The following is a letter
written by Professor Norman Stone to Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation
League, when the latter caved in to Armenian pressure without regard to the
facts, and accepted the "genocide" definition. The idea was, of
course, to get the politically-motivated Mr. Foxman to see the light,
presuming Mr. Foxman would set a higher priority to the truth. Let's hope he
will, but let's not hold our breath.
The ADL has a program called "No Place for Hate," but evidently they
only care about select peoples. By acknowledging a false genocide that
perpetrates hatred, the ADL has become accomplices for hatred.
(Of course, the Armenians were extremely "foxy" in pressuring Mr.
Foxman of the ADL, and other Jewish groups, in an atmosphere both Armenians
and Jews have had much to do in creating, making designated genocides
sacrosanct. Jewish groups such as the ADL could not afford to be branded as
"genocide deniers," and thus the weaker-willed among them had no
choice but to buckle.)
An article by Norman Stone follows.
Dear Mr. Foxman,
I am writing to you about the resolution, recently-published, of the ADL, concerning the
Armenian events of 1915 in Turkey.
Stone. Ironically, he was
part of PBS's "The Great War,"
crazily affirmed the Armenian tale.
(Stone lent his expertise on Russia here.)
My qualifications for doing so are I think such that any historian
of the period would vouch for me: I taught at Cambridge and Oxford for thirty years before
taking early retirement from the Chair of Modern History, and going to Turkey. I have just
had published a book about the First World War (Penguin) which is currently being
translated into a number of languages and will no doubt shortly appear in the USA. Beyond
that, I have started a book about Russia and Turkey in the 1878-1930 period. A friend in
Istanbul has asked me to write to you about the recent statement concerning the Armenian
massacres in 1915. I am afraid to say that there will be some dismay if the
Anti-Defamation League makes even such carefully-expressed assertions as to whether the
massacres amounted to a genocide.
The chief authority is surely Bernard Lewis at Princeton. He told a French newspaper some
years ago that there is no document proving the (genocidal) intentions of the Ottoman
government, and, on the matter of definition, 'it depends what you mean by genocide'. His
reward for this was to be sued in the French courts, and he even lost one of the cases
with a symbolic franc's damages. Be it said that the Armenians used as lawyer one Maitre
Verges, who defended Carlos the Jackal, a notorious holocaust-denier, and other such
unsavoury characters; he volunteered to defend Saddam Hussein as well. But there are other
frankly well-qualified authorities in the USA, better-qualified in terms of academic
record than anything to be found on the Armenian side. Guenther Lewy (who has just retired
from a Chair at Amherst) has a recent book that is clearly fair-minded ('A disputed
genocide') and it does material damage to the scholarly performance of the chief diaspora
historian, Dadrian. Justin McCarthy, an Ottoman demographer, can also usefully be
consulted. In Paris, at the College de France, there is Gilles Veinstein, who wrote a
telling summary of the whole question in L'Histoire of 1993. These are frankly in the top
flight of scholars, and this subject is an extremely difficult one, requiring knowledge
not just of modern Turkish but Ottoman, which is obsolete. There are other scholars who
also question the 'genocide' account, for instance a young man at Harvard, Michael
Reynolds, who can handle both the Ottoman archives and the records of the Russian military
administration, which took over eastern Anatolia in 1915. The Russian documents, I gather,
support what the Turks have claimed about 1915 - that there was a tremendous
Armenian-nationalist provocation, followed by a cruel deportation of the population.
I might add that each of these men has faced vicious attacks, and attempts to stop
publication - for instance, the manipulation of peer-review tactics, vastly exaggerating
the number and significance of slips. In the case of one celebrated American historian,
Stanford Shaw at UCLA, his car was booby-trapped and his house fire-bombed.
The more vociferous Armenian diaspora historians like to claim
that 'historians' support them but this is just not true. Quite the contrary: on the
whole, the people who know the subject at first-hand do not accept the thesis of
'genocide'. The whole business of 1915 remains murky, but perhaps I can bullet-point
some of it.
I can easily supply references for these, but I think that anyone familiar with the
subject — including diaspora historians — will know my sources. In general,
Professor Lewy's book (University of Utah Press) will serve in this respect.
1) The documents allegedly proving the genocide
are forgeries, and the British law officers who were trying to find evidence over a
four-year period of occupation in Constantinople refused to use them. With much
regret, they said that they could not establish a case against some hundred men whom
they were holding. The State Department were unable to help. This has not stopped
the diaspora Armenians in France from using the most notorious of these forgeries
(the 'Naim-Andonian documents') in their museum in the south of France.
2) The Ottomans themselves in 1916 put on trial some 1300 men for crimes committed
during the deportation of the Armenians in 1915, and executed a governor.
3) The Armenians' leader, Boghos Nubar, was offered a post in the Ottoman cabinet in
1914, but turned it down on the grounds that his Turkish was not up to it.
4) The figure given by Boghos Nubar to the French for Armenian losses for use in the
post-war treaties was 700,000. Most died of disease or starvation, but in eastern
Turkey at the time at least one quarter of the entire population, Moslem and
Christian, died of such causes. It was a terrible time.
5) The internal Ottoman documents talk of 'deportation', in the context of
widespread Armenian nationalist risings in the early spring of 1915. The Russians
and the French (on Cyprus) used Armenian regiments and legionaries.
