2803) Reasons of the German Federal Parliament's Recognition of the So-Called Armenian Genocide and Role of Political Protestanism

By Burak Gümüş*
Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 10, Volume 4 - 2006

Keywords: German Parliament, Armenian Genocide allegations, German Protestant Church (Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands – EKD), Conference of European Churches (Konferenz Europäischer Kirchen – KEK), Christian Democratic Union Parties (CDU/CSU).

Anahtar Kelimeler: Alman Parlamentosu, Ermeni Soykirimi iddialari, Alman Protestan Kilisesi (Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands – EKD), Avrupa Kiliseleri Konferansi (Konferenz Europäischer Kirchen – KEK), H?ristiyan Demokratik Birlik Partileri (CDU/CSU)


There are two dominant contradictory theses regarding the Armenian question in the world public opinion as well as in Turkey. One of them is the allegation, which has been disseminated by the activities of the Armenian lobbies and imposed on both governmental actors and societies, stating that the Ottoman administration have exercised an intentional and systematic “genocide” over Armenians in 1915. Whereas, the alternative thesis has never been mentioned by the Armenian and the Western sources and it is mainly based upon the ‘relocation’ as a precaution in order to guarantee the maneuver space of the Ottoman army during World War I and to block the mutual atrocities, as a result of which hundred thousands of Muslims were being massacred by the Armenians.[1]
. . .

Accordingly, from German Federal Parliament has recently passed a resolution titled as “The Recalling and the Commemoration of the 1915 Armenian Deportation and Massacres: Germany Should Contribute to The Reconciliation Between Armenia and Turkey” at approximately the fortieth anniversary of the Turkish Republic’s application for the full membership to the European Communities and the 90th anniversary of the so-called Armenian Genocide.[2]

Actually, there were much more favorable conditions for Turkey five years ago. The signature campaign called “It is time to doom Genocide!” was submitted to the German Federal Parliament on April 2000 and was oriented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Parliament’s Petition Commission, with the clause “It is better to remedy the sufferings than to recall them”[3] in 2001. This orientation proposal was approved. The press declaration of the Petition Commission, dated 10 October 2001, stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had dealt with this issue on June 2001 and it was pointed out that the civil society organizations on the Turkish side had started to handle the common history between the Armenians and the Turks unofficially.[4] The Commission has confined the subject in such a way.[5]

The question whether the Parliament would recognize 1915-1916 events as genocide by the German Democratic Socialist Party (PDS) was submitted to the Federal Government before the Petition Commission oriented the aforementioned proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry replied this question by stipulating that “…the interpretation of Armenian Genocide ... is a historical question. Thus, this affair is a subject of history and it is related with Armenia and Turkey first and foremost with this respect”[6].

Another question with a similar content was also replied by the Foreign Minister on September 2002 as “First of all, evaluating the past is an issue between Armenia and Turkey ... The Federal Government welcomes all of the initiatives that serve for the treatment of the upsetting events between 1915 and 1917. The outcomes of these investigations should be interpreted by the lawyers and the historians. But the necessity to remedy old sufferings instead of recalling them should be cared”[7].

One of the Member of Parliaments of the Christian Union Parties, Erwin Marschewski’s question regarding the attitude of the Federal German Government about the Armenian allegations and whether Germany would spotlight these allegations during Turkey’s negotiations with the EU was replied similarly on 29 December 2004.[8]

Why have the critical approaches of the authors supporting the Armenian allegations and Germany’s ‘smooth’ attitude[9] towards Turkey regarding the so-called Armenian Genocide as a reason for their investigations changed suddenly in 2005, although a new “evidence” or a “document” proving “the crime of accused” has not been discovered? Why has the Parliament of Germany, where two and a half million of Turks live and no powerful Armenian lobby exists unlike France and the USA, has passed a resolution that may frustrate its relations with Turkey?

There are various factors that have affected the decision of the German Federal Parliament:

a) The moderation of the bad image of Germany caused by the Holocaust
b) The problem of the foreigners and the Turks
c) The blocking of the EU process and that of the future power of Turkey as a potential member of the Union
d) The pressure of the 90th anniversary of the so-called genocide
e) The impact of the Protestant churches on the German policy


The collective crime perception of the Germans, which is an outcome of the systematic, planned and the rationally organized Holocaust in Europe during the Nazi Regime, has resulted in the embarrassment within German society as well as hatred against their own history and nation. The reality of the Holocaust has been kept alive in the current agenda of Germany through scientific studies, series, museums, debates, compensation allegations, exhibitions, movies, books, investigations, etc. Indeed, Germany has been defeated during World War II, occupied for a long time, disintegrated and has limited political action capability because of its “special historical past” and this is stored by the social memories of the Germans by causing deep psychological impacts on them. The reality of the Holocaust has been so much adopted, imposed and internalized within the German society and the state that the extreme right wing and the Nazis denying this reality because of a social and a legal reflex are called as “The Holocaust Deniers” and are repressed by sanctions such as imprisonment. According to Bernhard Giesen, who made investigations about the nations that have been exposed to genocide and about “the trauma of the perpetrator” in successor generations, Holocaust makes up “the traumatic substance of the German identity”.[10]

After the end of the Cold War, Federal Germany, who has united with East Germany in order to be a focus of power within the process of European integration and world politics, searched for a “partner of crime” in order to moderate its responsibility. Therefore, German aim to reduce the role of the massive Holocaust is an indirect reason of the recognition of the Armenian allegations. According to ?lber Ortayl?, hereafter the Germans “search for their historical partners to share their ... genuine crimes.”[11] This is why Armenian genocide allegations are valued and it is -at least- implied that the Nazis were impressed by the Young Turks.

According to Tessa Hoffman, who is one of the ardent supporters of the Armenian allegations, the pre-adoption of some of the methods during the so-called Armenian genocide before the Jewish Holocaust, such as forcing people work till death, the transportation of the Armenians to the camps on train, the vaccination of the typhus virus to the Armenians, the existence of the gas baths in Trabzon as prototype of the Nazis’ gas rooms, Hitler’s being informed by the consul of Germany in Erzurum and of course the infamous quotation of Hitler “Who is already talking about the Armenian eradication today?” during his plan about the Holocaust are the prior arguments of her thesis. By this way, Hoffman tries to moderate the responsibility of the Holocaust on Germans.[12] Although there is not a direct relation between the so-called Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, the Turks are blamed for being the instructors of the Germans via comparison.

