Andonian was born in Constantinople. There he edited the Armenian journals Luys (Light) and Dzaghik (Flower) and the newspaper Surhandak (Herald). Andonian then went on to serve in the department of military censorship of the Ottoman Empire. He was arrested by order of interior minister Talat Pasha of the Ottoman Empire on the eve of April 24, 1915 and joined the large number of Armenian notables who were deported from the Ottoman capital. Andonian was deported to Chankiri, then, halfway there, returned to Ankara and was deported again to the camps in the Ra's al-'Ayn and Meskene. However, Andonian survived in Aleppo in the underground. When British forces occupied Aleppo, a lower-level Turkish official, Naim Bey collaborated with Aram Andonian in publishing his memoirs, an account of the deportation of the Armenians. The Memoirs of Naim Bey were published in 1920, and are sometimes referred to as the "Andonian Telegrams" or the "Talat Pasha Telegrams." The telegrams are purported to constitute direct evidence that the Armenian Genocide of 1915–1917 was state policy of the Ottoman Empire. They were introduced as evidence in the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian.
From 1928-1951 Andonian directed the Nubarian Library in Paris, and succeeded in hiding and saving most of the collection during the German occupation of Paris.
He is the author of a Complete Illustrated History of the Balkan War (Vol. 1-4, 1912–1913), published originally in Armenian.
Aram Andonian himself acknowledged some validity to the critiques of his book. In a letter sent on July 26, 1937, mentioning the criticism of former German consul in Aleppo Walter Rössler, who wrote "I believe that the author is not capable of being objective; be is carried away by his passion", Andonian said that "my book was not a historical one, but rather aiming at propaganda. Naturally, my books could not have been spared the errors characteristic of publication of this nature [...] I would also like to point out that the Armenian Bureau in London, and the National Armenian Delegation in Paris, behaved somewhat cavalierly with my manuscript, for the needs of the cause they were defending."
Historian Taner Akcam mentions similarities between the telegrams published by Andonian to extant Ottoman documents.
Turkish authors Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca have released their work The Talaât Pasha "telegrams" : Historical fact or Armenian fiction? in 1983. The conclusion of the problems with these documents is given by Orel/Yuca with the following results:
- The signature of Mustafa Abdülhalik Bey (the governor of Aleppo) does not jibe with actual specimens of the governor's signature.
- There are date mistakes as result of lack of knowledge of the differences between the Ottoman and European calendar. These errors destroy the system of dates and reference numbers that were used by the draftsman of the documents for his documents.
- The dates and reference numbers that are found in the Ottoman ministry of the interior's registers of outgoing ciphered telegrams reveals that the reference numbers used on Andonian's documents bear no relationship to the actual reference numbers used on ciphered telegrams sent from Constantinople to Aleppo in the period in question.
- All but two documents are written on plain paper with none of the signs found on the official paper used by the Ottoman government during World War I.
- There are mistakes in grammar and languages that only a non-Turkish writer would make.
- Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca devote an entire chapter to 70 other documents, reproduced from Ottoman archives and translated, to show the absence of genocidal intention.
- Furthermore, Orel/Yuca could not find the name of Naim Bey neither in various official registers nor any reference to such a person. They conclude "it seems impossible to make a definite judgement on the question of whether or not Naim Bey was an actual person. If not a fictitious person created by Andonian, he clearly must have been a very low-ranking official, who could not have been in a position to have access to documents of a secret and sensitive nature.
This opinion is shared by Dutch professor Erik-Jan Zürcher, Zürcher does however point to many other corroborating documents supporting the Andonian Telegrams assertion of core involvement and premeditation of the killing by the central CUP members. The opinion about the spuriousness of the Andonian documents is also shared by Paul Dumont, professor of Turkish studies at Strasbourg University and director of French Institute of Anatolian Studies from 1999 to 2003, who says that "the authenticity of the alleged telegrams of Ottoman government, ordering the destruction of Armenians is today seriously contested"; by Michael M. Gunter who calls the documents "notorious forgeries"; by Bernard Lewis, who classifies the "Talat Pasha telegrams" among the "celebrated historical fabrications", on the same level than The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; by Andrew Mango who speaks of "telegrams dubiously attributed to the Ottoman wartime Minister of the Interior, Talat Pasha".; by Jeremy Salt, who describes the documents as "the most notorious" of "forgeries [...] produced with the intention of proving what could not otherwise be proved"; by Norman Stone, who calls the Naim-Andonian book "a forgery"; and by Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at Collège de France, who considers the documents as "nothing but fakes".
