Recovering Armenia
The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey
Lerna Ekmekcioglu

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Introduction

Afterlife of Armenians in Post-Genocide Turkey

Figure 1. Hayganush Mark and Vahan Toshigian in 1920. Yeghishe Charents Museum of Literature and Art (Hayganush Mark fond), Yerevan.

Hayganush Mark lived the first half of her life as a subject of the Ottoman Empire belonging to the Armenian millet (ethnoreligious community). She spent the second half as a citizen of the Republic of Turkey and a member of the Armenian minority community. All without moving an inch. In 1882, when she was born to an illiterate mother and a blind father, Constantinople was the glorious capital of the empire.1 In 1966, when she died as a once-famous editor, determined community activist, and the childless widow of the prominent journalist Vahan Toshigian, her Bolis (Constantinople) had long become Istanbul, a city bereft of its status as capital.2

Today, Hayganush Mark Toshigian is buried with her husband in the Intellectuals Section of the Şişli Armenian Cemetery, about a mile from their long-time home in Pangaltı. Their tombstone is titled Hay Gin, that is, Armenian Woman. To the uninitiated passerby it might seem as if “the Armenian Woman” was dead and buried here. Yet, as is inscribed on the epitaph, the title refers to a feminist fortnightly Mark edited from 1919 to 1933.3 A short quotation from one of her editorials accompanies a picture of a youthful Hayganush. Only the last sixth of the stone is devoted to the husband, who, until his death in 1954, had published Nor Or (New Day), one of the most important dailies in the history of Turkish Armenians.

Mark’s and Toshigian’s life trajectory is representative of a generation of Bolsahay (Constantinopolitan Armenian) public figures who lived through the transformation from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic (Figure 1).4 This book, the first in-depth study of post-genocide Armenians in Turkey, analyzes this generation’s experiences and worldviews. How did Armenian elites’ understanding, representation, and performance of their identity adapt to the changing political conditions around them?5 By focusing on Armenian textual and visual materials produced in Istanbul from the immediate aftermath of World War I to a decade after the 1923 establishment of the Turkish Republic, the book tells the story of Armenians in post-genocide Turkey from the perspective of their spokespeople.6

This group did not constitute an ideological monolith. Some of them identified themselves as feminists and pursued a women’s movement. Feminist Armenians had two goals: the betterment of their sex and the betterment of their azk (nation). Depending on the political context, these goals sometimes worked in unity and sometimes conflicted with each other. An analysis of how feminists’ ideas about Armenianness converged with and diverged from those of their peers shows the limits within which Armenians committed to preserving their group identity had to operate in post-Ottoman Turkey. Since the World War and genocide straddled the shift from the empire to the republic and set into motion all that was to come, the story must start in 1914 when the Ottomans decided to enter what was until then a largely European war.

Great War, Great Crime

Aligning with Germany, the Ottomans entered World War I in order to put an end to the process of territorial disintegration. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, Ottoman Europe had been Balkanized into independent (Christian) states such as Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. Ottomans also lost territories in North Africa as the French and the British colonized Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. A decisive victory against the Great Powers, the Young Turk–controlled Ottoman government hoped, could reverse the breakup of the empire, allow for territorial expansion, and restore the Ottomans’ long-lost international prestige. These grand goals bestowed legitimacy on various measures, the most radical being the near-complete decimation of a people in their native lands.

