SÖZDE ERMENİ SOYKIRIMI-ARMENİAN SO-CALLED GENOCİDE
A “Statement” Wrongly Attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Prof. Dr. Türkkaya Ataöv
The propaganda machine of certain Armenian circles has recently stepped up the claim that Mustafa Kemal, later Atatürk (1881-1938), the founder of the Turkish Republic, has confessed “Ottoman state responsibility for the Armenian genocide”. There are references to such an alleged “statement”, condemning both the events of 1915 and the leading members of the Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihad ve Terakki), not only in several Armenian-written announcements, but also in other foreign (notably French) publicity material and propaganda.
This short publication aspires to prove that the declaration, attributed to Mustafa Kemal is false, probably initially stemming from confusing the celebrated Mustafa Kemal Pasha (the founder of modern Turkey) with another Mustafa Pasha (also referred to as Mustafa Kemal Pasha in some Armenian publications), nicknamed “the Cruel” (Nemrud), the latter having served for sometime as the Judge of the Istanbul Military Court No.1 in 1919-1920.
This error, which might have started as an oversight, a mere misunderstanding or a simple lapsus linguae, is now being repeated in print and in word (as the Paris trial of the four Armenian terrorists on January 24-31, 1984 has amply substantiated), with the hope of strengthening a case by “quoting” against the Turks no less an authority than the founder of their state. While fancy escalates, falsity itself develops from misapprehension to fraud and trickery, since some Armenian authors, to be referred to below, have already printed articles calling the story a “fiction” and requesting that “this fable die”. If certain Armenian spokesmen still present this “fable” as truth and if some French reporters, who will be quoted below, print it, in spite of proof to the contrary, then, their behaviour may be described as fraud, deceit or simple lie.
I shall offer here a summary of the origins of this apocryphal episode, tracing its growth through some Armenian and foreign sources, quoting Atatürk as well as the Armenian writers who have established the fallacy. I shall reproduce a few sample Armenian document, genuine Mustafa Kemal letters and photocopies of French “reporting” to clarify several points surrounding the untruth in question.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, as an outstanding statesman of the Twentieth Century, is known well enough not to be mixed up with anyone else. His achievements, so resplendent within the short span of two decades, have inspired a great and growing volume of literature in his own country and abroad. One must be content here by referring to bibliographical books on him. For instance, a near-to-complete (foreign and Turkish) bibliography has been collected by Muzaffer Gökman, the former Director of the Beyazit Library in Istanbul. This is a three-volume compendium of about 3,000 pages, prepared for the Turkish Ministry of Education as Atatürk ve Devrimleri Tarihi Bibliyografyasi (or Bibliography of Atatürk and the History of His Revolution). A new, annotated bibliography, in two volumes, was published in 1981 by Türker Acaroglu, who treats the best 500 Turkish and foreign books. (1) There is a bibliographical book, merely listing the title of the articles written on him during the first 51 days after his death, that is between November 10 and December 31, 1938. (2) In none of these or other bibliographical compilations can one find any remote reference to the one he is supposed to have made on the Armenian issue.
As to the original works by Atatürk himself, one may classify them as follows: (a) the great Speech (Nutuk or Söylev); (b) talks, statements, declarations, telegrams and announcements; ( c ) memoirs; (d) treatises (and translations) on military affairs; (e) reports on the Gallipoli campaigns; (f) private letters; (g) hand-written and dictated notes; (h) unsigned articles. The six-day Speech reveals the activity of the speaker from the time when he felt himself called upon to lead the nation from threatened ruin to independence. The Institute of the History of Turkish Revolution has published selected speeches and statements of Atatürk in five volumes. Several individuals, foreign as well as Turkish, have published their own selections before and after the Institute’s compilations. Several newer publications include hitherto unpublished speeches by Atatürk. Many his of talks have been printed by different government and party organs as well as by private publishers or individuals. His great Speech and selected speeches appeared in several foreign languages. His memoirs and diaries have also been published. Original writings on military affairs have also appeared. His private letters were likewise collected. He is also the author of a book on geometry. This summary is, of course, a very brief résumé of his published works. The point is that none carries any reference to the statement attributed to him on the Armenian episode.
To condense Atatürk’s life-work within the compass of a few paragraphs would be a presumptuous attempt. A standard Turkish biography, translated into several foreign languages, was published by the Turkish Branch of the UNESCO (3). One may be content here with Atatürk’s own inimitable summary: “A ruined country over-looking a precipice, bloody engagements, long years of war, and then a new society, a new state, brought to pass by incessant reforms, which have won esteem both at home and abroad…” (4) (Characteristically, no reference to himself). Challenging the most cruel and unjust indictment made against Turkey in history. Atatürk asserted the rightfulness of the Turkish nation, his stentorian voice penetrating, with undiminished momentum, the conscience of the world. He dedicated himself to the vindication of the rights of the Turkish nation. After driving the forces of occupation out of the country, he aimed to transfer the society into a modern state.
