Toynbee and His Blue Books
Armenian Forum co-editor got down to the nitty-gritty and came up with the names (and we'll see how he managed to do that, by examining the actual correspondence of the principals) for sources identified under terms such as "an especially well informed neutral source."
"Toynbee carefully compiled and verified dozens of eyewitness accounts from different parts of the Ottoman Empire. These accounts provided the basis for Bryce’s brilliant thesis on the Genocide, published while the crime was still in progress," Gomidas tells us, continuing, "The book includes eyewitness accounts from United States consular and missionary sources, as well as the testimony of German, Italian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Greek, Kurdish, and Armenian witnesses." As if those last identified European country representatives did not mostly stem from the ranks of the missionaries; how dishonest. We'll see shortly what Arnold Toynbee himself termed as "all" of his Blue Book sources, and it doesn't sound like there were many non-missionaries among them.
"In his introduction, Sarafian takes issue with the repeated assertions of Turkish nationalist authors, who claim that the Blue Book was a British propaganda fabrication. He demonstrates the intellectual pedigree of the work. He shows exactly how testimonies were collected, authenticated, and then used in the book."
Brother! That's going to take a lot of convincing, that racist missionaries with religious and political reasons to deviate from truth, were examples of "intellectual pedigree." Gomidas then faults "Generations of official historians of Turkey," including Justin McCarthy, insisting the Blue Book "lacks credibility."
They forgot to add Arnold Toynbee to that list of detractors, who said about his work as a Wellington House fabricator: "wartime propaganda."
But they're going to try. Armenians pulling the wool over people's eyes has become an art form well before Vahan Cardashian shrieked anything and everything to serve "genocide" purposes. (Cardashian may have merely perfected the skill.) We get favorable reviews from the Times Literary Supplement ("Sarafian convincingly rebuts the claims that there was any falsification") and Lord Avebury of the British House of Lords, who points to this hogwash as "evidence."
"The Uncensored Edition of the Blue Book was published with the generous support of Dr. Rostom Stepanian and the Committee for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide." Ahh, the Armenians and their never-yielding deep pockets to affirm their obsession.
Gomidas offers a table of contents of the Blue Book, rather widely available on the Internet anyway, at gomidas.org/books/bryce-toc.htm. Other than the racist/religious bigots who formed the ranks of consuls and missionaries, we get other lovely "impartial" sources such as relief workers and Armenian newspapers like "Gotchnag," as well as the Armenians themselves... a people that a New Yorker got to know once America welcomed the Armenian tired, huddled and poor, and wrote in 1924: "The Turkish massacres in Armenia may have been as much exaggerated as only Armenians can exaggerate."
What happened to Ara Sarafian? At one time, he seemed to wish to concentrate on at least some degree of truth, so uncommon for genocide-obsessed Armenians. He wrote, "It erodes the credibility of Armenian Genocide studies and opens people to ridicule when they repeat these claims." The claims he was referring to? A Blue Book claim!
Then he had his tangle (read here) with Rouben Adalian, who (in his "Tendentious Criticism") almost accused Sarafian of being a sinister Turkish agent. (Just like when the other Armenian Forum editor, Vincent Lima, dared to go off the genocide track in the tiniest way, and Levon Marashlian was all over him, implying that maybe Lima was also some kind of sinister Turkish agent, as well! I guess Vahan Cardashian taught the Armenians well, when he set an example by rabidly attacking Armenian friends like missionary James Barton, the instant they went the slightest bit off-course. These are tactics the Mafia can envy, to keep their members in line.
At any rate, Adalian offered the following desperate defense: "The most commonly used reference of documents on the Armenian Genocide is the Bryce-Toynbee (Blue Book)" Perhaps Mr. Sarafian got so shook up, he had to make amends by trying to validate this awful propagandistic work.
How was the "Blue Book" put together?
