I didn't study the 1909 period, and
I'm putting up this information mostly for reference until I learn more. Peter
Balakian tells us the reason why this conflict took place is because the
Armenians of Adana were regarded as "pushy" and "considered
provocative because they were asserting cultural pride and nationalism."
True to form, the author makes no mention... in his usual attempt to portray
the Armenians as innocent victims.... that the Armenians
in Adana rose in revolt on April 14, 1909.
ADDENDUM, 9-06: By now I have learned a lot more about the Adana
episode, and the latter part of this page will deviate from the Balakian book,
with other Adana references.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Analysis of
Balakian's Adana chapter
1. Kamuran Gurun's The Armenian File on Adana
1a. Did 20,000 Armenians die?
2. In 1909,During the Adana Massacres... (Armenian Mayor of Van)
3. A Typical Western Book Regarding Adana (Red Rugs of Tarsus)
4. Marmaduke Pickthall on Adana
5. Notes on Bishop Mushegh Seropian
6. Esat Uras's Extensive Look at the Adana Massacres
The chapter outlines the revolting of soldiers in April 12, aided by
religious zealots in Istanbul, and the counterrevolution getting put down in April 23 by
the army of the Young Turks. Growing stronger, the author tells us the CUP would embrace a
plan of Turkification known as pan-Turkism. The counterrevolution was felt throughout the
rest of the country as well, and in Adana, the events led to the massacres of Armenians.
On April 12 or 13, the British dragoman in Adana, Athanasios Trypanis, reported to British
vice-consul Doughty Wylie in Mersin that some Armenians had been murdered. What started
the chaos was an Armenian named Ohannes who killed two Turks, as Wylie reported to Sir G.
Lowther that the author failed to write about; it must have been an oversight.
Another telegram Balakian fails to mention is one from Sir G. Lowther to Sir Edward Grey
on April 15, 1909:
I have received a telgram from His Majesty's Vice-Consul at Mersina reporting that
disorder have been broken out at Adana in which a number of persons have been killed.
British subjects are in no danger. So far Armenian quarter, which is armed, has not been
attacked. Major Doughly Wylie thinks that the trouble is spreading and the situation at
Mersina and Tarsus appears to him anxious. I am assured by the Porte that thay are doing
all that is possible.
Wylie noted Armenians terrorized and killed by bashebozuks, who claimed the Armenians were
rising up against the government (as reported in H. Charles Woods' "The Danger Zone
of Europe," 1911), with the authorities doing little. Two American missionaries were
killed by five Turks. Wylie was then shot and wounded by an Armenian, who thought he was a
Balakian notes some 2,000 Armenians were dead in the city of Adana in the first 48 hours.
Young Turk regiments who arrived in Adana to restore order in April 25 contributed to the
massacres with greater zeal. "The newly arrived soldiers claimed that they were fired
on by Armenians," which the author notes was "a strategy the Turks and the
Ottoman government had used before... to justify massacre."
(What an absurd justification. If the idea was to polish off the Armenians, why did the
Turks stop? Just like in "!915." If the idea was to exterminate, how could one
million Armenians have survived, as Peter Balakian himself conceded... Does that make
sense? When soldiers are fired upon by rebels, the rebels can expect return fire. That's a
"law" any country abides by. Yet when the Turks do it, it's murder.)
As the soldiers were going berserk, Balakian continues, and fires raged (as Doughty
recorded in an April 26 consular report), 13,000 Armenians packed themselves in a
Greek-owned factory, 5,000 in a German factory, and the girls at the American school were
hidden in the British consulate. "As the weeks of April went by" (weeks? there
were only four days left in April from this point in the story), surrounding villages were
"razed and pillaged." In the northern part of the province, the Armenians in
Hadjin and Dortyol "fought tenaciously in resistance, beat back the Turks, and saved
themselves from total annihilation." "Some 200 villages were ... ravaged."
Wylie noted the death toll may be estimated at between 15,000 and 25,000, where "very
few, if any, can be Moslems."
The Muslim Dead and Notes on Doughty-Wylie
The Western perspective,
as always, is to solely consider the Armenian casualties. In Adana, 1,850 Muslims
died, according to Jemal Pasha, along with 17,000 Armenians. As you can read in THE
ARMENIAN FILE excerpt below, if the population ratio had been reversed (Armenians
comprised one-tenth of the population), so too could have been the mortality figures.
The Armenian representatives settled on around 21,000.
Hotham Doughty-Wylie, nicknamed "Dick," (1868-1915) was the nephew of the
Arabian explorer Charles Doughty. The Turks decorated Doughty-Wylie for his courage in
saving lives during the Adana turmoil of 1909. Six years later, Doughty-Wylie led an
invasion against the country which had celebrated him. As a staff officer during the
Gallipoli landings, he reportedly saved the landing from disaster by leading a charge,
clearing the Turks from Cape Helles. At the moment of victory. the report tells us,
Doughty-Wylie ("who had led the attack armed only with a small cane") was
Balakian informs us that punishments in the aftermath were
"hollow and only for show." An Ottoman parliamentary representative, Hagop
Babikian "died mysteriously." "Some Turks and even some Armenians
were sentenced to death." (Only one Armenian was
executed, along with forty-seven Turks; is that what Balakian
considers "hollow" punishment?) The Governor was debarred, and the
military commander was sentenced to three months in jail.
It was these events that inspired Siamento to write poems like "The
Dance," where the poet "creates images" that would lead Ambassador
Morgenthau to call the "sadistic orgies" of Turkish massacres. (Shades of The
Forty Days of Musa Dagh... so it was this poetic fiction that influenced
Henry's perception of Turkish barbarism, instead of verifiable history.)
As with the rest of the book, the author paints the picture of evil Turks and
innocent Armenians, and the only reason for the attack is that the Armenians were
"pushy," and "considered provocative because they were asserting
cultural pride and nationalism." I would think the provocation extended to
more... like the Armenian who fired the first shot by killing the two Turks. We know
from the other telegram that the Armenians were armed, and I'd bet what the soldiers
claimed was at the root of the problem... that the Armenians attacked first. (They
must have been heavily armed, to have fought the Turkish army in Hadjin and Dortyol...."in
resistance.") These armed Armenians were roaming about shooting at anything
that moved... like the one who shot Wylie himself. Furthermore, at least there was
an attempt to punish the authorities who didn't do enough to protect the innocent
among the Armenians, and Turks were even executed.
Using Christopher Walker and a 1999 work by Aram Arkun as sources,
we are told Armenians comprised less than 20,000 in the city of Adana (pg. 148). As
the crisis was winding down by the time of Wylie's April 26 report, over 18,000
Armenians were tucked away uncomfortably, but safely. Since not every single
Armenian in the city was stashed away in these factories and the British consulate,
that equals pretty much the entire Armenian population of the city of Adana, doesn't
it? How could there have been 2,000 Armenian dead in the first 48 hours? And that
was before the arrival of the Young Turk regiment, where Balakian writes, "the
killing was even more brutal and well organized," conducted as it was by the
army. Which Armenians were being killed, if over 18,000... nearly the entire
Armenian population of Adana.... were in these safe havens?
Armenians at Adana attacked only because they were Armenians... or, as in the events
of 1915, did the Armenians fire the first shot? Kamuran Gürün offers much needed
historical perspective from THE ARMENIAN FILE (pp. 166-70):
7. The Adana incident and the end of attempts at reform
(a) The Adana incident
The years 1897-1914 constitute the most disastrous period of the
Ottoman Empire. Within and outside the country, incidents were occurring every day, and
the Empire was clearly disintegrating.
The regime within the country was now unbearable. The administration
could no longer control the insurrections and rebellions, and followed such a policy that
it seemed to vent its anger, arising out of its inability to control, on a silent
community. As a result of this, secret organizations were founded inside and outside the
country, working to put an end to this absolutist regime.
Although the Turco-Greek War ended in victory, the Ottoman Empire
came out of the war empty-handed, owing to the intervention of the great powers, and had
to recognize the autonomy of Crete. Moreover, France landed soldiers on Lesbos in 1901,
the Macedonian rebellion occurred in 1902, and the Arabian peninsula was in turmoil.
The struggle which was begun by the Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihad
ve Terakki Cerryiyeti), in the hope of putting an end to this process, ended on 24
July 1908 with the declaration of the Second Constitutional Government. However, this
Government was unable to find any way of improving the condition of the Empire. On 5
October 1908, Austria occupied Bosnia-Herzegovina, on the same day Bulgaria declared its
independence, and on 6 October Greece annexed Crete.
The first Assembly of the Second Constitutional Government was
opened on 17 December 1908 in this situation.
On 13 April 1909, the reactionary coup known as `the event of 31
March, aimed at abolishing the Constitutional Government, took place in Istanbul.
The next day a confrontation between Muslims and Armenians occurred
in Adana, and the last bloody stage of the Armenian question began.
