inaugurated the wave of revenge killings. This, Hartmann said, led to a policy change in Turkey, in that the Turkish authorities decided to present their own version of events. As Koptas put it, after the ASLA assassinations began, Turkey realized that “they had a 1915 problem."
According to Hartmann, historians in the West, especially Turkologists in the US, enjoyed Turkish support for research and access to archives to develop a literature of denial. Following the 1980 military coup, a campaign was launched in Turkish schools to educate (or better indoctrinate) youth on 1915. This campaign, which unfolded in parallel with the natural process of dying out of the survivor generation, fixated on so-called "proofs" that the genocide did not occur. Author Marc Nishanian has dubbed Turkish historiography in the 1990s as a "historiographical perversion," in that researchers admitted that perhaps hundreds of thousands of Armenians had perished in 1915, but questioned the "significance" of this "fact." Nishanian's view was that a "fact" without significance is not truth. Some Armenian scholars responded with an attempt to accumulate ever more "facts."
The Grandchildren Speak Out
The breach in the wall of denial came with the appearance of Fetiye Cetin's groundbreaking book, My Grandmother, in 2004 followed by the assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007. Cetin's autobiographical account of her discovery that her grandmother was an Armenian who had survived the genocide unleashed a literary-political-psychological revolution. She may have couched her story in terms of "bitterness" and "pain" instead of using the banned word "genocide," but her moving account opened the minds and hearts of thousands of Turks, and, as both Hartmann and Koptas stressed, made it possible for Turks to discuss the matter for the first time in their lifetimes. (It was a special treat to have the gracious author Fetiya Cetin on hand in Potsdam, and to hear extracts from her book presented in an evening session in German translation.)
In 2005, as Dr. Ayse Gul Altinay of Sabanci University in Istanbul reported, Cetin's book had already become a best-seller and university conferences have dealt with the issue. In her speech on "The Survivors from 1915 in the Testimonies of their Descendants Living in Turkey," Prof. Altinay actualized the issue by posing very direct, pertinent questions: what should one say as a Turk to Fetiye Cetin, perhaps, “I'm sorry about your grandmother?” What should one say if one were to meet that grandmother?
She reported on other books that have since appeared, taking up similar themes. What this indicates is that the "grandchildren generation," those whose grandparents were victims of the genocide, has broken the silence. These are not isolated cases but examples of a sociological phenomenon: here a Turk, there a Turk is discovering he or she had an Armenian grandmother. Altinay and Cetin collaborated on an exciting project interviewing 25 people from this generation. In their book, Les petits enfants (Actes Sud), they present the drama of Turks in this age group who have begun to explore their family histories, to ask who their grandmothers were, and where they came from. In Dr. Altinay's terms, these are Armenians who are "coming out of the closet," that is, openly acknowledging their Armenian heritage.
"Assimilation" of the Women and Children
On the one hand the policy of the Young Turks was to eliminate the Armenians, through killings, starvation, and deportations, as Dr. Ugor Ü. Üngör from Utrecht University, reviewed. If the Armenians before 1915 had 2500 churches and 2000 schools among their 2900 Armenian settlements, what remained in 1918 were 6-7 churches in Istanbul, and no cloisters or schools. The Young Turks targeted first the intellectuals and civic leaders, then confiscated Armenian property, then killed through executions and deportations. On the other hand, they also had a policy of forced "assimilation": that is, that Armenian women and children, especially young girls, should be spared, forced to convert to Islam, and to marry Turks.
Fethiye Cetin's grandmother comes out of this process, as so many others. Figures on how many Armenians were involved are hard to come by and historians’ estimates vary; Vahakn Dadrian spoke of thousands of young orphans, 10,000 girls who were taken as concubines or wives; Balakian refers to thousands of forced converts, and Serafian, to 20,000 orphans. Who knows how many Armenian women and children, especially girls, were taken into Turkish homes, converted to Islam, and given Turkish names? Although some figures for the dead are given in Turkish records, there are no reports of the survivors, a term, in fact, which is not used. How many are they? It is almost impossible to determine. But if the number of “assimilated” after 1915 was tens or hundreds of thousands, then their offspring and grandchildren could exceed a million today.
It is the grandchildren of these forcibly "assimilated" Armenian females who are now openly raising the question of their parentage and ethnic identity. They are tugging on a thread of yarn which threatens to pull the entire fabric of denial asunder.
The implications of this process are vast and profound.
For those Turkish citizens who have discovered an Armenian (or Kurdish) grandmother, there are two questions that emerge: first, why didn't I know about my Armenian parentage? Then: What happened to the Armenians in 1915? These are the explosive questions that are punctuating a widespread sociological discourse in Turkey today. In parallel, as certain Armenian churches are being reopened and allowed to host services, there are a number of Turkish citizens presenting themselves for baptism, albeit anonymously to avoid harassment. This was the case at the reopening of St. Giragos (Surp Giragos) Church in Diyarbakir on October 22. In short, there is a slow, but steadily expanding process of rediscovery among Turkish citizens of Armenian descent of their heritage.
The publication of Cetin's My Grandmother was a watershed of historic dimensions. The assassination of Hrant Dink in January 2007 was another. As Koptas, his successor, related, Dink and Cetin were different heroes, but both presented Turks with the existential question: where do I come from? When Dink was killed, many Turks linked his fate to the historical dilemma. They asked themselves: well, if they killed him, maybe they also killed the Armenians in 1915. What really happened then? Dink, he stressed, introduced a new political language in Turkey and posed the need to face the Armenian question as part of the process of democratization: if Turkey wants to become a democratic state, then it must deal with 1915, he insisted. Koptas also pointed to the case of Hasan Jemel, grandson of Young Turk triumvirate Jemel Pasha, who went to Yerevan and paid homage to the genocide victims at the genocide monument. Hasan too is of the grandchildren’s generation.
The Threat to Turkish Identity
To return to the question posed at the onset: why is it so difficult for Turkey to deal with its historical past? What became clear at least for this writer during the Potsdam conference is that the challenge Turkey faces is not primarily political or economic; it is not solely an issue of Armenian reparations or territorial claims or the like. The issue is Turkish identity. If the Turkish establishment were to acknowledge reality, that 1915/1916 was genocide, then it would have to acknowledge that the Young Turk regime of 1915 was responsible. This would raise questions about the credibility of the Ataturk regime from 1923 on which rehabilitated the Young Turk leaders.
As Koptas noted, “Turkishness” was the very foundation of the Republic; the State tried to force the issue of identity, making Alevites into Sunnis and treating Greeks and Armenians as special groups whose numbers were to be reduced. When confronted with eye-witness accounts of the 1915 massacres, the State would respond that the Armenians were “traitors” who had to be punished.
But a nation erected on the basis of a lie cannot have the moral capacity to endure. The Turkish Republic of Mustafa Kemal was built on the lie that the genocide never occurred, and the corollary lies that the Armenians were Russia’s fifth column, traitors who had to be punished.
In purely ethnic terms, the proceedings of the Potsdam conference pose the question: how many Turks are actually ethnic Armenians or at least partially so? What, then, does it mean to be a Turk? If the actual population of Turkey today is multiethnic, then where does the Turkish identity lie? Is it ethnic? Is it religious? How can a young Turkish student – perhaps with Armenian ancestors -- go to school in the morning and recite an oath exalting his Turkishness?
Interestingly, there has been much discussion over recent years of a “new Ottomanism,” which is usually presented in regard to Turkey’s foreign policy thrust towards strengthening relations with its neighbors, many of whom were subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Without caving in to temptations of regional hegemonism, such thinking could perhaps help in facing the national identity crisis which is quietly exploding in Turkey. Recognizing multiethnicity in the Turkish population could provide a way of liberating it from the implicitly racist constraints of “Turkishness” and assist in the process of finally dealing with the 1915 genocide.
Koptas said he was confident that, by following Hrant Dink’s approach of educating the Turkish people about their past without wounding them in the process, they would be able to “mourn and accept” and sympathize with the Armenian people. Dink’s insistence on grasping the psychological dimension of the problem was crucial: that one must deal with both the trauma of the Armenians and the paranoia of the Turks. This process of social awakening must develop from the grass roots level upwards – and that is what is occurring. As for the State, Koptas was straightforward: he expressed his desire for a Willy Brandt to emerge in Turkey –referencing the German Social Democratic leader who fell to his knees at the Warsaw Ghetto, in recognition of, and apology for the crimes of the Nazi regime against the Jews.
Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is the author of Through the Wall of Fire: Armenia – Iraq – Palestine: From Wrath to Reconciliation. She can be reached at email@example.com and www.mirak-weissbach.de.
Related Post: Politically Motivated Misuse of History: An Analysis of Muriel Mirak-Weissbach’s
Comments By Sukru Server Aya
I barely glanced-scanned this "trouble-mongering" article based on "grand-ma stories, distortions, inversions, omissions etc"
funded by Germans (like other German Fundings in Turkey). The names given as "Turkish participants" are all pre-arranged, pro-Kurdish, pro-Armenian, anti-anything negative on Turks and Turkey. How such characters carry a Turkish passport to debase their own country "without a shred of valid documents" other than "stories" or novel books, is an ethical wonder.
More dramatic is the fact that the Germans who funded this seminar to blame Turks, are completely ignorant of the Armenians Nazi Legions in WW II (22.000 of them and 5.400 special SS troops) who were the major players in the Jewish Holocaust. I see that the Ex-Nazi friendship and collaboration works well even today.
The superb thing to show the complete ignorance and naivety of the German organizers and speakers, as well as Turkish names invited and hosted by them is: their unawareness that the Commander in Chief of the Ottoman Army was a German General Liman von Sanders and his aide General Bronsart von Schellendorf was deputy of Turkish War Minister - even signing in his name! So, who gave the order for relocation of the Armenians who were revolting and engaging the army in the rear? Was it the Turks who followed orders or the Germans commanding Turks!
Scholarship and history deserves decency and seriosity? Did those reputed names read "any of the E-books or many articles on this blog site"? No! So, they are speaking palavers thinking the rest of the world is dupe or ignorant like themselves!
If space will be given, I can slice that article with bare (documented) facts which will embarrass them and the journalist Muriel Mirak - Weissbach (of Armenian parents) in their efforts to implant frictions, animosity to end in hostility.
Can Germany Mediate Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation?
by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
October 31, 2011
In 2005, the German Bundestag passed a resolution calling on the German government to facilitate a process of Armenian-Turkish understanding and reconciliation. Now, six years later, scholars and civil society activists are asking: what has been achieved since then? This was the subject of a one-day seminar on “The Armenian Genocide and German Public Opinion” on September 22, organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation at its Berlin headquarters. That resolution, presented by all parliamentary factions and voted up, called on Berlin to contribute to such a process by encouraging an honest examination of the historical record. This included demands for the release of historical documents both from the Ottoman archives and copies of documents given by the German foreign ministry to Turkey, and the establishment of a historians’ commission with international experts. The aim of such efforts was to encourage the Turkish authorities to deal with the 1915 genocide and move towards reconciliation and normalization of relations with the Republic of Armenia. Guaranteeing the freedom of opinion in Turkey, especially regarding the Armenian question, was stressed. Although the motion did not call on the German government to recognize the genocide in those terms, in the statement of grounds for the initiative, it referenced the fact that “numerous independent historians, parliaments, and international organizations term the expulsion and extermination of the Armenians as genocide.”
International historians presented updates on the status of genocide research: Prof. Raymond Kevorkian of Paris, who has written widely on Armenian history including an authoritative account of the 1915 events, gave an overview of the history of genocide studies, Swiss researcher Hans-Lukas Kieser and German researcher Wolfgang Gust discussed the German role on the basis of official documents, and considerable discussion revolved around whether the Germans, allied to the Young Turks in World War I, were co-responsible or complicit, what they knew when, and what they did or failed to do to stop it. Gust, who has been publishing the German Foreign Ministry archive material on the issue, said Berlin knew in real time what occurred and had the power to intervene but did not. The war provided the context for the genocide, as Kieser stressed, and it was the Young Turks who sought the alliance with Germany, after which the Germans pushed for their engagement in the conflict. One important point made by Gust was that, contrary to official Turkish propaganda that the Armenians constituted a military threat to the Ottomans, there is no trace of any such view in the German archives.
Following discussion of the historical developments, the seminar turned to reports by civil society activists involved in trying to engage members of the Armenian, Turkish, Kurdish, and German communities in a dialogue process about their common tragic past. Sophia Georgallidis of a Greek community association, summarized the proceedings of a workshop held in Cologne last October, where various projects were presented, from the Hrant Dink Forum in Cologne (and now Berlin), to Ali Ertam’s Association of Genocide Opponents in Frankfurt, to this author’s “Project 2015,” to the well-known study excursions to Berlin organized by Turkish-born German author Dogan Akhanli and others of Recherche International in Cologne.
Akhanli himself described his group’s extensive tours of Berlin, where participants visit historical sites linked to these events, hear lectures, and engage in discussion with experts. Sites include the place where Young Turk leader Talaat Pasha was assassinated, as well as monuments commemorating victims of the Holocaust and Stalinist terror.
Toros Sarian, an Armenian journalist and editor from Hamburg who publishes the online magazine ArmenienInfo.net, reported on his local grass roots organizing: in response to a leaflet campaign following Hrant Dink’s murder in 2007, a thousand people demonstrated three days after the assassination. This led to a Round Table event in Hamburg the following April and, in 2010, to a series of commemorative events around the April 24 anniversary of the mass arrests in Constantinople, culminating in an ecumenical gathering of 800 people – Turks, Kurds, Germans, and Armenians, among others.
If such grass-roots initiatives have contributed significantly to educating citizens about the past, especially the Armenian genocide, there remains much to be done, especially on the level of formal education. Here, the issue of history text-books becomes critical. As noted in the seminar, in Germany the state governments are responsible for curricula, and, if progress is to be made, these institutions must take up the challenge. Thus far, Brandenburg is the only state which has succeeded in presenting the Armenian genocide to pupils in history classes – and did so prior to 2005. Opposition to such teaching by informal Turkish lobbyists has thus far prevented other states from addressing this subject, among other controversial issues.
Two other projects presented at the seminar illustrated the power of dialogue in seeking understanding among members of former adversary populations.
„ I am not the Murderer, not I“
One exciting project is a special attraction for student audiences, and could fill an important gap in curricula regarding the genocide of 1915. This is not a classroom lesson but a theatrical reading presented by actors and actresses, to musical accompaniment. The piece, entitled “I am not the Murderer, not I,” is the brainchild of Heinz Böke, from the German Bundestag. How he came to develop the idea is instructive. As he related to the conference participants, “until four years ago I knew nothing about the Armenian genocide, simply nothing.” He responded to his upsetting discovery by looking into the history, which included a visit to Armenia. In the course of his extensive research in Germany, he came across the court records of the trial held on June 2-3, 1921 of the young Armenian, Soromon Tehlerjan (also Soghoman Tehlirian), who gunned down Young Turk leader Talaat Pasha on a Berlin street in broad daylight on March 15, 1921. Böke saw the educational potential in the historical event, as documented in the court records, and, in collaboration with others, put together a play, “The Talaat Pasha Trial – A Theatre Project for Intercultural Studies,” which debuted in 2010 and has been performed in several German cities since then.
Talaat, as Böke recalled, had escaped to Berlin with German help after the end of the war. The young Tehlerjan had been deployed by the Armenian commandoes known as “Operation Nemesis,” to hunt down and assassinate Young Turk criminals wherever they could be located. The trial examined not only the crime but also the assailant’s motivations: why did he kill Talaat? What had Talaat done? The assassin later explained his action with the words, “I killed a man, but I am not a murderer.” Talaat, he meant, was the mass murderer. The court ruled that Tehlerjan was of unsound mind and could not be considered guilty, and acquitted him.
The performances of the theatrical piece open with a 10-minute introduction by Böke on the historical background. After an Armenian song, the work unfolds in a series of 16 scenes documenting the trial. The actors come from different ethnic/cultural backgrounds, Turkish, Armenian, German, Austrian, etc., and at the end of the performance, a discussion takes place with the public. When presented to student audiences, the actors may interrupt the action just prior to the jury’s decision, to allow students to say what they think the verdict should be.
