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18 April 2014, Friday
 
 
Today's Zaman
 
 
 
 

German militarism’s connivance with Committee of Union and Progress
by Ümit Kardaş*

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42
THE LEADING FIGURE OF COMMITTEE OF UNION AND PROGRESS (CUP), ENVER PAHSA (L) PICTURED HERE MEETING WITH A GERMAN MILITARY OFFICER IN BERLIN IN THIS ARCHIVE PHOTO. BEGINNING IN 1913 THE CUP PURSUED A POLICY, WITH MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC SUPPORT FROM GERMANY, OF HOMOGENIZING THE OTTOMAN POPULATION. (PHOTO AA)
20 May 2012, Sunday /
Wolfgang Gust, the foreign news chief of Der Spiegel and the editor of Spiegel-Buch, and his wife, Sigrid Gust, have worked on the German Foreign Ministry’s political archives concerning the disaster and massacre Armenians suffered in 1915 and 1916.

Their book, “Alman Belgeleri: Ermeni Soykırımı 1915-1916” (German Documents: Armenian Genocide 1915-1916), published by Belge Yayınları in Turkey, is 992 pages long, of which 179 pages are allocated to the evaluation and interpretation of the documents and some additional resources, while the remaining 813 pages present the archived documents. These documents testify to the sheer magnitude of the forced relocation of Armenians for eventual destruction, and its portrayal of the German administration in this tragedy makes this book important.

German policies concerning Turkey and Armenians were being shaped by the German army’s top-down management style. Clearly, Germany had an authoritarian regime in which Prussian militarism played a dominant role. When the bourgeois revolution that sought to implement the ideals of the French revolution in Germany in 1848 failed, 2.8 million Germans left their country, and most of them went to the US. The notion of human rights did not exist in the German language. The German academic world argued that German culture would disintegrate without German militarism.

German culture had sprung from militarism thanks to the protection it provided. Therefore, this mentality was opposed to Western civilization. In response, Western-minded Armenian elites didn’t like Germans. And Germans didn’t like Western-minded Armenians. In a report he sent from Damascus to the chancellor of the German Empire, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, German propagandist and Intelligence Bureau for the East head Max Freiherr von Oppenheim described American and British missionary and consulate activities as provocative and malicious. For this reason, Germans started to regard Armenians as their seventh ally (i.e., after Oppenheim started sowing discord between the Germans and the Americans and the British, the Germans began to warm to the Armenians).

Germans sought to extend the Baghdad railway not just to Baghdad but also to Basra on the Persian Gulf and perceived the region as an area of interest as a German colony and to ensure German economic dominance in the region and eventually to annex the region to the German Empire. The center of this area of interest was the Çukurova/Adana region (Cilicia).

In a letter he wrote in July 1913 to German Ambassador Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Gottlieb von Jagow summed this up as follows, “Turkey will maintain its presence in Asia until we reinforce our limits of work and complete the annexation.” The German plan to reach through the depths of Anatolia to Palestine started swiftly in 1912. Their goal was to reach the Suez Canal. This policy pitted the Germans against the British, who had investments and enterprises in Ottoman territories and pursued similar policies.

In addition to Britain, Russia and France were uneasy about cooperation between Germany and the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Germans made progress in their projects in the fields of economy, commerce, agriculture, navigation and education in the Ottoman territories. Parallel to these developments, Enver Paşa made a secret agreement with the Germans for the reforming of the army, and General Otto Liman von Sanders and 50 German military officers from Berlin were invited to the Ottoman Empire. In practice, these military officers also meddled with the political affairs of the CUP. Non-Muslim groups living in the Ottoman Empire posed an obstacle to Germany’s economic and ideological aspirations in the East. Thus began the connivance of German militarism with the CUP for inhumane practices against non-Muslims in the Ottoman Empire.