Another academician named Hans-Lukas Kieser, who has prejudicial views about the Turks and Turkey regarding the Armenian, the Kurdish and the Alawite questions[13], has compiled and published several articles with the claim that there were significant similarities between the so-called Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust.[14]

Seyhan Bayraktar and Wolfgang Seibel express their critical attitudes by adapting the smooth answer of the German Federal Government on September 2002 to the Holocaust in the following way[15]:

“First of all, treating the past is a subject between Israel and Germany... The Federal Government approves whole initiatives that serve for the treatment of the upsetting events between 1933 and 1945. The outcomes of these investigations should be interpreted by the lawyers and the historians. But the necessity to remedy sufferings instead of recalling them should be cared. It can be questioned whether this calming attitude of the Federal Government about the Armenian Genocide is less shameful [“skandalös” BG] or not.”

According to Gündüz Aktan, the aim of the moderation of the responsibility of Holocaust is also reflected in the decree of the German Parliament[16] :

“It is demanded that ‘The history of the Armenian sufferings should be treated together with the history of the ethnic arguments in Germany during 20th century’ in one part of the resolution. By this way, the attitude shaped by the anticipation that the Armenian case should be viewed within the framework of the Holocaust, is mentioned in an official text for the first time. In the text, the allegation that Armenian genocide have been applied by the aid of ‘death walks’, ‘camps’ and ‘special forces’ shows that the Armenian case is compared by the Holocaust. Thus, the concept of genocide is spoilt in order to moderate the remorse of Germany.”

The decree emphasizing that the history should be treated honestly and that it is the most important source of the peace and pointing out that this issue is valid especially in the framework of European Commemoration culture and that confronting with the dark side of the history apparently seems to be written in order to convince the Germans, who do not recognize the Holocaust, with the prior acceptance of a collective agreement about the Armenian relocation, which is seen as genocide by almost the whole world public opinion except Turkey.[17] By this way, it is proved that Germany, composed of “historical perpetrators society”, believes that it has the right to teach every state and nation this moral issue by the inspiration of its own specific historical past[18].


As a result of unemployment, end of the Cold War, selfishness caused by the European unity and especially as a result of the 11 September attacks, the foreigner has been made “the other” and “the marginal” in Germany. During this period, when antagonism towards the Turks and the Muslims increased, Germany aimed to dominate two and a half million (Muslim) Turks living there. Another aim of Germany, where German population decreases gradually, is to block Turkish lobbies that have the potential to be a serious political factor instead of only functioning as a bridge between Turkey and Germany[19].

Every state wants to dominate the people living within its territories. This primary desire is also valid for Germany. According to Canan At?lgan, who made some interviews with the German politicians, the devotion and the commitment of the Turks to the Germans are said to be desired. According to a document, the main reason why the members of Niedersachen Province Group, which is connected with the Christian Democratic Union in the Federal Parliament, objects to the double citizenship is that the anxiety about whether the Turkish-German citizens would demand minority rights from the Federal Constitutional Court and found an ethnic minority party that can participate in the Federal and the Province Assemblies easily by being exempted from five percent threshold application.[20] Some of the politicians advocate that the Turks are a separate society which has to be kept under control within the German society.[21] Even the Minister of Internal Affairs Otto Schilly is bothered by the homogenous and the national Turkish minority in Germany.[22] Furthermore, Turkish associations are identified as ethnically opportunist organizations by the German politicians that endanger the societal peace.[23] Maybe this is why the dividing, communal, religious and the destructive associations that are against the Turkish national identity are welcomed in Germany.

Within the article named ‘Islam and Nationalism in Turkey’ published in the ‘The Protestant Responsibility’ (Evangelische Verantwortung), which is an operational branch of the Christian Democratic Union’s Protestant Motion Group EAK (Evangelischer Arbeitskreis der CDU/CSU), Turkey’s EU membership, the Turkish (National) Identity and the Turks in Germany are mentioned[24]:

“The process of integration of an Islamic Asian country with an approximately 90 million population due to its high demographic growth percentage and which has not have resolved its crises completely, to the EU should be watched carefully.”

The basis of this point of view is the Turkish-Islam conception and the authenticity of the Turkish identity[25]:

“Turkish identity is composed of three elements: the ethnic [national] consciousness,... nationalism and the Sunni Islam. Turkey is different from the Arabic countries because of its differently designed relationship between its religion and nationalism. There [in Arabic countries] Islam... fights against the (weak) nationalism. But the strong Turkish nationalism uses and even nationalizes the Islam itself.”

Accordingly, the Turks are said to oppress the “other” groups: “Armenians, Greeks, Kurds and Alawites, ... oppression on them is caused by the Turks’ nationalist-religious dominancy feeling.”[26] According to the writer, it is not rational to adopt the state of the Turks as a member of the EU as the conception of their nationalism and the Islam ought to be seen as fearful. There exists the danger of ‘the parallel groups dominated by the Turks’ at the center of Europe.[27] As an outcome, Turkey must be kept out of the EU and this strong consciousness of Turkishness needs to be kept out of the way. The aim is to create a typecasting without its historical, linguistic, genuine religious conception and national identity, actually an assimilated one. One of the instruments to reach this aim is the “German-Islam” project and the other one is the Armenian question.

