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Confiscation and Colonization: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property

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“Leave all your belongings—your furniture, your beddings, your artifacts. Close your shops and businesses with everything inside. Your doors will be sealed with special stamps. On your return, you will get everything you left behind. Do not sell property or any expensive item. Buyers and sellers alike will be liable for legal action. Put your money in a bank in the name of a relative who is out of the country. Make a list of everything you own, including livestock, and give it to the specified official so that all your things can be returned to you later. You have ten days to comply with this ultimatum.”[1]

—Government promulgation hanged in public places in Kayseri, June 15, 1915.

 

The Armenian Weekly
April 2011 Magazine

Introduction

This article is based on a forthcoming monograph on the expropriation of Ottoman Armenians during the 1915 genocide.[2] It will paraphrase some of the main arguments of the book, which details the emergence of Turkish economic nationalism, offers insight into the economic ramifications of the genocidal process, and describes how the plunder was organized on the ground. The book discusses the interrelated nature of property confiscation initiated by the Young Turk regime and its cooperating local elites, and offers new insights into the functions and beneficiaries of state-sanctioned robbery. Drawing on secret files and unexamined records from eight languages, the book presents new evidence to demonstrate how Armenians suffered systematic plunder and destruction, and how ordinary Turks were assigned a range of property for their progress.

A 1918 photo of the Armenian church in Trabzon, which was used as a depot and distribution center for confiscated property. (Photo from Raymond Kévorkian and Paul Paboudjian's book "Les Arméniens à la veille du génocide.")

This two-way policy is captured in the two concepts of confiscation and colonization. The book uses the concept of confiscation to capture the involvement of an extensive bureaucratic apparatus and illustrate the legal facade during the dispossession of Armenians. Furthermore, it will deploy the concept of colonization to denote the redistribution of their property as a form of internal colonization. Together, these concepts best encapsulate the twin processes of seizing property from Armenians, and reassigning it to Turks.[3]

The book is situated in the field of genocide studies, and starts off by asking questions that have been answered fairly satisfactorily for other genocides such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide: Was confiscation of the victim group’s properties economically motivated as a mere instrument for material gain? Did the Young Turk regime distribute Armenian property to local elites in exchange for support for the genocide? In other words, did they simply buy their loyalty by appealing to their sense of economic self-interest? Or did the local elite support the destruction and expropriation out of ideological convictions? Finally, what was the scope of the dispossession process? In other words, how wide was the circle of profiteurs? Did just the Young Turk elite, from the imperial capital down to the provincial towns, profit from it, or did much wider classes in Turkish society benefit?

The book consists of seven chapters that can be divided into three sections. Chapters two and three constitute the first section and will discuss main issues such as ideology and law. Chapter two, entitled “Ideological foundations: constructing the Turkish ‘national economy,”’ will trace the evolution of the Turkish-nationalist ideology of building a purely Turkish “national economy” within the multi-ethnic Ottoman economic landscape. It will discuss how the Young Turk Party envisioned such a Turkish economy to come into being by analyzing the writings of leading Young Turk ideologues. Rather than macro-economic analyses of Ottoman financial policy in the early 20th century, the chapter will investigate how the party imagined the role of the state and the economic progress of the ethnic Turkish population.

Immediately following it is chapter three, entitled “Legal foundations: using the justice system for injustice.” This chapter will closely analyze the many laws and decrees that the Young Turk regime passed to provide a veneer of legality to their crimes. It will seek to answer the question: Why did the Young Turk regime feel the need to pass elaborate laws on the status of wartime Armenian property? It will discuss not only the laws that were adopted by the regime, but also the legal status of Armenian property. The chapter will distinguish the legal provenance of land and immovable property versus movables.

Chapter four, “The dispossession of Armenians during the genocide, 1915-1918,” constitutes a section in itself. It will examine the development of the genocide and trace Young Turk economic policies towards the Armenian population from the Young Turk coup d’état in 1913 to the fall of the regime in 1918. It will chart how this policy moved from boycott to discrimination, into confiscation and outright plunder, resulting in the mass pauperization of the victims. It identifies main currents and developments of this ruthless policy and how it affected Ottoman Armenian communities. The chapter is meant to be a general introduction to the next three important chapters.

The third and last section of the book comprises chapters five and six. They are each in-depth case studies of several important provinces in the Ottoman Empire. Chapter five, “Adana: the cotton belt,” will be the first of two case studies that describe the organized plunder of Armenians and the subsequent deployment and allocation of Armenian property to Turks. It will focus on the southern city of Adana, where Armenians were employed in cotton fields, and describe how the local Young Turks dispossessed Armenians and assigned the property to Turkish refugees from the Balkans.

Chapter six, “Diyarbekir: the land of copper and silk,” is the second and last case study, concentrating on the southeastern region of Diyarbekir, famous for its copper and silk products. Here, economic life in the bazaar was dominated by Armenian artisans. The chapter will de­­scribe how the local perpetrators participated in the destruction of their Armenian neighbors and were rewarded by the central authorities. It will also focus on large-scale corruption and embezzlement.[4]

Finally, chapter seven, the conclusion, will re-center the main questions posed in this introduction and draw the general conclusions of each chapter together. It will report in a direct style how and why the Armenians were dispossessed during the genocide, how this affected local economies, and how ordinary Turks profited from the expropriation campaign.

Confiscation

The Armenian Genocide consisted of an overlapping set of processes: elite homicides, deportations, massacres, forced assimilation, destruction of material culture, and our current theme, expropriation. Although these dimensions of the genocide differed and were carried out by different agencies, they converged in their objective: destruction. By the end of the war, the approximately 2,900 Anatolian Armenian settlements (villages, towns, neighborhoods) were depopulated and the majority of its inhabitants dead. What made the massacres genocidal is that the genocide targeted the abstract category of group identity, in that all Armenians, loyal or disloyal, were destroyed.

The qualitative leap in the elimination of the Armenians from the Ottoman economy reached an important acceleration with the proclamation of war and the abolishment of the capitulations. The abrogation of the capitulations was a unilateral breach of international law and a catalyst that channelized high levels of power into the Young Turks’ hands. “Turkification” could now be systematized into a comprehensive empire-wide policy of harassment, organized boycotts, violent attacks, exclusions from professional associations and guilds, and mass dismissals of Armenian employees from the public service and plunder of their businesses in the private sector.

The confiscation process began right after the deportation of the Armenian owners. As a rule of thumb, no prior arrangements were made regarding the properties. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) launched both the deportation and the dispossession of Armenians well before the promulgation of any laws or official decrees. The deportation decrees of May 23, 1915 and the deportation law of May 27, 1915 were issued after the deportations had already begun. Decrees and laws merely served to unite the hitherto diverse practices and render the overall policy more consistent. So too was the CUP’s approach to confiscation. Telegrams to various provinces ordering the liquidation of immovable property were followed by the streamlined program of June 10, 1915 that established the key agency overseeing the liquidation process—the Abandoned Properties Commission (Emvâl-ı Metruke Komisyonu). These were not yet christened “Liquidation Commissions,” but nevertheless mostly fulfilled that function.

Officially, there were 33 commissions across the country, and in towns without any, the local CUP chapter often took charge of the tasks. These consisted of inventorizing, liquidating, appropriating, and allocating Armenian property. The most detailed and reliable information we have about the commissions is from Germans stationed in the Ottoman Empire. For example, Deutsche Bank staff members recognized that the Ottoman Bank collaborated in the endeavour.[5] From its correspondence with the provinces, the German ambassador concluded that the confiscation process went through two phases: the direct liquidation of all unplundered Armenian property by the Abandoned Properties Commission, and the transfer of the revenues to the Ottoman Bank that held responsibility for the money.[6] According to André Mandelstam, in 1916 a sum of 5,000,000 Turkish lira (the equivalent of 30,000 kilograms of gold) was deposited by the Ottoman government at the Reichsbank in Berlin. This astronomic amount of money was most probably the aggregate of all Armenian bank accounts, as well as the total sum gained from the liquidations in the provinces.[7] Furthermore, German diplomats argued that the commissions worked in tandem with the Grand Vezirate, the Finance Ministry, and the Justice Ministry.[8] The entire operation was supervised by the Interior Ministry, which was tasked with an enormous amount of coordination and recordkeeping. These records have survived and I will draw on them extensively to outline the process of dispossession.

At the outset, the problem of property was a concomitant effect of the deportations and there was probably no blueprint for it written by Talaat Pasha and his henchmen. Throughout 1915 and 1916, the Interior Ministry issued hundreds of directives, orders, decrees, and injunctions to provincial, district, and city authorities. When deportation came, it recorded the names, professions, and properties of Armenians, before expropriating them and liquidating their immovables. Several empire-wide decrees sketched the contours of the confiscation policy. Liquidation entailed auctioning and selling the property to the lowest, not highest, bidder. To this end, on Aug. 29, 1915 the Interior Ministry wired a circular telegram summoning authorities to auction abandoned Armenian property for the benefit of the local Turkish population.[9] As this order sufficed for the ongoing deportations, preparations were made for future ones. On Nov. 1, 1915, the ministry ordered the drawing up of lists of “Armenian merchants from provinces who have not yet been transported to other regions,” including details on their trading firms, real estate, factories, the estimated worth of all their belongings, information on their relatives living abroad, and whether they were working with foreign business partners.[10] To preclude jurisdictional disputes from arising, the ministry admonished that the only agency authorized to organize the expropriation was the Abandoned Properties Commission.[11]

Talaat and the Interior Ministry he presided over were soon facing two acute problems: ambiguity regarding the forms and provenance of property, and delimiting the scope of the expropriations. An example of the former trend was a question asked by the provincial authorities of Aleppo, namely whether only Apostolic Armenians were to be expropriated or also Protestant and Catholic ones. By then, the definition of the victim group had already transformed from a religious definition based on the millet system, to a national definition. Thus, the ministry arbitrated that the targets were not only Apostolic Armenians but all “Armenians.”[12] The German consul of Trabzon remarked that under this law, technically, “an Armenian converted to Islam would then be deported as a Mohammedan Armenian.”[13]

Other provinces wondered what to do with the property of undeported Armenians, often military families. The ministry ordered that for now, they would be allowed to keep their property.[14] In another case, three governors asked for advice on how to handle the sowed fields of Armenian farmers. The ministry admitted that the abstract decrees did not always correspond to the existing conditions on the ground and ordered: “These need to be reaped and threshed under the supervision of the Abandoned Properties Commissions and provided for by the funds for the expenses of the settlers. Report within two days how many soldiers or labourers from the population, and which kinds of machines and tools and utensils are needed to harvest the crops.”[15]

These prescriptive provisions were supplemented by prohibitive rules. Those Armenians who anticipated that the deportations were a temporary measure counted on renting out their houses, stables, barns, or shops to neighbors and acquaintances. But the ministry prohibited this practice.[16] Those Armenians who attempted to sell their property to foreigners and other Christians (such as Greeks or Christian Arabs) were also counteracted. It issued a circular telegram prohibiting “decidedly” (suret-i katiyyede) the sale of any land or other property to foreigners.[17] Furthermore, the government prohibited Armenians from a whole host of strategies to avoid seizure of their property. These included transferring property to non-Ottoman Armenians, sending it abroad to family members, giving valuables to American missionaries and consuls, mailing it directly to their new residences at their final destinations. It is these kinds of prohibitions that shed light on the rationale behind the expropriations. They strongly suggest that there was no intention of either compensating Armenians fairly for their dispossession, or offering them any prospect of a future return to their homes. Hilmar Kaiser has rightly concluded that these restrictions were “a plain admission of official criminal intent.”[18]

A more precise explanation perhaps lays in a revealing telegram sent by the government to Balıkesir District. It read that the expropriation needed to be carried out to “ensure that the transported population will no longer have any connection to possessions and ownership” (nakledilen ahalinin alâka-ı mülkiyet ve tasarrufu kalmamasını temîn).[19] In other words, the relationship between Armenians and their property needed to be definitively severed to bring about a lasting “de-Armenization” of the land. Three years later, the German consul at Trabzon, Heinrich Bergfeld, correctly noted that the most important decision had been depriving the landowners of the right to dispose of their immovable property. At the end of the war, he reflected on the fate of the Armenian deportees: “If one believes they cannot be allowed to definitively return to their old homes, one should at least give them the general permission to make use of their real estate through sale or rent, and temporarily allow them to go to their homelands for this purpose.”[20] This would turn out to be a naive proposition.

