A report from a REAL "1915"
Followed by background on the article,
and a report on whether Sweden has recognized the Armenians' genocide.
ADDENDUM, 12-06: Thanks to the research of Dr. Mete Soyturk, who made
possible the images on this page, we have new information on the Swedish
officer (whose full name was Gustav Hjalmar Pravitz; the initials
"H. J.," as originally provided on this page, were in error. The
"first" name was really "HJ," which must be an
abbreviation, Swedish-style). Pravitz actually went on to author a 1918 book
which partly delved on the topic, entitled ”Från Persien i stiltje och
What were these Swedes doing in the neighborhood, anyway? As Dr. Soyturk
explains, Iran was looking to improve its gendarmerie and police operations,
and military personnel from Sweden (numbering fifty-four at its height) were
invited and stayed between 1911 and 1924. Sympathetic to Germany, these
personnel gave the Central Powers a hand from time to time (mainly in matters
of sabotage), and thus some found themselves in the Ottoman Empire from 1916
The situation of the Armenians: By one who was among them
By Hj Pravitz, Nya Dagligt Allehanda, 23 April, 1917
Hj Pravitz takes a deeper look at the statements that had previously been made by Mrs.
Marika Stjernstedt, in Nya Dagligt Allehanda, a Swedish Newspaper published in the
"…Recently returned home from abroad I have right now – i.e. somewhat late –
had the opportunity to look at two Swedish booklets on the Armenian issue. "Sven
Hedin — adelsman" [Sven Hedin — a nobility], by Ossiannilsson and "Armeniernas
fruktansvärda läge" [the terrible situation of the Armenians], by Marika
Stjernstedt. The former book went immediately in the waste basket. In all its poorly
hidden appreciation of the title character, it annoyed me more than a main article in
Dagens Nyheter. The latter, which seemed spirited by the compassion for the suffering
Armenians, I have read repeatedly, and it is really this and its inaccuracies that my
article is about.
I dare to claim, that hardly any other Swede has had the opportunity like me, to
thoroughly and closely study the misery among the Armenians, since I now for about a month
have traveled right among all the emigrating poor people. And this, during the right time,
fall 1915, during which the alleged brutalities, according to both writers, were
I want to hope, that what I am describing below, which are my own experiences, will have
the purpose to remove the impression of inhumanity and barbarity from the Turkish and
German side, which is easily induced by the reading of the two booklets mentioned above.
If I understand the contents of the books correctly, both writers want to burden the Turks
as well as the Germans with deliberate assaults or even cruelties.
My position as an imbedded eyewitness gives me the right and duty to
protest against such claims, and the following, based on my experiences, will support and
strengthen this protest.
Despite the fact that I was and am such a pronounced friend of Germany and its allies,
which is consistent with the position of a servant of a neutral country, I started my
journey from Konstantinopel (Istanbul) through the Asian Turkey, with a certain prejudiced
point of view, partly received from American travelers, about the persecution of the
Armenians by their Turkish masters. My Lord, which misery I would see, and to which
cruelties I would be a witness! And although my long service in the Orient has not
convinced me that the Armenians, despite their Christianity, are any of God’s best
children, I decided to keep my eyes open to see for myself to which extent the rumors
about Turkish assaults are true and the nameless victims were telling the truth.
I sure got to view misery, but planned cruelties? Absolutely nothing.
This is precisely why it has appeared to me to be necessary to speak up.
To start with, it is unavoidable to state, that a transfer of the unreliable Armenian
elements from the northern parts of the Ottoman Empire to the south was done by the
Turkish government due to compulsory reasons.
It should have been particularly important to remove, from the Erzeroum district, all
these settlers, who only waited for a Russian invasion to join the invading army against
the hated local legal authority. When Erzeroum fell in February 1916, an Armenian, with
whom I just shared Russian imprisonment, uttered something I interpreted as 'It would have
fallen way earlier if we had been allowed to stay.' That a country like Turkey, threatened
and attacked by powerful external enemies, is trying to secure itself against cunning
internal enemies, no one should be able to blame her.
I think it points to a misconception when one claims that the Armenians are living under
the uninterrupted distress of some sort of Turkish slavery. There are peoples that have it
worse. Or what about Indian Kulis and Bengalis under British rule, and the Persian
nationalists in Azerbaijan under the Russians' — "penétration pacificue", and
the Negroes in Belgian Congo, and the Indians in the Kautschuk district in French Guyana.
