Category Controversy between Turkey and Armenia about the Events of 1915

Statement by Farhan Haq, U.N. Spokesman, on October 5, 2000, and on April 9, 2007 about the Armenian allegations on the UN position regarding the events of 1915

Statement by Farhan Haq, U.N. Spokesman, on October 5, 2000, and on April 9, 2007 about the Armenian allegations on the UN position regarding the events of 1915





Presentation by Ambassador Gündüz Aktan at the House Committee on International Relations on September 14, 2000.

Presentation by Ambassador Gündüz Aktan at the House Committee on International Relations on September 14, 2000.

House Committee on International Relations
Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights September 14, 2000

Testimony of Ambassador Gündüz Aktan

Mr. Chairman,
I thank you very much for inviting me to this hearing. It is a privilege and honor for me to address this sub-committee my personal capacity as a private citizen, although the topic is not a pleasant one.

The question before us is too complex to treat in five minutes. Therefore, I will not dwell on its historical aspects.

Let me stress, however, that the Turkish people firmly believe that what happened to the Armenians was not genocide.

 It was relocation to other pans of the Ottoman Empire of only the eastern Anatolian Armenians, away from a war zone in which they were collaborating with invading Russian armies with the aim of creating an independent state of their own in areas where they were only a minority by ethnically “cleansing” the majority Turks.

This tragedy occurred during the war between the Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia, which was greatly aided by die Armenians, a long inter-communal struggle between Armenian irregulars and defending Muslim civilians as well as a thoroughly disorganized relocation of the Armenian population under the exceptionally difficult conditions of the day.

 As a result many Armenians were killed. But many more Muslims and Turks perished as well.

The Turkish people will be deeply offended by this resolution which practically accuses them of being genocidal- They will also find it disrespectful of their unmentioned millions of dead.

Were it to be adopted, I am afraid, it would have two immediate effects: one on Turco-Armenian relations, the other on Turco-American relations.

Under the tremendous pressure of public opinion, the Turkish government will be compelled to toughen its foreign policy towards Armenia.

Turkey earnestly rejoiced at Armenia’s independence after the demise of the Soviet Union. As a token of friendship the Turkish government provided wheat to the Armenian people who were then in dire need. I feel personally gratified to have played a pan, together with Mr. G. Libaridian, in accomplishing this Turkish gesture of fellowship.

Turkey integrated Armenia into the Black Sea Cooperation Council, although it is not a littoral state.

Despite the so-called embargo, Turkish governments have deliberately turned a blind eye to the porous nature of the common border through which vital provisions reach the Armenians.

Armenia, however, maintains its occupation of 20 % of Azerbaijani territory, creating one million refugees with the help of Russian protection purchased at the cost of its newly gained independence.

Now, by insisting on the recognition of the genocide, the Armenian leadership and the diaspora will finally silence the few remaining voices favorable to them in Turkey. This will effectively result in sealing the border. Given the situation in Armenia this attitude of the Armenian government is akin to suicide.

However, I am personally more worried about Turkey’s relations with the U.S. A strategic cooperation has been developed over the decades with great care and patience on the basis of mutual interest.

The first casualty of this resolution would be Cyprus, for the U.S. will immediately lose its honest broker status in the eyes of Turkish public opinion. Mr. Moses, the President’s special representative, may no longer find any interlocutor.

Turkey and the U.S. closely cooperate in the Caucasus, especially in the field of energy, which has recently acquired great importance due to the rapidly increasing oil prices. In the region where Armenia is situated, the potential for cooperation with a country that considers Turks genocidal will be bound to remain severely limited.

But above all our cooperation on Iraq will inevitably suffer. The support for the American policy in northern Iraq, already slim, will dwindle immediately, for the Turkish people already feel enough of effects of the economic embargo with Iraq, which costs them billions of dollars. Why to continue to make this sacrifice?

This would mean the military base at Incirlik would no longer be used by U.S. war planes to bomb northern Iraq. Without air power to deter Saddam Huseyn from regaining the control of the region, this could very well be the end of the INC.

The crucial question is why the Armenians, not content with the word “tragedy” or “catastrophe”, insist on genocide.

I am not a jurist. But I served as ambassador to the UN section in Geneva where questions related to humanitarian law (or the law of war) is also dealt with. In connection with the former Yugoslavia we thoroughly discussed the genocide convention.

What determines genocide is not necessarily the number of casualties or the cruelty of the persecution but the “intent to destroy’ a group. Historically the “intent to destroy a race” has emerged only as the culmination of racism, as in the case of anti-Semitism and the Shoah. Turks have never harbored any anti-Armenianism.

 Killing, even of civilians, in a war waged for territory, is not genocide. The victims of genocide must be totally innocent. In other words, they must not fight for something tangible like land, but be killed by the victimizer simply because of their membership in a specific group. Obviously, both Turks and Armenians fought for land upon which to build their independent states.

Since genocide is an imprescriptibly crime, Armenia has recourse to the International Court of Justice at the Hague and may therefore ask the court to determine, according to article IX of the Convention, whether it was genocide.

But I know they cannot do it. They do not have a legally sustainable case. That is why they seek legislative resolutions which are legally null and void.

One last point: I would humbly suggest that all the references to Great Britain in the text of the resolution be dropped, for in July of this year the British Government declared in the House of Lords that “in the absence of unequivocal evidence to show that the Ottoman administration took a specific decision to eliminate the Armenians, the British Governments have not recognized the events of 1915-16 as genocide”.

Let us not forget that Great Britain was the occupying power after the First World War and the Ottoman archives were at its disposition.
Thank you Mr. Chairman

Presentation by Prof. Justin McCarthy at the Seminar on Turkish-Armenian Relations organized by the Democratic Principles Association on March 15, 2001

Presentation by Prof. Justin McCarthy at the Seminar on Turkish-Armenian Relations organized by the Democratic Principles Association on March 15, 2001

Throughout recent debate on the Armenian Question one statement has characterized those who object to politicians’ attempts to write history. “Let the Historians Decide.” Few of us have stated what we mean by that statement. It is time to do so.

There is a vast difference between history written to defend one-sided nationalist convictions and what history should be. History intends to find the truth about the past. Historians recognize that the truth is illusive. They know they have prejudices that affect their judgement. They know that they never have all the facts. Yet they always try to find the truth, whatever that truth may be.

Nationalists who use history have a different set of goals. They use events from the past as weapons in their nations’ battles. They have a purpose the triumph of their cause and will use anything to succeed in their goal. While a historian tries to collect all relevant facts and put them in a coherent picture, the nationalist selects those pieces of history that fit his purpose, ignoring the others.

Like other men and women, historians have political goals and ideologies, but a true historian acknowledges his errors when the facts do support his belief. The nationalist apolopist never does so. If the facts not fit his theories, the nationalist ignores those facts and looks for other ways to make his case. True historians can make intellectual mistakes. Nationalist apologists commit intellectual crimes.

The Armenian Question has long been plagued with nationalist studies. This has led to an inconsistent history that ignores the time-tested principles of historical research. Yet when the history of the Turks and Armenians is approached with the normal tools of history, a logical and consistent account results. “Let the historians decide” is a call for historical study like any other historical study, one that looks at all the facts, studies all the opinions, applies historical principles, and comes to logical conclusions.

Historians first ask the most basic question, “Was there an Armenia?” Was there a region within the Ottoman Empire where Armenians were a compact majority that might rightfully demand its own state?

To find the answer, historians look to government statistics for population figures, especially to archival statistics, because governments seldom deliberately lie to themselves. They want to know their populations so they can understand them, watch them, conscript them, and most important to a government, tax them. The Ottomans were no different than any other government in this. Like other governments, they made mistakes, particularly undercounts of women and children. These undercounts can be corrected through the use of statistical methods. What results is the most accurate possible picture of the number of the Ottoman Armenians.” By the beginning of World War I, Armenians made up only 17% of the area they claimed as “Ottoman Armenia.” In fact, if all the Armenians in the world had come to Eastern Anatolia, they still would not have been a majority there.

Two inferences can be drawn from the relatively small number of Armenians in the Ottoman East: The first is that by themselves, the Armenians of Anatolia would have been no great threat to the Ottoman State. Armenian rebels might have disrupted civil order, but there were too few of them to endanger Ottoman authority. Armenian rebels needed help from outside forces, help that could only be provided by the Russians. The second inference is that Armenian nationalists could have created a state that was truly theirs only if they first evicted the Muslims who lived there.

To understand the history of the development of Muslim-Armenian antagonism one must apply historical principles. In applying those principles, one can see that the history of the Armenians was a history like other histories. Some of that history was naturally unique, because of its environment, but much of it was strikingly similar to what was seen in other places and times. The principles:

1. Most ethnic conflicts develop over a long period. Germans and Poles, Finns and Russians, Hindus and Muslims in the Indian sub-continent, Irish and English, Europeans and Native Americans in North America-all these ethnic conflicts unfolded over generations, often over centuries.

2. Until very modem times, most mass mortality of ethnic groups and peoples was the result of warfare in which there were at least two warring sides.

3. When conflict erupted between nationalist revolutionaries and states it was the revolutionaries who began the confrontations. Internal peace was in the interest of settled states. Looked at charitably, states often wished tranquillity for the benefits it gave their citizens. With less charity, it can be seen that peace made it easier to collect taxes and use armies to fight foreign enemies, not internal foes. World history demonstrates this too well for examples from other regions to be needed here. In the Ottoman Empire, the examples of rebellions in Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria demonstrate the truth of the principle.

On these principles, the history of the Turks and The Armenians was no different than other histories. Historical principles applied.

The conflict between the Turks and Armenians did indeed develop over a long time. The primary imputes for what was to become the Armenian-Muslim conflict lay in Russian imperial expansion. In the time of Ivan The Terrible, the sixteenth century, Russians began a policy of expelling Muslims from lands they conquered. Over the next three hundred years, Muslim peoples, many of them Turks, were killed or driven from what today is the Ukraine, the Crimea, and the Caucasus. From the 1770s to the 1850s Russian attacks and Russian laws forced more than 400,000 Crimean Tatars to flee their land. In Caucasus Region, 1.2 million Circassians and Abhazians were either expelled or killed by the Russians. Of that number, one-third died-one of many mass murders of Muslims that most often has been ignored. The Tatars, Circassians, and Abhazians came to the Ottoman Empire. Their presence taught the Ottoman Muslims what they could expect from Russian conquest.

Members of the Armenian minority in the Caucasus Region began to rebel against Muslim rule and to ally themselves with Russian invaders in the 1790s. Armenian armed units joined the Russians. Armenian spies delivered plans to the Russians. In these wars, Muslims were massacred and forced into exile. Armenians in turn migrated into areas previously held by Muslims, such as Karabag. This was the beginning of the division of the peoples of the Southern Caucasus and then Eastern Anatolia into two conflicting sides-the Russian Empire and the Armenians on one side, the Muslim population and the Ottoman Empire on the other. Most Armenians and Muslims undoubtedly wanted nothing to do with this conflict, but events were to force them to take sides.

The 1827 to 1829 wars between the Russians and the Persians and the Russians and Ottomans saw the beginning of a great population exchange in the East that was to last until 1920. When the Russians conquered the Erivan Khanete, today the Armenian Republic, the majority of its population of its population was Muslim. Approximately two-thirds, 60,000 of these Muslims were forced out of Erivan by the Russians. The Russians went on to invade Anatolia, where large numbers of Armenians took up the Russian cause. At war’s end, when the Russians left Eastern Anatolia, 50-90,000 Armenians joined them. They took up the places of the exiled Muslims in Erivan and elsewhere, joined by 40,000 Armenians from Iran.

The great population exchange had begun, and mutual distrust between Anatolia’s Muslims and Armenians was result. The Russians were to invade Anatolia twice more in the nineteenth century, during the Crimean War and the 1877-78 Russo-Turkish War. In both wars, significant numbers of Armenians joined the Russians, acting as spies and even occupation police. In Erzurum, for example, British consular officials reported that the Armenian police chief appointed by the Russians and his Armenian force “molested, ill-treated, and insulted the Mohammadan population,” and that 6,000 Muslim families had been forced to flee the city. When the Russians left part of their conquest, at least 25,000 Armenians joined them, fearing the vengeance of the Muslims. The largest migration, though, was the forced flight of 70,000 Muslims, mainly Turks, from the lands conquered by the Russians and the exodus of 40,000 Laz by 1882.

By 1900, approximately 1,400,000 Turkish and Caucasian Muslims had been forced out by the Russians. One-third of these had died, either murdered or the victims of starvation and disease. Between 125,000 and 150,000 Armenians emigrated from Ottoman Anatolia to Erivan and other parts of the Russian Southern Caucasus.

This was the toll of Russian imperialism. Not only had one and one-half million people been exiled or killed, but ethnic peace had been destroyed. The Muslims had been taught that their nineteenth century’s neighbors, the Armenians, with whom they had lived for more than 700 years, might once again become their enemies when the Russians next advanced. The Russians had created the two sides that history teaches were to be expected in conflict and mass murder.

The actions of Armenian rebels exacerbated the growing division and mutual fear between the Muslims and Armenians of the Ottoman East.

The main Armenian revolutionary organizations were founded in the 1880s and 1890s in the Russian Empire. They were socialist and nationalist in ideology. Terror was their chosen weapon. Revolutionaries openly stated that their plan was the same as the plan that had worked well against the Ottoman Empire in Bulgaria. In Bulgaria, rebels had first massacred innocent Muslim villagers. The Ottoman government, occupied with a war against Serbs in Bosnia, depend on local Turks to defeat the rebels, which they did, but with great loss of life. European newspapers reported Bulgarian deaths, but never Muslim deaths. The Europeans did not consider that all the mortality was the result of the rebellion, not Turkish intention. The Russians invaded, ostensibly to save the Christians. The result was the death of 260,000 Turks, 17% of the Muslim population of Bulgaria, and the expulsion of a further 34% Turks. The Armenian rebels expected to follow the same plan.

