Cemal Azmi

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Cemal Azmi
Born 1868
Arapkir, Ottoman Empire
Died April 17, 1922
Berlin, Germany
Cause of death Assassination
Resting place Neukölln cemetery
Nationality Ottoman
Known for Governor of Trabzon province
Perpetrator of Armenian Genocide
Parent(s) Osman Nuri Bey and Gülsüm Azmi

Cemal Azmi (1868 – April 17, 1922), also spelled Jemal Azmi, was an Ottoman politician and governor of the Trabzon Vilayet during World War I and the final years of the Ottoman Empire.[1] He was one of the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide and was mainly responsible for the liquidation of Armenians in the Trabzon province.[2] He was known as the "butcher of Trabzon".[3][4][5][6][7][8]


Cemal Azmi was born in Arapkir, Ottoman Empire, in 1868.[9][10] His father, Osman Nuri Bey, was a title agent and his mother's name was Gülsüm. In 1891 he studied at the Mulkiye Mektep.[10]

Role in the Armenian Genocide[edit]

Azmi was one of the founders of the Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa (Special Organization).[11] Many members of this organization eventually participated in the Turkish national movement and played special roles in the Armenian Genocide.[12] Just prior to World War I, Azmi became the governor of Trabzon on July 7, 1914.[9] During the Armenian Genocide in 1915, Azmi continued serving his duties as governor of the Trabzon province. Azmi favored conducting massacres outside of the city of Trabzon.[2] He was especially known for his persecution and violence towards Armenian children.[9] Azmi, along with the collaboration of Nail Bey, ordered the drowning of thousands of women and children in the Black Sea.[9]

Oscar S. Heizer, the American consul at Trabzon, reports: "This plan did not suit Nail Bey...Many of the children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea and thrown overboard".[13] The Italian consul of Trabzon in 1915, Giacomo Gorrini, writes: "I saw thousands of innocent women and children placed on boats which were capsized in the Black Sea".[14] The Trabzon trials also reported Armenians having been drowned in the Black Sea.[15]

On April 12, 1919, during the 10th sitting of the Trabzon trials, it was testified by an eyewitness that Cemal Azmi turned a local hospital into a "pleasure dome" where he frequently had "sex orgies" with young Armenian girls.[16][17] Hasan Maruf, a Turkish lieutenant and eyewitness to the scene said: "After committing the worst outrages the government officials involved had these young girls killed."[17] While in Germany, Azmi disclosed to a local Armenian that he had young girls drowned at sea: "Among the most pretty Armenian girls, 10–13 years old, I selected a number of them and handed them over to my son as a gift; the others I had drowned in the sea."[17][18] Azmi was also known for collecting girls up to the age of fifteen and boys up to the age of ten from orphanages and giving them to Muslim households.[19]

Confiscation of Armenian assets[edit]

In the aftermath of the Armenian genocide, the Azmi family acquired significant wealth through the confiscation of former Armenian-owned property and assets.[20] Arusiag Kilijian, an 18-year-old orphan, who was a captive of Azmi's family, reported that Azmi's house was filled with "stolen goods, rugs, and so on".[21]

It was also noted during the cross-examination of Nuri Bey during the 9th session of the trials at Trabzon on April 10, 1919 that Agent Mustafa, the commander of the seaport of Trabzon, "had taken a box belonging to Vartivar Muradian" and had received "five hundred pounds gold and jewels" from Cemal Azmi in exchange.[22]

1919-1920 Military courts martial and Trabzon trials[edit]

During the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919–1920, Ottoman politician Çürüksulu Mahmud Pasha gave a speech in the Ottoman senate on December 2, 1919 where he openly blamed Cemal Azmi for the massacres in Trabzon and the subsequent drowning of thousands of women and children.[23]

On December 11, 1918, Trabzon deputy governor Hafiz Mehmet testified in the Chamber of Deputies:[24]

Under the pretext of sending off to Samsun, another port city on the Black Sea [about 255 km west of Trabzon], the district's governor loaded the Armenians into barges and had them thrown overboard. I have heard that the governor-general applied this procedure [throughout the province]. Even though I reported this at the Interior Ministry immediately upon my return to Istanbul, I was unable to initiate any action against the latter; I tried for some three years to get such action instituted but in vain

During the 14th session of the Trabzon trials on 26 April 1919, the governor of Giresun Arif Bey, asserted that Azmi gave him orders "to deport the Armenians toward Mosul by way of the Black Sea", which implied drowning them.[25]

On May 22, 1919, as a result of the Trabzon trials, Cemal Azmi was sentenced to death under the charges of "murder and forced relocation".[26]

Assassination and legacy[edit]

As part of Operation Nemesis for his role in the Armenian Genocide,[7][27] Aram Yerganian and Arshavir Shirakian were later given the task to assassinate both Azmi and Bahattin Şakir who were in Berlin. On April 17, 1922, Shirakian and Yerganian encountered Azmi and Şakir who were walking with their families on Uhlandstrasse.[27] Shirakian managed to kill only Azmi and wound Şakir. Yerganian immediately ran after Şakir and killed him with a shot to his head.[28]

