Tall Armenian Tale

 

The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide

 

  The Photographic "Evidence" of Armin Theophil Wegner   
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Insight on Wegner from Guenter Lewy


Armin Theophil Wegner

Armin Theophil Wegner

Armin T. Wegner was the World War I German medic who disobeyed orders and took photographs of the suffering Armenian people. His photographic works constitutes a large chunk of the documented proof that is offered by Armenians to support their claim of genocide. In the partially Armenian-sponsored PBS program, The Great War, for example... some of these photographs were presented as the main evidence. The photos on this page are mainly screen captures from the PBS show. (Although I discovered later his work is omnipresent throughout the Internet on the omnipresent Armenian web sites.)

I read Mr. Wegner himself was Armenian, and lost the information that backed up the claim. (If anyone can confirm whether Armin was Armenian, I'd appreciate knowing.) Biographies I've come across state that he was born "on October 16, 1886 in the town of Elberfeld/Rhineland... He was the scion of an old aristocratic Prussian family, with roots reaching back to the time of the Crusades." Well, that's as far away from being an Armenian as one can get. (Of course, the main reason the Armenians hooked up with the Nazi cause was the claim that the Armenians were fellow Aryans; but that's a different matter.)

Not that Armin Theophil Wegner would be any less credible if he did turn out to be Armenian... in an ideal world.  However, the normal sympathy one would feel while observing terribly suffering people would surely increase if the suffering were of your own, or similar, kind.  Unfortunately, Armenians have demonstrated time and time again that they cannot be counted upon to provide reliable information regarding the Armenian "Genocide." The only thing that's preventing me from believing Armin Theophil Wegner was not a purebred "Prussian," aside from the past information of his Armenian ethnic background I no longer have access to, is this one line that crops up on some of his biographies:

Armin's father, Gustav Wegner, came from a family of rigid Prussian traditions... In his autobiographical writings, Wegner recalled three episodes that left a mark on his life: his father's reading to him an account of the 1895 Armenian massacres in Turkey...

Not that it would be impossible for a German aristocrat of rigid Prussian traditions to be interested in the topic of Armenian massacres... but it makes me wonder. Along with that Greek-sounding middle name of his. (Also... while difficult to tell from the portrait above... what appears to be a rather large schnozzola. I'd love to see a profile shot.)

Armin Wegner was so tremendously affected by the suffering Armenians that he seemed to focus on the issue for years afterwards. Surely the sights he witnessed could be so haunting that anyone could develop a kind of obsession. However, it was World War I; the losses almost every nation suffered were catastrophic. Maybe Armin Wegner was not stationed anywhere during the war but in the Ottoman Empire. However, he must have seen other locals who were far from having a picnic. I would like to think one with his compassion would not limit himself to acknowledge the suffering of just one people.

He sounds like he was a pretty great guy overall. Armin Wegner had the incredible courage to send Hitler a six page letter in defense of the Jews. He naturally got arrested, and "would suffer incarceration in seven Nazi concentration camps and prisons before he could make his escape to Italy." 

----------

ADDENDUM: After writing the above, I encountered this double whammy from Prof. Türkkaya Ataöv's AN ARMENIAN FALSIFICATION, regarding a manipulated picture on the cover of a German booklet:

One may now focus on the latest Armenian falsification in respect to the Vereshchagin painting. The second edition of Der Prozess Talaat Pascha,2’ originally offered to the German reader by a certain (originally Armenian) Armin T. Wegner, was reprinted in Gottingen and Vienna in 1980 under the new title of Der Volkermord an den Armeniern vor Gericht, The Vereshchagin painting appears on the very cover of this German book, Talât Pasha’s photograph inserted in the upper left hand corner (see Annex 1). The German publication “confidently” announces in the inner pages that the cover photograph shows “Turkish barbarism” (Turkische Barberei), supposedly depicting a pyramid of skulls in Western Armenia, 1916-1917 (eine Schadelpyramide in Westarmenien 1916/17). I may here, once again, remind the reader that Vereshchagin painted this canvas in 1871 and that the artist died in 1904.