The Armenian rebellion began with the organization of guerilla bands made up of Armenians from both the Russian and Ottoman lands. Arms were smuggled in. The guerrillas assassinated Ottoman officials, attacked Muslim villages, and used bombs, the nineteenth century’s terror weapon of choice. By 1894, the rebels were ready for open revolution. Revolts broke out in Sasun, Zeytun, Van and elsewhere in 1894 and 1895. As in Bulgaria, they began with the murder of innocent civilians. The leader of the Zeytun rebellion stated his forces had killed 20,000 Muslims. As in Bulgaria, the Muslims retaliated. In Van, for example, 400 Muslims and 1,700 Armenians died. Further rebellions followed. In Adana in 1909, The Armenian revolt turned out very badly for both the rebels and the innocent when the government lost control and 17,000 to 20,000 died, mostly Armenians. Throughout the revolts, and especially in 1894 and 1897, the Armenians deliberately attacked Kurdish tribesmen, knowing that it was from them that great vengeance was most likely to be expected. Pitched battles between Kurds and Armenians resulted.

But it all went wrong for the Armenian rebels. They had followed the Bulgarian plan, killing Muslims and initiating revenge attacks on Armenians. Their own people had suffered most. Yet the Russians, the Europeans they depended upon, did not intervene. European politics and internal problems stayed the Russian hand.

What were the Armenian rebels trying to create? When the Serbs and Bulgarians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire they claimed lands where the majorities were Serbs or Bulgarians. They expelled Turks and other Muslims from their lands, but these Muslims had not been a majority. This was not true for Armenians. The lands they coveted were overwhelmingly Muslim in population. The only way they could create an Armenia was to expel the Muslims.

Knowing this history is essential to understanding what was to come during World War I. There had been a long historical period in which two conflicting sides developed.

Russian imperialists and Armenian revolutionaries had begun a struggle that was in no way wanted by the Ottomans. Yet the Ottomans were forced to oppose the plans of both Russians and Armenians, if only to defend the majority of their subjects. History taught the Ottomans that if the Armenians triumphed not only would territory be lost, but mass expulsions and deaths would be the fate of the Muslim majority. This was the one absolutely necessary goal of the Armenian Rebellion.

The preview to what was to come in Great War came in the Russian Revolution of 1905. Harried all over the Empire, the Russians encouraged ethnic conflict in Azerbaijan, fomenting an inter-communal war. Azeri Turks and Armenians battled each other when they should have attacked the Empire that ruled over both. Both Turks and Armenians learned the bitter lesson that the other was the enemy, even though most of them wanted nothing of war and bloodshed. The sides were drawn.
In late 1914, the inter-communal conflict began in the Ottoman East with Armenian rebellion. Anatolian Armenians went to the Russian South Caucasus for training, approximately 8,000 in Kagizman, 6,000 in Igdir, others elsewhere. They returned to join local rebels and revolt erupted all over the East. The Ottoman Government estimated 30,000 rebels in Sivas Vilayeti alone, probably an exaggeration, but indicative of the scope of the rebellion. Military objectives were the first to be attacked: Telegraph lines were cut. Roads through strategic mountain passes were seized. The rebels attacked Ottoman officials, particularly recruiting officers, throughout the East. Outlying Muslim villages were assaulted and the first massacres of Muslims began. The rebels attempted to take cities such as Zeytun, Mus, Sebin Karahisar, and Urfa. Ottoman armed forces which were needed at the front were instead forced to defend the interior.

The most successful rebel action was in the City of Van. In March of 1915 they seized the city from a weak Ottoman garrison and proceeded to kill all the Muslims who could not escape. 3,000 Kurdish villagers from the surrounding region were herded together into the great natural bowl of Zeve, outside the city of Van, and slaughtered. Kurdish tribes in turn took their revenge on any Armenian villagers they found.

Historical principles were once again at work. Rebels had begun the action, and the result was the creation of two warring sides. After the Armenian deeds in Van and elsewhere, Muslims could only have expected that Armenians were enemies who would kill them. Armenians could only have feared Muslim revenge. Most of these people had no wish for war, but they had been driven to it. It was to be a merciless conflict.

For the next five years, total war raged in the Ottoman East. When the Russians attacked and occupied the East, more than a million Muslims fled as refugees, itself an indication that they expected to die if they remained. They ere attacked on the roads by Armenian bands as they fled. When the Russians retreated it was the turn of the Armenians to flee. The Russians attacked and retreated, then attacked again, then finally retreated for good. With each advance came the flight of hundreds of thousands.

Two wars were fought in Eastern Anatolia, a war between the armies of Russia and the Ottomans and a war between local Muslims and Armenians. In the war between the armies, civilians and enemy soldiers were sometimes treated with humanity, sometimes not. Little quarter was given in the war between the Armenians and the Muslims, however. That was fought with all the ferocity of men who fought to defend their families.

Popular opinion today knows of only one set of deportations, more properly called forced migrations in Anatolia, the deportation of the Armenians. There were in fact many forced migrations. For the Armenians, the worst forced migrations came when they fled with their retreating armies, came when they fled with their retreating armies. They suffered just as the Muslims suffered when they accompanied their own armies in retreat. Starvation and disease killed great numbers of both, far more than fell to enemies’ bullets. This is as should be expected from historical principles; starvation and disease are always the worst killers. It is also a historical principle that refugees suffer worst of all.

One of the many forced migration was the organized expulsion of Armenians from much of Anatolia by the Ottoman Government. In the light of the history and the events of this war, it is true that the Ottomans had obvious reason to fear Armenians, and that forced migration was an age-old tool in Middle Eastern and Balkan conflicts. It is also true that while its troops were fighting the Russians and Armenians, the Ottoman Government could not did not properly protect the Armenian migrants. Nevertheless, more than 200,000 of the deported Armenians reached Greater Syria and survived. (Some estimate that as many as two-thirds of the deportees survived.)

Those who see the evil of genocide in the forced migrations of Armenians ignore the survival of so many of those who were deported. They also ignore the fact that the Armenians who were most under Ottoman control, those in Western cities such as Izmir, Istanbul, and Edirne, were neither deported nor molested, presumably because they were not a threat.

No claim of genocide can rationally stand in the light of these facts. If genocide is to be considered, however, then the murders of Turks and Kurds in 1915 and 1916 must be included in the calculation of blame. The Armenian murder of the innocent civilians of Erzincan, Bayburt, Tercan, Erzurum, and all the villages on the route of the Armenian retreat in 1918 must be taken into account. The Armenian molestation’s and massacres in Cilicia, deplored even by their French and British allies, must be judged. And the exile or death of two-thirds of the Turks of Erivan Province, the Armenian Republic, during the war must be remembered.

That is the history of the Conflict between the Turks and the Armenians. Only when that history is known can the assertions of those who accuse the Turks be understood.

In examining the claims of Armenian nationalists, first to be considered should be outright lies.

The most well-known of many fabrications on the Armenian Question are the famous “Talat Pasa Telegrams,” in which the Ottoman Interior Minister and other officials supposedly telegraphed instructions to murder the Armenians. These conclusively have been proven to be forgeries by Sinasi Orel and Sureyya Yuca. However, one can only wonder why they would ever have been taken seriously. A whole people cannot be convicted of genocide on the basis of pencilled scribbling on a telegraph pad.

These were not the only examples of words put in Talat Pasa’s mouth. During World War I, the British Propaganda Office and American missionaries published a number of scurrilous works in which Ottoman officials were falsely quoted as ordering hideous deeds.

One of the best examples of invented Ottoman admissions of guilt may be that concocted by the American ambassador Morgenthau. Morgenthau asked his readers to believe that Talat Pasa offhandedly told the ambassador of his plans to eradicate the Armenians. Applying common sense and some knowledge of diplomatic practice helps to evaluate these supposed indiscretions. Can anyone believe that the Ottoman Interior Minister would actually have done such a thing? He knew that America invariably supported the Armenians, and had always done so. If he felt the need to unburden his soul, who would be last person to whom he would talk? The American ambassador. Yet to whom does he tell all? The American Ambassador! Talat Pasa was a practical politician. Like all politicians, he undoubtedly violated rules and made errors. But no one has ever alleged that Talat Pasa was an idiot. Perhaps Ambassador Morgenthau knew that the U.S. State Department would never believe his story, because he never reported it at the time to his masters, only writing it later in a popular book.

The use of quotes from Americans is selective. One American ambassador, Morgenthau, is quoted by Armenian apologists, but another American ambassador, Bristol, is ignored. Why? Because Bristol gave a balanced account and accused Armenians as well as Muslims of crimes.

The most often seen fabrication may be the famous “Hitler Quote.” Hitler supposedly stated “Who after all is today speaking of the destruction of the Armenians?” to justify his Holocaust. The quote now appears every year in school books, speeches in The American Congress and the the French Parliament, and most writings in which the Turks are attacked. Professor Heath Lowry has cast serious doubt on the authenticity of the quote. It is likely that Hitler never said it. But There is a more serious question: How can Adolf Hitler be taken as serious source on Armenian history? Were his other historical pronouncements so reliable that his opinions can be trusted? Politically, “Hitler” is a magic word that conjures up an all too true image of undisputed evil. He is quoted on the Armenian Question for polemic and political purpose, to lie the Turks to Hitler’s evil. In the modem world nothing defames so well as associating your enemies with Hitler. This is all absurdity, but it is potent absurdity that convinces those who nothing of the facts. It is also a deliberate distortion of history.

Population has also been a popular field for fabrication. Armenian nationalists had a particular difficulty. They were only a small part of the population of the land they planned to carve from the Ottoman Empire. The answer was false statistics. Figures appeared that claimed that Armenians were the largest group in Eastern Anatolia. These population statistics were supposedly the work of the Armenian Patriarch, but they were actually the work of an Armenian who assumed a French name, Marcel Leart, published them in Paris, and pretended they were the Patriarch’s work. Naturally, he greatly exaggerated the number of Armenians and diminished the number of Turks. Once again, the amazing thing is that these were ever taken seriously. Yet they were used after World War I to justify granting Eastern Anatolia to the Armenians and are still routinely quoted today.

The Armenian apologists quote American missionaries as if missionaries would never lie, omitting the numerous proofs that missionaries did indeed lie and avoided mentioning anything that would show Armenians to be less than innocent. The missionaries in Van, for example, reported the deaths of Armenians, but not the fact that those same Armenians had killed all the Muslims they caught in that city.

The main falsification of history by the Armenian apologists lies not in what they say, but in what they do not say. They do not admit that much of the evidence they rely on is tainted because it was produced by the British propaganda office in World War I. For example, the “Bryce Report.” {The Tearment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire) has recently been reproduced by an Armenian organization, with a long introduction that praises its supposed veracity. Nowhere does the reprint state that the report was produced and paid for by British Propaganda as a way to attack its wartime enemies, the Ottomans. Nor does the reprint state that the other “Bryce Report,” this one on alleged German atrocities, has long been known by historians to be a collection of lies. Nor does the reprint consider that the sources in the report, such as the Dashnak Party, had a tradition of not telling the truth.

The basic historical omission is never citing, never even looking at evidence that might contradict one’s theories. Nationalist apologists refer to English propaganda, missionary reports, statements by Armenian revolutionaries, and like. They seldom refer to Ottoman documents, hundreds of which have been published in recent years, expect perhaps to claim that nothing written by the Ottomans can be trusted (although they trust completely the writings of Armenian partisans). These documents indicate that the Ottomans planned no genocide and were at least officially solicitous of the Armenians’ welfare. The fact that these contradict the Armenian sources is all the more reason that they should be consulted. Good history can only be written when both sides of historical arguments are considered.

Worst of all is the most basic omission: The Armenian apologists do not mention the Muslim dead. Any civil war will appear to be a genocide if only the dead of one side are counted. Their writings would be far more accurate, and would tell a very different story, if they included facts such as the deaths of nearly two-thirds of the Muslims of Van Vilayeti, deaths caused by the Russians and Armenians. Histories that strive for accuracy must include all the facts, and the deaths of millions of Muslims is surely a fact that deserves mention.

Those us who have studied this question for years have seen many approaches come and go. The old assertions, based on the Talat Pasa telegrams and missionary reports, were obviously insufficient, and new ones have appeared.

For a while, Pan-Turanism was advanced as the cause for Turkish actions. It was said that The Turks wished to be rid of the Armenians because the Armenian population blocked the transportation routes to Central Asia. This foundered on the rocks of geography and population. The Anatolian Armenian population was not concentrated on those routes. The Armenian Republic’s Armenians, those in Erivan Province, were on some of those routes. However, at the end of the war the Ottomans had the chance to occupy Erivan, they did not do so, but went immediately or to Baku to protect Azeri Turks from attacks by Armenians. It was difficult, in any case, to believe the Ottomans actually were mad enough to believe that their chief concern was advancing to Uzbekistan.

Much was made of post-war courts martial that accused members of the Committee of Union and Progress Government of crimes against the Armenians. The accusations did not state that the courts were convened by the unelected quisling government of Ferit Pasa who created the courts to curry favor with the Allies. The courts returned verdicts of guilty for all sorts of improbable offences, of which killing Armenians was only one. The courts chose anything, true or false, that would cast aspersion on Ferit’s enemies. The accused could not represent themselves. Can, the verdicts of such “courts” be trusted? Conveniently overlooked were the investigations of the British, who held Istanbul and were in charge of the Ottoman Archives, but who were forced to admit that they could find no evidence of massacres ordered by the Ottoman Government.

A recent find of the nationalist apologists is the Teskilat-i Mahsusa, the secret organization that operated under orders of the Committee of Union and Progress. We are told that the Teskilat must have organized Armenian massacres. The justification for this would astonish any logician: It is alleged that because a secret organization existed it must have been intended to do evil, including the genocide of Armenians. As further “proof it is noted that officers of the Teskilat were present in areas where Armenians died. Since Teskilat officers were all over Anatolia, this should surprise no one. By this dubious logic, Teskilat members must also have been responsible for the deaths of Muslims, because they were also present in areas where Muslims died. Does this prove that no Teskilat members killed or even massacred Armenians? It does not. It would be odd if during wartime no members of a large organization had not committed such actions, and they undoubtedly did so. What it in no way proves is that the Teskilat was ordered to commit genocide.

