Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Exodus of Christians from Anatolia  
First Page


Major Players
Links & Misc.



Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
Sam Weems

 Armenians love to point out that their people were forced out of today's Turkey... and the Greeks enjoy pointing to their own "genocide" of Pontus. The Armenians never mention that the Treaty of Gumru allowed Armenians to return when (according to Dennis Papazian's "What Every Armenian Should Know") "Russia even forbade Armenian refugees, who had managed to flee the Genocide, from returning to their lands, which the Russian armies had over(run) during the war."

What really happened? Prof. Stanford Shaw sheds light in his "The Armenian Legion and Its Destruction of the Armenian Community in Cilicia" chapter from the book, "The Armenians in the Late Ottoman Period."

(The following provides excerpts and rewording, in some instances; for those interested in the fabulous work of Prof. Shaw, please run an Internet search to read the original in its entirety.)


A French Report

French High Commissioner in Istanbul to French Minister of Foreign Affairs Pichon, 27 September 1919. AG, Chateau de Vincennes, Paris, Archives de la Guerre, AAEF-Levant 1918-29 (Arménie), vol. 7, fol. 148:

"During the journey which he has just completed, Lieutenant Dubreuil has established that the Armenians of the region of Kayseri are leaving the region; this exodus was not motivated by any sudden fear felt by the Armenians, as they have attested to the security which reigns at least at the present time in the province, but rather by the advice and exhortations which are given to them by their co-religionists and even by their bishops who reside in Constantinople, in other cities of Turkey, and even in Europe...." with Dubreuil himself reporting: "I have the honor of informing you that the Christians of the region of Kayseri are abandoning their region en masse... at the present time, the Catholic bishop of Kayseri, who is in Istanbul, is one of the main organisers of this exodus, through the advice he provides. The policy followed in Cilicia which aims at making Adana a province solely populated by Armenians is certainly one of the factors behind this departure en masse...."

  Corroborated by Ottoman documents

 Ottoman reports on this mass movement can be found in Asair ve Muhacirin (Istanbul Dahiliye) to the Governor of Kastamou, 3 Safar 1338/28 October 1919: BBA DH/SFR dosya 104, doc. 96; Kalemi Mahsus (Istanbul Dahiliye) to governors of Ankara, Konya, Bolu and TEke, 8 Safar 1338/2 November 1919: BBA DH/SFR dosya 104. docs. 146 and 147: Kalem-i Mahsus to District Governor of Mamuretulaziz, 15 Safar 1338/9 November 1919: BBA DH/SFR dosya 104. doc. 182.

Sequence of Events

 The French-Armenian Legion is unleashed upon the innocent Turkish populace in what the Allies referred to as "Cilicia," and they commit the most unspeakable atrocities. Protests to the French fall upon deaf ears.

At first, the Turks respond by conducting boycotts against Armenian businesses throughout Anatolia, in similar manner Greek merchants were boycotted against once the Greeks landed in Izmir and began pushing into Anatolia from the west... committing their own atrocities against the Turkish people.

The boycotts soon develop into widespread attacks against returning Greeks and Armenians, after initially being welcomed by Ottoman authorities... despite warnings by the Ottoman government that such attacks would only hurt the Turks at the Paris Peace Conference.

Turks from Bitlis and elsewhere in the northeast began to assault caravans of returning Armenian refugees seeking to enter from the Russian Caucasus.

In turn, Armenian nationalists had no trouble convincing thousands of Armenians in central Anatolia to react to the boycotts and attacks by immigrating to Cilicia.... especially since French High Commissioner in Syria, Georges Picot, encouraged them to come and settle. The French Army would provide the protection needed to establish an Armenian nation to supplant that of the Turks. (Le General Henri Gourand au Liban et en Syria, 1919-1923, written by nephew Philippe Gourand, 1994, pp. 111-112)


 At the same time, Greek nationalists transported Greek peasants from central Anatolia either to the Izmir occupation area or to the Black Sea coast, where they sent out hundreds of terrorist bands who devastated town and country like in order to kill or drive out the settled Turkish population to establish a homogeneous Greek Pontus state.

