Theatres of Violence on the Ottoman Periphery: Exploring the Local Roots of Genocidal Policies in Antep
This article explores how and why deportation and elimination of
the Armenians of Antep were carried out during World War One
(WWI). In particular, it scrutinizes the political and social context in which local authorities, provincial elites, and ordinary Muslims radicalized their views and policies against Armenians. It
highlights the crucial role played by local elites and actors who prospered through acquisition of Armenian property and wealth.
In this respect, the article argues that the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP)’s genocide and deportation decision enjoyed a certain level of social support through the practice of effective
power and control mechanism(s) at the local level.
The Armenians of the Ottoman Empire experienced calamity of the greatest degree during World War One (WWI). Many males, including youths, were executed outright, while the rest – men, women, children, and the elderly – were deported to the barren lands of modern-day Iraq and Syria. Those deported were subjected to every manner of misery – kidnapping, rape, torture, murder, and death from exposure, starvation, and thirst – by every possible adversary, ranking from Ottoman gendarmes, Turkish and Kurdish irre- gulars, and tribespeople to the Ottoman army. Those who escaped deportation, primarily women and children, were forced to convert to Islam, as a Muslim identity was considered a cornerstone of the new nation-state.1 Principally perpetrated by the Committee of Union and Progress (İttihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti; hereafter CUP) elite, which largely controlled the Ottoman government at the time, these events constitute what we now know as the Armenian genocide.
Existing studies demonstrate the relevance of the mass destruction of Armenians within the broader context of world, European, and Ottoman history. This contextualization tells the story of the annihilation of Armenians primarily from the perspective of the perpetra- tors (central political elites) and global political actors (the Great Powers: Britain, France, and Russia) rather than local agents.2 With a few exceptions, the current aforementioned scholarship lacks the focus on the local level or the periphery.3 The existing research also suffers from an important empirical problem: a lack of sources from ethnic groups sub- jected to violence. Some works reconstruct the history of violence solely through the prism of the Ottoman archives, while others rely only on European sources; both are deficient in terms of Armenian sources. Using materials from as many of the involved parties as possible provides us with a better understanding of the factors that led to the eruption of violence in localities and its culmination in the massacres.
The southeastern Ottoman provinces of Greater Cilicia were – much like the rest of the Empire – composed of various ethnic groups. It was the same for the centre of this study, the Antep district within the Aleppo province. Christians and Muslims seemed to live together, while knowing that the latter had the upper hand in an imperial-monarchical structure. Yet, beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Armenians of Antep went through various social, political, socio-cultural, and economic changes. These changes became evident in several areas: the economy, trade, education, and reli- gious institutions. The advancement of Antep’s Armenian population in all these areas altered this imperially hierarchical structure.
Having realized these skewed socio-economic, socio-political, and socio-cultural devel- opments, the Muslim community unsuccessfully attempted to keep pace with the Arme- nians and in doing so generated a sense of inferiority among themselves. This feeling,
David Gaunt, Massacres, Resistance, Protectors: Muslim-Christian Relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I (Piscat- away, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2006); Mark Levene, The Crisis of Genocide, vol. I, Devastation. The European Rimlands 1912–
1938 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), esp. 95–172.
3 For some important local studies, see Hilmar Kaiser, The Extermination of Armenians in the Diarbekir Region (Istanbul: Istanbul Bilgi University Press, 2014); Kaiser, “‘A Scene from the Inferno’: The Armenians of Erzerum and the Genocide,
1915–1916,” in Der Völkermord an den Armeniern und die Shoah: The Armenian Genocide and the Shoah, ed. Hans-Lukas
Kieser and Dominik J. Schaller (Zurich: Chronos, 2001), 129–86; Uğur Ümit Üngör, “Explaining Regional Variations in the
Armenian Genocide,” in World War I and the End of the Ottomans: From the Balkan Wars to the Armenian Genocide, ed. Hans-Lukas Kieser, Kerem Öktem, and Maurus Reinkowski (London: I. B. Tauris, 2015), 241–61; Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913–1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Üngör, “Diyar- bekir (1915–1916): Young Turk Mass Killing at the Provincial Level,” Sciences Po: Mass Violence and Resistance-
Research Network, 25 March 2009, www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/
diyarbekir-1915-1916-young-turk-mass-killings-provincial-level (accessed 9 January 2018); Kevork Yeghia Suakjian, Genocide in Trebizond: A Case Study of Armeno-Turkish Relations during the First World War (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981). The major setback of these studies is the lack of sufficient primary and secondary Armenian materials. But Raymond Kévorkian’s work constitutes an exception in this regard. See Raymond Kévorkian, Le Génocide
des Arméniens (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2006); Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History (London: I. B. Tauris,
4 Tomislav Dulic, Utopias of Nation: Local Mass Killing in Bosnia and Hercegovina, 1941–42 (Uppsala: Uppsala University
Library, 2005); Ann Lee Fujii, Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2009); Victoria M. Esses and Richard A. Vernon, eds., Explaining the Breakdown of Ethnic Relations: Why Neighbors Kill (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008); Wendy Lower, Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). Also see Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey, 105.
combined with the rejection of equality with the Armenians, caused the relatively “harmo- nious coexistence” between the two groups to become antagonistic. Reform programmes also upset many Muslims with their rhetoric of inter-religious equality. The Muslim com- munity’s envy and resentment played a central role in the hate-mongering atmosphere. The aforementioned asymmetries provided an “ideal” background that upset the fragile balance and created a social climate that nurtured the utilization of tools of violence. The momentum of this violence first became evident in 1895 and resurfaced again in
1909, but it was not fully put into action for various reasons.
The Armenians of Antep greatly benefited from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. It gave them greater political power at the expense of Muslims, who previously held con- siderable cultural and political capital. A career in the military, civil service, or politics was no longer off-limits for Armenians. Muslims, representative of the dominant com- ponent of the Empire, had difficulty accepting this new political reality. It is likely that being considered an equal citizen with the “inferior” Armenians angered many Muslims. The Turkish-Muslim community was already jealous of the Armenian minority’s “unjust” economic success and dominance in the mercantile professions of business, trade, and commerce with the Ottoman economy as well as their economic prosperity. Being equal with them at the political and citizenship level further aggravated this feeling of anger, grievance, and resentment. These sentiments hardened ethno-economic identities and resulted in antagonism between the Armenian minority and the dominant Muslim community. Previously ossified ethnic and economic affiliations and the ensuing antagon- ism were amplified further during the Ottoman Empire’s political and economic decline. These groups thought they were being deprived of their ruling nation status and felt degraded.
Finally, in 1915, violence erupted. Unequivocally, local dynamics had a remarkable impact on the application of mass violence in 1915. Given the above-mentioned features and the considerable number of the Armenian population, as well as availability of various sources, particularly Armenian materials, Antep is an ideal candidate for a case study, as it shows the impact of local factors on the development of different implementation pro- cesses of mass violence.
Drawing upon primary sources from Armenian, Ottoman-Turkish, British, and French archives, memoirs, personal papers, and testimonial accounts, this article explores how the process of deportation and destruction of Antep Armenians was carried out. It explains the mass violence inflicted upon Ottoman Armenians in the district of Antep during WWI by scrutinizing the political and social context in which local authorities, provincial elites, and ordinary Muslims radicalized their views and policies against Armenians. As Hilmar Kaiser and Uğur Ü. Üngör successfully did in the case of Diyarbekir, with a particular con- centration on local dynamics and the role of local actors, I will build on their work but with one difference, by using as-yet undiscovered Armenian materials. This enables me to provide a complex picture of the relations not only between central and local actors but also among themselves.
I highlight the crucial role played by the local elites and actors who prospered through the acquisition of Armenian property and wealth. In this respect, I argue that the CUP’s decision to engage in genocide and deportation had a significant level of social support through the practice of effective power and control mechanism(s) at the local level. The sheer scale of actions constituting genocide could not be carried out with a single
order from the central government. Therefore, local/peripheral dynamics played an extre- mely important role in this destruction. As Jan T. Gross eloquently remarks, the partici- pation of the local populations is “a necessary condition to ensure the effectiveness of genocidal policies.”5 The CUP relied to a considerable extent on the cooperation of the local administrations and elites, political institutions, and ordinary citizens in Antep.
Antep in 1914 had an Armenian population that probably numbered somewhere between 36,000 and 40,000 people.6 It is estimated that the number of Armenians deported from the city was approximately 32,000. In the following sections, I will first explain the foundation of the CUP branch in Antep and then draw a general picture of Armenian deportation. Subsequently, I will explore how the deportation process in the city took place and examine the role of provincial notables and local CUP elites in this process.