By 1914, Armenians were one of the last major Christian populations remaining under Ottoman control. Even though one could find Armenians in almost every Ottoman city, town, and village, they were mostly concentrated in what is today called eastern Anatolia, roughly the six Eastern Provinces (Doğu Vilayetleri) of the Ottoman Empire, which Armenians referred as the western part of their historical homeland (see Figure 2), that is, the western part of the geographic unit known as the Armenian Plateau.7 This region comprised the critical borderland between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, the Ottomans’ archenemy. On the other side of that border lived Armenians of the eastern part of the historical homeland who were Russian subjects. The Young Turks feared that Armenians from both sides of the border would exploit the crisis of the war and join forces to declare independence or merge with Russia. Exaggerating the importance of some cues of dissent as the early signs of a wholesale Armenian uprising, the Ottoman government decided to preempt any threat by deporting Armenians to the remote and uninhabitable corners of the empire. Under this “deportation” the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the ruling Young Turk faction, implemented policies aimed at eliminating Armenians as a meaningful demographic presence in any part of the empire. The war gave them the opportunity to finally solve “the Armenian Question” that had so bothered the empire since the 1880s. These “preventive” measures ranged from wholesale massacres to starvation, from long-term exposure to elements to abduction into Muslim households for forcible conversion to Islam. Together, these policies constituted the 1915 Armenian genocide.8 According to most estimates, approximately one million Armenians, or about half of the community’s prewar population, perished. The number of women and children absorbed into Muslim households and institutions remains unknown, but is conventionally estimated as about a hundred thousand.9

Figure 2. Map of Armenia and Turkey. Adapted from Robert Hewsen, Armenia: A Historical Atlas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 13.

Bolsahays like Hayganush Mark and Vahan Toshigian experienced the war years quite differently from their compatriots in other parts of the empire. The capital was full of European and American residents, especially the diplomatic community. CUP shied away from ordering the mass deportation of Armenians there, probably because they did not want to attract undue attention.10 But the Armenian leadership had to go. This started around midnight on April 24, 1915, and soon culminated in an event for which Armenians have many names, Medz Yeghern, Great Crime, being one of the most common.11 The government ordered the arrest of about 250 notable Armenian figures on charges of engaging in separatism with the aim of gaining Armenian independence. These writers, journalists, musicians, clergymen, political party members, activists, members of the Ottoman parliament, and professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and pharmacists, were then dispatched to the Anatolian interior; 174 of them were executed.12

Vahan Toshigian evaded the tragedy ironically because he was already in prison, accused of a different crime and awaiting trial.13 Hayganush Mark was not arrested likely because—as far as we know—she had not been openly involved in politics proper. Not that everyone arrested that month was a passionate revolutionary. But she was a woman. Her sex disqualified her and many of her colleagues from being perceived as politically dangerous. The capital was home to 120,000 Armenians.14 Of all the prominent people arrested in this initial stage of the Armenian genocide, only two were women: Zabel Yesayan and Mari Beylerian, who had been so vocal in their political criticisms that even their sex wasn’t going to be enough to save them.15

Like the rest of the intellectuals who were spared deportation, Mark and Toshigian spent three anxious years in wartime Constantinople. The government censored the newspapers and forbid Armenians’ departure from or entry to the capital. While they knew that something unprecedented was unfolding in the provinces, Armenians in the capital would learn the scale of the devastation only after the war’s end. During the war, and terrorized by the disappearance of their leading members, Armenians closed in on themselves and kept a low profile.16 When the news of the establishment of an independent Armenia by Russian Armenians in Transcaucasia reached them in May 1918, Bolsahays felt thrilled but they refrained from openly celebrating.17 The year 1918 was to bring even better news, news that they would celebrate without trepidation.

From Occupied Constantinople to Turkish Istanbul

In October 1918, the Ottoman government signed the Mudros Armistice with the British and accepted defeat. The next day, the CUP leadership escaped the country in humiliation. Within a few weeks, the Allies occupied parts of the Ottoman territory. Feeling vindicated, hundreds of Armenians rushed onto the streets to witness the Allied fleet of sixty warships sailing through the Bosphorus to commence the occupation of the capital.18 As early as May 24, 1915, the Allies had warned the Ottoman government about the Armenian massacres and announced publicly that they would hold Ottoman government officials personally responsible for the “fresh crimes committed by Turkey against humanity and civilization.”19 After the war, Armenians believed the Allies would keep their promises, bring the perpetrators to justice, and remedy the wrongs of the war.

