Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Jean-Claude Belfiore

“I have to tell wife Anzi of my extermination mission…”

Note 1: The French author Jean-Claude Belfiore is from an Armenian mother and a Sicilian father. He had published “Hannibal: An unbelievable destiny“.

His second book that I reviewed in two parts was “I committed genocide on Armenians…” Diaries of a Turkish Captain.

He did his best to fool the reader that the book is a genuine diary from an actual Turkish officer.

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, with attached clips of old Turkish dailies.

This style angered me and the author replied to my review.

Note 1: Sunni Kurds in the outback Turkey (195-18) were hired to do the ugly killing and ransacking of villages and guarding the prisoners.

Note 2: Here is the reply JeanClaude BELFIORE to my review.

New comment on your post “”I committed genocide on Armenians…” Diaries of a Turkish Captain. Part 1″
Author : JeanClaude BELFIORE (IP: 141.0.8.139 , s09-13.opera-mini.net)
E-mail : jc.belfiore@gmail.com
URL    : http://belfiore.fr/jeanclaude/
Whois  : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/141.0.8.139
Comment:

Merci pour cette mise au point. Dans la publication d’un livre,  il y a des contraintes éditoriales que, peut-être, vous ignorez et sur lesquelles il serait trop long de revenir.

Mais rappelez-vous une chose: un texte publié, quel qu’il soit (un journal?), est différent du texte qu’on garde chez soi dans un tiroir.

Encore une fois, le “journal” est un genre littéraire à part entière, comme le récit, comme le théâtre: il a ses lois – des lois qui sont différentes de celles du journal qu’on tient à la maison.

Il ne faut pas essayer de comparer les deux. Le premier n’est pas moins sincère que le second. – Et c’est parce que le massacre des Arméniens est sérieux que j’ai choisi un Turc pour le raconter.

Autre chose.
Je préfère la traduction “I killed Armenians” (part II) plutôt que “I committed genocide”, qui est anachronique. Le mot “genocide” est apparu en 1944.
Merci de l’intérêt que vous portez à ce livre.
JeanClaude Belfiore

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  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/i-committed-genocide-on-armenians-diaries-of-a-turkish-captain/ 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 https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/05/24/kars-one-of-the-cursed-cities/

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 committed genocide on Armenians…” Diaries of a Turkish Captain (fiction novel)

The Turkish Captain  Azil Kemal was sent on a mission to Erzerum province (East of Turkey) on April 24, 1915.

The mission stated “Displace the Armenians from the villages of Erzerum, and you may give a larger meaning to the term “Displacement” if necessary...”

Azil Kemal kept a diary that ran for a month, from April 24 to May 25, 1915.

The province of Erzurum had many Armenian villages such as Mamahatoun, Ilije, Khenous, Mouch

In context first:

Catherine II of Russia had started extensive expansion toward the Ottoman provinces in the Caucasus and Turkey had to sign many treaties relinquishing vast territories. The was this trend: The Christians in general, and particularly the Armenians, sided with the invading orthodox Tsarist Russian troops and offered them logistical support and manpower. As the Russians occupied a Turkish town, the Armenians would “take revenge” for one reason or another…

In 1895, the Russian armies invaded Turkey again and when they withdrew, Sultan Abdul Hamid II ordered the extermination of Armenians and blamed them for the defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The campaign of killing lasted a year and no foreign nations complained.

In 1915, Turkey sided with Germany in WWI against France, England and Russia.

The Russian armies vanquished Enver Pasha (the strongman of the triumvirate of Young Turkey) at Sarikamich in January of 1915. Many young Armenians joined the Russian troops.

The Turks had blockaded the city of Van for a month in order to quell uprising in support of the Russian troops.

Enver had met with the German von der Goltz in Istanbul  on April 29, 1914 and planned the total extermination of Armenians.

Captain Azil Kemal wrote in his diary:

“Saturday, April 24, 1915,

The inhabitants of the village of Ilidje received the order “Men from age 16 to 70 are to assemble in the church early morning. The remaining people are to stay at home”

(Males from age 20 to 45 had already been dispatch far away to participate in public work. Mainly, the tacit reason was to gather all weapons from the armed Armenians)

The Kara-Sou river, a tributary of the Euphrates River, crosses Ilidje.

About 300 males gathered in the church. Azil gave order to group the people in lots of 30 and taken to the river.

The lot entered an embarkation and were asked to descend to the hold through a small opening. The lot was squeezed in an iron net and hauled out by a crane and the net was drowned in the fast river, with its human content.

In order to hasten the process, the lot was increased to 35 people.

At 1 pm, the soldiers and guards reclaimed a break for lunch, though we had about 100 to finish off.

We ate pasterma, salep, simit… We drank wine and raki and we smoked…

We returned to the village and we massacred the remaining invalids, women, children and babies.

By 5 pm, the village was emptied and we burned it down…” To be continued

Note 1: Talaat Pasha (the second in the triumvirate of revolutionary group of Young Turks) was minister of the interior and was to organize and execute the genocide plan. After the WWI war, he fled to Berlin in 1919 and was assassinated by Soghomon Tehlirian.

Note 2: Before the massacre of Ilidje, 30,000 Armenians were already killed in the town of Zeitoun in the center of Turkey.

Note 3: Azil Kemal, as most of the Young Turks were atheists, but it was convenient to bring the religious issue in order to “ethnically cleans” Turkey…

Note 4: The French author Jean-Claude Belfiore is from an Armenian mother and a Sicilian father. He published “Hannibal: An unbelievable destiny

Note 5:  The author did his best to fool the reader that the book is a genuine diary from an actual Turkish officer. 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) and that he was an Armenophone.

Note 6: It is infuriating to the reader to notice the great trouble that an author makes to fool the buyer. After the first two chapters, it become obvious that it is a novel written in 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 very funny dialogues.

A 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.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,398,731 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 745 other followers

%d bloggers like this: