Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Of Taner Akcam's "Legends"  
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 This is part of a series examining the works of the Armenian-supported perpetual "visiting professor" Taner Akcam;
here is the lead page for this series.



Below is a response (that appeared in the Turkish Forum and is slightly edited) to an Akcam essay where Dr. Akcam attempted to throw smoke at certain historical realities, one being that some Ottomans were punished for crimes against Armenians. In addition, he minimizes the exemptions granted the Armenians, and smears the author of "The Armenian File," following the age-old pro-Armenian tactic of shooting the messenger instead of concentrating on the message.


 Regarding a letter in the June 30 edition of the Turkish Forum, where Ara Ashjian proudly pointed to a May 11, 2003 Taner Akcam article from "Radikal," entitled "About 1915 and Some Legends" (ermeni.org/english/1915tallstories.htm):

Dr. Akcam complains about certain points in a previous article written by an Ayse Hur, beginning with the statement, "1397 persons were given various sentences; more than half of them were sentenced to death for the crime of harming Armenians."

Running a cursory search on Ayse Hür, it appears some have labeled her a proponent of the Armenian genocide myth. She is a columnist of Turkey's left wing newspaper, "Radikal."

Unfortunately, there is a tendency among some Turkish writers to be careless with the facts, and if that's what Ms. Hur wrote, I don't believe she was correct with the claim that over half were sentenced to death. I imagine the source was Kamuran Gurun's "The Armenian File," where the number of those executed was not specified. (Elsewhere in the book, Gurun indicated the number as "quite a few.") Adm. Colby Chester wrote in 1922 that twenty Ottoman officers were executed in 1915.

Dr. Akcam calls this claim "simply a tall story," and characterizes Kamuran Gurun as a civil servant "given the responsibility of creating a 'tall story'." What a terrible affront, implying that Mr. Gurun made things up, even though it appears he wrote the book after his diplomatic career was over, and wasn't taking orders from anyone but himself. The book is an amazing work of research, often supported by pro-Armenian sources (good enough to turn around the thinking of Prof. Bernard Lewis, according to Vahakn Dadrian); it is the job of Taner Akcam, the perpetual "visiting professor," to discredit anything getting in the way of his one-note propagandistic career, in typical extremist Armenian fashion.

He apparently has learned enough from his Armenian bedfellows to ungratefully bite the hand that feeds him. Dr. Akcam writes, "There is no proof of the fact that a number of persons were put on trial or that they were executed for having mistreated Armenians." Vahakn Dadrian was Akcam's mentor, and Akcam has now damaged Dadrian's credibility... for Dadrian himself has claimed in a number of his writings that General Vehib court-martialed and hanged two perpetrators. (The crime was a terrible one, the massacre of many Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman army. As disgusting as the crime was, at least some punishment was meted out... more than could be said for the "zero" Armenians who were punished for murdering hundreds of thousands of non-Armenian Ottomans in cold blood.)

Dr. Akcam writes, "As for those sued, they were not people who committed crimes against Armenians, but rather those who appropriated the possession of Armenians." Yet Gurun referred to the 1,397 convictions as those against "life and property." Of course those who had stolen from the Armenians falls under the category of "crimes" as well. Perhaps Dr. Akcam, who loves to repeat the word "genocide" in every other sentence (in one of his relatively brief papers, "The Genocide of the Armenians and the Silence of the Turks," the word was repeated an unbelievable 64 times), has to be reminded there are other crimes besides massacres... such as theft, and (at least in an ethical sense) for making statements that have no basis in fact.

Perhaps not all of these 1,397 were convicted of crimes against Armenians, but only a study of the reference and further research will substantiate the number. It's unfortunate we can't take the word of Taner Akcam who implies he has read the source material "by overcoming certain difficulties" (actually, he says "one" has read them; at least he's on record admitting the archives are open, contrary to the claims of his industry), but he has already demonstrated his penchant for falsehood by flat out stating there is no proof anyone was executed for crimes against Armenians.

ADDENDUM, April 2006:

Turkish researchers have updated Gurun's figure to 1,673, maintaining sixty-seven as punished by execution.

