1915 deprived Turkey of its Armenian language publications
by Emine Dolmaci

It used to be that the colorful and multicultural nature of Anatolian
society was reflected in various press publications. In the wake of
the unfortunate events of April 24, 1915, though, this particular
aspect of Turkish society was damaged.

One writer for the Agos newspaper, Zakarya Mildanoglu, notes that
while there were 251 Armenian periodicals published in 1915, following
the events of 1915 the number of Armenian publications dropped
rapidly. Nowadays, there are just three Armenian newspapers published
in Turkey: Jamanag, Marmara and Agos. Research done by Mildanoglu on
the topic, examining Armenian periodicals published during the period
leading up to the republican period and then after the republic was
founded, will be available in a book called `The History of Armenian
Periodical Publications' later this year.

Mildanoglu's research addresses a topic not much scrutinized until
today. The Agos newspaper writer notes that the start of Armenian
publication history dovetailed neatly with the creation of the
printing press.

There were 613 Armenian publications during Ottoman times

Mildanoglu talks about the first Armenian language books, four
religious books published in Vienna in 1512, just 60 years after the
invention of the printing press. As for the first Armenian periodical,
it was the `Aztarar newspaper' (The Courier), published in 1794 in the
Indian city of Madras. In fact, between the years of 1794 and 1980,
there were a total of 3,095 Armenian magazines and newspapers
published throughout the world in 42 regions and countries. Of these,
notes Mildanoglu, 613 were published in various places in Anatolia.
Between the years 1832 and 1980 in Turkey, the highest number of
Armenian periodicals could be found in Istanbul, with Izmir in second.
Mildanoglu points to Izmir as being an important center for Armenian
press, art, culture and trade.

>From 251 down to just three

Mildanoglu, who provides detailed information in his book about the
dates and locations of various Armenian publications through Turkish
history, says in the year 1915 there were 251 Armenian press
publications in Turkey. Directly in the wake of the events of April
24, the date marked by Armenians as the beginning of their forced
deportation, however, these numbers declined precipitously, with
various Armenian language magazines and newspapers aimed at specific
groups such as women, lawyers, theater fans, medicine, etc., closing
down swiftly. Says Mildanoglu: `All of the journalists, writers,
caricaturists, everyone involved in publishing these publications, was
arrested and killed in 1915. It took time to train new journalists in
the wake of all this.' He points to the fact that while 1915 was a
turning point for Armenian society in general, that it was also a
critical time or that society's media outlets. After 1915, says
Mildanoglu, it was only in three cities that Armenian publications
carried on in: Istanbul, Adana and Izmir. In Mildanoglu's opinion, the
second blow Armenians received was during the 1950s, with the
censorship law, the wealth tax and the events of Sept. 6-7. The wave
of emigration of Armenians that took place after these events dealt
the final blow to Armenian publications.

Armenian official newspaper

The 251 Armenian language magazines and newspaper in Turkey and the
general diversity of publications were reflected during those years in
official publications as well. The Takvim-i Vekayi, which was first
published in 1831 and was known as the first Ottoman newspaper, was
also published in five languages other than Ottoman Turkish. These
five other languages were Arabic, Armenian, Farsi, French and Greek.
This original Ottoman newspaper carried both official as well as other
announcements and continued on in a slightly different capacity later.
Today, this first Ottoman newspaper is known as the Resmi Gazete, or
Official Gazette.

From: A. Papazian