In a March 18, 2005 paper, Dr. Mete Soytürk wrote
that a name caught his attention in pg. 230 of Prof. Justin McCarthy's "Death
and Exile," that of Austrian newspaperman Dr. Stephan Eshnanie.
I must say, when I ran into this name, I had wondered about this Austrian
myself. (Mentioned as well in McCarthy's “The Destruction of Ottoman Erzurum by Armenians,” having
written the following report: "All the villages from Trabzon to
Erzincan and from Erzincan to Erzurum are destroyed. Corpses of Turks brutally
and cruelly slain are everywhere. I am now in Erzurum, and what I see is
terrible. Almost the whole city is destroyed. The smell of corpses still fills
the air.") It's rare to have a Western observer from the period to
have conquered his prejudices and to have seen the truth, and I wanted to
learn more about him and his writings. But who was he?
Kudos to Dr. Soytürk for having conducted the necessary research and for
finding out. Having lived for years in Germany, Dr. Soytürk became aware that
the name "Eshnanie" did not have Germanic roots. He went to the
source provided in the book, and dug up the 23.05.1918 report written by the
Austrian, this time under a byline that was spelled with a slight difference.
Dr. Soytürk then investigated the German and Austrian journalists covering
WWI, and one thing led to another. Reading the memoirs of Ahmet Emin Yalman in
a 1917 series of the Turkish newspaper "Vakit," Dr. Soytürk
learned the Austrian had a connection with "Vakit." (As well
as the "Neues Wiener Tageblatt" in Vienna, "Pester
Lloyd" in Budapest, the "Lokalanzeiger" in
Berlin, and the "Algemeen Handelsblad" in Amsterdam.) But his
real name turned out to be Dr. Stefan Steiner!
This rang a big bell with me, because another pair of
mystery Westerners I have had my eye on are the German writer Dr. Weiss and
the Austrian Dr. Stein, with whom Ahmet Refik recorded the cruelties of the Armenians in April-May of
1918. No doubt the "Dr. Stein" in question here is none other than
the Stefan (or Stephan) Steiner, whom Dr. Soytürk had uncovered.
Mete Soyturk; a medical doc
In fact, Dr. Soytürk brings up Refik, who mentions that German ex-consul
Anders had accompanied him on these investigations. Another lead brought up a
book by Kazim Karabekir having to do with Armenians, "Armenian Cruelties
from Erzincan to Erivan, 1917-1920" ("1917-1920 arası
Erzincan'dan Erivan'a Ermeni Mezalimi," 2000, İstanbul); here
there is a photograph where Refik is observing wells filled with the bodies of
Muslims, and beside him are the "foreign newspapermen," "Doktor
Vays, Doktor Stayn (Avusturyalı)." These names were "Turkified,"
but they were obviously the aforementioned Weiss and Stein.
Dr. Soytürk also recalled having read a 1921 book entitled "Armenische
Lügengewebe," uncovering the lies of Armenian propaganda, and here
is where a Dutch newspaper account was noted, dated May 25, 1920. Dr. Soytürk
got a hold of the article, and noticed that the writer's name was not
revealed, but that his identity was obvious: it was the elusive Dr. Stephan
In this very revealing article the Austrian candidly admits his ingrained
prejudices, but has the honor to "revise" his views, once he comes
face to face with uncomfortable truths. The article appeared in Algemeen Handelsblad, and the
Dutch version may be read on this very page if you click here.
The photo is from Karabekir's "Armenian
Cruelties" book (p. 190); the arrows
are Holdwater's, indicating the two men in Western garb. One is "Dr. Weiss
the other "Doctor Stein (Austrian)." Ahmet Refik must be the man in the
conversing with the one indicated by arrow at left. They are observing wells filled
with Muslim bodies. Thanks to Dr. Soyturk for providing the photo.
"I am of the opinion that it is in the interest of truth
The Turkish-Armenian Question
25.05.1920 - Tuesday
From one of our colleagues in the Balkans, we received the following interesting
letter, the contents of which gives a different view on the Armenian question from
the customary one in Western Europe. We have the greatest confidence in the
objectivity of this colleague. The way in which he relates his story contains the
proof that he is deserving of this trust, and therefore we are printing his
correspondence unchanged and without comment.
