The Memoirs of Naim Bey

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The Memoirs of Naim Bey
The Memoirs of Naim Bey.png
AuthorAram Andonian
Original titleThe Memoirs of Naim Bey: Turkish Official Documents Relating to the Deportation and the Massacres of Armenians
CountryEngland, United Kingdom
PublisherHodder & Stoughton
Publication date
Media typePrint (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 historian and journalist Aram Andonian in 1919. Originally redacted in Armenian,[1] it was popularized worldwide through the English edition published by Hodder & Stoughton of London. It includes several documents (telegrams) that constitute evidence that the Armenian Genocide was formally implemented as Ottoman Empire policy.

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


According to Andonian, the documents were collected by an Ottoman official called Naim Bey, who was 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] The 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 for most of the deportees.[3] It overwhelmingly confirms the fact of what British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (LSE, University of London) called "this gigantic crime that devastated the Near East".[3][4]


In 1983, the Turkish Historical Association (an organization linked to Armenian Genocide denial) published a now discredited work titled "Ermenilerce Talat Pasa’ya Atfedilen Telgraflarin Gercek Yüzü" by Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca. In the introduction to "The Talat Pasha Telegrams: Historical Fact or Armenian Fiction", its English-language edition published in 1985, Orel and Yuca wrote that the term "genocide" and the term "massacres" were being wrongly applied to characterize the Armenian Genocide (which its authors describe as an Armenian "claim" and a "calumny directed against Turkey"), and that the documents contained within The Memoirs of Naim Bey were forgeries that had been, for more than 60 years, used as the basis for those charges of genocide and massacre. [6]

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."[7]

Historian Vahakn N. Dadrian argued in 1986 that the points brought forth by Turkish historians are misleading and countered the discrepancies they raised.[8]

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",[9] 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:

Turkish historian Taner Akçam mentions similarities between the telegrams published by Andonian to extant Ottoman documents.[10] In a book published in 2016, named “The Naim Efendi Memoirs and Talat Pasha Telegrams”, he states that the memoir and the telegrams are real. Akçam states that throughout his research he has discovered some serious new information and documents supporting his claim. Akçam summarizes them as following:

  • There was, in fact, an Ottoman officer named Naim Efendi. The original Ottoman documents that prove this exist, and some of them are published in Akçam's book.
  • There is a memoir that belongs to Naim Efendi. The microfiche copies of it, which he wrote in Ottoman in his own handwriting, are currently in Akçam’s possession. In his book he presents these pages as they are.
  • The memoir is genuine and the information it provides is correct. It is possible to find documents in the Ottoman archives referring to the same events and people as the memoir does.
  • Turkish historians Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca stated that the use of lined paper in a telegram indicates that the document is a fake, because, according to them, the Ottoman bureaucracy did not use lined paper. Akçam presents evidence that during this particular time period the Ottoman bureaucracy did use lined paper and there are lots of documents in the Ottoman archives that show that the Internal Ministry’s numerous agencies were ordering lined paper.
  • The telegrams that Naim Efendi sold to Andonian consist of two and three-digit codes. Orel and Yuca claim that during the war years the Ottoman government only used coding techniques that consisted of four and five-digit codes. Thus, they said, the telegrams were fake. Akçam presents evidence that during the war years the Ottoman government used numerical codes consisting of various different digit groupings to send orders via telegram. The texts he has discovered in the Ottoman archives used a series of two, three, four, and five-digit codes.[11]


Guenter Lewy, a political scientist and Genocide denier, also states that the telegrams form the "centerpiece" of "the case against the Turks", that the authenticity of the Naim-Andonian documents "will only be resolved through the discovery and publication of relevant Ottoman documents", and calls Orel and Yuca's work a "painstaking analysis of these documents" that makes "any use of them in a serious scholarly work unacceptable".[12] About this position David B. MacDonald wrote that Lewy is content to rely on the work of "Turkish deniers Şinasi 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".[13]