In 2003 an elementary school in Trabzon was named in honor of Cemal Azmi.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bartov, Omer; Mack, Phyllis (2001). In God's Name: Genocide and religion in the twentieth century. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781571812148. 
  2. ^ a b Kévorkian, Raymond H. (2010). The Armenian Genocide: A complete history. London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 9781848855618. Azmi was to be one of the main architects of the liquidation of his vilayet's Armenian population. 
  3. ^ von Voss, Huberta (2007). Portraits of Hope: Armenians in the contemporary world (1st English ed.). New York: Berghahn Books. p. 296. ISBN 9781845452575. Retrieved 15 February 2013. Avengers Arshavir Shirakian (1900-73) and Aram Yerkanian (1898-1934) executed Cemal Azmi, who, as the former governor general of Trebzon was the "butcher" of the province. 
  4. ^ Derogy, Jacques (1990). Resistance and Revenge: The Armenian assassination of Turkish leaders responsible for the 1915 massacres and deportations. Transaction Publishers. p. 74. ISBN 9781412833165. Retrieved 15 February 2013. Oriental carpet shop that was opened in the town center by the butcher of Trebizond, Jemal Azmi. 
  5. ^ The Armenian Review. 42: 44. 1990. Jemal Azmi known as "the Butcher of Trabzon," was assassinated on 14 April 1922.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  6. ^ "Suçluya Saygi: Mehmet Cemal Azmi Bey" (in Turkish). Soykirima Karsi Uluslarasi Analyis Dernegi. Ermeni çocuklarına uyguladığı vahşet nedeniyle "Trabzon Celladı" diye de anılmaktadır. [Translation from Turkish: Due to the violence he performed against Armenian children, he became known as the "butcher of Trabzon".] 
  7. ^ a b Chaliand, Gérard (2010). The History of Terrorism from Antiquity to al Qaeda ([Nachdr.] ed.). Berkeley, Calif. [u.a.]: University of California Press. p. 195. ISBN 9780520247093. One of the organizers of the genocide, and Jemal Azmi, “the butcher of Trebizond.” 
  8. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (2015). "They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else": A History of the Armenian Genocide. Princeton University Press. p. 334. ISBN 1400865581. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Suçluya saygi: Mehmet Cemal Azmi Bey" (in Turkish). Soykirima Karsi Uluslarasi Analyis Dernegi. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Cemal Azmi Bey Kimdir?" (in Turkish). Cemal Azmi Bey İlköğretim Okulu. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  11. ^ "Genocide Museum". Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute. Retrieved 14 February 2013. Former governor of Trabzon Jemal Azmi and the founder of "Teshkilateshi Makhsuse" criminal organization 
  12. ^ Akçam, Taner (1992). Türk Ulusal Kimliği ve Ermeni Sorunu. İletişim Yayınları. p. 155. ISBN 9789754702897. 
  13. ^ April 11, 1919 report. U.S. National Archives. R.G. 59. 867. 4016/411.
  14. ^ "Turks Slay 14,000 In One Massacre". Toronto Globe. 26 August 1915. p. 1. 
  15. ^ Takvim-i Vekayi, No. 3616, August 6, 1919, p. 2.
  16. ^ Akçam, Taner (2012). The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity the Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 313. ISBN 1-4008-4184-4. 
  17. ^ a b c Vahakn, Dadrian (2003). "Children as victims in genocide: the Armenian case". Journal of Genocide Research. 5 (3): 421–437. ISSN 1462-3528. doi:10.1080/1462352032000154642. 
  18. ^ "Suçluya saygi: Mehmet Cemal Azmi Bey" (in Turkish). STCG. Retrieved 14 February 2013. Ölümünden önce, Türk kimliği altında kendi oğluyla arkadaş olan genç bir Ermeniye övünerek şunları anlattığı bilinmektedir: "En güzel Ermeni kızlarından 10 ila 13 yaş arası olanları kendime ayırdım ve o zaman 14 yaşında olan oğluma hediye ettim. Diğerlerini denizde boğdurdum." 
  19. ^ Gerlach, Christian (2010). Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World. Cambridge University Press. p. 110. ISBN 9781139493512. 
  20. ^ Basbakanlık Cumhuriyet Arsivi (Republican Archives, Ankara),, file 137-78, number 5331, decree dated 15 June 1927.
  21. ^ Report by Arusiag Kilijian at the third session of the trial of Trebizond, 1 April 1919: APC/APJ, PCI Bureau, doc. no. 34, 769–70.
  22. ^ Examination of Nuri Bey, at the ninth session of the trial of Trebizond, 10 April 1919: Nor Giank, no. 166, 11 April 1919; La Renaissance, no. 112, 11 April 1919.
  23. ^ Meclisi Âyan Zabit Ceridesi (Transcripts of the Senate Proceedings) 3rd election period, 5th session, 13th sitting, vol. I, p. 148, 2 December 18 issue.
  24. ^ Meclisi Mebusan Zabit Ceridesi (Transcripts of the Proceedings of the Chamber of Deputees) 3rd election period, 5th session, 24th sitting, p. 299, 1 December 1918 issue.
  25. ^ Report by Arif Bey at the 14th session of the trial of Trebizond, 26 April 1919: La Renaissance, no. 125, 27 April 1919; Nor Giank, no. 179, 27 April 1919.
  26. ^ Verdict of the trial of Trebizond, 8 July 1919: Takvim-i Vekayi, no. 3616, du 6 August 1919, pp. 50–2.
  27. ^ a b "Two 'Young Turks' Murdered in Berlin" (PDF). New York Times. April 19, 1922. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  28. ^ Berberyan, Nazaret (April 13, 2010). ՏԱՐԵԴԱՐՁՆԵՐ- Արշաւիր Շիրակեան Հայ ժողովուրդի Արդարահատոյց Բազուկը. Asbarez (in Armenian). Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  29. ^ "OKULUMUZUN TARİHÇESİ" (in Turkish). Kuzguncuk Cemal Azmi Bey İlköğretim Okulu. Retrieved 14 February 2013.