Common Myths and The Facts about the Events of 1915

At the turn of the 20th century the Ottoman Empire became a target. Russia, Great Britain and France sought to break it into pieces at the end its 600 years of existence. These external powers enlisted Armenian organisations and their efforts ended in great tragedy.

Ethnic Armenian citizens of the Ottoman Empire were highly trusted. They held great responsibility in the Ottoman administration. The balance of power shifted after weakening of the Ottoman Empire. Russia and the European nations wish to increase their interference in internal Ottoman affairs. Armenians as members of the orthodox Christian world where they were logical allies.

Russians deceived Armenians with a propaganda campaign of an Armenian dream. Armenians took up arms establishing the Hunchak ad Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), also known as Dashanksutyun groups, formed beyond Ottoman Borders.

Hunchak and ARF terrorists infiltrated themselves into Armenian Ottoman society through religious institutions and missionaries, even turning churches and schools into arms depots. Their objective was to elicit a violet Ottoman reaction to an Armenian uprising, and to thus secure a European intervention in the region.

The Armenian uprisings intensified with the eruption of World War 1 in 1915. Taking advantage of the conflict, the Armenians went even further and betrayed the Turkish army. When the war ended in 1918 the Ottomans lost.

In all the Armenian uprisings which endure through World War 1 until 1918, millions of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Turkish Kurdish and Armenian Ottoman citizens were killed.

In the war’s aftermath the Treaty of Lausanne was signed with the newly reformed Republic of Turkey. The Armenians were given no promise of a nation, the dream ended with the Treaty of Lausanne. Russia and Europe were finished with the Armenians who had failed to serve their interests.

The Armenians withdrew to a region within Soviet Russia and saw the error of their ways. The first Prime Minister of Armenia, Hovhannes Katchaznouni admitted at the ARF Party convention in Bucharest that Russians had deceived Armenians. Armenian had erred. Armenia only achieved independence in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

In this paper you will find 8 highly quoted myths and facts about tragic events of 1915-16.

  • Myth 1 : Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit ordered to exterminate 200,000 Armenians in 1890s.

    FACT : There is no such order what-so-ever. When Armenian gangs like Armenian Revolutionary Federation, started slaughtering Kurdish villagers, an Ottoman Army regiment was sent to put down the revolt. Civilians caught up in the conflict. An Ottoman commission of inquiry was formed after the events found only 300 (three hundred) Armenian civilians had died as a result of these uprisings. The British Consul attending as an observer , H. S. Shipley demurred but still put the figure at no higher than 900 (nine hundred).
    On 28 March 1894 the British Ambassador in Istanbul, Currie reported to the Foreign Office:

    “The aim of the Armenian revolutionaries is to stir disturbances, to get the Ottomans to react to violence, and thus get the foreign Powers to intervene.”

  • Myth 2 : The so-called “Armenian Genocide” is the first genocide of 20th Century.

    FACT: This claim was made in the Australian Parliament House by various members of the Parliament. First of all, the Armenian tragedy has never been officially classified as a “genocide” by a competent court, a necessity according to UN Genocide Convention, but even then, the first genocide of the 20th century was perpetrated by the German army towards the African blacks in Herero and Namaqua (modern day Namibia) from 1904 till 1907, a genocide recognised by the German government. Moreover, the fate of the Ottoman Muslim populations in the Balkans in 1912 – 1913 and during Balkan Wars is also considered to be a “genocide” by Rafael Lemkin, perpetrated by Bulgarians and Greeks. Not counting and ignoring the black lives and/or the Muslim lives and labelling a tragedy happened in 1915 as the “first genocide of 20th century” is simply wrong and misleading.

  • Myth 3 : Hitler said “Who now remembers the annihilation of the Armenians” as an encouragement to exterminate Jews, gypsies and homosexuals before WW2.

    FACT : This statement in completely false. There is no proof that Adolf Hitler ever made such a statement. The only paper that the quote exists was a so-called draft text of Hitler’s Obersalzberg Speech on August 22nd, 1939, handed to a British journalist one week before Hitler’s invasion of Poland probably by the German resistance to discredit Hitler in the eyes of his generals and his allies.

    The three page text was most probably typed by a non-German typewriter as it does not have some very commonly used German characters, like ß was presented to the Nuremberg tribunal and was deemed to be a forgery and dismissed from the evidence. Because first – the source of the paper was unknown, and second – it differed substantially with the original copies of the speech which have common parts, one being the notes taken on the day by Admiral Hermann Boehm and an unsigned document which was found amongst the Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces files by the American troops in Saalfelden in Austria.

    Prof Heath Lowry’s, article on this issue in 1985 proves beyond any doubt that this “quote” is a forgery. (Reference : Lowry,H, The US Congress and Adolf Hitler on Armenians, Political Communication and Persuasion, Volume 3, Number 2 (1985) ).

    Finally, Hitler would never have employed such a remark while thousands of Armenians were fighting in the Nazi Wehrmacht at the Grand Armenian Legion and serving as SS officers.

  • Myth 4 : Anzac Day, April 25, has no meaningful connection with the day Armenian lobby claims that the “genocide” started, April 24th.