Antep Branch of the CUP and Its Formation
After the Young Turk Revolution of 23 July 1908, new political currents and empire- wide political changes resonated strongly in Antep. Lieutenant Yahya Bey of the military reserve battalion stationed in the city began organizing meetings with other officials in order to establish the CUP branch. At least eighteen representatives of the city’s Muslim elites took part in its foundation.7 Prominent figures from Antep’s Armenian commu- nity, such as Zenop Bezjian, one of the directors and professors of the Central Turkey (American) College, Hrant Sulahian, and Hovsep Kendirdjian (big land and farm owners), also participated in the foundation of the CUP branch and became active members.8
Although Yahya Bey had founded the branch, he believed it would be more appropriate to have a civilian leader. Therefore, Ali Cenani Bey was elected president. Taşçızâde Abdul- lah Effendi was the vice president.9 Among its permanent members, Bulaşıkzâde Müftü Hacı Arif Effendi (Mufti) was the General Secretary.10 Two other founding members, Rüştü Attaroğlu and Mahmut Çitçi, served on its administrative board.11 Immediately
5 Jan T. Gross with Irena Grudzińska Gross, Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust (New York: Oxford
University Press, 2012), 83.
6 These figures reflect Armenian, British, and French sources. Turkish sources reduce these numbers to 20,000–30,000. Population figures for the Ottoman Empire have always been controversial, and the rich literature for these estimates is
too extensive to list here. See, among others: Yervant Babaian, ed., Badmo’wt’iwnt Ah’nt’abi Hah’o’c [History of Aintab
Armenians], vol. III (Los Angeles, Union of the Armenians of Aintab: April Publishers, 1994), 11–12; Nor Aintab 13 (1972):
33–5; Kemal Karpat, Ottoman Population (1830–1914): Demographic and Social Character (Madison, WI: University of
Madison Press, 1985), 176; Arşiv Belgeleriyle Ermeni Faaliyetleri 1914–1918, vol. 1 (Ankara: Genelkurmay Basımevi,
7 Attendees included Cenanizâde Ali Bey (a deputy from Aintab), Taşçızâde Abdullah Effendi, Tuzcuzâde Hafız Ahmet
Effendi, Ahmet Muhtar Bey, Kethüdazâde Hüseyin Cemil Bey, Bulaşıkzâde Müftü Hacı Arif Effendi, Mahmut Çitçi, Rüştü Attaroğlu, Hacı Hanifizâde Abdullah Effendi, Iztırapzâde Şefik Bey, Cenanizâde Rıza Bey, Nizipli Hacı Mehmet
Effendi, Battal Beyzâde Tahir Bey, Mennazâde Mustafa, Iztırapzâde Celal Kadri Bey, and Daizâde Hasan Sadık Bey. See “Celal Kadri Barlas’ın Dilinden, İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti Nasıl Kuruldu?” Gaziantep’i Tanıtıyoruz 2, no. 2 (1963):
8 Ibid., 16.
9 Ibid. Upon Ali Cenani Bey’s election as the deputy of Aleppo, Taşçızâde Abdullah Effendi became the president of the CUP branch. Ömer Asım Aksoy, “Arkadaşım Faik Taşçıoğlu,” Gaziantep Kültür Dergisi 5, no. 56 (1962): 173. Bibliothèque arménienne Nubar, Paris (hereafter BNu)/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, “The Deportation of Armenians in
10 Gaziantep’i Tanıtıyoruz 3, no. 2 (1968): 3.
11 “Çitçi ve Arsan ailelerinden yetişen On Fikir ve İş adamı,” Gaziantep Kültür Dergisi 8, no. 88/89 (1965): 16–17; Gaziantep
Kültür Dergisi 2, no. 20 (1959): 181.
the new club began to operate vigorously, organizing various conferences, and as part of its activities, founding branches of the nationalist organizations Türk Yurdu (Turkish Home- land) and Türk Gücü (Turkish Power).12 These organizations, and their distinguished mem- bership, legitimized what was to follow. All those named as members of Antep’s CUP branch played pivotal roles in the massive deportation of Armenians and organized plunder, confiscation, and despoliation of their properties in 1915–17. They were the main profiteers of the destruction of the city’s Armenians.
The Deportations Begin
The deportation of Antep Armenians began in early August 1915, which was rather late in comparison to eastern regions. The first incidents broke out in the towns of Dörtyol and Zeitun in the Cilicia region in mid February 1915. Dörtyol, on the shores of the Mediterra- nean Sea, was a critical location in terms of military landings.13 Using the pretext that Armenians were in collaboration with foreign submarines, Cemal Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman Fourth Army, Governor of Greater Syria, and the Minister of the Navy, ordered an operation against the Armenians of Dörtyol, leading to the arrests of 1,600 men.14 After this operation, fighting broke out with Armenian draft dodgers from Zeitun who had taken refuge in the mountains.15 As these clashes continued, in a coded wire dated 26 February 1915, Cemal made a proposal to Minister of Interior Talat to deport Armenian families from these two locations. In his response, dated 2 March, Talat ordered the Armenians to be “sent to the locations that had been set for this purpose,” adding:
It is necessary not only to let develop conditions that might lead to revolution or revolt, but also to act forcefully and speedily in areas where Armenian operations and activities increase, and to extinguish every incident, with effective and definitive methods, together with the local causes that have caused the incident.16
The ﬁrst formal decision for deportation was issued on 8 April 1915, following an exchange of coded telegrams between Enver Pasha (the Minister of War), Talat, and Cemal.17 Essen- tially, it was Cemal Pasha himself who ordered deportation for Zeitun and who dictated to Talat the relevant instructions. Stating in his telegram dated 8 April 1915 to the Interior Minister that the rebels in Zeitun were “harb-i şedid ile kahr [violently suppressed]” and were now “kuzu gibi [like sheep],” Cemal Pasha ordered the deportation of certain families to Konya.18 In order to resolve the Zeitun issue once and for all, he requested more than
12 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 1.
13 Fuat Dündar, Crime of Numbers: The Role of Statistics in the Armenian Question (1878–1918) (New Brunswick, NJ: Trans- action Publishers, 2010), 72.
14 Raymond Kévorkian, “The Extermination of Ottoman Armenians by the Young Turk Regime (1915–1916),” Online Ency- clopedia of Mass Violence, 3 June 2008, https://www.sciencespo.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/ document/extermination-ottoman-armenians-young-turk-regime-1915-1916-Regime (accessed 9 January 2018).
15 Arşiv Belgeleriyle Ermeni Faaliyetleri, 55.
16 Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivleri (hereafter BOA). Dahiliye Nezareti (hereafter DH). Şifre Kalemi (hereafter ŞFR) 50/141, Ministry of Interior/Public Security Directorate (hereafter EUM) to Adana, 2 March 1915; Akçam, Young Turks’ Crime against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univer-
sity Press, 2012), 175.
17 James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–1916: Document Presented to Viscount Grey of Falloden by Viscount Bryce (Princeton, NJ, Gomidas Institute: Taderon Press, 2000), 636.
18 BOA.DH.ŞFR 467/29, 26 March 1331 (8 April 1915). All foreign language sources were translated by the author.
one-third of Zeitun Armenians to be sent to Konya and settled in its Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods.19
In a telegram sent to Enver, Cemal Pasha said, “The transfer to Konya, of those whose residence in Zeitun and Marash is deemed to be harmful, is absolutely necessary,” because “otherwise the enemy’s landing” in this area would “make it necessary to station many troops in this area.”20 The deportations from Zeitun started on 8 April 1915, with the depar- ture of thirty-four Armenian notables and their families.21 These deportations were not carried out for the purpose of extermination; rather, they were strategically motivated and the result of political and military concerns.22 The transition from strategic to genoci- dal deportations occurred during the Van uprising on 19 April 1915. Due to Armenian resistance and the fear of enemy landing in Gallipoli, the final destination of deportations was changed from Konya to quasi-desert areas of Syria on 24 April 1915.23 Because “a col- lective presence” in a place like Konya, where the Armenians of Zeitun and Marash had been exiled, “would after a while lead to a coordination of activities with local Armenians,” orders were issued “not to send other Armenians to that area [Konya] in addition to those sent up now.” Instead, “those, whose expulsion from places like İskenderun, Dörtyol, Adana, Hacin, Zeitun, or Sis [was] deemed necessary” were to be sent to the southeast of Aleppo, as well as Deir ez-Zor and Urfa.24 On the same day, house raids and arrests of leading Armenians began in Istanbul and then spread to other provinces. Including many Hunchak and Dashnak members – as well as cultural, intellectual, educational, and church leaders – these arrestees were sent to central Anatolia, where the majority of them were killed.25
In early May, deportation in the region of Cilicia gained momentum. In fact, on 9 May, orders were sent for the deportation of all Armenians from Zeitun, as well as Furnuz, Kaban, and Alabahçe.26 Meanwhile, Armenian resistance in Van followed by the arrival of the Russian army on 19 May led to the widening of the scope of the deportation.27
Once Van had been controlled by the Russian forces, “the distinction between innocent and ‘guilty’ Armenians was rendered meaningless both ideologically and practically in
20 For the 9 April 1915 coded telegram, see the Archive of Turkish General Staff Directorate of Military History and Stra- tegic Studies (ATASE) cl.2287, ds.32-12, n.1-37, Documents sur les arméniens I, Présidence du conseil direction générale de la presse et de l’information, cited in Dündar, Crime of Numbers, 71–2.
