DID TALAT PASHA SEND SECRET TELEGRAMMES ORDERING GENOCIDE?
Armenian propaganda claiming that so-called genocide was an Ottoman government policy requires proof that such a decision was in fact made. For this purpose the Armenians produced a number of telegrams attributed to Talat Pasha supposedly found by British forces commanded by General Allenby when they seized Aleppo in 1918. It was claimed that they were found in the office of an Ottoman official named Naim Bey, and that they could be destroyed only because the British occupation came with unexpected speed. Samples of these telegrams were published in Paris in 1920 by an Armenian author named Aram Andonian, (38) and they also were presented at the Berlin trial of the Armenian terrorist Tehlirian, who killed Talat Pasha. Nevertheless, the court neither considered these documents as "evidence" nor was involved in any decision claiming the authenticity of them. These documents were, however, entirely fabricated, and the claims deriving from them therefore cannot be sustained. They were in fact published by the Daily Telegraph of London in 1922, (39) which also attributed them to a discovery made by Allenby's army. But when the British Foreign Office enquired about them at the War Office, and with Allenby himself, it was discovered that they had not been discovered by the British army but, rather, had been produced by an Armenian group in Paris. In addition, examination of the photographs provided in the Andonian volume shows clearly that neither in form, script or phraseology did they resemble normal Ottoman administrative documents, and that they were, therefore, rather crude forgeries.
Following the Entente occupation of Istanbul, the British and the French arrested a number of Ottoman political and military figures and some intellectuals on charges of war crimes. In this they were given substantial assistance by the Ottoman Liberal Union Party, which had been placed in power by the Sultan after the war, and which was anxious to do anything it could to definitively destroy the Union and Progress Party and its leaders, who had long been political enemies. Most of the prisoners were sent off to imprisonment in Malta, but the four Union and Progress leaders who had fled from the country just before the occupation were tried and sentenced to death in absentia in Istanbul. Three other Government officials were sentenced to death and executed, but it was discovered later that the evidence on which the convictions had been based was false.
In the meantime, the British looked everywhere to find evidence against those who had been sent to Malta. Despite the complete cooperation of wome enthusraztic supporters such as the Ottoman Liberal Union (38) ANDONIAN, Aram, Documents Qfficiels concernant les Massacres Armmiens, Paris, Armenian National Delegation, 1920. (39) Daily Telegraph, 29 May 1922. government, nothing incriminating could be found among the Ottoman government documents. Similar searches in the British archives were fruitless. Finally, in desperation, the British Foreign Office turned to the American archives in Washington, but in reply, one of their representatives, R. C. Craigie, wrote to Lord Curzon:
"I regret to inform your Lordship that there was nothing therein which could be used as evidence against the Turks who are at present being detained at Malta ...no concrete facts being given which could constitute satisfactory incriminating evidence.... The reports in question do not appear in any case to contain evidence against these Turks which would be useful even for the purpose of corroborating information already in the possession of His Majesty's Government.''(40)
Uncertain as to what should be done with prisoners, who already had been held for two years, without trial and without even any charges being filed or evidence produced, the Foreign Office applied for advice to the Law Officers of the Crown in London, who concluded on 29 July, 1921:
"Up to the present no statements have been taken from witnesses who can depose to the truth of the charges made against the prisoners. It is indeed uncertain whether any witnesses can be found." (41)
At this time the "documents" produced by Andonian were available, but despite their desperate search for evidence, which could be presented in a court of law, the British, never used them because it was evident that they were forgeries. As a result, the prisoners were quietly released in 1921, without charges ever having been filed or evidence produced.
It is useful to reiterate that the main elements in the chain of evidence constructed in proving that Andonian's "documents" were all patent forgeries:
1. To show that his forgeries were in fact "authentic Ottoman documents" Andonian relied on the signature of the Governor of Aleppo, Mustafa Abdiilhalik Bey, which he claimed was appended to several of the "documents" in question. By examining several actual specimens of Mustafa Abdülhalik Bey's signature as preserved on contemporary official documents, it is established that the alleged signatures appended to Andonian's "documents" were forgeries.
2. In one of his forged documents, Andonian dated the note and signature attributed to Mustafa Abdülhalik Bey. Again, by a comparison with authentic correspondence between the Governor (40) 13 July 1921; British Foreign Office Archives 371/6504/8519 (41) British Foreign Office Archives 371/6504/E8745
Aleppo and the Ministry of the Interior in Istanbul, on the date in question, it is proven that the Governor of Aleppo on that date was Bekir Sami Bey, not Mustafa Abdulhalik Bey.
3. Consistently, Andonian's forgeries attest to the fact that he was either totally unaware of, or carelessly neglected to account for, the differences between the Muslim Rumi and Christian calendars. The numerous errors he made as a result of this oversight are, in and of themselves, sufficient to prove the fabricated nature of his "documents". Among other things, the errors Andonian made in this respect served to destroy the system of reference numbers and dates that he concocted for his "documents".
4. By way of a detailed comparison of the entries made in the Ministry of the Interior's Registers of outgoing Ciphers, wherein are recorded the date and reference number of every ciphered communication sent out by the Ministry, with the dates and reference numbers placed by Andonian on his forgeries, it is proven that his so-called "ciphered, telegrams" bear no relationship whatsoever to the actual ciphers sent by the Ministry to Aleppo in the period in question.
