FRONTLINE/World [home]

Search FRONTLINE/World

FRONTLINE/World Rough Cut
family history image woman crying family photo

Rough Cut
Turkey: A Family Erased
Revisiting a bitter history
 

 

George Kachadorian

George Kachadorian is an independent documentary filmmaker based in New Hampshire. His documentary feature Divining Mom (2003) premiered on national television in 2003. His latest film, Shooting Beauty, chronicles a twentysomething photographer who discovers a hidden world of beauty at a center for people living with significant disabilities.

Watch Video

Length: 12:12

My Uncle Sam Ohannessian was quirky. He was a short man, a tailor by trade, who seemed unable to sit still -- always nervous, always moving. Some people said that he was overly protective of his kids, for not letting them outside to play sometimes for fear they would get hurt. The family rarely if ever spoke about Uncle Sam's childhood history. But everybody knew.

Setrak Ohannessian, or "Uncle Sam," was born in historic Armenia at a very bad time. When he was 14 years old, the Turkish government raided his village and murdered his father, along with all other male ages 15 to 62. The first genocide of the 21st century had begun and my uncle found himself on a forced migration (a.k.a. death march) into the Syrian Desert. The journey would claim the lives of his mother, little brother, and grandmother who, as my family tells it, offered Sam her last hidden morsels of food.

Sam Ohannessian

Setrak Ohannessian, or "Uncle Sam," was born in historic Armenia at a very bad time. When he was 14 years old, the Turkish government raided his village and murdered his father, along with all other male ages 15 to 62.

"In the 60 years I knew him," my father told me, "[Sam] mentioned [the genocide] only once -- when I asked him what he remembered. He said that sitting in the security of a home in Haverhill, Massachusetts, one could not possibly imagine what it was like. He told me that the definition of a good day was one in which you made it through alive."

It is now common knowledge that 80 percent of the world's ethnic Armenians, somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million, were wiped out between 1915 and 1917 when their government, ruled by Ottoman Turks, decided to erase the Armenians. A wealth of research in the last decade has brought to light the extent and the severity of this organized "campaign of race extermination," and thanks to the work of writers like Taner Ak├žam, Peter Balakian and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, the truth is slowly emerging. What has become clear is that the Ottoman Turks made an organized effort to erase not only the Armenians but every trace of Armenian culture from the face of the earth.

They failed.

map

When many Armenians arrived in their new homeland, photos, documents, and artifacts from the old country were scarce. Some got together and drew maps -- as best they could from memory -- showing the layout of their ancestral villages.

The surviving Armenians, known as the Armenian diaspora, scattered themselves around the globe. When my family, like many, arrived in their new homeland, photos, documents, and artifacts from the old country were scarce. So some of them got together and drew maps -- as best they could from memory -- showing the layout of our ancestral villages. Others put their memories into books, written mostly in Armenian, describing village life before the genocide.

After a lifetime of wondering where we came from, my father, Jim, and his sisters, Elaine, Marion and Georgiana, decided to make a journey back to historic Armenia, a few hundred miles from the Iraqi border in eastern Turkey.

Their trip coincided with a flare-up of international tensions over a U.S. bill that would formally acknowledge the mass killings as genocide. The government of Turkey strongly denounced the bill, calling the movement's efforts to recognize the killings as genocide "a systematic campaign of defamation carried out by Armenian lobbying groups."

In Turkey, there was legislation enacted to prevent people from talking about it, with the threat of prison to anyone who "publicly denigrates Turkishness, the Republic or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey." The Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk was subsequently charged for saying that 1 million Armenians had been killed in Turkey, though the charges were later dropped.

For my family, the situation only added to the expectation that the trip would be a tough one, on many levels. But as "A Family Erased" shows, what they found in the eyes of the Turkish children surprised them, on a journey that would change their lives forever.

-- George Kachadorian


Comments for this page are closed.

REACTIONS

Brenda Markarian - LOS ANGELES, CA
To all the people who think airing this story is one-sided, would you feel the same if there was a story about the Holocaust? Absolutely not. You would not deny that it happened or accuse PBS of being bias. The only difference between the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide is that Germany has taken responsibility for what happened in its history and Turkey still refuses to do so.There are no less facts proving the attempts at ethnic cleansing that occurred in Turkey against the Armenians. You and I were not there, but death marches, mass rapes, starvation, torture, and horror are well documented. The sheer scale of the death toll alone is evidence of the systematic plan to eliminate the Armenians. Armenians are not asking for reparations. We just want recognition. As human beings, we cannot possibly work to prevent genocide from occuring if we don't recognize that it happened in the past.

FRONTLINE/World's editors respond:
Since posting George Kachadorian's "Turkey: A Family Erased," we've received a number of thoughtful and impassioned responses, some of which have been critical of the tone of the piece and some of its claims.

This is not surprising, considering that the piece -- a 12-minute, personal essay focused on the experience of just one Armenian family told by one of its members -- amounts to a compelling but small contribution to the very large body of work by filmmakers, writers, scholars, and others to understand the events that took place in Armenia during World War I and its aftermath.

As a number of respondents have pointed out, these issues were given a much fuller airing on public television in 2006 with the broadcast of an hour-long historical documentary, followed by a panel discussion which featured strong voices on both sides. At the time, the PBS Ombudsman, Michael Getler, pursued a number of questions surrounding these broadcasts and wrote a series of authoritative responses which address most of the ongoing concerns about how PBS treats these events.

"The Armenian Genocide"by Michael Getler, March 17, 2006


Documenting and Debating a 'Genocide', by Michael Getler, April 21, 2006

In the end, Getler finds that the documentary and panel discussion were worth airing for the same reason that we believe it was worth posting Kachadorian's essay: It's "a reminder about a very important event that is probably on the most remote edge of awareness, if that, for millions of Americans who don't happen to be of Armenian or Turkish origin."