21 Askeri Tarih Belgeleri Dergisi 81 (1982), doc 1823, Cemal Pasha to Enver Pasha, Jerusalem, 10 April 1915, telegram 3108,
cited in Hilmar Kaiser, “Regional Resistance to Central Government Policies: Ahmed Cemal Pasha, the Governors of Aleppo, and Armenian Deportees in the Spring and Summer of 1915,” The Journal of Genocide Research 12, no. 3–4 (2010): 180; The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)/General Records of the Department of State
(RG 59)/867.00/761, Report from United States Consul in Aleppo, J. B. Jackson, to Ambassador Morgenthau, dated
21 April 1915, in United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915–1917, ed. Ara Sarafian (Princeton, NJ: Gomidas Institute, 2004), 10; Kevork A. Sarafian, ed., Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, vol. I (LA: Union of the Armenians of Aintab, 1953), 1019.
22 Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, 80–2.
23 Dündar, Crime of Numbers, 75.
24 BOA.DH.ŞFR 52/93, EUM to Cemal Pasha, 24 April 1915.
25 BOA.DH.ŞFR 52/95, EUM to all governors, 24 April 1915. Two days later, Enver Pasha gave orders to the commanders that all Armenian organizations had to be closed; see ATASE cl.2287, ds.32-12, f. 12-1 in Documents Sur les Armeniens,
v. 1, Presidence du conseil direction generale de la presse et de l’information, 75–87, cited in Dündar, Crime of Numbers,
26 BOA.DH.ŞFR 52/286, coded telegram from EUM to the Provincial District of Marash, 9 May 1915 and also see NA/RG59/
867.4016/95 from Henry Morgenthau American Ambassador, Istanbul to the Secretary of State, 20 July 1915, in United
States Official Records, 98; for the number of Armenians deported from places like Hacin and Dörtyol, see BOA.DH.ŞFR
52/338, EUM to Adana, 12 May 1915.
27 Bryce and Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians, 100.
CUP eyes.”28 For the CUP, the Van rising was a realization of “a prophecy of Armenian treachery.”29 As Türkyılmaz notes, Van was “the site in the Ottoman Empire where the gen- ocidal intent of the Young Turk government first materialized.”30 In the same vein, notable historian Donald Bloxham hints that the “Van episode contributed to the exacerbation of existing CUP policy and the unleashing of its most extreme tendencies.”31 Indeed, in May
1915, the Ottoman government embarked on a deportation policy that would evolve into an empire-wide programme ultimately targeting the Empire’s entire Ottoman Armenian population. On 23 May 1915, new regions were added to the deportation list. According to the list of instructions received by Cemal Pasha, the Armenian population was to be removed from:
(1) The provinces of Erzurum, Van, and Bitlis.
(2) Besides the provinces of Adana, Mersin, Kozan, and Cebel-i Bereket, the population of the cities of Adana, Sis, and Mersin.
(3) The provincial district of Marash, besides the population of the city of Marash.
(4) The town and villages inside the counties of İskenderun, Bilan, Cisr-i Şuğur, and
Antalya, besides the central county of the Aleppo province.32
The large-scale deportations of 24 April 1915 and 23 May 1915 “signified an intensifica- tion of the anti-Armenian measures, escalating in the summer of 1915 into genocidal destruction.”33 On 24 May, As a result of Russian attempt to warn the Ottoman Empire, the Entente (Britain, France, and Russia) issued a declaration “promising to hold Ottoman leaders and officials accountable for atrocities against Christians.”34 Nevertheless, the atrocities intensified still further on the very next day. On 26 May, Talat Pasha requested permission from the Grand Vizier to issue a temporary deportation law.35
This was the “official legal cover for the deportation of Armenians to the Syrian desert.”36 The execution of the deportation programme rested with the Ministry of Interior and especially with the ministry’s İskan-ı Aşair ve Muhacirin Müdüriyeti (Directorate for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants; IAMM). On 21 June, the CUP government issued new orders to deport “all Armenians, without exception” from Trabzon, Diyarbekir, Canik, Sivas, and Ma’muretü’l-aziz.37 However, Antep did not become an “area of displacement” until at
28 Donald Bloxham, “The Armenian Genocide of 1915–1916: Cumulative Radicalization and the Development of a Destruc- tion Policy,” Past and Present, no. 181 (2003): 188.
29 Ibid., 189.
30 Yektan Türkyılmaz, “Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913–1915” (PhD diss., Duke
University, 2011), 23.
31 Bloxham, “The Armenian Genocide of 1915–1916,” 190–1.
32 BOA.DH.ŞFR 53/94 coded telegram from Minister of Interior Talat to the commander of the Imperial Fourth Army, 23
33 Üngör, “Diyarbekir (1915–1916).”
34 Dadrian, History of the Armenian Genocide, 239; Bloxham, “The Armenian Genocide of 1915–1916,” 179–80.
35 Takvim-i Vekayi no. 2189, 19 May 1331 (1 June 1915). The precise name of the law is Vakt-i Seferde İcraat-ı Hükûmete
Karşı Gelenler İçin Cihet-i Askeriyece İttihâz Olunacak Tedâbir Hakkında Muvakkat Kanun (Provisional Law on Steps to be
Taken Militarily Concerning Those Who during Campaigns Oppose the Actions of the Government). Also see Üngör, The
Making of Modern Turkey, 71.
36 Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey, 71.
37 BOA.DH.ŞFR 54/87, 21 June 1915; BOA.DH.ŞFR 54-A/97, 24 July 1915; BOA.DH.ŞFR 54-A/100, 25 July 1915. On 20 July
1915, Talat Pasha asked all governors and mutasarrıfs (district governors) to prepare maps and statistical tables of the ethnic composition of all villages and neighbourhoods. See BOA.DH.ŞFR 54-A/51, 21 July 1915. In the well-known “Black Book of Talat Pasha,” Talat Pasha provided detailed figures for cities in every province and provincial district on the numbers of Armenians. This book was published by Turkish journalist Murat Bardakçı in 2008. See Murat Bardakçı,
least July 1915.38 In fact, in a coded telegram sent by Talat to Cemal Pasha regarding the deportations, Antep Armenians were not specified among other Armenians who would be expelled from Aleppo.39 Yet Antep was ultimately included in the deportation scheme at the end of July.
The Road to Deportations in Antep
In late March 1915, Aleppo Governor Celal Bey reported to Cemal Pasha that some Arme- nians living in the Muslim quarters of Antep were discretely moving their belongings to the Armenian quarters; this news created great concern among the Muslim population, who feared the Armenians could revolt. Cemal informed the Ministry of Interior, which in response ordered the Aleppo province to make the following announcement in Antep on 29 March:
No Armenian shall be allowed tebdil-i mekan [change of place]; those who have done so shall return to their prior neighborhood; the properties, lives, and honor of the population loyal to the Government shall be protected against any attacks, and the slightest assault by the Muslim population against any Armenian, even if they were revolutionaries or rioters, shall be subject to immediate disciplinary action.40
Aram Andonian, an Armenian journalist and intellectual, noted that by taking advantage of the incidents in Zeitun and Marash as early as March and presenting the Armenians of Antep as a harmful element, the leaders of Antep’s CUP – led by Ali Cenani, the parliamen- tary deputy for Antep, Fadıl Bey, the former district governor of Kilis, and Hacı Mustafa Bey, a prominent Kilis notable – repeatedly appealed to Istanbul, hoping to obtain a deporta- tion decision for the Armenians of Antep and Kilis.41 However, Şükrü Bey, the Antep district governor, and Hilmi Bey, the Antep military commander, notiﬁed the central government that there was no valid reason for deportation.42 As a response to Şükrü and Hilmi’s oppo- sition, Ali Cenani, Fadıl, and Hacı Mustafa organized provocations with the assistance of their Marash counterparts.43 They sent telegrams to the central government claiming that Antep Armenians had attacked mosques with weapons, killed Muslims, raped Muslim women, burned down Muslim houses, and plundered their properties.44
Hilmi Bey asked Cemal Pasha to punish the provocateurs, whereas Unionists argued that Hilmi was an Armenian sympathizer.45 Celal Bey reported that this situation
Talat Paşa’nın Evrak-ı Metrukesi: Sadrazam Talat Paşa’nın Özel Arşivinde Bulunan Ermeni Tehciri Konusundaki Belgeler ve
Hususi Yazışmalar (Istanbul: Everest Yayınları, 2008), 76–7, 89–94, 101–4, and 108–45.
38 Arşiv Belgeleriyle Ermeni Faaliyetleri, 152; Azmi Süslü, Ermeniler ve 1915 Tehcir Olayı (Ankara: Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi
Yayınları, 1990), 112.
39 BOA.DH.SFR 53/94, Coded telegram from interior minister Talat to the commander of the Imperial Fourth Army, 23 May
1915; Arşiv Belgeleriyle Ermeni Faaliyetleri, vol. 8 (Ankara: ATASE Yayınları, 2008), 3.
40 BOA.DH.EUM.II.Şube 68/34 and 466/92, Aleppo Governor Celal to Ministry of Interior, 29 March 1915.
41 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 3.
42 Ibid., 3; Krikor Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis [Diary of My Life in Exile], in Tseghasban Turke. Vgayutyunner
Kaghadz Hrashkov Prgvadzneru Zruytsneren [Genocider Turk: Testimonies Composed from the Accounts of Armenians
Who Miraculously Survived] (Beirut: Shirag, 1973), 121–2; Sebuh Aguni, Milion mı Hayeru Charti Badmutyunı [History of the Massacre of One Million Armenians] (Istanbul: H. Asaduryan Vortik, 1920), 310.