Members of the French-Armenian Legion

Members of the French-Armenian Legion

 Boghos Nubar Pasha sent some of the Armenian settlers from among the refugees gathered in Iraq, Syria, and Egypt and from Armenians living in Europe and America. Most, however, sent by Armenian nationalist organizations from Kayseri, Erzincan, Erzurum, Samsun, Izmit and Adapazari, which they left because of their justified fears that their lives were in danger as a result of their cooperation with the Allied occupation armies. The French also sent several thousand refugees who had settled in Syria and Beirut during the war in order to remove what had become a disruptive element in the population. About 120,000 Armenian settleres were thus brought to Cilicia during these years, in addition to the 50,000 who came from Istanbul and elsewhere in Anatolia to Antep, Marash and Zeytun, all for the purpose of establishing an Armenian state in Cilicia under the permanent protection of France. (Paul du Veou, "La Passion de la Cilicie: 1919-1922. Paris, Librarie orientaliste P. Geuthner, 1954; Zekiner, Tricolor, pp. 169-176, 208.)

The French expected these Armenians to peacably settle beside their Muslim neighbors, but instead the refugees (many members of Antranik's guerilla bands already predisposed to committing havoc) joined the Armenian Legion in attacking the Muslims throughout Cilicia (many sources are provided, including Richard Hovannisian's "The Republic of Armenia," 1974, pp. 325, 416, and Antranig Chalabian's "General Andranik and the Armenian Revolutionary Movement," 1988), sometimes joined in their attacks around Urfa and Rakka by local Arab tribes, always happy to ravage towns when the opportunity presented itself.

A British Observer

 Lt. General Sir W. N. Congreve to Chief of Imperial General Staff, General Sir Henry Wilson, Cairo, 19 October 1919 (Wilson papers 2/89/64. Keith Jeffrey, "The Military Correspondence of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, 1918-1922," Army Records Society, The Bodley Head, 1985, pp. 129-130)

"I am just back from Cilicia and Syria and have had an interesting time. You are I am sure filled up with the opinions of politicals, and want to hear no more. I am inclined to think them alarmists and to exaggerate things for the increase of their own importance, and I am not at all sure that they all always do all they can to promote the entente. I saw Picot and Brémond and both expressed themselves satisfied with us now, bar the matter of Armenians who we have been flooding Cilicia. Poor devils, no one seems to want them anywhere, and yet despite all they have gone through, I did not see a thin one amongst a good many thousand I saw, and most looked cheery too. The massacres seem to have been a good deal exaggerated but the destruction of their villages is very complete for hardly a stone remained on another. The women and children seem anyway to have survived, and the former are reported content to live with Turks and have children by them. I don't know what there is about the Armenians, but no one, not even the missionaries, seems to have a good word to say about them...."

Armenian Loyalty

 The French army finally felt so dishonored by what the Armenian Legion had been doing to Turkish civilians in Cilicia that, starting in late February 1919, it tried to send the Legionnaires away to guard railroad lines in the middle of the Anatolian and Syrian deserts. The Armenian Legionnaires, however, refused to obey the orders, stating that they had joined the Legion only to attack Turks and would not accept any assignment that would prevent them from doing so. Many of them simply left their French commanders, deserted their units, came together in rebel groups based at Adana, Mersin, Maraş and Hamidiye, and continued to ravage Turkish villages in the vicinity.

(Engert (Beirut) to Secretary of State, 20 February 1920, in State Department Decimal File 867/1122; Bristol to Secretary of State, istanbul, 4 March 1920, in State Department Decimal File 867/1130-1131; Wenn (Istanbul) to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, istanbul, 27 March 1919: FO 371/3658/no. 58433); McCarthy, Death and Exile, pp. 207, 243; Les Armées françaises au Levant, p. 120.)