The remedy that they most wanted was the establishment of a free, united, Greater Armenia connecting the western and eastern parts of their historical homeland, a state of their own in which they could enjoy majority status, feel safe, and remain secure. The central goal for post-genocide Armenian politics, regardless of internal political and ideological divisions, was to expand the independent Republic of Armenia to include the western parts of ancestral lands that had been under Ottoman rule for more than four centuries. Together with their peers from other parts of the world, the Bolsahays’ political, clerical, and intellectual leadership tried to win over the Great Powers to their cause. They formulated this Armenian cause (Hay Tad) as a right to national self-determination, the Wilsonian principle that dominated the postwar peace negotiations. They also defended their entitlement to these territories by appealing to the universal principle of justice: the victorious Allies had to punish the savages (i.e., Turks) and reward their victims (i.e., Armenians).

Armenian delegations lobbied the Western powers at the Paris Peace Conference and other conferences that were charged with deciding on postwar territorial divisions. Hayganush Mark and Vahan Toshigian, like their friends, colleagues, and even enemies in the Armenian community, devoted all their energy to the creation of a Greater Armenia. The majority of Armenian political and religious leaders, journalists, writers, relief workers, and intellectuals believed that the civilized Christian world, which had since the 1880s rushed to the Armenians’ help with humanitarian aid whenever pogroms befell them, which had been so vocal about the suffering of this tiny, ancient Oriental Christian nation, would now bequeath Armenians the ultimate and the only permanent solution to their misery: their own state. A Promised Homeland.

They were mistaken. Historical developments unfolded such that in four short years those Allied warships left the Bosphorus without initiating even a fraction of the positive changes that Armenians had hoped for. On the contrary, the Armenians’ welcoming and collaboration with the occupying forces, and the related separatism further jeopardized their already fragile existence among the Muslim majority. A new, post-Ottoman Turkey came into existence as a result of the Allies’ indecisiveness and the military resistance Ottoman Muslims waged against foreign occupation and the partition of Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal (later, Atatürk) led this movement that culminated in the abolishment of the Ottoman sultanate and the 1923 declaration of the country as a republic with its capital in Ankara.

The Allies’ evacuation of Constantinople sparked panic among Armenian residents who anticipated that Kemalists would retaliate against local Christians once they captured the city. Terror-stricken, most colleagues of Hayganush Mark and Vahan Toshigian fled the country. Much to the relief of those who chose to or had to stay, what they feared most did not materialize. The Kemalist entry to the city turned out to be a diplomatic affair rather than a violent encounter during which about two thousand Greeks and Armenians and their dependents were expelled for collaborating with the British.20 But those who fled the country were never able to return home; Turkey denied them re-entry and confiscated their property. These Armenians thus joined thousands of dispossessed others scattered around the world as a result of the earlier genocide, trying to build new lives in various places from Buenos Aires to Boston, from Beirut to Bucharest.

Armenians who stayed behind knew all too well that the incoming Kemalist leadership accused them of treason. They also knew all too well that their Muslim neighbors would not want to share the new Turkey with leftover Armenians who had proven disloyal at a moment of acute national existential crisis. In the eyes of the Kemalists, the Armenians’ behavior during the occupation years had indeed proven that the Young Turks had not deported the Armenians without good reason. That this logic rested on a distortion of chronology totally escaped them. Even though Ottoman Armenians had been politically active since the 1870s, and worked for various causes including reform in the Armenian-heavy Ottoman provinces, autonomy, and—for one political party—secession from the empire, after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution all Armenian political parties dropped their demand for separation and publically declared their commitment to remaining part of what they hoped was going to be an Ottoman homeland governed according to liberal, representative constitutionalism.21 But even during the era before the 1908 Revolution it is difficult to say that a separatist agenda had spread among the Ottoman Armenian masses, most of whom remained peasants and artisans until the end. This would change with the Medz Yeghern. In the aftermath of the catastrophe, the survivor communities throughout the world, including in the Ottoman capital, massively supported Armenia’s independence from the Turks who had just tried to annihilate them.

