Armenian genocide enthusiasts focus primarily on
documents from the British and American archives, but which country's archives
gets short shrift? The Russians'. That's because Russian is not a language
mastered by many.
Mehmet Perincek, the young Turkish scholar who filled in the gaps of
Hovhannes Katchaznouni's manifesto, and has conducted other important research
(It is thanks to his work that I was set straight that "Lalayan" was not a killer, based
on a widespread Internet quote, but a Soviet-Armenian historian), studied at
Moscow University and is fluent in the Russian language. It's very exciting
that Mr. Perincek is uncovering many of the genocide-busting jewels present in
the Russian archives.
The following (April 27, 2005) interview was conducted on a Turkish television
program entitled "Talking Over." The host is Professor Hasan
Koni. A bio informs us that one of the universities the professor attended for
post-graduate studies was that hotbed of Armenian propaganda, Michigan
State, turf of Dennis Papazian and Fatma Muge Gocek. A Fulbright Scholar
at John's Hopkins University, Prof. Koni serves or served as the Director of
the Turkish Historical Studies of Ankara University.
PROF. KÖNI: Dear viewers, our guest today is Mr. Mehmet Perinçek. He is a researcher in
Istanbul University, Institute for Atatürk Principles and Revolution History.
We will again discuss the Armenian question,
but our approach will be from the point of view of Soviet documents, opinions of
Orientalists, and even the Dashnak documents will hold an important place.
We will try to study these issues from an objective point of view. Welcome. Mr. Perinçek,
every year we spend the month of April with the Armenian question and the genocide
allegations. I used to work on the issue during the 80s, but now my peers have retired and
passed it on to your peers.
Until 1915 the Armenians were regarded as the “Faithful Nation," but in 1915 the
Ottomans suddenly decided to relocate them. Is that true? What do the documents say? What
were the initiatives? You are an important researcher working on the issue.
PERINCEK: Thank you. First of all, I'd like to give some information on the archives. The
Soviet archives and the observations of the Soviet state are important in that they are
not documents that belong to Turkey, and they render objective information from a
different country to be presented to the international public opinion.
On the other hand, the events that happened in Eastern Anatolia actually involved the
Transcaucasia front of the Soviet state. They are firsthand witnesses of the events. Most
importantly, these documents are marked classified and top secret. Therefore, they are not
made up for propaganda purposes, or with an effort to please Turkey. They are inside
correspondence marked classified and top secret, written by highest ranking officials,
which prove that they demonstrate the objective facts.
KÖNİ: They are now open to the public, aren't they?
PERINCEK: Certainly, they started to classify the documents in the 1990s, and
gradually opened them. I've been studying there for seven years. There are tens of
thousands of documents related to the issue. If we make a general assessment before
we go into individual examples, we come across three basic conclusions. The first
one is that the events that happened in Eastern Anatolia during and after World War
I cannot be described as genocide. This is the first definite conclusion we reach.
The second conclusion is that these events are not genocide, but reciprocal
killings. Both Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Ziya Gökalp have put forth this
definition. Similarly, Soviet statesmen, representatives and Orientalists share this
opinion. The third conclusion is important in that tsarist Russia and the
imperialist West have incited and used the Dashnaks against Turkey to divide and
colonize Anatolia by provoking these reciprocal killings. They are responsible of
the reciprocal killings, and Turkey has waged a rightful war against them.
We can summarize the three conclusions as such.
If we need to give examples on these conclusions, for instance, Mdivani was the
representative of Transcaucasia in Soviet Russia. He sends a telegram to Stalin
saying ”Turks also lost a lot of people against the Armenians. We can never expect
them to make concessions for Armenians.” That’s how he warns Moscow on the
Another important document is a report written by the Soviet People’s Commissariat
of Foreign Affairs, which corresponds to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the
Politburo, which was the highest central authority, emphasizing that Muslims are in
majority in the region regarded as Turkish Armenia.
The reports also emphasizes that a coalition to
be made with Dashnaks would bring nothing but provocation and corruption. There is
also a note made by Stalin in his own handwriting, under a document or rather a
letter which he later sent to Lenin. In that note, he says “Giving Mush, Van and
Bitlis to the Armenians is an imperialist demand. Muslims are in majority in the
region and such provocative and stupid demands cannot be our demands.”