Dr. Akcam complains "the Ittihadists used Armenian possessions in accordance with a very well prepared plan." Naturally, that "very well prepared plan" rides at the root of the genocide allegation, and in order to prove this plan, "speculation" can never be substituted for cold, hard evidence. Certainly there were abuses; it was a chaotic wartime situation, and those who robbed from the Armenians no doubt included people who felt disgusted by the Armenians' treachery during their nation's darkest hour. Vindictiveness is not admirable, but such a reaction is a human trait. This particular reaction (i.e., revenge for betrayal) was lacking on the side of the Armenians when they took immense amounts of money, livestock, and other assets from the many thousands of Ottoman people they murdered and expelled. (One example, among many.)

"The allegation that compensations for the seized possessions of Armenians were paid to them is not correct." I'm sure many Armenians got a raw deal, no different than the Japanese-Americans who were robbed by giving away their assets at fire-sale prices. However, this was the law on the books. According to documentation given by the Armenian Patriarch to the British, just before the implementation of Sevres, there were up to 644,900 Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. (This is another of the "tall stories" to be found in Gurun's book... backed up by a rock-solid 1921 source in the British archives. Gurun provided the basic sum of the report, 625,000.) If Dr. Akcam is trying to sell us on the idea that not a single one of these many returning Armenians got a single kurush in compensation as the law required, then he is welcome to provide the proof, rather than his "opinion."

259 - HANDING OVER THE POSSESSIONS OF THOSE WHO HAVE RETURNED TO THEIR LANDS [Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the province of Bitlis, regarding that the properties of those individuals who were deported and who returned to their homes, be returned to them and not to their executors or to their agents] 3 S. 1337 (4 May 1919)

More orders on the protection of Armenians may be read here. Were these genuine orders written for show, to fool future historians?

Next, Dr. Akcam is in a frenzy to tell us Armenians were "deported" (the translator of the article should have known better; "deportation" means banishment outside a country's borders) throughout Anatolia, and there were no exceptions. In other words, Armenians exempted from western cities/provinces (such as Istanbul, Edirne, Izmir, Aydin and Kutahya) is another "tall story."

Taner Akcam

Taner Akcam

Has Taner Akcam become so Armenianized that he will stop at nothing to distort the real picture? We already know from the 235 Armenian ringleaders who were arrested and sent away on April 24 (they were from Istanbul) that there are exceptions to every rule. Of course, there must have been selective examples of fishy characters who were subjected to "deportation" from all corners of the land. The idea, however, is that western Armenians were exempted AS A WHOLE. For example, within the 1921 Patriarch information mentioned above, 150,000 Armenians were in "Constantinople." If Istanbul-Armenians were not mainly exempt from the relocation policy, it stands to reason the figure could not have remained in six digits.


"They didn't exile the Protestants and the Catholics. Only us, the Armenian Christians, they decided to drive to exile like sheep."

Arshalouys Tashjian, "oral historian"

Finally, Dr. Akcam has a problem with the orders exempting Catholics and Protestants, yet another "tall story." It's true, the order came a couple of months after the late-May 1915 relocation policy, but whomever claimed the Young Turks were perfectly organized regarding this colossal task of transporting many thousands? This program was the last thing they needed with a desperate war on their hands.

(Akcam's math is off with the 4 August 1915 telegram for Catholics, writing that it was "sent 3 months after the deportations"; the May 27 "deportation" order's third article stated the law would not go into effect until the date of publication, which was June 1, 1915. That's two months, although some movements of people might have already begun; the Protestant exemption was on an October 15 telegram, Akcam tells us, but he is mistaken. The actual date was August 15, according to "Realities Behind the Relocation." These two orders must have been back-to-back, as the source directly below indicates.)

U.S. Consul and Morgenthau Henchman Leslie Davis, a man Taner Akcam must admire, complained this order came late as well (in his terribly biased notes that became "The Slaughterhouse Province") and that a lot of the Catholics and Protestants had already been subjected to the move.

"I should estimate that at least three-fourths of the Armenians in this region have now gone. A few are now getting the benefits of the order exempting Catholics and Protestants from deportation, but most of these were sent away before the order was received." [P.169]

As much as pro-Armenians hate "revision," it is a fact of life that complicated procedures sometimes need to be tweaked and revised; not everything can be expected to be perfect off the bat. As with the orders to compensate Armenians for lost property, even if not everything went according to plan, the important FACT is the Ottomans implemented these orders. These papers show the Ottomans had their hearts in the right place.