Prof. Hikmet Özdemir
Prof. Hikmet Özdemir [Holdwater Note: There are TWO Prof. Hikmet Ozdemirs in Turkey, as I learned when I put up a photograph of the wrong one on this page; the one behind this research is connected with the Turkish Historical Society, or "TTK." The other is connected with the Grand National Assembly, or "TBMM."] made some discoveries in the British Archives regarding Wellington House and Toynbee communications, giving a speech on Jan. 2005 explaining his findings. (Some of these documents had already been known in years past.) I'll touch on a few highlights of the professor's fine research, but mostly it's good to corroborate just how "in the dark" the Wellington House propagandists were, and how extensively the "anti-Turkish" community of the period relied upon one another. (See link at page bottom for excerpts from this speech.)
Let's keep in mind these communications evidently regarded future blue book editions, after 1916's "The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–1916" work; but the methods of operation are the same. In fact, at page's end, Dr. Barton refers to sources as of Oct. 1915 in his May 1, 1916 letter... no doubt regarding the sources for the April 1916 "Treatment" work.
In a June 23, 1916 letter, Toynbee freely asked Prof. Margoliouth for a look-see of proposed Blue Book materials and point out any "glaring mis-statements of fact," and freely admits, "My knowledge on the greater part on the ground is very shaky and second-hand."
The chief propagandist and "authority" on the "Armenian Question" is on record for admitting how in the dark he was regarding the allegations he was freely making. Not that we needed these words to know, but it's good for Toynbee to have corroborated his ignorance. Particularly since the Zoryan Institute is still passing off statements such as, "Arnold Toynbee, who in 1916 produced the official and most comprehensive British documentation of the Armenian genocide." We can see the worth of that documentation.
Prof. Hikmet Özdemir tells us Toynbee lived from 1889 to 1975, and when listing his books for son Peter, bypassed his work from the war years. This demonstrates how little he thought of his Blue Book "scholarship." He was quick to term it as "propaganda" as early as his next legitimate book, 1922's “The Western Question in Greece and Turkey." (Pg. 50.) In 1957, Toynbee was quoted again as referring dismissively to his Blue Book work as "war propaganda."
We are told whereas Lord Bryce was an object for hero-worship by Armenians (one named Hagopian said something to the effect that Bryce's name will be remembered as long as an Armenian lives, at the time of Bryce's 1922 death), Toynbee was perhaps never given such reverence.
Upon the Armenians' 50th Anniversary Commemoration in 1965, an Armenian-American lady named Etmekjian wrote to Toynbee (the contents of her March 1, 1966 letter are unknown, as is her follow-up) and the two letters Toynbee wrote in response revealed the historian made no reference to genocide.... although it appeared likely that was the kind of admission the woman was striving for. The second letter ends with the sentiment human beings should admit to wrongdoing, but "nationalism is a hindrance to this, unfortunately." The meat of the first , dated March 16:
"It is true that the British Government's motive in asking Lord Bryce to compile the blue book was propaganda. But Lord Bryce's motive in undertaking it, and mine in working on it for him, was to make the truth known, and the evidence was good; the witnesses were all American missionaries with no political axe to grind. So the Blue Book, together with Lepsius's book, does give a true account.
In 1915 the Russians were invading North-eastern Turkey, and it was reasonable for the Turkish Government to fear that the Armenian minority there might be a 'fifth column'. So it would have been legitimate to deport them, as the U.S. Government deported the Japanese-Americans from the Pacific coast in World War II. But the deportations of the Armenians in 1915 were used — by the Turkish Government, not by the people —
as an opportunity for treating the deportees in ways that were so inhuman that they were bound to cause wholesale mortality, as they did."
If I may take a moment to analyze, it looks like in this period of his life Toynbee is attempting to legitimize the 1915 events in accordance to his propagandistic views. (Although, of course, he is sincere in his beliefs. But why is he so convinced?) In his first paragraph, he admits the purpose of the Blue Book was "propaganda." While Toynbee probably tried to be as accurate as he could (instead of just blindly making things up), if one’s purpose is to distort truth, how could he feel the Blue Book was legitimate?
Particularly if he admits, "the witnesses were all American missionaries with no political axe to grind." Quite the contrary, the prayers of the missionaries directly instructed these religious fanatics to make the Turk as inhuman as possible, breaking the commandment, THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR; it was their "Godly duty" to vilify the Turks. And far from having no political axe to grind (has Toynbee lost all sense of reality, here?), the relief organizations became the most successful charitable drive in American history, raising an amount the equivalent of one billion dollars today, according to Peter Balakian’s "Burning Tigris" book. (Although I’ve come across another Balakian source where the poet claimed $2.5 billion. Ahh, Armenians and their propensity for numbers.) The most effective way to separate teary-eyed Christian sympathizers from their money was to claim poor, innocent Christians were being monstrously mistreated by heathen infidels.