A German scholar has decided that the Ottomans deported and killed Armenians so that they would have space in which to settle the Turkish refugees from the Balkan Wars. For those who do not know Ottoman History, this might seem like a reasonable explanation. Those with some knowledge of Ottoman history know that the Balkan refugees were almost all settled in Western Anatolia and Ottoman Europe, not in the East, and that the refugees were all settled before the World War I Armenian troubles began.

Such assertions are the result of the methods used. Nationalist apologists first decide that the Turks are guilty, then look for evidence that will show they are correct. They are like a man in a closed room fighting against a stronger enemy. As the enemy advances the man picks up a book, a lamp, an ashtray, a chair-whatever he can find- and throws it in the vain hope of stopping the enemy’s advance. But the enemy continues on. Eventually the man runs out of things to throw, and he is beaten. The enemy of the nationalist apologists is the truth.

They have thrown false telegrams, spurious statistics, sham courts, and anything else they could find, but the truth has advanced.

Some tactics have been all too successful in reducing the number of scholars who study the Armenian Question. When the fabrications and distortions failed, there were outright threats. When the historians could not be convinced, the next best thing was to silence them. One professor’s house was bombed. Other’s were threatened with similar violence.

Campaigns were organized to silence historians. One professor was mercilessly attacked in the press because he advised the Turkish ambassador on responding to questions about the Ottoman Armenians. It is worth nothing that no one questioned the probity of the American Armenian scholar who became the chief advisor of the president of the Armenian Republic or doubted the veracity of the American Armenian professor whose son became the Armenian Foreign Minister. No one questioned the objectivity of these scholars or attacked them, nor should they. They only proper question is, “What is the truth?” No matter who pas the bills, no matter the nationality of the author, no matter if he writes to ambassadors, no matter his religion, his voting record, his credit status, or his personal life, his views on history should be closely analyzed and, if true, accepted. The only question is the truth.

Such attacks have had their intended effect. Fewer and fewer historians are willing to write on this history. Avery senior and respected scholar of Ottoman history, Bernand Lewis was brought to court in France for his denial of the Armenian genocide. After a long and successful career. Professor Lewis could afford to confront those who accused him. He also could afford to hire the lawyers who defended him. Could a junior scholar afford to do the same? Could someone who depended on university rectors, who worry about funding, afford to take up such a dangerous topic? Could someone without Professor Lewis’s financial resources afford the lawyers who defended both his free speech and his good name?

I myself was the target of a campaign , instigated by an Armenian newspaper, that attempted to have me fired from my university. Letters and telephone calls from all over the United States come to the president of my university, demanding my dismissal because I denied the “Armenian Genocide”. We have the tenure system in the United States, a system that guarantees that senior professors cannot be fired for what they teach and write, and my university president defended my rights. But a younger professor might understandably be afraid to write on Armenians if he knew he faced the sort of ordeal that has been faced by others.

To me, the worst of all is being accused of being the kind of politicized nationalist scholar I so detest. False reasons are invented to explain why I say what I say My mother is a Turk, my wife is a Turk, I am paid large sums by the Turkish Government. None of these things is true, but it would not affect my writings one bit if they were. The way to challenge a scholar’s work is to read his writings and respond to hem with your scholarship, not to attack his character.

When, despite the best efforts of the nationalist apologists, some still speak out against the distortion of history, the final answer is political: Politicians are enlisted to rewrite history. Parliaments are enlisted to convince their people that there was a genocide. In America, the Armenian nationalists lobby a Congress which refuses to even consider an apology for slavery to demand an apology from Turks for something the Turks did not do. In France, the Armenian nationalists lobby a Parliament which will not address the horrors perpetrated by the French in Algeria, which they know well took place, to declare there were horrors in Turkey, about which they know almost nothing. The people of many nations are then told that the genocide must have taken place, because their representatives have recognized it.

The Turks are accused of Genocide, but what does that appalling word mean? The most quoted definition is that of the United Nations: actions “committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such. ” Raphael Lemkin, who invented the word genocide, included cultural, social, economic, and political destruction of groups as genocide. Leo Kuper included as genocide attacks on sub-groups that are not ethnic, such as economic classes, collective groups, and various social categories. By these standards, Turks were indeed guilty of genocide. So were Armenians, Russians, Greeks, Americans, British, and almost every people that has ever existed. In World War I in Anatolia There were many such “genocides. So many groups attacked other groups that the use of the word genocide is meaningless.

Why, then, is such a hollow term used against the Turks? It is used because those who hear the term do not think of the academic definitions. They think of Hitler and of what he did to the Jews. The intent behind the use of the word genocide is not to foster understanding. The intent is to foster a negative image of the Turks by associating them with great evil. The intent is political.
What must be considered by the serious historian is a simple question, “Did the Ottoman Government carry out a plan to exterminate the Armenians?”
In answering this question it is important not to copy the Armenian apologist. When they declare that Armenians did no wrong, the answer is not to reply that the Turks did no wrong. The answer must be honest history. What cannot and should not be denied is that many Anatolian Muslims did commit crimes against Armenians. Some of those who committed crimes were Ottoman officials. Actions were taken in revenge, out of hatred, or for political reasons. In total war, men do evil acts. This again is a sad but real historical principle. The Ottoman Government recognized this and tried more than 1,000 Muslims for war crimes, including crimes against Armenians, hanging some criminals.

Applying the principles of history, we can see that what occurred was, in fact, a long history of imperialism, nationalist revolt, and ethnic conflict. The result was horrible mortality on all sides. There is an explainable, understandable history of a two-sided conflict. It was not genocide.

Throughout that history, both sides killed and were killed. It was not genocide.
Much archival evidence shows Ottoman government concern that Armenians survive. Also, it must be said, much evidence shows poor planning, government weakness, in some places criminal acts and negligence. Some officials were murderous, but a sincere effort was made to punish them. It was not genocide.
The majority of those who were deported survived, even though those Armenians were completely at the mercy of the Ottomans. It was not genocide.
The Armenians most under Ottoman control, the Armenian residents of Istanbul, Izmir, Edirne and other regions of greatest governmental power were neither deported not attacked. It was not genocide.

Why are the Turks accused of a hideous crime they did not commit? The answer is both emotional and political. Many Armenians feel in their hearts that Turks were guilty. They have only heard of the deaths of their ancestors, not the deaths of Turks. They have been told only a small part of a complicated story for so long that they believe it to be unquestionable truth. Their anger is understandable. The beliefs of those in Europe and America who have never heard the truth, which sadly is the majority, are also understandable. It is the actions of those who use the claim of genocide for nationalist political motives that are inexcusable. Does any rational analyst deny that the ultimate intent of the Armenian nationalists is to first gain “reparations,” then claim Eastern Anatolia as their own?

Finally, what is to be done? As might be expected from all I have said here today, I believe the only answer to false allegations of genocide is to study and proclaim the truths of history. Political actions such as the resolution recently passed by the French Parliament naturally and properly draw corresponding political actions from Turks, but political actions will never convince the world that Turks did not commit genocide. What is needed to convince the world is a great increase in scholarship. Archives must remain open and be easy to use for both Turks and foreigners. Graduate students should be encouraged to study the Armenian Question. No student’s advisers should tell him to avoid this subject because it is “too political,” something I have heard in America and, unfortunately, in Turkey as well.

I suggest, as I have suggested before, that the Turkish Republic propose to the Armenian Republic that a joint commission be established, its members selected by scholarly academies in both countries. All archives should be opened to the commission – not only the Ottoman Archives, but the archives of Armenia and of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. (The call is often made for the Turkish Archives to be opened completely. It is time to demand that Armenians do likewise.) I have been told that the Armenians will never agree to this, but how can anyone know unless they try? In any case, refusal to fairly and honestly consider this question would in itself be evidence that the accusations against Turks are political, not scholarly.

Whatever or not such a commission is ever named, the study of the Armenian Question must continue. This is true not only because it is always right to discover accurate history. It is true because honor demands it. Honor is a word that is not often heard today, but a concept of honor is nonetheless sorely needed. I have been told by many that the Turks should adopt a political strategy to deal with the Armenian Problem. This strategy would have the Turkish Government lie about the past for present political gain. The Government would state that the Ottomans committed genocide, but that Modem Turkey cannot be blamed, because it is a different government. This, I have been told, would cause the world to think more kindly of the Turks. I do not believe this ultimately would satisfy anyone. I believe that calls for reparations and land would quickly follow such statement. But that is not the reason to reject such easy political lies. They should be rejected purely because they are wrong. I believe the Turks are still men and women honor. They know that it can never be honorable to accept lies told of their ancestors, no matter the benefits. I also believe that some day, perhaps soon, perhaps far in the future, the truth will be recognized by the world. I believe that the accurate study of history and the honor of the Turks will bring this to pass.

Professor Justin McCarthy

Abstract of a talk on the Armenian issue given by Dr. Andrew Mango on March 15, 2001 at a meeting of the Society for the Promotion of Democratic Principles (DIA) in Istanbul

Abstract of a talk on the Armenian issue given by Dr. Andrew Mango on March 15, 2001 at a meeting of the Society for the Promotion of Democratic Principles (DIA) in Istanbul

There arc two aspects to the Armenian issue, in general, and to the problem of Turkish-Armenian relations, in particular. One relates to the past and concerns historiography – the task of establishing an accurate and balanced account of Turkish-Armenian relations in history. The other concerns the future – the place of Armenia and Armenians in the world and their relations with their neighbours, among whom the Turks are most numerous. But the two aspects are inter-related: the past, or rather perceptions of the past, impinge on the present and future, and the present is projected back to the past. The immediate task is to save the future from the past and to stop not only misperceptions options of the past, but its exploitation for the furtherance of political ambitions.

One fact stands out as one looks at the past. The Armenians came under Turkish rule after the battle of Malazgirt in 1071. During the eight centuries that followed, relations between Turks and Armenians were peaceful and constructive. The majority of Armenians came to adopt Turkish as their main language; they contributed their skills to the economy and culture of the Seljuk and then of the Ottoman state. Their prosperity grew until, by the middle of the 19th century, they became one of the richest communities of the Ottoman empire, prominent not only in trade and the professions, but also in the service of the state. As opportunity drew the Armenians to the four comers of the Ottoman state and beyond, many moved out of their original homeland in eastern Anatolia, where they were outnumbered by Muslims. Armenian nationalism did not become a political force until after the Ottoman defeat at the hands of the Russians in 1878. Armenian nationalists aimed at creating an Armenian state in an area which had a predominantly Muslim and largely Turkish population. Within one generation, this attempt ended the friendly coexistence of Armenians and Turks and led to the elimination of the Armenian communities from Anatolia.

The tragedy of the Armenians was not unique. The historical process which substituted more or less homogeneous nation states for multinational empires made millions of victims from all nationalities. As the Ottoman empire contracted, Turks and other Muslims provided most of the victims in a retreat which started at the end of the 17th century and ended in 1923 with the Turkish victory in the Turkish War of Independence. In the final count, the number of victims – people who were killed, who were expelled or who fled – was not balanced as between any two nationalities. . Thus the number of Greeks forced out of Turkey was larger than the number of Turks who left Greece, while the number of Turks who left Bulgaria was much larger than that of Bulgarians forced out of Turkey, and while millions of Turks and other Muslims left Hungary, Romania, former Yugoslavia and Russia, many perishing in the process, there was no flow in the other direction. In the case of the Armenians, their losses were greater proportionately than that of their Muslim neighbours, although in absolute numbers the latter perished in greater numbers.

Armenian nationalists gambled on a victory by Czarist Russia in the First World War, and lost. Nevertheless, they did establish their nation state in a territory which, small as it was in comparison with their original ambitions, had originally a majority of Azeri Turkic inhabitants. The historical process which ended the Armenian presence in Anatolia is clear enough, although there is much historical work to be done to establish the details. Argument is bound to go on about the number of victims on both sides, about the extent to which the mayhem was willed or accidental, about the identity of persons guilty of atrocities. Historians should be left to do their job, even if it is a grisly job. One can only hope that collectively, if not individually, they will look at all sides of the picture, at victims from all communities, and situate the sufferings of them all in the proper context – the bloody history of the creation of nation states. And here I must add that the Turks did not start the process, for the simple reason that, as rulers of a multinational empire, they had no interest in breaking it up.

We now come to the next stage. The dissolution of empires has meant that nation states have become the building blocks of the world community. This is implied in the very name of the world organisation – the United Nations. The name posits an ideal – that nation states should be united in peace. As the biographer of Atatürk, I know that peace was the aim pursued by the creator of the Turkish nation state – peace with one’s neighbours in the first place and then in the world at large. The Turkish Republic has been faithful to this ideal throughout the 77 years of its existence. Atatürk was determined that the past should not be allowed to imperil peace. The 1923 treaty of Lausanne, he believed, had closed the accounts of centuries. These should not be reopened – at least not by politicians. But this is precisely what politicians are trying to do with regard to the Armenians -Armenian nationalist politicians in the first place, and also such political allies as they can enlist in other countries. They are doing so not in the cause of historical accuracy, which should be left to historians, but for a variety of reasons, none of which is productive of good.

Some wish to build Armenian national identity round feelings of grievance and revenge. Others have hopes of material gain through claims to compensation -claims which would turn the whole world into an arena of litigation, if descendants of refugees everywhere followed suit. Yet another group of Armenian and pro-Armenian politicians use the past as a justification for irredentism. But the difficulty inherent in Armenian irredentism is that there are no unredeemed Armenians. What we see instead is Armenian expansionism at the expense of neighbouring Azerbaijan. Thus the attempt to revive memories of dead Armenians aims at drawing attention from the sufferings of live Azeris, more than one million of whom have been driven from their homes as the Armenians remain in occupation of one fifth of the territory of Azerbaijan. And this one fifth includes not just the district of Karabakh, where an Armenian majority enjoyed autonomous government, but a large slice of Azeri territory surrounding it. And just as in the past Armenian nationalists relied on Russia and the West in their attempt to carve an Armenian state out of Ottoman Anatolia, so today their successors are relying on Russia and the West to create a greater Armenia in the Caucasus. It is a risky undertaking, because the number of Armenians is relatively small, and whatever their skills, their future safety and prosperity must depend on good relations with their neighbours.