The picture in question appears on this site's "Forgeries" page. A Russian painting from 1871 made to look like a photograph of the Armenian "Genocide," nearly half a century later.

Apparently Armin Theophil Wegner was behind the first version of this German book from 1921 [Berlin, Deutsche Verlagsgesallschaft für Politik und Geschichte]; again, I'd like further evidence, as I'm not sure what "offered to the German reader" means; it does sound like Wegner was the force behind this book and didn't just contribute, say, a foreword. If he was the force... that is, if he wrote the book, perhaps with the presentation of his photographs, then he probably was behind passing off this painting as photographic evidence. If that's the case, far more than the revelation that he was probably Armenian, that would make my respect for the man's integrity take a serious nosedive. (See Addendum of 10-05., below.)
 


Later ADDENDUM (6-04):

I've been poking around to get at the truth of this matter, and at this point I don't think Prof. Türkkaya Ataöv believes Armin Wegner was an Armenian. Perhaps someone included that "originally Armenian" bit in the parentheses (from the excerpt of Ataöv's AN ARMENIAN FALSIFICATION, above), that appeared in whatever web site I got that from. Until better facts emerge (that is, until further "revision," the business of real truth-seeking historians), nobody should assume Armin Wegner was an Armenian.


Still Later ADDENDUM (10-05):

The 
                              1980 reprint of <i>Der 
                              Volkermord an den Armeniern vor Gericht

The 1980 reprint of Der Volkermord an
den Armeniern vor Gericht
(A Myth of Terror)

The book discussed above, along with commentary from Prof. Erich Feigl (from "The Myth of Terror") is reproduced at right.

Now that I see this is the doing of one of the meanest "genocide scholars" around... Tessa Hofmann.... CORRECTION: Tessa "Savvidis" Hofmann (Yes, she has a curious Greek-sounding middle name, as does her fellow German, Armin Theophil Wegner), I suppose the choice of putting this skullduggery forgery was not Wegner's doing, when this work was "first offered to the German reader" some seven decades ago. It looks like the credit belongs to our darling Tessa. I suppose the claim that this image shows "Turkish barbarism" must be attributed to Tessa Hofmann as well. In her writings, this "genocide scholar" appears to demonstrate a worse than usual contempt and hatred for the Turks, and as long as her desire to convey "Turkish barbarism" is satisfied, adherence to the facts will not always take priority.

Feigl's caption partly reads: "Vicious propaganda comes in various forms. One of the most sinister is the hidden falsification. The pamphlet... is adorned with a montage made up of a portrait of the accused, Talaat Pasha, and a horrid mountain of skulls. Casual observers — and they are the majority — will inevitably make a connection between Talaat and the crania on the cover."


 
From THE GREAT WAR... the more incriminating photographs.

 

Armin Wegner took this shot of Armenians being relocated

Armin Wegner took this shot of Armenians being relocated 

All of these shots were identified, among other photos in the PBS program, as coming from Armin Wegner. (The web provides other Wegner photographic examples, some worse than the images shown on the program.) Here we have Armenians marching to their new destinations. It certainly must have been terrible to travel on foot like that. As much as we would like to wish otherwise, the "Sick Man of Europe" had a limited railroad system during 1915.

 When a reporter from ATA-USA Magazine inquired about the documentation of the Wegner photos to the director of the German museum where the Wegner photo originals are housed (Stutgart's Schiller-Nationalmuseum Deutsches Literaturarchiv), the director replied:

“Unfortunately, we do not have any indication regarding when or in what country the Wegner photographs were taken. As a result, the dating, and sites depicted must be determined by whoever uses the photos.’’ 


 

shot was used to identify the "Genocide"

This dramatic shot was used to identify the "Genocide"
chapter in The Great War.

Poor children. There was a lot of suffering going on, to be sure. 
The other PBS Armenian program that is highlighted on this web site, "The Armenians, a Story of Survival," used this shot as well, along with certain others. On the latter program, the filmmakers decided to crop out much of the photo in order to highlight the crying girl... to accentuate the misery even further.

