Erzurum Turkey

Arnold Toynbee wrote that the deportations of Armenians had "remarkable differences of practice" and explained that the differences were because of the "good or bad will of the local officials." In June 1915, Gen. Mahmud Kamil Pasha ordered the deportations of all Armenians in the Erzurum province. Yet were these deportations part of a genocidal plan by the government or a necessary but miserable attempt at stopping a rebellion and putting an end to ethnic violence?

As Armenians were being deported in convoys, Kurdish and Turkish irregulars attacked them between Erzinjan and Erzurum. The incident was a massacre of Armenians, and one would then ask "well, doesn't this prove the Armenian genocide?", but one would misinterpret the difference in the meaning of genocide and mass killings.

The Minister of Interior Talat Pasha, who is claimed by Armenians as the mastermind behind the mislabeled Armenian genocide, sent out a telegram dated June 14, 1915, in reaction to these massacres. This is what it said:

Talat Pasha, Minister of Interior, CUP wrote:

The province of Erzurum has informed us that a convoy of 500 Armenians who were evacuated from Erzurum has been killed by tribes between Erzurum and Erzinjan....Incidents resulting in such killings will not be allowed to occur. For this reason it is absolutely necessary that every possible measure is taken to protect the Armenians against attacks by tribes and villagers, and that those who attempt murder and violence are severely punished.

Talat Pasha

Though such telegrams were frequently sent out to local authorities to stop the ethnic violence between Armenians and Turks as well as ceasing the senseless massacring of Armenian Christians, sometimes the Muslims in the area took the law into their own hands and ignored the central Ottoman government.

There were many numerous incidents of massacres and many were conducted by Kurds and Turks though just as many were also conducted by Armenians.

Armenian Genocide

Armenian historians seeing telegrams like these, choose to ignore them and in some cases censor them. Instead they pick and choose telegrams that may sound a tiny bit unfavorable to Armenians and use those to support their arguments that the central government sponsored a genocide.

A German Red Cross physician working in Erzinjan named Dr. Neukirch commented numerous times in his August 5, 1915 report about the Armenian relocations. During the first few weeks of the deportations there were some serious problems such as massacres, food shortages, and mistreatment of Armenians by the locals. However, Neukirch wrote that afterwords the deporations were conducted:

Dr. Neukirch wrote:
in a relatively orderly manner according to oriental conditions.


There hadn't been any new massacres after authorities corrected the mistakes in the first weeks.

So if a government was intending to exterminate Armenians in any way, why would they go through all the trouble to stop violence and mistreatment of Armenians? Perhaps the real truth was that the government simply wanted to stop the rebellion by simply moving away the Armenians who were in constant conflict with the locals.

To this day, many Western historians still conclude that the Armenian relocations by the Ottoman Empire were not genocide. They conclude that the term Armenian Genocide is falsely attributed because of the World War I propaganda at the time to convince the United States to join the war against the Central Powers.


  1. ^ Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey by Guenter Lewy (2005), p. 163
  2. ^ Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey by Guenter Lewy (2005), p. 163-165