Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


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During the Armenian resettlement to Syria, the Armenians were open to looting, attacks and massacres. Not only were the police (or "gendarmes") assigned to protect them inadequate in number, but some were drawn from the pools of men who weren't terribly responsible, and some were downright criminal. Not that many did not try to do their jobs properly, but the poor quality of these irregulars took their toll. (Although most of the attacks were perpetrated by marauding bands and people who were bent on revenge... having had their loved ones massacred by Armenians.

Some have suggested the Ottoman government deliberately assigned these unprofessional irregulars to insure the systematic extermination of the Armenians. The problems were:

1) There was no money; the Ottoman government was broke.

2) There was limited manpower; the quality fighting forces were needed at the various fronts... particularly against Russia, the Ottoman Empire's mortal enemy whom the Ottoman Armenians treacherously supported.

"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".

C.F. Dixon-Johnson, British author of the 1916 book, "The Armenians"... describing why Turkish Moslems were led to commit counter-massacres. If there were no gendarmes to protect the Turks against the Armenians (given the desperate situation with Russia storming the gates), where were the gendarmes to be found, to protect the Armenians?

Were the Ottomans guilty of not adequately protecting the Armenian civilians? Yes. Why then engage in a resettlement program if the Armenians could not be adequately protected? The answer is, the Ottomans were caught in a life and death struggle. The priority task was to prevent Russia from entering Ottoman territory, for the Ottomans knew that would spell the peoples' doom (given the Russians' record of ethnic cleansing from the last half-century, in Turkish lands they had conquered.) It wasn't like the luxury existed to wait to move out the Armenians, since the Armenian community as a whole was supporting the Armenian forces. There was no time to sort out the loyal Armenians from the disloyal.

If the Ottomans were guilty of being unable to protect their Armenian citizens properly, they were equally guilty of being unable to protect their Muslim citizens... the ones who fell victim to Armenian massacres.

This page will attempt to shed light on the gendarmes.


Historical Background on the Gendarmes

Why was Erzurum unsafe for both Muslims and Christians? It was not the Ottoman administrators or the Ottoman system. Some valis were good, some bad. Most seem to have done as well as they could with the resources they had. Even the Europeans praised some governors as well-intentioned and energetic men. The problem was that they had so few resources. What was needed in Erzurum was money. The gendarmes were often not paid even 
their small salaries. Officials too went unpaid. Money was needed to hire more police, soldiers, and officials. Money was also needed for seed, fertilizer, better roads, and all the things that would have made Erzurum a better place. But there was no money. 

Who was to blame for the poverty of Erzurum? Partly it was the Ottoman Government. The Ottomans were never good accountants. But the main cause of Ottoman weakness was beyond Ottoman control. The Russians had damaged the Ottoman Empire both militarily and economically in the 1877-78 war. In addition to the loss of manpower, supplies, and productive territory, the Ottomans had been forced to pay a crushing indemnity of 800 million francs. Then the Empire was forced to spend great amounts to defend against the next Russian attack. The Ottomans were forced to spend ten times as much on the military as on the police and gendarmerie, and twenty times as much on the military as on education. The "friends" of the Ottomans only worsened the economic state by enforcing the capitulations. No wonder the gendarmes could not be paid. 

The Ottomans did what they could to make Erzurum more secure for both Armenians and Muslims. 51 Armenians were actually enrolled as gendarmes in Erzurum Province in 1896, braving the opposition of the Armenian revolutionaries. The vali wanted 218, but no more could be found, because the pay was so irregular. Even the most loyal Armenian subject of the sultan had to feed his family. 

From a treatise by Professor Justin McCarthy.



From an October 25, 1915 report from The New York Times (entitled "Can't Defend Armenians"),  Foreign Minister Halil Bey explains the scarcity of gendarmes:

"They are traitors. You have in mind certain excesses and blunders, but, believe me, the Government is not responsible for them, and regrets them as sincerely as anybody. But we have no more gendarmes in the interior. Everybody is under arms as a soldier. Thus it comes to pass that we have not everywhere been able to restrain the rage of the Mohammedans against these traitors to their country. The Government itself will only keep the Armenians so far from the theatre of war that they cannot conspire with the enemy."


Halil Bey, as "quoted" by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, in "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story":

"A great many suffered," he added, "simply because Enver could not spare troops to defend them. Some regular troops did accompany them and these behaved very well; forty even lost their lives defending the Armenians. But we had to withdraw most of the gendarmes for service in the army and put in a new lot to accompany the Armenians. It is true that these gendarmes committed many deplorable excesses.