Turkey allies with Germany

As Turkey allied with Germany in World War I, a savage and ruthless practice against Greeks and Armenians commenced. In 1914, an oppressive campaign was launched against Greeks, and the destruction of Greek settlements started. In early 1915, Deutsche Palastine Bank (German-Palestine Bank) distributed flyers in Turkish that provoked Muslims in the East and incited hatred against Christians and that told Muslims to cut their commercial ties with them. Forced relocation of Greeks in Ayvalık was conducted upon official demand from Gen. Liman von Sanders (see Mihail Rodas: “Almanya Türkiye’deki Rumları Nasıl Mahvetti?” [How did Germany Destroy Greeks in Turkey?]).

With the start of the war, the military recruitment system had been altered so that non-Muslims who wanted to serve in the army would have to pay a specified tax or become military deserters. Moreover, labor battalions were formed from the Christians sent from Anatolia for road construction and other forced labor work. Thousands of Christians who were forced to work in these battalions were not paid and were not provided with adequate nutrition, and they would lose their lives under hard climatic conditions. This compulsory military service model destroyed the most efficient groups of ethnic and non-Muslim minorities, and this model was further assisted by confiscations and compulsory taxes. Thus, the wealth of these minorities was confiscated, and their shops were looted.

As wealth and commerce were Turkified and Islamified, Germany took its share through its banks and companies. Muslims were prohibited from developing commercial ties with Greeks, who were banned from exporting goods. The government decided to confiscate all properties of those who were forced to migrate. Another method was to force Christians to become Muslims. Gen. Liman von Sanders collected taxes from Christians to establish an orphanage in Bandırma. Here, boys would be assimilated, and girls would be forced to marry Turkish boys. Christian families would be sent to predominantly Turkish villages, and they would not be allowed to leave the village. In addition to general massacres, there were also individually committed murders. The two-phased policy -- implemented mainly against Greeks in 1914 but later expanded to include Armenians -- had a single aim: to destroy the Christian components so that the Ottoman Empire could be converted into a purely Turkish/Muslim state. Kurds were excluded from this policy as they were Muslims and therefore could be Turkified. Kurdish and Circassian gangs played a role in this massacre.

Germany’s policies regarding their interests in the East had overlapped with the CUP’s policy of homogenizing the country. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that German Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Count Wolff-Metternich, who criticized the developments, was removed from office by the Kaiser on the grounds that he “undermined the dignity of Turks and failed to act according to German interests by interfering in favor of Christians.” Armenians, who were the first tribe to accept Christianity, were being crushed between the Russian hammer and the Turkish-German anvil.

There were 800 German military officers in the Ottoman territories under the service agreement signed by the Ottoman Empire and the German Military Aid Delegation in 1913. They not only trained Turkish military officers, but also formed part of the Turkish army. German military officers assumed critical positions everywhere in the Turkish army. The number of German military officers who openly voiced objection to the forced relocation and massacre was very few. Three German military officers who opposed forced relocation in Erzurum paid dearly for their opposition.

A brutal report

In a report attached to a letter he sent to Chancellor of the German Empire Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, Rudolf von Valentini from the Privy Council of the German emperor said the following based on observations that Martin Niepage, a teacher at the German school in Aleppo, made in September 1915: “The men are slaughtered on the way; the women and girls, with the exception of the old, the ugly and those who are still children, have been abused by Turkish soldiers and officers and then carried away to Turkish and Kurdish villages, where they have to accept Islam. They try to destroy the remnant of the convoys by hunger and thirst. Most of them are suffering from typhoid and dysentery. If one brings them food, one notices that they have forgotten how to eat. They just lie there quietly, waiting for death. … Under such circumstances our educational work flies in the face of all true morality and becomes a mockery of human sympathy. Mohammedans, too, of more sensitive feelings -- Turks and Arabs alike -- shake their heads in disapproval and do not conceal their tears when they see a convoy of exiles marching through the city, and Turkish soldiers using cudgels upon women in advanced pregnancy and upon dying people who can no longer drag themselves along. They cannot believe that their government has ordered these atrocities, and they hold the Germans responsible for all such outrages, Germany being considered during the war as Turkey’s schoolmaster in everything. Moslem intellectuals believe that even if the German nation condemns this massacre, the German government will not be inclined to prevent it for the sake of its friendship with the Turkish government.”

