11:40 31.03.2014

Taner Akcam

Clark University's Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide
Studies will present a lecture by Prof. Taner Akcam on April 17,
"On Truth and Memoirs: The Case of an Armenian Soldier in the Ottoman
Army," which will explore the subject of a vigorous debate over the
authenticity of a memoir recently published in Turkey, the Armenian
Mirror-Spectator reports.

Akcam will discuss the case of Sarkis Torossian who served as a
lieutenant in the Ottoman Army during World War I. According to
his memoir, Torossian was a graduate of a military college and a
decorated Ottoman officer who served at Gallipoli and other important
battlefronts. Learning that his parents and sister were deported and
died in the Armenian Genocide, Torossian switched his allegiance. He
joined the Arab rebellion in Palestine and Syria and fought with
a French battalion against Kemalist forces in Cilicia. Akcam will
consider the veracity of Torossian's account and interpret the public
debate surrounding the memoir in Turkey. Turkish scholars Ayhan Aktar
and Edhem Eldem will comment and respond.

Torossian immigrated to the United States in 1920. In 1947, he
published his memoirs in English, From Dardanelles to Palestine:
A True Story of Five Battle Fronts of Turkey. Following the Turkish
translation published in 2012, reactions in the Turkish press have
been intense. Some discredited the memoir as fabricated. Others
championed its authenticity. Akcam will discuss the veracity of
Torossian's account and interpret the public debate surrounding the
memoir in Turkey.

A professor of history at Clark University, Akcam holds the Robert
Aram & Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen and Marian Mugar Chair in
Armenian Genocide Studies at the Strassler Center. An internationally
recognized human rights activist, he was one of the first Turkish
intellectuals to recognize and openly discuss the Armenian Genocide.

He is the author of several books, most recently, "The Young Turks'
Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
in the Ottoman Empire" (2012), which earned the Middle East Studies
Association Albert Hourani Book Award (2013) and was named one of
the year's (2012) best books on the Middle East by Foreign Affairs.

This event is part of the 2013-2014 "Critical History" lecture series
at the Strassler Center.