Friday, April 25, 2008

Swedish Archives Confirm: It Was A Genocide!



A recently conducted study at the Uppsala University has revealed
highly interesting information in the Swedish Archives, which once
again confirm the researchers' view of the events in the Ottoman
Turkey during the First World War: the Christian minorities, the
Armenians in particular, were subjected to genocide.

The massacres in Ottoman Turkey during the First World War claimed the
lives of approximately 1.5 million out of a world population of four
million Armenians, while over 250,000 Assyrians/Chadeans and equal
number of Pontic Greeks. In 1923, for the first time in over 2,500
years, Armenians no longer lived on 85 % of their fatherland. Thus,
the Armenian genocide was, in a sense, a successful genocide, acquiring
the perpetrators an Armenia without Armenians.

The conducted survey covers the period between 1915 and 1923 and
includes, among others, reports which the Swedish Ambassador, Cosswa
Anckarsvärd, and the Swedish Military Attaché, Einar af Wirsén,
both stationed in Constantinople, sent to the Foreign Department
(found in the National Archive) and the General Staff Headquarters
(found in the War Archive) in Stockholm, respectively. In total, about
eighty documents were found with direct relevance to the so-called
Armenian Question, of which some are over-explicit in their message:
the Turkish Government conducted a systematic extermination of the
Armenian Nation.

On July 6, 1915, Ambassador Anckarsvärd, writing to the Swedish
Foreign Minister, Knut Wallenberg, concludes: "Mr. Minister, The
persecutions of the Armenians have reached hair-raising proportions
and all points to the fact that the Young Turks want to seize the
opportunity, since due to different reasons there are no effective
external pressure to be feared, to once and for all put an end to the
Armenian question. The means for this are quite simple and consist
of the extermination [utrotandet] of the Armenian nation [emphasis
added]." Anckarsvärd's reports until 1920 persisted in the same
insight. At several occasions, the Ambassador points out that "It is
obvious that the Turks are taking the opportunity to, now during the
war, annihilate [utplåna] the Armenian nation [emphasis added] so that
when the peace comes no Armenian question longer exists." In a later
report (1917) he underlines that the massacres are not clashes between
the Muslim and the Armenian populations, but "that the persecutions of
Armenians have been done at the instigation of the Turkish Government
[emphasis added]..." As an explanation to the prevailing famine in
Turkey during 1917, the Embassy Envoy Alhgren mentions the shortage of
workers, which is claimed partly to be a result of "the extermination
of the Armenian race [utrotandet af den armeniska rasen] [emphasis
added]". Major Wirsén's reports to the General Staff concur with
Anckarsvärd's analysis. In 1942 Wirsén published his memoirs,
entitled Minnen från fred och krig ("Memories from Peace and War"),
reflecting upon his time as Swedish Military Attaché in the Balkans
and Turkey. In a chapter entitled Mordet på en nation ("The Murder of
a Nation"), Wirsén renders his observations of the Armenian massacres:
"Officially, these [deportations] had the goal to move the entire
Armenian population to the steppe regions of Northern Mesopotamia and
Syria, but in reality they aimed to exterminate [utrota] the Armenians
[emphasis added], whereby the pure Turkish element in Asia Minor would
achieve a dominating position." In the conclusion of this chapter he
recalls his conversation with the Turkish Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha
and notes: "The annihilation of the Armenian nation [emphasis added]
in Asia Minor must revolt all human feelings... The way the Armenian
problem was solved was hair-raising. I still can see in front of me
Talaat's cynical expression, when he emphasized that the Armenian
Question was solved."

The mentioned quotations are a fraction of the information presented
in the study. In addition to the mentioned archives of the Foreign
Ministry and the General Staff, the reports from the Swedish
missionaries and the Swedish newspapers were also included in the
study and concur with the same view.

The surveyed documents are mainly in regard to the Armenian Question,
but the data bed indicates that other Christian groups, such as Greeks
and Syriacs, were affected by the same fate.

The study clearly emphasises the concept of "bystander". While the word
itself implies that the bystanders do not participate in the genocide,
some contend that they are far from just a neutral viewer to the
tragedy, but passive participators in the annihilation. The British
statesman and political thinker Edmund Burke's statement captures
the essence of the bystanders to genocide: "the only thing necessary
for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The documents
clearly indicate that the Swedish Government was well informed about
the state-orchestrated extermination of the Armenians. They also
disclose that the Government, fully in accordance with the policy
of a small state, consciously chose not to intervene in the matter,
neither during the massacres nor after when the League of Nations
suggested Sweden as a mandate power in Armenia.

While resorting to isolationism during the period of the implementation
of the genocide, Sweden followed the general stream, in particular that
of the Major Power's, during the post-war period when the question
of securing the future of the Armenian Nation was discussed. Sweden,
as all other states, chose to secure its national interests rather
than standing out from the rest by advocating Armenia's right and the
question of punishing the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide. The
present-day Swedish Government does not seem to be willing to become
involved in the question either. Just last fall, the Foreign Minister
Carl Bildt, during an interpellation in the Swedish Parliament,
refrained from officially recognising the 1915 genocide, partly
by referring to "the need of additional research about what really
transpired in the Ottoman Empire."

The surveyed documents should at least quench that need; the official
reports from the Swedish Ambassador and the Swedish Military Attaché
in Constantinople are unambiguous: Armenians were subjected to

The study in its whole is included in a master thesis paper
which will be presented in the Higher Seminar at the Uppsala
University's Department of History. It will also be available at

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