At this time, Adana was like a barrel of gunpowder ready to explode
at any moment. The British documents clearly attest to this. We read as follows in the
report of the British Embassy:
[After the proclamation of the constitution) nearly no one in
Adana was really satisfied. The Turks hated the idea that they were no longer masters. The
Armenian wanted to rush into Home Rule. The Greek mistrusted the constitution because he
had not made it himself and because under it he seemed likely to lose certain facilities
he had enjoyed under the old venal system. . . .
Under the constitution all men might bear arms. From the
delightful novelty of the thing, many thousands of revolvers were purchased. Even
schoolboys had them and, boy-like, flourished them about. But worse followed. The swagger
of the arm-bearing Armenian and his ready tongue irritated the ignorant Turks. Threats and
insults passed on both sides. Certain Armenian leaders, delegates from Constantinople, and
priests (an Armenian priest is in his way an autocrat) urged their congregations to buy
arms. It was done openly, indiscreetly, and, in some cases, it might be said wickedly.
What can be thought of a preacher, a Russian Armenian, who in a church in this city where
there had never been a massacre, preached revenge for the martyrs of 1895? Constitution or
none, it was all the same to him. `Revenge,' he said, `murder for murder. Buy arms. A Turk
for every Armenian of 1895.' An American missionary who was present got up and left the
church. Bishop Mushech, of Adana, toured his province preaching that he who had a coat
should sell it and buy a gun. (131)
It appears that the Governor and the Commander in Adana at the time
were not capable of resisting an incident of any kind. In his memoirs, Jemal Pasha wrote:
A young priest who passionately sought authority, named Mushech,
was at the time a member of the Adana Armenian Delegation, and was also one of the leaders
of the Hinchaks.
Monsignor Mushech had begun to have rifles and revolvers brought
from Europe to arm his men. He was publicly announcing that [Armenians were now armed,
that they would no longer fear incidents such as the 1894 massacres and that should so
much as a single hair on an Armenian's head be disturbed, ten Turks would be destroyed.]
It is here that the biggest responsibility of the Adana
government begins. . . . To arrest and imprison His Excellency Mushech and his
accomplices, to undertake legal investigation with regard to them, and even to declare a
state of siege in the province was the best short cut.
Unfortunately in Turkey. . . such a government did not exist in
At that time, the province of Adana was administered by Governor
Jevat Bey, who was a perfect example of a cultured gentleman. However, his lack of
administrative talent could not be replaced by his culture. In short, he was not the man
to serve as Governor of Adana at such a time.
As for the Division Commander, he was an old soldier named Ferit
Mustafa Remzi Pasha.
The Governor of the Jebelibereket sanjak was Asaf Bey. I cannot
understand how this faint-hearted man who was afraid of his own shadow could become a
In the beginning of 1909 there were rumours circulating in Adana,
that soon the Armenians would rebel and annihilate the Turks, that the European fteet
would invade the province on this pretext, and that they would ensure the establishment of
The Turks paid so much attention to these rumours that some of
the notables attempted to send their families to safer areas.
In the month of April 1909, there was so much tension between the
two sides, that nobody had any doubt that a confrontation would occur at any moment.
Finally, on April l4th, the [Adana incident] occurred, first of
all with the Armenians' attacks on the orders of Monsignor Mushech.
Such horrible massacres had begun in Adana, Hamidiye, Tarsus,
Misis, Erzin, Dortyol, Azizli, in short in every area where the Armenians were in a
majority, that reading their details would afflict one with great hatred.
The Government, which was quite helpless in the provincial centre,
demonstrated its stupidity to the extent of ordering a general insurrection to prevent
attacks against the Muslim folk under its jurisdiction. When he was informed that the
Armenians of Dortyol were advancing with an armed convoy to the town of Erzin, the centre
of the sanjak of Jebelibereket, the sanjak governor Asaf Bey, without even leaving his
office, sent telegrams to all the places under his jurisdiction, as well as to the
neighbouring sanjak of Kozan, stating that it would be necessary (for every patriotic Turk
to take his arms and rush to the aid of the sanjak of Jebelibereket, as the Muslims here
were in danger of being massacred].
These are the reasons and causes of the first Adana incident. The
second Adana incident occurred eleven days after the first, and was restricted to the city
of Adana. It began when some Armenian youths opened fire on the soldiers' camp at night,
and this in turn triggered worse massacres in the city of Adana.
In my opinion the sole responsibility for the Adana massacres
lies in the person of the renowned author of Les Vepres Ciliciennes, Monsignor Mushech.
The Adana government of the time, which realized the harm this individual was capable of,
and did not take any preventive measures, is also responsible. (132)
We should bear in mind that the above statements are taken from the
memoirs of Jemal Pasha, and therefore refiect his own version of these events. Recently
the memoirs of Asaf Bey, who was the Governor of the sanjak of Jebelibereket at that time,
have been published, and the picture he presents is somewhat different. As Asaf Bey was
exonerated in the investigation which followed the Adana incident, at the very time when
the government was looking for a scapegoat for these events, it may well be that the
accusations of Jemal Pasha were somewhat subjective and exaggerated.
The British also shared Jemal Pasha's view of Bishop Mushech. The
above-mentioned document also includes the following footnote:
Since writing the above on Bishop Mushech I got another view of
him and his conduct, which may be of some interest. I was urging on one of the Delegates
of the Patriarch the necessity of finding some modus vivendi between the two races. In the
forefront of his conditions for peace he placed the pardon of this Bishop.
`He has done nothing,' he said, `nothing at all. It is true that
he took bribes from Bahri Pasha. It is true that he was in the arms trade, and sold the
people bad arms for good money. It is true that he preached to them to buy arms, and
thereby made much money. It is true that he made foolish speeches. It is true that he used
to go to the vineyards with a rifle and bandolier on his shoulder. It is true that he had
himself photographed in the costume of the old chiefs of Armenia, But what of all that? It
At the time of the incidents, Mushech was in Egypt. Without doubt he
would have taken an active part in the incidents, if he had been in Adana. The British
Ambassador, in another report dated 4 May 1909, states that the Armenian Patriarch was
responsible to a great extent for the incidents. (133)
The incidents spread when Armenians killed two young Muslims and
refused to hand over the assailant, and Muslims and Armenians fought in the streets for
The government immediately dispatched soldiers from Dedeaghach to
Adana. Their arrival rekindled the incidents, but this time they were easily crushed.
Jemal Pasha writes that in the Adana incident 17,000 Armenians and 1,850 Muslims were
killed, and that, had the population ratios been in favour of the Armenians, the
statistics would have been reversed. The inclinations shown by both sides during the
fighting did not differ from one another.
The Patriarchate gives the number of dead as 21,300 based on the
investigation it carried out. The Edirne representative, Babikian Efendi [See Box below] , had prepared a report to be submitted to the
Assembly. He gave the number of dead as 21,001 in his report which was not discussed in
the Assembly, as he died shortly after. (134) Because the figure given by Jemal Pasha
pertains to the time after the trials, it can be accepted that the number of Armenians who
died is closer to 17,000 rather than 20,000, as it is possible that some had returned
after having fled during the incidents.
From Richard G. Hovannisian's 'Armenia on
the Road to Independence,' 1967:
member of Parliament of Inquiry, 21,000 victims, 19,479 of whom were Armenian [Adanay,
eghere (The Atrocity of Adana), Const. 1919]
(The difference: 1,521)
Hovannisian revised his figure of dead Armenians to 18,660 in an essay from a decade later. His source
appears to be the same, spelled here as "Hagop Babiguian."
The breakdown included the following figures: 745 other Christians (Greeks, Syrians,
Chaldeans), and 620 Muslims. (Total: 20,025.) This differs from the same "Agop
Babikian" report, as presented by Esat Uras (see section below): 19,479 Armenians, and 1,522 other
Christians (250 Greeks, 850 Syrians and 422 Chaldeans), for a total of 21,001. This
version offered a Muslim toll of "zero."
and the Armenians From the Earliest Times Until the Great War (1914), 1920, MacMillan Co., NY, p. 130
HOW MANY REALLY DIED?
After taking another look at the article including Hovannisian's essay (from the
5-07 addendum above), I noticed Stanford Shaw's criticism of Hovannisian's refusal
to consult Ottoman sources, with the sole exception of this Adana report by the
Armenian parliamentarian. Shaw commented: "...the parliamentary reports in
question were in fact part of an effort to discredit the supporters of the recently
deposed Sultan Abdülhamit II, and that they did not correspond with the actual
investigation reports, which are found in the papers of the Anatolian Investigation
Commission, file A-TFA in the Basbakanlik Arsivi. Our discussion also was based on
Uras, Tarihte Ermeniler, pp. 557-577 and Ikdam, 28 February 1909/1324."