Colonization

The appropriation of Armenian property by the Young Turk regime, or to be more precise, the Young Turk regime’s mass theft of Armenian property, is closely related to the morphology of the organization, coordination, and implementation of the genocide. Recent studies have challenged the convention that the genocide had a uni-polar pyramid structure. On the contrary, the genocide was a multi-polar process: radicalization came from within and without, and emanated from different perpetrating power centers, such as civil and military organizations, the party, the nexus Talaat-Enver, and local elites.[21] Competition and conflict between these sectors shaped the genocide. As a result, the confiscation of Armenian property and its allocation to Turks became a bone of contention between the Ottoman army and the Interior Ministry. The army attempted to acquire movable and immovable Armenian property for its military ends, but the ministry followed its ideological prescript of forging a “national economy” and adamantly assigned the property to the upstart Turkish middle class.

The confiscation of Armenian property was followed and supplemented by the colonization by Ottoman Muslims of the empty spaces they left behind. As Armenians trudged along the deportation routes southwards, their property was being redistributed by the Interior Ministry. Analytically we can distinguish two dimensions to this process: property that ended up in private hands, and property that stayed in possession of the state.

In 1916, the CUP expanded its existing “Turkification” campaign to practically all sectors of Ottoman society. Starting with geography, the CUP began Turkifying place names. On Jan. 5, 1916 Enver Pasha ordered the Turkification of all Armenian, Greek, and Bulgarian place names, including cities, towns, provinces, districts, villages, mountains, and rivers. This was an attempt to wipe out the geographical imprints of non-Turkish cultures. Although the decree was suspended for reasons of military practicability, the practice was picked up after the war and continued well into the 1980s and changed tens of thousands of Armenian place names.[22] The 2,900 Armenian settlements were now not only emptied of their population, but also stripped of their names. It was as if Armenians had never lived there.

A day after Enver’s decree, on Jan. 6, 1916, Talaat ordered an empire-wide decree about the businesses confiscated in the genocide. The order read:

The movable property left by the Armenians should be conserved for long-term preservation, and for the sake of an increase of Muslim businesses in our country, companies need to be established strictly made up of Muslims. Movable property should be given to them under suitable conditions that will guarantee the business’s steady consolidation. The founder, the management, and the representatives should be chosen from honorable leaders and the elite, and to allow tradesmen and agriculturists to participate in its dividends, the vouchers need to be half a lira or one lira and registered to their names to preclude that the capital falls in foreign hands. The growth of entrepreneurship in the minds of Muslim people needs to be monitored, and this endeavor and the results of its implementation need to be reported to the ministry step by step.[23]

This order constitutes perhaps the most unequivocal document attesting to the intentions and policies of the CUP. It encapsulates the ideology of “Turkification” and “national economy” in a single, explicit, incontrovertible formulation.

The order was followed up by several other prescriptive ones ordering the redistribution of Armenian lands to Muslim merchants. The CUP sanctioned “the complete transfer of business and industrial enterprises” to the upcoming Turkish middle class in each and every locality. Special care was to be taken that the workbenches, implements, and furniture in the many stores and workshops were not dispersed but stayed in their places.[24] Other decrees were concerned with norms and rules for correct usage. For example, auctioning needed to be properly carried out for the long-term development of the businesses, according to the Jan. 6 decree. During an auction in Kayseri, a Turk bought a formerly Armenian workshop for 200 Turkish lira, only to sell it for 2,000 lira two days later and pocket the difference. The ministry strongly condemned this act and instructed the Abandoned Properties Commission to rectify the situation.[25]

After this event, a circular was wired to all provinces prohibiting similar practices and underlining again the importance of “Muslims’ familiarization with commercial life” and the “build-up of Muslim-owned business enterprises in our country.”[26] Long-term goals had absolute priority above short-term benefits. Dilapidation, waste, and negligence were unacceptable too. The ministry admonished the Abandoned Properties Commissions to take proper care and assist the new Muslim owners as much as possible. If any help was needed, the commissions should turn to the ministry.[27] As a result of this policy, a whole generation of Turkish-owned firms—“established in 1916”—mushroomed across the empire.[28]

Before the Young Turks seized power in the 1913 coup d’état, hatred of Armenians (and Greeks) was particularly widespread in the commercial middle class. Curtailing the economic livelihood of Armenians was in their interests. “Turkification,” therefore, had particularly favorable economic consequences for these (lower) middle-class Turks, as the liquidation of Armenian middle-class enterprises relieved the pressure of economic competition. It foresaw the promotion of a new generation of Turkish businessmen who enriched themselves from the vulnerability of the persecuted Armenians. The newspaper İkdam published an article openly exhorting Turks to “get rich” in the “economic revolution”:

Pharmaceutics, grocery shops, dentistry, transportation, contracting is rapidly spreading among Turks. Our friends have begun competing with many nations in employment branches that are as yet new fields of activity in our country, like electricians’ work, engineering, and similar… It is the revolution in this nation’s society and economy, rather than the political changes, that will save this nation (bu milleti kurtaracak) and will provide him with an eternal life.[29]

The government offered ordinary Turks incredible prospects of upward social mobility. With a giant leap forward, a nation of peasants, pastoralists, soldiers, and bureaucrats would now jumpstart to the level of the bourgeoisie, the “respectable” and “modern” middle classes. The groups who benefited most from this policy were the landowners and the urban merchants.[30] When shortages arose in 1916, the party leadership allowed that group of merchants close to the party to monopolize import, supply, and distribution. Defraudation and malpractice occurred in this alliance by individual party members and merchants who enriched themselves at the expense of the Istanbulites.

As the genocide was raging in full force, Turkish settlers were on their way. Local preparations were needed in order to lodge the settlers successfully. The ministry iterated its request for economic and geographic data on the emptied Armenian villages. In order to send settlers to the provinces, the local capacities to “absorb” them had to be determined. The Interior Ministry requested information on the number of Armenian households deported, whether the emptied villages were conducive to colonization by settlers, and if so, how many.[31] It also demanded data on the size of the land, number of farms, and potential number of settler households.[32] The books were kept precisely. According to Talaat’s own notebook, in 1915 the amount of property allocated to settlers was: 20,545 buildings, 267,536 acres of land, 76,942 acres of vineyards, 7,812 acres of gardens, 703,491 acres of olive groves, 4,573 acres of mulberry gardens, 97 acres of orange fields, 5 carts, 4,390 animals, 2,912 agricultural implements, and 524,788 planting seeds.[33]

Last but not least, the CUP elite took the cream of the crop of Armenian property for itself. Ahmed Refik observed the colonization process:

Silence reigns in Eskişehir… The elegant Armenian houses around the train station are bare as bone. This community, with its wealth, its trade, its superior values, became subject to the government’s order, emptied its houses…now all emptied houses, valuable rugs, stylish rooms, its closed doors, are basically at the grace of the refugees. Eskişehir’s most modernized and pretty houses lay around the train station… A large Armenian mansion for the princes, two canary-yellow adjacent houses near the Sarısu bridge to Talaat Bey and his friend Canbolat Bey, a wonderful Armenian mansion in the Armenian neighborhood to Topal İsmail Hakkı. All the houses convenient for residing near the train station have all been allocated to the elite of the Ittihadists.[34]

Even Sultan Mehmed Reşad V received his share. This process of assigning the very best property to Young Turks was intensified after 1919 by the Kemalists. Indeed, possibly the most important recipient of the redistribution of Armenian properties was the state itself.

The various Ministries (Education, Health, Justice) greatly benefited from the colonization process. The Interior Ministry granted them permission to choose from Armenian property buildings it wanted to use as their offices. The state, led by the CUP, was lavished with property up to the highest levels. A famous example of confiscated Armenian property is the story of the Kasabian vineyard house in Ankara. In December 1921, amidst the Greco-Turkish War, Mustafa Kemal was touring the area when he noticed the splendid house of the wealthy Ankara jeweler and merchant Kasabian. The house had been occupied by the noted Bulgurluzâde family after the Kasabians had been dispossessed and deported. Mustafa Kemal liked the house and bought it from Bulgurluzâde Tevfik Efendi for 4,500 Turkish lira. From then on, the compound has been known as the Çankaya Palace (Çankaya Köşkü), the official residence of the president of Turkey up to today.[35]

Conclusion

The expropriation of Ottoman Armenians was necessary for the destruction process in general. Dispossessed and uprooted, the Ottoman Armenians’ chances of survival and maintenance gradually shrunk to a minimum. Every step in the persecution process contributed to the weakening and emasculating of Armenians. It robbed them not only of their possessions, but also of possibilities for escape, refuge, or resistance. The more they were dispossessed, the more defenseless they became against Young Turk measures.

The structure of this process can be analyzed at three levels: the macro, meso, and micro-levels, bearing in mind the relevant connections between the three levels. The macro-level concerns the context and structure of the political elite that led the empire to war and genocide. They launched the policies out of ideological conviction: the war offered an indispensable opportunity to establish the “national economy” through “Turkification.” They created a universe of impunity in which every institution and individual below them could think of Armenians as outlawed and their property as fair game, up for grabs. If it is the opportunity that creates the crime, then Talaat created an opportunity structure in which ordinary Turks came to plunder on a mass scale.

Now the second level enters into force. Within the structure of national policy were nestled developments such as complex decision-making processes, the necessity and logic of a division of labor, the emergence of specialized confiscation units, and the segregation and destruction of the victim group. This level was characterized by competition, contestation, and clashes over coveted property. Local elites and state institutions such as the army, several ministries, the fiscal authorities, the provincial government, and the party, collaborated for their own reasons. The main agencies were the police, militia, and civil administration. Several ministries were involved in the expropriation process and benefited greatly from it, most notably the Ministries of Education, Justice, Finance, Health, and Interior. The Ottoman Bank and the Agricultural Bank exploited the process unscrupulously for their own ends. The effects of the economic war against the Armenians raise questions about the implication of these institutions.

