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Book Reviews – Page 2 – Armenian Cause Foundation

Interview with Katia Peltekian – author of ‘’The Times of the Armenian Genocide: Reports in the British Press (1914-192)’’

By Vahakn Karakachian

(horizonweekly.ca) – Q- You are a staunch researcher of the Armenian Genocide archives in the foreign press. How did you start this mission?
A-I am not sure if I should be called a staunch researcher since this is not my field of study. I am perhaps an avid reader of news, which then turned into a mission. Now as a volunteer, I do daily compilations for the Armenian News Network Groong and post the latest news on Armenia and Armenians printed in the foreign press. Whenever I am on “holiday” from teaching, I read the old newspapers.
This interest with archival news started years ago when I was doing my graduate studies in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The province’s Archives library was very near Dalhousie University where I was studying. On a cold April afternoon, after submitting a draft of my thesis to my professor, I just went into the library to check if any Canadian newspaper had printed anything about the massacres. What also raised my curiosity was the New York Times compilation by the late Richard Kloian. I was first surprised that nothing was printed in April 1915, but I didn’t give up. My research with one Nova Scotian newspaper, The Halifax Herald, compiled over 250 items from the mid-1890s, 1909 and then from 1915-1922.

Q- You have just published a new book, The Times of the Armenian Genocide: Reports in the British Press (1914-1923), how did you manage to collect all the archival information?
A- For this book, I collected material from the following British newspaper: The Times , The Sunday Times, and The Manchester Guardian [currently known as The Guardian]. I read page by page the microfilm images of the old newspapers at different libraries, depending on where I would be at the time. This was a 12-year project and I’ve used the Reference Library in Toronto, the British Library in London (UK), and the American University of Beirut Library in Lebanon. All three libraries have the microfilms of The Times, so it was easy to keep going without much interruption during those 12 years. However, only the British library carried The Guardian microfilms; therefore, my trips to London were specifically to work on that paper.Of course there are many more British newspapers which were printed in the late 19th centure and early 20th century; it would take decades for one person to find and collect all. The British Library’s newspaper branch at Colindale, north of London, has over 30,000 newspapers, including the hundreds of newspapers printed in the British Empire as well as thousands from around the world in almost all languages. But it will need a large group of dedicated people to collect most, if not all.
The reason I chose those two major papers is that The Times had the widest circulation at the time, in and out of Britain. It was the paper that officials referred to most, and it recorded parliament debates and sessions; on the other hand, after much examination into a number of British papers, The Guardian was chosen because, in a number of cases, it filled some gaps with more news from the stricken regions, perhaps because a substantial Armenian community lived in Manchester at the time due to Armenian traders.
Each month took me 2 to 3 hours to skim through every page. Once an item was found on the microfilm, which was in many cases not very legible due to scratches from over-use, I made hard copies. Only in the past couple of years did the Toronto Reference Library install computerized microfilm readers, so it was easy to save the images of the pages or articles on a USB flash. And because these micorfilms were not clear enough to the untrained eyes, I re-typed each.

Q- Is this the first time those archives have been come to light?
A- I believe this book is the first to compile the British newspaper items completely & chronologically. There are those who have written about the British response to the on-going massacres, but their sources were different.
What is interesting in this book is that the reader is transported to those days, reads a newspaper article which is written in a very straightforward manner and which describes events and expresses opinions without much convoluted analysis as many history books do; with this book, the reader lives the day-to-day events of that region. There are many details that historians might skip as they would deem it unrelated to their main thesis. Not this book. The reader of these newspaper items will read names of small villages that were wiped out, instead of only the names of the major towns, cities or vilayets. Many times these articles mention names of regular individuals, not necessarily officials. The opinions of the editors regarding events or parliament debates or even the peace negotiations shed interesting light to the reader. In addition, letters to the editor written by some Armenians, but mostly by British citizens and officials, also shed some light on the British response to the massacres and condition of the refugees and orphans; these items would not be included by historians.

