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Ottoman Archival Documents

ŞİNASİ OREL*
The Talat Pasha Telegrams
 

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OTTOMAN ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTS

IN this chapter, through the publication of a series of genuine Ottoman archival documents, we will once again demonstrate the absurdity of the fables woven by Andonian, on the basis of his forged ‘documents’. To help the reader we have published these genuine archival documents under the same seven chapter headings utilized by Andonian in the French edition of his work, and followed by us in the analysis of his forgeries which we provided in the preceding chapter.

In the following pages we shall discuss a total of seventy-one genuine Ottoman archival documents, for each of which we have provided either a complete or summary English translation. Photographs of these seventy-one documents are published in Appendix II. To assist the reader in locating the Ottoman Turkish originals in the Appendix we have added numbers to each of these documents.


1. The so-called ‘premeditation’

As previously discussed, the thesis of Andonian’s chapter entitled ‘The Premeditation’ was that the ‘Armenian massacres’ were preplanned by the Ottoman Government. Further, he alleged that as a pretext for the ‘massacres’ the Ottoman authorities claimed that the Armenians were planning a general insurrection, a fact which he denied. In order to explain his assertion of ‘premeditation’, Andonian advanced the idea that the Committee of Union and Progress and the Ottoman Government both viewed the State’s Armenian population as the Turkish nation’s chief enemy, one to whom they ascribed every possible evil.

Whereas, in fact, at no period of Ottoman history had the Ottoman Government ever viewed its Armenian citizens as the ‘chief enemy’, nor had it ever been given any reason to think of them as such. Prior to the incidents which led to the decision to relocate a portion of the Empire’s Armenians in 1915, Ottoman Armenians had been treated in the same manner as any other citizens. The same regulations which governed the lives of all Ottoman citizens likewise affected the Armenians. Ottoman Armenians were employed in all branches of the administration, and at all levels, including that of Minister. As these are well-known facts of history, it is not necessary to elaborate on them here. However, we deem it useful to remind the reader that the Ottoman Government had, on more than one occasion, seen fit to entrust its Foreign Affairs and State Treasury into the hands of members of a community whom Andonian would have us believe it viewed as its ‘chief enemy’.

But, let the documents speak for themselves.


(a) Armenian schools, churches and cemeteries

We may trace the manner in which the Ottoman Government treated its Armenian citizens, prior to the 1915 decision of relocation, by examining a series of genuine archival documents relating to the administration of a variety of Armenian institutions, such as their schools, churches, and cemeteries:

Authentic Document No. I

Imperial Rescript, 660
24 April 1330 [7 May 1914]

The Council of State has decreed that the land upon which an Armenian school was built, which is among a number of such churches, schools, and other institutions in the Province of Ayd?n, which were constructed without official licences, be granted an official licence by complying with Article 129 of the General Education Regulation and with the regulations of the annual official appropriation. This Armenian school, which is among the real estate in the town of Menemen, is built on a piece of land 460 metres in width. The school building is 9.75 metres long, 6.75 metres wide, and 6.5 metres high. Its walls are constructed of stone and its roof of timber. Its classroom section has six windows and one door. Beneath the classroom is a section reserved for the teachers, which has five windows and two doors.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, Finance and Education are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial rescript.[1]

Authentic Document No.II

Imperial Rescript, 681
27 April 1330 [10 May 1914]

An official licence has been granted by the decision of the Council of State, for the construction of a stone church belonging to the Armenian congregation. This church will be built on the hill in the middle of the field which is 50 dönüm [1 dönüm = 1,000 sq. meters] wide, on the land donated by Keshishian Küçük Artin Kahya, in the place called Gedigi, in the village of Hasanbeyli, which is located in the township of Bahçe in the Sanjak of Cebelibereket. This church will be 35.35 metres in length, 17 metres in width, and 8 metres in height; over the main door there will be an arch supported by poles, and on top of this will be a place reserved for women. This will be 5 metres long, 17 metres wide, and 4 metres high. There will be two rooms, one on each side of the sanctuary, each being 6 metres long and 5 metres wide. Each will have windows and two doors, one of which will have access to the church and the other to the outside.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, and Finance are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[2]
 
Authentic Document No. III

Imperial Rescript, 851
22 May 1330 [4 June 1914]

The location of the priest’s residence has been ratified by a decision of the Council of State, which supersedes the High Order decreed on Recep 25, 305 [Recep is the 7th month of the Islamic calendar] which dealt with the enlarging of the construction of the Armenian school in Trabzon; and in compliance with the regulations of Article 129 of the General Education Regulation. The priest’s residence was constructed op the piece of land which is 556 ar??n [1 ar??n = 0.68 meters] square, and which is valued at 30,000 Kuru? [the 100th part of an Ottoman Lira]. It is part of the land which is used as an Armenian girls’ school in Trabzon. It is 19.5 metres in length, 11.70 metres in width, and 12.30 metres in height.
It includes a detached classroom which is 13.10 metres in length, 6.90 metres in width and height, plus another necessary annexe which is 7.60 metres in length, 2.5 metres in width, and 13 metres in height.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, Finance and Education are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[3]

Authentic Document No. IV

Imperial Rescript, 1232
1 July 1330 [14 July 1914]

By its decision the Council of State has granted a licence for the construction of a school for the Armenian children, in compliance with Article 129 of the General Education Regulation. This school will be constructed near the church which is located in the Armenian quarter in the town of Refahiye, in the Province of Erzurum. It will be built on a piece of land (280 ar??n in size), which was donated by Vahan the son of Tuncu, which is part of his property which is 2,400 ar??n in size, and which is valued at 2,500 Kuru?. This school will be 16 ar??n in length, 13 ar??n in width, and 9 ar??n in height. It will have 6 doors, 33 windows, 4 classrooms and 2 halls.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, Finance and Education are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[4]

Authentic Document No. V

Imperial Rescript, 2190
9 November 1330 [22 November 1914]

By its decision the Council of State has ratified the establishment of a cemetery for the Armenian congregation in an orchard of one and a quarter dönüm in width, which is a quarter of an hour’s distance from the centre of the town of K?n?k in the district of Bergama.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, and Finance are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[5]
 
Authentic Document No. VI

Imperial Rescript, 2354
1 December 1330 [14 December 1914]

Permission has been granted for the construction of a new church belonging to the Armenian congregation. This church will be built on a piece of land belonging to Sahak Efendi, the Catholicos of Sis [Kozan], which is three and a quarter dönüm, and 80 ar?in in width; which is located in the town of Osmaniye in the Province of Adana. Its tithe [ö?ür] obligation, which must be computed in accordance with its current value, will be increased tenfold, and its land rent will be collected in compliance with its special decree. On the roof of this church will be a bell tower 3 metres in width, and 16 metres in height from the ground. It will include two side rooms, both of which will be 7.40 metres in length, and 5.60 metres in width. The entire church will be 17 metres in length, 11.80 metres in width, and 8 metres in height.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, and Finance are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[6]

Authentic Document No. VII

Imperial Rescript, 140
23 March 1331 [5 April 1915]

By its decision the Council of State has granted a licence for the construction of a church for the Armenian Protestant congregation, on a piece of land 1,800 square metres, in the town of Gemerek, in the Tenus district of the Province of Sivas. This church will be 20 metres in length, 15 metres in width, and 9 metres in height. It will include a bell tower of 17 metres in height, 2 doors, and 12 windows.

The Minister of Justice and Sects is responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[7]

As indicated by these documents, the Ottoman Government, in accordance with its normal procedures, continued throughout the pre-war period to grant permission for the building schools, cemeteries, and churches, to its Armenian citizens: the very community Andonian would have us believe it considered as its ‘chief enemy’.
 
Document No. VII, above, was issued on 5 April 1915, whereas the first of Andonian’s ‘documents’ which he claimed was written by the Committee of Union and Progress, to its Adana representative, Cemal Bey, which he cited as evidence for the ‘premeditation’, was dated 18 February 1915, if we ignore the fact that its compiler actually dated it 18 February 1331, the real Muslim equivalent of which is 2 March 1916 rather than 1915! Were Andonian’s ‘document’ authentic, this would mean that the permission granting the Armenians of Gemerek the right to build a church, was actuafry given after the so-called ‘decision to massacre’ this segment of the Ottoman population had already been taken. This further demonstrates the hollowness of Andonian’s claims.


(b) Armenian officials in the Administration

After the date on which Andonian alleges the Ottoman Government took its decision to ‘massacre’ its Armenian citizens, numerous members of this community still continued to function as Ottoman officials. The following two authentic documents will serve to illustrate this fact.

Authentic Document No. VIII

From the Civil Service Inspectorship of the Province of Bitlis to the Ministry of the Interior:

26 March 1331 [8 April 1915]

This document accompanies the report of the Civil Service Inspector, Mihran Boyajian [an Armenian], on the inspection which took place on 26 March 1331 [8 April 1915], in the Commissions of War and National Defence in the town of Eruh.[8]

Authentic Document No. IX

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Sanjak of Kal’a-i Sultaniye [Çanakkale]:

This is in reply to the letter dated 16 May 1331 [29 May 1915].

There is no reason why the Kaymakam of Bayramiç, Karabet Efendi [an Armenian], should not come to Istanbul. 23 May 1331 [5 June 1915].[9]

Had there in fact been a decision to collectively ‘annihilate the Armenian population’, the reader will immediately recognize the impossibility of an Armenian official inspecting military installations in Bitlis, or of another Armenian official serving as the Kaymakam of a district after the date of such a decision.


(c) Developments leading to the relocation of the Armenians

As discussed earlier, Andonian claimed that the Turkish Government, as a pretext for and justification of its ‘massacres’, used the argument, which he rejected, that the Armenians were planning a general insurrection.

However, the planned Armenian insurrection was not a pretext, but a reality. Today, even Armenian propagandists, terrorist circles, and foreign authors who serve as Armenian apologists, frankly acknowledge this fact. We noted earlier, that Boghos Nubar Pasha, in his letter of 30 November 1918 to Pichon, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, had also confirmed this fact.

The following authentic archival documents all deal with the activities of Armenian terrorist organizations and insurrections which occurred long before the Ottoman Government decided to relocate a portion of its Armenian population.