At the micro-level, the process facilitated hundreds of thousands of individual thefts of deported victims, carried out by ordinary Turks. The mechanisms that propelled plunder were horizontal pull-factors and incentives (zero-sum competition with other plunderers), and vertical pressure (the beginning of the process did not contain precise decrees but was open for liberal interpretation). Thus, ordinary Turks profited in different ways: Considerable sections of Ottoman-Turkish society were complicit in the spoliation. Whereas in the countryside a Hobbesian world of unchecked power was unleashed, in the cities, the CUP launched a more careful, restrained path due to firmly established and complex social and bureaucratic structures. This level is in particular important to study the material benefits that accrued to figures within the Young Turk Party. In an in-depth study of the phenomenon of class in Turkey, Çağlar Keyder concluded that “there was usually one-to-one correspondence between the roster of the Committee of Union and Progress local organization and the shareholders of new companies.”[36] Yusuf Akçura too, reflected after the war on the CUP’s economic policies in the past decade and concluded that in Anatolia, “the Muslim real estate owners and business elite have completely embraced the Committee of Union and Progress.”[37] These arbitrary, corrupt, and nepotistic activities took place behind the juridical facade of government decree.

But history is full of unforeseen and unintended consequences of policies and ideologies. The great unintended consequence of the Young Turk government’s dispossession of Armenians was the opportunity it offered local Turks for self-enrichment. To the Interior Ministry, this was not acceptable nor accepted: Individual embezzlers were punished by having their rights to Armenian property revoked. Those with ties to local Young Turk Party bosses or enough social status and potential to mobilize people got away with their “crime within a crime.” One can perhaps even conclude that the Young Turk government bought the domestic loyalty of the Turkish people through these practices—initially irresponsible, then outright criminal. The Armenian Genocide was a form of state formation that married certain classes and sectors of Ottoman society to the state. It offered those Turks a fast-track to upward social mobility. So the knife had cut both ways, for the Young Turk movement represented the drive to couple social equality with national homogeneity and political purity.

As Armenians went from riches to ruins, Turks went from rags to riches. But Armenian losses cannot simply be expressed in sums, hectares, and assets. The ideology of “national economy” did not only assault the target group economically, but also in their collective prestige, esteem, and dignity. Apart from the objective consequences of material loss, the subjective experiences of immaterial loss were inestimable. Proud craftsmen, who had often followed in their ancestors’ footsteps as carpenters, cobblers, tailors, or blacksmiths, now lost their livelihoods. The genocide robbed them not only of their assets but also of their professional identities. Zildjian, the world’s largest cymbal producer, was headed by two brothers who escaped persecution because during the war they happened to be in the United States.[38] The Zildjians are world famous and renowned. But entire generations of other famous artisan families disappeared with their businesses, extinguishing the name and quality of certain brands. Gone were the Dadians, Balians, Duzians, Demirjibashians, Bezjians, Vemians, Tirpanjians, Shalvarjians, Cholakians, and many other gifted professionals.

The assets of these and other Armenians were re-used for various purposes: settling refugees and settlers, constructing state buildings, supplying the army, and indeed, the deportation program itself. This leads me to the grim conclusion that the Ottoman Armenians financed their own destruction.

More information about the book is available at www.ungor.nl/?page_id=19.


[1] Mae M. Derdarian, Vergeen: A Survivor of the Armenian Genocide (Los Angeles: Atmus, 1996), p. 38.

[2] Uğur Ümit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel, Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property (London/New York: Continuum, 2011).

[3] For an argument along these lines, see: Donald Bloxham, “Internal Colonization, Inter-imperial Conflict and the Armenian Genocide,” in: A. Dirk Moses (ed.), Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History (New York: Berghahn, 2008), pp. 325-42.

[4] For a study of Young Turk rule in Diyarbekir, see: Uğur Ümit Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[5] Politisches Archiv Auswärtiges Amt (German Foreign Ministry Archives, PAAA), Botschaft Konstantinopel 98, Bl. 1-3, Deutsche Bank Istanbul branch to Germany embassy, Nov. 17, 1915.

[6] PAAA, Botschaft Konstantinopel 96, Bl. 98-105, Hohenlohe-Langenburg to Erzurum, Sept. 3, 1915.

[7] André Mandelstam, La Société des Nations et les Puissances devant le problème arménien (Beirut: Association Libanaise des Universitaires Arméniens, 1970), pp. 489-3.

[8] PAAA, Botschaft Konstantinopel 98, Bl.4, Vice-Consul Ziemke to Istanbul Consulate, Nov. 16, 1915.

[9] Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (Ottoman Prime Ministerial Archives, BOA) DH.ŞFR 55/330, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Aug. 29, 1915.

[10] BOA, DH.ŞFR 57/241, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Nov. 1, 1915.

[11] BOA, DH.ŞFR 57/61, Interior Ministry to Eskişehir, Oct. 17, 1915.

[12] BOA, DH.ŞFR 57/37, Interior Ministry to Aleppo, Oct. 16, 1915.

[13] Quoted in: Ara Sarafian (ed.), United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1917 (London: Gomidas Institute, 2004), p. 154.

[14] BOA, DH.ŞFR 70/79, Interior Ministry to Diyarbekir, Nov. 23, 1916.

[15] BOA, DH.ŞFR 54/301, Interior Ministry to Sivas, Diyarbekir, Mamuret-ul Aziz, July 5, 1915.

[16] BOA, DH.ŞFR 56/269, Interior Ministry to Canik, Oct. 3, 1915.

[17] BOA, DH.ŞFR 55/280, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Aug. 28, 1915.

[18] Kaiser, “Armenian Property,” p. 68.

[19] BOA, DH.ŞFR 55/66, Interior Ministry to Karesi, Aug. 17, 1915.

[20] PAAA, R14104, Trabzon consul Bergfeld to Reichskanzler Hertling, Sept. 1, 1918.

[21] Hilmar Kaiser, “Genocide at the Twilight of the Ottoman Empire,” in: Donald Bloxham & A. Dirk Moses (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 365-85.

[22] Kerem Öktem, “The Nation’s Imprint: Demographic Engineering and the Change of Toponymes in Republican Turkey,” in: European Journal of Turkish Studies, vol.7 (2008), at: http://ejts.revues.org/index2243.html.

[23] BOA, DH.ŞFR 59/239, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Jan. 6, 1916.

[24] BOA, DH.ŞFR 60/129, Interior Ministry to Trabzon, Jan. 26, 1916.

[25] BOA, DH.ŞFR 60/275, Interior Ministry to Kayseri, Feb. 8, 1916.

[26] BOA, DH.ŞFR 61/31, Talaat to all provinces, Feb. 16, 1916.

[27] BOA, DH.ŞFR 64/39, Interior Ministry to all provinces, May 16, 1916.

[28] According to one study, the CUP’s economic “Turkification” official, Kara Kemal, set up 70 firms during the war. Osman S. Kocahanoğlu, İttihat-Terakki’nin Sorgulanması ve Yargılanması (Istanbul: Temel, 1998), p. 33.

[29] “Ey Türk! Zengin ol,” in: İkdam, Jan. 11, 1917.

[30] Çağlar Keyder, “İmparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Geçişte Kayıp Burjuvazi Aranıyor,” Toplumsal Tarih, vol.12, no.68 (1999), pp. 4-11.

[31] BOA, DH.ŞFR 53/113, Interior Ministry to all provinces, May 25, 1915.

[32] BOA, DH.ŞFR 59/107, Interior Ministry to Ankara, Bursa, Kayseri, Konya, and Sivas, Dec. 27, 1915.

[33] Murat Bardakçı, Talât Paşa’nın Evrak-ı Metrûkesi (Istanbul: Everest, 2008), p. 95.

[34] Ahmed Refik, Kafkas Yollarında: İki Komite İki Kıtâl (Istanbul: Temel, 1998), p. 136.

[35] Soner Yalçın, “Çankaya Köşkü’nün ilk sahibi Ermeni’ydi,” Hürriyet, March 25, 2007.

[36] Çağlar Keyder, State and Class in Turkey: A Study in Capitalist Development (London: Verso, 1987), p. 63.

[37] Yusuf Akçuraoğlu, Siyaset ve İktisad Hakkında Birkaç Hitabe ve Makale (Istanbul: Yeni Matbaa, 1924), p. 27.

[38] See www.zildjian.com/en-US/about/timeline.ad2.

56 Comments on Confiscation and Colonization: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property

  1. This very valuable article raises the following question:
    “Finally, what was the scope of the dispossession process? In other words, how wide was the circle of profiteurs?”
    It also makes the following statement:
    “Young Turk government bought the domestic loyalty of the Turkish people through these practices—”
    There is no question that the “Young Turk government bought the domestic loyalty” of not only the Turkish people, but also that of the Kurds. Reigning ashtarabids directed the best cattle and crops of villages into their own stables. The rest were distributed to neighbouring Kurdish villagers. The descendants of those Kurds today still occupy my village. Their cattle roam my father’s fields. Their women pick the apples and pears from the seedlings of the trees my grandfather planted. On the deportation route, our women were asked to list the property that they had been forced to leave behind. The Armenian women were then beaten by Kurdish guards until they revealed any money they had hidden on themselves. If they insisted that they had none, their their children were brutally killed in front of the mothers. The churches distributed all their money among the women before they were forced out of their villages. This money was also taken from them by the caravan guards. Each of us must document and give to our children and grandchildren every single thing we know. Our day will come.

  2. This is a very interesting article.  However, what’s to be done with this information?  We knew more or less these type of confiscations took place.  Now what? 

  3. Bob Kay: You are right, of course. The burning question is: Why have we not gone to international courts? This book is valuable in that it further documents our claims. However, it does not address the most important question you have raised. I have long wondered if the Armenian Bar Association has considered addressing this issue.

  4. “The burning question is: Why have we not gone to international courts?”  So many commentators have raised it on these pages, bit noone cares to answer. Could any columnist explain as to what prevents us from submitting lawsuits in the international courts?! After all, genocide recognition and reparations is a legal, not genuinely political issue…

  5. avatar Murad A. Meneshian // April 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm // Reply

    We still read that Jewish familes are successful in having art work returned to them, either though court orders or arbitration. These cases have been through the court systems of countries where the confiscated properties reside. In our case, going through the Turkish court system is futile, unless we do it for propaganda purposes. It is time now that we make similar demands. We need Armenian lawyer to study our case and take action accordingly. BUT leave compansation for land alone. That falls under a separate and more important issue.

  6. Re: “Could any columnist explain as to what prevents us from submitting lawsuits in the international courts?”
    How about the Armenian Bar Association? Can we hear from them?
    You are right, arm_k, this is a legal issue. Our rights, including land borders, can only be restored through the international courts.

