This article is originally from the Armenian Review 45, no. 1-2/177-178 (Spring-Summer 1992), and was revised in 2001. The original pagination has been kept intact, although the paragraphing has been altered to fit the web. This web edition © 2001 Dennis R. Papazian.

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"Misplaced Credulity:"

Contemporary Turkish Attempts to Refute

the Armenian Genocide

 

Dennis R. Papazian

Since the Armenian Genocide of 1915-16, all Turkish governments, except for several short-lived Ottoman governments between 1918-1923,(1) especially that of Damad Ferit Pasha which came into power following the defeat of the Young Turk government by the Allies in the First World War, have denied not only responsibility for the Armenian Genocide, but also its very reality.(2) In the mid-1980s, the Turkish government's denials became more frequent and more strident, in part no doubt because Armenian extremists, beginning in 1973, brought the Armenian Genocide back into public light by the assassination of a number of Turkish diplomats in various parts of the world.(3) These attacks continued sporadically up to 1985 when they ceased. In any case, the world was once more made aware of Armenian grievances, and the Turkish government chose not to face the truth and move on as Germany had done, but rather it attempted to develop "another side to the story" and present it at the bar of public opinion.

Indeed, the Turkish government went on the offensive. It hired a public relations firm, Doremus & Co.; a lobbying organization, Gray & Co.; and established an Institute of Turkish Studies in Washington, D.C., all for the purpose of influencing the United States administration, the State Department, the Congress, and opinion makers in the apparent hope, among other things, that either the Turkish version of history would be accepted or, at least, the reality of the Genocide would be considered debatable.(4) This Turkish propaganda offensive met with some initial success in the United States. The media, public opinion makers, and even a number of scholars began to speak of an "alleged" genocide when referring to the Armenian


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tragedy of 1915-16, and the United States Department of State issued an outright denial that the expulsion and killing(5) of 1.5(6) million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted a genocide.(7)

This denial by the United States State Department could only amaze the informed public inasmuch as it was American officials and ordinary American citizens in the Ottoman Empire who had provided President Woodrow Wilson's administration, and indeed the whole world, with overwhelming eyewitness and photographic accounts of the tragic events, and it was the Wilson administration which was the foremost champion in the world of the Armenians and the Armenian cause.(8) Over and above the official diplomatic reports attesting to the Armenian Genocide, there is also an abundance of contemporary newspaper accounts and journal articles that appeared in the American press.(9) In fact, the Armenian Genocide was such a cause célèbre in the United States at that time that there were still elderly Americans in the 1980s and 1990s who remember giving their Sunday school pennies to help the "starving Armenians."(10)

Nevertheless, even reputable newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were caught off guard by the Turkish public relations offensive and were quick to accept Turkish denials. Caught between Armenian claims and Turkish counterclaims, these national publications were finally driven to do their own research in order to develop an informed opinion. The New York Times had no farther to go than its own archives; and it was confronted with the choice of either repudiating its own historical record or accepting the Armenian position. It soon dropped the word "alleged" from its articles.(11)

The Wall Street Journal, lacking its own historic account, assigned a member of its editorial board, Dr. James Ring Adams, to do a three-month study of the evidence. The fruit of his research appeared in a series of three articles which were published on the editorial page in August 1983, the second of which was entitled "Facing Up to an Armenian Genocide."(12)

In this article, Dr. Adams concluded: "In this furious controversy, non-participants including the U.S. government take refuge in phrases like 'alleged genocide.' But humane opinion has the duty to judge whether we're dealing with a monstrous crime or a colossal fraud. Three months of extensive research leave little doubt that a horrible crime certainly did occur, that the suffering of the deportations was far out of proportion to the military threat and that Talaat and company probably did plan a genocide."(13)

Adams went on to write: "In spite of the scholarly trappings, the Turkish defense relies on discrediting all contemporary Western accounts as war-time propaganda and all incriminating documents as Armenian forgeries. So the Turks must make liars of men like Henry Morgenthau, American


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ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916; of the great English historian Lord Bryce; and of his young research assistant Arnold Toynbee."(14)

These conclusions reached by Adams, despite his simultaneous strong condemnation of Armenian "terrorism," moved the ambassador of Turkey to the United States, Sukru Elekdag, to issue an extensive rebuttal in the form of a letter to the editor which the Journal conscientiously published on September 21, 1983, under the title "Armenians vs. Turks: The View From Istanbul."

The ambassador begins his letter with the statement: "Vast tragedies do, as James Ring Adams suggests, deserve 'truthful accounting.' Unfortunately, such accounting is brought no closer by his article, which by and large is a morass of misplaced, indiscriminate credulity.... A truthful accounting must, first, be factually correct.... Second, it must be meaningful, in the sense that context and terms have some referents in reality."

The letter then goes on to deliver, point by point, the Turkish government's position and arguments. Since this letter comes from the pen of the Turkish ambassador to the United States, we may take it as an official statement of Turkey's version of the events of 1915-16. As a matter of fact, Elekdag has brought together in one place all the arguments proffered by his government over the decades first to deny and then, by a twist of logic, to justify the Armenian Genocide of 1915-16.

In this paper I will analyze the most important points made by Ambassador Elekdag to see if they meet his criteria for "truthful accounting": being "factually correct," and being "meaningful, in the sense that context and terms have some referents in reality." I will also attempt to judge whether Elekdag's "scholarly trappings" represent purposeful deception or honest scholarship.

It is surprising, in light of Elekdag's appeal for good scholarship, that the ambassador should have made so many small errors of simple fact. The Adana massacres did not take place in 1906, but in 1909. It was Sidney Bradshaw Fay, not Fey, who wrote The Origins of the World War. It was Cyrus, and not Cyril, Hamlin who was president of Robert College. And, inter alia, the United States did not declare war on the Ottoman Empire, and it is impolitic, to say the least, for Elekdag to maintain that the United States ambassador considered Turkey "the enemy."

Furthermore, we should take note of the fact that Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to Turkey, did not, as Ambassador Elekdag claims, rely "on selected missionary reports and communications translated by Greeks and Armenians who could hardly have been disinterested parties." Morgenthau, as is well known, relied primarily on official reports written in English by his own experienced native-born American consuls and consular agents stationed in various cities of Anatolia and Greater Syria and that of honest American missionaries who were scattered all over the Ottoman Empire.


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The United States had stationed several consular officials in the Ottoman Empire, specifically at Aleppo, Harput, Smyrna (Izmir), Mersina (Mersin), and Trebizond (Trabzon), either within the areas of the slaughter or in the path of the deportations. Indeed, American consular officials were prime witnesses of the Armenian Genocide and did not hesitate to inform their ambassador about what was transpiring. In fact, just to be sure, Morgenthau directed his consuls to personally verify the Armenian killings in each of their regions and to carefully draw distinctions in their reports between what they heard--even from reliable sources--and what they actually witnessed.

Elekdag outlines the Turkish government's version of the events that led to the Armenian Genocide, in order to place them "in context." Let us review Ambassador Elekdag's story. It is true that the Tanzimat (transformation) of the nineteenth century, led by Ottoman reformers, failed, and that Turkey became the "sick man of Europe."(15) It is also true that various European powers had aspirations for Ottoman territories, and that they used the misrule of the sultans to justify intervention in the affairs of the Empire. None of this, as should be evident, is the fault of the Armenians.

When Sultan Abdulhamit II, known in history as "the Damned" or "the Bloody Sultan," came to the throne in 1876, he might have chosen to sincerely continue the reforms and strengthen the empire through developing Ottomanism, that is, giving all nationalities and all religions in the Empire political and social equality. Instead, he chose to play his Muslim card, adopting a policy of using Islam to draw the Empire's Muslims together as a ruling stratum and massacring the Christian Armenian population. Abdulhamit created the Hamidiye, an irregular cavalry on the model of the Cossacks of Russia, to carry out pogroms against the Armenians just as the tsar used his irregulars to persecute the Jews. Abdulhamit massacred hundreds of thousands of Armenians throughout the Empire during his reign, specifically between 1894-1896, in 1904 once more in Sasun, and he may have been behind the 1909 massacres in Adana and the rest of Cilicia that coincided with the 1909 coup d'état in Constantinople.

Enlightened Turks were every bit as distressed by the misrule of Abdulhamit as were the Armenians and the European powers. These Ottoman-Turkish patriots began to organize a reform movement of "Young Ottomans," later to be subsumed under the Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti or, in English, the Committee for Union and Progress (C.U.P.). All members of the Ittihad were known in Europe and America indiscriminately as the "Young Turks,"(16) just as Mazzini's patriotic movement in Italy was called "Young Italy." At about the same time, just before the turn of the century, young Armenians also began a movement to reform the Ottoman Empire, establishing political action societies and eventually political parties. Two of the more popular parties, the Dashnaks and the Hunchaks, had their origins in the Russian Empire,(17) but soon sent members into the Ottoman Empire, in the pattern of the Russian Narodniks of the 1870s who reached out to the Russian peasants, to defend the human rights and the personal security of the Armenian population.(18) Many Turkish Armenian reformers soon found a home in these parties.