Stalin also sent a note from Baku to Chicherin who was the People’s Commissar of
Baku is also important as it is a region where incidents took place, and close to
Eastern Anatolia. He says “The agents of the Allied Powers are exaggerating Turkey’s
campaign in Transcaucasia, take it easy.”
As you know, the events that are regarded as genocide today includes the period
between 1915 and 1923.
In those years, Stalin says that Turkey’s campaign to Caucasia was exaggerated by
the agents of the Allied Powers, and tells the foreign office to keep calm.
Another striking document is a telegram sent to Stalin by Ionissian who was
Secretary of the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party. He says “Nationalist
demands and desires of the Armenian bourgeoisie are responsible of the pain
Armenians suffered, and we have to establish good relations with the Ankara
government to put a stop to them.”
So, an Armenian official personally had accused the Dashnaks of being responsible
for the pains suffered.
Stalin made a similar note in another document. He says “Armenians have been
victimized by the Allied Powers which incited them to attack Turkey.”
Another striking document demonstrates the Dashnak terror.
The following statement takes place in a document signed by Mdivani and Nerimanov,
the Secretary-General of the Azerbaijani Communist Party:
“About ten villages have been destroyed by the Dashnaks. Dashnaks have slain the
Muslim villagers massively and in an organized manner.”
This statement is not made by our people. It is the actual statement of Soviet
It says “More than 2000 Armenians have found places to shelter in Azerbaijan. The
rest are hiding in the mountains.”
The rest is important. It says “The locals are defending themselves
single-handedly against the Dashnak government, and they only trust their own forces
and the Turkish army in this war.”
This is striking as well. Again, an ultimatum given to the Dashnak Armenians by the
Azerbaijani Revolutionary Committee says “This war against treacherous and cruel
Dashnaks. Dashnaks want to subserviate the people of Naxchivan at gunpoint.”
PERINCEK: Certainly. It doesn’t only involve Caucasia. If we come to the events of
Eastern Anatolia, we have to look into the Dashnaks. If we consider the Dashnaks according
to the interpretations of Soviet historians and Soviet statesmen, we see that Dashnaks had
three basic characteristics.
The first one was that Dashnaks had served as a weapon in the hands of the imperialist
states against Turkey.
The second one was that as Dashnaks carried out this role, that is, as they served as a
weapon to the imperialists, they resorted to terrorism and conspiracy.
The third one was that Dashnaks were directly responsible for the relocation and other
events that came about as a result, along with the Allied Powers which used them.
Here is something about the point you’ve just made. There is an Armenian historian by
the name Boryan. He's not known in Turkey but he wrote a book in 1928 titled “Armenia,
International Diplomacy and USSR.” This book was published in 1928 in Moscow and
Leningrad. He was a Soviet-Armenian historian and an academician at the university.
Here is how he assesses the Armenian question, in relation to the point you’ve just
“After the Berlin Conference the Armenian question has become an instrument for the
diplomacy of great powers to pressure Turkey. The British and Russian diplomacy and the
Russian and German diplomacy in pursuit have used the Armenian question as an instrument
for their colonialist policies in the East.”
This was written by an Armenian historian.
On the other hand, there is the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. It is an encyclopedia published
by the Soviet state. In the 1926 edition of the encyclopedia, there is an entry on the
Armenian question. This entry is striking as well. This is how it explains the Armenian
“When the Armenian question is considered from an outside viewpoint, it is seen that the
great powers have supported centrifugal forces in Turkey, weakening and colonizing Turkey
So, the point emphasized by the encyclopedia is that the Armenian question has been used
to colonize Turkey.
When we look further into the opinions of Soviet statesmen and Orientalists, for instance,
Boryan has a striking opinion. He says “The movement of Armenian masses led by the
representatives of the Armenian nation has always been used as a weapon against Turkey by
the diplomacy of the great powers.”
In a similar note he says: ”These representatives have always been a weapon in the hands
of the great occupational powers and everything they did was dictated by the Western
Boryan asks in his book about how the slogans of Russian Tsar Nicholas II became the
slogans of Dashnaks, and how the slogans the British and French imperialists became the
slogans of Dashnaks.