  7. Oh please, do go to the International Courts!! You’ve had almost 100 years to do so. Do you know WHY you can’t, nor have been unable to do so before? It’s because in ANY court of law (ANYWHERE), the court is going to ask one main question…PLEASE PRESENT ALL UNALTERED DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE!!! Good luck with that happening any time soon! Oh, BTW…Can you all say “COUNTERSUIT”?

  8. Robert, where are the Armenians of the Armenian Plateau?

  9. We have not sued in International court because we are totally disorganized, indifferent and unprepared group of people who think that we are best at everything but are nothing in reality.
    Eventually a few lawyers will get together and try and sue,  just as we see what the few self proclaimed lawyers of our community did recently and now are fighting among themselves to see who will get a few more chump change.
    In Armenia, our so called leaders are either trying to see how much money they can stash away or the few decent people around are faced with insurmountable difficulties of their own. In the Diaspora, we are a joke; we do not even have leaders. We have individuals who are desperately holding on to their positions and the concept of collective good or advantage is the last thing on their mind.
    The Turks were very successful in getting rid of our cream of the crop intelligentsia and left us with the idiots of today, the Armenians around that do not know and are incapable of organizing to approach our issues in a professional manner. So please do not ask why we have not done what we were supposed to do long time ago, we are not capable to do it as a collective group

  10. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // April 23, 2011 at 6:28 am // Reply

    WE did not only lost our Lands
    Like Indian Americans
    Turks Turkified Us
    From Hamsin till Antalya—
    They Changed our Identity
    (Language, Religion, Names)
    But can they change or DNA!?

    We don’t need their lands
    If we build…They will destroy once again
    They don’t understand arts
    Their IQ used to destroy and pray
    From Our churches…Which changed to minarets

    Every one well-come Us in their lands
    They trust Us from depth of their hearts
    They love Our Beauty
    Our Honesty
    Our Friendship
    They know it Will Last…

    We can’t betray any
    Even they betray Us
    We have a faith
    Faith as our Gomidas

    He-Who gave us Music
    No one can vanish his notes
    By their blood-filled hands
    His music is carved in our Hearts
    And our cohorts
    Will sing Gomedas’s Symphony
    From this April
    Till the Earth unthrives…

    Every one Love us
    From Arabia till Bora-Bora

    We don’t want our lands back
    Let they stay there
    And build their graves…
    Underneath that place
    Our souls shall breathe yv…endless
    And will make them sick…

    We don’t need any place
    Because we can live and leave the Earth
    Our kindness…Our artfullness

    Hence… the Earth belongs to Us
    To Armenian Race

    As with our Arts
    With our Gifted Hearts
    We can live in every sand

    All nations’ Doors are opened for Us
    And always well-coming Us
    In their lands…
    Which is our Land…

    Sylva_MD-Poetry

    24, April 2011

     

  11. Unfortunately but sadly and truthfully Hutch raises some points that I must agree with.  Although Hutch, the Ittihadist government that hijacked the throne of Turkey were not entirely Turks but much smarter bunch of people that knew exactly what they were doing.  They cleansed the entire Armenian race (almost all) and then the rest in destitute starved skeletons (mainly women and little children) were left without the heads of the nation as they were mostly massacred.  Like Talaat the devil said; it will take 50 years for the Armenians to be able to rais their heads and say something to the world.  And that is exaclty what has happened.  Thus cancel the first 50 years, which was in 1965.  Anything we were able to do and that should be counted, it is after 1965.  Thus we should say that we didn’t do or achieve much collectively to do our job right and demand our rights from international law is 46 years only.

  12. avatar Alex Postallian // April 23, 2011 at 11:43 am // Reply

    The international courts are a farce,you see how the world is undecided about the Armenian Genocide.Turkey is the biggest liar.Germany at least had the integrity to admit the Houlacast.The only way to win is to be politically strong in representation and manipulate the system.

  13. Although in 46 years our people have worked and achieved for at least 22 nations to accept the Armenian Genocide and more than 45 states in the US to accept it as well as the League of Nations, and a dignified team of scholars who worked for 30 years to record it and proved to the world on the veracity of the Armenian Genocide, it is high time now for our leaders and a team of our lawyers to come together to demand our rights in terms of our economic losses from 1915 through 1923 as well as our Western Armenian homeland through the International Law, the Hague.

  14. Excellent job! Hutch you said everything. All we know is to demonstrate ourselves every year, with flags and yell. It is unbelievable that we are standing at the same spot since hundred years. When I hear the speeches I want to laugh instead of cry.You are right, we don’t have really intelligent people as leaders. We are too late to solve anything.As soon as possible we need to form a committee with scholars,politicians and social philosophers. We don’t need patriotic but uneducated people who are wasting our time and their energy. Why are we wasting our time to convince this or that president in order to say “G” word. This is ridiculous! The young and educated Armenians are very upset with this situation. Genocide is a fact and if someone has any doubt about that, it is their problem. We need to concentrate ourselves on other important issues.We need to wake up and get rid of idiot leaders.

  15. Robert, we don’t need to alter anything since we have your pashas own note book written in Turkish. Take time and read it. You can find all kind of details in that book. He knew what he was doing. By the way, living in denial is a big burden on your shoulder. Take off that heavy load and live your life without guilt. This is just a little advice to you.

  16. Robert the Turk,

    An unaltered documentary evidence of the genocide committed by the Ottoman Turks against the Armenians exists in the national archives of your makeshift country, built on the blood and bones of indigenous Christian nations of Asia Minor, in the form of the verdicts of your own Courts Martial of 1919-1920. Have you ever familiarized yourself with this evidence before popping up in these pages? An advice: avoid making yourself a laughingstock before all those foreign governments, international organizations, professional associations, genocide scholars and Nobel Prize laureates, including Turkey’s own Orhan Pamuk, who admit the mass murders of Armenian as a sheer act of genocide.

    Someone here asked a question. Be a man, answer it: where are the 2 million Ottoman Armenians now? If you answer it in an unaltered, i.e. non-brainwashed manner, you will come to no other conclusion, as do many in the world, that they were subjected to the classical case of deliberate race extermination, read: GENOCIDE. Can you all say “GENOCIDE”? Ready, set, go…

  17. Yes…it was all given to ‘the elite of the Ittihadists’. Let’s check the facts and the names and see how many of these ‘elite’ people were actually Turks. Taner Akcam and others have spelled it out. Most were imports from Salonika. Connect the dots. This was theft on a grand scale orchestrated during the depths of a world war. What a perfect  scheme, a perfect cover for the ultimate crime…and, the descendants of these non-Turkish criminals still run Turkey on the foundations of the Armenian nation. It is disgusting. Pointing it out is not.  Until people are willing to call a spade a spade, not much will change. Remove the blinders. See the obvious. It is in plain sight.

  18. Only half true, Karekin.  Some in ‘the elite of the Ittihadists’ are believed to be non-Turks, even non-Muslims, affiliated with some sinister secret societies.  However, most of the CUP functionaries, central and local government employees, army commanders, the gendarmes, army officers and soldiers, the Chettes, the Special Operations executives, and ordinary people who partook in murder, mutilation, rape, theft and re-settlement were ETHNIC TURKS. There can be no doubt about it.  Had the plan of exterminating the Armenian race designed by ‘the elite of the Ittihadists’ some of whom were not Turks not been close to the Turkish nation as a whole, could it have been implemented in the wider society? Hardly.  Genocide was not only a theft, it was a design to salvage as much lands as possible from the crumbling empire on the expense of Armenians living on their ancestral lands. It was also a grand project of Turkification of what was to remain from the Ottoman Empire: no more Greeks, no more Assyrians, no more Armenians. Turks only.  Turks actually stole our Homeland for themselves by meams of annihilating the Armenian race.  A classic barbarian behavior…

  19. avatar gayzag palandjian // May 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm // Reply

    TO MENESHIAN AND ALL OF YOU,
    I am lucky that we have at home 3 Armenian t.v.  channels, the SHANT, the H1 (govt.)and USArmenia. today on H1 from Yerevan/victory day,our boys captured  SHUSHI and defeated  the azeris,also victory day-coincidence  of WWII .Anyhow, they were showing all about  Shushi  ,a documentary, OH  My god111 how the azeris in the 1920’s burnet the city down and the murdered  more  than 3000  armenians  there…then in 1927 ,when Mandelshtein visited  and saw the city that  had thrived as the capital of the caucauses  /for arts etc., was taken aback.then  this is very intersting   a diehard /famous armenian communist Ms. Marrieta  Shahinian visited  it and it so depressed  her, that  she spoke  up  to the other commies….but  guess what? the aliev  baba and others then in the Politbureau , silenced  such -even communist high ranking members- cause  they were well connected.IT IS FAMOUS  THAT  LATTER  WAS BRIBING  BRESHNEV  WITH  PRECIOUS STONES  JEWELLERY AND  LOTS  OF CAVIAR…while our Armenian prtisans   were no match for the azeris. bygones  are bygones. But wait, then a footage  of the real Mccoy was shown  that  enlivened  me  my spirits  that  is…How  our boys fought tooth and nails and threw  the azeri barbarians  out  of shushi and NK. However…
    I am not one  of those  that  sleep on victories/especially over  such poisonous-sespent type people  that  are grudgeing  preparing   to overcome  their defeat, well supported  by their oil revenues plus  great turkish back up.
    what  we must  do is keep resal  alert  watch and  put aside  our paltry differences,begin to MOBILIZE   like they are doing…
    we cannot stay ina petrified  manner ,just by making speeches and writing what otherwise  is non-real.the real  thing  is to materially  ORGANIZE, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND  ESPECIALLY ECONOMIC  WISE.
    WE  NEED TO HAVE  THE HUGE COLLECTIVITIES  OF OUR WORKING PEOPLE IN 16 FIELDS  OF PROFVESSIONS  CLASSIFIED  IN GROUPINGS-5 ON THE SCENE ALREADY , THEN INTERCONNECT  THESE   AND THROUGH THEIR ELECTED  ELITE  3 PERSON FROM EACH FORM THE TOWNSHIP CENTREAL BODY ,ASKING THE POLITCO AND SPIRITUALS TO JOIN IN,THUS  REAL PARTICIPATION AND REPRESENTATION , ON TO CENTRAL COUNCIL OF EA  DIASPORA COUNTRY AND THEN TO A SUPREME COUNCIL WITH 5  DEPTRTMENTS. LEGAL POLITICAL IN STARASBOURG  -NEST TO RA  REP, EXECUTIVE  IN  NY, ECONOMIC IN GENEVA, WITH 16 OFFICE  FOR EACH OF THE PROF FIELDS,SOCIAL SERVICES& EMIGRATION ORBGANIZING  IN MOSCOW, THE SPIRITUAL ST. ETCMIADIZ(WE  HAVE) but in conjunctions with great  house  of cilicia.next  move  is through  a nucleus  of our magnates  some 5/6  to establish  the NATIONAL INVESTMENT TRUST  FUND  IN GENEVA ,THEN ALL THE WAY DOWN FROM MILLIONARIES  TO THE PCA’S TO CHIPIN.GO FIGURE OUT  WHAT CAPITAL  THAT WILL AMOUNT  TO,.
    FIRST AID TO PORGANIZE  THE EMIGRATION, THEN LOANS YTO SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZE PLANTS ENTREPRENEURS AND FARMERS.
    NEVER  MIND WHAT THE GOVT. IN YEREVAN IS DOING WITH  BIG  LOANS  FORM OVERSEA GOVT.S  THAT  IS LIKE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD  OFFICIAL BUSINESS  GOVT. BUSINESS..HOPE THEY SLOW DOWN WITH THE  CUTTING  IN ON IT  THOUGH…
    BUT WHAT ,THIS SSERVANT  OF ALL ARMENIANS IS SUGGFESTING IS  FUND FOR ALL ARMENITY IN GENEVA, WE MAY HELP ARMENIANS IN CA  OR BEYROUTH WHEREVER NEED BE AND WHILE OUR MAGNATES’ APPOINTED  MONETARY EXPERTS  REINVEST  IN SECURE  FOREIGN  GOVT. BONDS  NOT FUNDS…. WHICH RFENDER 5/6%,pay us the investor  half the other to be added to capital make it big  real big.
    I YOU DO NOT BELIEVE  IN THIS THEN GO ON HOPING  THAT  GOVT. EXEC. WILL PERFORM AS  WE  THE NON SO WOULD,ESPECIALLY THAT DIASPORA  IS THERE TO STAY I DO NOT CHEW WORDS OR TELL LIES.MAJORITY IS THERE TO STAY ,IF WE CAN AT  LEAST  LURE /CONVICNE  ABOVE ALL SHOW WITH LOANS ABOVE MENTIONED  THAT WE CAN HELP THEM GO BACK  WE CAN SAME SOME ONE MILLION RECENT IMMIGRANTS  OVEDRSEAS….
    BST AND
    HAMA HAIGAGANI SIRO
    E&O.EXCEPTED..I TYPE FAST, PLEASE  FORGIVE  ME…

