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  • callbarred
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2004
      Excerpts from a research by Roupen R. Kouyoumdjian BSc., MSc.
      Member of the Armenian National Committee of Canada

      1) Dr. Ayhan Aktar, Varlik Vergisi ve 'Türklestirme' Politikalari
      (The Capital Tax and and the politics of turquification), Iletisim
      Publishers, Istanbul, 2000, page 24.
      2) Ibid. pages 19, 41.
      3) Ridvan Akar, Askale Yolculariâ€"Varlik Vergisi ve Çalisma Kamplari
      (Passengers to Askaleâ€"Capitial Tax and forced labour camps), Belge
      Uluslararasi Yayincilik, Istanbul, 1999.
      4) Ayhan Aktar, op. cit. pages 71-74, 92-93.
      5) Ridvan Akar, op. cit. page 204.
      6) Ibid. page 243.
      7) Ibid, page 5.
      8) Ibid, page 185.
      9) Ibid, page 186-187.
      10) Dr Ayhan Aktar, op.cit., pages 24, 243.

      Additional Reference:
      Faik Ökte, Varlik Vergisi Faciasi, Nebioglu Publishers, Istanbul,
      1951. English translation: Faik Ökte, The Tragedy of the Turkish
      Capital Tax (translated by Geoffrey Cox), Croom Helm Publishers, USA,

      It is with the goal of providing a retrospective summary and
      exploration that we will review the major historical events in Turkey
      in the 20th century, their immediate impact and subsequent

      The 20th century remains engraved as a bloody chapter in the history
      of humanity. Our planet was the site of two world wars, several
      regional conflicts, escalation of human rights violations, repetitive
      ethnic cleansings, profusive pogroms, many recognized and ignored
      genocides, numerous incidents of ferocity and barbarism, at times
      frenetic and hysterical, but undoubtedly humiliating and
      unacceptable, destructive of all universally recognized concepts of
      human dignity accepted throughout time.
      Turkey has been one of the countries where its leaders have used this
      type of radical bloody method. This is why particular attention must
      be paid to Turkey, especially if we consider how the Western powers
      have tolerated and blessed their behavior, allowing it to avoid
      sanctions it merited, due to the military-economic order and
      consequently established alliances.
      Nevertheless, we have an undeniable obligation as well as a
      historical responsibility to explore the various scenarios and
      nightmarish episodes that leave us no room to maneuver in regards to
      subjective theory considered superfluous in these circumstances.

