The Ottoman Armenian Tragedy is a Genuine Historic Controversy
Justin McCarthy
Feroz Ahmad
Arend Jan Boekestijn
Brendon J. Cannon
Mary Schaeffer Conroy
Youssef Courbage
Paul Dumont
Bertil Duner
Gwynne Dyer
Edward J. Erickson
Philippe Fargues
Michael M. Gunter
Paul Henze
Eberhard Jäckel
Firuz Kazemzadeh
Yitzchak Kerem
William L. Langer
Bernard Lewis
Guenter Lewy
Heath W. Lowry
Andrew Mango
Robert Mantran
Justin McCarthy
Michael E. Meeker
Hikmet Ozdemir
Stephen Pope
Michael Radu
Jeremy Salt
Stanford Shaw
Norman Stone
Hew Strachan
Elizabeth-Anne Wheal
Brian G. Williams
Gilles Veinstein
Malcolm Yapp
Thierry Zarcone
Robert F. Zeidner

Professor of History and Demographer, Louisville University. Ph.D. in history, University of California, Los Angeles.

McCarthy’s areas of expertise include the histories of the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans. McCarthy served in the Peace Corps in Turkey, from 1967-1969. He also taught at the Middle East Technical University and Ankara University during this time. He earned his Ph.D. at University of California, Los Angeles in 1978. He has also received an honorary doctorate from Boğaziçi University. He is currently teaching at the University of Louisville. [info]

major & relevant publications

Source: Sasun: The History of an 1890s Armenian Revolt

“Reporting on the ‘Sasun Massacres’ marked the beginning of a crusade that was to culminate in portrayals of a genocide of Armenians during World War I….Popular outcry against the Turks forced Europeans to investigate the events in Sasun. A commission of British, French, and Russian diplomats traveled to the region. Their findings showed that the stories of Armenian suffering and death had been grossly exaggerated, but they still blamed the Ottomans for crimes. Their report on Sasun seemed to be impartial until examined closely.  Indeed, all of the reports of the Sasun troubles, whether from journalists, missionaries, or diplomats, can fairly be characterized as imaginary after close comparison with actual testimony recorded during investigation. Virtually every aspect of the widely circulated story of Sasun was wrong.” Pp. 1-2

“The Hunchak revolutionary committee played a significant part in the rebellion by sending organizers to Sasun, but it was local forces that led the rebellion. It was not uncommon for rebellion in the Ottoman Empire to be founded on banditry….the Armenian bandits were local...knew local conditions, and had family connections in the villages. Never loyal subjects of the sultan, the bandits transitioned into full rebellion under the influence of the Hunchaks.” P. 16

“The Ottomans would undoubtedly never have sent soldiers to Sasun had they not known that an Armenian rebellion might have escalated into a larger rebellion that would have gained European support….the revolt might have grown if they did nothing. That was the desire of the Hunchaks, who were intimately involved with the Sasun rebellion….[The Ottomans] decided that the danger of rebellion was too great; they sent in the soldiers.” P. 194

“The Armenian rebels, their sympathizers in Britain and America, the missionaries, and European governments and diplomats were anxious to portray what was essentially a conflict among local forces as a concerted and irrational attack on Armenians. British diplomats routinely and falsely reported that Ottoman soldiers had massacred Sasun Armenians. The European Delegates to the Sasun Investigation Commission did all they could to show that soldiers had deliberately killed innocent Armenians, fabricating and distorting evidence. They had no evidence of a government plot to kill Armenians—what was presented was invented.” P. 193

“The true effect of the events at Sasun was the result of the propaganda that described Sasun to the world. After centuries of antipathy between Muslims and European Christians, the image of Turks in Europe was none too good. Reporting on Sasun cemented that image. It was impossible for anyone outside the Ottoman Empire, no matter how well-intentioned they might have been, to find the truth about Sasun. The best that could be found was the duplicitous report of the European delegates. Even that was largely ignored by the press, in favor of more sensational accounts. Europeans and Americans were provided only an image of Turks as mass murderers—slander that has lived on.” P. 194

Source: Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922

"Not coincidentally, the Armenian revolt in the eastern Anatolia began as soon as the Russians realized that the Ottoman Empire would go to war. Before Russia declared war on 2 November 1914, Armenian guerillas had already begun to organize into guerilla bands. In preparation for revolt, Armenian revolutionaries had stored vast stockpiles of weapons, largely provided or paid for by the Russian government. These were kept primarily in Armenian villages and were obviously well-hidden from Ottoman authorities, an indication of the lack of Ottoman control in the region before the war… With weapons stored for the expected revolution, Ottoman citizen Armenians began to arm themselves and organize on both sides of the border. Bands were formed in the Kars-Ardahan-Artvin border regions (which had been taken from the Ottomans in 1878) and in Van, Erzurum, and Bitlis vilayets. P. 185