Since Getler's posts, the United States House of Representatives failed in an attempt to pass a resolution recognizing an Armenian genocide. For a treatment of the politics that surround the issue, see:

The Politics of the Armenian Genocide, by John J. Pitney, Jr, November 2nd, 2007

For a discussion of the range of academic opinion that informed the debate in Congress, see:

Genocide Deniers

While we recognize that some may dispute official estimates of the Armenian dead, and that there remains plenty of room for scholarly inquiry into the deeply complicated events of that time, we think Kachadorian's piece, in its unqualified assertion of genocide, is squarely within the current scholarly consensus on the issue. We await future opportunities to tell more stories -- from all possible angles and viewpoints -- that help us reckon with this difficult history.

Response from Filmmaker George Kachadorian:

I did not decide to produce this piece to settle any "debate" surrounding the Armenian genocide. The abundant and overwhelming evidence on the subject makes the truth hard to dispute. The International Association of Genocide Scholars calls the Armenian genocide "the most well-known human rights issue of its time... reported regularly in newspapers across the United States and Europe. The Armenian Genocide is abundantly documented by thousands of official records of the United States and nations around the world, including Turkey's wartime allies Germany, Austria and Hungary, by Ottoman court-martial records, by eyewitness accounts of missionaries and diplomats, by the testimony of survivors, and by decades of historical scholarship." They go on to note that

"There are over four thousand U. S. State Department reports in the National Archives, written by neutral American diplomats, confirming what U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau called `a campaign of race extermination.'"

In June 2000, 126 of the world's leading holocaust scholars, including Elie Wiesel and Yehuda Bauer, ran a statement in The New York Times urging Western democracies to acknowledge the "incontestable fact of the Armenian Genocide." Just yesterday, a small group of Turkish academics risked prosecution to issue a public apology for the "Great Catastrophe that Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915."

"A Family Erased" is a story about my family trying to come to terms with a reality that is so horrific it might be easier to ignore. It has taken generations for my family to confront the silence surrounding this history. The first generation of shell-shocked survivors came to this country hard pressed to get their feet back under themselves just as the Great Depression began. The next generation felt the McCarthy era cultural pressure to assimilate. While they sent money back to "the old country," they, too, remained silent about the past. It is only my father's generation that has begun to speak out, the first step in figuring out how to cope with our history as a family and as a people. Now it is up to my generation to take it from here.

I leave you with this quote from Robert Smith, Eric Markusen and Robert Jay
Lifton's essay "Professional Ethics and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide":

"Where scholars deny genocide in the face of decisive evidence ... they contribute to false consciousness that can have the most dire reverberations. Their message, in effect, is ... mass murder requires no confrontation, but should be ignored, glossed over. In this way scholars lend their considerable authority to the acceptance of this ultimate crime."

Dave Gabrian - Monterey, California
Somehow, the phenomenon of all of the outraged Turkish nationals seems the most interesting component of the story. Maybe there should be a documentary on that, and a confrontation of the deniers with the scholarship that is forbidden from publication in Turkey?

Despite these shrill Turkish revisionist voices in the discussion section of everything broaching the subject, I think most Americans understand that Turkey is a lovely place filled with lovely people who are not represented by their right-wing outliers any more than Americans are.

(anonymous)
There can be no comparison between what happened in 1915 and the Holocaust. What happened in the Ottoman Empire was that a sovereign state forcibly moved and relocated a segment of its own population, based on race, in what was declared to be an internal security operation. The fact that the whole operation was not effectively planned, and that hundreds of thousands of the people forcefully died along the way of starvation, disease, fatigue and attacks by Turks and Kurds does not absolve the government of the time of responsibility. What happened in Eastern Turkey at that time is now history. It should be left up to the historians to research, find and declare the facts of what happened, instead of making it a political agenda. So what if the international community accepts that it was a genocide? Do you think that the Turkish government will accept it as such? That will only serve to alienate Turkey from the world community. The Turkish and Armenian populations should engage in communications and cooperation. Given a chance and enough time, I am sure that they will reconcile their differences and even make amends. The propaganda being waged by the Armenian diaspora and the nationalist elements within Armenia itself about recognizing the genocide is politically motivated. Cooperation and peace between Turkey and Armenia will help the Armenians living in Armenia much more than the diaspora.

(anonymous)
i am quite surprised with extremely biased nature of this doc. I would have expected a more balanced approach from frontline. The emotional manipulation of the facts is really amazing. No one can deny the horrible crimes that undoubtedly happened to this poor family but to make all armenians seem like the innocent victims of an unprovoked response unfairly demonizes the turks and lacks honesty and perspective. Please allow follow-up documentary with turkish and armenian commentators to accurately depict these tragic events with actual substantiated facts. That map of historic Armenia for one is presented as an undisputed fact! No mention of the brutal murder of muslims, (turks, kurds, azeris), by the extreme armenian factions was made in this doc, and those groups are as responsible for the atrocities as the turkish perpetrators.....Honesty is needed in this discussion

John Grossman - Concord, Ca
I have Armenian friends talking about Turkish massacres and Turkish friends talking about Armenian massacres. Who is right??? Both say they have proof. All the archieves from both sides must be opened and studied. That is the only way to solve the problem.

New York, NY
This was an AMAZING film. Thank you so much for making it. It was really touching.
Thank you very much.

Ozge Unel - Madison, WI
Please refer to historical facts and documents. Both sides must come together and share what they have in their archives instead of accusing each other on genocide.

(anonymous)
you are all liars!!!!