The Turks living in Germany and functioning as a bridge between Germany and Turkey, to where they belong spiritually, are requested to be “German citizens with the Islamic faith”[28] according to Udo Steinbach who is the head of the German Orientals Institute. Accordingly, German schools in the provinces of Germany have started to teach Islam courses in German. By this way the courses, which contribute to the mental development of the Turks and their belongingness to Turkish national history, language, shortly the Turkish national identity, such as Turkish, Social Sciences and The Culture of Religion and Ethics laid down formerly by the Turkish Ministry of National Education to be instructed besides religion courses of the German Christians up to now, are under the threat of refinement. Furthermore, the Religious Affairs Turkish-Islam Union and the Kemalist associations, which are perceived as ‘governmentalist’ and sensitive about the Turkish national identity, are ignored in Germany. Despite the objections of Turkey and the Turks in Germany, the liberal Islamic Kemalist and the largest Muslim association, the Religious Affairs Turkish-Islam Union, which has been blamed for imposing a false and a nationalist ‘Governmental Islam’, is accused of blocking the integration by Udo Steinbach[29]:

“Well, what kind of an ideology do teachers sent here by the Turkish state bring with themselves? This is not an integration ideology, instead, is the one blocking the integration... Well, then who impedes the arguments on the Islamic religion courses in Germany? The ones belonging to the Religious Affairs Turkish-Islam Union, which wants to see Turkey’s official Islam here. However one of the functions of the Turkish Islam, on the other side, is to strengthen the Turkish identity via Islam... Let’s found forums and institutions together with the immigrants who are Muslim-German citizens living here... We need to get rid of a prejudice. According to this prejudice, the secular Kemalist Turks are nice and the religious ones are bad.”

Probably, this is why the Turks are called as “Muslim immigrants” within the German media and the public opinion. Even Lale Akgün, who is the Member of German Parliament, is identified as the “Muslim SPD woman politician”[30] in the magazine news. Hereafter, the situation of the Turks in Germany is treated by the clauses such as “German Islam – Islam in Germany”[31], “Muslims in Germany”[32], “The Islamic Immigration”[33], “The way to the Euro-Islam?”[34]

Another way other than the German-Islam synthesis to integrate the Turks, who need to be dominated, is to make the Germans and the Turks in Germany admit the reality of the so-called Armenian Genocide. The resolution of the Federal Parliament states that the ‘Turkish Muslims’ in Germany should remember the history thus they should recognize the Armenian allegations.[35] Accordingly, the Turks, who are identified as the ‘Turkish Muslims’, are requested to be ashamed of their own history, nation and the state, which in turn would make them adopt themselves to the German society more easily.

Besides, this resolution recommending the German Federal Government to include the “deportation and destruction of the Armenians” within the educational policies of the provinces is able to cause disturbance between the Germans and the Turks. This disturbance, that causes personal confrontations among the German students and the teachers and the Turks at schools about the vulnerable topics such as Cyprus, Southeastern Anatolia, Islam and the Armenian question, has already been institutionalized systematically by the recommendations towards regional and provincial education mechanisms.

Furthermore, the advocates of the Armenian allegations benefit from the Germans’ sensitivity about the Holocaust by comparing it with the so-called Armenian Genocide. These authors make use of the existing reflex of the conditioned German society towards the “Holocaust Deniers” as a tool against the people and the institutions that apparently reject the unfounded Armenian allegations and that advocate the Turkish thesis. The already-conditioned German public opinion with opposite views against the Turks on Cyprus and Southeastern Anatolia questions[36], believes that Turkey is also wrong in this matter. The associations that declare their own views regarding the Armenian question are blamed for being “denier” in the presence of the German society. Besides this, the Turkish university student associations or other civil society institutions (local, regional or federal), that want to declare their views to the Parliament or to the public opinion and invite researchers for this purpose, are either ignored or blamed for being “denier” as well. The university students associations, that invite the supporters of the Turkish thesis to the panels, are under a sort of societal and psychological oppression even if what they do is not legally a crime. The Faculty Council Assembly (Fachschaftsratetag – FSRT), that does not have a judicial status in German universities and is not allowed to intervene in governmental issues, has requested the Konstanz Turkish Students Association (KOTÖD) to apologize for inviting the Erich Feigel, who was called as ‘genocide denier’.[37] Similarly, KOTÖD authorities have been blamed for not integrating themselves to the German society because of their different and radical Turkish history conceptions. The German Südkurier newspaper informing about the meeting has published doubtful news in its headline entitled ‘Integration mit dem Handwerkzeug der Leugner’ (‘Integration with the deniers’ methods’, 25.6.2005).

The possibility that the recognition of the so-called Armenian Genocide would result in some problems among the Turks and the Germans in Germany has not been missed by some of the supporters of the Armenian theses either; but it has been claimed that there have also existed the Turks against the “official” Turkish thesis and that they have been under the threat to be marked as ‘traitors’, thus, it has been requested that their field of action should have been cleared[38]:

“It should be treated naturally that the number of the ones supporting the “genocide” thesis especially among the German Turks with high education level has increased. Because of the objection to the dominant discourse it is impossible for them to have a place within the decision-making mechanisms. To put it in another way, it is impossible for a Turk who questions the ‘genocide’ thesis to find a job within the media, governmental or the academic circles.”[39]


If the issues such as Southeast Anatolia, Cyprus, minorities, Clergy School, Armenian genocide allegations and the requested compromises, that have been included in the current agenda during Turkey’s coalescence with the European Union and the negotiation process, result in loss of the indivisible integrity and the achievements gained by the National War of Independence, Lausanne Peace Treaty, Cyprus Peace Operation and the Struggle Against Terror. Recognition of the so-called Armenian genocide means for encountering Armenians’ compensation and territory demands from Turkey. That is why the possibility that Turkey might compromise about this issue is quite low. If that recognition demand becomes a condition for Turkey to be able to integrate into the EU, it might be difficult for her to join the Union. Thus, the Armenian question is spotlighted in the agenda[40]:

“In the 21st paragraph of the EU Brussels Final Act dated 16-17 December 2004, the resolution adopted by the European Parliament, dated 15 December 2004, is pointed out.... It has been stated in the European Parliament resolution that Turkey has not performed in accordance with the resolution dated 18 June 1987... In the recommendation of the European Parliament dated 18 June 1987 entitled ‘Political Solution of the Armenian Problem’, the Parliament identifies the events between 1915-1917 period as genocide by relying upon 1948 UN Convention and states that the non-recognition of the Armenian genocide by Turkey is an obstacle in front of her membership.”