      * * *

      At the beginning of the 20th century, Turkey found itself at the
      crossroads of several ideologies that generated political tendencies
      comparatively nuanced, but nonetheless all having a totalitarian
      dimension which called for the exclusion of “others”, undesirables,
      as an integral part of their agenda.
      In this political debate, with intellectual and religious overtones,
      the philosophy around which they were to form a society or country
      centered around tendencies construed as Ottomist, pan-islamist, pan-
      touranist and Turkist. In this context, we will abstain from
      comparing these various tendencies. Nevertheless all these tendencies
      converged on a redefinition of the national identity: elimination,
      assimilation, cleansing of “undesirable elements” was the order of
      the day.
      The operational image already sketched was but a mirror reflection of
      the ideological obsessions, which needed to be named.
      The debates around the table, be it in the political scene or in the
      hallways, made a judicious and opportune choice. The Turkism or the
      Turkification was to be the mobilizing symbol of their machinations.
      The name given to this regime, as history has shown us, served as a
      disguise for the extremist operations already designed and
      established. Even the most skeptical took part because the
      organizational aspect of Turkism responded to the majority including
      the extreme radicals.
      The first chapter of this operation involved the integral cleansing
      of Anatolia of non-muslim ethnic minorities. On April 24, 1915, the
      Armenian people were subjected to the first genocide of the 20th
      century. The toll of this butchery was over 1.5 million victims.
      “Before the first world war, 20% of the population inside the
      frontiers of Turkey were non-muslims, after the war this percentage
      was 2.5%”(1)
      The second stage of this first chapter concerned the citizens of
      Greek descent. The expulsion and evacuation of this minority was in
      progress from 1918. In 1923, the year the treaty of Lausanne was
      signed, 1.5 million Turkish citizens of Greek origin were expulsed
      through legislation under the guise of an agreement of reciprocity.
      Only the Turkish citizens living in Istanbul were saved.(2)
      It is easy to see that in the space of 8 years, from 1915 to 1923, a
      total of 3 million Turkish non-muslim citizens were removed from the
      map, half through a genocidal act, the rest through expulsion.
      The 2nd chapter of this operation was consummated through the
      adoption of a special law concerning “Capital Taxes”
      The application of this law was a sordid operation demonstrating the
      shabbiness of the government in regards to its minorities.
      A special commission mandated by the government would have
      jurisdiction and decisional power to establish this infamous tax (or
      surtax) in regards to the goods (property) of the individual. The
      powers given to the arbitrator led to injustices beyond the call. The
      outrageous sums had no logical basis in regards to the financial
      potential of the individual. In this inhuman process, non-muslim
      ethnic groups were particularly hard hit.
      A delay of 2 weeks was given to the victims of this tax to make
      payments. Confiscations, auction of goods at ridiculous prices were
      the next steps. For those who could not meet the financial burden of
      this tax, deportation to a concentration camp in the east of the
      country (Erzurum-Askale) was called for. In brief, 5 to 6 thousand
      people were deported, including the old who died because they were
      unable to survive the harsh conditions. The choice of the date is
      revealing of the privileged values of the government.(3)
      This bludgeoning law (adopted on the 11th of November 1942, No. 4305)
      which theoretically targeted all goods in the country was another
      humiliating episode for the “Turkish Republic” with its segragative
      character and law, leaving no doubt on the real intentions of the
      government in regards of keeping the advancement of its mandate for
      the turkification of all its territory. The Armenian genocide of 1915
      assured the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians coupled with the
      expulsion of 1.5 million Greeks; this bludgeoning law constituted
      another brutal blow to minorities (Jews, Armenians, Greeks) in order
      to destroy them economically. Certain Turkish authors have referred
      this tax as being a form of “economic” genocide.
      The preferred target of this economically devastating law was the
      city of Istanbul, where non-muslim minorities were compressed due to
      the violent measures of successive governments; Armenians escaping
      the genocide, Istanbul Greeks who avoided the expulsion, and Jews.
      It is interesting to note how the Jews, who were dispersed in the 6
      cities of Thrace (Northwest region of country), came to be compressed
      in Istanbul. An analysis of this “economic” genocide, brings to light
      a new dimension regarding the complicity of the Turkish government in
      the preparatory phase of the Jewish Holocaust.
      At the beginning of the 1930’s, the two countries allied during the
      first world war (Turkey and Germany) were both governed by regimes
      which were totalitarian in nature, centralized, with Turkism and
      Nazism as the fundamental objective. The principal element was the
      elimination of the undesirable elements, coupled with expansionism.
      References put at our disposition a series of documents and
      statistics (from the British and American archives) that prove
      unequivocally the complicity and the culpability of the Turkish
      government in the events of 1934, during which tens of thousands of
      Turkish citizens of Jewish origin were victims of systematic
      violence, harassment, pillaging, rape, pogroms; they were forced to
      flee their native cities (Kirklareli, Loleburgaz, Edirne, Babaeski,
      Uzunkopru, Canakkale, Geliboluâ€"i.e. Northern Turkey, Thrace Region)
      abandoning all their property and goods, uprooted and gone as
      refugees to Istanbul.(4)
      The written and oral press let pass under silence these horrifying
      events of capital importance, the archives are clear of commentary,
      inaccessible or simply expunged by government order. The bulk of
      information we have gathered is from the archives of the United
      States and Great Britain, thanks to the research of Dr. A. Aktar.
      A comparative study of the two regimes points out their affinities,
      their synchronicity and parallels which are striking.
      Here are the events which show clearly the complicity of Kemalist
      Turkey with Nazi Germany.
      While on June 30, 1934, Hitler erases his opposition with a bloody
      purge (the Night of the Long Knives), in Turkey, the anti-Semite
      movement reaches its culminating point (from March to June 1934).
      Several cities with substantial amounts of Jewish communities are
      rocked by violence, organized pogroms with the support of the
      government. More than 10 000 citizens of Jewish origin are obligated
      to flee to Istanbul, where all 3 ethnic groups gather unknowingly
      waiting for the guillotine cut under the guise of the legislation of
      1942 (Capital Tax)
      What is the principal reason the government used this strategy of
      regrouping the victims of these successive atrocities in Istanbul?
      The response is furnished for us in the contents of a report from the
      9th Bureau (responsible for Minority issues) of CHP, the single party
      dominating Turkish politics (the multi-party system did not begin in
      Turkey until 1946).
      “We will force them using all means possible to leave their home
      cities. This deportation must be funneled to Istanbul to limit their
      demographic growth and avoid their spread. It will facilitate our
      implementation of a global solution and its execution”.(5)

      â€"At the beginning of 1934, precisely on May 10, the distribution of
      swastikas by student associations at the university level had begun.