  20. Arm K – you might want to denigrate what you see as ‘barbarian behavior’, which the genocide undoubtedly was, but…I submit to you that those barbarians are not the same people who built and ran an empire, rather successfully, for 600+ years, with alot of Armenian help and support. I have said this before, if you want to place blame for this horrific crime, you must, as with any other criminal activity, follow the money. There you will find your culprits. The same crowd, now known as the deep state, is still profiting from the Armenian spoils.   

  21. Karekin, the Salonika gang could not and did not carry out the genocide on their own.  Countless ethnic Turks, the ancestors of today’s Turks, committed the murders, rapes, pillaging and theft that constituted the Armenian Genocide.  There really is no way around this.  So, while I agree that there is much to be learned about who our enemy is by ‘following the money’ as you say, it can’t be reduced to this.  If it was this straight forward, I would expect that Turkey would have long ago admitted to and distanced itself from the crimes of CUP ‘interlopers’.   But this is not the case.  Millions of ‘ethnic Turks’ willingly participated in the rampage unleashed against Armenians. (This fact makes those Turks who actually helped save Armenians even more heroic.) There is much guilt to go round, much to come to terms with, and many who today who are still directly benefitting from the theft of our homeland.  The only way forward is with the truth, as hard and as ugly as it is.

    I don’t hold today’s average Turk responsible for the genocide, but I do hold them responsible for participating in the denial of a crime their ancestors committed and for its long-lasting effects on the Armenian nation.

  22. Karekin –  “…those barbarians are not the same people who built and ran an empire, rather successfully, for 600+ years.”  Successfully for whom?  For themselves, perhaps. Why would indigenous nations of Asia Minor consider is successful?  Can their subjugation to the Ottoman empire as a result of Seljuk and Mongol incursions to the area be considered a “successful” turn of events?  Also, who were Seljuks and Mongols in their origin if not classic barbarians? Sedentary, highly-civilized, and creative nations? Were not those who “built and ran the empire” the descendants of those who invaded the area?  Is building and running the empire by giving the humiliating status of Millet to the owners of those lands considered a successful governance?  Is the wide-spread oppression of those minorities, unequal taxation, lower social status, and constant pillages, murders, and abductions of the villagers considered a successful governance?  For the Turks perhaps, but definitely not for the ancient inhabitants of Asia Minor.

  23. Karekin,   I think you constantly devalue yourself with your ill-conceived argument that the actual perpetrators of the Armenian genocide were not ethnic Turks. The fact that some of the leaders in the CUP are known to have been the Dönmeh and Freemasons from Salonika does not diminish the role that masses of ethnic Turks and Kurds have played in deliberately annihilating the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian national and religious groups. It’s like saying that since Stalin was a Georgian than it was not Russian masses who perpetrated the 1930s purges (for which modern Russian government has apologized, by the way). Or because Hitler had   Jewish blood it was not the Germans who annihilated the Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, etc.

  24. What everyone seems to overlook is the fact that anyone, anywhere can be provoked, pushed, bribed or otherwise encouraged to do evil things. There are countless psychological studies that prove this over and over again. However, it takes a catalyst and a good push, along w/ a good dose of propaganda. In the midst of a three front war, fiscal bankruptcy and lots of additional issues, anyone could go down that route. Germany, which was well known to be technologically sophiticated and well educated went down that route because of one psychotic madman. Do not underestimatge the power of greed, combined with malice to cause great pain and suffering. It can happen anywhere.

  25. I, as fact of the matter, cannot  be provoked and pushed anywhere into slitting pregnant women’s bellies and crush newborns’ heads against the walls, as Turks did…
    Can you, Karekin?

  26. avatar Sylva-MD-Poetry // May 10, 2011 at 5:16 am // Reply

    Genetics of Killing 

    If someone provide on this site
    Million dollars to kill
    Can any one kill…

    Not everyone can kill
    Hence there is a gene of Killing…

    Which exist in some 
    And not the others 
    That gene in some nations transmits 
    And not the others…

    Scientists…Instead of finding DNA
    Of few inherited disease
    Most can’t be treated
    Because started before birth
    Started when the egg
    United with the sperm
    And nothing can be done about it…

    But the DNA of killing
    Should soon be detected
    And be genetically treated 

    And that person should be informed 
    That he has tendency to kill…
    Should be trained not to commit
    Thus to stop genocides…
    Which still continue to prevail 
    Can’t be prevented yet… 

    Sylva

  27. No Karo, I cannot, but again, that is not what psychological studies show about humanity,and education level has nothing to do with it. Humanity, unfortunately, can be all good, but also, at time, all evil. The tendency exists in every human being. Let’s face it, for many centuries, the European powers enslaved millions of other human beings, causing unmeasurable sufffering, destroying societies and killing millions. The American government, in its quest for continental dominance, destroyed almost every native American nation that existed in north America for tens of thousands of years. More recently, George Bush invaded and occupied Iraq, killing at least a million innocent human beings and displacing up to 4 million, to the cheers of yahoos in bars all across America. The motivations for death and destruction are many, and can be easily justified by those who have power and lust for more. The point is that for a thousand years, Armenians and others lived under Turkish rule, and before that, under Arab, Persian and even Greek rule. The outright and wholesale slaughter of the genocide was so extreme, we have to ask how and why and who would formulate such a scheme?  If you’ve ever worked in any kind of business or organization, you would know that almost nothing serious can be accomplished unless there is a strong leader at the helm. This can be for good or bad. The Nazis had Hitler, the CUP had Talaat, who were persuasive madmen who were able to sell their crackpot ideas to their closest associates, either thru coercion or salesmanship, and encourage them to foster these ideas to a larger audience. In the midst of war and suffering, it’s easy to find a convenient scapegoat and foster ruthless hatred in their direction, especially if it is based on fear and the promise of something better, particularly if you follow the leader. In Turkey, the CUP created plenty of incentives for people to cooperate with them, and penalized severely those who did not. They still arrest people for using a single word – genocide. Think of what the behavioral changes that little detail can cause. So, in other words, it is not that difficult to get masses of people, particularly uneducated masses, to conform to a way of thinking or acting, especially if you provide incentives for the bad behaviors. 

     
     

     

  28. “Germany, which was well known to be technologically sophisticated and well educated went down that route [doing evil things] because of one psychotic madman.”  Not quite so. Germany as a people did not physically exterminate, the Nazis did. Whereas it is known that not only the Ittihadists but ordinary Turks and Kurds involved in mass murders and rape of the Armenians, as well as looting, theft of their properties and resettlement in their houses.
     
    “Do not underestimate the power of greed, combined with malice to cause great pain and suffering. It can happen anywhere.”  Not quite so. Great pain and suffering caused by wars, interethnic clashes, and foreign occupation can theoretically happen anywhere. However, deliberate extermination of a race happened only in a few places and perpetrated only by a few nations, Turks certainly being one of them.

  29. Bravo, Karo, Bravo!

  30. Karekin,you say: “anyone, anywhere can be provoked, pushed, bribed or otherwise encouraged to do evil things.”

    Not true.  Not ‘anyone’.  Please don’t spread this propaganda.  It devalues the acts of courage and moral fortitude by the many Ottoman Turks who resisted the evil and helped Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, etc., and suffered the consequences, even to the point of losing their lives. While the many Genocides of the last century would seem to indicate that evil can spread over a society like a contagious virus, it is a mistake to reduce it to this.  To remove personal agency only makes it that much easier to excuse the behavior that smooth the way to repetitions.  

    Each act of evil is done by a person who in a split second could have decided not to take the action.  It is true that circumstances can ‘provoke, push or bribe’ some to commit heinous acts, but what about those who choose not to?  They live under the same circumstances, in many cases, but are still able to resist.  Obviously, they possess something that helps them remain immune to the ‘virus’.  

    The sad thing is that because of the official denial of the Armenian Genocide, Turkish society can not explore and honor those heroes among them who exemplified true humanity and courage during a time of extreme crisis.  These would make much better role models to children in Turkey than the glorification of the war-mongering murderers who ‘founded’ the modern republic on the blood of millions of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, etc…  But you can’t honor those who resisted taking part in something that ‘never happened.’   

    To follow the metaphor of the virus further, we can say that the ‘sick man of Europe’ has not yet fully recovered and is in need of the healing medicine that only truth and justice can provide.  I am tired of Armenians being accused of being whiny complainers by Turks, and sadly by other Armenians, as well, because we won’t ‘just get over it’.   We need to reframe the way we look at our quest for justice.  It is a noble act that has the potential to cure the ills that plague both our societies.  Those who commit to this fight are serving Turks and Armenians.