5. Again, by comparing the Turkish "originals" of Andonian's " ciphered telegrams" with actual examples of contemporary Ottoman ciphered messages, it is shown that the number groupings he employed bear no relationship to the actual ciphers the Ottomans were using in that period. Thus, in his attempt to make his forgeries appear credible, he created a whole series of unusable, non-existent ciphers. Further, from the dates he affixed to his forgeries in this category, the Ottomans would have had to use the same ciphers over a six-month period which was impossible. By publishing a series of documents instructing officials to change the ciphers they were using, it is shown that, in fact, the Ottomans were changing their cipher codes on average once every two months during the war years.
6. By comparing the manner in which the common Islamic injunction, Besmele, was written on Andonian's two forged letters with numerous examples of the way in which it appears on authentic contemporary Ottoman documents, it is suggested that Andonian's clumsy forgery of this term may well have stemmed from the fact that non-Muslims, even those who knew Ottoman Turkish, did not employ this injunction.
7. A number of examples from Andonian's forgeries show that it is simply inconceivable that any Ottoman official could have used such sentence structures and make such grammatical errors. In the same vein, a host of expressions; allegedly uttered by prominent Ottoman officials are used, which no Ottoman Turk would ever have used. Andonian's intention in these instances was clear: he wanted nothing less than the Turks themselves to be seeming to confess to crimes which he had manufactured for them.
8. The forged documents, with two exceptions, were written on plain paper with none of the usual signs found on the official paper used by the Ottoman bureaucracy in this period. The fact that one of the forged Turkish originals was written on a double-lined paper, which the Ottomans did not even use for private correspondence, constitutes an even more serious error on Andonian's part. Even the two forgeries which appear at first glance to have been written on some kind of official Ottoman stationery are actually written on blank telegraph forms, which anyone wishing to send a telegram could pick up in any Ottoman post office.
9. At a time when the British were frantically searching the world's archives for anything to be used as "evidence" against the group of Ottoman officials whom they were holding for trial as being "responsible for the Armenian incidents", their failure to utilize Andonian's "documents" which were readily available in their English edition, strongly suggests that the British Government was fully aware of the nature of these forgeries.
10. Had documents of the nature of those concocted by Andonian ever actually existed, their confidential nature would have dictated that they be sent by courier for security reasons; rather than through the easily breachable public telegraph system. Likewise, had such documents really ever been written; it is inconceivable that they could have lain around in a file for three years, instead of being destroyed as soon as they had been read.
11. There are also numerous differences between the French and English editions of Andonian's book. Indeed, these variations are of such significance that it is absolutely impossible to ascribe them to printing errors, or errors in translation.
12. Finally, the fact that even some authors with close links to Armenian circles, who serve as spokesmen for Armenian causes, have indicated their own doubt as to the veracity of Andonian's "documents" should not be overlooked. In short, from start to finish the so-called "Talat Pasha Telegrams" are nothing more than crude forgeries, concocted by Andonian and his associates. Moreover the Ottoman archives contain a number of orders; whose authenticity can definitely be substantiated, issued on the same dates, in which Talat Pasha ordered investigations to be made to find and punish those responsible for the attacks which were being made on the deportation caravans. It is hardly likely that he would have been ordering massacres on one hand and investigations and punishments for such crimes on the other.
A letter forged by Aram Andonian with the date, February 18, 1331 (March 2,1916) opens with a "bismillah" (blessing), which would never have been written by a Moslem. The forger, Andonian, made his most fatal mistake with the date, however. He was obviously not well enough versed in the tricks of converting to the Rumi year of the Ottomans, where a difference of thirteen days between the Rumi and Gregorian calendars must be taken into account.
The date he put on the letter was off by a full year. Instead of 1330 (1915), he wrote 1331 (1916). The contents of the letter are supposed to be evidence of the long advance planning of the resettlement operation of 1915.(42) (42) Feigl, Erich. A Myth of Terror, 1991, Edition zeitgeschichten-Freilassing- Salzburg, p. 85
An American aid organization called "the Near East Relief Society" was allowed by the Ottoman Government to stay and fulfill its functions in Anatolia during the deportations. Even following the entry of U.S.A. into war on the side of Entente powers against Ottoman Empire, the same organization was permitted to remain in Anatolia. This was dealt in the reports of the American Ambassador Elkus in Istanbul. In this case, if an order for "massacring Armenians" had been given, would the Ottoman Government have allowed to an American organization to be witness to the "massacres". In other words, it is ridiculous to suppose that the Ottomans said to America: "We are massacring Armenians. Why don't you have a look at it." Such an allegation could never be a logical explanation of historic facts. Finally, and in the end most important, when the war came to an end, the Armenian population still was substantially in place in Western Anatolia, Thrace and Istanbul. Had the Ottoman government ordered massacres, evidently they too would have been killed. And for that matter, had the Ottoman government wanted to eliminate all the Armenians in the Empire, it could have done so far more easily by killing and disposing of them where they lived, rather than undertaking a large-scale deportation of those in the Eastern war zones under the eyes of foreign observers.
The claim, thus, that the Ottoman government ordered and carried out a general massacre of Armenians in the Empire cannot be sustained and is disproved by the facts.