1891) A Short History Of The Torossian Debate

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A Short History Of The Torossian Debate
Taner Akçam
30 Jul 2015

Sarkis Torossian, an Ottoman Armenian, was an of?cer in the Ottoman army who fought on different fronts during the First World War. Because of his courage and success during the Gallipoli War, his military rank was raised and he was awarded a medal with an accompanying letter, signed by Enver Pasha himself. After learning that his family had been deported and exterminated during the genocide, Torossian switched sides and fought against the Turkish army. After 1920, he settled in the US where he published his memoirs in 1947. The translation of his memoirs into Turkish in 2012 has launched a heated debate. That an Armenian soldier was on active duty in Gallipoli, which has a crucial symbolic value for Turkish national identity, was unacceptable. His memoirs represent a total discrediting of the Turkish historical narrative on Armenians and the Armenian Genocide. Hence, some scholars have questioned its authenticity, denouncing him a charlatan and his memoirs as ?ction. Others believe in the memoirs’ authenticity despite the few errors and exaggerations, which are normal in such documents. This article argues that the debate is about the relationship between history, truth and memoirs.

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