      â€"One of the significant dimensions of the operational chronological
      synchronicity between Turkey and Germany is shown through the
      presence of German officials in the guise of assistant professors
      (high school level), accompanied by their colleagues in the Turkish
      army, whose ultimate purpose was the promotion of nazism.(6)

      â€"A clandestine agreement with Nazi Germany to prevent Jewish
      immigration to Turkey.
      On December 15, 1941, the ship “Struma” with 761 Jewish passengers
      fleeing the Nazi invasion arrives in Istanbul and asks for
      authorization to cross the Bosphorus. Anchored in the port, the ship
      is made to wait until February 24, 1942 when its request is denied.
      Famine, lack of water and dysentery take their toll on passengers.
      The ship is forced to turn around and head back. In the Black Sea,
      the ship is torpedoed by a submarine. The result is 760 victims and 1
      survivor, Mr. David Stollar. 24 hours after this tragedy, the Prime
      Minister of the era, Refik Saydam, makes the following declaration.
      “Turkey cannot be the destination of undesirable refugees”

      â€"In 1942, Hitler officially called for the extermination of the Jews
      of Europe. On November 11 of the same year, S. Saracoglu, the Prime
      Minister of Turkey, adopts the law of “Capital Tax” to destroy
      economically the 3 minority groups, namely the Jews, Armenians and
      Greeks, who were already regrouped in Istanbul.

      â€" The invasion of Poland on the 1st of September 1939 signaled the
      start of the Second World War. Turkey maintained an artificial
      neutrality, nonetheless it watched with an attentive eye the
      progression of the German forces in Russia. The defeat of the Germans
      at Stalingrad and the surrender of their army on this front (February
      2, 1943) squashed the dreams of Turkish diplomacy that was waiting
      for the proper moment to conquer Armenia and the rest of the Caucuses
      in an effort to relaunch its expansionist plans.

      Since 1930, the regimes of the 2 allies of the First World War were
      comparable; totalitarian, centered on nationalism and expansionism.
      The two regimes had the same plan of action, were different in
      timing, but notably similar in schedule, synchronization and
      chronology. The masking of the plan, along with the complicity of the
      media, completed the process of criminal xenophobia until the end of
      the Second World War. It is in this context that the preliminary
      phase of the Jewish Holocaust was hatched in Turkey with the
      complicity of the Turkish Government.

      The following illustration provides the opportunity to view the
      harmonious relationship which existed between the regimes. A
      comparative analysis is very persuasive and includes the following
      “They (the Jews) monopolize all the financial transactions and the
      commerce. Their natural impertinence and their fortunes create
      jealousies. This antipathy is cultivated by them and incites hatred.
      This digs an abyss between the head of the household and his guest.”
      (Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler)
      “Against those who profit from the hospitality offered by this
      country and become wealthy, while at the same time abrogate their
      responsibilities at this critical moment, the law will be applied
      with full force”. (Speech by Sukru Suracoglu, Prime Minister of the
      Republic of Turkey, cited in Cumhuriyet Daily, January 21, 1943)(7)