The question with this photo is... 
Why were these people hanged?

 

Hanged people. Is this proof of genocide?

Is this proof of genocide? 

Certainly, this image in itself is pretty disconcerting... it does not look like the civilized thing to do. However, the death penalty was in effect in the Ottoman Empire during 1915. Even Ottoman soldiers were executed for mistreatment of the Armenians. (Not imprisoned... executed.) I'm not too crazy about the death penalty, but some present-day civilized nations still practice this punishment, such as my own country, America.

If the reader accepts the Armenians were not as helpless as the Armenians and fellow Turcophobes would prefer you to believe... there were a lot of Armenians who were stirring things up, stabbing their nation in the back during a life and death struggle. Were the people in this photo hanged because they were simply innocent Armenians, victims of a systematic extermination... as the program would have us believe... or were they traitors to their homeland, that any nation of that period would have executed?

Do we even know that these hanged folks were Armenians? Armenian web sites irresponsibly use practically any sensational image they can get their hands on and claim the victims were Armenians.

This isn't the first time PBS has been happy to broadcast one-sided Armenian television shows... there have been many, through the years. Another was called "An Armenian Journey," back in 1988. Naturally, since real proof of the Armenian "Genocide" is nonexistent, these shows repeat the same material over and over again... and this show, too, featured Armin Wegner photographs.

If you visit the page in this site that refers to "An Armenian Journey," you will find the following information:

"The film credits the Informations and Dokumentationszentrum Armenian, an Armenian research center located in West Berlin, as the source of the photos. However, these photographs are in fact copies from a collection of 50 glass positives taken by Armin T. Wegner, a member of the German-Ottoman Health (Services)."

The originals are housed in Stutgart’s Schiller-Nationalmuseum Deutsches Literaturarchiv, and ATAA, the Turkish-American organization, contacted the museum director regarding the Wegner photos, and the reply was:

“Unfortunately, we do not have any indication regarding when or in what country the Wegner photographs were taken. As a result, the dating, and sites depicted must be determined by whoever uses the photos"

The article on "An Armenian Journey" concludes: "This means that the people displayed could be Turks, Armenians or others, all of whom died in large numbers in the regions Wegner visited."

Now, take a look at this photograph, also from "The Great War":

Has anyone documented to whom these skulls once belonged? 

Has anyone documented to whom these skulls once belonged? 

Perhaps the most horrifying photo among all the Wegner photos presented on the Armin Wegner segment of the program.

For one thing, I have a hunch Armin Theophil Wegner didn't even take this shot... because it's so jarringly different than the others that were shown, representing his work. Since the other photos weren't "genocidal" enough, I can easily suspect the producers snuck this photo in as part of the Armin Wegner collection.  I could be wrong, but it doesn't matter. Go to any Armenian web site, and you will find plenty of "bone" photos.

Two other reasons why this photo is particularly fishy is... "The Great War" identifies Wegner as having "visited a refugee camp filled with survivors." I don't know who was running this refugee camp (the Turks? The Christian relief organizations?), but I'd doubt these skulls would be allowed to remain in the camp, or nearby.... for Armin Wegner to have photographed it. Secondly, since Armin Wegner happened to be encountering the resettling Armenians in 1915 and/or 1916...how did the flesh so cleanly melt away from these skulls in such a short time? I'm not an expert in how long it takes a body to decompose... but I have encountered images of bodies being exhumed after relatively long periods of time (say a year, or even two), and the corpses are still in the process of rotting, and not yet "clean" skeletons. Of course, these skulls were exposed to the elements (I guess; who knows?), so the decomposition might have taken place faster.

This is the point. We just don't know the origin of these photos..! Even the "legitimate" work of an Armin Theophil Wegner is undocumented. Imagine what the source of all the "horror" photos the Armenians feature in their web sites are.