Authentic Document No. X

Secret letter No. 725 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of War:

An [Armenian] band comprised of forty individuals, armed with forbidden automatic weapons, has robbed twenty-one travellers on their way to Mara?. By force, they stole 12,000 Kuru? from these travellers at a place one hour’s distance from Zeitun. As news of this incident was spread in an exaggerated manner, 30 soldiers from the villages in that area, fearing that their villages were to be attacked, fled from their barracks [in order to return to their homes]. This incident has had a very adverse effect on the Muslims, and it is felt that if no severe action is taken against these Zeitunites, then the Muslims will retaliate in the same way. While it was determined to dispatch the ‘mobile company’ of the sanjak to Zeitun, this force, which consists of 200 untrained soldiers, cannot be very effective. As it is quite possible to maintain security in Mara? with only the Gendarmerie, no harm will be done if the 1,160 man ‘depot battalion’, half of which is made up of seasoned soldiers, which was left there as an auxiliary force, is removed. For this reason, in his ciphered telegram of 17 August 1330 [30 August 1914], the Governor of Aleppo, in consultation with the Governor of the Sanjak of Mara?, has determined that this battalion be sent to Zeitun to punish the aggressors. The General Command of Syria and vicinity, and the Army Corps Command, have been informed of this situation. It was also requested that another force replace the troops removed from Zeitun as a result of the mobilization. The Ministry is advised to order the Army Corps Command to take all necessary precautions to ensure the security of Zeitun and its vicinity, which, owing to the latest incidents, has become even more important.

19 August 1330 [1 September 1914].

In the name of the Minister of the Interior, Undersecretary Ali Münif.[10]

Authentic Document No. XI

From the Third Army Command to the Acting Commander in Chief:

Information has been received that the Russians are arming the Russian and Ottoman Armenians, and the Greeks, in the Caucasus. These individuals are being formed into armed bands and sent to our side [of the border], for the purpose of expanding such armed organizations. Such information is continually being verifled, and the number of Armenians deserting from the army units is increasing.

I stated the measures to be implemented in response to this situation in my communique No. 347 dated 10—11 September 1330 [23—24 September 1914]. In addition, it is necessary to take severe measures against the families of such deserters or traitors. Further, that the villagers who are protecting such armed bands will be severely punished. Should such bands be found in any village they should be broken up and the news of this action should be disseminated. I take the liberty of informing you that it is necessary to take a general and deffinite decision in this regard, and not to let matters take their natural course.
 
28 September 1330 [11 October 1914] [11]

Authentic Document No. XII

Ciphered telegram No. 4073 from the Saray [Özalp] Mobile Division Commander, Kaz?m Bey, to the Third Army Command:

This [message] is of extreme importance, and should not be delayed even one moment.

The enemy [Russian forces] today attacked Deyr [Ba?kale]. They are armed with artillery and machine guns. As our forces are few in number, I believe that they will be forced to retreat in the direction of Ho?ab [Güzelsu].

According to our latest intelligence, supplied by two captured enemy spies, in the coming days there will be an insurrection in Van and its vicinity. The present situation serves to confirm this. I will proceed with a portion of the Saray detachments in the direction of Ho?ab. However, because its forces are important, a most difficult situation could arise if the insurrection spreads to the Province, and it is known that the forces which have gathered in Revandiz are not on the move.

16 November 1330 [29 November 1914].[12]

Authentic Document No. XIII

Ciphered telegram No. 131, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Van:

We have been informed by the Ministry of Posts and Telegraph that some sections of the telegraph lines between Re?adiye and Karç?kan have been destroyed. Further, that an armed confrontation occurred with the Armenians who destroyed these lines, and that this is why the damage has not been repaired.

The necessary measures to quickly repair the telegraph lines are to be taken. The individuals responsible for this damage are to be apprehended, and information with regard to the armed confrontation which is said to have occurred is to be provided.

2 December 1330 [15 December 1914].

Minister of the Interior, Talat.[13]

Authentic Document No. XIV

Ciphered telegram No. 142 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Van:

We have been informed by the Ministry of Posts and Telegraph that some Armenian villagers between Van and Bitlis have risen in armed insurrection; that they have been joined by Armenian deserters, and that they have ambushed and murdered the Kad? [Muslim religious judge] and his friend who were on the way to Geva?, and the Post Gendarmerie soldiers who were delivering the mail files from Geva? to Van. Further, that this is the reason that postal operations between Van and Bitlis have stopped.

You are to immediately communicate with the Governor of Bitlis, and to ensure that the postal operations are resumed. We are to be informed of the information pertaining to this matter which is in the office of the Governor.

15 December 1330 [28 December 1914].

Minister of the Interior, Talat.[14]

Authentic Document No. XV

Ciphered circular telegram No. 1053, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Edirne, Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Ayd?n, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Bolu, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kayseri, and Karahisar [Afyon]:

The appearance of armed bands of Armenians in Bitlis, the armed attacks by Armenians against soldiers in Aleppo and Dörtyol, and the large number of bombs seized in Kayseri (where ciphered communications in Armenian, French and Russian were also found), all demonstrate the fact that preparations are under way throughout the country for a revolutionary uprising by enemies of Turkey, the Acting Army Commander has issued special and circular communiques to the armies which provide for any and all eventuality. These orders concern the procedures to be implemented in those areas where such incidents may occur, and also the matter of those Armenian soldiers who are under arms.

You are advised to use the utmost attention in taking all necessary preventive measures in those matters affecting the civilian administration, by meeting without delay with the appropriate military officials.

15 February 1330 [28 February 1915].

Minister of the Interior, Talat.[15]

Authentic Document No. XVI

Ciphered telegram No. 689, addendum to the ciphered telegram dated 16 February 1330 [1 March 1915], sent by the Governor of Bitlis to the Ministry of the Interior:

(1) The documents which were seized in Hizan have all been translated and submitted to the Military Court. Although these documents, which were copied by hand, and which reek of hatred, are undated, they mention the Reforms [this refers to the Reforms of 8 February 1914], they are not old documents. The Dashnak Regulation, which was also reproduced by hand, is likewise undated.

The printed Balkan Dashnak Committee Regulation, which is among the documents, is dated 1910. It has been determined that the branded mare which was found in Hizan belongs to Ishkan, a Dashnak leader. The presence of this mare indicates that some individuals had arrived from Van on a special mission, either prior to, or during, the incident. 38 individuals whose names have been determined from the villages of Iririn [today: Da?önü in Van] and Karç?kan, together with the Dashnak militant Lato and his men, have arrived in Hizan and participated in the confrontation.

(2) We have sent detachments to three well-fortifled monasteries, which completely dominate the valley of Mu?.

(3) The knowledge that the influence of the Government is much more powerful than that of the [Dashnak] Committee has been adequately instilled in the [Armenian] villagers. The armed bands who escaped from the Arak Monastery were not accepted by the villagers in the valley, with whom they sought shelter. We have been informed that the Armenian villages in the mountains have sent messages that they, too, will not provide shelter. However, this information has not yet been confirmed.
 
(4) As long as we hold the monasteries with our strong detachments, we are in a position to suppress even the smallest incident which may occur in the valley, or to thwart any attack on the supply lines. Thus, our lines of supply will be protected.

(5) One detachment of troops has been sent to protect each of the bridges over the Karasu and Murat rivers.

(6) The fact that not a single Armenian who refrained from taking up arms against the Government has lost either life or property, has had a very good effect. In both Mu? and Bitlis, prominent Armenians who are not Dashnaks are openly condemning the incident.

(7) According to the information I have received from Mu?, while none of the major Dashnak leaders were present, Papazian (the Member of Parliament from Van and one of the leaders of the Armenian terrorist organization), is claiming that the incidents in the villages of Kömüs[Çanakdüzü in Re?adiye] and Sironik [K?rköy in Mu?] were caused by the treachery of civilians and deserters, while the incident in the monastery arose from the fact that the military detachment suddenly attacked the military deserters who were hiding there, and that these deserters rather naively tried to defend themselves. He further claims that he had nothing to do with any of these incidents.

(8) The investigation with regard to the tracks and numbers of the [Armenian] armed bands is continuing.

21 February 1330 [6 March 1915]

Governor of Bitlis, Mustafa.[16]

Authentic Document No. XVII

The ciphered telegram No. 885 which arrived from General Bronsart [a German commander in the Ottoman army], in the name of the Acting Commander-in-Chief:

As we have been informed that a small gendarmerie detachment was attacked by an armed Armenian band of 30 men between Mara? and Zeitun, an incident resulting in the death of 6 soldiers, and further, that the new recruits who were on their way to Zeitun, accompanied by 2 gendarmes, have been imprisoned in a church by the [Armenian] inhabitants of Zeitun, we have taken measures to severely punish the aggressors.

It is ordered that all military detachments which will pass through areas inhabited by Armenians are to be formed in strength.

5 March 1331 [18 March 1915].[17]

Authentic Document No. XVIII

Ciphered telegram from the Governor of Sivas to the Ministry of the Interior:

The weapons which were seized as a result of the investigation and searches in the village of Pörk totalled 150 in number, and consisted of Mausers, Gras, Martins and Schneiders. 95 deserters have been arrested. 16 Armenian villages in the region of [?ebin] Karahisar and Su?ehri have been chosen as revolutionary zones under the control and administration of the Dashnaktzutiun Organization. In each of these areas, three military commanders have been appointed from among the prominent Armenians. It has been determined that the role of each area will be to join with similar groups from the other Armenian villages of the Province, should our army fail, God forbid, to halt the Russians. Then they will threaten our army from the rear and facilitate the enemy’s offensive by joining their [the Russian] army. 25 individuals belonging to this organization have been arrested, and their interrogation continues.

As there are no instructions informing us how to react in the face of operations and aggressions by the Armenians, which occur from time to time, we are forced to react in accordance with the locality and nature of the individual incidents. For this reason, if there is any decision taken by the Ministry in this respect, please inform us also.

7—8 March 1331 [20—1 March 1915].

Governor Muammer.[18]

Authentic Document No. XIX

Ciphered telegram from the Governor of Sivas to the Ministry of the Interior:

We have previously notified you with regard to the number of weapons confiscated in the village of Pörk.

As we have received information that there are also weapons stored in other villages in the vicinity of the aforementioned village, investigations are being carried out in these villages as well. The [Armenian] Bishop of [?ebin] Karahisar, and some other Armenians, have requested that these investigations and searches be stopped. It seems likely that they will also apply to the Ministry and other authorities in this regard.

We would like to inform you that the investigations are continuing; meanwhile, some Armenians have been arrested in. connection with this incident, and the Provincial Justice Inspector has been sent there to ensure the prosecution takes place in a legal manner.

15 March 1331 [28 March 1915].
Governor Muammer.[19]

Authentic Document No. XX

Ciphered telegram No. 3108, from the Fourth Army Command [in Kudüs (Jerusalem)] to the Acting Commander-in-Chief:

This is in reply to the ciphered telegram No. 5443/194, dated 26 March 1331 [8 April 1915].

(1) The [Armenian] Patriarch’s version of the incident bears little relation to reality.

