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Akcam to Discuss ‘Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide’ at Columbia on March 28

NEW YORK—Professor Taner Akcam will be delivering a talk titled “Killing Orders: Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide” at Columbia University on March 28, at 8 p.m.

The lecture will be followed by a signing of Akcam’s newly-published book of the same title. The event will take place at 329 Pupin Hall, 538 West 120th Street (at Broadway), Columbia University.

The program is co-sponsored by the Armenian Center at Columbia University, the Research Institute on Turkey (RIT), the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), and Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR).

In the immediate aftermath of the Armenian Genocide, Aram Andonian, an intellectual and survivor, sought out documents to establish the historical record about deportations and massacres. In 1918, Naim Efendi, an Ottoman bureaucrat in Aleppo sold to Andonian a cache of 21 original Ottoman documents, along with his handwritten memoir. The memoir included a total of 52 original documents Naim had copied by hand. In 1921, Andonian published The Memoirs of Naim Bey, illustrated with 14 of the original documents. Some of these documents originated with the Minister of Interior Talat Pasha, the architect of the genocide, and contain direct orders for the killing of Armenians.

A 1983 book, published by the Turkish Historical Society, asserted that these documents were forgeries. The claim was based on three arguments: 1. An Ottoman bureaucrat named Naim Effendi never existed; 2. this non-existent person can’t have written a memoir; 3. the original documents must be fakes as they contain significant mistakes relating to signatures and dates. Indeed, until today, no evidence was found to prove the existence of a government official named Naim Effendi which would likewise make it possible to authenticate the memoir. The original documents, meanwhile, remained missing. Thus, it was impossible to refute the arguments of the Turkish Historical Society, which were accepted as truthful and made historians reluctant to use them as evidence. The topic was remembered as “the fake telegraphs attributed to Talat Pasha.”

Akcam has uncovered the missing evidence needed to disprove the claims of the Turkish Historical Society. He has established that Naim Bey was an Ottoman official in Aleppo, he has discovered original copies of his memoirs, and he has proven that the documents presented within it are genuine. We now have evidence demonstrating that the Turkish Historical Society distorted the truth: both the memoir, as well as the kill orders of Talat Pasha are authentic.

Akcam holds the Robert Aram and Marianne Kaloosdian and Stephen & Marian Mugar Endowed Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University. He is the author of more than ten scholarly works as well as numerous articles in Turkish, German, and English on Armenian Genocide and Turkish Nationalism. His most known books are A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (Metropolitan Books, 2006, received the 2007 Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction) and Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire (Princeton University Press, 2012, awarded in 2013 Hourani Book Prize of The Middle East Studies Association; and selected as one of Foreign Affairs’ Best Books on the Middle East for 2012). Akçam’s latest book is “Killing Orders: Talat Pasha’s Telegrams and the Armenian Genocide (Palgrave, 2018)

For more information about this program, contact Prof. Khatchig Mouradian at km3253@columbia.edu.


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