The Memoirs of Naim Bey

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The Memoirs of Naim Bey
The Memoirs of Naim Bey.png
Author Aram Andonian
Original title The Memoirs of Naim Bey: Turkish Official Documents Relating to the Deportation and the Massacres of Armenians
Country England
Language English
Subject History
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 84 pages (Hardcover)

The Memoirs of Naim Bey: Turkish Official Documents Relating to the Deportation and the Massacres of Armenians, also known as the "Talat Pasha telegrams", is a book written by Aram Andonian in Armenian[1] and previously published in an abridged version in English by Hodder & Stoughton (London, 1920), and in a French version (Paris, 1921). The book lists several documents, the telegrams, which are purported to constitute evidence that the Armenian Genocide was formally implemented as Ottoman Empire policy.

The first edition in English had an introduction by Viscount Gladstone.


The documents were allegedly collected by an Ottoman official called Naim Bey, working in the Refugees Office in Aleppo, and handed by him to Andonian. Each note bears the signature of Mehmed Talaat Pasha, the Minister of Interior and later Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire. The contents of these telegrams "clearly states his intention to exterminate all Armenians, outlines the extermination plan, offers a guarantee of immunity for officials, calls for tighter censorship and draws special attention to the children in Armenian orphanages."[2]

These telegrams remain in coded form and are written in Ottoman Turkish.

The overall picture emerging from these narrations points to a network of the extermination of most deportees.[3] Although it overwhelmingly confirms the fact of what Toynbee called "this gigantic crime that devastated the Near East".[3][4]


Turkish historian Taner Akçam mentions similarities between the telegrams published by Andonian to extant Ottoman documents.[6]

Historian Vahakn N. Dadrian, born in Turkey and raised in the US, has argued in 1986 that the points brought forth by Turkish historians are misleading and has countered the discrepancies they have raised.[7]

Famous Scottish historian Niall Ferguson, Professor of History at Harvard University, Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford, and Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Richard Albrecht among others 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",[8] and that "one of the leading scientific experts, Vahakn N. Dadrian, in 1986, verified the documents as authentic telegrams send out by [...] Talat Pasha". He adds:

Aram Andonian acknowledged that his book was used for propaganda purposes by other nations. 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" towards German involved, but had affirmed that "those documents described as being originals may very well have been genuine" in the same letter. Andonian confirmed his then-mental state by saying "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."[9]

British historian Christopher J. Walker, who worked in the Sotheby's Department of Historical and Literary Manuscripts, has argued in his book called the World War I and the Armenian Genocide published in 1997, that "doubts must remain until and unless the documents or similar ones themselves resurface and are published in a critical edition".[10] Austrian scholar Wolfdieter Bihl has called them "controversial".[11]

The French historian Yves Ternon who convened at the 1984 Permanent Peoples' Tribunal contends that these telegrams however, "were authenticated by experts…[but] they were sent back to Andonian in London and lost."[12]


Guenter Lewy, a notorious genocide denier, 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".[13] 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".[14]

Turkish authors Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca, both of whom support the denial of the Armenian Genocide,[15] have released their book The Talaât Pasha "telegrams" : Historical fact or Armenian fiction? in 1983. Their conclusion includes the following points:

  • 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.[16]

Orel/Yuca could not find the name of Naim Bey neither in various official Turkish 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.[17]