Besides these, the recognition of the genocide allegations by the French Parliament and the rejection of the EU Constitution during the referendum related to Turkish EU membership by the French electors on 29 May 2005 might result in the review of German foreign policy regarding Turkey. The French Minister of Internal Affairs Nicolas Sarkozy does not welcome Turkey’s full membership.[41] Germany would not act in a stark opposition to French foreign policy about both the EU and the Armenian Problem.[42]

In line with the increasing importance of Germany as a result of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and enlarging European Union, Germany has been less dependent on Turkey strategically and the importance of pro-Turkish policies has been decreased. Therefore, it has not much been necessitated to advocate the interest of Turkey.[43] Accordingly, the resolution of the Federal Parliament has been approved but the phrase “genocide” has not been used because of already existing expressions such as “the destruction of the Armenians almost as a whole”, “eradication of the Armenians by deportation”[44].


The recalling of the so-called Armenian Genocide’s 90th anniversary by the Armenians and their allies via large-scaled activities, the symbolic number of ninety and the adopted resolutions that recognize the so-called Armenian genocide by the various parliaments within Europe and other continents have generated a positive atmosphere in Germany for the recognition of the unfounded Armenian allegations. The increase in the number of these regional and national parliamentary resolutions drives some parliaments of European countries, such as Germany, that does not want to be stand as minority, to recognize these allegations as legally valid.


Many of the Christian Democrats, who submitted the proposal regarding the recognition of the so-called genocide to the German Parliament, are Protestant, and this is a significant indicator about the governmental impact of Protestantism. The proposal including the Armenian allegations submitted by CDU/CSU to the Parliament was written by the Protestant theologian and the Director of the Halle Martin Luther University Archives, Prof. Dr. Hermann Goltz.[45] The Protestant Church is likely to influence the German society and the members of the Christian Union Parties, regarding the recognition of the so-called genocide by the German Parliament.

There exists cooperation between religion and politics despite the classical secularism in Germany. Churches are viewed as the factors of stabilization for democratic Germany after Nazism.[46] Several examples of that mutual cooperation are the existence of soldier-priests dependent on the church in the army, church representatives within the boards of non-private TV channels and rights of churches to declare their views about social and political issues.[47] Researcher Göttrik Wewer has complained about the lack of information and scientific knowledge on the impacts of churches on German politics. [48] Protestant churches in Germany are likely to influence the German Parliament and its members, who have attempted for the recognition of genocide allegations by the aid of holding activities in various issue-areas.

History of the Armenian question and pro-Armenian activities of Protestant churches are interlinked which each other. Protestant missionaries and churches have supported Armenian committees and have undertaken Protestantization activities in order to connect the Armenians to the West since 19th century in Anatolia. Among them, missioner German priests, who came to Anatolia from the German Empire within which the Protestant Prussia dominated, had a significant role. The most well known example is Johannes Lepsius. Dr. Johannes Lepsius, who has the priority among the names that the German lobbies hold on, is a Protestant German missioner trying to authenticate the so-called genocide without refraining from manipulating even his own reports and he is also mentioned respectfully in the proposal submitted to the Parliament.[49]

As a well known and an accepted religious organization of state German Protestant Church (EKD-Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands) is the biggest umbrella organization of the Protestants who has various privileges with respect to tax and media. EDK’s legislative organ called as Synode, has the right to decide on church decrees and to express the opinion of the Church about terrestrial and church related issues. EKD Commission (Rat der EKD) is the external representative institution and it is directed by Wolfgang Huber. Synode comes together with the EKD Commission in order to handle terrestrial and religious issues once a year.

The unfounded Armenian allegations have been spotlighted for three times on the third day of the 10th meeting in Magdeburg on 7-11 November 2004. In his speech entitled ‘Peace and Faith’, Huber criticized Turkey for rejecting the so-called Armenian genocide after he had mentioned the apology of Federal Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul from Namibia with the occasion of the Herero Genocide’s 100th anniversary. He emphasized that rejection of genocide was an important obstacle in front of Turkey for joining the EU from the point of view of the Protestant Church and he demanded the EU Commission to accept the recognition of the so-called genocide also as a criterion after he had highlighted the necessity that negotiations between EU and Turkey should have been open-ended rather than resulting in full membership. Besides this, Huber claimed that non-Muslims in Turkey, especially Christian minorities among them, had limited religious freedom and he claimed that it would have been better for a privileged partnership between Turkey and the EU as supported by the CDU/CSU parties and stated that they viewed the negotiation decision of the EU critically.[50] As a matter of fact, Christian Democratic Union Parties reject the integration of Turkey into the EU with a full membership status and propose a ‘privileged partnership’ instead as well.

Synode member Priest Hempel, who made a speech in the meeting and expressed that he had joined a voyage to Armenia, emphasized that Turkey’s rejection of the so-called genocide should have been viewed as an obstacle in front of her aim to join the EU and that he had supported a resolution in accordance with the necessity that the EU Commission should have focused on this issue. Furthermore, Hempel claimed that he had ‘realized’ that the German witnesses knew about the so-called genocide but had to disguise that from the public opinion; accordingly, he advocated that some regulations regarding this point should have been made either.[51] By this way, Hempel has mentioned about the Protestant missioner priest Johannes Lepsius who had identified himself as a “genocide witness” and he emphasized that the so-called genocide reality could not have been disseminated throughout the public opinion because of his being made silence. Before reaching the decision phase, Synode member Trösken claimed that the genocide allegations had been rejected in Germany and that the ones objecting this had encountered with some problems such as the prevention of the usage of Johanes Lepsius’ house in Berlin as a Commemoration and research center.[52] Seyhan Bayraktar and Wolfgang Seibel claim that the prevention of the usage of Lepsius’s house as a Commemoration and research center has resulted as a result of diplomatic attempts of Turkish Republic itself.[53] If this allegation is true then it can be derived that the Protestant Church desires to get over Turkish diplomacy by the aid of the public opinion.

