While Turkey to date, denies the killings where genocidal, on 14 March 1919, the Istanbul government announced after its investigation that the number of Armenian victims during the war was 800,000. This was the result of the commission established by Interior Minister Mustafa Arif Degmer in December 1918. The announcement was made on 18 March 1919 by Interior Minister Cemal Bey. (The interior minister's statement was published in the 19 March 1919 editions of Vakit, Alemdar and jkdam).
The evidence in the Ottoman archives is augmented by the documents found in Germany and Austria, which give ample confirmation that we are looking at a centrally planned operation of annihilation. See for example Talat Pasha(minister of the interior): "What we are dealing with here is the annihilation of the Armenians." (German Foreign Office, Political Archive, PA-AA/Bo. Kons./B. 191, Report of Consul Mordtmann, dated 30 June 1915. Dr. Mordtmann knew Turkish well.)
The Committee of Union and Progress founded a special organization that participated in what led to the destruction of the Ottoman Armenian community. This organization adopted its name in 1913 and functioned like a Special Forces outfit.
During the Armenian genocide, there was a great deal of collaboration between the Special Organization and the Central Committee as well as the local organizations of the CUP. In the 1919 trial of Unionist leaders, many documents and several defendants testified to the fact that the Special Organization worked hand in hand with the CUP, even as it was officially tied to the War Ministry.
According to one of its founders, the aim of the Special Organization was concrete and twofold: "The first was Pan-Islamism that would place the entire Turkish race under one political unit." To achieve this Turkish-Islamic unity, the organization operated domestically and abroad. In the "foreign" struggle, agents were sent to countries colonized by the West-especially by Britain -and to Central Asia to foment revolution:
It was widely agreed that we would send our [more] capable people. Everywhere they went they would work with doggedness and determination, like Jesuit priests. We were going to incite India, Baluchistan, Iran, Afghanistan and all the Muslim peoples of Africa. The world of Islam would come under the command of the Caliph. Revolutions would follow one after the other. Britain and France would find themselves in a disastrous situation, where they would be routed out of crucial regions. The domestic objective was every bit as important. After its reconstitution in 1914, in particular, the organization became "the foremost institution for both internal and external security for the Ottoman state." (Quoted in Taner Akcam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, 2006, p.96).
Also Taner Akcam reports that note written by Kaiser Wilhelm II on a cable from his ambassador in St. Petersburg expressed this lucidly: "Our consuls in Turkey and India , our people must incite the entire Islamic world to a savage revolt against this ... cursed, perfidious, conscience-less nation [Russia]. (Akcam, 2006, p. 113).
The Armenians However formed a major territorial obstacle to the realization of this goal. And the strong-handed exile/elimination, of the Armenians may be partly seen as “motivated by the wish to eliminate a barrier between Turkey and several Turkic groups in Russia living near the frontiers." (Akcam, 2006, p. 114).
On 6 August, the Minister of War Enver Pasha (1881-1922) had reported to Berlin that "revolts were about to begin in the Caucasus and in Azerbaijan:' and that "trans port of weapons and supplies were needed to strengthen revolts in Egypt, Libya, Tunis, Iran, Afghanistan and India." Two weeks later he demanded that "the transport of German weapons be speeded Up." (From reports by Ambassador Wangenheim and State Minister Zimmermann. Quoted in Akcam, 2006, p.123).
Grand Vizier and Interior Minister Talat Pasha writes in his memoirs, that the Special Organization was a state office. Taner Akcam however concluded that, “The extant information leads us to conclude that in 1911 a group associated with Enver Pasha began to call itself the "Special Organization." This group was initially founded to organize a guerrilla war in Libya against Italy at the end of 1911. (Akcam, 2006, p.94).
The German embassy also repeatedly informed the Turkish government that it was willing to support the deportation. (German Foreign Office, Political Archive, PA-AA/R 14085, Reports by Consul Rossler (Aleppo), dated 12 April 1915).
The documents indicate that the time between deportation and resettlement was no more than one week in some regions. There was therefore a great deal of preparation beforehand. One telegram from 18 May 1915, appointing an official to oversee Muslim settlement, made reference to a previous telegram dated 16 May 1915 about the Armenians' expulsion. Another telegram sent to Erzurum on 18 May 1915 inquired about the number of immigrants in the province and the resources needed to feed and settle them. (Akcam, 2006, p.182).
One letter, sent by the General Staff to the grand vizier's office, from 26 May 1915, shows that the relocations were based on a demographic principle that limited Armenians to 5 to 10 percent of the population in any given region. Scholars have long dismissed this demographic consideration as an attempt to disguise the real reasons for the deportations. Now, however, newly discovered documents from the Ottoman archives indicate that this was not in fact a strategy of diversion, but rather a calculated policy applied not only to Armenians, but Arabs, Kurds, Albanians, Bosnians and others. For example, a telegram sent from the Interior Ministry to different provinces in May 1916 demanded that the Kurds be separated from their religious leaders and sheiks and that they be settled in Anatolia in numbers not exceeding 5 percent of the indigenous population. (A ciphered telegram sent from the Interior Ministry Department of AMMU to the provinces and districts of Ankara, Konya, Kayseri, Nigde, quoted in Akcam, 2006, p.178).
Max Scheubner- Richter, the German vice consul reported to the German Foreign Office that "there will be no Armenians left in Turkey after the war." (Political Archive, PA-AA/Bo. KonstB. 170, Report by Consul Scheubner-Richter, Erzurum , dated 28 July 1915).
In the Black Sea region, the Armenians were loaded onto boats and then thrown overboard-confirmed by eyewitnesses at the TrablOn trial. At the trial's fourth session (3 April 1919), "one woman's confirmed testimony" said that "Cemal Azmi Bey ordered the gendarmes to collect Armenian men and take them by boat to Kumkale. On the way they were all killed-some shot, others thrown into the sea .... Niyazi Efendi was in charge of the boats.( British Foreign Office, FO 371/4174/118377, Folios 251-62, Message from Calthorpe, dated 1 August 1919). ''Around Degirmendere;' said the same indictment, " ... the women and children were loaded onto boats, taken to the sea and thrown off to drown." (FO 371/4172/22373, Dossier no. 248, Message from Calthorpe, dated 2 May 1919).
Mehmet Emin Bey, a deputy from Trabzon , said at a session in the Chamber of Deputies, that he witnessed Armenians being taken by boats and thrown overboard: "Your humble servant saw this. There was a prefect in the Ordu District. He loaded the Armenians onto boats ostensibly to send them to Samsun and then had them thrown overboard." (Akcam,2006, p.181).
An eyewitness who came upon a convoy of deportees an hour away from Erzincan reported that the women implored his party, "Save us! We will become Muslims! ... We will become Germans! We will become anything you want, just save us! They are taking us to the Kemah Pass to cut our throats." (German Foreign Office, Political Archive, PA-AA/Bo. Kons./B. 170, Report by Wedel-Jarlsberg, in which she recounts her observations, dated 28 July, 1915).