All these, not to mention many others, seem to me, are victimized to a higher degree and
more permanently than the Armenians. I guess technically, one can say that a longer
lasting but milder persecution is less bearable to endure than a bloody but quick act of
despotism, as in (Ottoman) assaults of the kind that from time to time put Europe's
attention on the Armenian issue. Apart from these periodical so-called massacres, the
reason of which could to a large degree be ascribed to the Armenians themselves, I do
think that the (Armenians) are treated reasonably well.
The (Armenians) have their own religion, their own language, both in speaking and writing,
their own schools etc.
As far as the much discussed major Armenian migration is concerned, I am the first to
agree that the attempts of the Turkish side to reduce the difficulties of the refugees
left a lot to be desired. But I emphasize again, in the name of fairness, that considering
the difficult situation in which Turkey, as the target of attack from three powerful
enemies, was in and it was, in my opinion, almost impossible for the Turks, under these
circumstances, to have been able to keep up an orderly assistance activity.
I have seen these poor refugees, or "emigrants", to use Tanin’s words, seen
them closely. I have seen them in the trains in Anatolia, in oxen wagons in Konia and
elsewhere, by foot in uncountable numbers up in the Taurus mountains, in camps in Tarsus
and Adana, in Aleppo, in Deir-el-Zor and Ana.
I have seen dying and dead along the roads — but among hundreds of thousands there must,
of course, occur casualties. I have seen childrens' corpses, shredded to pieces by
jackals, and pitiful individuals stretch their bony arms with piercing screams of "ekmek"
But I have never seen direct Turkish assaults against the ones hit by destiny. A single
time I saw a Turkish gendarme in passing hit a couple of slow moving people with his whip;
but similar things have happened to me in Russia, without me complaining, not then, nor
In Konia, there lived a French woman, Madame Soulié, with family and an Italian maid.
They lived there, despite the war, and the Turks did them no harm. And as far as the
Germans stationed in the town are concerned, she called them 'our angels.' 'They give all
they have to the Armenians!.' Such evidence of German readiness to sacrifice I established
everywhere the Germans were.
In Aleppo, I lived by the Armenian Báron, the owner of a large hotel. He did not tell me
about any Turkish cruelties, although we talked a lot about the situation of his fellow
citizens. We also talked about Djemal Pasha, who would come the day after and with whom I
would meet. Báron expressed himself very positively about this man, who by the way, least
of all seemed like an executioner.
In Aleppo, I hired an Armenian servant, who then during a couple of months was my daily
company. Not a word has he told me about Turkish cruelties, neither in Aleppo nor in his
home town of Marash or elsewhere. I must unconditionally believe in exaggerations from
Mrs. Stjernstedt’s side and I do not put one bit of confidence in the Armenian
authorities she claims to refer to.
On page 44, Mrs. Stjernstedt writes about (the town of) Meskene and an Armenian doctor
Turoyan. I was in Meskene right when he was supposed to have been there. I looked
carefully around everywhere for historical landmarks, since Alexander the great crossed
the Euphrates (river) here, and the old testament also talks about this place. There was
not a sign of Armenian graves and not of any Armenians either, except for my just
mentioned servant. I consider Mr. Turayan’s evidence very questionable, and I even dare
to doubt that this man, if he exists, was ever there during the mentioned time. If the
conditions in Meskene really were as he claims, will anyone then believe that the
suspicious Turks would have sent an Armenian up there with a "mission from the
For fourteen days, I followed the Euphrates; it is completely out of the question that I
during this time would not have seen at least some of the Armenian corpses that, according
to Mrs. Stjernstedt’s statements, should have drifted along the river en masse at that
time. A travel companion of mine, Dr. Schacht, was also travelling along the river. He
also had nothing to tell when we later met in Baghdad.
In summary, I think that Mrs. Stjernstedt, somewhat uncritically, has accepted the
hair-raising stories from more or less biased sources, which formed the basis for her
By this, I do not want to deny the bad situation for the Armenians, which probably can
motivate the collection initialized by Mrs. Stjernstedt.