(2) The [Armenian] armed bands attacked with weapons a gendarmerie detachment which was transporting ammunition to Zeitun.

(3) Since the beginning of this incident, all of my efforts have been aimed at not inflicting the slightest harm on the local population, and to ensure that the local Muslim population does not retaliate in any manner against the armed. bands. I have succeeded in this aim. The Patriarch cannot prove the contrary.

(4) It is possible that no charges will be brought against those individuals who were not actively involved in the confrontations, nor those who did not actually incite others to rebellion, nor those who turned in their arms and surrendered voluntarily. However, I would not advise that this be broadcast as a promise at this time. It is necessary that those individuals who surrender voluntarily, and that those among the population whose remaining in Zeitun and Mara? could be harmful, be sent to Konya. Alternatively, I will be forced to maintain large numbers of troops here, in order to maintain security, should the enemy approach.

(5) It is deffinitely not appropriate that the Patriarchate interfere in the Zeitun incident, even by giving advice.

27 March 1331 [9 April 1915].

Commander of the Fourth Army, Cemal.[20]

Authentic Document No. XXI

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Van:

(1) What is the most recent situation in your city? Which quarters of the city are controlled by the Armenians?

(2) What are the numbers of the losses and casualties suffered by the soldiers and the local Muslim population in those areas attacked by the Armenians?

(3) What is the number of Government buildings and offices, together with personal houses, which have been burnt and destroyed? Which Government buildings? What is the scope of the damage and destruction?

(4) How many of the leaders of the armed bands, and other individuals known to the office of the Governor, have died? How many Armenians have died until today in the city and throughout the surrounding areas?

(5) How many people have actively participated in the rebellion? From what region have they obtained most of their forces and weapons?

(6) Since the outset of this incident how much force has been used to retaliate, and in defence? To what extent were the Muslim inhabitants of the city and of the surrounding areas useful?

(7) Has it been possible to obtain any document relating to the situation and apparatus of the [Armenian] Committee?

(8) Have any members of the Committee been arrested? Are the forces at your disposal sufficient to bring about their total destruction? What manner of assistance are you receiving from the army? Do you need additional forces?

Supply detailed information promptly in reply, to enable. the necessary decisions to be made by the Commander-in-Chief. 20 April 1331 [3 May 1915].

Minister of the Interior.[21]

As this survey of archival documents indicates, the Armenian Committees and armed bands were actively rebelling in many parts of Central, Eastern, and South-eastern Anatolia. They were joined in their efforts by large numbers of Armenian deserters from the Ottoman armies. Many of the Armenian population centres were co-operating with the terrorists, and/or providing them with shelter.

The first two documents presented above (Nos. X and XI) clearly demonstrate that the activities of the Armenian terrorist groups began even prior to the entry of the Ottoman State into the First World War. These Armenian rebellions became widespread when the Ottoman armies were engaged with Entente troops on several different fronts, and the enemy navies were attempting to force the Dardanelles in the direction of the capital, Istanbul. In particular, the Armenian rebellions facilitated the advance of the Russian forces on the Eastern front, and destroyed the Ottoman armies’ security behind the lines. In short, the Empire was faced with great dangers, originating both from within and without the country.

Faced with such a situation, the Ottoman Government initially applied to the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, and to other prominent Armenian leaders, requesting that they use their influence with the Armenian population. As no heed was paid to these requests, the Government decided, first, to close down the Armenian revolutionary organizations, and then to relocate that portion of its Armenian population who resided in the actual war zones, or in regions threatened by war.

Almost certainly, the decisive factor in this decision was the Van rebellion, and the fact that, as a result, this key Eastern Anatolian city came under Armenian control.

As our intention is to let the authentic archival documents tell this story, we shall not discuss this matter further, and will, instead, return to the documents.


(d) The closing down of the Armenian revolutionary committees

The initial response of the Ottoman Government to this series of Armenian rebellions was the closing down of the Armenian revolutionary committees, the activities of which had hitherto been winked at. Although they had been founded outside the borders of the Ottoman Empire, the Dashnak and Hinchak Committees had long directed their revolutionary activities against it. They both advocated the use of terror as a means of achieving their objectives and even went so far as to include it in their party programmes. As this subject has been dealt with in great detail by Armenian authors, including Louise Nalbandian in her book entitled The Armenian Revolutionary Movement (Berkeley, 1963), it is not necessary to elaborate on it here.

The Government, along with its decision to close down the Armenian revolutionary committees, also decided to confiscate their documents, and to arrest their leaders, as well as other Armenians whose detrimental activities were well known to the authorities. Those individuals who the authorities felt it would be dangerous to leave in their own communities were gathered together in appropriate places, and those who were arrested were turned over to the military courts. These decisions were followed by the orders for relocation.
 
We can trace the development of these events through a series of archival documents.

Authentic Document No. XXII

Ciphered circular telegram sent by the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Edirne, Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Ayd?n, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; and also to the governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Bolu, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kayseri, Ni?de, Eski?ehir, Karahisar?sahib [Afyon], and Mara?:

Once again, especially at a time when the state is engaged in war, the most recent rebellions which have occurred in Zeitun, Bitlis, Sivas and Van have demonstrated the continuing attempts of the Armenian committees to obtain, through their revolutionary and political organizations, an independent administration for themselves in Ottoman territory. These rebellions and the decision of the Dashnak Committee, after the outbreak of war, immediately to incite the Armenians in Russia against us, and to have the Armenians in the Ottoman state rebel with all their force when the Ottoman army was at its weakest, are all acts of treason which would affect the life and future of the country.

It has been demonstrated once again that the activities of these committees, whose headquarters are in foreign countries, and who maintain, even in their names, their revolutionary attributes, are determined to gain autonomy by using every possible pretext and means against the Government. This has been established by the bombs which were found in Kayseri, Sivas and other regions, also by the actions of the Armenian committee leaders who have participated in the Russian attack on the country, by forming volunteer regiments comprised of Ottoman Armenians in the Russian army, and through their publications and operations aimed at threatening the Ottoman army from the rear.

Naturally, as the Ottoman Government will never condone the continuation of such operations and attempts, which constitute a matter of life and death for itself, nor will it legalize the existence of these committees which are the source of malice, it has felt the necessity to promptly close down all such political organizations.

You are therefore ordered to close down immediately all branches, within your province, of the Hinchak, Dashnak, and similar committees; to confiscate the files and documents found in their branch headquarters, and ensure that they are neither lost nor destroyed; to immediately arrest all the leaders and prominent members of the committees, together with such other Armenians as are known by the Government to be dangerous; further, to gather up those Armenians whose presence in one area is considered to be inappropriate, and to transfer them to other parts of the province or sanjak, so as not to give them the opportunity to engage in harmful acts; to begin the process of searching for hidden weapons; and to maintain all contacts with the [military] commanders in order to be prepared to meet any possible counter-actions. As it has been determined in a meeting with the Acting Commander-in-Chief that all individuals arrested on the basis of files and documents which come into our possession in the course of the proper execution of these orders are to be turned over to the military courts, the above-mentioned steps are to be implemented immediately. We are to be informed subsequently as to the number of people arrested, and with regard to the implementation of these orders.

For Bitlis, Erzurum, Sivas, Adana, Mara? and Aleppo: as this operation is only intended to affect the operation of the committees, you are strongly ordered not to implement it in such a manner as will cause mutual killings on the part of the Muslim and Armenian elements of the population.

11 April 1331 [24 April 1915].

Minister of the Interior.[22]

Authentic Document No. XXIII

Communique No. 1711 from the Acting Commander-in-Chief to the Ministry of War:

As the Government has determined that all branches of the Hinchak, Dashnak, and similar committees, in Istanbul and throughout the provinces, are to be immediately closed down; all the files and documents of these organizations are to be confiscated in a manner which ensures that none of them will be lost; those individuals known by the Government as leaders and prominent members of the committees, together with other Armenians known to be harmful, are to be arrested immediately; those Armenians whose presence in one area is felt to be harmful are to be gathered together in appropriate locations from which they will be unable to escape; searches for hidden weapons shall be made in necessary areas; and, in cases where it is deemed appropriate, arrested individuals should be turned over to the military courts. It is of the utmost importance to be in co-operation with the civil service officials, and that any request for assistance which they should make be fulfilled immediately.

Acting Commander-in-Chief, Enver.

13 April 1331 [26 April 1915].

This order has been sent to the Commanders of the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Armies, to the Acting Commander of Iraq and vicinity, to the Commander of the Fourth Army Corps, to the Black Sea and Mediterranean Straits Commander, to the
Provost Marshal of Istanbul, to the Acting Commander of the Twelfth Army Corps in Mosul, to the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of War, to the Department of the Army, to the War Department, and to the Presiding Director of the Courts.[23]

Authentic Document No. XXIV

Ciphered circular telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Edirne, Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Ayd?n, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; also to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Bolu, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kayseri,Karahisar?sahib [Afyon], Ni?de, Eski?ehir and Mara?:

It has been learned through communications that in some areas the communique concerning the arrest and transfer of active and dangerous Armenians, and of the leaders of the committees, has been misunderstood; that in many areas the ordinary individuals were arrested and then simply transferred to a similar nearby location; while in other regions, no action at all with regard to such known revolutionaries and dangerous individuals has been undertaken.

To transfer such revolutionaries and known members of the committees to areas which provide the same fertile ground for their activities simply means that they are moved from one profitable environment to another. In view of this fact, in the future you are ordered to take these matters into consideration, and further, you are to apply the transfer order to individuals in all those regions where the Armenians will be able to be active, owing to the environment and density of population.

19 May 1331 [1 June 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[24]

The first two documents presented above (Nos. XXII and XXIII) clearly demonstrate the reasons why such measures were considered necessary. The Ottoman Government resorted to measures, which any nation would have resorted to, in the face of rebellion by a portion of its citizenry. Clearly, such Armenians were actively betraying their country by co-operating with the invading enemy. Document No. XXII expresses the Government’s concern that the implementation of these decisions should not be carried out in a manner calculated to lead to an outbreak of mutual killings between the Muslim and Armenian populaces. Not only does this demonstrate the Government’s commitment to preventing such incidents, it also provides the necessary answer to the claims of ‘preplanned massacres’, made by Andonian and the circles he represented.


(e) The relocation decision

As noted previously, it was the successful Armenian rebellion in the city of Van which had been the decisive factor in the Government’s decision to relocate those Armenians who lived in or near the war zones, and in areas which were likely to become such. Indeed, the Government troops had been forced to abandon Van on 17 May 1915 owing to the Van rebellion, and the advance towards the city of Russian forces which were led by units comprised of Ottoman Armenians. The Turkish quarters of the city of Van had been burnt by the Armenian rebels, and later these same individuals turned the city over to the Russian occupation forces. As the rebellion in Van spread to other nearby regions, it also encouraged the Armenian terrorist committees to plan and engage in new rebellions.