The victors of the First World War saw Turkey only as a space on the map from which others might be compensated and new concessions obtained in return. The Entente Powers were committed to several secret agreements, albeit disclosed by the new Soviet régime, stipulated during the war as bribes or spoils for participating in it on the “right” side. They planned now to dismember Turkey in Asia, just as Turkey in Europe was carved up about a decade before. The first of these secret agreements gave the capital city of the Ottoman State, Eastern Thrace and the Turkish Straits to Russia, in return for a British sphere of influence in Iran. The Soviet Government having renounced the Tsarist claim, this plan of plunder had to be pushed aside to make room for the Entente occupation of Istanbul and its environs. The second, or the notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement partitioned the greater part of the Arab world and south-eastern Anatolia between Britain and France. The third and fourth assigned to the Italians large portions of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor, with much hinterland. This colonial partition reduced the Turkish State to a few provinces in northern Anatolia, leaving a substantial share of other parts to imperialist France and Italy. Professor Laurence Evans, among others, well explains the division of the Ottoman Empire in his book, entitled United States Policy and the Partition of Turkey, (5) based on the State Department files at the National Archives as well as the Wilson, Lansing and House Papers in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
A decisive ingredient in this whole scheme of expansionism, dismemberment and exploitation was the developing “Grand Idea” of the Greeks. Irrespective of the fact that Aristotle was the creator of the Organum, Thucydides a great historian or Aristophanes an outstanding playwright, the Greek generation of 1919 indeed sought expansion on lands that did not belong to them. It was no other than Lord Kinross, a former British diplomat, author and journalist (previously writing as Patrick Balfour), who described Lloyd George’s support of this Greek ambition as serving British interests in the protection of imperial communications with India. (6) Despite the opposition of many, including President Wilson on the very grounds of self-determination, the British Prime Minister had chosen to support Greek claims in Asia Minor. This was the trend of the “peace terms” the Entente Powers were planning to impose on the Turks.
Such was the prospect that awaited Mustafa Kemal when he returned to the Ottoman capital. On May 19, 1919, only four days after the Greek troops, despite warnings and protests, landed at Izmir (Smyrna) setting up, in Churchill’s words, “their standards of invasion an conquest” on the shores of the Aegean, Kemal set his standard of resistance and liberation at Samsun on the shores of the Black Sea. Well-known is the epic story of the military, political and diplomatic battle for Anatolia, which opened a new chapter in the history of the Turkish people, fought by the patient, long-suffering and stubborn peasantry of Anatolia, neglected by their Ottoman rulers but nevertheless who had given the Empire its backbone and now led by the great Mustafa Kemal, that seasoned campaigner who possessed the necessary over-all grasp of all domestic and foreign conditions, a peculiar amalgamation of calculating reason and a clear-sighted vision, as well as irrepressible toughness and driving energy along with intellect and imagination, will power and, of course, deep love for the country.
Lord Kinross, in the opening page of his celebrated standard biography, portrays him in the following manner: “….It was a restless mind, nurtured on those principles of Western civilization which had influenced Turkish liberal thought since the nineteenth century, continually refueled by the ideas of others, which he adapted and adopted as his own; but always grounded in a common sense mistrustful of theory….” )7) A writer-diplomat from Argentina describes him, in the Prologue to the first English edition of his book in the following words:
“Within the framework of world history, the great figure of Kemal Atatürk has imprinted his indestructible profile upon the broad history of political thought…. The whole world…. was left stupefied by the apparently impossible: the victory, all-subduing of a people in arms, with poor weapons and bottled up in Anatolia over the truly formidable armies with which the Allies attempted to impose their unjust law. Decades have passed since then, and we can now see that the victory was not merely a local triumph… it was the sign of the deliverance of all the oppressed peoples of the East and Africa, the beginning of the end of colonialism…. Atatürk belongs not only to Turkey, but to Humanity…” (8)
Indeed, Mustafa Kemal is more than an outstanding leader, more than a national hero. (9) As a pioneer of many of our present universal ideas, he is still our contemporary. The living generations may consider many principles today as a synthesis of the most progressive achievements of the international community, such as the right to resist subjection and occupation, the recognition of political independence and the quest for the equality of states. One has to cast a glance back to see the road covered, the progress made. We have to remind ourselves, in this connection, of the opec-making heroes who have initially laid the foundation stones of ever-broadening movements that have later become significant factors in international affairs. It is appropriate here to underline, without any need to go into details, that Turkey’s Atatürk, whose Centennial (1881-1981) the whole mankind has recently celebrated, is a great name in our century, linked with the anti-colonial revolution and the quest for a better world. If the national liberation struggles of peoples is one of the essential historical tendencies of modern times, one may recall the name of that great Turk in this connection and perceive that had he failed or not exerted such a significant influence, the independence and freedom of nations would have come much later and in a more restricted manner, and hence the rift dividing the world would be even deeper today than it is. It is true that the process of decolonization, political and social self-determination, the idea of the equality of peoples and the need to create new international relations on democratic foundations arose from the specific conditions of the post-World War II period. Mustafa Kemal had come to the scene just in time for the Turkish people, but perhaps he was too early for the world movement of equitable relations between states. Still, for the peoples of Asia and Africa, then chained to colonialism, the Turkish Revolution signified the victory of the have-nots. Mustafa Kemal considered the Turkish defence of Asia Minor “not only as honoring a duty pertaining to its own life, but also serving as a barrier to attacks directed at the whole East.” (10)
