2979) Armenians in Turkey – Community-Individual-Citizen: Book Review By Sukru Server Aya

ISBN 978-805-399—095-6 Bilgi Univ. Publication No. 253, İstanbul June 2009


If many of my past and present sincere friends were not to be of Armenian ethnicity and with all of them, I had experienced not even one thing unpleasant, other than bilateral love, understanding and sharing; I would have had no reason to make this research. The fact that the book authors are aged to be my children or grand children and they all have “scholar titles” made me to think it over, because our “mission is to pacify, intermix, avoid any complexes of superiority-inferiority or wealth, and is to complete this short lifetime with positive endeavors!

If at the presentation made for the book, the writers were not to use a very heavy charge against the Turkish state and its sections such as “intended act of not educating”, probably my curiosity was not to be awoke!

Consequently the writers express in the introduction section of the book that ' This wall of silence was supported by prejudices based on wrong information and for one side “taught non-existence”, and for the other side “defensive/protective styles of habit” !' . . .

Direct Link

A very important and reliable “eyewitness report” is the rather long article written by Swedish Army Officer HJ Pravitz (Gustav Hjalmar Pravitz) who wrote a somewhat long article in the Nya Dagligt Allehanda, 23 April 1917, under the title: The situation of the Armenians: By one who was among them. This officer was neutral, and traveled the area on horse and witnessed the situation of the columns. The following is excerpted from this first-hand embedded eyewitness, a Protestant Christian, who had no reason to defend Turks! Full article is available on


“Recently returned home from abroad I have right now – i.e. somewhat late – had the opportunity to look at two Swedish booklets on the Armenian issue. ‘Sven Hedin – adelsman’ (Sven Hedin – a nobility) by Ossiannilsson and ‘Armeneiernas fruktansvarta lage’ (the terrible situation of the Armenians), by Marika Stjernstedt. The former book went immediately in the wastebasket. In all its poorly hidden appreciation of the title character, it annoyed me more than a main article in Dagens Nyheter. The latter, which seemed spirited by the compassion of the suffering Armenians, I have read repeatedly, and it is really this and its inaccuracies that my article is about.

I dare to claim, that any other Swede has had the opportunity like me, to thoroughly and closely study the misery among the Armenians, since I now for about a month have traveled right among all the emigrating poor people. And this, during the right time, fall 1915, during which the alleged brutalities, according to both writers, were practically bad. I want to hope, that what I am describing below, which are my own experiences, will have the purpose to remove the impression of inhumanity and barbarity from the Turkish and German side, which is easily induced by the reading of the two booklets mentioned above. If I understand the contents of the books correctly, both writers want to burden the Turks as well as the Germans with deliberate assaults or even cruelties. My position as an embedded eyewitness gives me the right and duty to protest against such claims, and the following, based on my experiences will support and strengthen this protest. … I started my journey from Constantinople through Asian Turkey, with a certain prejudiced point of view, partly received from American travelers, about the persecution of the Armenians by their Turkish masters. My lord, which misery I would see, and to which cruelties I would witness! And although my long service in the Orient has not convinced me that the Armenians, despite their Christianity, are any of God’s best children, I decided to keep my eyes open to see for myself to which extent the rumors about Turkish assaults are true and the nameless victims were telling the truth. I sure got to view misery, but planned cruelties? Absolutely nothing.”

From the Swedish paper, “Nya Daglight Allehanda”,.April 23rd, 1917, by H.J. Pravitz

“When Erzurum fell in February, 1916, an Armenian, with whom I just shared Russian imprisonment, uttered something I interpreted as ‘it would have fallen earlier if we had been allowed to stay’.’ That a country like Turkey, threatened and attacked by powerful external enemies, is trying to secure itself against cunning internal enemies, no one should be able to blame her… Armenians have their own religion, their own language, both in speaking and writing, their own schools etc…As far as the much discussed major Armenian migration is concerned, I am the first to agree that the attempts of the Turkish side to reduce the difficulties of the refuges left a lot to be desired. But I emphasize again, in the name of fairness, that considering the difficult situation in which Turkey, as the target of attack from three powerful enemies, was in and it was, in my opinion, almost impossible for the Turks under the circumstances, to have been able to keep up an orderly assistance activity…I have seen dying and dead along the roads –but among hundreds of thousands there must, of course, occur casualties-. I have seen children’s corpse, shredded in pieces by jackals, and pitiful individuals stretch their bony arms with piercing screams of ‘ekmek’ (bread). But my travel companion of mine, Dr. Schacht, was also traveling along the river. He also had nothing to tell. In summary, I think that Mrs. Stjernstedt, somewhat uncritically’ has accepted the hair-raising stories from more or less biased sources, which formed the basis for her lecture… But I do want to, as far as it can be considered to be within the powers of an eyewitness, deny that the regular gendarme forces, who supervised the transports, are guilty of any cruelties. (Rattvik, April, 1917, H.J. Pravitz”)

From the Swedish newspaper, “Nya Daglight Allehanda”,.April 23rd, 1917, by H.J. Pravitz



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