Dr. Akcam writes, "From many documents, we understand that those telegrams of Talaat Pasha were sent 'merely for the sake of doing it'." Really? There are admissions that these orders were just for show? That sounds like ground-breaking evidence, the "smoking gun" the pro-Armenians have been looking for all these many years.

Or is Taner Akcam entering his familiar "speculation" territory once again? Of course.

(I wonder why Talat Pasha felt compelled to prepare these orders merely for the sake of doing it, in the thick of wartime? Was it because he felt the need to fool future historians?)

"Later, verbal instructions were sent to the same governors so that they would not take those telegrams seriously."

And the proof of this? Very likely the 1919 Ottoman kangaroo courts that Akcam's mentor, Vahakn Dadrian, calls his life's blood. Unfortunately, the testimony of men attempting to save their necks, under enemy occupation, can only be referred to as legitimate by those who prefer to hide the real truth.

Rationale offered from a Dadrian page, to help us follow the "logic"

What we are being asked to believe here is that while the governors probably had copies of the official “humanistic” directives originating from the Ottoman government (as we touched upon above), someone came along and told the governors, no, no, those orders were fake. They were really a cover-up for our diabolical plan to kill off all the Armenians.

If you worked for the government and had in hand an official order from your "President"... and some other government flunky showed up at your doorstep telling you to ignore the President’s order and replace them with criminal ones... would you automatically accept the flunky’s word?

Especially if you could be held accountable for disobeying the official order from the President???


(Dadrian tells us) Dr. Sakir travelled by automobile throughout the region, giving verbal orders to kill... If Dr. Sakir travelled around ordering people to kill, why did the people follow his orders? Dadrian draws up his cherished comparison to the Holocaust, explaining fanatics functioned like the SS and the Gestapo. So let’s say Gestapo Man Dr. Sakir orders a governor to kill off the Armenians living in his district. Unless the governor is a similarly inclined fanatic — and there was no hate network present in the land of toleration, the Ottoman Empire, a la the school system of the Nazis that taught hatred of the Jews.... so I do not believe the hateful fanatics formed the majority — why would the governor go along? Is Dr. Sakir going to say that he represents the Ottoman government? If someone shows up at your doorstep claiming he is such a representative and orders you to participate in mass murder, would you go along with it? Myself, I would ask for substantiation from the highest levels of the government. If corroborated, I would resign.

As an example Dadrian provides, a Governor Jelal told the Ottoman authorities, "I can deport the Armenians but I cannot have them massacred! I cannot soil my hands in the blood of innocent people."

The Turks are a moral people, despite the incredible efforts to make them out to be bloodthirsty sub-humans, through the centuries. Their religion particularly gives reverence to women and children, as many western travelers have testified in the 19th century, especially when contrasted with their own Christians in the region, and elsewhere. Weren’t all the governors more like Governor Jelal than not? Say the Ottoman leadership really wanted to push a plan for extermination. Local officials would have had to know about it. Would Governor Jelal have been an exception in his response? If you were in Governor Jelal’s place, would you have reacted any differently? And if you feel, like Vahakn Dadrian, that we shouldn’t compare you with the savage Turk, since Turks are less-than-human and their natural tendency is to kill, then shame on you — and please force yourself to think otherwise.


New evidence suggests Bahaeddin Shakir was in command of the Special Organization in 1915, a regiment having its hands full with war. Such would greatly minimize the possibility of his having afforded the luxury of personally going door-to-door, instructing governors to commit mass murder..See Dr. Erickson's "Armenian Massacres: New Records Undercut Old Blame."

Taner Akcam has at his disposal a mountain of obsessively researched tidbits from his genocide industry that he can conveniently point to as "facts." Unfortunately, his claims have been seeping into the minds of many ignorant and gullible Turks, through the "free hand" he has apparently been given in some Turkish publications. What needs to be done by genuine Turkish scholars (since the non-Turkish variety have been frightened away by pro-Armenian terror tactics) is not just to perform "genocide" research in a vacuum. What is needed is to pay attention to what the "Taner Akcam/Zoryan Institute" side is saying... since that is the side the world is listening to... and to make an effort to counter their many distortions with the genuine facts. (And the writings need to be in English.) The scales are vastly uneven at present, because there seem to be few scholars in Turkey paying serious attention to this matter, and fewer who are doing their jobs attentively and comprehensively.