Akcam who researched these matters in detail and list relevant documents and telegrams comes to the conclusion that,” One of the most important uses made of Armenian property was to help the armed forces. This was done by commandeering buildings, which were then used for military operations, and through the sale of commodities produced by Armenians.” Further,” Much of the Armenian property left behind was given to Muslim individuals or companies for the purpose of creating a Muslim bourgeois class, often without demand for any payment or on very favorable terms, including installment plans. Examples are found in the archives of the Cipher Office of the Ministry of the Interior.” And finally,” Property was also distributed to Muslims who settled in the areas formerly inhabited by Armenians.” (Akcam, p.190-192).
Thus Talat Pasha could report with what seems with a degree of pride to the acting German ambassador, Prince Hohenlohe- Langenburg, on 31 August 1915, that the “Armenian “question” doesn’t exist anymore: “ la question Armenienne n' existe plus." (Akcam, p.196).
In fact the measures taken by the Young Turks were quite systematic. To begin with, Armenian men of military age were called up. Their political and religious leaders were arrested and deported. The violence mostly took place in 1915, though there were isolated incidents at the end of 1914. Armenian villages in the vicinity of Van were burned down, and the men and boys older than ten massacred. The more attractive young women were raped and abducted. Women, children and the elderly were driven towards the Persian frontier, often having been stripped. Usually the perpetrators plundered the homes of their victims. Money and other valuables were stolen. Rape was rampant. At Trebizond in July 1915 hundreds of Armenian men were 'taken out of town in batches of 15 or 20, lined up on the edge of ditches prepared beforehand, shot, and thrown into the ditches'. The bodies of thousands of men, women and children from Bitlis and Zaart were dumped in the river or nearby ravines. Similar atrocities occurred in so many different places during 1915 that the existence of a deliberate plan for a violent 'solution' of the Armenian question cannot seriously be disputed. Equally well organized were the deportations of the Armenian women, children and old people. Trains ran along the Baghdad Railway carrying tens of thousands of them, crammed into carriages eighty or ninety at a time. Beyond the railheads people were made to walk literally until they dropped. For those who were marched half-naked and without water through the Syrian desert , 'deportation' meant death.
According to “The War of the Worlds” (2006) by Niall Ferguson, One Turkish officer ordered to deport the Armenians from Trebizond admitted that he 'knew that deportations meant massacres'-The evidence that Young Turks leaders expressly ordered massacres in telegrams to provincial officials is controversial. It has been claimed that the telegrams were forgeries, but the originals were cited in the post-war trial of Talaat's assassin and the court did not question their authenticity. Incriminating exchanges between Talaat and other Turkish officials were also intercepted by the British. (Ferguson, 2006, pp. 178-79.)
Where German General Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz acted as a military adviser to the Sultan between 1883 and 1895, like the Japanese before them, also the Young Turks had taken the Germans as their role models. In January 1914 another German general, Otto Liman von Sanders, was appointed the army's Inspector General; meanwhile German bankers were cajoled by their government into financing the extension of the Berlin-Constantinople railway line as far as Baghdad.
Recounting the fate of several thousand missing Armenian soldiers, Leslie Davis, the American consul at Harput and Mezreh, wrote that "it finally appeared that all of them were shot by the gendarmes who accompanied them." (Leslie A. Davis, The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat's Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917, 1989, p. 61.)
The American missionary physician Clarence Ussher, a resident of Van for several years, described a tense city ready to explode amidst rumors of massacres and reports of murders of disarmed Armenian· soldiers. Even in Ussher's presence, Djevdet Bey gave orders to destroy a nearby community. It was small wonder, then, that when Bey demanded four thousand Armenian men, Armenians "felt certain he intended to put the four thousand to death." On April 19, according to Ussher, Turkish units stationed in villages around Van received the order that "the Armenians must be exterminated." (Clarence Ussher, An American Physician in Turkey, 1917, pp. 237, 239, 244; Donald Bloxham, "The Beginning of the Armenian Catastrophe: Comparative and Contextual Considerations," in Der Volkermord an den Armeniern und die Shoa, ed. Hans-Lukas Kieser and Dominik J. Schaller, 2002, p. 118.)
On April 24 and April 25, 1915, two hundred and fifty leading Armenians-physicians, pharmacists, journalists, writers, newspaper editors, professors, politicians, and religious figures-were arrested at Constantinople and within days deported to the interior of Turkey . For this reason, April 24 is now the date that commemorates the Armenian Genocide. Hundreds if not thousands more suffered the same fate in the following weeks as the campaign against Armenian leaders quickly spread to towns across Anatolia. At Harput, Armenian professors from Euphrates College were imprisoned with other prominent Armenians and tortured to extract confessions about supposed plots. (Riggs, Days of Tragedy in Armenia, pp. 47-48, 53; Tacy Atkinson, "The German, the Turk and the Devil Made a Triple Alliance": Harpoot Diaries, 1908-1917, , 2000, p. 35; Balakian, Burning Tigris, p. 213.)
Many of the surviving Armenians fled east, and so too did Clarence Ussher, whose wife had died of typhus only weeks before. The exact date that the CUP leadership decided to deport all Armenians is unknown. An emergency law authorizing deportations was announced on May 27, 1915. But evidence from trials carried out just after World War I and from other sources indicates that the decision to expel Turkey 's Armenians had already been reached in governing circles. (Vahakn N. Dadrian, The History of the Armenian Genocide, 1997, p. 221.)
The magnitude of the deportations increased rapidly in late spring and into the summer of 1915 in the towns of eastern Anatolia . At Erzerum on the Western Euphrates River , vivid accounts of deportations were provided by Germans. Because the Germans were Turkish allies, they proved to be key witnesses-far less likely to be credibly accused of slander. The German consul Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter described a campaign of deportations that began in mid-May in the villages north of Erzerum. Armenian villagers received as little as a few hours' notice before being forced to leave their homes. Lieutenant Colonel Stange of the German military mission at Erzerum reported that Turkish irregulars carried out killings "with the toleration" and even the assistance of military escorts. Refugees, many of them women and children, camped out in Erzerum, but the attacks did not end with the clearing of outlying villages. (Wolfgang Gust, ed., Der Volkermord an den Armeniern 1915/16: Dokumente aus dem Politischen Archiv des deutschen Auswartigen Amts, 2005, pp. 223-224.)
By early June the Armenians of Erzerum themselves faced imminent deportation-no one knew precisely to where, though a destination far to the south in Syria was rumored. By late June the order came from the "commander in chief" to expel all Erzerum's Armenians. To the north, the summer of deportations also swept away Armenians living on or near the Black Sea. At the port of Trebizond, Armenians learned on June 26 that they were to leave within five days. The German consul, concerned about the "justified criticism" that deportation of women and children south without food or shelter might raise, claimed to have persuaded local authorities to make initial exceptions for children under ten, widows, orphans, and women on their own; but the Austrian Consul reported that such "promises were not kept." Instead Trebizond 's Armenians handed over their possessions to the authorities and prepared to leave.