Just as during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid abhorrent reports of mass
slaughtering of the Armenians have been coming in again from Cilicia, through which
the nerves of the already relatively unnerved world again are being shaken. In
absolutely no way is it my intention to justify slaughter, no matter by whom it is
performed, and to try and protect the most heinous of all murders, [that is] murder
committed on religious grounds. But there are two sides to every truth and when the
Armenian media campaign’s intention is to exploit the Armenian bloodbath in
Cilicia against the Turks in the sense that she thus is trying to realize the
complete destruction of Turkey by the Entente, then I am of the opinion that it is
in the interest of truth to investigate whether only the Turkish animalism is to
blame for these mass murders.
I believe that I have some right to state this since, during the war, I had the
opportunity to observe Turkey, in a manner of speaking, in her negligee and of all
places there where the Armenian and the Turkish clans going at each other with the
bitterest of hatreds.
In the spring of the memorable year 1918, when as a result of the Russian defeat,
Turkey went on the offensive again and the flag of the Prophet waved victoriously in
foreign lands, which had not happened since the peace of Kücük Kaynarca, I was at
the Armenian/Russian frontier and so witnessed a part of the Turkish advance in the
area that was predominantly inhabited by Armenians.
Anybody who knows what war is about shall have to admit that there is no better
opportunity for getting to know a country and a people than during a war, where all
human rise to the surface, and where the thin layer of culture and pretense
disappears before the higher necessity of waging war. At the time I happened to find
myself as the only European in this critical environment and have been possibly the
only European witness of the manner in which the events occurred during the Turkish
advance into Russian-Armenia and how these two people related to one another.
later the Greek- and the Levantine Europeans still managed to relate to me in every
detail the indescribable scenes of horror... God preserve every one of us for this
Before beginning my journey, I was already a sympathizer of the Armenians. During my stay
in Constantinople, in the years 1916/17 I had already heard plenty of revolting details on
the Armenian mass murders in Turkish Armenia and the Europeans, who were more or less well
informed about the events in Armenia, therefore attributed blame to the Turks alone and
they regarded the Armenians as the innocent victims of Turkish religious hatred and of the
bestial passions of a barbaric population.
My relationship with the Turks was good enough to also discuss with them this difficult
issue that nearly no European dared to bring up. The Turkish attitude strengthened my
conviction that the Armenian people were innocent and the Turks were to blame for
everything. Because again and again, with a nod of dismissal, each Turk whom I had asked
for information in regards to the pros and cons of the Armenian issue, answered: “Yes,
all is true what people say about us. We killed a million Armenians; it was a terrible
bloodbath, but we were justified in doing so and are only accountable to ourselves for
that.” I was not successful in finding out further details of the reasons for these
terrible acts. And so I could only arrive at the conclusion … In the released passions
of the war, the religious fanaticism towards the Christians were let loose wherever there
was opportunity. And that happened in the highlands of Armenia, where, cut off from the
entire world, the Armenians were entirely in the hands of the Turks.
In the spring of 1918 I arrived in Trabzon [Trebizond] from where, as is known, runs the
only passable road to the interior of Upper Armenia.
In 1915 Trabzon itself was witness to an Armenian bloodbath and three years later the
Greek- and the Levantine Europeans still managed to relate to me in every detail the
indescribable scenes of horror that occurred within the ancient city walls of Trabzon in
1915. How the streets of Trabzon ran red with the blood of Armenians! How the Armenian
quarters went up in smoke and flames and that for days and weeks after the bloodbath the
bodies of children continued to wash up against the ancient Constantine Dam in the harbor
of Platana. I saw ruined stretches [of the city] and people told me that these had once
been the quarters where the Armenians had lived. People showed me Christian Churches.
These were the Churches of the Armenians. People raked over dung heaps and bones and
decomposed bodies appeared. These are the bodies of Armenians, people told me.
These are such awful realizations that one is never able to forget them and they evoke the
same wish with everyone: God preserve every one of us for this barbarity and for the
religious hatred of the Mohammedans!
"...it is not
the entire truth that you have seen and heard."