  31. well said Boyajian: Indeed, what we Armenians are doing is Noble: a service to Humanity. And we must and shall continue – in spite of and to spite the naysayers. Throughout human history, those who have made positive changes for humanity have always been ‘persuaded’ not to rock the boat, not to make waves, to “go along to get along”.  By all rights, all righteous humanity worldwide should have joined us en mass by now – to force the Turks to Recognize, pay Reparations, and Return our lands. If we have to get there only by ourselves, so be it: it was our brothers and sisters that were murdered. We’d have anywhere from 40-50 million more brothers and sisters if not for the extermination of 2 million Armenians from 1800s to 1923: and most likely the best and ‘most Armenian’ of us all were those 2 million. Imagine how much better the World would be if there were 50 million creative, industrious, cultured, educated, peaceful Armenians living where now live hateful warmongers.

  32. Karekin,

    I think Boyajian gave an excellent and eloquent answer to your reply to me. I’ve got just a few observations to add. The problem of your mode of thinking seems to lie inside of your own psyche rather than in the realm of human experience that you seem to explain only by the role of a person/leader in history. The role is, undoubtedly, great and no one would object to it. To conform the masses of people to a way of thinking or acting is also doable as we learn from history, and no one would object to that, too. But to conform masses of people to kill cannot be as all-encompassing as you tend to represent. Taking the life of a person lies in the realm of a person’s relationship with the Creator and his or her own conscience. Even if my leader had been a double Dönmeh and a triple Freemason, I would have never sinned my soul to perdition by killing a human being. Many ordinary Turks and Kurds did. A few, as Boyajian pointed out, with courage and moral fortitude, resisted the evil.
     
    It troubles me to see attempts popping up here and there to put the blame for the Armenian genocide on the Jews because several CUP high-ranking members were Sabbatean Messianic Jews (the Dönmeh). Some of them, indeed, were, namely:
     
    Emmanuel Carasso (aka Emanuel Karasu or Carasso Efendi), a member of the prominent Sephardic Jewish Carasso family, chief propagandist for the Young Turks, headed the delegation to inform Abdul Hamid II that “The nation has removed you from your office”
    Mehmed Talat (Talat Pasha), CUP Minister of the Interior
    Mehmet Cavit (Djavid) Bey, CUP Minister of Finance
    Messim Russo, Assistant to Mehmet Cavit (Djavid) Bey
    Vladimir Jabotinsky, a Russian Zionist, the editor of The Young Turk newspaper
    Refik Bey (aka Refik Syadam Bey), editor of the Young Turk newspaper Revolutionary Press, became Prime Minister of Turkey in 1939
    Alexander Helphand (aka Parvus), financier/liaison of the Rothschilds of the Young Turks revolution
    Marcel Samuel Raphael Cohen (aka Tekin Alp), one of the founding fathers of Turkish nationalism and an ideologue of Pan-Turkism
     
    But the fundamental question is if just a load of people could provoke, push, bribe or otherwise encourage masses of Turks to do indescribable sadistic killings of innocent Armenians. If for the most of ordinary Turks killing of a human being would have been unacceptable, repugnant, and satanic thing to do, could those few on the top have succeeded in perpetrating as massive the genocide as the Turks did? I have hard time admitting that they could.
     
    Another question, of course, is if some in the top echelon of power did not belong to a country’s native (or at least majoritarian) ethnic background, can we put the blame on an ethnicity they belonged to? I have hard time admitting that, too. With the same logic, because Stalin was a Georgian, his closest associates Felix Dzerzhinsky was a Pole, Lavrentiy Beria was a Georgian Mingrelian, Lazar Kaganovich was a Jew, Georgy Malenkov was of a Macedonian extraction, and Anastas Mikoyan was an Armenian, can we imply that the 1930s purges that took millions (if not tens of millions) Soviet lives are the work of Georgians, Poles, Mingrelians, Jews, Macedonians, and Armenians only? I think we can’t, because the actual oppressors throughout the Soviet Union were the Soviet Russians. Of course, there is a difference here in that the Stalin purges were not directed at deliberately annihilating a particular ethnic, national, racial, or religious group, as in the case of the Turks in regard to the Armenians.
     
    Lastly, the genocide of Armenians started by the Young Turks, whoever they were ethnicity-wise, was completed by the drunkard Mustafa Kemal, who, after exterminating the remaining non-Turks (for instance Greeks and Armenians in Smyrna in 1922), in 1923 established his Turkish republic. It is widely known that Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) was a Jew of Sephardic origin, attended the Jewish elementary school in Salonika, called Semsi Effendi School, run by a Jew Simon Zvi. But Kemal is referred as a founder of the modern Turkish state. Would it be correct to say that their state has been founded by the Jews? Besides, in Kars, Ardahan, Alexandropol, and Smyrna Kemal exterminated the remaining Armenians as a Jew or as a Turkish leader? After all, he is the leader who, you think, can “conform the masses of people to a way of thinking or acting.” In what ethnic capacity should we take him when we know that his official capacity was the leader of the Turkish “war of independence”, as Turks call it, and the first president of the Republic of Turkey?

  33. Karo…I will repeat…anyone, anywhere is capable of doing horrible things. This does not diminish the Armenian genocide one bit.  Yes, Stalin wiped out at least 10 million people, Mao another 20 million, Pol Pot over 2 million. Each of these criminals followed in the steps of the CUP. If, as you suggest, the ‘Turks’ were/are so perpetually barbaric, they had 1000 years to wipe out the Armenians who lived under their thumb. They had their chance and one of the most powerful armies on earth to do it. Why didn’t they?  It could be argued that this was because the sultans themselves and most ‘Turks’ had some deep, blood connection to the Armenian natives of Anatolia. You don’t wipe out your relatives. That’s a basic principle of humanity. It was only when those who had none of those deep connections to Armenians came to power that they felt they could conduct a genocide with impunity and, most importantly, without guilt. If the goal was to rid Turkey of non-Turks and non-Muslims, there were a lot of candidates…why were some allowed to stay, profit and succeed, while Armenians were completely decimated?  Just connect the dots in a logical way. The tendency is to push all the blame on all Turks and let others off the hook…but, for many, many reasons, that is just wrong and makes no logical sense.

  34. And I will reiterate, Karekin, that NOT anyone, anywhere is capable of doing horrible things. You yourself admitted that you cannot be “provoked, pushed, bribed or otherwise encouraged to do evil things” with fellow human beings. Me, too, whoever they are: Turks, Azeris, or Gypsies. So can’t Boyajian, So couldn’t those few brave Turks who saved Armenians during the genocide. You contradict yourself.  Besides, by acknowledging that some Turks saved Armenians at the risk of their own lives, do I or anyone here sound like we blame ALL Turks for the genocide? Of course, not. However, to blame only a handful of top CUP officials of a certain ethnicity or secret affiliation, disregarding the fact that the prevailing majority of murderers, torturers, mutilators, rapists, and thieves were ethnic Turks is fundamentally wrong.
     
    Another blunder: “Stalin wiped out at least 10 million people, Mao another 20 million, Pol Pot over 2 million. Each of these criminals followed in the steps of the CUP.”  No, they didn’t follow the steps of the CUP.  Whereas the Ittihadists deliberately annihilated many OTHER, non-Turkic nations (Greeks, Assyrians, Armenians, etc.) in the acts of genocide, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot killed THEIR OWN respective nations for ideological purposes. This is not an identical situation.
     
    Next blunder and a slander, too. I never suggested that “Turks were/are so perpetually barbaric.” As for why they didn’t wipe out Armenians since they had a thousand years… Why would they? Armenians have made considerable contributions in business and trade, banking and finance, arts, literature, architecture, etc. Why not use the skills of a talented people for the Turks’ benefit? I don’t think their blood connection with the Armenians, which I’m only aware in the case of Abdul Hamid, was the factor. Following your logic, Abdul Hamid should have treated the Armenians as iconic people, but instead he was the mastermind behind horrible massacres of up to 300,000 Armenians in 1894-96.
     
    Last blunder. The goal at the final years of the Ottoman Empire WAS to rid Turkey of non-Turks and non-Muslims. It is evident in what happened to the Christian Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians. Kurds remained largely intact because they were Muslims. As for other nationality that, as you say, was “allowed to stay, profit and succeed,” they never were concentrated, and thus posed a threat by their geographical concentration, in such vast a territory as the Armenians, and close (though in only a few places, like Van) to Russian advances. As even the notorious genocide-denier Bernard Lewis admitted, “For the Turks, the Armenian [national-liberation] movement was the deadliest of all threats…  [to yield to it] would have meant not the truncation, but the dissolution of the Turkish state.” Does this make a logical sense for you?

  35. Karekin, your logic doesn’t hold up for me.  Yes, humans are complicated creatures that are capable of all kinds of evil.  That is to say that, as a species there are those among us who are capable of incredible extremes of depravity, but that does not mean all people are capable of being turned into murderers by influential mad men, given the right circumstances.  I do not accept this assertion. The Donmeh Jews that planned our extermination couldn’t have succeeded to turn a nation into murderers without their willing cooperation.  And the reasons they were so cooperative had to do with many different factors, not least being the multiple centuries of living in a society that posited one group as superior to the others.  It was only when the dominant group saw humiliating defeats in the Balkans and found itself in danger of losing its dominance that the madness was able to take hold. 

    Yes, we lived for centuries under foreign domination and never faced blanket annihilation until the the CUP came on the scene.  Does this mean that the CUP cast a Svengali spell on the masses? I doubt it.  They may have taken advantage of a ripe moment to carry out their agenda of greed, power and Turkish domination, but the society was sick with vengeance to begin with.  Yes, follow the money, follow the slick trail of oil and follow the foul smell of racism and religious intolerance, too.  The truth is ugly, but it can’t be transformed without the Turks facing the truth of what they allowed to take place.  Then perhaps the people will stand up to the Deep State criminals that have usurped their nation and bartered away their human dignity.

  36.  
    More counter-examples for Karekin:
    re: Germany, which was well known to be technologically sophiticated and well educated went down that route because of one psychotic madman.’
    Partially true (e.g. SS Einsatzgruppen). Yet how do we explain the indisputable fact that Fascism was born in Italy; Italian black-shirts were marching in lockstep long before Hitler’s brown-shirts; as an orator and manipulator of masses Mussolini was head and shoulders above Hitler (historical tidbit: the infamous Nazi raised-hand salute was copied from Italian Fascists…who got it from their Roman forebears). Yet Italians could not be induced by their Fascists  to commit Genocide, and Germans were. Italians, allies of Germans, even refused to hand over Jews in their areas of control to Nazis.
     
     
     
    ‘Azeri’ Tatars massacred hundreds of defenseless Armenians in Sumgait and Baku: there was absolutely no reason other than ethnic hatred and bloodlust. Armenians had done absolutely no harm to ‘Azeris’ in Sumgait or Baku. At the same time,  Azeris living in Armenia were allowed to leave and return to Azerbaijan in peace: not a single one harmed. Armenia’s government even gave compensation to departing Azeris for their real-estate.
    During the Artsakh War of Survival and Liberation, while liberating our native lands, Armenian troops would surround ‘Azeri’ villages on three sides – and would always leave one side open for the unarmed ‘Azeri’ villagers to leave unmolested. The ‘Azeri’ Tatar troops had fled days before. The unarmed, defenseless villagers were at the complete mercy of Armenian military units. Note that by this time Armenian troops had known what ‘Azeris’ had done to their grandparents, mothers, sisters, children…..they knew about the Maraga Village massacre, sawing off of heads, and mutilations: can we not appreciate the difference between nationalities whose members – by and large – cannot be induced to murder unarmed civilians no matter the ‘justification’, and those who need just a nod from an authority figure to unleash  their bloodlust ?
     