What Uras wrote followed the suspicions I had when I analyzed Balakian's book (above); pro-Armenian sources (which can
be counted on to provide inflated figures) had the Armenian population of the city
of Adana at 20,000, so how could some 20,000 have died? (That would have left
"zero" Armenians. This is along the same lines as when pro-Armenians claim
1.5 million died in "1915," when their entire population was some 1.5
million, which would have similarly left "zero" Armenians.) Of course, we
must take into account not just the Armenians of the city, but of the entire
province (see next paragraph); yet still there is something fishy going on. Uras
As the total population in the province amounted only to 48,000 a death toll of,
21,000 or 30,000 Armenians would have meant that there were practically no Armenians
left alive. But it is known that 25,000 fled to places unaffected by the
disturbances, to return to their homes after order had been restored.
It's unfortunate no source was provided as to how it was "known" that
25,000 had fled. But even without accounting for the Armenians who had left, the
parliamentarian's analysis implies practically all of the Armenians would have died,
since it is highly unlikely for the Armenians to have exceeded 20,000 in an area
housing 48,000 in all. (It is a fact that Armenians did not constitute a majority
anywhere in the empire.)
The "48,000" points to not just the Armenian population, but the entire
population, as clarified by the German newspaper account, "Terror in Adana,"
reproduced in Uras's chapter. (See below.)
Here's what it said: "...The total population of Adana amounted to 45,000.
Of this total 27,000 were Moslems and of the remainder, three quarters were Armenian
and one quarter Greek."
If we perform the math, that means the Armenians amounted to 13,500 in the entire
province! (Assuming the total was not 45,000 but Uras's 48,000, even if we should
unrealistically allot the 3,000 difference strictly to the Armenians, the total
would still amount to only 16,500. We can see it would have been impossible for some
20,000 Armenians to have died.
(Note that according to Gurun's The Armenian File, 1985, p. 95, the 1914
Ottoman census listed 57,686 Armenians for the Province of Adana.)
To give us an idea of the actual mortality, Uras wrote:
The official report issued by the governor's office put the number of dead at
less than 10,000. According to the La Turquie newspaper the total number of
the dead was 1,000. Of these, two hundred and fifty were Moslems.
Kamuran Gurun had read Uras's book, and still went along with the higher end, giving
credence to Jemal Pasha's figure of 17,000 dead Armenians, as well as 1,850 dead
Muslims, as you may have read just above this box. That could mean Gurun was
suspicious about something, or it could mean he had too many other details to focus
Yet it was Gurun who convincingly discredited the bloated Armenian toll of
200,000-300,000 from the 1890s, demonstrating that the real figure
would have barely reached 20,000. If he was correct, then how could the number of
Armenians who died from "massacres" in the entire decade of the 1890s
equal the Armenian death toll from the Adana uprising that lasted just a few
The Adana incident appears as a case in which Armenians were responsible in so far as they
engaged in provocation until it erupted, and the local government was responsible in that
it was unable to control it once it happened. However, this was not in any way a case of
one side massacring the other, as the Armenians and the Muslims both fought fiercely. As
Jemal Pasha pointed out, if the Armenian population had been in the majority, instead of
being one-tenth of the Muslim population, the numbers of dead might well have been
The British Ambassador, in the reports mentioned above, stated that
it was not possible to make the two sides declare a cease-fire, and that the cease-fire
which was obtained with the soldiers' intervention was disregarded as soon as the soldiers
left the area.
After the incident, martial law was declared in
Adana. The Armenian and Muslim culprits were sent to the military court martial. Jemal
Pasha, who was appointed to Adana after the incident, wrote as follows:
Four months after I arrived at Adana, I had 30 Muslims, among the
martial court convicts, hanged, only in the city of Adana, and 2 months later I had 17
Muslims hanged in the town of Erzin. Only one Armenian was hanged. Among the Muslims who
were hanged, there were young members of the most established and wealthy families of
Adana, as well as the mufti of the kaza of Bahche. This mufti had great influence on the
local Turks. I regret deeply that I was unable to capture Monsignor Mushech as he escaped
in a foreign ship to Alexandria, on the second day of the Adana incident. If I had
captured this person, who was rightly sentenced to death in default, I would have hanged
him opposite the mufti of Bahche.
The last incident of Adana was thus concluded.
131: F.O. 424/220, No. 48, enclosure
132: Jemal Pasha, Hatiralar (Istanbul, 1959), pp. 345-6.
133: F.O. 424/219, No. 83.
134: USNA, 353/43, No. 87, 4016/13
1909, During the Adana Massacres...
The Armenians were making mischief throughout the
empire, despite the fact that it was only one year after the Young Turks had
implemented reforms, giving the Armenians more freedoms than before. (It can be more
accurate to say "because of" instead of "despite.") The
revolutionary committees were not only targeting innocent Turks, as in Adana (hoping
to set off a reprisal, thus allowing the European imperialists to intervene). They
were also targeting loyal Ottoman-Armenians. In 1909, here is the fate of one such
Armenian (Bedros Kapamaciyan), when he was elected mayor of Van.
|A Typical Western Book Regarding Adana
22 September 2006
THE RED RUGS OF TARSUS
A Woman’s Record of the Armenian Massacres of 1909
By Helen Davenport Gibbons
The New York Century Co. 1917
Published, April 1917
The Letters that a young teacher at St. Paul’s College in Tarsus (the predecessor of
Tarsus American College) sent to her mother in the United States beginning with her
arrival in Tarsus on her 26th birthday on Dec 2, 1908, and published as a book in 1917, is
available on the ArmenianHouse.org website. (St. Paul’s Colege was established in 1888
by Col. Elliott Shepard on the persuasion of missionary Dr. Thomas Christie following his
stop over in Tarsus on his way to Jerusalem.) For those interested in the early life at
Tarsus American College and what happened in Adana and Tarsus in 1909, and how the
incidents were made public in the US, this is a very valuable, nostalgic and easy to read
book. It is interesting that the 194 page book (short pages) has been dedicated to the
‘’Memory of C.H.M. Doughty-Whlie, V.C., the Major of this book who was killed in
action leading a charge on Gallipoli Peninsula, April 29, 1915.’’
The ‘’Book of Letters’’ opens with the young teacher wishing that her mother was
with her on her first married birthday in front of the fireplace in her bedroom at St.
Paul’s College, twenty years after its founding. Than, the author goes on describing her
house and its contents, including a First Aid outfit given to her as a wedding gift. In
the next chapter, she writes about her and her husband Herbert’s teaching their classes
how to plan and construct an essay and describes the Christmas celebrations at night,
referring to her cooking that she learned at Simmons College and Bryn Mawr as having
prepared her for the adventure in a country which she refers to as ‘’god forsaken
The teacher refers to Dr. Thomas Christie and also Daddy Christie several times, and
writes about their Greek helper, Socrates, whose education they sponsor, and their
Armenian friends, seldom mentioning Turks in the book, only referring to them as being
indifferent to human suffering. There are also references to the activities of Mormon and
British missionaries in the area. In pages 27-30, Helen writes about their trip to the
Cave of Seven Sleepers, something that a Tarsus graduate also mentioned in his latest
‘’Ashab-i Keyf’’’ story, except Helen states that the seven men that fled from
Tarsus slept in the cave for one hundred years rather than three hundred and nine years,
and when they wake up, they learn that that the whole world was Christian.
On page 40, Helen writes about her weekend trip to Adana where they visit the family of
Chambers who live in the heart of the Armenian quarter and run the Girl’s School of the
Mission in Adana, a city of sixty thousand. The family also makes weekend trips to Mersina
(present day Mersin) and Helen writes about the Christie family and how one day Dr.
Christie purchases one hundred chickens with his Civil War pension when they run out of
In her letter dated April 14, 1909, Helen writes
about massacres starting in Adana where four Armenian women were killed followed by the
hundreds, both Armenians and Turks, and how Armenians in Tarsus start coming to the
school, looking for protection, food and shelter. Than, the teacher states: ‘’How
would you like to live in a country where you knew your Government not only would not
protect you, but would periodically incite your neighbors to rob and kill you with the
help of the army.’’ On page 138, she writes about the death of Daniel Miner Rogers,
one of the missionaries, in Adana, who was actually killed by a stray bullet, as noted in
a recent message form one of our former teachers and Principals, which is not mentioned in
the book. Daniel Miner Rogers was the husband of Mrs. Mary Christie Rogers Nute, whose
grandchildren live in Pennsylvania, I believe.
Helen gives birth to a baby girl and the book ends with the departure of the teacher with
her husband and new born baby to Egypt in April, 1909.
The author refers to the Adana incidents as if one day the Ottoman Turks decided to kill
all the Armenians, without giving any background information on the causes and making no
reference to the findings of the ‘’Commission’’ that was established by the
Ottoman Government following the incidents which included an Armenian Deputy, Hagop
Babikian, to determine the causes of the incident. (The Commission Report was prepared but
not presented to the Parliament due to the death of Babikian the night before the
scheduled debate, some even claiming that Babikian was murdered by some Armenians since he
knew the facts, according to Salahi Sonyel’s book (1).) According to the memoirs of
Talat Pasa, the purpose of the incidents was to provoke the people to riot, to attract
European attention, and to establish an autonomous Armenian state in Cilicia. As presented
in Salahi Sonyel’s book , bishop Mousheg was a ‘firebrand’ who was seeking to force
the foreign Powers to intervene, with the ultimate aim of declaring himself ‘king of
Cilicia’ as confirmed by secret British documents (p.71).
