Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


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The Circassians are one of the many ethnic groups that populate the Republic of Turkey today. Why is Turkey so heterogeneous when, say, neighboring Armenia is nearly 100% ethnically pure? The answer lies with the ethnic cleansing policies of Orthodox enemies, particularly Russia. The ones who escaped with their lives had only one safe haven to turn to, The Ottoman Empire... barely in shape to be able to accommodate these new "permanent & involuntary guests," and further sickening The Sick Man of Europe. Justin McCarthy is one of the few Western historians who has cared enough to study this neglected part of the world, and he wrote in "DEATH AND EXILE The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922" :

I N 1800, A VAST Muslim Land existed in Anatolia, the Balkans, and southern Russia. It was not only a land in which Muslims ruled, but a land in which Muslims were the majority or, in much of the Balkans and part of the Caucasus, a sizeable minority... By 1923... The Balkan Muslims were largely gone, dead or forced to migrate... The same fate had overcome the Muslims of the Crimea, the northern Caucasus, and Russian Armenia - they were simply gone. Millions of Muslims, most of them Turks, had died; millions more had fled to what is today Turkey. Between 1821 and 1922, more than five million Muslims were driven from their lands. Five and one-half million Muslims died, some of them killed in wars, others perishing as refugees from starvation and disease.

The piece below examines what happened to one of these ethnic groups, the Circassians; it was found at an Internet forum (Turkistan Newsletter?), with several reactions following.


IN ADDITION: Historical backdrop in the case of the Circassians, from Stephen Shenfield's book chapter entitled, "A Forgotten Genocide?" (The book was called "The Massacre in History." ADDENDUM, 5-07: Edited by Mark Levene and Penny Roberts; Mr. Shenfield's contribution was his chapter on the Circassians.) Note how even though what happened to the Circassians was infinitely worse than what happened to the Armenians (the Circassians totally got kicked out of their ancient homelands, and assimilated into the cultures that offered them refuge, mainly forgetting their own language and ways), and the way they were treated unquestionably boiled down to an "intent" to exterminate them for the most part, a question mark still follows on whether this could be in the genocide category or not. The double standard applied by the West toward suffering Muslims can be truly appalling.

Please click here to read "A Forgotten Genocide?"




From: "Leitzinger, Antero" <">Antero.Leitzinger@u...>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 2000 12:24:26 +0300

A professor of the university of Munich (München), Karl Friedrich Neumann (not to be confused with the later Naumann), wrote in 1839 a book titled "Russland und die Tscherkessen" (published in the collection "Reisen und Länderbeschreibungen", vol. 19, in 1840). He describes, how Russia settled Christians to the parts of Armenia gained from Persia in 1828 - actually, Neumann had written about the issue already in 1834. (p. 68-69) Neumann considered this a very sound policy and predicted, that all Caucasus would become under firm Russian rule within the next decades. (p. 125) European powers would not intervene, because it was the destiny of all Europe to rule over the lands of Turks, Persians, and Hindoo. (p. 129-130)

Neumann was no racist, but he certainly advocated colonialism and was a Russophile in relation to the southern lands. He had a Darwinist approach many years before Charles Darwin or Herbert Spencer presented their ideas. This appears to have been more typical to 19th century German thought than any anti-Armenian sentiments. Neumann makes it clear in his very first words of the preface: "The European humanity is selected by divinity as ruler of the earth."

Although Neumann respected the bravery of Circassians, he anticipated their destruction by Russia, because in a modern world, there would be no place for chivalrous "uncivilized" people. Neumann estimated the total number of Circassians, including the Kabardians and Abkhaz, at 1.5 million persons, or 300.000 families. (p. 67) Both the Russian figure of 300.000 persons, and the Circassian figure of four millions, were exaggerated.

Neumann divided the Circassians into ten tribes: Notketch, Schapsuch, Abatsech, Pseduch, Ubich, Hatiokech, Kemkuich, Abasech, Lenelnich, Kubertech (in German translitteration). They formed a loose confederation very much like old Switzerland, with democratic majority votes deciding the affairs of villages. Their princes had no privilegies, and were regarded only as military commanders. Women were more free than anywhere in the Orient. There was no written law, and death penalties were unknown. Many Circassians were Muslims, but there were also Christians and pagans, all completely tolerated.

Russian prisoners-of-war were used as slaves, but if they were of Polish origin, they were regarded as guests. Therefore, Poles recruited in the Russian army, deserted en masse at every opportunity, and even Russians often declared themselves to be Poles. (p. 123) Slavery as such included no shame. Circassians used to sell their own family members as slaves to Turkey and Persia, and many went to slavery voluntarily, returning later on back home as rich and free men. (p. 124) This system could be compared to the Gastarbeiter emigration from Turkey since the 1960s. We should also remember, that in those times, slavery or serfdom existed in Romania and Russia as well.

The Circassians had been fighting against Russia already for forty years when appealing to the courts of Europe in a "Declaration of Independence": "But now we hear to our deepest humiliation, that our land counts as a part of the Russian empire on all maps published in Europe...that Russia, finally, declares in the West, that Circassians are their slaves, horrible bandits..." (p. 140-141)

The fight continued for two more full decades, until a national Circassian government was set up in Sochi. In 1862, Russia began the final invasion, annihilation and expulsion, as predicted by Neumann well in advance.