During the EKD Synode meeting, in which the so-called Armenian genocide was also mentioned, two resolutions have been adopted[54]:

(1) EKD “Synode” meeting claimed that the negotiation between the EU and Turkey should have been open-ended, the conditions of the Christianity and other religions in Turkey had not been recovered, rights of minorities and “Kurdish community” had not been guaranteed essentially, women had been subjected to “honor murders”, regulative problems had existed despite of the reforms and that if Turkey did not question her historical past including the Armenian genocide honestly and apparently, a development based upon reconciliation, justice and peace would not be possible for her. The EDK Commission has been commissioned to follow up the negotiations between the EU and Turkey critically and to spotlight these issues. (2) “By the 14 numbered decree on the third day of the 10th Synode Conference of the German Protestant church regarding the Armenian genocide, the EKD Commission is requested to focus on the subject by the occasion of the 90th anniversary and to declare its view by the EKD Synode”[55]

As the German Protestant Church does not have political power, Federal German Republic’s legislative and executive institutions are needed to function in order to realize these resolutions successfully. The EDK has held some activities for this purpose.

a. Direct Lobbying Activities of the EDK

Within EDK, which frequently negotiates with the whole constitutional organs of the German government, which represents the Church in the EU, within which the common interests between the state and church are co-coordinated, there exists an official diplomatic connection (“Verbindungsstelle”) and an institution that function almost as a state bureau: “The Authority of the German Protestant Church Commission under the Guidance of the Federal German Republic and the European Union” (Der Bevollmachtigte des Rates der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschlend bei der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Europaischen Union). This authority titled as the “Pralat” is from the clergy class with a diplomatic mission. His mission is to inform EDK about political developments and represent the views and interests of EDK regarding current political affairs against the German and EU authorities. Furthermore, his mission is to provide members of the federal institutions with religious service. This authority is also in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassadors of other countries and it informs the Parliament, Federal Chancellor or the Federal President about resolutions and activities of the EDK.[56] Watching the legislation process is also under the responsibility of this Authority.[57] EDK representative is continuously in contact with the institutions mentioned in the German constitution.

The official collaboration regarding the Armenian question is possible institutionally between the German Parliament and the Protestant Church. Indeed, Hermann Gröhe, who is a member of the EDK Commission, is among the Protestant CDU/CSU members that submitted the aforementioned proposal.[58]

b. The Declarations of the EDK Regarding The Issue

In one of his speeches, Wolfgang Huber claimed that Turkey’s participation in the EU should not have been enforced and that rejection of the Armenian genocide lack of religious freedom for the Christians in Turkey should have been viewed as obstacles on her way to Europe.[59]

On 21 and 23 April 2005, Christoff Vetter, who is the spokesman of the EDK Commission, has popularized two declarations regarding the recognition of the unfounded Armenian allegations to public opinion, one of which is titled as ‘Remembering In Order To Reconciliate’ (‘Erinnern um der Versöhnung willen’)[60] and the other that mentions Huber’s ‘The Afterwards Apology Request’ (“Nachtragliche Bitte um Verzeihung”) to be performed by Germany because of being a partner of the so-called Armenian Genocide.

Furthermore, the speech titled as “The 90th Commemoration Day Declaration of the KEK” (“KEK Stellungnahme der KEK aus Anlab des 90. Gedentages des Völkermords an dem armenischen Volk”) and dated as 6 April 2005 that of Jean-Arnold de Clermont, who is the President of European Church Conference (“Konferenz Europaischer Kirchen”; KEK) with which the EKD also co-operates, and the President of the French Protestant Churches Union, mentions the necessity of the recognition of the “genocide” by Turkey and of following up the negotiation with the EU carefully.[61]

c. The Liturgy and The Commemoration Ceremonies of The EDK

The glorious religious ceremony, in which Wolfgang Huber also participated and which was organized by EKD on 24 April at Berlin Dome Church for both Catholic and the Protestant Christians by the occasion of 90th anniversary of the so-called Armenian Genocide, was chaired by Huber himself.[62] The speech of Huber during the following phase of the commemoration ceremony includes similar expressions with respect to its style and content when compared to the decree accepted by the Parliament in accordance with the proposal of CDU/CSU on 16 June 2005, and to the proposal of the Christian Union Party that appealed the parliament in order to make the allegations recognized and it can be viewed as a clue about the existence of a common activity. As it has been asserted by the appeal of the parliamentarians of Christian Democratic Union and the decree of the Federal Parliament, Huber’s speech includes issues such as confrontation of Turkey with its own history honestly and apparently, teaching the so-called genocide at German schools, commemoration of Johannes Lepsius who made a lot for the Armenians, the essence of the recognition of the genocide in order for the reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.[63]

d. The Panel Activities of the EDK

The dialogue between German society and the Protestant church has been consolidated by the aid of Protestant Academies (Evangelische Akademie[64]) network within which education programs and seminars supported by the Protestant Church. The panels dated 4-6 March 2005 (Berlin[65]) and 9-10 December 2005 (Wittenberg[66]) are just few examples of these programs and activities. The Mühlheim Protestant Academy seminar[67] dated as 23-25 March 2005 has already been organized together with the German-Armenian Association.[68] The Protestant Church tries to make the German public opinion admit the unfounded Armenian allegations through these kinds of panels.

e. The Publications of the EKD

EKD releases a series called as the “EKD Texte”. Yet in 2003, within an article titled as ‘What Christians Experience in Various Countries’ (‘Erfahrungen von Christen in verschiedenen Landern’), it has been claimed that non-Muslims were under the oppression in Turkey and that the Armenians were subjected to genocide in 1915.[69]

Besides EKD, another institution that supports unfounded Armenian allegations is the Protestant Press Agency (Evangelischer Pressedienst – EPD). This institution, as far as it expresses itself, “is an independent agency supported by the Protestant Church”[70] but EPD’s marketing of the proclamation and speeches of the so-called Armenian Genocide Panel organized by the Protestant Academy in Berlin on March 2005 is an indicator of collaboration between the EPD and EKD[71].

However the rationale of the bridge existing between the church and government has not been generated only by the religious institutions.