In the Turkish mainstream political imagination this chronology has since been distorted. Even though the putative mass Armenian “betrayal” happened after the Young Turks acted on their plan to eradicate Armenianness, Turkish nationalist narratives have used Armenians’ “collaboration with the enemy” and secessionist agenda during the postwar occupation years as a justification for the 1915 “deportations,” something that had happened before the occupation years. This way of thinking about Armenians as a fifth column continues to dominate Turkish popular national consciousness and is inscribed in Turkish national historiography taught in textbooks. To give just one recent example, in 2014 the famous Turkish novelist Ayşe Kulin told a reporter on live TV (CNN Turk) that “Unlike what the Nazis did to the Jews, we did not butcher Armenians for nothing.”22 This is a summary of the official Turkish position since 1920: we killed Armenians, but with reason, and this does not amount to anything unprecedented or special, and is not genocide.

In 1923, Armenians who were committed to staying put in their homes had to adapt to the new circumstances and quickly. They had to fashion personal and communal strategies in order to survive the hostile environment without giving up their understanding of Armenianness. Fortunately for them, their half a millennium of experience as Ottoman dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule) organized into a millet, a semi-autonomously administered non-Muslim community, equipped them with the necessary institutional, social, and mental repertoires to continue living—even thriving—in the new Turkey. Somewhat like Jews, another historically dispersed people, Armenians were accustomed to living as “second-class citizens,” to use an anachronistic term. Since there was much continuity between the Islamic Ottoman Empire and the secular Turkish Republic, Armenians’ boundary-making mechanisms and protective reflexes were largely transferrable from one context to the other.

Those repertoires that informed how Armenians responded to genocide and the subsequent “minoritization” followed a gendered blueprint: women and men were assigned different roles in the national project (however it may have been formulated) and therefore the consequences were different for male and female Armenians. At the most basic level, these inventories of worldview and habit relied on the Armenian family and the homespace for the continuation of that which was threatened with extinction in the Turkish public space. The two spaces were divided along gendered lines: women as mothers owned the homespace and men, as men, were to operate in the sphere of politics, exchange of ideas, and mixing with non-Armenians. The reproduction of that which made a person Armenian—church-going, language, endogamous marriage practices, choices for charitable and philanthropic activities, socialization practices, memory—what we can summarize as “the Armenian tradition,” had to spring from the homespace whose heart was a mother.

Since the late nineteenth century Armenian feminists, who had been equally invested in the Armenian national project (of improving Armenians, of preserving Armenians, of liberating Armenians), objected to the limiting ways women could be subjects of/for the nation. They demanded that women as Armenians trespass the line dividing the homespace and public space and act in the realm of politics, decision making, and future-planning. Before turning to the parameters of the challenge that feminists faced, it is necessary to see how and why a gendered division of national/communal labor came into existence in the first place. We can then see how gender, the social organization of relations between the sexes and the social regulation of sexual relations, has been key to the survival of Armenianness after major catastrophes.

Notes

1. Her certificate of graduation from the Esayan Armenian School notes Mark’s date of birth as 1882 but her birth year is marked as 1885 on her tombstone (see Figure 27).