This is not theatre in the conventional sense of the term, certainly not theatre as entertainment, but rather theatre as an educational medium to challenge the minds and open the hearts of viewers to consider historical events they may never have heard of. The historical context of the piece – Ottoman Turkey and the 1915 genocide -- poses the question of whether or not peoples of different ethnic/cultural/religious backgrounds can coexist or not. Students watching the play are thrust into the historical context and must think through the choices that historical personalities at the time faced.
In the discussions held at the end of the play, three main themes are dealt with: the problem of violence as a political tool, a theme only too relevant for students who read of terrorism every day; the enhanced readiness for violence among some layers of youth in Germany today, for example, in right-wing extremist milieux; and the question of guilt. Those involved in the project have taken care to stress that it is not a question of attributing guilt to Turks or Turkish immigrants in Germany, but to document that the 1915 genocide was the work of the Young Turk regime in power at the time.
The theatre project has met with resounding success wherever it has been presented, and its organizers plan to expand performances for schools as well as for the general public.
“Speaking to One Another”
The other institutional initiative, presented by Matthias Klingenberg of the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Assocation (dvv), was the research project, “Adult Education and Oral History Contributing to Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation.” This project, financed by the German Foreign Ministry, brought together ten university students from Turkey and ten from Armenia who received training in October 2009 in conducting oral history interviews from qualified social scientists. From October 2009 to February 2010, two teams including the students conducted oral history research into the events of 1915. The basic idea was to facilitate a dialogue among members of the Armenian, Turkish , and Kurdish communities about their common past. Since, for obvious reasons, there were no direct survivors involved, the participants were second and third generation survivors, whose knowledge of the 1915-related events had been passed down to them by parents and grandparents. The persons interviewed came from the Armenian diaspora, many in Turkey, and also from the Republic of Armenia.
Well over a hundred interviews were conducted, and a selection (13 in Turkey and 35 in Armenia) was then published in Turkish, Armenian, and English, in a volume entitled, “Speaking to One Another.”(1) There are two levels on which the activities and achievements of the research groups should be evaluated: first, there is the wealth of specific information about the genocide – the executions, the deportations, the abduction of women, the expropriation and/or destruction of land and buildings, emphatically including places of worship, and so forth – which comes to light and, again, in its excruciating specificity of gruesome detail, documents that what occurred in 1915 was indeed genocide.
The other level is that of the trans-generational dialogue which unfolds through the exchange between the interviewers and interviewees. The fact that the book has been issued in several languages should ensure that the dialogue will continue among these communities.
The first part of the book contains testimonies from Armenians, Kurds, and Turks living in modern-day Turkey. And yet to identify them in such ethnic terms is deceptive; for, as their family histories reveal, the overriding question for them is precisely what their ethnic/religious identity is. There are those Turks who discover that their grandmothers were Armenian, others, presumably Turks, who discover Armenian, Kurdish, and Arab ancestors. This quest for identity is not only a human drama as depicted in the interviews; it plays a powerful part in the process now unfolding in Turkey whereby the citizenry is asking fundamental questions about the past, particularly related to 1915. Although official Turkish policy has obscured the historical record and criminalized anyone daring to call it genocide, the assassination of Hrant Dink in 2007 “was a significant milestone which transformed relations within the Armenian community, as well as between the community and Turkish society” (p. 19). Armenians became more willing to talk about 1915 and Turks sought to learn about the history of Armenians in their midst.
One Turk who had attended primary school in the 1960s in Akshehir in central Anatolia, told his interviewers how he had pestered his grandfather back then with the question, “Grandpa, who were the gavurs?” (the unbelievers, the Armenian Christians). As an adult, he learned about the Armenians who had once lived there and that it was they who had worshipped in a church whose ruins remained; and, he learned that after the Armenians were „gone,“ the local economy suffered from the absence of their skills. Or, there is the story of Mete, a 24-year-old, who began in 2009 to make video recordings of conversations with family members in an attempt to answer the question: “Who am I?” When, in high school, he first heard about the genocide, he couldn’t believe it, thinking only the Nazis had committed such crimes.
For Adil, who was born in 1983 in Diyarbakir, the question was: why did he have blond hair and green eyes? He was to learn that he had inherited these somatic features from his grandfather’s mother, Sosi, an Armenian who, as a thirteen-year-old survivor, had been “sold” and married off. For Adil, exploring the story of his Armenian ancestor provided a means of overcoming the sense of guilt felt by many Turks and Kurds about 1915, in that they can identify with the victim.
The 77- year-old Ruhi reported that when he discovered his mother was Armenian, it robbed him of his identity. Like so many other young girl survivors, she had been “taken away” in 1915 at the age of 8, and married to a Turk. For other Armenians social pressures in Turkey were so great that they did not teach their children the Armenian language, and changed their surnames. Then there was Ayhan, whose great-grandfather survived among Kurdish tribes, and took a Muslim name. When Ayhan moved to Istanbul, he learned Turkish, and Armenian at a summer camp. Identity was a complex affair. As he put it, “We are Kurds at home, we speak Kurdish. Second, we are Turks at school, we speak Turkish. Third, we are Armenians at the camp, we speak Armenian” (p. 57).
Dikran, who could not trace his family history back beyond his grandfather, knew however that Armenians had inhabited the region over thousands of years. It irritated him that Turks would ask him, “Where do you come from?”
The second part of the book contains interviews with citizens of the Republic of Armenia. Many were descendants of survivors who had fled to Russia, or orphans who reached the Soviet Union after transit through Arab countries. In the atmosphere of friendly relations between the USSR and Turkey, public discussion of the genocide was nil. But in the 1930s, as those orphan survivors reached adulthood, they began to talk, at least to one another. What the researchers found was that, although the overwhelming majority of the Armenians had never had any contact with Turks over the past 90 years, they all had “memories of memories” which had been passed down through their families. In the 1960s public consciousness of the genocide matured, with public rallies and campaigns to build commemorative monuments, as well as ceremonies to remember the resistance at Musa Dagh and April 24.
The stories told by Armenians in the new Republic are full of gruesome details of the genocide: men herded off to be shot then decapitated, groups forced into churches and incinerated, corpses thrown into rivers until pollution forced the authorities to order the dead be burned; the stench of burning corpses which then led to more deportations, to drive the unwanted population into the Syrian desert. In a recurring motif, there are stories of “beautiful young Armenian girls,” who are “taken away” and forced to marry Turks or Kurds. Many mothers preferred to have their daughters die than to suffer such a fate. One Armenian woman, forcibly married to a Turkish man, strangled all the children she bore over seven years, because “she did not want to have children from a Turk...” (p. 109).
The “memories of memories” recorded by the interviewees in Armenia communicate the excruciating pain suffered by the victims. Most of the sources are women; “since men were killed in excess,” the authors explain, “there are fewer men among the survivors.” The women tended to be more willing to talk, although many men wrote down their experiences as a private matter. Their experiences were traumatic, like that of the deported woman who had to leave one of her four children behind and was mentally tortured to her dying day by the memory (p. 84).
The enormity of the suffering, no matter how difficult for a reader to face emotionally, is crucial to provide insight into the attitude of many Armenians today towards the Turks and Turkey. When the researchers asked their Armenian interlocutors to express the emotions that they related to the word “Turk,” the answers included the following: “hatred,” “hatred, revenge,” “they are cruel, cruel,” “enmity,“ and so forth. When the same people were asked whether or not they had even encountered a Turk, most said no.
It comes as no surprise that the interviewees should express pessimism about the prospect of overcoming the trauma. Some said they thought that if Turkey does not acknowledge the genocide, then in the future Turks might repeat the genocide. Asked to explain why it occurred in the first place, most thought that the Turks wanted to expropriate the Armenians, take their gold, their land, their possessions. Another poignant response was: “I don’t know,” i.e. they could see no rational explanation for such atrocious horror (p.133).