    FACT : on April 17th 1915, Dashnaks, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and Hunchak terrorists invaded the biggest Ottoman city in the east, Van with the help of Russian Army slaughtering tens of thousands of Muslim occupants of the city. This was the last drop in the bucket for the Ottoman Government. On April 24th, 1915 The Ottoman government closed down and banned the Armenian revolutionary committees and arrested 230 Armenian ring leaders who were openly planning a nationwide uprising against the Ottoman Empire. All of those arrested were sent to Cankaya for a military trial. As a result of this trial, at least 35 of them were set free, some were relocated to southern Anatolia, some were sentenced to imprisonment and some were executed for treason, the penalty of which under Australian law in 2015 is life imprisonment and in USA is execution.

    By May 1915, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were fighting in Russian Army, Armenian irregular forces, i.e. Armenian Revolutionary Federation terrorists, were attacking Ottoman civilians in key cities and villages causing turmoils and after Van fell to Russo/Armenian occupation in May 6th, 1915 and the threat of annexation of eastern Anatolia as the “New Armenia” was very real. The order for relocation of the Armenian populations from war zones were given in such circumstances in May 27th, 1915 and innocent Armenians out of war zones like Izmir, Istanbul and Kutahya were untouched.

  • Myth 5 : Ottomans committed a “crime against humanity”.

    FACT :  Winston Churchill himself famously admits that “In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”. It is true that as part of the wartime propaganda, after the fell of city of Van, the British and Russian Empires declared that Ottoman Government was carrying our “a crime against humanity” and needed to be brought to justice.
    The racist (and also anti-semitic) attitude of British Prime Minister of the era were well known even before the war. Gladstone once infamously quoted as saying :

    “The Turks were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went, a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilisation disappeared from view. They represented everywhere government by force, as opposed to government by law”.

    After World War 1, as a condition to armistice at Paris Peace Conference, the British wanted to bring those responsible of “crimes against humanity” to justice. The British High Commission in Istanbul, utilising Armenian informants, arrested 144 high Ottoman officials and deported them to the island of Malta for trial on charges of the alleged “crimes” against Armenians. While the deportees were interned in Malta, the British appointed an Armenian scholar, Mr. Haig Khazarian, to conduct a thorough examination of the Ottoman, British, and U.S. archives to substantiate the charges. Though granted complete access to all records, Khazarian’s corps of investigators discovered an utter lack of evidence demonstrating that the Ottoman officials either sanctioned or encouraged killings of Armenians. After two years of unrestricted access to Ottoman, British, American and other archives and records, non-one could find any evidence that the Ottomans had committed this “crime against humanity”, in spite of the comprehensive search for this material. The British Procurator General exonerated and released all 144 detainees – after two years and four months of detention without trial. No compensation was ever paid to the detainees.

  • Myth 6 : 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Government.

    FACT : The number of Armenians deaths differ from 300 thousands to 1.5 million according to whom you ask. According to the Ottoman census in 1913 there were only 1.3 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire.

    A renowned demographer of the late Ottoman populations Prof Justin McCarthy gives the number of Armenian deaths as close to 600 thousands while Taner Akcam claims it is around 1 million. Every historian agree that, although massacres happened, the majority of the deaths were results of plagues, famines, starvation and exhaustion. These situations were also effecting the Muslim populations in the region and were a result of the naval blockade by the British Navy, and the 1915 locust plague of Syria and Palestine, which was reportedly the worst locust plague of the century. Historians estimate that 3 million Ottoman Muslim civilians lost their lives during World War 1.

    The massacres were committed by the Kurdish tribes and were mostly retaliations of previous massacres by the Armenian revolutionary groups with the help of Russian Army, against the Muslim villages. Ottoman Army officials who did not protect the relocated Armenian civilians were courtmartialed in 1918 and 65 of them were executed for war crimes.

  • Myth 7: Ottomans always suppressed the Armenians and behaved them as second class citizens.

    FACT : This is an utterly false statement, again used by the genocide lobby for propaganda purposes. In the Ottoman “millet” system every ethnic minority was free in their own governance and Armenians were regarded as the “most loyal millet (nation)” for hundreds of years. There were 22 Armenian members and senators of the Ottoman Parliament, which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Artin Dadyan Pasha), the state secretary for Foreign Affairs (Kapriel Noradounguian), the Treasurer (Agop Kazazyan Pasha) and Minister for State (Abraham Pasha, Garabet Artin Davut Pasha, Kirkor Sinopyan Efendy). Armenians also occupied many other important positions in the Ottoman Government like ambassadors, the Chief of Royal Post and Telegrams, Chief Justice of the State Council and academics at state universities. Until the fall of Van which led to banning of Armenian committees who terrorised Anatolia for 25 years, Armenians were always regarded as trustworthy subjects by the Ottoman Empire.

    Whilst trying to judge historical treatment of ethnic minorities against modern standards is fraught with difficulty, the Ottoman millet system was, for its time, enlightened, and far ahead of what ethnic minorities might expect elsewhere in Europe.