Other scholars have at least raised questions about the documents. Christopher J. Walker has argued in 1997 that "doubts must remain until and unless the documents or similar ones themselves resurface and are published in a critical edition". Austrian scholar Wolfdieter Bihl has called them "controversial". Guenter Lewy writes that "the demonization of Talat Pasha in Andonian's work, it should be noted, represents an important change from the way in which many Armenians regarded Talat Pasha character before 1915", and that "the controversy over the authenticity of the Naim-Andonian documents will only be resolved through the discovery and publication of relevant Ottoman documents, and this may never come to pass". Lewy argues that "until then Orel and Yuca's painstaking analysis of these documents has raised enough questions about their genuineness as to make any use of them in a serious scholarly work unacceptable". According to David B. MacDonald, Lewy is content to rely on the work of "Turkish deniers Sinasi Orel and Sureyya Yuca": "Lewy's conception of shaky pillars echoes the work of Holocaust deniers, who also see Holocaust history resting on pillars... This is a dangerous proposition, because it assumes from the start that genocide scholarship rests on lies which can easily be disproved once a deeper examination of the historical 'truth' is undertaken".
Historian Vahakn N. Dadrian has argued in 1986 that the points brought forth by Turkish historians are misleading and has countered the discrepancies they have raised. Others (Niall Ferguson, Richard Albrecht, etc.) who support Dadrian's thesis also point to the fact that the court did not question the authenticity of the telegrams in 1921–which, however, were not introduced as evidence in court–and that the British had also intercepted numerous telegrams which directly "incriminated exchanges between Talaat and other Turkish officials", and that "one of the leading scientific experts, the US-scholar Vahakn N. Dadrian, in 1986, verified the documents as authentic telegrams send out by [...] Talat Pasha".
V. Dadrian's analysis was criticized as misleading by Michael M. Gunter and Guenter Lewy. Guenter Lewy added later:
|“||"the alleged thirty-one telegrams of Talât Pasha contained in the Naim-Andonian volume, some of which order the killing of all Armenians, are rejected as crude forgeries not only by Turkish historians but also by almost all Western students of Ottoman history. Hilmar Kaiser, cited by Dadrian and the one exception to this rule, did say documents from the Ottoman Ministry of the Interior 'confirm to some degree' two telegrams, but he concluded that "further research on the ‘Naim-Andonian' documents is necessary. [...] Hilmar Kaiser, on whom Dadrian relies for his defense, has drawn attention to "misleading quotations" and the 'selective use of sources' in Dadrian's work, and he has concluded that 'serious scholars should be cautioned against accepting all of Dadrian's statements at face value.'"||”|
Norman Stone argued:
|“||"However, the chief Turkish ally of the Armenian diaspora historians, Taner Akçam, remarks that “there are important grounds for considering these documents fake” (see his Turkish National Identity and the Armenian Question, note 8, p 119, Istanbul, 1992). There are, too: the paper, the dating, the calligraphy, the signature of the governor, the absence of any back-up copies in the archives, and the refusal of British and German lawyers to use them. Dadrian had a wonderful time trying to salvage the documents, and I vastly admired the prestidigitation involved – for instance, if the paper was of the type used in French schools, and not the type used in government offices, this can be explained by the paper shortage, he says. But if he cannot convince his major ally, who knows the Ottoman documents, well, there we are."||”|
Michael M. Gunter wrote:
|“||"Although Dadrian had the audacity to argue incongruously that “the presence and easy detection of such defects in the material under review militate against that charge [of forgery]” (p. 176), common sense would seem to argue the opposite. The manifest inconsistencies in the Naim-Andonian documents indicate that they are likely forgeries. Indeed, in all fairness to the Armenian position in the hoary controversy over whether the Ottomans intended to commit genocide against them, one would think that the Armenians and their supporters could come up with a better smoking pistol."||”|
- Shirvanzade (biography of Alexander Shirvanzade), Constantinople, 1911.
- Badkerazard endardzak batmutiun Balkanean baderazmin, 5 vols., Constantinople 1912 (Complete Illustrated History of the Balkan War; a Turkish edition came out recently at Aras Yayincilik).
- Ayn sev orerun (Reminiscences of the Armenian Genocide), Boston 1919.
- The Memoirs of Naim Bey, London 1920.
- A Crime of Silence: The Armenian Genocide, by Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, Gerard J. Libaridian, 1985, p. 123.
- The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, by Richard G. Hovannisian, Transaction Publishers, 2007, p. 55.
- At the crossroads of Der Zor, by Hilmar Kaiser, Nancy Eskijian, Luther Eskijian - 2002 - p. 93
- The Lions of Marash, by Stanley Elphinstone Kerr - 1973, p. 15
- Dadrian, Vahakn. "The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of a Genocide," International Journal of Middle East Studies, 18 (1986), pp. 311-360.
- Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, By Robert Melson, Contributor Leo Kuper, University of Chicago Press, 1996, ISBN 0-226-51991-0, p. 147
Soulahian-Kuyumjian, Rita. The Survivor: Biography of Aram Andonian. London: Gomidas Institute, June 9, 2010. ISBN 1-903656-94-X.