Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘I killed Armenians

Is it Ethical? Using Trumped-up diary-forms to describe acts of genocide?

I posted this review of the French  book “I killed Armenians” by Jean-Claude Belfiore and received a comment by the author related to Note #6.

Note 5: The French author Jean-Claude Belfiore is from an Armenian mother and a Sicilian father. He published “Hannibal: An unbelievable destiny” The author did his best to fool the reader that the book is a genuine diary written by an actual Turkish officer Azil Kemal. The cover features an old picture of a Turkish officer, and throughout the book the author made sure to give the impression that the story was extracted from a diary.

The introduction informed us that the diary covered 4 block-notes, 100-page each, and written in Turkish but with Armenian characters! And that Azil was married to the Armenian Anzi and had a one year old son Erol-Hagop (Jack). At the end of the novel and in Italic the author mentions that it very probable that Hagop died a martyr with the French Resistance FFI in 1944 at the age of 20…

Note 6: It is infuriating to the reader to notice the great trouble that an author takes to fool the buyer. After the first two chapters, it become obvious that it is a novel written in a diary form. It is highly improbable that an officer under so much stress can write about his adventure extensively, clearly, smoothly and with minute details. Let alone insert very funny dialogues. A believable diary is an exercise to relieve the anxieties and frustrations of a person who needs to let a big load off his shoulders. You jot down a few sentences to remind you of the events for later editing.

Jean-Claude Belfiore  responded (an abridged translation from French):

“The Journal is a literary genre that many authors succumbed to such as (Sartre, Camus, Stevenson, Vittorini, Gide, Jules Verne, Genet, Mirbeau, Bernanos etc.!) In no case was the reader duped, and never did the author considered the reader an idiot.

It is as if you reproach the author of a detective novel to force the reader to believe that the murder really took place… Even a real diary of Anne Frank was rearranged to be legible.

Actually, I wrote in the first few pages “The back of the pages (of the diaries) were used for correction, a proof that the narrator was editing in a critical spirit“. It is possible to imagine that Azil Kemal edited his text. Your definition of a diary is reductive.”

Frankly, I was duped till the third chapter. I have this tendency of reading first the last chapter and then the introduction. In this case, and the succinct descriptions of the massacres in the early chapter led me to believe that this diary was genuine with some arrangement… By the third chapter I had my doubt since the book began to explain and expand on issues “essay fashion“. I fell back to back cover for the summary and was instructed that this was just a novel.

I was duped because I wanted to read a single diary written by a genuine Turkish author during that horrendous period.

My position is that when the diary-form concerns act of genocide, it is very much ethical to warn the reader upfront in the introduction, and in bold caption

This is a fiction novel and the diary is not genuine.” If the author relied on a few eye-witness accounts and other diaries for his novel, it is imperative to let the reader know. Genocide is a highly serious matter to use trumped-up diaries for political objectives.

The Irish independent leader Michael Collins said “Terrorism is effective only in democratic institutions where it can change people’s opinion”

Belfiore novel can be considered a form of terrorism to alter readers’ opinion of what took place a century ago, and pressure the French government to demand from Turkey a public apology… France parliament passed the label of Genocide to the mass massacre against Armenians.  That would be great if Turkey does apologize. However, it is my feeling that Belfiore adopted this trumped up form as a literary counter-terrorism terror…

If it were not for the early chapters, I don’t think I’ll make such as fuss.

Otherwise, the novel is a good eye-opener of how and why genocide of Armenians in Turkey could slip by during WWI.

The few events of genocide described may most probably occurred from doing a few research, but the stories are too harsh for not warning the readers of the fictitious nature of the stories.

I like to remind that people “fast read” and very few read the introduction.

The cover got me fooled and I felt duped: I wanted to read genuine diaries of that period.

This said, I don’t mind reviewing this book with a couple more posts.

Note 1: Ironically, the author preferred the accurate title “I killed Armenians” as in my second posts Part 2, instead of the first title “I committed genocide…. Why? The term genocide was coined in 1944, and it does not fit a diary written in 1915. There is no doubt in my mind that the author meant “genocide”, and that the novel main objective was political in nature.