The Dashnak party believed that reform of the Ottoman government was the only genuine answer to the Armenian plight. The Hunchak party, being more socialistic, believed that only world socialism would save the Armenians from destruction. The Dashnaks, acting on their belief that Armenians could find salvation only as a part of the Empire, took part in the First Congress of Ottoman Liberals in 1902, and in similar meetings after that.(19) Indeed, they even offered support to the Committee of Union and Progress


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in that group's effort, later to prove successful, to seize the Sultan's power by revolution and to reinstate the liberal Constitution of 1876. It was Turks who not only wanted a revolution but who carried out a successful revolt in 1908, with the moral support of the Armenians and other minorities, against the Sultan. This successful revolution against the Sultan and his government, to repeat, was led by young Turkish army officers and not by Armenian radicals.

Now the ironic twist: the Committee of Union and Progress, having managed a successful revolt against the Sultan, soon turned on the Armenians, their former confederates. Before their revolution, the C.U.P. had preached Ottomanism, in their view a kind of multi-nationalism with all peoples of the empire equal under the law. After a coup d'état in 1913, following the disaster of the Balkan Wars, the C.U.P was captured by a radical nationalistic clique that demanded "Turkey for the Turks." The clear implication of this new radical nationalistic, if not out-and-out racist policy, was that the minorities, especially the Armenians, who were the most internally integrated of Ottoman Christians, had to be eradicated. (20)

Now let us look at Ambassador Elekdag's arguments. Lord Bryce's "Blue Book," The Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916, edited by Arnold Toynbee, is one of the most damning single early collections of eyewitness accounts of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-16.(21) Ambassador Elekdag maintains that Toynbee, in the penultimate book he wrote, Acquaintances, repudiated his earlier view of a premeditated, government sponsored massacre of the Armenian people, repented his earlier bad opinion of the Young Turks, and made a final confession of his earlier error. Furthermore, Elekdag uses Toynbee's Acquaintances to show that Lord Bryce's Blue Book was intended to serve as an instrument of British propaganda--with the implication that it was a dishonest and untrustworthy piece of work.

Since Elekdag respects the book Acquaintances, inasmuch as it is he who chooses to bring it forth as evidence, we may acknowledge it as a source acceptable to the Turks. But let us look further, "in context," at what Toynbee actually said in Acquaintances. First, he does admit that the request to write the Blue Book came from the British government (which, indeed, might raise our suspicion of Toynbee's objectivity). But then Toynbee testifies: "I believe Lord Bryce was as innocent as I was. [Otherwise] I hardly think that either Lord Bryce or I would have been able to do the job that His Majesty's Government had assigned to us in the complete good faith in which we did, in fact, carry it out."(22)

Furthermore, on page 241 of Acquaintances, interestingly enough, we find that Toynbee affirms: "In the genocide of the Armenians the criminals had been members of the Committee of Union and Progress--above all, perhaps, Tal'at, the most intelligent of the ruling triumvirs."(23)

In the next paragraph, which we should also quote to keep things in "context," we find that Toynbee declares: "In the course of the eight years 1909-15 [sic], the leaders of the C.U.P. had apparently degenerated from


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being idealists into becoming ogres.(24) How was one to account for this sinister metamorphosis?"(25)

Before we leave the "repentant" Toynbee, we will accept one more item of testimony from him. He says in Acquaintances, just as he said in the Blue Book: "The deportations [of the Armenians] had been carried out by orders from the Government at Istanbul, and the orders had been executed by gendarmes and soldiers who had no personal connection with the localities."(26) Even the "reformed" Toynbee, when read in "context," certainly is no witness for the Turkish defense. Instead, Toynbee confirms his earlier view of an intentional, premeditated government-sponsored genocide of the Armenians.

But Ambassador Elekdag, perhaps knowing that Toynbee would not really turn out to be a reliable witness for the defense under cross examination, calls on Professor James Duane Squires, of Colby Junior College, as a further witness to establish the propagandistic intent of the Blue Book.(27) When we look at Squires' own book on British propaganda "in context," however, we see that the Bryce-Toynbee book is mentioned nowhere in the narrative text of the work. On further and more careful examination of Squires' book, however, we do find the Bryce-Toynbee work listed in the appendix among the hundreds of works commissioned by the British government during the war. Lacking any other evidence, Elekdag can brand the Bryce-Toynbee collection propaganda only by virtue of its sponsorship by the British Government, hardly a scientific gauge. If the Blue Book is faulty, then those faults must be pointed out. Otherwise, the work must be accepted as evidence.

Since the Bryce-Toynbee collection is listed in the appendix to Squires' book on propaganda, and since the British government commissioned it, let us look further into the book and see how Squires defines propaganda. After all, Squires was writing in 1935, before Hitler and Stalin gave the word propaganda such a bad name, and words do change their meaning over time. According to Squires, propaganda was "the one force which was to hold the far-flung millions together, which was to channel their individual energies into an immense river of national power."(28) So far, we see nothing particularly untoward.

Let us seek an even better clue to Squires' use of the word propaganda by looking further, "in context," into his book to see how he understood the British use of propaganda. "Men and women talked and argued and wrote," says Squires, "partly to justify the war to their own consciences, and partly to explain it to others. In most cases their writings were not struck off with studied conformance to the laws of mass psychology, but were the outpourings of immediate and hot indignation."(29) This is hardly a damning indictment, even if it could be applied to Bryce and Toynbee, which it cannot. Elekdag must find more significant evidence of wrongdoing on their part, otherwise the facts speak for themselves and Squires may be dismissed as a discredited witness for the defense.


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Next in the Turkish defense, Ambassador Elekdag submits the so-called Langer thesis, proffered by Prof. William L. Langer, a historian of the old statist school. Langer, using materials translated by his Armenian assistants, argues that the Armenian revolutionary parties at the end of the nineteenth century provoked the government of Abdulhamit in the expectation of massacres. Massacres of Christians, allegedly, would alarm the European powers and bring about their intervention in behalf of the dying Armenians.(30) We will not discuss the validity of the Langer thesis here.(31) But we certainly must call attention to the fact that the Langer thesis relates to the massacres of the 1890s, and it is certainly an anachronism to apply it to the mass killings of a quarter century later, killings which we must stress took place during a time when the European powers were at war and thus otherwise disposed and unavailable for intervention.

Even though the Langer thesis does not concern the Young Turk Armenian Genocide of 1915-1916, but rather is related to the Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896, Elekdag persists in using it as evidence against the Armenians. Elekdag calls Cyrus Hamlin, the long ago president of Robert College in Constantinople, as a witness to prove the nefarious motives of the Armenian "terrorists" who, after all, he claims, tweaked Abdulhamit until he massacred the Armenians. First, we should note that Hamlin, a well-informed and honest man who served for many years in the Ottoman capital, died on August 8, 1900.(32) We cannot under any circumstances, therefore, accept his testimony on events after that date. Second, the actions of a few revolutionaries cannot be used, by any rational standard, as an excuse to destroy a whole people. The fault would be in Abdulhamit and not in the revolutionaries.

Hamlin's last published article, to our knowledge, was printed in 1898 in the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society. Since the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society is an academic journal, we must assume that the article presents Hamlin's studied, measured, and considered opinion. And since the study was published in 1898, just before Hamlin's death, it should certainly contain his final word on the subject.

The article is entitled "The Genesis and Evolution of the Turkish Massacre of Armenian Subjects."(33) In it, Hamlin writes:

A number of professed patriots, Russian Armenians, began to stir up revolution. They falsely claimed to have revolutionary coteries formed through the Empire. . . . The whole thing was supremely ridiculous, and the Armenian people were nowhere deceived. At a safe distance, in foreign cities, revolutionary organizations sprang up under the same name, Hunchagist, and began to belch forth their attacks upon the Sultan and his government and to call upon the people to strike for freedom. Absurd and wicked as this was, it answered Abdul's purpose perfectly. He had the papers translated and spread all over the Empire.(34)

Abdulhamit, Hamlin continues, tried to justify his actions "by two falsehoods. . . . First, that there had been no massacre, and second, that it was the suppression of an Armenian rebellion."(35) This statement has a familiar ring even today. The Turkish government still maintains there was never a genocide of the Armenians; and, anyway, the Armenians brought it on themselves. Hamlin, then, is hardly Elekdag's best witness; and, certainly, he cannot be used anachronistically to testify to the events of 1915-16, since, as we noted earlier, he died in 1900.


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To be fair, we must admit that Ambassador Elekdag has unearthed one article that genuinely indicts the Armenians, even in context. It was written by Arthur Moss and Florence Gilliam and published in the Nation in 1923, long after the Genocide of 1915-16. But before we can accept their testimony, we must establish the credentials of the authors. Are they eyewitnesses? No. Are they scholars who have done serious research about the past? No. On investigation, we discover that Moss and Gilliam are two American expatriates of the '20s who edited a monthly magazine, called Gargoyle, which was published in Paris by expatriates who hated America. They are neither eyewitnesses nor scholars.