Renton, Wa
Response to the Editor's response:
Your response shows clearly that you still either "don't get it" or your are deliberately ignoring the facts. Your statement "we recognize that some may dispute official estimates of the Armenian dead" speaks volumes about your carelessness and lack of research in this debate. The number of deaths is not the issue here; both sides agree that the deaths are in the hundreds of thousands. The issue is that Armenian Revolutionaries (by their own admission) rebelled against their own government and mercilessly killed thousands of defenseless Turkish civilians at a time when the entire population was extremely vulnerable. Labeling the Turkish response as "Genocide" is tantamount to disregarding the value of these innocent Muslim Turkish lives and counting only the Christian Armenian Lives. What is missed in this one-sided account is the truly warm friendship that existed between the Turks and Armenians and the subsequent developments that poisoned this relationship and later led to the great tragedy of 1915. Frontline would have us believe that those facts are not important enough to warrant our attention and slanderous accusations of "Genocide Denial" coming from the Christian Armenians against the Muslim Turks are a good and fair use of PBS airtime here in the Christian West. An individual in the film asks, "How could these people [Turks] be so gracious and I know the deeds that were perpetrated here?" The answer is that in any location on Earth, there are criminal elements that are held in check only by a powerful government and police force. In April 1915, there was a breakdown of law and order in Eastern Anatolia when all able-bodied men -including policemen- were called to defend the country from the huge invasion at Gallipoli in Western Anatolia.

Istanbul, Turkey
Unfortunately the voices of ignorants are louder and more violent than reason. Anyone who vehemently denies that this terrible genocide ever happened is committing the crime of stupidity.

Reg Pecen - Cedar Falls, Iowa
Today, Turkey and Armenia are in the era of hope, tolerance, understanding, and establishing a mutually development opportunity to a bright future. I truly congratulate both Turkish and Armenian presidents and people for these important peace efforts. If these two nations would be enemy, the only winners will be greedy Warlords and arm/weapon lobbies, particularly here in the United States and abroad by selling both sides billions of $$$ cost useless weapons. The only way both sides will be happy is mutual understanding, opening historical archives as Turkey have done, opening borders, promoting economical and educational development, establishing exchange students and faculty, and overall enhancement in both economies. I find objectives of this video clip are wrong, ill-conditioned and one sided and do not help to peace at all. Once a time Armenian minorities were known as the wisest, hard working, humble, and great communities under Ottoman Empire. There were hundreds of blessing Ottoman Armenians who helped and took care of widows and children of Turkish families who lost their lives in Turkish Independent War against British, French and many others. I am a Turkish American and I truly want my kids and Armenian kids to be good friends forever who can understand each other better than anyone else with many similar cultural values, as you have seen in this video, Turks living in Anatolia are now welcoming warmly and offering tea to the grandchildren of former Armenian residents. Yes, thousands of people lost their lives in both sides however we should leave the research of "labeling" these tragic events as "genocide" to the historians including very prestigious American historians such as: Prof. Dr. Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville, Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, Norman Itzkowitz of Princeton University, Brian G. Williams of the University of Massachusetts, David Fromkin of Boston University, Avigdor Levy of Brandeis University, Michael M. Gunter of Tennessee T! ech, Pie
rre Oberling of Hunter College, the late Roderic Davison of George Washington University, Michael Radu of Foreign Policy Research Institute, and military historian Edward J. Erickson but not Armenian Diaspora.
I believe, Armenian Diaspora is absolutely wrong on promoting hatred efforts in the region while they may not want to live in Armenia but want to wallow in the past without permitting their homeland to move into the future happily and economically strong.
Here is my message from Yunus Emre, famous Turkish scholar:
Come, let's know each other
Let's make things easy
Let's Love, Let's be Loved
This world will remain to no one
Sincerely,
Reg Pecen, Ph.D.
University of Northern Iowa

Jamgotchian Charles - Fresno, CA
In your video of Husenig, which is spelled in many ways, the some adults and children are in the photo's I took in 2007 when I visited S.E. Turkey. You can see the details of my tour at http://www.rexinet.com/tr.html. To see the Huseneg photo's directly go to http://www.rexinet.com/husenig.html

San Diego, CA
We are Rustigian's from Hussenig as well. My paternal grandfather was born and raised in Hussenig. He settled and raised his family in the San Joaquin Valley. His wife, my grandmother, was a sort of 'mail order bride' who had been orphaned in the "first massacres" in 1895. There is a wonderful book called "Hussenig" by Marderos Deranian. It contains photos, a detailed map of the village, and a list of Armenian families that lived in Hussenig in 1915 before the Genocide. The Rustigian's were the largest clan in the village, numbering 45 families. This story is an example of something that we as Armenians need to demonstrate more -- we have never forgotten where our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents were born and lived in Eastern Anatolia. I think that the Turkish people would be shocked to know that every Armenian REMEMBERS his or her roots. Between my husband and myself, we REMEMBER Hussenig, Marash, Adiyaman, Trebizond, Kayseri, Chungush, and Severeg. The truth is on our side.

NYC, NY
The only wrong doing is, a station like PBS subjectivly becomes part of an controversial issue without equally giving a chance to both parties. No matter how many people agree or disagree, an unended argument can not be supported by an independent TV station without balance opposition view. Otherwise, it is not NEWS, it is not history, it is not documentary; it is called propaganda. I only want to express my disappontment on PBS for this subjective, unequal approach.

Peter Musurlian - Nagorno Glendale, California
My point will be succinct. There were 2 million Armenians living in Eastern Turkey in 1915. Ten years later, just like today, there are about ZERO. Where did they all go? Their ancestors had lived there for 3,000 years and, for some inexplicable reason -- other than ethnic cleansing -- they left forever? From TWO MILLION down to ZERO. Their land, their possessions, their churches...left behind forever. It was a genocide.