There is ample and persuasive evidence in terms of scholarly works, documentaries, testimonies, citations, poetry and witnesses that Mustafa Kemal’s point of view was shared by many leaders and writers of the globe, especially the spokesmen of the “Third World”. Among the plentiful publications on this very point, one may refer to the most recent academic works, such as Dr. Muhammed Sadiq’s brilliant The Turkish Revolution and the Indian Freedom Movement. (11) It is not only his conviction, but the considered judgment of several academics of his country, nay his continent, that Mustafa Kemal is:
“… one of those great men who changed the destiny of their peoples and left an abiding impression on the process of freedom from colonial rule…. The message of his mission spread far and wide beyond the limits of Turkey and provided inspiration to all those who were groaning under colonial captivity. He was the harbinger of a new awakening, the herald of freedom in Asia: under his leadership the liberation movement of Turkey sounded the death-knell of colonialism in Asia.” (12)
A published doctoral dissertation by another Indian scholar demonstrates how Mustafa Kemal’s ideas and deeds, influenced Mahatma Gandhi. (13) While many Indians named their newly-born sons “Mustafa Kemal”, the Urdu-language poet Muhammed Iqbal and the Bengali Muse, Nazrul Islam have composed long epics in praise of his emancipating role. The Afghani writer Sardar Iqbal Ali Shah described his deeds as an example to the whole of Asia. (14) Jomo Kenyatta surprised a group of visitors when the Kenyan leader spoke, in considerable detail, on Mustafa Kemal’s role in the history of peoples struggle for emancipation. (15) One may add here, albeit in one sentence, that the folk artists of Algeria, a country subjected to 132 years of French occupation and blood-bath of French imperialism, were drawing Mustafa Kemal’s pictures and that their sisters were spinning his image on canvasses to decorate homes and public places, at the beginning of their own national struggle.
As a matter of fact, the works of earlier French authors on Atatürk may now be read with great interest: Réné Marchand, (16) Marguerite Bourgoin, (17) Jacques Kayser, (18) Willy Sperco, (19) Jean Mélia (20) and others. The French writer Berthe Georges-Gaulis, (21) for instance, knew that the emergence of the Kemalist movement also meant the awakening of Asia. Authors of other nationalities shared the same conclusions as to Atatürk’s uniqueness and inspiration: British, (22) Czech, (23) Yugoslav, (24) Rumanian, (25) Greek, (26) Bulgarian, (27) Egyptian… (28) Several foreign diplomats, such as Charles H. Sherrill (29) or August Ritten von Kral, (30) have published their own accounts, based on personal talks with the hero and on the spot observations of his time. Right in the third paragraph of his work, the German writer Johannes Glasneck characterized him as “a history-making personality.” (31) Professor Herbert Melzig described him as “the voice of the nation.” (32) Some foreign books, such as Dagobert von Mikusch’s celebrated Gazi Mustafa Kemal Zwischen Europa und Asia, (33) have seen ten consecutive printings and have been further translated into several other European languages.
This is the Mustafa Kemal, universally known as “the Father of the Turks”, who created a compact Turkey from the wide-strewn fragments of the Ottoman State, who gave the nation a new political system and who created a new generation with self-respect. There were, of course, others named as “Mustafa” or “Kemal” or both, not only during Atatürk’s life-time but since the Turks adoption of Islam as their religion. It will be recalled that Muhammed Mustafa was the Prophet of Islam, and his name appeared in all Moslem countries as frequent as “François” in France.
The “Mustafa Kemal” that several Armenian and some foreign writers or spokesmen mix up, on account of lack of proper knowledge or sufficient good will, with the founder of the Turkish Republic is a namesake. The “error” may initially be traced to a French author, a certain Paul du Véou, who in his Le Désastre d’Alexandrette (34) wrote, in a footnote, that “Mustafa Kemal” had appeared before a tribunal in Istanbul on January 27, 1920, and had made a statement that placed responsibility on the shoulders of the Ottoman State for the “Armenian massacres”, (For a photostatic reproduction of this source, see Annex 1 on page 6.)
It was common knowledge then, as it is now, that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was already in Samsun on May 19, 1919, and was ordered to return to Istanbul as early as June 23 of the same year, an order which he disobeyed, resigning from the army on July 8, 1919. The Nationalist Congresses of Erzurum and Sivas were held under his presidency, in August and September of 1919 respectively. Mustafa Kemal established his headquarters at Ankara on December 27, 1919, about three weeks short of the “statement” he is supposed to have made at the Istanbul tribunal. Soon the Turkish Grand National Assembly met in Ankara. He was later condemned to death by the Sultan’s Government in Istanbul, curiously enough by the same tribunal he is supposed to have appeared as a witness. Mustafa Kemal was in Ankara on January 27, 1920. How could he be in the Ottoman capital, especially under the conditions now known to the whole world? The chronology of events may easily be traced in several foreign sequential studies as well, such as Professor Gotthard Jaeschke’s Die Türkei seit dem Weltkrige: Geschichtskalender, 1918-1920 (35) or the Documents on British Foreign Policy: 1919-1939, First Series, issued by the Foreign Office.