The idea of collectively relocating the Armenian population was born out of the Van rebellion. Prior to this, the Government had taken the limited action of arresting and relocating only known revolutionaries and members of the Armenian committees. The concept of collectively relocating large segments of the Armenian populace was placed on the agenda by the Van rebellion. As the following document attests, the idea was first introduced by the Acting Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

Authentic Document No. XXV

Top-Secret communique No. 2049-M, from the Acting Commander-in-Chief to the Ministry of the Interior:

The Armenians around the periphery of Lake Van, and in other regions which are known to the Governor of Van, are engaged in continuous preparations for revolution and rebellion. I am of the opinion that this population should be removed from this area, and that this nest of rebellion be broken up.

According to information provided by the Commander of the Third Army, the Russians, on April the 7th [April the 20th], began expelling their Muslim population, by pushing them, without their belongings, across our borders. It is necessary, in response to this [Russian] action, and in order to reach the goals that I have outlined above, either to expel the Armenians in question to Russia, or to relocate them and their families in other regions of Anatolia. I request that the most suitable of these alternatives be chosen and implemented. If there is no objection, I would prefer to expel the creators of these centres of rebellion and their families outside our borders, and to replace them with the Muslim refugees pushed across our borders. 19 April 1331 [2 May 1915].[25]

The importance of this document is that it clearly establishes that the initiative for the decision to collectively relocate the Armenians was based on military and security needs, rather than on political grounds.

At the time the Ottoman Government adopted the course of relocating the Armenians, it also drafted a law with regard to this matter. This law, which was called the ‘Provisional Law concerning the measures to be taken by the military authorities against those who oppose the operations of the Government during war-time’, is dated 14 May 1331 (27 May 1915), i.e. immediately following the adoption of the relocation decision. It was called the ‘Provisional Law’, because it was adopted at a time when the Parliament was not in session. When the Parliament was reconvened on 15 September 1915, it ratifled the law.

The text of this law, as it was published in the Takvim-i Vekayi (Official Ottoman Gazette) on 19 May 1331 (1 June 1915), reads as follows:

Article 1. In time of war, the Army, Army Corps, and Divisional Commanders, their Deputies, and the Independent Commanders, are authorized and compelled to crush in the most severe way, and to eradicate all signs of aggression and resistance by military force, should they encounter any opposition, armed resistance and aggression by the population, to operations and measures relating to orders issued by the Government for the defence of the country and the maintenance of order.
 
Article 2. The Army, Army Corps, and Divisional Commanders are authorized to transfer and relocate the populations of villages and towns, either individually or collectively, in response to military needs, or in response to any signs of treachery or betrayal.

Article 3. This provisional law will come into effect when it is published.

Article 4. The Acting Commander-in-Chief and the Minister of War is responsible for the implementation of the articles of this law.[26]

Despite the decision to relocate the Armenian population, the armed Armenian rebellions did not cease; rather, they continued. Insurrections occurred on 23 July 1915 in Bo?azlayan; on 1 August 1915 in the town of F?nd?kç?k in Mara?; on 9 August 1915 in the town of Germü? in Urfa; on 14 September 1915 in Antakya; on 29 September 1915 in Urfa; on 7 February 1916 in Islahiye; on 4 April 1916 in Akda?madeni; and on 9 April 1916 in Tosya.27 The logical outcome of these insurrections was the application of the relocation decision to a wider area.


(f) The implementation of the relocation decision

The Ottoman Government, which determined to relocate its Armenian population in response to the grave dangers it was facing, also took extensive steps to ensure that this decision would be implemented in an orderly and secure fashion, so as to guarantee the lives and property of the Armenians affected. The contents of the documents presented below attest to this fact.

Authentic Document No. XXVI

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Mosul (No. 15), to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa (No. 7), and Zor (No. 9):

Below are provided a portion of the instructions concerning the procedures to be implemented with regard to the Armenians who will be sent to you from the Provinces of Van, Bitlis, and Erzurum:

The Armenians who will be transferred are to be relocated in areas specified by the Government (For the sanjak of Urfa: This means in regions aside from those already inhabited by Armenians.) (For the Governor of Mosul: This means in the southern part of the province.);

The Armenians who arrive in the settlement areas will be relocated in accordance with local existing conditions, either in houses which they will build in existing towns and villages, or in newly founded villages, which will be located in areas to be determined by the Government;

It is absolutely necessary that the villages and towns where the Armenians will be settled, and the newly founded villages, are located at least 25 kilometres away from the Baghdad railway line, and fflom other railways;
 
Local administrative officials are responsible for overseeing the transfer and settlement of the Armenians;

Local administrative authorities in the regions through which the transferred Armenians pass en route to their settlement regions are responsible for protecting the lives and properties of the Armenians, and for providing them with food and shelter;

Armenians who are to be relocated may take with them all of their movable properties and belongings.

10 May 1331 [23 May 1915].
Minister of the Interior.[28]

Authentic Document No. XXVII

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Adana (No. 9) and Aleppo (No. 18), and to the Governor of the sanjak of Mara? (No. 17):

The Armenians living in the villages and towns within the sanjaks of Adana, Mersin, Sis [Kozan], and Cebelibereket (with the exception of those residing in the provincial capitals of Adana, Sis, and Mersin) (For the Governor of Aleppo: this means, with the exception of those Armenians in the capital town, those residing in the kazas of Iskenderun, Bilan, Cisri?uur and Antakya.) (For the Governor of the sanjak of Mara?: This means those Armenians residing in the sanjak of Mara?, with the exception of those living in the provincial capital town of Mara?) are to be transferred and resettled, bearing in mind their places of origin, in areas to be determined by the Government in the eastern part of the province of Syria, and in the east and south-eastern regions of the province of Aleppo. The Armenians arriving in the settlement areas will be relocated in keeping with existing conditions, in houses which they will build scattered throtighout existing towns and villages, or in newly founded villages which they will construct in areas to be determined by the Government.

Local administrative officials are responsible for providing for the transfer and settlement of those Armenians who are to be relocated. Likewise, the local administrative authorities en route are responsible for protecting the lives and property of the Armenians who are being transferred to the areas of settlement. The Armenians who are being relocated may take with them all their movable properties and belongings.

10 May 1331 [23 May 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[29]

Authentic Document No. XXVIII

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Erzurum (No. 14), Van (No. 21), and Bitlis (No. 14):

The Armenians living in the towns and villages of your province, bearing in mind their places of origin, are to be transferred to and resettled in the following regions, as determined by the Government: The southern parts of the province of Mosul (with the exception of the northern part which borders on to the province of Van), and the sanjak of Urfa (with the exception of the provincial capital and the sanjak of Zor).

Those Armenians arriving in the places of settlement will be relocated in accordance with existing conditions, in houses which they will build scattered throughout existing towns and villages, or in newly founded villages which they will construct in areas to be determined by the Government.

The local administrative officials en route are responsible for protecting the lives and property of the Armenians who are being transferred to the settlement areas, as well as for providing them with food and shelter.

The Armenians who are relocated may take with them all of their movable properties and belongings.

This transfer will, quite naturally, only be implemented in those areas where it is permitted by the war operations.

10 May 1331 [23 May 1915].
Minister of the Interior.[30]

Authentic Document No. XXIX

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants, to the Governor of the province of Erzurum:

This is in reply to [the telegram] of 24 May 1331 [6 June 1915].

Because the value of the immovable properties which the Armenians are not able to take with them will be paid to them by the Government, it is necessary that possessions of this nature which are left behind be protected and sold at auction in the name of their owners.

Detailed instructions on this matter are in the post. It is appropriate at present that the transfer of those working for the military, as well as helpless women, be postponed.

27 May 1331 [9 June 1915].
In the Name of the Minister.[31]

Authentic Document No. XXX

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants, to the Governors of the provinces of Sivas (No. 47), Trabzon (No. 36) and Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??] (No. 36); and to the Governor of the sanjak of Canik [Samsun] (No. 11):

Because the regulation concerning the administration and protection of the movable and immovable properties which the Armenians, whose transfer and relocation has been decided, will not be able to take with them, is being sent by post, it is ordered that you take the necessary measures to protect such properties for the present.

14 June 1331 [27 June 1915].
In the Name of the Minister.[32]
 
Authentic Document No. XXXI

Ciphered telegram No. 341, from the Ministry of the Interior, to the Governors of the provinces of Edirne, Adana, Ankara, Ayd?n, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Konya, and Mosul, and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Bolu, Zor, Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kudüs-i ?erif [Jerusalem], Kayseri, Ni?de, Eski?ehir, and Kütahya:

The Acting Commander-in-Chief has announced that for the time being the Armenian newspapers will be permitted to publish only in Istanbul and the [Armenian] newspapers in all other provinces will be closed. This order is to be implemented.

18 June 1331 [1 July .1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[33]

Authentic Document No. XXXII

Ciphered telegram No. 73, from the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants, to the Governor of the province of Aleppo:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 22 August 1331 [4 September 1915].

5,000 liras are being sent from the funds for the Immigrants. It is ordered that the Armenians who have accumulated in the [railway] stations be transferred as soon as possible to the pre-determined areas of settlement, that they be provided with food, and that special care be taken to protect them from attack.

The money which has been sent is to be reserved for this purpose, and it is to be given to the Commission for Possessions Left Behind. If it is not sufficient, another appropriation should be requested.

23 August 1331 [5 September 1915].
In the name of the Minister, Subhi.[34]

Authentic Document No. XXXIII

Ciphered telegram No. 19, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the sanjak of Ni?de:

The Governor of the province of Konya informs us that, in order to ensure the security of the Armenian emigrants, it is imperative that guards be provided to accompany the convoys from Ere?li to the borders of Uluk??la. It is ordered to take the necessary steps in this respect in consultation with the Governor of Konya.

20 October 1331 [2 November 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[35]

Authentic Document No. XXXIV

Ciphered telegram No. 65, from the Ministry of the Interior’s Directorate for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants, to the Governor of the sanjak of Canik [Samsun]:

Feed those among the Armenians who are orphaned and destitute, regardless of whether they have converted to Islam or not, from the Immigrants’ Appropriation. Detailed information will. follow in the post.