Here are two of the sadder images featured in The Great War


 

Children apparently dead of starvation

Children apparently dead of starvation

What a heart-breaking sight. This one, and the one underneath. Again, we have no idea who the victims are. However, let's say these dead children are Armenians, as they likely are.

What do these photos prove?

Surely the Armenians who were being resettled faced deplorable conditions, starvation being one of them. However, was this a case of the Ottoman Empire's deliberate campaign of murder, as the genocide advocates have attested?

Here is what Henry Morgenthau, one of those very genocide advocates said in his ghostwritten book, "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story" (but on this point, he had no reason to exaggerate... besides, he is far from the only source to proclaim the awful conditions of "The Sick Man of Europe"):

The Turkish Government paid its soldiers 25 cents a month, and gave the families a separation allowance of $1.20 a month. As a result thousands were dying from lack of food and many more were enfeebled by malnutrition.And this was during the German-initiated mobilization period, before the war had even started!

Even Ottoman SOLDIERS died of malnutrition. General Liman von Sanders, as an unfriendly witness in the trial of Talat Pasha's assassin, testified:"...The economic situation was so dismal that not only many Armenians, but thousands of Turkish soldiers as well died of the lack of food supplies, disease, and other consequences of poor organization in the Turkish government. In my division alone, after the battle of Gallipoli, thousands died of malnutrition. IMAGINE! The Ottoman Empire is in its death throes, desperately fighting superior foes on multiple fronts. You would think if the limited resources would have to go anywhere, it would go to the one component that was keeping the nation from getting eaten alive —  the military personnel. If the SOLDIERS were dying of malnutrition and disease by the thousands, who in their right minds would fault the government for not feeding the Armenians as a first priority?

Yes, it's mortifying to see these photos of suffering and dying people.

NOT one of Armin Wegner's photos; a frame capture from archival footage

Horrible! (This was one of the photos from "The Great War" that is NOT one of Armin Wegner's... it's a frame capture from archival footage.
ADDENDUM, 9-08: A closer  look at the above.

However, the overexposed presentation of these photographs is a perfect example of how unfairly one-sided the Armenian "Genocide" has been. The Armenians who starved and suffered from malnutrition were only one segment of the population who suffered from the same causes.

Moreover, the Armenians would soon have a flood of Christian charities, organized by the Near East Relief fund, to help them in this dark hour. (To the tune of over a whopping 113,000,000 American dollars, "more than a billion dollars in contemporary terms," according to Peter Balakian.) The Turks would be totally on their own, facing even more desperate conditions, as the war came to an end and their nation crumbled.

Armenian Relief Camp

Armenian Relief Camp

My first impression, when I saw the photo at right among the other "genocide" photographs in "The Great War," was that this was a concentration camp. No doubt others came to the same conclusion, supporting the case for genocide. I've now come to realize, based on what I've learned through the Near East Relief drive, that the photo (which is not an Armin Wegner photo) most likely depicts the tents put up by the Christian relief organizations. Not that the Armenians were having a wonderful time, but at least food and other needs were being provided for them.... while the Turks continued to suffer.

The reader must ask:

If the famine implied in photos as the first two shown here was a result of the Ottoman government's deliberate policy of extermination, why then did the Ottomans spend a small fortune on the resettling of the Armenians... when such money could have been put the good use, elsewhere? Remember, the Ottomans were broke! Even such a powerful "Armenian source" as Morgenthau's book confirms this.

If the Ottoman government intended to do away with the Armenians, it would have slaughtered them on the spot... just like the Armenians massacred their Turkish cousins. Why bother with resettlements? (The word "deportation" is incorrect; it's defined as "banishment or expulsion from a country" in my dictionary. The Armenians were taken from one place of the Ottoman Empire to another... within the country.)
DID WEGNER PROVE A "GENOCIDE," OR SUFFERING? HE DID NOT WITNESS A SINGLE MASSACRE. BY CONTRAST, HERE IS WHAT HIS COUNTERPART, A RUSSIAN MEDIC, HAD TO REPORT:


"I arrived in Bayburt on August 8, 1917. What I saw was terrifying. Armenians under the Russian administration were committing horrifying, wild atrocities against Turks in Bayburt and Ispir. The rebels named Arshak and Antranik, slaughtered the children in the orphanage I worked at with their daggers. They raped young girls and women. They took away 150 children with them while they were withdrawing from Bayburt and killed most of them while they were still on the way."

