BLACK BOOK : Outstanding Foreigners on Turkish Crimes in the Late XIX Century and the Armenian Genocide in The Ottoman Empire in 1915
Compiled by Albert ISOYAN (HAYAGITAK, YEREVAN, 2015)
The book depicts the apocalyptical events that took place in the late nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century, leading up to the massacres of two million Armenians and their systematic extermination, robbery and expropriation of their property. As a result, Western Armenia was left desolate without its native population: the homeless and orphaned survivors scattered all over the world. All this happened before the eyes of the so-called civilized world at the turn of the twentieth century.
The book discusses those tragic moments and demonstrates the essence of this horrendous atrocity, its history, hidden motives and the large scale of the crime as recounted by writers, historians, diplomats, travelers, missionaries, jounalists, statesmen and military officials of different nationalities from all over the world: Americans, Arabs, Austrians, Belgians, Bulgarians, Danes, English, Estonians, French, Germans, Iranians, Italians, Jews, Norwegians, Russians, Scotts, Swiss, and even Turks.
The book aims to show that the genocide denial policy of the Turkish Government is doomed. Bearing witness to the remorseless and planned character of atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire toward its Christian and non-Christian citizens, the authors of the book accuse the Turkish Government of planning, organizing and implementing the first genocide in the history of mankind.
In Turkey the systematic violence, looting, kidnapping, murder and apostasy never stop. For an Armenian, Turkey has never been a state, but a slaughterhouse where one tortures and slaughters, and another one waits for one’s turn, deeply convinced and never ceasing to remember that one day one’s turn will come. Those who think that this could have been tolerated without a wave of extreme discontent and without revolution are wrong. Those who think that the revolution in Turkey was initiated by outsiders, like Russian Armenians, are wrong.
The first collection of diplomatic documents on the Armenian massacres published in French in 1897 was a two-volume book titled The Yellow Book. It comprised lists of Armenian families that fell victim to the Hamidian atrocities in 1893-1897, correspondences between diplomats from a number of countries, as well as the reform program which was elaborated by the ambassadors of the three Great Powers: Russia, Great Britain and France, supposedly to be implemented by the Sublime Porte. Certain fragments of that book were included in a selection of articles and were published by Grigor Dzhanshiev under the title Brotherly Help to the Armenians, Who Suffered in Turkey. The last words of a prominent statesman of the time, British politician William Gladstone, “Kindness, kindness and… kindness” found their way to the title page of the book. It is a literary-scholarly selection of documents and materials, illustrated with sketches by I.K. Ayvazovski and W.S. Soureniants. The publisher gave all the revenues from the sales of the book to the Russian ambassador in Turkey I.A. Zinoviev. The latter, as per agreement handed the bigger portion of the funds to the Patriarch of Armenians in Constantinople M. Ormanyan, who, through great effort, succeeded in opening twelve shelters for Armenian orphans. This impressive and significant publication was preceded by another book published in Moscow in 1896 titled The State of Armenians in Turkey Prior to the Intervention of Great Powers in 1985, with an introduction by professor L.A. Komarovski. The book included the famous speech made by Gladstone on July 26, 1895, articles of a Belgian attorney and statesman, Rolin-Jaequemyns, and the American missionary Frederick Green. One of the most valuable contributions to the publication was the article by Emile Dillon, an Irish linguist and reporter, who described the true state of the Armenian people and their intolerable sufferings.
Prior to the publication of the two-volume French Yellow Book, Arshak Chobanyan, a indefatigable Armenian publicist, compiled and issued the book Pogroms in Armenia: Witness Testimonies, with a brilliant introduction by a prominent politician Georges Clemenceau, who especially emphasized the exceptional role of Armenians in Turkey stating in particular: ‘The most educated people of the Empire are mostly of Armenian origin.’
In the wake of the publication of the Yellow Book and the other books mentioned above, the White Book was printed in Turkey in 1904. It mostly comprised the correspondences of British diplomats regarding the events in Western Armenia in the period from October, 1903 through July 31, 1904. The book mischievously distorted and mispresented the whole essence of the events taking place in Zeitun, Sasun, Erzerum and other places.
