Report of a work by Ara Sarafian
Issue 10, Spring 2012
G P N S T O R Y
The Gomidas Institute sells the report as a book but also offers a free download which GPN is proud to present here. Please click here for the download.
In 2011 the Gomidas Institute in London published Talaat Pasha’s Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1917. Ara Sarafian: Editor and introduction.
Talaat Pasha’s Report on the Armenian Genocide is the closest official Ottoman view we have of the Armenian Genocide, Sarafian said. The report was undoubtedly prepared for Talaat Pasha and meant for his private use. It was not meant for publication and probably only survived because Talaat was assassinated in 1921 and his widow gave the report to a Turkish historian [Bardakchi] who eventually published it.”
This work is a serious appraisal of a report found in the possession of Talaat Pasha, the Ottoman Minister of Interior responsible for the Armenian Genocide of 1915. It concludes that the report was a confidential account of the Armenian Genocide based on Ottoman records. It presents Talaat’s data in detail and includes additional materials such as two illustrative color maps and appendixes.
British-Armenian journalist and director of the London-based Gomidas Institute, Ara Sarafian travelled to Istanbul to launch his book. During a joint press conference with other writers, Sarafian responded to attacks by Turkish writers about the book.
The history of the spectacular documentation is that the documents were given to a Mr. Bardakci (pronounced bard-AK-chuh) by Mr. Talaat’s widow, Hayriye, before she died in 1983, include lists of population figures. Before 1915, 1,256,000 Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire, according to the documents. The number plunged to 284,157 two years later, Bardakci said.
Bardakci published the documents in 2008 in a book, The Remaining Documents of Talaat Pasha. Bardakci has become, rather unwillingly, part of this ferment. The book is a collection of documents and records that once belonged to Mehmed Talat, known as Talaat Pasha, the primary architect of the Armenian deportations.
Bardakci says the killings were “not a Nazi policy or a Holocaust.” “These were very dark times. It was a very difficult decision. But deportation was the outcome of some very bloody events. It was necessary for the government to deport the Armenian population.”
A New York Times article comments on Bardakci’s statement: “This argument is rejected by most scholars, who believe that the small number of Armenian rebels were not a serious threat to the Ottoman Empire, and that the policy was more the product of the perception that the Armenians, non-Muslims and therefore considered untrustworthy, were a problem population.”
Hilmar Kaiser, a historian and expert on the Armenian Genocide, said the records published in the book were conclusive proof from the Ottoman authority itself that it had pursued a calculated policy to eliminate the Armenians. “You have suddenly on one page confirmation of the numbers,” he said. “It was like someone hit you over the head with a club.” Mr. Kaiser said the before and after figures amounted to “a death record.” “There is no other way of viewing this document,” he said. “You can’t just hide a million people.”
In Issue 9 of GPN, we had the privilege of republishing a little-known book review from 50 years ago. This following memory of Talaat Pasha is reported by Raphael Lemkin, the legendary father of the U.N. Convention on Genocide and the originator of the word genocide:
The US ambassador in Turkey, Henry Morgenthau did a yeoman’s job in attempting to save the Armenians. He got nowhere, however, with the Minister of Interior, Taalat Pasha. In his own memoirs the former American ambassador relates that Taalat Pasha told him that insurance policies were found on some Armenian corpses which were taken out on some insurance companies in Hartford, Connecticut. Since these were the insurance policies belonging to Turkish citizens, Taalat Pasha reasoned, the American Ambassador should help to get the money from the insurance companies for the Turkish government. The ambassador was incensed at this request and of course refused.
The California Courier reported that “Haber Turk writer Murat Bardakchi, who published the Talaat Pasha diaries in 2008, wrote in his column that Sarafian and members of the Armenian Diaspora stole his book. Sarafian responded that, of course, it was very important to publish the Talaat Pasha’s Black Book but Bardakci analyzed the report incorrectly which is understandable considering Turkey’s offical stance on the Genocide.
“Sarafian added, ‘Nevertheless, we have to express much gratitude to Murat Bardakci because he had the courage to publish this book, which in itself rejects the Turkish version of the events of 1915.’
