Although the letters section
of TAT has been woefully neglected, plenty of messages come in. Offended
Armenian readers frequently fall back on what their grandparents have told
them, followed with the accusation, Are you calling my grandma a liar?
I respond by saying, of course they are not liars; but those who have
experienced great trauma are not unknown to embellish the details.
Particularly when the community demonizes one's tormentor. It is a fact that,
by and large, Armenian parents, churches and teachers drill racist hatred of Turks into
the minds of their innocents. Years later, even if the experiences of these
now elderly Ottoman-Armenians were not that bad, how could they not be
influenced by what everyone has kept on reinforcing, that the Turks are
nothing less than subhuman animals? Even responsible Americans fell into this
trap of imagination, having been conditioned by unending Terrible Turk tales,
as this Mark Prentiss article
As an example, allow me to share "grandparent" excerpts from the
recent letter of an Armenian reader, Ms. Selian. She offered two:
 Look, if I was not an Armenian whose grandparents' families were not
murdered (including two children who were dismembered on their mother's thighs
with an axe, so that she bore the two long scars until her own death in the
early 1920s; seriously, no joke!)...
 [M]y very lucid Turkish-speaking 94 year old grandfather will tell you
today about how he was taken in the 1940s in cattle cars to Turkish
work-camps in Anatolia (along with other Armenians, Greeks and Jews), with the
promise of never returning home, near-starvation and of being turned into
bars of soap. He was there for over a year and a half,
and barely survived — and this was in the 1940s when
Turkey was more "civilized". Does that
truth hurt too much to hear?
Of course, the second example was from a shameful period of Turkish
history; all countries have their share of shameful history, but the
ones from Turkey — as isolated as they have been — needs to be drudged up
and lovingly preserved by the anti-Turkish hate mongering industry. This
example has nothing to do with proving whether there was a
"genocide," merely provided to show how "evil" Turks
After expressing sincere regret for the family's suffering, the way I
typically respond is, yes, of course Armenians were mistreated and murdered.
But who were their murderers? The region was filled by lawless bands of all
stripes looking for criminal opportunities. In order to prove
"genocide," one must display the evidence that the killers were in
league with the central government. "Intent" lies at the heart of
the 1948 U.N. Genocide Convention.
Photo credit: W. Whiteside, United Methodist Committee on Relief.
UMCOR is helping people from
both Armenia & Azerbaijan.
But even with these anecdotes, one
must wonder about the huge holes in the stories. For example, with the first
story, as gruesome as it may be to imagine: a mother is sitting or lying with
two children on her lap. Someone is attacking with an axe (presumably; it does
not sound like the attacker was using a little hatchet. Naturally, we know
nothing of who this attacker really was. Was he swinging that axe on orders
from his government?), with the purpose of hurting the children, in this case
looking for "dismemberment." After we wonder why the purpose would
not have been to outright kill (in which case the mother would not have been
left alive to tell the tale), it's difficult to envision that repeated blows
of a heavy axe, despite the presence of children (who probably weren't sitting
still) to cushion the blows, would not have rendered the woman's legs useless.
As for the second anecdote, after I wondered whether the train was really of
the "cattle car" variety, I responded, "I am sorry he suffered.
But of note is that he was promised to never return, and to be turned into
soap, presumably by the authorities. Yet he returned. I guess that was another
example of broken Turkish promises."
Such is the harm caused by stories as these. Even if 100% true, what purpose
does it serve to relate these inhuman tales to the young and impressionable?
Of course, the idea is for the child to grow up and hate, following in the
footsteps of their racist parents and grandparents. Turk-hatred is the binding
force for many nationalistically-inclined Armenians (and Greeks). Even the Dashnak
historian M. Varandian pointed out back in 1910 that such hatred may be demonstrated by "scandalous
excesses, obviously found in the most intense pleasure in indulging in the
most irreconcilable scorn and hatred of the Turks. 'The Turk is a cretin!'
'The Turk is a mongrel!' 'Wherever the Turk rules there is rule and
Here are examples of
the granny influence upon Armenian scholars, or would be scholars, Richard
Hovannisian, Peter Balakian and Ronald Suny.
Now what is the flip side? How have Turkish parents and grandparents relayed
their family history and suffering to their young, at the hands of Armenians,
Turks write in to this web site as well, and I can see their experiences have
paralleled my own. The topic has been mostly nonexistent in their upbringing.
This is the big difference between Turks on one side, and Armenians &
Greeks on the other; the former is the "silent" type. The latter
knows well the rewards that come with the squeaky wheel getting greased.
Armenians and Greeks are quick to charge Turks are filled with hatred against
them. Are there Turks with hatred? Of course; Turks are people too. But this
hatred is a "reaction" to Greek and Armenian "action,"
their relentless campaign to keep suckering the Christian West to keep their
old prejudices alive.
But the whole of the Turkish community is free of hatred. They simply were
not raised to hate.