Drexel Hill, PA
Thank-you for airing the program. Europe had a front row seat to the killings which actually started in the late 1890's. The New York Times reported it during the 20th century in more detail as it happened. Those who insist that the killings were minor are only perpetuating the lie. And, the killing continues because someone, somewhere, wants something from others. The bogus civilized world ignores their actions and genocide goes on.

New York, New York
My parents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. My mother was from Musa Dagh and my father was from Kharpert. While growing up, I heard stories of the atrocities and the march through the intense heat of the desert with a donkey carrying all of their belongings, where my mother, in a tent, witnessed the passing of her mother in childbirth. We will never forget... May they all rest in peace... Thank you for airing this presentation.

Ergun Kirlikovali - Irvine, CA
That's exactly what we needed: another Armenian propaganda film!

Ergun Kirlikovali - Irvine, CA
Just another Armenian propaganda film promoting a bogus cenocide claim and whitewashing Armenian war crimes during WWI, ranging from agitation, terrorism, and raids to rebellions and treason. Armenian falsifications do not help healing; on the contrary, they hurt people like me, descendants of Turkish survivors of war years (1912-1922). We are dividev and polarized more sharply then ever now, no thanks to such biased historiography.

(anonymous)
Dear Sir Madam, It is most embarrasing to see that even PBS, and its prestigious program
Frontline has been sold out to the "repetition" and financial power of the
Armenian dispora to put together a program on the so called Armenian geocide
story with no official recognition of the story. UN has rejected any such
notion time after time, even the French High Court have refused to bend
under the most significant political and propaganda pressures!!!
Shame on you !!! to publish false stories with absolutely no historical
base!!! Where is your objectivity, where is your non- discriminating values
and principle... Where is the information published on the history by
experts on Ottoman history. Shame on you Frontline! Where s your information
about what the Armenians were doing to the Ottoman's and to the Ottoman
Muslims at the same time."I exterminated the Turkish population in
Bashar-Gechar without making any exceptions. One some times feels the
bullets shouldn't be wasted. So, the most effective way against these dogs
is to collect the people who have survived the clashes and dump them in deep
holes and crush them under heavy rocks pressed from above, not to let them
inhabit this world any longer. So I did accord ingly. I collected all the
women, men and children and
extinguished their lives in the deep holes I
dumped them into, crushing them with rocks."
A.Lalayan, Revolutsionniy Vostok (Revolutionary East) No: 23, Moscow, 1936.
Deceptive Armenian activists on the net are spreading rumors there is no
Lalayan.
The above quote has been confirmed.
Lalaian was an Armenian Soviet historian and the Dashnag report above was
first published in issue 2-3 of the magazine, Revolyutsionniy Vostok and
then in issue 2 of Istoricheskie Zapisky, the organ of the USSR Academy of
Sciences, Institute of History, The above quote is from a proud Dashnag
officer, Aslem Varaam, in the report he wrote from the Beyazit-Vaaram region
in 1920,"
Find one such statement in any official publication in any Aarchive of any
nation. Then I would scream genocide along with you.

zekiye umut - izmit, kocaeli
Dear Sir Madam, It is most embarrasing to see that even PBS, and its prestigious program
Frontline has been sold out to the "repetition" and financial power of the
Armenian dispora to put together a program on the so called Armenian geocide
story with no official recognition of the story. UN has rejected any such
notion time after time, even the French High Court have refused to bend
under the most significant political and propaganda pressures!!!
Shame on you !!! to publish false stories with absolutely no historical
base!!! Where is your objectivity, where is your non- discriminating values
and principle... Where is the information published on the history by
experts on Ottoman history. Shame on you Frontline! Where s your information
about what the Armenians were doing to the Ottoman's and to the Ottoman
Muslims at the same time."I exterminated the Turkish population in
Bashar-Gechar without making any exceptions. One some times feels the
bullets shouldn't be wasted. So, the most effective way against these dogs
is to collect the people who have survived the clashes and dump them in deep
holes and crush them under heavy rocks pressed from above, not to let them
inhabit this world any longer. So I did accord ingly. I collected all the
women, men and children and
extinguished their lives in the deep holes I
dumped them into, crushing them with rocks."
A.Lalayan, Revolutsionniy Vostok (Revolutionary East) No: 23, Moscow, 1936.
Deceptive Armenian activists on the net are spreading rumors there is no
Lalayan.
The above quote has been confirmed.
Lalaian was an Armenian Soviet historian and the Dashnag report above was
first published in issue 2-3 of the magazine, Revolyutsionniy Vostok and
then in issue 2 of Istoricheskie Zapisky, the organ of the USSR Academy of
Sciences, Institute of History, The above quote is from a proud Dashnag
officer, Aslem Varaam, in the report he wrote from the Beyazit-Vaaram region
in 1920,"
Find one such statement in any official publication in any Aarchive of any
nation. Then I would scream genocide along with you.