2. Bolis, the shortened form of Gosdantinobolis, is the Armenian for Constantinople or Istanbul. Throughout this book, depending on the context, I will use all three names. In general, and in order to emphasize the cosmopolitan outlook of the city, I will refer to it as Constantinople during the 1918–1922 era, when the city was occupied by the Allies. In 1923, as a result of the Turkish War of Independence, the Allies evacuated and the city was “reconquered” by the Turks. After this date, I refer to it as Istanbul, to emphasize its consciously Turkish character. Officially the city’s name was changed to Istanbul with the 1930 Turkish Postal Service Law, a step in the overall campaign to “Turkify” all social, political, and economic life in Turkey. While official Ottoman Turkish correspondence referred to the city as “Konstantiniye,” “Istanbul” had been in use in Ottoman Turkish even before the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453. Armenians had always referred to the city as Bolis regardless of the changing political conditions and official names, and I use it both to emphasize their subjective perspective as well as the continuity of their presence in the city, a core theme of this book.

3. See Figure 27 for Hayganush Mark and Vahan Toshigian’s tombstone. The tombstone mistakenly identifies the last year of Hay Gin as 1932 even though the journal continued until January 1933. Every bibliography or any other kind of source that mentions Hay Gin provides the wrong date.

4. Throughout this book instead of using “Constantinopolitan Armenian” I will use the Armenian translation of the term, Bolsahay, which is the word the main historical actors of this work used to refer to themselves.

5. I borrow Andre Patrick’s definition of elites as “people who have the ability to make themselves heard in the public sphere because they have acquired status, either through gaining wealth and standing from one’s family or through the securing of societal positions deemed important, often gained through the attainment of an education.” It also encompasses people who have the power to make decisions on behalf of their community. Andrew Patrick, “‘These People Know about Us’: A Reconsideration of Attitudes Towards the United States in World War I–Era Greater Syria,” Middle Eastern Studies 50, no. 3 (2014): 397–411. As for the term “identity,” I am aware of Rogers Brubaker and Frederic Cooper’s criticism, but am using it here to mean something more active than what they assume the term can mean. Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper, “Beyond ‘Identity,’Theory and Society 29, no. 1 (2000): 1–47.

6. It should be noted that what is conventionally referred to as the “1915 Armenian genocide” did not neatly end at 1915 or 1916. Many scholars rightfully include in the “genocidal era” the massacres that Armenians experienced during the Kemalist national resistance in the 1919–1922 period. I use the term “post-genocide” because this book also includes the decade after the establishment of modern Turkey. Moreover, the “post-” in front of “genocide” does not mean that the genocide belongs to a bygone era. Given the fact that the Turkish state has continued to reject the use of this term with regard to the “1915 Armenian deportations,” apologize, or pay any kind of reparations, one can legitimately argue that the genocidal effects of the Turkish policies continue up to the present. Many genocide scholars see denialism as the “last stage of genocide.” See, for an example, Israel W. Charny, “The Psychology of Denial of Known Genocides,” in Israel Charny, ed., Genocide: A Critical Bibliographical Review / 2 (New York: Facts on File, 1991), 22–23. Nonetheless, there is a marked difference in the political climate of the post-1918 era that warrants its own study without being included under the umbrella term of “genocide.” It is in this spirit that I use the “post-,” that is, as the aftermath.

7. The issue of how “constructed” the idea of a historical homeland was/is remains unresolved in Armenian historiography. For a recent sample of scholarship that discusses where “the fatherland” was for some Armenians in the early nineteenth century, see Dzovinar Derderian, “Mapping the Fatherland: Artzvi Vaspurakan’s Reforms through the Memory of Past,” in Vahé Tachjian, ed., Ottoman Armenians: Life, Culture, Society, vol. 1 (Berlin: Houshamadyan e.V., 2014), 144–69. Razmik Panossian provides a textbook-like definition: “The historic territory on which the Armenian people lived stretched between the Kur river to the east, the Pontic mountain range to the north, the Euphrates river to the west and the Taurus Mountains to the south.” Razmik Panossian, The Armenians: From Kings and Priests to Merchants and Commissars (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), 34.