CDU/CSU has established the Protestant Operation Group (Evangelischer Arbeitskreis – EAK) on behalf of their own politicians. There is not much information about the regulation, decision mechanisms and full members of the EAK financed by the union parties.[72] Its director is Thomas Rachel, a member of the Federal Parliament. The EAK regularly publishes a bulletin called Evangelische Verantwortung (The Protestant Responsibility), in which Protestant intellectuals write about their comments on governmental issues. The EAK bulletin includes one sided and critical articles about the Armenian question and Turkey. The latest example of this is the article titled as “Islam and Nationalism in Turkey” mentioned above.[73]

Dr. Christoph Bergner, one of the leading Protestant members of the Parliament, has used almost the same phrases used within the appeal of the CDU/CSU to the Parliament regarding the recognition of the so-called genocide with respect to word and content [(“being eradicated”, treating own history honestly and contributing to peace via confronting with history”, etc.] in his leading article titled as “About the 90th anniversary of the Commencement of the Armenians Eradication within the Ottoman Empire” published in Evangelische Verantworung on April 2005.[74] The article praising Lepsius and his activities written by Prof. Dr. Goltz is about the proposal once again and it takes place in the same edition of the Bulletin: “political and intellectual power of revolt of Johannes Lepsius can be compared with that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.”[75] As Dietrich Bonhoeffer has opposed Hitler’ dictatorship and risked his life, the Jon Turks and the Turks are viewed as the image of the Nazis, accordingly, the crime of Holocaust has been moderated via this comparison.

The relation between the EKD, EAK and the CDU/CSU is not a chance; rather, it is an indicator of a common attitude that can be derived from similar words such as “treating own history honestly” and “contributing to peace via confronting history”. Furthermore, existence of Hermann Gröhe, a member of the EKD Commission, among the Protestant members of the Parliament from CDU/CSU, is a concrete indicator of such a relation. The CDU member of the Parliament, the Protestant theologian and the Director of The Halle Martin Luther University Archive, Matthias Bergner is a supporter of the Armenian allegations and is the one who himself contributed to the CDU/CSU proposal submitted to the Parliament and the one providing the contact between the Protestant theologian Prof. Dr. Hermann Goltz and the Union Parties’ Parliament Group.[76]

What are the underlying reasons of the success of Christian Democratic Union Parties’ proposal? It is an important factor that Turkey is a significant matter of contention in the election procedure for Germany’s internal policy. Christian Democratic Union Parties, which are against Turkey’s EU membership from cultural and religious point of views and which are supporters of the ‘privileged partnership’, have thought that they would block the coalescence of Turkey by spotlighting the Armenian question[77]:

Social Democrats and Greens, that have been defeated in the provincial elections and decided to have an early election on May 2005, did refrain from pro-Turkish attitudes and approved the resolution titled as “Recalling and the Commemoration of the 1915 Armenian Deportation and Massacres: Germany Should Contribute To The Reconciliation Between Turkey and Armenia”. The contact of the proposal recorded by the SPD and Goltz was provided by the Protestant Theologian Markus Meckel.[78]


The German Parliament that has already rejected the Armenian allegations in the year 2000 adopted the resolution titled as “The Recalling and the Commemoration of the 1915 Armenian Deportation and Massacres: Germany Should Contribute to the Reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia” as an outcome of the attempts of the Christian Democratic Union Parties in 2005. There are several reasons of the recognition of the so-called genocide by the German Parliament. Germany, that has a negative image and a limited political field of action in international arena for decades as a result of the Holocaust, tries to make Turkey a partner of its crime through provoking Armenian question in order to moderate its own responsibility. Spotlighting of the so-called Armenian genocide also serves for impeding the integration of Turkey into the EU or that of its impact on the other EU countries. Furthermore, Germany is not likely to hold a policy contradicting French foreign policy, which had also recognized the Armenian genocide. Yet after the Cold War, Turkey lost its strategic importance for Germany, accordingly, there was no need for a pro-Turkish policy. Recognition of the so-called genocide by some other European Parliaments has made the German Parliament and outsider. Furthermore, German authorities, viewing Muslim Turks as a problem in Germany where unemployment is increasing, recognized the unfounded Armenian allegations in order to control the Turks more easily.

It is doubtful that significant part of the parliamentarians of CDU/CSU that submitted the question regarding the so-called genocide to the German Parliament is of Protestant origin. The policy of the German Protestant Church has been accelerated after 2004 EKD Magdeburg meeting regarding the recognition of the unfounded allegations by the German society and Parliament. EKD, which is in permanent contact with the German Parliament and Government, has organized activities such as large-scaled ceremonies, Commemoration meetings, bulletins and panels. The Coalition Government of Germany, which had composed of the Social Democrats and the Greens and which lost its votes and prestige by the inspiration of the early election, has also supported the resolution due to political concerns.