Again, the collaborationist character of the Dashnaks which prefers to rely on the
protection of the West or a great power is also emphasized by Vartanyan, another
Vartanyan says “They always had a great power behind them. First it was the White Army.
Then, when the White Army was defeated, they leaned on the British and French
imperialists. When they were defeated as well, Dashnaks leaned on the Nazi Germany even in
World War II and were engaged in operations to keep the way clear in the Caucasus.for Nazi
Germany. They even formed volunteer units.”
This is also noted by Vartanyan. Another important emphasis to demonstrate their
collaborationist character and Turkey’s rightful war against them was made by Korsun,
who was both an officer and a military historian and professor. He refers to the Dashnaks
in the book he published in 1942 with the title “Greco-Turkish War." He regards the
Greeks and the Dashnaks as equal.
He says: “Dashnaks and Greeks have worked in collaboration. They even helped one
For instance, he refers to a Dashnak document. He says, when Dashnaks get into trouble,
due to operations of the Turkish army, they immediately apply to the Greeks, telling them
to add pressure from the west in order to relieve them. So, the Greeks reply them by
saying they will be coming to their aid. This is important in that, Turkey has waged a
rightful war against the Dashnaks, similar to the war they waged against Greeks in Western
The Armenian historian Vartanian
wrote a book entitled, "The History of the Armenian Movement," where he
"Ottoman Armenians were completely free in terms of traditions, religion,
literature and language compared
to those of the Empire of Russia."
KÖNİ: The same situation came about after the Cyprus operation. The Greek
intelligence supported the Armenian operations particularly after 1974. So, the
Orthodox structure has been in mutual support all along. One part was successful
with the support of the British because they were out of Anatolia. The other part
caused trouble in an area inaccessible for Turks and disseminated the pain and the
emotional dimension of the events, via the Church. Are there any archived documents
related to the events of the pre-1915 period?
PERINCEK: Certainly. One of the most striking ones is related to an Armenian
congress held in Tbilisi in 1915. In 1915, Dashnaks organized a congress for all
Armenians in Tbilisi. It must be April 1915.
Here, the Dashnak representative of the military wing makes a speech. He says, “the Russian
government gave us this much money at the beginning of the war. The mission of the
Turkish Armenians was to revolt in the hinterland thus creating chaos and anarchy.”
I’m emphasizing this part because these are his exact words:
“And the mission of the Transcaucasian Armenians is to establish voluntary units
to make way for the Russian armies.”
He says “We got this much money to carry out this mission, so we have to do it.”
So there were two missions to be carried out. One was to weaken the Ottomans by
revolting in the hinterland.. which is a confession; and the other was to act as a
battering ram for the Russian army, by establishing voluntary units. Shortly after
this speech the Van uprising broke out. Yes, the famous Van uprising.
Boryan’s assessment on the issue is important. He says “Dashnaks have now
accomplished their mission as servants to the tsarist Russia.” The Armenian
historian Boryan says this.
I must emphasize that Boryan is declared a traitor today by Armenian nationalists,
due to the book he published in 1929. He’s not alive now but he is still being
After saying that they have accomplished the mission as servants, Boryan
emphasized something very important. I think the essence of the Armenian
question lies in this statement of Boryan. He says, “It is obvious that when a
mass of ten thousand people revolt against the state behind the military front, the
idea of state entails the state rule and statesmen to take responsible precautions
to necessary defense.”
He says there is a mass of ten thousand people revolting, and the Ottoman state
would obviously take precautions in self-defense.
The following phrase should be emphasized as well. Boryan says “I must remind the
following principle, keeping in mind that there is an important mission to
accomplish, which necessitates to search and find opportunities to put down the
uprising: The end justifies the means.”
That is, there is an attack against the state. The means used to defend the state
are justifiable, which was the relocations they now regard as genocide. He says it
was a justifiable means and puts forth the Dashnak documents.
He says Dashnaks made these speeches and maintained such correspondence to
accomplish their mission to revolt, and to act as a battering ram or servant.
In return, the Ottoman state took necessary precautions for its self-defense.