  Mark Bristol Reports

 American High Commissioner Mark Bristol reported that his sources told him that all the anarchy and killings going on in Cilicia were due to the French treatment of the Turks as uncivilized colonials and the French mistake in arming and supporting the Armenians: "A new condition has arisen in Turkey by reason of the French occupation of Syria and Cilicia. This condition is similar to the one that was caused by the Greek occupation of Smyrna. The use by the French of Armenian soldiers and the arming of Armenians brought about an uprising of the local population and assistance being sent by the Turks from the Nationalist forces. In ports of Syria where the French were popular they created antagonism by their tactless method of occupying the country as conquerors and replacing the native flags with French flags, also by assuming all governmental functions. "Likewise hostile Christian opposition on the part of the Turks, Kurds and Arabs was shown to the French forces. It is reported that the French destroyed villages, outraged women, and killed the natives, and the result has been that a state of war now existing in Cilicia and the French are compelled to retire from Ourfa and Marash. It is reported that the Turks have retaliated by killing the native Armenians and destroying villages, however it is understood that the Armenians left behind by French at Marash are held as prisoners and are not otherwise being molested. "It is known that American citizens in Aintab, Ourfa and Marash are safe and are not being molested and American property is being respected.

The French Give Up

 By the summer of 1921, the mounting resistance of the Muslims of Cilicia, combined with resentment over the British tendency to dominate the Allied occupation of Istanbul, finally convinced the French Government to abandon its Allies and make a separate peace with the Turkish nationalists...

  The Armenians Blow Town

 The real losers were in fact the Armenians in Cilicia, since by their welcome of the French occupation, their support of the Armenian Legion, and their participation in the rigorous French administration, they had ended whatever feelings of community that previously had existed with their Turkish neighbors and laid themselves open to violent acts of retribution. As soon as they heard the news of the Treaty of Ankara and the consequent French evacuation, therefore, most Armenians in Cilicia were terrified, and rightfully so. However much both the French and the Turkish nationalists promised to protect them, the Armenians knew that under the conditions that existed in that area at that time they had little chance to escape the vengeance of those Turks who had lost families, homes, and properties as a result of the French occupation and the activities of the Armenian Legion. Almost all the Armenians in Cilicia therefore did the only thing they could do under the circumstances. They began to pack up and leave their homes, some going with the evacuating French forces, some sailing on British and French ships that came to the ports of the area to pick them up, some walking overland into Syria, Palestine and Lebanon, where they settled down and made new lives for themselves. In this, they were encouraged to depart by Armenian nationalist agents who hoped that by doing so they would shame the French, or if not them the Americans and British, to send in new troops which would enable them to establish an entirely Armenian state throughout Cilicia. Thus, when Avetis Aharonian and Gabriel Noradoungian went to French Premier Aristide Briand to complain about the French withdrawal, Briand was the one who complained:

"I ordered an examination and I regret to tell you that, according to my information, the exodus of Armenian population from Cilicia is the result largely of the zealous propaganda which unknown individuals and Gomidehs [Komitacis] have made on the spot. For what earthly reason I do not know. But this propaganda is doubly embarrassing for France. On the one hand, the Armenians are fleeing from Cilicia, a fact that discredits France for having failed to give refugee Armenians the needed protection, and on the other hand the refugees have found no other protector outside of France, and once again we have been forced to care for their needs. Now I ask you, how long shall this abnormal situation continue to last....The Turks have not harmed them; they have kept their promise. What was the need of this wholesale exodus?"

(December 1921. Avetis Aharonian, "From Sardarapat to Sèvres and Lausanne", The Armenian Review, XVIII/1-69 (Spring, 1965), p. 60.)

The Armenian Catholicos of Cilicia sent a telegram to the Patriarchate as well as the High Commissioners in Istanbul informing them that all his people wanted to emigrate from Cilicia en masse and asking that the necessary boats be sent to Mersin to carry them into exile. In November Armenian banks and business houses throughout Cilicia were liquidated. The College of Jesuits and the School of the Sisters of Saint Joseph sent their students together to Iskenderun. Between November 13 and 22, some 12,000 Armenians embarked at Mersin alone. For the moment the major problem was at Iskenderun, where thousands of Armenians arrived from Mersin with absolutely nothing except what they wore and could carry. They had to be fed and clothed by a French administration that hardly could take care of itself. The confusion and suffering were immense. Almost all the Armenians were bitterly unhappy with France in particular, claiming that it had promised to establish an Armenian state for them in Cilicia and had reneged on a solemn obligation to Christians.