Red Cross Attendant Tatiana Karameli, student of Russian Medicine School, serving at Russian Red Cross 1917-18, memoirs. Ottoman Archives BOA HR. SYS. 2877/1


Are "Massacre" photos a one-way street?


 

An Armenian family sitting in a tent inside a refugee

An Armenian family sitting in a tent inside a refugee
camp is what this photo appears to be.

To sum up, most of the Armin Wegner photos shown in "The Great War" were of the variety of people on the march or in refugee camps, such as this shot at right. The worst of the lot has been shown above. (And even one that was not an Armin Wegner photo... to be more fair; and I'm not referring to the "skulls" shot, whose origin is dubious.) What's the verdict?

Of course, the Ottoman Turks did not have the efficiency of the Nazis, and photographic equipment was not as widely present as during the days of WWII. However, we've all seen tons of photographic proof of WWII's Holocaust...  incriminating shots of bulldozers pushing countless corpses into pits, and the like... you would think there would at least be some photos that would make you think, there's a full-scale GENOCIDE going on. All I'm seeing are undocumented photographs of suffering, miserable people, and some that have died or look like they are about to. It's a mighty big leap to prove a government-sponsored extermination occurred, on the basis of these photographs.

I have seen a PAINTING in Armenian sites of Turkish soldiers on horseback attacking half-naked women, but... that's a make-believe image created from the artist's imagination. Even if there were a few actual photographs with similar scenes, would that prove the Armenian "genocide"? Turks are the first to admit brutalities occurred on their end. There is no denying that Armenians have been massacred. However, massacres by themselves do not constitute genocide, not according to the definition of the 1948 U.N. convention.

What I don't see in Armenian web sites is any mention of Armenians having massacred Turks. Why is this?

The reason, of course, is that it would take away from the Myth of Innocence Armenians and their sympathizers have worked so long to establish, almost exclusively offering their side of the story, with no opposing view.

Massacred Turkish women and children in the village of  Subatan

Massacred Turkish women and children in the village of  Subatan

If Armin Wegner's photos serves as sufficient proof of a genocide for you, then what does the photo at left suggest? I only became recently aware of photos like these when I started constructing this web site because, probably like yourself, I've only been exposed to Armenian visual "evidence." (Living in the United States as I do.) However, there is a whole slew of photographs such as these. Moreover, many of these shots appear fully documented, unlike the images at the Armenian sites, the origin of which are mostly unknown.

I can bombard this site with such sad images as the ones you're seeing, but my intention is not to go for the sympathy vote. What I'm interested in is uncovering the truth and FAIRNESS of this issue. Why have I never seen such images of murdered Turks? If you are from America, Europe or Australia... have you seen such images?

Don't forget, these butchered Turks were murdered under a campaign to systematically eliminate them, to make room for Armenians in provinces where they were far from in the majority.

Massacred Turks left on snow in Erzican

Massacred Turks left on snow in Erzican

This is like in the Old West, to bring up the "Indian" analogy again. Indians would kill a settler's family, and the press would howl in outrage. When U.S. troops would clean out a whole Indian settlement, mum would be the word. Conclusion: the Indian's lives... just like Turkish lives... were regarded as less than human.

 

Skulls and bones unearthed as a result f the excavation work at the site of of a mass grave in the village of Zeve, Van

 

survivor from Kars

 
Turkish lad whom Armenians wanted to kill by lighting a fire on his abdomen

The caption for this is: "An innocent and defenceless Turkish
lad whom Armenians wanted to kill by lighting a fire on his
abdomen"; (Collection of Photographs, First World War, Album
no. 4, Photo No. 69, Archives of the Department of Military
History and Strategic Studies, Turkish General Staff.)