In their article, Moss and Gilliam deny the validity of the Bryce-Toynbee collection and write, apparently in all seriousness: "In Turkey, all three main religions--Mohammedanism, Judaism, and Christianity--are on an equal footing. . . . A Catholic cannot go as far politically in secular America as a Christian can go in so-called theocratic Turkey."(36)

This piece by the editors of Gargoyle, less than two pages in length and unencumbered by any scholarly trappings, is followed by a news release from the Russian Telegraph Agency (the press agency of Soviet Russia) regarding the "ex-patriarch Tikhon, now awaiting trial in Moscow." The editor of the Nation concludes, following the report: "It thus becomes clear that Tikhon is no martyr; but merely a reactionary ecclesiastic. . . . He abused the privileged position accorded him under the complete freedom of conscience prevailing in the Soviet Republic. . . . It is for these offenses that he is awaiting trial, and not on account of any fancied 'persecution of religion' on the part of the Soviet Government."(37) It may be presumed, all things considered, that the opinions of the editor regarding the slandered Tikhon and that of Moss and Gilliam regarding the murdered Armenians are of equal accuracy and value, and are thus of little consequence as evidence.

If Lord Bryce's Blue Book is the first single best collection of eyewitness accounts of the Armenian Genocide (and indeed that of the Christian Assyrians, of whom almost none are left to protest their own genocide), we must recognize the testimony of the United States Ambassador Henry Morgenthau in his book Ambassador Morgenthau's Story as the most significant testimony in any single contemporary American book.

Henry Morgenthau was the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from November 27, 1913 to February 1, 1916, during the Armenian Genocide and before the United States entered the war against the other three Central Powers but not, I must stress, the Ottoman Empire. And, unless his testimony has some serious flaw, he will make a good witness indeed. Since Morgenthau insists that the Young Turk government and ruling party carried out a deliberate, premeditated "campaign of race extermination" against the Armenians, Elekdag must either accept his testimony as the truth or find a way to discredit Morgenthau as a witness.(38)


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Attempts to discredit Morgenthau have been made by calling him a Zionist--hardly a significant charge as far as Americans are concerned, whatever the Turkish Ambassador and his government's view. In any case this argument has two flaws: First, as a matter of fact Morgenthau was not a Zionist;(39) and, second, it would make no difference anyway. Armenians are not Jewish, and Zionism has nothing to do with the Armenian Genocide.

In case incrimination of Morgenthau by association should fail, Elekdag boldly declares a war ex post facto on the United States in order to make Morgenthau officially an "enemy." Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, was, says Elekdag, "published in 1918 when World War I was raging and the Ottoman Empire was officially the 'enemy.' "

But, as a matter of fact, the Ottoman Empire did not declare war on the United States; and the United States certainly did not declare war on the Ottoman Empire. President Wilson wanted to retain a tie to the Ottoman Empire both in the hope of being of some assistance to the Armenians(40) and, in particular, to protect the vast investments in Turkey of the American Protestant missionary establishment. The United States did not even break off diplomatic relations with Turkey until 1917, not until after the Armenian Genocide was effectively completed, and then only to show its disapproval of the Turkish atrocities.

Elekdag then tells us that Morgenthau was anti-German, and quotes no less an authority than Sidney Bradshaw Fay to show that Germany was not solely responsible for World War I. Clearly, Fay argued persuasively in his book that Germany was not "solely" responsible for World War I; but this has no relevance to the Armenian Question or to Ambassador Morgenthau's view on the Armenian Genocide. The Armenians have never been accused of starting World War I, even by any Turkish government heretofore, and the Armenians are of such little consequence to Fay's thesis on the origins of World War I that they are not even mentioned in the index to his book. In any case, Fay's book is irrelevant and has been superceded by more recent scholarship.

Since Elekdag has failed to discredit Morgenthau, he must look for another high-ranking American official to contradict Morgenthau's testimony. Elekdag appeals to the testimony of Admiral Mark Bristol of the United States Navy. Indeed, it is true that Admiral Bristol did represent the United States in Turkey. Further investigation, however, reveals that Bristol did not even arrive at his post in Turkey until 1920. Thus, Bristol was neither an eyewitness to what took place in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1920 nor was he present in Turkey during the Genocide, as were Morgenthau, his successor Abram Elkus, as well as the American consular officials who provided Morgenthau with eyewitness accounts and even photographs. Bristol's information came from his Turkish informants. Since the Armenians had already been eliminated from just about all of Turkey by the "final solution,"(41) Bristol could only speak with those persons who remained in Turkey, namely the perpetrators, the Turkish ruling elites. The ruling Turks, as we have seen, are hardly creditable witnesses to their own crime.

Bristol, a stern naval man, had an affinity to the military clique ruling the new Turkey, and he was eager to tell of the bad qualities of the Armenians, Jews,


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and Greeks. Do "bad qualities" justify genocide? I think not. In any case, it is a clearly racist attitude. Bristol had an obsessive phobia toward "foreigners" and was virulently anti-Semitic. "[I]f you put them all in a bag and shake them up you would not know which one would come out first."(42) "The Armenians are a race like the Jews; they have little or no national feeling and have poor moral character."(43) If the Armenians had "no national feeling," it is certainly implausible that they could have mounted a revolt against the Turks. Thus, in a backhanded way, Bristol defends the Armenians against Turkish accusations of insurrection.

But even more to Bristol's discredit, he falsified reports to his own State Department! When C.H. Van Engert, a High Commission representative at "Beirut reported directly to the State Department in February 1920 that the Turks had massacred some 5,000 Armenians in Cilicia, Bristol quickly cabled the Department that `Armenians are not being massacred by the Turks.'" This out-and-out contradiction confused the State Department, and it demanded clarification. Try as he might, Bristol's subterfuge became futile as American evidence of renewed massacres began to mount. Finally, he had to admit what was happening, such as the slaughter of 15,000 Armenians in Aintab.(44) Since Bristol is not a contemporary of the events to which Elekdag would have him give testimony (remember, we must watch for anachronisms), nor even a creditable person in general (he lied to his own State Department), he must be dismissed as a reliable witness for the Turkish state.

And so, what about Morgenthau, who was present in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the Armenian Genocide? Since it is not really respectful for the Turkish ambassador to call the American ambassador a liar, Elekdag tries to discredit Morgenthau's sources. Elekdag argues that Ambassador Morgenthau's account "relies on selected missionary reports and communications translated by Greeks and Armenians who could hardly have been disinterested parties."

In the nineteenth century, American Protestants inaugurated and conducted vast missionary enterprises all over the world. The "Turkish field" was the largest. American missionaries were, accordingly, posted all over the Ottoman Empire and, indeed, had stations in most areas where Armenians lived. They ran five American colleges and more than a dozen schools in the areas inhabited by the Armenians, attended in large measure by the Armenians.(45)

These American missionaries were the flower of the New England and Midwest American intelligentsia, products of the Second Great Awakening of American Protestantism, and honored graduates of such prestigious institutions as Princeton, Yale, Brown, Oberlin, and Grinnell.(46) Most of them had advanced degrees, and many were physicians. Their reports are in excellent English, such as university graduates wrote before the age of radio and television. They also, for the most part, knew Turkish and some had translated the Bible into that language using both Arabic-Persian Ottoman script as well as the Armenian alphabet. Yet one could safely presume, even if we did not have the documents presently in front of us, that the American missionaries would communicate with the United States ambassador in their common native tongue, English, as of course they did. No communications translated by Greeks and Armenians here.

Missionary reports, selected or not, all tell the same general story: Armenians all over Anatolia were expelled from their homes, slaughtered and massacred, and the remnant driven into the Syrian desert to die. Thousands of these reports are on file in the archives of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which are now deposited in the Houghton Library at Harvard and open to serious scholars.(47) But did the


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American missionaries tell the truth? One would think so. We certainly will not join Elekdag to call these God-fearing men and women liars without seeing strong evidence to support that contention. Since Elekdag presents no proof to the contrary, we must accept the missionary reports as dependable evidence, even though--in deference to Elekdag--we will not use their evidence here.

We still must account for the biased "Armenian and Greek translators." All we have left for them to translate, since the American consuls and the American missionaries wrote in English, are the official Turkish documents and dispatches sent or brought by the Ottoman government to the United States Embassy, materials which the Turkish government would certainly not send to demonstrate that a genocide of the Armenians was taking place.

The United States Embassy in Constantinople employed for over sixteen years, as a legal advisor and frequent translator, an Armenian by the name of Arshag Schmavonian. Morgenthau frequently used Schmavonian as a translator when he visited with high Turkish officials, which attests to the fact that Schmavonian was "held in high regard by the Turkish authorities."(48)

When relations were ruptured between Turkey and the United States in 1917, Schmavonian was transferred to Washington, D.C., where he served as Special Advisor to the State Department until his death in January 1922. The use of Greeks and Armenians as clerks and translators was not unusual in foreign embassies, and the Ottomans themselves used many Greeks and Armenians in high posts before the war. Morgenthau's personal secretary in Constantinople and later in America, Hagop S. Andonian, was also an Armenian.

