Statements & Assessments on the Armenian Rebellion and the Relocation in 1915
Hovhannes Katchaznouni: (The First Prime Minister of the independent Armenian Republic says in his report, entitled “Dashnagtzoutiun Has Nothing To Do Anymore”, submitted to the 1923 Dashnagtzoutiun Party Convention:)
“Dashnagtzoutiun Has Nothing To Do Anymore, Hovhannes Katchaznouni (The First Prime Minister of the independent Armenian Republic), Kaynak Yayinlari, Istanbul, April 2006.
“…At the beginning of the Autumn of 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war…, Armenian revolutionary units began to be formed in Transcaucasia with great enthusiasm and, especially, with (pp.36) much uproar.
“…In the fall of 1914 Armenian volunteer units organized themselves and fought against the Turks…
“…The winter of 1914 and the spring of 1915 were periods of greatest enthusiasm and hope for all the Armenians in the Caucasus, including, of course, the Dashnagtzoutiun. We had no doubt that the war would end with the complete victory of the Allies; Turkey would be defeated and dismembered, and its Armenian population would at last be liberated. (pp.37-38.)
“We had embraced Russia whole-heartedly without any compunction… we believed that the Tsarist government would grant us a more-or-less broad self-government in the Caucasus in the Armenian “vilayets” liberated from Turkey as a reward for our loyalty, our efforts and assistance.
“…We overestimated the ability of the Armenian people, their political and military power and overestimated the extent and importance of the services our people rendered to the Russians…” (pp.38)
“…The proof is, however-and this is essential- that the struggle began decades ago against which the Turkish government brought about the deportation…
“…This was the terrible fact. (pp.39)
“…Are we not capable of doing in the Soviet Armenia what we did in the Turkish Armenia, for tens of years?
We certainly are.
“We might establish a base in the Iranian Qarada and send people and arms to the other side of Araxe, (just as we did in Salmas once). We might establish the necessary secret relations and armed “humbas” in the Sunik and Dereleghez mountains just as we did in the Sasun mountains and the Chataq stream (in eastern Turkey). We might provoke the peasants in some far off regions to rise and then we might expel the communists there or destroy them. Later we might create great commotion even in Yerevan and occupy a state building at least for a few hours just as we occupied the Ottoman Bank or we might explode any building. We could plan assassinations and execute them just as we killed the officials of the Tsar and the Sultan…; in the same way, just as we did to Sultan Abdülhamid, we could plant a bomb under Myasnikov’s or Lukashin’s feet.
We could do all these, I think we could.
However, there is this question: Why? What are our aims and hopes?
“…when we created a great hubbub in Turkey, we thought we would attract the attention of the great powers to the Armenian cause and would force them to mediate for us, but now we know what such mediation is worth and do not need to repeat such endeavors…” (pp.85)
Translation of the Letter, dated 30 November 1919, from Boghos Nubar (Head of Armenian National Delegation to Paris Peace Conference,1919) to the French Foreign Minister:
I have the honor, in the name of the Armenian National Delegation, of submitting to Your Excellency the following declaration, at the same time reminding that:
The Armenians have been, since the beginning of the war, de facto belligerents, as you yourself have acknowledged, since they have fought alongside the Allies on all fronts, enduring heavy sacrifices and great suffering for the sake of their unshakable attachment to the cause of the Entente:
In France, through their volunteers, who started joining the Foreign Legion in the first days and covered themselves with glory under the French flag;
In Palestine and Syria, where Armenian volunteers, recruited by the National Delegation at the request of the government of the Republic itself, made up more than half of the French contingent and played a large role in the victory of General Allenby, as himself and his French chiefs have officially declared;
In the Caucasus, where, without mentioning the 150,000 Armenians in the Imperial Russian Army, more than 40,000 of their volunteers contributed to the liberation of a portion of the Armenian vilayets, and where, under the command of their leaders, Antranik and Nazarbekoff, they alone among the peoples of the Caucasus, offered resistance to the Turkish armies, from the beginning of the Bolshevist withdrawal right up to the signing of the armistice.”
