Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The Armenian hero Turkey would prefer to forget

Posted by Fredsvenn on January 3, 2015

The Armenian hero Turkey would prefer to forget – The Armenian-Turkish officer Sarkis Torossian (Turkish: Sarkis Torosyan, 1891 – August 17, 1954) who was awarded medals by Enver Pasha, Turkey’s war minister and the most powerful man in the Ottoman hierarchy.

Torossian was a decorated Ottoman captain of Armenian descent who fought in the Gallipoli Campaign and according to his memoirs, was the first person to sink a British battleship.

After the Armenian Genocide however, when most of his family was massacred, he switched sides and joined the fight against Ottoman Empire. He later moved to the United States where he wrote and published his memoirs, From Dardanelles to Palestine: a true story of five battle fronts of Turkey.

His story has led to a debate in Turkey where Turkish historians have discredited the authenticity of his memoirs and with some historians claiming he never existed.

In anticipation of the publication of Torosian’s memoirs in Turkey by Ayhan Aktar, Torosian’s descendants were discovered by local historian Paul Vartan Sookiasian. From there, Taner Akcam interviewed Torosian’s granddaughter who described in detail about her grandfather’s life.

Meanwhile, there is a very important door that’s been cracked open by this book (Torossians memoarer nylig oversatt til tyrkisk) and Ayhan Aktar’s Introduction to it. It questions the place and image that Çanakkale (Gallipoli) plays in the Turkish national identity. The book reminds us that there were Arab units and Armenian soldiers fighting in the battle of Çanakkale. It states that the idea that the battle of Çanakkale was a “Turkish victory” must be questioned.

One of the reasons that nationalist circles have attacked the book is because of the way it has shaken this image. There’s another reason that this attack by these circles has been so strong. The government is trying to organize around Çanakkale as a counterpart to the Armenian genocide, as it faces the framework of a centennial anniversary of the Armenian genocide in 2015.

We know for a fact that there are big plans in place around the idea that “If the Armenians have their claims about genocide, we’ve got Çanakkale 1915”.

A very large celebration is in store, with Australia’s participation, where hundreds of thousands of attendees are expected. The plan is to memorialize Çanakkale as a “symbol of Turkish pain” and to plant it directly in front of the genocide of 1915.

The book with its preface has beckoned some clouds over the horizon on these plans.” – Doga Akar Bilgin 24.december, 2012

Sarkis Torossian

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