Morgenthau, however, did not just rely on written reports. He had personal conversations regarding the Armenian killings with Talât Pasha, the minister of the interior and the chief force behind the Armenian Genocide. Morgenthau reconstructs their conversations in his book, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, based on his own notes, letters, and diary.(49) If we decide--only in deference to Elekdag, and for no other compelling reason--not to use Morgenthau's book as evidence, we could examine his personal papers, his written aides memoire. Still, to be fair to Morgenthau, we must accept the distinct possibility that a man of Morgenthau's intelligence might remember certain details of his arguments with Talât Pasha to which he only loosely referred in his notes. For example, it is quite possible that Morgenthau might remember the substance of his arguments behind the written note that he "argued all sorts of ways" with Talât and include those items in his book.(50)

Yet, we will give Ambassador Elekdag every advantage. We will ignore Morgenthau's book, without just cause, and take testimony regarding Morgenthau from Heath W. Lowry, the head of the Institute for Turkish Studies in Washington, D.C.(51) Lowry has written a booklet called The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story in which he attempts to deter-


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mine whether Morgenthau, as the Ambassador claims, used only "every legitimate step or means" for convincing the American people of the justice of fighting against the Central Powers and informing them of the Armenian Genocide, or if Morgenthau was purposely deceptive.(52) In other words, did Morgenthau lie in his book?

Lowry's booklet, unfortunately, just as Elekdag's letter, is marred by many errors.(53) For example, in one place Lowry states that Schmavonian "accompanied [Morgenthau] in all meetings with Turkish officials."(54) Then on the next page he writes that Schmavonian "accompanied Morgenthau on almost every official visit he paid to members of the Young Turk Government."(55) Finally, Lowry writes, quoting Morgenthau, that "Talaat told me that he greatly preferred that I should always come alone when I had any Armenian matters to discuss with him."(56)

While I believe that Lowry's booklet is tendentious and flawed, a full critique of it cannot be made here. In our present analysis let us only use, then, to be extremely fair to Elekdag, the evidence about Morgenthau supplied by Lowry, no respecter of the American ambassador.

First, Lowry quotes a letter written by Morgenthau to President Woodrow Wilson on November 26, 1917, in which Morgenthau informs Wilson that he is considering writing a book about Germany and Turkey: "For in Turkey we see the evil spirit of Germany at its worst--culminating at last in the greatest crime of all ages, the horrible massacre of helpless Armenians and Syrians."(57) This letter should be clear enough. Morgenthau sincerely believed that the Germans were guilty of aggression and that they were a bad influence on the Turks. There is certainly nothing untoward in this. Morgenthau sincerely believed both to be factual.

Further, Lowry quotes from Morgenthau's diary entry for August 8, 1915:

I called on Talaat. He had his man there to interpret for me [Italics added].... Talaat told me that he greatly preferred that I should always come alone when I had Armenian matters to discuss with him [Italics added].... He told me that [the Turks] based their objections to the Armenians on three distinct grounds: 1) that they had enriched themselves at the expense of the Turks; 2) that they wanted to domineer over them and establish a separate state; 3) that they have openly encouraged their enemies so that [the Turks] have come to the irrevocable decision to make [the Armenians] powerless before the war is ended.

I argued in all sorts of ways with him but he said that there was no use; that they had already disposed of three-fourths of [the Armenians], that there were none left in Bitlis, Van, Erzeroum, and that the hatred was [so] intense now that they have to finish it. . . . He said they want to treat the Armenians like we treat the negroes, I think he meant like the Indians. . . . He said they would take care of the Armenians at Zor and elsewhere but they did not want them in Anatolia. I told him three times that they were making a serious


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mistake and would regret it. He said 'we know we have made mistakes, but we never regret.'(58)

While the diary does not have the literary elegance of Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, its meaning is unambiguous: Talât confesses through his own interpreter, not a Greek or Armenian, to Morgenthau that he wants to kill all the Armenians in Anatolia and that three quarters of them are already dead. Nothing could be clearer.(59)

But Elekdag may still consider Morgenthau "the enemy," and refuse to accept his testimony even though it is transmitted by Heath Lowry, Elekdag's friend and head of the Institute for Turkish Studies. So let us get testimony from the contemporary German Ambassador whose country and the Ottoman Empire were allies during the war, a man who certainly could not be considered by Elekdag to be "an enemy." The Turks and Germans, as allies, were friends.

The third wartime German ambassador at the Ottoman court was Count von Wolff-Metternich, who, in a revealing dispatch of June 30, 1916, to his government, wrote: "The Committee [of Union and Progress] demands the annihilation of the last remnants of the Armenians, and the government must bow to its demands. The Committee does not only mean the organization of the ruling party of the capital; it is spread all over the provinces. At the side of each provincial governor, and down to each kaimakam [a village mayor], a Committee member stands, with instructions either to support or supervise."(60)

German Vice-Consul Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, later to be a close companion to Adolph Hitler, reported to the German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg on December 4, 1916: "The fear I spoke of in my report from Erzerum, namely that the evacuation of the Armenians would be tantamount to their annihilation resp. that this was the purpose behind it, has unfortunately turned out to be true. . . . It would not be saying too much if I tell you that the Turkish Armenians, with the exception of several hundred thousand living in Constantinople and other larger cities, have been practically wiped out."(61)

Thus, we see that the testimony of the German ambassador and a Consul who was to become a member of the Nazi Party and a close friend of Hitler's, not only confirm the essence of Morgenthau's testimony but also add critical detail: the Young Turks wanted to annihilate the "last remnants of the Armenians" and used agents of the C.U.P to transmit their secret oral instructions to local governmental officials to ensure compliance. We have now produced, inter alia, the evidence of two ambassadors, one, a "friend," a German, and the other, an American, by the account only of Ambassador Elekdag, an "enemy," yet they both agree that the Young Turk Ottoman government instituted, carried out, and was responsible for the Armenian Genocide.

Next, let us grant for the moment, only for the sake of argument, that Ambassador Elekdag of Turkey is correct and that Ambassador Morgenthau of the United States is a liar. We should remember that James Ring Adams argues that Elekdag must "make liars of men like Henry Morgenthau" in order to prove his case. Were there any honest Americans, closer to the events and certainly not "deceitful" Christian missionaries, whom we can ask instead? Fortunately, there were.

The American government, as we have said, had professional consular officials stationed in each of the major cities of the Ottoman Empire and in some minor ones. The United States had consuls in Aleppo, Harpout


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(Harput), Smyrna (Izmir), Mersina (Mersin), and Trebizond (Trabzon) and at times consular agents in Ourfa (Urfa), Samsun, and Erzeroum (Erzurum), all within the areas affected by the genocide. These men sent a constant flow of reports on the Armenian Genocide to the American Embassy in Constantinople. These reports and other documents of the U.S. State Department are currently on file in the U.S. National Archives, and are open for public inspection.(62)

U.S. Consul Leslie Davis, assigned to Harput, and a veteran of many years service in the Ottoman Empire, reported on July 11, 1915: "The entire movement seems to be the most thoroughly organized and effective massacre this country has ever seen."(63) Two later reports by Consul Davis were so critical of Turkish actions that the Ottoman government repeatedly frustrated his persistent efforts to wire or even mail them to Morgenthau.(64)

In his first report Davis writes: "Another method was found to destroy the Armenian race. . . . A massacre would be humane in comparison."(65) Davis' second report is even more pointed. He writes: "That the order is nominally to exile the Armenians from these vilayets [provinces] may mislead the outside world for a time, but the measure is nothing but a massacre of the most atrocious nature.... There is no doubt that this massacre was done by order of the government, there can be no pretense that the measure is anything but a general massacre." Altogether, Davis sent dozens of reports to Morgenthau telling essentially the same story: mass murder on a horrifying scale.

While still in Turkey, Consul Davis made several trips into the countryside around Harput to see for himself if the Armenians had been merely deported or whether they were being slaughtered after they had been driven from their homes. Understanding the need for a dependable record, he took along a doctor who verified the causes of the thousands of deaths. Davis also photographed the victims and included the photographs with his report. On his return to the United States, he was asked by the State Department to summarize the findings of his personal investigation. His report has been published in a book edited by Susan K. Blair entitled The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat's Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917.(66)

In his report to the State Department, Davis writes:

Few localities could be better suited to the fiendish purposes of the Turks in their plan to exterminate the Armenian population than this peaceful lake [Goeljuk] in the interior of Asiatic Turkey, with its precipitous banks and pocket-like valleys, surrounded by villages of savage Kurds and far removed from the sight of civilized man. This, perhaps, was the reason why so many exiles from distant vilayets were brought in safety as far as Mamouret-ul-Aziz and then massacred [there] in the "Slaughterhouse Vilayet" of Turkey. That which took place around beautiful Lake Goeljuk [later renamed Hazar Gölü] in the summer of 1915 is almost inconceivable. Thousands and thousands of


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Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.(67)

Consul Edward I. Nathan of Mersina (Mersin) also describes "the incredible terror created by the Turkish authorities" as they expelled and massacred the Armenians in that region.(68) The seventy-seven individual consular reports on file in the National Archives regarding the Armenian Genocide go on and on, giving detailed variants on the same horrifying theme--human slaughter on a mass scale, purposeful genocide.(69)

Finally, if Ambassador Elekdag will grant that Ambassador Morgenthau could read, without translations by Greeks and Armenians, such reports coming to him from his own consuls, and that he would not, even as "an enemy of the Turks," send false reports to his own government in Washington, we will offer the following as our final piece of evidence from Morgenthau.