Admiral Mark Bristol, U.S. Ambassador in Istanbul, states the following in his correspondence with the U.S. State Department in 1921:
“…I see that reports are being freely circulated in the United States that the Turks massacred thousands of Armenians in the Caucasus. Such reports are repeated so many times it makes my blood boil. The Near East Relief has the reports from Yarrow and our own American people which show absolutely that such Armenian reports are absolutely false. The circulation of such false reports in the United States, without refutation, is an outrage and is certainly doing the Armenians more harm than good. I feel that we should discourage the Armenians in this kind of work, not only because it is wrong, but because they are injuring themselves… I was surprised to see Dr. McCallum send through a report along this line from Constantinople. When I called attention to the report, it was stated that it came from the Armenians but the telegram did not state this, nor did it state that the Armenian reports were not confirmed by our own reports. I may be all wrong: but I can’t help feeling that I am not, because so many people out here who know the conditions agree with me that the Armenians and ourselves who lend to such exaggerated reports are doing the worst thing we possibly can for the Armenians. Why not tell the truth about the Armenians in every way? Let us come out and tell just what the Armenians are and then show our sympathy and do everything we can to make the future of these people what it should be for human beings. I am sure that the mass of people at home believe the Armenians are Christians in action and morals, and that they are able to govern themselves. You and I, and others that know them, know that this is not the case. We believe that they have been made what they are by the conditions that they have been compelled to live under, and we want to get hem out from under these conditions so that they can become Christians and able to govern themselves. But I cannot believe that right is ever produced by wrong-doing…”
Source: Excerpts from correspondence of Admiral Mark Bristol, U.S. High Commissioner in Istanbul (1921), U.S. Library of Congress: “Bristol Papers” General Correspondence-Container #34 (Bristol to Barton Letter of March 28, 1921), pp.2.
The letter of James L. Barton addressed to Admiral Mark Bristol, U.S. Ambassador in Istanbul
“To Admiral Mark Bristol,
U.S. High Commissioner and Ambassador
Letter dated May 6, 1921With reference to the false reports that come through reporting massacres of the Armenian by the Turks, there is no one who can deprecate this more than I do. But there is situation here which is hard to describe. There is a brilliant young Armenian, a graduate of Yale University, by the name of Cardashian. He is lawyer, with office down in Wall Street, I believe. He has organized a committee, so called, which has never met and is never consulted, with Mr. Gerard as Chairman. Cardashian is the whole thing. He has set up what he calls an Armenian publicity bureau or something of that kind, and has a letterhead printed. Gerard signs anything that Cardashian writes. He told me this himself one time. Cardashian is out with his own people and with everybody else, except Gerard and perhaps one other leading Armenian who was in London a month ago, Pasmermadjian. Not long since Cardashian came out with a pamphlet in which he charged the Near East Relief and the American missionaries as being the greatest enemies Armenia ever had, claiming that they, in cooperation with President Wilson, had crucified Armenia, and a lot of other matter in this character. He claims to have the latest and fullest information out from Armenia and keeps in pretty close touch with Senator Lodge, the President, the State Department, and others in Washington. He has Gerard’s backing. We have had many a conference with Armenian leaders as to what can be done to stop this vicious propaganda by Cardashian. He is constantly reporting atrocities which never occurred and giving endless misinformation with regard to the situation in Armenia and in Turkey. We do not like to come out and attack him in public. That would injure the whole cause we are all trying to serve, because concern. We have tried in New York Office to give publicity to nothing we did not have every reason to believe to be correct. We are therefore trying to keep controversial matters out and only keep before the public the actual needs in Armenia.
James L. Barton”
Bristol Papers, US Library of Congress, General Correspondence, Container #34.
Arnold J. Toynbee (British historian and co-author of the infamous “British Blue Book”):
Toynbee, Arnold J., The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, Howard Fertig, Inc. Edition, New York, 1970.
“…Yet at the very time when the agreement (*) was being made, I was being employed by His Majesty’s Government in a `Blue Book’, which was duly published and distributed as war-propaganda ! The French Government made use of the Armenians in a different way. They promised to erect an autonomous Armenian state, under their aegis, in the Cilician part of their Anatolian Zone and the promise brought them several thousand Armenian volunteers, most of whom were enrolled in the Legion d’Orient and served for the rest of the War.(pp.50-51)
“…There were also something like 300,000 Armenian refugees … in the territory of the Erivan Republic, who had been living there for five years (i.e., since 1915) in extreme destitution…(pp 191)
“…It is true that there would in any case have been trouble in Cilicia, owing to the irresponsible policy of the French authorities, who tried at first to lessen the burden on their regular army by partly garrisoning Cilicia with the Armenian volunteers of the Legion d’Orient. They even permitted the Armenians to raise and arm irregular bands… In fact, this French attempt to play off the Armenians against the Turks in Cilicia was of a piece with the British statesmanship that sent the Greeks to Smyrna…”(pp.312)
(*) The secret agreement, a.k.a. the Sykes-Picot Agreement, signed in May 1916 between Great Britain, France and Russia envisaging partitioning of Turkey and establishing “zones” assigned to each Power.