30 October 1332 [12 November 1916].
In the name of the Minister, ?ükrü.[36]

As may be seen from all of these communiques sent with regard to the relocations, clear instructions were issued charging local authorities with the responsibility for ensuring the protection of the Armenians, as well as that of their property. Again, the telegrams indicate that the Armenians were to be allowed to take with them all of their movable possessions, and that their immovable goods were placed under the protection of the Government, which had pledged to pay their value to the owners. Moreover, we are also informed that the Armenian newspapers of Istanbul continued to be published through-out the period of the relocations, and that even the Armenian press in the provinces continued to function for some time following the relocation decision.

Clearly, these archival documents show that the claim made by Andonian and Armenian circles, to the effect that the Turkish Government subjected the Armenians to a planned and systematic series of massacres, is simply unfounded. Likewise, the claim of the so-called ‘premeditation’ vanishes in the face of reality.


2. Theso-called ‘Measures of Precaution’

Andonian, in the chapter of his work entitled ‘Measures of Precaution’, argued that the Turkish Government, ‘after it took and began implementing its decision to massacre the Armenians, engaged in all kinds of efforts to hide this fact from the entire world’.

Given the fact that no such decision to massacre was in fact ever taken by the Ottoman Government, the question of hiding it does not arise. The relocation of the Armenians was implemented openly. German, American, Austrian, and Swiss missionaries and charitable organizations were present in almost every corner of Anatolia throughout this period. Further, these groups were even granted permission to assist and provide services to the relocated Armenians. Given the widespread nature of these missionary organizations in Anatolia, this factor alone would have been sufficient to ensure that any ill-treatment to which the Armenians were subjected would have been broadcast worldwide immediately.

In all likelihood, Andonian chose to include such a chapter in his book on the grounds that if there were still aspects of the so-called ‘massacres’ which had not become public knowledge, he would be in a position subsequently to claim that the Ottoman Government had done all in its power to suppress such information by the ‘measures of precaution’ it had adopted.
 
However, as the only concern of the Ottoman Government in deciding to relocate the Armenians was one of security, it never followed a policy of attempting to cloak the relocation decision, or its implementation, in secrecy. There are, therefore, no Ottoman archival documents dealing with such secrecy, so we are unable to publish any in reply to this claim of Andonian’s.


3. The so-called ‘Extension of the Massacres’

We have seen that Andonian claimed that following the onset of the ‘massacres’, the Turkish Government decided to extend their scope to encompass the ‘annihilation of all Armenians, including even women and children’.

Again, the Ottoman archival documents will demonstrate that this claim as weft bears no relation with reality.

Authentic Document No. XXXV

Ciphered telegram No. 423, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Erzurum, Adana, Bitlis, Aleppo, Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Canik [Samsun], and Mara?:

It is ordered that the transfer and relocation of the remaining Armenian Catholics be abandoned. Notify us as to the number of such in your province or sanjak.

21 July 1331 [3 August 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[37]

Authentic Document No. XXXVI

Ciphered circular telegram No. 5028, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Balikesir], Karahisar?sahib [Afyon], Kayseri, Mara?, Ni?de, and Eski?ehir:

It is ordered that those Armenians who are members of the Protestant sect, who have not already been transferred, are to be left where they are. Further, that we be notified as to the number of those who were previously transferred, and as to the number who remain in your province or sanjak.

2 August 1331 [15 August 1915].
Minister of the Interior.[38]

Authentic Document No. XXXVII

Ciphered circular telegram No. 5029, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; and to the Governors of the sanj aks of Urfa, Izmit, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Bal?kesir], Karahisar?sahib [Afyon], Kayseri, Mara?, Ni?de, and Eski?ehir:

The Armenian Members of Parliament and their families are not to be transferred.

2 August 1331 [15 August 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[39]

Authentic Document No. XXXVIII

Ciphered circular telegram No. 5030 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya, and Van; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Bal?kesir], Karahisar?sahib [Afyon], Kayseri, Mara?, Ni?de, and Eski?ehir:

It is ordered that the families of Armenian soldiers, officers, and health officers remain where they are and not be transferred.

2 August 1331 [15 August 1915].
Minister of the Interior.[40]

Authentic Document No. XXXIX

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Konya (No. 69), Adana (No. 57), Aleppo (No. 71), Syria (No. 43), and Ankara (No. 69); and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Izmit (No. 73) and Eski?ehir (No. 23):

?ükrü Bey, the Director of the Office for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants, will shortly visit the provinces or sanjaks in order to inspect and investigate the Armenians who are being transferred to the previously determined locations. On this occasion as well, money is being sent from the Immigrants Appropriation in the amounts specified below. This is done to ensure that the care and feeding of the Armenian people be provided for in an orderly manner.

As it is imperative that they be transferred in comfort to the predetermined areas, all steps which are necessary in this respect should be taken.

In order that the Armenians do not suffer, the stations should be provided with necessary amounts of bread, provisions, empty cans, barrels etc., so that they may be distributed to them.

If the funds provided are insufficient inform us by telegram.

19 August 1331 [1 September 1915].
In the name of the Minister, Subhi.

The breakdown of the Kuru? which is to be spent on the Armenians:

Province of Konya: 400,000 Kuru?; sanjak of Izmit: 150,000; sanjak of Eski?ehir: 200,000; province of Adana: 300,000; province of Aleppo: 300,000; province of Syria: 100,000; province of Ankara: 300,000.[41]
 
Authentic Document No. XL

Ciphered telegram No. 56 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Erzurum:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 24 September 1331 [7 October 1915].

Permission is granted for the [Armenian] priests you described to travel to Istanbul. Keep us informed of this situation.

3 October 1331 [16 October 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[42]

Authentic Document No. XLI

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Edirne, Adana, Ankara, Bitlis, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Syria, Sivas, Trabzon, Konya and Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??]; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Karahisar?sahib [Afyon], Içel, Ni?de, Canik [Samsun], Zor, Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kayseri, Kütahya, Eski?ehir, Mara?:

Information has been received that the Armenians residing in America have sent, and are at present sending large amounts of money for the needs of the Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, and that these funds are being distributed through secret channels.

It is ordered that a serious and secret investigation be undertaken with regard to this subject; that it determine whether or not such money is in fact being sent through these channels, and that we be informed as to the intermediaries through which such money is being distributed to the Armenians.

17 January 1331 [30 January 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[43]

Authentic Document No. XLII

Ciphered telegram No. 37 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the sanjak of Ni?de:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 24 December 1331 [6 January 1916].

The Acting Commander-in-Chief has replied that voluntary petitions submitted by Armenians wishing to convert to Islam will be accepted.

18 January 1331 [31 January 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[44]

Authentic Document No. XLIII

Ciphered telegram No. 135 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the sanjak of Karesi [Bal?kesir]:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 25—26 February 1331 [9—10 March 1917].

As it has been announced that the Armenian families were not to be transferred and ‘that transfer was to be restricted to those individuals with close ties to the committees, and those whose treachery had been ascertained by the Government, it has been learned that 27 families were transferred to Afyon. Inform us as to the reason for this action, and order that the families in question be returned to their homes immediately.

28 February 1331 [12 March 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[45]

Authentic Document No. XLIV

Ciphered telegram No. 23 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Edirne, Adana, Ankara, Ayd?n, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Sivas, Kastamonu, and Konya; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Izmit, Bolu, Canik [Samsun], Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kayseri, Kütahya, Eski?ehir, Ni?de and Mara?:

Owing to administrative and military considerations it has been determined that from this time forward the transfer of Armenians will cease. It is ordered that from this time forward no Armenians, other than those already relocated, will be transferred for any reason.

2 March 1332 [15 March 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[46]

Authentic Document No. XLV

Minutes — No. 187
18 September 1332 [1 October 1916]

As was recorded in Communique No. 91 of 12 September 1332 [25 September 1916], which we read together with the enclosed communiques of the Ministry of Finance, the difference of 7,975 kuru? is not included in the current appropriation. This 7,975 kuru? represents the difference between the current salary of Sahak Hapaian Efendi, the Armenian Patriarch and Catholicos who resides in Kudüs [Jerusalem], which is 2,025 kuru? in keeping with the guidelines for salaries of spiritual leaders, and the planned increase of his salary to 10,000 kuru?. To facilitate this matter it has been decided that the 55,825 kuru? total increase this represents until the end of February [i.e. to the end of the current fiscal year] be added to Account No. 46 which covers the salaries of spiritual leaders. This matter was agreed upon in keeping with the Imperial Rescript which was issued on this subject.

To be implemented.[47]

Authentic Document No. XLVI

Ciphered telegram No. 2705, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Trabzon:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 21 September 1332 [4 October 1916].

As the transfer of Armenians is revoked, it is no longer appropriate to dispatch convoys of Armenians who are to be transferred and relocated. Therefore, if investigations have determined that there are dangerous individuals who should be transferred, we are to be promptly notified of their names and total number.

11 October 1332 [24 October 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[48]

Authentic Document No. XLVII

Minutes of the Meeting of the Council of Ministers

Number: 93; Date: 11 April 1333 [11 April 1917]
Date of Announcement: 16 April 1333 [16 April 1917]
Summary of the Subject:

A communique, No. 29 dated 10 April 1333 [10 April 1917] from the Ministry of Justice and Sects, in response to a request for financial assistance for 3,000 destitute Armenians who were left homeless as a result of the most recent fire which occurred in Kumkap? [an Armenian quarter of Istanbul]; said request having been made by the Acting Catholicos and Patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Decision:

The Ministry of the Interior is to notify the [Istanbul] Municipality that they are to provide the necessary relief for those individuals left destitute by the aforementioned fire, and the Ministry of Justice and Sects will be kept informed of progress on this matter.

[Council of Ministers]: Talat, Musa Kaz?m, Enver, Halil, Ahmed Nesim, Cavid, Ali Münif, Ahmed ?ükrü, Mustafa ?eref.[49]

Authentic Document No. XLVIII

Imperial Rescript, No. 909
25 June 1333 [25 June 1917]

By its decision the Council of State has approved the construction, by the [Armenian] Protestant congregation, of a wooden building, in compliance with Article 129 of the General Education Regulation and the regulations governing private schools, on condition that it is not utilized until a licence has been obtained. This building will be constructed on a piece of residential property of 145 square metres in the Dere Quarter of the non-Muslim village of Siloz in the district of Orhangazi. The building will be 17.30 metres in length; 7.50 metres in width; and 9.50 metres in height. On its roof there will be a bell tower of 1 metre in length and width, and 2 metres in height. The first storey of this building will be used as a school, and the second storey will be used as a church.

The Ministers of Justice and Sects, and Education, are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[50]
 
Authentic Document No. XLIX

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Ankara:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 26 December 1333 [26 December 1917].

Permission has been granted for the Catholics to hold services in the church which is located in the Armenian cemetery.