Ergun Kirlikovali - Irvine, CA
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS TRUTH AND HONESTY, NOT SELECTIVE MORALITY
BIAS IN THE PHRASE "ARMENIAN GENOCIDE"If one cherishes values like objectivity, truth, and honesty, then one should use the phrase "Turkish-Armenian conflict". Asking someone "Do you accept or deny Armenian Genocide" shows anti-Turkish bias. The question, in all fairness, should be re-phrased: "What is your stand on the Turkish-Armenian conflict?" Turks believe it was a civil war within a world war, engineered, provoked, and waged by the Armenians with active support from Russia, England, and France, and passive support from the U.S. diplomats, missionaries, media, and others with anti-Turkish agendas, all eyeing the vast territories of the collapsing Ottoman Empire. Most Armenians claim it is genocide, totally ignoring the Armenian complicity in war crimes ranging from raids, rebellions, and terrorism to treason, causing many casualties in the Muslim, mostly Turkish, community. GENOCIDE ALLEGATIONS IGNORE "THE SIX T'S OF THE TURKISH-ARMENIAN CONFLICT" While some amongst us may be forgiven for taking the ceaseless Armenian propaganda, SUCH AS IN THIS FILM, at face value and believing blatant Armenian falsifications merely because they are repeated so often, it is difficult and painful for people like us, sons and daughters of the Turkish survivors most of whose signatures you see below. Those seemingly endless "War years" of 1912-1922 (seferberlik yillari) brought wide-spread death and destruction on to all Ottoman citizens. No Turkish family was left untouched, those of most of the signatories' below included. Those nameless, faceless, selfless Turkish victims are killed for a second time today with politically motivated and baseless charges of Armenian genocide. Allegations of Armenian genocide are racist and dishonest history. They are racist because they imply only Armenian (or Christian) dead count, the Turkish (or Muslim) dead do not. The former must be remembered and grieved; the latter must be ignored and forgotten. Do you know how many Muslims, mostly Turks, were killed during World War One? Answer: About 3 million, including half a million of them at the hands of well-armed, well-motivated, and ruthless Armenian revolutionaries and para-military thugs. Compare that with labout 200,000 Armenian casualties (according to Paris Peace Conference commirrion report dated March 29, 1919) which number is gradually magnified to 1.5 million over the years through Armenian propaganda. And the allegations of Armenian genocide are dishonest because they simply dismiss "THE SIX T'S OF THE TURKISH-ARMENIAN CONFLICT": 1) TUMULT (as in numerous Armenian armed uprisings between 1890 and 1920) 2) TERRORISM (by Armenian nationalists and militias victimizing Ottoman-Muslims between 1882-1920) 3) TREASON (Armenians joining the invading enemy armies as early as 1914 and lasting until 1921) 4) TERRITORIAL DEMANDS (from 1877 to present, where Armenians were a minority, not a majority, attempting to establish Greater Armenia. Ironically, if the Armenians succeeded, it would be one of the first apartheids of the 20th Century, with a Christian minority ruling over a Muslim majority ) 5) TURKISH SUFFERING AND LOSSES (i.e. those caused by the Armenian nationalists: 524,000 Muslims, mostly Turks, met their tragic end at the hands of Armenian revolutionaries during WWI, per Turkish Historical Society. This figure is not to be confused with 2.5 million Muslim dead who lost their lives due to non-Armenian causes during WWI. Grand total: more than 3 million, according to Justin McCarthy) 6) TERESET (temporary resettlement) triggered by the first five T's above and amply documented as such; not to be equated to the Armenian misrepresentations as genocide.) Ergun KirlikovaliSon of Turkish Survivors from both Paternal and Maternal Sideswww.turkla.com

A. T. - Glendale, CA
I cannot help but shed tears as I read and respond to the negative comments that were made for the showing of the documentary "A Family Erased". It is beyond my comprehension as to how a human being can watch the videos and pictures that have survived till this day from the genocide and yet deny the fact that it occurred and downgrade the few selective individuals that try to educate the world on what our ancestors experienced and what we as a nationality experienced. My grandfather who passed away about three months ago at the age of 111 was a survivor of the genocide. I have been fortunate enough to have lived with this amazing and strong human being for the entire 31 years of my life. And by living with him I feel like I am a genocide survivor myself and not because of stories he told us. My grandfather has held that part of his experience as far away from us as possible to try to spare that awful truth from having a lasting effect on us, his grandkids. But by hearing his screams in the middle of the night because of his repetitive nightmares about his experience of the genocide his entire life. To those that deny this awful truth I ask you to place yourselves in my shoes and see the lifelong effect the genocide has had on the greatest and strongest man you have ever known, your hero, the person that tried to keep you in a safe zone and keep you from knowing the awful truth about his experience his entire life and than try to imagining that being a hundred times worse because I actually experienced it. Than tell me how unimaginably horrible it would be for someone to tell you that it didn't happen. That would be the same as telling a rape victim that it didn't happen. So it is beyond my comprehension as to how easily people can dismiss this fact and tell me to get over it and let it go. Would you have???
I thank PBS on my and my family's behalf for showing this documentary. I especially thank George Kachadorian for devoting his life in making documentaries as such.

(anonymous)
The Turkish Governernt has spent more time and money covering things up rather than just facing justice just because the united states and polictics don't allow Armenians to be remembered WE WILL NEVER FORGET. It is just up to the world's Armenians to make EVERYONE AWARE. We have chanted over and over 1915 never again 2003 and Darfur? The people who have commited crimes have walked away and left room for others to get away with violence GENOCIDE MUST STOP we must love one another to get along.

Hartford, CT
Yes, it is true. The current Turkish Government must acknowledge the fact that genocide was committed on a large scale, and stop trying to hide it. We are never going to forgive or forget, until justice is rendered.

They keep going on this DENIAL route, saying and enforcing a "no we didn't kill three quarter's of the Armenian race, approx., 1.5 million people. The world knows better. They saw the headlines from the newspaper's, they watched the German soldiers movies documenting the killings. A whole race of people were almost wiped out. The Red Cross began when Sara Barton traveled to Armenia to try and help the victims.

They used the pretext of war as an excuse to commit the crime.

My family's story is worse than that of George's. We can not rest, and my ancestor's cannot rest until Turkey formally admits to the crimes the young Turk government was responsible for.

