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, United Kingdom
Language English
Subject History
Publisher Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 84

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 & Stoughtons of London. It includes several documents (telegrams) that constitute as evidence that the Armenian Genocide was formally implemented as Ottoman Empire policy.

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


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]


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:

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."[9]

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 the Germans 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."[10]

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".[11] Austrian scholar Wolfdieter Bihl has called them "controversial".[12]


Guenter Lewy, a political scientist and 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]

Other opinions include Dutch professor Erik-Jan Zürcher;[15] 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.[16] Scholars who share revisionist opinions about the Andonian documents include Bernard Lewis (Princeton University), who classifies the "Talat Pasha telegrams" among the "celebrated historical fabrications", on the same level than The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,[17] Andrew Mango (a biographer of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) who speaks of "telegrams dubiously attributed to the Ottoman wartime Minister of the Interior, Talat Pasha",[18] 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",[19] Norman Stone (Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey), who calls the Naim-Andonian book "a forgery";[20] and by Gilles Veinstein, professor of Ottoman and Turkish history at Collège de France, who considers the documents as "nothing but fakes".[21]

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".[22] Charny compares the "logical structures" employed by Lewis in his denial of the genocide to those employed by Ernst Nolte in his Holocaust negationism.[23]


  • 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, Turkish 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. ^ 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. 
  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.3, August 1986, p. 550
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Permanent Peoples' Tribunal. ''A Crime of silence, 1985
  10. ^ Justicier du génocide arménien. Le Procès de Tehlirian, Paris, 1981, p. 232.
  11. ^ Christopher Walker World War I and the Armenian Genocide, in The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, New York 1997, p. 247
  12. ^ Wolfdieter Bihl, preface to Artem Ohandjanian Armenien: Der verschwiegene Völkermord, Vienna 1989, p. 8
  13. ^ Guenter Lewy The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, University of Utah Press 2005, pp. 65-73
  14. ^ MacDonald, David B. (2008). Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: The Holocaust and Historical Representation. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 0-415-43061-5. 
  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. 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. 
  16. ^ 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." 
  17. ^ From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, London, Phoenix Paperbacks, 2005, p. 480.
  18. ^ Andrew Mango Turks and Kurds, in Middle Eastern Studies 30 (1994), p. 985
  19. ^ "La mort d'un empire (1908-1923)", in Robert Mantran (ed), Histoire de l'Empire ottoman, Paris: Fayard Publishers, 1989, p. 624
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Trois questions sur un massacre", L'Histoire, April 1995.
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ 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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