In 1914, one more White Book was published in Petrograd, the complete title of which was: The White Book about the War with Turkey, the Diplomatic Correspondence of England that Preceded the War with Turkey.
The Yellow Book and the White Book were followed by the Russian Orange Book, which included 159 documents and memoranda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia concerning the Armenian Question in the period from 1912 to 1914.
Another noteworthy work on the issue is the Blue Book, which was published in London in 1916. On the basis of meticulous testimonies and sound witness accounts the author of the book, James Bryce, showed the brutal way the extermination of the Armenian nation was carried out, placing special emphasis on the central role of the planned genocidal policy of the Young Turks and the complicity of Germany in this horrendous crime.
Although the Red Book was published in the US in 1896, earlier than most of the other books and publications concerning the genocide, it has been left in oblivion by historians and Genocide researchers. The Red Book was titled Story of Turkey and Armenia, with a Full Account of the Recent Massacres Written by Eye Witnesses. Edited by James Wilson Pierce, this book is dedicated to the mission of the group headed by the American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, who was called ‘Angel of the Battlefield’ for saving many Armenians in the aftermath of the Hamidian massacres.
Even if all these books of different colours and varying significance did not exist at all, we would still call our book the Black Book, for it is a book about dark, dreadful, terrifying crimes, similar to which, as many authors believe, the humanity has never seen throughout the course of its history.
The Black Book is the story of a nation that lived in its historical homeland for thousands of years, but was exterminated and deported, and the country with its villages and towns, houses and cemeteries, monuments and holy places has remained in black mourning garments for a whole century…
The paradise on earth created by Armenians turned into a Gehenna.
This notwithstanding a significant bulk of literature has been published about the Armenian massacres and the Great Disaster by our historians, writers, journalists, eye-witnesses. A multi-volume bibliography has been compiled. A great many books and research studies by foreign authors have been translated and published in Armenian. The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan has published a great number of books and articles on this issue. Numerous books and articles have also been published through the efforts of the Armenian Diaspora.
The books published in many different countries as well as the materials published in various periodicals both in Armenian and other languages are sufficient in number to make a huge library.
Yet, efforts of the authors with opposing stances on the issue are not less ‘fruitful’: aimed at the denial and refutation of the Armenian Genocide, quite a few publications in Turkish and other languages mislead the civilized world and conceal the fact of the extermination of a whole nation, trying to overshadow its significance by the newly-emerging events and global cataclysms.
There is a striking difference between these two kinds of publications: the truthful, soundly substantiated, strictly fact-based pro-Armenian sources stand against the black wall of the stubborn pro-Turkish bibliography with falsified information, distorted and misinterpreted facts and insinuations.
And between these two opposing bibliographies is the Black Book, the authors of which tell the silently listening civilized world their impartial and fair opinion about the Turkish crimes and the Great Armenian Calamity.
Page after page the reader discovers the dark facts, the hidden mechanisms behind the great crime and the hidden motives that drove the Ottoman Empire to exterminate its Christian subjects, and Armenians in particular, the nature and methods of murder and violence, the joint and concerted actions of the bloodthirsty fanatical mob, officials, the military and brigands fighting against unarmed people. The country that lost in the World War and lost its European lands tried to take revenge not in the front, but through realizing its long-cherished dream of turkifying its multinational citizenry .
On the hundreds of pages of the book the reader sees the image of true, selfless and devoted friends of the Armenian people side by side with the ambiguous and hypocritical character of European diplomacy.
The authors of the book substantiate the concept that while the genocide in the Ottoman Empire was carried out through a meticulously plotted-out scheme, the Armenian resistance was subject to unbearable hardships and violation of all the rights of the people. The Armenians were creative and diligent; they were well-educated and devoted to their religion and language; they revered their traditions and memory of their ancestors; they were in pursuit of knowledge and had love for books; they had progressive views and shared common Western values.