 By the end of 1923, the total number of Armenians who had left Cilicia are said to have numbered some 175,000, almost all those who had lived there before the war together with those who had emigrated from central Anatolia during 1919 and 1920. [Anahide Ter Minassian, La République d'Arménie, Paris, Éditions Complexe, 1989, pp. 255-256.] On his return to Paris in late January 1922, General Gouraud reported to a special session held at the Sorbonne that "...overall the evacuation of Cilicia took place in perfect order, without violence, and without a single person being killed or even wounded." [Sorbonne Conference held in Paris on 26 January 1922. Quoted in Gourad, op. cit., p. 112.] Turkish forces and government officials entered the evacuated cities and towns amidst joyful popular demonstrations celebrating their liberation from the oppressive French occupation, not only in Cilicia, but throughout the entire country. One of their first acts was to declare invalid all property transfers which had been forced on local Turks and Jews by the French occupation authorities who had turned hundreds of houses and arms thus surrendered over to Armenians and Frenchmen at prices far below their market values. Thus were the immediate effects of the French and Armenian occupation of south-eastern Anatolia alleviated, though for Turkish and Jewish families who had lost everything, this was small consolation indeed. It would take years of insistence by Mustafa Kemâl Atatürk that the people of the new Turkish Republic that emerged from the war should avoid continued hatreds resulting from past atrocities inflicted on them and their ancestors and seek friendship with all the people of the world, including those who had attacked them so viciously during and after World War I, that the Turks attempted to live in friendship with the other peoples of the area, though in many cases the Christian nationalists in particular, nurtured as they were by hatred and religious bigotry, left the Turks puzzled, unable to understand why their overtures of friendship had been briskly rejected while at the same time France as well as Greece have made no effort to pay to Turkey the billions of dollars they owe it for the terrible material and moral damage that their occupation troops inflicted on the country, uncalled-for damage, far beyond any sort of authorization they had been given by the Mondros Armistice Agreement or the Paris Peace Conference.


'Armenians who are armed by the French forces who have occupied the southern areas are brought together under the protectorate of France. They are attacking the Muslims in their vicinity with a desire for (genocide) and are resorting to a merciless policy of murders and massacres. The Armenians who collaborated with the French forces of General Keret razed to the ground an ancient Muslim city like Maras and tortured and slaughtered thousands of defenseless mothers and children. Armenians are responsible for this savagery unprecedented in history, and the Muslims fought against them and defended themselves to preserve their honor and lives...'

Source: Turkozu, H. K. (ed.); "Ottoman and Russian Documents on the Massacres Committed by the Armenians Against the Turks," (Ankara, 1982). p. 35.

Holdwater Adds

The foregoing does not explain why all Christians who left Turkey for the reasons that they did... but you get the general idea. Certainly the Armenians in the east were also afraid of retribution by the Turks for the horrible crimes they had committed, and thus found refuge in Russia and elsewhere; there were also population transfers between Turkey and Greece after the invading Greek forces were thrown out by Ataturk.

However, too many Armenians and Greeks prefer to explain their absence as "genocide"; they never mention how their forefathers  fired the first shot, and how guilty they were of the worst crimes perpetuated upon the innocent citizenry. Armenians and Greeks act, and the Turks react... yet because of the noise the former loves to make and because of the quiet the latter often responds with... the Turks wind up holding the villain's bag in the eyes of the West. 

ADDENDUM: I lost the source of the following, but interesting information is provided to supplement what's above:

When the control of Lebanon fell into the French hands, the Armenians there now realized about this opportunity to take their revenge on the Ottoman Turks when they were allowed to join the French Légionnaires. Just before the end of WWI the southeastern region of Turkey known as Cilicia was taken by the French. The arrival of the légionnaires permitted the local Armenians to join the ranks of the occupying forces of France. The Armenian revolutionaries also took advantage of this situation and made every effort to aggravate the matters between the local Muslims and the French forces. The Armenians as légionnaires fought against the Ottoman forces both in Cilicia and in Syria during the years of 1917 and 1918 (125). But the tragedies in southeastern Anatolia began when these Armenian volunteers took advantage of the French invasion of Cilicia (126):

“Troubles began in Cilicia almost immediately upon the French invasion. The Legion was joined by tens of thousands of Armenian refugees who had been in Syria and Egypt. Together, they began to persecute local Turks, forcing some to flee, others to organize resistance. The cities were in French hands, but the Turks controlled the mountains. The French soon realized that they had created a situation that threatened their rule.”