Guenter Lewy (Professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst): (1)
Lewy, Guenter, “Revisiting the Armenian Genocide”, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2005.
“…The key issue in this controversy is not the extent of Armenian suffering…Historians do not dispute these events although they may squabble over the numbers and circumstances. Rather the key question in the debate concerns premeditation. Did the Young Turk regime organize the massacres that took place in 1916?
Most of those who maintain that Armenian deaths were premeditated and so constitute genocide base their argument on three pillars: actions of Turkish military courts of 1919-20, which convicted officials of the Young Turk government of organizing massacres of Armenians, the role of the so-called “Special Organization” accused of carrying out the massacres, and the Memoirs of Naim Bey which contain alleged telegrams of Interior Minister Talat Pasha conveying orders for the destruction of the Armenians. Yet when these events and the sources describing them are subjected to careful examination, they provide at most a shaky foundation from which to claim, let alone conclude, that the deaths of Armenians were premeditated.(pp.1)
“…It is ironic that lobbyists and policymakers seek to base a determination of genocide upon documents most historians and scholars dismiss at worst as forgeries and at best as unverifiable and problematic…Three pillars of the Armenian claim to classify World War I deaths as genocide fail to substantiate the charge that the Young Turk regime intentionally organized the massacres. Other alleged evidence for a premeditated plan of annihilation fares no better…(pp.7)”
(*) The “Special Organization” (Tekilat-i Mahsusa), a special volunteer force led by professional officers in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was equivalent to a modern special operations force.
(**) Major Stange, a Prussian artillery specialist and a member of the German military mission to the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was assigned to command the Erzurum fortress artillery.
Edward J.Erickson, (Ph.D.,International Research Associates):
- “…Many historians find military chronicles dry and difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, when it comes to the controversy over the fate of Armenians in1915, they are crucial. Many contemporary historians accuse the Special Organization (*) and Major Stange (**) of complicity in genocide. The records,though, do not lend such accusations credence.
- “… From the record of unit assignments and locations on the front, it appears that the Special Organization units associated with Stange were not redeployed from the Caucasian front to deport and massacre Armenians…
- “…Accusations of genocide demand authentic proof of an official policy of ethnic extermination. Vahakn Dadrian has made high-profile claims thatMajor Stange and the Special Organization were the instruments of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Documents not utilized by Dadrian, though,discount such an allegation. (1)
1. Erickson, Edward J., Ph.D., (He is a retired U.S. Army officer at International Research Associates, “Armenian Massacres: New Records Undercut Old Blame, Reexamining History, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2006, pp. 6-7.
(*) The “Special Organization” (Tekilat-I Mahsusa), a special volunteer force led by professional officers in the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was equivalent to a modern special operations force.
(**) Major Stange, a Prussian artillery specialist and a member of the German military mission to the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was assigned to command the Erzurum fortress artillery.
Justin McCarthy (Professor of History, University of Louisville):
“…In 1800, a vast Muslim land existed in Anatolia, the Balkans, and southern Russia. It was not only a land in which Muslims ruled, but a land in which Muslims were the majority or, in much of the Balkans and part of the Caucasus, a sizeable minority…By 1923, only Anatolia, eastern Thrace, and a section of the southeastern Caucasus remained to the Muslim land. The Balkan Muslims were largely gone, dead or forced to migrate, the remainder living in pockets of settlement in Greece, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia. The same fate had overcome the Muslims of the Crimea, the northern Caucasus, and Russian Armenia-they were simply gone. Millions of Muslims, most of them Turks, had died; millions more had fled to what is today Turkey. Between 1821 and 1922, more than five million Muslims were driven from their lands. Five and one-half million Muslims died, some of them killed in wars, others perishing as refugees from starvation and disease. (pp.1)
“…Despite the historical importance of Muslim losses, it is not to be found in textbooks. Textbooks and histories that describe massacres of Bulgarians, Armenians, and Greeks have not mentioned corresponding massacres of Turks. The exile and mortality of the Muslims is not known…(pp.2)
“…The history that results from the process of revision is an unsettling one, for it tells the story of Turks as victims, and this is not the role in which they are usually cast. It does not present the traditional image of the Turk as victimizer, never victim, that has continued in histories of America and Europe long after it should have been discarded with other artifacts of nineteenth-century racism…(pp.3)
“…Devoid of its historical context, the Ottoman decision to deport the Armenians appears to have been irrational, motivated primarily by hatred of a minority. In fact, from the history of events in the Balkans and the Caucasus, the Ottomans knew what to expect from nationalist revolution and Russian invasion of eastern Anatolia. In Bulgaria, Greece, and Macedonia, the same processes had led to the slaughter of Turks. Could the Ottomans expect any difference in Anatolia? For 100 years, the Russians had expanded by pushing out Muslims. They had forced out the Crimean Tatars and the Circassians. In the southern Caucasus, they had replaced Turks with Armenians. In 1915, the Russians were poised to advance once again. Armenian revolutionary groups had already begun their rebellion all over eastern Anatolia, killing Muslim villagers and even seizing the city of Van. What fate could the Muslims of the east expect when the Russians invaded? The same fate that befell the Turks of Bulgaria or Macedonia. (pp.335)
McCarthy, Justin, “Death And Exile”, The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims 1821-1922, The Darwin Pres, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey, Third Printing, 1999, pp.1.