Employees of Anatolia College , another institution founded by American missionaries, witnessed the deportations from Marsovan, an interior town south of the Black Sea . As in many other towns, the Armenian men were massacred first. George E. White, president of Anatolia College , heard that Armenian men arrested on June 26 were taken in "groups of 100 to 200" and killed by peasants under government supervision. Marsovan's remaining Armenians women, children, and elderly men-received the order in early July to prepare to leave, and sold their goods for a pittance. Awaiting exile, they feared the worst. White recalled, "The people felt that the government was determined to exterminate the Armenian race, and they were powerless to resist. Within weeks the town was nearly empty of Armenians.
The massive deportations made it difficult for even Turkey 's allies to defend the campaign as a protective measure although this was the reason given. Alied Germans on the ground, rejected claims that deportations were a response to a general Armenian revolutionary threat. The German ambassador Baron Hans von Wangenheim, who was charged with passivity or worse in the genocide, observed on July 7, 1915, that the "expulsion and resettlement of the Armenian population," previously limited to the eastern front and Cilicia , had now extended to provinces that did not face imminent threat of invasion. "This circumstance and the way in which the resettlement is being carried out," he concluded, "shows, that the government really pursues the purpose of annihilating the Armenian race in the Turkish empire." (Gust, Volkermord an den Armeniern, pp. 185, 227.)
Harput was one of many towns engulfed by the terror spreading outside the immediate war zone. The sequence of events here was typical: first came the arrest, torture, and imprisonment of Armenian leaders, followed by the order to leave-announced on June 26 by the town crier walking through the streets. With only days to place their affairs in order, Armenians hurried to close their businesses and sell their possessions. What followed next was the equivalent of a townwide fire sale as Harput was suddenly flooded with all manner of goods. Anyone remaining in Harput and the neighboring town of Mezreh , that is to say mainly Turks (Kurds were more likely to live outside of town), could acquire virtually any item for a fraction of its normal cost. "The streets," recalled Leslie Davis, the American consul, "were full of Turkish women, as well as men, who were seeking bargains." There were plenty of these to be found. Clothes, furniture, rugs, musical instruments, sewing machines, and more-everything was for sale, and many took the opportunity to buy. "You could not look out of the window," remarked the American missionary Henry Riggs, "without seeing someone walking down the street carrying some sort of a load of booty, bought or stolen from Armenian houses. (Riggs, Days of Tragedy in Armenia , p.88.)
After many of the men had already been murdered. most of Harput's Armenians, predominantly women and children, set out south for the desert. By August, deportations extended to towns across Turkey . Everywhere Armenians were driven from their homes with the partial exception of those living in Constantinople and Smyrna . At Constantinople , Turkish authorities chiefly targeted Armenian men who had moved to the city without their families, but in nearby towns they carried out general deportations. South of Constantinople, across the Sea of Marmara in Bursa , deportations of Armenians (though not of Protestants) began on August 18. The local government gathered up ox carts from nearby villages and then sent some 1,800 Armenians to the railway station, from where they were to be sent by train to Konia, a town some 150 miles south of Ankara. CUP members bought Armenians' houses at steep discounts or for nothing.
Deportations ultimately reached all the way to Turkey 's western border at Adrianople in Thrace. On October 27, 1915, police appeared at the homes of prosperous Armenians there and gave them a half-hour to leave. Everything-houses, shops, and possessions had to be left behind by the deported, who could expect to find themselves sent all the way to Mosul , a town on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia (now Iraq). It was a strange night of both despair and festivity. In a joint report, the diplomatic representatives of Austria and Bulgaria described how Turkish police entered the empty houses to celebrate, eat whatever food had been left behind, and even play the piano.
That the deported Armenians would almost certainly die was predictable. To this day however many newspapers in W.Europe and the USA feel compelled to balance any reference to the Armenian genocide by also referring to Turkish denials that it ever took place. This false balance has crept into the work of the most influential historians.
At Erzerum, the German consul von Scheubner-Richter already, by June 18, he had heard of the murder of deported Armenians, and the sheer distance to be traveled over mountains and desert left little hope for any who escaped massacre. Arenians were meant to die, if not by massacre then through "deprivation on the long journey to Mesopotamia and the unaccustomed climate there .... This solution to the Armenian question appears to be ideal for the hard-liners, to which almost all military and government civil servants belong." (ScheubnerRichter an die Botschaft Konstantinopel, www.armenocide.net)
For Trebizond's Armenians, the supposed destination was Mosul. But to reach Mosul , they first had to cross a mountain range to the town's immediate south. Then, without water, food, or shelter, they had to travel over hundreds of miles of further mountains as well as desert-and there were already rumors of murders en route. The Austrian consul Kwiatowski predicted that most would die. A journey over this distance without food and shelter "equals ... a death sentence," he informed the Austrian embassy. It was necessary to look far back in history, he added, to find such a "violent attempt at the annihilation of a people." (Gust, Volkermord an den Armeniern, p. 208)
Turkish authorities counted on precisely that outcome. Just before deportations began from Harput, one Young Turk Member of Parliament, Hadji Mehmet Effendi, told Henry Riggs, "The Armenians know what massacre is, and think they can bear that. But let them wait and see what deportation is .... They will soon learn how much worse it is than massacre!” (Davis, Slaughterhouse Province, p. 54; Riggs, Days of Tragedy in Armenia, p.88.)
As so many observers-missionaries, physicians, diplomats, soldiers, Americans, Germans, and Austrians-predicted, expulsion meant death for most Armenians. The death toll mounted quickly. From the west, many deported Armenians first passed through Konia , either by railway or on foot. Many thousands camped out without shelter in fields around the railway station, and the continuing deaths, observed William Dodd, an American missionary at Konia, "kept a priest and several sets of grave diggers in the cemetery from dawn to sunset burying the bodies that were brought in constant procession." (James L. Barton, Compiler,Turkish Atrocities, Statements of American Missionaries on the Destruction of Christian Communities in Ottoman Turkey, 1915-1917 1998, p. 146)
The chances of even reaching the desert were slimmest from departure points farthest north, near the Black Sea . Some Armenians in those areas never even began the journey south. At Trebizond, witnesses spoke of Armenians placed on boats and drowned in the Black Sea or in a nearby river, while those who started south were murdered. From Erzerum, Lieutenant Colonel Stange of the German military mission reported that Trebizond 's Armenian men were murdered in the mountains "with the assistance of the military." (Gust, Volkermord an den Armeniern, p. 269.)
