Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  William Saroyan and his take on the Turks  
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 When noted Armenian-American author William Saroyan wrote — in "Antranik of Armenia," "Inhale and Exhale," 1935 —  "The Turk is the brother of the Armenian and (the manipulative powers) know it," you could tell he was not your typical hateful extremist Armenian. I haven't made a study of his views on the genocidal driving force of his people; I don't believe he generally went out of his way to publicly profess love for the Turks, as that would have been one sure way to face ostracism. Nevertheless, this page will feature some clues on how he stood apart from the general Armenian consensus.



Prof. Turkayya Ataov reported in his "What really happened in Geneva" booklet that the then-twenty-year-old had translated "My Name is Aram," perhaps the first Turkish translation of a Saroyan work. Ataov wrote:

I had then selected William Saroyan because he loved the friendship of small, less complicated environments. He rose to great heights, often producing masterpieces. With no social graces and not wanting any, he preferred the rough-and-ready. His first short story was published in 1933 and was reprinted in the 1934 Best Short Stories. The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapaze, which appeared the same year as title-story of his first volume, was an instant success. In 1939 he suddenly became a playwright with My Heart’s in the Highlands. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1940 for The Time of Your Life (but declined it). His satirical novel The Adventures of Wesley Jackson was described as the first anti-war novel of the Second World War. “Aram” was the name of his own son, but his My Name is Aram was an autobiographical collection of stories that revolve around the life of a boy in Fresno, California. All this is certainly known to the Armenian intellectuals as well.

What they may not know equally well, however, is William Saroyan’s visit to Turkey and its consequences. He came to Turkey in May 1964, visiting Bitlis and the surrounding areas. He was very well received by the Turks of all levels, the simple folk of Bitlis embracing him in the outskirts of the town with traditional music and dancing. And Saroyan did not participate in the April demonstrations when he went back to California.25 Moreover, in a hand-written statement that he left with Turkey’s celebrated journalist, painter and photographic artist, Fikret Otyam, he stated that he came to “know the simplicity, hospitality and dignity of the Turkish nation”. (For a photocopy of the original statement, in Saroyan’s own hand-writing see Annex 2.) It was reported later that Saroyan’s absence in the April demonstrations in the United States could not go unnoticed.


Annex 2

 May 1964 letter of William Saroyan, on trip to Turkey

I have had the great experience of traveling in Turkey with Fikret Otyam, a swift and great spiritied writer and artist of the camera. My visits to Bitlis and Mus were made especially memorable by Otyam's wonderful guidance and preparations. I hope I may consider myself his friend. I am certainly an admirer of his art, his humanity, and his personal warmth. He has made my visit to Turkey one of the greatest experiences of my life. I believe that because of Fikret's guidance I now know the simplicity, hospitality and dignity of the Turkish nation.

My profound thanks and cordial regards, always.

William Saroyan
May 20, 1964

Photos of William Saroyan's 1964 visit to Turkey


Saroyan shaking hands with Turkey's veteran statesman Ismet Inonu

Saroyan shaking hands with Turkey's veteran
statesman Ismet Inonu










William Saroyan with Turkish villagers

William Saroyan with Turkish villagers










William Saroyan, presented flowers on behalf of the Turkish town dwellers

William Saroyan, presented flowers on behalf of the
town dwellers










William Saroyan, with Turkish folk dancers

William Saroyan, with Turkish folk dancers










"The real enemy of the Armenians were the Russians, not the Turks"

Selected excerpts from Yuksel Oktay's writings

 Greeks invaded Anatolia in 1919 with the hope of creating their ‘’Greater Hellen Empire’’ and the support of the Western powers, killed thousands of Turkish civilians and destroyed many villages and towns along the way, which is well documented. They were defeated by the Turks under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal who spared the life of the Greek Commander Trikopis and established good relations with Venizelos, who later became the Prime Minister of Greece and nominated Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for the Nobel Peace Prize. Turks and Greeks have been able to create a sense of reconciliation and friendship that benefits the people of both countries, which the Armenians should heed to.

William Saroyan, the great Armenian-American writer, the son of an Armenian from Bitlis, wrote about an episode that came closest to the above statement by his Greek colleague when he said that ‘’The real enemy of the Armenians were the Russians, not the Turks’’. Saroyan wrote many books, received the Pulitzer Prize for his book on the second world war "The Human Comedy" and told the story of the Armenian Tragedy in his short story "Antranik of Armenia."

