Some Remarks on Alevi Responses to the Missionaries in Eastern Anatolia (19th-20th cc.)i

Hans-Lukas Kieser
Basel, Switzerland

Altruism and Imperialism:
The Western Religious and Cultural Missionary Enterprise in the Middle East
Middle East Institute
Conference: Bellagio Italy
August 2000

This paper is also published in Columbia International Affairs Online, Columbia University Press, Mars 2001.
https://wwwc.cc.columbia.edu/sec/dlc/ciao/conf/mei01/kih01.html

 

In modern history the Anatolian Alevis have become the target of missionary efforts several times. The most important one in the late Ottoman period was that by the American missionaries from the 1850s on. The conspicuously warm response Alevis gave to Protestantism contrasted with the reserved one they gave the Hanefite missionaries of Sultan Abdulhamid in the 1890s. It contrasted also with their anxious behaviour toward the early Republic that developed a considerable missionary zeal in propagating its ideal, mefkure, of positivist civilization and national society, grafted on to the traditional ümmet. (Turkish for 'umma). Yet many Alevis believed in the religious and social equality proclaimed by the Kemalists. Disillusioned, almost the whole Alevi youth in eastern Turkey turned one generation later, in the 1960s and 70s, to leftist ideologies and many adhered to the corresponding extraparliamentary opposition movements. The spiritual credit, aura of altruism and prestige of progress and progressiveness, terakki and ilericilik, "America" had won among the Alevis through its independent missionaries a century before, it mostly lost during the Cold War by arming a regime that counted many Alevis among its principal victims.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the utopia of the Protestant missionaries in Turkey consisted in an almost millenarian belief in a new social and symbolic order, promoted by their own evangelistic, educative, and civilizing efforts, and linking their modern belief in progress with evangelical spirituality. Penetrating all the eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, the carriers of this impressive Puritan model of successful work, self-confident behavior, and the socioreligious subversion of the existing order made a major impact on the Christian minorities and on other communities heterodox to the authoritative Islamic orthodoxy &endash; groups that thought there would be much to win and little to lose if fundamental change took place. The most important heterodox group in Anatolia, besides those grouped in the recognized non-Muslim millets, was the Alevis. This is the term for a number of different communities whose common characteristics are the adoration of Ali, the fourth Caliph, as Paraclete; their refusal of the Sharia; and an age-old history of marginalization under the Sunni Sultans. The term "Alevi" is almost identical with "Kizilbash". Still at the end of the 20th century, "Kizilbash" remains a term of invective in many people's daily language. The partial replacement of that term by "Alevi" in about 1900 did not effectively change the deep and often mutual prejudices characterising the relations between this important minority and the Sunni majority in Turkey. Alevis then and now constitute about a quarter of Turkey's Muslim population. Among the Turks as well as the Zaza- or Kurmandj-speaking Kurds they are a minority. They pay now taxes without being represented in any way by the Republic's Department of Religious Affairs. They still do not feel satisfactorily integrated in society and are still among the firsts to request fondamental reforms.

The Alevi topic is crucial for a socioreligious research on Asia Minor. Marginalized groups in precarious situation are specially significant for changes going on, for rifts and ruptures. They are specially sensitive for discourses of a new symbolic universe and a corresponding new social order.

The Kizilbash-Alevis and their encounter with the ABCFM

The Kizilbash opposed their integration into the Ottoman state body during the 15th and 16th centuries. The latter turned out to be, with Selim I, definitely dominated by Sunnis. The Kizilbash &endash; so called then because of their red headgear &endash; pinned their hopes on the Persian Shah Ismail, and became, in Ottoman eyes, traitors and public enemies. The religous propaganda reviled them as immoral unbelievers without Holy books, kitabsiz, and therefore worse than Christians or Jews. They had to live at the edge of society and in remote regions, notably the Dersim (the Alevis' heartland between Sivas, Erzurum and Harput, renamed Tunceli in 1936) and Elbistan, south-west of the Dersim. Marginality did not mean a complete exclusion, but an inferior status within the system. Without mosques, the villages inhabited by Alevis were clearly recognizable, until Sultan Abdulhamid II and his successors in power till now constructed mosques for them.ii

The relationship between the Protestant missionaries and the Alevis began shortly after the establishment of the Protestant millet (1850). It was one of mutual sympathy, shared values and of common hope for a new age. The reality, however, fell far short of the great expectations. But missionary enthusiasm for this people and curiosity about them remained constant. Henry Riggs, born in 1875 in Sivas of missionary parents, wrote in 1911: "The more one learns of this strange and attractive religion, the more the question is forced upon him, What is the source of this religion, and what the history of these simple, ignorant people, who possess so much that their wiser neighbours have not?" iii It is amazing to hear a member of the expansive missionary movement before World War I referring to a non-Christian religion in these positive terms.

In the 1850s the missionaries of the ABCFM (American Board of Commissioner for Foreign Missions) were probably the first people from outside to enter the close endogamous community of the Kizilbash and were perhaps the first non-Alevis to be admitted to the secret religious assemblies called djem. iv They were deeply touched by this "unique people", its whole-hearted hospitality, its fine tenderness during the djem, and its persistent wish to be instructed by the missionaries. They were surprised that the Kizilbash declared themselves to have the same faith as the missionaries and that, with no hesitation, they willingly participated with the visiting missionaries in their prayers and Bible readings saying "that from their remotest ancestors it has been handed down to them, that in the last times a Christian teacher shall come to instruct them." They were pleased to know that powerful Kizilbash chiefs offered protection to the young Protestant communities in their local conflicts with the Armenian Church or Sunni neighbours. v They marvelled to hear about a Kurdish Kizilbash chief near Chemishgezek who had proclaimed himself a Protestant and continued stubbornly to do so without ever having been in direct contact with the mission. This Ali Gako and other Kizilbash in the regions of Harput und Sivas, who began to call themselves Protestants, had mostly learned from their Armenian neighbours about the new Protestant movement. Serious problems between missionaries and Alevis, especially conflicts with dedes (hereditary priests) who felt uneasy vis-à-vis Puritan self-assurance, appear to have occurred only seldom. "Superstition" was, however, a frequent matter of discussion, and the attendance at missionary schools led to tensions within families. vi

