Taner Akcam on Archive Purging

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ISTANBUL, December 29 (Noyan Tapan): The destruction of documents is "an important part of our culture," historian Taner Akcham, a representative of the progressive Turkish intelligentsia, writes in his large article concerning the purge of the Turkish archives. The article was published by the "Radical" newspaper in its Sunday appendix. In his article Akcham, at first, mentions the "Sabah" newspaper's publication from November 7 1918, where it is said that the government looked for the documents testifying about the massacre against the Armenians but couldn't find them. The newspaper's indicated article writes "Taleat Pasha and his company, probably, before leaving authority, ordered to destruct all the documents witnessing about their giving directions on the massacre. Akcham emphasizes that it was right, as the indictment against "the Young Turks", which was heard in the Istanbul Court Martial of the State of Siege in May 1919, writes that the documents concerning the administrative center of the "Ittihat" party and so-called Teshkilat Mahsuse organization were "stolen". In this connection the Prosecutor said that Aziz Bei, the Chief of Security of the region, took away with himself a lot of documents before Taleat Pasha's resignation and didn't return them. Then Taner Akcham cites numerous examples concerning the stealing and destruction of the documents and notices that during the "Ittihat's" power the following was written under all the instructions and documents concerning massacres: "Read and destruct after reading." Akcham mentions the self-defense of different officials in the courts, they reported that "they destructed the documents as they received such an order." In particular, Akcham sets as an example the 1919 action against Osman Nuri Effendi, the Deputy Director of the Chatalcha post office, who said: "I burned down all the documents in accordance with the received order. My chiefs ordered me to burn down the documents concerning the period of their power from such-and-such to such-and-such date and I did it.." The author of the article also sets other examples. According to the "Marmara" daily newspaper of Istanbul, at the end of the article the Turk historian notices: "As seen the destruction of documents is quite an important "administrative culture". For that reason some persons talk profusely with the quiet of those who know that the documents have already been destructed, that "nothing had happened with the Armenians, and all the documents are in their places." Perhaps, people of my generation will find some documents about their greats and promulgate them, arguing that beside those considering the destruction of documents as success, there are also such people that want to discover truth".

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