Armenia is a small, landlocked upland country, poor in resources. It is sustained by remittances from the Armenian diaspora. It is a land of emigration not immigration. In spite of today’s strained relations, Armenians are trying to get jobs even in Turkey. Armenia has only two important assets – the skills of its people and its geographical position astride the route across Transcaucasia. A policy of hostility towards Turkey and Azerbaijan limits the area within which Armenians can exercise their skills, and transforms the country into a dead end. As they attempt to damage Turkey’s interests, Armenian nationalists are doing much more damage to their own countrymen.

Foreign support for laws and declarations stressing the sufferings of Armenians in the past does not help to improve their present condition. The Armenians need a friendly and prosperous Turkey much more than the Turks need a friendly Armenia. Relations between the two countries are not a zero-sum game, in which one party’s gain is the other’s loss. Both stand to profit from a cooperative relationship. Third parties should realise this too, and refrain from stoking up old animosities. There are some politicians and journalists in the West who feel good and believe themselves to be liberal and progressive when they champion the Armenian version of history. They would do better to serve the cause of Turkish-Armenian reconciliation and cooperation – it is that which is the genuinely liberal and progressive cause.

Presentation by Prof. Justin McCarthy at the Turkish Grand National Assembly on “The Reality of Armenian Issue” Conference on March 24, 2005

Presentation by Prof. Justin McCarthy at the Turkish Grand National Assembly on “The Reality of Armenian Issue” Conference on March 24, 2005