By the fall of 1915 the physical evidence of slaughter marked the landscape. Roads and rivers were filled with dead bodies. For weeks corpses, many tied back to back, floated down the Euphrates River into what is now northern Syria . The Euphrates briefly cleared, then corpses reappeared, if anything in still larger numbers. This time the dead were "chiefly women and children." Travelers on the roads of eastern Turkey also saw the dead everywhere. A journey outside Harput in November revealed hands and feet sticking out of the ground, and decomposing bodies: the missionary Mary Riggs wrote, "The Land was polluted." (Barton, 'Turkish Atrocities,'pp. 33,18; and Gust, Volkermord an den Armeniern, p. 353.)
As one sixty five-year-old woman, Tahire Cakirbay, told a reporter in 2000, "They took the Armenians up there and killed them .... My parents told me.” (New York Times, May 10,2000. ) In September 1915 Davis saw dead bodies all along his route, "In most of these valleys there were dead bodies and from the tops of the cliffs which extended between them we saw hundreds of bodies and many bones in the water of lake Van below." He returned with the missionary physician Dr. Atkinson, who estimated the number of dead bodies surrounding the lake at "between five and ten thousand," mostly women and children. (Davis, Slaughterhouse Province, pp. 80, 86; Barton, 'Turkish Atrocities,' pp. 51,60.)
Also Turkey 's allies conceded that the Turkish government had sought to exterminate the country's Armenian population. For example the Austrian charge d'affaires Karl Graf von und zu Trauttmansdorff Weinsberg, said that the mass of evidence, not only from Armenian sources but from bankers, German officers, consuls, and other witnesses, led him to conclude in late September that the Turks, carried out the "extermination of the Armenian race.” (Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, 2000, p. 205; Armenian Genocide Documentation, vol. 2, pp. 208, 243.)
When asked, Enver Pasha told Morgenthau, “The cabinet itself has ordered the deportations."
But ultimate responsibility for the destruction of Turkey 's Armenians lay with the leadership of the Committee of Union and Progress. CUP leader, Talaat Pasha informed a German diplomat that Turkey 's government "wanted to use the world war, in order to thoroughly clear away their internal enemies, the indigenous Christian." (Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, p. 233; Gust, Der Volkermord an den Armeniern, p. 171.)
Earlier episodes of mass flight in the Balkan Wars and in the wars of the nineteenth century had caused many deaths, but the end results fell short of extermination. Refugees from Macedonia , Bulgaria , and Crete had fled to a sympathetic if severely overburdened Ottoman Empire . In 1915, by contrast, there was no Armenia for Armenians to reach even if they could escape. Some escaped to regions of Russia with large Armenian populations, or even to Greece , but most were sent south where no real refuge awaited them.
Talaat, in one conversation, revealed that he knew that most had died. Indeed, he tried to profit from this knowledge by collecting their life insurance policies for the Turkish government. Making a request that astonished and enraged Morgenthau, Talaat asked the ambassador to have U.S. life insurance companies send a list of Armenian policyholders. As Talaat explained, "They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money. (Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, pp. 224-225.)
The response of ordinary Turks to the deportations was mixed. Many Turks and Kurds aided Armenians, but eyewitnesses, on the whole, described a Turkish population balanced between opportunism and passive complicity. CUP officials themselves certainly profited directly from the deportations by seizing Armenians' assets, and Turkish civilians also repeatedly took advantage of conditions to acquire their Armenian neighbors' property at virtually no cost. (Peter Balakian, Black Dog of Fate: An American Son Uncovers His Armenian Past, 1998, pp. 192-205.)
Taken by Turkish or Kurdish men the seizure of Armenian women and girls forms a major theme in accounts of the Armenian genocide. Exploitation, whether economic or sexual, was a mass phenomenon. If Aryanization gave Germans cause to look the other way as deportations of Jews began, the massive opportunistic looting of Armenians gave Turks reason to adopt a passive stance toward deportation. (See also Vahakn N. Dadrian, German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the Historical Evidence of German Complicity, 1996).
Also Kemal Atta Turk seen seated further dawn next to the German Kaiser, in September 1922 in Smyrna where the last Armenians survived, sealed off the Armenian quarter and began systematically butchering its 25,000 inhabitants. Then they set fire to it, to incinerate any survivors wrote the American consul, George Horton, describing the unfolding horror:
At first, civilian Turks, natives of the town, were the chief offenders. I myself saw such civilians armed with shotguns watching the windows of Christian houses ready to shoot at any head that might appear. These had the air of hunters crouching and stalking their prey ... The hunting and killing of Armenian men, either by hacking or clubbing or driving out in squads into the country and shooting, caused an unimaginable panic ... I saw a young couple wade out into the sea. They were a respectable, attractive pair and the man was carrying in his arms a small child. As they waded deeper and deeper into the water, till it came nearly up to their shoulders, I suddenly realized that they were going to drown themselves. (Niall Ferguson, The War of the Worlds, 2006, p. 182.)
When one reads, what in Akcam’s book, comes across like an exercise or at least example, for the later genocide the Germany committed towards its own Jewish population, one is reminded of the words written already in 1896 by that time Prime Minister Lord Salisbury: “What a strange spectacle Europe is presenting, a perfectly unknown future depending upon the will of three or four men,” wrote the Prime Minister Lord Salisbury to his friend Canon Gordon in August 1896. “It is very remarkable that in spite of the progress of democratic ideas, the weight of individual personalities, for good or evil, is greater than ever. Now every turn in the humours of the Emperor Nicholas or the Emperor William (Kaiser Willhelm II), or the Sultan of Turkey is watched and interpreted - the fate of many thousands of lives depends on them.” Salisbury did not mention his own, Queen Victoria , because England was a constitutional monarchy, and the Queen was answerable to Parliament. (Andrew Roberts, Salisbury, 2000, p. 643).
Contemporary accounts by European diplomats written from 1890 through the World War I era, demonstrate that the genocidal massacres against the Armenians , were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad waged because they sought the equal rights promised to them, but never granted, under various failed schemes to reform the discriminatory system of Ottoman Islamic Law ("Shari'a"). A widely disseminated 1915 Ottoman Fatwa entitled "Aljihad"(brought to the U.S. Consul's attention in Cairo), for example, clearly sanctioned religiously motivated jihad violence. Historian Johannes Lepsius' eyewitness accounts from Turkey documented the results of such invocations of jihad:
"559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Armenian priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam." Lepsius concluded with this rhetorical question: "Is this a religious persecution or is it not?"
And in his eloquent Wednesday 8/22/07 column "No Room to Deny Genocide" the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby emphasized the nexus between the jihad genocide of the Armenians, the contemporary depredations of jihad, and the dangers of denial:
"And at a time when jihadist violence from Darfur to Ground Zero has spilled so much innocent blood, dissimulation about the jihad of 1915 [emphasis added] can only aid our enemies."