  37. Karekin  —  Bloody Assassin Sultan Abdulhamid II was not a Dönmeh Jew. He’s believed to have been born to Verjineh, an Armenian mother. Yet, it is estimated that he had murdered 100,000 to up to 300,000 Ottoman Armenians during the so-called Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896. Based on your logic, shall we go ahead and blame Armenians for massacring Armenians?

  38. Also, before the Dönmeh Jew-infiltrated CUP came on the scene there was non-Dönmeh Jew Abdulhamid massacring Armenians. How would you explain that?

  39. Boyajian – I totally agree. Turkey and its population need to open up, allow the truth to surface and the masses to be educated on this hidden chapter of their history. Translating written history on the genocide, published outside of Turkey, would be a great start.
    Of course, we are still discussing how this could have happened and many of us have theories, all of which are valid contenders.  In addition to a standard motivation like greed, we should not underestimate the power of psychological factors, used in unsavory ways, to produce the desired effect in a large population. It happens all the time. In the US, we are subjected to all kinds of mind altering information everyday in the form of propaganda, advertising, etc.
    So, before denigrating the power of psychology, let’s illuminate a few methods that probably came into play for the genocide to have occurred:
    SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: ON ORDINARY PEOPLE AS TORTURERS
    The following points are made by S.T. Fiske et al (Science 2004 306:1482):
    1) Initial reactions to the events at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were shock and disgust. How could Americans be doing this to anyone, even to Iraqi prisoners of war? Some observers immediately blamed “the few bad apples” presumably responsible for the abuse. However, many social psychologists knew that it was not that simple. Society holds individuals responsible for their actions, as the military court-martial recognizes, but social psychology suggests we should also hold responsible peers and superiors who control the social context.
     
    2) Social psychological evidence emphasizes the power of social context; in other words, the power of the interpersonal situation. Social psychology has accumulated a century of knowledge about how people influence each other for good or ill [1]. Meta-analysis, the quantitative summary of findings across a variety of studies, reveals the size and consistency of such empirical results. Recent meta-analyses document reliable experimental evidence of social context effects across 25,000 studies of 8 million participants [2]. Abu Ghraib resulted in part from ordinary social processes, not just extraordinary individual evil. Meta-analyses suggests that the right (or wrong) social context can make almost anyone aggress, oppress, conform, and obey.
     
    3) Virtually anyone can be aggressive if sufficiently provoked, stressed, disgruntled, or hot [3-5]. The situation of the 800th Military Police Brigade guarding Abu Ghraib prisoners fit all the social conditions known to cause aggression. The soldiers were certainly provoked and stressed: at war, in constant danger, taunted and harassed by some of the very citizens they were sent to save, and their comrades were dying daily and unpredictably. Their morale suffered, they were untrained for the job, their command climate was lax, their return home was a year overdue, their identity as disciplined soldiers was gone, and their own amenities were scant. Heat and discomfort also doubtless contributed.
     
    4) The fact that the prisoners were part of a group encountered as enemies would only exaggerate the tendency to feel spontaneous prejudice against outgroups. In this context, oppression and discrimination are synonymous. One of the most basic principles of social psychology is that people prefer their own group and attribute bad behavior to outgroups. Prejudice especially festers if people see the outgroup as threatening cherished values. This would have certainly applied to the guards viewing their prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but it also applies in more “normal” situations. A recent sample of US citizens on average viewed Muslims and Arabs as not sharing their interests and stereotyped them as not especially sincere, honest, friendly, or warm.
     
    5) Even more potent predictors of discrimination are the emotional prejudices (“hot” affective feelings such as disgust or contempt) that operate in parallel with cognitive processes. Such emotional reactions appear rapidly, even in neuroimaging of brain activations to outgroups. But even they can be affected by social context. Categorization of people as interchangeable members of an outgroup promotes an amygdala response characteristic of vigilance and alarm and an insula response characteristic of disgust or arousal, depending on social context; these effects dissipate when the same people are encountered as unique individuals.
     
     

  40. “In the US, we are subjected to all kinds of mind altering information everyday in the form of propaganda, advertising, etc.”    Yet, we don’t stand up and mass murder innocent co-citizens as a consequence of it…

  41. The Abu Ghraib prison analogy doesn’t hold ground. The mistreatment of individual prisoners by individual interrogators cannot be compared with the deliberate annihilation of a whole race by the orders of a government.

  42. The reality is, human beings are human beings no matter where they are on the planet, and can be incited to do horrible things in the name of money, religion, land, nationalism, fear, retaliation, etc. As it is often said, if you give someone a hammer, they will find a nail (on which they can use it). Armenians have always been as capable of engaging in horrible actions just like anyone else on the planet. Just look at the recent news about how military conscripts are treated in today’s Armenian army….nothing noble about that, I can assure you.  Once again, the point is that whenever there are atrocities committed, it is the masterminds who are hunted down and blamed. Of course, we have learned that the excuse of ‘just following orders’ is not a sufficient excuse to prove innocence, and that the rank and file can be as guilty as the upper level organizers. Yet, whole countries and entire societies are not routinely blamed in a blanket fashion, individuals are held accountable and if possible, punished. This is what is important…placing blame squarely on those who orchestrated the genocide. It is the puppeteer who pulls the strings on the puppet, not the other way around. 

  43. Human beings are human beings no matter where they are on the planet, but there are, undeniably, distinct cultural peculiarities that differentiate one human being from the other.  If we were all exactly the same, committing genocide would have been typical to every nation of Earth without exception. Yet, there are only a few nations that are internationally known as having perpetrated this crime against humanity and civilization.  Turks are one of them, and this is an indisputable fact.  Avery bought up a graphic thought-provoking example above.  Even though Fascism was born in Italy, Italians couldn’t be induced by their leaders to commit genocide of the Jews living in Italy or Italian-controlled areas of Europe, while Germans were.  Armenians were given a “hammer” as a result of their victories in and around Artsakh, yet they didn’t wish to find a nail and mass exterminate all the Azeri village population (which they easily could back in 1993-94), but the Azeris did so to Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, and Maraga.  In this context, the phrase “Armenians have always been as capable of engaging in horrible actions just like anyone else on the planet” is abusive.  Where in our history have you come across a single fact when Armenians have ever mass exterminated other nations?!  The comparison with the treatment of military conscripts in today’s Armenian army is ridiculous and self-degrading.
     
    Once again, the point is not whether the masterminds of a crime must be hunted down and blamed. Of course, they must be.  The point is that some nations are capable of following orders by masterminds to murder humans en masse, and others are not.  Whole countries and entire societies cannot of course be routinely blamed for this in a blanket fashion, but neither can be only a handful of masterminds belonging to a particular ethnos.  Again, had the masterminds not known that Turks, given some of their national characteristics, were not capable of murdering, burning and burying alive, mutilating, torturing, and raping human beings, the whole sadistic Bloody Bacchanalia of 1915-1923 wouldn’t have happened.  This is as clear as the daylight.  When in 1970 West German Chancellor Willy Brandt dropped to his knees before the monument to the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943, he offered a gesture of repentance and apology not on behalf (or not only on behalf) of those who orchestrated the genocide, but, given Brandt’s official capacity, on behalf of the whole German people.  Yet, ordinary Germans were not involved in genocidal atrocities, while many ordinary Turks were.

  44. Karekin, I never denigrated psychological factors.  I recognize their existence and the role that psychological factors can play in creating group think, mass hysteria, etc…  Many examples exist in history.  I won’t repeat everything I have already said.  Karo and Avery and Arm_K also presented other dimensions to this discussion which it seems you are ignoring. 

    My main point is that I object to a reframing of the madness that became the Armenian Genocide as the making of a few clever provocateurs from Salonika.  Anti-Armenian sentiment and violence existed in Ottoman society well before the “unholy trinity’ arrived on the scene.  (Hamidian Massacres, Adana).  If Turks want to free themselves of the stain that the Armenian Genocide put on them, then they need to examine what it was about their society that allowed them to so easily be carried away into a murderous rampage against a disadvantaged (unarmed) subgroup amongst them.  I am not saying that they are genetically prone to barbarity.  I am saying there is a sickness in their society that still needs healing and can only be healed by coming to terms with the cold, hard truth.  (This will help heal Armenian society as well). 

    I don’t approve of your construct because it seems to want to let the Turks off the hook and save them from this much needed soul-searching.  If they simply point to the CUP, than they deny the fact that thousands of ethnic Turks and Kurds willingly partiipated in the genocide as an outlet for hate and vengeance and religious intolerance.  Without this awareness, what would prevent them from falling victim to the next ‘Ataturk’ or ‘Triumvirate’ promising glory for their noble race.  These pan-turkic elements are alive and well in Turkey today and anxious to complete the purification of Anatolia. They actively work to denigrate Armenians and  use denial and distortion to sway a misformed society.  Let’s not help them.

    Armenia is at a very precarious point in its history between two Turkish nations which would welcome its demise.  We have no one, no nation, in our corner.  We only have the truth and our own resolve to see that justice is done.  There are courageous people emerging in Turkey who have embraced the truth and begun their own journey toward redeeming their nation and standing for a just resolution.  Our resolve honors them just as their honesty honors us.

  45. Again, if your theory about a handful of Crypto-Jewish provocateurs from Salonika—and not tens of thousands of killing, burning, torturing, raping, looting and stealing ethnic Turks throughout the Empire–being masterminds and orchestrators of the mass murder of Armenians is accurate, then please explain (don’t shirk away) the massacres of Armenians in 1894-1896 by the ethnically Turkish (not Crypto-Jewish) Sultan Abdulhamid II, in which up to 300,000 Armenians have perished.

  46. “Armenians have always been as capable of engaging in horrible actions just like anyone else on the planet. Just look at the recent news about how military conscripts are treated in today’s Armenian army….”

    You are comparing abuse of military conscripts with massacre of unarmed civilians and Genocide ? Are you serious ?
    It is quite a leap from abusing your fellow soldiers to committing mass murder – don’t you think ?
    Conscript abuse – whether reported or not – is endemic in all militaries and at various levels of severity: unfortunately part of the culture of shaping and conditioning human beings to kill other human beings in cold blood.
    Does not mean one makes the quantum leap to mass murder of defenseless, unarmed civilians – and worst of all children.
    Capable or not, fact is Armenian troops did not commit mass murder….how much more provocation would a man need than seeing his family raped, tortured, massacred, mutilated ?
     
    Sorry Karekin, I think you are trying too hard to absolve ordinary Turks from their part in the AG – with unconvincing counterexamples. As Karo noted above, good or bad, there are differences between nationalities.
     