The History
Conflict between the Turks and the Armenians was not inevitable. The two peoples should have been friends. When World War I began, the Armenians and Turks had been living together for 800 years. The Armenians of Anatolia and Europe had been Ottoman subjects for nearly 400 years. There were problems during those centuries—problems caused especially by those who attacked and ultimately destroyed the Ottoman Empire. Everyone in the Empire suffered, but it was the Turks and other Muslims who suffered most. Judged by all economic and social standards, the Armenians did well under Ottoman rule. By the late nineteenth century, in every Ottoman province the Armenians were better educated and richer than the Muslims. Armenians worked hard, it is true, but their comparative riches were largely due to European and American influence and Ottoman tolerance. European merchants made Ottoman Christians their agents. European merchants gave them their business. European consuls intervened in their behalf. The Armenians benefited from the education given to them, and not to the Turks, by American missionaries.
While the lives of the Armenians as a group were improving, Muslims were living through some of the worst suffering experienced in modern history: In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bosnians were massacred by Serbs, Russians killed and exiled the Circassians, Abkhazians, and Laz, and Turks were killed and expelled from their homelands by Russians, Bulgarians, Greeks, and Serbs. Yet, in the midst of all this Muslim suffering, the political situation of the Ottoman Armenians constantly improved. First, equal rights for Christians and Jews were guaranteed in law. Equal rights increasingly became a reality, as well. Christians took high places in the government. They became ambassadors, treasury officials, even foreign ministers. In many ways, in fact, the rights of Christians became greater than those of the Muslims, because powerful European states intervened in their behalf. The Europeans demanded and received special treatment for Christians. Muslims had no such advantages.
That was the environment in which Armenians revolted against the Ottoman Empire–hundreds of years of peace, economic superiority, constantly improving political conditions. This would not seem to be a cause for revolution. Yet the nineteenth century saw the beginning of an Armenian revolution that was to culminate in disaster for both. What drove the Armenians and the Turks apart?
The Russians
First and foremost, there were the Russians. Regions where Christians and Muslims had been living together in relative peace were torn asunder when the Russians invaded the Caucasian Muslim lands. Most Armenians were probably neutral, but a significant number took the side of the Russians. Armenians served as spies and even provided armed units of soldiers for the Russians. There were significant benefits for the Armenians: The Russians took Erivan Province, today’s Armenian Republic, in 1828. They expelled Turks and gave the Turkish land, tax-free, to Armenians. The Russians knew that if the Turks remained they would always be the enemies of their conquerors, so they replaced them with a friendly population—the Armenians.
The forced exile of the Muslims continued until the first days of World War I: 300,000 Crimean Tatars, 1.2 million Circassians and Abkhazians, 40,000 Laz, 70,000 Turks. The Russians invaded Anatolia in the war of 1877-78, and once again many Armenians joined the Russian side. They served as scouts and spies. Armenians became the “police” in occupied territories, persecuting the Turkish population. The peace treaty of 1878 gave much of Northeastern Anatolia back to the Ottomans. The Armenians who had helped the Russians feared revenge and fled, although the Turks did not, in fact, take any revenge.
Both the Muslims and the Armenians remembered the events of the Russian invasions. Armenians could see that they would be more likely to prosper if the Russians won. Free land, even if stolen from Muslims, was a powerful incentive for Armenian farmers. Rebellious Ottoman Armenians had found a powerful protector in Russia. Rebels also had a base in Russia from which they could organize rebellion and smuggle men and guns into the Ottoman Empire.
The Muslims knew that if the Russians were guardian angels for the Armenians, they were devils for the Muslims. They could see that when the Russians triumphed Muslims lost their lands and their lives. They knew what would happen if the Russians came again. And they could see that Armenians had been on the side of the Russians. Thus did 800 years of peaceful coexistence disintegrate?
The Armenian Revolutionaries
It was not until Russian Armenians brought their nationalist ideology to Eastern Anatolia that Armenian rebellion became a real threat to the Ottoman State.
Although there were others, two parties of nationalists were to lead the Armenian rebellion. The first, the Hunchakian Revolutionary Party, called the Hunchaks, was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1887 by Armenians from Russia. The second, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, called the Dashnaks, was founded in the Russian Empire, in Tiflis, in 1890. Both were Marxist. Their methods were violent. The Hunchak and Dashnak Party Manifestos called for armed revolution in the Ottoman Empire. Terrorism, including the murder of both Ottoman officials and Armenians who opposed them, was part of the party platforms. Although they were Marxists, both groups made nationalism the most important part of their philosophy of revolution. In this they were much like the nationalist revolutionaries of Bulgaria, Macedonia, or Greece.
Unlike the Greek or Bulgarian revolutionaries, the Armenians had a demographic problem. In Greece, the majority of the population was Greek. In Bulgaria, the majority was Bulgarian. In the lands claimed by the Armenians, however, Armenians were a fairly small minority. The region that was called “Ottoman Armenia,” the “Six Vilâyets” of Sivas, Mamüretülaziz, Diyarbakır, Bitlis, Van, and Erzurum, was only 17% Armenian. It was 78% Muslim. This was to have important consequences for the Armenian revolution, because the only way to create the “Armenia” the revolutionaries wanted was to expel the Muslims who lived there.
Anyone who doubts the intentions of the revolutionaries need only look at their record—actions such as the murder of one governor of Van Province and attempted murder of another, murders of police chiefs and other officials, the attempted assassination of sultan Abdülhamid II. These were radical nationalists who were at war with the Ottoman State.
Beginning in earnest in the 1890s, the Russian Armenian revolutionaries began to infiltrate the Ottoman Empire. They smuggled rifles, cartridges, dynamite, and fighters across ill-defended borders into Van, Erzurum, and Bitlis provinces along the routes shown on the map. The Ottomans were poorly equipped to fight them. The problem was financial. The Ottomans still suffered from their terrible losses in the 1877-78 War with Russia. They suffered from the Capitulations, from debts, and from predatory European bankers. It must also be admitted that the Ottomans were poor economists. The result was a lack of money to support the new police and military units that were needed to fight the revolutionaries and restrain Kurdish tribes. The number of soldiers and gendarmes in the East was never sufficient, and they were often not paid for months at a time. It was impossible to defeat the rebels with so few resources.
By far the most successful of the revolutionaries were the Dashnaks. Dashnaks from Russia were the leaders of rebellion. They were the organizers and the “enforcers” who turned the Armenians of Anatolia into rebel soldiers. This was not an easy task, because at first most of the Ottoman Armenians had no wish to rebel. They preferred peace and security and disapproved of the atheistic, socialist revolutionaries. A feeling of separatism and even superiority among the Armenians helped the revolutionaries, but the main weapon that turned the Armenians of the East into rebels was terrorism. The prime cause that united the Armenians against their government was fear.
Before the Armenians could be turned into rebels their traditional loyalty to their Church and their Community leaders had to be destroyed. The rebels realized that Armenians felt the most love and respect for their Church, not for the revolution. The Dashnak Party therefore resolved to take effective control of the Church. Most clergymen, however, did not support the atheistic Dashnaks. The Church could only be taken over through violence.
What happened to Armenian clergymen who opposed the Dashnaks? Priests were killed in villages and cities. Their crime? They were loyal Ottoman subjects. The Armenian bishop of Van, Boghos, was murdered by the revolutionaries in his cathedral on Christmas Eve. His crime? He was a loyal Ottoman subject. The Dashnaks attempted to kill the Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul, Malachia Ormanian. His crime? He opposed the revolutionaries. Arsen, the priest in charge of the important Akhtamar Church in Van, the religious center of the Armenians in the Ottoman East, was murdered by Ishkhan, one of the leaders of Van’s Dashnaks. His crime? He opposed the Dashnaks. But there was an additional reason to kill him: The Dashnaks wanted to take over the Armenian education system that was based in Akhtamar. After Father Arsen was killed, the Dashnak Aram Manukian, a man without known religious belief, became head of the Armenian schools. He closed down religious education and began revolutionary education. So-called “religious teachers” spread throughout Van Province, teaching revolution, not religion.
The loyalty of the rebels was to the revolution. Not even their church was safe from their attacks.
The other group that most threatened the power of the rebels was the Armenian merchant class. As a group they favored the government. They wanted peace and order, so that they could do business. They were the traditional secular leaders of the Armenian Community; the rebels wanted to lead the Community themselves, so the merchants had to be silenced. Those who most publicly supported their government, such as Bedros Kapamacıyan, the Mayor of Van, and Armarak, the kaymakam of Gevaş, were assassinated, as were numerous Armenian policemen, at least one Armenian Chief of Police, and Armenian advisors to the Government. Only a very brave Armenian would take the side of the Government.
The Dashnaks looked on the merchants as a source of money. The merchants would never donate to the revolution willingly. They had to be forced to do so. The first reported case of extortion from merchants came in Erzurum in 1895, soon after the Dashnak Party became active in the Ottoman domains. The campaign began in earnest in 1901. In that year the extortion of funds through threats and assassination became the official policy of the Dashnak Party. The campaign was carried out in Russia and the Balkans, as well as in the Ottoman Empire. One prominent Armenian merchant, Isahag Zhamharian, refused to pay and reported the Dashnaks to the police. He was assassinated in the courtyard of an Armenian church. Others who did not pay were also killed. The rest of the merchants then paid.
From 1902 to 1904 the main extortion campaign brought in the equivalent, in today’s money, of more than eight million dollars. And this was only the amount collected by the central Dashnak committee in a short period, almost all from outside the Ottoman Empire. It does not include the amounts extorted from 1895 to 1914 in many areas of the Ottoman Empire. Soon the merchants were paying their taxes to the revolutionaries, not to the government. When the government in Van demanded that the merchants pay their taxes, the merchants pleaded that they had indeed paid taxes, but to the revolutionaries. They said they could only pay the government if the government protected them from the rebels. The same condition prevailed all over Eastern Anatolia, in İzmir, in Cilicia, and elsewhere.
The Armenian common people did not escape the extortions of the rebels. They were forced to feed and house the revolutionaries. British Consul Elliot reported, “They [the Dashnaks] quarter themselves on Christian villages, live on the best to be had, exact contributions to their funds, and make the younger women and girls submit to their will. Those who incur their displeasure are murdered in cold blood.”[1]
The greatest cost to villagers was the forced purchase of guns. The villagers were turned into rebel “soldiers,” whether they wished to be or not. If they were to fight the Turks, they needed weapons. The revolutionaries smuggled weapons from Russia and forced the Armenian villagers to buy. The methods used to force the villagers to buy were very effective, as British consul Seele reported:
An agent arrived in a certain village and informed a villager that he must buy a Mauser pistol. The villager replied that he had no money, whereupon the agent retorted, “You must sell your oxen.” The wretched villager then proceeded to explain that the sowing season would soon arrive and asked how a Mauser pistol would enable him to plough his fields. For reply the agent proceeded to destroy the poor man’s oxen with his pistol and then departed.”[2]
The rebels had more than military organization in mind when they forced the villagers to buy weapons. The villagers were charged double the normal cost of the weapons. A rifle worth £5 was sold for £10. Both the rebel organization and the rebels themselves did very well from the sales.
It was the peasants who suffered most. The most basic policy of the revolutionaries was a callous exploitation of the lives of Armenians: Kurdish tribes and their villages were attacked by the rebels, knowing that the tribes would take their revenge on innocent Armenian villagers. The revolutionaries escaped and left their fellow Armenians to die.
Even Europeans, friends of the Armenians, could see that the revolutionaries were the cause of the curse that had descended on Eastern Anatolia. Consul Seele wrote in 1911:
From what I have seen in the parts of the country I have visited I have become more convinced than ever of the baneful influence of the Taschnak Committee on the welfare of the Armenians and generally of this part of Turkey. It is impossible to overlook the fact in that in all places where there are no Armenian political organisations or where such organisations are imperfectly developed, the Armenians live in comparative harmony with the Turks and Kurds.[3]
The Englishman rightly saw that the cause of the unrest in the East was the Armenian revolutionaries. If there were no Dashnaks, the Turks and Armenians would have lived together in peace. The Ottoman Government knew this was true. Why did the Government tolerate so much from the rebels? Why did the Government not stamp them out?
The Ottoman failure to effectively oppose the rebels is indeed hard to understand. Imagine a country in which a number of radical revolutionaries, most of them from a foreign country, organize a rebellion. They infiltrate fighters and guns from this foreign country to lead their attack on the government and the people. The radicals openly state they wish to create a state in which the majority of the population will be excluded from rule. They murder and terrorize their own people to force them to join their cause. They murder government officials. They deliberately murder members of the majority in the hope that reprisals will lead other nations to invade. They store thousands of weapons in preparation for revolt. They revolt, are defeated, then revolt again and again. The country that gains most from the rebels’ actions is the country they come from—the country in which they organize, the country in which they have their home base.
What government would tolerate this? Has there ever been a country that would not jail, and probably hang such rebels? Has there ever been a country that would allow them to continue to operate openly? Yes. That country was the Ottoman Empire. In the Ottoman Empire the Armenian rebels operated openly, stored thousands of weapons, murdered Muslims and Armenians, killed governors and other officials, and rebelled again and again. The only one to truly benefit from their actions was Russia—the country in which they organized, the country their leaders came from.
How could this happen? The Ottomans were not cowards. The Ottomans were not fools. They knew what the rebels were doing. The Ottomans tolerated the Armenian revolutionaries because the Ottomans had no choice.
It must be remembered that the very existence of the Ottoman Empire was at stake. Serbia, Bosnia, Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria had already been lost because of European intervention. The Europeans had almost divided the Empire in 1878 and had planned to do so in the 1890s. Only fear that Russia would become too powerful had stopped them. Public opinion in Britain and France could easily change that. Indeed, that was exactly what the Armenian revolutionaries wanted. They wanted the Ottomans to jail and execute Armenian rebels. European newspapers would report that as government persecution of innocent Armenians. They wanted the government to prosecute Armenian revolutionary parties. The European newspapers would report that as denying political freedom to the Armenians. They wanted Muslims to react to Armenian provocations and attacks by killing Armenians. The European newspapers would report only the dead Armenians, not the dead Muslims. Public opinion would force the British and French to cooperate with the Russians and dismember the Empire.
Many politicians in Europe, men such as Gladstone, were as prejudiced against the Turks as were the press and the public. They were simply waiting for the right opportunity to destroy the Ottoman Empire.
The result was that it was nearly impossible for the Ottomans to properly punish the rebels. The Europeans demanded that the Ottomans accept actions from the revolutionaries that the Europeans themselves would never tolerate in their own possessions. When the Dashnaks occupied the Ottoman Bank, Europeans arranged their release. European ambassadors forced the Ottomans to grant amnesty to rebels in Zeytun. They arranged pardons for those who attempted to kill sultan Abdülhamid II. The Russian consuls would not let Ottoman courts try Dashnak rebels, because they were Russian subjects. Many rebels who were successfully tried and convicted were released, because the Europeans demanded and received pardons for them, in essence threatening the sultan if he did not release rebels and murderers. One Russian consul in Van even publicly trained Armenian rebels, acting personally as their weapons instructor.
All the Ottomans could do was try to keep things as quiet as possible. That meant not punishing the rebels as they should have been punished. One can only pity the Ottomans. They knew that if they governed properly the result would be the death of their state. 
World War I
There were two factors that caused the Ottoman loss in the East in World War I:
The first was Enver Paşa’s disastrous attack at Sarıkamış. Enver’s attack on Russia in December of 1914 was in every way a disaster. Of the 95,000 Turkish troops who attacked Russia, 75,000 died. The second factor, the one that concerns us here, was Armenian Revolt.
As World War I threatened and the Ottoman Army mobilized, Armenians who should have served their country instead took the side of the Russians. The Ottoman Army reported: “From Armenians with conscription obligations those in towns and villages East of the Hopa-Erzurum-Hınıs-Van line did not comply with the call to enlist but have proceeded East to the border to join the organization in Russia.” The effect of this is obvious: If the young Armenian males of the “zone of desertion” had served in the Army, they would have provided more than 50,000 troops. If they had served, there might never have been a Sarıkamış defeat.
The Armenians from Hopa to Erzurum to Hınıs to Van were not the only Armenians who did not serve. The 10s of thousands of Armenians of Sivas who formed chette bands did not serve. The rebels in Zeytun and elsewhere in Cilicia did not serve. The Armenians who fled to the Greek islands or to Egypt or Cyprus did not serve. More precisely, many of these Armenian young men did serve, but they served in the armies of the Ottomans’ enemies. They did not protect their homeland, they attacked it.
In Eastern Anatolia, Armenians formed bands to fight a guerilla war against their government. Others fled only to return with the Russian Army, serving as scouts and advance units for the Russian invaders. It was those who stayed behind who were the greatest danger to the Ottoman war effort and the greatest danger to the lives of the Muslims of Eastern Anatolia. 
It has often been alleged by Armenian nationalists that the Ottoman order to deport Armenians was not caused by Armenian rebellion. As evidence, they note the fact that the law of deportation was published in May of 1915, at approximately the same time that the Armenians seized the City of Van. According to this logic, the Ottomans must have planned the deportation some time before that date, so the rebellion could not have been the cause of the deportations. It is true that the Ottomans began to consider the possibility of deportation a few months before May, 1915. What is not true is that May, 1915 was the start of the Armenian rebellion. It had started long before.
European observers knew long before 1914 that Armenians would join the Russian side in event of war. As early as 1908, British consul Dickson had reported:
The Armenian revolutionaries in Van and Salmas [in Iran] have been informed by their Committee in Tiflis that in the event of war they will side with the Russians against Turkey. Unaided by the Russians, they could mobilize about 3,500 armed sharpshooters to harass the Turks about the frontier, and their lines of communication.[4]
British diplomatic sources reported that in preparation for war, in 1913, the Armenian revolutionary groups met and agreed to coordinate their efforts against the Ottomans. The British reported that this alliance was the result of meetings with “the Russian authorities.” The Dashnak leader (and member of the Ottoman Parliament) Vramian had gone to Tiflis to confer with the Russian authorities. The British also reported that “[The Armenians] have thrown off any pretence of loyalty they may once have shown, and openly welcome the prospect of a Russian occupation of the Armenian Vilayets.” [5]
Even Dashnak leaders admitted the Dashnaks were Russian allies. The Dashnak Hovhannes Katchaznouni, prime minister of the Armenian Republic, stated that the party plan at the beginning of the war was to ally with the Russians.
Since 1910 the revolutionaries had distributed a pamphlet throughout Eastern Anatolia. It demonstrated how Armenian villages were to be organized into regional commands, how Muslim villages were to be attacked, and specifics of guerilla warfare.
Before the war began, Ottoman Army Intelligence reported on Dashnak plans: They would declare their loyalty to the Ottoman State, but increase their arming of their supporters. If war was declared, Armenian soldiers would desert to the Russian Army with their arms. The Armenians would do nothing if the Ottomans began to defeat the Russians. If the Ottomans began to retreat, the Armenians would form armed guerilla bands and attack according to plan. The Ottoman intelligence reports were correct, for that is exactly what happened.
The Russians gave .24 million rubles to the Dashnaks to arm the Ottoman Armenians. They began distributing weapons to Armenians in the Caucasus and Iran in September of 1914. In that month, seven months before the Deportations were ordered, Armenian attacks on Ottoman soldiers and officials began. Deserters from the Ottoman Army at first formed into what officials called “bandit gangs.” They attacked conscription officers, tax collectors, gendarmerie outposts, and Muslims on the roads. By December a general revolt had erupted in Van Province. Roads and telegraph lines were cut, gendarmerie outposts attacked, and Muslim villages burned, their inhabitants killed. The revolt soon grew: in December, near the Kotur Pass, which the Ottomans had to hold to defend against Russian invasion from Iran, a large Armenian battle group defeated units of the Ottoman army, killing 400 Ottoman soldiers and forcing the army to retreat to Saray. The attacks were not only in Van: The governor of Erzurum, Tahsin, cabled that he could not hold off the Armenian attacks that were breaking out through the province; soldiers would have to be sent from the front.