Q- Please tell us about your parental ancestral history.
A- Both my grandparents Peltekian & Malatjalian as well as one grandmother Panikian were from the town of Chork Marzban (or DortYöl) along the shores of the gulf of Iskenderoun. The Peltekians owned acres of orange groves in DortYöl , and my great grandfather owned a mill. Although most of the Peltekian family were massacred or died along the deportation route to the Syrian desert, my grandfather survived because he was forced into military service, but as a tailor, and was transferred first to Constantinople and then to Nablus in Palestine. After the end of WW1, those who survived returned to DortYöl in 1919. My paternal grandparents married and lived in the neighborhood of Özerli. But with the French withdrawal from most of Cilicia and the renewal of the massacres, my paternal grandparents as well as many compatriots decided to leave again and go to Iskenderoun. When living conditions again became difficult, my grandparents again left for Damascus (Syria) and then to Amman (Jordan) and Jerusalem.
Of my maternal grandfather Malatjalian, we do not know much. He and two siblings were left orphans, then transported to Cyprus and from there to Jerusalem. Along this route, he was separated from his younger siblings and until the day he died, he did not know what had become of them. He was told they died along the way.
After finishing school, my father also learned tailoring, opened his own shop in Amman where he became the tailor to the kings and prime ministers of Jordan, in addition to many princes of the Arab gulf, including the father of the billionaire Prince Waleed bin Talal. [note: Prince Talal, a brother of the king of Saudi Arabia, had told my father that he, the prince, was proud of having an Armenian mother. One of King Saud’s wives was a young Armenian girl who had reached the deserts of the kingdom.] When my parents married, they decided to move to Lebanon where my three brothers and I were born.

Q- Do you intend to publish your research book ‘’Heralding of the Armenian Genocide: Reports in the Halifax Herald 1894-1922’’ online?
A- Before I embark on any project, I need to recoup my life savings. Both books were published with personal funds, without any financial or moral support from any Armenian or non-Armenian sources. I would first like to print the over 2,500 articles from The Times of 1875-1913 before I re-print the Heralding book. If anything has to be published soon, it needs a full-time commitment, a commitment I cannot make for the time being. For now, it remains just a hobby to read and collect. I do not know when or if the remainder will be put in print for others to read and learn.

Diyarbakir Exodus Chronicles Memories of Three Families

(yerakouyn.am) – By Gabriella Gage

The late Josephine Mangasarian’s Diyarbakir Exodus is more than the story of a singular life; the memoir is an extensive family history — the interconnected stories of Mangasarian’s mother’s, father’s and husband’s families — between the years 1895 and 1927. In April, the Mangasarian family published her unfinished memoir.

The Achod Amassian family in Aleppo, circa 1913, young Josephine Mangasarian pictured fifth from left

In 1905, Josephine Mangasarian’s father, Achod Amassian, accepted a transfer from his post at the Diyarbakir telegraph office at the mysterious urging of the telegraph office’s director and relocated his young family there — roughly a 15-day journey. Her family was in Aleppo at the time of the Genocide and deportations and she watched as countless relatives came to Aleppo seeking refuge and rebuilding. At one time, 20 people were living in her family home, many of whom were friends and family who had fled the massacres.

Josephine Mangasarian wrote of how she collected these stories, saying, “The events that I have described in this family memoir are all true. The account of these incidents was related to me by the survivors who took refuge in my family’s home in Aleppo.” Her father’s position at the telegraph office afforded her access to secret messages that he decoded corroborating the mass killings and much of what she learned was confirmed by eyewitness accounts from family members.

The publication of Diyarbakir Exodus itself was a family endeavor. Josephine Mangasarian began the work with three detailed genealogical charts completed in her late 80s. From there, she wrote 270 pages by hand about her family and the events during this time period.

Josephine Mangasarian died in 2002 before she could complete the section on the 35 years of her life spent in Baghdad, Iraq after they left Syria. Her son, John Mangasarian, had already begun aiding his mother in her endeavor by transcribing and typing her handwritten pages. Upon her death, he continued editing and assembling the materials for the book until he passed the torch to his sister-in-law, Claire Mangasarian, in 2010. In 2011, John Mangasarian died and she continued editing and assembling the manuscript. Claire Mangasarian, a painter, had experience assembling memoirs after she had put together and published her own grandfather’s memoir, Farewell Kharpert: The Autobiography of Boghos Jafarian, years prior to her work as editor on the Mangasarian text.

Josephine Amassian Mangasarian

Claire Mangasarian described her mother-in-law as a “very generous and very confident in her own ability,” who had spent years of her life working with charitable organizations in Baghdad. According to Claire Mangasarian, Josephine was known for her “sharp mind” and spoke five languages.

Unlike many memoirs centered on Genocide survival, “hers shows the day-to-day life and situation of a young Armenian woman and the experiences of these families that fled during turbulent times and started to rebuild,” said Claire Mangasarian.

In addition to the three family histories — that of the Amassians, Kurkgys and Mangasarians — Diyarbakir Exodus includes several rare photographs offering a visual perspective into these stories.