With the Alevis, the ABCFM discovered nominal Muslims desirous of fundamental reforms because they suffered more under the existing conditions even than the Christian minorities. Once evangelized, this "noble race, true children of nature" - Sanford Richardson like other Protestant missionaries adopted the Renaissance's and Enlightenment's concept of the noble savage - seemed to be the ideal agent of the change the missionaries hoped to promote in a Middle East seen as decadent and corrupted. vii The attempt by several Kizilbash groups to redefine their identity and social role, however, touched vital interests of the Ottoman state. In a letter from Adiyaman, the missionary George Nutting suggested a special charter (firman) for the Kizilbash based on the Hatt-i Hümayun of 1856. viii But Nutting's idea was no more than wishful thinking. The state was strictly opposed to extending to the Kizilbash the protection offered by the new Protestant millet. In the view of the missionaries on the spot, the people involved definitely needed this protection,ix but British diplomacy would never have been ready to press for an engagement of this kind, even if missionaries vehemently pleaded for. The missionaries found themselves compelled to reduce their contacts with the Alevis to a minimum in the 1860s and 1870s. Notably in the region of Sivas, they came to fear for the lives of their native employees and of the Alevis concerned. The ABCFM could not help the Alevis gain any improvement in their precarious social position. Repression by local officials and Sunni neighbours as a response to their Protestant inclinations intimidated them. Only a handful of Alevi children could attend the mission schools. Yet many Alevis in the eastern provinces of the Empire continued to avow that they were "Protes" (Protestants), a term that seemed to mean for them social and scientific progress in accordance with the precepts of their religion of the heart. Alevis and missionaries conserved sympathetic relations, but the former knew that they had to stand on their own. Influenced by the Protestants they introduced reforms within the Alevism to purify it from superstitions and to promote education of men and women. Missionaries saw that as a fruit of their seed and did not try to converting them further.

In the 1880s the young Sultan Abdulhamid II, traumatically marked by the Turco-Russian war in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia (1877-78), began to carry on a socio-political strategy oriented toward the "restoration of the Ümmet" i. e. of Islamic unity in the face of the real danger of final disintegration of his Empire. Within the eastern provinces, his defensive politics x proved, indeed, to be aggressive. They were by no means synonymous with the promotion of social and religious equality which the men of the Tanzimat (Ottoman reform era 1839-1876) had declared to be their policy. Abdulhamid, however, implemented more effectively than any reformist before him centralizing and modernizing concepts in administration, telecommunications (telegraph), education, and health. He tried actively to integrate the Alevis and other heterodox groups such as the Yazidis into the Ümmet, i. e. to Sunnitize them. He succeeded in reintegrating the Sunni Kurds by giving numerous tribes the status of privileged cavalry units, the so-called Hamidiye (Sunni Kurds had been frustrated by the pre- and early Tanzimat state, which destroyed the age-old Kurdish autonomies). Abdulhamid founded an elite school for sons of tribal chiefs, the Mekteb-i Ashiret, and sent out his own Hanefi missionaries to mobilize the provincial Muslims for his politics. It seems that this little-known semi-official network played an important role in the extensive anti-Armenian pogroms in 1895 and 1896, a violence that was explicitly directed against the Armenian national movement but that had a clear anti-Protestant tinge. Even if Abdulhamid's politics of incorporating Alevis and Yazidis did not win them over in a general way, it isolated them still more from the ABCFM. Some Dersim chiefs also sent their sons to the Mekteb-i Ashiret. xi The request of some Alevi tribes however of being entitled as Hamidiye was declined with the argument that only Sunnis could be accepted. xii

The Dersim Kizilbash' participation in the anti-Armenian violence of 1895 deserves attention. It was, as the missionary eyewitnesses stated, "strictly a matter of business". Many Dersimis participated in the raids as raids, but never in the religiously justified and politically motivated mass murders which accompanied some of them. Chemishgezek was protected by influential Dersim chiefs from any violence. xiii

Protestantism as represented by the ABCFM became a main ideological enemy in the eyes of the Sultan. It was not only a major factor in the renaissance of Armenian and Syriac self-consciousness, but had the ideological potential to initiate an Alevi renaissance, making Alevis more confident in their distinctiveness. George E. White wrote shortly before the Young Turk revolution of July 1908: "Yet in the stronghold of Turkish power, the fair provinces of Asia Minor, about one-forth of the people are not Mohammedan at all but Eastern Christians, and of the Mohammedan population about one-fourth &endash; some suppose one-third &endash; are not Sunnitic at all but are schismatic [Alevi] Shias. For the present this line of cleavage is kept very much out of sight, but circumstances might easily take such shape that this internal breach would come to the surface as a deadly wound." xiv For historical reasons, the relationship between Alevis and native Christians was, at least in Eastern Anatolia, much more intimate than that between Alevis and Sunnis. A Protestant-influenced, educated, and consolidated Alevi community would have stood side by side with the Armenians and ultimately would have promoted common political ideas such as social equality and regional autonomy. In 1913 a dede of the region of Koçgiri, east of Sivas, denied in a conversation with the young Ottoman official Hasan Reshid (Tankut) any important difference between Armenians and Alevis: "The distance between Alevis and Armenians is not more thick than the membrane of an onion." The missionaries reported the same Alevi saying. It expressed a long lasting regional cohabitation with deep religious and social affinities, but also political solidarity, as Hasan Reshid, a later Kemalist, pointed out with anger. xv

A similar concern led Abdulhamid first to make serious inquiries about the Eastern Alevis. Valis and special emissaries sent reports to him, such as the Ankara Vali, speaking of the "terrible" political dangers and the loyalty problems the Alevis' "wrong faith" represented and saying that they were "completely outside of Islam [ümmet]" and Muslims "only by name". xvi Probably Abdulhamid already feared the possibility of an Alevi-Armenian alliance, something that was to become a nightmare for Young Turkish nationalists on the eve of World War I. In fact, such an alliance would have gravely challenged the demographic and political predominance of the established system in Central and Eastern Anatolia. Seen from this angle, the missionary work of the Protestants was subversive and seditious, fesâd-pezîr, as Yildiz Palace documents stated over and over again from the 1890s. The Catholic mission was not seen in this way at that time. It had got the reputation of being loyal to the government, and it profited from the diplomatic rapprochement between the Sultan and the Pope in the late 1880s.