Much has been written about the incidents that took place in Adana and vicinity following
the proclamation of Second Mesrutiyet in 1908 which provided equality among the different
nationalities and allowed anyone in the Ottoman Empire to obtain guns freely. A 240 page
book by Yusuf Ziya Bildirici (2) tells in detail the causes and the consequences of the
incidents with full of references, documents and photographs. The proclamation gave the
Armenian rebels the opportunity to accumulate huge arsenals of weapons and the Armenian
bishop Mousheg, whose only aim in life was to be king, organized them in regular fighting
forces who started the massacres of the Ottoman Turks, according to Salahi Sonyel. These
facts, however, are not mentioned in ‘’The Red Carpets of Tarsus’’, described
in many other books, including Guenter Lewy’s ‘’The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman
Turkey – A Disputed Genocide" (3).
There are hundreds and thousands of books and articles written by the Armenians and their
supporters about the Armenian issue, always referring to it as the ‘’Armenian
massacres’’ and ‘’Armenian genocide,’’ when in fact, the issue was started by
the Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Turks were massacred by the Armenians
who rebelled against their own government. In defense, the Ottoman Turks took to arms and
killed Armenian rebels. Also, it was not only the Armenians and the Ottomans who were
involved, but also the Russians, the British, the French, the Italians, the Armenian
Patriarch and many organizations which are mentioned very little, although they bear the
responsibility for this tragedy which resulted in the death of both the Armenians and the
For those interested, a photograph of Christie House in Camliyayla (Namrun) is given in
the Attachment where photographs of Dr. Christie and his wife adorn the walls. Following a
visit there two years ago, additional photographs were distributed to Tarsus American
College alumni group (TAC) together with a suggestion that the House could be turned into
a TAC Museum.
It is recommended that who ever reads the ‘’Red Carpets of Tarsus’’ should
also look at the books given below and others in order to get a balanced view of the Adana
Yuksel Oktay, PE
(1) The Great War and the Tragedy of
Anatolia, (Turks and Armenians in the Maelstorm of Major Powers), by Salahi Sonyel. Turk
Tarih Kurumu, 2001 (In English)
(2) Adana’da Ermenilerin yaptigi Katliamlar ve Fransiz-Ermeni Iliskileri, by Yusuf Ziya
Bildirici, KOK Sosyal ve Stratejik Arastirmalar Serici No. 15, Ankara, 1999. (In Turkish)
(3) The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey – A Disputed Genocide, by Guenter Lewy, The
University of Utah Press. 2005
Pickthall on Adana
"The massacres at Adana in 1909 are ascribed to the Young Turks by Mr.
Toynbee, as if there were no doubt about the matter. I was in Syria at the time, and
fanatical emissaries landed at Tripoli, Beyrout, and Jaffa with the same purpose
with which they landed at Mersin, of preaching massacre of Christians. But they were
arrested by the local Committees of Union and Progress and deported, which does not
look as if the Young Turks were the instigators. It is true that members of the
local committee at Adana took part in the massacres, but that committee had been
captured by disguised reactionaries. There are several other cool assumptions in
Marmaduke Pickthall, in a letter exchange with Arnold Toynbee, The
New Age, December 16, 1915, Vol. XVIII. No. 7. He thoroughly refutes Toynbee's
propagandistic Blue Book, adding: "If
the Turkish Government had really wished to exterminate the Armenians there was
nothing to prevent its doing so that I can see." What sane person can
|Notes on Bishop Mushegh Seropian
Let's see what else we can learn about the holy man perhaps most
responsible for what took place in 1909 Adana. The following excerpts are from Arpena S.
Mesrobian's book, "Like One Family: The Armenians of Syracuse." (As
presented by reader Kemal, who deserves thanks. The highlighting below is Kemal's.)
Proceeding with its own concerns, the church board apporached the Prelacy of the Armenian
Church in Worcester, as indicated by a response dated July 6, 1914, handwritten on the
Prelacy letterhead and directed to the chariman and board of the church of Syracuse. After
acknolwedging the board's letter of July 2 requesting His Eminence Moushegh (Seropian) to
come to conduct church services, the writer (the signature appears to read Bahrma Bartabed
Nazarian) says that he has forwarded the request directly to the surpazan (term of
respect) for response.
Moushegh Seropian was a controversial figure in Armenian Church affairs at that time. He
had been bishop of Adana in Turkey, which was under the jurisdiction of the See of Cilicia.
The Cilician See, with its Catholicos, had been in existence for many centuries in order
to govern church affairs of Cilician Armenia. The Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia
is coequal in rank to the Catholicos at Etchmiadzin, but with a circumscribed region under
Seropian escaped from the 1909 Adana massacres and arrived in the United States in late
1910. Although he had come without invitation from America and without the sanction of the
Etchmiadzin See, under whose jurisdiction the American Diocese was governed, he waged a
controversial, but successful, campaign to be elected Prelate. After a turbulent period he
vacated the position and was succeeded by Arsen Bartabed Vehooni in late 1913. At the time
he received the above invitation from Syracuse, he was no longer Prelate.
Seropian, who had known Azadian from Constantinople, responded quickly to the invitaiton
to visit Syracuse. A telegram to H. Azadian dated july 14, 1914 announces: "I will
come Friday. I will be at Syracuse seven o'clock p.m." It is signed "Mr.
Serotian (sic) from Jamaica Plain."
As for Seropian, his close association with Azadian is evident from correspondence and
photographs in the Azadian collection. A telegram from L. Frankeian, Binghamton dated
April 1, 1915 and addressed to Archbishop Seropian at Syracuse, New York, reads:
"Binghamton meeting postponed until after Easter." Seropian also apparently was
alert to business opportunities. Acting on information provided in Seropian's letter of
February 4, 1916, Azadian wrote to Mr. M. H. Johnson of Boston, Massachusetts, of whom
nothing else is known, offering his factory's services for making shrapnel. Azadian's
factory was by this time humming with activity producing arms for the war in Europe.
Seropian's telegram to Azadian dated March 12, 1917 directs: "Please send me at
once six hundred dollars." The reason for this peremptory request is not known.
Antaram Desteian remembered Seropian well. With Khachig Minasian as deacon, the Archbishop
conducted services "many times" at the Episcopal Church Of The Savior on James
Street. She did not remember Vartabed Behooni, but she stated that clergymen from out
of town were always guests of the Azadians.
Seropian's story contains further adventures. An undated photograph in the Azadian
collection shows him in military uniform, although he has inscribed it as
"archbishop." Robert Koolakian has informed me that according to Antranig
Chelebian, biographer of General Antranig, Seropian served as a volunteer in the
Armenian army. Later photographs show Seropian in layman's dress and eventually with
his wife and daughter. Sadly, Miss Desteian recalled that at his last visit to Syracuse,
the dynamic former archibishop had lost his memory.
(Now, some information about Azadian from the same book: )
According to Azadian's biographer, Robert Koolakian, Azadian and Steinmetz shared in
involvement in the development of ballistics and firearms. Steinmetz frequently visited
the Azadians and often took Azadian with him on trips for business and pleasure to
Schenectady and Niagara Falls. It may have been this association that led to Azadian's appointment
to the consortium of technical advisors who served the United States War Industries Board
headed by Bernard Baruch under President Woodrow Wilson's administration. This Board
included Charles Steinmetz, Thomas Edison, George Eastman, Henry Ford, and other notable
inventors and industrialists of the day.
For his part, Mr. Azadian appears to have entered into Armenian community life and
especially the affairs of the Armenian Apostolic church, particularly during the second
decade when the size of the community was growing rapidly. Some of those activities will
be described later.
At first the Azadians attended the public meetings and programs sponsored by the
organizations and political parties. The Azadians are included in the 1914 picnic
photograph along with the Bayerians. Mr. Azadian presided at a 1916 memorial program
for Armenians massacred in Turkey, and Mrs. Azadian opened a program that was held to
encourage Armenian women to form an Armenian Red Cross unit. Later, however, they did not
appear at events of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF). Most of the men working
for Azadian were "Tashnag" (members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation),
but Mrs. Azadian "was against the Tashnags." It has been noted that Mrs. Azadian
came from a wealthy urban family. Well-to-do Armenian urbanites tended to view the
Armenian Revolutionary Federation, a radical party, with distaste, blaming its
provocations for Turkish attacks against the Armenian minority populations.