Copies of Diyarbakir Exodus are available at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) and the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA), with further copies available upon request.

– See more at: http://www.mirrorspectator.com/2013/08/13/diyarbakir-exodus-chronicles-memories-of-three-families/#sthash.htTSNTWP.dpuf

mirrorspectator.com

The Father of Genocide

(horizonweekly.ca) The Father of Genocide – Outraged by the Ottomans’ massacres of Armenians, a young Polish lawyer pushed to have the crime of genocide enshrined in law –

By YASCHA MOUNK

During World War I, Soghomon Tehlirian, an Armenian civilian, looked on helplessly as Ottoman troops shot his mother, raped his sisters and hacked his brother to death. Six years later, on a Berlin street, Tehlirian approached Talaat Pasha, a grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire who had coordinated the killing of Armenians. “This is for my mother,” he told Pasha as he shot him dead.

The press hailed Tehlirian as a hero. But legally his situation was a disaster. Whereas Pasha never had to face a court, Tehlirian was put on trial as a common murderer. In the event, he was set free, but only because a Berlin court was willing to pretend that he had acted under “psychological compulsion.”

Raphael Lemkin, then a young law student at the University of Lwow, wasn’t satisfied with that subterfuge. He was revolted that somebody who had “upheld the moral order of mankind” should be “classified as insane.” And so Lemkin set out to persuade the world to adopt a law against the kind of “racial or religious murder” that had claimed the lives of Tehlirian’s relatives.

Against the odds, he succeeded.

“Totally Unofficial,” Lemkin’s posthumous autobiography, tells the story of his remarkable achievements. Born in 1900 to Polish-Jewish parents of modest means in a remote corner of Western Ukraine, his rise was meteoric. In short succession, he established himself as a prominent lawyer in Warsaw, escaped the Nazi invasion of Poland, coined the term “genocide,” served as an adviser to the U.S. War Department and became a law professor at Yale.

Totally Unofficial – By Raphael Lemkin, edited by Donna-Lee Frieze

Thanks to Lemkin’s efforts, on Nov. 9, 1948, the 10th anniversary of Kristallnacht , the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” Cleaving closely to his proposal, it described genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”

The horrors of the Holocaust had helped sway world opinion in favor of Lemkin’s cause. And yet he emphasized that—from Nero’s persecution of the Christians to the Mongols’ massacres of Eastern Europeans in the 13th century—genocide had occurred many times throughout history. It was at his insistence that the U.N.’s definition covered all cases—past, present or future—in which an ethnic or religious group was marked out for destruction.

Thanks to this adaptability, the term has gained lasting political as well as legal relevance. In the decades since Lemkin died of a heart attack in 1959, the term he invented has become the focus of a strange tug of war: Activists hope that the powerful label of genocide might move reluctant publics to stop atrocities; politicians fear that it could force them into costly foreign adventures or preclude negotiated settlements. In cases like Darfur, the question of whether given atrocities amount to “genocide” now plays a key role in determining how the international community will act.

Unfinished at his death, and published now for the first time, Lemkin’s autobiography gives a detailed account of his tireless advocacy. It will prove useful to generations of historians. But, like most autobiographies by historical figures, it also aims to cast its protagonist in a flattering light. By that metric, it is at best a mixed success.

“Totally Unofficial” suffers from big chronological jumps and uneven prose. While Lemkin is candid in parts, he just as frequently veers into the smug or self-righteous. Most of his contemporaries at the U.N. respected him; few found him winning. His autobiography makes it easy to see why.

In recent years, Lemkin has been lionized as a lone fighter who managed to make the world a better place. (The best example is “A Problem From Hell,” the 2002 best seller that launched the career of Samantha Power, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. ambassadorship to the U.N.) This is very much the reading Lemkin himself encourages, promising to show his readers “how a private individual almost single-handedly can succeed in imposing a moral law on the world.”

The truth is more complicated. Lemkin was clearly a man of rare talents and single-minded devotion. To further the “lifesaving idea” for which, he believed, providence had chosen him as a “messenger boy,” he remained single, gave up a lucrative legal career and literally worked himself to death. Down to the details—like his poverty and his lifelong impatience with small talk—he makes for an excellent secular saint.

And yet his influence may not have been as transformative as he thought. The genocide convention would never have passed if it hadn’t been conformable to the interests of contemporary superpowers. Locked in a battle for ideological supremacy, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had strong reasons of their own to play to world opinion by condemning genocide. That also explains why Lemkin’s star quickly faded when he began to advocate for an international court to prosecute state officials for war crimes. While the great powers were happy to pay lip service to his lofty ideals, they were unwilling to compromise their sovereignty.