But a Prior of the Franciscan monks, a simple old priest, who undoubtedly stood on
the side of the Christians, shook his head, when I started to curse the Turks. “You
are mistaken”, he said, “the Turks are not the only ones to blame. Yes, someone
who comes from Europe and who wishes to judge Asia with a European understanding
will [undoubtedly] condemn the crime of the extermination of this people. But it is
not the entire truth that you have seen and heard. You ought to look upon these
things through Asian eyes and have understanding for the fact that here two peoples
have been going to battle with a hatred and bitterness that are centuries old. One
has two mentalities here, the Turkish and the Armenian and both mentalities were
saying that one of them had to go down. Everything was arraigned against them and
they were made to suffer defeat. But are you convinced that the Armenians, under the
same circumstances, would not have done or in fact did exactly the same!? I have my
reports from missions, sent forth by my order in Beyazit, Van, Erzurum, Erzincan;
from the reports I know that in 1915 when the war with Russia started, it was the
Armenians who, behind the Turkish army, were fanning the revolution and who were
depopulating Turkish villages and settlements and razed them to the ground. The
subsequent events that happened in Turkey afterwards were only the consequences of
this first hostile attitude of the Armenians. I admit that horrible things have
happened and that never before so much blood was spilt. But the Armenians were not
[exactly] innocent in how this bloodbath came about. And when the Turks went further
than they had to, then the blame for that does not solely lie with the Turks, but
with the mentality of Asia, where the hatred for a people runs deeper than with the
European peoples and where war assumes beastly shapes.” Just look at Trabzon, for
instance. You have seen the burned down Armenian quarters, but did you also see the
burned down Turkish quarters? Did you happen to pay attention to the graves of the
Turkish population that were still fresh? No! You can see that when the Armenians
found themselves in the same position as the Turks, when they advanced victoriously
under the protection of the Russian army, the same spectacle occurred as in the year
of 1915, but that time it was the Turks who got it in the neck. Wherever the
Armenians found a Turk he was mercilessly hacked down, wherever they saw a Turkish
Mosque it was plundered and set on fire. Turkish quarters went up in smoke and
flames just like the Armenian quarters. You are presently about to travel round the
country and you will still be able to follow in the footsteps of war: Bayburt,
Erzincan, Erzurum, and Kars. You will still see smoldering heaps of rubble; you will
still smell blood and corpses, but it so happens that these were Turkish corpses.”
The Franciscan Father only told the truth. For months I traveled all across Armenia
and Kurdistan and I found confirmation of what people had been telling me. After the
withdrawal of the Russian army, which followed after the Russian peace, the troops
of the so-called Armenian army, took over the military operations in the occupied
Turkish areas. During the Russian occupation the Russians protected the lives and
properties of the Turks. What happened after the withdrawal of the Russians is heart
rendering. The smallest Turkish settlements were killed down to the last man by the
gangs of the Generals Antranik and Murad and churches were destroyed down to the
very last stone.
Back then the Armenian expectations were still in high spirits. Their plans were far
reaching, and encompassed the entire Turkish state. And they were hoping that they
could settle the score with the old hereditary enemy, down to the last man, the last
woman, the last child. I have seen ruins in Erzincan where hundreds of bodies of
strangled Turks lay amidst the rubble. I have had light shone down wells that were
full of bodies. I have seen with my own eyes that graves were opened in which the
bodies of men and women were thrown haphazardly across one another, hundreds of
them. Who had done this? The victorious Armenians.
one then say that the Armenians were not to blame?"
These spectacles accompanied me on the distant and long road through Upper-Armenia,
Kurdistan right up into Russian-Armenia. And is it a wonder that the Turks, when
they in their turn became the victors, exacted revenge, repaid evil with evil? I
have to admit that during the Turkish advance to Russian-Armenia the murdering was
continued by the Turks. On the other side of the border of the Sarikamish the
Armenian settlements, of which there were many, were depopulated with the aid of
fire and iron. The most bitter of racial hatred was raging against the former
victors, presently those who were conquered, in a bestial form, a wild country
particular to Asia. Our European brains fail to comprehend this unrelenting hatred
that sets people against people whipping them into a frenzy in which the worst
atrocities are committed. But we should not forget that Upper-Armenia is a country
the civilization of which can be compared to the primitive culture of the European
peoples. The peoples there do not form nations, but rather tribes . And just like in
ancient times, the meeting of two tribes meant the destruction of one of them, thus
in the mountains around Great Ararat, people’s minds are still not directed
towards coexistence, but rather towards destruction. In the bare mountains of
Upper-Armenia there exists no compromise, only a fight to the death. The victor will
live, the defeated can only die.