My intention was to simply "plop" the already-written above material (with slight modifications) into the site, as I didn't have the time to get into this particular Akcam Humdrum in more detail. I took a second look at what he had written, and it is truly maddening what this appropriately nicknamed "village idiot" of a propagandist seeks to get away with.

Referring to Ayse Hur's article (a writer whom he saluted, and wrote that she "think[s] very seriously about this issue," which sounds like she might be sympathetic with the pro-genocide line of thinking), Akcam stated, "too many subjects, familiar as being the Turkish official thesis, were offered as information, which are such tall stories that they have no relation whatsoever with the truth."

His mission: to convince his reader that the sinister Turkish government has a stranglehold on the way every Turk thinks, as if Turkey were a closed society, controlling all information, and thoroughly brainwashing all of its citizens. I don't think the average Turk, like the average human being of any open society, would have that much respect and unwavering support for everything the government says... a good example of which is Taner Akcam himself, a product of that society, and as anti-Turkey as they come. The only thing a person would have respect for is the truth. And we determine the truth by looking at sources without conflict-of-interest... like Kamuran Gurun's book, "The Armenian File," supported on the whole by sources that would be considered pro-Armenian. (And internal Ottoman reports which were never meant to be publicized.) If this genuine truth happens to be what this government in particular follows, what came first? The truth, or the "official thesis"?

Akcam goes on to write statements such as, "...the Turkish viewpoint continuously create(s) tall stories and lies," and "we need to clearly distinguish the tall stories and lies from the true information." He even goes all out stating, "These are simply lies, intentionally created by a lie-machine," making no bones about it, with no attempt to practice even the minimal diplomacy. Anything that runs contrary to Akcam's bread and butter must be designated as "lies." This betrays a lack of confidence in his own case, like repeating the word "genocide" 64 times. Keep saying "liar, liar, pants on fire" often enough, and the hope is that the casual observer in the audience (the type comprising the majority) will take the charge at face value.

And look at the person who is "qualified" to call another a liar... a man with such a shady background as Taner Akcam, the eternal truth-teller!

Let's catch Akcam with his pants down. Here is what he writes about the files Gurun based this information on: "[T]he information contained in those files is the exact opposite of what Gürün claims."

The "exact opposite." Got that? Now let's turn to pages 212-213 in "The Armenian File" to see precisely what Gurun wrote.

Gurun provides a series of actual telegrams intended to show the government's wish to safeguard Armenian lives and properties, among other matters. He wrote:

These telegrams are sufficient to determine the reasons behind the relocation decision, its extent and implementation. As can be seen, the Government particularly emphasized the protection of life and property, and continually gave instructions for necessary measures to be taken.

Individuals who did not comply with these instructions, and those who were guilty, were arrested and sent for trial. A special investigative council was formed at the Ministry of War to examine such irregularities, and this council performed its duty until the beginning of 1918, when its duty was over. Those who were found guilty were sent to the martial law courts. The number of these individuals was as follows.

(Breakdown of guilty individuals from fifteen different provinces and sanjaks. 648 from Sivas, 213 from Elaziz, etcetera.)

The total is 1,397. They were given various sentences including execution.

Now Akcam claims these files... and how he came to read these files is not explained (he does not appear to have visited the archives, and his famed knowledge of Ottoman Turkish appears to be another "tall story")... does not provide evidence of trials and executions. Okay, then, what were these files referring to? He tells us:

"As for those sued, they were not people who committed crimes against Armenians, but rather those who appropriated the possession of Armenians."

So then even if each of these 1,397 cases pertained only to those who stole from Armenians (which Akcam foolishly classifies as government punishment for plundering loot that should have gone to the government; even when Turks do right, unethical "village idiots" will still try to make the Turks out to be guilty), that is still very much in line with what Gurun wrote, and in no way, shape or form could be termed "the exact opposite."

Shame. Shame on Taner Akcam.



 Further reading:

"From Terrorism to Armenian Propagandist: The Taner Akcam Story" 







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