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August 17, 2007


Turgay Erturk

Guenter Lewy’s speech at the Malkin Penthouse, fourth floor Littauer Building, Harvard University, at 3 PM, on March 13, 2007.

Professor Lewy’s speech is based on his book: Guenter Lewy, THE ARMENIAN MASSACRES IN OTTOMAN TURKEY: A disputed Genocide, University of Utah Press, 2005, ISBN: 0874808499.

(About one or two percent of the following may not match the exact words spoken by Professor Lewy.)

Armenians call the calamitous events of 1915-1916 in the Ottoman Empire the first genocide of the twentieth century. Most Turks refer to this episode as war time relocation made necessary by the treasonous conduct of Armenian minority. The debate on what actually happened has been going on for almost 100 years and shows no signs of resolution. The highly charged historical dispute burdens relations between Turkey and Armenia and increases tensions in the volatile region. It also pops up frequently in the other parts of the world when members of the Armenian Diaspora push for the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the respective parliaments, and the Turkish government threatens retaliation.

Next month the US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a non-binding resolution declaring the treatment of Ottoman Armenians during World War I a case of genocide. If passed, the US will join the considerable number of countries that have declared these events to constitute genocide and a crime against humanity. Below a chamber of the French parliament and Switzerland took the case further and made it illegal to deny the Armenian Genocide.

There are many Armenian people who are for this kind of legislation. They feel that just it is illegitimate to question the historical fact of the Holocaust, Hitler’s attempt to destroy the Jews of Europe, it is equally imperative to recognize and to denounce the Armenian genocide.

I have several problems with this position. First I believe that Parliaments should legislate on what is in their competence and jurisdiction and not try to decide contested historical questions, and contested this question certainly is. oNormal style="MARGIN: 0pt">There are many Armenian people who are for this kind of legislation. They feel that just it is illegitimate to question the historical fact of the Holocaust, Hitler’s attempt to destroy the Jews of Europe, it is equally imperative to recognize and to denounce the Armenian genocide.

I have several problems with this position. First I believe that Parliaments should legislate on what is in their competence and jurisdiction and not try to decide contested historical questions, and contested this question certainly is.

The Jewish Holocaust is denied only by pseudo historians such as David Irwin. In the case of Armenians on the other hand some of the most prominent students of Ottoman history such as Bernard Lewis and Andrew Mango doubt the appropriateness of the genocide label for the tragic events of 1915. Second, unlike the case of the Holocaust, most of which is described in the thousands of captured German documents that formed the main evidence in the Nuremberg trials; an analogy of many key occurrences in Ottoman Turkey during World War I is also inadequate and incomplete.

I believe in not to declare the subject as closed, instead we should promote the necessary research that eventually you will make it possible to arrive a more conclusive knowledge at a consensus of informed opinion that will facilitate reconciliation between Armenians and Turks.

No one, it should be stressed, disputes the extent of Armenian suffering at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during the World War I. With little or no notice, the Ottoman government forced Armenian men, women, and children to leave their historic communities; during the subsequent harrowing trek over mountains and through deserts, large numbers of them died of starvation and disease, or were murdered. Although the absence of good statistics on the size of the pre-war Armenian population in Turkey makes it impossible to establish the true extent of the loss of life, reliable estimates put the number of deaths at more than 650,000, or around 40 percent of a total Armenian population of 1.75 million.

The historical question at issue is specific intent—that is, whether the Turkish regime intentionally organized the annihilation of its Armenian minority, and thus guilty of genocide. According to the Genocide Convention of 1948, intent to destroy a group is a necessary condition of genocide; most other definitions of this crime of crimes similarly insist upon the centrality of malicious intent. Hence the crucial problem to be addressed is not the huge loss of life in and of itself but rather whether the Young Turk government deliberately sought the deaths that we know to have occurred.

Historical background:

The Armenians have lived in the southern Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, since ancient times. In the early 4th century of the CE, they were the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Much of their long history, however, has been spent under foreign rule. The last independent Armenian state (before the present-day, post-Soviet Republic of Armenia) fell in 1375, and by the early 16th century most Armenians were subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Under the millet system instituted by Sultan Mohammed II (1451-1481), they enjoyed religious, cultural, and social autonomy and they were known as the “loyal community,” a status that lasted well into the 19th century.

Though large numbers of Armenians settled in Constantinople and in other Ottoman towns, where they prospered as merchants, bankers, and artisans, the majority continued to live as peasants in eastern Anatolia. During the autocratic rule of Abdul Hamid II (1876-1909), the lot of the Armenians deteriorated, and nationalistic sentiment began to emerge. In June 1890, Armenian students in the Russian-controlled area of the Caucasus organized the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Demanding the political and economic emancipation of Turkish Armenia, the Dashnaks (as they were known) waged guerrilla warfare against Turkish army units, gendarmerie posts, and Kurdish villages involved in attacks on Armenians. They operated from bases in the Caucasus and Persia and took advantage of eastern Anatolia’s mountainous terrain.

One of the aims of this warfare was to provoke the Turks to commit excesses which would draw the attention of the Christian world and bring about European intervention. For foreign consumption the revolutionaries portrayed their arms against the Ottoman regime as defensive violence while their own publications celebrated them as national liberation.

When, in 1908, the nationalist, modernizing movement known as the Young Turks seized power in Constantinople in a bloodless coup, the Dashnaks declared an end to their fighting. But the truce did not last. With Turkey’s entry into World War I on the side of Germany and against Russia, the Armenians’ traditional ally, the Dashnaks resumed their armed resistance. By April 1915, Armenian guerrilla activities had picked up momentum. Roads and communication lines were cut. Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador in Constantinople, reported to Washington on May 25 that nobody put the Armenian guerrillas “at less than 10,000, and 25,000 is probably closer to the truth.”

Meanwhile, the Russian branch of the Dashnaks was organizing volunteers to fight the Turks on the Caucasus front. Most of these volunteers--numbering 15,000, according to one Armenian source--were themselves Russian subjects, exempt from military service, but some of them were Turkish Armenians who had crossed the border to join the volunteer units. Offers of help also poured in from the Armenian diaspora, from as far away as Western Europe and the U.S.

In March 1915, the Dashnak organization in Sofia, Bulgaria, proposed to land 20,000 volunteers on the Turkish coast in the Armenian stronghold of Cilicia. That same month, the Boston-based Armenian National Defense Committee of America informed the British foreign secretary that it was making “preparations for the purpose of sending volunteers to Cilicia, where a large section of the Armenian population will unfurl the banner of insurrection against Turkish rule.” The British and French governments, I was hoped, would supply them with ammunition and artillery.

Turkish fears of an internal revolt were confirmed by the uprising that took place in the spring of 1915 in the city of Van. Close to the Russian border and in the heartland of historic Armenia, Van had long been a center of nationalist agitation. On April 24, 1915, the Turkish governor reported that 4,000 Armenian fighters had opened fire on the police stations, burned down Muslim houses, and barricaded themselves in the Armenian quarter. About 15,000 refugees from the countryside eventually joined the now-besieged rebels. Less than a month later, the insurgents were saved by the advancing Russian army, forcing the Turkish garrison to retreat. Armenians will tell you that the uprising was a defensive action aimed at preventing the deportation of Armenian community. Turkish authors argue that the rebellion was designed and timed to facilitate the advance of the Russians.