In the end, then, Lemkin doesn’t quite fit the role of the extraordinary individual bending history to his will. His life is interesting in an altogether different way: It is emblematic of both the ample promise and the real disappointment of international law.

In Lemkin’s own words, the point of the genocide convention had been nothing less than to be “a starting point for a new conscience.” Over time, he hoped, “a combination of punishment and prevention” would help to avert atrocities. Today, well-funded NGOs raise the alarm as soon as genocide looms in any part of the globe. Under Mr. Obama, the White House has even instituted an Atrocities Prevention Board. (Its first head: Samantha Power.)

But atrocities persist. Plenty of mass murderers remain at large. In recent years, a number of countries have agreed for the International Criminal Court to prosecute their citizens for war crimes, including genocide. But in reality only the genocidal leaders of small powers need to fear justice. Were Tehlirian alive today, he would have as much reason to become a murderer as he did in 1921.

Mr. Mounk’s “Stranger in My Own Country: A Jewish Family in Modern Germany” will be published in January.

A version of this article appeared July 24, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Father Of Genocide.

(armenia.com.au) – Dr. Donna-Lee Frieze, a scholar of genocide studies from Deakin University in Australia, recently edited the book “Totally Unofficial: The Autobiography of Raphael Lemkin.”
Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide” using the Armenian case as an example, is considered one of the great early thinkers in the field of human rights.
In the interview below, Frieze talks about her work in genocide research and the different aspects of the crime of genocide.

Cemal Pasha’s Grandson Publishes a Book, “1915 Armenian Genocide”

Issue 12, Winter 2012

Does Grandfather Turn Over in his Grave, or is Turkey somehow in Part Moving Forward?

(GPN) – The grandson of one of the major executors of the Armenian Genocide Cemal Pasha, Hasan Cemal, has published a book entitled 1915: The Armenian Genocide. “To reject the Genocide means to be a part of the crime against humanity. Moreover, the pain of 1915 is not history, it is an up to date question,” says Cemal.

The author describes how he got to know about the 1915 events. He describes what he thought about the 1915 events and how he came to change his opinion. In one chapter he focuses on one of the major organizers of the genocide, Cemal Pasha, who was his grandfather.

“One interesting piece of information provided in the book has to do with the late İlhan Selçuk, a columnist of the Cumhuriyet daily who has held great value for Kemalists. He has apparently never spoken of his Armenian mother. This is quite a remarkable example of how the Kemalist state has not only tried to cover up historical facts but also induced citizens to hide their ethnic origins.

The First Armenian News and Analyses observes: “Hasan Cemal’s book is significant in various respects. One aspect has to do with him being the grandson of Cemal Paşa, who was one of the leading figures in the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) government that took the decision to forcefully deport nearly the entire Armenian population of the empire, and who was gunned down in revenge by Armenian nationalists in Tbilisi in 1921.”

Speaking at UCLA a year ago, Cemal described his deeply moving 2008 visit to the Armenian Genocide Monument in Yerevan, where he laid three carnations in memory of his close friend, Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul by a Turkish extremist. While visiting Yerevan, he had a startling encounter with Armen Gevorkyan, the grandson of the man who in 1922 assassinated his grandfather, Cemal Pasha.

Harut Sassounian, President of the United Armenian Fund and publisher of the California Courier reports: “Cemal described the progress made in Turkey during the past three decades on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, going from total denial to an apology campaign, the restoration of Armenian churches, and holding academic conferences on this topic. He asked Armenians to come to Turkey to participate in the ‘recovery of memory.’ He urged them never to forget the past, without becoming its captives.”

Harut Sassounian concludes: “I found Cemal to be both candid and brave. He could have easily avoided the use of the term Armenian Genocide, maintaining that doing so could land him in jail. However, he made no excuses and used the genocide term several times. Considering his grandfather responsible for ‘the Great Catastrophe,’ he described today’s Turkey as ‘a manic-depressive country.’ “

Today’s Zaman, a Turkish newspaper, wrote about his experience upon returning to Turkey after a trip to the U.S.: “As soon as I stepped into the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, I rushed to a kiosk to buy Turkish newspapers. While I was handing over the money my eye caught a book on display, Hasan Cemal’s latest, “1915, Ermeni Soykırımı” (1915, Armenian Genocide). Seeing it here, on the display table of a kiosk in the domestic terminal of the airport, really surprised me.