Halil Bey was the one Ottoman official Henry Morgenthau did not vilify in his phony book... if anything, Halil Bey emerges as a very honorable man. We already know there were some "bad" gendarmes... let's take a look at the other side of the equation. Halil Bey claims forty gendarmes lost their lives defending the Armenians. There must be some reliable record of that. Even if you think, as a Turk, Halil Bey must be lying, do you really get the impression there were no gendarmes who performed their duties honorably? If you feel there must have been SOME who did... doesn't that throw the genocide theory out of whack? If all of the gendarmes' secret mission was to exterminate the Armenians, like some Oriental SS men, how could it be possible any of them would have defended the Armenians?

Excerpt from AN UNJUST TRIAL


2. None of the relocation orders, whether public or secret, which have been reviewed by historians to date, orders murder. Instead, they order Ottoman officials to protect relocated Armenians.

3. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians survived the relocation.

4. It was in the regions where Ottoman control was weakest that columns of Armenian relocatees suffered most.

The stories of the time give many examples of columns of hundreds of Armenians guarded by perhaps two government guards. When the columns were attacked by Kurdish tribesmen or bandits, Armenians were robbed and killed. It must be remembered that these tribes were those who had themselves which suffered greatly at the hands of Armenians and Russians.

5. Only the Muslim actions against Armenians have been called genocide. This accusation is primarily based on counting only the Armenian dead, not the Muslim dead.

While Ottoman weakness should be condemned, so should the corresponding weakness of the Russians and the Armenians themselves. They failed to protect the Turks and Kurds who fell under their control. For example, in provinces such as Van, where intercommunal fighting was fiercest, Muslims who could not escape from Armenian bands were killed. The Ottoman central government had ordered the Van governor to send gendarmes, rural policemen, to guard columns of Armenian deportees. He responded that because most of his forces were at the front fighting the Russian Army and its Armenian irregulars, he was left with only 40 gendarmes at his disposal and they were protecting Muslim villages against Armenian attacks.


Michael M. Gunter, "Pursuing the Just Cause of Their People":

 In addition, of course, the Ottoman Empire in 1915 was a badly decaying institution nearing the end of its long existence. In the throes of fighting a losing war, it was pushed beyond its capacities and lost control of the situation. Much of the gendarmerie who implemented the deportation orders, for example, were simply poorly trained substitutes for the original force, which was now enrolled in the regular army. Indeed, some of these replacements were probably nothing more than brigands themselves. Discipline among them was certainly lax. Furthermore, under such widespread conditions of wartime disorganization, the nomadic Kurds were able to attack the deportation columns with relative impunity or even connivance on the part of the gendarmerie. An unpopular minority whom the Muslim majority considered traitors, the Armenians received little sympathy from the local population, which itself was suffering grievously from the wartime conditions. Given such circumstances, then, it is understandable how the deportations led to widespread massacres, disease, and starvation, all of which together cost the lives of several hundreds of thousands of Armenians.


[Ciphered telegram from the Ministry of the Interior to the governor of the sanjak of Urfa, regarding court martial of the gendarmerie accompanying the convoys sent from Urfa to Rakka, due to their inappropriate acts arising of negligence.] 28 Z. 1333 (6 November 1915), Ottoman Archives

According to Bruce Fein, over a thousand soldiers (and civilians) were punished for ill behavior toward the relocating Armenians.

Twenty officers were executed  by the Ottoman government in 1915... the highest punishment.

(The advancing Turks fought only against the regular soldiers; they did not carry the battle to the civilian sector) "....The Turkish soldiers were well-disciplined and that there had not been any massacres."

Edward Fox, the American District Commander at Kars, in a telegram, dated October 31, 1920, to Admiral Bristol, the U.S. High Commissioner in Istanbul; Kâzim Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, Istanbul, Türkiye Yayinevi, 1960, pp. 897-898


The Turkish soldier was recognized as having such honor, as the Australians discovered in Gallipoli, British Propaganda had to do something about it. Without such propaganda, it would have been difficult for people to get suckered into believing Turkish soldiers would commit crimes against defenseless civilians.