In November 1916, La Légion d’Orient (the Legionnaires of the Orient) was created and organized in Cyprus by French commander Colonel Romieu for the purposes of “fighting against Ottoman Turkey” (127). La Légion Arménienne, forming one of the battalions of La Légion d’Orient, was formed by the Armenian volunteers who were previously taken from their homes in Anatolia to be taken to Beirut during the Relocation process. These légionnaires were initially assigned to the city of Alexandrette (Iskenderun) in Cilicia. The French intended to take advantage Armenians’ willingness to fight against the Turks; the French officers noted that these Armenians were ‘volontaire et impatient de se rencontrer avec les Turcs’ (128). The French Government in enlisting these Armenians made some concessions to them to secure their goals (129):

“They promised to erect an autonomous Armenian state, under their aegis, in the Cilician part of their Anatolian Zone, and the promise brought them several thousand Armenian volunteers, most of whom were enrolled in the Légion d’Orient and served for the rest of the War.”

In his letter to French Foreign Minister Stephen Pichon Armenian leader to the Paris Peace Conference Boghos Nubar Pasha intended to remind the French about the Armenian service to France during the Great War (130): “Our volunteers fought in the French "Légion Entrangere" and covered themselves with glory. In the Legion d'Orient they numbered over 5,000, and made up more than half the French contingent in Syria and Palestine, which took part in the decisive victory of General Allenby.”):

“In France, through their volunteers, who started joining the Foreign Légion in the first days and covered themselves with glory under the French flag; In Palestine and Syria, where the Armenian volunteers, recruited by the National Delegation at the request of the government of the Republic itself, made up more than half of the French contingent and played a large role in the victory of General Allenby, as he himself and his French chiefs have officially declared ...”

While there were many examples of atrocities caused by these légionnaires, Gustave Gautherot, former chief of the Office of Operations of French Troops of the East, provided his chilling experiences during the French reign of this region. The fourth battalion of the French légionnaire under his command was entirely formed by Armenians who joined this French military force voluntarily. Gautherot described the great animosity that he observed between the Armenians and the local Muslim population, which mostly consisted of Turks, Kurds, and Arabs. However, more disturbing fact was that the Armenian légionnaires were under the external influences of l’Union Nationale Arménienne (Armenian National Union). Thus, these Armenians were receiving political directives from their revolutionary organizations (131). Under such influences the Armenian Légion’s “avowed purpose was to take southern and eastern Anatolia for a new Armenia” (132).

With the occupation of Cilicia by the légionnaires the local Muslims soon found themselves in a state of lawlessness under the French rule. While the French officers witnessed massacres caused by their légionnaires, Gautherot went on to describe a horrific event that occurred in February of 1919. In a summary the following event occurred (133):

“About one hundred Armenian légionnaires left their quarters for the city without any orders from their French commanders. They set up posts where they were stopping the civilians and asking them about ‘their religion and their papers.’ Subsequently the first Muslim was killed on the spot just for being a Muslim. Then these men went on a rampage of creating anarchy among the local Muslim inhabitants. Many, including women and children, were killed without provocation. While the French commanders tried to control of these insubordinates, the thirteenth division remained defiant of their superiors. Thus, the French had to call in reinforcements to force these Armenian légionnaires into submission.

After an order was established the French arrested only 22 suspects of whom 7 were sentenced; one received 15 years of community work, two had 10 years, and another had 8 years of the same punishment. Then the remaining two were given 1.5 years of prison term.”


Holdwater: Wow! Just like in later years, when the French only slapped the wrists of the Armenian terrorists they had apprehended in 1982. (Bottom of this page.) Man, those French sure love the Armenians.



"West" Accounts


Armenian Views
Geno. Scholars


Turks in Movies
Turks in TV


This Site