Yet, -- and this is the most important feature of the oral history project – there is a readiness to overcome the hostility, to forgive and to forget. Aram, a doctor from Istanbul, stressed the shared culture of Turks and Armenians: “I don’t think I am culturally different. Because you belong to the same land. You belong here.... Even if you killed each other, even if you don’t look at one another’s face, the same thing makes you happy.” Many Turks expressed a sense of nostalgia about the time before 1915 when the two peoples lived peacefully side by side, and guilt about the genocide. Speaking of how pain can be forgotten, Aram went on: “It can be forgotten through forgiving. Discussing is something, questioning is another thing, but eventually you have to love. And they have to love you in return” (p. 30). The precondition for such forgiveness is acknowledgment of having done wrong. The researchers write: “[F]orgiveness starts from demeanor of the one who acted wrongly. The one who acted wrongly would be prepared to avoid repeating the wrong action again; to avoid repeating the wrong action he should understand, should acknowledge that he did wrong. Then, forgiveness would make sense. Forgiveness makes no sense without repentance. To forgive who? To forgive what?” (p. 134).
The Turkish Dilemma
The need for Turkey to recognize the genocide was a key point made in a public round table discussion concluding the day’s proceedings. Keynote speaker Cem Özdemir, Chariman of the Green Party in Germany, whose family comes from Turkey, stressed his view that, although he understands the desires of the Armenian diaspora for recognition on the part of many parliaments, he considers the only “solution” to lie in action by the Turkish parliament. “Healing the wounds lies in Turkey,” he said. Özdemir, who has himself been accused of “treachery” for endorsing recognition of the genocide, recalled the fact that Hrant Dink had come under attack by some in the Armenian diaspora for his message of reconciliation. To understand why it is so difficult for Turkey to face up to its past, Özdemir pointed to the Ottoman losses in the Balkan wars, and to the continuity between the empire and the Turkish Republic, especially regarding the current of the Young Turks. Dogan Akhanli reported from his own experience that Germany has become a place where one can talk with Armenians and nationalistic Turks about 1915, but added that the central task is to develop discussion in Turkish civil society, working up from the grass roots level.
1. Speaking to One Another: Personal Memories of the Past in Armenia and Turkey, Wish they hadn’t left, Leyla Nayzi, Whom to forgive? What to forgive? Hranush Kharatyan-Araqelyan, “Adult Education and Oral History Contributing to Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation,” published by Istitut für Internaitonale Zusammenarbeit Des Deutschen Volkshochschul-Verbandes (dvv international), Istanbul, 2010.
Comment by Zubeyde (184.108.40.206) Ankara, Turkey
The German General Bronsart von Schellendorff worked in Ottoman General Staff as Senior Chief Staff until 1917 . Here are a few excerpts from his declarations about immigration and resettlement of the Armenians after the murder of Ottoman Talat Pas,a who was supposed as the criminal of the death of Armenians in Germany:
1) ‘The published advertisements, provocative brochures, weapons, ammo and explosives etc in total were proof of the fact that the uprising was being prepared by a third side. It was so overt that Russia provoked, supported and financed this uprising. The entrique against the high rank soldiers and officials in Istanbul was displayed just at that time. The Muslims who could be summoned to military service were already in the Turkish Army. So the Armenians did not face any difficulty to attempt a horrible massacre in a society which was not capable of defending himself. Because, they attacked not only from the Russian side, from the back of the Turkish Army in the East but they also exterminated the Muslim folk who lived in the region. As a witness, I want to note that the dimensions of the wildness displayed by the Armenians, was far worse than the so-called Armenian wildness for which the Turks were accused later. First, the Turkish Army interfered with the situation, in order to keep its relations beyond the front safe. But the Army had to admit to the Jandarme since it had to use its all power to overcome the Russian superiority and the uprising was spreading all over the empire [Bronsart von Schellendorff, Talat Pasa için Sahitlik, Ermeni Arastirmalari Dergisi, 4 (Aralik 2001-Ocak-Subat 2002), p.78,79]....
2) The German General Bronsart von Schellendorff’s second observation:
‘ Talat was not an unbalanced man, a revengeful murderer but a statesman who was far-sighted. According to him, the Armenians were very useful (efficient) citizens during peace time, although they were agitated and raged being provoked by the Russian and the Russian Armenians. He hoped that they would be able to give life to fertile and profitable soil in Syria and Mesopotamia being away from the effect of Russians and Kurdish dispute.
‘He also foresaw the ‘so-called Christian hunt’ propaganda of the foreign press while defining the relocation of the Armenians. So he wanted to be far away from every kind of violence. He was right; what he got afraid occurred! Propaganda worked and foreign people were made believe in this stupidity! It should be thought that the so-called events took place within an army which was an ally of Christian states and employed many Christian soldiers and officers in it’.
‘Now I want to talk about the immigration issue: In the Turkish Empire, the vilayets are nearly free from the center due to the empire’s large area and its inefficient substructure. For example: The Ottoman governors have more authority than our presidents. Depending on this, they advocated that they could evaluate the developments in their area better than the government. So, the orders of the Internal Affairs Ministry were not fulfilled as it should have been.
‘To transfer thousands of Armenians and additional thousands of Muslim immigrants to the settlement places, to nourish them, to find home for them were unusual and difficult tasks and exceeded the capacity of the few and unqualified officials. Just here Talat interfered with the situation using every kind of facility, in a devoted manner. The orders which were sent by him to the jandarme and the governors should still be present. Emergent help of the Army was being asked by telegrams sent to Ministry of War from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which I was informed, due to my charge. These calls were taken seriously and this duty was being implemented as much as the army could. The Army presented its own food, vehicles, homes, doctors and medical equipments which it itself was deficient in, just for the aim of help. Unfortunately, thousands of Muslim immigrant and immigrated Armenians died not being able to stand the difficulties of this walk.
‘Here, one asks if it was not possible not to give the decision of immigration, predicting such situations. It was already a well known fact that it was not possible to stop the Turkish immigrants because of their rightful fears of Armenian wildness and savageness. Additionally, it should be approved that the Armenians should have been sent away from the areas where they had uprised! Additionally the results of this should have been standed.
‘….Talat fiercefully resisted to expelling all the Greek in the Mediterranean voiced by the military wing. Because there, only they were working as ‘spies’. They did not attempt dangerous uprisings as the Armenians did, although it sounded reasonable for them.
(Bronsart von Schellendorff, Talat Pasa için Sahitlik, Ermeni Arastirmalari Dergisi, 4 (Aralik 2001-Ocak-Subat 2002), p.79,81).....
3) The third important inspection of General Bronsart von Schellendorff:
About misbehaviours against the Armenian convoys:
‘Now let me tell about the events which took place against the Armenian convoys. The Kurds made use of this opportunity which perhaps they would never seize again, and they robbed the Armenians who had attempted wild and savage attacks against the Muslims before and therefore they hated and they killed them if necessary. The misery trip of the Armenians had to follow the way through many Kurdish provinces! Because there was no other way to Mesopotamia.
‘ The hearings about the jandarme who accompanied the Armenian community in companies (bölük) is different from each other. Sometimes they defensed the Armenians against the Kurdish guerrilla bravely. It is also said that they sometimes left them and ran away. Additionally it is many times claimed that they cooperated with the Kurds or they themselves robbed and killed the Armenians’.
‘…..However the senior military officials gave immediate and hard punishments as soon as they were informed about these outlaw behaviors. Let me tell that Vehip Pasa, the Commander of the East Army judged his two military officials in the court and had them executed by shooting, because of this reason.
‘Enver Pasa punished a Turkish general who was the governor of Halep, by expelling him and sentencing him to a long prison punishment’.
‘I think these examples will prove that the anti-Armenian incidents were not approved by the administrators. Talat can not be kept responsible for these events; these developments occurred 2000 kilometers away from him and as it was told before the jandarme was educated only by the French until the war burst. Additionally, it was war time and the customs had become wild. I want to remind you the wildness that the French committed against our prisoners and wounded soldiers’.
[Bronsart von Schellendorff, Talat Pasa için Sahitlik, Ermeni Arastirmalari Dergisi, 4 (Aralik 2001-Ocak-Subat 2002), p.81].
---------- Forwarded Message ----------
From: Erdal Atrek, California
Subject: American deniers of genocide
Date: 17 Nov 2011
Dear Ms. Mirak-Weissbach,
Your article requires an in-depth reply, not due to its depth, but to untangle the web you have weaved by portraying that there is historical value in modern propaganda. I will try to disprove your thesis by quoting Americans and also add the voice of a Venezuelan at the end. If indeed you are a person of honor, you will feel compelled to do your research. If not, then feel free to stop right here, as nothing I write will make any difference.