The Unionist factor

The Young Turkish takeover in July 1908 abruptly ended the Hamidian regime, but did not revolutionize its structures and strategies. It brought to power an elite of young patriotic officials and officers of middle class origin. All members of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) had been broadly influenced by the European ideologies of the time, notably positivism, social darwinism, and racial nationalism. Their declared goal was the establishment of a liberal system to succeed the Hamidian autocracy. Yet their first aim was the gaining of unrestricted national unity and sovereignty. Nevertheless, a utopian moment seemed near in 1908: the overcoming of religious and ethnic divisions and the common construction of a pluralistic Middle Eastern "Ottoman Nation" with a constitutional system. Perhaps nobody was more willing than the American missionaries to believe in such a future and to contribute to building it. In response to the new situation they first began to question thoroughly their anti-Islamic orientation and engage in a project for the whole society, including the Sunnis. At the same time they hoped that the Armenian question would find its solution within a free Turkey and that this would allow relations between the ABCFM and the state to be put on a more friendly basis. The pogroms of the 1890s had seriously damaged them. The Unionists' condemnation of the pogroms, their fraternization with the non-Muslims and their political cooperation with the Armenian Dachnak seemed to confirm hopes of improving relations. American missionaries suddenly gained prestige as "pioneers of progress" and were invited as speakers at the Young Turkish club meetings in provincial towns like Mezere-Harput. xvii

Despite the great shortage of research on the Ottoman Alevis it seems safe to say that hardly any other ethnic group was more interested in the promises of early Young Turk regime. The slogans 'liberty', 'equality', and 'justice' sounded most attractive for a community that knew neither the privileges of the ümmet nor the guarantees of a recognized millet. For the first time since the Kizilbash revolts in the 16th century, the watershed of 1908 led the Alevis to an open and collective reaffirmation of their identity. It facilitated the enhancement, and possibly also the spread of their oppressed religion, and aroused Alevi willingness to support the new state. What occured at that time could be described as an Alevi renaissance. The long-standing missionary George E. White, a teacher since 1890 who was president of Anatolia College in Merzifon from 1913 wrote of an "awakening Alevi national consiousness" among the Turkish-speaking Alevis in his region that manifested itself as a commitment to construct village schools. He had high expectations that these groups who had hitherto been forced out of public life would become integrated in the new society to be built. xviii

The development among the Kurdish-speaking Alevis in the regions Dersim, Sivas, and Elbistan was even more striking at the time, as their traditional antagonism toward the central state also contained a Kurdish element. It was the declared intention of the Young Turk patriots, who portrayed themselves as freedom-fighters opposed to Hamidian despotism, to achieve the integration of the "freedom loving" Dersim into the state by means of political persuasion rather than with military might, as the state had done since the Tanzimat and was still doing in the spring of 1908. This strategy was highly successful: The Dersim people saw themselves as being obliged to display loyalty to the new regime. As the Harput missionaries discovered to their amazement, travelling in the Dersim became a safe affair. In summer 1908 the transformed state had recalled the 21 batallions engaged against the tribes in the Dersim at that time, "in their place they sent a number of young enthusiasts who preached throughout the Dersim the beauties of the new liberty", as Henry Riggs described the turn of events in the retrospective of 1917. xix Some Dersimis joined the party of Union and Progress and made careers in the new state, including the Harput-Vali Sabit of later notoriety.

Nevertheless, the Alevi revival after 1908 also brought the previously concealed rift between both the state as well as the Alevis themselves and the Sunnis into much sharper contrast. For a Young Turk like Riza Nur, the fact that the "Kizilbash Turks" were then emphasizing their own identity, separate from that of the Sunnis, was the result of "mendacious Armenian propoganda" during the Hamidian era. xx The Kemalist deputy and member of the Turkish Historical Society (Türk Tarih Kurumu) Hasan Reshid Tankut pointed in his retrospective to the influence of the Christian missions and described the mission schools in Mamuretülaziz as "nothing other than stations set up in order to convey propoganda filled with hope to the Dersim". xxi The possible political alliance between Alevis and Christians, namely Kurdish Alevis and Armenians, unsettled the Unionists on the eve of the World War. For rulers who viewed sovereignty as the highest goal and feared every federalist proposal as a limitation of power, a political-demographic problem presented itself. In applying the international reforms of the Eastern provinces agreed upon at the beginning of 1914, the Alevis would have voted side by side with the Armenians in the planned elections. This could have led to a comprehensive political reorganization of the Eastern provinces, in particular the region between Sivas, Erzurum, Harput, and Malatya, where Alevi and Armenian votes together represented about a half or, between Sivas and Harput, a clear majority. The Alevis and Armenians hitherto isolated or clearly in the minority would immediately have had a decisive influence on the political life in those regions. From 1915 on Armenians and Kurdish Alevis became the main target of political coercion and violence.

In order to rectify their paucity of ethnological and sociological knowledge concerning Asia Minor, which they claimed as Turkish national homeland and wanted to homogenize, the Unionists appointed some gentlemen during World War I to travel into the interior of Anatolia and conduct investigations. Esat Uras, later member of the Turkish Historical Society, was given the task of collecting information about the Armenians. Baha Sait Bey was instructed to research Alevism-Bektashism. According to Sait his commission was triggered by a population statistic confiscated in Anatolia College compiled by Protestant missionaries and listing the Alevis as a former Christian grouping. The startled CUP elite deemed it necessary to set up an opposition to such "separatist ideas", which Sait was instructed to develop and disseminate. However, the palace interpreted this action as blasphemous "Kizilbash-propoganda," and prevented publication of the results in the Türk Yurdu (the Türk Yurdu was the organ of the Panturkish club Türk Ocagi that was closely connected to the Unionist party and in the eyes of devout Muslims adhered to ungodly beliefs). xxii

