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The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Johannes Lepsius  
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Johannes Lepsius

Dr. Johannes Lepsius

Vicar Johannes Lepsius was the one German who supported the Armenian cause with the utmost vehemence, since the massacres during the time of Sultan Abdul Hamid at the end of the 19th century. 

Lepsius wrote "Deutschland und Armenien" (Germany and Armenia), which Franz Werfel used extensively in writing his "Forty Days," along with the forged "documents" of Aram Andonian. Jemal Pasha, one of the three Young Turks who is vilified by Armenians and their supporters for being behind the "Genocide" (and who was later assassinated by an Armenian, although he "did everything humanly possible for the Armenians," as Eric Feigl wrote in "A Myth of Terror") is said to fare surprisingly well, in this work.

Immediately after his report on the situation of the Armenian people in the Ottoman Empire was published, Lepsius went into exile in Holland, in 1916. The semi-official version is that he fled to the neutral Netherlands in order to escape pursuit by the German police. So says an Armenian web site, which goes on to report that "from his exile in Holland... he inspired many pro-Armenian campaigns." 

"It is probably due to the high regard held for Johannes Lepsius personally that the authenticity of the 444 documents published in "Germany and Armenia" were doubted by no one for a long time. It was only after the Second World War, when the files of the German Foreign Office were made available to researchers of the world wars that some of the (documents were discovered to have inconsistencies.)"

"A systematic comparison of the documents published by Lepsius with the originals from the German Foreign Office revealed that there were a great number of abridgements or even forgeries..."

"Until today, no one has examined the background for these changes and manipulations. From a purely formal point of view they must be attributed to Lepsius, for in the preface he specifically accepted the full responsibility for the contents of his book. And Lepsius often pointed out that he was completely independent from the German Foreign Office and that he had had complete freedom in his selection of the documents. But was that really in accordance with the facts?"

The Armenian web site then claims: "It was not Lepsius who manipulated the documents, but the German Foreign Office. Even more amazing: Lepsius noticed – almost – nothing. For the man who constantly emphasised the academic nature of his historic research disregarded the main rules of a source edition when the documents were published."

"The manipulations in the documentation, 'Germany and Armenia,'  throw a shadow on Johannes Lepsius, but only a small shadow on a great man."

Sounds like the Armenians are reaching for straws again... if the character of Lepsius becomes questionable, then there goes yet another of their slim sources of "genocidal evidence." Let's move on to a non-Armenian source, and try to get to the bottom of the religious man's credibility...


It is necessary to put Dr Lepsius on the same level as the Protestant missionaries, and to give the same value to his writings.

The British were the leaders among those who were spreading the rumours of Armenian massacres throughout the world, and who were attempting to shape public opinion in that direction during the First World War. The famous Masterman bureau, which we mentioned in Chapter 2, had created a massacre story by publishing the blue book, which we have referred to on various occasions, in order to win over American public opinion and to turn the Islamic world against Turkey. Later, Toynbee made great efforts to substantiate these items of information sent to him, but was not successful.

There is another person who dealt extensively with this subject, Dr Johannes Lepsius. Today the Armenians attach even more importance to Lepsius’ work, as they are aware that the blue book was published by the propaganda bureau.

We think it important to examine Lepsius’ background and his aims. For this reason we shall refer to Frank G. Weber:

Ambassador von Wangenheim

German Ambassador

Lest other Armenians of the Ottoman Empire attempt to imitate the insurrectionaries of Van, Enver decided to suppress all Armenian schools and newspapers. Wangenheim regretted these orders as both morally and materially deleterious to Germany’s cause. . . Nevertheless, the Ambassador instructed his consuls to collect any kind of information that would show that the Germans had tried to alleviate the lot of the Armenians. These notices were to be published in a white book in the hope of impressing Entente and German public opinion. (German Archives Band 37, No. A.20525.)