Yunus Nadi wrote the following at the end of his article titled “Bankruptcy and cleaning” that appeared in Tasvir-i Efkar on Oct. 7, 1916: “Under pressure from realities, we have to turn toward a new target. We have to realize that the policy of ensuring a union among the said ethnic groups has gone bankrupt and the era of ‘cleaning’ for the sake of the homeland has started.” A German missionary defined this strategy of murder as follows: “Exile, execution and bullets until the last member.” A German military officer narrated his observations as follows, “Amid the endless serenity of the desert, wheezing sounds of those who are in the throes of death and the cries of those who lost their minds were filling the skies.”

In the early 1900s, a similar tragedy occurred in the desert of Omaheke in South-West Africa -- currently Namibia. The victims were not Armenians, but the Herero, who were massacred by the German Imperial Forces led by Gen. Lothar von Trotha (who had violently suppressed the Boxer rebellion in China). As he drove the Herero into the desert of Omaheke, where they would die, Gen. Trotha justified the massacre by saying, “I believe that the nation as such should be annihilated.” Perhaps, Gen. Trotha had advised the CUP leaders that they should implement the recipe of destruction he had applied in Africa.

The conclusion confirmed by the documents published by Gust is that German military officers as agents of German militarism endorsed the forced relocation, and they found military justifications for it. They thought that Germany’s interests in the region preached this. And the CUP leaders violently implemented its Turkification and Islamification policies with support and connivance from Germany. When the scope of forced relocation was expanded to the entire country, the Germans did not raise objections to it. Reading the details of the documents Gust has managed to retrieve from the German Foreign Ministry’s Political Archives -- although the Germans had destroyed a significant portion of these documents -- has left me in utter shame and gripped my soul.

Germany has a tradition of offering official apologies about such periods of shame in their history. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan together condemn the atrocities and massacres their ancestors performed, the souls of the victims, squeezed somewhere, will turn into doves. Does conscience tell us to spare our words from the oppressed?


*Ümit Kardaş is a retired military judge.

 
 
