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The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


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 The following is a commentary by Prof. Norman Stone that appeared in the October 20, 2006 issue of Zaman.



Armenian Question


Norman Stone

“The Armenian ‘genocide’ is an imperialist plot.” So said Dogu Perincek, in Marxist mode, and he chose to say it in Switzerland. Switzerland passed a law threatening prison for anyone ‘denying’ that there had been a genocide of the Ottoman Armenians in 1915, and Mr. Perincek was interrogated by the police.

There have been similar events in other countries and now we have the French parliament passing a law that is harsher than the Swiss one – a year’s prison and a heavy fine. This is a ridiculous and contemptible business – bad history and worse politics. It is also financially very grubby indeed. We all know how the American legal system can work: lawyers will agree to work for nothing, in return for a share of the profits at the end of a court case. Court cases are very expensive and it can simply be easier for banks or firms or hospitals to agree to make a payment without any confession of liability, just because fighting the case would be absurdly expensive, and the outcome – given how the American jury system works – unpredictable. A burglar, crawling over a householder’s glass roof, fell through it, was badly wounded, and took the householder to court: result, a million dollars in damages. Class actions by Armenian Diaspora descendants in California shook down the Deutsche Bank over claims dating back to 1915 and collected 17,000,000 dollars; then they attempted the same with a French insurance company. We can be entirely certain that if Turkey ever ‘recognizes the genocide’ then the financial claims will follow.

But if Turkey refuses to admit it, she is in fact on perfectly good ground. The very first thing to be said is that the business of ‘genocide’ has never been proved. The evidence for it is at best indirect and when the British were in occupation of Istanbul they never found any direct evidence or proof at all. They kept some hundred or so prominent Turks in captivity on Malta, hoping to find some sort of evidence against them, and failed. They asked the Americans if they knew anything and were told, no. The result is that the alleged ‘genocide’ has never been subjected to a properly-constituted court of law. The British released their Turks (meanly refusing to pay for their journeys back home from Malta). There is a counter-claim to the effect that this happened because the Nationalist Turks were holding British officers hostage but the fact is that the Law Officers simply said that they did not have the evidence to try their captives.

israel charny

Israel Charny is President of the International Association
of Genocide Scholars. Is the psychiatrist a historian, or
is he better suited for the art of the smear?

Diaspora Armenians claim that ‘historians’ accept the genocide case. There is some preposterous organization called ‘association of genocide scholars’ which does indeed endorse the Diaspora line, but who are they and what qualifications do they have? Knowing about Rwanda or Bosnia or even Auschwitz does not qualify them to discuss Anatolia in 1915, and the Ottoman specialists are by no means convinced of the ‘genocide’. There is in fact an ‘A’ team of distinguished historians who do not accept the Diaspora line at all. In France, Gilles Veinstein, historian of Salonica and a formidable scholar, reviewed the evidence in a famous article of 1993 in L’Histoire. Back then the Armenian Diaspora were also jumping up and down about something or other, and Veinstein summed up the arguments for and against, in an admirably fair-minded way. The fact is that there is no proof of ‘genocide’, in the sense that no document ever appeared, indicating that the Armenians were to be exterminated. There is forged evidence. In 1920 some documents were handed to the British by a journalist called Andonian. She claimed that he had been given them by an Ottoman official called Naim. The documents have been published as a book (in English and French) and if you take them at face value they are devastating: here is Talaat Pasha as minister of the Interior telling the governors to exterminate the Armenians, not to forget to exterminate the children in orphanages, but to keep it all secret. But the documents are very obviously a forgery – elementary mistakes as regards dates and signatures. At the time, in 1920, the new Armenian Republic was collapsing. Kazim Karabekir was advancing on Kars (which fell almost without resistance) and the Turkish Nationalists were co-operating with Moscow (in effect there was a bargain: Turkey would abandon Azerbaijan and Russia would abandon Anatolian Armenia). The Armenians were desperate to get the British to intervene and save them, by landing troops at Trabzon. However, the British (and still more the French) had had enough of the problems of Asia Minor and were in the main content to settle with the new Turkey. Andonian’s documents belong in that context. The chief Armenian ‘genocidist,’ V. Dadrian, still passionately defends the authenticity of these documents but the attempt does not do much credit to his scholarship: for instance, to the claim that the paper on which these documents were written came from the French school in Aleppo, he answers that there was a paper shortage (leading the Ottoman governor to ask a French headmaster if he could use some of his school-paper? Not very likely). The Naim-Andonian documents have incidentally never been tested in a court. The British refused to use them and a German court subsequently waved them aside. They have since disappeared – not what you would have expected had they been at all that is the sum total of the evidence as to ‘genocide’. Otherwise you are left with what English courts call ‘circumstantial evidence’ – i.e. a witness testifying that another witness said something to someone. Such evidence does not count. In the past three years Armenian historians have apparently been going round archives in two dozen countries to find out what they contain – the Danish archives for instance. What they contain is what we knew already – that an awful lot of Armenians were killed or died in the course of a wartime deportation from many parts of Anatolia. Did the Ottoman government intend to exterminate the race, or was it just a deportation that went horribly wrong?