He says it was their duty to take those measures.
He doesn’t say they could have taken measures or not. He says, “If this is a
state they have to do it, and they have all the right to defend themselves.”
(Holdwater note: Other estimates of the
Armenian fighters at Van. 10,000 appears to have been at the low end.)
KÖNİ: I'd like to make a point. Tsarist Russia has executed pogroms against the Jews, claiming
that they didn’t put up a good fight. There were no revolts (by the Jews) or
anything. (The Russians) just came and massacred them. Why don’t the Jews seek
revenge against Tsarist Russia, whereas Armenians are so eager to revenge on Turkey,
with the support of the West?
PERINCEK: As we have seen in the Soviet documents I've mentioned, the Armenian
question belongs neither to Armenians, nor to Turks. The Armenian question is
actually an issue created to weaken Turkey. As they used the Armenians to reach the
point to sign and implement the Treaty of Sèvres, they are putting pressure on
Turkey with this issue.
Actually, it’s neither the Armenians in Turkey, nor the Armenians in Armenia. It’s
the Western diplomacy as it was in 1915 and 1920s. It’s interesting what Wolfowitz
said when our deputies went there about a month ago. He said “These (genocide
resolution) bills will keep coming to the Senate.”
He said, “If you do this about the base in İncirlik and that about the
seminary in Heybeliada, and cooperate with us against Iran and Syria, we will not
ratify these bills. But if you take action otherwise ee will ratify these bills.”
So, all this reveal that the Armenian question or the genocide allegations are not
issues to reveal historical facts. They are completely political issues like they
were in the past.
Paul Wolfowitz served as
Secretary of Defense during the
first George W. Bush term. Here
he's licking his comb, from
Wolfowitz did not say, “Let’s study the
issue, open the archives, examine the documents and accept or reject the genocide
according to the facts.” He said “Your attitude will determine whether there was
a genocide or not.”
That is, they are trying to corner and weaken Turkey again, like they did in Cyprus
and the Aegean questions, or the events experienced in Eastern Anatolia, this time
using the Armenian question as a package to create a foundation to realize the Great
Middle East Project. The Great Middle East Project can only be implemented by
weakening and finally eliminating the national state of Turkey, so the Armenian
question is brought before Turkey again.
It does not arise from the anger or hatred of Armenians against Turkey. They use the
hatred. You had a Turkish Armenian guest last week on the program. He revealed how
the Armenians were used very well. The same “hatred” is used today.
KÖNİ: They also use the issue of identity
in our day. Jews make use of the Holocaust extensively, which justify their actions in
international politics. It is a protection against oppression and a means of economic
gain. The Diaspora is much more active than Armenians living in Armenia. Armenians living
in France and America pressure those countries which supports your thesis, and they accept
it as a fact.
Did you ever see an Ottoman document in an international conference? No. So how come you
believe in what a single person says? Our people were slain in the Balkans. Shouldn’t
there be any repercussions or vengeance on that? Have you ever heard of a Turk attacking
and killing the diplomats of another country claiming that our people were slain in the
Balkans? How can these people be so audacious?
These issues must not be forgotten. Are there any documents on the role and various
efforts of the Church?
PERINCEK: There are important documents that reflect figures on the arms aid made by the
West and Tsarist Russia.
KÖNİ: So they exist.
PERINCEK: In detail. And it’s not only arms, but everything material; they even include
the flour. For instance, America sent flour to the Dashnaks. Tsarist Russia gave them
weapons. The British dressed up the army and gave them broadcloth etc. All these weapons
and supplies were mostly stored in churches in order to accomplish the mission to revolt
in Turkey. The documents reveal that as well.
The churches in İstanbul played an important role and the churches in Eastern
Anatolia were used as an arsenal.. for the weapons given by the British imperialists and
the tsarist Russia. They were used in the Van uprising. They say there were ten thousand
armed rebels. Ten thousand people. Those weapons were kept in churches and as the churches
had immunity they were used very comfortably. This is how we can summarize the role of the
The priest in question is
KÖNİ: Horrible. I asked this question
because Germany, which was our ally in World War I, accuses us depending on the
writings of a Protestant German priest, which say so many Armenians were killed here
and there. That is, they incriminate Turks based on the allegations made by the
priests who acted as supporting forces in the churches where the weapons were
hidden. That’s how biased they are.