43 In fact, Wolffskeel, chief of staff to Fahri Pasha, confirmed that certain circles in Marash sent a blatantly “made up tele- gram” to Istanbul in which they affirmed that the Armenians had “occupied a mosque” and “began to kill the Muslims.”
Hilmar Kaiser, ed., Eberhard Count Wolffskeel Von Reichenberg, Zeitun, Mousa Dagh, Ourfa: Letters on the Armenian Gen-
ocide, Letter to his wife, 24 April 1915 (London: Gomidas Institute, 2004), 14.
44 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 4.
45 Ibid., 4.
caused great panic among Antep Armenians, who, in light of his investigations, feared umumi kıtal (general massacre).46 Upon these developments, Cemal Pasha sent Fahri Pasha, the second in command in the Fourth Army, to Antep in April 1915 so that he could investigate in person. Police searches of the Armenian neighbourhoods failed to provide confirmation of these accusations.47 In fact, the American Consul in Aleppo, Jesse B. Jackson, noted that Fahri Pasha announced to Antep’s leading Muslims, in the presence of Christians, that “if any Muslim frightened Christians [Armenians] or in any way treated them unkindly, he would himself hang him even if the offender were his own brother.”48 He also conversed in a very friendly way with the Christian leaders in the city.
After Fahri left Antep, the situation worsened. Ali Bey, a ranking member of Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa (the Special Organization; SO)49 and bandit leader, was summoned by Ali Cenani and arrived in Antep in late April with a squadron of bandits, who organized plun- ders and committed the first murders outside the city.50 On 30 April 1915, the first raids took place inside the city.51 To obtain the supposed weapons and “harmful” writings, houses of prominent Armenians, including Dashnak and Hunchak members, were raided, but nothing incriminating could be found.52 Nevertheless, many Armenians were arrested. Another wave of house searches was conducted on 1 May, and ten men were arrested and brought before the court-martial in Aleppo.53 Additionally, thirty leading political figures from the Armenian community were sent to Aleppo for interrog- ation. Eighteen were sent back to Antep following their questioning.54 Ultimately, no incri- minating evidence was found, and all were set free. House raids and individual arrests of intellectuals peaked with the collective arrests of 200 people on 12 May.55 Celal Bey helped to release most of those apprehended.56 Some detainees were released on the same day, and others were freed after a few days.57
46 BOA.DH.ŞFR 52/48, Ministry of Interior to Aleppo Province, 20 April 1915; BOA.DH.ŞFR 468/54; BOA.DH.ŞFR.II.Şube 10/
89, 21 April 1915.
47 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 4.
48 NA/RG59/867.00/761, Report from United States consul in Aleppo, J. B. Jackson, to Ambassador Morgenthau, 21 April
1915, in United States Official Records, 12; “Miss Frearson’s Experiences and Observations in Turkey,” The American
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) Papers, 18.104.22.168, 1817–1919, Houghton Library Microfilm Reel
670-7.1.20, Unit 5, Vol. 2, Part 1, 10.
49 The SO officially existed from 13 November 1913 to 30 October 1918. Its operations included “the recruitment, training, and supervision of armed groups tasked with conducting asymmetric warfare to weaken enemy morale and fighting strength.” See Polat Safi, “History in the Trench: The Ottoman Special Organization – Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa Literature,”
Middle Eastern Studies 48, no. 1 (2012): 89. Units of this organization played a role in executing the deportations, boy-
cotts, and massacres directed at Ottoman Christians during WWI. See Ryan Gingeras, Heroin, Organized Crime, and the
Making of Modern Turkey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 38–9.
50 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 5.
51 Ibid., 5; Aguni, Milion mı Hayeru Charti Badmutyunı, 310.
52 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 5.
53 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1020; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 121–2; Nerses Tavukjian, Darabanki
Orakrutyun [Diary of Miserable Days], ed. Toros Toramanian (Beirut: High Type Compugraph – Technopresse, 1991), 66,
69; Aguni, Milion mı Hayeru Charti Badmutyunı, 310; Kevork Barsumian, Badmutyun Aintabi H. H. Dashnaktsutian 1898–
1922 [History of the Antep Armenian Revolutionary Federation 1898–1922] (Aleppo: Tigris, 1957), 49; Kévorkian, The
Armenian Genocide, 606.
54 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 122; NA/RG59/867.4016/95, Henry Morgenthau American Ambassador, Istan- bul to the Secretary of State, 20 July 1915, in United States Official Records, 98.
55 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1020; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 121.
56 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 6.
57 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1020–21.
The Armenians of Antep witnessed the individual and small-scale deportations before their own collective exile. As house raids and police searches continued, they saw the first convoy comprised of 300 women and children from Zeitun pass through the city on 3 May.58 These deportees had suffered greatly on their way to Antep. Some were injured, their wounds infected and their clothes in tatters.59 Miss Frearson, a missionary, noted that Armenians managed to create a relief committee for the deportees. The prin- cipal of the Central Turkey College, Dr Merrill, and Dr Hamilton from the American hospital, along with the hospital’s nurses, also made great efforts to aid the exiles, many of whom – children included – were suffering from serious knife wounds.60 More deportees followed. The US Consul in Aleppo, Jackson, observed:
From Zeitun, 350 families, or about 2,000 persons, have been sent to Marash and from there to Aintab, and are expected to arrive in Aleppo about May 1915, to be sent to Meskené, while about 250 or more families are expected to follow before 20 May to report to the Governor of Aleppo.61
Convoys of deportees from Zeitun, Marash, Elbistan, Gürün, Sivas, and Furnuz ﬁlled Antep until June–July 1915.62 From Antep, they were sent south towards Syria.63 All deportees were in a similar destitute condition. En route, Armenian girls and boys had been kid- napped; women’s belongings and money had been plundered; they had been raped pub- licly with the active complicity of gendarmeries and government ofﬁcials.64 All deportees were kept in the Kavaklık neighbourhood, ﬁfteen minutes from the city centre, near a spring where they had to pay gendarmeries a quarter of mecidiye (ﬁve piasters, the smal- lest denomination of Turkish currency; 1 piaster = 15 pfennigs) per glass of water.65 By bribing these gendarmeries, Antep Armenians tried to supply themselves with food and water. Although they bore witness to this distress, they did not consider the possibility that they could face a similar fate.66 Gulesserian, an eyewitness, described this state of mind in this striking passage:
In spite of everything that was happening around us and in spite of all the facts standing right in front of our eyes, the number of those who buried their head in the sand like an ostrich was not small. These people convinced themselves that they were happy, and they were trying to
58 Ibid., 1019; Sarkis Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı: Ayntab, Kesap, Halep [Hot and Cold Days of My Life: Antep, Kesap, Aleppo] (Aleppo: Atlas, 1983), 54; Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 606.
59 Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 54–5; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 122; Stina Katchadourian, Efronia:
An Armenian Love Story (Princeton, NJ: Gomidas Institute Books, 2001), 126.
60 Report by Miss Frearson, a missionary in Antep, written in September 1915 after her departure from Turkey, in Bryce and Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians, 541–50; James L. Barton, Turkish Atrocities: Statements of American Mission-
aries on the Destruction of Christian Communities in Ottoman Turkey, 1915–1917 (Ann Arbor, MI: Gomidas Institute,
61 NA/RG59/867.4016/72, Jackson to Morgenthau, Aleppo, 12 May 1915, No. 276, in United States Official Records, 41.
62 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 122; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 65; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı,
63 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1019–20.
64 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 9; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 63; Karnig Panian, Goodbye, Antoura: A Memoir of the Armenia Genocide (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015), 39; NA/RG59/867.4016/
80, from Henry Morgenthau American Ambassador, Istanbul to the Secretary of State, 26 June 1915, in United
States Official Records, 68–9.
65 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 9; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 55–6.
66 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1020; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 56.
deceive themselves into believing that a similar deportation was not possible for Aintab and that nothing bad would happen to them.67
Previously, Armenians had relied upon the honesty and kindness of Celal Bey, Şükrü Bey, and Hilmi Bey, hoping to continue to be exempted from the deportations.68 Finally, though, this period of self-deception passed when Cemal Bey, Katib-i Mesul (Responsible Secretary) of the CUP in Aleppo, arrived in late June, accompanied by a few propagandists. The Unionist cadre had apparently embraced the mission of convincing the local notables to repeat their requests for a deportation order. Thus, Cemal Bey succeeded in persuading and encouraging local CUP members and other Muslim leaders to send new slander letters to Istanbul.