The “error” was repeated in a book entitled Les Memoires de Mgr. Jean Naslian by an Armenian Catholic Bishop. There is a reference on page 43 in the first volume of that publication, printed in Vienne in 1951, to a statement by “Mustafa Kemal”. (See Annex 2) Bishop Naslian might have been misled by Paul du Véou’s book or better by reference to a “Mustafa Pasha statement” in Le Bosphore, La Renaissance or other Armenian newspapers printed in Istanbul in 1919 and 1920. Le Bosphore was published by the occupying authorities in the Ottoman capital to further Armenian interests. Likewise, La Renaissance was a French-language paper, under the editorship of Hagopian Chaian, an Armenian, to serve the same interests. These papers and perhaps several others referred to a statement by “Nemrud” Mustafa Pasha. Bishop Naslian, however, confused him with the Mustafa Kemal. Armenian author Guerguerian advised Bishop Naslian to correct his memoirs before publishing; he never did. Moreover, it was translated into Armenian by Haik Stephanian as Arhi Hovhaness Arkyebiskopos Nasliani Housheruh. (36) The same error was reproduced in the Armenian version. It kept being repeated, for instance, by Jean Mécérian in his Le Génocide du peuple Arménien. (37) (See Annex 3.)
Author G. Guerguerian (referred to above), an American cleric with residence at Forest Hills (New York), might have been the first to correct this “error” with his article in Massis Weekly (1967), published in Beirut. The warning, however, went unnoticed. Armenian author Leon Surmelian, in his Preface to Andonian Shiragian’s The Legacy: Memoirs of an Armenian Patriot, wrote: “The present Turkish Government and press seem to forget Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s testimony before the Turkish war tribunal in Constantinople on January 28, 1919.” He categorically adds: “The founder of the Turkish Republic spoke as an eyewitness of the Armenian horrors he personally witnessed. (38) On the heels of Surmelian, let me quote another Armenian, publisher Tashjian: “… There is no evidence at all in any source other than the suspect Naslian-based passage that he (Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the founder of modern Turkey) attended, testified or even addressed a memorandum on the Armenian case.” (39)
Picking from sources like Naslian, the same error was repeated in Soviet Armenia. G. Arutyunov and G. Episkoposov, for instance, (the former a full Professor of History and the latter a PhD.) in a letter to the Novoye Vremya of December 4, 1981, published in several languages, once more quoted the same statement, falsely attributed to Atatürk. Further, the article of Mari Kochar, from the Yrevan State University (Armenian S.S. Republic), which appeared in the January 15, 1982 issue of the Karakan Tert (Literary Paper), has been extensively used in the Armenian press abroad. Yet again, Jon Kirakosian, from Soviet Armenia, repeated the same error in the April 1982 issue of the monthly Sovetaken Haiastan. (40) (See Annex 4). The same article is reprinted in many Armenian-language reviews all over the world-for instance, in the Baykar of Boston, June (Hunis) 1982. (41) A book, entitled The First Holocaust and edited by Hagop Terjimanian, an Armenian, carries the same false statement. (42) (See Annex 5.) The error, at times, stretches to sections of the Greek press as well.
Samples above in terms of “historicisme à l’Arménienne” may be sufficient. It was another Armenian writer, James H. Tashjian, the Editor of the Armenian Review, published in Boston, Mass., U.S.A. in a letter printed in March 20, 1982 issue of the Armenian Weekly, again brought out in Boston, who wrote that Mustafa Kemal “never appeared before such a tribunal, nor did he render such a statement”. (See Annex 6). He called this an “astonishingly hard dying disorder” caused by “similarities in the names” and “questionable scholarship”. Informing his readers that this matter would be subject of a corrective paper in his own journal, he urged that interested parties abstain from attributing to Mustafa Kemal Pasha the statement on the Armenians. Neither this announcement, nor his 18-page article (pp. 227-244) in Vol. XXXV, No. 3-139 (Autumn 1982) issue of the Armenian Review prevented the lawyers of the four accused Armenian terrorists at the Paris trial (January 1984), nor their associates in the French press, from presenting it to the Court or to public opinion as a “document”. (For the first page of publisher Tashjian’s article, see Annex 7).