When not tying down Turkish army units, the Dashnaks were of significant help to the Russian army itself (leaving aside the 150,000 Armenian subjects of the Czar who served in its ranks). Deeply familiar with the rugged mountains of eastern Anatolia, the Armenian volunteers were invaluable scouts and guides. In one famous episode, the legendary Armenian military leader Andranik Ozanian met with General Mishlayevsky, commander of the Czar’s forces in the Caucasus, late in the summer of 1914, pointing out the routes through which the Russian army could advance on Turkey.

Thus, as the Turks saw it, the Armenian people the world over had thrown in their lot with the Allied cause and were arrayed against them in a fateful struggle. Having come to consider the Armenians a fifth column, the Ottoman regime decided to take decisive measures to put an end to their treasonable actions. As Morgenthau reported to Washington in July 1915: “Because Armenian volunteers, many of them Russian subjects, have joined the Russian army in the Caucasus and because some have been implicated in armed revolutionary movements and others have been helpful to Russians in their invasion of the Van district, terrible vengeance is being taken.”

In the eyes of the Young Turks, however, the issue was not so much revenge but national survival in a situation of extreme danger caused by serious military setbacks. The British had taken Basra in Mesopotamia and were moving toward Baghdad. The Allies had launched their assaults on the Dardanelles. Fearing the fall of the capital, the Turks were making preparations to evacuate the sultan and the treasury from Constantinople. Meanwhile, Russian troops were advancing into eastern Anatolia, and Armenian guerrillas were active in the rear of the Turkish army, threatening the very lifelines of the empire. Even if only a limited number of Armenians had actually taken up arms, the authorities in Constantinople understood themselves to be dealing with a population of traitors.

Indeed, after the war had ended and at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 the Armenians talked with pride about the important contribution they had made to the Allied victory. In a letter written on in late October 29, 1918 to the French foreign minister Stephen Pichon, Boghos Nubar, the head of the Armenian delegation, asserted that the Armenians had in fact been belligerents, since they have fought fighting alongside the Allies against the Turks on all fronts. Between 600 and 800 Armenian volunteers, he said, served on the western front with the French Foreign Legion, and only 40 were still alive; three battalions had taken the field in the Middle East and had been cited by General Allenby for their courage; in particular, he wrote, 150,000 Armenians had fought in the Russian army and had held the front in the Caucasus after the Russians dropped out of the war in 1917. As Boghos Nubar told the peace conference on March 8, 1919, the Turks had devastated the Armenians “in retaliation for our unflagging devotion to the cause of the Allies.”

This rhetoric undoubtedly was desiged to win the support of the peace conference for an independent Armenia. Still, the essential facts put forward by the Armenian delegation were correct for the Armenians had supported the Allies in a variety of ways. None of this can serve to justify what the Ottomans did to the Armenians, but it provides the indispensable historical context for the tragedy that ensued. Given this context the Armenians can hardly claim that they suffered for no reason at all. Ignoring warnings from many quarters, large numbers of them had fought the Turks, and not urprisingly with their back against the wall, the Ottomans had reacted resolutely not to say viciously.

Let us not deny the human catastrophe that resulted. The harsher methods employed by the Young Turks included the killing of Armenian notables in Constantinople and the eastern provinces. As for Armenian civilians, perhaps as many as 1 million were turned out of their homes. On a journey through the most inhospitable terrain, they usualy not only lacked shelter and food but were often subjected to the murderous violence of their government escorts and the Kurdish tribesmen who occupied the route southward to Ottoman-controlled Syria. Massive numbers died along the way.

Can we account for this tragedy without the hypothesis of a genocidal plan on the part of the Young Turks? Most authors supporting the Armenian cause do not think so. They cite foreign diplomats on the scene who, in the face of the large number of deaths, concluded that the terrible loss of life was an intended outcome of the deportation decision. And yet one infers that many foreign officials were, about the events unfolding before their eyes, their insight into the mindset and the intentions of the Young Turk leadership was necessarily limited. Indeed to this day the inner workings of the Young Turk regime and especially the role of the triumvirate of Enver, Talaat and Djemal are understood only inadequately. Moreover there is a wide backdrop against which this horrific episode must be seen.

Thus, if one of the main causes of the Armenian disaster was starvation, the Armenians were hardly alone in experiencing such deprivation. In the spring of 1915, Ambassador Morgenthau told Washington that the empire’s whole domestic situation was “deplorable,” with “thousands of the populace daily dying of starvation.” In the late spring and summer of 1915, the Ottoman provinces of Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria were devastated by a plague of locust, creating famine conditions. To exacerbate matters, Allied warships had blockaded the coast of Syria and Lebanon, thus preventing the import of food from Egypt.

The resulting scarcities afflicted even the Turkish army, whose troops, as one German officer reported, received a maximum of one third of their allotted rations. In circumstances where soldiers in the Turkish army were dying of undernourishment, it is not so surprising that little if any food was made available to the deported Armenians.

Indeed, the mistreatment of common Turkish soldiers, the subject of many comments by contemporaries, makes an instructive comparison with the wretched lot of the Armenians. Although “provisions and clothing had been confiscated to supply the army,” wrote an American missionary in Van, “the soldiers profited very little by this. They were poorly fed and poorly clothed when fed or clothed at all.”

The treatment of Turkish soldiers who were wounded or sick was especially appalling. Those who managed to reach hospital--many never did--perished in large numbers because of unsanitary conditions and a lack of basic supplies. Patients shared beds or simply lay next to each other on the floor in facilities that often lacked running water and electricity. Typhus, cholera, dysentery, and other infectious diseases spread rapidly. As the Danish missionary Maria Jacobsen noted on May 24, 1916, a cholera outbreak in the city of Malatia was killing 100 soldiers a day. “The army there,” she wrote, “will soon be wiped out without a war.”

The Turks experienced some 244,000 combat deaths during World War I. As against this, some 68,000 soldiers died of their wounds and almost a half-million of disease--a ratio of non-combat to combat deaths almost certainly unmatched by any of the other warring nations. This terrible toll obviously does not excuse the treatment of the Armenians, but neither can it be simply ignored in any assessment of the general conditions against which they met their fate. Many of the Turkish deaths could have been prevented by better sanitary conditions and medical care. A government so callous about the suffering of its own population as was the Young Turk regime, was hardly about to show concern for the terrible human misery that would result from deporting its minority population rightly or wrongly suspected of treason.

There exists no authentic documentary evidence to prove the culpability of the central government of Turkey for the massacres of Armenians of 1915-16. In the face of this lack, Armenians have relied upon materials of questionable genuinness such as Aram Andonian’s “The Memoirs of Naim Bey,” a book first published in 1920, offers in evidence 30 alleged telegrams by Talaat Pasha, Turkey’s minister of the interior, some of which order the killing of all Armenians irrespective of sex or age. However, the book is considered a forgery not only by Turkish historians but by practically every Western student of Ottoman history.

Talaat Pasha is a malaise also in Ambassador Morgenthau story in memory published in 1918. Morgenthau acknowledged that this book was published for the purpose of convincing the American people to carry the war to a victorious conclusion. The book puts words into the mouth of Talaat Pasha and the minister of war Enver portraying them as ruthless villains. However with few exceptions these words do not appear in the sources utilized by Morgenthau in the writing of memoir such as his diary, preserved at the Library of Congress. In his diary Morgenthau repeatedly praises the two ministers for their kindness. He frequently invited Enver and Talaat for meals at his home and went riding with them in the countryside.

