The Situation of the Armenians: By One Who was Among Them
Followed by background on the article, and a report on whether Sweden has recognized the Armenians' genocide.
ADDENDUM, 12-06: Thanks to the research of Dr. Mete Soyturk, who made possible the /images on this page, we have new information on the Swedish officer (whose full name was Gustav Hjalmar Pravitz; the initials "H. J.," as originally provided on this page, were in error. The "first" name was really "HJ," which must be an abbreviation, Swedish-style). Pravitz actually went on to author a 1918 book which partly delved on the topic, entitled ”Från Persien i stiltje och storm.”
What were these Swedes doing in the neighborhood, anyway? As Dr. Soyturk explains, Iran was looking to improve its gendarmerie and police operations, and military personnel from Sweden (numbering fifty-four at its height) were invited and stayed between 1911 and 1924. Sympathetic to Germany, these personnel gave the Central Powers a hand from time to time (mainly in matters of sabotage), and thus some found themselves in the Ottoman Empire from 1916 on.
The situation of the Armenians: By one who was among them
By Hj Pravitz, Nya Dagligt Allehanda, 23 April, 1917
Hj Pravitz takes a deeper look at the statements that had previously been made by Mrs. Marika Stjernstedt, in Nya Dagligt Allehanda, a Swedish Newspaper published in the period 1859-1944.
"…Recently returned home from abroad I have right now – i.e. somewhat late – had the opportunity to look at two Swedish booklets on the Armenian issue. "Sven Hedin — adelsman" [Sven Hedin — a nobility], by Ossiannilsson and "Armeniernas fruktansvärda läge" [the terrible situation of the Armenians], by Marika Stjernstedt. The former book went immediately in the waste basket. In all its poorly hidden appreciation of the title character, it annoyed me more than a main article in Dagens Nyheter. The latter, which seemed spirited by the compassion for the suffering Armenians, I have read repeatedly, and it is really this and its inaccuracies that my article is about.
I dare to claim, that hardly any other Swede has had the opportunity like me, to thoroughly and closely study the misery among the Armenians, since I now for about a month have traveled right among all the emigrating poor people. And this, during the right time, fall 1915, during which the alleged brutalities, according to both writers, were particularly bad.
I want to hope, that what I am describing below, which are my own experiences, will have the purpose to remove the impression of inhumanity and barbarity from the Turkish and German side, which is easily induced by the reading of the two booklets mentioned above.
If I understand the contents of the books correctly, both writers want to burden the Turks as well as the Germans with deliberate assaults or even cruelties.
My position as an imbedded eyewitness gives me the right and duty to protest against such claims, and the following, based on my experiences, will support and strengthen this protest.
Despite the fact that I was and am such a pronounced friend of Germany and its allies, which is consistent with the position of a servant of a neutral country, I started my journey from Konstantinopel (Istanbul) through the Asian Turkey, with a certain prejudiced point of view, partly received from American travelers, about the persecution of the Armenians by their Turkish masters. My Lord, which misery I would see, and to which cruelties I would be a witness! And although my long service in the Orient has not convinced me that the Armenians, despite their Christianity, are any of God’s best children, I decided to keep my eyes open to see for myself to which extent the rumors about Turkish assaults are true and the nameless victims were telling the truth.
I sure got to view misery, but planned cruelties? Absolutely nothing.
This is precisely why it has appeared to me to be necessary to speak up.
To start with, it is unavoidable to state, that a transfer of the unreliable Armenian elements from the northern parts of the Ottoman Empire to the south was done by the Turkish government due to compulsory reasons.
It should have been particularly important to remove, from the Erzeroum district, all these settlers, who only waited for a Russian invasion to join the invading army against the hated local legal authority. When Erzeroum fell in February 1916, an Armenian, with whom I just shared Russian imprisonment, uttered something I interpreted as 'It would have fallen way earlier if we had been allowed to stay.' That a country like Turkey, threatened and attacked by powerful external enemies, is trying to secure itself against cunning internal enemies, no one should be able to blame her.