“Just five to six years ago, writing an article on the ‘Armenian question’ would cause you to receive hundreds and hundreds of death threats. Today, a book with the title Armenian Genocide is on sale amongst the most popular bestsellers in Turkey. Something is really changing.

“So many paradoxical things happen in this country. Do not believe it if anyone tells you there is either fascism or advanced democracy in Turkey now; things are progressing in a unique way. This is now a country in which there is no taboo subject that you cannot discuss on television or in the press. The so-called Armenian genocide, the Kurdish question, Cyprus and so on are freely discussed in all imaginable ways in Turkey today.

“However, in the same country, if your comments somehow offend our prime minister you may be sued by him or lose your job. Well, as I have said before, we are advancing like Ottoman janissaries, two steps forward and one step back, or sometimes one step forward and two steps back.”

Ahmet Hakan, a columnist of Hurriyet Turkish newspaper, praised Hasan Cemal’s book. The Turkish columnist wrote in Hurriyet that “one of the best ‘elements’ in the book is the fact that it was written by the grandson, who managed to prevail over his own grandfather and condemned the latter’s actions, as well as developed an opinon different from the one of his grandfather.”

Cemal Pasha was killed in Tbilisi in July 1922 by Stepan Dzaghigian, Artashes Gevorgyan and Petros Ter Poghosyan as part of Operation Nemesis for his role in the Armenian Genocide. His remains were brought to Erzerum and buried there.

In Issue 5 of GPN Yair Auron and others wrote about a proposed and partly begun expulsion of Jews from Palestine in 1917 also by Cemal Pasha. Auron spells the name Jemal Pasha. See Special Issue 5, Armenian Genocide and co-Victims:Assyrians, Yezidis, Greeks, http://www.genocidepreventionnow.org/Home/GPNISSUES/SpecialIssue5Winter2011/tabid/145/ctl/DisplayArticle/mid/607/aid/295/Default.aspx

Sources:
Armenpress.am (October 30, 2012). The book about the Armenian Genocide by Hassan Cemal has become a bestseller in Turkey. http://armenpress.am/eng/news/697882/the-book-about-the-armenian-genocide-by-hassan-cemal-has-become-a-bestseller-in-turkey.html

First Armenian News and Analysis (October 30, 2012). Hasan Cemal’s book, titled “1915: Armenian Genocide” published last month, is in the list of bestsellers in Turkey. http://www.1in.am/eng/region_rsociety_4320.html

Cengiz, Orhan Kemal (October 11, 2012). 1915 and terrorists on mountains. Today’s Zaman. http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-295073-1915-and-terrorists-on-mountains.html

California Courier (September 13, 2012). Genocide mastermind’s grandson issues book on Armenian Genocide.

News.am (September 12, 2012). Cemal Pasha’s grandson publishes a book, 1915 Armenian Genocide. http://news.am/eng/news/120570.html

Armenpress.am (September 11, 2012). Turkish journalist valued the book of Cemal Pasha grandson 1915. Armenian Genocide. http://armenpress.am/eng/news/692850/

Sassounian, Harut (April 5, 2011). Cemal Pasha’s Grandson says genocide, Morgenthau’s great granddaughter doesn’t. http://www.armenianweekly.com/2011/04/05/cemal-pasha/

Turkey And The Armenian Ghost: On The Traces of Genocide

(Le Figaro, March 30, 2013) – In a review about the book “Turkey and the Armenian ghost: on the traces of Genocide”, co-authored by Laure Marchand, correspondent for “Le Figaro” and Guillaume Perrier, correspondent for “Le Monde”, Pierre Rousselin highlights the fact that while the world stands just two years before the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in 2015, Turkey seems incapable of coming to terms with her past. Rosselin wonders whether the Centennial will incite Turks and their government to confront their history.

The book is a study conducted on the field with numerous interviews, testimonials and visits to churches, villages and sites that have survived destruction, sacrilege and oblivion. Escapees, forcibly converted to Islam, and “justs” who saved persecuted victims are given the chance to speak through this book. The two journalists describe how the Turkish authorities refused the use of the word “genocide” and the historical concequences of this crime. Rousselin writes that irrespective of what one may think about the Armenian Cause, one thing is clear; the determination of the Turkish state to minimize the scope of their “problem”. The “Le Figaro” columnist underlines that at a time that Turkey aspires joining the European family which is built exactly on working with history, Turkey should revisit the subject of the Genocide.
The book also explains why the Armenian Cause remains in the heart of the Franco-Turkish relations.

Watch the interview of Marchand and Perrier to France 24 (in french).