By February, reports of attacks began to come in from all over the East—a  two-hour battle near Muş, an eight-hour battle in Abaak, 1,000 Armenians attacking near Timar, Armenian chettes raiding in Sivas, Erzurum, Adana, Diyarbakır, Bitlis, and Van provinces. Telegraph lines to the front and from Ottoman cities to the West were cut, repaired, and cut again many times. Supply caravans to the army were attacked, as were columns of wounded soldiers. Units of gendarmerie and soldiers sent to reconnect telegraph lines or protect supply columns themselves came under attack. As an example of the enormity of the problem, in the middle of April an entire division of gendarmerie troops was ordered from Hakkâri to Çatak to battle a major uprising there, but the division could not fight through the Armenian defenses.
Once careful preparations had been made, Armenians revolted in the City of Van. On April 20, well-armed Armenian units, many wearing military uniforms, took the city and drove Ottoman forces into the citadel. The rebels burned down most of the city, some buildings also being destroyed by the two canons the Ottomans had in the citadel. Troops were sent from the Erzurum and Iranian Fronts, but they were unable to relieve the city. The Russians and Armenians were advancing from the north and the southwest. On May 17 the Ottomans evacuated the citadel. Soldiers and civilians fought their way southwest around Lake Van. Some took to boats on the Lake, but nearly half of these were killed by rebels firing from the shore or when their boats ran aground. Some of the Muslims of Van survived at least for a while, put in the care of American missionaries. Most who did not escape were killed. Villagers were either killed in their homes or collected from surrounding areas and sent into the great massacre at Zeve.
The ensuing suffering of the Muslims and Armenians is well known. It was a history of bloody warfare between peoples in which all died in great numbers. When the Ottomans retook much of the East, the Armenian population fled to Russia. There they starved and died of disease. When the Russians retook Van and Bitlis Provinces, they did not allow the Armenians to return, leaving them to starve in the North. The Russians wanted the land for themselves. It is also well known that Armenians who remained, those in Erzurum Province, massacred Muslims in great numbers at the end of the war.
My purpose here is not to retell that history. I wish to demonstrate that the Ottomans were right in considering the Armenians to be their enemies, if further proof is needed. The map shows proof that the Armenian rebels in fact were agents of Russia.
The Armenians of the Ottoman East rebelled in exactly those areas that were most important to the Russians. The benefit of the rebellion in Van City, the center of Ottoman Administration in the Southeast is obvious. The other sites of rebellion were in reality more important: Rebellion in Erzurum Province cut the Ottoman Army off from supplies and communications. The rebellion was directly in the path of the Russian advance from the North. The Armenians rebelled in the Saray and Başkale regions, at the two major passes that the Russians were to use in their invasion from Iran. The Armenians rebelled in the region near Çatak, at the mountain passes needed for the Ottomans to bring up troops to the Iran frontier, the passes needed for the Ottoman retreat. The Armenians rebelled in great numbers in Sivas Province and in Şebinkarahisar. This would seem to be an odd place for a revolt, a region where the Armenians were outnumbered by the Muslims ten to one, but Sivas was tactically important. It was the railhead from which all supplies and men passed to the Front, basically along one road. It was the prefect site for guerilla action to harass Ottoman supply lines. The Armenians also rebelled in Cilicia, the intended site for a British invasion that would have cut the rail links to the South. It was not the fault of the rebels that the British preferred to attempt the madness at Gallipoli instead of an attack in Cilicia that would surely have been more successful.
All these regions were the very spots a military planner would choose to most damage the Ottoman war effort. It cannot be an accident that they were also the spots chosen by the rebels for their revolt. Anyone can see that the revolts were a disaster for the Army. The disaster was compounded by the fact that the Ottomans were forced to withdraw whole divisions from the Front to battle the Armenian rebels. The war might have been much different if these divisions had been able to fight the Russians, not the rebels. I agree with Field-Marshall Pomiankowski, who was the only real European historian of World War I in the Ottoman Empire, that the Armenian rebellion was the key to the Ottoman defeat in the East.
Only after seven months of Armenian rebellion did the Ottomans order the deportation of Armenians (May 26-30, 1915).
 The Ottoman Record
How do we know that this analysis is true? It is, after all, very different than what is usually called the history of the Armenians. We know it is true because it is the product of reasoned historical analysis, not ideology.
To understand this, we must consider the difference between history and ideology, the difference between scientific analysis and nationalist belief, the difference between the proper historian and the ideologue. To the historian what matters is the attempt to find the objective truth. To the nationalist ideologue what matters is the triumph of his cause. A proper historian first searches for evidence, then make up his mind. An ideologue first makes up his mind, then looks for evidence.
A historian looks for historical context. In particular, he judges the reliability of witnesses. He judges if those who gave reports had reason to lie. An ideologue takes evidence wherever he can find it, and may invent the evidence he cannot find. He does not look too closely at the evidence, perhaps because he is afraid of what he will find. As an example, the ideologues contend that the trials of Ottoman leaders after World War I  prove that the Turks were guilty of genocide. They do not mention that the so-called trials reached their verdicts when the British controlled Istanbul. They do not mention that the courts were in the hands of the Quisling Damad Ferid Paşa government, which had a long record of lying about its enemies, the Committee of Union and Progress. They do not mention that Damad Ferid would do anything to please the British and keep his job. They do not mention that the British, more honest than their lackeys, admitted that they could not find evidence of any “genocide.” They do not mention that the defendants were not represented by their own lawyers. They do not mention that crimes against Armenians were only a small part of a long list of so-called crimes, everything the judges could invent. The ideologues do not mention that the courts should best be compared to those convened by Josef Stalin. The ideologues do not mention this evidence.
A historian first discovers what actually happened, then tries to explain the reasons. An ideologue forgets the process of discovery. He assumes that what he believes is correct, then constructs a theory to explain it. The work of Dr. Taner Akçam is an example of this. He first accepts completely the beliefs of the Armenian nationalists. He then constructs an elaborate sociological theory, claiming that genocide was the result of Turkish history and the Turkish character. This sort of analysis is like a house built on a foundation of sand. The house looks good, but the first strong wind knocks it down. In this case, the strong wind that destroys the theory is the force of the truth.
A historian knows that one has to look back in history, sometimes far back in history, to find the causes of events. An ideologue does not bother. Again, he may be afraid of what he will find. Reading the Armenian Nationalists one would assume that the Armenian Question began in 1894. Very seldom does one find in their work mention of Armenian alliances with the Russians against the Turks stretching back to the eighteenth century. One never finds recognition that it was the Russians and the Armenians themselves who began to dissolve 700 years of peace between Turks and Armenians. These are important matters for the historian, but they hurt the cause of the ideologue.
The historian studies. The ideologue wages a political war. From the start the Armenian Question has been a political campaign. Materials that have been used to write the long-accepted and false history of the Armenian Question were written as political documents. They were written for political effect. Whether they were articles in the Dashnak newspaper or false documents produced by the British Propaganda Office, they were propaganda, not sources of accurate history. Historians have examined and rejected all these so-called “historical sources.” Yet the same falsehoods continually appear as “proof” that there was an Armenian Genocide. The lies have existed for so long, the lies have been repeated so many times, that those who do not know the real history assume that the lies are true.
It is not only Americans and Europeans who have been fooled. Recently I read a two-volume work written by a Turkish scholar. Much of what appears on the Armenians is absolute nonsense. For example, in 1908 in the City of Van, Ottoman officials discovered an arsenal of Dashnak weapons–2,000 guns, hundreds of thousands of cartridges, 5,000 bombs–all in preparation for an Armenian revolt. Armenians rebels fought Ottoman troops briefly, then fled. This event is described in all the diplomatic literature and books on Van. The author, however, says what occurred was a revolt of 1,000 Turks (!) against the government, and mentions no rebel weapons. How could such a mistake be made? It was because of the source. The author took all information from the Dashnak Party newspaper!
We must affirm a basic principle: Those who take propaganda as their source themselves write propaganda, not history.
Too many scholars, Turks and non-Turks alike, have accepted the lies of groups like the Dashnak Party and not even looked at the internal reports of the Ottomans. Scholars have the right to make mistakes, but scholars also have a duty to look at all sources of information before they write. It is wrong to base writings on political propaganda and to ignore the honest reports of the Ottomans. The first place to look for Ottoman history should be the records of the Ottomans.
Why rely on Ottoman archival accounts to write history? Because they are the sort of solid data that is the basis of all good history. The Ottomans did not write propaganda for today’s media. The reports of Ottoman soldiers and officials were not political documents or public relations exercises. They were secret internal reports in which responsible men relayed what they believed to be true to their government. They might sometimes have been mistaken, but they were never liars. There is no record of deliberate deception in Ottoman documents. Compare this to the dismal history of Armenian Nationalist deceptions: fake statistics on population, fake statements attributed to Mustafa Kemal, fake telegrams of Talat Paşa, fake reports in a Blue Book, misuse of court records and, worst of all, no mention of Turks who were killed by Armenians. 
I have been asked to make suggestions as to what Turks can do to correct false history. I hesitate to do so, because Turks already know what has to be done–opposing the lies that are told about their ancestors. You are already doing it. It is a hard fight: The prejudices about Turks stand in your way, and those who oppose you are politically strong, but the truth is on your side. I am very pleased that the Turks, and the Turkish Parliament, are uniting to oppose the lies told about the Turks. The recent agreement between Prime Minister Erdoğan, and Minority Leader Baykal, prove that the Turks are taking action. The attempt by the Tarih Kurumu to debate and discuss with Armenian scholars proves that the Turks are taking action. The many books on this issue now being printed by Turkish scholars prove that the Turks are taking action. Men like Şükrü Elekdağ are fighting for the truth. I and others who have long opposed the lies are glad we are not alone.
In the past, scholars, including myself, have proposed that Turkish and Armenian historians, along with others who study this history, should meet to research and debate the history of the Turks and Armenians. Prime Minister Erdoğan and Dr. Baykal have proposed that all archives be opened to a joint commission on the Armenian Question. This is exactly what should be done. Most important, they have declared that historians should settle this question. They have also shown that Turks have nothing to fear from the truth.
We can only hope that scholarly integrity will triumph over politics and the Armenian Nationalists will join in debate. I am not hopeful they will do so. I recently gave two talks at the University of Minnesota, a center of so-called “Armenian Genocide Studies.” Dr. Taner Akçam teaches there. Dr. Akçam was invited to my lectures, but did not come. In fact, no Armenian came. Instead all notices of the lecture were torn down, so that others would not know I was speaking.
This is not a scholarly approach. It is political. The Armenian Nationalists have decided that they will win their political fight if no one knows there is a scholarly opposition to their ideology. Therefore, Armenian Nationalists will only meet with Turks who first state that Turks committed genocide. These are described in the American and European press as “Turkish scholars.” Readers are left with the impression, a carefully-cultivated impression, that Turkish scholars believe there was a genocide. Readers are left with the impression that it is only the Turkish Government that denies there was a genocide.
We know this is not true. Every year many books and articles are published in Turkey that not only deny the “Armenian Genocide” but document Armenian persecution of Turks. Conferences are held. Mass graves of innocent Turks killed by Armenian Nationalists are found. Museums and monuments are opened to commemorate the Turkish dead. Historians who have seen the Ottoman archival records or read the Turkish books on the Armenian Question do not accept the idea of a genocide. They know that in wartime many Armenians were killed by Turks, and that many Turks were killed by Armenians. They know that this was war, not genocide.
Why do so many in my country and Europe believe that the small group of Turks who accept the Armenian Nationalists beliefs represent Turkish scholarship? Why is it believed that these Turks speak for the real beliefs of Turkish professors? Part of the reason is prejudice. Prejudice against Turks has existed for so long that it easy for people to believe that Turks must have been guilty. Another reason, however, is that few in Europe and America know that real Turkish scholarship on this issue exists
Excellent work on the Armenian Question is now being written in Turkey. As you know, for too long Turks did not study the history of the Turks and Armenians. This has now changed. Anyone who has seen modern Turkish work on the Armenian Question must be impressed. The Tarih Kurumu has taken the lead in this, as it should. I obviously do not believe that Turks should be the only ones who write Turkish history, but Turks should be the main historians of Turkey. It is your country and your history. The problem lies in bringing the excellent history now being written in Turkey and the documents of Turkish history to scholars, politicians, and the public in other countries. The problem is that Turkish historians naturally write in Turkish, and Europeans and Americans do not read Turkish.
Should those who write the history of Turkey read Turkish? Yes, of course they should read Turkish. Should they use the many books on Turkish history written in Turkish? Yes, of course they should do so. Should they understand all sides of an issue, including the Turkish side, before they write? Yes, because that is a scholar’s duty. Do they always do so? No. In particular, most books on the so-called “Armenian Genocide” do not refer to modern Turkish studies. It is no use saying this is wrong. It is no use telling scholars to learn Turkish. They will not or cannot do so. To be fair, there are few places in my own country where Turkish is taught. The only answer is that the Turkish books must be translated into other languages, especially English, which is understood all over the world.
A start has been made. Today there are valuable books, originally in Turkish, that have been translated. These include Esat Uras’ excellent, if now outdated, history, the recent publication on the Armenian Question by the Turkish Parliament, the history written by the Turkish Foreign Office, the late Kâmuran Gürün’s Armenian File, Orel and Yuca’s Talat Paşa Telegrams, and others. The series of Ottoman documents on the Armenian Question, translated and published by the General Staff, the Ottoman Archives, the Tarih Kurumu, and the Foreign Ministry, are perhaps the most valuable of all. But there are so many others that are needed There are too many to list here, but I note that even the memoirs of Kâzim Karabekir and Ahmet Refik have not been translated. All these books should be read by the widest possible audience. They should be translated.
And the translations must include books that seem to be on topics other than the Armenian Question. There are no accurate and detailed military histories of World War I in the Ottoman Empire in any European language. What exists is often wrong, and not only wrong on the Armenians. General histories of World War I, for example, name the wrong generals, move troops to the wrong places, and never seem to understand Ottoman strategy. They seldom mention the one most significant factor in the war—the incredible strength and endurance of Turkish soldiers. Why is this important to the Armenian Question? It is important because the danger from the Armenian rebellion and the reason for the Armenian deportations cannot be understood unless the military situation is understood. The Ottoman sources prove that the Armenian rebellion was an essential part of the Russian military plan. The Ottoman sources prove that the Armenian rebellion was an important part of the Russian victory. The Ottoman sources prove that the Armenian rebels were, in effect, soldiers in the Russian Army.
There is a series of military histories that accurately portray the events of the Ottoman wars and the Turkish War of Independence—the histories published by the Turkish General Staff– many volumes, filled with great detail, many maps, and descriptions of Ottoman plans and actions. These books are based on the reports of the Ottoman soldiers themselves, not only on the reports of the Ottoman enemies. They should be read by every historian of World War I. Yet these books are in Turkish. If they are ever to be used in America and Europe, they must be in English.
And there must be many more accurate and honest books on Turkey for teachers and students in Europe and America. Only by telling the truth to youth can the prejudices against Turks be finally ended. We have made a start. The Istanbul Chambers of Commerce have financed the first detailed book on Turkey for American teachers. Many more books are needed.
Finally, I wish to comment on current politics. Some may feel that I should not do so. I am not a Turk, and this is surely a Turkish problem. Nor am I a political scientist or a politician. I am a historian. I am speaking on this problem because it is basically a historical question. As a historian, I am infuriated when any group, or any country, is ordered to lie about its history. The political problem I am speaking of is the growing cry from Europe that Turkey must admit the “Armenian Genocide” before it can enter the European Union.
I am angry that anyone can believe that accepting a lie about Turkish history will somehow be a benefit to Europe or to Turkey. I know, and I believe you know, that it will make matters much worse.
Today the Armenian Nationalists are proclaiming in the parliaments of Europe and the Congress of the United States that they only want Turkey to admit that genocide occurred, then all will be well. I once spoke to an American official who told me that the Turks should say, “Yes, we did it, sorry,” and then forget it. I asked him if he thought the Turks had committed genocide. He replied that he did not know and did not care. I told him the Turks would never lie like that about their fathers and grandfathers. He told me I was naïve. But he was the one who was naïve, because he believed that the Armenian Nationalists would be satisfied with an apology.
The plan of the Armenian Nationalists has not changed in more than 100 years. It is to create an Armenia in Eastern Anatolia and the Southern Caucasus, regardless of the wishes of the people who live there. The Armenian Nationalists have made their plan quite clear. First, the Turkish Republic is to state that there was an “Armenian Genocide” and to apologize for it. Second, the Turks are to pay reparations. Third, an Armenian state is to be created. The Nationalists are very specific on the borders of this state. The map you see is based on the program of the Dashnak Party and the Armenian Republic. It shows what the Armenian Nationalists claim. The map also shows the population of the areas claimed in Turkey and the number of Armenians in the world.
If the Armenians were to be given what they claim, and if every Armenian in the world were to come to Eastern Anatolia, their numbers would still be only half of the number of those Turkish citizens who live there now. Of course, the Armenians of California, Massachusetts, and France would never come in great numbers to Eastern Anatolia. The population of the new “Armenia” would be less than one-fourth Armenian at best. Could such a state long exist? Yes, it could exist, but only if the Turks were expelled. That was the policy of the Armenian Nationalists in 1915. It would be their policy tomorrow.
We should be very clear on Armenian claims. Their claims are not based on history, because Armenians have not ruled in Eastern Anatolia for more than 900 years. Their claims are not based on culture: Before the revolutionaries and the Russians destroyed all peace, the Armenians and Turks shared the same culture. Armenians were integrated into the Ottoman system, and most of the Armenians spoke Turkish. They ate the same food as the Turks, shared the same music, and lived in the same sorts of houses. The Armenian claims are surely not based on a belief in democracy: Armenians have not been a majority in Eastern Anatolia for centuries, and they would be a small minority there now. Their claims are based on their nationalist ideology. That ideology is unchanging. It was the same in 1895 and 1915 as it is in 2005. They believe there should be an “Armenia” in Eastern Turkey—no matter the history, no matter the rights of the people who live there. 
History teaches that the Armenian Nationalists will not stop their claims if the Turks forget the truth and say there was an Armenian Genocide. They will not cease to claim Erzurum and Van because the Turks have apologized for a crime they did not commit. No. They will increase their efforts. They will say, “The Turks have admitted they did it. Now they must pay for their crimes.” The same critics who now say the Turks should admit genocide will say the Turks should pay reparations. Then they will demand the Turks give Erzurum and Van and Elaziğ and Sivas and Bitlis and Trabzon to Armenia.
I know the Turks will not give in to this pressure. The Turks will not submit, because they know that to do so would simply be wrong. How can it be right to become a member of an organization that demands you lie as the price of admission? Would any honest man join an organization that said, “You can only join us if you first falsely say that your father was a murderer?”
I hope and trust that the European Union will reject the demands of the Armenian Nationalists. I hope they will realize that the Armenian Nationalists are not concerned with what is best for Europe. But whatever the European Union demands, I have faith in the honor of the Turks. What I know of the Turks tells me that they will never falsely say there was an Armenian Genocide. I have faith in the honesty of the Turks. I know that the Turks will resist demands to confess to a crime they did not commit, no matter the price of honesty. I have faith in the integrity of the Turks. I know that the Turks will not lie about this history. I know that the Turks will never say their fathers were murderers. I have that faith in the Turks.
                                                      –Justin McCarthy