The Unionist discovery and enhancement of the Alevis did not serve to foster religious pluralism in Anatolia or the adoption of Alevism as a national religion. It was concerned with assimilating Alevism into a national-religious body of thought. Ziya Gökalp, the mentor to Turkish nationalism, regarded the nation as a "a category, composed of individuals having the same language, the same religion, the same morals and the same aesthetic values". xxiii But the Anatolian Kizilbash, in Unionist eyes "genuine Turks, who have preserved in the purest manner the national tradition", xxiv were far from adopting the identity that those ideologues had designed for them. Most of the Alevis in the Eastern provinces felt threatened by the nationalist politics of the CUP. After 1915 many Turkish and Kurdish Alevis feared they might suffer the same fate as the Armenians. The little Jewish diaspora in Palestine, the Yishuv, shared the same fear. xxv The non-Sunni groups were disconcerted in the face of the enhanced status which the ümmet received as an exclusive war community. Justifiably they were afraid that as before 1908 they would again have to abandon openly practicing their non conformist beliefs. During the World War George E. White, in his article entitled "Some non-conforming Turks," wrote: "Those rumors of impending events in Turkey, which anticipated the deportation of Armenians and similar treatment for the Greeks and other Christians of the empire, carried the foreboding that the next step taken by the governing clique would force the Alevi Turks to abandon their Moslem nonconformity. The purpose of the "Party of Union and Progress" is alleged to be to create a uniform state, one in Turkish nationality, and one in Moslem orthodoxy." xxvi

The war indeed alienated the Alevis from a state that no longer bore the slightest resemblance to the one being heralded in 1908. This alienation manifested itself most strongly among the Alevi Kurds north of Harput who witnessed the genocide in (according to the missionary neologism) "the Slaughterhouse province". Moreover, by setting up a smuggling operation into the safe Dersim and from there to the rear of the Russian front, they acted as the victims most efficient helpers. This "underground railroad," as it was known on the spot, was only made possible thanks to the corruptibility of the otherwise brutal Vali Sabit who himself came from Dersim. Tens of thousands were rescued in this way. Whilst wealthy Armenians had to pay generously, the people of Dersim, in spite of their own poverty, also offered their services and hospitality to those without money. Not one single case came to the attention of the Harput missionaries, who were discreetly but intensively involved in the smuggling operation, in which women or children, the refugees mostly concerned, had been abandoned or abused in any way whatsoever by Dersim Kurds. Even sums of money sent to Harput via the ABCFM by relatives in the USA for family members in hiding were carried safely to their destination by the people of Dersim. xxvii A Kizilbash leader and personal friend of the German missionary Ernst Christoffel in Malatya liberated Armenian friends by force of arms from the deportation caravans being accompanied by gendarmes; from 1915 to 1918 he protected and cared for all Christians on his territory. xxviii

From the outset the large majority of tribal leaders in the Dersim resisted participating in the war; only in the closing stages after the withdrawal of Russian troops did they help drive out Armenian militias when the latter committed atrocities in the partly Alevi villages between Erzincan and Erzurum at the beginning of 1918. In fact the Ottoman general staff had hoped in 1915 for a decisive turn against the Russians by bringing the Dersim people into the war. On the 10th of August 1915 the Harput-Vali Sabit received a telegram from the central police authority of the ministry of the interior ordering him to select suitable Dersim tribal leaders, bestow officer rank upon them and make it up with goods from the emval-i metruke, the "abandoned properties" (Armenian booty). xxix Together with Talat, Enver made his way to Mamuretülaziz on a tour of inspection where thanks to Sabit's mediation they met with some tribal chieftans and invited them to form a Dersim legion. The tribal chieftans explained that they were unable to enlist the remaining leaders, particularily Seyit Riza who set the tone in West Dersim and suggested using Chelebi Ahmed Cemaleddin Efendi to this end. The Chelebi, head of the Bektashi order with its centre in Haci Bektash near Kirshehir was therefore summoned by the government to enlist the participation of the Dersim tribes in the Djihad, which he not only failed to do but also thoroughly damaged his reputation with the Kurdish Alevis. xxx Indeed this Bektashi representative who sought to portray Bektashism as state-conformist Sunnism was never able to exert any real influence upon Eastern Alevism. xxxi

The idea of a revolt against the Unionist war regime appeared early amongst the Alevis. This was only feasible from Dersim. In March 1916 some Dersim tribes gathered together, occupied and then destroyed the towns Nazimiye, Mazgirt, Pertek, and Charsandjak and marched towards Mamuretülaziz. Without balanced sources it is difficult to discover the motives of the rebels. The extermination of the Armenians was an extremely significant experience. Many Alevis and Kurds believed that they would soon share their fate. Actually this fear had remained so pronounced since the beginning of the deportations in the early summer of 1915 that on the 25th of July 1915 the ministry of the interior felt itself compelled to instruct the valis of the provinces Harput, Erzurum, Bitlis and Diyarbakir that they should energetically counter such rumours. xxxii Looked at from this point of view the revolt had a preventive character. Another motivating factor was the effort to gain independence and with it the driving out of state representatives from the small towns of Dersim, even if these officials had always wielded very limited power. This effort, acknowledged by both Ottoman army sources as well as Mehmet Nuri Dersimi, an Alevi-Kurdish army vet at the time, was encouraged by the Russian side, with whom Alisher, the secretary to the Koçgiri tribal chieftan had established contact, and also undoubtedly by some of the Armenian militants who had fled into Dersim. xxxiii

The Turkish officials in Mezere and Harput justifiably felt extremely threatened by the Kurdish revolt because at the time the Russians occupied the area between Erzurum and Erzincan which adjoined Dersim to the north. The Ottoman army would not have been able to resist a coordinated Kurdish-Russian advance on Harput. For this reason the Muslim population in Harput made preparations for their escape. The army however, with a large contingent of troops which included many Shafi'i Kurds succeeded in crushing the Kurdish-Alevi revolt. In Harput the missionaries heard officials saying they did not want one single (Alevi) Kurd left in that region, they wanted to deport them like the Armenians. Indeed a caravan appeared later in Harput with about 2000 men, women and children from the former rebellious tribes who were treated just as badly as the Armenians a year before, except that the men were not separated. Apart from a few Armenians remaining in Harput and the missionaries nobody comforted those who lay dying in the streets. On the other hand, the Sunni-Kurdish refugees who had reached Harput from the eastern front following the winter of 1915/16 were cared for by the government, albeit inadequately, and presented with Armenian possessions and property. xxxiv When the missionaries saw the caravan with what remained of the Dersim people marching in the direction of the hill near Lake Göljük (where the physician Henry Atkinson and US-Consul Leslie Davis had discovered 10,000 massacred Armenians the autumn before) they feared the worst; they were pleasantly surprised therefore to see the column returning the following morning. It was ascertained at the time that the explanation for this was that the tribes of Dersim, in a rare display of unity, had told the governor they would burn Harput to the ground if the deportees were not ordered to return immediately. xxxv