Laure Marchand et Guillaume Perrier, auteurs de “La Turquie et le fantôme arménien”

 

On The Road To Exile

On The Road To Exile – Aram Andonian

(imprescriptible.fr) Aram Andonian was born in 1876 in Constantinople. Journalist, writer and author of the Complete Illustrated History of the Balkan War (Vol. 1-4, 1912–1913, Histoire de la Guerre des Balkans), published originally in Armenian. He was among the Armenian intellectuals of Constantinople that were arrested on Apri l 24, 1915 and which later was deported and almost uprooted. A survivor of the Genocide in exile, he was the first Director of Nubar library. Andonian dedicated the rest of his life in collecting and publishing testimonies that showed the destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. He passed away in Paris in 1952.
Hervé Georgelin is a historian and an Armenian and Modern Greek languages translator. He has translated Andonian’s In Those Dark Days (En ces sombres jours, Métispresses, 2007) and Zaven Biberian’s The Twilight of the Ants (Le crépuscule des fourmis, Métispresses, 2012). Georgelin is also the author of The End of Smyrna. From cosmopolitanism to nationalisms (La fin de Smyrne. Du cosmopolitisme aux nationalismes, CNRS Éditions, 2005).

On the Road to Exile (Sur la route de l’exi) is the description of a survivor who couldn’t have survived.
Andonian places us in the center of this group of teachers, artists, journalists, merchants, politicians who are the intellectual and active elite of the Armenian community in Constantinople. Initially incredulous as to the true motives of the Young Turks government, this elite ends up eliminated in central Anatolia.
While portraying a culture in suspension through its most notable characters, the text refers to the early stages of the annihilation process, where the lies of executioners mask the worst to come.
Andonian follows the trace of his friend Parsegh Chahbaz, an investigative journalist until the latter gets murdered. From Istanbul to Kharpert Aram Andonian tries to restore his friend’s wandering and give the reader the picture of the mass destruction around him.

About the book:
• a preface by Raymond H. Kevorkian
• introduction of Hervé Georgelin, historian and translator
• a postface by Janine Altounian
• index and maps
• Release date: February 2, 2013
• Publisher: MétisPresses
• No. ISBN: 978-2-940406-67-8
• Number of pages: 203
• Price: € 19.00

http://www.imprescriptible.fr/parutions/andonian

Zoryan Announces New Book that Sets Post-WWI Ottoman Trials in Their Historical and Legal Context

PRESS RELEASE

In the aftermath of its disastrous defeat in WWI, Ottoman Turkey had to face the wartime crime of the destruction of its Armenian population. An inquiry commissioned by the Ottoman government in 1919 presented enough preliminary evidence to organize a series of trials involving the perpetrators of these crimes. It is the record of these trials and the unparalleled details they provide on the planning and implementation of these heinous crimes that has brought together the two most renowned scholars of the Armenian Genocide, Professors Vahakn Dadrian and Taner Akcam, in their first joint publication. It is with great pride that the Zoryan Institute announces that after years of research and analysis, the authors have compiled for the first time in English the complete documentation of the trial proceedings and have set these findings in their historical and legal context.

The book is entitled Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials and is published by Berghahn Books of New York and Oxford.

In describing the book, Prof. Dadrian commented, “This is a most important work, for two reasons. First, it is based on authentic Turkish documentation, which the Ottoman government was forced to release during the trials. Second, unlike most books on the Armenian Genocide, which are historical interpretations, this study, for the first time is based also on the testimony of high-ranking Ottoman officials, given under oath, on the magnitude of the crimes against the Armenians, and in this sense, serves as a legal case study of the Armenian Genocide.”

During his more than fifty years of research on the subject, Dadrian discovered that the Takvim-i Vekâyi, the official Ottoman government’s gazette, was not the only major source of information on these military tribunals. In fact, Renaissance, a French language Armenian newspaper in Constantinople at the time, reported summaries of many of the trial proceedings taken from the reports of the Ottoman language newspapers of the day, which were otherwise not accounted for in official government records.

Prof. Akçam, the book’s co-author, noted that “While the official government record lists only twelve trials, newspapers provide us details on sixty-three. For the first time, information from the Ottoman newspapers of the era has been utilized to reconstruct the trials. A great deal of effort was required to track down all issues possible of fourteen different Ottoman newspapers, which meant visiting many libraries in different cities. Often, the articles we were looking for had been cut out of the paper in one location, but we were able to find a copy in another location.” The Zoryan Institute sponsored the collection of these newspapers, their translation and transliteration, as part of the long-term project known as “Creating a Common Body of Knowledge,” and retains copies in its archives.