In 1919 Mr. Azadian moved his factory to 241 West Adams Street, merging it with the
Strandell & Metzger Machine Company which was at the site. He incorporated the firm
under the name Azadian Instrument Corporation and continued there until his death in 1965.
(Pages 10-12 refers to the American Committee for the Independence of Armenia, as well
as former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's
telegrams of support to Azadian.
Then on pages 66-67: )
The ACIA launched its public campaign with a dinner at the Hotel Plaza in New York City on
February 9, 1919.
A photograph in the Azadian collection shows some of the 500 Armenians and friends in
attendance, many coming from distant parts of the United States. Among them were
luminaries such as former ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau, noted authors F.
Scott Fitzgerald and Willa Cather, past and future United States presidents, members of
the Edison family, the industrialist from Rochester George Eastman, Irving Berlin and his
wife. Others at the head table included Joseph P. Tumulty, President Wilson's Secretary
(perhaps representing the President, who was in Paris at the time), Andrew Mellon,
Secretary of the Treasury, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and others of equal distinction.
Uras's Extensive Look at the Adana Massacres
The following is from pp. 810-829 of Esat Uras's THE
ARMENIANS IN HISTORY AND THE ARMENIAN QUESTION; this classic work first
appeared in the 1950s, and the "English translation of the revised and
expanded second edition" came out in 1988.
After the Proclamation of the 1908 Constitution
The Adana Incident (27 March 1909) 9
The Armenians regarded as a sacred duty and a national ideal the resuscitation of
the Rupenian kingdom of Cilicia and the creation there of the state of Lesser
Armenia. From the very earliest times Cilicia had formed the subject of poems
expressing Armenian nostalgia for this ancient land.
The Armenians were encouraged in this by the Russians, who had always wanted
access to the Mediterranean, and the Armenians fell an easy prey to Russian
political manipulation. Russia had long attempted to increase Armenian influence
in the province of Adana and in regions such as Maras, Hacin and Sis. The advice
given in a letter written by Loris Melikoff to the bishop Khoren Narbey during the
Congress of Berlin to the effect that the Armenians could expect nothing in the
Caucasus region and that they should concentrate their efforts further south, is
an example of these Russian efforts to increase the population and influence of
the Armenians in Cilicia.
Once the Armenians had been thus concentrated in Cilicia, it appeared no difficult
matter to attain Russian national objectives by organizing a rebellion like that
at Zeitun in an area made particularly vulnerable to foreign intervention by its
proximity to the sea, its situation on the Baghdad railway and its vital interest
for various foreign powers.
As we shall see later, certain powers won over the Armenians by offering them such
hopes, and many Armenians volunteered for service in the armies advancing on this
region. In the political discussions that took place after the war, the Armenian
representatives continually insisted on their historical rights to Cilica and laid
claim to the region as their own. The foundation of an Armenian homeland in this
region was one of the topics of discussion.
Following the proclamation of the Second Constitution in 1908, there was a
considerable increase in revolutionary activity in Adana. The proclamation of the
constitution was at first followed by a lull, but the revolutionaries were quick
to seize the opportunities offered by the movements in Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia
and Crete, and the various local uprisings.The people had also taken advantage of
the greater liberty they now enjoyed to arm themselves more efficiently. The
internal revolts in the provinces had failed to attract the hoped. for European
intervention, and the revolutionaries thought it best to exploit the state of
confusion that was reigning in Turkey at that time. The Armenians were to rebel,
there would be incidents, the Armenians would persist, the European powers would
finally be forced to intervene, foreign warships would arrive in Mersin, troops
would be disembarked, and Cilicia would be seized from the Turks and handed over
to the Armenians. The most active instigator of revolt in Adana was the Armenian marhasa,
Bishop Mushegh, a fanatical revolutionary in the guise of a man of religion. He
was responsible for organizing all the operations, and was head of the
revolutionary committee as far as its political activities were concerned. Taking
advantage of Sultan Hamid's administration, he worked out a very careful plan
while at the same time keeping in close touch with the governors of the provinces
and exerting very great influence on the members of the bureaucracy.
Adana had remained perfectly calm during the Armenian revolts of 1895-1896. To
incite rebellion here, it was necessary to wait for a more opportune moment.
The first important operation undertaken by Mushegh and his colleagues was to
attempt to increase the Armenian population in Adana and, if possible, to ensure a
strong Armenian majority. With this aim in view a number of Armenians were brought
into the area from the eastern provinces, and from Maras, Zeitun, Van, Harput,
Diyarbakir and Bitlis, and settled on empty lots squeezed between the Armenian
houses in the country towns. All this is freely admitted by the Bishop himself in
his book on the Adana massacres.10
According to official government statistics, there were often five or six families
living in a single house, and, as a result of the operation referred to above, the
Armenian population of the region increased by some 40% in the period between 1902
One of the most important tasks of the revolutionary committees was that of arming
the people. This process had begun under Sultan Abdul Hamid and by the time of the
Adana incident had reached the smallest villages in the most remote districts. For
years, weapons and ammunition had been landed on the shores of the province and
secretly distributed to the Armenians.
The import of arms reached even higher levels after the proclamation of the
constitution. Bishop Mushegh toured the province, speaking in the villages and
preaching in the churches, urging the Armenians to sell all they possessed and buy
arms. Only by the use of arms could they ever hope to achieve their independence.
In his book, Mushegh relates how for a month and a half he toured the
Jebelibereket area and other parts of the province, urging the people to purchase
as many weapons as they could afford adding that these were to be used in self-defence
and the defence of the constitution. 11
On 23 October 1909 there appeared in the Armenian newspaper Goshnak an
Armenian translation of an article by the American missionary Krilman in the New
York Times which contains some interesting information on the subject of arms.
"It is true that in Adana and Mersin a number of crazed and
emotional Armenians were, singing old Armenian war songs. It is also true that
during a performance of Julius Caesar an Armenian stood up and shouted out:
"Caesar may refuse the crown that is offered him, but. the future king of
Armenia will not refuse the crown offered him by patriotic Armenians!" It is
also true that at thesame time a boisterous, inexperienced young bishop 12 went
wandering around the Adana plains urging the people to eat less, and sell their
clothes to buy arms, and had himself photographed with a king's crown on his head.
And it is also true that he made a profit on every weapon he sold. It is also true
that about two hundred sworn Armenian warriors will kill Moslems to protect the
Apart from the weapons that were secretly brought in from Cyprus and Beirut, there
were, according to official government records, over 12,840 rifles imported
through the Mersin and Iskenderun customs in the period following the proclamation
of the constitution.
By the time of the Adana incident the Armenian population was fully armed.
Training in the use of weapons was carried out in fields and orchards, and even
quite openly under the eyes of the authorities. In the country towns, disciplined
bodies of soldiers were formed, with sergeants, corporals and privates, and there
was a guerilla band of some two hundred men.
Taking advantage of the inefficiency of the local government administration,
Mushegh began to hold meetings in Adana cathedral, to interfere in government
affairs, to urge the people to refuse to pay government taxes and the military
exemption money, to bombard the government with petitions on the most trivial
subjects onbehalfofthe Armenians, to incite the people and to stir up feelings of
hatred and hostility.
A club was opened in Adana for the first time by members of the Dashnaktsutiun
Revolutionary Committee. Later, a similar club was opened by the Hunchaks. By
threatening each party with excommunication, Mushegh succeeded in having the
activities o! both clubs combined, thus establishing a very powerful centre of
propaganda and sedition.
The lectures given on Armenian independence, the old Armenian kings, heroic
Armenian rebels and bandits exerted a pernicious influence on the ignorant young
Armenians to whom they were addressed.13
The old hatred and hostility were revived and intensified. The insolent, insulting
and contemptuous behaviour towards the Moslems increased still more. One began to
hear of the bleeding of old wounds, the impossibility of living side by side with
the Turks, the fact that the authority of the Turks ended with the coming of
liberty, and that their turbans would be twisted around their necks.
While this provocation continued in Adana, equally provocatory articles were
appearing in the Armenian press in Istanbul.
The newspaper Ikdam gives the following summary of an article that appeared
in the Arevelk newspaper on 28 February 1324:
Ikdam — 28 February 1324
"Two days ago a long article appeared in the Arevelk newspaper under the
heading "General Action" declaring that the same corruption and
repression that existed under the despotism continue to exist under the
constitution; that crimes and atrocities continue to be perpetrated; that there is
still no security of life, property and honour; that nowhere have the confiscated
lands been returned to their real owners; that murderers of Armenians are neither
sentenced to death nor banished; that poverty and destitution reign throughout the
whole of Anatolia; that in future it will be regarded as a crime to tolerate these
conditions and that the time has come to rise in a general movement of revolt.
'Let there be no mistake,' the writer continues, 'By, "general action"
we do not mean a national or communal revolt. We mean common action taken by the
whole nation together. It should be conducted as follows:
1.-All work and meetings in the Patriarchate should be suspended, and the
Patriarchate itself closed.