Morgenthau sent a ciphered cable to Washington on July 16, 1915, which begins: "Have you received my 841? Deportation of and excesses against peaceful Armenians is increasing and from harrowing reports of eye witnesses it appears that a campaign of race extermination is in progress under a pretext of reprisal against rebellion."(70)

But if Elekdag considers Morgenthau an "enemy," and refuses to accept his testimony, let us take evidence from the Ambassador's successor, Abram Elkus. Abram Elkus, the next United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, cabled the State Department in an October 17, 1916, report as follows: "Deportations accompanied by studied cruelties continue. . . . Forced conversions to Islam [are] perseveringly pushed, children and girls from deported families kidnapped. In order to avoid opprobrium of the civilized world, which the continuation of massacres would arouse, Turkish officials have now adopted and are executing the unchecked policy of extermination through starvation, exhaustion, and brutality of treatment hardly surpassed even in Turkish history."(71)

These reports, and other materials from State Department files, prove without a doubt that the genocide of the Armenians was carried out by the Young Turk Government throughout Anatolia, or in what is today Turkey. At that time, furthermore, the vast and incontrovertible evidence fully and correctly persuaded the president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. Congress, the American people, and the Department of State.

Indeed, Woodrow Wilson, with a plentitude of information from all sources, was so moved by the Armenian plight that he advocated an American mandate over Armenia. On May 24, 1920, the president sent a message to the Senate seeking consent to take up that duty. In his official message, Wilson wrote: "I ask this not only because [the mandate resolution] embodied my own convictions and feeling with regard to Armenia and


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its people, but also, and more particularly, because it seemed to me to be the voice of the American people, expressing their genuine convictions and deep . . . sympathies. . . . The sympathy with Armenia has proceeded from no single portion of our people, but has come with extraordinary spontaneity and sincerity from the whole. . . . At their hearts, this great and generous people [the Americans] have made the case of Armenia their own."(72)

Elekdag's final argument is that the Armenians were sympathetic to the Russians and had to be evacuated from the war zone in the east. However, a "removal of the Armenian population" from the "war zone" in the east, as Ambassador Elekdag claims, would have only included the provinces of Erzeroum (Erzurum) and Van in Turkey, and perhaps the areas of Kars and Ardahan in the Russian Empire.

As a matter of clear fact, Armenians were driven out and annihilated not only from their historic homeland in the east, but across the whole length and breadth of the Ottoman Empire in Asia, from the shores of the Black Sea to the deserts of Syria and from the Aegean Sea to the Caucasus mountains.(73) The Armenians were slaughtered in the cities, towns, and villages. It should be noted that the vast majority of Armenians in Anatolia were peasant farmers, although, of course, those who lived in cities were generally more visible to consular officials and visiting Europeans.

Armenians were slaughtered in the west, near Constantinople, in and around Ismid (Izmit) and Broussa (Bursa); in the center, in and around Angora (Ankara]; in the southwest, in and around Konia (Konya) and Adana (which is near the Mediterranean Sea); in the central portion of Anatolia, in and around Sivas (Sepastia), Marash (Maras), Shabin Kara-Hissar (Sebin Karahisar), Harpout (Harput), Diyarbekir (Diyarbakir), and Ourfa (Urfa); and on the Black Sea coast, in and around Trebizond (Trabzon). Only Erzeroum (Erzurum), Bitlis, and Van in the east--where they were also massacred--might rightfully be call areas "in the war zone." Clearly the others are not.

Furthermore, the fable that "Tsarist Russia incited Armenians to revolt by promising them the establishment of an independent Armenia after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire"(74) is totally without evidence. While it is true that Tsar Nicholas II issued pronouncements calling on the Armenians of Turkey to revolt, no such revolt ever took place! In any case, no Armenian would take seriously such a promise, inasmuch as it would be quite out of Tsar Nicholas's character. Nicholas could not be expected to give freedom to any element of the Russian Empire, and indeed he lost his throne rather than give freedom even to the Russians, his own people. In fact, it was the tsar's depredations of Armenian Church properties in the Caucasus in 1903 that were the immediate stimuli for the crystallization of the Armenian revolutionary movement in the Russian Empire.

Logic will not allow Elekdag to have it both ways: If "in no area of the Ottoman Empire did the Armenians constitute a majority of the population on which to build a successful break-away movement," then they


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should not have been feared by the Turkish government and exterminated. An Armenian revolutionary movement could not, in any case, have been a threat to the Ottoman government. A disarmed and dispersed minority of some three million Armenians could hardly be a threat to sixteen or more million Turks with the total power-- military, police, and bureaucratic--of the state behind them.

One by one we have called Elekdag's witnesses back for further interrogation, and their testimony, in full "context," is damning indeed.

Now let us finish our narrative. The Young Turk revolution took place in 1908, but the Committee of Union and Progress preferred to stay in the background and kept Abdulhamit II on the throne until he conspired against them in a counter-revolution in 1909. The Committee soon lost faith in liberalism and Ottomanism and turned to Pan-Turkism, a racist form of Turkish nationalism, as pointed out by Toynbee in Acquaintances, that was inspired by proto-fascistic European thought, and they demanded "Turkey for the Turks." The minorities, chiefly the Armenians, because of their religion and numbers, were in the way of a new homogeneous Turkish nation-state.(75)

Accordingly, the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress decided on a "final solution" to the "Eastern Question": the annihilation of the Ottoman Armenians in a state-sponsored genocide.(76) The Armenian Genocide took place in 1915-16, conveniently under the cover of World War I, when all the powers, with the exception of the United States, were almost totally engrossed in the conflict.

The Genocide was premeditated and planned by the leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress. It was carried out chiefly by a covert Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa) established by the Ottoman government and later taken over by the C.U.P. as separate from the state structure but controlled by it, similar to the way the Communist Party of the Soviet Union controlled the USSR without official status for sixty years, until the introduction of the "Brezhnev" constitution of 1977. Brigands, as well as thugs and murderers taken from prisons, were organized into butcher battalions (çetes) to carry out the killings, along with some army personnel, gendarmes, tribes, and villagers. Officials who refused to cooperate with agents of the Ittihad (who demanded not only the expulsion of the Armenians but also their slaughter) were dismissed from their posts or put to death.(77)

Finally, many people have asked: If there was a genocide, why was there not a war crimes trial following the war as there was following World War II at Nuremberg? Indeed, there was, and Elekdag makes reference to it.

In fact, there were special courts-martial instituted by the postwar Ottoman authorities for the trial of the C.U.P. leaders and certain members of the Young Turk cabinet, as well as a government investigative commission headed by Hasan Mazhar, and yet another established by the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies. The records of these investigations and the trials are recorded in the trial supplements of the Takvimi-i Vekayi, the official record


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of the Ottoman government. As at Nuremberg, so in Istanbul, the tribunal relied on authenticated documents as well as personal testimony. Furthermore, the Turkish court sought testimony from Muslims as well as Christians. The exhibits included ciphered messages, telegrams, and written documents. Since they are authenticated by the Turks themselves, Elekdag must accept the fact that they reveal the truth.

The Turkish court concluded that the leaders of the Ittihad (C.U.P.) were guilty of murder: "This fact has been proven and verified." It maintained that the extermination of the Armenians was carried out with as much secrecy as possible and, accordingly, that records and written orders were kept to the barest minimum. The Ittihadists, the court further concluded, had maintained a public facade of relocating the Armenians, but engaged in "covert and secretive" operations, relying for the most part on the use of "oral and secret orders and instructions," and carried out the killings by a "secret network." The determination to exterminate the Armenians, furthermore, was not a hasty decision, but "the result of extensive and profound deliberations." (78)

Ismail Enver Pasha, Ahmed Cemal [Jemal] Pasha, Mehmed Talât Bey, Dr. Mehmed Nazim, and Dr. Behaeddin Shakir were convicted and condemned to death for "the extermination and destruction of the Armenians." Since they had fled and eluded arrest, the sentence was passed in absentia. Some minor officials were also convicted, sentenced, and hanged. Since, by January 1920, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was gaining effective control of Turkey, and the Greeks had invaded Anatolia through Smyrna, the trials were aborted and those prisoners who were not allowed to escape earlier were released.(79) Justice was only partially done, and, as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of "modern Turkey," implied, the disrupted trials remain a blot on the Turkish record.(80)

Some partisans may attempt to dismiss the Turkish war crimes trials as biased because they were held while the British occupied Constantinople. In fact, this allegation of the influence of a British occupation is not entirely true since the trials began before the British sent troops into the city. We should be cognizant of the fact that the Turkish war crimes trials were commissioned under an imperial irade (decree) of Sultan Mohammed VI issued on December 16, 1918, well before the British soldiers landed in Constantinople on March 16, 1920. The trials were run in series, concentrating on different geographical locations. Thus, it can also be noted that both the Erzincan and Trabzon trial series came to a close before the end of 1919 and before the British troops came; and, for example, that Abdullah Avni (one of the defendants in the Erzincan series) was proven guilty, condemned, and hanged on July 22, 1919, again before the British occupation.