Just one of the countless Turkish victims of Armenian
brutality... but the reason I chose to include it was
not because this boy was a victim of the Armenians, but to
show off his legs. He's just as skeletal as the photos
of the Armenian children you see above... shedding
light on how commonplace famine was for all the people.


Between April 17th and May 20th 1918, the German author Dr. Weiss, Austrian writer Dr. Stein and Turkish writer Mr. Ahmet Refik (Altinay) visited Trabzon, Kars, Erzurum, Batum and environs to record the cruelties of the Armenians. The latter author's observations are in two books, "Two Committees and Two Massacres" and "On the Caucasian Roads." For more photographs exploring this far lesser known arena:

http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/yayinlar/yayin3/arm111_150.pdf

Excerpts from Refik's books:

"Two Committees and Two Massacres," Istanbul, 1919, pp.
71–72, describing Erzincan:
"..fresh corpses lying about in the streets and deep in the wells covered with blood not yet dried were those of the poor Turks killed by Armenians. When looked down into the narrow wells, a bad odor would strike the nose and one would feel faint. Hairs and pieces of clothes of the unfortunate Turks were still there stuck to the stones of the wells. Places of ruins, places of burnt down houses, bottoms of the walls were filled with the corpses of the Turks, severed arms, skulls, fatty leg bones, bodies not yet decayed. People were grieved and wretched. Those wandering in the downtown were without shoes, with burnt faces and in tattered clothes. Only grass was on sale in the shops to feed the people. Wheat was not available anywhere but with the military command. Were it not for the kindness of the Commander, even the Sub-governor would no doubt starve to death."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"On the Roads of the Caucasus," describing Erzurum: "I am in a place destroyed by fire. This historical and devoted land of the Turks lay in ruins. Streets, buildings, mosques, madrasas and entirely destroyed houses are filled up with bodies. When the rubbles of burnt down houses are slightly moved heads of men and children, arms, legs, parts and pieces of bodies and feet are revealed.... While fighting against the Ottoman Army in the formation of armed bands outside the town, the Armenians were killing the people in the town by stuffing them into caserns and shutting in houses. Sometimes they chopped the heads on a log and threw the bodies into wells.... There is nothing under the rubbles of walls but Turkish bodies. When the soil is slightly dug, a human arm would first appear, then the head and the whole body displaying a tragic scene. Corpses were so rotten that brains would flow out at the slightest touch, grinning chins would disintegrate and fatty, burnt and crushed chests would appear naked and wretched in soiled clothes.... The Armenian savagery had terribly devastated Erzurum. Streets were all filled with bodies of women and children. Women’s breasts and even private organs were nailed to walls. Children’s lungs were hanging from telegraph wires. Entirely naked woman bodies with pierced abdomens were put in rows on both sides of the road. When we had seen this state of my unfortunate nation, we became almost crazy. I wonder if civilized Europe will try to find out those who are guilty of these crimes. History has never recorded such brutalities before. They caught innocent maidens, attacked them like wild animals and satisfied themselves on their innocent bodies and then ripped their abdomens with bayonets and threw them onto ruins. We were occupied for weeks to gather these corpses, take their photographs and bury them. While entering the town it was terrible to see the roadsides. On both sides were arranged woman corpses. The genital organs of women were torn and male genital organs were pushed into. Tears were coming involuntarily from my eyes and I was feeling a bitter curse at the deepest point of my heart."

Courtesy of ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS ABOUT THE ATROCITIES AND GENOCIDE INFLICTED UPON TURKS BY ARMENIANS

 

 

"Untrustworthy" Wegner:
"The realm of legends"

 

ADDENDUM, 9-08
The following insight on Armin Wegner is from Guenter Lewy's The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide (2005, pp. 135-6).