"At first, Ottoman military units, mail deliveries, gendarmerie posts, and recruiting units were attacked in Mus, Sitak, Susehri, Zeytun, Aleppo, Dortyol, and many other areas… Between five hundred and six hundred Armenian rebels occupied the Tekye Monastery and fought a bloody, day-long pitched battle with Ottoman troops and gendarmes, escaping from Ottoman troops at night… In Diyarbaki Vilayeti, a combination of Armenian villagers and Armenian deserters formed bands and attacked Muslim villages and Ottoman troops. Unprotected Muslim villages were assaulted and Muslims massacred, although the murders could not compare to what was later to befall the Muslims of the east. - P. 186

"Armenian plans to take eastern cities were brought into force once the war began. For the sake of understanding the chronology of massacre and counter massacre in the region, it should be understood that these and other revolutionary activities took place well before any orders for deportation of Armenians were given." P. 187

"The Ottoman response to the Armenian Revolution was approximately the same as that taken by other twentieth-century governments faced with guerilla war: isolate the guerillas from local support by removing local supporters. The Ottomans knew that Armenian rebels were freely supported by Armenian villagers as well as by Armenians in the eastern cities that were home to leaders of their revolution. They, therefore, decided on a radical action: forced migration of the Armenian population in actual or potential war zones. The first orders to that effect went out on 26 May 1915…

"The intentions of Istanbul were clear - to move and resettle Armenians peacefully. The only verifiable Ottoman documents on the subject indicate at least a formal concern for the Armenian migrants. Elaborate procedures were written in Istanbul and forwarded to the provinces. These covered the sale of refugee goods, the settling of refugees in economic positions similar to those they had left, instructions on health and sanitation, and the like. In short, all looked fine on paper. Articles 1 and 3 of the Resettlement Regulations show where problems arose: Article 1. Arrangements for transportation of those to be transferred is the responsibility of local administrations. Article 3. Protection of lives and properties of Armenians to be transferred en route to their new settlements, their board and lodging and their rest is the responsibility of local administrations en route. Civil servants in all echelons are responsible for any negligence in this regard. Pp. 193-94

The greatest threat and cause to mortality to Armenians came from the nomadic tribes who raided Armenian convoys. The few gendarmes detailed to the convoys, for example, could not protect them from armed attacks by Kurds. While the tribes did not usually engage in mass slaughter of Armenian migrants, they did kill large numbers of them and abducted their women. They probably caused the greatest mortality by stealing what the Armenians needed to subsist. Despite the regulations, little food was provided to the migrants, who were expected to feed themselves. But the tribes took their sustenance, and starvation was the result. P. 195

Source: Symposium, Marmara University, Istanbul, 2005

"The Blue Book written by Viscount Bryce and Arnold Toynbee has been used as proof that Armenians and the victims of the Jewish Holocaust suffered the same fate in history. This book has been said to be a product of British intelligence designed to promote and promulgate lies during World War I. Britain had set up the war propaganda bureau at Wellington House for the sole purpose of promoting lies and misinformation on Germany and the Ottoman Empire. The British were in full co-operation with American missionaries in Anatolia and the American Embassy in Istanbul conjured a so-called Armenian genocide based on gossip, hear-say and erroneous information. The real purpose behind this exercise was to create and strengthen an image in the minds of British military officers that the Turk were evil, horrible and untrustworthy".

Source:The Armenian Rebellion at Van

"The Armenians of Van had revolted against the Ottoman government putting their trust in the Russians, who betrayed them. They and the Russians had driven the Muslims from the province. The Armenians in turn had been driven out. Theirs was the final exodus. Surviving Muslims returned. Neither side, however, can truly be said to have won the war. More than half of Van’s Armenians had died, as had almost two-thirds of its Muslims." P. 2

Source: Anatolia 1915: Turks Died, Too, Published in the Boston Globe, April 25, 1998

"During World War 1, Anatolia, the Asiatic section of modern Turkey, was the scene of horrible acts of inhumanity between Armenians and Turks. For many decades, the history of the conflict between the Turks and the Armenians has primarily been written from the viewpoint of the Armenians. It is a viewpoint that emphasizes the deaths of Armenians but completely ignores the deaths of Turks.

The Armenian position has been effectively publicized. Every year in Congress, a group of representatives attempts to pass a bill that says the Turks were guilty of genocide. Newspapers feature articles on events in Turkey in 1915 as if they were today's news. Over the weekend, the Public Broadcasting System carried the historical visions of Armenian producers all across the country. Unfortunately, effective publicity does not ensure accurate history. What has been presented as truth is, in fact, only one side of a complicated history that began more than 100 years before World War 1."

Source: Armenian-Turkish Conflict, Speech given by Dr. Justin McCarthy at the Turkish Grand National Assembly, March 24, 2005

"The forced exile of the Muslims continued until the first days of World War I: 300,000 Crimean Tatars, 1.2 million Circassians and Abkhazians, 40,000 Laz, 70,000 Turks. The Russians invaded Anatolia in the war of 1877-78, and once again many Armenians joined the Russian side. They served as scouts and spies. Armenians became the "police" in occupied territories, persecuting the Turkish population. The peace treaty of 1878 gave much of Northeastern Anatolia back to the Ottomans".

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