During my stay in Alexandropol (Gümrü) the following happened, which casts a good
light on the mentality of the people there. From the direction of the group of
mountains, the Alagöz, people one day heard the thunder of cannons being fired. The
Armenian population, which lived in fear behind the Turkish front line, explained
this rumble of cannons as that the English were advancing against the Turks. And
they were under the conviction that within several hours the Turks would be beaten.
Immediately there arose a rebellion behind the Turkish front line, and the weak
Turkish posts in the Armenian villages were being terrorized and abused in a most
refined way. But the English did not come. A detachment of Caucasian-Armenians had
tried to break through the thin Turkish front. Hence the reason for the rumbling
cannons. And when the fight was over only a couple of hours later there followed the
revenge. The villages, in which Turkish soldiers had been murdered, were destroyed.
Can one then say that the Armenians were not to blame?
|"Cursed are they who befriend Turks."
In Alexandropol itself, a pure Armenian city, where, despite the Turkish occupation, the
Armenians quietly continued to do their work, I often came in contact with leading
Armenian figures. They were continually living under a terrible fear that one day due to
an ill-considered act of Armenian gangs the Turks would take revenge and that they would
then be among the first to bear this revenge. A number of the Armenian people, the best
part, were in favor of a peaceful coexistence with the Turks. For it so happened that they
were more or less compelled to live together. And in that case only tolerance could put a
stop to the murdering. But the greater number of the people and the gangs, the so-called
soldiers, did not wish to know of peace. Their slogan was: “Them or us, one will have to
The men, who preached tolerance and reconciliation, were cursed by the greater part of the
Armenian people. People in Armenian circles openly said to me: “At present those Turks
are in control. But soon we will be lord and master again and then we will not suffer a
single Turk that falls into our hands to live. No agreement is possible between us. We
have a score to settle that is centuries old. Our fight is as old as our people. This
fight started on the day on which the Turks entered our lands and it will last until the
day on which they will be brought down. We do not wish to have reconciliation. Cursed are
they who befriend Turks.”
Such was the mood in a time in which the Armenians had no hope ever to be liberated from
the Turks. It looked as if the victorious crescent would be making the whole of
Russian-Armenia her own.
With this in mind one can judge what happened when the Turks were forced to withdraw and
the Turkish settlements once again fell into the hands of the Armenians.
A comparison is only possible between civilized peoples. With the peoples of the wildest
[part of] Asia there exists only hatred and destruction. “The Turks are guilty. They
have murdered [people].” However, are the Armenians less guilty, who also murdered as
soon as they had the power to do so?
One can only judge Asia with Asian eyes.
(Thanks to Sukru Aya and also to Johan B.)
"But there are
two sides to every truth" —Steiner
Ahh, the Europeans. How they love to present themselves as
civilized superiors. Wasn't it an Austrian corporal who rained massive carnage and
destruction upon the world in recent world history?
Before we commend the remarkable testimony that you have read, let's put our cards
on the table. "Kill or be killed" is a universal concept. Dr.
Steiner's nation has had the good fortune to never historically experience the fate
of extinction, as the Ottoman Empire faced during and in the aftermath of World War
I. (With the implementation of the Sèvres Treaty and murderous Allied-implanted
Greeks in the west and murderous Allied-implanted Armenians in the east, there would
have been no Turkey today, if not for Ataturk.) But you can bet if some hateful
nation had in mind to wipe Austria and Austrians off the face of the earth, all of
that superior notion of European civility would vanish, and the ugly, primitive
reality of "tribalism" would surface in most Austrians' hearts. (We have
seen other evidence of Austrians' acceptance of "tribal favoritism" when
Hitler peacefully occupied Austria; a lot of Austrians loved the idea of being part
of the Aryan Brotherhood.)
Another notion to be corrected is the Franciscan monk's contention that "two
peoples have been going to battle with a hatred and bitterness that are centuries
old." The Turks felt no hatred and bitterness toward the Armenians at all
(quite the contrary; for centuries, the Armenians were regarded in a brotherly way
as the "Loyal Millet"), and even Armenians did not develop their hatred
until the later centuries. As these developments grew out of control, and
particularly after the coming of the Dashnaks and Hunchaks, it was the Armenians
guided by hatred. Not the Turks. The Turks even made sure not to poison the minds of
their youth by excluding (in Turkish classrooms) the horrific crimes of Armenians
and Greeks perpetrated against Turks/Muslims. Turkish parents also censored
themselves, in the noble goal of letting bygones be bygones. The Turks stress
brotherhood and love. Too many Armenians and Greeks thrive on the hatred that
has been injected into their hearts, from parents, churches and schools.