The evangile of national unity and civilization

It seems logical that in the summer 1919, Kurdish Alevi tribes were the first "interior enemies" to oppose Mustafa Kemal Pasha's reorganization of the power structures (congresses of Erzurum and Sivas), and to prepare the first Kurdish uprising against the Ankara government (revolt of Koçgiri-Dersim, 1920-1921). xxxvi They tried in vain to get political support through the missionaries. Both sides, Alevi Kurds and Unionist-Kemalist officials, over-estimated the political influence missionaries were then able to exert. ABCFM contacts with Kurds aroused much suspicion among officials, so that such intercourse became practically impossible, as Henry Riggs wrote sadly to James Barton in December 1919. xxxvii In the revolt of Koçgiri-Dersim against the young government in Ankara, matters of vital concern to the Armenian, Alevi, and Kurdish sides converged. First and foremost it was a Kurdish-Alevi revolt in which some Turkish-Alevi villages and a few Armenians took part. Neither Kurdish or Turkish Sunnis were involved. Few of the Kurdish revolts of the 1920s and 1930s ever again displayed so clearly the secular Kurdish ideology that referred to Wilson's principles and the international agreement of Sèvres. As in 1915/16 the fear of extermination by the Unionist state was still very present. The new Ankara governement, established in spring 1920, operated in the Eastern provincial area with precisely those forces that had already been in charge during the war. But declaring the fatherland and caliphate in imminent danger, and promising a new national order and intact souvereignty, it possessed a much stronger ideology than the Unionists (who oscillated between Panturanism, Panislamism und Turkish nationalism) ever had had. It was only a matter of time that this national Muslim movement expelled the Christian missionaries from the eastern provinces. From 1919 on the Euphrates College particularly focussed its activities on the Kurdish Alevis. But at the end of 1920, the "Kurdish shark" Henry Riggs had to leave Harput within five days "by the grace of Mustapha", as his colleagues in Istanbul, where he went, joked. xxxviii Nuri Dersimi blamed the Kemalist regime for its closing down of the missionary colleges, the "centers of science and knowledge in the region of Harput", as he wrote. xxxix

Mustafa Kemal invited the leaders of Koçgiri xl to the Sivas congress (September 1919). Alishan was then deputy to the Kaymakam of Refahiye; his brother Haydar was successor to their father Mustafa at the head of the Koçgiri tribes. Only Alishan accepted Kemal's invitation and presented his views on the matter: a Kurdish autonomy within an Ottoman federation under the Sultan. The Kurdish-Alevi spokesman, facing the new Ankara government, insisted upon the Sultan as a guarantee for a federal solution. The declaration of the Sivas congress with its exclusive emphasis upon Muslim solidarity and the exclusion of all non-Muslim elements from the national movement did not augur well for the Koçgiri-Dersim people. Alishan refused Kemal's offer to have him put up as a candidate for the National Assembly in Ankara; he did however receive a medal from the Istanbul government in November 1919. xli

For the Kurdish-Alevi chieftains in Koçgiris and West Dersim (the situation presented itself differently to East Dersim owing to its proximity to the planned independant Armenia) it was clear following the Sivas conference, if not before, that the Kemalist national movement did not represent their interests as Alishan had submitted them. Evidence of this revealed itself not so much through verbal inconsistencies (Kemal promised a far-reaching Kurdish autonomy after a successfully concluded national war), but through the social web that came to light at the congress: it encompassed those large landowners, Shafi'i chieftains, Sunnite state notables, Young Turk civil servants and officers, from whom the Kurdish Alevis had become thoroughly alienated during the World War. The principal aim of congress participants from the eastern provinces was to counter Armenian demands with their own. The spokesmen from Koçgiri and West Dersim did however feel solidarity with the Kurdish League presided over in Istanbul by Seyit Abdülkadir, the son of cheik Ubeydullah. They read the Kurdish newspaper Jin printed in Istanbul xlii and tried to make contact with the missionaries whom they regarded as representatives of the international community detected in President Wilson's Fourteen Points. Wilson's declaration of principles was a long-running issue in Jin. The spokesmen of Koçgiri-Dersim were convinced that the League of Nations stood for a "an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development" granted to the "nationalities which are now under Turkish rule" (Point 12). The declaration of principles by President Wilson concerning the people's right to self-determination inspired the political hopes of the Kurds and Alevis all the way into the villages of the Eastern provinces.

Before its campaign against the Koçgiri-Dersim the Ankara government took care to expel all missionaries remaining in the eastern provinces. They were not only "dangerous" observers, but above all experienced men and women with thorough local knowledges and very different ideas for the future of eastern Turkey. xliii The way Ankara suppressed militarily the Koçgiri movement in spring 1921 shaped the governmental behavior toward all Alevi and Kurdish autonomy claims during the 20th century: massive coercion and violence, deportation, and complete absence of political negociation. Behind closed doors, the National Assembly nevertheless discussed the atrocities commited during the campaign. As a result of the Koçgiri-sessions the Kurdish question briefly became a hotly debated topic: At the beginning of 1922 the National Assembly discussed a plan drawn up by a commission for an autonomous administration of Turkish Kurdistan. The relevant draft bill was adopted by 373 votes to 64. It provided for a Kurdish regional parliament and Kurdish schools; Turkish was intended to be the official language and all crucial positions of power were to be placed under the control of Ankara. But after the diplomatic triumph in Lausanne 1923 the dictatorial regime put this preliminary parliamentary decision ad acta.