Let me start by noting that sociologist (not historian) Vahakn Dadrian whom you mention as an authority was summarily fired from the minor university he used to work at for being too friendly with female students. Years ago I attended a seminar he gave at a major university, which would never have let him do so had they known at the time. He shamelessly misrepresented the writings in a book I knew from cover to cover, which was enough for me to understand the type of person he was. As for poet Balakian, he knows nothing of history except what Dadrian has fed him, as I could easily ascertain after having attended two of his book signings. He is only around because he speaks and writes well, not because of any depth of knowledge. I daresay I know much more than Balakian on this subject (and possibly as much as Dadrian, though I do not distort what I have learned) as I probably have more related literature in my library that I have studied than Balakian does on poetry, never mind Armenian history.
Allow me to present to you people who actually knew what happened, but not Turkish people, for I am sure you, for reasons of your own, are already convinced that Turks are telling untruths to cover up this great injustice you write about. I will instead introduce you to Americans who either lived during those times in those places, or whose job it was to research for posterity what happened. Here then, to start with, are two Christian missionaries and a Harvard professor of history.
To summarize my entire point, I will start with Assyrian George M. Lamsa, a Christian missionary who was born in the Ottoman Empire, and who later became an American citizen. He was the foremost authority of his time on the Aramaic language and on the life of Jesus Christ. Lamsa should answer all questions with his summary paragraph in a chapter entitled “The Armenian Revolution” in his book _The Secret of the Near East_ (The Ideal Press, Philadelphia, 1923), pg. 133:
"In some towns containing ten Armenian houses and thirty Turkish houses it was reported that 40,000 people were killed, about 10,000 women were taken to the harem and thousands of children left destitute; and the city university destroyed and the bishop killed. It is a well-known fact that even in the last war the native Christians, despite the Turkish cautions, armed themselves and fought on the side of the Allies. In these conflicts, they were not idle, but they were well supplied with artillery, machine guns and inflicted heavy losses on their enemies."
In the first sentence above, it looks almost as if Lamsa was anticipating ex-professor Dadrian. But, where does this genocide insistence come from? Celebrated Harvard professor William L. Langer explains this very precisely in Chapter 5 of his book _The Diplomacy of Imperialism – 1890-1902_ (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1935, Volume 1, pg. 157):
"Europeans in Turkey were agreed that the immediate aim of the agitators was to incite disorder, bring about inhuman reprisals, and so provoke the intervention of the powers. For that reason, it was said, they operated by preference in areas where the Armenians were a hopeless minority, so that reprisals will be certain. One of the revolutionaries told Dr. Hamlin, the founder of Robert College, that the Hentchak bands would 'watch their opportunity to kill Turks and Koords, set fire to their villages, and then make their escape into the mountains. The enraged Moslems will then rise, and fall upon the defenceless Armenians and slaughter them with such barbarity that Russia will enter in the name of humanity and Christian civilization and take possession'"
Dr. Cyrus Hamlin’s recollections of the above event were originally published in his church periodical, as also noted by Professor Langer. In any case, it is clear that plans for representing a “genocide” perpetrated on Armenians had already been drawn up in the 1890s. It is then not surprising that the ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation or Dashnaksutiun) formed during the same era is still in existence today, and that the same hope of getting a major power to break up Turkey to hand over part of it to Armenians still persists.
Langer also wrote on another very important issue, that of the Ottoman Armenian population at the close of the 19th Century, based on references he lists, which include anti-Turkish German missionary Lepsius (ibid, pg. 147):
"Though anything like reliable statistical matter is lacking, the best estimates of the later 19th century put the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire at something like a million. There may have been as many as a million and a half, but in any event the Armenians were not, like the Greeks and Bulgarians, fairly concentrated in a certain area. In no vilayet (province) of Turkey were they a majority in 1890, not even in the six provinces usually spoken of as Armenia.(8)"
"The best figures on population are those of L. Selenoy and N. von Seidlitz: "Die Verbreitung der Armenier in der Asiatischen Turkei und in Transkaukasien" (Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen, XLII,1896,pp. 1-9), which corrected the researches of Vital Cuinet: La Turquie d'Asie (Paris, 1891-1894). See further the detailed estimates of Turkey No. 1 (1890-1891), no. 44; H.F.B. Lynch: "The Armenian Question" (Contemporary Review, September, 1894, pp. 433-56); Johannes Lepsius: Armenia and Europe (London, 1897) pp. 1 ff.; Marcel Leart: La Question Armenienne a la Lumiere des Documents (Paris, 1913), p. 10."
If we are to take current Armenian propagandists claims at face value, based on Langer’s numbers above, no Armenian should have been left alive after the alleged genocide. We should all be relieved, therefore, after reading the book _Story of Near East Relief_ (The MacMillan Co., New York, 1930) by missionary James L. Barton, the first chairman of the organization, that there were one-million Armenians in Near East Relief camps after World War I:
"The American Consul at Aleppo cabled that there were 500,000 refugees known to be in the districts of Aleppo, Damascu and Dier-ez-Zor [sic] and that all these exiles could be reached and helped."
"Early in May 1919, Howard Heinz, at the request of Mr. Hoover, went into the Caucasus. …. After an inspection covering two weeks, Mr. Heinz reported from the Caucasus to Mr. Hoover in Paris:
I found a most distressing situation throughout this country, where starvation and misery actually beggar description. It is true that the people are literally dying from lack of food and from diseases caused by malnutrition. There are 500,000 refugees who are in need of food …"
Why should this be you should ask, when the Armenians were in control of Eastern Anatolia from mid-1915 up till the winter of 1918, and again soon afterward? Were those in power more involved in trying to occupy what they could not defend than making sure their own people were fed? The same 500,000 in the Caucasus is also mentioned on pg. 112.
Thus, half-a-million in the south and half-a-million in the north-east make one-million, not considering those who were still in Istanbul and Anatolia, and who made it elsewhere on their own. Many deaths, on the other hand, came as a result of typhus and famine in areas under Armenian control, as Barton writes on page 88:
"In 1918, a series of typhus epidemics swept the country, owing to utter lack of preventive facilities. The winter of 1918-19 was a tragedy in starvation and disease. It was estimated that over 250,000 persons died in the Caucasus during these months."
On a related subject, were the Armenians innocent as they subtly claim? Here is another Christian, a Venezuelan soldier-of-fortune who joined the Ottoman Army to satisfy his lust for adventure, and who witnessed the Armenian uprising in Van. Being Christian he resented Turks (just as you do perhaps), but honor compelled him to do his duty (by the way the beginning of the English translation of his book has been modified considerably from the Spanish original to appeal to pro-Armenian sensitivities, but even then see what he had to say).
Rafael de Nogales, "Four Years Beneath the Crescent", Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, London (1926), pg. 45:
"After hostilities had actually commenced, the Deputy to the Assembly for Erzerum, Garo Pasdermichan, passed over with almost all the Armenian troops and officers of the Third Army to the Russians; to return with them soon after, burning hamlets and mercilessly putting to the knife all of the peaceful Mussulman villagers that fell into their hands. These bloody excesses had as their necessary corollary the immediate disarmament by the Ottoman authorities of the gendarmes and other Armenian soldiers who still remained in the army (probably because they had been unable to escape) and the utilization of their labor in the construction of highways and in carrying provisions back and forth across the mountains. The altogether unjustifiable desertion of the Armenian troops, united to the outrages they committed afterwards,on their return, in the sectors of Bash-Kaleh, Serail, and Bayacet, did not fail to alarm the Turks and rouse their fear lest the rest of the Armenian population in the frontier provinces of Van and Erzerum revolt likewise, and attack them with the sword. This indeed is precisely what happened a few weeks after my coming, when the Armenians of the vilayet of Van rose en masse against our expeditionary army in Persia; thus giving rise to those bloody and terrible occurrences which, under the circumstances, might have been foreseen."