The book mentions that there were also hucksters and moneylenders, cowards, money-grubbers and conformists to be found among Armenians, but as Alexandre Dumas père said, there were no murderers to be found among Armenians…
The authors of the book state that the genocide is not only when pogroms, violence, looting and robbery, forceful proselytizing, expropriation of land and property, prison, exile, starvation, diseases, abduction and breakdown occur, but when people are stripped of their memory, when all the place names are changed, when the nation’s churches and shrines are desecrated, that amounts to genocide, too. And it does continue as long as facts keep being manipulated, as long as new Armenophobes and traitors appear, as long as slander and defamation are spread in many different languages, as long as the events by some magical tricks are turned upside down, as long as the foreign media and public figures are bribed, as long as disinformation about the Armenian people as being ungrateful, rebellious hucksters keeps being spread.
Hence it comes as no surprise to learn that immediately after the Genocide disgusting and violent manifestations of hatred toward Armenians became rampant throughout Turkey as well as in the West and in Russia, reminiscent of the pogroms and the genocide.
Rightfully, then, the authors of the Black Book can be claimed to recognize and condemn the Genocide as members of some special international parliament at their extraordinary session.
The Black Book is to inform English-speaking readers about the Armenian national tragedy as described by foreign witnesses and to let everyone know about the true and devoted friends of the Armenian people, who wrote impartially and never took to arms.
Once the book is read and all the “pros” and “cons” are weighed, one should not jump to hasty conclusions. The descendants of those who survived the genocide should not fall into unnecessary self-reproach, which was exactly what the perpetrators were aiming at: to make the surviving Armenians believe that they were guilty of something they never did, to make them believe in their own inferiority.
At the same time, unflinchingly facing up to our own mistakes, we should remind ourselves that we Armenians as a nation possess our own unique virtues, while vices are not alien to any other nation..
And finally, one of the most important aspects of the book is that it reveals the fact that in different periods of time not only Armenians, but also Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Montenegrins became victims of massacres …
This book serves as a reminder to timely locate the many-headed monster of nationalism and chauvinism, which like a contagious disease grabbed Turkey and Germany during World War I. This black plague, which is still found alive, is raising its head anew and its jaw, in the form of hatred, will not shun to swallow countries and peoples…
The materials of the Black Book show that at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century we, the Armenians, have lost two millions of our compatriots and along with this loss within that same period innumerable artifacts of the minds and hands of our ancestors, including countless churches, that were built with faith and mastery, numerous documents and manuscripts that were records of our history and memory were burnt down and destroyed.
But Armenia as a country does exist: it is alive along with the burning memories of the evil-mongers.
Armenia has survived tragic losses and has survived the Genocide in the ХХ century, and now we have an independent Republic of Armenia, which is already over twenty years old. Modern Armenia is the Third Republic. The First Republic existed for two years from 1918 to 1920, and the Second Republic, Soviet Armenia, from 1920 to 1991. Although at the onset of the Soviet empire Lenin and Stalin’s regimes ceded Kars and Ardaghan to their ally Turkey, and Nakhichevan and Nagorno-Karabakh were joined with the newly-emerged Azerbaijan, in those seventy years the Armenian nation made significant cultural, economic and scientific progress.
During the Soviet years, Armenians proved that although the political order of the country does matter and does play a decisive role, a society that has goals and has a desire to build a paternal house on its native homeland proves to be the most valuable asset of the nation.
Then, of course, there does exist the Armenian Diaspora all over the world, which apart from being a great support to their national state, also make all possible effort to promote the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the international community.
Neighboring with the Republic of Armenia is a land called Nakhichevan, which once was inhabited by Armenians who were the natives of that land, but were expelled from their native land not long ago. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, however, gained its independence in a tough political struggle albeit at the cost of great sacrifice and losses.
The existence of the two Armenian Republics, fully determined to secure equal rights and enjoy a dignified life among the civilized nations of the world, is the best response of the Armenian people to those innumerable losses and suffering; it is the best reponse to the Genocide so truthfully described in the Black Book..