The appeal to convicting Talaat and Enver of the destructive designs against Armenian population by the use of this literary device was politically inspired, probably the brain child of the journalist Burton J. Hendrick who ghost-wrote the book and received a share the royalties.

A highly capable praise of Talaat is preserved also from the pen of William Peet, the American head of the Armenian International Relief effort in Constantinople who recalls that Talaat Pasha always “gave prompt attention to my requests, frequently greeting me as I called upon him in his office with the introductory remark: “we are partners, what can I do for you today?”

A similarly unreliable source are the verdicts of Turkish military tribunals that in 1919-20, which held the top leadership of the Young Turk regime, and a special-forces outfit called Teskilat-i Mahsusa, or special organization, responsible for the massacre of the Armenians. These trials suffered from serious deficiencies of due process; more importantly, all of the original documentation of the trial is lost and we have nothing but copies of some documents in the gazette of the government and the press. It is doubtful that the Nuremberg trials would ever have achieved their tremendous significance in documenting the crimes of the Nazi regime if we had to rely on a few copies of the documents instead of thousands of originals preserved in our archives.

It is true that no written record of Hitler’s order for the Final Solution of the “Jewish question” has been found, either. But the major elements of the decision-making process leading up to the annihilation of the Jews of Europe can be reconstructed from events, court testimony, and a rich store of authentic documents. Barring the unlikely discovery of sensational new documents in the Turkish archives, it is safe to say that no such evidence exists for the tragic events of 1915-16.

At the same time, a number of facts about the deportations argue against the thesis that they constituted a premeditated program for exterminating the Armenians of Turkey. For one thing, the large Armenian communities of Constantinople, Smyrna, and Aleppo were spared deportation and, apart from tribulations that also afflicted the Muslim populations of these cities, survived the war largely intact. This would be analogous to Hitler’s failing to include the Jews of Berlin, Cologne, and Munich in the Final Solution.

Moreover, the trek on foot that took so many lives was imposed only on the Armenians of eastern and central Anatolia, a part of the country that had no railroads. Elsewhere, and in despite the fact that the one-spur Baghdad line was overburdened with the transport of troops and supplies, Armenian deportees were allowed to purchase rail tickets and were thus spared at least some of the trials of the deportation process. If, as is often alleged, the intent was to subject the exiles to a forced march until they died of exhaustion, why was this punishment not imposed on all Armenians?

Similar variation can be found in the fortunes of other parts of the Armenian population. While many of the exiles were left to fend for themselves and often died of starvation, others were given food here and there. Some gendarmes accompanying the convoys sold their charges to Kurds who pillaged and murdered them, but other gendarmes were protective. In some places all Armenians, irrespective of creed, were sent away, while in others Protestant and Catholic (as opposed to Gregorian) Armenians were exempted. Many of the deportees succumbed to the harsh conditions in their places of resettlement, but others were able to survive by making themselves useful as artisans or traders. In some locations, not even conversion to Islam could purchase exemption from deportation; in others, large numbers of Armenians were allowed, or forced, to convert and were saved.

All these differences in the treatment and outcome are athletical reconcile with a premeditated program of total annihilation. How, then, to explain the events of 1915-16? What accounts for the enormous loss of life?

The documentary evidence available suggests that the Ottoman government wanted to arrange an orderly process of deportation--even a relatively humane one, to gauge by the many decrees commanding protection and compassionate treatment of the deportees. But, leaving aside the justice of the expulsion order itself, the deportation and resettlement of the Armenians took place at a time of great insecurity and dislocation throughout the country and in conditions of widespread suffering and deprivation among Turkish civilians and military personnel. The job of relocating several hundred thousand people in a short span of time and over a highly primitive system of transportation was simply beyond the ability of the Turkish bureaucracy.

Many observers on the scene, indeed, saw the tragedy in this light, constantly citing the incompetence and inefficiency of the Ottoman bureaucracy. “The lack of proper transportation facilities,” wrote the American consul in Mersina in September 1915, “is the most important factor in causing the misery.” The German consul in Aleppo told his ambassador around the same time that the majority of Armenian exiles were starving to death because the Turks were “incapable of solving the organizational task of mass feeding.” A lengthy memorandum on the Armenian question drawn up in 1916 by Alexander von Hoesch, an official in the German embassy, pointed to a basic lack of accountability: some local officials had sought to alleviate the hardships of the exiles, but others were extremely hostile to the Armenians and, in defiance of Constantinople, had abandoned them to the violence of Kurds or Circassians.

Today, the stakes in this historical controversy remain high, and both sides continue to use heavy-handed tactics to advance their views. The Turkish government regularly threatens retaliation against anyone calling into question its own version of events. The over zealeous Turkish prosecuters have brought dozens of cases against novelists, publishers, scholars and journalists. Many of these cases have been dismissed and never reached the trial stage. But the effect of these prosecutions nevertheless is undoubtedly to discourage and put a chill on an open and unbiased discussion of Armenian question in Turkey today.

For their part, the Armenians have also played hardball. When Bernard Lewis, in a 1994 letter toLe monde, questioned on scholarly grounds the existence of a plan of extermination on the part of the Ottoman government, a French-Armenian organization brought suit and charged Lewis for causing “grievous prejudice to truthful memory.” On June 21 1995 a French court in Paris convicted Lewis and imposed a token fine.

There are also more hopeful signs, at least on the academic front. In the last several years, a number of conferences have brought together Turkish and Armenian scholars willing to discuss the events of 1915-16 without a political agenda. Turkish historical scholarship has shown signs of a post-nationalist phase, while some scholars on the Armenian side, too, now engage in research free of propagandistic rhetoric. Needless to say, such efforts have brought down accusations of betrayal, even treason, upon the heads of the offending historians; it would be foolish to expect genuine reconciliation any time soon.

All of which raises deeply troubling questions, not least about the role played by the notion of genocide itself in perpetuating the almost century-old impasse between Turks and Armenians.. As the Turkish historian Selim Deringil has written, both sides need to “step back from the was-it-genocide-or-not dialogue of the deaf” and instead seek a “common project of knowledge.” For once this charge is on the table, any sort of mutually acceptable resolution becomes extremely difficult if not impossible.

But if we set aside the idea of genocide in this case how then should we best judge the Armenian tragedy? For the human disaster endured by its Armenian population, the Ottoman regime certainly bears its due measure of responsibility. The Turkish wartime government may deserve to be severly rebuked for its corruption, bungling misrule, as well as its indifference to the suffering of its own population during World War I But I submit it is important to bear in mind the enormous difference between ineptness, even ineptnenss that had tragic consequences, and premeditated muder of people.

The final intent of the deportation order was to deny support to the Armenian guerrilla bands and to remove the Armenians from war zones and other strategic locations. For the Ottomans, painful experience with other Christians in the Balkan had created extreme sensitivity to rebellion and territorial loss.

Enver Pasha, the Turkish minister of war explained Ambassador Morgenthau in several occasions that it had taken only twenty to make a revolution (presumably a reference to the Young Turk seizure of power in 1908) and that the government therefore had to act forcefully against the Armenian community, intent upon independence.

Given the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to question whether the severity of the threat posed by Armenian revolutionaries justified the drastic remedy of deportation. Turkish allegations of wholesale disloyalty, treason and revolt by the Ottoman Armenians, the Canadian researcher Gwynne Dyer has once concluded appropriately “wholly true as far as Armenian sentiment went, only partly true in terms of overt acts, and totally insufficient as a justification for what was done to the Armenians.”

