Turkish Oral History
When this site began, Turkish sources were steered clear of as much as possible; the Turks are the accused party in these genocide allegations, and the allegations are widely accepted.
However, as there is a page on this site examining Armenian Oral History, there should also be a place to put up what Turkish witnesses had to say. (There have already been a couple of incidental examples, links of which are at page bottom.)
The problem with "oral history" in all forms is that even if the witness makes an honest attempt to relate events, the experienced trauma could color one's views. Even when there was no passage of time, the views of witnesses could be colored, as evidenced poignantly here.
Because the Armenians' genocide is such a politicized raison d'etre, a lot of "Armenian oral history" is suspect to begin with. Why were these being recorded? Mainly, for propaganda purposes. In cases where genocide advocates sought aged Armenians to tell their tales, it is not unreasonable to assume a degree of manipulation was involved. Too many Armenians are also raised with a hatred for Turks, and as Hovhannes Katchaznouni noted, Armenians as a whole are not good in accepting responsibility, even when they are at fault. The monstrous Turks make a handy fall guy, no matter what.
By contrast, the Turks who suffered at the hands of Armenians did not go out to advertise their sufferings. Culturally, this is the Turkish way:
One might be pardoned if, on reading of the various atrocities visited upon the Balkan Turks, it seems as if the atrocities were invented, or at least much inflated, by those who allegedly suffered. One answer to this is the type of confirmatory evidence provided by the European consuls, reporters, and other observers. I believe, though, that the evidence drawn from Muslim refugees was generally reliable in itself. Those who in 1876-78 had long dealt with Turks avowed that Turks were very unlikely to overstate their suffering. Quite the opposite was true — Turks were unlikely to mention their defeats, or to underplay them, and the massacres of the Balkan Turks were a horrible defeat. British Consul Blunt at Edirne spoke of the difficulty of getting Turks to speak of their sufferings, because of the ‘habitual reluctance of the Turks to speak of indignities to which any among them have been subjected. (It is this very policy, I may add, which induced them to conceal from public knowledge, rather than denounce the mutilations constantly practiced by the Montenegrins on their Turkish victims.)’ " (F.O. 195-1137, no. 90, Blunt to Layard, Adrianople, 6 August 1877.)
Justin McCarthy, "Death and Exile," 1995, Footnote, p. 97
The only reason why these people were sought was to combat Armenian propaganda. Is it possible they also could have been coached, or as Armenian propagandists would be quick to charge, that the Turkish government paid them off to lie? Anything is possible. This is why "Oral History" is not one to prominently turn to, in the seeking of truth.
But when one considers the psychology involved with both people (Armenians: Sell the genocide to the world in any way possible, with the perpetuation of hatred; Turks: Bad things happen. Best to put the bad things behind, for the sake of a future with brotherhood and love. Armenians: Yell and shout, make a religion of victimhood; Turks: Suffer silently), the reader can determine which side is better coming from the position of truth.
One other matter to bear in mind is that witnesses who saw Armenian suffering and dead, like Armin Wegner and Leslie Davis, usually saw bodies in one piece. Atrocity tales from the Armenian perspective are almost always provided second hand, through missionaries and other sympathetic Christian parties, who accepted Armenian accounts first hand. (A genocide book claims there was only one American newspaperman who travelled to the Ottoman interior in 1915, George Schreiner, serving as the rare and genuine eyewitness, and he concluded there was no "genocide.") Those "neutral" witnesses who support the Turkish accounts come from the ranks of Armenian sympathizers: Americans (like Robert Dunn, Niles and Sutherland), French, and especially Russians. The common thread in what these latter groups tell is that the Armenians usually did not stop just with massacring, but performed the most hideous and sadistic deviltries.
An Ottoman Soldier
The Russian soldiers have occupied Kars, Erzurum, Erzincan and they were marching towards Sivas. There were Armenian battalions among the Russian army. Even though the Russian commanders tried very hard to stop them, wherever they set foot these Armenian soldiers tortured the Muslim Turks and
burned them alive.
. . .