The only missionaries regularly remaining in contact with Alevis on the border to the eastern provinces were some sisters of the German Hülfsbund in Marash. Since they continued successfully to build bridges between Protestants and Alevis &endash; expressed in other terms: to voice effective separatist religious propaganda &endash;, the government expelled them in 1933. xliv

From the beginning of the 1930s onward the central state began to prepare the decisive attack upon Kurdish-Alevi Dersim, the last autonomous region in the eastern provinces. The disarmament and forced resettlement of tribes, coupled with the building of roads and a rail link to Elazig served amongst other things the strategic aim of incorporating the Dersim in the unitary state. xlv In the secularist understanding of the ruling positivist elite the Dersim was a "canker", a chronically "sick" member that needed to be transformed by a radical "operation" if not indeed amputated. xlvi In those years such biologist language of social engineering did not just belong to the Kemalists but also to the radical movements in Europe. The deep-seated fear in the young republic of the threat posed by the Dersim, which was shared by the intellectuals, was indeed much more than the worry about eliminating the banditry that because of the poverty and traditional rights of asylum constituted an indisputable facet of social reality in Dersim. For the early republicans the Dersim represented an "abscess", an intolerable cultural enclave in the midst of the aspired-to homogeneous national homeland. In Dersim they were confronted with the "other", deeply heterogeneous Anatolia and their own recent Ottoman past whose overcoming they wanted to believe in at any price. In Dersim the republic encountered the still unconquered Alevi distance from the state, the ongoing discourse about Kurdish independence, and the evocation of memories concerning the discredited Unionist war regime. Numerous Armenian survivors insured that Alevi-Armenian solidarity and the genocide remained in the consciousness. xlvii The more or less intact traditional social and tribal structures were a painful reminder to the reform-oriented servants of the state that their handling of the Dersim population since the 1830s with its emphasis on coercion and violence had lost them more than it had gained. Since the Tanzimat they tried unsuccessfully to overcome Dersim' "feudalism" (a repetititious propaganda term during the campaign in 1937-38) through direct state modernization measures. Seyit Riza, the most important tribal chieftain and spiritual leader of the Dersim rebellion continued to insist upon autonomy. He did this not so much for Kurdistic reasons (regular contact with the exile Kurdish-Armenian society in Syria Hoybun, founded in 1927, was not possible), but because of a desperate and partly illusory defensive position. xlviii This inner motivation of the Dersim people did not prevent the nationalist press from disseminating tales of foreign conspiracies. xlix

The government and the press portrayed the action against Dersim as a liberation from exploitive feudal masters, the dede and aghas. Imbued with a strong sense of Jacobinical mission, the Kemalists promised to introduce civilization, medeniyet, to the Dersim which they denigrated as backward (geri kalmish), fanatic (yobaz) and anarchist (anarshist). l Several of them really believed that the republic was bringing better life to that region in the form of schools, roads, and industry. A Tan article from the 15 June 1937 compared the mountainous Dersim with Switzerland and promised that it would soon develop into the "Switzerland of Turkey." li But there were no longer any literate missionary observers on hand as in Ottoman times to report to the outside world on the war now taking place against men, women and children, about the destruction of villages and deportations. The result of the Dersim campaign in 1937/38 was a large-scale devastation and the massacre of probably more than ten thousand people, many of them women and children. Ten years later, when for the first time civilians from the outside could again enter in Dersim, the shocked Turkish journalist Osman Mete filed a report describing the total absence of educational and medical provisions in poverty-stricken Tunceli and the utterly intimidated people. lii

Much more than the Protestant missionaries, the Kemalist rulers suffered from the distance between themselves and "the people" (halk) who should believe in their newly acquired ideologies and benefit from their precepts imposed from the top. Many decades before the state provided civil services there, missionaries had showed eastern Anatolian people the possibilities of modern life. In some way, the rulers learned from the missions, using this know-how for a political purpose: go into the country, make contact with the people and win them over by bringing them schools and medical care in order to gain a foothold, develop and control over-regional society. But as the state of emergency reigned almost continuously, pluralistic democracy never had a chance, and at the end of the 20th century most elementary welfare still is far from being attained in eastern Turkey.

The missionary impacts (résumé and outlook)

The Protestant missions were important factors in individual and collective change in the late Ottoman Turkey, but their cherished idea of an Ottoman civil society, much stressed after 1908, had no success. Confronted with the massive pressure of powerful Islamic and then nationalist groups, they did not even succeed in establishing a genuine Turkish church. liii

Closely connected with pragmatic action, the missionaries introduced in the 19th century a new strong and broad discourse field among different populations, and not only among small elites, of the Ottoman Near East. In a linguistic approach, the power of the Protestant movement resided in the synthesis of discourses of the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and the new scientifical discourses of Ancient History in the "Bible Lands". These focussed the history of Jesus and the early church, but also, based on the newest reasearches of the 19th century, the Greco-Roman and the oriental Antiquity. This broad supra-epochal and supranational discourse dimension offered a powerful new framework how to understand men and things, people and politics, the own destiny and those of others. It challenged deeply the existing order. Its black spot was that it could not constructively and thus convincingly integrate the Muslim and Jewish universes. But missionary symbolics and pragmatism made an important direct or indirect impact also upon Muslims and Jews.

The ABCFM's impact on Turkey was catalytic in the sense that it accelerated the promotion of Western models in education, health, and standard of living. These models of civilization agreed with the reform ideas of the ruling élite in Tanzimat and Young Turkey. In particular Protestant missionaries showed in an exemplary way that a successful reform movement had to win over Anatolia by investigating and penetrating its provinces, villages, and mountain tribes. The ABCFM's impact on Turkey was conflictive insofar as it furthered political and ethno-social visions as well as views of the history that were, with a brief exception, opposite to those of the country's leaders. The materialist and racist options of the Unionists after 1913, but also the Jacobinical secular state religion after 1923 contradicted the missionaries' genuine convictions.