Moreover the various "strategic rationales" and arguments put forth to oppose formal U.S. recognition (as in HR:/SR:106) of the Armenian genocide -- the U.S.-Turkish alliance, the Turkish-Israeli alliance, the vulnerability of Turkey's vestigial Jewish minority -- appear wanting and hackneyed in light of burgeoning evidence which undermines their basic credibility.
But most importantly, there is a compelling moral imperative to pass these resolutions which transcends the dubious geopolitical considerations used to rationalize and sustain Turkey's ongoing campaign of genocide denial. Professor Deborah Lipstadt, the renowned Holocaust scholar, and author of Denying the Holocaust, and History on Trial (which recounts her crushing defeat of Nazi-sympathizer David Irving's "libel' suit"), in conjunction with twelve other leading genocide scholars, elucidated the corrosive immorality of genocide denial in this 1996 statement:
Denial of genocide -- whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews -- is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Rather, it sows confusion by appearing to be engaged in a genuine scholarly effort. Those who deny genocide always dismiss the abundance of documents and testimony as contrived or coerced, or as forgeries and falsehoods. Free speech does not guarantee the deniers the right to be treated as the 'other' side of a legitimate debate when there is no credible other side"; nor does it guarantee the deniers space in the classroom or curriculum, or in any other forum. Genocide denial is an insidious form of intellectual and moral degradation...
Senate: and House: Resolutions 106 both call upon the President,
...to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record [emphasis added] relating to the Armenian Genocide.
The diaries of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916, in conjunction with the extended report by American consul Leslie Davis in Harput (remote eastern), Turkey, from 1915 to 1917, and the recently published United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917 -- the latter consisting of memos filed on a daily basis, informing the U.S. Secretary of State and President Woodrow Wilson of the efforts to rescue as many Armenians as possible (and including the obstacles confronting the rescuers' efforts) -- are perhaps the most salient examples of the evidence, as per the language of HR/SR 106, "documented in the United States record." This combination of official diplomatic correspondence, and private memoirs, provides a lucid, often repellently detailed historical accounting of what the U.S. government knew regarding the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian genocide.
American Witnesses to the Armenian Genocide: Observations from U.S. Diplomats, 1915-1917
Ambassador Morgenthau, wrote a letter to his son on June 19, 1915, as the massacres of the Armenians reached a murderous crescendo,
The ruin and devastation that is being wrought here is heart-rending. The government is using its present opportunity while all other countries are at war, to obliterate the Armenian race...
His despair was intensified by feelings of impotence as a diplomat for a neutral nation, made all the more distressing by his sympathetic understanding of such mass persecution as a Jew:
...and the worst of it is that it is impossible to stop it. The United States as a neutral power has no right to interfere in their internal affairs, and as I receive report after report of the inhuman treatment that the Armenians are receiving, it makes me feel most sad. Their lot seems to be very much the same as that of the Jews in Russia, and belonging to a persecuted race myself, I have all the more sympathy with them.
Morgenthau reiterated his overall assessment that a frank genocide, in modern parlance, was taking place, both in his diary, and a plethora of memos submitted to the U.S. Secretary of State, Robert Lansing. He stated, for example, that the
...persecution of Armenians is assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate a systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary efforts, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.
Aleppo (Syria) Consul, J.B. Jackson wrote to Ambassador Morgenthau on September 29, 1915 confirming the genocidal organization and scale of the unfolding tragedy:
The deportation of Armenians from their homes by the Turkish Government has continued with a persistence and perfection of plan...32,751...[arrived in Aleppo] by rail from interior stations...In addition thereto it is estimated that at least 100,000 others have arrived afoot. And such a condition as these unfortunates are in, especially those coming afoot, many having left their homes before Easter, deprived of all their worldly possessions without money and all sparsely clad and some naked from the treatment by their escorts and the despoiling depopulation en route. It is extremely rare to find a family intact that has come any considerable distance, invariably all having lost members from disease and fatigue, young girls and boys carried off by hostile tribesmen, and about all the men having been separated from the families and suffered fates that had best be left unmentioned, many being done away with in atrocious manners before the eyes of their relatives and friends. So severe has been the treatment that careful estimates place the number of survivors at only 15% of these originally deported. On this basis the number of those surviving even this far being less than 150,000 up to September 21, there seems to have been about 1,000,000 persons lost up to this date. [emphasis added]
There have been persistent reports of the selection of great numbers of the most prominent men from nearly every city, town and village, of their removal to outside places and their final disappearance by means of which we are not positively informed but which the imagination can more or less accurately establish, as months have passed and no news has come of their existence. The heinous treatment of thoroughly exhausted women and children in the open streets of Aleppo by the armed escorts, who relentlessly beat and kicked their helpless charges along when illness and fatigue prevented further effort, is evidence of what must have happened along the roads of the interior further removed from civilization.
The exhausted condition of the victims is further proven by the death of a hundred or more daily of those arriving in this city. Travelers report having seen the numberless corpses along the roadside in the adjacent territory, or bodies in all sorts of positions where the victims fell in the last gasps of typhoid, fever and other diseases, and of the dogs fighting over the bodies of children. Many are the harrowing tales related by the survivors, but time and space prevent the recital thereof.
And Harput Consul Davis contrasted the idyllic beauty of the Lake Goeljuk region, with the gruesome atrocities committed against the Armenians there, under the aegis of the Turks:
Few localities could be better suited to the fiendish purposes of the Turks in their plan to exterminate the Armenian population than this peaceful lake in the interior of Asiatic Turkey, with its precipitous banks and pocket-like valleys, surrounded by villages of savage Kurds and far removed from the sight of civilized man. This, perhaps, was the reason why so many exiles from distant vilayets [provinces] were brought in safety [from afar]...and then massacred in the "Slaughterhouse Vilayet" of Turkey. That which took place around beautiful Lake Goeljuk in the summer of 1915 is almost inconceivable. Thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.
Some of the bodies had been burned...probably in the search for gold. We estimated that in the course of our ride around the lake, and actually within the space of 24-hours, we had seen the remains of not less than 10,000 Armenians who had been killed around Lake Goeljuk. This, of course, is approximate, as some of them were only the bones of those who had perished several months before, from which the flesh had entirely disappeared, while in other cases the corpses were so fresh that they were swollen up and the odor from them showed that they had been killed only a few days before. I am sure, however, that there are more, rather than less, than that number; and it is probable that the remains which we saw were only a small portion of the total number in that vicinity. In fact, on my subsequent rides in the direction of Lake Goeljuk I nearly always discovered skeletons and bones in great numbers in the new places that I visited...