I think it points to a misconception when one claims that the Armenians are living under the uninterrupted distress of some sort of Turkish slavery. There are peoples that have it worse. Or what about Indian Kulis and Bengalis under British rule, and the Persian nationalists in Azerbaijan under the Russians' — "penétration pacificue", and the Negroes in Belgian Congo, and the Indians in the Kautschuk district in French Guyana. All these, not to mention many others, seem to me, are victimized to a higher degree and more permanently than the Armenians. I guess technically, one can say that a longer lasting but milder persecution is less bearable to endure than a bloody but quick act of despotism, as in (Ottoman) assaults of the kind that from time to time put Europe's attention on the Armenian issue. Apart from these periodical so-called massacres, the reason of which could to a large degree be ascribed to the Armenians themselves, I do think that the (Armenians) are treated reasonably well.
The (Armenians) have their own religion, their own language, both in speaking and writing, their own schools etc.
As far as the much discussed major Armenian migration is concerned, I am the first to agree that the attempts of the Turkish side to reduce the difficulties of the refugees left a lot to be desired. But I emphasize again, in the name of fairness, that considering the difficult situation in which Turkey, as the target of attack from three powerful enemies, was in and it was, in my opinion, almost impossible for the Turks, under these circumstances, to have been able to keep up an orderly assistance activity.
I have seen these poor refugees, or "emigrants", to use Tanin’s words, seen them closely. I have seen them in the trains in Anatolia, in oxen wagons in Konia and elsewhere, by foot in uncountable numbers up in the Taurus mountains, in camps in Tarsus and Adana, in Aleppo, in Deir-el-Zor and Ana.
I have seen dying and dead along the roads — but among hundreds of thousands there must, of course, occur casualties. I have seen childrens' corpses, shredded to pieces by jackals, and pitiful individuals stretch their bony arms with piercing screams of "ekmek" (bread).
But I have never seen direct Turkish assaults against the ones hit by destiny. A single time I saw a Turkish gendarme in passing hit a couple of slow moving people with his whip; but similar things have happened to me in Russia, without me complaining, not then, nor later.
In Konia, there lived a French woman, Madame Soulié, with family and an Italian maid. They lived there, despite the war, and the Turks did them no harm. And as far as the Germans stationed in the town are concerned, she called them 'our angels.' 'They give all they have to the Armenians!.' Such evidence of German readiness to sacrifice I established everywhere the Germans were.
In Aleppo, I lived by the Armenian Báron, the owner of a large hotel. He did not tell me about any Turkish cruelties, although we talked a lot about the situation of his fellow citizens. We also talked about Djemal Pasha, who would come the day after and with whom I would meet. Báron expressed himself very positively about this man, who by the way, least of all seemed like an executioner.
In Aleppo, I hired an Armenian servant, who then during a couple of months was my daily company. Not a word has he told me about Turkish cruelties, neither in Aleppo nor in his home town of Marash or elsewhere. I must unconditionally believe in exaggerations from Mrs. Stjernstedt’s side and I do not put one bit of confidence in the Armenian authorities she claims to refer to.
On page 44, Mrs. Stjernstedt writes about (the town of) Meskene and an Armenian doctor Turoyan. I was in Meskene right when he was supposed to have been there. I looked carefully around everywhere for historical landmarks, since Alexander the great crossed the Euphrates (river) here, and the old testament also talks about this place. There was not a sign of Armenian graves and not of any Armenians either, except for my just mentioned servant. I consider Mr. Turayan’s evidence very questionable, and I even dare to doubt that this man, if he exists, was ever there during the mentioned time. If the conditions in Meskene really were as he claims, will anyone then believe that the suspicious Turks would have sent an Armenian up there with a "mission from the government"?
For fourteen days, I followed the Euphrates; it is completely out of the question that I during this time would not have seen at least some of the Armenian corpses that, according to Mrs. Stjernstedt’s statements, should have drifted along the river en masse at that time. A travel companion of mine, Dr. Schacht, was also travelling along the river. He also had nothing to tell when we later met in Baghdad.
In summary, I think that Mrs. Stjernstedt, somewhat uncritically, has accepted the hair-raising stories from more or less biased sources, which formed the basis for her lecture.
By this, I do not want to deny the bad situation for the Armenians, which probably can motivate the collection initialized by Mrs. Stjernstedt.