The Alevis exemplify very clearly the catalytic and conflictive Protestant impact upon an important nominal Muslim group in Anatolia. In the mid-19th-century, members of the ABCFM were the first to open a door to these socially marginalized people. Protestantism seemed to many of them to be the modern way out of discrimination and backwardness. Yet before Abdulhamid and the rise of the Armenian question, the Protestant-Alevi connection alarmed the state, which feared for its Muslim unity. The representatives of the government began to side more than ever with the Sunni local leaders. In the Kurdo-Armenian highlands, the Ottoman state was far from being able to play the integrative role it had in the special case of mountain Lebanon. liv Missionaries were instrumental in inspiring something like an Alevi renaissance. It is true that during the War of Independence, an important part of the Anatolian Alevis set their hopes on Mustafa Kemal Pasha and believed after 1923 in the Kemalist republicanism. But the majority of the eastern Alevis distrusted Kemal's reorganization of Unionist networks and power structures. Many expected an internationally sponsored new order, considering the missionaries as its agents. Several became early Kurdish nationalists, believing that a Kurdish autonomy corresponded to President Wilson's Fourteen Points and the agreements of the Paris Peace Conferences. They were deceived. Thus the thesis of a categorical loyalty of the Alevis to Mustafa Kemal Pasha is an invention of the Neokemalism that grew up in some circles in the 1960s and 1970s as a reaction against the Sunni-Muslim revival in the 1950s, and at a time when a majority of the Alevi youth adopted oppositional socialism and secularism (for their part the left-wing students then idealized the Kemalism as a leftish ideology of national liberation). Only at the end of the 1980s, after decades of the strong impact on them by Kurdish and Turkish nationalism, and by socialism, the Alevis rediscovered their own spiritual and social heritage. For the first time after the liberal daybreak of 1908, they made public, defended and promoted their Alevi identity.

In a historical view of triumphant Islam, the ruling classes in the 19th and 20th centuries worried about preservation of Sunni-Turkish power, believing in the virtues of centralization, social homogenization, and technical modernization. Missionaries, on the contrary, strove for equal participation of non-Sunni and non-Turkish groups with established distinct identities, believing in the values of Enlightenment, federalism, and Congregationalist basic democracy against a background of eschatological Christian history. As the missionaries' idea of Islam was known to be derogatory and hostile, their efforts were seen as subversion of foundations of power. So the "missionaries of the Board [in the 1920s] found themselves hated and despised because of what had been done to the Christian races of Turkey", as Henry Riggs stated. lv Enver Pasha is a striking example. For this Unionist wartime leader, the American missionaries were "the fighters and representatives of whole America". Although he knew well that the USA kept strict neutrality toward Turkey, he believed that America, by entering World War I, aimed "to destroy us ['] Turks and Muslims, in order to save Christianity in the East". Enver accused the missionaries of setting Armenians, Kurds, and Syrians against their rulers. In the same article in a Turkish magazine, he urged that Turkey should profit from the state of war to eradicate the ABCFM. lvi

The frustration and self-questioning of Central and Eastern Anatolia missionaries in 1923, after the military and diplomatic victory of the Turkish nationalists, was deep. They had lost everything. Most of 'their' people had perished, lived on the margin, or were abroad without a home. Missionary conceptions of multiethnic civil society and of a federalist system in Asia Minor had 'proved' to be wrong in 'real history'. How to bear a shattering memory hardly anybody was ready to share? The missionaries' silent agony on this point persisted in the following decades without finding a satisfactory response either in Turkey or in the established international historiography. It goes without saying that diplomacy did not encourage clarification of these matters. As the lack of an approved treaty jeopardized the greater interests of all American institutions in Turkey, missionary and Near East Relief leaders like James Barton ardently supported America's adherence to the Lausanne Treaty. In 1927 the United States resumed normal diplomatic relations with Turkey at the price of the absolute dismissal of the Armenian question. lvii Twenty years later the Truman Doctrine made Turkey a close partner of the USA. The USA gave more money for the arming up of the outdated Turkish army than they ever had given their missions and NGOs in that land.

Nevertheless, the ABCFM had made one early attempt to break silence about the war crimes in Asia Minor. In its January meeting in 1923, it drew up a "statement of attitude sternly condemning the massacres and horrors of the past, and giving repentance as the one hope for a better day in Turkey." Although aware that "such a stern rebuke of the actions of the government would probably result in the summary closing up of all our work", some members made a motion to present the statement to the Ankara authorities, regardless of results. But it was voted down. lviii A lot of relevant memory work was laid down in unpublished texts. Significantly, missionaries did not publish anything more on this topic.

At the end of the 20th century, the main internal problems of Turkey are the Kurdish question, Islamism, and the Alevi problem (whereas the Armenian genocide still remains a major problem in diplomacy and historiography): All these issues are directly linked with the lack of democracy, real pluralism and human rights. In these old topics mission not only had been an important factor, but also made, in the crucial years from 1908 to 1920, contributions in order to resolve destructive tensions in a constructive way. Nationalism, authoritarianism, and positivist social engineering never had been ideas cherished by Ottoman Protestants; thus adaption to the Turkish nationalist system was ambivalent. But anyway the missions remaining in Turkey were quantitatively much reduced and had lost the autonomous dynamics they had had for a century. In contrast to the previous decades, they bitterly endured the primacy of ideology and politics over religious belief and did not possess the means to openly propagate non-conformist visions and values. During the Cold War, whose forerunner concerned Turkey from the 1920s on, the American institutions were, notably by leftist Alevis, seen as elements of a 'neo-imperialistic' domination in alliance with rightist (and overwhelmingly Sunni) elites. For most Alevis, the execution of the radical left-wing students Deniz Gezmish, Hidir Inan and Beshir Aslan in 1972 (the two latters being Alevi) was a crime against idealistic members of the '68 generation. They were probably right in thinking that the junta was backed by the United States in its decision to kill them. In fact, unlike the ABCFM's influence, American political impact in Turkey since World War II was not a factor of change but of conservation of authoritarian structures yet after the transition to a multiparty system (1946).

Historiographical legacies

As a researcher focussed on modern Near Eastern History and not particularily on Christian mission, I want to limit my concluding reflections to some historiographical aspects. The missionaries, and not only the Americans, have left an important historiographical legacy enabling us to see important aspects of historic realities we could not approach otherwise. In turcology, there is still a considerable lack of history written from below with a focus on 'ordinary' people, not the elites, the provinces, not the capital, the dreams and traumata, not the ideologies and exploits. The Turkish historian Uygur Kocabashoglu stated that the missionaries knew much better the realities of provincial life than the Ottoman elite. The "Ottoman intellectuals only began in the first quarter of the 20th century to discover Anatolia", while "missionaries already knew ['] the values, patterns of behaviour, desires, prejudices and expectations of the different ethnic and social groups living there." lix This statement is correct despite the missionaries' ethnocentrism and their orientation towards the minorities. Each authentic observation is perspective, but its "distortion" can be rectified by historical methods. That is clearly not the case for an nonexistent observation or for a stereotypical perception that suppresses systematically that which politically not should be or seems to be irrelevant. I hope that my remarks above have showed the important contribution missionary archives (together with Ottoman documents and other Western sources) give for an interesting insight in the enigmatic Alevi history. Our information on the Alevis in late Ottoman times still remains meagre, even if the Alevi revival in Turkey and in the Turkish and Kurdish diaspora in Europe has led in the 1990s to many publications about the present-day articulations of Alevism and its socioreligious and ethnic origins.