Author Tashjian determines that on January 20, 1920 (and not on January 28, 1919), “Nemrud” Mustafa (Kemal) Pasha, an entirely different person read or submitted a memorandum to the very tribunal, where he was previously the chief but now replaced by a certain Esad Pasha. If Nemrud Mustafa has ever submitted such a memorandum to the summary court, he is supposed to have accused, according to Tashjian, some people of atrocities. Tashjian states that Nemrud Mustafa, now a defendant, was later absolved of charges and re-appointed as chief of the same court. What should interest us here is that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was condemned to death in May 1920 by the same court, presided over by Nemrud Mustaa Pasha, with whom the founder of the Turkish Republic is so liberally “confused”. Tashjian, who describes the disorder an “unhappily durable fiction”, states that the aim of his paper is “to clear up this confusion once and for all”. (As to the other points that publisher Tashjian is trying to make in the same article, he may read, by way of introduction, the books on Atatürk mentioned above. (43)
Corrections even by Armenians have failed to move other Armenians, who opportunistically placed their hope on slander, forgery and false propaganda. A most recent example is the reference to it on January 24, 1984, by a certain M. Aslanian, a member of the Paris Bar Association, during the trial of the four accused Armenians, guilty of carrying arms and explosives, attacking the Turkish Consulate-General in Paris, invading its premises, taking hostages, wounding and killing people, Aslanian’s statement was apparently shared and approved by the other four lawyer-associates, who expected a cheap reward from a fallacy. Endeavouring to defend the four accused. M. Aslanian addressed a question to me in the court room, where I happened to be as a “Witness of Authority”, as to what I had to say to that “statement by Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the Turkish Republic”. When I replied that this statement was being wrongly attributed to the first President of our country, that even an Armenian source such as the Armenian Review, published in the United States of America, recently carried an article ascribing it to another person by the same name, and that I was in a position to submit the particulars of that article to the court, an uproar was heard from the defence bench, attempting to impress the judges and the members of the jury that the Turks were “denying” even such an authority as Mustafa Kemal. But I happened to be right and soon submitted a written statement to the court, quoting the author, title, date, number and pages of the Armenian article in question. It will be remembered that this article, as well, described the allegation as “fiction” and “confusion” and pleaded at the very end: “Let this fable die.” I am reproducing my letter (see Annex 8.), addressed to M. Guy Floch, the President of the Court, who read it aloud to the defence lawyers. The five counsels of the accused Armenians subsequently read in private a letter meant for them all, in which I expressed readiness to tender my resignation from the university if the statement in question belonged to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, but that one would expect M. Aslanian to do the same and resign from the Bar Association, if the statement was not made by Atatürk, for submitting forgeries and trying to mislead justice. (See Annex 9.).
But this was not the end of the “acrobatics”. Witness Yves Ternon also used the same fake statement for his own ends. And more importantly, not only the columns of several French papers preferred silence in terms of such corrections, but some referred to an Atatürk “statement”, pretending as if it had not been proved false. A certain Charles Blanchard of Le Matin apparently chose to re-write history, in his article on January 28, 1984, for the satisfaction of his associates when he continued to attribute the same false statement to “the father of modern Turkey”. Some “erudition”, some “reporting”! Antoine de Rivarol’s dictum inevitably comes to mind here: “Ce qui n’est pas clair n’est pas Français”. “Oublié tout cela”, he categorically stated. (See Annex 10.) But he demonstrated undeniable “forgetfulness” when he was reminded by letter (See Annex 11) of the particular facts of his material error. I have also enclosed a copy of the communication pertaining to this point and addressed to the President of the Court, which was publicly disclosed by the latter. Reference to Reporter Blanchard’s professional conscience having ailed to move him, I have ventured to send to the gentlemen another letter (See Annex 12), assessing his “methodology” of writing. To make an understatement, in no textbooks of journalism are such distortions and evasions described as truthful reporting.
The “error”, nevertheless, still continues. Ankara article by Nishan Nercessian, entitled “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Armenian Genocide”, published in the Armenian Observer as recent as February 29, 1984 (See Annex 13) refers to the same statement, allegedly made by “the hero of the Gallipoli campaign”. (44) Such repetitions, bound to come to an end, nevertheless, expose the prejudice, lack of erudition and sometimes even deceitfulness of its author.
Having established what Mustafa Kemal Atatürk has not said, one may proceed to see what he has said on the issue. To quote some important statements would be adequate. One is an interview on February 24, 1921, with columnist Clarence K. Streit of the Public Ledger, published in Philadelphia, in its March 27, 1921 issue. (See Annex 14.) The text of the interview may also be found in the archives of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was lately printed in the first volume of a Ministry of Culture publication, entitled The National Foreign Policy of Atatürk. (45) When asked his government’s comment on the transfer of the Armenians, Mustafa Kemal replied:
“After making allowance for the enormous exaggerations always made by those who accuse their enemies, the transfer of Armenians reduces itself to his – The Armenian Dashnak Committee, then in the service of the Tsar, had caused the Armenian population behind our troops to revolt when the Russian Army began its great 1915 offensive against us.
“Obliged to retreat before the superior numbers and material of the enemy, we found ourselves constantly between two fires. Our convoys of supplies and wounded were pitilessly massacred, roads and bridges destroyed behind us and terror reigned the Turkish country-side. The bands, which committed these crimes and which included in their ranks Armenians able to bear arms, were supplied with arms, munitions and provisions in Armenian villages where, thanks to the immunities accorded in the capitulation’s, certain foreign powers had succeeded during peacetime in establishing enormous stocks for this purpose. The world, which regards with indifference the fashion in which England, in peacetime and far from the battle field, treats the Irish nation, can not in all justice complain of the resolution we were obliged to take relative to the transfer of Armenian population…. The massacres and devastation’s caused by Armenian bands while the Russians were evacuating our eastern provinces are sufficiently known. The American General Harbord, with whom I talked at Sivas and who after having visited these regions and having made edifying observations on the conduct of the Armenian bands, wrote to tell me that all I had related to him was true, is a witness from whom American opinion can usefully inform itself. The Dashnaks, moreover, continued their crimes in the zone of Kars and Oltu until the conclusion of the Alexandropol Treaty…”
The full quotation has been reproduced above on account of its authenticity and straight-forwardness. Mustafa Kemal underlines the conspiratorial nature of Armenian armed attacks, the bloodshed and massacre caused by them, endorsed by General Harbord as well. When asked about his opinion on the “Wilsonian boundaries” of Armenia, Mustafa Kemal retorted: “I find Mr. Wilson’s project, tending to place several million Turks under the domination of several thousand Armenians, simply ridiculous.”