COMMENTS
(continued) Neither I or anybody in their right mind would suggest that the Germans were behind the armenians in any aspect of society. Also, I'm not defending the Germans, who I dislike, but to suggest that they were so hands-on in the mistreatment of other Christians to the degree of urging on M...
GeneralSherman
Sandokhan, There are very damning reports of massacres and other crimes against Armenians in these non-Armenian and non-Turkish archives. You can't just ignore them. On top of that, Turkey has been very careful on what is accessible from their archives. On top of that, there is the very real possib...
Random Armenian
If Westerners want to teach history from only their sources and archives without considering what the Ottoman archives and sources tell, they commit a scientific crime. A disgrace to the scientific community. This colonial and racist mentality should end in the scientific world of the West. (VTiger:...
Sandokhan
Criminals often times return to the scene of the crime to get rid of any possible evidence that would incriminate them before the police arrive. In the case of Turkey, the criminals are also the police in charge of all the evidence who have had 97 years to sort and comb through and eliminate key doc...
Ararat
Your excuses are rubbish.Gust takes from German foreign ministry archives 1915-16.The bookis available in Turkish in Turkey.Buy it
VTiger
VTiger, see my post of 21 May 2012 , 19:10. (main points: Ümit Kardaş should check his sources first and should think logical before accusing the Turks)
Sandokhan
Sandokhan, There simply is no trust with the Turkish government and therefore cannot be trusted to have kept the archives intact. It does not have to be done by the entire governtment itself. All it would take is a small group from the deep state machinery. Since we don't have full and unencumbered...
Random Armenian
@ Sandokhan. Wow!!! You regard cleansing archives as a terrible crime? What do you consider committing Genocide? I see that you did not want to touch upon the second part of my comment concerning non Turkish archives. Thank you for at least acknowledging that.
Saaten Maagar
@ Sandokhan. When you write the same thing under different names and just change the place of a comma, it is all the prof that one needs. Not everyone has a single digit IQ like you. Of course when you babble as much as you do, you forget what and where you commented.
Uncle Billy
Sandokhan truth hurts.Argue with Umit Kardas first
VTiger
@Saaten Maagar, Cleansing archives? So you accuse the Turks of committing a terrible crime. Now you have to show the evidence, they have destroyed the proof... Do you know what will happen when you do this way of accusing people at court? You would be persecuted! --- Wikileaks is a Mossad operation ...
Sandokhan
@Uncle Billy, Which proof do you have that I?m Sherman? Or are we dealing with another accusation without proof from Armenians and their supporters? Wait: I've destroyed the evidence....
Sandokhan
Sandokhan, everyone knows, including you that the Turks had almost 100 years to cleanse their archives, which they have done so hook line and sinker. Look at Wikileaks document - 04ISTANBUL1074 ? dated 12 July, 2004 which tells of a CLEANSING of the Turkish archives of incriminating documents. Only ...
Saaten Maagar
General Sherman is so marginalized and flabbergasted that he now is using the following names to comment. Serkan, Gokhan, Kaya Karagoz, Aysun, Deniz, Ayten Aksu, Sandokhan and I am sure a few more that we will see soon.
Uncle Billy
i read about 6 comments who were the same and only the name of the author was changed. apparently though he wants a response.. so here it is: whatever happened between armenians and azeris does not whitewash what the turks did to the armenians second, your claim that yerevan is azeri is a weak cla...
bob
*The source you used for the German Niepage quote Turks committing terrible crimes is from World War One British WAR PROPAGANDA office (called Wellington House)… ---More points to consider: *Gust is one of the main architects of the Armenian genocide propaganda in Germany. What can we expect from su...
Sandokhan
God forgive the Turks who committed the Genocide as I have great difficulty in forgiving them.
VTiger
Short story on who was in Armenia first and who wasnt: indigenous proto Armenian tribes coalesced into what is today known as Armenian in the Armenian Highlands and South Caucasus thousands of years ago. Armenian presence has been verified (via stone writings and such) back to about 5000 years. More...
Avery
Not a single Azeri was killed in Armenia proper in 1990-s when the Azeris in Sumgait,Baku,Kirovabad killed thousands.The Armenian government made sure that all Azeris that wanted to leave left on flying carpets.
VTiger
Armenians are a criminal nation that annihilated the once Azeri Turkish majority in Irevan and Zengeur Khanates (now occupied by Armenians). The crimes Armenians committed there were the same as the war crimes Armenian terorrists committed in Anatolia in 1915 that resulted in their relocation. Umit ...
Deniz
The Armenian nation has yet to pay for its crimes and terrorism against the Turkish and Azeri people.
Erkan
At a human level, I hope that Judge Umit Kardash and his family have all the appropriate measures of security and protection from the state from its highest levels. I fear that the Samasts and Acas of Turkey will treat him as they treated Dink.
Jack Kalpakian
Does Turkey have exclusive history books that do not correspond to any other history book in the world, to call Armenia artificial country must be the epitamy of ignorance or plain falsification. recommend reading history prior to the year 1000 to verify what is real or not