On 21 June 1915, Walter Rössler, German consul in Aleppo, reported that Celal Bey would be removed from his post due to his refusal to deport Armenians.69 On 30 June, in a reshuffle of governorships, Bekir Sami Bey became governor of Aleppo, while Celal Bey was appointed governor of Konya.70 On 5 July, Celal left Aleppo. On 17 July, Şükrü Bey informed the Ministry of Interior that no Armenian had harice çıkarılmadı (been deported) from Antep.71 Dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the city, Talat replaced Şükrü with Ahmed Bey on 26 July 1915.72 Around the same time, military commander Hilmi also resigned from his post.73 Ahmed Bey’s appointment to Antep as a district gov- ernor and his close relations with local elites caused a change of attitude towards Arme- nians on the part of various local individuals and groups. During his term in office, he cooperated with these local notables and their allies in the extermination of Armenians. Thus, his newly won allies were able to shape the execution of government orders. In a sense, Ahmed served as an interface between the central authorities and local elites. Extensive reports submitted to the Ministry of Interior by him and other high-ranking offi- cials provide a sound basis for a detailed account of the forced removal and slaughter of Antep Armenians.
On 29 July, a “positive” reply was received from the central government, and Antep was added to the deportation list.74 By the time Ahmed Bey reached the city on 26 August, deportation had already begun. Once they received the news, the local Young
67 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1020.
68 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 7.
69 Auswärtigen Amt - Politisches Archiv, Berlin Konsulat Aleppo, Paket 1, Vol. 1, J. No 1311, Rössler to Embassy, Aleppo, 21
June 1915, telegram 9, cited in Kaiser, “Regional Resistance,” 193; Rössler to Embassy, Aleppo, 21 June 1915, J. No. 3790, AA-PA Konstantinopel 169 telegram 9; Rössler to Embassy, Aleppo, 21 June 1915, J. No. 3799, AA-PA Konstantinopel
169 telegram 10, in Kaiser (in collaboration with Luther and Nancy Eskijian), At the Crossroads of Deir ez-Zor: Death, Survival, and Humanitarian Resistance in Aleppo, 1915–1917 (Princeton, NJ: Gomidas Institute Books, Taderon Press,
70 Kaiser, “Regional Resistance,” 193.
71 BOA.DH.ŞFR 480/53, 17 July 1915.
72 BOA.DH.ŞFR 54A/113, 26 July 1915. Together with Ali Cenani, Ahmed Faik Erner (1879–1967) was the main organizer of the deportation of Armenians from Antep. He played a major role in the liquidation of the movable and immovable properties of Armenians and created a fortune by acquiring those properties. BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 11–3. He was notoriously known for his cruel policies against Antep Armenians. Ahmed Bey was particularly
chosen and trusted by Talat to carry out the deportation in the city. He was appointed Director-General of Police at
Istanbul, replacing Bedri Bey in late May 1916. He stayed in this position until his appointment to Sivas as a governor, see BOA.DH.ŞFR 520/18, 17 May 1916; The National Archives, Public Record Office, Foreign Office Archives 371/6500, “Ahmet Bey,” Malta No. 2724, Interned 02/06/1919, Native of Bursa, Appointments. For detailed information about
Ahmed Bey, see Nermidil Erner Binark, Şakir Paşa Köşkü: Ahmet Bey ve Şakirler (Istanbul: Remzi Kitapevi, 2000);
İhsan Birinci, “Akan Kan Benimdir,” Hayat Tarihi Mecmuası 2, no. 7 (1966): 63–6.
73 Aguni, Milion mı Hayeru Charti Badmutyunı, 310; BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 4.
74 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 7.
Turks held an emergency meeting and prepared the list of Armenians who would be deported.75 On 31 July, in his report to the Imperial Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg, Rössler stated that deportation would be
particularly unjustified and especially hard for the town of Aintab, in which a large percentage of educated and relatively wealthy families live, because urban dwellers are even less used to the hardships of the road than people living in the country.76
Additionally, he underlined that Antep was situated neither in a war zone nor along the military road. Subsequently, he notiﬁed his superiors the next day that the order to deport Armenians from Antep and Kilis “had just been issued.”77 The American represen- tative passed this news along to his ambassador a few days later, adding that the order also applied to Antakya, Alexandretta, and Kesab.78
Meanwhile in Beşgöz, between Antep and Kilis, the people of the village were dis- cussing the fact that deportation was to commence in Antep the next day. After a while, a well-dressed gentleman, by his appearance a Cherkess, wearing partly civilian and partly officer’s clothing, joined the people and inquired from which part of the town people would leave, which road they would take, what kind of people they would be, and what one could possibly pilfer from these people.79 When one of those present asked him if he was a civilian or a member of the military, he grinned slyly and questioned rhetorically, “Is there a more opportune moment to be a soldier than the present one?”80 At the same time, on 29 July, all the prominent members of the Armenian community gathered in CUP Armenian deputy Hrant Sulahian’s house to discuss the deportation decision.81 In this meeting, Dashnaksutiun was rep- resented by Armenag Maksudian, Toros Merjenian, and Arshag Kalusdian; Dikran Sebouh Tchakmakdjian represented Huncakian. Barsumian, a Dashnak supporter, took notes of this meeting:
Our suggestion was that we should defy the order and take up arms; but unfortunately our call was not heeded and in the end we were forced to remain silent … Towards the end, Avedis Kalemkerian82 said that weapons must be taken out of their hiding places and people must get ready to resist. The attendees of the meeting put pressure on him and he had to succumb to their decision.83
75 Ibid., 7.
76 1915-07-31-DE-002, cited in The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915–1916, ed. Wolfang Gust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2014), 276.
77 Telegram from the German consul in Aleppo, Walter Rössler, to the embassy in Istanbul, 30 July 1915, in Archives du
génocide des Arméniens, doc. 125, ed. Johannes Lepsius, 119–20, cited in Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 606–7.
78 Letter from Consul Jackson to Morgenthau, 3 August 1915, in United States Official Records, 169.
79 1915-09-03-DE-002, cited in The Armenian Genocide: Evidence, 351.
80 Ibid., 351.
81 Barsumian, Badmutyun Aintabi H. H. Dashnaktsutian, 49, 204–6; Vahe N. Gulesserian, ed., Hushamadian Avedis Kalem- keriani [The Memoir of Avedis Kalemkerian] (Beirut: Dıbaran Der Sahagian, 1965), 58. In his memoirs, Avedis Kalemker- ian, who was one of the participants in this meeting, gave 28 July as the date of this meeting.
82 Given a vesika (certificate) by Cemal Pasha’s order, Avedis Kalemkerian and his family were safely sent to Damascus.
Cemal Pasha personally knew his father and protected him. On 1 December 1917, Avedis Kalemkerian was hired in a construction factory in Damascus, again by Cemal’s order. He obtained a “military certificate” and worked in this factory until the British occupation of Damascus. In his memoirs, Avedis himself gave credit to Cemal Pasha for his
effort to protect his family from being sent to Deir ez-Zor. Gulesserian, Hushamadian Avedis Kalemkeriani, 58–63,
70; Barsumian, Badmutyun Aintabi H. H. Dashnaktsutian, 49.
83 Barsumian, Badmutyun Aintabi H. H. Dashnaktsutian, 49–50, 204–6. Balabanian attended this meeting and attested Bar- sumian’s remarks; see Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 58.
On 30 July, ﬁfty Armenian families were ordered to leave Antep in the next twenty-four hours,84 and the deportation began on 1 August 1915.85 At ﬁrst, however, only the depor- tation of Orthodox Armenians was decided. The categories of the victims were determined according to their population number. In this regard, Orthodox Armenians were followed by Protestants and Catholics.
Deportation of Orthodox Armenians
At first, only Orthodox Armenians were deported. On 1 August, fifty families (approxi- mately four hundred Armenians)86 departed with light belongings, locking their doors and leaving behind nearly all their assets.87 The first convoy was not given any time to take their money and valuables. According to the instructions, each family was expected to immediately pack a few of their belongings, and they would be allowed to take food, bedding, jars, clothes, and blankets with them.88 The testimony of Yervant Derentz, a sur- vivor from Antep, vividly recollects this very first day of deportation:
Children, elders, were all on the road. Our neighbors, the Turks, were singing from their homes, we could hear them: İt yola bindi … İt yola bindi … İt yola bindi [The dog is on its way … the dog is on its way … the dog is on its way].89
On the same day, rumours started to spread: this exile was only for three or four months; the deported people would be sent to places like Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, and Homs; no one would be managing the convoys; and only individuals suspected of subversive politi- cal activities would be deported.90
The first convoy, consisting primarily of notable and affluent families along with members of the deportation relief committee,91 left the same day for Aleppo, after which it continued on to Hama. Walking in a line, these deportees proceeded to Akça- koyunlu, the railroad station closest to Antep, with their carts, hired camels, and other draught animals. Essentially, Akçakoyunlu was a transition camp for many Armenian deportees. According to the directions of IAMM, they were initially transferred to Aleppo and then distributed to various districts and towns of Syria. At this station, they were housed in tents under close surveillance, only nine hours from the desert area to which they would be sent.92 In charge of the convoy, Mehmet Yasin Bey (Sani Kutluğ) accompanied them from Akçakoyunlu to Aleppo. He was responsible for attacks on depor- tees in Sazgın village and Akçakoyunlu station. After WWI, he escaped to Ankara, joined
84 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1022; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 70; Gulesserian, Hushamadian Avedis
Kalemkeriani, 56; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 58.