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s reference to the Armenian massacres of the Moslem population is a reflection of a fact, an echo of the “other side of the coin”. The curious phenomenon of suppressing all publication and talk about the massacre of Turks by various Armenian bands is a monstrous one-sidedness that approaches the limits of racism. Publications devoted solely to this discriminatory “scholarship” and “reporting” will certainly reach the world public in due time.
In the meantime, one may quote, within the general framework of this booklet, five original letters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, some of which are being published here for the first time. A Mustafa Kemal telegram (See Annex 15.), (46) marked “very urgent”, dated March 16, 1920 and addressed to the representatives of the Entente Powers in Istanbul and to Admiral Bristol, the U.S. High Commissioner, well expose the nature and the real causes of anti-Turkish propaganda based on alleged, new “massacre of 20,000 Armenians”. He states that the Turkish nation is “grieved to see the occupation, under various pretexts, of most important portions of its lands left over from the Mondros (Mudros) Armistice”, that it “expected modifications in accordance with our legitimate wishes and requirements of justice” but that “certain circles in Europe, which consider the furthering of a negative drive as imperative for their own interest” now have “fabricated the hated and most unjustified lie that there has been a new massacre of 20,000 Armenians in Anatolia”. He further states that the Turks had found it “entirely unnecessary even to issue an official denial of this wholly untruthful falsification, on account of the presence of several persons and agents in the whole of Anatolia, representing the Entente Powers and the American Government”. He points out that “there had been loss of life among the Turks, the French and the Armenians participating with the French troops, during clashes in and around Maras and Urfa”. He underlines, however, that “this was not a massacre of Armenians”. The Armenians brought to Cilicia from outside and those armed local Armenians had “carried out unbearable acts of aggression, continually sought the enlargement, with no reason whatsoever, of the area of occupation” and that the commanders of the occupation forces had “tolerated the Armenian attacks on the Moslem population”. He adds:
“It is essential to add that, had the persons commanding the forces of occupation in and around Cilicia refrained from arming, conferring duties on and championing the Armenians, had they administered the various sections of the local population with justice and equity and had they desisted from expanding, with no grounds and remittingly, the territory, which was under the British at the end of the Armistice, now changed and occupied, these unfortunate clashes, having led to the loss of life of so many people, would never have taken place”.
Mustafa Kemal further adds that this was “the real nature of the lies on the so-called massacre of Armenians in Anatolia” and that “the declaration already made by the Armenian representatives and notables of the people of Maras, supposedly massacred, absolutely supports this fact”. He asks the Entente Powers and the U.S. Government to assist in the formation of an “international supreme council to investigate on spot and at once this fabricated story of the Armenian massacres and illuminate the world…. on the nature…. of this propaganda…. aiming to mislead public opinion.”
In another letter to the Ministry of War on February 29, 1919 (See Annex 16) (47) Mustafa Kemal relates that a “British officer, accompanied by an Armenian interpreter, has come to Beyazit from Igdir and spoke to the Lieutenant Governor there, telling him that Beyazit and its environs have been assigned to Armenia under British custody and that 15,000 Armenian refugees, under the protection of regular Armenian troops, would be transferred to the liva (subdivision of a vilayet or province) of Beyazit”. He adds that the Turkish Lieutenant Governor informed the British officer that he had “not received any official communication from his own government in respect to measures pertinent in this case”, that “the number of the refugees ought to be 7-8,000” instead of 15,000 and that there was “no need for them to come under the protection of Armenian troops”. He also quotes the Turkish Lieutenant Governor’s figure as to “the Moslem population of Beyazit being 80,000” and stresses himself that “a concession of even an inch of land to Armenia in the Eastern Vilayets is unthinkable”.
Mustafa Kemal’s letter of June 5, 1919 (see Annex 17), (48) written from Havza (No.343451) and addressed to the Office of the Prime Minister, states, inter alia, that within the borders of the liva of Amasya, there had been “no Moslem attacks on the Christians”, but Christian bands have carried five consecutive raids on the Moslem population, that “certain Greek and Armenian provocateurs continue their policy and attitude to create events directed against the Islamic peoples in order to show the administration as defective, to invite occupation and intervention and especially applying directly to foreign officers and entirely bypassing the government, at places where such foreign army personnel may be found”. He emphasizes that the Moslem citizens, though regretful about it all, nevertheless, “keep quiet”. Underscoring that “the leaders of the Armenian and the Greek bands are spoiled by the British officers and some American personnel whom they invariably contact”, he adds that these foreigners are “misled and deceived”. He further states, in the last paragraph of his communication, that the Armenians are “active and in preparation” in Caucasia and in the east of Erzurum, Erzincan and Van.
In a letter to the General Staff on May 25, 1919, (see Annex 18), (49) Mustafa Kemal informs that “three-hundred Armenians with three heavy machine guns and considerable explosives” have been penetrating from the north-east corner of Erzurum, that they were expected to become active in the interest of their “political objectives” as soon as the climate allows and hence that “the 15th Army Corps should not only be left intact, but even enlarged in accordance with circumstances”.