But I do want to, as far as it can be considered to be within the powers of an eyewitness,
deny that the regular Turkish gendarme forces, who supervised the transports, are guilty
of any cruelties.
Later on, in a different format, I want to impartially and neutrally like now treat the
Armenian issue, but at the moment, may the adduced be enough.
Rättvik, April 1917
The Swedish text may be accessed on this very page if you click here.
Notes on the
above article, by Ergun Kirlikovali
The entire credit for this incredible piece of research goes to my good friend Dr.
Erdal Atrek, a Turkish-American scholar. My hat is off to this gentleman. I am proud
to know Dr. Atrek from my high school years in the late 1960s at the Robert Academy
of Istanbul, Turkey, and lucky to have caught up with him again many years later in
While I am proud to be Erdal Atrek’s school mate, I am embarrassed and ashamed to
be Orhan Pamuk’s classmate (1966-1970), who chose to sell his soul — and
heritage — to get the Nobel Prize. While Pamuk insulted the entire Turkish nation
without knowing the first thing about the facts surrounding the Turkish-Armenian
civil war during WWI, Dr. Atrek went out of his way to unearth this magnificent
piece of evidence single handedly, which will literally bury the ethocidal campaigns
of the AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk
What follows, breaks the back of the AFATH lobby and the AAG ("Alleged Armenian
genocide") irreparably, as a Swedish officer, WHO ACTUALLY TRAVELED UP
AND DOWN THE EUPHRATES RIVER WITH THE ARMENIAN REFUGEES DURING THE FALL OF 1915, the
highlight of the so-called genocide, saw absolutely no Armenian bodies floating in
the river or the river reddened due to Armenian blood, as usually told by the
sensation — seeking AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk Haters") crowds
to the unsuspecting media. I will not spoil the wonderful surprise by telling you
all about this article here; you must read it in its entirety below...
Please note that the Swedish officer does say that he had witnessed hunger,
starvation, and suffering among the Armenians, which no one in the Turkish camp,
including this writer, disputes. What we, in the Turkish camp, are saying is that
the Christian suffering described here or elsewhere in the AFATH literature, can not
be viewed as separate from what was experienced by the Muslim inhabitants of the
area and era, which was, tragedy-for-tragedy, casualty-for-casualty, loss-for-loss,
four times worse than the Armenian suffering. If one takes into account, as any
decent, self-respecting, and fair-minded individual must, this “simple-but-rock-solid
fact,” then one can not talk about a genocide. Case closed!
What’s more, the suffering that befell on all the inhabitants of Anatolia, without
discrimination as to the race, ethnicity, color, or creed of the inhabitants, was
the direct result of the greed, terror, armed uprisings, brutal betrayals, and
supreme treason by the Armenian revolutionaries, which were passionately supported
and viciously manipulated by Russia, France, and Britain, for their own selfish
imperialist interests. Those European powers had themselves been locked in a three
way contest, to see who will pick up the largest slice of the pie that was the vast
lands of the tri-continent Ottoman Empire.
Europe rained death and destruction on Anatolia during WWI and conducted at least
part of this unspeakable campaign of death and destruction using proxies, like the
Ottoman-Armenians, (and Ottoman-Greeks, among other Ottoman-Christians), causing
neighbor-killing-neighbor, and destroying a millennium of peaceful co-habitation by
the Turks and Armenians, or Muslims and Christians, in Anatolia. The U.S. Protestant
missionaries also contributed to this human tragedy first with their anti-Turkish
and anti-Muslim teachings during 1865-1915 and then with their biased reports of
Armenian suffering from Anatolia during 1914-1918, which the New York Times
gladly printed word-for-word, without once checking their validity or seeking inputs
or rebuttals from the Turkish side for balance and fairness. While the missionaries
filed and the New York Times printed 145 anti-Turkish stories
in the year 1915 alone, for example, there was not a single report mentioning the
four times worse Muslim suffering ... or a single refutation or rebuttal by the
Turks… Some journalistic ethics! Some war coverage! (This anti-Turkish bias,
unfortunately, seems to continue, at some level, even today.)
And if those wartime measures were not taken when they were, then the undersigned
would probably not be writing these lines today or there would not be half million
Turkish-Americans... or Five million Turkish-Europeans... or Seventy million Turkish
citizens of Turkey... As most would have met the same tragic end as my paternal and
maternal grandfathers did at the hands of the Ottoman-Armenians and Ottoman-Greek:
Extermination and burial in unmarked mass graves of unknown location!