2.-All items on the agenda of the General Council should be set aside and all
attention directed to the grievous condition of the Armenians in Anatolia.
3.-The deputies and members of the council should, either collectively or
individually, appeal to the Sublime Porte to put an end to the intolerable
condition into which the Armenians in Anatolia have fallen, and keep repeating
this procedure until some result is obtained.
4.- The priests should also make such appeals and persist until something is done.
5.- Large meetings should be held in various parts of the capital, appealing to
the government to put an end to the policy pursued during the period of despotism
and which is still'being pursued under the Constitution. These meetings should be
continued uninterruptedly for several days, or even for several weeks.
6.-While these peaceful demonstrations are continuing, all churches should be
closed and the bells rung night and day as a symbol of the despair and mourning of
the Armenian people.
7.-These demonstrations should also be held in the provinces in which the
Armenians are in the majority, and authorities should be bombarded with
complaints, appeals, requests and demands, until they are obliged to ensure the
well-being and contentment of the Armenian people. If everything is to stay as it
was, what is the point of the Proclamation of the Constitution?'"
Moreover, the programme of the The Party of Ahrar (Freedom Party), which had just
been founded in Istanbul, proved of great advantage to the revolutionaries, who
immediately exploited the anarchy existing in the government to make a fait
accompli in Adana. On 4 March, Bishop Mushegh, having arranged things to his
satisfaction in Adana, left for Egypt on the pretext of collecting money for a
boarding agricultural school to be opened in Adana. Thus we finally come to the
Adana incident. Omitting various details, the event may be summarized as follows:
On Friday 27 March 1325, two Moslem youths were murdered by an Armenian. The
murderer refused to surrender to the authorities and the Moslems appealed to the
government to remove him from Armenian protection. The Armenians then demanded the
surrender of a Moslem who had some time previously murdered an Armenian. Otherwise
they would refuse to surrender the Armenian assailant. As it was Easter, the
Armenians were firing their weapons from their houses and taking part in
processions and demonstrations, in the course of which an old gentleman greatly
respected by the Moslem population was killed. The Armenian priests toured the
Armenian districts of the city giving orders that all Armenian shops should be
closed. Two Armenians riding through the streets in a cart opened fire in all
directions, while near the bridge in the Armenian quarter an Armenian warrior
riding past at full gallop hurled insults at the Moslems. A Moslem was killed by
bullets fired from the house belonging to a person by the name of Asadur in
Kuyumcular Street. This led to a street battle between the Armenians and the
Moslems in which both sides fired from holes in the walls of their houses. Fires
broke out, and any Moslems who happened to have remained in the Armenian quarter
were seized and immediately put to death.
The government called the Karaisali reserve battalion to arms, but many soldiers
belonging to this battalion were sent to their homes to protect their own villages
and families. The street battles continued from 1 to 3 April but were finally
On 11 April three battalions of soldiers brought from Dedeagac were fired upon by
the Armenians. A second conflict broke out, accompanied by a number of fires, but
after some bloody street battles the rebellion was crushed and peace restored.
A military tribunal was set up in Adana and, after prolonged investigations and
hearings, fifteen people were executed, nine of them Moslem and six Armenian.
Another six prisoners were sentenced to hard labour.
The Armenian revolutionaries informed European circles that 30,000 people had died
in these disturbances. A delegation sent from the Patriarchate put the figure at
21,330. The official report issued by the governor's office put the number of dead
at less than 10,000.
According to the La Turquie newspaper the total number of the dead was
1,000. Of these, two hundred and fifty were Moslems.
The Edirne representative, Babikian Efendi, prepared a report to be submitted to
the Assembly putting the number of those killed in these disturbances at 21,001.
He also drew up the following table:
|No. of Dead
|Adana and the neighbouring farms
As the total population in the province amounted only to 48,000 a death toll of,
21,000 or 30,000 Armenians would have meant that there were practically no
Armenians left alive. But it is known that 25,000 fled to places unaffected by the
disturbances, to return to their homes after order had been restored.
Let us now return to the causes of the Adana incident. The Armenians claimed that
this incident was connected with the 31 March rebellion in Istanbul, and claimed
that they were everywhere the victims of Moslem animosity.
According to one view, there is a connection between the Adana incident, which
began on the 27 March and the 31 March uprising. This view would show the Moslems
as reactionary and despotic and the Armenians as supporters of the Constitution.
It was because of their bigotry and fanaticism that the hard-working Turks of
Adana destroyed their own country, burned down their own city, and killed the
Armenians, the defenders of the Constitution.
The Armenian revolutionaries based all their propaganda on this claim, and
although the Ittihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti (Committee of Union and Progress) sent a
representative to Adana, who, in speeches given in the Adana Ittihat ve Terakki
Club and in front of the local government building, appealed to the people to
live together in peace, the Armenians continued to insist on the alleged
connection between the 31 March rebellion and the Adana incident. The Armenians
used this to conceal their real aims, and constantly based their propaganda on
The Agop Babikian report is a good example of this attitude: 14
"On the same day as the 31 March rebellion broke out in
Istanbul, telegrams were sent to Adana concerning the events in the capital, and
it was upon this that the Adana incident took place. The following Wednesday, the
disturbances were transformed into a massacre which lasted for three days, coming
to an end on 3 April. The disturbances recommenced on the evening the troops
arrived from Rumelia (12 April) and continued until Tuesday. In order to
understand the reason for these disorders it is necessary to go back in time to
just after the proclamation of the Constitution.
The re-establishment of a constitutional regime dealt a severe blow to the
Interests of a number of people who had obtained positions of power and influence
under the old administration. These people cherished a bitter hatred and hostility
towards the new constitution and the Armenians who were ready to die in its
defence. They therefore regarded it as essential that in order to succeed in their
attack on the constitutional government they should first of all exterminate the
Armenian population. Taking advantage of the ignorance of the people, they
disseminated calumny and slander against the Armenians that would arouse the wrath
and indignation of the Moslem populations"
The Frankfurter Zeitung gives the following account of the causes of the
Adana incident. 15
TERROR IN ADANA
(from M. N. Vendiand)
Who can forget how, to the amazement of the whole world, on 28 July 1908, the
constitution that Turkey had longed for so long was finally achieved without the
shedding of a single drop of blood? The powers of the Caliph were reduced without
any difficulty being encountered. The Committee of Union and Progress believed
that the various races could now be united under a powerful state to form an
This delightful dream was soon shattered. Signs of discord appeared with the first
meeting of the new parliament on 17 December. The reason for this lay with the
Christians, and the Armenians in particular. With a population of about one and a
half million, the Armenians had 13 deputies; the Greeks;, with a population of
three million, had 27 deputies, while the Moslems had 200. The Christians thus
felt that they were under-represented. While on the one hand the deputy Zohrab,
one of the finest orators in the assembly, was giving very clear expression to
their dissatisfaction, on the other hand the cunning Abdul Hamid was engaged in
organizing a government coup that was to astound the whole world.
A few weeks after the first meeting of the Assembly, Sultan Hamid began to incite
the conservative deputies, who held a considerable number of seats in the house,
against the liberals. The Armenians saw this as a threat to their own community,
and the Armenians in Anatolia began to provide themselves with arms. This rather
intemperate recourse to self-defence was viewed by the Turkish and Moslem
population as an act of provocation, and articles beean to appear in the Istanbul,
the newspaper of the Young Turks, referring to preparations for a confrontation on
the part of the Armenians. At the same time, Abdul Hamid had his own supporters
carry out extremely skillful religious propaganda among the Moslems in Anatolia.
We should add that the Armenians had spent a great deal of money in helping to
achieve the Constitution in the belief that the proclamation of the Constitution
would lead to a considerable increase in their political standing and influence.
When this failed to materialize they resorted to intemperate attacks against the
Moslems. But the instigators of these actions were very largely Armenians from
abroad whose excesses had not been curbed during the period of the Young Turk
committee and who had thus been the cause of the deaths of a number of innocent
Armenians in Anatolia. In January a committee was set up in Adana, which began by
encouraging the performance in the large Armenian school of historical plays
dealing with the old period of Armenian independence. The great Armenians of the
old days were applauded as heroes. This chauvinist revival was reported to the
authorities by government spies. At that time the total population of Adana
amounted to 45,000. Of this total 27,000 were Moslems and of the remainder, three
quarters were Armenian and one quarter Greek. The Armenians were more advanced
from the economic point of view, the Armenians in Asia Minor having grown rich on
the labour of the Turks and Arabs, who knew nothing of trade or commerce. Thus
there can be no question of religious fanaticism.