1 January 1334 [1 January 1918].
Minister of the Interior, Mehmet Talat.[51]

The authentic archival documents presented above serve to establish the following points:

(a) A portion of the Armenian population was excluded from the relocation decision: this included even some of the Protestant and Catholic communities living in the war zones in eastern Anatolia (Documents Nos. XXXV-XXXVI).

(b) Armenians serving in a variety of professions, together with their families, were also excluded from the relocation decision (Documents Nos. XXXVII—XXXVIII).

(c) In most of the provinces the transfer decision was revoked on a speciffic date. (Document No. XLIV).

(d) Throughout the period of the relocations the Ottoman Government sought to provide for the security and physical needs of the Armenians who were being transferred. Despite the wartime conditions and overall economic diffculties, signifficant expenditure was provided for this purpose (Document No. XXXIX).

(e) Armenian spiritual leaders were granted permission to travel from one place to another (Document No. XL).

(f) When the Government determined that Armenians had been unjustly transported, it ordered that they be returned to their homes, and demanded explanations from the authorities responsible for such mistakes (Document No. XLIII).

(g) In October 1916 the salary of the Armenian Catholicos of Jerusalem was increased nearly five-fold (Document No. XLV).

(h) Armenian residents of Istanbul, left homeless by a fire, were provided with financial assistance by the Government (Document No. XLVII).

(i) Permission for the construction of schools and churches by Armenian communities continued to be granted (Document No. XLVIII).

(j) Armenians were allowed to continue their religious observances (Document No. XLIX).

(k) Armenians living in the United States were still sending money to the Armenians in Anatolia, a fact which certainly points to the conclusion that there were Ottoman Armenians exempted from the relocation decision (Document No. XLI).

We should not overlook the fact that the authentic archival documents presented above (Documents Nos. XXXV—XLIX) cover a time-span stretching from 1915 through the early months of 1918, that is, the very period during which Andonian claims that ‘the Armenian massacres were extended to include all the Armenians, even women and children’. The authentic documents provided above contain the facts necessary to answer Andonian and the circles he represented.


4. The so-called ‘Little Martyrs’

In this chapter of his book Andonian advanced the fanciful claim that whereas ‘initially the Government had decided to spare the lives of all Armenian children under the age of fifteen, subsequently, it had modified this decision to exclude only those under the age of seven, and that later, instructions were issued to spare only those children under the age of five.’

This fairy tale, which Andonian illustrated with a variety of forged documents aimed at dramatizing his claims and affecting the circles to whom he sought to communicate his ‘message’, has actually been more than adequately refuted by the authentic archival documents presented in the preceding section of our work. Accordingly, here we will present only two Ottoman archival documents which make specific reference to the manner in which Armenian children were to be treated.

Authentic Document No. L

Ciphered telegram No. 327 from the Ministry of Education to the Governors of the provinces of Diyarbak?r, Adana, Aleppo, Trabzon, Erzurum, Sivas, Bitlis, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], and Van; and to the Governor of the sanjak of Mara?:

We are currently considering the utilization of existing orphanages, and the creation of such new facilities to accommodate and educate the children under ten years of age of those Armenians who were transferred or relocated for any reason. Therefore you are ordered to promptly inform us as to the number of such children in your province or sanjak, and also let us know whether or not there is a suitable building to serve as such an orphanage-school in your area.

13 June 1331 [26 June 1915].
Minister of Education, Ahmed ?ükrü.[52]
 
Authentic Document No. LI

Ciphered telegram No. 42, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the sanjak of Kayseri:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 31 August 1332 [13 September 1916].

It is considered appropriate that the Armenian girls, in keeping with their situation and condition, be returned if possible to their parents. Those who do not have parents should be placed temporarily in a suitable section of the orphanage-school. It is also appropriate that the facilities of the orphanage-school be used as accommodation for the immigrants.

8 September 1332 [21 September 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[53]

As indicated by these two documents, the Ottoman Government was not only concerned with protecting Armenian children, but also actively involved in ensuring that they were educated.


5. The so-called ‘Incitements’

Under this heading, Andonian, as we have seen, claimed that the Ottoman Government actively incited its officials, and the Muslim community at large, to participate in the ‘massacres’ of the Armenians. Further, that the Government subsequently failed to punish such ‘murderers’.,

Surviving archival documents will establish that this claim, too, was nothing more than a figment of Andonian’s imagination.

Authentic Document No. LII

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Hudavendigar [Bursa], Ankara, Konya, Adana, Aleppo, Sivas, Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??], Diyarbak?r and Erzurum; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Izmit, Mara?, Urfa, Zor, Kütahya, Karesi [Bal?kesir], Ni?de, Karahisansahib [Afyon], and Kayseri:

The only goal which the Government hopes to attain by the removal of the Armenians from their places of residence, and their transfer to specified areas, is the prevention of their activities against the Government, and to put them in a position where they will be unable to pursue their dreams of establishing an Armenian Government. As this decision is not intended to destroy innocent people, it is the absolute wish of the Government that every measure to ensure the security and protection of the convoys during the relocation process be taken. Further, that the individuals being transferred are to be adequately fed from the Immigrants’ Appropriation. In addition, it is the wish of the Government that, aside from those who have already been transferred and relocated, no additional Armenians are to be removed. As has been previously announced, the families of soldiers, artisans in the necessary proportion, and the Protestant and Catholic Armenians, are not to be transferred.
 
It is ordered, to begin without delay,legal prosecution against those who attack the convoys, and those who engage in robberies, and who commit rape, succumbing to bestial feelings. Officials and gendarmes who have participated in these acts are to be severely punished. All such officials are to be immediately discharged, and turned over to the military courts. Their names are to be sent to us at once. Henceforth, the provinces or sanjaks will be held responsible for any such incidents which occur [within their boundaries].

16 August 1331 [29 August 1915].
Minister of the Interior.[54]

Authentic Document No. LIII

Ciphered circular telegram No. 5524, from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Erzurum, Adana, Ankara, Aleppo, Hudavendigar [Bursa], Diyarbak?r, Sivas, Trabzon, Kastamonu, Konya and Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??]; and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Urfa, Izmit, Zor, Karesi [Bal?kesir], Kayseri, Kütahya, Mara?, and Karahisar?sahib [Afyon]:
We are to be informed, in compliance with the previously issued orders, as to the number of individuals punished to date for attacks against the Armenians.

23 August 1331 [5 September 1915].
Minister of the Interior.[55]

Authentic Document No. LIV

Ciphered telegram No. 115 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Sivas:

As Hamit Bey, Kaymakam of Aziziye, behaved in an inappropriate manner during the transfer of the local Armenians, it is necessary that he be removed and dismissed from office.

Chairman of the Investigative Delegation, Mazhar Bey, has been instructed to submit the files of the investigation conducted on this individual to the martial law courts.

12 October 1331 [25 October 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[56]

Authentic Document No. LV

Ciphered telegram No. 133 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Sivas:

The Chairman of the Investigative Delegation informs us that it has been determined that Fahri Efendi, who was the Acting Kaymakam of Su?ehri, did not take adequate precautions to ensure that the transfer of the Armenians was achieved in safety, nor did he attempt to prevent the pillage which occurred on the day of transfer. As a result, the [Delegation’s] recommendation is that he be delivered up to the martial law court.

Inform us of your opinion, as to whether or not the above-named individual should be punished for his behaviour in this matter.

4 November 1331 [17 November 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[57]

Authentic Document No. LVI

Ciphered telegram No. 47 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Mamuretilaziz [Elaz??]:

This is in reply to [the telegram] dated 8 January 1331 [21 January 1916].

An investigation has determined that Ethem Kadri Bey, Kaymakam of Besni, allowed officials under his charge to act illegally in matters concerning the Armenians, and that he himself obtained some of their possessions without paying. Therefore, it has been deemed appropriate to turn him over to the martial law court, as a result of his activities. The necessary notification has been sent to Mazhar Bey, Chairman of the Investigative Delegation.

17 February 1331 [1 March 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[58]

Authentic Document No. LVII

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Adana:

Information has been received that the brother of the Parliamentary Representative from Kozan, Matteus Nalbantian Efendi, has been kidnapped and taken to the mountains by bandits. You are ordered to rescue him by sending sufficient forces in pursuit to ensure that the bandits will be captured and punished. No similar incidents are to be allowed to occur in the future. We are to be informed of the result.

1 April 1334 [1 April 1918].
In the name of the Minister, Abdülhalik.[59]

The authentic archival documents presented above clearly demonstrate that the Government actively pursued and punished those individuals responsible for acts of aggression perpetrated against the Armenians during the relocation process, and that the Government attempted to prevent such incidents, by issuing orders and warning local officials that they would be held responsible for abuses and negligence. Further, the Government followed up its orders to make certain that they were implemented.

It will be recalled from our discussion in Chapter II that no less than 1,397 individuals were turned over to the martial law courts by the Government, as a result of acts of aggression committed against the Armenians during the relocation process. These individuals were given a variety of sentences, including the death penalty, for their role in these matters.

Clearly, Andonian’s claim that the Ottoman Government incited its officials and Muslim population to actively participate in the ‘Armenian massacres’ is totally unfounded. Likewise, the attitude of the Government in response to such abuses destroys the myth that there had been systematic massacres of Armenians.



6. The so-called ‘Efforts to Justify’

As discussed previously, Andonian’s thesis in this chapter of his work was that ‘the Ottoman Government had attempted to justify the massacres, by the compilation of false documents, which attempted to show that the Armenians had bombs and weapons in their possession’.

While many of the authentic documents presented in this chapter have shown that the Armenian committees were engaged in a series of armed rebellions both prior to and following the enactment of the relocation decision, the following selection of archival documents will further demonstrate this fact.

Authentic Document No. LVIII

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the sanjak of Canik [Samsun]:

As it has been determined that an individual residing in Samsun, by the name of Hosrof Kasabian, is an intermediary in the smuggling of arms, and that he is in communication with Armenians outside the country, he is to be arrested immediately. Take adequate precautions to ensure that he is not allowed to communicate with anyone.

Have his house and place of business, if he has one, searched carefully, and confiscate all letters and files which may be found; arrest the Armenian named Kevork and the individual known as Arabac? Çerkez, as both are known to have contacts with the aforementioned; detain any other suspect individuals who are known to have contacts with Kasabian. Inform us of the results.

17 February 1330 [2 March 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[60]

Authentic Document No. LIX

Ciphered telegram No. 61 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Diyarbak?r:

This is in reply to [the telegrams] dated 11 and 15 June 1331 [24 and 28 June 1915].