Don’t you think Armenians have read those documents?
PERINCEK: Armenians may have read them. But Armenians have the Dashnak documents at
hand, which are the best sources to reveal the issue.
KÖNİ: Are they opened?
PERINCEK: No, they’re kept in Russia, which has some of them and a part of them
are opened. But it is said that an important part was smuggled to Europe. But all
the Dashnak documents are like confessions. As I've mentioned before, they say they
had to do and were actually doing certain things to accomplish their mission. What
could Turkey have done against that?
Boryan replies to the question. He says they had to take precautions to defend the
state and they did.
German priests, British generals and officers, American missionaries accuse us of
massacring the Armenians, but Irandust, another Soviet historian published a book in
1929. It is important for the West that accuses us today as well. He draws attention
to the Dashnak massacres that occurred in Cilicia — that is, the Adana and Marash
region — and says, “Terror regime was applied in the occupied regions. The
gendarme units comprised of Dashnaks formed by the French engaged in massive murders
against the Turkish population. They seriously brought forth the Great Armenia
project, which contained Cilicia and the eastern provinces of Turkey, extending from
the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
Armenian bands slaughtered all the villages one by one and implemented the program
to physically annihilate the Turkish population consciously, completely under the
leadership of the occupational forces.”
The emphasis is that the French imperialists have consciously used Dashnaks to
annihilate the Turkish population. It was not the hatred of the Dashnaks. He says it
was executed consciously and according to a program, under the protection of the
French. Shouldn’t you take precautions against that?
Those priests are accusing Turkey. The present Western diplomacy, the American
Senate, or certain “intellectuals” accuse Turkey of genocide. But Soviet
historians reveal the issue clearly. There are tens or hundreds of similar examples.
Gurko-Kryajin wrote a book in 1925 titled “Near East and States.” In his book he
recounts the massacres against Turks in the Transcaucasia region, Eastern Anatolia,
and Adana and its vicinity, by mentioning the names of the villages.
And these are not written by Turkish historians. They are not Ottoman documents
either. They are statements made by Soviet officials, in their reports and works.
KÖNİ: Our brief time is over, Mr. Mehmet Perinçek. Thank you for the
information you’ve given us. The question is gradually coming into light. I wish
you a good day. Hope to see you again in another program.
"With the start of the War, Armenian intellectuals joined the ranks of the
imperialist bourgeoisie of Tsarist Russia. Tsarist doctrines were accepted as the
programme of the Dashnaktsutiun which assimilated the former's chauvinistic and emotional
characteristics. The leaders acting on behalf of the Party projected themselves as the
idealistic Saviours of the Turkish Armenians. They were in fact being used as instruments
by imperialist Russia. In the eyes of Russia, the activities of the Dashnaktsutiun served
the purpose of preparing world opinion for the Russian invasion of Turkish Armenia. Indeed
there was no intention on the part of Tsarist Russia to set up an autonomous Armenian
state, nor was the international situation suitable for such a development. It was
impossible not to see that the Party which was ostensibly striving for the independence of
the Armenians was, in fact, only serving Russia's aim of occupying Armenia."
Esat Uras, “The Armenians in History and the Armenian Question,” 1988, p. 859;
from B. A. Borian, Armenia, International Diplomacy and the USSR, p. 32. In his
chapter entitled "Revolts and Relocation," Uras destroys the Armenians'
"self-defense" explanation through another important Armenian source, V.
Papazian, a Van Parliamentarian and leading Dashnak. In Papazian's article entitled
"World War and the Mus[h] region: The Russo Turkish War, 1914-1915" (which
appeared in Vem; here is a small portion),
Uras provides excerpts and informs us, "Papazian's article reveals that revolts,
enlistment in the Russian army, the formation of volunteer bands, and attacks on the
Ottoman troops did not come about as a reaction to forced relocation ('deportations'), but
that relocation took place because of them."
Mehmet Perincek has prepared a nice round-up
entitled "The Armenian Issue in the Russian State Archives," which
may be accessed at the "Turkish Armenians" site.