Everything....Our possessions, our homes, our businesses, our lands were all stolen. Then Armenian subjects were systematically killed or marched in a Pogrom to rid all Armenians and unite a Pan-Turkish land to the Caspian Sea.

(anonymous)
Dear PBS and FrontLine,
When PBS/FRONTLINE/World decided to approve the "Turkey: A Family Erased" by an Armenian documentary filmmaker George Kachadorian, it stroke a familiar chord -- just two years ago, on April 18, 2006, PBS aired a similarly biased documentary "Armenian Genocide", which too had a predetermined and one-sided outcome to classify the events during the WWI in the Eastern Anatolia as an "Armenian genocide" and to ignore the plight of Muslims, that is ethnic Turks, Azerbaijanis and Kurds, who have equally suffered as anyone else during the war and invasion of their homeland.

It is of course no secret that the events in Eastern Anatolia during the WWI remain a controversial issue, with disputing Turkish and Armenian narratives as to the true nature and scope of the events of 1915. Therefore, introducing undue bias on the complex nature of these events through televised narratives would be detrimental to the efforts that are exerted towards establishing an understanding between Turkey and Armenia concerning diverging interpretations of this issue.

Furthermore, the PBS/FRONTLINE/World broadcasting, for the second time, an Armenian version of events, is glaringly ignoring the plight of the "other side", the estimated one million Turks, Kurds and Azerbaijanis massacred in the same period in the same region, or almost a thousand Azerbaijanis slaughtered as recently as 1992 by Armenian forces in the town of Khojaly in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Of course, no mention of that in the PBS documentary.

Moreover, PBS/FRONTLINE/World ignore the fact that several U.S. Members of Congress withdrew their signatures from Armenian lobby's attempt to enact a non-binding resolution, and that several countries, such as UK, Sweden, Bulgaria and even Israel refused to recognize the Armenian allegations and adopt the unfair and inaccurate classification of the events as "genocide".

The PBS/FRONTLINE/World documentary, and accompanied website materials and narratives, also ignores a peculiar fact that while all Turkish archives are open and have hundreds of Armenian researchers in them, the archives in Armenia are sealed off and the only Turk who somehow got permission to do research there a few years ago, was upon completion of his research arrested for two months and all his research and materials confiscated.

He was released from maximum-security prison only after high-level interference and plea to President Kocharyan by U.S. officials and pro-Armenia lobbyists, like former Majority Leader Sen. Bob Dole.

One should refrain from confidently declaring the Armenian case genocide not only because the matter has never been considered by a proper neutral tribunal, but also because of the ample evidence that the case, even among historians, is not settled.

Indeed, many scholars who are expert in Ottoman history and have conducted research among the primary documents in their original languages find the genocide label inappropriate.

These scholars, taking pains not to minimize the suffering of the innocent masses, Christian and Muslim alike, during the war, have espoused the contra-genocide viewpoint: Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, the late Stanford Shaw of U.C.L.A., Justin McCarthy of the University of Louisville, Norman Itzkowitz of Princeton University, Brian G. Williams of the University of Massachusetts, David Fromkin of Boston University, Avigdor Levy of Brandeis University, Michael M. Gunter of Tennessee Tech, Pierre Oberling of Hunter College, the late Roderic Davison of George Washington University, Michael Radu of Foreign Policy Research Institute, and military historian Edward J. Erickson.

Outside of the United States yet more scholars have found the genocide term unsuitable, among them Gilles Veinstein of the College de France, Stefano Trinchese of the University of Chieti, Jeremy Salt of Melbourne University Augusto Sinagra of the University of Romae-Sapienza, Norman Stone of Bilkent University, and the historian Andrew Mango of the University of London.

As noted by Princeton's Bernard Lewis: "[That the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the same as what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany is a downright falsehood.

What happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale.

But to make this a parallel with the Holocaust in Germany, you would have to assume the Jews of Germany had been engaged in an armed rebellion against the German state, collaborating with the allies against Germany. That in the deportation order, the cities of Hamburg and Berlin were exempted, persons in the employment of the state were exempted, and the deportation only applied to the Jews of Germany proper, so that when they got to Poland they were welcomed and sheltered by the Polish Jews.

This seems to me a rather absurd parallel" [April 14, 2002, at the National Press Club on C-Span 2].
Whilst it is claimed that "'Rough Cut' videos will adhere to the same rigorous journalistic and production standards as all FRONTLINE/World reports", at the same time Mr. Kachadorian's documentary and narrative are filled with grave errors -- from statistical (Encyclopedia Britannica, after carrying out extensive research, has come to the conclusion that about 600,000 Armenians perished, not up to 1,5 million as claimed by Mr. Kachadorian) to the claim that "Nobel Prize-winning author Orhan Pamuk was subsequently arrested for saying that 1 million Armenians had been killed in Turkey" -- no, he was never arrested. But a Turkish researcher visiting Armenia was indeed arrested and thrown into a maximum-security prison for two months.

Furthermore, the "legislation" that Mr. Kachadorian is talking about, whilst not consistent with the First Amendment of the US Constitution, is nevertheless not different from similar legislations in such Western democracies as France and Switzerland, for example. In any case, Turkey is an established and recognized democracy, whilst Armenia is a dictatorship led by a war criminal, who engaged in genocidal acts.

I truly hope that you will take into consideration Turkish-American and Azerbaijani-American community's sentiments and rightful expectation of receiving a fair treatment as far as this sensitive issue is concerned, and that the PBS/Frontline broadcast would:

1) Offer a more comprehensive background that could be helpful for establishing a just and equitable discussion of the events of 1915 (right now to "balance" the discussion PBS just included a link to the Turkish MFA).