Ms. Mirak-Weissbach, did you ever investigate how many Turks and Kurds died due to Armenian revolts, massacres they perpetrated, and due to their help to the Russians, due to the famine and typhus? War is very bad. When there is war people will die, and there will be refugees. Did you ever hear about the 300,000 Ottoman Turks who died due to freezing and famine as refugees during the Balkan War, or about the 52,000 defendants of Edirne (Adrianople) who were exiled to an island by the Bulgarians to starve there?
I cannot stop without writing the following statement of a junior Armenian officer:
"In this movement we took with us three thousand Turkish soldiers who had been captured by the Russians and left on our hands when the Russians abandoned the struggle. During our retreat to Karaklis two thousand of these poor devils were cruelly put to death." (memoirs of Armenian officer Ohanus Appressian, as related by author)
Hartill, Leonard Ramsden, "Men Are Like That", The Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis (1928), pg. 133.
There is much more, but I can take a horse to water though I cannot make it drink. Let your conscience be your guide and do your own research. Feel free to write if you wish.
Erdal Atrek, Ph.D.
Following image of the page (125) from my recent pocket book - DVD (A Brief Hopscotch Stroll in the Ottoman History and Economy) which reconfirms Dr. Atrek's findings from other American sources.
Sukru S. Aya
Open letter to Muriel Mirak Wessbach
Re: Reflections on the Inner-Turkish Debate on 1915/1916
Dear Ms Weissbach,
I have read your article and found it to be a seriously disappointing. Your article seems to omit an important fact that there were 22.000 Armenian Legion soldiers in the German Army during the Second World War (the 4.800 of them in special SS troops). Their role was significant in the Jewish Holocaust.
You also seem to be unaware of the fact that the Commander in Chief of the Ottoman Army was a German General called Liman von Sanders and his aide General Bronsart von Schellendorf was the deputy Turkish War Minister. He signed the document himself, giving the order for the relocation of the Armenians who were revolting and engaging the army at the rear (see copy of document below). It is clear that the Turks followed the orders of the German commanders and officials when relocating Armenians.
I would like to ask you whether you are familiar with the researcher in history and author SS Aya's books; The Genocide of Truth, 2008 and The Genocide of Truth Continues But Facts Tell the Real Story, 2010 (posting 2429 on Armenian blogsite). You could refer to the authentic Armenian documents summarized in his article on http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/10/2610-genocide-lies-need-no-archives.html . I would also like to ask you whether you can refute these facts if you are familiar with them, if not, how is it possible to right such an article without the most essential knowledge base? (see also the comment on your article by SS Aya on http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2011/11/3328-to-be-or-not-to-be-turk.html)
Dear Ms Weissbach, please consider the common understanding that the scholarship and writing about history should have the accuracy and seriousness, not misinformation and omission.
We informed Turks must tell you not to assume that the rest of the world is duped and/or ignorant because you yourselves are surrounded by some deceitful and corrupt individuals, including a few 'Turkish so called academics'.
Ataturk Society UK
Berge Jololian - 16 November, 2011
The Turkish state continues its crime of genocide [aided by the genocide-denier-US-State-Department] by implementing a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of life in Armenia, with the aim of annihilating the Armenians in Armenia. To bring about the disintegration of the political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and the lives of individuals.
The Turkish have not only murdered humans, destroyed an ancient culture civilization and rewritten history, but they continue to legitimize the act as well as the racist ideology that led to the act. Denial is not just the simple negation of an act; it is much more the consequent continuation of the very act itself. Genocide should not only physically destroy a community; it should likewise dictate the prerogative of interpretation in regard to history, culture, territory and memory, as the victims - Armenians - never existed. So then, when does the Armenian genocide end? Only when Turkish denial ceases and Turkey is brought to accountability for the worst crime humanity has given a name - Genocide. Bottom line is this: Genocide acknowledgment without accountability is hollow and meaningless. Genocide acknowledgment must be accompanied with accountability – otherwise it is hollow and meaningless – and worse than denial.
Beware of a solution that is worse than the problem. For the sake of genocide prevention, Armenians must set an example and not allow Turkey to get away scot-free by committing the worst crime humanity has given a name, Genocide. Not demanding accountability would mean to reward the perpetrator and encourage future genocides. In fact, Turkish acknowledgment of what everyone in the World knows is irrelevant - what matters is the punishment of Turkish crimes and accountability: Land-acquired-by-way-of-genocide, Reparations, and Restitution.
Seta Atamian - 17 November, 2011
I have many Turkish friends and many are discovering their Armenian roots. The Turkish government teaches them that Armenians were traitors and killed Turks, deserving the slaughter of women, children, etc., What the government has a hard time explaining is the killings of Lebanese Maronites, Assyrians, Kurds, Pontic Greeks, Cypriot Greeks and others that experienced the brutality of the Ottoman sword and yoke, even their fellow Islamic brothers were treated horribly by the Ottoman Turks and their barbarianism. Today, no one trusts the Turk E. Europe fought them off, Russia kicked their butts, the Middle east doesn't want them and now their only trading partner Israel is done with them. Until Turkey can move forward in lightness instead of the dark, they will forever remained scorned and not accepted. Please release the Turkish Journalists in prison
Alan Forchet - 17 November, 2011
"In fact, Turkish acknowledgment of what everyone in the World knows is irrelevant..." Sadly the commentator who wrote these words gets it backward. Turkish acknowledgment is THE most important challenge facing Armenians today. Yes, the rest of the world knows but SO WHAT??????? They will not lift a finger for your much vaunted "Land-acquired-by-way-of-genocide, Reparations, and Restitution". Stop dreaming!!
(220.127.116.11) Calgary, Alberta, Canada 19 November, 2011
Genocide claim is political, not legal, and it is based on a racist and dishonest version of history. Political pressure, resolutions, biased approaches in much of gullible media and Armenian financed academia, clergy, diplomats, and/or other sources do not change the fact that Armenian narratives and historiography are based on hearsay and forgeries. Not all suffering, killing, and losses are genocide. There are sufficient laws in the books to deal with war crimes, hate crimes, feuds, and retaliations.
Turkish archives, which are open to global scholarship, are replete with documents that categorically reject the Armenian claims of genocide. Armenian archives (in Boston, Erivan, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Paris, and elsewhere) on the other hand, are closed as they may elucidate many treacherous bomb attacks, terrorist acts, and assassinations targeting Ottoman government facilities and officials, with or without the help of the allies during WWI. It is not right, truthful, ethical, or moral to insist on a subjective genocide verdict without the court decision supporting it.
Here is how John Dewey, Professor at Columbia University who visited the war theaters in mid 1920s put it in The New Republic, 12 November 1928:
“...Few Americans who mourn, and justly, the miseries of the Armenians, are aware that till the rise of nationalistic ambitions, beginning with the 'eighteenseventies, the Armenians were the favored portion of the population of Turkey, or that in the Great War, they traitorously turned Turkish cities over to the Russian invader; that they boasted of having raised an Army of one hundred and fifty thousand men to fight a civil war, and that they burned at least a hundred Turkish villages and exterminated their population...”
Here is how Lamsa, George M., a missionary well known for his research on Christianity, put it in his book, The Secret of the Near East, The Ideal Press, Philadelphia 1923, p 133:
"…In some towns containing ten Armenian houses and thirty Turkish houses, it was reported that 40,000 people were killed, about 10,000 women were taken to the harem, and thousands of children left destitute; and the city university destroyed, and the bishop killed. It is a well- known fact that even in the last war the native Christians, despite the Turkish cautions, armed themselves and fought on the side of the Allies. In these conflicts, they were not idle, but they were well supplied with artillery, machine guns and inflicted heavy losses on their enemies…."
And here is Armenia's first pm's confessions; ‘… 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.
Reply to Berge Jalolian, 19 Nov 2011
a- If you care to watch http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2011/08/3307-sukru-server-aya-tv-show-hosted-by.html plus comments or read various essays under posting http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/search/label/Sukru%20AYA you will see that the Turkish "State" never follows, answers or takes serious counter measures against these slanders. Had they done it, this "grand-ma history serving only diaspora leaders" would have been shut-up long time ago!
b- A small group of "well wishing, logical thinking and studying persons" are in search of TRUTH, whatever it is, whereas your comments are nothing but empty ballast words, without a shred of supporting and legally valid documentation.
c- I am afraid that we cannot communicate on civil - humane basic principles, as long as you evaluate the matter from a "nationalist, racist" angle and you cannot produce a single valid document to support your slanders or "hatred fabricated on grand-ma stories or scenarios, inverting facts." This blog has a "treasure of authentic documents". Suggest you at least read
http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/10/2610-genocide-lies-need-no-archives.html and write to the moderator which document or word of it you find to be untrue! If you cannot, please re-read the title of the essay!