Still another Mustafa Kemal documents (see Annex 19) is a draft of a telegram sent to the Italian representative at Alanya (south-western Turkish port in the Mediterranean), to be dispatched to the Paris Peace Conference, the Entente Powers, the American Government and the diplomatic representatives of the neutrals. The statement refers to the “Armenian destruction of forty Moslem villages”, where a portion of the “civilian population was subjected to slaughter” and “belongings openly sold in the markets of Kars”. His report also informs the foreign representatives that armed Armenian bands of similar make-up were preparing attacks on other regions to be followed by similar bloodshed. Mustafa Kemal forcefully protests against such aggression.
The above appraisal of affairs, chosen to be ignored by militant Armenians and consequently not properly acknowledged by the rank and file, is, nevertheless, shared by no less than Hovhannes Katchaznouni, the first Prime Minister of the independent Armenian Republic, a pillar of Dashnagtzoutiun and certainly someone who should know. His talk at the Convention of foreign branches of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, convened in 1923 in Bucharest, was also partly printed in New York in 1955 by the Armenian Information Service. Translated from the original by Matthew A. Callender, it is interestingly entitled as The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnagtzoutiun) Has Nothing To Do Any More. Difficult to find copies of the book nowadays in the libraries of the world (from where they have probably been systematically eliminated and destroyed), I shall take the liberty to summarize in the near future, in the form of a separate booklet, some of the ideas and evaluations in it, along with another important work, entitled Patriotism Perverted by another Armenian author, K.S. Papazian. I do believe, however, that it is appropriate here to make brief references to a few statements of H. Katchaznouni. He admits, for instance, that in 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war, the Dashnags were forming bands for future military action against Turkey, contrary to the decision and the will of the General Meeting of the Party. (50) He confesses that, having embraced Tsarist Russia wholeheartedly, they had created a dense atmosphere of illusion and had lost all sense of reality. (51) He adds that they should have used peaceful language with the Turks. (52)
The Armenian statesman and author further says: “When the skirmishes had started, the Turk proposed that we meet and confer. We did not do so and defied them”. (53) The result was the Gümrü (Alexandrropol, Leninakan) Treaty of December 1 (or November 30) 1920 with the Turks, establishing the border.
Another Armenian, K.S. Papazian published his Patriotism Perverted in Boston in1934, with the purpose of presenting to the English-speaking Armenians and to the American public in general, a clear picture of the organization called the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Leaving aside for the time being many interesting evaluations of the Dashnags background, past activities, purposes and methods, one may quote a few statements, pertinent to the topic of this booklet. Papazian admits that the Dashnags gave assurances that in the event of a war between Russia and Turkey, “they would support Turkey as loyal citizens”. (54) He adds, however, that they “did not carry their promise”. He says that “they were swayed in their actions by the interests of the Russian Government”. He accepts the fact that “the methods used…. were so open and flagrant, that it would not escape the attention of the Turkish authorities”. (55) He states that the war with Turkey was the outcome of the Act of May 28, 1919, by which the government of the Armenian Republic claimed possession of certain provinces in Eastern Republic the readers that the existing Republic was recognized by the Turks under the Treaty of Batoum, he says that one can readily comprehend why the Turks regarded the Act of May 28, 1919, as a provocation for war. He also reminds that the men who signed the Treaty of Sevres on August 10, 1920, were the same who repudiated it and the claims of the Armenians in Turkey by signing the Treaty of Gümrü. (56)
The Dashnags were driven out of authority when the Soviet Armenian Republic was formed. Hatchaznouni and Papazian both state that Simon Vratzian, the last Prime Minister of the Armenian Government, sent on March 18, 1921, a formal appeal to Mustafa Kemal’s government in Ankara seeking military assistance from it. (57). In the words of author Papazian, this appeal of Vratzian was the “ratification of the Treaty of Alexandropol, by which the Dashnag leaders declared to the whole world that Armenia has renounced all her demands on Turkey and has no more cause of dispute”. (58)
1. Açiklamali Atatürk Kaynakçisi, Ankara, Türkiye Is Bankasi, 1981
2. Sami N. Özerdim, 10 Kasim-31 Aralik 1938 Günlerinde Türk Basininda Türkiye için Yazilmis Yazilarin Bibliyografyasi, Ankara, Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1958.
3. Atatürk: Biography, Ankara, Turkish National Commission for UNESCO. 1981 (French: Atatürk: Vie et Oeuvre; German: Atatürk: Sein Leben und sein Werk).
4. Nimed Arsan, ed., Atatürk’ün Söylev ve Demeçleri, Vol. I, 2nd Pr., Ankara, Türk Inkilap Tarihi Enstitüsü, 1981, p. 380.
5. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965.
6. Atatürk the Birth of a Nation, Nicosia, K. Rustem and Brother, 1981, p.140.
7. Ibid., p. xviii.
8. Original Spanish: Jorge Blanco Villalta, Kemal Atatürk: El Constructor do la Nueva Turquia. Buenos Aires, Claridad, 1939; 2nd Pr., 1945; English ed.: Atatürk, tr. By Willam Campbell, Ankara, Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1979, pp. xi-xiii.
9. Türkkaya Ataöv, “Atatürk-More Than a National Leader”, Darshana International, Moradabad, India, Vol. XXII, No. 1 (January 1982), pp. 16-20.