A True Genocide
Was the horrific fate of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority, at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular, during World War I, due to "civil war", or genocide ? A seminal analysis by Professor Vahakn Dadrian, the most accomplished historian of this tragedy, published in 2002, validates the conclusion that the Ottoman Turks committed a centrally organized mass murder, i.e., a genocide, against their Armenian population. Relying upon a vast array of quintessential, primary source documents from the World War I allies of the Ottoman Empire, Germany and Austria-Hungary, Dadrian obviated the intractable disputes surrounding the reliability and authenticity of both Ottoman Turkish, and Armenian documents. He elucidated the truly unique nature of this documentary German and Austro-Hungarian evidence:
During the war, Germany and Austria-Hungary disposed over a vast network of ambassadorial, consular, military, and commercial representatives throughout the Ottoman Empire. Not only did they have access to high-ranking Ottoman officials and power-wielding decision-makers who were in a position to report to their superiors as locus in quo observers on many aspects of the wartime treatment of Ottoman Armenians. They supplemented their reports with as much detail as they could garner from trusted informers and paid agents, many of whom were Muslims, both civilians and military...
Moreover, the documents analyzed possessed another critical attribute: they included confidential correspondence prepared and sent to Berlin and Vienna, which were meant for wartime use only. This confidentiality, Dadrian notes, enabled German or Austro-Hungarian officials to openly question the contentions of their wartime Ottoman allies, when ascertaining and conveying facts truthfully to their superiors in Europe. Dadrian cites the compelling example of the November 16, 1915 report to the German chancellor, by Aleppo Consul Rossler. Rossler states, I do not intend to frame my reports in such a way that I may be favoring one or the other party. Rather, I consider it my duty to present to you the description of things which have occurred in my district and which I consider to be the truth.
Rossler was reacting specifically to the official Ottoman allegation that the Armenians had begun to massacre the Turkish population in the Turkish sections of Urfa, a city within his district, after reportedly capturing them. He dismissed the charge, unequivocally, with a single word: "invented'".
Amassed painstakingly by Dadrian, the primary source evidence from these German and Austro-Hungarian officials -- reluctant witnesses -- leads to this inescapable conclusion: the anti-Armenian measures, despite a multitude of attempts at cover-up and outright denial, were meticulously planned by the Ottoman authorities, and were designed to destroy wholesale, the victim population. Dadrian further validates this assessment with remarkable testimony before the Mazhar Inquiry Commission, a Nuremberg-like tribunal, which conducted a preliminary investigation in the post-war period to determine the criminal liability of the wartime Ottoman authorities regarding the Armenian deportations and massacres. The December 15, 1918 deposition by General Mehmed Vehip, commander-in-chief of the Ottoman Third Army, and ardent CUP (Committee of Union and Progress, i.e., the "Ittihadists", or "Young Turks") member, included this summary statement:
The murder and annihilation of the Armenians and the plunder and expropriation of their possessions were the result of the decisions made by the CUP...These atrocities occurred under a program that was determined upon and involved a definite case of willfulness. They occurred because they were ordered, approved, and pursued first by the CUP's [provincial] delegates and central boards, and second by governmental chiefs who had...pushed aside their conscience, and had become the tools of the wishes and desires of the Ittihadist society.
Dadrian's own compelling assessment of this primary source evidence is summarized as follows:
Through the episodic interventions of the European Powers, the historically evolving and intensifying Turko-Armenian conflict had become a source of anger and frustration for the Ottoman rulers and elites driven by a xenophobic nationalism. A monolithic political party that had managed to eliminate all opposition and had gained control of the Ottoman state apparatus efficiently took advantage of the opportunities provided by World War I. It purged by violent and lethal means the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the empire. By any standard definition, this was an act of genocide.
Jihad as a Major Determinant of the Armenian Genocide
The wartime reports from German and Austro-Hungarian officials, Turkey's World War I allies, as well as earlier British diplomatic reports dating back to 1890, confirm the independent U.S. evidence that the origins and evolution of the genocide had little to do with World War I "Armenian provocations." Emphasis is placed, instead, on the larger pre-war context dating from the failure of the mid-19th century Ottoman Tanzimat reform efforts. These reforms, initiated by the declining Ottoman Empire (i.e., in 1839 and 1856) under intense pressure from the European powers, were designed to abrogate the repressive laws of dhimmitude, to which non-Muslim (primarily Christian) minorities, including the Armenians, had been subjected for centuries, following the Turkish jihad conquests of their indigenous homelands.
Led by their patriarch, the Armenians felt encouraged by the Tanzimat reform scheme, and began to deluge the Porte (Ottoman seat of government) with pleas and requests, primarily seeking governmental protection against a host of mistreatments, particularly in the remote provinces. Between 1850 and 1870, alone, 537 notes were sent to the Porte by the Armenian patriarch characterizing numerous occurrences of theft, abduction, murder, confiscatory taxes, and fraud by government officials. These entreaties were largely ignored, and ominously, were even considered as signs of rebelliousness. For example, British Consul (to Erzurum) Clifford Lloyd reported in 1890, "Discontent, or any description of protest is regarded by the local Turkish Local Government as seditious."He went on to note that this Turkish reaction occurred irrespective of the fact that "..the idea of revolution.," was not being entertained by the Armenian peasants involved in these protests.
The renowned Ottomanist, Roderick Davison, has observed that under the Shari'a (Islamic Holy Law) the "..infidel gavours [dhimmis, rayas]" were permanently relegated to a status of "inferiority" and subjected to a "contemptuous half-toleration." Davison further maintained that this contempt emanated from "an innate attitude of superiority", and was driven by an "innate Muslim feeling", prone to paroxysms of "open fanaticism". Sustained, vehement reactions to the 1839 and 1856 Tanzimat reform acts by large segments of the Muslim population, led by Muslim spiritual leaders and the military, illustrate Davison's point. Perhaps the most candid and telling assessment of the doomed Tanzimat reforms, in particular the 1856 Act, was provided by Mustafa Resid, Ottoman Grand Vizier at six different times between 1846-58. In his denunciation of the reforms, Resid argued the proposed "complete emancipation" of the non-Muslim subjects, appropriately destined to be subjugated and ruled, was "entirely contradictory" to "the 600 year traditions of the Ottoman Empire." He openly proclaimed the "complete emancipation" segment of the initiative as disingenuous, enacted deliberately to mislead the Europeans, who had insisted upon this provision. Sadly prescient, Resid then made the ominous prediction of a "great massacre" if equality was in fact granted to non-Muslims.
Despite their "revolutionary" advent, and accompanying comparisons to the ideals of the French Revolution, the "Young Turk" regime eventually adopted a discriminatory, anti-reform attitude toward non-Muslims within the Ottoman Empire. During an August 6, 1910 speech in Saloniki, Mehmed Talat, pre-eminent leader of the Young Turks disdainfully rejected the notion of equality with "gavours'", arguing that it "...is an unrecognizable ideal since it is inimical with Sheriat [Shari'a] and the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Muslims..." Roderick Davison notes that in fact "..no genuine equality was ever attained...", re-enacting the failure of the prior Tanzimat reform period. As a consequence, he observes, the Young Turk leadership "...soon turned from equality...to Turkification..."