‘’The war was with the Turks of course. The other enemies were less active than the Turks, but watchful. When the time came one of these, in the name of love, not hate, accomplished in no time at all what the Turks, who were more honest, whose hatred was unconcealed, could not accomplish in hundreds of years. These were the Russians.’’



Review of a book on Antranik of Armenia, ‘’ANTRANIK PASA’’, written by Antranik Celebyan. Istanbul, 2003. (Translated to Turkish from the original Armenian version by Mariam Arpi and nairi Arek.) Peri yayinlari, Istanbul, Turkey

April 4, 2004, Istanbul

The first time had I heard about Antranik of Armenia was in a story written by William Saroyan with the same title in 1935. William Saroyan, the pulitzer price winner and one of my favorite authors, was born in Fresno California whose grandparents had immigrated to the area from Bitlis,Turkey in 1905. In his story of Antranik of Armenia, Saroyan does not present a favorable picture of Antranik after meeting him following Antranik’s settlement in California, and states in his story that ‘’the enemy of the Armenians were not the Turks, but the Russians.’’ Antranik was famous for his collaborations with the Russians and killing of Turks after the Armenian organizations chose the Bulgarian method to gain their independence, meaning practising terrorism and from time to time, organizing open revolts where Moslems would be massacred. Several Turkish publications on Antranik quotes that Antranik was a rebel leader, not a Pasa and he would love to brag about ‘’how many Moslems he had killed in one day.’’

Therefore I was very interested in finding out about, first what the Armenians thought about Antranik and, second, why they never refer to anything written by William Saroyan, including Peter Balakian, in his one sided book ‘’The Burning Tigris’’. The first is a very long story, which I will try to summarize below, but the answer to the second one is very simple, which the book gives us quite innocently.

On page 336, this is what Celebiyan quotes from Sarayon: ‘’Soviet Armenia is our sun, stone, ocean, history, and our unity. The Russian support is a great chance for us. We can not survive without the support of a strong power. That strong power is the Soviets. It is the Soviets that give the freedom to the Armenians, help us to breathe and to show our strength and riches. The Russians are our brothers and friends. For 50 years we have been enjoying the fruit of this friendship. We are alive, healthy and happy because, we have a Soviet Armenia. There are no obstacles for us. Because the Soviets are behind us’’.

And yet, when William Saroyan sees what the Russians are up to, he does not hesitate to call them the ‘’real enemy of the Armenians’’, as he elaborates in his story, ‘’Antranik of Armenia’’. When the Turks lost the Turco-Russian war in the east and the Russians were nearing Istanbul on the west, the Armenians were [jubilant]. Even the Armenian Patriarch started working with the Russians. However, as the invading Russian armies left the Ottoman lands after the 1917 Russian revolution, the Armenians took over and started mass killings which are being unearthed even today. The Armenians tried to establish a greater Armenia including the lands from the eastern Anatolia which the book constantly refers to as the ‘’Western Armenia’’. But William Saroyan knew the reality and never supported the back stabbing of the Turks by the Armenians.


William Saroyan on the "Genocide"

The great author wrote an introduction to "I Ask You Ladies and Gentlemen," a 1945 book that blames Enver Pasha for having exterminated the Armenians. Saroyan gives no hint of disagreeing. Troublingly, he even refers to Franz Werfel as a legitimate source.



Part of a William Saroyan book cover; 70,000 Assyrians

A Saroyan book  (70,000 Assyrians)
translated into Turkish, taken
from this designer's site; there
are more. Turkkaya Ataov may have
translated the first Saroyan book
into Turkish (My Name is Aram),
over fifty years ago.

THIS is a solemn, gentle, civilized book, full of innocence, comedy, and that kindly power which is the possession of men who are truly alive and cultured.

Leon Z. Surmelian is one of the many Armenian children of war years who fooled the enemy and didn’t die. The story of these children is by now well-known to everyone. Franz Werfel tells part of it in The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and Elgin Groseclose tells a little more in Ararat.

Here, however, for the first time is the full story, by one of the children himself. Their world was destroyed, but not their lives. Many of them are now in Soviet Armenia, Russia, Persia, Syria, Greece, Canada, Mexico, South America, and America. Many are dead in the old country, with the world that was destroyed. Their comrades, who were tougher or luckier, will never forget them. Their enemy was not any particular nation or any particular people. Their enemy was Evil, as abstract as Evil might be in any parable. These children were certainly innocent. If they belonged to any nation, it was to the nation of children. They had wronged no one. And yet Evil in men sought to destroy them, and as if they were real only in a fable, rather than in reality itself, these children lived.

