Dadrian Presents Lecture on Significance of Ottoman Trials


By Florence Avakian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator

TENAFLY, N.J. — Prof. Vahakn Dadrian, renowned historian and scholar of the Armenian Genocide, gave a much-awaited lecture on the significance of the Ottoman trials of the Genocide perpetrators, at the St. Thomas Armenian Church, on Friday, March 9. It also marked the publication of his new book, the first book jointly written by an Armenian and a Turkish scholar, (Prof. Taner Akçam is his collaborator), titled Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials.
An 11-year effort, the book is the first complete documentation of the trial proceedings in English, and is based on authentic documentation, including personal, eyewitness testimony of high- ranking Ottoman officials, given under oath, which the Ottoman government was forced to release during the trials which revealed the magnitude of the crimes perpetrated against the Armenians.

Tekeyan Cultural Association New York/New Jersey Chairman Hagop Vartivarian welcomed the more than 100 in attendance and discussed the background of Dadrian, which includes numerous books, his fluency in several languages, his many university degrees and the honors he has received, including the coveted gold medal from the president of the Republic of Armenia.

Speaking in Armenian for an hour-and-a-half, virtually without notes, Dadrian, a walking encyclopedia on the Genocide, began his talk by pointing out that the 1894 to 1896 massacres of 200,000 Armenians — mostly men, in Anatolia and Istanbul — took place on Fridays after Muslim prayers and lasted for three days, emphasizing that the Turkish people killed for Allah. “The Turkish people participated with pleasure in the Genocide, whereas during the Nazi extermination, the German people did not take part. “By killing Armenians, Turks would be eligible to go to heaven. Armenians and Turks who had been friends for centuries became enemies in 24 hours.”

He explained that Sultan Abdul Hamid killed the Armenians at that time because the Ottoman areas of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria had already been emancipated from the empire, and therefore only the Armenians remained as an entity. “Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria were the hands and feet of the Ottoman Empire, but the Armenians were the stomach and the intestines,” he related. “So the Armenian areas of Van, Erzerum, Bitlis, Kharpert and Diyarbekir became an existential threat.”

When the Armenians asked for reforms, Turkey was afraid they would become part of Armenia. However, the scholar said he blamed the Armenian revolutionary groups for “inadvertently inciting” the Turks.
No Punishment for 1894-96 Massacres Led to 1915 Genocide
“The 1894-1896 massacres of Abdul Hamid, done with impunity, remained unpunished. The West and the rest of the world did not raise a finger because they had vested interests and were not interested in getting involved militarily. Therefore, the Ottomans were encouraged to do even more killing, since the Armenians remained virtually unprotected, helpless and vulnerable,” he stated, adding that Armenians were not allowed to have weapons, not even a knife. Armenians were used to submitting to the Turks. The fact that the Armenians had been unprotected for six centuries was their doom, and they were easily sacrificed like sheep. Ethnic cleansing was the major role of the Ottomans.”

The 1915 Genocide, which also was perpetrated for economic reasons with the Turks taking the wealth of the Armenians, (resulting in the emergence of a new Turkish middle class), “went far beyond the cruelty of World War I,” with most of the savagery planned by two Turkish doctors Nazim and Shakir, and carried out by the Kurds.

“The Ottomans were not sure that the Turkish soldiers would do the savagery, so they released the most monstrous prisoners to do the killing. “These savage acts were unique, and had never happened before,” he stated with some emotion. “The Nazis did not do the same. There is a big difference between the Armenian and Jewish genocides.”

The Genocide “was not a state crime as the West has said, but a political party crime perpetrated by the Young Turk Party with its Central Committee heads Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha.”
Dadrian revealed that Talaat, “who was softer and milder,” ordered the crime, but it was the two doctors who fulfilled the monstrous acts. “Talaat had to submit to the doctors,” he noted.

“It was mostly done by the Young Turk party structure, not so much by the government. The highest government officials had no real authority. And there were secret means of communication between Talaat and the political party organizers. He revealed that the party secretaries made the province governors give orders for the killings and if they didn’t obey, the party officials would install their own officials as governors. “When only one party controls the government, it is very dangerous,” he stated.
“The most important part of the Armenian Genocide is the savagery that was used against the victims and the fact that the Genocide remains unpunished,” Dadrian said, stressing each word.

After World War I, the Allies were divided as to what each would grab.
Dadrian revealed that the French secretly gave Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Young Turk leader and the first president of the new Republic of Turkey weapons, which prevented Armenia from extending to Van, Bitlis and Erzerum. Ataturk, he said, was not strong enough to take the east because the Russians were there. “Today in Turkey, young intellectuals are becoming aware of their monstrous background. Turkey is most afraid of the reparations question. Many Turks say they will admit to the Armenian Genocide if there are no reparations. However, for Turkey to join the European Union, it is central and primary that they come to terms with the Genocide.”

With pride, Dadrian stated that “today, Armenia with Russian help, is very strong militarily. A major part of Armenia’s budget is devoted to its army and advanced weapons.” However, he questioned that if there ever was an emergency, would Russia be faithful to Armenia. “We should not rely on anyone, especially with the kind of geographical neighbors that Armenia has,” he said with emphasis.

Dadrian received a standing ovation lasting several minutes at the conclusion of his fascinating talk.

The event was sponsored by the Zoryan Institute, with the participation of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (CARS), Armenian-American Support and Educational Center, Esayan-Getronagan Alumni, Hamazkayin Cultural Association, Knights & Daughters of Vartan, St. Thomas Armenian Church, Tibrevank Alumni and the Tekeyan Cultural Association.