10. Atatürk’ün Söylev ve Demeçleri, op.cit., Vol.II, p.21.
11. Delhi, Macmillan, 1983.
12. Ibid., p. 73.
13. R.K. Sinha, Kurtulus Savasi, Devrimler: Mustafa Kemal ve Mahatma Gandi, 1919-1928, Istanbul, Milliyet, 1972.
14. Kemal: Maker of Modern Turkey, London H. Joseph, 1934.
15. For reference to this talk, see: Türkkaya Ataöv, “Atatürk: Pioneer Against Oppression”,. The Standart, Nairobi, Kenya, November 2, 1981, p.4.
16. Reveil d’une race: dans la Turquie de Mustafa Kemal, Paris,Nouvelle Société d’Edition, 1927.
17. Turquie d’Atatürk, Paris, E.Ray, 1935.
18. l’Europe et la Turquie nouvelle, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1922.
19. Moustapha Kemal Atatürk: Créateur de la Turquie moderne, Paris. Nouvelles Editions Latines, 1958.
20. Moustapha Kemal ou la rénovation de la Turquie, Paris, Bibliothèque Charpentier, 1921.
21. Nationalisme turc, Paris, Plon, 1921.
22. For instance: Bernard Lewis. The Emergence of Modern Turkey, London, Oxford University Press, 1968.
23. Karel Pravec, Kemal Atatürk, Praha, Nakladatelstvi Svoboda, 1967.
24. For instance: Zoran Tomic, Kemal Atatürk: Tvorats Nove Turske, Beograd, Planeta, 1939.
25. Petro Ghiata, Atatürk, Bucurexti, Editura Enciclopedica Romana, 1975.
26. For instance: Thomas A. Vaidis, Kemal Atatürk: O Demiourgos tes Neas Tourkias, Atenai,Akropolis, 1936.
27. For instance Stefan Velikov, Kemalistkata Revolutsiya: Bilgarskata Obstestvennost, 1918-1922, Sofya Institut po Balkanistika, 1966.
28. For instance: Aziz Hanki, Etrak ve Ataturk, El-Kahire, 1939.
29. A Year’s Embassy to Mustafa Kemal, New York and London, C. Scribner’s, 1934.
30. Das Land Kemal Ataturk’s: der Werdengang der Modernen Türkei, Wien-Leipzig, W. Braumüller, 1935.
31. Kemal Atatürk un die moderne Türkei, Berlin, VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, 1971.
32. Kemal Atatürk: Untergang und Aufstieg der Türkei, Frankfurt/Main Societats Verlag, 1937.
33. Leipzig, P.List, 1935.
34. Paris, Editions Baudinière, 1938,p. 121.
35. Berlin, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Islamkunde, 1929.
36. Beirut, Armenian Catholic Press, 1960.
37. Beirut, 1965, pp. 50-51.
38. Boston, (Hairenik, 1 1976, pp. xii-xiii, Emphasis mine.
39. James H. Tashjian, “On a Statement Condemning the Armenian Genocide of 1915-18 Attributed in Error to Mustafa Kemal, Later “The Atatürk”, The Armenian Review, Boston, Mass., Vol. XXXV, No.3-139 (Autumn 1982), p.230.
40. Yerevan, No. 4 (April 1982), pp. 14-15.
41. The article, “amusingly” entitled “Badbutyan Pasteri a la Turc” (or History-Writing in the Turkish Fashion), itself reproduces a false statement.
42. Pasadean, California, Siran Editions, 1982, p.4.
43. Apart from his serious misconceptions and misjudgments, Tashjian has also committed various factual errors as well. For instance, Halide Edip, Turkey’s leading woman intellectual of the time, was not the wife of Ziya Gökalp. (See Tashjian op.cit., p. 242, footnote 24).
44. See the center-spread of the Armenian Observer, Los Angeles, California, Vol. XIV. No. 14 (Wednesday, February 29, 1984).
45. Atatürk’ün Milli Dis Politikasi, Vol. I, Ankara, Kültür Bakanligi, 1981, pp. 257-276: Hakimiyeti Milliye, Ankara, 8 Temmuz 1921; Sami N. Özerdim., “Kurtulus Savasimiz Içinde Bir Amerikali Gazetecinin Izlenimleri”, Türk Dili, Ankara, No:22 (Subat 1970), pp. 367-369
46. T.C. Genelkurmay Baskanligi, Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etüd Baskanligi, Atatürk Arsivi, K. 23, D. 1336/13-1, F.32-1.
47. Ibid., D. 167,F. 43-1.
48. Also printed in: T.C.; Basbakanlik Osmanli Arxivi Daire Baskanligi, Atatürk ile Ilgili Arsiv Belgeleri: 1911-1921 Tarihleri Arasina Ait 108 Belge, Ankara, 1982, pp. 34-36, 138-140.
49. Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etüd Baskanligi, op. Cit., A. 1/1, D. 164, F. 47-1.
50. P. 5 and f.
51. Ibid., p. 6.
52. Ibid., p. 9.
53. Ibid., p. 10.
54. p. 37.
55. Ibid., p. 38.
56. Ibid., p. 44-45.
57. Ibid., p.50.
58. Ibid., p. 51.