The last found a powerful voice in Dr. Johannes Lepsius. The son of a famous archaeologist and himself a noted traveller and writer on the Near East, Lepsius was delegated by various Protestant Evangelical societies to enter Armenia and verify the atrocity stories at first hand. Wangenheim did not want the professor to come. He was as certain that the Turks would charge the Germans some sort of retribution for causing them this embarrassment as that not a single Armenian life would be spared because of Lepsius’ endeavours. But Lepsius convinced the Wilhelmstrasse that his intention was not to put pressure on the Turks but instead to argue the patriarchal entourage into greater loyalty toward the Ottoman regime. Alleging this as his reason, he got as far as Constantinople, where the Armenian Patriarch acclaimed him but Talat refused him permission to travel into the interior. He had badgered Wangenheim unmercifully with letters, and the Ambassador described his reaction to Lepsius’ proposals as something between amusement and contempt. Yet Lepsius emphasized an argument to which the Ambassador was always open: the liquidation of the Armenians would seriously and perhaps irreparably diminish the prospects of Germany’s ascendancy in Turkey after the war.

  Lepsius had not set foot in Anatolia, had not talked to one single Armenian there. All the information he gathered consisted of what he learned from the Patriarchate and to some extent the reports which the American Ambassador Morgenthau showed him. 


Ambassador Morgenthau

Ambassador Morgenthau

 When Lepsius returned to Germany, he devoted himself to keeping the German public unsparingly informed about the Armenian massacres. Though the German newspapers were not as chary of this news as might have seemed desirable in the interests of the Turkish alliance, the professor still preferred to make his disclosures in the journals of Basel and Zurich. What he wrote was not always up to date or unbiased. Much of it came from Armenian informants in the Turkish capital, and a large source, reworked with many variations, was given him by Ambassador Morgenthau at the time of his visit to Constantinople in July 1915. Morgenthau showed him a collection of American consular reports detailing the atrocities and suggested that the Armenians be removed from the Ottoman Empire and resettled in the American West. Lepsius took up that idea enthusiastically….

Lepsius pointed out to the Chancellor that if Germany made herself popular in Turkish Armenia, the Russian Armenians would be more likely to put themselves under German protection after the war.

Lepsius had not set foot in Anatolia, had not talked to one single Armenian there. All the information he gathered consisted of what he learned from the Patriarchate and to some extent the reports which the American Ambassador Morgenthau showed him. We shall see in section 5 that these reports were all based on hearsay.

It is necessary to put Dr Lepsius on the same level as the Protestant missionaries, and to give the same value to his writings.

The preceding excerpt is from "The Armenian File — The Myth of Innocence Exposed"  by Kamuran Gürün (pp. 219-220)

Lepsius... Not Objective

Morgenthau was also the main source for the German Lepsius. Who was Dr. Johannes Lepsius? Having decided on a strategy to further German influence among the Armenians of the Caucasus, the Germans searched for ways and means, during the war, of being popular in some Armenian circles. They were planning a "White Book" to impress, not only the Armenians, but also the Germans and Allied public opinion. No one could be a better instrument than Lepsius, who, in the words of Frank G. Weber, was not objective,* his sources of information being the Armenians in Istanbul and Ambassador Morgenthau. Having dined with Lepsius (3 August 1915), having had several other talks and having received the authorization of Washington, D.C. to pass material to him, Morgenthau was certainly a key source for the Lepsius work.

*Frank G. Weber, Eagles on the Crescent, pp. 150-152, 187; from The 'Armenian Question' Conflict, Trauma & Objectivity, by Türkkaya Ataov



 Morgenthau was a key source for the Lepsius work. Given the fact that Lepsius spent only a month in the Ottoman capital during the war, and that the number of German missionaries in the interior of Anatolia was relatively small, it is not surprising that much of his material on the deportations should have been derived from American Protestant missionary sources. The fact that Morgenthau's "discretion" consisted of giving Lepsius open access to his Embassy's files and copies of their contents, suggests that he may well have been stretching the intent of Lansing's instructions to their limit. (The Story Behind Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, Heath Lowry; the rest describes the role played by Morgenthau in Wellington House's 1916 Blue Book, by Bryce and Toynbee.)


A “vest-pocket Torquemada”

That is how the journalist Hans Barth dubbed Lepsius, adding that the efforts of those like him amounted to a "crusade." Either in the article, “Die Turkenhetze,” Die Zukunft 5, no. 16 (Jan. 16, 1897), or in the expanded version that became the book entitled Turke, Wehre Dich! ("Turk, Defend Yourself!"; Leipzig, 1898), or both.


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