[1] Yusuf Halaçoglu, Sürgünden Soykirima Ermeni iddialari, (istanbul: 2006); Yusuf Halaçoglu, Ermeni Tehciri ve Gerçekler, 1914-1918, (Ankara: 2001); Justin McCarthy, Death and Exile, The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Turks, 1821-1922, (Princeton: 1995); Justin McCarthy, The Ottoman Turks, (London: 1998); ?ahin Ali Söylemezo?lu, Die andere Seite der Medaille [The Other Side of The Medal], (Köln: 2005); Cem Özgönül, Der Mythos eines Völkermordes [The Myth of a Genocide], (Köln: 2006).
[2] Ömer E. Lütem, ‘Facts and Comments’, (Review of Armenian Studies, Vol. 2, No. 7-8, 2005), pp. 5-49; Bundestagsdrucksache 15/5689, 15 June 2005.
[3] Schaefgen, ‘Der Völkermord an den Armeniern in der deutschen Politik nach 1949’ [The Armenian Genocide in German Diplomacy after 1949], within it Hans-Lukas Kieser ve Dominik J. Schaller (eds.), Der Völkermord an den Armeniern und die Shoah [The Armenian Genocide and the Shoah], (Zürich: 2002), p. 565.
[4] Ibid. p. 574, footnote 46.
[5] Ibid, p. 566-567.
[6] Ibid. p. 566, p. 574, footnote 43.
[7] Bundestagsdrucksache 14/9921, 3 September 2002; Seyhan Bayraktar ve Wolfgang Seibel, ‘Das türkische Tätertrauma, Der Massenmord an den Armeniern von 1915 bis 1917 und seine Leugnung’ [The Trauma of the Turkish Perpetrators, The Armenian Collective Genocide in Between 1915 and 1917 and Its Denial], in Bernhard Giesen ve Christoph Schneider (eds.), Tätertrauma [The Trauma of The Perpetrators], (Konstanz: 2004), p. 385.
[8] Bundestagsdrucksache 15/4627, 7 January 2005.
[9] Schaefgen, Der Völkermord ...., op.cit., pp. 557-576; Seyhan Bayraktar ve Wolfgang Seibel, Das türkische Tätertrauma ...., op. cit., s. 383-386; Wolfgang Benz, ‘Der Völkermord an den Armeniern: Zum 90. Gedenktag am 24. April 2005’ [Armenian Genocide, about its 90th Anniversary on 24 April 2005], (Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, Vol. 53, No. 4, 2005, pp. 293-300), p. 300; Marcus Schladebach, ‘Der türkische Völkermord an den Armeniern: Aktuelle Fragen aus europäischer Perspektive’ [The Genocide Exercised by Turks over Armenians: Current Problems from Europe’s Point of View], ‘Südosteuropa, Vol. 53, No. 1, 2005, pp. 96-108), p. 101
[10] Bernhard Giesen, Das Tätertrauma der Deutschen [The Trauma of German Perpetrators], in Bernhard Giesen e Christoph Schneider, Tätertrauma …., op.cit., p. 47.
[11] ?lber Ortayl?, ‘Ermeni Sorunu: Soyk?r?m ?ddialar?n?n Arkas?ndaki Gerçekler’, (Popüler Tarih, Vol. 8, 2001, pp.42-46), p.44.
[12] Tessa Hoffmann, ‘Verfolgung und Völkermord. Armenien zwischen 1877 und 1922’ [Cruelty and Genocide. Armenia between 1877 and 1922], in Tessa Hoffmann, Armenier und Armenien – Heimat und Exil [Armenians and Armenia, Motherland and Deportation], (Hamburg: 1994), p. 28, pp. 15-32.
[13] Hans-Lukas Kieser, Der verpasste Friede. Mission, Ethnie und Staat in den Ostprovinzen der Türkei 1839-1938 [The Missed Peace, the Missionaries in Eastern Provinces, Ethnic Identity ve State 1839-1938] (Zürich: 2000).
[14] Hans-Lukas Kieser ve Dominik J.Schaller (eds.), DerVölkermord..., op. cit..
[15] Seyhan Bayraktar ve Wolfgang Seibel, ‘Das türkische Tätertrauma …., op.cit. p. 385.
[16] http://www.radikal.com.tr/haber.php?haberno=145565, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[17] Bundestagsdrucksache 15/5689, 15 June 2005.
[18] “The specific historical past” (“besondere deutsche Vergangenheit”) of Germany which limited its international field of action in the past is used as a valid tool today for the contribution of the Federal German Republic for the protection of “The World Peace and The Human Rights”. German’s contribution to Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan interventions are shown as legitimate under the title of “the special responsibility of Germany”. Thus, Seyhan Bayraktar and Wolfgang Siebel criticize Germany since it does not generate a hard attitude against Turkey regarding the so-called Armenian Genocide because of the governmental opportunism despite Germany’s “learning from the past”. Seyhan Bayraktar ve Wolfgang Seibel, ‘Das türkische Tätertrauma…, op.cit., p. 384.
[19] Meinhard Miegel, Die deformierte Gesellschaft [The Deformed Society], (Münich: 2002).
[20]Canan At?lgan, Türkische Diaspora in Deutschland [Turkish Diaspora in Deutschland], (Hamburg: 2002), p. 96.
[21] Ibid., p.97.
[22] Cumhuriyet, ‘Yeni Bir "Leitkultur" Kahraman?’, 3.7.2002, p.6
[23] Canan At?lgan, Türkische Diaspora...., op. cit., p. 100.
[24] Rainer Glagow, ‘Islam und Nationalismus in der Türkei’ [Islam and Nationality in Turkey], (Evangelische Verantwortung, December 2005/January 2006, pp. 6-15), p.6.
[25]Ibid. , p. 9.
[26] Ibid. p. 10.
[27] Ibid., p. 12.
[28] Udo Steinbach, ‘Muslime in Deutschland’ [Muslims in Germany], (Hirschberger Monatszeitschrift des Bundes Neudeutschland , Vol. 51, No. 10, 1998, pp. 695-702); Udo Steinbach, ‘Muslime in Deutschland ‘[Muslims in Germany], in Tillman Hannemann ve Peter Meier-Hüsing (eds.), Deutscher Islam – Islam in Deutschland [German Islam – Islam in Germany], (Marburg: 2000).
[29] Körber Vakf?, Türk-Alman Diyaloguna Katk?lar, (Hamburg: 2002), pp. 379-380.
[30] Der Spiegel, ‘Der Kopftuchstreit und die schwierige Integration der Muslime’, No. 40, 29.9.2003, pp. 82-97, p. 88
[31] Tillman Hannemann ve Peter Meier-Hüsing (eds.), Deutscher Islam....., op.cit..
[32] Udo Steinbach, ‘Muslime in Deutschland’, op. cit..
[33] Bassam Tibi, Islamische Zuwanderung. Die gescheiterte Integration [The Islamic Immigration. Unsuccessful Integration], (Stuttgart 2002).
[34] Claus Leggewie, Auf dem Weg zum Euro-Islam? Moscheen und Muslime in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland [Is euro way to the Islam? The Muslims and The Mosques in The Federal Geman Republis], (Bad Homburg 2002).
[35] Bundestagsdrucksache 15/5689, 15 June 2005.
[36] Tamer Bac?no?lu ve Andrea Bac?no?lu, Modern Alman Oryantalizmi, (Ankara: 2001).
[37] Regarding the Armenian issue, the attempts to oppress the Turkish associations are declared by the academicians to the pulic opinion with back up documents at a web page, http://www.armenianquestion. org/page.php?modul=Article&op=read&nid=286&rub=88, the last day of the accession 10.2.2006.