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid, the Ottoman Turks massacred over 200,000 Armenians between 1894-96. This was followed, under the Young Turk regime, by the Adana massacres of 25,000 Armenians in 1909, and the first formal genocide of the 20th century, when in 1915 alone, an additional 600,000 to 800,000, or even 1 million Armenians were slaughtered. The massacres of the 1890s had an "organic" connection to the Adana massacres of 1909, and more importantly, the events of 1915. As Vahakn Dadrian, the leading scholar of the Armenian genocide, argues, these earlier massacres facilitated the genocidal acts of 1915 by providing the Young Turks with "a predictable impunity." The absence of adverse consequences for the Abdul Hamid massacres in the 1890s allowed the Young Turks to move forward without constraint.
Contemporary accounts from European diplomats make clear that these brutal massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad against the Armenians who had attempted to throw off the yoke of dhimmitude by seeking equal rights and autonomy. For example, the Chief Dragoman (Turkish-speaking interpreter) of the British embassy reported regarding the 1894-96 massacres:
[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the "rayah" [dhimmi] Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited, and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians.
Bat Ye'or confirms this reasoning, noting that the Armenian quest for reforms invalidated their "legal status," which involved a "contract" (i.e., with their Muslim Turkish rulers). This
"...breach...restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property."
Lord Kinross has described the tactics of Abdul Hamid's agents, who deliberately fomented religious fanaticism among the local Muslim populations in Turkish Armenia, and the devastating results of this incitement:
It became their normal routine first to assemble the Moslem population in the largest mosque in a town, then to declare, in the name of the Sultan, that the Armenians were in general revolt with the aim of striking at Islam. Their Sultan enjoined them as good Moslems to defend their faith against these infidel rebels. He propounded the precept that under the holy law the property of rebels might be looted by believers, encouraging Moslems to enrich themselves in the name of their faith at the expense of their Christian neighbours, and in the event of resistance, to kill them. Hence, throughout Armenia, the attack of an ever increasing pack of wolves against sheep...
Each operation, between the bugle calls, followed a similar pattern. First into a town there came the Turkish troops, for the purpose of massacre; then came the Kurdish irregulars and tribesmen for the purpose of plunder. Finally came the holocaust, by fire and destruction, which spread, with the pursuit of fugitives and mopping-up operations, throughout the lands and villages of the surrounding province. This murderous winter of 1895 thus saw the decimation of much of the Armenian population and the devastation of their property in some twenty districts of eastern Turkey. Often the massacres were timed for a Friday, when the Moslems were in their mosques and the myth was spread by the authorities that the Armenians conspired to slaughter them at prayer. Instead they were themselves slaughtered, when the Moslems emerged to forestall their design. The total number of victims was somewhere between fifty and a hundred thousand, allowing for those who died subsequently of wounds, disease, exposure, and starvation...In each of thirteen large towns the numbers of those dead ran well into four figures. In Erzurum, the bazaar of a thousand shops was looted and wrecked by the Moslems, while some three hundred Christians were buried the next day in a single massed grave...Cruelest and most ruinous of all were the massacres at Urfa, where the Armenian Christians numbered a third of the total population. Here in December 1895, after a two-months siege of their quarter, the leading Armenians assembled in their cathedral, where they drew up a statement requesting Turkish official protection. Promising this, the Turkish officer in charge surrounded the cathedral with troops. Then a large body of them, with a mob in their wake, rushed through the Armenian quarter, where they plundered all houses and slaughtered all adult males above a certain age. When a large group of young Armenians were brought before a sheikh, he had them thrown down on their backs and held by their hands and feet. Then, in the words of an observer, he recited verses of the Koran and "cut their throats after the Mecca rite of sacrificing sheep."...When the bugle blast ended the day's operations some three thousand refugees poured into the cathedral, hoping for sanctuary. But the next morning - a Sunday - a fanatical mob swarmed into the church in an orgy of slaughter, rifling its shrines will cries of 'Call upon Christ to prove Himself a greater prophet than Mohammed.' Then they amassed a large pile of straw matting, which they spread over the litter of the corpses and set alight with thirty cans of petroleum. The woodwork of the gallery where a crowd of women and children crouched, wailing in terror, caught fire, and all perished in the flames. Punctiliously, at three-thirty in the afternoon the bugle blew once more, and the Moslem officials proceeded around the Armenian quarter to proclaim that the massacres were over. They had wiped out 126 complete families, without a woman or a baby surviving, and the total casualties in the town, including those slaughtered in the cathedral, amounted to eight thousand dead.
A 1915 Ottoman Fatwa believed to have been written by Sheikh Shawish (entitled, Aljihad, and translated into English, March 10, 1915) included a statement attached to its official United States consulate translation indicating, "It was undoubtedly this and similar pamphlets which inspired the Jewish community of Alexandria" to contact the United States Consul General's office in Cairo. The calls to religiously motivated violence against non-Muslims, as sanctioned by Islam-jihad war-are unmistakably clear.
If you believe in God, in his faith and apostle, hear the words of our sages as recorded by his holy prophet. 'You believers take not the Jews and Christians as friends unto you, He who loves then shall be called one of them'. 'God shall not foster the tyrants'. You believers accept not unto you friends of these who abuse your faith and mock thereof. They are called unbelievers, and you hearken unto the words of God of you believe. Therefore if after you will put to heart to these sacred words, perhaps they have been spoken to you by God not to acquire unto us Jewish or Christian friends. From these holy words you will realize that it is forbidden us to approach those who mock our faith - Jews and Christians, for then God forbid, God forbid we shall be deemed by the almighty as one of them God forbid.... After all this how can we believe in the sincerity of your faith when you befriend and love unbelievers, and accept their Government without any rising without attempting to expel them from your country. Therefore arise and purify yourselves of such deeds. Arise to the Holy War no matter what it costs so as to carry into execution this sacred deed. It is furthermore said in the Koran 'If your fathers if children taken unto them friends of the unbelievers, estrange yourselves even from them.'... The Mohammedan religion enjoins us to set aside some money for Government expenses and for preparations of a holy war. The rest of your tithes and contributions you are duty bound to send to the capital of the Caliphate to help them to glorify the name of God, through the medium of the Caliph. Let all Mussulmans know that the Holy War is created only for this purpose. We trust in God that the Mohammedan lands will rise from humiliation and become faithfully tied to the capital of the Caliphate until, so as to be called 'the lands of Islam'. This is our hope and God help us to carry through our holy aims to a successful issue for the sake of our holy Prophet... A holy war is a sacred duty and for your information let it be known that the armies of the Caliph is ready and in three divisions, as follows: War in secret, war by word of mouth, and physical war.
