To a Nazi Friend

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), President of Turkey 1923-1938, inspired Hitler by killing hundreds of thousands

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), President of Turkey 1923-1938, inspired Hitler by killing hundreds of thousands

You will recall when we started talking and I said that Hitler had written in Mein Kampf that the Turks had got rid of the Armenians and the world had forgotten about it ten years later.

You at that time accurately said that that wasn’t in Mein Kampf.

You gave me a copy of the German original and, sure enough, it wasn’t there. Lots of passages where Adolf threatens to use force, but no explicit promise to do to the Jews what the Turks did to the Armenians.

The New York Review of Books, 2 April 2015, Steve Coll writing of “Hitler and the Muslims” (pp. 61-63):

Indeed in Ihrig’s account [Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination; Harvard University Press] the organized mass killing of Armenians by Turks during World War I . . . explicitly influenced Hitler’s thinking about the extermination of Jews as early as the 1920s.

So this guy Coll, the Dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, is reviewing a book by a fellow named Ihrig. Immediately after the sentence quoted Coll continues

Ihrig quotes a multipart essay published in Heimatland, an influential Nazi periodical, by Hans Tröbst, who had fought with the Kemalists [the troops of the Turkish Army which you might say “ethnically cleansed” post-World-War Asia Minor] during what Turks knew as the War of Independence:

“The bloodsuckers and parasites on the Turkish national body were Greeks and Armenians.  They had to be eradicated and rendered harmless; otherwise the whole struggle for freedom would have been put in jeopardy.  Gentle measures — history has always shown — will not do in such cases.  Almost all of those of foreign back]ground in the area of combat had to die.  Their number is not put too low with 500,000 [emphasis in original].

In incipient Nazi historiography, Ihrig writes, “the ‘fact’ that the New Turkey was a real and pure völkisch state, because no more Greeks or Armenians were left in Anatolia, was stressed time and again, in hundreds of  articles, texts, and speeches.”

Of course, the Nazi Holocaust was constructed in its own setting, from its own sources; one should not overemphasize the Armenian precedent, and Ihrig does not.

Yet here is a documented example from the early industrialization of ethnic murder in which one campaign of genocide influenced another.

In other words, the Turkish elimination of the Armenians was indeed an example the Nazis, not just Hitler, stressed they wanted to copy.  It was not in Mein Kampf, but it was true.

I should have told you the source for the Hitler quote, and why I believed it:  it was my mother who told me; she lived through those days, the 20s of the last century and the bloody annihilation of the Ionian Greek community.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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