The Transcript of the Cyrus Hamlin Letter, printed for ease of legibility
“All Armenian “revolutionary party” is causing great evil and suffering to the missionary work and to the whole Christian population of certain parts of the Turkish Empire. It is a secret organization and is managed with a skill in deceit which is known only in the East. In a widely distributed pamphlet the following announcement is made at the close.
Huntchagist Revolutionary Party
This is the only Armenian party which is leading on die revolutionary movement in Armenia. Its center is Athens, and it has branches in ever)’ village and city in Armenia, also in the colonies. Nishan Garabedian, one of the founders of the party, is in America, and those desiring to get further information may communicate with him, addressing Nishan Garabedian, No. 15 Fountain Street. Worcester, Mass., or with the center, M. Bernard. Poste Restante, Athens, Greece.
A very intelligent Armenian gentleman, who speaks fluently and correctly English as well as Armenian, and is an eloquent defender of the revolution, assured me that they have the strongest hopes of preparing the way for Russia’s enhance to Asia Minor to take possession. In answer to the question how, he replied: “These Huntchagist bands, organized all over the empire, will watch their opportunities to kill Turks and Kurds, set fire to their villages and then make their escape into the mountains. The enraged Moslems will then rise and fall upon the defenseless Armenians and slaughter them with such barbarities that Russia will enter in the name of humanity and Christian civilization and take possession.” When I denounced the scheme as atrocious and infernal beyond anything ever known, he calmly replied: “It appears so to you, no doubt, but we Armenians are determined to be free. Europe listened to the Bulgarian horrors and made Bulgaria flee. She will listen to our cry when it goes up in the shrieks and blood of millions of women and children.” I urged in vain that this scheme will make the very name of Armenian hateful among all civilized people. He replied. “We are desperate; we shall do it.” “But your people do not want Russian protection. They prefer Turkey, bad as she is. There are hundreds of miles of conterminous territory into which emigration is easy at all times. It has been so for all the centuries of the Moslem rule. If your people preferred the Russian Government there would not be now an Armenian family in Turkey.” “Yes,” he replied, ‘”and for such stupidity they will have to suffer.” I have had conversations with others who avow the same things, but no one acknowledges that he is a member of the party. Falsehood is, of course, justifiable where murder and arson are.
In Turkey the party aims to excite the Turks against Protestant missionaries and against Protestant Armenians. All the troubles at Marsovan originated in their movements. They are cunning, unprincipled and cruel. They terrorize their own people by demanding contributions of money under threats of assassination—a threat which has often been put hi execution.
I have made the mildest possible disclosure of only a few of the abominations of tin’s Huntchagist revolutionary party. It is of Russian origin, Russian gold and craft govern it. Let all missionaries, home and foreign, denounce it. Let all Protestant Armenians everywhere boldly denounce it. It is trying to enter every Sunday school and deceive and pervert the innocent and ignorant into supporters of this craft. We must therefore be careful that in befriending Armenians we do nothing that can be construed into an approval of this movement, which all should abhor. While yet we recognize the probability that some Armenians in this country, ignorant of the real object and cruel designs of the Huntchagists. are led by their patriotism to join with them, and while we sympathize with the sufferings of the Armenians at home, we must stand aloof from any such desperate attempts, which contemplate the destruction of Protestant missions, churches, schools and Bible work, involving all in a common ruin that is diligently and craftily sought. Let all home and foreign missionaries beware of any alliance with, or countenance of, the Huntchagists.”
Cyrus Hamlin, A Dangerous Movement Among the Armenians, The Congregationalist,