In any case, all the Turkish trials were run by Turks and included Turkish documentary evidence and the testimony of Muslims. In contrast, it may be noted, the Allies themselves ran the war crimes trials at Nuremberg after World War II."(81) It is generally accepted that the Turkish government held war crime trials in part because Turkey wanted a better deal at the Paris Peace Conference. They would punish their own war criminals so that the powers would not hold all Turks guilty. The fact that there were mass killings and large-scale theft of property in the first place, gave the Turks grounds to investigate the crimes and to hold trials. No crimes, no trials in the first place.


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In the light of all the available evidence, one wonders why the U.S. State Department issued a policy statement in 1982 that contradicted its own officials who were eyewitnesses to the genocide of the Ottoman Armenians by the Young Turk government? In fact, however, that policy statement was a short-lived aberration. The infamous "Note" of 1982 was quickly reversed in 1983, but apparently with no fanfare and with an ambiguous public notice.(82)

In a Freedom of Information Act law suit filed against the U.S. State Department by Van Z. Krikorian in 1988, United States District judge Royce C. Lamberth wrote at the conclusion of the trial an opinion that included his findings on facts, analysis, and conclusions. In his finding of facts, the judge placed a footnote (no.1), immediately following, and appended to, a full quotation of the notorious "Note," which reads: "The State Department rescinded the Note in 1983 and reinstated U.S. policy of recognizing the Turkish genocide of the Armenians."(83)

The documents obtained by Krikorian show how officials in the State Department took an article that initially acknowledged the Genocide, and literally rewrote the historical sections to reach an opposite conclusion.(84) While the State Department has made itself technically whole again, the denial continues on an informal basis and this nasty episode remains an embarrassment to many Americans.

Now we must ask some final questions, for which we as yet have found no answers. Why do Ambassador Elekdag and his government persist in attempting the cover-up of a crime in which they were not directly involved, and thereby become moral accessories, and equally culpable?(85) It is well known that many righteous Turks saved the lives of numerous Armenians, so why do Elekdag and his government align themselves with the criminal element. Is it merely Turkish amnesia, or is there a more somber reason behind the denial?(86) Perhaps Elekdag, or his successor, will come forth one day and enlighten us.


The End

Return to Selected writings

 

1. There were eight or nine different cabinets between 1918-1923, but several of them were headed by Damad Ferit Pasha, who wanted to exculpate Turkey from the crime of the Armenian Genocide by punishing the guilty.

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2. Excerpted from the Armenian Review 45, No. 1-2/177-178 (Spring-Summer 1992), pp. 195-213. This paper was written originally to be delivered at a conference on the Armenian Genocide sponsored by the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research at Bentley College in April 1985. It was revised for publication in 1992, and it is further revised in 2001.

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3. For an excellent exposition on the general topic, see Edward Alexander, A Crime of Vengeance: An Armenian Struggle for Justice (New York: The Free Press, 1991).

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4. Parade: The Sunday Newspaper Magazine, 28 October 1984, p. 2; Wall Street Journal, 29 April 1985, p. 2. On the Institute of Turkish Studies, see Richard G. Hovannisian, "Scholarship and Politics," Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies 2 (1985-86), p. 170.

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5. Some government inspired Turkish scholars have argued that not all Armenians who died during the Gernocide were murdered directly, but point out that many Armenians died of hunger, thirst, and exposure to burning sun, wind and rain and resulting desease during the death marches. The final outcome, however, was the same--death. Armenians died from direct massacre--including shooting, slashing, burning, hanging, bludgening, drowning; while on the forced marches, being denied clothing, shelter, food, water, and personal safety by the gendarmes; as well as being attacked by Kurkish tribes and Turkish villagers.

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6. The figure of 1.5 million of necessity cannot be exact. It is usually applied to Armenian deaths caused by Turkish governments between 1915 and 1923, ending with the burning of Smyrna. While there is no debate among serious scholars about the Genocide of 1915-1916, some reasonable scholars do not believe that the Armenian deaths caused by Turkish governments between 1917 and 1923 were a part of the Genocide. Early Turkish governments accepted the figure of 800,000 Armenian deaths for the period 1915-1917 as official, as stated in the published figures of the Turkish War Office, not including those killed after the World War in Cilicia and in the Caucasus, while the current Turkish government gives figures of 300,000 deaths and even fewer. The farther away the Genocide in time, the fewer the deaths to which the Turkish government will admit. See Taner Akcam, Insan Haklari ve Ermeni Sorunu (Ankara: Imge Kitabevi, 1999), especially footnote 451.

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7. Andrew Corsun, "Armenian Terrorism: A Profile," Department of State Bulletin, August 1982, p. 35. The disclaimer, in a boxed "Note" at the end of the article, reads as follows: "Because the historical record of the events in Asia Minor is ambiguous, the Department of State does not endorse allegations that the Turkish government committed a genocide against the Armenian people. Armenian terrorists use this allegation to justify in part their continuing attacks onf Turkish diplomats and installations." It was later revealed that Corsun's original article recognized the Armenian Genocide as the first genocide of the twentieth century, but State Department officials heavily edited his essay to reach the opposite conclusion. See the final note to this paper.

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8. These documents and photographs can now be found in the National Archives and in the archives of the U.S. State Department. All the European powers, both allies and enemies of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, have an abundance of documentary evidence in their archives attesting to the Armenian Genocide. See Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian Holocaust: A Bibliography Relating to the Deportations, Massacres, and Dispersion of the Armenian People, 1915-1923 (Cambridge, Mass.: Armenian Heritage Press, 1978). For documentation of the Armenian Genocide in Turkish sources, see Vahakn N. Dadrian, "Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in Turkish Sources," in Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review, vol. 2, ed. Israel W. Charny (New York, N.Y.: Facts On File, 1991), pp. 86-138. For documentation of the Armenian Genocide in German sources, see Vahakn N. Dadrian, "Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in German and Austrian Sources," in The Widening Circle of Genocide, vol. 3 of Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review, ed. Israel W. Charny (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994), pp. 77-125.

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9. Richard D. Kloian, ed., The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press, 1915-1922 (Berkeley, CA: Anto Press, 1985).

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10. Herbert Hoover wrote in his memoirs: "Probably Armenia was known to the American school child in 1919 only a little less than England. . . . The staunch Christians who were massacred periodically by the Mohammedan Turks, and the Sunday School collections [of] over fifty years for alleviating their miseries." The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: Years of Adventure, 1874-1920 (New York, N.Y.: Macmillan, 1951), p. 385.

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11. See "Soiling the Altar of Freedom," Editorial, New York Times, 9 Aug. 1983, p. A22.

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12. Wall Street Journal, 9, 12, and 16 Aug. 1983.

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13. Wall Street Journal, 12 Aug. 1983, p. 20.

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14. Ibid.

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15. It was Tsar Nicholas I who coined the phrase in Russian, calling the Ottoman Empire the "Sick Bear of Europe." Other Europeans believed it to be more politic to use the expression, "Sick Man."

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16. Actually, an earlier movement carried the name "Young Turks," but the Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti was called by that name in Europe. For a discussion of the Young Turks, see, Sukru Hanioglu, Preparation for a Revolution: The Young Turks, 1902-1908 (New York, Oxford University Press, 2001). Also see M. Sukru Hanioglu, The Young Turks in Opposition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

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17. The Dashnaks (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) had their origin in the Caucasus, while the Hunchaks were officially founded in Geneva among radical Russian exile circles about the same time as the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party was organized. The Hunchaks were inspired in part by socialism and in part by nationalism, while the Dashnaks were more nationalistic than socialistic.

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18. The Dashnaks (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) and Hunchaks were strongly influenced by Russian radical populism and the Russian "to the people" (v narod) movement of the 1870s, when college students and intellectuals went among the peasants to organize them. The Armenian word "Hunchak," in fact, is a translation of Kolokol (Alarm Bell), the title of Alexander Herzen's underground populist publication. The "going to the people" of the Dashnaks and Hunchaks meant going among the Armenian peasants of the yergir (homeland) in the Ottoman Empire.