Other revisionist opinions include Dutch professor Erik-Jan Zürcher,[18] 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.[19] 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";[20] by Michael M. Gunter who calls the documents "notorious forgeries";[21] 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;[22] by Andrew Mango who speaks of "telegrams dubiously attributed to the Ottoman wartime Minister of the Interior, Talat Pasha".;[23] 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";[24] by Norman Stone, who calls the Naim-Andonian book "a forgery";[25] and by Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at Collège de France, who considers the documents as "nothing but fakes".[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aram Andonian, Մեծ Ոճիրը. Հայկական վերջին կոտորածները եւ Թալէադ փաշա (The Great Crime: The Last Armenian Massacres and Taleat Pasha), Boston, Bahag, 1921, 304 pages.
  2. ^ Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. A Crime of silence: the Armenian genocide. London: Zed Books, 1985
  3. ^ a b The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of a Genocide, by Vahakn N. Dadrian, p.1
  4. ^ Viscount Bryce, the Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-16, Miscellaneous No. 31. p.653.
  5. ^ a b The Most Fearful Genocide in the History of the Human Race by Edmond Kowale Wski, Page 5
  6. ^ The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire, by Taner Akçam, Princeton University Press, p. 254
  7. ^ a b Dadrian, Vahakn. The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of a Genocide. International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol. 18, No.4, November 1986 p. 550
  8. ^ Ferguson, Niall. The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. New York: Penguin Press, 2006 p. 179 ISBN 1-59420-100-5
  9. ^ Justicier du génocide arménien. Le Procès de Tehlirian, Paris, 1981, p. 232.
  10. ^ Christopher Walker World War I and the Armenian Genocide, in The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, New York 1997, p. 247
  11. ^ Wolfdieter Bihl, preface to Artem Ohandjanian Armenien: Der verschwiegene Völkermord, Vienna 1989, p. 8
  12. ^ Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. ''A Crime of silence, 1985
  13. ^ Guenter Lewy The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, University of Utah Press 2005, pp. 65-73
  14. ^ Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation, By David B. MacDonald, Routledge, 2008, ISBN 0-415-43061-5, p. 140
  15. ^ 70 documents, reproduced from Ottoman archives and translated, trying show the absence of genocidal intention
  16. ^ Şinasi Orel, Süreyya Yuca The Talaât Pasha "telegrams" : Historical fact or Armenian fiction?, Nikosia 1983, pp.143-144, 139; Guenter Lewy The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, University of Utah Press 2005, p. 68
  17. ^ Şinasi Orel, Süreyya Yuca The Talaât Pasha "telegrams" : Historical fact or Armenian fiction?, Nikosia 1983, pp.25-26
  18. ^ Zürcher, Erik-Jan (September 23, 2004). Turkey: A Modern History (Revised Edition (Hardcover) ed.). I. B. Tauris. pp. 115–116. ISBN 1-85043-399-2. The Armenian side has tried to demonstrate this involvement, but some of the documents it has produced (the so-called Andonian papers) have been shown to be forgeries. 
  19. ^ Zürcher, Erik-Jan (September 23, 2004). Turkey: A Modern History (Revised Edition (Hardcover) ed.). I. B. Tauris. pp. 115–116. ISBN 1-85043-399-2. From the eyewitness reports not only of German, Austrian, American and Swiss missionaries but also of German and Austrian officers and diplomats who were in constant touch with Ottoman authorities, from the evidence given to the postwar Ottoman tribunal investigating the massacres, and even, to a certain extent, the memoirs of Unionist Officers and administrators, we have to conclude that even if the Ottoman government was not involved in genocide, an inner circle of the CUP, under the direction of Talat, wanted to solve the eastern question by the extermination of the Armenians and it used relocation as a clock for that policy." 
  20. ^ "La mort d'un empire (1908-1923)", in Robert Mantran (ed), Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, Paris: Fayard Publishers, 1989, p. 624
  21. ^ Michael M. Gunter International Journal of Middle East Studies 21 (1989), p. 422; "The Politicizing of History and the Armenian Claims of Genocide", [The New York Times, March 13, 2009.
  22. ^ From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, London, Phoenix Paperbacks, 2005, p. 480.
  23. ^ Andrew Mango Turks and Kurds, in Middle Eastern Studies 30 (1994), p. 985
  24. ^ Jeremy Salt, "Forging the past: OUP and the 'Armenian question'", Eurasiacritc, January 2010
  25. ^ Norman Stone, "Armenia and Turkey", Times Literary Supplement, nº 5298, October 15, 2004; "What’s this ‘genocide’ to do with Congress?", The Spectator, October 21, 2007.
  26. ^ "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.


  • Documents sur les massacres arméniens, Paris 1920
  • The Memoirs of Naim Bey: Turkish Official Documents Relating to the Deportation and the Massacres of Armenians, compiled by Aram Andonian, Hodder and Stoughton, London ca. 1920
  • Մեծ Ոճիրը [The Great Crime; Armenian original of The memoirs of Naim Bey], Hayrenik, Boston 1921


  • "The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: The Anatomy of a Genocide". By Dr. Vahakn N. Dadrian. International Journal of Middle East Studies, Cambridge University Press. Vol. 18. August 1986. No.3. (50 pp.)
  • Guenter Lewy, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey, Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005.
  • Yves Ternon: Enquête sur la négation d'un génocide, éditions parenthèses, Marseille 1989 ISBN 2-86364-052-6 [analysis by Yves Ternon stating the telegrams are probably authentic]
  • Türkkaya Ataöv, The Andonian "Documents" Attributed to Talat Pasha are Forgeries!, Ankara, 1984.
  • Id., Documents on the Armenian Question: Forged and Authentic, Ankara, 1985.
  • Id., Armenian Falsifications, New York: Okey, 2008.
  • The Talat Pasha Telegrams (analysis by Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca stating the telegrams are forgeries), Nicosia, K. Rustemn & Brothers, 1986.

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