85 Different dates are given in memoirs regarding the exact beginning of deportations of Antep Armenians. See BNu/ Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 7; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 122, 126–9; Elie H. Nazarian,
ed., Badmakirk Nazarian Kertasdani (1475–1988) [The History of the Nazarian Family 1475–1988] (Beirut: Zartonk
Press, 1988), 184; Kersam Aharonian, Hushamadian Medz Yegherni [Memoir of the Great Crime] (Beirut: Atlas, 1965),
46; M. Arzumian, Hayasdan, 1914–1917 [Armenian, 1914–1917] (Yerevan: Hayasdan, 1969), 438.
86 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 123; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 71.
87 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1023.
88 Ibid., 924.
89 Interview conducted with Yervant Derentz, USC Shoah Foundation, Visual History Archive Online, Armenian Film
90 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1023; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 122.
91 Report by Miss Frearson, written on 11 April 1918, in Bryce and Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians, 543–4; Boghar- ian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 136.
92 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1026.
Kemalist-nationalist forces, and became a deputy for Antep.93 As this convoy was making its way from the western side of the city, bands – comprised of 400 men and led by Ali Bey, Yasin Bey, and Hacı Fazlızâde Nuri Bey – set off from the east side, intending to assault them in the nearby Sazgın village, where deportees would spend the night. İsmail, nephew of Hacı Fazlızâde Nuri, helped his uncle as chief of bands; Hacı Hamza, mukhtar (village head) of Sazgın village, was the chief of the other bands.94 Fortunately, these bands departed later than the first convoy and missed most deportees. However, they were able to catch Nazaret Manushagian, a member of the municipal council who fell behind the convoy, whom they murdered.95
Two days after the first convoy left the city, another wave of house raids took place. On the grounds that Armenians had connections with people outside the Empire’s borders, many houses and shops were turned upside-down; consequently, seven people were arrested and sent to prisons in Birecik and Aleppo.96 On 7 August, the second convoy of fifty Armenian families was deported. On the same day, bands – this time formed by peasants from the villages of Tılbaşar, Mezra, Kinisli, Kantara, Ekiz Kapı, Bahne Hameyli, and Sazgın – carried out attacks on deportees. They were led by Emin Effendi, the manager of Ziraat Bankası (Agricultural Bank).97 The second convoy was systematically pil- laged by chetes (bands) less than a day’s march from Antep.98 Assigned to protect the deportees, Kurd Hacı Nuri collaborated with these bands and beat Nazar Nazarian, a wealthy Armenian and permanent member of the city council, to death.99 As deportees from this second group were able to take their valuables with them, the attackers looted a huge amount of money and jewellery. On 8 August, the second convoy reached Akçakoyunlu, setting up tents to wait for the train.
Following the departure of the first and second convoys, discrimination against the remaining Armenians prevailed in the city. An Armenian jeweller disappeared, and her body was found in a well a few days later.100 No official investigation was conducted. Two Armenians from Muş and an Armenian from Antep were killed at the mill of deputy Ali Cenani. The politically motivated public prosecutor selected Armenians as sca- pegoats and found them guilty of the crime. Women were raped and then taken to harems in the city. The mukhtar of Antep’s Tılfar village murdered six Armenian children by throw- ing them off a mountain.101 During this time, bands formed by surrounding Kurdish
93 Yasin Kutluğ was also a member of the kuvay-ı milliye (nationalist forces) in Halfeti, a town of Urfa, in April 1920 and played an active role in the war between Antep nationalist forces and French military units in 1920–21. Yasin Kutluğ, “İstiklal Savaşı’ndan Hatıralar,” Gaziantep Halkevi Mecmuası 25 (1940): 12; Başpınar Aylık Edebiyat ve Kültür Mecmuası 31 (1941): 7, 8, 13.
94 Krikor Guerguerian Private Archival Collection, Folder number: 22, File name: Turks (List) Responsible, File no. 46. I
would like to thank Taner Akçam for allowing me to use this collection.
95 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 8; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 71.
96 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1023.
97 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 8; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 123.
98 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 8; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 72; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh
Orerı, 57; NA/RG59/867.4016/148, Letter from the Consul Jackson to Morgenthau, 19 August 1915, in United States Offi- cial Records, 207. In another report to Morgenthau on 3 August 1915, Jackson notes: “Now all Armenians have been
ordered deported from the cities of Aintab, Mardin, Kilis, Antioch, Alexandretta, Kesab, and all the smaller towns in
Aleppo province, estimated at 60,000 persons.” NA/RG59/867.4016/126, Letter from the Consul Jackson to Morgenthau,
3 August 1915, in United States Official Records, 169.
99 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 8; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 123; Tavukjian, Darabanki
100 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 8.
101 Ibid., 9.
villages operated on a regular basis between Antep and Nizip, robbing and murdering all deportees who crossed their path.
Meanwhile, the third convoy departed on 8 August. This convoy was composed of 100 families from the Kayacık and Akyol neighbourhoods.102 Similar to the deportees from pre- vious convoys, these people headed out with carts, camels, and other draught animals early in the morning. After spending the night at Sazgın village, they were led to Akça- koyunlu.103 The fourth convoy was led from Antep on 11 August.104 This convoy consisted of more than 100 families, many of them well-off, from the Kayacık, İbn-i Eyüp, and Kastel Başı neighbourhoods.105 The fifth convoy set off on 13 August.106 This was a convoy of over 120 families (approximately 1,200 people) from Eblahan and Akyol.107 When the fifth convoy arrived in Akçakoyunlu, Krikor Bogharian, one of the deportees in this convoy, described the scene he witnessed in his diary:
The fourth convoy and deportees from other regions were gathered here, waiting for the train. Therefore, our convoy had to wait for these people to be sent away first. We stayed in tents but the heat was scorching; dust and straw were everywhere. We had food to eat but our water was limited … We were waiting for the train. But the train never returned from the East with empty wagons.108
Around 20 August, part of the Young Turk Committee in Antep, upon hearing a false rumour that an armed hoard of Armenians was marching towards the town, wanted to start a panic and call for a massacre.109 On 23 August, the sixth convoy reached Akça- koyunlu.110 There were around 120 Armenian families from Kayacık, the neighbourhood of Surp Asvadzadzin (St. Mary) Church, Eblahan, İbn-i Eyüp, and Kastelbaşı. Unlike other convoys, those who came from Antep included men, women, and children over ten years old.111 From Akçakoyunlu, the ﬁrst two groups were sent to Damascus. The rest were held in a transit camp surrounded by barbed wire while waiting to be loaded into stock cars for transport to Aleppo. These deportees were later sent on foot to the region of Deir ez-Zor.112 Surprisingly, Aleppo Governor Bekir Sami Bey in a telegram to the Ministry of Interior claimed that deportees from Antep, Kilis, and the province’s border regions were sent only to Hama, partly by train and partly overland.113 As of August, to prevent them from ﬂeeing, all Armenians were prohibited from leaving Antep unless a deportation order was issued for them.114
102 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1025; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 72. Kayacık and Akyol were two neighbour- hoods in which the majority of the Armenian population resided.
103 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 123.
104 Ibid., 124.
105 These were neighbourhoods in which most of the Antep Armenians resided.
106 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 124.
107 As in Eblahan, Armenians and Muslims resided together in Akyol. However, the Armenian population was higher in number within this neighbourhood.
108 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 124–5.
109 1915-09-03-DE-002, the Consul in Aleppo to the Imperial Chancellor, cited in The Armenian Genocide: Evidence, 344.
110 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 128.
111 NA/RG59/867.4016/148, Letter from the Consul Jackson to Morgenthau, 19 August 1915, in United States Official
112 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1026; BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 9.
113 BOA.DH.ŞFR 486/7, 29 August 1915.
114 FO 371/4241, Governor of Aleppo to the district governor of Antep dated 21 August 1915, No. 4410, Code No. 25.
Deportation of Catholic and Protestant Armenians
On 3 August 1915, Talat Pasha ordered that Protestants and Catholics be exempted from deportations. A week later, he annulled the exemption for Armenian Catholics in Adana and Aleppo provinces and ordered their deportation.115 However, with a general and secret regulation dated 19 August, Catholics and Protestants were again exempted from deportation. This regulation also stated that they would be deported if they behaved sus- piciously or if they lived in areas with very high concentrations of Armenians.116 These exemptions were invariably cases of placating Western powers. Both the initial exemption order of 3 August and this subsequent reinstatement resulted from German and Austrian pressure combined with international public opinion.117 Nonetheless, these groups were also deported.118 As of 24 August, the population of Protestant Armenians in Antep was approximately 5,100119 and that of Catholic Armenians around 340–370.120 The new dis- trict governor, Ahmed Bey, launched the deportation process for Catholic and Protestant Armenians immediately after his arrival on 29 August. He was “a harsh man who spread terror all around” and held “radical opinions towards Armenians.”121 It was during his term that the route of the deportation was changed from Aleppo–Hama–Hauran to Meskené–Deir ez-Zor.122
According to Talat Pasha, Antep was still the centre of activity for Armenians, referred to as “Little Armenia” and considered to present a serious threat.123 Thus, the deportation of Catholic and Protestant Armenians was also deemed necessary.124
Only after the Orthodox Armenians were expelled did the authorities issue the order, on 19 September, to deport a few hundred Catholics from Antep, which consti- tuted a significant percentage of the small community. On the same day, another announcement was made:
(i) No Armenians shall stay in Aintab;
(ii) Among Protestants, only the notified shall leave, i.e. those with a Protestant husband or an Armenian wife shall stay. Those with an Armenian husband or a Protestant wife shall leave;
(iii) Vesika [certificate] holders who are exempt from deportation must have them approved;
(iv) Those issued with a deportation order but still remaining in Aintab shall be deported; (v) The government shall only help the poor.125
115 Kaiser, “Regional Resistance,” 200.
116 BOA.DH.ŞFR 55-A/23, 2 September 1915. See also BOA.DH.EUM.V.Şube 15/19, 14 July 1915 and BOA.DH.ŞFR 55/92, 29
August 1915. This telegram reports: “Protestant and Catholic Armenians are not to be deported.”
