By Florence Avakian


TENAFLY, N.J. - Prof. Vahakn Dadrian, renowned historian and scholar of
the Armenian Genocide, gave a much-awaited lecture on the significance
of the Ottoman trials of the Genocide perpetrators, at the St. Thomas
Armenian Church, on Friday, March 9. It also marked the publication
of his new book, the first book jointly written by an Armenian and
a Turkish scholar, (Prof. Taner Akcam is his collaborator), titled
Judgment at Istanbul: The Armenian Genocide Trials.

An 11-year effort, the book is the first complete documentation of the
trial proceedings in English, and is based on authentic documentation,
including personal, eyewitness testimony of high- ranking Ottoman
officials, given under oath, which the Ottoman government was forced
to release during the trials which revealed the magnitude of the
crimes perpetrated against the Armenians.

Tekeyan Cultural Association New York/New Jersey Chairman Hagop
Vartivarian welcomed the more than 100 in attendance and discussed
the background of Dadrian, which includes numerous books, his fluency
in several languages, his many university degrees and the honors he
has received, including the coveted gold medal from the president of
the Republic of Armenia.

Speaking in Armenian for an hour-and-a-half, virtually without notes,
Dadrian, a walking encyclopedia on the Genocide, began his talk by
pointing out that the 1894 to 1896 massacres of 200,000 Armenians -
mostly men, in Anatolia and Istanbul - took place on Fridays after
Muslim prayers and lasted for three days, emphasizing that the
Turkish people killed for Allah. "The Turkish people participated
with pleasure in the Genocide, whereas during the Nazi extermination,
the German people did not take part. "By killing Armenians, Turks
would be eligible to go to heaven. Armenians and Turks who had been
friends for centuries became enemies in 24 hours."

He explained that Sultan Abdul Hamid killed the Armenians at that time
because the Ottoman areas of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria had already
been emancipated from the empire, and therefore only the Armenians
remained as an entity. "Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria were the hands
and feet of the Ottoman Empire, but the Armenians were the stomach and
the intestines," he related. "So the Armenian areas of Van, Erzerum,
Bitlis, Kharpert and Diyarbekir became an existential threat."

When the Armenians asked for reforms, Turkey was afraid they would
become part of Armenia. However, the scholar said he blamed the
Armenian revolutionary groups for "inadvertently inciting" the Turks.

No Punishment for 1894-96 Massacres Led to 1915 Genocide "The 1894-1896
massacres of Abdul Hamid, done with impunity, remained unpunished. The
West and the rest of the world did not raise a finger because they
had vested interests and were not interested in getting involved
militarily. Therefore, the Ottomans were encouraged to do even more
killing, since the Armenians remained virtually unprotected, helpless
and vulnerable," he stated, adding that Armenians were not allowed
to have weapons, not even a knife. Armenians were used to submitting
to the Turks. The fact that the Armenians had been unprotected for
six centuries was their doom, and they were easily sacrificed like
sheep. Ethnic cleansing was the major role of the Ottomans."

The 1915 Genocide, which also was perpetrated for economic reasons
with the Turks taking the wealth of the Armenians, (resulting in
the emergence of a new Turkish middle class), "went far beyond the
cruelty of World War I," with most of the savagery planned by two
Turkish doctors Nazim and Shakir, and carried out by the Kurds.

"The Ottomans were not sure that the Turkish soldiers would do the
savagery, so they released the most monstrous prisoners to do the
killing. "These savage acts were unique, and had never happened
before," he stated with some emotion. "The Nazis did not do the same.

There is a big difference between the Armenian and Jewish genocides."

The Genocide "was not a state crime as the West has said, but a
political party crime perpetrated by the Young Turk Party with its
Central Committee heads Enver Pasha, Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha."

Dadrian revealed that Talaat, "who was softer and milder," ordered
the crime, but it was the two doctors who fulfilled the monstrous acts.

"Talaat had to submit to the doctors," he noted.

"It was mostly done by the Young Turk party structure, not so much
by the government. The highest government officials had no real
authority. And there were secret means of communication between
Talaat and the political party organizers. He revealed that the party
secretaries made the province governors give orders for the killings
and if they didn't obey, the party officials would install their own
officials as governors. "When only one party controls the government,
it is very dangerous," he stated.

"The most important part of the Armenian Genocide is the savagery
that was used against the victims and the fact that the Genocide
remains unpunished," Dadrian said, stressing each word.

After World War I, the Allies were divided as to what each would grab.

Dadrian revealed that the French secretly gave Mustafa Kemal Ataturk,
the Young Turk leader and the first president of the new Republic
of Turkey weapons, which prevented Armenia from extending to Van,
Bitlis and Erzerum. Ataturk, he said, was not strong enough to take
the east because the Russians were there. "Today in Turkey, young
intellectuals are becoming aware of their monstrous background. Turkey
is most afraid of the reparations question. Many Turks say they will
admit to the Armenian Genocide if there are no reparations. However,
for Turkey to join the European Union, it is central and primary that
they come to terms with the Genocide."

With pride, Dadrian stated that "today, Armenia with Russian help, is
very strong militarily. A major part of Armenia's budget is devoted
to its army and advanced weapons." However, he questioned that if
there ever was an emergency, would Russia be faithful to Armenia. "We
should not rely on anyone, especially with the kind of geographical
neighbors that Armenia has," he said with emphasis.

Dadrian received a standing ovation lasting several minutes at the
conclusion of his fascinating talk.

The event was sponsored by the Zoryan Institute, with the participation
of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Constantinople
Armenian Relief Society (CARS), Armenian-American Support and
Educational Center, Esayan-Getronagan Alumni, Hamazkayin Cultural
Association, Knights & Daughters of Vartan, St. Thomas Armenian Church,
Tibrevank Alumni and the Tekeyan Cultural Association.