Note 2:  The Ottoman Empire was one the mildest empires in matters of religious animosities in the earliest 2 centuries. It had the vastest diversity of sects and cults. The Empire opened its borders to the Jews who were persecuted in Spain under the Inquisition.  It was the aggressive Shias Safavid Persian Empire in the 18th century that opened the war of expansion eastward to the Ottoman Empire. The latest genocide against the Armenians was based on centuries of consistent lack of “loyalty” of the Armenians to the Ottoman Empire, and siding exclusively with every Russian expansion at the expense of the Turkish territories.  This attached link is not meant as an apology for genocide, but to comprehend the causes so that people endeavor to reform the political and social structure before the ineluctable befall a nation

Note 3: Since antiquity, tribes massacred tribes for the loot. Military generals assassinated entire towns to establish terror and make the advance easier.

Genocide is a modern trend of acute brutality. Genocide began in the early 15th century as the Portuguese and Spanish conquistadors expanded their territories overseas, annihilating entire civilization under the guise of Christianizing the barbarian infidels.

The USA attained the climax in genocide activities over 2 centuries: “A good Indian is a dead Indian

In the last century, every colonial power such as England, France, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Israel… endeavored to learn the most efficient methods and techniques for executing mass genocide. The motto of the extermination was “If anyone of these unwanted races escaped genocide, then the plan was a failure…”

“I killed Armenians”: Diaries of a Turkish Captain Azil Kemal

You may read the first part

Captain Azil Kemal wrote in his diaries:

Monday April 26, 1915:

“After I finished my mission of exterminating all the Armenians in the village of Ilije last saturday, I received another mission from Colonel Tewfik bey Monasterli to locate an Armenian terrorist couple who assassinated the German officer Otto von Bommel in the town of Mamahatoun, in the Erzurum province in East Turkey. The German consul in this province was Scheuber-Richter.

While waiting to meet with the colonel, I joined a group of officers who were bragging about their ingenuous methods of disposing of Armenians. The methods at this junction of the extermination order were pretty artisanal.

Midhat Chukru took care of the town of Isbir: “I ordered the people who could walk to move to a field outside town and to dig a ditch 2 meters deep. They brought their own shovels and tools. Totally naked, I commanded the lot to descend to the ditch and to lie down and fill the ditch. And we buried them alive. The ones who looked up were shot in the head…”

I was enjoying these stories and could not listen to the remaining methods: The colonel had arrived.

Mamahatoun was about 100 km from Ilije and it took us 2 days to arrive at night. I declined the invitation of the kaymakam Cengiz Efkan (administrative servant of a canton or caza) to share dinner with him and sleep in his palace.

Early the next morning, I waited in the police post overlooking main square and let the zapties (soldiers and police force) and the Tchetes loose on the Armenian houses and shops. Yesterday, the Moslem properties had white circles printed on their doors.

The Tchetes are irregulars who were freed from prison for common crimes, and they depended of the Central Committee of the Ittihad party.

The Tchetes were to follow a procedure in the extermination process.

As 4 of them enter a house, first they kill the handicapped and elder people, they proceed to grabbing the babies in their legs and banging their heads on walls, then they raped the girls and slaughtered them afterward, and they loot all the valued objects they liked.

Killing in houses in the larger towns were prohibited for fear of spreading epidemics.

The product in shops were confiscated for the troops on the frontlines.

Many Chechens and Cherkessk volunteered for these dirty jobs on the promise of getting a house in the burned Armenian towns and villages…

And suddenly a total Silence hovered over the place. Cengiz said: “The job is finished. They are all dead

The sergeant shouted: “We caught the couple assassin of the German officer”

Sergeant Chemsi was cursing the couple “khenzil guiavour” (infidel pig)

Siranouch and Stepan Mardikian denied any wrongdoing. They were tortured in public. As the hands of the spouse were shopped off, Stepan had to satisfy the Turks with whatever charges they wanted him to confess. And they were shot.

I later learned that it was the vali of Erzurum who ordered the assassination in order to set the German officers against the Armenians. (Is it probable that this young German officer expressed opposition to the methods of killing?)

At night, I heard someone crying in the forest. A 20 year-old Turkish soldier was crying his heart out. I finally managed to hear the reason “It is not the killing of Armenians. It is the brutal methods used that do not dignify the human being. I cannot kill babies or rape women…”




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