117 Akçam noted that orders to the provinces that “they [Catholic and Protestant Armenians] not be touched were pro- duced for German consumption and quickly rescinded by follow-up cables.” Akçam, Young Turks’ Crime against Human-
118 For example, this was the case in Erzurum, where Catholic and Protestant Armenians were also deported soon after the main body of Apostolic Armenians were sent away. See BOA.DH.EUM.II.Şube 10/23, 6 L 1333 (18 August 1915).
119 BOA.DH.ŞFR 485/48 and BOA.DH.EUM.II.Şube 73/18, 11, Aleppo Governor Bekir Sami Bey to Ministry of Interior, 24
120 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1026; BOA.DH.EUM.II.Şube 73/69, 17 Kanunuevvel 1331 (30 December 1915).
121 Katchadourian, Efronia, 131; BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 9.
122 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 125; BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 5.
123 BOA.DH.ŞFR 488/33, 8 September 1915.
124 BOA.DH.ŞFR 55-A/174, 9 September 1915.
125 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1026.
The implicit addressee of this announcement was the Catholic Armenian community and its leader, Der Vartan Vartabed Baghchedjian. In late September 1915, Father Vartan and his community were taken to Akçakoyunlu. At the station, Father Vartan was visited by a delegation of Armenian Catholics from Aleppo. The delegation hoped to take him to Aleppo, but he refused to leave with them, saying, “I set off with my congrega- tion and I will accompany them to death.”126 A report sent by American Consul Jackson in Aleppo to Henry Morgenthau, American Ambassador in Istanbul, on 29 September noted:
In Aintab, before the deportation, there were seventy-five Catholic families; after the deporta- tion there were none! Twenty of them were located in Aleppo; fifty-five in Bab. The situation of Catholic Armenians in Aleppo was fair, whereas in Bab, it was miserable.127
Eventually, all of Antep’s Catholic Armenians were sent to Deir ez-Zor.
By late September, three-quarters of the Armenian population had been deported.128
After the official announcement of Protestants’ exemption from deportation,129 the majority of the Protestant community carried on with their normal lives. They even held a thanksgiving service, at which a Protestant Armenian leader stated:
Now that we are permitted to stay in our city we must be very careful to give no occasion of complaint to the Government. If they ask for our sons as soldiers, we must give them up without murmuring; if for money, or goods, or clothing for the soldiers, let us give as if we appreciated the privilege of staying in our homes. Let us show them that we are loyal to the country. Let no one take into his home a child or any one else who has been told to go, whether they be of those passing through the city as refugees or from among our own friends and relatives in the town. Let us show to the Government that we will do all that is
asked of us.130
However, in early October, Ahmed Bey and his henchmen organized raids on Protestant houses and made numerous arrests.131 This entire process gradually weakened Protestant Armenians’ belief that they would not be deported. Around mid October, he mobilized the remaining Armenian men between the ages of sixteen and twenty and assigned them to a labour battalion that was put to work on the Bagdadbahn (Baghdad railway) construction site in Rajo.132 He had eight Armenian young men executed in the town square on the grounds that they were involved in “perﬁdious activities” against the government.133 It became apparent that he enjoyed a remarkable degree of freedom of action in executing central government orders.
On 20 November, Protestant pastors were arrested and house raids increased.134 All
coffeehouses and other places where people congregated were shuttered and a curfew
126 Ibid., 1026–7; A. Gesar, Aintabi Koyamardı [Antep Self-Defence] (Boston, MA: Hayrenik, 1945), 26–9; Bogharian, Orakru- tyun Darakiri Gyankis, 125; Aguni, Milion mı Hayeru Charti Badmutyunı, 311.
127 NA/RG59/867.4016/219, 29 September 1915, in United States Official Records, 314.
128 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1027.
129 On 15 August 1915, the Ministry of Interior requested data on the number of deported and remaining Armenian Pro- testants. Osmanlı Belgelerinde Ermeniler (1915–1920) (Ankara: BOA Yayınları, 1995), 75–6; BOA.DH.ŞFR 55/20, 15 August
130 “Miss Frearson’s Experiences and Observations in Turkey,” ABCFM 22.214.171.124, 1817–1919, Houghton Library Microfilm Reel
670-7.1.17, Unit 5, Vol. 2, Part 1, 7.
131 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1028; Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 125; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh
132 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1028.
133 Harutun H. Nazarian, Yeghernen Verabroghi Husher [Memoir of a Survivor of the Genocide] (Aleppo, 2009), 14.
134 Hay Aintab 7 (1966): 32.
was imposed.135 Circumstances deteriorated further when Colonel Galib Bey, commander of a military reserve battalion from Urfa, arrived in Antep on 30 November.136 After meeting with Ahmed, he gathered Armenians around the Armenian cemetery and kept them there.137 Central Turkey College was emptied on 2 December.138 Positioning armed troops and cannons to elevated vantages in Antep, he ordered his soldiers to deci- mate the Armenian neighbourhoods that were still inhabited.139 Galib held certain Antep Armenians responsible for the October Armenian rebellions in Urfa and aimed to use this as a pretext for the deportation of Protestant Armenians. However, Askerlik Şubesi Reisi (Draft Office President) Yusuf Effendi, military commander Osman Bey, and Mayor Sheik Mustafa Effendi disagreed with Galib Bey’s plan.140
Despite this disagreement, on 15 December, the officers registered the names of Arme- nian Protestants who would be deported.141 On 19 December, the first convoy was sent via Akçakoyunlu to Deir ez-Zor.142 It was followed by the second, third, and fourth convoys, lasting until 23 December.143 Antep’s Protestants had ample time to learn what deportation to Deir ez-Zor meant and did not hesitate to mobilize all their means to be deported through the Homs–Hama–Damascus route instead.144 On 24 December, it was announced that deportations would be suspended until 1 January 1916 because of Christmas.145 They recommenced on 4 January when the fifth convoy was sent away.146 Of 600 Protestant families in Antep, 200 were deported, the majority of whom were annihilated in Deir ez-Zor.147 In toto, the number of Antep Armenians who had been exiled exceeded 20,000 by January 1916.148 Appointed to the post of Director- General of Police in Istanbul, Ahmed left Antep on 23 March 1916. Talat promoted him due to his “success” in deporting Antep’s Armenians.149
The extermination of Antep Armenians was carried out with the active participation and strong support of Muslim local elites. They helped to create the “necessary” socio-political atmosphere to convince central authorities and facilitate the deportation of Armenians. The prospect of obtaining Armenian riches was one of the key factors that prompted them to take part in this genocidal process. During 1915, these elites propagandized against Armenians, presenting them spuriously as a rebellious threat. Once the
135 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1030.
136 Hay Aintab 7 (1966): 32.
137 Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 73.
138 Hay Aintab 7 (1966): 32.
139 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1033; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 73.
140 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1033.
141 Hay Aintab 7 (1966): 34.
142 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 1035; Balabanian, Gyankis Dak u Bagh Orerı, 73.
143 Hay Aintab 7 (1966): 35.
144 Report by Miss Frearson, written on 11 April 1918, in Bryce and Toynbee, The Treatment of Armenians, 546–9.
145 Hay Aintab 7 (1966): 35.
146 Yervant Kuchukian, Haryur Jam Ayntabi: Husher yev Dıbaivorutyunner [100 Hours in Antep: Memories and Impressions] (Beirut: Shirag, 1958), 21.
147 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 548, 552. Sarafian stated that out of 5,500 Protestants in Antep, 2,450 survived.