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19. Christopher J. Walker, Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, rev. 2d ed. (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990), p. 179; see also Hanioglu, cited above, for a more detailed study.

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20. Leonardo P. Alishan notes that the Armenian Genocide could not have taken place in a traditional Islamic society. See Alishan, "Alliance and Encounter in the Waste Land: The Impact of the West on Turks and Armenians Prior to the Genocide," in Essays on Nationalism and Asian Literatures, ed. Michael Craig Hillman (Austin: Literature East and West, 1987), p. 106. Robert Melson believes that although Armenians and Jews were given a difficult time in previous regimes, only in the revolutionary C.U.P. and Nazi regimes would they be subject to genocide. See Melson, "Revolution and Genocide: On the Causes of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust," in The Armenian Genocide, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian, pp. 80-102, and Melson, Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1992). Stephan H. Astourian shows that the change in view of the C.U.P. also mirrored a change in Turkish society. See Astourian, "Genocidal Process: Reflections on the Armeno-Turkish Polarization," in The Armenian Genocide, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian, pp. 53-79, and Astourian, "The Armenian Genocide: An Interpretation," The History Teacher 23, no. 2 (Feb.1990), pp. 111-60. This final article deals with the racist program of the Young Turks in some detail.

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21. The volume was first published in London in 1916.

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22. Arnold Toynbee, Acquaintances (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), p. 149.

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23. Emphasis added. The ruling Turkish triumvirate included Talât, Enver, and Cemal (Jemal).

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24. This is an antiquated word, used mostly by the British. It means "Anyone who is especially cruel, brutish, or hideous." American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980), p. 913.

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25. Toynbee, Acquaintances, p. 241.

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26. Ibid., p. 240.

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27. British Propaganda at Home and in the United States from 1914 to 1917 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1935).

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28. Ibid., p. 14.

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29. Ibid., p. 16.

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30. William L. Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1890-1902, 2d ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960).

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31. See a refutation of the provocation thesis by Robert Melson, "Provocation or Nationalism: A Critical Inquiry into the Armenian Genocide of 1915," in The Armenian Genocide in Perspective, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1986), pp. 61-81.

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32. Marcia and Malcolm Stevens, Against the Devil's Current: The Life and Times of Cyrus Hamlin (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1988), pp. 467,471.

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33. New Series, vol.12 (Oct. 1897-Oct. 1898), pp. 288-94.

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34. lbid., p. 292. Emphasis added.

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35. Loc. Cit.

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36. Nation, 13 June 1923, p. 705.

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37. Ibid., p. 706.

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38. Seven years after Elekdag's letter appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Heath W. Lowry, the director of the Institute for Turkish Studies in Washington, D.C., published a booklet entitled The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (Istanbul, Turkey: Isis Press, 1990), attempting to discredit Morgenthau and his book. Lowry demonstrates that Morgenthau's book was written with the help of his personal secretary and a ghostwriter, and that Robert Lansing, the United States Secretary of State, approved it in detail. Lowry argues that the writers perhaps took artistic license in recreating direct quotations from Talât Pasha, inasmuch as Morgenthau's personal notes and diary do not have direct quotations, and that in some cases the writers merged two separate interviews with Talât into one. We will accept the Lowry booklet as an exhibit and deal with it below, even though he presents nothing surprising. Important political figures almost universally use secretaries and ghostwriters (although today the custom is to acknowledge them), and administrative officials most often are required to have their books approved by their responsible government agency. This hardly discredits the book in any way. In fact, it ensures its accuracy.

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39. See essay, not published as of this writing, by Henry Morgenthau III, in the soon to be published [2001-2002] reprint of the original Morgenthau book by Wayne State University Press [Detroit, Michigan], in which the grandson of the Ambassador tells how the Jewish community in America persecuted his grandfather because he refused to be a Zionist.

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40. See Thomas A. Bryson, American Diplomatic Relations with the Middle East, 1794-1975: A Survey (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1977), pp. 60-63; Joseph L. Grabill, Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East: Missionary Influence on American Policy, 1810-1927 (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1971), pp. 91-94; Stephen B. L. Penrose, Jr., That They May Have Life: The Story of the American University of Beirut, 1866-1941 (New York: Trustees of the American University of Beirut, 1941), pp. 162-63; Paul C. Helmreich, From Paris to Sevres: The Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference, 1919-1920 (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1974), p. 20); Robert L. Daniel "The Friendship of Woodrow Wilson and Cleveland Dodge," Mid-America 43 (1961), pp. 192-93, Lewis Einstein, A Diplomat Looks Back (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1968), p. 137; and Robert L. Daniel, American Philanthropy in the Near East, 1820-1960 (Athens: Ohio Univ. Press, 1970), pp. 154-55.

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41. There were still some Armenians in Constantinople and Smyrna, major cities with many Westerners, but of course Bristol did not believe anything they might say.

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42. Levon Marashlian, The Armenian Question from Sevres to Lausanne: Economics and Morality in American and British Politics, 1920-1923 (Ph.d. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1992), p. 108.

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43. Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1988), p. 76.

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44. Levon Marashlian, "Cleansing Turkey of Armenian Survivors, 1920-1923," in Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide, ed. Richard G. Hovannisian (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1999), pp. 122-124.

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45. These schools were in Constantinople (present day Istanbul), Adabazar, Bardezag, Brousa (Bursa), Smyrna (Izmir), Afion Kara Hissar, Konia (Konya), Marsovan (Merzifon), Sivas (Sepastia), Cesarea (Kayseri), Talas, Tarsus, Adana, Hadjin, Marash (Mara), Aintab (Gaziantep) Ourfa (Urfa), Harpout (Harput), Diyarbekir (Diyarbakir), Mardin, Bitlis, Erzurum, and Van. See Frank Andrews Stone, Academies for Anatolia. A Study of the Rationale, Program and Impact of the Educational Institutions Sponsored by the American Board in Turkey, 1930-1980 (New York, N.Y.: University Press of America, 1984), p. 71, for location on the map. The colleges were Central Turkey College in Aintab (1876), Euphrates College in Harput (1878), Central Turkey Girls' College in Marash (1882), Anatolia College at Marsovan (1886), St. Paul's Institute at Tarsus (1888), and International College at Smyrna (1891).

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46. Grabill, Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East, p.10.

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47. Microfilm copies of this collection, entitled "Papers of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions," have recently been made available by Research Publications of Woodbridge, Connecticut.

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48. Lowry, The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, quoting Morgenthau, p.16.

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49. There are two large collections of Morgenthau papers, one housed in the Library of Congress and known as The Papers of Henry Morgenthau (which, following Lowry, we will cite as LC:PHM), and the other in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y., called the Henry Morgenthau Sr. Papers (and not the Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Papers as called by Lowry [p.7]). These papers will be referred to, again following Lowry, as FDR: HMS.

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50. LC:PHM, reel no. 5, Morgenthau Diary entry for 8 Aug. 1915, as found in Lowry, The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, pp. 49-50.

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51. Heath W. Lowry currently (2001) holds the Atatürk Chair in Turkish History (established by the Turkish Government) at Princeton University.

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52. Emphasis added.

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53. It is interesting to note that Dr. Lowry, while head of the Institute for Turkish Studies, drafted a letter for then Turkish ambassador Nuzhet Kandemir to send to Robert Jay Lifton accusing Lifton of bad scholarship in his book The Nazi Doctors, Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide [New York, Basic books, 1986], refering to the Armenian Genocide as an "alleged" Genocide. After having served as the head of the Institute for Turkish Studies, Lowry received appointment to the Atatürk Chair in Turkish History at Princeton University, a chair established by a grant from the Turkish government. See, Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen, and Robert Jay Lifton "Professional Ethics and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide," in Remembrance and Denial, pp. 271-295.

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54. Lowry, The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, p. 14.

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55. Ibid., p. 15. Emphasis added.

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56. Ibid.Lowry, The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, p. 49. Emphasis added.

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57. Ibid., p. 2. The word "Syrian" is used here by Morgenthau to refer to the Semitic Christians who lived in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They were known more popularly as Assyrians, to differentiate them from the Muslim Syrians of the Fertile Crescent. As we said above, the Christian Assyrians were almost completely wiped out by the Young Turk dictatorship, and few of them live presently in their ancestral homeland.

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58. Lowry, The Story behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, p. 49. Emphasis added.

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59. The conversation continued. Talât went on to demand that Morgenthau have the American insurance companies that had insured the lives of Armenian provide him with a complete list of their Armenian policy holders. "They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collecte the money. It of course all escheats to the State."

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60. Walker, Armenia: The Survival of a Nation, p. 235. See Johannes Lepsius, ed., Deutschland und Armenien, 1914-1918: Sammlung Diplomatischer Aktenstücke (Potsdam: Der Tempelverlag, 1919; repr., Bremen: Donat & Temmen Verlag, 1986), p. 277. Emphasis added.

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61. Schuebner-Richter to Bethmann Hollweg, 4 December 1916, No. 309 in Lepsius, Deutschland und Armenien.