8. This is obviously a much more complicated story than depicted here. The historiography on the Armenian genocide is very large. For the most recent work on the topic that provides a good summary, see Ronald Grigor Suny, They Can Live in the Desert But Nowhere Else: A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015). Raymond Kévorkian’s The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History (New York, I. B. Tauris, 2011) is a good reference book in view of its geographical breadth. For a thorough study of the genocide that uses the currently available Ottoman Turkish state archives, see Taner Akçam, Young Turks Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012). For a study that focuses on one region during a longer period of religious and ethnic homogenization, see Uğur Ümit Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913–1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). For a study that focuses on the role of external powers, see Donald Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

9. According to a table prepared by the patriarchate in Istanbul in April 1921, the number of orphaned children who were “slaves in the service of Mesopotamian races that live in the deserts” was 5,800, “orphaned children enslaved among Anatolia’s Turks” numbered 58,000, and women kept in “harems of the Anatolia” numbered more than 50,000. Amenun Daretsuytse 15 (1922): 261–65. This table, which is reproduced in Hikmet Özdemir, Ermeniler: Sürgün ve Göç (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2004), was circulated among American diplomatic circles in the Ottoman Empire (p. 123). Titled “The Number of Armenians in the Boundaries of the Turkish Empire” (pp. 124–26), the table does not include the women in harems. Instead, a separate section notes that the total number provided in the table “does not represent the entire number. Many Armenians had adopted Islam to get rid of the unspeakable crime and of the persecution organized by the Ittihad [the governing Ottoman party]” (p. 126).

10. Thousands of unmarried Armenian men who were born outside of Istanbul but for some reason resided in the city in 1915 and 1916 were also deported. The German archives mention that their numbers reach ten thousand. See Akçam, Young Turks Crime Against Humanity, 401–5.

11. For more on the etymology and historical usage of the term Medz Yeghern, see Vartan Matiossian’s eleven articles in Armenian Weekly (accessible online at http://armenianweekly.com) that began on October 25, 2012, with his “The Birth of ‘Great Calamity’: How ‘Medz Yeghern’ Was Introduced onto the World Stage” and ended on December 16, 2013, with “What I Choose It to Mean: On ‘Yeghern’ as the Armenian Translation of ‘Genocide.’

12. Four Armenian members of the Ottoman parliament (Krikor Zohrab, Hovhannes Serengiulian [Vartkes], Onnik Tertsagian [Vramian], and Stepan Chirajian) and three former Armenian MPs (Nazaret Daghavarian, Hampartsum Boyajian [Murad], Dr. Garabed Pashaian) were among the murdered. For the most recent study, see Nesim Ovadya Izrail, 24 Nisan 1915 İstanbul, Çankırı, Ayaş, Ankara (Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2014).

13. Teotig, Azke Che Meradz yev Anhnar e Vor Merni: Pandi yev Aksori Dariners (Antelias, Lebanon: Gatoghigosutiun Hayots Giligio, 1985), 19–21.

14. In 1919, the population of Istanbul was between one and 1.2 million: 120,000 were Armenian, 380,000 Greek, 45,000 Jewish, and 550,000 Turkish. The number of Armenians was provided by the Armenian patriarch in 1919. Clarence Johnson, Constantinople To-day or, The Pathfinder Survey of Constantinople. A Study in Oriental Social Life (New York: Macmillan, 1922), 18.

15. Zabel Yesayan is a giant of Armenian history and literature and has been studied relatively well. She survived the genocide and settled in Soviet Armenia but fell to Stalin’s purges in the late 1930s. Mari Beylerian, on the other hand, is in near-complete darkness. For a preliminary analysis of her work, see Lerna Ekmekcioglu, “Ardēmis: An Armenian Women’s Journal Published in Egypt, 1902–1904,” Journal of Armenian Studies 8, no. 1 (2004): 11–28.

16. There are numerous but thus far untapped accounts in Armenian memoirs about the war years in Constantinople. For a sample, see Hagop Siruni, Inknagensakragan Noter (Yerevan: Sarkis Khachents, 2006); and Berdjouhi (Barseghian), Jours de Cendres à Istanbul (Paris: Paranthèses, 2004).

