Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Red Sultan’s Legacy

July 23rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

MorgenthauArmenianWe find ourselves completely baffled by the uproar over the publication of the Turkish-language “Blue Book,” a once-secret British dossier that chronicled the Armenian genocide some 93 years ago. The Turkish government’s griping is predictable enough, of course, given its long history of chafing at public mention of the slaughter. But we’re mystified as to why anyone thinks the Blue Book could possible contain explosive revelations, given that Henry Morgenthau‘s 1918 account of the genocide could scarcely be more detailed or more damning. The American diplomat, who server as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I, pulled no punches in his memoir, quoting directly from internal Turkish figures on the number of Armenian deportees who were murdered en route to their new homes—homes they were never meant to reach in the first place:

It is absurd for the Turkish Government to assert that it ever seriously intended to “deport the Armenians to new homes”; the treatment which was given the convoys clearly shows that extermination was the real purpose of Enver and Talaat. How many exiled to the south under these revolting conditions ever reached their destinations? The experiences of a single caravan show how completely this plan of deportation developed into one of annihilation…Out of the combined convoy of 18,000 souls just 150 women and children reached their destination. A few of the rest, the most attractive, were still living as captives of the Kurds and Turks; all the rest were dead.

Morgenthau’s entire chapter on the Turks’ machinery of death is worth reading. As is the follow-up chapter in which the leader of the Young Turks tries to justify the massacres on the grounds that the “deportations” were necessary for self-defense. Color us deeply unconvinced.

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