As a crucial ally Germany maintained a large military mission in Turkey that at all times had a sizable presence in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Some of these officers commanded or were staff officers of Turkish army units. Others had administrative assignments, such as on the Baghdad railway; military physicians sought to improve Turkish sanitation and medical services. In all of these positions German officers, though not proficient in the Turkish language and dependent on interpreters, were in an excellent position to observe the course of the Armenian deportations; and their reports, to be found in the archive of the German Foreign Ministry, contain much valuable information.

After the end of the war some of these officers published memoirs. The best known of these military authors are Colmar von der Goltz, Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein, Otto Liman von Sanders, Ludwig Schraudenbach, and Theodor Wiegand, as well as the Austrian military attaché Joseph Pomiankowski. All of these books represent important sources for the wartime deportations.

In contrast, the work of the writer and poet Armin T. Wegner, who has been called the genocide's "leading eyewitness,"22 has been found to be untrustworthy. Serving as a young lieutenant in a volunteer sanitation unit, Wegner had learned of the deportations and massacres. On journeys in 1915 and 1916 between Baghdad and Aleppo Wegner observed the terrible suffering of the deportees and was able to take photographs, despite orders forbidding the taking of pictures. Wegner conveyed this information to Lepsius and Walter Rathenau, later to become foreign minister; but the publication of Wegner's findings ran into difficulties in wartime Germany and did not take place until 1919 and 1920.23 In January 1919 he also addressed an open letter to President Woodrow Wilson, in which he pleaded for the creation of an Armenian state in order to make up for the cruel fate of the Armenians and find a just solution of the Armenian question. The following excerpt from his letter to the American president is an example of what Tessa Hofmann, a generally sympathetic critic, has called a mode of description characterized by "pathos and passionate exaggeration."24

Children cried themselves to death, men threw themselves to their death on the rocks while women threw their own children into wells and pregnant mothers leapt singing into the Euphrates. They died all the deaths of the world, the death of all the centuries. I saw men gone mad, feeding on their own excrement, women cooking their newborn children, young girls cutting open the still warm corpses of their mothers to search their guts for the gold they had swallowed out of fear of the thieving gendarmes.25

Wegner was a poet, Hofmann has noted, and was prone to "a highly dramatized self-absorption."26 But Wegner's work on the Armenian tragedy suffers not only from excessive pathos and exaggeration. In 1993 the German scholar Martin Tamcke brought out a detailed critical examination of Wegner's writings on the deportations. Tamcke compared Wegner's published work with the original diary on which it was based, which had become available after his death in 1978. This comparison revealed numerous discrepancies as well as important differences of substance when contrasted with other available accounts of conditions in the Mesopotamian camps. Tamcke concluded that Wegner certainly did not deserve the title "chief eye-witness of the genocide," which had been bestowed on him by the Armenians and their friends. Wegner's published work, Tamcke wrote, could not be considered an authentic source on the Armenian deportation and belonged not to history but to "the realm of legends." 27


NOTES

22. Hofmann, "German Eyewitness Reports on the Genocide of the Armenians," p. 65. In a 1996 publication cited below and in a conversation with me in Berlin in September 2001, Professor Hofmann acknowledged that her earlier appraisal had been too flattering and that Wegner's testimony was less than reliable.

23. The most important and best-known of these publications is Armin T. Wegner, Der Weg ohne Heimkehr: Em Martyrium in Briefen.

24. Tessa Hofmann, Armin T. Wegner: Writer, Eyewitness and Photographer of the Armenian Genocide, p. 7.

25. Quoted in Hofmann, "German Eyewitness Reports on .the Genocide of the Armenians," p. 66. The complete text of the letter, albeit in a different translation, can be found in Andonian, Memoirs of Naim Bey, pp. 72-84.

26. Hofmann, Armin T. Wegner, p. 7.

27. Martin Tamcke, Armin T. Wegner und die Armenier: Anspruch und Wirklichkeit eines Augenzeugen, p. 220. A table listing the discrepancies between the original diary and its published version as well as differences from other accounts (especially by Lepsius) can be found on pp. 242—45.



 


 
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