Taner Akcam introduces new evidence from more than 600 secret Ottoman documents through this book demonstrates in unprecedented detail that the Armenian Genocide and the expulsion of Greeks from the late Ottoman Empire resulted from an official effort to rid the empire of its Christian subjects.
Presenting these previously inaccessible documents along with expert context and analysis, Taner Akcam’s most authoritative work to date goes deep inside the bureaucratic machinery of Ottoman Turkey to show how a dying empire embraced genocide and ethnic cleansing. Although the deportation and killing of Armenians was internationally condemned in 1915 as a “crime against humanity and civilization,” the Ottoman government initiated a policy of denial that is still maintained by the Turkish Republic.
The case for Turkey’s “official history” rests on documents from the Ottoman imperial archives, to which access has been heavily restricted until recently. It is this very source that Akcam now uses to overturn the official narrative. The documents presented here attest to a late-Ottoman policy of Turkification, the goal of which was no less than the radical demographic transformation of Anatolia. To that end, about one-third of Anatolia’s 15 million people were displaced, deported, expelled, or massacred, destroying the ethno-religious diversity of an ancient cultural crossroads of East and West, and paving the way for the Turkish Republic. By uncovering the central roles played by demographic engineering and assimilation in the Armenian Genocide, this book will fundamentally change how this crime is understood and show that physical destruction is not the only aspect of the genocidal process.
Here are some excerpts from this book:
“As the Ottoman Empire devolved into nation-states, ethnic and religious
groups, which until then had been living not only within the same
territory but even side by side in the same villages, struggled to define
themselves against the Ottoman state and their own neighbors,
purging the designated “outsiders” from villages, towns, and regions from the
Balkans eastward. Th e mass violence that accompanied the formation of
nation-states in the nineteenth century erupted in the fi rst two decades of
the twentieth. Th e succession of wars and revolutions, brutally suppressed
rebellions, forced population exchanges, deportations and ethnic cleansing,
massacres and genocide—human destructiveness on a previously unimaginable
scale—only concluded in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne,
which provided for the independence of modern Turkey.
Yet it was not enough to have redrawn the boundaries of territorial
and collective identity, for the developing nation-state requires a
third factor, collective memory, which combines the other two. To create
this common memory, the history of the former Ottoman lands as experienced
by the peoples of the Balkans, Middle East, and Caucasia in
all their ethnic, religious, and national variety was written anew.
Strikingly, however, these divergent accounts of the immediate past can be
boiled down to one of two seemingly contradictory narrative themes:
one in which the Great powers dismantled and destroyed the Ottoman
Empire by using its Christian subjects; the other, an account of
persecution and massacre by the Ottoman authorities. These two narratives
were developed and persist today as competing and mutually exclusive
…in the early years of the century, the imperative to protect their (Ottoman)state
from dissolution became fi rmly established among Muslim Turks, especially the authorities
and intellectuals: “Their greatest objective and greatest concern, the beginning and
end of their thoughts, was to save the state.”
This notion of an encircling threat not only helped to motivate the massacre and annihilation
of Christians, especially Armenians, but it was also invoked to justify, in retrospect, the
policies of destruction as legitimate, national self-defense. ”
(The book is available at major research based digital platforms such as ‘researchgate’ and ‘jstor’ as well as at Google Books and Amazon)