According to the Institute’s President, K.M Greg Sarkissian, “The objective is to provide knowledge that will be shared by Turkish and Armenian civil societies and western scholarship. The aim is to locate, collect, analyze, transliterate, translate, edit and publish authoritative, universally recognized original archival documents on the history of the events surrounding 1915, in both Turkish and English. Elaborating on the importance not only of the primary source material in this book, but also the analysis provided by the book’s authors,” he continued, “the more such documents are made available to Turkish society, the more it will be empowered with knowledge to question narratives imposed by the state. Restoring accurate historical memory will benefit not only Turkish, but also Armenian society. Both will be emancipated from the straightjacket of the past. Such a Common Body of Knowledge will hopefully lead to an understanding of each other, act as a catalyst for dialogue, and aid in the normalization of relations between the two societies. Judgment at Istanbul is the most recent example of the Zoryan Institute’s strong belief in the importance of a Common Body of Knowledge as a key factor in helping the future of any relationship between Turkey and Armenia.”

The trials described in Judgment at Istanbul had a far-reaching bearing in the international community. As the first national tribunal to prosecute cases of mass atrocity, the principles of “crimes against humanity” which were introduced then had their echo subsequently in the Nuremberg Charter, the Tokyo Charter, and the UN Genocide Convention. This book is an essential source for historians, legal scholars, political scientists, sociologists, policy makers, and those interested in Genocide Studies, Turkish Studies, and Armenian Studies. It also holds great current relevance, with recent interest internationally regarding the Armenian Genocide and its denial.

Vahakn N. Dadrian and Taner Akçam, Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials. New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2011. 363p. ISBN 978-0-85745-251-1 (hardback), ISBN 978-0-85745-286-3 (ebook). $110.00 ($75.00 to Zoryan Friends).

To order a copy for yourself, as a gift, or to help sponsor a book to be placed in university libraries, please contact the Zoryan office, 416-250-9807, zoryan@zoryaninstitute.org.

R. Kevorkian’s “The Armenian Genocide: A Complete Story”

Raymond Kevorkian is a renowned French-Armenian historian academic and curator of the AGBU Paris Nubarian library. Kevorkian is also a lecturer at the Institute Française de Géopolitique, University of Paris. His book “The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History” provides an authoritative account of the origins, events and consequences of the Armenian Genocide. Kevorkian considers the role it played in the construction of the Turkish nation state and Turkish identity, as well as exploring the ideologies of power and state violence. Crucially, he examines the consequences of the violence against the Armenians, the implications of the deportations and the attempts to bring those who committed the atrocities to justice. Kevorkian’s experience spans over 20 years after covering the history of the Armenians during 16th & 17th century, Kevorkian realized that it was time to focus on the Armenian Genocide. What makes this publication interesting is the author’s effort in maintaining a balance in his research by considering the circumstances of the victim as well as the perpetrator. In a sense looking at both sides of the coin. In his work, Kevorkian traces each route of the process of deportation and genocide, by depicting the events as if he was present during these events and as the heinous plan of Genocide was put into practice. The evidence provided by (Genocide) survivors has a significant sole and importance in this book. The author has refrained from defining most horrific events, finding them impossible to bear particularly by the reader.

Galichian’s “The Invention of History”

By Levon Chorbajian
YerevanReport.com

Rouben Galichian’s “The Invention of History: Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Showcasing of Imagination” (Gomidas Institute/Printinfo Art Books) is a very important book that addresses a core issue facing the Armenian people 95 years after the Armenian Genocide: survival in the face of further erasures and eradications.

This is an issue with many dimensions, some of them well known and others not. Galichian, whose prior works include “Historic Maps of Armenia: The Cartographic Heritage” (I.B. Tauris) and “Countries of the Caucasus in Medieval Maps: Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan” (Gomidas Institute Books), focuses here on one of the lesser known aspects, Azerbaijan and its attacks on Armenian history, identity and survival.

Azerbaijan was founded in 1918 under the leadership of the pan-Turkic Musavat Party. There had been no previous Azerbaijani state in history, and the name was taken from the territory south of the Arax River, in northern Persia (present-day Iran), where much larger numbers of Azeri speakers lived and continue to live today. Galichian notes that Persian officials considered the use of the name usurpation and protested its use at the time.