But I do want to, as far as it can be considered to be within the powers of an eyewitness, deny that the regular Turkish gendarme forces, who supervised the transports, are guilty of any cruelties.
Later on, in a different format, I want to impartially and neutrally like now treat the Armenian issue, but at the moment, may the adduced be enough.
Rättvik, April 1917
The Swedish text may be accessed on this very page if you click here.
Notes on the above article, by Ergun Kirlikovali
The entire credit for this incredible piece of research goes to my good friend Dr. Erdal Atrek, a Turkish-American scholar. My hat is off to this gentleman. I am proud to know Dr. Atrek from my high school years in the late 1960s at the Robert Academy of Istanbul, Turkey, and lucky to have caught up with him again many years later in America.
While I am proud to be Erdal Atrek’s school mate, I am embarrassed and ashamed to be Orhan Pamuk’s classmate (1966-1970), who chose to sell his soul — and heritage — to get the Nobel Prize. While Pamuk insulted the entire Turkish nation without knowing the first thing about the facts surrounding the Turkish-Armenian civil war during WWI, Dr. Atrek went out of his way to unearth this magnificent piece of evidence single handedly, which will literally bury the ethocidal campaigns of the AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters") community.
What follows, breaks the back of the AFATH lobby and the AAG ("Alleged Armenian genocide") irreparably, as a Swedish officer, WHO ACTUALLY TRAVELED UP AND DOWN THE EUPHRATES RIVER WITH THE ARMENIAN REFUGEES DURING THE FALL OF 1915, the highlight of the so-called genocide, saw absolutely no Armenian bodies floating in the river or the river reddened due to Armenian blood, as usually told by the sensation — seeking AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters") crowds to the unsuspecting media. I will not spoil the wonderful surprise by telling you all about this article here; you must read it in its entirety below...
Please note that the Swedish officer does say that he had witnessed hunger, starvation, and suffering among the Armenians, which no one in the Turkish camp, including this writer, disputes. What we, in the Turkish camp, are saying is that the Christian suffering described here or elsewhere in the AFATH literature, can not be viewed as separate from what was experienced by the Muslim inhabitants of the area and era, which was, tragedy-for-tragedy, casualty-for-casualty, loss-for-loss, four times worse than the Armenian suffering. If one takes into account, as any decent, self-respecting, and fair-minded individual must, this “simple-but-rock-solid fact,” then one can not talk about a genocide. Case closed!
What’s more, the suffering that befell on all the inhabitants of Anatolia, without discrimination as to the race, ethnicity, color, or creed of the inhabitants, was the direct result of the greed, terror, armed uprisings, brutal betrayals, and supreme treason by the Armenian revolutionaries, which were passionately supported and viciously manipulated by Russia, France, and Britain, for their own selfish imperialist interests. Those European powers had themselves been locked in a three way contest, to see who will pick up the largest slice of the pie that was the vast lands of the tri-continent Ottoman Empire.
Europe rained death and destruction on Anatolia during WWI and conducted at least part of this unspeakable campaign of death and destruction using proxies, like the Ottoman-Armenians, (and Ottoman-Greeks, among other Ottoman-Christians), causing neighbor-killing-neighbor, and destroying a millennium of peaceful co-habitation by the Turks and Armenians, or Muslims and Christians, in Anatolia. The U.S. Protestant missionaries also contributed to this human tragedy first with their anti-Turkish and anti-Muslim teachings during 1865-1915 and then with their biased reports of Armenian suffering from Anatolia during 1914-1918, which the New York Times gladly printed word-for-word, without once checking their validity or seeking inputs or rebuttals from the Turkish side for balance and fairness. While the missionaries filed and the New York Times printed 145 anti-Turkish stories in the year 1915 alone, for example, there was not a single report mentioning the four times worse Muslim suffering ... or a single refutation or rebuttal by the Turks… Some journalistic ethics! Some war coverage! (This anti-Turkish bias, unfortunately, seems to continue, at some level, even today.)