In describing the book, Sarafian writes: “Recent documents released in Turkish archives, combined with surviving documents from Talaat Pasha’s private papers confirm that Talaat was indeed the architect of the Armenian Genocide. There is a clear record that he ordered and supervised the general deportation of Ottoman Armenians in 1915-16, and that he followed the fate of such deportees from close quarters. Talaat was sent updates regarding Armenians at different stages of deportation, as well as information about the fate of others who were subjected to special treatment. Ottoman records in Turkish archives, as well as Talaat’s 1917 report, show that less than 100,000 Armenians survived in the so-called resettlement zone for Armenians… According to Talaat’s figures 1,150,000 Armenians disappeared in the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1917.”
In an interview of Sarafian, the British-Armenian editor Ara Sarafian was asked:
Mediamax: “What do you hope to achieve with your study on Talaat Pasha’s report of 1917?
Sarafian replied: I tried to evaluate the significance of Talaat Pasha’s historical document. Once I was able to do that, I decided to present his data as the official view of the Armenian Genocide according to Ottoman records. I also configured the data – as far as possible – to show how different Ottoman Armenian communities fared during this period. I did not try to analyze the figures much further. That can be done over time.
Do you fear any unfair treatment by Turkish state historians yourself?, Mediamax asked further.
“No,” replied Sarafian. Anyone who criticizes the official Turkish thesis on the Armenian Genocide should be prepared for a reaction. This is part of the process. Next month the Gomidas Institute will release a Turkish translation of my work and I still hope that will lead to a sensible discussion.”
The following is the text of a release by the Gomidas Institute:
“Recent documents released in Turkish archives, combined with surviving documents from Talaat’s Pasha’s private papers, confirm that Talaat was indeed the architect of the Armenian Genocide. There is a clear record that he ordered and supervised the general deportation of Ottoman Armenians in 1915-16, and that he followed the fate of such deportees from close quarters. Talaat was sent updates regarding Armenians at different stages of deportations, as well as information about the fate of others who were subjected to special treatment.
“Although a great deal of Ottoman records still remain unavailable in Turkish archives, the available records show that the Ottoman deportation thesis was a smokescreen for the annihilation of Armenians. Ottoman records in Turkish archives, as well as Talaat’s 1917 report, show that less than 100,000 Armenians survived in the so-called resettlement zone for Armenians. According to Talaat’s report on the Armenian Genocide, most Armenians in the Ottoman Empire had disappeared between 1915 and 1917, or they were dispersed in different provinces of the Ottoman Empire for assimilation. The forced assimilation of hundreds of thousands of Armenians was indicative of the power, control and purpose of the Ottoman state.
“Talaat Pasha’s Report on the Armenian Genocide is the closest official Ottoman view we have of the Armenian Genocide. The report was undoubtedly prepared for Talaat Pasha and meant for his private use. It was not meant for publication and probably only survived because Talaat was assassinated in 1921 and his widow gave the report to a Turkish historian who eventually published it.
“According to Talaat’s figures 1,150,000 Armenians disappeared in the Ottoman Empire between 1915-1917. This number includes well over 100,000 Armenians who fled from the Ottoman Empire in 1915 (and died in large numbers from hunger, exposure and disease), but it does not include tens of thousands of Armenian women and children who were absorbed into Muslim families or placed into state orphanages for assimilation.
“In this publication of Talaat’s report on the Armenian Genocide, historian Ara Sarafian discusses the 1917 report in light of other Ottoman records. He presents Talaat’s statistics in all detail and includes two invaluable color maps demonstrating the content of the report, as well as additional Ottoman documents related to the Armenian Genocide. Sarafian presents Talaat’s breakdown of the number of Armenians, their native provinces, and their whereabouts in the Ottoman Empire in 1917.
See Murat Bardakçý, Talat Paþa’nýn Evrak-ý Metrukesi : Sadrazam Talat Paþa’nýn özel arþivinde bulunan Ermeni tehciri konusundaki belgeler ve hususi yazýþmalar [The Remaining Documents of Talaat Pasha: Documents and Important Correspondence Found in the Private Archives of Sadrazam Talaat Pasha about the Armenian Deportations], Istanbul: Everest Yayýnlarý, 2008.
Compiled and introduced by Ara Sarafian. Talaat Pasha’s Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1917.
Mediamax (July 18, 2011). Ara Sarafian: Talaat Pasha’s Report is the official View of the Armenian Genocide according to Ottoman Records. http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/interviews/1771/. Reprinted in theCalifornia Courier, March 12, 2009.
Tavernise, Sabrina (March 9, 2009). Nearly a million genocide victims, covered in a cloak of amnesia. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/09/world/europe/09turkey.html