(Probably the priest was referring not to Turks, but to the Kurdish tribes, where an
"ages"-old enmity between Kurds and Armenians existed.)
That is not to say Turks are incapable of hatred; despite what the omnipresent and
hateful pro-Armenian propaganda tells us, Turks are actually human beings, and
all humans are capable of feeling both love and hate. In point of fact, when
we speak of Armenian massacres committed by Turks, the brunt occurred not during the
relocation (or what pro-Armenians refer to as "genocide," where the
killers were usually Kurds and Arabs) process (where most Armenians died of
non-violent reasons), but in eastern Anatolia during the changing tides of war. Dr.
Steiner hits it on the head:
"...[W]hen the war with Russia started, it was the Armenians who, behind the
Turkish army, were fanning the revolution and who were depopulating Turkish villages
and settlements and razed them to the ground. The subsequent events that happened in
Turkey afterwards were only the consequences of this first hostile attitude of the
In other words, the Armenians fired
the first shot, as they almost always have done in Turkish-Armenian conflicts.
And this wasn't mere killing; based on accounts of their own allies, the Armenians
engaged in the most sadistic
deviltries. (The Armenian-sympathizing Raphael de Nogales wrote: "[T]he Armenians felt excessive
pleasure at having killed such unfortunate people.") Van resident Mehmet
Resit, for example ("p. 105")
had only three survivors from his family of twenty-three. So what would be the
reaction of any people, even those of "civilized" Europeans, when their
loved ones are ruthlessly murdered and mutilated? The human reaction is not a pretty
one, but most would think thoughts of revenge. ("Of course they were also
killed; were we to look in their mouths while they were killing us? But this
happened after they revolted." Read similar comments by Van Turks on
And that is how Dr. Steiner sized it up above: "Is it a wonder that the
Turks, when they in their turn became the victors, exacted revenge, repaid evil with
evil?" In other words, as usual, crimes committed by Turks were a REACTION
to Armenian ACTION. (However, let's add a caveat: ones who performed violent acts of
vengeance generally were the ones whose families had been murdered. The Turks were,
by and large, forgiving. Otherwise, 644,900
Armenians could not have remained in what was left of the Ottoman Empire by 1921 [as
attested to by the Patriarch himself], and of those who had emigrated, no Armenian
would have been allowed to
return, as the Gumru and Lausanne Treaties stipulated. Furthermore, as we may
learn from Turk-hostile Westerners who were on the spot — such as Near East Relief
representatives in Kars 1920 — we
know Turkish soldiers behaved professionally and did not engage in massacres.)
And we must thank Dr. Steiner for summing up, in a nutshell, how
his feelings reflected those of lazy-minded and prejudiced Westerners, then and now:
"... I was already a sympathizer of the Armenians... I had already heard
plenty of revolting details on the Armenian mass murders in Turkish Armenia and the
Europeans... attributed blame to the Turks alone and they regarded the Armenians as
the innocent victims of Turkish religious hatred and of the bestial passions of a
What comes to mind is Vahakn Dadrian's contention: "It is
inconceivable that a military and political ally, during the war, would try, would
venture to discredit another ally. It is inconceivable." Now we can evaluate this propagandistic defense for the hot air
that it is. The fact that the Germans and the Austrians reluctantly allied
themselves with the Ottomans in no way erased their centuries-old prejudices of the
"Terrible Turk." Most Germans and Austrians, as we can see from Dr.
Steiner's own admission, could not rise above their Christian sympathies and
anti-Turkish bigotry, accepting Armenian and missionary-provided tales at face
(Incidentally, the passage where Dr. Steiner asked Turks to explain the Armenian
situation was most revealing. "With a nod of dismissal, each Turk whom I
had asked for information in regards to the pros and cons of the Armenian issue,
answered: “Yes, all is true what people say about us. We killed a million
Armenians." Turks are perhaps the most incompetent people
in the world, when it comes to defending themselves.)
With the world so mindlessly simpatico with the unholy alliance of racist and
hateful Dashnak Armenians and their unscrupulous "genocide scholar" allies,
hiding behind the "noble cause" of their hypocritically selective
"human rights," one must be grateful to honorable Westerners such as Dr.
Stephan Steiner, who can manage to rise above their prejudices and allow only for
truth to be their determining guide.