[1] FO 424/196, Elliot to Currie, Tabreez, May 5, 1898.
[2] FO 195/2949, Molyneux-Seel to Lowther, Van, February 17, 1913.
[3] FO 195/2375 Molyneux-Seele to Lowther, Van, 9 October 1911.
[4] FO 195/2283, Dickson to O’Conor, Van, March 15, 1908.
[5] FO 371/1783 Molyneux-Seele to Lowther, Van, 4 April, 1913.

Official position of the British Government on Armenian allegations

Official position of the British Government on Armenian allegations



(Excerpts from Parliamentary Records/Hansard)

January 22, 2007

During a Parliamentary debate in the British House of Lords, Lord Bishop of Manchester submitted a question concerning the British Government’s position on Armenian allegations. On behalf of the British Government, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Parliamentary Affairs, Lord Triesman answered the question as follows:

“….For this Government, recognition of the so-called Armenian Genocide is not a condition of Turkey’s membership of the EU. I wish to be straightforward and clear about that. Neither this Government nor previous British Governments have judged that the evidence is sufficiently unequivocal to persuade us that these events should be characterised as genocide under the 1948 UN convention on genocide”

November 17, 2007

Question from an MP addressed to and answered by Minister for Europe, Mr. Denis MacShane:

“Armenian Genocide

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is towards the (a) scale of, (b) responsibility for and (c) recognition of the Armenian genocide. [198403]

Mr. MacShane: The Government understands the strength of feeling about this terrible episode of history. The massacres of 1915–16 were condemned in explicit terms by the British Government of the day. We fully endorse that view. Historians disagree as to whether the Armenian massacres constitute genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether recognition of the Armenian genocide is one of the political criteria that Turkey will be required to meet before EU accession. [198404]

Mr. MacShane: No.”

March 4, 2008

“Armenia: Genocide

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty’s Government whether they recognise the existence of genocide in Armenia in 1915.

The Minister of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The position of the Government on this issue is long-standing. The Government acknowledges the strength of feeling about this terrible episode of history and recognise the massacres of 1915-16 as a tragedy. However neither this Government nor previous Governments have judged that the evidence is sufficiently unequivocal to persuade us that these events should be categorised as genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide.

As my right honourable friend the then Minister for Europe (Geoffrey Hoon) said in a debate in Westminster Hall on 7 June 2006 (Official Report col. 137WH) the work of establishing the truth must be conducted as a joint exercise by the parties directly involved if it is to help towards reconciliation. There needs to be a truth and reconciliation process owned by the people of Armenia and Turkey. Outsiders can commend the idea to the parties but they should not try to do the work for them-undertaking this is an important part of the confidence-building and reconciliation process for the parties themselves. The Government will continue to encourage the parties to embark on such a process. In the mean time we should resist the temptation to pre-empt its conclusions.”

March 29, 2010

As response to the question addressed by Baroness Cox, on behalf of the British Government Baroness Kinnock: “…I shall now answer some of the questions that noble Lords asked. I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, that Geoffrey Robertson concluded that while the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide could not be applied retrospectively, the term “genocide” should be applied to the Armenian massacres. “Genocide” is a precise term and its use is best assessed by a competent court. However, then as now, there is no court with the authority to make such an assessment. Therefore, it is inappropriate for the British Government to apply the term to events on which no legal judgment can be made.”

November 20, 2012

“Asked by Lord Patten: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the recognition by the Swedish Parliament that the mass killing of Syriacs in Turkey during 1915 was an act of genocide.

Baroness Warsi: The British Government do not recognise the events of 1915 as genocide. While we remember the victims of the past, our priority today should be to promote reconciliation between the countries and peoples affected.”

Declaration by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, supporting the Turkish proposal to form a joint historical commission with Armenia (2005)

Declaration by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, supporting the Turkish proposal to form a joint historical commission with Armenia (2005)

It is the belief of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TGNA), that both Turkey’s and Armenia’s interests lie in reconciling Turkish and Armenian nations who have lived for centuries on the same territory in mutual tolerance and peace, in setting them free from being hostage to deep prejudices emanating from the war years, and in creating an environment which will enable them to share a common future based on tolerance, friendship and cooperation.

To this end, the Governing and the Main Opposition Parties have made a proposal  which aims to shed light on historical facts through scientific research and to free history  from being a burden for these two nations. This proposal envisages the establishment of a joint commission composed of historians from Turkey and Armenia, to open without any restriction their national archives, to disclose the findings of their research, which will also cover the archives of related countries, to the international public and determination between two countries the establishment and working methods of the said commission.

The TGNA  approves and fully supports this historical proposal.

The cooperation of the Government of Armenia is essential for implementing this initiative. In this respect, if Turkey and Armenia can not look at  history from a common perspective, the legacy that both parties would leave to their children and future generations will be nothing but feelings of prejudice, animosity  and revenge.

Wisdom and logic command Turkey and Armenia not to be afraid of  breaking  the taboos by working jointly, and to face their history by uncovering all aspects of the human calamity they together experienced. This is the way to prevent  the past from casting a shadow over our present and future. 

The TGNA underlines the fact that this proposal by the Republic of Turkey should be considered, in essence, as a peace initiative. If Armenia wishes to establish good neighborly relations with Turkey and develop a basis for cooperation, it should not hesitate to accept   Turkey’s proposal for a  joint  evaluation of history.

The TGNA would also like to emphasize that all states and statesmen who wish to contribute to world peace and stability should leave aside domestic political considerations and look positively at Turkey’s proposal based on reconciliation and commonsense. In this respect, those states which sincerely want the normalization of Turkish–Armenian relations and desire the establishment of peace and stability in the Caucasus, are expected to support this initiative, and, to refrain, in particular, from activities that can weaken it.

On this connection, the responsibility primarily falls upon the countries which took decisions regarding the Armenian allegations in their Parliaments. If these countries attach importance, as they claim, to the improvement of the relations between Turkey and Armenia, they should demonstrate their good will and support our proposal to set-up a joint commission of history between the two countries.

The TGNA considers the adoption, for political purposes, of decisions by foreign Parliaments regarding certain pages of Ottoman Armenians history which are still subject to discussion among world historians and to pass  judgment, through legislation, on the veracity of a specific version of a  still disputed  historical issue, as inappropriate, pointless, arbitrary and unjust acts and condemns them.

The TGNA stresses that those who think it is possible to impose on Turkey  to rebuild its history on one-sided and misleading assessment of propaganda material through a campaign of intense  international pressure  and  those who make their calculations on this presumption are totally mistaken, and declares that this, under no circumstances, will ever happen.

The unofficial translation of the message of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the then Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, on the events of 1915 (23 April 2014).

The unofficial translation of the message of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the then Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, on the events of 1915 (23 April 2014).

“The 24th of April carries a particular significance for our Armenian citizens and for all Armenians around the world, and provides a valuable opportunity to share opinions freely on a historical matter.

It is indisputable that the last years of the Ottoman Empire were a difficult period, full of suffering for Turkish, Kurdish, Arab, Armenian and millions of other Ottoman citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnic origin.

Any conscientious, fair and humanistic approach to these issues requires an understanding of all the sufferings endured in this period, without discriminating as to religion or ethnicity.

Certainly, neither constructing hierarchies of pain nor comparing and contrasting suffering carries any meaning for those who experienced this pain themselves.

As a Turkish proverb goes, “fire burns the place where it falls”.

It is a duty of humanity to acknowledge that Armenians remember the suffering experienced in that period, just like every other citizen of the Ottoman Empire.

In Turkey, expressing different opinions and thoughts freely on the events of 1915 is the requirement of a pluralistic perspective as well as of a culture of democracy and modernity.

Some may perceive this climate of freedom in Turkey as an opportunity to express accusatory, offensive and even provocative assertions and allegations.

Even so, if this will enable us to better understand historical issues with their legal aspects and to transform resentment to friendship again, it is natural to approach different discourses with empathy and tolerance and expect a similar attitude from all sides.

The Republic of Turkey will continue to approach every idea with dignity in line with the universal values of law.

Nevertheless, using the events of 1915 as an excuse for hostility against Turkey and turning this issue into a matter of political conflict is inadmissible.

The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain. To evaluate this painful period of history through a perspective of just memory is a humane and scholarly responsibility.

Millions of people of all religions and ethnicities lost their lives in the First World War. Having experienced events which had inhumane consequences – such as relocation – during the First World War, should not prevent Turks and Armenians from establishing compassion and mutually humane attitudes among towards one another.

In today’s world, deriving enmity from history and creating new antagonisms are neither acceptable nor useful for building a common future.

The spirit of the age necessitates dialogue despite differences, understanding by heeding others, evaluating means for compromise, denouncing hatred, and praising respect and tolerance.

With this understanding, we, as the Turkish Republic, have called for the establishment of a joint historical commission in order to study the events of 1915 in a scholarly manner. This call remains valid. Scholarly research to be carried out by Turkish, Armenian and international historians would play a significant role in shedding light on the events of 1915 and an accurate understanding of history.

It is with this understanding that we have opened our archives to all researchers. Today, hundreds of thousands of documents in our archives are at the service of historians.

Looking to the future with confidence, Turkey has always supported scholarly and comprehensive studies for an accurate understanding of history. The people of Anatolia, who lived together for centuries regardless of their different ethnic and religious origins, have established common values in every field from art to diplomacy, from state administration to commerce. Today they continue to have the same ability to create a new future.

It is our hope and belief that the peoples of an ancient and unique geography, who share similar customs and manners will be able to talk to each other about the past with maturity and to remember together their losses in a decent manner. And it is with this hope and belief that we wish that the Armenians who lost their lives in the context of the early twentieth century rest in peace, and we convey our condolences to their grandchildren.

Regardless of their ethnic or religious origins, we pay tribute, with compassion and respect, to all Ottoman citizens who lost their lives in the same period and under similar conditions.”

The Armenian Allegation of Genocide: The issue and the facts

The Armenian Allegation of Genocide: The issue and the facts

THE ISSUE: Whether within the events leading to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire genocide was perpetrated against Armenian Ottoman citizens in Eastern Anatolia.

The Ottoman Empire ruled over all of Anatolia and significant parts of Europe, North Africa, the Caucasus and Middle East for over seven hundred years. Lands once Ottoman dominions today comprise more than 30 independent nations.

A century of ever-increasing conflict, beginning roughly in 1820 and culminating with the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, characterized the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire participated in no fewer than a dozen named wars, nearly all to the detriment of the empire and its citizens. The empire contracted against an onslaught of external invaders and internal nationalist independence movements. In this context — an imperiled empire waging and losing battles on remote and disparate fronts, grasping to continue a reign of over seven years — must the tragic experience of the Ottoman Armenians of Eastern Anatolia be understood. For during these waning days of the Ottoman Empire did millions die, Muslim, Jew, and Christian alike.

Yet Armenian  have attempted to extricate and isolate their history from the complex circumstances in which their ancestors were embroiled. In so doing, they describe a world populated only by white-hatted heroes and black-hatted villains. The heroes are always Christian and the villains are always Muslim. Infusing history with myth, Armenian Americans vilify the Republic of Turkey, Turkish Americans, and ethnic Turks worldwide. Armenian  bent on this prosecution choose their evidence carefully, omitting all evidence that tends to exonerate those whom they presume guilty, ignoring important events and verifiable accounts, and sometimes relying on dubious or prejudiced sources and even falsified documents. Though this portrayal is necessarily one-sided and steeped in bias, the Armenian  community presents it as a complete history and unassailable fact.

RELEVANCE: The truth demands that every side of a story be told. Fundamental freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution protect those who choose to challenge the Armenian view.

To oppose Armenian orthodoxy on this issue has become risky. Any attempt to challenge the credibility of witnesses, or the authenticity of documents, or to present evidence that some of the claimed victims were responsible for their own fate is either wholly squelched or met with accusations of genocide denial. Moreover, any attempt to demonstrate the suffering and needless death of millions of innocent non-Christians enmeshed in the same events as the Anatolian Armenians is greeted with sneers, as if to say that some lives are inherently more valuable than others and that one faith is more deserving than another. The lack of real debate, enforced with a heavy hand by Armenian, ensures that any consideration of what genuinely occurred nearly a century ago in Eastern Anatolia will utterly fail as a search for the truth.

Ultimately, whether to blindly accept the Armenian portrayal is an issue of fundamental fairness and the most cherished of American rights — free speech. Simply put, in America every person has the opportunity to tell his or her story. Armenian  possess the right to promote and celebrate their heritage and even to discuss ancient grievances. However, Armenian seek to deny these very rights to others. This is proven by the punitive nature and sheer volume of legislation proposed in the state and federal legislatures, the one-sided curricula proposed to state boards of education, and by the vast sums of money and energy devoted to this cause. Together, these efforts only increase acrimony and antagonism.

The complete story of the vast suffering of this period has not yet been written. When that story is told, the following facts must not be forgotten.

FACT 1: Demographic studies prove that prior to World War I, fewer than 1.5 million Armenians lived in the entire Ottoman Empire. Thus, allegations that more than 1.5 million Armenians from eastern Anatolia died must be false.

Figures reporting the total pre-World War I Armenian population vary widely, with Armenian sources claiming far more than others. British, French and Ottoman sources give figures of 1.05-1.50 million. Only certain Armenian sources claim a pre-war population larger than 1.5 million. Comparing these to post-war figures yields a rough estimate of losses. Historian and demographer, Dr. Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville, calculates the actual losses as slightly less than 600,000. This figure agrees with those provided by British historian Arnold Toynbee, by most early editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and approximates the number given by Monseigneur Touchet, a French missionary, who informed the Oeuvre d’Orient in February 1916 that the number of dead is thought to be 500,000. Boghos Nubar, head of the Armenian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1920, noted the large numbers who survived the war. He declared that after the war 280,000 Armenians remained in the Anatolian portion of the occupied Ottoman Empire while 700,000 Armenians had emigrated to other countries.

Clearly then, a great portion of the Ottoman Armenians were not killed as claimed and the 1.5 million figure should be viewed as grossly erroneous. Each needless death is a tragedy. Equally tragic are lies meant to inflame hatred.

FACT 2: Armenian losses were few in comparison to the over 2.5 million Muslim dead from the same period.

Reliable statistics demonstrate that slightly less than 600,000 Anatolian Armenians died during the war period of 1912-22. Armenians indeed suffered a terrible mortality. But one must likewise consider the number of dead Muslims and Jews. The statistics tell us that more than 2.5 million Anatolian Muslims also perished. Thus, the years 1912-1922 constitute a horrible period for humanity, not just for Armenians.

The numbers do not tell us the exact manner of death of the citizens of Anatolia, regardless of ethnicity, who were caught up in both an international war and an intercommunal struggle. Documents of the time list intercommunal violence, forced migration of all ethnic groups, disease, and, starvation as causes of death. Others died as a result of the same war-induced causes that ravaged all peoples during the period.