Leon Z. Surmelian came out of the old country to America, and proceeded to mend the wrecked, legend of his life.

This book tells the story of that mending.

It is a story without hate, for hate and death are partners, and this is a story of life.

I Ask You, Ladies and Gentlemen contains some of the finest writing I have ever read. The whole book is almost a lyric poem. Surmelian’s style is simple and unaffected, warm and humorous, and at the same time full of the melancholy of the civilized and intelligent.

I can’t imagine anybody being disappointed with this book. It is one of the most beautiful and exciting stories I have ever read. I say this in spite of the fact that Leon Z. Surmelian is my friend.

I know a great and good book when I see one.



Richard Rodriguez ("Pacific News Service" editor) wrote:

The best advice I ever got as a writer I got from Saroyan in the preface to his wonderful 1931 collection, "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze." I pass it along to you, to any young writer, whatever the age, who might need the reminder.

Saroyan wrote "The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough."




"West" Accounts


Armenian Views
Geno. Scholars


Turks in Movies
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This Site

...Is to expose the mythological “Armenian genocide,” from the years 1915-16. A wartime tragedy involving the losses of so many has been turned into a politicized story of “exclusive victimhood,” and because of the prevailing prejudice against Turks, along with Turkish indifference, those in the world, particularly in the West, have been quick to accept these terribly defamatory claims involving the worst crime against humanity. Few stop to investigate below the surface that those regarded as the innocent victims, the Armenians, while seeking to establish an independent state, have been the ones to commit systematic ethnic cleansing against those who did not fit into their racial/religious ideal: Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Armenians who had converted to Islam. Criminals as Dro, Antranik, Keri, Armen Garo and Soghoman Tehlirian (the assassin of Talat Pasha, one of the three Young Turk leaders, along with Enver and Jemal) contributed toward the deaths (via massacres, atrocities, and forced deportation) of countless innocents, numbering over half a million. What determines genocide is not the number of casualties or the cruelty of the persecutions, but the intent to destroy a group, the members of which are guilty of nothing beyond being members of that group. The Armenians suffered their fate of resettlement not for their ethnicity, having co-existed and prospered in the Ottoman Empire for centuries, but because they rebelled against their dying Ottoman nation during WWI (World War I); a rebellion that even their leaders of the period, such as Boghos Nubar and Hovhannes Katchaznouni, have admitted. Yet the hypocritical world rarely bothers to look beneath the surface, not only because of anti-Turkish prejudice, but because of Armenian wealth and intimidation tactics. As a result, these libelous lies, sometimes belonging in the category of “genocide studies,” have become part of the school curricula of many regions. Armenian scholars such as Vahakn Dadrian, Peter Balakian, Richard Hovannisian, Dennis Papazian and Levon Marashlian have been known to dishonestly present only one side of their story, as long as their genocide becomes affirmed. They have enlisted the help of "genocide scholars," such as Roger Smith, Robert Melson, Samantha Power, and Israel Charny… and particularly  those of Turkish extraction, such as Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek, who justify their alliance with those who actively work to harm the interests of their native country, with the claim that such efforts will help make Turkey more" democratic." On the other side of this coin are genuine scholars who consider all the relevant data, as true scholars have a duty to do, such as Justin McCarthy, Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Erich Feigl and Guenter Lewy. The unscrupulous genocide industry, not having the facts on its side, makes a practice of attacking the messenger instead of the message, vilifying these professors as “deniers” and "agents of the Turkish government." The truth means so little to the pro-genocide believers, some even resort to the forgeries of the Naim-Andonian telegrams or sources  based on false evidence, as Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Naturally, there is no end to the hearsay "evidence" of the prejudiced pro-Christian people from the period, including missionaries and Near East Relief representatives, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Bryce, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and so many others. When the rare Westerner opted to look at the issues objectively, such as Admirals Mark Bristol and Colby Chester, they were quick to be branded as “Turcophiles” by the propagandists. The sad thing is, even those who don’t consider themselves as bigots are quick to accept the deceptive claims of Armenian propaganda, because deep down people feel the Turks are natural killers and during times when Turks were victims, they do not rate as equal and deserving human beings. This is the main reason why the myth of this genocide has become the common wisdom.