Reply to Seta Atamian, 19 Nov 2011
Dear Seta, may I ask why you are "stuck on roots" as if they were important to be of Armenian-Albanian-Mongolian or Aborgeen ethnicity? We are all human beings, and what counts is not our past roots or faith (which we cannot control) but it is our present status and intelligence (we can control) for a better future. If you will kindly read some of my over 330 articles, you will see that we "as a small group of persons" are dedicated to uncover and display the TRUTH "based on valid documents" whatever it may turn out to be! I attach two pages from my very last pocket book, which speaks for the past and present status of our inter-mingling with Armenian friends. If you want to defend "racist or religious divisions", sorry I am the wrong person to speak to! B.rgds Aya
Cover of a BOOK PRINTED in 1777 in Padova -Italy for Surp Andonun Churches in Istanbul and Edirne, written in Latin letters but in Turkish language for Catholic Armenians. (The book is some 60 pages, with various prayers to God in Turkish language)
Why is this discovery important:
The greatest reform of the NEW REPUBLIC was "abandoning the old script in Arabic letters" and passing to the presently used alphabet in Latin letters in 1928.
This very important reform induced by Ataturk paved the way to Western culture and science! The right hand of Ataturk in this project was Hagop Martayan (an Armenian from Istanbul, educated in Robert College, who served in the Ottoman Army during WW-1 and was brought to Mustafa Kemal on a minor military offense. Mustafa Kemal at that time sympathized the young officer Martayan, who even had a medal and provided him new uniform and meals from the officer's club (1916s). Later Martayan disappeared and ended in Sofia University teaching Near East languages and literature! Ataturk heard and rediscovered him, brought him to Istanbul and put him in charge of the Language Reform including purification of Turkish language from Arabic and Persian words.)
When the new "surname - family name law" was accepted in 1935, Hagop Martayan was among the few fifty or sixty persons, Ataturk had picked a surname as an exceptional honor. Hagop's new family - surname became "DİLAÇAR" meaning the "one who opens language".
Hagop's (1895 - 1979) sincere and important services are acknowledged with great appreciation by intelligentia! I do not know if Hagop was Catholic or Protestant-Gregorian and if he knew about this 1777 print book. When he was brought to Mustafa Kemal, they had found a letter in his pocket, written in Turkish language, but in Latin Letters, which Ataturk remembered years later. May he rest in Peace!
What a pity that the new diaspora generation, try their very best to split this "togetherness" which had buried the dramas of the near past with the enthusiasm to build together a new secular republic where every one, regardless of his ethnicity, as an "equal Turk"... Compare these "facts" with the "grudge exposed in":
B. rgds Aya
Footnotes: The first printing machine was introduced in the Ottoman Empire in 1493, by the Sefarat Jews who were brought from Spain to Turkey. Armenians were next to use the printing machine in 1567. Greeks followed in 1627. Turks had a trial period starting in 1727, suspended in 1794. In 1802 some medical books could be printed, in 1831 the "Official State Gazette" was printed and it was only after 1860 s that printing machines were permitted to be used by schools and press. The resistance to the printing machine had come from "calligraphers" saying that the "Holy Book Koran cannot be pressed" and it can be only hand written!
Sukru Server Aya
Stepan Avagian 21 November, 2011
Reply to Sukru, you are here talking of what are roots and nationality? Yet you are pushing your own racist and revisionist agendas. The problem is your people and you included have blood on your hands, and are trying to wash that blood with simple words, that blood will not wash off. You as people are lost savages. Till you acknowledge your guilt, you will not move forward. Your state is at war with mine, I nor any other Armenian needs your backward propaganda pages. Crime has been committed and that crime will hold you in your place, we have nothing to speak about till justice is served.
Reply to Stephan Avagian, 22.11.2011
I have no idea of your age and your proficiency on the subject, other than usual "brain wash and aggressive tone" of slandering and insulting to blame all Turks and portray all (revolutionist - adventurist) Armenians as angels. We are not speaking with "empty ballast words", we are talking based on authentic documentation! Suggest you read my essay http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2008/10/2610-genocide-lies-need-no-archives.html If you find anything wrong on any word, please write to the moderator and let all other readers know, where I am wrong and you are right. Before you give street talks of "bloody hands" on a serious discussion of history, I suggest you AT LEAST READ and LEARN the following excerpts from posting 3116:
IV…ATROCITIES: (Report of Capt. Emory Niles and Arthur Sutherland, 1919)
Although it does not fall within the exact scope of car investigation one of the most salient facts impressed on us at every point from Bitlis to Trebizond was that in the region which we traversed the Armenians committed upon the Turks all the crimes and outrages which were committed in other regions by Turks upon Armenians.
At first we were most incredulous of the stories told as, but the unanimity of the testimony of alt witnesses, the apparent eagerness with which they told of wrongs done them, their evident hatred of Armenians, and, strongest of all, the material evidence on the ground itself, have convinced us as of the general truth of the facts, first, that Armenians massacred Musulmans on a large scale with many refinements of cruelty, and second that Armenians are responsible for most of the destruction done to towns and villages. The Russians and Armenians occupied the country for a considerable time together in 1915 and 1916, and during this period there was apparently little disorder, although doubtless there was damage committed by the Russians. In 1917 the Russian Army disbanded and left the Armenians alone in control. At this period bands of Armenian irregulars roamed the country pillaging and murdering the Musulman civilian population. When the Turkish army advanced at Erzindjan, Erzerum, and Van, the Armenian army broke down and all of the soldiers, regular and irregular turned themselves to destroying Musulman property and committing atrocities upon Musulman inhabitants. The result is a country completely ruined, containing about one-fourth of its former population and one-eighth of its former buildings, and a most bitter hatred [of] Musulmans for Armenians which makes it impossible for two races to live together tat the present time. The Musulmans protest that if they art forced to live under an Armenian Government, they will fight, and it appears to as that they will probably carry out this threat. This view is shared by Turkish officers, British officers, and Americans whom we have met!
A further aggravating condition is the state of affairs across the border. We have no way of knowing how far the complaints of the refugees prove true and how far the Musulmans are themselves to blame by organizing resistance to the Armenians. In any case, the inhabitants of the Turkish side of the frontier believe that their co-religionists on the Armenian side are being massacred and treated with utmost cruelty and this belief intensifies the feeling against the Armenians. ...
You can find more boastings of authorized representatives in the essay # 2610, of course if you have the courage to read and manhood to accept facts based on "neutral - valid documents". Otherwise please re-read the title of # 2610 and act like gentlemen! Naturally I have several other documents of Armenian barbarities, and did not want to drag a civilized discussion in cheap talks or arguments which are not constructive.
You are the first person to name me a racist, without giving any clue! Thank you for your language of compliment!
Compliments also on your aggressive tone without any essence of value! Of course the more you insult, the more you think that you are right!
Take it easy Mr. Avagian,and read your own history from Armenian writers...
Mine Ozcelik Bagrationi - 25 November, 2011
The Truth is, no matter how much my Turkish compatriots deny it, our former governments committed the Genocide against our Armenian Christian subjects. My grandfather was a DIRECT witness to the Genocide, when one day he found the battered body of his childhood friend, an Armenian, lying dead and thrown like a piece of trash on the street....upon seeing the body of his best friend, my grandfather cried, carried his friends body, left it in front of the local Armenian church, and promised to my father and us to "never forget the shame our Turkish government brought upon the good Turkish people."
And that is the ONLY reason I as an ethnic Turk, will fight to the end for our Armenian brothers and sisters. The death of their grandparents should be remembered for generations to come. There is absolutely nothing "Turkishness" about brutality and mass murder of our Christian subjects. I as an ethnic Turk, bow my head in front of all the "unmarked graves" of our Armenian subjects, who mercilessly were massacred. I am glad that there are thousands of Turks who defying death threats ( I myself receive 4-6 death threats a month), are telling the truth about our past. We killed 1.5 million of our Armenian subjects, let's get this issue resolved and continue with our lives. And I do have a question for my Turkish brothers, which will make them think twice next time they spew hatred against our Armenian friends:"...why aren't there any sizeable Turkish population in eastern Turkey?
