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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTTOMAN ARMENIANS? (II)

Nurşen MAZICI
13 October 2006 - Turkish Daily News
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.E `°="justify">The position of Armenians during the war:

  By 1914, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) had recruited many militants and in the spring of 1915, besieged the city of Van, massacring tens of thousands of Muslims and spearheading a Russian invasion of Eastern Ottoman Anatolia. For example, a report I obtained from the National Archives (N) proved that the ARF admitted to killing 60,000 Muslims in Sarikamis, Kars, in 1914 and massacring many Muslims who lived in Eastern Anatolia by collaborating with the Russian and French armies, which occupied eastern and southeastern Anatolia from 1914 to 1918.[1]

  According to this report, the ARF explained what they had done, which was admitted by the Ottoman Armenians who had migrated to the United States as follows: In August 1914, a Turkish mission visited the ARF, which had congregated for its annual meeting at Erzurum in eastern Anatolia. Afterward, the Turkish mission suggested to the ARF that if the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire and of Russia [make] common cause with Turkey, Turkey [will agree] to create, with a guarantee from Germany, an autonomous Armenian state by giving Erzurum, Van and Bitlis in Turkey. However, the ARF rejected this arrangement. (p.3-4)

  Meanwhile, before the entry of the Ottoman Empire into the war in October 1914, Russia, through Russian Commander Count Varantzoff Dachkoff, proposed to Armenian political organizations that if Turkey should enter the war and if Armenians [make] common cause with Russia, thereby contributing to a Russian victory over Turkey, Russia [will] incorporate in the peace treaty stipulations for the complete autonomy of the six vilayets (provinces) of Turkey, and the Armenians accepted the proposal. Therefore, With the Armenians' excellent fighting qualities, especially when in the presence of a hereditary enemy [Turks are implied], these troops really made the difference between success and failure to the Russians in the Caucasus." (p.7)

  Another comment in the report is that more than 200,000 Armenians fought with the allies [England, Russia and France, which wanted to divide and share the Ottoman Empire] or independently, and 100,000 lost their lives. Of the 900 college and university students, especially of those whose families were in Turkey, (p.21) that enlisted in the Foreign Legion and fought on the Western front all, but 55 were killed in action and of the survivors every one received one or more decorations for gallantry in action. Following the defection of Russia, the Armenians took over the Caucasus front -- 600 miles long  and prevented the Turks from reaching the Baku oil fields for nine long months. (p.1)

  The Armenians had achieved the plan of the ARF, which was related to Dr. Hamlin, step by step, during the war on the Caucasus front. The report says: "In 1914 … the 10th Turkish Army, on its way from Olti to Sarikamis, was held up for 36 hours at the Barbuz Pass by the first Armenian battalion, under Armenian Col. Keri. This delay enabled the Russians to concentrate their forces at Sarikamis, where Enver Pasha [the minister of war in the Ottoman government] failed utterly in his offensive. It adds: The Turks lost 30,000, largely due to freezing conditions. Ali Ihsan Pasha and his staff were captured and shipped to Siberia. … When Enver returned to Istanbul, he publicly announced that his failure was due to the intervention of the Armenians. … Enver told the truth. … In April, 1915 … Armenian leader Andranik fought off Gen. Khalil Bey for three days. When Russian reinforcements arrived, 3,600 Turks lay dead and wounded in front of Armenian trenches." (pp. 9-10)

  As a matter of fact, this information, that 100,000 Armenians had fought against the Turks in World War I, was confirmed at the U.S. Senate as well. [2]

  Finally, the ARF declared a people's war [3] against the Turkish government and began to implement its plan by massacring hundreds of thousands of people. According to information provided by the Turkish State Archive, more than 523,000 Turk Ottoman subjects were killed by the ARF from 1910 to 1922. [4] As is well known, American and European Armenians have been claiming since 1973 that on April 24, 1915 there was an Armenian genocide by the Ottoman government. As explained in the report, the situation is so confused that it is almost impossible to understand who massacred whom in April 1915.

  There has been an allegation that after the entry of the Ottoman Empire into World War I, a so-called Armenian genocide paralleled the genocide of Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II. As Professor Bernard Lewis mentioned, this allegation is unfounded because what happened to the Ottoman Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before the war broke out, and continued on a larger scale.

  "To make this a parallel with the holocaust in Germany you would have to assume the Jews of Germany had been engaged in an armed rebellion against the German state, collaborating with the allies against Germany. That in the deportation order the cities of Hamburg and Berlin were exempted, persons in the employment of the state were exempted and deportation only applied to the Jews of Germany proper, so that when they got to Poland they were welcomed and sheltered by Polish Jews." [5]

  The Russian occupation continued from 1914 to 1916 in the eastern region. Consequently, it means that it was impossible to massacre Armenians who lived in eastern Turkey in 1915 because neither the Ottoman government nor the army had control over the region. Afterward, it is probable that the German and Ottoman governments, which were allied with each other during World War I, decided to deport the AFR members and their families temporarily to Syria, which was a province of the Ottoman Empire and far from all active fronts at that time.

  Finally, the Ottoman government had to deport them at the insistence of the ARF on May 27, 1915. However, during the deportation some Armenians were killed in revenge by Kurdish tribes and by local officials whose members and relatives had been massacred by the AFR between the 1880s and 1915. The situation in the region is well described by Gen. Harbord: "In the territory untouched by war from which Armenians were deported, the ruined villages are undoubtedly due to Turkish deviltry, but where Armenians advanced and retired with the Russians their retaliatory cruelties unquestionably rivaled the Turks in their inhumanity." [6]

Footnotes:

  [1] National Archives (N) RG 59 Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations Between the United States and Turkey, 1910-1929 Roll No: 6, M : NO:365 Document No:711.672/473, and Date: June 7,1926, Herbert Adams Gibbons Armenia in the World War, 1926, New York.

  [2] Congressional Record Proceedings and Debates -- Senate, Volume LXVII, Part-1, March 17, 1925, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1926, p.292

  [3] Nalbandian, op. cit. p.156

  [4] The New York Times, April 18, 2005

  [5] Gunay Evinch, The Armenian Cause Today, The Turkish American, Vol.2 No.8, Summer 2005, p. 24

  [6] Maj. Gen. James. G. Harbord, U.S. Army, Conditions in the Near East, Report of the American Military Mission to Armenia, Presented by Mr. Lodge, April 13, 1920 -- Ordered to be printed, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1920, p. 9.

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