Don’t think for a moment that my suffering is unique; not at all. There is no
family in Turkey today whose grandparents had not been devastated by the WWI. Our
last names tell our tragic stories and we need no lessons from anyone about man’s
inhumanity to man. I am a product, like many Turks, of an ignored and untold
genocide; that of the Turks. Yet, in all these years, I have not read a single word
about my suffering in any of the AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk
Haters") accounts... All I see is an unfortunate and relentless barrage of
typical Crusader bias, constantly parroting the Armenian side of the tragedy, and
drilling into the hearts and minds of unsuspecting readers the notion of “poor,
starving Armenians” and “barbarous Turk” clichés, with zero respect for
fairness, balance, or truth. And then they wonder: “Why is this issue not resolved
in 90 years?” You tell me!
"The situation of the Armenians: By one who was among them. A Swedish officer,
H.J. Pravitz, takes a deeper look at the statements by Mrs. Marika Stjernstedt,"
Nya Dagligt Allehanda, a Swedish Newspaper published in the period 1859-1944, 23
Original was traced in the Swedish Royal Library, copied, and translated by Dr. Per
A. Nordlund, a Swedish national, upon a personal request by his friend, Dr. Erdal
Atrek, a Turkish-American, who had seen this newspaper article mentioned in a
pamphlet published by the Turkish Prime Ministry: Armenians in Ottoman Documents
(1915-1920), Ankara, 1995, page 179.
Dr. Atrek says this clipping, perhaps an old clipping from the original Sweden
paper, which probably yellowed and all too brittle by now, was used as an appendix
to the document number 205 in that pamphlet.. There is an Ottoman translation
attached to this clipping which is further translated into today’s Turkish by Mr.
Mehmed Munir, the legal counselor to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Dr. Atrek obtained and carefully guards the photocopies of the entire newspaper
issue of 23 April, 1917, in case the AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and Turk
Haters") sends a team of “seek and destroy” agents to Sweden to steal and
destroy this document which very damaging to the AFATH claims of Ottoman Army
excesses during the relocation.
Dr. Nordlund, the translator, was a believer in AFATH ("Armenian Falsifiers and
Turk Haters") claims of genocide, until he read this article. He was so moved
by the fairness and truth in it, that he told Dr. Atrek that he changed his position
The writer sends his heartfelt thanks to both Dr. Atrek and Dr. Nordlund for their
selfless work which will revolutionize our task of exposing the ethocidal behavior
of some of those AFATH-owned-and-operated genocide scholars. Our task of refuting
and exposing the AFATH is a lot easier now, thanks to their efforts.
Swedish Parliament Recognize the "Genocide"?
“Swedish Parliament corrects Its Earlier Decision; Says Genocide Did Not Happen”
By Serkan Demirtas, Cumhuriyet, 27 March 2002
(Cumhuriyet is a Turkish daily newspaper published since 1923 in Ankara, Turkey)
"... Swedish Parliament admitted that they made a mistake in the year 2000 by
recognizing the AAG and basing their decision on the UN resolutions of similar recognition
. They have since determined that the UN had never had such resolutions.
The Swedish Parliament declared that no pronouncements can be made on the alleged,
pre-1948 genocide of Armenians, Assyrians, and Keldanis, and the issue should be left up
to the historians. By resolving that the genocide convention of 1948 is not retroactive,
the Swedish Parliament also gave support to the Turkish position.
The resolution was introduced by Murad Artin, an Armenian member of the Swedish
Parliament, Foreign Relations Committee, who belongs to a leftist party. After
deliberations, the committee offered the following recommendations to the general
· No official Swedish position has ever been formulated which recognizes the
events during the Ottoman Empire as genocide;
· Our committee, during its deliberations of the resolution dated and numbered
1999/2000:U651, made a reference to a UN resolution in 1985, recognizing the treatment of
Armenians by the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century as genocide. Later,
it was determined that no such U.N. resolution was passed in 1985 or in any other year.
Consequently, our committee should have never formulated their statement the way it did.
· Our committee is of the opinion that it is important to discuss these events
openly. For this to happen, unconditional historical researches must be conducted.