The fact that Toynbee gives credence to mad-dog religious fanatic Vicar Lepsius’ work illustrates how Toynbee’s deep commitment to his Christian faith has colored his views. We’ll be coming to that.
Here is one indication of Toynbee's Devotion to Faith:
In "10 Questions for God," #6: Will the world end? (bigquestions.com/six/page1.htm), Toynbee provides among six symptoms of a dying society (from his "Study of History"):
(1) sexual 'freedom' wrecks families (kids lack care & relationship education);
(2) people believe the world is ruled by chance, so nothing they do matters;
(3) religion is watered down;
(4) technical skill outpaces moral and spiritual growth;
(5) real creativity is replaced with ‘moral abandon,’ lack of self-control.
The sixth and only "non-religious/spiritual" reason given regarded war becoming an obsession.
With his second paragraph, it looks like we have journeyed back in time to the 1916 "Treatment of Armenians" Toynbee claiming outright there was no Armenian rebellion. The Ottoman government did not act simply out of “fear” the Armenians would rebel; the rebellion is the entire reason why what happened to the Armenians took place. Additionally, if Toynbee admitted his Blue Book evidence derived entirely from American missionaries, how could he then turn around in this second paragraph and imply it was the intention of the government to purposely mistreat the Armenians? (That is, "all" of his evidence stemmed from missionaries. Why should this hearsay constitute factual evidence?) The internal documents are in agreement that the Ottomans did whatever they could to protect the Armenians. Certainly things went wrong, as they are bound to, given the colossal operation, without adequate resources and manpower to implement effectively, and without time to plan properly because a life-and-death war was raging on all fronts against merciless world superpowers. Even a modern, wealthy nation like the USA, without pressures and with all the time in the world to plan, encountered avoidable disasters with their action in Iraq.
Boer War Hero Dixon-Johnson
Why didn’t Toynbee consult C. F. Dixon-Johnson’s 1916 work, "The Armenians"? By courageously daring to go against his nation’s propagandistic demonization policies, Dixon-Johnson had only the desire to tell the truth as his goal. UPA correspondent Henry Wood, who seems to have been a genuine eyewitness (in fact, he claims as much, in an Aug. 1915 account that's also mentioned below), flat out reported that the Armenians not only were in open revolt but were actually in possession of Van and several other important towns. Wood also stated:
"It appears obvious that the Turkish authorities, anxious for the safety of their lines of communication, had no other alternative than to order the removal of their rebellious subjects to some place distant from the seat of hostilities, and their internment there. The enforcement of this absolutely necessary precaution led to further risings on the part of the Armenians. The remaining Moslems were almost defenceless, because the regular garrisons were at the front as well as the greater part of the police and able-bodied men. Already infuriated at the reports of the atrocities committed at Van by the insurgents, in fear for their lives and those of their relatives, they were at last driven by the cumulative effect of these events into panic and retaliation and, as invariably happens in such cases, the innocent suffered with the guilty."
(I just discovered Wood ironically was one of the sources for "The Blue Book"! And he's obviously not as forgiving as the Turks in that passage. How interesting Wood's testimony clearly speaks of the Armenians' rebellion, in a propaganda book where Toynbee unequivocally tells us there was no Armenian rebellion. Mostly, Wood describes the heavy-handed way in which Armenians were rounded up, an account which no doubt has at least some truth. His ending statement is the most damaging in this Aug. 14, 1915 newspaper account, that one of "the basic principles of the Young Turk party" is to "ensure the supremacy of the Turkish race in the Ottoman Empire... absolutely analogous to that which preceded the Armenian massacres under Abd-ul-Hamid. So far, however, the Young Turks have confined themselves to the new system of deportation, dispersion and separation of families." So Wood only suspects attempts at extermination, but clearly reports it hasn't taken place... as late as August, 1915! I suspect the Wood statement in Dixon-Johnson's book came later, after Wood had a chance to see what was really happening.) This Blue Book-Wood account may be [Read Here].