In the territorial jockeying that went on in the early Soviet Union, Azerbaijan was given control of Nagorno-Karabagh (Artsakh) with its 95 percent Armenian majority, and Nakhichevan, that was 40 percent Armenian, in 1920. These were bitter defeats for Armenia, but ironically, they also further exacerbated Azerbaijan’s own identity problem. The people called Azeri today are an amalgam of Arab, Turkic, and Persian peoples who had historically been known as Caucasian Tatars. The territory that became Azerbaijan not only contained hundreds of thousands of Armenians but also large numbers of non-Azeri Muslims and some non-Armenian Christians. Azeri leaders were faced with the problem of how to forge a national identity where none had existed before.

The answer was to fabricate a history. The officially sponsored Buniatov or Baku School of Historiography (Ziya Buniatov was an Azeri revisionist historian) developed to re-write history in the service of national ambition. In his early chapters, Galichian examines two books that exemplify the fruits of these labors, War against Azerbaijan: Targeting Cultural Heritage and Monuments of Western Azerbaijan. Just as Turkey claims its roots in the Hittites and other people with whom it has no historical connection, Azerbaijan claims to be the heir to the Caucasian Albanians, a Christian people who ruled much of what is now Azerbaijan and had became extinct in the 12th century. This subterfuge eradicates a millennia-long Armenian presence and allows Azeris to be presented as indigenous and the Armenians as latter day interlopers. This is the history that has been taught to Azeri schoolchildren for decades, and its irredentist implications are clearly revealed when we understand that “Western Azerbaijan” refers to Armenia itself.

Galichian painstakingly examines the fate of Armenian monuments in territories that came under Azeri control. No Armenians live in Nakhichevan today. Nor do we find the more than 200 Armenian churches, monasteries, chapels and cemeteries that were found there in the early 19th century. In one startling section of his book Galichian documents the fate of a cemetery that once contained 10,000 khachkars (carved Armenian burial stones). This cemetery in Nakhichevan was on the northern bank of the Arax River and clearly visible from Iran. The last 2,000 of these khachkars were toppled and broken up a decade ago by the Azeri army. The remnants were taken away on trains or dumped into the river. Galichian provides photographs of this destruction taken by Scottish architect Steven Sim. Today the site is a military shooting range.

Galichian has collected and provided before and after photographs of other Armenian sites as well. These include the before and after examples of abraded Armenian text on buildings which, while not destroying the buildings themselves, obscures their Armenian origins.

This is an important book for three reasons. First, Galichian’s text and photographs document the continuation of genocide in the form of the final eradication of the Armenian people’s history. The story Galichian tells is not a new one and has close parallels in Azerbaijan’s sister republic Turkey where Armenian monuments have been razed, used as targets in artillery practices, taken apart for building materials, and used as stables. And where the monuments have tourist value, they have been attributed to others. This is a game played by both Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Second, Galichian’s book is timely given the terms of the stalled (but revivable) Turkish-Armenian Protocols that would radically re-define Turkish-Armenian-Azeri relations without strong protections for Armenia’s national security interests. The fate of Armenians in Nakhichevan including the final eradication and erasure of their historical presence was captured in the term “Nakhichevan-ization” that became a symbol of cultural genocide and inspired an Armenian vow that the process would not be repeated in Artsakh. Galichian’s book stands as a warning. He makes it very clear what is at stake if Armenia succumbs to Western pressure, and to Turkish and Azeri promises of brotherhood, good-will, and solidarity.

Thanks to the liberation of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) between 1988 and 1994, the fate of Armenian monuments is now under Armenian control. The last of Galichian’s contributions is that his photographs document both the ravages of Azeri vandalism and neglect of Armenian monuments such as Dadivank and the Gandzasar Monastic complexes and their subsequent restoration by Armenian artisans after 1994.

Overall, Galichian has made a truly significant contribution to our understanding of continuing attacks on the history and legacy of the Armenian people. He has compiled the history and allowed it to speak through text and photographs of the dangers of any Western brokered “peace settlement” that calls for the surrender of Armenian held territory without the full independence of an internationally guaranteed and recognized Artsakh.


About the reviewer: Levon Chorbajian, Ph.D. is the translator and co-author of “The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh” (Zed Books) and the editor of “The Making of Nagorno-Karabagh: From Secession to Republic” (Palgrave Macmillan).

Rouben Galichian. “The Invention of History: Azerbaijan, Armenia, and the Showcasing of Imagination.” Gomidas Institute-London and Printinfo Art Books-Yerevan. 2009. In English. 112 pp. Includes a DVD on Armenian Julfa and more than 50 color photos and maps. $30 US, available from AbrilBooks.com, NAASR.org and Gomidas.org.