  47. To be honest, I don’t think I’m ignoring anything or any aspect of history. In fact, I think it behooves us to consider history as a whole, not as an isolated set of circumstances.  If anyone is ignoring anything, it is that our ancestors, as a subjugated people, got rather tired of their inferior status. Some eventually learned about nationalism in Europe and brought those ideas home, and their actions did not sit well with those in power, whether it was the sultan or the CUP. Now, it does not matter how justified their goals were (to me, they were quite justified), however….if you think that any ruler anywhere would not react harshly, especially in the 19th C. in that part of the world, then you’re being delusional. But, for a group like the CUP to come to power illegally (which was the case) and pretend to be modern or democratic, or open to reform, and then do what they did, is beyond comprehension and yes, it was entirely their fault. They put it into motion and rewarded those who followed their lead.  But face it, even today, in this modern era, whenever a group challenges the status quo to demand independence or better living conditions, they are put down and treated rather badly by those who rule over them.  This happens over and over again in history, not just to Armenians and not just by Turks, but by anyone wielding the hammer of power over someone else. Remember, absolute power corrupts absolutely. To think we are the only group that has not received justice is a fallacy. Sadly, many have not, and probably never will.   As the article above makes clear, this was an act of theft unlike any other, and it was entirely put into motion by the Young ‘Turks’, who didn’t stop at decimating the Armenians and even sent the sultan and his harem into exile. And, no matter what anyone says, the genocide was much, much worse than the Holocaust, on every level – because it happened on our land!  Yet…somewhat mysteriously, the genocide constantly gets pushed aside and minimized by anyone and everyone, and replaced w/ the Holocaust. And for that, no one can blame the Armenians, that is for sure. However, if you think there’s no connection between those who deny the genocide and those who advocate endlessly for the Holocaust, you are choosing not to see something that’s sitting in plain sight, and I suspect this is a huge part of the problem. 

  48. Oh my gosh, Karekin.  A dominant power putting down an insurgent or revolutionary group is a far cry from wiping out a nation!  Most examples in history of a government putting down a revolution involves arresting and punishing the revolutionaries and not marching the elderly, and women and children to their death.  This went far beyond deportations and arrests for trumped up security reasons.  Are you for real?

    But you do make an interesting argument regarding the Genocide getting overshadowed by the Holocaust…

  49. Boyajian – yes, of course they went way, way overboard to the point of total madness and insanity. They perfected ethnic cleansing for everyone else to emulate, but then, look at the American landscape today….where are the natives?  They have been reduced to living on tiny reservations while the white man dominates their land, which is not unlike Armenians being reduced to the khanate of Yerevan, which is basically a reservation. So yes, while a set of individuals was clearly to blame for fomenting and carrying out the genocide, today it is the state apparatus that has inherited those policies that carries the weight of correcting them to the best of its ability. Will the US govt ever return the land that belonged to the native Americans? I think not. As a start, the present govt in Turkey is taking tiny steps in the direction of returning propoerties to Armenian foundations, churches and organizations. It is all long overdue, but it is a start. Hopefullly, it will continue and they will realize that none of this is a threat to Turkey. If we can go back to the psychological factors for a moment, I suspect that fear, its creation and encouragement, with the CUP-related focus on Armenians (now being fostered by the deep state.Ergenekon), needs to be addressed in a big way if we want to see any serious changes in Turkey.  I also suspect that there are quite a few well educated people there who know this quite well, but are at a loss on how to combat such a strong element in their republican machine.

  50. “…if you think that any ruler anywhere would not react harshly, especially in the 19th C. in that part of the world, then you’re being delusional.”   You are being delusional, Karekin, because the history of that part of the world, which aspects you think you’re not ignoring, knows nothing similar to the destruction of ancient civilizations of the Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians in Asia Minor perpetrated by ethnic Turks, those, whose ancestors have invaded, destructed, and colonized the vast region inhabited by the sedentary, indigenous peoples with highly-developed civilizations. At the time, there were no Crypto-Jews in sight. History knows no other ruler in that part of the world who’d exterminate whole nations as a response to the national liberation calls by a handful of revolutionaries.
     
    “Some [Armenians] eventually learned about nationalism in Europe and brought those ideas home, and their actions did not sit well with those in power, whether it was the sultan or the CUP.”    Exactly. Whether it was the ethnically Turkish sultan or the ethnically Turkish CUP with some mixed hidden non-Turks. Any of the sultans and the CUP represented the highest state authority of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Most of the CUP leadership was ethnic Turks. Most of the provincial authorities carrying out the forced deportation and mass murder plan were ethnic Turks. Most of the army commanders, soldiers, and gendarmes were ethnic Turks. Most of the Chettes and Special Operations commandos were ethnic Turks. Most of the ordinary citizens partaking in the murders, raping women and girls, stripping priests, looting churches and houses, stealing private property were ethnic Turks. Most of the bank and insurance companies’ employees stealing Armenians’ bank accounts and insurance indemnities were ethnic Turks. Finally, most of the modern-day citizens of the Turkish Republic denying these crimes are ethnic Turks.
     
    If this is not enough for you to admit that it was ethnic Turks who were capable of carrying out a monstrous sadistic physical annihilation of a whole race, then explain who, from ethnic perspective, was Turgut Özal? He was clearly unthreatened by a few Armenian revolutionaries who, after having learned about nationalism in Europe, brought those ideas to Turkey, when he brassily declared: “Turkey must show its teeth to Armenia. What harm would it do if a few bombs were dropped on the Armenian side by Turkish troops holding maneuvers on the border?” Was he not an ethnic Turk (of partial Kurdish descent)? Had he been a Dönmeh, you’d put all the blame on some other ethnicity, wouldn’t you?

  51. Karo – the problem is that you seem to think the world of today really cares about the genocide in the same way Armenians do. The fact is – they don’t!  And, you seem to think the world is going to act on a genocide that took place almost 100 years ago. They won’t. Sorry for the reality check, but let’s get real. Of course, Armenians care deeply because of our losses. Some Turks might think about Armenians in passing, but not enough of them or in the right way. And, that’s the state of affairs. The world is full of tragedies, some greater, some lesser. Which ones will they act on?  These days, not many. Yes, it’s tragic and horrible, but all the handwringing in the world will not reverse history, as much as you might want it to. If anything, Armenians will need to ultimately resolve this with the rulers of today’s Turkey. There aren’t many other options.

  52. Karekin, you’re jumping from topic to topic. What does the world of today caring about the genocide have to do with your utopist theory that the genocide of Armenians was perpetrated not by masses of Turks but a few non-Turk provocateurs from Salonika? I don’t have to be reminded that the world of today could care less about our genocide. I know that. That’s why it is upon us, Armenians, to remind and demand justice. It’s not about reversing history, it’s about receiving justice. I also disagree that there aren’t many other options for Armenians to resolve this but with the rulers of today’s Turkey. Excuse me, what were we doing for decades even without the rulers of today’s Turkey? Were we not advancing the cause and had results worldwide? If not those grand efforts at international recognition do you think your rulers of today’s Turkey would be willing to be on alert, as they are now? In fact, there ARE many other options to resolve this, and some of them (such as lawsuits in the national and international courts) we didn’t even start. It is my strongest conviction that the rulers of today’s Turkey would effectively sweep everything under the carpet had there not been many other options that Armenians have employed to this day.

  53. avatar gaytzag palandjian // May 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm // Reply

    Dear Karekin,
    Karo has very accurately described what the status quo  of our CASE/Cause is.
    Please allow me to remind  you that  it is the fruit/result  of many many years hard work by our political parties , writers, activists, THE PEOPLE etc.,we cannot give up this because  of today´s rulers  of Turkey or the rulers of tomorrow. of that neighbour.Just a few days ago-at  long last -pres. of RA spoke up  to the effect  that there will be no reconcilliation  or concilliation with Turkey unless they admit to guilt and ask for pardon.What  does  this mean.Quite simply  the fact  that  only two years ago RA´s position was  not as  such.The Case  is ripening with the developments  that take place  ,especially in THE MIDDLE  EAST. Hint  is to the toppling  of Middle East despotic rulers,Govt.´s.Things change at higher speed  these days.
    Moreover, as he has(Karo) mentioned  we  have  not even,may I say our ARmenian BAR Association(with quite a few In´tl law  Attorneys and , judges amongst  tem) commenced a Lawsuite  at important oinstances, whether at the In´lt court  of Justice at the Hague ,the U.N. and others.
    Our CAUSE/CASE  is sacred,please  don´t forget  that .What´s more  did the Jews  stop EVEN AFTER  JUSTICE  WAS DELIVERED  TO THEM.They are constantly reminding  the whole world what the Nazi Germanydid to their people.There is no way that latter can stop that.It  is the right of the survivors to act  as they please.So please bear  in min  that we also deserve that.
    After all the whole world  ought to know what the armenians sufferedand this can be done by and by,(Parlement a Parlement) as  Professor Yves Ternon of France-a friend  of us- declad  not too long ago. We must do exactly that and more.If the Super  powers do not as yet  act likewise,they will some day,if we are adamant  in our CAUSE,
    best and
    Hama Haigagani SIRO

  54. No one, least of all me, would dispute that the Armenian cause is 1000% just. The debate is how to get Turkey, its government and their 70 million citizens to acknowledge the injustice and agree to correct it in a meaningful way. My point is that the rest of the world has plenty of other worries and the fate of Armenians is not high on their list of priorities. From their point of view (again – not mine), they see that we have an independent, functioning Armenia, we control Karabagh…so, what more could we want?  There are many peoples on the earth who do not even have that much. I am just outlining how and why this is all so difficult. Armenians need to talk with the key players who can make a difference…and those are the people running Turkey. To expect any third party to come to our aid on this issue is to generate false hopes. Let’s rely on ourselves to get the job done, face to face. That should be the demand, rather than wasting time on outsiders who could care less, except when it might benefit them in some way. There are plenty of opportunists who will try to use the genocide to their advantage, but we should not fall into that trap, as it will eventually bounce back onto us. 

  55. avatar Grish Begian // May 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm // Reply

    Karekin,
    You must be very naive, that Turks will sit down and talk about genocide with Armenians. Turks have been thought to hate Armenians since they were in kindergarten!!the only way that Turks will admit Armenian Genocide, when the pressure comes from outside of Turkey, especially from EU members, otherwise Turks are turks, they will sing same old songs with a Seljuk melody for us!All they will do repair few Churches “politically” then play hide and seek games with our leadership, just like the way they have played with Serge and Edward..you are asking from Armenians “indirectly” to forget about Genocide, of course Ataturk, Lenin, Stalin had same mentality, Turkish Islamofascism is not dead yet! and please remember, that Artsakh has nothing to do with genocide of Armenians. Actually we should support Turks to get into EU, let them have fun with them we had enough of Turks for 500 years!!
     

  56. If someone thinks that it all have passed and it is just the history, please stay with this naive thinking, but do not tell the others to smooth the reality. It is very hard to live your everyday live alert and being aware that too little has changed in the thinking and plans of our “opponents”, but if we put aside our memories they will remind us, be aware.

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