The Only Turks living there are the army garrisons and Turkish soldiers." Our next war will Not be against Armenians, but well entrenched, well armed Kurds living in eastern Turkey. What I am trying to relay here is that we, as Turks, are fighting the wrong enemy. Recently a Turkish captain, duly acknowledged that Turkish soldiers will face Kurdish forces and Not Armenian. The truth is out there for all to see.
Dear Armenians, this will pass, hopefully our government, which mind you, knows very well about the Genocide, one day come to its senses and acknowledge the Genocide, which we All know about.
Your Turkish friend,
Mine Ozcelik Bagrationi
Reply to # 3228: Sentimental letter by Mrs. Mine Ozcelik Bagrationi
I see that the commentator, instead of reading the previous comments and the references given in there, where I expected the readers to be “punctual on the validity of the references”, she has preferred to write some type of confession letter based on her grand-ma stories. First of all, the serious crime of “genocide” needs a verdict by an authorized tribunal, where charges and defenses are legally evaluated. Individual acts of murder, plunder etc. cannot be generalized unless “evidence is presented that these were executed based on orders of the State and a legal verdict is procured like in Nuremberg”!!
Mrs. Bagrationi “says” that 1.5 million people were killed. Supposing that the duration of the relocation process was 5 months at most, or 150 days, this means that EVERY DAY 10.000 persons were killed (by what, where, when, why)? Even Hitler could not dispose such a huge number in all the death camps. It would be impossible to hand dig every day, stadium size graveyards to bury the bodies! You would need 150 such gigantic graveyards. Has any has been found, where, when? Were there any “documents or neutral eye witnesses” for such a long time gigantic annihilation process? None so far!
Since the commentator “did not read the Armenian documents I excerpted in my previous replies, [such as Captain Niles Report] I hereby make new additions, hoping that she understands the truth, or openly refute and prove in this forum that Historian Lalaian was lying or that I am distorting written facts!
From: ISBN 978-975-343-483-6 A.A. Lalaian - The Counter-Revolutionary Role of the Dashnak Party 1914-1923
p.47: The nature of the volunteer movement was “maximum heroism” displayed by the Dashnag units let by hmbapets (Antranik Pasha, Amazasp, etc.) in the mass massacres of Turkish women, children, old people and the sick. The Turkish villages occupied by the Dashnag units were “wiped out” of living people and fell to ruin. A Dashnag “hero” from Varaam (New Beyazit) tells about the heroic deeds he performed in 1920: “I exterminated the Turkish population of the Bashar-Gechar (an Armenian town) without making any exceptions” comments the Dashnag bandit proudly. “One sometimes feels the bullets shouldn’t be wasted. So, the most effective way against these dogs is to collect the people who have survived the clashes and dump them in deep holes and crush them under heavy rocks pressed from above”. “I” says the bandit, “I did so too: I collected all the women, men and children and extinguished their lives in the deep holes I dumped them into, crushing them with rocks.”
p.96-97 - “The bourgeois-nationalist policy of the Dashnag Government resulted in the destruction of almost a half of the Armenian population; the other half was almost on the point of destruction too. Before the Dashnags came to power, 1 200 000 people had been living on the present Armenian territory. Just before the Sovietization of Armenia began, in 1920, the population of the country had decreased to 770 000. The transformation the national combination of the population between 1918-1920 is also very significant. During the sovereignty of the Dashnagzoutiun dictatorship of 2.5 years, the Armenian population decreased by 35%, the Turks by 77%, the Kurds by 98% and the Yezids by 40%. The Population of Armenia within the Present Borders Between 1918-1920 Dashnagzoutiun Dictatorship. (Percentage of decrease-thousand):Nations 1918 1920 % LOSS
Armenians 885 690,5 22
Turks 260 60 77
Kurds 25 0,5 98
Yezids 8 5 40
Russians 15 14 7
Other nations 7 4 43 .
TOTAL 1200 74 35.5
Comparative chart of Armenian population in 1900s, is given in page 303, of my book which you can download from posting 2429. The best figure I trust is line item (L) or 1.280.000 as per joint French-Armenian report of 1.3.1914!
Of course I have many other sources indicating this figure between minimum 1.1 million to maximum 1.5 millions.
Can the commentator enlighten the readers of the forum, as regards:
1) How is it possible to kill 1.5 millions out of 1.3 millions (at a rate of 10.000/day x 150 days)?
2) The following number of Armenians are reported to be alive as per below sources:
a) A.A. Lalaian as per above chart 885.000 alive in 1918 (note other huge losses)
b) Paris Peace Confer. 1919 (There was 1.403.000 Armenians in 1914) by Armenian Delegation
c- -do- 1919 (1.260.000 Armenians are alive) by Greek PM Venizelos
d- Letter of Boghos Nubar to French Foreign Office, 11.12.1918 (deported Armenians: 6 – 700.000)
e- Letter US Aleppo Consul Jackson to Istanbul Embassy Feb.3,1916 (counted 486.000 in 10 camps)
f- U.S. Relief Report, 22.4.1922 (on 30.12.1921 there were 1.414.000 Armenians alive)
g- Dr.F. Nansen, League of Nations reply on 1920 (There are 1.000.000 Armenians, 400.000 refugees from Turkey
h- “Christian Advocate” Sept. 21,1916: (Survivor Armenians about 1.150.000)
CONCLUSION: Unless Mrs. Bagriatoni or other persons give a logical explanation to prove that 1.5 millions were “annihilated by Turks” without showing any date, numbers, place, corpses, graveyards, documents or neutral eye witnesses and an international verdict by authorized tribunal, the claims are mere “dreams or fantasies as I had written posted under 2399 or unserious fairy tales fabricated by strong propaganda to misguide the easy believer!
S. Yilmaz - 15 December, 2011
The word or label "denialist" is just a libelous term to attack people who are simply presenting the facts about what happened to Muslims and Christians during the 2nd World War and who want not only a honest resolution to the Turkish-Armenian conflict, but who want honest research as well. When there are people who are demanding more research concerning what happened during Muslims/Alevis/Jews and Christians, pro-Armenian and pro-Greek lobbyists will libel these scholars stating that they are "denialists."
The fact is, that these "so-called" human rights activists know that they have a secret plan to completely wipe off the ROT off the map. They are no supporting human rights, but rather warmongering in my opinion.
Why is not one of the Armenian archives opened? Because Dashnak and Hinchak lobbyists will say "oh we have proved every single thing there is no need to debate."
Well if that is so, why does Armenia run away desperately whenever Turkish politicians ask them to open their archives and join the historical commission (which means Armenia opens it's archives and Turkey opens it's archives).
This is because Armenia has a fear of being exposed big time in the eyes of the public with their warmongering plans against a sovereign nation. The so-called "Hye Tad" is actually just another plot to carve up Turkey by using other nations such as Greeks, Kurds, Assyrians.
This will not encourage the spread of democracy in the Middle East, but this will promote more warmongering and instability in the region. By the way, let's say if the Turkish army napalm balms a Kurdish village, I would be the first one to be outspoken against this act well before such likes as pro-Greece lobbyists, pro-Armenia lobbyists, Ragip Zarakolu, Taner Akcam, Orhan Pamuk, Baskin Oran, and others. This article is very one-sided, biased, and is simply just a parroting of Dashnak and Hincak allegations which are pretty much 1/2 truths, but don't fully tell the truths about what Armenia tried to plot to do to it's neighbors, including the killings of 500k Turks, Kurds, Jews, and Alevis and the expulsion of the Azeri population in the 1988-1992.
What about the Armenian Bagramian Battalion's ethnic cleansing campaign in Abkhazia province?
What about the Armenian lobby's attack against everything Turkish, including events, festivals, ATAA events, and on and on.
What about Armenian students who are discriminating against students from Turkey at universities in the 50 states.
One sided allegations will not only harm the interests of Turkey, but also Armenia and other political powers.
Unfairness, one sided bias and allegations need to seize to exist, period.