If both Armenians and Turks could accept this appraisal, and acknowledge the inflicted damage done to each other an important milestone on the settlement of this long standing bitter conflict could be reached.

PS. During discussion Professor Lewy said that the Armenian archives at Yerevan were not open for public research. He also said that about three battalions of Armenian volunteers served in the French army in Cilica. In this case most of the volunteers came from Egypt.

David Eisenthal

See my response here -


Turgay, Lewy is not a serious historian. He is a crank. He has also written that there was no Nazi genocide against the Gypsies!

Lewy doesn't read any Turkish, is published on nothing about Turkey other than what was spoon fed him for his rather laughable denial volume.

His book and the long text you post have been ripped to shreds by serious genocide historians.

Lewy actually became the model for Power's work on denial. He uses the same method to deny the Armenian genocide as those who denial the Shoah.
Here is one rather good fisking:
In the Fall 2005 issue of Middle East Quarterly, Professor Guenther Lewy of the University of Massachusetts examines the mass murders of Armenians in Turkey before, during and after World War I and concludes: "The three pillars of the Armenian claim to classify World War I deaths as genocide fail to substantiate the charge that the Young Turk regime intentionally organized the massacres. Other alleged evidence for a premeditated plan of annihilation fares no better."

Dr. Vahakn N. Dadrian, the world's leading authority on the Turkish genocide of the Armenians and author of The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus:

By its very nature historiography can neither be expected to be complete in every respect, nor be free from any number of other shortcomings. This truism is even more pertinent to the study of such a subject matter as the Armenian genocide the historical reality of which for one reason or another is presently being degraded to the level of dubiousness. The principal vehicles used hereby are the publications of a rather small group of authors purporting to be detached and disinterested investigators. Upon closer scrutiny, however, these very same authors reveal themselves as committed partisans boldly pushing certain denialist agendas that are subtly and skillfully woven into texture of their discourses. Hence the denial is attempted indirectly rather than directly; the historical reality of the World War I Armenian genocide is called into question by casting doubt on the appropriateness of the use of the label “genocide.”

When by recourse to a variety of techniques he is decrying as unwarranted the use of such a label with respect to the Armenian case, Professor Lewy is thereby providing a measure of confirmation in this respect. In the process he also is betraying his very limited familiarity with the subject. His article is replete with factual errors, misinterpretations that are accented by some outright falsehoods. On top of all this, he further betrays lack of an adequate level of knowledge of Turkish, not to speak of extinct Ottoman Turkish, on both of which he is significantly relying as primary source medium. One is prompted to wonder as to the origin and nature of the outside help he may have received.

What follows firstly is -- given exigent space limitations -– some samples only of the type of errors mentioned above:

The Yozgat trial series were not conducted in Yozgat but in Istanbul; Kemal was Kaymakam of Bogazliyan county only but not of Yozgat district of which he subsequently became an interim mutassarif by way of transfer and promotion; Cemal Pasha was not the governor of Aleppo, but the commander-in-chief of Ottoman’s IVth Army deployed in Lebanon and Syria (all these on p. 2); Dr. Liparit Nasariantz was not a German missionary (p. 5) but an Armenian political activist who later became a member of the Armenian National Council, an émigré political outfit. Moreover, Lewy’s claim that “there is no indication that German colonel Stange had any role in the Special Organization” is flatly contradicted by several authentic sources. Foremost among these is Dr. Ernst Kwiatkowski, Austria-Hungaria’s Consul at Trabzon, the port city where the Special Organization had its center for logistics. In one of his several reports to Vienna he revealed that “convicts were also enrolled” in Stange’s detachment which actually was the 8th Regiment of the 10th Army corps of the Ottoman III Army operating in the eastern province of Turkey. [1] Even more compelling is the disclosure of a Turkish officer who not only participated in Stange’s military operations, but kept a record of them in his notebook. According to him “Stange was in charge of the Special Organization Regiment that was named ‘Teshkilati Mahsusa Alayi’ ” and that it encompassed the notorious killer bands of two noted chieftains, Topal Osman and Deli Halit, who played a paramount role in the implementation phases of the Armenian genocide. That regiment consisted of eleven battalions (tabur) and was thereafter called the Lazistan Detachment (Lazistan Mufrezesi). [2] Unable to strictly control the secret and covert operations of these contingents of this Detachment, Stange at the end blasted them in his “secret” report to his German superiors in which he expressed his contempt of these “chettes” by calling them “scums.” [3]

According to professor Lewy, the Armenian claim of genocide is predicated upon the “the pillars,” namely, (1) the Turkish Courts- Martial of 1919-20, (2) the role of the Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa), and (3) the memoirs of Naim Bey (p. 6). This highly inaccurate description again is reflective of his seemingly limited familiarity with the literature involved. [4] Notwithstanding, they call for scrutiny to “set the record straight.”
Of these, the one involving a lengthy discussion, based on his claim that they are “forgeries,” covers the Naim-Andonian documents. That claim is mainly, if not exclusively, based upon a book produced by two Turkish authors who, following an extensive examination, maintained that the documents are forgeries. Even though at the end of his discussion he finds it expedient to hedge somewhat by allowing that these documents are “at best unverifiable and problematic,” the bulk of Lewy’s arguments with emphasis focus, however, on the forgery angle. Yet, as far as it is known, the two non-Turkish scholars cited by him for support of his claim did not themselves conduct any comparable research, including Zürcher who was content to state that the documents “have been shown to be forgeries.” But on the other end of the spectrum, a German author having very recently uncovered a number of authentic Ottoman documents from the Interior Ministry Section of Turkish state archives, established that these documents

confirm to some degree the contents of two other telegrams ascribed to Talaat in Andonian’s book. Thus the dating of telegrams nos. 840 and 860 as January 1916 appears to be correct…[The two Turkish authors] Sinasi Orel and Süreyya Yüce who have agued that Andonian forged his material, did not consider the source under scrutiny here. Thus their thesis is to be put into question and further research [on this matter] is necessary. [5]

Equally significant in this regard is the fact that Lewy is either unaware or he chose to ignore completely the existence of a very extensive analysis of the validity of these documents which I undertook and which in its entirety was published in the peer reviewed official journal of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. [6] In the light of all this, Lewy’s standards of research are cast in stark relief, especially with respect to his conclusion that “most historians and scholars dismiss ‘these documents’” (p. 5). When dismissing another “pillar” mentioned above, he criticizes the Ottoman criminal justice system as having subverted the basic principles of such justice. Evidently he is unaware of the fact that the Ottoman Penal Code and the Ottoman Code of Criminal Procedure were compendiums essentially modeled after their French counterparts. The entire system is inquisitorial. The judges take the lead in getting the facts in the pre-trial investigative stage as well as in the subsequent actual trial, whereas in the Anglo-Saxon common-law system, called adversarial, lawyers develop the facts thereby consigning the judges to a neutral role. Accordingly, the pre-trial investigation and the preparation of prosecution are conducted in privacy, namely, in secrecy. Defense counsels are denied access to the resulting files and the right to accompany the accused in these pre-trial examinations. Even though in the law of evidence the principle of the “intimate,” i.e., “a deep seated conviction” was adopted in the Ottoman Code of Criminal Procedure whereby the judge freely accords credence to the best of his conscience, for proof of guilt, however, he depends on concrete evidence, as well as defense’s counter-arguments. The composite ingredients of such evidence involve confession, witness testimony, the writings and records of officials, evidence secured through discovery, judicial notice, searches and seizures, and expert testimony (Articles 232 and 233). In all the trial series by and large those conditions obtained, especially with respect to massive testimony provided by dozens of Turkish and Muslim witnesses. [7] Furthermore, contrary to Lewy’s declaration that its text, along with the text of other proceedings, is “not preserved in any source” (p. 3), the fact is that the text of General Vehib’s deposition was not only read into the record in its entirety at the second sitting of the Trabzon trial series (March 19, 1919), but that entire text was published also in several newspapers of the period. [8]