Prof. Norman Stone

SOURCE OF TRUTH: Dr. Stone; Like a rock.

As to this, the experts are divided. A deportation gone wrong is the verdict of many of the best qualified historians – Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Justin McCarthy, Yusuf Halacoglu. Other historians who know the old script and the background believe that it was a premeditated campaign of extermination, and some of these historians are Turkish (Mete Tuncay and Selim Deringil, unless I am taking their names in vain). There is a Turkish historian, Taner Akcam, whose book, based on the war-crimes trials set up in the early period of the British occupation, is obviously scholarly and who accepts the genocide thesis (though he does stress that the process cannot be compared with what happened in Nazi Germany to the Jews). In view of these divisions among scholars it is simply scandalous that the French or any other parliament should decree what the answer is. But it is worse, because the Armenian Diaspora can be extremely vindictive. For instance, Gilles Veinstein, as a reward for his quite dispassionate article, faced a campaign of vilification. He had become a candidate for the College de France, which elects the very best scholars in the country to give seminars. The historians very much welcomed this: he is an extremely serious scholar. But the Armenian Diaspora organized a campaign against him, especially among the mathematicians for some reason. One of them, a Professor Thom, was told that, on the whole, the French historians supported Veinstein and did not like the genocide thesis. His answer: ‘they are all Ottomanists,’ as if that somehow disqualified them. The fact is that the Armenian Diaspora have never taken this affair to a proper court of law. Instead, they try to silence men such as Veinstein. There was an extraordinary episode in American publishing two years ago. A very well-known historian, Gu[e]nther Lewy, who was a professor at the University of Massachusetts and author of several books still in print on modern German history, wrote a book on the Armenian massacres on the basis of German documents. The book is valuable because it shows how Dadrian twisted the German evidence. He offered it to his usual publisher, Oxford University Press (New York branch). A report was commissioned from one Papazian – not exactly a celebrity – who identified what he claimed were tremendous inaccuracies: they turn out either not to be inaccuracies, or just little slips of the kind anyone might make. On that basis Lewy’s manuscript was refused on the grounds that he had taken up ‘Turkish denialist discourse’. He found another publisher, the University of Utah Press. And lo and behold the senior Armenian historian in the USA, Richard Hovannisian (University of California) wrote in protest to the President of that University to complain about the publication. Be it said, incidentally, that the last two volumes of Hovannisian’s History of Independent Armenia are a well-written and fair-minded account – in some ways, even a classic of historical writing (the earlier two volumes are not of the same class).

Now, there is something very wrong here. If you believe that you are right, and then you will let evidence speak for itself, and if you face opposition you will simply expect to win the argument one way or the other. Attempts to silence opposition, to boycott lectures by, say, Justin McCarthy, to bully or manipulate foreign politicians – all of that surely argues that the Armenians themselves know their case is very far from being overwhelming. In any case it does nothing whatsoever for Armenia. If you go to eastern Turkey and Kars, look across the border at Armenia. It is very poor, and will continue so if there is no commerce with Turkey. The only obvious industry is the issue of visas for Moscow or the USSR (or for that matter Turkey, where up to 100,000 ex-Soviet Armenians live). The place obviously lives off Diaspora money (and the spread of American fast-food places now means curiously enough that the inhabitants are becoming obese in the manner of some Americans). In Soviet times Armenia had a population approaching three million. Then came independence and the war over Karabagh. The population dwindles and declines every year and is now not much above 1,500,000 – of all absurdities, in other words, independence has caused the Armenians to lose twice as many as vanished in the supposed ‘genocide’ of 1915. There is in other words a sickness at the heart of this whole frankly preposterous affair.

What should Turkey do? If the French law does pass then Turks must be prepared to act, otherwise they risk being landed with enormous bills for compensation. It will take organization. I would volunteer, myself, to provoke some trouble in France: it would be very easy indeed for me to give a public lecture and just to point out what is wrong about the whole thesis of the ‘Armenian genocide’ – I might even just read out Veinstein’s article (or another important one by the then leading German general, Bronsart von Schellendorf). The French government probably would be mad enough to put me in prison for a while (this was done to a well-respected French historian of slavery, whose crime had been to point out that many Africans were involved in the slave trade and that some slaves volunteered for transportation because it saved them from cannibalism). But someone has to make a stand against the ridiculous misuse of parliamentary power and the instructing of historians what they must say about an event nearly a century old in a country two thousand kilometers away with a language that very few people can now read.


See Also by Professor Stone on TAT:

The Fairness of Ottoman Rule

Reviewing Books by Lewy and Bloxham

Going Solo Against Balakian, Dadrian and Co.

"West" Accounts


Armenian Views


Turks in Movies
Turks in TV


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.