This was the situation in Asia Minor on 18 February, the first day of the Moslem
religious festival of sacrifice. It was on that day that the Armenians embarked on
serious disturbances in Adana itself and in other parts of the Adana province,
thinking, quite rightly, that it was only during a religious festival that they
had any real hope of achieving success. A report in the Adana Itidal
newspaper openly calling upon the Governor Cevat Bey to summon military forces
from Damascus to deal with a possible Armenian uprising or revolt shows how uneasy
the Turks felt at that time. At the same time, the Armenians sent a delegation to
the Governor declaring that if he was unable or unwilling to protect them they
would be obliged to protect themselves. In order to placate the Armenian
representatives, the Governor suggested that law and order should be preserved in
the city by mixed patrols of Moslems and Armenians. A peaceful solution appeared
to be in sight."
Further articles in the Frankfurter Zeitung describe the details of the
disturbances from the point of view of a foreigner who has obviously little
knowledge of the country and whose account bears little relevance to the true
state of affairs.
In a book published on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the
Dashnaktsutiun, M. Varandiin gives the following account: 16
"The Adana incident is a measure of our self-knowledge and
our self-understanding. The gaping, bleeding wound was further deepened before our
very eyes. We realized more clearly than ever before the weakness of our
aspirations, our endeavours, our cries and complaints. In the eight months after
the July coup, the committee appealed to us to organize, to arm and to hold
ourselves in readiness for possible incidents. These appeals echoed in vain like
shouts in the desert. Adana was undoubtedly defended to a certain degree.
Cokmarvan showed great heroism in. its defence. But there was great difference
between the situation then and now. The arming of the Armenian people was as
pitiful as its appearance was lamentable and wretched. When the Armenians were
gathered together they still remained as isolated individuals, or in small groups
and bands. The number who could resist with weapons was very small.
As soon as the disturbances began, the handful of heroes, most of them young, who
had gathered in the wide and scattered territory of the Armenian nation, were
forced by lack of weapons and proper preparation to abandon their country like a
pack of cowards, to resort to shameful flight towards the coast, to escape to
Egypt, and to scatter their tears and their woes to the four comers of the globe.
It was all the same old story.
The same ingenuousness, the same ignorance. On the arrival in Adana of the troops
form Macedonia, they surrendered their weapons before the eyes of the consuls,
thus allowing the normal barbarity to turn into a terrible catastrophe.
But this was not the real problem. Thanks to its geographical situation, Cilicia
had always enjoyed particularly favourable conditions. Even the great massacre of
1895 had caused little injury to the Armenian population. At the moment, there
were ample supplies of weapons for defence. More important, there were the
horrifying memories of the past. There was also their real homeland, Armenia. The
thought that the wave of massacres had reached Upper Armenia made us feel that a
moment was approaching that would make the blood freeze in our veins. It seemed
possible that it might break out in Adana and that there would be no help from any
side. From Europe? Our simple, innocent people, without means of either attack or
defence, would once again be slaughtered like sheep. It is very sad that in spite
of our majority, things should still remain the same..."
And in another part of the same work:
"Adana has opened another wound in the body of the Armenian
people. A writer in the Berliner Tageblatt writes as follows of Cilicia, now
soaked in blood: 'The Armenians are opposed to the Armenian youth in their pursuit
of an independent Armenia. They find excuses for the officials, soldiers and
people responsible for the massacres." The Berliner Tageblatt blamed
them for their irresponible behaviour, claiming that it was their provocative
speeches, their plays, ther national flags and their nationalist resuscitation of
the past that had inflamed the Turks. European newspaper correspondents favourably
disposed towards the Armenians said the same thing.
In its reports on the incidents, the Frankfurter Zeitung, for thirty years
a warm supporter of the Armenians, declares that the Armenians had aroused the
fears and suspicions of the Moslems by their irresponsible behaviour, their
performances of historical plays in their clubs and their shouts of "Long
This is a very serious accusation. In this can be seen one of the dangerous
activities in which some of the Armenians indulged. It was essential that the
Armenians should have been prepared for the consequences.
If our people, the whole population of Turkish Armenia, had remained indifferent
to the necessity of the defence of its national integrity, and if our youth, the
heart and soul of our nation, had remained apathetic and inactive, this would have
indicated a clear deficiency in their culture and education.
There can be no doubt that the seed of the poisonous flower of racism and narrow
nationalism was sown and carefully cultivated in the minds of the youth of Turkish
Armenia. This is to a certain extent jutifiable. What nation in the world has been
so trodden under foot, what nation has been so cynically scorned and insulted? It
is a natural law that the stronger the action the stronger the reaction. There is
nothing surprising in the fact that a certain section of Armenian youth should
react against the intolerable injustices of the past, and that, when they finally
dawned after sixty years of darkness filled with crimes and atrocities,
hot-blooded Armenian youth should unfurl the flag of national patriotism and
recreate in their plays and performances the glorious victories of the past. Pride
and honour has been reborn in Cilicia, and memories of history shine more brightly
and spectacularly than ever before.
It is also true that the Armenians of Cilicia are freer, more secure and less
oppressed than ever before. As a result, national pride and honour are more
carefully cherished. Unfortunately, this has also given rise to a rabid and
delirious form of nationalism.
Armenian nationalism is in general a typically bourgeois form
of nationalism. It appears in the form of inordinate pride and arrogance. This
could be observed every day in the recent past. This pride was sometimes so
extreme as to become positively ridiculous. Take, for example, the Istanbul orator
who placed Armenian and French geniuses on the same plane! The Istanbul
correspondent of a newspaper that acts as the mouthpiece of the Tiflis
nationalists and is noted for its scandalous excesses, obviously found 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 ruin and decay!" Egyptian newspapers
are also full of such provocative animosity. 17
We can see the resentment aroused by this irreconcilable animosity both at home
and abroad. Take the boasting and swaggering directed at their neighbours. Take
their scornful and contemptuous behaviour. Some of the Istanbul newspapers are
filled with this childish bragging and insolence. There is nothing surprising in
this. A whole generation has been brought up in this way. A feeling of infinite
superiority born in infinite shame and wretchedness and combined with intellectual
barrenness, empty pretension and arrogance. Only Europe can provide the necessary
diagnosis and treatment. But look at the attitude of the Turkish Armenians in
Europe! During all their travels in the West all they have learned of democratic
currents in Europe is confined to a knowledge, and that a very superficial one, of
the thought and psychology of the Trumons and Millevoyes. That is all they have
learned. They decide the fate of Armenia and the Turkish Armenians on the basis of
a meagre culture and fatuous thought gleaned from a study of the literature of
Their faithful followers are the children, the aged, the common people, the
religious men, the hedge-priests and bishops of Cilicia. Once given a taste of
freedom, these men begin ostentatiously flaunting their childish, provocative
patriotism right and left. They shout of Haik, Aram and Dertad. They openly attack
their cruel and repressive neighbours like so many Don Quixotes.
And they talk not only of the old heores, but also of the old kings, from Dikran
to Leo, who, very probably, were as worthless executioners of their own people as
all the other kings in history.
The patriotism of the priests exalts these kings to the skies, and is always ready
to rekindle and revive the idea of kingship, which, amongst the ordinary people,
has long been utterly extinguished.
This is one of our oldest delusions, one of our oldest diseases. It is because of
this that the Caucasus has never been liberated. All activity is aborted by the
vain beliefs, the swaggering and the empty nationalism of this worthless section
of Armenian youth. And they themselves suffer as a consequence of all this."
The Droshak, the organ of the Dashnaktsutiun Revolutionary Committee,
writes as follows:18
"Armenian youth is accused of ignorance and
irresponsibility, of boasting, swaggering and provocative behaviour. It is true
that, in giving expression to their feelings towards the constitution, their
feelings of ardour and longing, young Armenians have perhaps gone to excessive
lengths and acted in a somewhat undisciplined and irresponsible manner. Their
impassioned plays, their flags and national symbols are all symptoms of an
unbounded nationalist enthusiasm. All this intensified the hatred towards the
Armenians that already existed among the more ignorant strata of Moslem society,
and confirmed Moslem belief that for hundreds of years the Armenians had nursed
feelings of animosity towards them. It also convinced them that the constitutional
movements had been instigated by the Armenians themselves in order to obtain
greater freedom of action, and that the power and influence they had thus acquired
would be employed to root out and exterminate the Moslems.
We are continually coming across similar ideas in the columns of Western
newspapers and in the conversation of Armenophile Europeans.
The Frankfurter Zeitung, whose every article is read with respectful
interest by the whole intellectual world, has some very interesting comments to
make on this topic. The three long articles on the Adana incidents present a very
detailed and very horrifying picture of the events. These articles combine the
sound interpretation of a careful and highly skilled writer with the feelings of
genuine emotion and sympathy.
Referring in detail to the historical tragedies performed in the Armenian clubs,
the ostentatious parades and the childish and ridiculous shouts of'Long live
Armenia', the writer goes on to say: ' The Armenians indulged in irresponsible
behaviour that would obviously provoke a strong Moslem reaction. The government
soon became only too well aware of this chauvinist revival. While the Armenians
were engaged in rampantly nationalistic demonstrations and in giving free vent to
their feelings, government spies were carefully watching them from the
The Dashnaktsutiun has the following to add to the report by the German writer:
"Apart from these there were a number of boastful
swaggerers who loved to exaggerate the nation's glorious past, its greatness and
its superiority, while at the same time pouring contempt and scorn on people of
other races. This chauvinist racism serves only to poison the atmosphere in even
the most advanced countries in the world.