Lewy further complains that the indictment “is not proof of guilt” (p. 3), whereas in the present case it legally served as a major source of evidence-in-chief, unlike in the case of all the other subsidiary indictments. Articles 130, 214 and especially 222, section, 1 and 2, of the Ottoman Criminal Code of Procedures spell out this function of the indictment. [9] The forty two pieces of authenticated documents attached to the key indictment comprised twelve cipher telegrams, three memos, two “communications,” ten signed (and three unsigned) statements obtained by the prosecution in the course of pre-trial interrogations, three depositions, two letters, and “several” other documents relative to the role of the “Special Organization.”

Lewy’s references to three Western High Commissioners, serving in Istanbul following its occupation by the victorious Allies in 1919, as supporting material for his thesis are such as to beg the question. It may be true for example, that U.S. High Commissioner Lewis Heck was critical of some of the procedural aspects of the trials in question. But it is also true that on several occasions he unequivocally recognized and denounced “the great crime” as when he declared, “The great majority of the Turkish officials in the interior either actively participated in, or at least condoned the massacres of the Armenians.” On another occasion he reinforced his view by stating that “…the vast majority of the Turkish race heartily approved” of these massacres. [10] As to the other two, in this case, British High Commissioners, viz., Vice Admiral Sir S.A. Gough Calthorpe and Admiral Sir J. de Robeck, their disapproval and derogation of these trials was, as I have in detail explained elsewhere, [11] primarily derived from their belief that in prosecuting the authors of the massacres the Military Tribunal was lax and inept, and hence the trials were “a farce” and “a failure,” to the detriment of the Armenians, the victims. Nor was Malta, a mere temporary detention center, in any way intended to serve as a venue for any kind of “trials” (p. 3).

Apparently determined to by all means discredit and invalidate the findings of this Tribunal, Lewy proceeds to dispute the method of authenticating the official documents used in the trials -- in complete disregard of the fact that almost all of these officials of the Interior Ministry in charge of verifying these documents were holdovers of the defunct and banished Young Turk Ittihadist Party, i.e., the CUP. In other words the residual partisans of the organization, whose top leaders were being prosecuted for a capital crime, are being accused of assisting the prosecution by way of accommodative dishonesty-because, as Lewy puts it, they are “period officials” (p. 3). What is the definition of the term “stretching an argument”?

Lewy rightly deplores “the loss of all their [i.e., the military courts’] documentation” (p. 3). The fact, however, that this loss remarkably coincides with the seizure of Istanbul by the Kemalist forces in 1922 when the huge archive of the Turkish Military Tribunal vanished without a trace, raises an abiding question:

Did the documents disappear by themselves, or having been collared and despoiled by interested parties, mainly the new masters of Turkey, they met the fate of a “loss”? [12]

His discussion of the Special Organization is no less marked by a plethora of errors and questionable assertions. They were briefly touched on in notes 1 and 2. Unfortunately, Lewy’s sources and data are wanting in some critical respects. The Turkish Military Tribunal through documents attached to the main indictment on four occasions, noted on pp. 4 and 5, of that indictment, reveals the close and very intimate links between the Special Organization and the top leaders of the Ittihad party, CUP, who are characterized as the organization’s central authority. On pp. 6 and 7, there are specific details about the wide-spread massacres the brigands of that organization have committed against the Armenians; on pp. 5, 6, and 7, there are further details as to how these perpetrators were released from the empire’s prisons and deployed in the provinces for massacre duty. Still on pp. 5 and 7, there are six specifications as to how two army commanders and the military governor of the Ottoman Capital, Istanbul, combined their resources to streamline these lethal operations of the Special Organization with the help of Dr. B. Chakir, one of the chief architects of the wartime genocide. [13] These disclosures independently and decades later are largely corroborated by the two most competent Turkish authors and authorities on the subject. [14]

Lewy’s bold contention that “there is no evidence beyond the indictment of the main trial that the Special Organization, with large number of convicts enrolled in its ranks, took the lead role in the massacres,” (p. 4) is flatly contradicted by first-hand Turkish evidence. A prominent editor and close associate of Atatürk in his memoirs reveals that when he at the start of World War I applied for reserve-officer training under a special program initiated by Dr. Nazim, another architect of the Armenian genocide, the latter ended up shocking the young volunteer when revealing that the task did involve commanding para-military units which consisted of ex-convicts, the so-called ”chettes.” Indeed Jevad, the military commander of the Ottoman capital, in the course of the second sitting of the Cabinet Ministers trial (May 4, 1919) testified that Dr. Nazim was in charge of recruiting volunteers (gönüllüs) for operations that were “non-military.” (askerlik haricinde) (T.V. 3543, p. 27). The young applicant wrote that he was repulsed by the idea of such an “army of massacrers” (Katiller Ordusu). [15] In a subsequent article in his newspaper, he went so far as to suggest that the massacres against the Armenians could well be characterized as “genocide,” using exactly this composite Latin-Greek term. [16] Another reserve officer with duties in the Department II, Intelligence, Ottoman General Headquarters, at the start of World War I, and subsequently with duties as deportation official, in a book published in the wake of that war with great compassion lamented the nightmare of the Armenian genocide. In doing so, he singled out the brigands, the “chettes” of the Special Organization who, he said “committed the greatest crimes,” (en buyuk cinayetteri) during that genocide. [17] Still another Turkish publicist and author of several volumes, referring to the same “chettes” of the Special Organization, testified that these criminal bands “directly pursued the goal of extermination” by attacking and destroying countless Armenian deportation convoys. [18] In another book he stated that these deportations “…meant the extermination of the Armenian minority in Turkey.” [19]

Furthermore, it is inaccurate to say that “the Ottoman government released convicts…in order to increase its manpower pool for military service” (p. 4). Available evidence points to a different direction. The most striking testimony contradicting this assertion is provided by Colonel Behic Erkin, the chief of the department for procurement of supplies (Ikmal Subesi) in the Ottoman War Office. In his testimony before the Ottoman Parliament during the war he declared: “The majority of the convicts is not being sent directly to the frontlines but rather to the Special Organization thereby [affording them a chance] to render patriotic services.” [20] As to his argument that there is no evidence that these Special Organization brigands “took the lead role in the massacres” (p. 4), here is a documented evidence ascertained by the Turkish Military Tribunal -- beyond the confines of the Indictment. Harput (Mamuretul Aziz) Verdict “In his capacity as a member of the Central Committee of Ittihad party (CUP), and as Chief of the Special Organization, Dr. Chakir personally oversaw the release of the convicts from the prisons of the empire’s capital, and of Trabzon and the Erzurum provinces. The criminals were subsequently organized into brigand units during the Armenian deportations. These “chettes” then proceeded to engage in killing operations under his leadership” (Takvimi Vekayi, [thereafter T.V.] no.3771, p. 1). A similar condemnation with respect to the murderous role of the same organization is recorded in the Responsible Secretaries Verdict (T. V. no.3772, p. 3).