Naturally, Wood is far from the only source turning the claims of the Blue Book on their ear, for example, acclaimed American academician, Prof. John Dewey, wrote:
Few Americans who mourn, and justly, the miseries of the Armenians, are aware that till the rise of nationalistic ambitions, beginning with the 'seventies, the Armenians were the favored portion of the population of Turkey, or that in the Great War, they traitorously turned Turkish cities over to the Russian invader; that they boasted of having raised an army of one hundred and fifty thousand men to fight a civil war, and that they burned at least a hundred Turkish villages and exterminated their population.
When Toynbee was concerned such accounts of Armenian treachery were occasionally alluded to in the no-longer-as-tightly-controlled post-war press, he wrote in a Sept. 26, 1919 memo (F.O. 371/3404/162647, p. 2):
"To lessen the credit of Armenians is to weaken the anti-Turkish action. It was difficult to eradicate the conviction that the Turk is a noble being always in trouble. This situation will revive this conviction and will harm the prestige not only of Armenians, but of Zionists and Arabs as well.
The treatment of Armenians by the Turks is the biggest asset of his Majesty’s Government, to solve the Turkish problem in a radical manner, and to have it accepted by the public."
Suddenly Arnold Toynbee doesn’t strike one as a fellow where truth was his prerogative, and his statement explaining his motivation “to make the truth known” sounds very hollow.
FROM TOYNBEE'S BIOGRAPHER:
"The British use the Ottoman Armenians against the Polish Jews in the propaganda war. In the war, Russia massacres the Polish Jews.
And Germany makes efforts to take the Jewish lobby in the USA to its side with the publications about this massacre.
In such a circumstance, Britain charges the Ottoman Empire, who is the ally of Germany, of conducting a similar massacre, with the aim of disrupting the German propaganda. Britain wants to prevent the Jewish lobby in the USA from sympathizing with Germany by propagating the unfounded rhetoric stating that similar incidents do happen in the Ottoman lands as well.
The reason of publication of the 'Blue Book' is to make propaganda against Germany.
Finally in 1917 the USA involves in the war, siding with the Allied States. Namely, Toynbee does win the propaganda war!"
William H. McNeill, "Arnold Toynbee - A Life" (1989 ). McNeill was professor of history emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he taught for 40 years. He further characterizes the Blue Book as "a disinformation book favoring the Allied states and aiming at shaping the public opinion, which does not go beyond the obsessive task of humiliating the Turks."
I haven't read Experiences, a 1969 book by Toynbee, but Dadrian's Zoryan Institute points out Toynbee has gone back to his Blue Book roots, using words as "largely successful attempt to exterminate" to describe the Ottoman Turks' actions. Prof. Hikmet Özdemir tells us Dadrian claims to have written to Toynbee, and Toynbee apparently flat out spoke in genocidal terms that no doubt made the Armenian prosecutor giddy with delight. The Turkish professor is maintaining a professional level of respect toward Dadrian, but anyone who knows Dadrian is aware his word can be taken as far as can be thrown, when regarding this genocide obsession. Ozdemir wonders why Dadrian hasn't made this letter public. It's a good question; the Toynbee letter would have provided good ammunition for Dadrian's cause. (Not that it's entirely necessary, because other damning Toynbee statements have been rounded up... in Toynbee's penultimate work, "Acquaintances," as well. Still, every little bit of dirt helps, for the Dadrians of the world.) Perhaps, like Aram Andonian (of Talat Pasha telegrams fame), Dadrian might have "lost" the original.
Prof. Hikmet Özdemir reveals some interesting facts about Toynbee during his "pro-Turk" period. After his first 1912 visit, where he seems to have hated the land, his eyes kept opening during visits in 1921, 1923, 1929, 1948 1962, and finally 1968.
In 1948, his "pal," Turkish leader Ismet Inonu, ordered Toynbee's "Study of History." In a letter dated Nov. 23, 1948 to son Omer, Inonu wrote that he had met with Toynbee, and described the historian as too much of a Christian and somewhat of a religious fanatic. (The Turkish words: "Fazla Hristiyan" and "dinci.") Another friend, "liberal" writer Ahmet Emin Yalman, independently corroborated this Toynbee characteristic in 1952.