FACT 3: Certain oft-cited Armenian evidence is of diminished value, having been derived from dubious and prejudicial sources.

Armenian purport that the wartime propaganda of the enemies of the Ottoman Empire constitutes objective evidence. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who is frequently quoted by Armenian, visited the Ottoman Empire with political, not humanitarian aims. His correspondence with President Wilson reveals his intent was to uncover or manufacture news that would goad the U.S. into joining the war. Given that motive, Morgenthau sought to malign the Ottoman Empire, an enemy of the Triple Entente. Morgenthau’s research and reporting relied in large part on politically motivated

Armenians; his primary aid, translator and confidant was Arshag Schmavonian, his secretary was Hagop Andonian. Morgenthau openly professed that the Turks were an inferior race and possessed “inferior blood.” Thus, his accounts can hardly be considered objective.

One ought to compare the wartime writings of Morgenthau and the oft-cited Gen. J.G. Harbord to the post-war writings of Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey 1920 – 1926. In a March 28, 1921 letter he writes,

“[R]eports are being freely circulated in the United States that the Turks massacred thousands of Armenians in the Caucasus. Such reports are repeated so many times it makes my blood boil. The Near East Relief have the reports from Yarrow and our own American people which show absolutely that such Armenian reports are absolutely false. The circulation of such false reports in the United States, without refutation, is an outrage and is certainly doing the Armenians more harm than good. … Why not tell the truth about the Armenians in every way?”

FACT 4: The Armenian deaths do not constitute genocide.

The totality of evidence thus far uncovered by historians tells a grim story of serious inter-communal conflict, perpetrated by both Christian and Muslim irregular forces, complicated by disease, famine, and many other of war’s privations. The evidence does not, however, describe genocide.

A. The Armenians took arms against their own government. Their violent political aims, not their race, ethnicity or religion, rendered them subject to relocation.

Armenian ignore the dire circumstances that precipitated the enactment of a measure as drastic as mass relocation. Armenians cooperated with Russian invaders of Eastern Anatolia in wars in 1828, 1854, and 1877. Between 1893 and 1915 Ottoman Armenians in eastern Anatolia rebelled against their government — the Ottoman government — and joined Armenian revolutionary groups, such as the notorious Dashnaks and Hunchaks. They armed themselves and spearheaded a massive Russian invasion of eastern Anatolia. On November 5, 1914, the President of the Armenian National Bureau in Tblisi declared to Czar Nicholas II, “From all countries Armenians are hurrying to enter the ranks for the glorious Russian Army, with their blood to serve the victory of Russian arms. … Let the Russian flag wave freely over the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus.” Armenian treason is also plainly documented in the November 1914 issue of the Hunchak Armenian [Revolutionary] Gazette, published in Paris. In a call to arms it exhorted,

“The entire Armenian Nation will join forces — moral and material, and waving the sword of Revolution, will enter this World conflict … as comrades in arms of the Triple Entente, and particularly Russia. They will cooperate with the Allies, making full use of all political and revolutionary means for the final victory….”

Boghos Nubar addressed a letter to the Times of London on January 30, 1919 confirming that the Armenians were indeed belligerents in World War I. He stated with pride,

“In the Caucasus, without mentioning the 150,000 Armenians in the Russian armies, about 50,000 Armenian volunteers under Andranik, Nazarbekoff, and others not only fought for four years for the cause of the Entente, but after the breakdown of Russia they were the only forces in the Caucasus to resist the advance of the Turks….”

One of those who answered the Armenian call to arms was Gourgen Yanikian who, as a teenager, joined the Russians to fight the Ottoman government, and who as an elderly man, on January 27, 1973, assassinated two Turkish diplomats in Santa Barbara, California.

B. Logic and evidence controvert the allegation of genocide.

1. No logic can reconcile the two positions that Armenian promote. Eminent historian Bernard Lewis, speaking to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz on January 23, 1998, expanded on this notion,

“The Armenians want to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they speak with pride of their struggle against Ottoman despotism, while on the other hand, they compare their tragedy to the Jewish Holocaust. I do not accept this. I do not say that the Armenians did not suffer terribly. But I find enough cause for me to contain their attempts to use the Armenian massacres to diminish the worth of the Jewish Holocaust and to relate to it instead as an ethnic dispute.” (translation)

2. None of the Ottoman orders commanding the relocation of Armenians, which have been reviewed by historians to date, orders killings. To the contrary, they order Ottoman officials to protect relocated Armenians.

3. Where Ottoman control was weakest Armenian relocatees suffered most. The stories of the time give many examples of columns of hundreds of Armenians guarded by as few as two Ottoman gendarmes. When local Muslims attacked the columns, Armenians were robbed and killed. It must be remembered that these Muslims had themselves suffered greatly at the hands of Armenians and Russians. In the words of U.S. Ambassador Mark Bristol, “While the Dashnaks [Armenian revolutionaries] were in power they did everything in the world to keep the pot boiling by attacking Kurds, Turks and Tartars; [and] by committing outrages against the Moslems ….”

Where Ottoman control was strong, Armenians went unharmed. In Istanbul and other major western Anatolian cities, large populations of Armenians remained throughout the war. In these areas Ottoman power was greatest and genocide would have been easiest to carry out. By contrast, during World War II, the Jews of Berlin were killed, their synagogues defiled. The Armenians of Istanbul lived through World War I, their churches open.

C. The Armenian Allegation of Genocide Fails the Minimum Standards of Proof Required by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The term “genocide” did not exist prior to 1944. The term was subsequently defined quite specifically by the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide. This high crime is now recognized by most nations, including the Republic of Turkey.

The standard of proof in establishing the crime of genocide is formidable given the severity of the crime, the opportunity for overlap with other crimes, and the stigma of being charged with or found guilty of the crime. While presenting the Convention for ratification, the Secretary General of the U.N. emphasized that genocide is a crime of “specific intent,” requiring conclusive proof that members of a group were targeted simply because they were members of that group. The Secretary General further cautioned that those merely sharing political aims are not protected by the convention.

Under this standard of proof, the Armenian claim of genocide fails. First, no direct evidence has been discovered demonstrating that any Ottoman official sought the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians as such. Second, Ottoman Armenian Dashnak and Hunchak guerrillas and their civilian accomplices admittedly organized political revolutionary groups and waged war against their own government. Under these circumstances, it was the Ottoman Armenians’ violent political alliance with the Russian forces, not their ethnic or religious identity, which rendered them subject to the relocation.

A recent comment on the U.N. position was rendered by, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq on October 5, 2000 when he confirmed that the U.N. has not approved or endorsed a report labeling the Armenian experience as genocide.

FACT 5: The British convened the Malta Tribunals to try Ottoman officials for crimes against Armenians. All of the accused were acquitted.

The Peace Treaty of Sevres, which was imposed upon the defeated Ottoman Empire, required the Ottoman government to hand over to the Allied Powers people accused of “massacres.” Subsequently, 144 high Ottoman officials were arrested and deported for trial by the British to the island of Malta. The principal informants to the British High Commission in Istanbul leading to the arrests were local Armenians and the Armenian Patriarchate. While the deportees were interned on Malta, the British appointed an Armenian scholar, Mr. Haig Khazarian, to conduct a thorough examination of documentary evidence in the Ottoman, British, and U.S. Archives to substantiate the charges. Access to Ottoman records was unfettered as the British and French occupied and controlled Istanbul at the time. Khazarian’s corps of investigators revealed an utter lack of evidence demonstrating that Ottoman officials either sanctioned or encouraged killings of Armenians.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the British Procurator General determined that it was “improbable that the charges would be capable of proof in a court of law,” exonerated and released all 144 detainees — after two years and four months of detention without trial. No compensation was ever paid to the detainees.

FACT 6: Despite the verdicts of the Malta Tribunals, Armenian terrorists have engaged in a vigilante war that continues today.

In 1921, a secret Armenian network based in Boston, named Nemesis, took the law into its own hands and hunted down and assassinated former Ottoman Ministers Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha as well as other Ottoman officials. Following in Nemesis’ footsteps, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Armenian terrorist groups, Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) and Justice Commandos for the Armenian Genocide (JCAG), committed over 230 armed attacks, killing 71 innocent people, including 31 Turkish diplomats, and seriously wounding over 520 people in a campaign of blood revenge.

Most recently, Mourad Topalian, former Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, was tried and convicted in federal court in Ohio of terrorist crimes associated with bombings in New York and Los Angles and with the attempted assassination of the Turkish Honorary Consul General in Philadelphia. The Armenian youths whom Topalian directed and who conducted these attacks were recruited from the Armenian Youth Federation and Armenian Revolution Federation in Boston.

FACT 7: The archives of many nations ought to be carefully and thoughtfully examined before concluding whether genocide occurred.

Armenian make frequent reference to the archives of many nations while carefully avoiding calls for the examination of those archives. They know that no evidence of genocide has been found to date, as was the case in the Malta Tribunals. They also know that the national archives of several nations, including the U.S., speak primarily of the deaths of Armenians because the recorders were only interested in the Armenians, while intentionally omitting reports of Muslim deaths. Take, for example, the 1915 Armenian revolt in Van where at least 60,000 Muslims perished. Though the evidence for this is overwhelming, the official archives of several countries mention only Christian deaths.

Still, Armenian carefully avoid calls for the collection and examination of all records regarding the events in question. Such would include Ottoman records describing the activities of Armenian rebels and the Russian invaders whom they supported, as well as the archives of Germany, Russia, France, Britain, Iran, Syria and the United States. Most importantly, the unedited records of the Armenian Republic in Yerevan, Armenian Revolutionary Federation in Boston, and ASALA in Yerevan, ought to be examined but remain closed. Only those who fear the truth would limit the scope of an investigation.

FACT 8: The Holocaust bears no meaningful relation to the Ottoman Armenian experience.

1. Jews did not demand the dismemberment of the nations in which they had lived. By contrast, the Ottoman Armenians openly agitated for a separate state in lands in which they were numerically inferior. The Hunchak and Dashnak revolutionary organizations, which survive to this day, were formed expressly to agitate against the Ottoman government.

2. Jews did not kill their fellow citizens in the nations in which they had lived. By contrast, the Ottoman Armenians committed massacres against local Muslims.

3. Jews did not openly join the ranks of their countries’ enemies during World War II. By contrast, during World War I, Ottoman Armenians openly and with pride committed mass treason, took up arms, traveled to Russia for training, and sported Russian uniforms. Others, non-uniformed irregulars, operated against the Ottoman government from behind the lines.

4. Solemn tribunal at Nuremberg proved the guilt of the perpetrators of the Holocaust and sentences were carried out in accordance with agreed-upon procedures. By contrast, the Malta Tribunals, which were convened by the World War I victors, exonerated those alleged to have been responsible for the maladministration of the relocation policies.

5. Open Armenian-Nazi collaboration is evident in the activities of the 812th Armenian Battalion of the [Nazi] Wehrmacht, commanded by Drastamat Kanayan (a.k.a. “Dro”), and its successor, the Armenian Legion. Anti-Jewish, pro-Nazi propaganda was published widely in the Armenian-language Hairenik daily and the weekly journal, Armenian.

6. Hitler did not refer to the Armenians in plotting the Final Solution; the infamous quote is fraudulent. All sources attribute the alleged quote, “Who remembers the Armenians?” to a November 24, 1945 Times of London article, “Nazi Germany’s Road to War.” The article’s unnamed author says Hitler uttered the phrase in an address on August 22, 1939 at Obersalzburg. The Times of London author claims the speech was introduced as evidence during the November 23, 1945 session of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Yet the Nuremberg transcripts do not contain the alleged quote.

In fact, the quote first appeared in a 1942 book by Louis Lochner, the AP’s Berlin bureau chief during World War II. Lochner, like the Times of London author, never disclosed his source. The Nuremberg Tribunal examined and then rejected Lochner’s third-hand version of Hitler’s address and rejected it. Instead, it entered into evidence two official versions of the August 22, 1939 address found in captured German military records. Neither document contains any reference to Armenians, nor in fact do they refer to the Jews. Hitler’s address was an anti-Polish invective, delivered years before he conceived the Final Solution.

7. The depth, breadth, and volume of scholarship on the Holocaust are tremendous. The physical and documentary evidence is vast and proves indisputably the aims, methods, and results of the racist Nazi policies. By contrast, scholarship on the late Ottoman Empire is comparatively scarce. Much research has yet to be completed and many conclusions have yet to be drawn. Non-biased research from that period has thus far revealed tragedies afflicting all sides in a conflict with numerous belligerents. Nothing has yet been uncovered which establishes genocide. In light of the ongoing research and the other distinctions raised above, it would be improper, if not malicious, to equate a desire to challenge Armenian assertions with Holocaust denial.


  • Armenian Atrocities and Terrorism ed. by the Assembly of Turkish American
    Associations (Assembly of Turkish American Associations, Washington, DC 1997);
  • Death and Exile: the Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922 by Justin
    McCarthy (Darwin Press, Princeton, NJ 1995);
  • Muslims and Minorities, The Population of the Ottoman Anatolia and the End of
    the Empire by Justin McCarthy (New York University Press, New York, 1983).
  • Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People by Michael Gunter (Greenwood Press,
    New York 1986);
  • The Armenian File: The Myth of Innocence Exposed by Kamuran Gürün (K. Rustem
    & Bro. and Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd., London 1985);
  • The Armenian Question 1914-1923 by Mim Kemal Öke (K. Rustem & Bro. London
  • The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story by Heath W. Lowry (Isis Press, Istanbul 1990);
  • The Talât Pasha Telegrams: Historical Fact or Armenian Fiction by Sinasi
    Orel and Süreyya Yuca (K. Rustem & Bro., London 1986);
  • The U.S. Congress and Adolf Hitler on the Armenians, by Heath W. Lowry (Vol. 3, no. 2, Political Communication and Persuasion, 1985);
  • Proceedings of Symposium on Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey (1912-1926), (Bogazici University Publications, Istanbul, 1984).