2) I would also like to offer my help and assistance in CNN making another special report with emphasis given to the Turkish perspective on the issue of events of 1915, to balance George Kachadorian's documentary.

3) Additionally, next February 25, it will be the 17th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre, and CNN could prepare a special report about its masterminds (who are, in the words of many Western journalists, such as Tom de Waal, the former and current presidents of Armenia, Mr. Kocharyan and Mr. Sarkisian) and its victims, including orphan children, scattered across Azerbaijan, who can often tell their stories themselves.

Sincerely,
Adil Baguirov, Ph.D.

(anonymous)
Dear producers and administrators of Frontline:"The Dashnaks and Hunchaks have terrorized their own countrymen, they have stirred up the Muslim people with their thefts and insanities, and have paralyzed all efforts made to carry out reforms; all the events that have taken place in Anatolia are the responsibility of the crimes committed by the Armenian revolutionary committees."Williams, The British vice-consul, writing from Van. (March 4, 1896, British Blue Book, Nr. 8 1896, p.108.)"

(anonymous)
Only ways Armenians can cover their own genocide of millions of Turk is by comparing them to what the Nazis did to the Jews. So they have to put all of the guilt on the Turks by telling one side of story. PBS needs to listen and show Turkish documentary and let people decide.

Kathryn Scruggs - Arlington, Virginia
A very touching story. Many Americans can look back on the horrific circumstances of their ancestors' lives and the chance of their arrival in the US. From our comfortable position we should be able to work together to heal old wounds and move on. Let's progress towards peace among all peoples.

bethesda, maryland
Thank you for another one sided infomercial. It is great to revisit these long forgotten stories, I just wish someone would remember and acknowledge similarly sad stories from the other side who were brutalize and furthermore betrayed by the same people with whom they lived side by side and so generously shared the same land for centuries.

Most people who write these stories, and talk about the history of the Turks and Ottomans lack the background to understand the culture, the people, the facts, and the reasons behind the events.

The Ottomans did not have to treat the Armenians, the Greeks, and other non-Turkic peoples within their realm as fairly as they did for centuries. By the time 1915 rolled around, the Ottomans had been in multiple wars and being pressured by European powers for more than a hundred years.

If you live as a citizen of a nation, a country you call home, you should not plot against it and kill your neighbors and friends because they have a different faith. Armenians continued their traitorous ways even after WW1. They are responsible for killing more than 40 Turkish diplomats since 1970. Taking shelter in the unequal treatment of European and American governments they were by and large not held responsible for their crimes.

The Armenian nation and the diaspora continue to address their grievances by force instead of dialog as it is witnessed by their actions against Azerbaijan and the terror they created amongst the diplomatic community. We are all ready to listen to rational arguments and the truth that may emerge from it. The road to understanding and reapproachment does not go through the US Congress.

(anonymous)
It is not a secret that concerning the tragic events of 1915, Turks and Armenians have completely different perceptions. The Armenian perception has been expressed by the PBS on different occasions. On the other hand, the PBS has never aired the Turkish point of view. As you would, undoubtedly, agree, to grasp the essence of an issue, it is imperative to look at the issue from different dimensions.

The events of 1915 are still controversial and are discussed by the historians. There are many Turkish and international historians and experts such as Guenter Lewy, Edward Erickson, Bernard Lewis, Gilles Veinstein and Justin McCarthy who describe the Armenian relocation as a security measure taken by the then Ottoman government under WWI conditions.

The documentaries that PBS has aired before and the current documentary that it displays here, ignores the other side of the coin and leaves out the critical fact that Armenian nationals fomented a full-scale rebellion against the Ottoman government, siding with the invading foreign army in full force. Moreover, in these documentaries there was no mention of the enormous number of Muslim Turks killed by Armenians during WWI.

Since these events occurred in 1915, the world has yet to learn the entire coverage of the story. In order to know what has happened during WWI, the Turkish government advocated scientific research concerning these events and has already opened the Ottoman archives including military ones to all international historians and experts, contrary to the claim of Mr Kachadorian in his article on his documentary.

In addition it has proposed to Armenia the establishment of a joint historical commission to comprehensively study these tragic events by using all the relevant archival materials. The Armenian side, on the other hand, has yet to positively respond to this sincere proposal.

Tom Miller - Alexandria, Virginia
While serious efforts at reconciling present day Turks with present days Armenians still living in Armenia are in progress, why is PBS rehashing the one-sided political viewpoint of a diaspora who want anything but to arrive at peace between Turkey and Armenia? Who is being served by this biased political agenda? Certainly, not the American publicly and I venture to believe sincerely not Armenia either.
Turkey has proposed to Armenia to jointly study the 1915 period of history and Armenia has refused. Why? Ask the carping diaspora who don't want to live in Armenia but want to wallow in the past without permitting their homeland to move into the future.Was any thought even considered about giving Turkish Americans the right to discuss their view of the history? In my opinion this denial by PBS is the true story that doesn't get reported in the U.S. today.

Bozeman, MT
I am sick and tired that Armenians trying to make war conditions into "Genocide". First learn what the concept means. Second what about Turkish people killed by Armenians during that time? Third, what about Armenian committed genocide toward Azerbeycan people in Hocali? Armenians continue to deny the genocide In Hocali.