Prof. Özdemir informs us that in August 1914 some of Britain's luminaries and historians gathered and declared the first thing they needed to do in order to win the war at hand was to get the USA to join. They planned on opening a propaganda division with this goal in mind. The historians were told their duties would consist of writing books, preparing brochures, lobbying newspapers like "The New York Times," and all the news articles, photographs and the works would henceforth be prepared. This movement would grow to be known as "Wellington House."
Interestingly, a number of the documents in the British Archives are forbidden. Some are deemed never to be opened, while others are time-stamped: to be opened in 2015, 2020 and so forth.
The Turkish professor also tells us after the USA hooked up in the First World War, they learned soon after that they were taken for a ride by British propaganda. With Britain in the role of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the Americans took their time before coming to the rescue in W.W.II.
In June 15, 1916, Toynbee wrote Boston's Dr. Barton a letter , saying the missionary Rockwell turned down Toynbee's request for names connected with "Mrs. Christie's journal of events at Tarsus," as the information belonged to Barton. Toynbee asks Barton of the same, and additionally requests the missionary to "fill in confidentially any further gaps in my collection."
"It, of course, weakens very much my position in editing these documents if I cannot say in the preface that I am personally in possession of the names of the people and places concerned."
Toynbee badgers Boston's Dr. Rockwell with another letter on June 20th, pretty much saying the same. He adds, "If I have to admit in a certain number of cases that the names are actually unknown to me, this will have a very weakening effect on the body of the evidence."
Toynbee also hobnobs with Boghos Nubar in a June 20 letter (along with Switzerland's Leopold Favre in a separate letter dated June 20), asking the Armenian leader for any "suggestions or corrections." Yes, it's sources like Nubar that helped make Toynbee's work "the official and most comprehensive British documentation," as the Zoryan Institute still tries to sell us. Toynbee lets Nubar know documents will be sent, "the authorship of which is still unknown to me."
"Of course, I would keep any further names you revealed to me as confidential."
Is this the kind of source Ara Sarafian possibly researched in an attempt to validate the Blue Book? Are we supposed to accept the word of Boghos Nubar, or for that matter, Turk-vilifying missionaries? Even if Sarafian pinned down some of these names... and how he could have done so is another matter, since even the principals from the period were having trouble making I.D.s of all the hearsay... what difference does it make? These conflicted sources could have made up any phony name, like "Emile Hilderbrand."
Toynbee was persistent, but for all his efforts to pin down the names, Dr. Barton had already written the young propagandist-historian on May 1, 1916 :
"I very much regret that we are unable to fill in the blanks in the documents that our Committee published in galley form for the press under date of October 14 1915. Most of these documents are not now here; in fact, many of them are not now accessible to us. I doubt if the names of the places would be especially significant."
"In Mrs. Christie's notes, the names have not been furnished to us."
Professor Justin McCarthy says, in his excellent overview of the insidious doings, behind-the-scenes:
The Wellington House brief was simple, the same brief as that of all propagandists. They were to make the enemies look as bad as possible and make their friends, and especially the British themselves, look as good as could be. Their main focus was, naturally, Germany, but much effort was expended against the Turks. Propaganda was not considered to be a gentleman's game. Toynbee himself remarked that he would like to get out of it for that reason. Nevertheless it was something that had to be done and British gentlemen did it. They were probably always ashamed of their work, however, as indicated by the fact that they destroyed all the records of the Propaganda Office immediately after the war.
Of further interest: War-time disinformation and "The Blue Book"
Chart Depicting Wellington House's Reach
Excerpts from Prof. Özdemir's Toynbee Speech
- Turkish - Armenian Relations
- American Academicians' Declaration (May 19, 1985)
- Turkish diplomats killed by armenian terrorists
- Questions and Answers
- Western perception towards the issue
- How the armenian issue came about?
- Armenian Terror
- What is the Armenian Problem?
- Armenian-Azerbaijan Conflict
- So Called Armenian Genocide
- Karabakh Conflict
- Khojaly Massacre
- Book Reviews