Other opinions include Dutch professor Erik-Jan Zürcher (professor of Turkish studies at Leiden University) ;[14] 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.[15] Scholars who share revisionist opinions about the Andonian documents include Bernard Lewis (Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and Genocide denier), who classifies the "Talat Pasha telegrams" among the "celebrated historical fabrications", on the same level than The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,[16] Andrew Mango (a biographer of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) who speaks of "telegrams dubiously attributed to the Ottoman wartime Minister of the Interior, Talat Pasha",[17] Paul Dumont (Professor of Turkish studies at Strasbourg University) who stated in one of his books that "the authenticity of the alleged telegrams of Ottoman government, ordering the destruction of Armenians is today seriously contested",[18] Norman Stone (Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey), who calls the Naim-Andonian book "a forgery";[19] and by Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at Collège de France, who considers the documents as "nothing but fakes".[20]

Dr. Israel Charny, a Genocide scholar and executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem wrote that Bernard Lewis' "seemingly scholarly concern ... of Armenians constituting a threat to the Turks as a rebellious force who together with the Russians threatened the Ottoman Empire, and the insistence that only a policy of deportations was executed, barely conceal the fact that the organized deportations constituted systematic mass murder".[21] Charny compares the "logical structures" employed by Lewis in his denial of the genocide to those employed by Ernst Nolte in his Holocaust negationism.[22]


  • 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
  • Documents sur les massacres arméniens, Paris, 1920 (incomplete translation by M. S. David-Beg)
  • Մեծ Ոճիրը (The Great Crime), Armenian language edition, Hairenik, Boston, 1921

Note: Although the Armenian edition was published after the other two versions, historian Vahakn Dadrian states that the Armenian text constitutes the original that Aram Andonian wrote back in 1919. Taking into account the delay in its publication helps to explain some "errors" identified by some Turkish authors in dating the documents.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dadrian, Vahakn (1986). "The Naim-Andonian Documents on the World War I Destruction of Ottoman Armenians: the Anatomy of a Genocide". International Journal of Middle East Studies. Cambridge University Press. 18 (3): 344 (note 3).
  2. ^ Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. A Crime of silence: the Armenian genocide. London: Zed Books, 1985
  3. ^ 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.3, August 1986, p.1
  4. ^ The Viscount Bryce, The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–1916: Documents Presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon by Viscount Bryce, with a Preface by Viscount Bryce. The Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation. Hodder & Stoughton and His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1916, Miscellaneous No. 31. p.653.
  5. ^ a b The Most Fearful Genocide in the History of the Human Race by Edmond Kowalewski, Page 5
  6. ^ Şinasi Orel and Süreyya Yuca, "The Talat Pasha Telegrams: Historical Fact or Armenian Fiction", Nicosia, 1986. [1]
  7. ^ Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. ''A Crime of silence, 1985
  8. ^ 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.3, August 1986, p. 550
  9. ^ Ferguson, Niall (2006). The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West. New York: Penguin Press. p. 179. ISBN 1-59420-100-5.
  10. ^ Akçam, Taner (2013). The Young Turks' Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire. Princeton University Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0691159560.
  11. ^ Estukyan, Vartan (2016-10-07). "Are "Talat Pasha Telegrams" real?". Agos. Retrieved 2019-06-23. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help) - Turkish version: "Talat Paşa telgrafları gerçek mi?" -- An abridged version of this interview, translated by a different person, is at: “Akçam: The Authenticity of the Naim Efendi Memoirs and Talat Pasha Telegrams” in: The Armenian Weekly, October 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Guenter Lewy The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, University of Utah Press 2005, pp. 65-73
  13. ^ MacDonald, David B. (2008). Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 0-415-43061-5.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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."
  16. ^ From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, London, Phoenix Paperbacks, 2005, p. 480.
  17. ^ Andrew Mango Turks and Kurds, in Middle Eastern Studies 30 (1994), p. 985
  18. ^ "La mort d'un empire (1908-1923)", in Robert Mantran (ed), Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, Paris: Fayard Publishers, 1989, p. 624
  19. ^ 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. Archived February 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.
  21. ^ Charny, Israel (17 July 2001). "The Psychological Satisfaction of Denials of the Holocaust or Other Genocides by Non-Extremists or Bigots, and Even by Known Scholars". IDEA. Retrieved 21 February 2015.
  22. ^ Charny, Israel W. (2006). Fighting Suicide Bombing: A Worldwide Campaign for Life. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Security International. p. 241. ISBN 0275993361.


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