And if those wartime measures were not taken when they were, then the undersigned would probably not be writing these lines today or there would not be half million Turkish-Americans... or Five million Turkish-Europeans... or Seventy million Turkish citizens of Turkey... As most would have met the same tragic end as my paternal and maternal grandfathers did at the hands of the Ottoman-Armenians and Ottoman-Greek: Extermination and burial in unmarked mass graves of unknown location!
Don’t think for a moment that my suffering is unique; not at all. There is no family in Turkey today whose grandparents had not been devastated by the WWI. Our last names tell our tragic stories and we need no lessons from anyone about man’s inhumanity to man. I am a product, like many Turks, of an ignored and untold genocide; that of the Turks. Yet, in all these years, I have not read a single word about my suffering in any of the AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters") accounts... All I see is an unfortunate and relentless barrage of typical Crusader bias, constantly parroting the Armenian side of the tragedy, and drilling into the hearts and minds of unsuspecting readers the notion of “poor, starving Armenians” and “barbarous Turk” clichés, with zero respect for fairness, balance, or truth. And then they wonder: “Why is this issue not resolved in 90 years?” You tell me!
"The situation of the Armenians: By one who was among them. A Swedish officer, H.J. Pravitz, takes a deeper look at the statements by Mrs. Marika Stjernstedt," Nya Dagligt Allehanda, a Swedish Newspaper published in the period 1859-1944, 23 April, 1917.
Original was traced in the Swedish Royal Library, copied, and translated by Dr. Per A. Nordlund, a Swedish national, upon a personal request by his friend, Dr. Erdal Atrek, a Turkish-American, who had seen this newspaper article mentioned in a pamphlet published by the Turkish Prime Ministry: Armenians in Ottoman Documents (1915-1920), Ankara, 1995, page 179.
Dr. Atrek says this clipping, perhaps an old clipping from the original Sweden paper, which probably yellowed and all too brittle by now, was used as an appendix to the document number 205 in that pamphlet.. There is an Ottoman translation attached to this clipping which is further translated into today’s Turkish by Mr. Mehmed Munir, the legal counselor to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Atrek obtained and carefully guards the photocopies of the entire newspaper issue of 23 April, 1917, in case the AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters") sends a team of “seek and destroy” agents to Sweden to steal and destroy this document which very damaging to the AFATH claims of Ottoman Army excesses during the relocation.
Dr. Nordlund, the translator, was a believer in AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters") claims of genocide, until he read this article. He was so moved by the fairness and truth in it, that he told Dr. Atrek that he changed his position now.
The writer sends his heartfelt thanks to both Dr. Atrek and Dr. Nordlund for their selfless work which will revolutionize our task of exposing the ethocidal behavior of some of those AFATH-owned-and-operated genocide scholars. Our task of refuting and exposing the AFATH is a lot easier now, thanks to their efforts.
Did the Swedish Parliament Recognize the "Genocide"?
“Swedish Parliament corrects Its Earlier Decision; Says Genocide Did Not Happen”
By Serkan Demirtas, Cumhuriyet, 27 March 2002
(Cumhuriyet is a Turkish daily newspaper published since 1923 in Ankara, Turkey)
"... Swedish Parliament admitted that they made a mistake in the year 2000 by recognizing the AAG and basing their decision on the UN resolutions of similar recognition . They have since determined that the UN had never had such resolutions.
The Swedish Parliament declared that no pronouncements can be made on the alleged, pre-1948 genocide of Armenians, Assyrians, and Keldanis, and the issue should be left up to the historians. By resolving that the genocide convention of 1948 is not retroactive, the Swedish Parliament also gave support to the Turkish position.
The resolution was introduced by Murad Artin, an Armenian member of the Swedish Parliament, Foreign Relations Committee, who belongs to a leftist party. After deliberations, the committee offered the following recommendations to the general assembly:
· No official Swedish position has ever been formulated which recognizes the events during the Ottoman Empire as genocide;
· Our committee, during its deliberations of the resolution dated and numbered 1999/2000:U651, made a reference to a UN resolution in 1985, recognizing the treatment of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century as genocide. Later, it was determined that no such U.N. resolution was passed in 1985 or in any other year. Consequently, our committee should have never formulated their statement the way it did.
· Our committee is of the opinion that it is important to discuss these events openly. For this to happen, unconditional historical researches must be conducted.
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