Even the top leaders of the S.O. did reluctantly admit during their trials the fact of the engagement of those ex-convicts and their cohorts in the operations of “Armenian deportations.” What is so remarkable about this development is that these admissions were made following the abrupt production by the prosecution of documents mostly cipher telegrams, bearing their signatures. The surprised and startled defendants, who until this uniformly [21] and persistently had been denying the involvement of the S.O. in these deportations, reversed themselves and confessed. These defendants also revealed in the course of these trials, and for the first time that the S.O. had two divisions and missions for the purpose of combating external but also internal enemies (T.V. no.3549, pp. 59-60). At the next, i.e., the fifth sitting, S.O. leader Yusuf Riza finally conceded that indeed there were two S.O.s, the second of which was involved, he said, in Armenian “deportations” (tehcir) (T.V. no.3553, p. 88). Of all these S.O. leaders, Atif Kamcil was the one who was most aghast when being forced to face the set of these surprise cipher telegrams. As a result, in two different sittings, the 5th (p. 86) and the 6th (T.V. 3557, p. 103), especially in the latter, he went so far as to admit that he sought and obstained the help of CUP’s Secretary General for the enlistment of CUP’s provincial party cells in the engagement of S.O. cadres and operations. Atif, after indicating that the terms chette (brigand) and “volunteer” (gönüllü) were more often than not coterminous and hence interchangeable, further admitted that Talaat’s Interior Ministry was involved not only in recruiting and deploying the S.O. convict-brigands, but assisted in the enactment of the law allowing their release from the prisons. (T.V. 3557, p. 104).

Three noted Turkish specialists of the S.O. explicitly declare that the Central Committee of CUP served as both the brain and the actively involved organizer of the S.O. [22] Moreover another student of CUP concluded that the S.O. was the creation of CUP’s Central Committee and that while Interior Ministry Talaat chose the operational commanders of the S.O. units, the Central Committee itself specified its modus operandi. [23] Reference may also be made to the biographer of Talaat who referred to the latter’s penchant for illegal undertakings by way of “nurturing and exploring CUP’s secret designs though the creation of a separate organization.” [24]

Lewy evidently failed to understand all these sinister and criminal missions of the S.O., all recorded in Ottoman and modern Turkish, because of the failure to understand the underlying and hence more consequential mission motivating the top leaders of the S.O. The nature of that mission was exposed by a Turkish author investigating it. He wrote “The Special Organization and trustworthy Ittihadists (i.e., CUP), pursued the goal of radically solving (temelden cözülmesi) the Armenian question…they [in fact] organized and carried out the deportations on a large scale and systematically. Dr. B. Chakir championed this policy at the councils of the CUP’s Central Committee.” [25] In fact the same reference to radical, i.e., “final solution” is found in Interior Minister Talaat’s petition to the Ottoman wartime Cabinet when he went through the formalities of seeking authorization for the deportation of the Armenians. The critical import of this formula of radical solution is evinced by the fact that in practically all Turkish works, including that of Y. H. Bayur, the dean of Turkish historians, citing this document, the passage referring to this formula is carefully excised-except in one. [26] Perhaps the most devastating rebuttal of this assertion that the S.O.’s main mission was “covert operations behind Russian lines” (p. 4), which Lewy makes by relying on two American authors, [27] is offered by two most authoritative sources. One of them Arif Cemil (Denker), an insider who singularly chronicled the minute details of these operations on the Caucasus front, stated that “the activities relative to reconnaissance and brigandage (istihbarat ve cetecilik) imputed to S.O. were a cover for the pursuit of such “lofty ideals as the Islamic Union and Turkism.” An almost identical statement is presented by Esref Kuscubasi, whom Lewy identifies as “the leading Special Organization official” (p. 4). Speaking of “the basic objective” (temel gayesi) of the S.O., he disdainfully dismisses “the belief and the supposition that the S.O.’s mission consisted in securing unadulterated information, reconnaissance, and in triggering uprisings and incidents in enemy countries….” He goes on to say that objective in reality consists in “enabling Islam, which we embody as the essence of our moral order, to become an effective force in our foreign policy.” [28] When elaborating on the threat, which these S.O. leaders claim the non-Muslim minorities of the Empire, especially the Greeks on the Aegean coastline, were purportedly posing, this S.O. chief proceeds to offer the following confirmation of the existence of a secret decision to eliminate these minorities.
The S.O., operating outside the sphere of the government but through the agencies of the War Ministry and the CUP’s Cental Committee, primarily became concerned, as a result of a series of secret meetings at the War ministry, about the goal of liquidating (tasfiyesi) the non-Turkish masses of populations which were located in strategic areas and were under foreign and negative influences. [29]

In categorically declaring that this very same S.O. chieftain, Esref Kuscubasi, was in no way involved in the Armenian massacres and, as he puts it, “closer inspection reveals Esref made no such admission” regarding involvement (p. 4), Lewy, inadvertently perhaps, is exposing the stark possibility of his lack any knowledge of Turkish. If so, was he abused or misled by interlopers or any other kind of outside help? The fact is that “closer inspection,” on the contrary, reveals exactly that and then through Esref’s own words as recorded by his biographer, Cemal Kutay, and subsequently verified in writing by him, Kuscubasi. Indeed, in vehemently reacting to wartime Grand-Vizier Said Halim’s assassination by an Armenian avenger in Rome 1921, Kuscubasi voluntarily inculpated himself while exculpating the Grand Vizier. The latter had emphatically denounced “The Armenian massacres” twice in his testimony before the Fifth Committee of the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies investigating the wartime Armenian “deportations and massacres,” and in the same vein had decried the sinister role of the Interior Minister Talaat. [30] The admission by Kuscubasi in question reads:

The assassination of this martyr as a guilty party is a crime and an injustice without example. I categorically reject this accusation in my capacity as a person who performed secret duties in the events [i.e., the Armenian deportations and massacres] that transpired in this respect. [31]

Moreover, he also confirms that the S.O. performed tasks that went beyond “intelligence gathering” and involved the resort to secret operations that served to effectively deal with those non-Turkish elements who were suspect in terms of their fidelity and attachments to the central authorities. “It is certain that these truly secret operations were kept secret even from Cabinet Ministers. They were operations that the regular organs of the government and even security organs could absolutely not handle.” In the same vein he castigated these targeted victim populations as “separatist microbes.” [32]

In the light of all this, Lewy’s apologia that not the Special Organization but “more likely the perpetrators were Kurdish tribesmen and corrupt policemen out for booty” (p. 5), speaks volumes about the level of seriousness with which he evidently has approached this gruesome event in modern history that two prominent eyewitnesses in so many words denounced as genocide. U.S. American Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, on duty in Turkey during the genocide, for example, called it “The Murder of a Nation,” [33] and the German-Jewish Zionist leader, Richard Lichtheim, who throughout the stages of that genocide was also on duty in Turkey. He compared “this act of liquidation” of “a people, the majority of whom were peaceful and diligent peasants,” with “the first phase of Hitler’s campaign of extermination against the Jews…. Organized by Interior Minister Talaat, it was the result of a deliberate, cold-blooded policy of mass murder, claiming over one million victims.” [34]


1. Altay Yigit. Dogu Karadeniz Muharebeleri (The Battles in Eastern Black Sea Regions). v.1, Trabzon: Istikbal Publishing House, 1950, pp. 80-85. For the brigand activities of the Special Organization see the analysis of the late dean of Turkish political scientists and his reference to the brigands, i.e., “chettes”and “the convicts” (hapishanede bulunan mahkümlar). Tarik Zafer Tunaya, Türkiyede Siyasal Partiler v.III, Ittihat ve Terakki (Political Parties in Turkey. Union and Progress) Istanbul: Hürriyet, 1989, pp. 285-6.