The Governor of the sanjak of Urfa has informed us that, as a result of investigations and preventive measures which were implemented in order to render useless the plans of the Armenian revolutionaries in Urfa, a large number of weapons and inflammable materials have been confiscated from the Armenians of the city of Urfa and from those in the village of Germü?; that some of the members of the band who attacked the mountain of Germü? were killed, and that thirty-five of them were captured alive; that eighty-two individuals whose membership of the Armenian revolutionary committees has been confirmed have been delivered up to the military authorities, and that a committee has been formed to investigate their activities; that one hundred soldiers have been sent from the Sixth Army Corps to keep the peace in the region; that the morale of the Muslim population has not been seriously affected, though news of this matter did cause a certain amount of fear; and to implement the appropriate action to be determined by the military court’s investigation.

23 June 1331 [6 July 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[61]

Authentic Document No. LX

Minutes
Number: 204; Date: 12 August 1331 [25 August 1915]

The communiques from the Acting Commander-in-Chief, dated 31 July 1331 [13 August 1915] and 7 August 1331 [20 August 1915], which we have discussed, state that the five Armenians named Arshak Kazurian, Vahan Unjian, Vahan Balabanian, Bedros Artin, and Sahak Karabet, who were previously sentenced to death by the martial law courts, because bombs, dynamite, and other explosives were found in their possession prior to the confiscation of weapons, and who are all members of the Izmir Dashnaktzutiun Committee, now presently held in Konya, are all to benefit from the amnesty ordered by the Sultan. Therefore, the Council of Ministers has deemed it appropriate to reduce their sentences to fifteen years of temporary hard labour, and the above-mentioned communiques were submitted with the Imperial Rescript written on this matter.

Imperial Rescript:

The sentences of Arshak Kazurian, Vahan Unjian, Vahan Balabanian, Bedros Artin, and Sahak Karabet, who had been condemned to death, because, as members of the Izmir Dashnaktzutiun Committee, they were found with bombs, dynamite and other explosives in their possession, have been commuted through the decision of the Council of Ministers, to fifteen years of temporary hard labour.

The Ministers of War and Justice are responsible for the implementation of this Imperial Rescript.[62]

Authentic Document No. LXI

Ciphered telegram No. 114 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Bursa:

According to reliable information we have received, armed bands comprised of Armenian deserters from Bursa are advancing towards the towns of Yalova and Izmit, and attacking Muslim villages en route. The fact that the provincial gendarmerie does not take into consideration our orders to punish these individuals is regrettable.

The necessary orders have been issued to the Governor of the sanjak of Izmit to dispatch the commander of the regiment to this region, in order that this matter be prosecuted seriously.

Because it is the Ministry’s wish that these armed banc?s of Armenians be destroyed within no later than a week, you are ordered to put an end to these incidents, going there personally if necessary. We announce that a decision has been made to punish officials who have made mistakes and who were negligent in this matter. We expect to be kept informed as the prosecution progresses.

16 August 1331 [29 August 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[63]

Authentic DocumentNo. LXII

This is the copy of Article 2 of the ciphered telegram No. 7664, which was dispatched on 3 October 1331 [16 October 1915], by the Commander of the Fourth Army:

(2) The Urfa confrontation ended with the seizing and destruction of the place where the [Armenian] armed bands were hiding, and with the destruction of the members of the armed bands themselves. The reasons for the delay in dealing with this matter stemmed from the fact that the armed bands were hidden in a strongly built stone site, which was extremely difficult to capture without the aid of artillery, which was necessitated right from the very beginning of the operation. Since the outbreak of this confrontation there have been approximately twenty killed and fifty wounded among the soldiers, gendarmerie, and local inhabitants.[64]

Authentic Document No. LXIII

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governors of the provinces of Ayd?n (No. 100) and Adana (No. 91):
To the Governor of the province of Ayd?n: This is in reply to the communique No. 758 dated 3 September 1331 [16 September 1915].

To the Governor of the province of Adana: This is in reply to the communique No. 553, dated 19 September 1331 [2 October 1915].

As the Ministry of War has requested an appropriate vehicle for transferring the weapons and arms confiscated from the Armenians, the number and amount of which are set out in the accompanying list, to the Maçka arsenal [in Istanbul], you are ordered to make the necessary arrangements.

15 October 1331 [28 October 1915].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[65]
 
Authentic Document No. LXIV

Communique No. 228, from the Governor of the sanjak of Canik [Samsun] to the Ministry of the Interior:

Most Honourable Excellency:

In response to information secretly conveyed to us, charging that there were forbidden weapons hidden in the stable of a house belonging to two [Armenians] named Kasap Jiridian Migirdich and Artin who were transferred to the interior of the country during the relocations, and who are among the inhabitants of the Armenian quarter of Samsun, a search of these premises was organized on 16 January 1331 [29 January 1916]. As a result of this search, buried at a depth of 1.5 metres below the stone paved floor of the stable, we uncovered a wooden chest in the shape of a coffin. It was found to contain the following items: one imitation Mauser hunting rifle which was wrapped in a sack; one sliding bolt Russian rifle with 54 cartridges; six clips with eight bullets apiece; one Mauser revolver; a one-kilogram tin of gunpowder; a second revolver; 174 bullets for handguns of different manufacture; six clips for the Mauser with thirty cartridges; a tin can containing thirteen pictures from the Armenian Revolutionary Committee; an illustrated Armenian newspaper; thirteen books written in Armenian; a mould for the casting of shells; and one dagger made in Sivas.

Of these items, fourteen documents containing pictures were sealed by the Headquarters of the Provost Marshal, and placed in the post. The weapons, etc. were confiscated by the Police Department.

18—19 January 1331 [31 January—1 February 1916].
Governor of the Sanjak of Canik, Tahsin Kemal.[66]

Authentic Document No. LXV

Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Adana (No. 27), and to the Governors of the sanjaks of Mara? (No. 11), Urfa (No. 9), and Zor (No. 13):

The Governor of the province of Aleppo has informed us, after investigation, that foreign Armenians have been organizing armed bands in Aleppo, and that a twenty-four-man armed band from the town of Kilis has moved in the direction of Diyarbak?r. You are ordered to remain extremely vigilant on this subject, to ensure that no opportunity be given for the activities of such bands. We are to be informed of the results.

20 April 1332 [3 May 1916].
Minister of the Interior.[67]

Authentic Document No. LXVI

Ciphered telegram No. 39 from the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of the province of Sivas:

The Governor of the province of Mosul has provided us with the following information, which is based on testimony of Mesud Bey, former Kaymakam of Zaho.
 
He states that the Armenians are digging caves under the ground, both in the city and outside of Sivas, and that many volunteers and provisions, bombs, Mausers and a large number of weapons sufficient for three years of fighting, are hidden in these caves. That among these volunteers are leaders such as Kordoncu Murad of Sivas and Deveci Dikran. Further, that escaped Russian prisoners are also being hidden in these caves.

You are ordered to communicate with the above-mentioned Governor, in order that the necessary action be taken. We are to be informed of the results.

21 May 1332 [3 June 1916].
Minister of the Interior, Talat.[68]

Authentic Document No. LXVII

Ciphered telegram from the Governor of the sanjak of Mara? to the Ministry of the Interior:

We have been informed by the Kaymakam of Elbistan that’the gendarmes, who are pursuing and searching for the army deserters in the region of Elbistan, were suddenly attacked by the deserters in the village of Tarkile. In the fighting, Çavu? [Sergeant] Veysel, the commander of the detachment, and three of the gendarmes were killed. The necessary counter-measures were taken, and military and gendarmerie detachments were dispatched in pursuit of the deserters, from several different locations. Moreover, as the Kaymakam also informed us that a 20—25-man armed band of Armenians had attacked the village of Ördekdede in Pazarc?k, the necessary steps were taken, and gendarmerie detachments from several locations were dispatched there as well. The armed band is being pursued and we will inform you of the results.

11 June 1333 [11 June 1917].
Governor of the sanjak, Ata.[69]

Even this relatively small sample of archival documents dealing with the terrorist activities is sufficient to demonstrate that the Ottoman territories from north to south, and east to west, were being subjected to armed insurrections by Armenian bands and committees.

Of these documents, that which describes the commuting of the death sentences of the Armenian committee members (Document No. LX) to fifteen years’ imprisonment, is particularly significant in the face of Andonian’s claims. How can we account for the commutation of these sentences in an environment in which Andonian claims that the Armenian population were being ‘systematically massacred’?



7. Theso-called ‘Second Act’

In this chapter of his work, Andonian claimed that ‘following the retreat of the Russian forces of occupation, together with that of the Armenian forces, from eastern Anatolia, the Ottoman Government set about massacring the surviving Armenians’.
As a matter of fact, it is possible to talk about a ‘second act’, but it was not performed by the Ottoman Government against the Armenians, rather by the armed Armenian bands and committees against the defenceless civilian Turkish population of eastern Anatolia, without mercy! If we deffine the ‘first act’ as the acts of treachery engaged in by the Armenians following the Ottoman entry into the First World War, these massacres of the Turkish civilian populace may well be termed the ‘second act’.

Indeed, the extant archival documents explicitly record the cruelties perpetrated against the civilian Turkish population by the Armenian bands and committees, during the retreat of the Russian armies in 1918. Here are but a few of these documents.

Authentic Document No. LXVIII

Ciphered telegram dated 21 March 1334 [21 March 1918], from the Commander of the Third Army to the Acting Commander-in-Chief:

Below I have summarized the current situation in the cities of Erzincan and Erzurum which we have just recovered:

These two cities resemble one another in terms of the disaster which has befallen them and the damage which they have suffered. Both the governmental and the privately owned buildings of highest quality were intentionally burnt by the Armenians. In addition, the houses and public buildings of lesser quality in each have also been damaged, owing to the fact that the Russians occupied them and quartered soldiers in them for the past two years.

At the outset it should be stated that both of these cities are in a miserable state, and in need of extensive repair and rebuilding. All of the barracks in Erzincan, together with the cavalry barracks, the government offices, and the Army Corps headquarters in Erzurum, are among the governmental buildings which were burnt down. In short, both these cities were subjected to fire and destruction; all their trees were cut down, and both were turned into disaster areas.