6) The Armenian populations of Istanbul, Izmir and Aleppo were not affected by the
deportation order. As Lewy says, it is as if the Jews of Berlin, Frankfurt and
Vienna had been exempted from the Hitler genocide.
7) In the run-up to this tragic period, the Armenian nationalists murdered prominent
Armenians who warned against risings - the Patriarch in Istanbul, for instance, and
the mayor of Van (and many others).
8) The diaspora Armenians have never allowed this to come before a
properly-constituted and competent court. Instead, they prompt parliamentary and
other bodies to 'recognize the genocide' — Canada, France, Lithuania, Chile,
Wisonsin, Edinburgh City Council etc. That will be where the ADL comes in.
9) The diaspora historians also refuse to meet Turkish historians even under neutral
and well-intentioned auspices (for instance, in Vienna two years ago).
It is true that diaspora historians will find answers, of greater or lesser plausibility,
to these points, but they have to try very, very hard, and their attempt to muzzle
transparently competent and honest historians surely speaks for itself.
I might add incidentally that I consider myself neutral and I have never written anything
to deny the possibility that a genocide (in the classic sense) was considered. However I
do not think that the evidence that we have really adds up, and I quite agree with
Professors Lewis, Lewy and Veinstein. I also know, from my ten years in Turkey, how strong
the feeling is, there, among quite ordinary people, that the diaspora Armenians are being
quite vindictive and perverse about an affair in which the Armenian nationalists have far
more responsibility than the diaspora would ever admit. This does Turkish-Armenian
relations no good, as I am sure the 100,000 or so Armenians in Turkey, their Patriarch at
the head, agree.
The important thing is to bury the hatchet, and Armenia herself, a poor, land-locked place
that has lost about a quarter of its population through emigration (a good part to
Istanbul) also needs this before she withers on the vine.
Article by Norman
Armenian story has another side
By Norman Stone, a historian and the author of "World War I: A Short
October 16, 2007
All the world knows what the end of an empire looks like: hundreds of thousands of
people fleeing down dusty paths, taking what was left of their possessions; crammed
refugee trains puffing their way across arid plains; and many, many people dying.
For the Ottoman Empire that process began in the Balkans, the Crimea and the
Caucasus as Russia and her satellites expanded. Seven million people — we would
now call them Turks — had to settle in Anatolia, the territory of modern Turkey.
In 1914, when World War I began in earnest, Armenians living in what is now Turkey
attempted to set up a national state. Armenians revolted against the Ottoman
government, began what we would now call "ethnic cleansing" of the local
Turks. Their effort failed and caused the government to deport most Armenians from
the area of the revolt for security reasons. Their sufferings en route are
Today, Armenian interests in America and abroad are well-organized. What keeps them
united is the collective memory of their historic grievance. What happened was not
in any way their fault, they believe. If the drive to carve out an ethnically pure
Armenian state was a failure, they reason, it was only because the Turks
For years, Armenians have urged the U.S. Congress to recognize their fate as
genocide. Many U.S. leaders — including former secretaries of state and defense
and current high-ranking Bush administration officials — have urged Congress
either not to consider or to vote down the current genocide resolution primarily for
strategic purposes: Turkey is a critical ally to the U.S. in both Iraq and
Afghanistan and adoption of such a resolution would anger and offend the Turkish
population and jeopardize U.S.-Turkish relations.
Given this strong opposition, why would Congress, upon the advice of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee, make itself arbiter of this controversy? What makes the
Armenians' dreadful fate so much worse than the dreadful fates that come with every
end of empire? It is here that historians must come in.
First, allegedly critical evidence of the crime consists of forgeries. The British
were in occupation of Istanbul for four years after the war and examined all of the
files of the Ottoman government. They found nothing, and therefore could not try the
100-odd supposed Turkish war criminals that they were holding. Then, documents
turned up, allegedly telegrams from the interior ministry to the effect that all
Armenians should be wiped out. The signatures turned out to be wrong, there were no
back-up copies in the archives and the dating system was misunderstood.
There are many other arguments against a supposed genocide of the Armenians. Their
leader was offered a post in the Turkish Cabinet in 1914, and turned it down. When
the deportations were under way, the populations of the big cities were exempted —
Istanbul, Izmir, Aleppo, where there were huge concentrations of Armenians. There
were indeed well-documented and horrible massacres of the deportee columns, and the
Turks themselves tried more than 1,300 men for these crimes in 1916, convicted many
and executed several. None of this squares with genocide, as we classically
understand it. Finally, it is just not true that historians as a whole support the
genocide thesis. The people who know the background and the language (Ottoman
Turkish is terribly difficult) are divided, and those who do not accept the genocide
thesis are weightier. The Armenian lobby contends that these independent and highly
esteemed historians are simply "Ottomanists" — a ridiculously arrogant
Unfortunately, the issue has never reached a properly constituted court. If the
Armenians were convinced of their own case, they would have taken it to one.
Instead, they lobby bewildered or bored parliamentary assemblies to "recognize
Congress should not take a position, one way or the other, on this affair. Let
historians decide. The Turkish government has been saying this for years. It is the
Armenians who refuse to take part in a joint historical review, even when organized
by impeccably neutral academics. This review is the logical and most sensible path
forward. Passage of the resolution by the full House of Representatives would
constitute an act of legislative vengeance and would shame well-meaning scholars who
want to explore this history from any vantage point other than the one foisted upon
the world by ultranationalist Armenians.