Sevket Sureyya Aydemir volunteered to join the Ottoman Army's
university educated soldiers class during World War I. He was assigned to fight in the Eastern front, namely the Caucasus Branch. In 1917 while he was sitting in the trenches waiting for the fight to begin, their opponents leave the Russian trenches and walk towards them with bread and cheese in their hands.
They are unarmed. They say "We want to become friends with you, not fight". They leave their trenches and leave for their villages. The Bolshevik revolution has taken place in Russia. Some Armenians also leave with the Russian soldiers, because they could not hold foot on Anatolian soil. Once the path is cleared, the Turkish soldiers rush to the evacuated
Sevket Sureyya Aydemir reaches to a village of Erzincan. His
observations were like this; "The Dashnak Committee members had the upper hand among the Armenian Army. The only ambition of this committee members was to eradicate and revenge. Their demented ambition had no end.
Along the road to Erzurum, across from the Cinis Village there was a village named Evreni. The Armenians did not feel satisfied with killing all inhabitants of this village — children, elderly, and women they also cut up their body parts — arms, legs, and heads, and hang them on hooks and nails for exhibition like a butchers' shop. This was not enough either.
They also killed all animals — cows, fowl, even dogs and tore them limb to limb. All were scattered on the streets. The Turkish army continues with its forward march. When they arrive in Erzurum Sevket Sureyya writes in his memoirs the things that he saw like this; "The bloodbath reached its zenith in Erzurum. I think half the population was killed. Only in the station called Georgian Gate (Gurcu Kapisi Istasyonu) there were 3,000 bodies stored. They were sorted according to size, very neatly laid down to make efficient use of all space, like you would with your fire-wood. It appears that the people who did this took pleasure from handling these corpses. Any space between large bodies was carefully filled up by insertion of a child's or old person's small body to avoid the pile from falling aside. I imagine the Turkish-Armenian reckoning chapter should better be erased from the history books.
(Sevket Sureyya Aydemir, The Man Who Searches for Water: pp 120-121. Remzi kitabevi, Ninth printing, 2003).
Thanks to Fatma S. for providing and translating the above; the original Turkish may be [Read Here].
Plenty of readers have written with their own "oral history" as to how much the Armenians hurt their families. Here's one:
I am 39 years old and living in Istanbul. My mother born in Rize (blacksea city) in 1936. My grand mother and my grandpa
also from born in same city in begining of 20th century , years of 1900 & 1905 . They told us lots of bad things about the past...
During the russsian war, armenian gangs always was attacking to their towns and neighboorhood villages.They were killing
families, villagers, and muslim population.
THE WORST STORY IS:
My mother'shas two Aunt , Sisters of my Grandpa , they were twins, and was 15-16 years old. Armenian gangs had wrapped them to a tree and raped them. then cut their nipples and make "prayer beads"(tespih) from the cutted woman nipples.. It was a tradition that time.. In eastern Turkey, Hundreds of thousand innocent people killed or raped by armenian gangs and russian troops during and before first world war. Because all Muslim Men , Turks and few Christian Ottomans (their brothers since 1000years) was fighting in all around the Anatolia against enemies, such as in Gallipoli, etc..
my father killed by Iranian troops in 1986, during Iran - Iraq war , shall i hate from Iranians? Answer is "No"
Actually i have lots of good armenian friends in my town that i born. Now, we had mosque and armenian churches next to next, living in a peace since many many years in this nice lovely country.
be sure that emperialist powers such as Usa , UK , France , and others tried to make brothers enemy , they succeeded partly.. but not entirely..
Tarkan K., March 8, 2007
Mass graves were unearthed in the following villages in Turkey: Oba Village of Igdir (March 1986); Alaca Village of Erzurum (three graves in May and July 1986); Cavusoglu hay-stack of Van Ercis (July 6, 1988); Yesil Yayla of Erzurum Dumlu (October 1988); Zeve of Van (April 4, 1990); Subatan of Kars (June 20, 1991); Timar Village of Erzurum Pasinler (July 7 1993); Hakmehmet of Igdir (October 6, 1999). Shreds of fabrics, fez, head coverings, rings, buttons, bullets, wallets, and Islamic relics, cigarette holders remained intact.
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