Melek Guzel - Los Angeles, CA
I am not Armenian, I am a Turkish-American, born in Turkey.I had (and still have) many Armenian friends sharing the same school desks when I was there.
We were living in harmony.Both sides have lost family members during the tragic events. My grandfather's brother was killed (burned alive in a mosque) during these events. The moral of the story is this: During WW1 hundreds of thousands of people from both populations were killed. It is very sad. Yes, we should learn from it. But calling it "genocide" is not right. When you accuse an entire population with genocide, you should be very careful. You should examine the records of both countries. Turkish government has opened its archives, so should do the Armenian government.The current governments on both sides try to talk, but the Armenian diaspora is preventing the talks.Let's stop the war lords, and bring peace to the world.Already about 20,000 Armenian nationals are working in Turkey as "undocumented workers", and Turkey allows that. The good intentions are there, but some strings are handled by people who have interest in this hatred. Don't be a victim of hatred and revenge, listen to both parties, and read historians' studies. Not the ones you like, but also like Professor Justin McCarthy, Stanford J. Shaw, Professor Norman Stone etc.Peace.

Peter Musurlian - Glendale, CA
Kudos to George Kachadorian and his family for opening up their hearts & their home to explain...to open-minded & intelligent Frontline/World viewers...the little-known history and unresolved heartache of the Armenian Genocide. Justice must prevail.

Sylva Portoian - Chicago, IL
Slayers Hands, Slain Homeland
To every reader in the universe No one can seize us to declare;
We are asking our wants to prevail.
Not far, the rights will plainly emerge;
Victim's curse cannot fade in the sail.We are phalanges of vanished hands,
Narrating their penning left decades, unsound.
Knowing exactly what the slaughters' brutal rule did,
Ending innocent lives, unknown in known's creed.Let our screams from bleeding, tearful souls
Reach senators, MPs dressed in men's clothes.
They pretend solemnly, unable to announce
As they can hardly face the criminal's dice.Let us help every soul who speaks in a true voice.
In terrains where flesh decays, uncanned,
Recognition of human rights is mighty just,
Even if almost a century of cruelties elapsed
Since all is committed by vicious hands in vile minds! Sylva-MD-Poetry
From the book, A Poetic Soul Shined of Genocides (2008)
by press Xlibris
Armenian Genocide began on April 24, 1915, and continued until 1923. There were many massacres before, but they were not defined as genocide.

Glendale, CA
Thank you George for the great work.

Ibraham Y. Avedissian - Glendale, California
Dear PBS,I would like to thank you for posting such a story that keeps getting covered by the money world. I, and every other Armenian, take off our hats for such a strong message being published without being afraid of the opposing force.Thank you, once again. You've outdone your selves.Ibraham Y. Avedissian
HayemYes.com

Timothy Arlen - Los Angeles, CA
I am one-half Armenian and my (full Armenian) father just got back from visiting the place of his grandfather's birth, Gaziantep. This was an incredible video, I was deeply moved by the trip to the location of the family's ancestors' birth, the Turkish civilians who helped, and the villages which were decimated or even flooded. It's also terribly disappointing to hear our (lame-duck) president talking about the failed bill at the end of the movie.

Brooklyn, NY
It is very realistic and touching documentary at the same time. I think we need more such documentaries to wake up humanity and kindness, especially nowadays when history is repeating itself in many other countries. The family can be erased but memory never! Thank you.

San Francisco, CA
Thank you for sharing such a moving piece on the Armenian genocide. Given how rarely it is acknowledged, let alone discussed, your willingness to feature a piece on this topic is crucial in the steps towards correcting history and what is taught to future generations.

Bethesda, Maryland
The question is not whether a mass killing occurred or not. The question is, "What is the point that the producers and the script writers of this program, and many others alike try to make?" One answer is ,"We should learn our history well in order not to make the same mistakes and prevent as such." It is a very laudable goal as stated.That answer would beget the question "Who prevents us learning the history?" I hope your answer would not be as stupid as some say that it is "Turkey" or "Turks" who prevent us learning our history. The history, ours or yours, is not written by Turks. We write our history.The problem with the current attitude of the proponents of the so-called Armenian Genocide propaganda is that they want the US Government to write the history for Armenians. If what you sincerely desire is that everyone has access to historical facts about what happened then, encourage historians to study the historical facts further and to publish them.The Turkish Government did just that -- they encouraged the Armenian Government to join their forces to unearth all historical documents that would shed a much brighter light to that part of their mutual histories.What did the Armenian Government do? They refused it. Why don't these Armenian Genocide crusaders just press Armenia to do what is right to do and take this issue off the propaganda platform into a more objective field of study using the methodology that modern historians choose? If writing history through politicians is not a mockery, it is the least objective way to write history, to say the least.

Tara Little - Zurich, Switzerland
One would hope that the human race would learn from these atrocities of the past. But sadly, such horrific acts still continue around the world today. Sharing stories like "Turkey: A Family Erased" is critical in empowering more people to connect and do their own part in ensuring that for the next generation, the word "genocide" is used only in the context of history. I will forever believe that a world void of hatred is possible.

(anonymous)
I am an Armenian descendant as well. What is truly agonizing to me is that 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated by the young Turk government through direct killing, starvation, torture, and forced death marches. Almost a century later, Turkey continues to deny the genocide.My great grandparents came from Mousa Ler. During the Armenian Genocide of 1915, The Musa Lertsik chose to resist against the Turkish death squads. They were deported to Port Said in Egypt. The Armenians were allowed to return after World War I to their homeland. Yet during 1939, the people of Mousa Ler were again hurdled by the Turks. For 53 days, they repelled onslaughts by Turkish troops until French sailors rescued around 4,200 men, women and children from Mousa Ler. They were deported to a village called Anjar in Lebanon. Each one of us has a sad story, some are written down some are forgotten...

Anne Zartarian - New York, NY
As the daughter of a genocide survivor, I can relate to this story. It is time for Turkey to acknowledge the genocide so that we can move on. Before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, the beginning of the Holocaust, he said "After all, who remembers the Armenians?"