The idea of this page is really not about comparing hatred, but about how
Turkish family history not only has avoided their suffering, but has gone out
of their way to clamp a lid on the happenings. It's really incredible.
And when Turks do talk about the horrors that were inflicted upon their
families, they generally keep it between themselves. Advertising these stories
to the world "never" is a consideration. (The few stories emerging
during the 1970s-80s or so were mainly presented as a response to the
overwhelming Armenian propaganda). Since there is no political purpose behind
these never-heard of stories, we can more readily accept them as the truth.
(As opposed to the reasons why most Armenian testimonials have been compiled, as part of the
"master plan" to advance their genocide.)
The following two letters are from a Turkish-American. They are not atypical,
in regards to similar letters from Turkish people, who feel sad about what
happened to their families.
And since Armenians murdered many
more Turks than the other way around, there were consequently many more
such stories of actual violence. (Another reason why they may have been seldom
told is because fewer Turks survived to tell them.) Much of Armenian Oral
History, among the honest tellings at least, have centered upon general
suffering, from famine, disease and the like.
What was great about these letters is that they summed up two general aspects
of the Turkish character, vs. the general Armenian/Greek character. 
Silence, vs. having a big mouth, and  Defending those who have wronged you,
vs. going out of one's way to show your victimizer, real or imagined, is not
part of the human species.
This latter aspect is a characteristic rarely mentioned, and I run into it (or
hear of it) all of the time. For example, when the la-dee-dah "Picnic
Turks" hold their "picnics," they usually discourage against
the presentation of genocide-defense material, for fear of "offending
our Armenian friends." During times when I check the knowledge of
Turkish-Americans and bring up the topic of Armenians, the common replies I
get are that Armenians are our friends, and sometimes — for those affected by the prevalent propaganda
in the USA — that Turks sure did a number on the Armenians, didn't they?
But what a huge difference. The Armenians stress hatred and racism. The Turks
go with humanitarianism, brotherhood and love. The former perpetrates the true
systematic extermination effort, but it's the silent Turks who get hit with
the genocide charge.
my family is from ordu, in the black sea coast. my father's mother was adopted by one of
the large land-owners in Ordu from an orphanage in trabzon.
she was turkish. her family was turkish. her family was forced, among countless others to
move out of her town when the armenians and russians attacked them. they killed her uncles
and her grandfather. she was only 5-6 and she memorized her brothers and parents names.
and she remembered her last day with her mother, who died from disease while escaping
i personally say it was armenian attack. it took my family until i turned 21 to mention
the details of my grandmother's experiences. if she herself hadnt memorized and repeated
the details of her family, and if her brother ahmet hadnt coincidentally found her after
over a decade of searching for her, then i would perhaps think she was an armenian.
i would probably think that she was an armenian because i grew up in america, and heard
only the armenian point of view of things.
we had close family friends in america, armenian-turks, who were from istanbul. their
grandchildren wore watches with the statement imprinted "we will never forget,
armenian genocide 1915"
during my high school years i got curious about such things and try as i may to get more
information from my family, the only thing that i learned from them was that there were
years and years of war. years and years of suffering. both turks and armenians and kurds
and many other minorities in anatolia died.
when it came to hear the more specifics about my grandmother, it was emphasized that the
russians attacked th turkish towns. yes, but wasnt it armenians who actually killed my
grandmother's relatives??? "yes," was the response, "but they were goaded
on by the russians. armenians and turks have lived together for hundreds of years and
would never attack eachother"
all of the responses that i got from turks---turks who lost family members and had to flee
their hometowns (my grandmother's hometown was bereket, tied to the province of artvin)
was that it was a terrible time, and the russians kept provoking armenians into attack.
i find it interesting that turks who have been forced to walk on foot and have lost their
homes and their entire families continue to this day to try to justify armenian actions.
(Fuat Amca: Uncle Fuat.)
In my original letter to you I had mentioned my father's mother's history. Well,
yesterday I learned something small about my father's father's side of the family.
I was speaking to my father and his cousin (from his father's side) about the Celebi
family in general. My father's cousin (Fuat Amca) mentioned one of his uncles. I did
not remember that great uncle's name mentioned before, and asked him where his
family lives now. Fuat Amca said he never had a family, had never gotten married
even, because he had been killed in his sleep by Armenians.
I flipped out, not because yet another Turk in my family was killed by another
Armenian, but because I am now over 30 years old and this is the first time I've
heard of this great uncle at all!!
Sincerely I can say I flipped out, and immediately turned to Dad and asked why he
never mentioned his uncle's unnatural death before. Dad said he forgot (!!!) and
guessed that since it was before he was born, he was not affected by it as he was by
his own mother's story.
Naturally, I asked Fuat Amca what he meant by "being killed in his sleep,"
and learned that their uncle had fought with his own parents and left their house,
and went to sleep outside, under a tree!