According to Kemal H. Karpat, "Ottoman population 1830-1914" (Madison 1985), "Beginning in 1862, and continuing through the first decade of the twentieth century, more than 3 million people of Caucasian stock, often referred collectively as Cerkes (Circassians), were forced by the Russians to leave their ancestral lands..." (p. 27)

Salaheddin Bey mentioned, in 1867, a total of 1.008.000 refugees from the Caucasus and Crimea, of whom 595.000 were initially settled in the Balkans. (p. 27) Half a million followed by 1879, and another half a million until 1914. (p. 69) Most of them were Circassians, although there were Crimean Tatars, Chechens, and other Muslim people among them. Hundreds of thousands Circassians perished on their way.

Neumann's estimate of 1.5 million Circassians corresponds to 1/30 ethnic Russians, or 1/3 Czechs, or 3/4 Slovaks. (p. 66) According to Neumann, there were over two million Armenians in the world. (p. 69) Now, according to the Soviet census of 1989, the number of Russians has increased to 145 millions, whereof 1/30 would be almost five millions. There are 10 million Czechs and 5 million Slovaks, which would lead us to assume that there should be over 3 million Circassians. Armenia alone has a population of over 3 million Armenians, despite the past ordeals; 2 million Armenians live elsewhere. The number of Czechs, Slovaks, and Armenians has more than doubled in 150 years, while the number of Russians has tripled; but where are the missing millions of Circassians?

"The Encyclopaedia Britannica", 11th edition (Cambridge 1911), divided the Armenian population equally between Russia and Turkey (little over a million in each empire), and numbered 216.950 Circassians (including Abkhaz etc.) in Russia. Again we must conclude, that about 1.5 million Circassians had been massacred or deported. This disaster exceeded both absolutely and proportionally whatever fell upon Armenians in 1915. Was it intentional? Yes. Was it ideological? Yes. The conquest and Christian colonization of the Middle East was expected not only by Germans, but by most Europeans during the 19th century, and the expulsion of Muslims from Europe was considered a historical necessity. Russia had practiced massacres and mass deportations in the Crimea and Caucasus, and "ethnically cleansed" Circassia specially in 1862-1864. During that period, Panslavists like Mikhail Katkov provided the Russian public with nationalistic excuses for what had started as imperial ambition ("Third Rome") and strategic interests ("Access to sea").

A vicious cycle was created and increased the stakes at both frontiers: the Caucasus, and the Balkans. Circassian refugees settled in the Balkans were provoked to commit the "Bulgarian atrocities", that inspired some of the Armenian revolutionaries. After the Balkan Wars, Muslim refugees were roaming in Anatolia, thus spreading terror, and hostility. This was exploited by Russia, at the cost of many innocent Armenians. The massacres of 1915 were a tip of the iceberg - the part best visible for Europeans, who had been actively seeking and expecting horror news to justify anti-Muslim prejudice, and to prevent interventions in behalf of Turkey, as had happened in the Crimean War of the 1850s.

Was it a genocide? That depends on the definition. Rather than of separate, selectively researched genocides, we should speak of a general genocidal tendency that affected many — both Muslim and Christian — people on a wide scene between 1856 and 1956, continuing in post-Soviet Russia until today.

Antero Leitzinger


Antero Leitzinger is a political historian at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has written a 1997 book entitled, "Caucasus and an Unholy Alliance," covering the History and Politics of the four Caucasian States (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Chechenia). A 1997 article entitled "HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS ON THE WAR IN CHECHNYA" may be found here.



 Concerning the idea that the Circassians suffered a genocide and that this somehow justifies ignoring the genocide of other Christian peoples, the only reply is that your neighbor's illegal activities never justifies your own.

Moreover, the returning Armenians were 'returning' from the genocidal removal of Georgians and Armenians by the Persians during the 17th century and this might bring up whether the replacement of Prussian colonialists by Slavic elements after WWII was a genocide or whether the return of Amerindian elements to territories now settled by European Americans is one also?

The sad truth is that all groups had better start admitting their faults rather than trying to find excuses among the faults of others.

Yours, V. Strohmeyer, Kent State University



 With all due respect, Mr. Strohmeyer, Circassians are not the ones lobbying Congress and anything that moves for recognition, reparation and have killed innocent people in scores to achieve it — but Armenians have.

Armenians have as little claim on exclusive victimhood as everybody else, but nobody would know from listening to "esteemed" members of Congress rattling down the latest Armenian talking points. While nobody can "exchange their dead," I would submit that it is at least hypocritical for Armenians to seek redress for crimes against them 85 years ago while pushing out nearly 1 million Azeris out of their homes in front of eyes today. It seems to me that the problem is that this inhumanity is not directed against "other Christian peoples."

Guler Koknar


 I entirely agree with Mrs. Koknar.

An important contribution missing from this debate is that of the Turkish Government; as also that of the US State Department. And while we're at it, maybe the Israelis could let us have their words of wisdom. Is the silence of the latter two attributable to some embarrassment at the likelihood of some need to recant in the light of recent less partial research? Can the Turkish Government please set out at least an itninerary through the sources to a reasonable approximation to the truth? If not, why not?

Tom Langham


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