An end must be put to this stupid and dangerous mode of thought. Ever since the
proclamation of the constitution and even before the Cilician tragedy foreign
publications were already referring to examples of this pitiful psychological
attitude. Now, however, the Armenians have thrown all restraint aside. Every
conceivable insult is hurled at the Turkish people. "Dog" is the least
offensive of the terms employed. And any deficiencies in this respect are made up
for by their manifestos. Comfortably ensconced in comfortable armchairs in foreign
countries, and representing no group or organization, they regard it as their
right and duty to raise their voices on the subject of the 'calamities', boasting
and swaggering at their neighbours, issuing challenges and uttering the wildest
complaints and outcries. A futile flurry of hatred and revenge. Unfortunately, our
young Armenians have long learned how to fill the fatuity of their thought and
action with blustering sound and fury. They think they are achieving something
worth while by their senseless ravings. But they should remember that it will be
the ordinary people who will pay the price for their excesses.
The time has come for us to renounce this chauvinistic nationalism. We ought to
lay aside these symbols of an excessive and fatuous national pride. These are
things to be regarded with an amused pity in the modem world. This should all be
replaced by a feeling of true patriotism that combines love of one's own community
with respect and friendship for one's neighbours.
There is no point in exaggerating the greatness and excellence of our nation.
There are many good reasons for our assuming a more modest attitude. Our nation is
great in our own eyes, and in comparison with other communities in the region. But
that is no matter for excessive pride.
Removed from this context, what are we? What does our nation, perched on the
summits of the Vaspuragan and Daron mountains, represent? Nothing but ignorance
and stupidity shrouded in medieval darkness."
From the above comments we can deduce the following:
1.The Armenians were responsible for the Adana incidents.
2. They exploited the slackness of the administration and trusted in the strength
of their organization and their weapons.
3. They provoked and tormented the Moslem population.
4. The incidents are in no way connected with the 31 March insurrection.
Major Doughty, the British consul in Mersin, in a report sent to his government,
criticizes the local authorities for not using the troops to crush the rioters. He
himself went around in the streets during the disturbances and was himself wounded
by a shot fired by an Armenian, while a Turkish soldier accompanying him was
Further light is shed on the incidents by a report in the Nor Husank (New
Trends) newspaper published in Istanbul.19
"If it had been possible, with the help of the new
situation that arose after 11 July and the new constitutional principles and
organization, to restrain or even entirely extirpate Armenian separatism, if there
had been an indisputably constitutional government that could have responded to
the political activities of the Turkish-Armenian revolutionary groups with
intelligence and foresight, and if the revolutionary groups themselves had pursued
a course of action designed to appeal to the logic and good sense of the people
and had called upon them to throw aside their dangerous and perverted ideas and to
unite in common progress and advancement, the city of Adana would not now be a
mass of ruins."
The following statement on the incident was issued to the press by the Ottoman
Embassy in Paris.20
"Certain accounts of the incidents in the province of Adana
appearing in the newspapers and disseminated by the Armenian revolutionaries
contain severe criticism of the actions of the Ottoman government. Although the
official telegram sent by the governor and read out in the Assembly of Deputies
announced that the number of deaths did not exceed four thousand, figures of
twenty or even thirty thousand have appeared in the press. At the same time,
attempts are being made to place all the blame for the incident on the Ottoman
government. Yet the investigations carried out in Mersin and Adana by the leaders
of the Christian communities show that the blame must be borne equally by both
Christian and Moslem. One of the main reasons for the tragic turn of events was
the fact that there were not sufficient trooops available and that they had to be
summoned from the neighbouring provinces, thus arriving too late to prevent the
disturbances. Nevertheless, no fault can be imputed to the local government or the
Ministry of the Interior regarding the performance of their duty. Furthermore, in
addition to the sum of thirty thousand liras requested for payment of
compensation, without distinction of race or creed, for all those who had suffered
loss in these events, an extra ten thousand has been sent to the governor for the
care of the wounded and the provision of food and supplies.
A military tribunal composed of officers from Rumelia and thus quite unaffected by
local prejudices, has been set up to investigate the causes of the incidents and
to punish those responsible in an examplary fashion.
The National Armenian Assembly has welcomed the measures taken and given its full
approval. We are convinced that, following these measures, all those who have been
led by false information to condemn the actions of the Ottoman government will
accept the truth of the situation.
24 May, 1909
The following statements in reply to the above appeared in Le Temps and in Droshak,
the organ of the Dashnaktsutiun Revolutionary Committee.
"We are greatly grieved to find ourselves obliged to
protest the statement sent to Le Temps newspaper on 24 May by the Ottoman
Embassy in Paris on the subject of the various rumours concerning the causes of
the Adana incidents. After declaring that the blame for the Adana incidents is to
be borne equally by the Armenian and Moslem communities, the statement goes on to
accuse our committee of staining the honour of the constitutional government.
It is quite incredible that, in spite of the fact that the newly appointed local
officials quite frankly admit that the calamity was engineered before 12 April by
Abdul Hamid and his functionaries, the government should still be seeking to place
the blame on others and to point to Armenian instigation. Armenians attempting to
defend their rights are met with violence. The Armenians are placed on the same
level as those that have made evil their profession and hundreds are thrown into
prison while the arms of the others are removed so as to render them defenceless.
These events have aroused pain and bewilderment in Armenian circles. If, after so
many calamities and after the burning and destruction of so many towns and
villages by soldiers and mob directed by feeble-brained officials, blame is still
to be placed on the wretched and defenceless, we should be failing in our duty to
our people if we were to remain silent. The only thing that can restore life and
health to our country and prevent the recurrence of such tragic incidents is the
rigorous punishment of those responsible for these crimes, after a fair, just and
impartial investigation and trial.
9. This incident is treated separately at the end of this section
because of its importance and also because it took place after the Proclamation of
10. Bishop Mushegh, The Adana Massacres and their Instigators, Cairo, 1909
11. ibid., p. 31.
12. Bishop Mushegh.
13. The Itidal newspaper contains the following account of a play performed
by the Armenians in the Ziya Pasha Gazino in Mersin on 29 April 1352 (12 May
1909). "A play entitled Tamberlane and the Destruction of Sivas was
performed by the Armenians in the Ziya Pasha Gazino in Mersin on Sunday, 29 March.
Although the Mutasarrif and all the other Turkish officials were invited,
none of them attended the performance. That evening saw the first step in the
Armenian rebellion. The Ziya Pasha Gazino was crammed with Armenians, together
with one or two Muslims and a few Greeks. The curtain rose. Tamberlane proudly
proclaimed that he would not leave a single Armenian alive and gave orders for the
complete extermination of the Armenian nation. There followed a fierce struggle
with the Armenian King. Finally, the king, together with his servant and his
daughter, fell into Tamberlane's hands. The king is seen sitting disconsolate and
forlorn with his servant and his daughter, his hands fettered and a crown of
thorns on his head. Just then, an angel arrives with a trumpet in his hand
accompanied by two spirits risen from the dead and followed by several Armenian
soldiers. The following dialogue takes place:
Spirits: It was for you we gave our lives. We died to protect you and Armenia.
Angel: Your Majesty, your imprisonment is the result of your failure to unite. I
have come to call you to work together in unity.
King: All the Armenians are massacred. Who is left to unite?
Angel: Is there not a single Armenian left alive?
King: Not a single Armenian has survived save my servant and my daughter.
Angels: They are Armenians!
Angel (smiling): That is enough. Fear not. Unity will restore the monarchy. You
will regain your independence. Be of good cheer. Hold fast to the idea of unity.
You will regain your crown.
King: Unfortunately.... Angel: Soon a star will arise, and flood all the mountains
and plains of Sivas in its radiance. It is then that you will once again become
king of the land of Armenia. As the end of this childish dialogue on kingship and
independence, a bright star suddenly appears over the stage and slowly rises. On
the appearance of the star all the Armenians begin applauding and shouting,
"Long live Armenia! Long live the Armenian kingdom! Long live the
14. Agop Babikian, The Adana Massacre, Istanbul, 1919 (Armenian)
15. 13 June 1909 (German). Although in his first article the writer adopts a
humane and impartial viewpoint, his later articles are strongly biased in favour
of the Armenians.
16. M. Varandian, The Rebirth of a Nation and our Mission, Geneva, 1910
(Published on the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Dashnaktsution)
17. ibid. p. 144.
18. Droshak, No. 7, 1909; Leo, op.cit., p. 59-61.
19. Nor Husank, Vol. 1, No. 4.
20. Tanin 1325.
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II of "The Burning Tigris"