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62. See, U.S. Department of State, Record Group 59, Internal Affairs of Turkey, 1910-29. A collection of these materials has been published in three volumes under the title United States Official Documents on the Armenian Genocide (Watertown, Mass.: Armenian Review, 1994-1995).

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63. Davis to Morgenthau, 11 July 1915, Record Group 59, 867.4016/122. Emphasis added.

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64. They were finally smuggled into the U.S. Embassy in Constantinople in the shoe of an American missionary. See Armen Hairapetian, " 'Race Problems' and the Armenian Genocide: The State Department Files," Armenian Review 37, no. 1-145 (Spring 1984), p. 48.

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65. R.G. 59,867.4016/269. Emphasis added.

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66. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Aristide D. Caratzas, 1989.

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67. Davis, The Slaughterhouse Province, p. 87. The mutilations consisted mostly of the women being split open from the vagina to the belly and their gut being strewn about the ground. The killers believed that Armenian women either swallowed gold coins or hid them in their privates in order to avoid their being stolen by brigands.

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68. Nathan to Morgenthau, 7 Aug. 1915, R.G. 59, 867.4016/124. See Hairepetian, " 'Race Problems' and the Armenian Genocide," p. 48.

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69. The word "genocide" did not, of course, come into use until 1944 when it was introduced by Rafael Lemkin, so the American consuls had to use expressions such as "a general massacre" or a "method was found to destroy the Armenian race." By modern definition, the attempt to destroy a race is considered genocide. In fact, Raphael Lemkin was conscious of the Armenian Genocide when he coined the expression. See the letter of Israel Charny, head of the Institute for the Study of Genocide, Jerusalem, to Bernard Lewis, December 27, 1994, published in Israel W. Charny, "The Psychological Satisfaction of Denials of the Holocaust or Other Genocides by Non-Extremists or Bigots, and Even by Known Scholars," Idea: A Journal of Social Issues 6, No. 1 (July 2001), Appendix 2.

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70. R.G. 59, 867.4016/76. Emphasis added.

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71. R.G. 59, 867.4016/299. Emphasis added.

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72. Congressional Record, 66th Cong. 2d sess., 1920, 59, pt. 7, pp. 7533-34.

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73. Lord Bryce presents eyewitness testimony from Van, Bitlis, [Persian] Azerbaijan, Erzeroum (Erzurum), Mamouret-ul Aziz (Harpout, Harput), Trebizond (Trabzon), Shabin Kara Hissar (Sebin Karahisar), Sivas (Sepastia), Kaisaria (Cesarea, Kayseri), Marsovan, Angora (Ankara), Constantinople (Istanbul), Broussa (Brusa), Ismid (Izmit), Konia (Konya), the area of Cilicia on the Mediterranean coast (Adana, Marash [Maras], Zeitoun, Jibal Mousa [Mousa Dagh]), and Ourfa (Urfa). In other words, eyewitness reports from the four corners of the Ottoman Empire in Asia.

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74. Elekdag, p. 33.

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75. While the Kurds were used by the Young Turks to help carry out the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish government was later to turn on the Kurds. The Kurdish "problem" has not yet been solved.

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76. Vahakn N. Dadrian, "The Documentation of the World War I Armenian Massacres in the Proceedings of the Turkish Military Tribunal," International Journal of Middle East Studies 23 (1991), p. 558. In this study, Dadrian used the materials from the Turkish war crimes trials organized by the government of Damad Ferit Pasha following World War I. Also see Vahakn N. Dadrian, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, 3d rev. ed. (Providence, RI: Berghahn Books, 1997), esp. pp. 303-343.

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77. Dadrian, "The Documentation of the World War I Armenian Massacres," p. 560.

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78. Dadrian, "The Documentation of the World War I Armenian Massacres," pp. 560-63, citing Takvim-i Vekayi.

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79. One should also add that Turkish public opinion had turned in the meanwhile from being strongly in favor of the trials to being strongly opposed to them. When the Turkish public was first made aware of the Armenian Genocide, it was scandalized for humane reasons and demanded the punishment of the offenders. But by 1920, the Greeks, Turkey's ancient and mortal enemy, had invaded western Anatolia and it was becoming apparent that the Allies, excluding the United States as an Associated Power, were ready to carve up not only the Ottoman Empire but also Anatolia itself. The Turks, understandably, became xenophobic and resentful of all non-Turkish peoples foreign interference and against all non-Turkish peoples. Had the Greeks not invaded Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk himself might have continued the trials against the Young Turks inasmuch as he thought ill of the Armenian and Assyrian genocides.

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80. In an interview published in the Los Angeles Examiner Atatürk said that the leaders of the C.U.P. "should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse from their homes and massacred!" Emile Hildebrand, "Kemal Promises More Hangings of Political Antagonists in Turkey," 1 Aug. 1926.

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81. Dadrian, "The Documentation of the World War I Armenian Massacres," pp. 554, 561, and 575.

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82. The State Department seemed to vacillate in its position in an "Editor's Note" in the September 1982 Bulletin, which stated: "The article, 'Armenian Terrorism: A Profile,' which appeared in the feature on terrorism in the August 1982 issue of the Bulletin, does not necessarily reflect an official position of the Department of State, and the interpretive comments in the article are solely those of the author."

In the light of later information, it now appears that the State Department finally backed down from its denial of the Armenian Genocide in its "Editors Note" in the April 1983 Bulletin, which states: "The article 'Armenian Terrorism: A Profile,' which appeared in the August 1982 issue of the Bulletin, and its accompanying note and footnotes were not intended as statements of policy of the United States. Nor did they represent any change in U.S. policy." [Emphasis added.]

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83. See Court Order, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 88-3419 (RCL), dated December 18, 1990, filed December 19, 1990.

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84. Below are some critical examples of the original draft text of Corsun's article immediately followed by the actual published text in the State Department Bulletin, as rewritten by State Department officials. The draft text was provided to me by Van Z. Krikorian from the documents which he obtained by his FOIA case against the State Department. The copies provided by the State Department are on file in the offices of the Armenian Assembly of America in Washington, D.C.

ORIGINAL: "Fearful of the increased boldness of the suppressed nationalities of the Empire, the Turks responded with unprecedented brutality which resulted in the killing of 300,000 Armenians from 1894 to 1896. These killings pale significantly in comparison with the full-scale attempts by the nationalistic Young Turks in 1915."

REWRITTEN: "In a multi-ethnic state, such as the Ottoman Empire, nationalism was viewed by Turks as a serious internal threat. The result was harsher repression by the Ottoman government which led to thousands of Armenian deaths in 1895" (Bulletin, p. 35).

ORIGINAL: "With the advent of World War I, the stage was set for what was later to be called the first 'genocide' of the 20th century."

REWRITTEN: "With the advent of World War I, the stage was set for what was later alleged to be called the first 'genocide' of the 20th century" (Bulletin, p. 35).

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85. We should note here the verdict of the Permanent People's Tribunal (Paris, 13-16 April 19841, which states: "The Armenian genocide is also an 'international crime' for which the Turkish state must assume responsibility, without using the pretext of any discontinuity in the existence of the state to elude that responsibility; this responsibility implies first and foremost the obligation to recognize officially the reality of this genocide and the consequent damages suffered by the Armenian people." See Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, Session on the Genocide of the Armenians, April 13-16, 1984, Paris: Verdict (Cambridge, Mass.: Zoryan Institute, 1984), p. 22.

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86. One can only make conjectures, without further evidence, about the motives of the present Turkish government. Certainly, we must allow for the possibility that the vast majority of the Turks, including many of their active political leaders, do not know the facts of the case. Furthermore, even if leading Turks have slowly learned the truth over time through international contacts, it would be embarrassing at this late date for their country to finally admit to what they have so long denied.

Then some Turkish apologists claim, including many commentators in various Turkish newspapers, that the Armenians want recognition of the Genocide only as a first step towards determining monetary reparations or even, perhaps, a return of the Armenian provinces to Armenian control. Such a scenario, whether or not it is likely, they see as antithetical to their national interest. There is perhaps one other, even more fundamental reason, for denial by the ruling Turkish elites. The present-day Turkish nation-state (relatively homogeneous, except for the presence of the Kurds, toward whom the state continues to take repressive measures) was founded on the eradication of groups that could not be assimilated, the largest and most important being the Christian Armenian population. This is perhaps why the Turkish apologists continue to claim that something in the way of a civil war took place. They may mean that there could be no Turkish nation-state if the significant Armenian presence in Anatolia had remained there, and that the enterprising Armenians might have established some kind of economic or political hegemony over the Turkish masses. As unlikely as that might have been, in their minds, perhaps, there could be no "Turkey for the Turks" if the Armenians were present. No nation would like to admit, understandably, that its very foundation is based on the crime of genocide. Yet Turkey cannot have full democracy until its past is open to public scrutiny and debate. Truth and openness are necessary elements for democracy and full participation in world affairs.

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