mike
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,people will eventually come to beleive it",(Joseph Goebbels,Nazi Minister of Propaganda ).For more than 9 decades,the Turkish government pursued its denialist policies,and suppressed the truth from his own people. I would like to reccomend Mrs.Ay...
Gaidzag Magdassian
This column is not about pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijani criminals who have been murdering innocent Armenians in their own homes in Artsakh(Karabakh), Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad and elsewhere. We are not done with you Azerbaijani racist, sadistic child killers. You are yet to pay a heavy price for your cri...
Ararat
Oppressed? You mean like the Azeri Turks ethnically cleansed from Yerevan, Goyche, and Karabakh? Like those subjected to a real genocide as a result of Armenian irredentism and extremism for the sake of a "greater armenia"?
Ayten Aksu
Armenians are a criminal nation that annihilated the once Azeri Turkish majority in Irevan and Zengeur Khanates (now occupied by Armenians). The crimes Armenian crimes there were the same as the war crime Armenian terorrists committed in Anatolia in 1915 that resulted in their relocation. Umit Kar...
Deniz
After having completely destroyed the Turkish Azeri minority from so-called Armenia, Armenians have a nerve to distort Ottoman history and insult Turkey by trying to portray Armenian terrorism during WWI as a so-called "armenian genocide". There is only one word for this Armenian terrorist mindse...
Serkan
"although the Germans had destroyed a significant portion of these documents" This is important. Documents in archives can and have been destroyed. It would immensely naive to assume this has not occurred in the Turkish archives as well. Given the very clear pictures these non-Armenian and non-Turk...
Random Armenian
Since the murder of Hrant Dink,we are witnessing so many changes in Turkish society.Couragious writers and liberal minded Turkish daily papers freely discussing the Armenian Genocide,which was once considered as a taboo subject.Among those intellectuals it is very encouraging to come accross to a re...
gaidzag Magdassian
What does "umit kardas" think about the ethnic cleansing of the Turkish Azeri majority from "armenia" in 1988, or the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in 1992? What does he have to say about the 350,000 Anatolian Muslims killed during WWI by armenian terrorism? What would he say to the Turks of Ye...
Gokhan
Armenia is an artificial state created on Azerbaijani land through genocide of Azeri Turks. Until the 1950s Azeri Turks were the majority. Today there are zero Azeri Turks left in their homeland because of Armenian and Russian terrorism. How dare Armenian bandits who are the artists of perpetarting ...
Kaya Karagoz
Where are the Azeri Turks of Armenia? In 1900 they were in the majority. Today there are none. They were subject to genocide by Armenian gangs, in the same way Anatolian Turks were being subject to Armenian terrorism. It is hypocrisy for "Umit Kardas" and other fanatic Armenian thugs such as himsel...
Aysun
For a former Turkish military judge to write such a clear cut indictment and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, as just that, albeit through a review of a ground breaking book by Wolfgang and Sigrid Gust, is a remarkable and courageous event. One can't help wondering if this is partly an act of ...
Rudolphus
Avery, the ever so flamboyant, outspoken, psycho-babbling General Sherman is in hiding. Like a deer caught in the headlight he is quietly going to wait this one out. Nevertheless, based on this report alone, we condemn him in absentia and, unlike Talaat Pasha, the Interior Minister and the Mastermin...
Ararat
To Turkish people interested in their own history: as far as I personally am concerned, it is your history and therefore your problem -- what you want to say or think about if is strictly your problem also, as long as you understand that Armenians and all third parties have full rights to speak thei...
Jack Kalpakian
{These documents testify to the sheer magnitude of the forced relocation of Armenians for eventual destruction}: Read that again: Eventual Destruction. Sure sounds like (preplanned, premeditated) Genocide. Let us see how the apologist crew that routinely calls the AG a myth @TZ Comments manufactured...
Avery
As a grandchild of Armenian genocide survivors, as a person who regards Anatolia/ Western Armenia as my homeland, as man of art and last but not least as humanist, I respect and recognize any and all efforts by the emerging brave new intellectual Turkish nationals who adhere to the voice of their ...
David R.
General Sherman, reading this report from one of your own must be like drinking poison for you. This report clearly points out the direct involvement of your criminal Circassian ancestors in the massacre and the deliberate destruction of the Christian communities by the Turkish government. It is a p...
Ararat
did germany force muslims to marry armenian girls who were forced to go to their villages? did germany force turkish soldiers to kill pregnant women? muslims always seek to pass the blame
bob
so in the end you pass the blame to someone else.. what a surprise
ronen
The Armenian genocide by the ottomans is a fact, sooner or later the Prime minister Erdogan will accept the reality as well as the German government will acknowledge fully. The truth will prevail. justice for Armenians.
caroline
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