148 BOA.DH.EUM.II.Şube 73/73, Governor-General of Aleppo Mustafa Abdülhalik Bey to the Ministry of Interior, 10 January
149 BOA.DH.ŞFR 520/18, 17 May 1916. Before being appointed to Istanbul, Ahmed Bey was recommended to Cemal Pasha by Talat for the position of Assistant Governor of Syria province. BOA.DH.ŞFR 62/190 and 62/194, 1 April 1916.
deportations began, local elites were well positioned to appropriate Armenian goods, properties, and businesses either directly or – via the good offices of the abandoned prop- erty commissions and liquidation commissions – indirectly through the state. The CUP functionaries of Antep, including Ali Cenani, Ahmed Bey, and Müftüzade Arif Effendi, people in good standing with them, and war veterans were those most likely to receive monies, businesses, and properties, or lease them for nominal fees.150
It is important to underscore that the deportations organized in Aintab were supervised by a Sevkiyat Komisyonu (Deportation Committee), presided over by the district governor Ahmed Bey. In the Deportation Committee, every branch of respectable Aintab society was represented: the district’s parliamentary deputy and his brother; the head of the pro- vincial cabinet and a local prefect; a variety of municipal officials, including the president of the municipality; its financial officers, including the head of its treasury, two officials in the tax department, and two secretaries in the finance department; a census officer; two judges, a magistrate, and the first secretary of the court. Law enforcement was also pro- minent, including two gendarmerie commanders, a sergeant in the gendarmerie, two police lieutenants, and a prison warden. The military was there, including a regimental commander, a member of the general staff, a regimental secretary, and the commander of a chete squadron of 400, along with several religious leaders – a former mufti, two imams, two ulema, two sheikhs, and the secretary of a religious charity. A physician, a lawyer, the director of an orphanage, and the director of the agricultural bank, as well
as local leaders of the CUP, were also on its rolls.151
The list points to the breadth of social support that underpinned the regime’s genocidal policies in Antep. Perhaps more importantly, men such as these legitimized the process of genocide. No member of these local worthies did anything to protest the deportations, hide the vulnerable, or stop the convoys. Many of them benefitted enormously from the deportations and expropriations. There were 6,000 residential homes and 7,000 parcels of land that belonged to Antep Armenians.152 It is possible to divide seized landed properties into four categories: (1) major immovable properties of the wealthy families,153 (2) middle- or second-class immovable assets,154 (3) public properties, and (4) national properties or properties owned by religious institutions.
Families in the first category had numerous properties in and outside of Antep, includ- ing villages, farms, pistachio groves, fruit orchards, fields, vineyards, inns, coffeehouses, houses, shops, and watermills. In the second category, people owned relatively smaller properties such as fruit orchards, fields, lands, inns, hotels, and shops. In the third category, there were 700 Armenian families. One hundred of these families did not own a house; they had landlords or lived with other people. The remaining 600 families resided in
150 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 11–7.
151 For the full list of names of those who were responsible for deportations and plunder in Aintab in 1915–17, see BNu/ Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 11–7; and Krikor Guerguerian Private Archival Collection, Folder number: 22, File name: Turks (List) Responsible, File no. 46. Also see Aguni, Milion mı Hayeru Charti Badmutyunı, 312; Kévorkian, The
Armenian Genocide, 609.
152 Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 928.
153 Some Armenians who fell under this category were Hanna Kurkjian and his children; brothers Nigoghos, Harutyun, and
Garabed Nazaretian; Hovsep and Minas Kendirdjian; Garabed Barsumian and his children; Adour Niziblian; and Bedros
Aschjian. Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 927–8.
154 In the second category, there were Kalusd Ghazarian and his sons, Avedis Parseghian, Hovhannes Jebejian, Sarkis Krajian, Garuj Karamanougian and his sons, the Matossian brothers, the Khachaturian brothers, and the Birecikliian brothers. Sarafian, Badmutyun Aintabi Hayots, 927–8.
their own houses. Among them, there were also low-income families who possessed two to five orchards. The properties within the fourth category belonged to Surp Asvadzadzin and other churches. These included buildings surrounding these churches, twenty-five shops, two mills owned by Armenian Catholics and Protestants, the library, which bore the name of Niziblian, a coffeehouse, the Millet Inn building (as well as several other inns), and the buildings of the Vartanian, Atenagan (along with six shops inside), Nersesian, Haygazian, Hayganushian (seminary), and Cilicia Tchemaran schools.155
All these estates were transferred to aforementioned perpetrators through liquidation, expropriation, and confiscation. In the overall process, the function of appropriation was as important as the individual purposes; huge numbers of people were bound together in a circle of profit that was at the same time a circle of complicity.
The Armenians of Cilicia, in general, and Antep, in particular, were deported to three places. The first group was sent to the Deir ez-Zor region in the Syrian desert; very few sur- vived. The second group was sent to the region of Hama, Homs, and Salamiyya, located in the central part of the Syrian desert. Except for very young and old deportees, the majority survived thanks to local Arabs. The third group was sent to the region of Jebel Druz and the desert areas of Jordan, and most survived.156
The exact number of deportees, the total death toll, and the number of survivors for Antep are not known. However, it is estimated that the number of deported Armenians from the city was approximately 32,000, with 20,000 perishing as a result of genocide157 and 12,000 surviving.158 Those deported via the Homs–Hama–Damascus route were more likely to survive as the majority were converted to Islam.159 A great number of Antep Armenians, mostly Orthodox, were deported to Salamiyya, a district of Syria pro- vince in the southeast of Hama, where – thanks to the efforts of district governor Necmed- din Bey160 – a large number were able to survive.161 As far as the organizational character and the role of the actors in the deportation process are concerned, it is clear that close coordination and collaboration between central authorities and various local actors existed in Antep. In fact, administrative, political, local, and civilian agents acted far more efficiently than the central authority. In this regard, Antep can be seen as a micro- cosm in the unfolding of the CUP’s genocidal policies. Without enormous efforts made by these diverse local actors, it would have been impossible for the central CUP to carry out the expulsion of Antep Armenians and their ultimate dispossession.
155 Ibid., 928–9.
156 Yervant Babaian, ed., Pages from My Diary/Archpriest Der Nerses Babaian (Los Angeles: Abril Publishing, 2000), vi.
157 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 20. According to missionary reports, there were about 20,000 Armenians in Antep “who were exiled, and about 10,000 were drafted, so that the population of the city is about 30,000 less than it used to be; but in place of them we have about 12,000 refugees, women and children, who are entirely dependent on
relief.” ABCFM 126.96.36.199, 1817–1919, Houghton Library Microfilm Reel 667, Unit 5, Vol. 2, Part 1, No. 274.
158 BNu/Fonds A. Andonian, P.J. 1/3, file 4, Antep, 20. According to a report prepared and sent by Admiral Bristol to the United States Secretary of State immediately after WWI, the number of Armenians who were not deported from Antep was 12,000. NARA 860J.01/341 cited in Kemal Çiçek, Ermenilerin Zorunlu Göçü (1915–1917) (Ankara: TTK, 2000), 194.
159 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 139, 186, 189, 191, 192; Tavukjian, Darabanki Orakrutyun, 141, 148, 178.
160 See Ümit Kurt, “The Curious Case of Ahmed Necmeddin Bey: A Look into the Sociopolitical Climate in Aintab on the Eve of 1915,” Middle Eastern Studies 52, no. 5 (2016): 804–24.
161 Bogharian, Orakrutyun Darakiri Gyankis, 154–5.
Respectable Antep Muslims acted eagerly on the deportation orders, encouraged by the prospect of material gain. Such prospects led even administrators, politicians, and civi- lian leaders to engage pragmatically in the eradication of Armenians, more actively even than the central authorities. Motivated by their anticipation of benefitting from a regime of plunder made “legal,” one where the “liquidated” property of the Armenians would be up for grabs, many of Antep’s citizenry not only moved into their vacant houses and aban- doned businesses, but were willing to collaborate and even assumed a direct role in the deportation and annihilation of Armenians.
As this article clearly shows, the Armenian genocide was much more complicated than the outcome of a simple top-down decision-making process in which the CUP leadership assigned, enforced, and oversaw exterminationist policies while local Muslims acted as passive, indifferent bystanders. The relationship between the central power and regional/local authorities was not only one-directional and hierarchical; regional offices and the central authority mutually influenced each other. Following this conceptual frame- work, it can be claimed that the Armenian genocide was a top-down process as much as it was led from the bottom up with a multitude of multifaceted relations between the central power and local authorities. Beyond any doubt, genocide and plunder were centrally planned, yet mass participation arose primarily from local incentives and motives. Such a mass-scale event could hardly happen without local support to carry out the orders. In this respect, the general paradigm in the relevant literature, which has approached the localities as passive agents of the Ottoman centre, demands revision.
My thanks go to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation of Armenian Studies and the National Associ- ation for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) for providing a scholarship to support this research. I am also grateful to Margaret Anderson, Philip Dwyer, Owen Miller, Uğur Z. Peçe, Yektan Türkyılmaz, Emre Can Dağlıoğlu, Marc Mamigonian, Donald Bloxham, Dirk Moses, Edhem Eldem, Hans-Lukas Kieser, Oğuz Alyanak, Cathie Carmichael, and the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Journal of Genocide Research for their valuable comments and succinct criticisms.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.
Notes on Contributor
Ümit Kurt earned his PhD in history at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University in 2016. He is Polonsky Fellow in the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. Dr Kurt is engaged in his work with examining transfer of Armenian wealth, transformation of space, elite-making pro- cesses, ordinary perpetrators, collective violence, microhistories, inter-ethnic conflicts, the Armenian genocide, and early modern Turkish nationalism. He has taught at Clark University, Fresno State Uni- versity, and Sabancı University. He was the recipient of a prestigious Armenian Studies Scholarship Award from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow in 2016–17 at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He is the author of The Great, Hopeless Turkish Race: Fundamentals of Turkish Nationalism in the Turkish Homeland, 1911-1916 (İletişim Publishing House, 2012) and co-author of The Spirit of the Laws: The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide (Berghahn Books, 2015).