Prof. Taner Akçam to Speak on Authenticity of Long-Disputed Genocide Documents


Taner AkcamBELMONT, Mass. — Prof. Taner Akçam of Clark University will give a lecture entitled “The Memoir of Naim Bey and Talat Pasha Telegrams: Are They ‘Armenian Forgeries’?” on Thursday, October 6, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., at First Armenian Church, 380 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA. The program is sponsored by the friends of the Kaloosdian-Mugar Chair in Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). A reception will take place following the program at the NAASR Center across the street from the church.

In 1920-21, author and editor Aram Andonian published a book known in English as The Memoirs of Naim Bey and in Armenian as Medz Vojirě (The Great Crime). It contained the writings of an Ottoman official and telegrams from Talat Pasha containing orders for the killing of Armenians.

In 1983, Turkish authors Sinasi Orel and Sureyya Yuca published a book to establish that the memoir was fake and the telegrams were forgeries. The argument had three main pillars: 1) there was no such person as Naim Bey; 2) there is no actual memoir, since a non-existing person cannot write a memoir; and 3) the so-called Talat Pasha telegrams, like the alleged memoir, were invented by Andonian.

Although noted researcher Fr. Krikor Guerguerian (Kriger) in 1965 published a detailed examination of Andonian’s published and unpublished materials and Vahakn N. Dadrian in 1986 published a lengthy response to Orel and Yuca, in general the scholarly world ceased using the memoir and telegrams as trustworthy sources. Until now, the claims against Andonian have remained unanswered and became the cornerstone of denialism.

Taner Akçam risked venturing into this highly disputed territory and pursued the matter to its necessary conclusion, seeking out the archival sources and documents needed for a proper scholarly assessment. The first results of his research will be presented in this lecture and in a book to be published in Turkish later this fall. The question must be asked: Is it time to remove one of the last bricks in the denialist wall and watch the façade crumble?

Akçam is the author of From Empire To Republic: Turkish Nationalism and the Armenian Genocide and A Shameful Act: the Armenian Genocide and Turkish Responsibility, and The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire as well as other works in the English and Turkish Languages. Since 2008 he has been the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Professor of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, MA.