Another favorite of mine is "The Clean-fighting Turk, a Spurious Claim." Mark Sykes, as many of you know, was a great traveller and a very intelligent man. He was one of the two people that negotiated the Sykes-Picot Agreement that was to lead to the dividing up of the Middle East by the British and French after the war. But this story should began with Lloyd George, who did not like Turks very much and who, of course, was Prime Minister. Lloyd George was very interested in defaming the Turks and was personally interested in the propaganda bureau. He instructed that certain topics be developed by the bureau: "[The Turk's] incapacity for good Government; his misrule, and above all, his massacres of all the industrious population." An order from the Prime Minister. He added that the propaganda should be surreptitious: "I need hardly point out that it is very important that all this should be done gradually and that the articles should be spread over a considerable period of time, so as not to make it too obvious what we are driving at. Sir Mark Sykes' article in the Times,' the 'Clean-Fighting Turk,' is just what we want."

The Sykes article can be considered the template for what was produced for the press. Unfortunately, we may never know what all those articles were. If you go through the American and the British press you can read articles and say to yourself, "That must be Wellington House work," but you cannot prove it.

This one we know. The Foreign Office saw a problem, the problem mentioned before — the Turks looked too good to many people in Britain. They were especially bothered by the image of what was called the "Clean Fighting Turk", the image drawn from the fact that the Turks did a good job as soldiers and could be relied as men of honor. Now we will not discuss the accuracy of that claim here. The important point is that it was believed. And so something had to be done about it. Someone had to negate this image, write against it. And so their Foreign Office masters directed Wellington House to do something about the image of the Clean Fighting Turk. The writing of the original message was somewhat mistaken. Wellington House received an order that said they were to propagandize and bring out the image of the Clean Fighting Turk. Wellington House wrote back and said, "Why in the world would you want us to prove that the Turks are clean fighting?" The matter was finally cleared up.

Wellington House went to Mark Sykes and asked him to write an article attacking the good image of the Turks. He agreed and wrote an article. We do not know if what he wrote was much changed by Wellington House, because the relevant records are burned, but we know he wrote the article. We do know that once Mark Sykes' article was finally done a deal was made with the London Times to not only have it published, but also to buy a hundred thousand off-prints. The Times patriotically suggested a good price and the Foreign Office patriotically haggled with them for an even lower price. Forty pounds was paid for a hundred thousand copies.

A massacre painting featured in numerous Armenian web sites, presented as "proof" of genocide.

 Centuries of anti-Turkish prejudice combined with propaganda works as Sykes'
article made it easy for Westerners to believe scenes such as this one... a painting
featured in numerous Armenian web sites, presented as "proof" of genocide.

The article, which was printed at The Times and reprinted all over the United States, used words such as "a merciless oppressor," "a remorseless bully," "pure barbarians," "degenerate," and "has strewn the earth with ruins." It was one of the nicer propaganda works, actually. Sykes fabricated quotes from the Ottoman government. once again. Or perhaps Talat Pasha kindly told him of his plans. If you wish, you can believe he was in contact with the Ottoman government. Among the truly amazing things he wrote are statements such as that the Turks had invaded and destroyed Baghdad. The historians in the audience are shaking their heads. It was the Mongols, of course. Sykes knew much better. Conflate the history of the Turks and the Mongols? Put all the harm caused by the Mongols on the shoulders of the Turks? Well, you can get away with these things it you know that those who will read the article have no idea about the history. But Sykes knew the truth.

Lloyd George and the Foreign Office were both very happy. Thirty two thousand copies of this publication were sent to the United States alone.


Excerpt from an exceptionally informative 2001 presentation made by Professor Justin McCarthy, on the dire doings of Britain's infamous Wellington House.


Holdwater: The nature of a people does not easily change. Turks are generally as clean-fighting today as they ever were. Let's put aside the great advantages the Armenians have in getting their message across in this genocide debate... their many millions of dollars in numerous organizations like ANCA and ANI and the Armenian Assembly of America, along with the fanaticism of individual Armenians vs. the apathy of individual Turks, not to mention the already built-in bias Westerners have regarding the issue thanks to centuries of anti-Turkish brainwashing... the Armenians are still wildly successful in this debate because they don't hesitate in engaging in dirty, deceptive tactics, led by their pseudo scholars engaging in the Armenian AND? Anthem; tactics that are NOT acceptable to clean-fighting Turks.

Ironically, one practice of Armenian deception is to accuse Turks of committing the same dirty tactics familiar to the Armenians, such as forgeries and the buying-off of professors. The reason why many Armenians believe in these possibilities is because such unscrupulous  practices are so second-nature to many of them, they cannot believe others wouldn't as easily pick up on their dirty-fighting tactics.




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