      During the sombre period where this special law was applied
      vigorously, the 9th Bureau of CHP, in charge of minority issues,
      published an internal report.
      It is important to note once again how successive Turkish governments
      were vigilant in executing their sordid plans in the short and long
      term. Here is a resume of this famous report with emphasis on its
      recommendations and schedules.
      The section concerning the Armenians.
      “Those who still remain in Anatolia must be evacuated at all cost. We
      must stop their growth and create situations to force them to
      emigrate to Istanbul. When the time (future) comes, it is necessary
      to find a global solution for all those concerned (minorities).
      According to this report “Armenians are not assimilable and those who
      survive must be encouraged to depart (emigrate)”.
      The section concerning the Greeks.
      “The Greeks no longer represent a danger”(especially after the
      expulsion of 1.5 million Greeks in 1923), but there were those who
      were forced to move to Istanbul. The recommendation of the report is
      very clear. “On the 500th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul by
      the Ottoman forces, not one Greek should be left in the city.”
      The section concerning the Jews.
      In the first section of the report, judgments in regards to
      the “humiliating” history of the Jewish people, citing the fact that
      for 2000 years this people had neither a country or an ancestral
      homeland are made. Nomadic, this people is completely devoid of
      nationalistic pride and honour. The only objective for this people is
      money and influence.
      The second section of the report is concerning its
      recommendations. “Stop all Jewish immigration, while provoking
      incidents within the country with the goal of creating a Jewish
      exodus, keep them away from all government activity, be it financial
      or economic”.(9)
      The recommendations of this report were realized to the letter. Other
      historic events which occurred after the application of the special
      law of 1942 (Capital Tax) confirmed the Machiavellian agenda which
      was adopted.
      This loyalty to the operational aspect of the plan had the desired
      results. Humiliated and intimidated, while searching for a viable and
      permanent solution to their situation, 40 000 Turkish citizens of
      Jewish origin fled Istanbul once the state of Israel was established
      in 1948.
      While most Muslim nations refused to recognize the State of Israel,
      Turkey was the first Muslim nation to do so, following in the
      footsteps of the United States.
      The reasons behind their political strategy are clearly
      opportunistic. This provides a diplomatic way of “apologizing” to the
      state of Israel for its treatment of Jewish citizens, and at the same
      time appease the Western powers for its links and partnership with
      Nazi Germany. Finally this strategy provided Turkey with the
      opportunity to enter into NATO, a particularly privileged status,
      which permitted it to secure preferential credits and at the same
      time get closer to the Western powers.
      The recommendations of the 9th Bureau of the CHP were religiously
      respected. Thus, for those of the Greek community, the recommendation
      was as we recall, that at the 500th anniversary of the conquest of
      Istanbul, no Greek was to be left in the city.
      At the beginning of the 1950’s the political relations between Turkey
      and Greece were excessively strained due to the Cyprus issue. The
      consequences of this tension were extremely dire for the remaining
      minorities in Istanbul, notably the Greek community.
      The explosion of a bomb in Salonica (Greece), coupled with an
      assassination attempt at the ancestral home of Mustapha Kemal, the
      founder of the Turkish Republic and First President, exasperated a
      hostile environment and led to the events of September 6-7, 1955:
      pillaging, rapes, destruction of minority property in Istanbul. The
      late intervention of the army ended the riots. The damage was
      irreparable. Several years later, the troubling revelations made
      under the guise of testimony in front of the civil-military courts
      (the judges were named by the military junta) showed that the bombing
      was the work of a man of Turkish origin in service to government
      This was the beginning of another period of exodus for all
      minorities, most particularly the Greeks. The recommendations
      stipulated in the report of the 9th Bureau were executed to the
      letter albeit 2 years later than called for (1955 instead of 1953).
      The official end of the Greek community in Istanbul was consummated
      in 1964 when the government adopted a special decree forcing the
      expulsion of Greeks from Istanbul.
      In general, the stages of this demographic erosion, caused by
      premeditated incidents, can be resumed in the following manner:(10)

      Year % of non-muslim minorities of the total population
      1914 20 %
      1918 2.5 %
      1935 1.98 %
      1945 1.56 %
      1955 1.08 %
      1980 0.1 %

      Nevertheless, the turkification project for the entire country is
      still not complete. For a pureblooded turkist, the ideal image is a
      homogenous country where all the remaining Muslim non-turkish
      minorities such as the Kurds, Lazes, Tcherkesses... etc. are either
      exterminated or assimilated.

      * * *

      Inaugurated under the cover of an academic movement, pan-touranism
      became politicized, even hyper-politicized, during the First World
      War. It manifested itself in a course of action which was well
      defined. It also formed alliances waiting for its moment of action.
      The horrors of 1915 (the physical extermination of the Armenian
      people, as well as the liquidation of their geo-political rights)
      must be reviled as the sinister program of the government of Talaat
      (the Young Turk government). This program was much more than
      an “academic and cultural” turkification.
      The Young-Turks, half pan-islamists, half pan-touranists, still in
      the concepts of Ottomanism, limited themselves to cleansing Turkey of
      Armenians and partially Greeks. Nonetheless, the total Turkification
      of the country became the ultimate project of successive governments
      throughout the 20th century. These governments were unrelenting in
      their march forward, and agonized entire groups. With patience, they
      executed each stage of the plan. The Germanophile Ittihadistes
      succeeded through opportunism to turn national patriotism into
      national racism.
      The 20th century may have provided for a period of national
      renaissance, but it did not signify a spiritual renaissance, or a
      conversion to principals which were more progressive, with higher
      humanitarian ideals â€" like some people naively believed it would be.
      We leave to your judgment the evaluation of this renaissance and the
      naming of this “offspring” of Western “impotence”, which through
      their role as quiet accomplices assisted in the massacre and
      annihilation of innocent people.
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