2. Austrian State Archives (HHStA), PAI 942, Krieg 21a Türkei . Zl.79/ pol, November 8, 1914; 83/ pol, December 12, 1914; PA21, XL 272, no.56, February 2, 1915. For more details on the activities Stange’s Detachment see Wolfdieter Bihl, Die Kaukasus- Politik der Mittelmächte. Part I. Vienna: 4 Bohlaus, 1975, p. 351, n-24.

3. German Foreign Ministry Archives, Botschaft Konstantinopel (thereafter Vo’kon) 170, J. no.3841, August 23, 1915.

4. The following list is but expository in this regard. Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian Holocaust (A Bibliography Relating to Deportations, Massacres, and Dispersion of the Armenian People. (1915-1923) Cambridge: HeritagePress, 1980; Vahakn N. Dadrian, Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in Turkish Sources in Genocide; A Critical Bibliographic Review, v.2, Israel Charny ed., London: Mansell, 1991, pp. 86-138; ibid., Documentation of the Armenian Genocide in German and Austrian Sources in The Widening Circle of Genocide. Genocide: A critical Bibliographic Review, vol.3, Israel Charny, ed., 1994, pp. 77-125. And most recently the massive compendium of official documents assembled in the national archives of Imperial Germany (During World War I), then the political and military ally of the Ottoman Empire, whose civilian and military representatives, deployed in wartime Turkey, besieged Berlin with an unending stream of official reports on the ongoing Armenian genocide. DerVolkermond an den Armeniern 1915/16. (Dokumente aus dem politischen Archiv des deutschen Auswartigen Amts), Wolfgang Gust, ed. Hamburg: zu Klampen, 2005, pp. 675.

5. Hilmar Kaiser, “The Baghdad Railway and the Armenian genocide, 1915-1916.” In Remembrance and Denial. The Case of the Armenian Genocide, Richard G. Hovannisian, ed. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999, p. 108, n. 78.

6. Vahakn N. Dadrian, “The Naim- Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of a Genocide, “International Journal of Middle East Studies” v.18, no.3 (August 1986): 311-360.

7. In the Yozgat trial series, of the twelve witnesses five were Turks, including a parliamentarian, one lieut-governor, three colonels and one customs inspector. In those of Trabzon, of the thirty eight, twenty nine were Turks including one ex-governor-general, one Appellate Court judge, one judicial inspector, one police chief, one customs inspector, three MD’s, three colonels, one major, two captains, and two lieutenants. In addition, there were introduced as evidence two lengthy depositions from two army commanders. Moreover, some dozen other Turkish witnesses testified in the Harput trial series (Takvimi Vekayi [hereafter T.V.] no.3771, pp. 1-2), Bayburt (T.V. 3618, pp. 6-7), and Responsible Secretaries (T.V. no.3772. pp. 1-2).

8. These publications were Vakit, March 31, 1919; Le Courrier de Turquie, April 1 and 2, 1919 issues (this was the official organ of the patriotic Turkish Association for the Defense of the Fatherland (Müdafai Vatan). The same text is available also in Hayat Tarih Mecmuasi, v.11, no.3, (November 1981): 53.

9. George Young, Corps de Droit Ottoman, v. VII. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905, pp. 248, 259, 260, 261, 262.

10. See Vahakn N. Dadrian “The Specifics of the Documents Lodged with the Key Indictment” in The Armenian Genocide in Official Turkish Records. Collected Essays by Vahakn N. Dadrian, in Journal of Political and Military Sociology (Special edition), v.22, no.1 (Summer 1994):165-171.

11. U.S. National Archives, For the first report of January 9, 1919 see R.G. 256, 867.4016/2, pp. 2 and 3; for the second quotation report to Washington see R.G. 256, 867.00/59, p. 3, January 20, 1919.

12. Vahakn N. Dadrian, “The Armenian Genocide: an interpretation” in America and the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Jay Winter ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 54-56.

13. Dadrian, The Specifics of the Documents [no.10], pp.156-57, 161-62.

14. Galip Vardar, Ittihad ve Terakki Icinde Dönenler (The Inside Story of Ittihard ve Terakki [CUP] party) Istanbul: Inkilâp, 1960, pp. 313-24. The basis of this disclosure is an exchange between an S.O leader and Dr. B. Chakir in which the latter is indicating that he is in charge of the Armenian deportations and is inviting that the leader to join and benefit from the attendant spoilage and booty. Samit N. Tansu is the editor, who also edited the memoirs of the other author, Hüsameddin Ertürk, Iki Devrin Perde Arkasi (Behind the Curtain Relative
to two Eras) Istanbul: Hilmi, 1957, on p. 146 Interior Minister and party boss Talaat is identified as the instigator of Chakir’s approach to the S.O. leader mentioned above. On p. 217 once, and on pp. 325 and 327, four times he refers to “Armenian deportations and massacres” as a twin phenomenon, and identifies a captain, belonging to the S.O., as the savior of a principal genocide suspect who with the latter’s help escaped from the prison before he could be court-martialed by the Military Tribunal.

15. Falih Rifki Atay, Zeytindagi (The Olive Mountain) Istanbul: Ayyildiz, 1981, p. 36.

16. Ibid., “Pazar Konusmasi” (Sunday Talk) in Dünya December 17, 1967.

17. Ahmet Refik Altinay, Iki Komite, Iki Kital (Two Committees, Two Massacres) H. Koyukan, ed., Ankara, 1994, p. 27.

18. Ahmed Emin (Yalman), Yakin Tarihte Gördüklerim ve Gecirdiklerim (The Things I Saw and Experienced in Recent History) v.1 (1888-1918), Istanbul: Yenilik 1970, pp. 331-2.

19. IVID. Turkey in the World War New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930, pp. 217-220.

20. Meclisi Âyan Zabit Ceridesi (Transcripts of the proceedings of the Senate) v.1, 3d Period, 15th sitting, December 12, 1916, p. 187, right column. For details of this role of Colonel Behic especially his active involvement in seeking legislative approval for the release of convicts through several cipher telegrams, see T.V. 3543, especially pp. 28-29 for the one marked “secret” and dated December 25, 1914.

21. Turkish political scientist Tunaya explains how these defendants while in prison agreed among themselves to “unanimously” (oybirligi) deny any relationship between the S.O. and their political party, the CUP, and deny also any role of the party in the creation of the same S.O. Turkiyede Siyasal Partiler [n.2], p. 281. Author Yalman who shared prison life with these leaders, in his memoirs describes how they would gather in the large room of the prison for their “Cabinet Council” meetings to discuss, with the help of another inmate, Osman Interior Ministry’s Legal Counselor, defense strategy and common grounds Yakin Tarihte [n.18]. pp. 339-41.