Well, did he pick a fight with the "band of Armenians" (as Fuat Amca
worded it)? Did they actually know that he was Turkish? Wasn't it just an accident?
No, he didn't pick a fight with anyone, he had already had a fight with his parents
and he just wanted to be alone and away from home.
Yes, they knew he was Turkish because everybody knew everybody since we had lived
together all of our lives. There is no such thing as not knowing who is Armenian and
who is Turkish.
No, it wasn't just an accident because as soon as these bands of Armenians got
weapons from the Russians they began robbing, killing, and generally terrorizing the
rest of the citizens in our area. It was not just in our village, Fuat Amca said
(their village is Uzun Isa, in Ordu) but all the surrounding villages and as far out
as we could get news from.
These answers were all given to me very matter-of-factly and without elaborate and
dramatic details of any kind.
I cannot tell you how very very mad I am. Of course, not at any Armenians, or anyone
in the past at all, but at my own family for not passing this on from generation to
When I asked Fuat Amca why we don't hear about Turkish victims of Armenians in
general (it can't be just my grandfather and my grandmother's families that were
hurt---could it?) Fuat Amca's response was that people are ashamed of such things.
What's the point of bringing shame onto your family?
Living through it once is saddening enough. Since it is already done and over with,
and since nothing can be done to bring that life back, what's the point of talking
about it? They were tricked by the Russians, and we have lived in peace since then
and before that time so what's the point of mixing things up again?
So in conclusion, you are right, Holdwater. About the "Turkish denial"
that you mentioned in your response to me. *
Still, at this date, my Turkish elders can really say "what's the point,"
and they can "forget to mention" (like my father) past injustices all in
the light of the great present injustice to rewrite history to make victims look
Anyway, you need not reply to this e-mail. I just wanted to let you know that the
more I search, the more I see the point in having a webpage like your
Good luck with all of your work, thanks for your time,
(* Part of the response was: "There are a number of
nuances in your letter, but most revealing is the Turkish attitude. Now this is what
we can really call being in 'denial.'")
Who do we like in our movie heroes? We like the "Gary Cooper" or the "Clint
Eastwood" type, the hero who never complains about his pains. Culturally, that has
been the Turkish way... the Turks are the "strong and silent" type.
Too bad we live in an "everyone's a victim" world where this type of behavior
does not go far. It's the crying baby that gets the milk, and Armenians have made
crying into an art form.
What served as a revelation to me is that the reason why Pinar's folks kept mum was very
much in keeping with what British Consul Blunt wrote
in 1877, while looking into the massive atrocities committed upon Balkan Turks; he
referred to the
"‘[H]abitual reluctance of the Turks to speak of indignities to which any among
them have been subjected."
The reason, as Prof. McCarthy filled in the blanks, had much to do with the Turks' wishing
to underplay their defeats, no doubt related to this "shame" factor. ("[Uncle Fuat's] response was that people are ashamed of such things. What's
the point of bringing shame onto your family?")
Yes, Taner Akcam (with the title of his "Shameful" book) and Peter Balakian enjoy stressing this
"shame" factor (in other words, appealing to the "conscience" of the
Turks, to come clean about their great crime. Fatma Muge Gocek also got into this
act by taking responsibility, as a Turk, for the Armenians' genocide), little realizing
the Turks' shame has been working in a way that has rarely been expressed.
Yet this silence has been counterproductive. The prejudiced West does not care about the
massive ethnic cleansing programs historically performed against the Turks to begin with,
and this silence has certainly not helped. Moreover, this lack of knowledge or caring
about one's history (among Turks) serves as further reason why hysterical and obsessed
pro-Armenians are leagues ahead in their genocide game. Turks today are simply apathetic.
So, yes, Turks have lent a helpful hand in the campaign of hate waged against them, with
the absence of hatred in their hearts... the hatred that serves as a motivating factor.
The end result is that Turks stink at propaganda. That's a great pity, and Turks had
better start getting their act together. But it does not look good. Overwhelmed by all of
the propaganda, the western world will continue with their antipathy or hatred against the
Turks, so great that even with irrefutable, genocide-busting facts presented, the West
simply does not care to listen.
At least there is some consolation for the Turks. As Pierre Loti observed, "The
Turk is the noblest of the nobles. This high nobility is not artificial or showy — it is
the gift of nature. The only people that can create simplicity out of magnificence,
eloquence from silence, a sensitive vitality from a graceful calmness...are the
He further wrote (“Fantome d’Orient," 1928):
“One should be blind to history not to understand the Turks. The dignified silence of the Turks against the mounting unjustified attacks and
mean slanders can only be explained by their pity for the blind.
…How beautifully this attitude of theirs answers the undignified calumnies.”
All in all, it's better that way. Still, nobility does not get you a ride on the subway.
An earlier TAT page:
Do Turks Hate Armenians Today?