[38] Schaefgen, Der Völkermord ...., op.cit., p. 569.
[39] Tamer Bac?no?lu ve Andrea Bac?no?lu, Modern Alman ..., op. cit., p.199.
[40] Kamer Kas?m, ‘Avrupa Birli?i Sürecinde K?br?s, Ermeni Sorunu Ve Az?nl?klar’, (Avrasya Dosyas?, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2005, pp. 85-112), p. 101
[41]Özlem Ye?ilkaya, ‘Challenges on the Path of Turkey's EU Membership’, (Turkish Policy Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3, 2005, pp. 99-110), p.100
[42] Hüseyin Ba?c?, ‘German Realism vs. Turkish Naiveté’, http://www.turkishweekly.net/news.php?id=13123, 21 June 2005, the last of the accession 10.2.2006.
[43] Ömer E. Lütem, ‘Facts and Comments’, op. cit., p. 45.
[44] Bundestagsdrucksache 15/5689, 15 June 2005.
[45] Cem Özgönül, Der Mythos eines Völkermordes, (Köln: 2006), p. 59-60.
[46] Gerhard Besier, ‘Die politische Rolle des Protestantismus in der Nachkriegszeit’ [Political Role of the Protestantism in the Post-War Period], (Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 50, 2000, pp. 29-38)
[47] Eberhard Stammler, ‘Evangelische Kirche und Staat in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland seit 1945’ [Protestant Church and State in Post-War Federal German Republic], in Georg Denzler (ed.), Kirche und Staat auf Distanz [Diverging Church and State], (Münih: 1977), pp.126-137.
[48] Göttrik Wewer, ‘Die großen Kirchen in unterschiedlichen politischen Systemen’ [Big Churches Within Different Political Systems], in Heidrun Abromeit ve Göttrik Wewer (eds.), Die Kirchen und die Politik [Churches and Politics], (Opladen: 1989), p.71, pp. 49-87.
[49] Cem Özgönül, Der Mythos …., op. cit. ; Uwe Feigal who is an Armenian supporter has mentioned about the pro-Armenian activities of the Protestants in his own work. Uwe Feigel, Das evangelische Deutschland und Armenien, Die Armenierhilfe deutscher evangelischer Christen seit dem Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts im Kontext der deutsch-türkischen Beziehungen [Protestant Germany and Armenia: The contribution of Protestants to Armenians within the Framework of German-Turkish Relations ], (Göttingen: 1989)
[50] Kirchenamt der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (ed.), Bericht über die dritte Tagung der zehnten Synode der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland vom 7. bis 11. November 2004 [The Third Day Meeting Report of The 10th Synode of The Protestant Church On 7-11 November 2004 ], Magdeburg 2004, Vol. 62, (Hannover: 2005), p. 27.
[51] Ibid., p. 34.
[52] Ibid., p. 148.
[53] Seyhan Bayraktar ve Wolfgang Seibel, Das türkische Tätertrauma...., op. cit., p. 383.
[54] Kirchenamt der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (ed.), Bericht über die dritte, op. cit., p. 204.
[55] Ibid., p. 206.
[56] http://www.ekd.de/bevollmaechtigter/auftrag.html; http://www.ekd.de/bevollmaechtigter/auftrag.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[57] http://www.ekd.de/bevollmaechtigter/auftrag.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[58] http://www.hermann-groehe.de/zurperson, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[59] Aschot Manutscharjan, ‘Genozid an den...’ [The Armenian Genocide In Turkey: It is consciously silenced in Germany regarding the genocide 90 years before], p.29, pp.27-30.
[60] http://www.ekd.de/presse/pm68_2005_ratserklaerung_armenier.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.06
[61] http://www.ekd.de/aktuell_presse/pm57_2005_kek_erklaerung_armenier.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[62] http://www.ekd.de/aktuell_presse/pm57_2005_kek_erklaerung_armenier.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[63] http://www.ekd.de/predigten/050423_huber_berliner_dom_armenier.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[64] http://www.ekd.de/akademien, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[65] http://www.eaberlin.de/41890.htm. The ones participated in the conference are Tessa Hoffmann, Yelda Özcan supporting the Armenian thesis and the IHD authority who is Lawyer Eren Keskin known for his views about the Southeast problem.
[66] http://www.ev-akademie-wittenberg.de/downloads/programm2005-57-05.pdf, the last day of the accession 10.2.2006.
[67] http://www.deutsch-armenische-gesellschaft.de/dag/tagmt1.htm, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[68] http://www.deutsch-armenische-gesellschaft.de/dag/tagmt1.htm, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006. Armenian and German participants and Dr. Kür?at-Ahlers have participated in the conference.
[69] http://www.ekd.de/EKD-Texte/2059_ekd_texte_78_4.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[70] http://www.epd.de/index_1681.html, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[71] EPD Dokumentation 17-18/2005, Der Völkermord an den Armeniern und syrischen Christen, Beiträge zur Tagung in der Evangelischen Akademie zu Berlin (4.-6. März 2005) [The Genocide Exercised on the Armenian and the Syrian Christians, Contributions to the Berlin Protestant Academy], http://www.eaberlin.de/41890.htm, the last date of the accession 10.2.2006.
[72] Göttrik Wewer, Die großen Kirchen...., op.cit., p .60.
[73] Rainer Glagow, Islam und Nationalismus in der Türkei...., op. cit.
[74] Christoph Bergner, ‘Zum 90. Jahrestag des Beginns der Armeniervernichtung im Osmanischen Reich’ [About the 90th Anniversary of the Commencement of Armenian Eradication within the Ottoman Empire], (Evangelische Verantwortung, Vol. 4, 2005, pp. 1-5).
[75] Hermann Goltz, ‘Dr. Johannes Lepsius (1858-1926)’, (Evangelische Verantwortung, Vol. 4, 2005, p. 5)
[76] Cem Özgönül, Der Mythos eines Völkermordes…., op. cit., p. 60.
[77] Ömer E. Lütem, ‘Facts and Comments’ ..., op. cit., p. 45-46.
[78] Cem Özgönül, Der Mythos eines Völkermordes…., op. cit., p. 60.

* - burak.guemues@gmx.de
- Review of ARMENIAN STUDIES, Number 10, Volume 4 - 2006



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