17. Anahid Tavitian provides a vivid narrative of how the Armenians in Kınalıada, one of the Prince’s Islands near Istanbul heavily populated by Armenians, celebrated the news of the establishment of the Republic of Armenia in the Caucasus. Anahid Tavitian, Yergu Dziranner (Arvesde yev Engerayin Dzarayutiune) (Beirut: Sipan, 2006), 35–45. Kınalıada, which was also known as Hay Ghghzi (Armenian Island), was distant enough from the center that Armenians could celebrate the news openly. It is likely that Armenians in the city heard the news at mass on Sunday. In her memoir, Anayis (Yevpime Avedisian) narrated how during the first divine liturgy after the establishment of an independent Armenia the priest uttered the name “the Republic of Armenia” (zHanrabedutiunn Hayots), which caused shock waves and barely suppressed cries among the attendants. Anayis [Yevpime Avedisian], Hushers (Paris: n.p., 1949), 242. Soon after the declaration of independence, the new country’s National Council dispatched a mission to Constantinople to negotiate a treaty. The group, composed of Avedis Aharonian (chairperson), Alexander Khadisian, and Mikael Papajanian, arrived in the Ottoman capital in June 1918, and stayed at the luxurious Tokatliyan Hotel, all expenses covered by the Ottoman minister of the interior Talat Pasha, the mastermind of the Armenian genocide. Until their departure in early November, many local Armenians secretly or openly communicated with the members of the commission, especially with Avedis Aharonian, long known to Ottoman Armenians as a masterful novelist and poet. The most detailed description of these interactions is in Dr. Vahram Torkomian’s chronicles serialized in Vem, Hantes Mshaguyti yev Badmutyan, published in Paris. His pieces start in 1936, in Vem’s fifteenth issue, and end in 1938 with the twentieth issue.

18. Initially the city was occupied informally but in March 1920 the occupation was made formal. Greek’s also welcomed the Allied warships and soldiers as depicted in Yorgos Theotokas’s memoir-novel Leonis: Bir Dünyanın Merkezindeki Şehir, 1914–1922 (Istanbul: İstos Yayınları, 2013), 118–35. The Armenian and Greek welcoming of the Allied warships is much exploited in the field as a moment proving Ottoman Christians’ “treachery.” In contrast, the literature assumes that Constantinopolitan Jews’ reception of the Allied forces had been negative. For an new study that shatters this myth, see Devi Mays, “Recounting the Past, Shaping the Future: Ladino Haggadot of the War in Occupied Constantinople,” blog entry at the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, World War I in the Middle East, convened in 2014, https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/world-war-i-in-the-middle-east/seminar-participants/web-projects-2014/devi-mays/.

19. The note reads: “In the face of these fresh crimes committed by Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold all the members of the Ottoman Government, as well as such of their agents as are implicated, personally responsible for such massacres.” As Peter Holquist’s research shows, this note represents the first use of the term “crimes against humanity” in a penal sense even though the term had existed as an expression of opprobrium previously. The note was drafted and initiated by Imperial Russia. Holquist, “‘Crimes against Humanity’: Genealogy of a Concept (1815–1945),” paper presented at the conference “From the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust: The Foundations of Modern Human Rights,” University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, April 2–4, 2015.

20. Alexis Alexandris, The Greek Minority of Istanbul and Greek-Turkish Relations, 1918–1974 (Athens: Center for Asia Minor Studies, 1983), 102.

21. See Bedross Der Matossian, Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014); Gerard J. Libaridian, “What Was Revolutionary about the Armenian Revolutionary Parties in the Ottoman Empire?,” in Ronald Grigor Suny, Fatma Müge Göçek, and Norman M. Naimark, eds., A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 82–112.

22. CNN Turk, February 3, 2014, Enver Aysever’s “Aykırı Sorular.”