As for the inhabitants of these cities:

At the beginning of the occupation, those people who were considered capable of bearing arms were gathered together on the pretext that they were to be employed in the building of roads, then they were dispatched ni the direction of Sar?kam?? and annihilated. As for the remaining inhabitants, many were murdered as a result of cruelties inflicted by the Armenians at the time of the retreat of the Russian armies. Some were thrown into wells; others were assembled in houses and burnt; some were kifted with bayonets and swords; others had their stomachs and internal organs torn out in the city’s butcher shops; girls and women were hung by their hair after being subjected to every possible violation. Those few inhabitants who survived these cruelties, which can only be compared with those of the Inquisition, are like walking dead. Many have lost their minds from the terror, destitution, and despair of this scene. At present, the numbers of the survivors, including women and children, are not more than 1,500 in Erzincan [Province], and 30,000 in Erzurum [Province]. The fields in Erzincan and Erzurum were not sown, and whatever [food] the inhabitants possessed was taken from their hands. The people are both naked and hungry. Today they are trying to survive on remnants of provisions which were left in the storehouses by the retreating Russian forces of occupation.

The condition of the villages in the vicinity of Erzincan and Erzurum is even more pitiful than that of the cities. Some of the villages along the road were completely destroyed, their inhabitants murdered. Hardly a single stone was left standing on another.

As for those villages which were away from the roads over which the retreating Armenians passed, many of them were able to partially protect their possessions. However, they, too, are suffering from hunger, and daily groups of such villagers seek shelter with the army. It is with great sadness that I state that the history of man’s inhumanity has never witnessed cruelty on this scale, until today. I urgently request that the matters which I have communicated to your office, and to the Ministry of the Interior, concerning the measures which must be taken to protect the survivors, be implemented immediately. When I see that nothing has been done to alleviate the terrible sufferings of this hopeless, helpless and hungry people, despite the fact that forty days have elapsed since this operation began, I am forced to add that the Muslim people who were rescued from the swords of the Armenians by the Government’s action, have now been thrown into the horrible arms of hunger, Sir.

Commander of the Third Army.[70]

Authentic Document No. LXIX

Ciphered telegram dated 1 April 1334 [1 April 1918], from the Commander of the Third Army to the Commander of the Fourth Army:

Between the date of 12 March 1334[12 March 1918], the day Erzurum was recovered, and 20 March 1334 [20 March 1918], the corpses of 2,127 Muslim males, ruthlessly murdered by the Armenians, have been recovered in the city of Erzurum alone. Searches are continuing, and as more [bodies] are found, you will be provided with additional information.

Lütfi.[71]

Authentic Document No. LXX

Telegram dated 1 May 1334 [1 May 1918] from the Third Army to the General Headquarters of the Acting Commander-in-Chief:

All the villages between Trabzon and Erzincan are in ruins. Most of them were destroyed by the Armenians during the retreat of the Russians. However, the Greeks, too, had a hand in the destruction. The inhabitants were hurt more by the cruelties inflicted by their fellow non-Muslim citizens, than by the Russians. The Muslim quarters of the city of Trabzon are completely in ruins. The cemeteries were turned into theatres by the Russians. The most unpleasant pictures were drawn with manure on the walls of the mosques. On the road between Trabzon and Erzincan,. even the fruit trees were cut down; the houses were destroyed. Hungry women in rags are begging along the roads. The Christian villages were protected. Erzincan is a disaster area. The wells are full of Muslim corpses. In the fields and gardens of the destroyed houses, corpses, and the severed hands and feet of corpses, are still being recovered. The lintels over the doorways of the finest Armenian houses were all smeared with the blood of Muslims. During the Russian evacuation of the city most of the remaining Muslim inhabitants were rounded up by the Armenians, and massacred while tied to posts in front of the paved courtyards. The city is entirely in ruins.[72]

Authentic Document No. LXXI

Communique dated 30 June 1918 from Trakopov, Chairman of the Independent Armenian Commission of Gümrü [Alexandropol], to Kaz?m Karabekir, Chairman of the Turkish Commission:

To His Excellency, Kaz?m Karabekir Bey, Chairman of the Turkish Commission:

I am enclosing a copy of a wireless telegram dated 27 June, which was dispatched to me by name, but did not reach me, by General Nazarbekov [Nazarbekian].

Commission Chairman, Brigadier-General Trakopov.

To the Chairman of the Independent Armenian Commission in Gümrü:.

Number: 1008
Date: 27 June 1918

According to information which I have received, Antranik, who was dismissed from the Army Corps under my command on 5 June 1918, together with his entire detachment, for refusing to obey my orders, is indeed committing harmful actions and atrocities in the Nakhchevan region. I request that you inform the Turkish Commander of this situation.

The Turkish Commander is also naturally aware of the fact that the area of the Julfa railway, to the south of Kamerli, was for a long time under the control of armed Muslim bands. I was unsuccessful in my efforts to disperse these bands. The Erivan Government and myself are resorting to every means at our disposal to disperse both the Armenian and Muslim armed bands who are oppressing the defenceless population. I have informed the Turkish Commander, Kaz?m Karabekir Bey, of this fact. I desire to see them take the same measures on their [side of the] border.

I request that you inform the Turkish Commander that on 25 June 1918 an armed confrontation occurred, perhaps as a result of a misunderstanding, between local Armenian, Turkish, and Tartar detachments near the villages of Koylasar and Iman?alu. In order to prevent such incidents in the future, I request that the Commission resolves the problem of informing me in advance as to how many units will pass along what roads, when, and for what purpose. Under this condition, they will be able to know with certainty that incidents of this nature will not recur in the future.

Army Corps Commander, Nazarbekov.[73]
 
These documents leave no doubt as to who it was that engaged in a ‘second act’. They show clearly that it was not the Turks who engaged in massacres in the wake of the retreating Russian armies, but rather, it was the Armenian committees and their armed bands.

The last document (No. LXXI) presented above is of particular interest, as it concerns the information that General Nazarbekov (Nazarbekian) saw fit to pass on to his Turkish counterpart, General Kaz?m Karabekir, with regard to the activities of the Armenian committee member, Antranik. For it had been Antranik who instigated the massacres of Turkish civilians by the Armenian committees and armed bands, during the retreat of the Russian armies. Nazarbekov makes it clear that Antranik continued similar activities against the Muslims of the Caucasus, once the Armenian forces had crossed the border. The person confirming this fact is none other than General Nazarbekov, Commander of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, the capital of which was established at Erivan. As for Antranik, today he is eulogized as an ‘Armenian National Hero’, in Armenian circles.

We thus conclude our discussion of the authentic Ottoman archival documents. Aided by them, we have seen what is fact and what is fiction in the portrayal of the events of 1915—18. Andonian’s forged ‘documents’, and the claims he and successive generations of Armenians have based on them, cannot stand in the light of these authentic archival documents.




NOTES

[1] Ba?bakanl?k Ar?ivi [Prime Minister’s Archives; hereafter abbreviated as: BBA]: ?radei Seniye ve Tutanaklar Defterleri [Registers of Imperial Rescripts and Minutes of Official Meetings]: Dosya [File] No; 235/660.
[2] Ibid., File No. 235/611.
[3] Ibid., File No. 235/851.
[4] Ibid., File No. 235/1232.
[5] Ibid., File No. 237/2190.
[6] Ibid., File No. 237/2354.
[7] Ibid., File-Volume No. 239/140.
[8] BBA: Içi?leri Bakanl??? [Ministry of the Interior], Political File No. 83/A/437.
[9] Ibid., File No. 53/237.
[10] Genelkurmay Ba?kanl??? Ar?ivi [Archives of the Chief.of-Staff; hereafter abbreviated as: GBA]: Ar?iv [Archive] No. 1/131, Klasör [File] No. 2287-32/12, Fihrist [Index] No. 1/10.
[11] Ibid., Archive No. 4/3671, File No. 2811-26, Index No. 15/1.
[12] Ibid., File No. 2818-59, Index No. 2/54.
[13] BBA: Içi?leri Bakanl??? [Ministry of the Interior], ?ifre Defteri [Cipher File] No. 48/7.
[14] Ibid., Cipher File No. 48/178—84.
[15] Ibid., 50/129.
[16] Ibid., Security-2.
[17] GBA: Archive No. 4/3671, File No. 2818-59, Index No.1/12.
[18] BBA: Ministry of the Interior: Folder of Incoming Ciphers from Sivas, No. 10.
[19] Ibid., No. 13.
[20] GBA: Archive No. 1/31, File No. 2287-32, Index No. 1/37.
[21] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 52/198.
[22] Ibid. 52/94—6.
[23] GBA: Archive No. 1/131, File No. 2287-32/12, Index No. 12/1.
[24] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 53/201.
[25] GBA: Archive No. 1/1, File No. 44-207, Index Nos. 2/1 and 2/2.
[26] Takvim-i Vekayi [Official Ottoman Gazette]: Issue No. 2189 of 19 May 1331 [1 June 1915].
[27] Gürün, Ermeni, p. 211, and Gürün, File, p. 204.
[28] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 53/91.
[29] Ibid., 53/92.
[30] Ibid., 53/93.
[31] Ibid., 53/303.
[32] Ibid., 54/202.
[33] Ibid., 54/258.
[34] Ibid., 56/76.
[35] Ibid., 57/251.
[36] Ibid., 69/242.
[37] Ibid., 54/244.
[38] Ibid., 55/20.
[39] Ibid., 55/19.
[40] Ibid., 55/18.
[41] Ibid., 56/17.
[42] Ibid., 57/33.
[43] Ibid., 60/183.
[44] Ibid., 60/187.
[45] Ibid., 61/286.
[46] Ibid., 62/21.
[47] BBA: Register of Imperial Rescripts and Minutes of Official Meetings, Vol. 245/187.
[48] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 69/87.
[49] BBA: Bakanlar Kurulu Tutanaklar? [Register of the Minutes of the Council of Ministers], Vol. 207/93.
[50] Ibid., Vol. 257/909.
[51] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 83.
[52] Ibid., 54/150.
[53] Ibid., 68/95.
[54] Ibid., 55/291.
[55] Ibid., 56/83.
[56] Ibid., 57/115.
[57] Ibid., 58/49.
[58] Ibid., 61/164.
[59] Ibid., 86/12.
[60] Ibid., 50/47.
[61] Ibid., 54/323.
[62] BBA: Register of Imperial Rescripts and Minutes, Vol. 241/204.
[63] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 55/297.
[64] GBA: Archive No. 1/2, File No. 361-1445, Index No. 11/11.
[65] BBA: Ministry of the Interior, Cipher File No. 57/158.
[66] Ibid., Security-2/29.
[67] Ibid., 63/171.
[68] Ibid., 64/194.
[69] Ibid, 5.
[70] GBA: Archive No. 4/3671, File No. 2947-628, Index Nos. 3/1—3/3.
[71] Ibid., Index No. 3/4.
[72] Ibid., Archive No. 1/2, File No. 359-1023(1453), Index No. 3/36.
[73] Ibid., Archive No. 1/2, File No. 401-1578, Index No. 3/1.

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