22. Ertürk, Iki Devrin [no.14], pp. 297-98, 306; Vardar, Ittihad ve Terakki [n.14]. pp. 244-46, 274.

23. Mustafa Ragip Esatli; Ittihad ve Terakki Tarihinde Esrar Perdesi (The Curtain of Mistery in I. ve T.’s History) Istanbul: Hürriyet, 1975, p. 258.

24. Tevfik Çavdar, Talat Pasa, Ankara; Dost, pp. 190, 210.

25. Dogan Avcioglu, Milli Kurtulus Tarihi. 1838 den 1995e (The History of National Liberation. From 1838 to 1995) v.3, Istanbul: Istanbul publications, 1974, p. 1135. It should be noted that an identical revelation with details about Chakir’s trip to Istanbul from Erzurum is made by an insider. Chakir is laying down and pressing for its acceptance his respective plan during a special meeting with the members of CUP’s Central Committee. Arif Cemil, Ici Dünya Savasinda Teskilâti Mahsusa (The Special Organization in World War I) Istanbul: Arba 1997, pp. 233, especially 245-46. On pp. 73-4, the author likewise reveal’s Talaat’s order to release convicts from Trabzon.

26. Muammer Demirel, Birinci Dünya Harbinde Erzurum ve Cevresinde Ermeni Hareketleri (1914-1918) Ankara: General Staff Publication, 1996, p. 53. In converting to modern Turkish, the author substituted and thereby slightly modified the original Ottoman term “Külliyen izalesi” when using the words “solving [the Armenian Question] in some essential way” (“esasli bir sekilde cözümlenmesi”).

27. One of them, Gwynne Dyer, relied mainly on the work of Philip Stoddard to be commented upon in the next paragraph. Notwithstanding, Dyer repeatedly acknowledged the fact of the Armenian genocide in the following two articles, namely, (1) “Turkish ‘Falsifiers’ and Armenian Deceivers’: Historiography and the Armenian Massacres,” Middle Eastern Studies v.12, no.1 (January 1996). On p. 100 he speaks of “a policy of extermination” in 1915 by “the Ottoman Government;” on p. 107, he even refers to the “final solution” inflicted upon the Armenians. In an earlier piece, he likewise is emphatic about the historical reality of it by arguing that “the Armenian deportations were…. Official Turkish Government policy… used as the cover for a semi-official and ruthlessly applied policy of extermination.” Middle Eastern Studies v.3, (October 1973): p. 379. As to Stoddard, The Ottoman Government and the Arabs, 1911 to 1918: A preliminary Study of the Teskilati Mahsusa Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms, 1963, University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, there too the story is incomplete. Indeed, even though he never explicitly acknowledges the perpetration of massacres against the Armenians. Stoddard, nevertheless, acknowledges the “disdainful…activities…of ‘groups of brigands’ ” In the same vein, he refers to the seditiousness of “certain ethnic groups,” to their “separatist movements that eventually came under the purview of the Tieskilâti Mahsusa,” i.e., the Special Organization (p. 50), which was established “in part to ride herd on all separatist and nationalist groups” p. 6). On p. 157, he admits that the S.O. role consisted “in carrying out the decisions of CUP …,” and on p. 54 he identifies some of its top leaders as having been centrally involved, such as Drs. Chakir Nazim, and CUP’s Secretary General Midhat Sükrü. Even Erik Zürcher, cited by Lewy (p. 5), had, as noted earlier, to rely upon someone else’s work rather than produce his own research results when he wrote that Andonian materials “have been shown to be forgeries.” In the same work however, he wrote that “an inner circle within CUP under the direction of Talât [carried out] the extermination of the Armenians [using] relocation as a cloak.” Turkey A Modern History, London: Tauris, 1994, p. 121.

28. Cemil, Ici Dünya [n.25], p. 11

29. Quoted in Celâl Bayar, Bende Yazdim (I Too Have Written), v.5, Istanbul, Baha, p. 1573.

30. Ittihad- Terakki’nin Sorgulanmasi ve Yargilanmasi (The Interrogation and Trial of CUP). Istanbul: Temel publ. No.98. pp. 82, 84; the verification by Kuscubasi in writing of the accuracy of the material, produced by Bayar, is on p. 1572, in note no.1.

31. Cemal Kutay, Birinci Dünya Harbinde Teskilât-I Mahsusa (The Special Organization in World War I) Istanbul, 1962, n.p., p. 78.

32. Ibid. pp. 18, 44. His criticism that I resorted to “inaccurate paraphrasing” and “selective ellipses” (p. 4) are, I am afraid, just unsubstantiated, hollow declarations revealing once more his lack of knowledge of Turkish.

33. Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, NY: Doubleday, p. 301.

34. Richard Lichtheim, Rückkehr, Lebenserinnenungen aus der Frühzeit des deutschen Zionismus, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlays- Anstalt, 1970, pp. 287, 341. In an effort to further question the genocidal quality of the mass murder of the Armenians, Lewy invokes the “Nuremberg trials” and the massive documentation involved. But a whole host of Holocaust scholars, thoroughly familiar with those trials, went out of their way to recognize the Armenian genocide in an effort to contest its denial. The most recent example of it is the proclamation of the 127 Holocaust scholars who declared that “The Armenian Genocide is an Incontestable Historical Fact.” Among the signers was Nobel Laureate Elvie Wiesel, as such prominent Holocaust scholars as Yehuda Bauer, Israel Charny, Steven Katz, Irving Greenberg, Irving Horowitz, Zev Garber, and Richard Rubinstein the proclamation appeared in the June 9, 2000 issue of the New York Times. Equally important, the chief assistant to U.S. Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg was Robert Kempner, a German Jew. He was the one who discovered in German Foreign Ministry files the original copy No.10 of the notorious Wannsee Protocol that encapsulated the Final Solution. On numerous occasions especially in a law journal article, he emphatically asserted the fact of the Armenian genocide. He stated, among others, “For the first time in legal history, it was recognized that other countries could legitimately combat… genocide without committing unauthorized intervention in the internal affairs of another country.” He was referring to the public declaration on May 24, 1915 of the three Allies, Great Britain, France, and Russia, that “These new crimes of Turkey against the Armenians constitute crimes against humanity for which Turkish officials will be held responsible for these massacres.” Specifically he was referring to “1.4 million Christian Armenians who by order of the Turkish government were subjected to the first genocide of this century.” “Der Völkermord an den Armeniern” in Recht und Polotik, v.3 (1980): 167, 168. Kempner, upon arrival in America, became professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Two other Holocaust scholars reacted even more pungently to the denials mounted against the recognition of the Armenian genocide. Noted author Deborah Lipstadt wrote: “Denial of genocide whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Rather, the deniers saw confusion by appearing to be engaged in a genuine scholarly effort….The deniers aim at convincing third parties that there is ‘another side of the story….” Lipstadt letter to Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Relations, House of Representatives. 106th Congress, 2nd session, September 2, 2000. Under consideration was HR 398, a Resolution Commemorating the Armenian Genocide. Conceivably these intercessions by so many Holocaust scholars on behalf of the victims of the Armenian genocide have, in addition to a pathos for truth, elements of identification and projection. That sentiment was cogently and concisely articulated by Holocaust scholar Katherine Bischoping when she wrote: “The future of Holocaust denial may be foreshadowed by the persistent denial of the Armenian genocide.” “Method and Meaning in holocaust-knowledge Surveys.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies v.12, n.3 (Winter 1998): 463.

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