War in secret. This is the easiest and simplest. In this case it is to suppose that every unbeliever is an enemy, to persecute and exterminate him from the face of the earth. There is not a Mussulman in the world who is not inspired by this idea. However in the Koran it is said: 'That such a war is not enough for a Mohammedan whether young or old, and must also participate in the other parts of the Holy War. War by word of mouth. That is to say fighting by writing and speaking. This kind of war for example should pertain to the Mahomedans of the Caucasus. They should have commenced this war three or four months ago, because their actual position does not permit them to but the carrying on of such warfare. Every Mahomedan is in duty bound to write and speak against the unbelievers when actual circumstances do not permit him to assume more stringent measures, as for instance in the Caucasus. Therefore every writer must use his pen in favor of such a war. Physical war. This means actual fighting in the fullest sense of the word... Now let us mention here the means to be adopted in carrying on this holy war, as follows: Every private individual can fight with deadly weapons, as for example. Here is the following illustration of the late Egyptian Verdani who shot the unbelieving Butros Gal Pacha the friend of the English with a revolver. The murder of the English police Commissioner Bavaro in India by one of our Indian brethren. The killing of one of the officials of Kansch on his coming from Mecca by the Prophet's friend 'Abu Bazir El Pzachbi', peace be unto him! Abdallah ibn Aatick and four colleagues killed 'Abu Raafah Ibn El Hakiki'. The leader of the Jews of Khaybar so famous for his enmity to Islamism. This was executed by our Prophet's command, so did Avrala Ibn Ravacha and his friends when they killed Oscher Ibn Dawas one of the Jewish dignitaries. There are many instances of similar cases. Lord of the Universal What fails us now, and why should not some of us go forth to fight this sacred war for exalting thy glorious name?
An intrepid Protestant historian and missionary Johannes Lepsius, who earlier had undertaken a two-month trip to examine the sites of the Abul Hamid era massacres, returned to Turkey during World War I. He again documented the results of such invocations of jihad against non-Muslims, as espoused by Sheikh Shawish, during the period between 1914-1918. Lepsius wrote:
Are we then simply forbidden to speak of the Armenians as persecuted on account of their religious belief'? If so, there have never been any religious persecutions in the world...We have lists before us of 559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; of 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Gregorian (Armenian) priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam. We repeat, however, that those figures express only the extent of our information, and do not by a long way reach to the extent of the reality. Is this a religious persecution or is it not?
Finally, Bat Ye'or places the continuum of massacres from the 1890s through the end of World War I, in the overall theological and juridical context of jihad, as follows:
The genocide of the Armenians was the natural outcome of a policy inherent in the politico-religious structure of dhimmitude. This process of physically eliminating a rebel nation had already been used against the rebel Slav and Greek Christians, rescued from collective extermination by European intervention, although sometimes reluctantly.
The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these masssacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims' property, houses, and lands granted to the muhajirun, and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the jizya. The four stages of the liquidation -- deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and massacre -- reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out in the dar-al-harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives, whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the Armenian experience in the twentieth century.
"Double Killing"- Ongoing Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide
Elie Wiesel has noted, appositely, that the final stage of genocide, its denial, is "double killing". Ignoring absurd and scurrilous allegations contained in Turkish propaganda documents (for example, the May 27, 1999 eleven page document entitled, "An Objective Look at House Resolution [HR] 155", submitted by the Turkish ambassador in Washington, D.C., to all United States Congressmen, which contained the mendacious claims that Armenians had murdered 100,000 Ottoman Jews, and 1.1 million Ottoman Muslims), several persistent denialist rationales at least merit exploration and sound rebuttal, before being dismissed.
Dadrian has reduced these particular attempts to characterize the Armenian genocide as 'debatable' into the following three lines of argument (which he aptly terms "disjointed"):
(i) the Ottoman governments intent was merely to relocate, not destroy, the deportee population;
(ii) in the context of the larger global conflagration, i.e., World War I, the Armenians and Turks were engaged in a civil war, which was itself directly responsible for heavy Turkish losses;
(iii) Turkish losses during the overall conflict far exceeded Armenian losses.
Dadrian poses the following logical question as a preface to his analysis of the spurious claim that the Turks engaged in a 'benevolent relocation' of Armenian deportees:
...how did the Young Turk authorities expect to resettle in the deserts of Mesopotamia hundreds of thousands of dislocated people without securing the slightest accommodation or other amenities affording the barest conditions of subsistence for human beings?
The sham of 'relocation' was made plain by the Chief of Staff of the Ottoman Fourth Army who oversaw the areas designated to receive these forcibly transferred Armenian populations. He rejected the relocation pretense categorically in his memoirs stating "...there was neither preparation, nor organization to shelter the hundreds of thousands of deportees." This critical assessment from a key Ottoman official confirms the observations of multiple consuls representing Turkeys allies Austria and Germany (in addition to the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Morgenthau). These diplomats maintained repeatedly that dispatching the victimized Armenian populations to such desert hinterlands sealed their fate -- death and ruination.. Moreover, the hundreds of thousands of deportees were not merely transferred from war zones, as claimed, but from all parts of the Ottoman Empire. Dadrian further observes,
As official documents unmistakably reveal (and American Ambassador Morgenthau confirms) only the rapid deterioration of Turkey's military situation and the resulting time constraints prevented the authorities from carrying out the projected comprehensive deportation and liquidation of the rest of the Armenian population. In the case of Istanbul, for example, then the capital of the Empire, by November 1915 already 30,000 Armenians had been surreptitiously, and by a system of quotas, removed, according to a confidential report to Berlin by German Ambassador Metternich. As to Smyrna, only forceful intervention of German General Liman Von Sanders, the regional military commander, stopped the completion of the deportation of that major mercantile harbor city's Armenian population. That intervention was triggered by the dispatch of Smyrna's first Armenian deportee convoy as ordered by the province's Turkish governor-general Rahmi. This intervention proved a mere respite, however, as in 1922 the insurgent Kemalists destroyed Smyrna in a holocaust that consumed large segments of the surviving Armenian population, as well.
Were the mass killings of the Armenians merely an unintended epiphenomenon of a "civil war", characterized by one apologist as "...a struggle between two nations for a single homeland"? Dadrian ridicules this argument by first highlighting the essential attributes of a bona fide civil war: the collapse of central government authority, creating a power vacuum filled by armed, antagonistic factions engaged in violent and sustained clashes.This basic paradigm simply did not apply to wartime Turkey, whose Ottoman state organization,
...was not only fully functional but on account of its armed forces were able to wage for four years a multi-front gigantic war against such formidable enemies as England, France and Tsarist Russia. The wartime emergency measures, martial law and the temporary suspension of parliament were conditions which helped invest the executive branch of the Ottoman government with enormous and concentrated power, power that was more than enough to exercise dictatorship. Moreover, most able-bodied Armenian males were conscripted into the Ottoman Army long before Turkey intervened in the war. What was left of the Armenian population consisted by and large of terror stricken women, children and old me desperately trying to stay alive in an environment filled with the memories of past massacres, a consuming apprehension regarding new and impending disasters and burdened with all sorts of war-related hardships.