The Ottoman Armenian Tragedy is a Genuine Historic Controversy
Gilles Veinstein
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, Turkish and Ottoman History, Collège de France. [info]

major publications

  • Government and Society in Ottoman, XVIe-XVIIIe centuries” (1994)

related publications

  • Trois questions sur un massacre” (1994) L’Histoire, n°187, April 1995 (Three Questions about a Massacre, translated from the original French)

Source: Veinstein, L’Histoire, n°187, April 1995

"On June 1, 1915, the Ottoman government ordered the transfer of the Armenians of central and eastern Anatolia towards Syria, still a possession of the Ottomans at that time. It was during these transfer operations that an immense number of Armenians perished. This tragedy was the result of a multiplicity of events which proceeded in various places in 1915 and 1916, and in which the horror took very diverse forms. "

"Suffering, malnutrition, poor hygiene, and epidemics caused a large part of the deaths (3), but it is necessary also to take account of massacres, which were crimes against humanity. These happened because of inter-communal settlements of accounts, and in these not only Turks, but also Kurds, were involved. The convoys were attacked and plundered, and some of the soldiers supposed to be supervising the operation were caught up in this. Besides, it is undeniable, in certain cases at least, that the crimes were perpetrated with the open or tacit co-operation of local authorities."

"The reality of the massacres, and even their extent, are not questioned by anybody, including commentators in Turkey. The American demographer Justin McCarthy, for example, estimates that the whole of the Armenians of Anatolia did not exceed a million and a half people on the eve of the world-wide conflict, and that, taking into account the figure for survivors, approximately 600,000 Armenians perished in Anatolia in 1915; that is to say, about half of the community (4)."

"Secondly, there were also very many victims among the Moslems throughout the war, because of combat but also of actions conducted against them by Armenians, in a context of ethnic and national rivalry (5). If there are forgotten victims, it is they, and the Turks of today have the right to denounce the partiality of the Western opinion in this respect. Were they forgotten about because they were only Moslems?"

“It is true that official involvement is a precondition for us to apply to the Armenian tragedy the term, ‘genocide’, as used in 1944 and defined in the Nuremberg Trials and the U.N. convention of 1948. But we must admit that we do not so far have proof that the government was involved in this way. The documents produced by the Armenians, in which Talat Pasha, Minister of the Interior, and other official top Ottomans explicitly order the slaughter of men, women, and Armenian children, designated as the "Andonian documents," after the name of their editor, were absolute forgeries, as historical research has shown (6).”

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