Western, perhaps particularly American historiography after 1950 has partly forgotten the missionaries' legacy. Joseph Grabill, whom I highly esteem for his important research on American missions in the Near East, is an example of a typical blackout when he writes that "the Turkish ethnic group" was "by then [1919] the overwhelmingly majority people of eastern Anatolia." lx In their volume on the "Functioning of a plural society", generally seen as an epoch-making work on minorities in the Ottoman Empire, Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis exclude or "forget" completely the Alevis (and be it only as element of comparison for oriental Christians and Jews). lxi The bible of modern Turkish history, Bernard Lewis' Emergence of Modern Turkey, represents for its part a typical historiography from the top that focusses the ruling elites, their ideas and interpretations, at the expense of the depiction of social realities. In contrast to the ABCFM's historiographical legacy, this was the optimistic and reductionist (thus not truly constructive) vision the Western hemisphere seemed to need during the second half of the 20th century: the promising national destiny of a Westernized, secular "modern Turkey" emerged "from the decay of the old". But in this elegantly written book there is a veil over the Armenian question, an ignorance of the Alevi issue, an absence of the Kurdish question, and an almost complete and very significant absence of the most traumatic time in modern Turkish history and its most formative phase: the first world war (as Erik J. Zürcher has pointed out). lxii Only young Lewis' stereotypical view of negative reactions to the nationalist construction as "Muslim conservatism" remembers somewhat the missionary prejudices of the 19th century. Bernard Lewis, however, did not go so far as another American orientalist, Lewis V. Thomas, professor in Princeton. Thomas's naive, cynical, or simply functional socialdarwinism is reminiscent of the rightist German turcologue Karl Klinghardt who in the 1920s admiringly approved Turkey's ethnic cleansing for the reasons of state. lxiii The missionaries on the ground have written dense eyewitness accounts concerning the Armenian genocide (1915/16). Together with German military and diplomatic sources, these documents constitute the most important appeal against the historically grotesque, in diplomacy and turcology, but nevertheless successful denial of the centrally planned destruction of the Armenians in Asia Minor. Let us also mention the important missionary sources concerning the anti-Armenian pogroms of 1895 and 1909, major events still unsufficiently understood by the international historiography. lxiv

A most important legacy of the missionaries is their approval of progress and modernization without being subject to the spell of positivism, nationalism, and Social Darwinism. To exemplify what I mean, let me mention at the end some almost forgotten members of the two German Protestant missions in Eastern Anatolia (Deutsche Orient-Mission and Hülfsbund für christliches Liebeswerk im Orient). The physician Josephine Fallscheer-Zürcher participated from the Levant in the public debate in Europe and astutely denounced the short-circuited application to human society of the ideas of monism, biologism, and social hygiene in vogue among her former professors. lxv In and outside their classroom, Käthe Ehrhold and Ernst Sommer fighted for an education freed from the fascination by political or scientifical ideologies, present in so many late Ottoman highschools and colleges specially among the young men. lxvi The pietist Ernst Lohmann fiercely castigated the German imperialism in the Levant with its "mistaken speculation", "big lie," and its violation of "the simplest moral precepts" in the war against Russia. lxvii Friedrich Schuchhardt applied the term Endlösung (final solution) to denounce the destruction of the Armenians. lxviii Jakob Künzler taught an ignorant Western public that the Kurds were also victims of a large-scale ethnic cleansing in 1916/17, and, like Johannes Lepsius, he bravely intervened with the authorities in order to stop ongoing crimes in those war years. lxix Thus despite their principal loyalties to the secular authorities, many missionaries successfully resisted the pressure of pernicious state propaganda and became altruistic helpers of victims, smugglers of refugees, and powerful critics of politics. Sometimes they went beyond the limit of their own self-preservation. They were however not properly militants. The missionary physician Josephine Fallscheer-Zürcher's dedication, partly spiritually motivated as it was, differed from the secular committment for human and minoritarian rights of her compatriote Lucie Thoumaian-Rossier from Geneva (she was the wife of Garabed Toumaian, a teacher in the Anatolia College in Merzifon until 1893, and the sister of the early Swiss feminist Aline Hoffmann-Rossier). lxx Yet the tone could become 'militant', as is shown, for example, in one of the most impressive short texts against war, the letter of Dr. Daniel Thom, long-time missionary in Mardin, to William Peet, 16 August 1914. "'War is hell' and it seems to me the Powers that have rushed into it headlong, regardless of life or limb, are finding it out to their sorrow, and the end is where? Even here, with no declared war we are finding it 'hell'. ['] Such suicidal conduct of a government I have not seen, during this variegated life I have lived [']: Poor Turkey, poor Turkey, going it blindly, with a man at the head of the army, whose name is LIGHT [Enver], but he has certainly turned on the dark slid on his lantern, and is rushing head long, pell-mell over the precipice, to sure destruction, was there ever such blindness?" lxxi

Most of the missionaries never could believe in racism, political violence and war as laying in the "nature" of human history. Unlike the post-Ottoman Near East Relief workers or short-term missionaries, they also possessed the intellectual and spiritual prerequisitions, the regional rootedness and the courage for a relatively autonomous behaviour and for a fundamentally critical view of the existing political powers and ideologies.

 


Endnotes

i: Cf. also my articles "Muslim heterodoxy and Protestant utopia. The interactions between Alevis and missionaries in Ottoman Anatolia", Die Welt des Islams, forthcoming, and "Mission as factor of change in Turkey (19th &endash; first half of 20th century)", to be published in Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations (Eleanor Doumato, editor). Most of the results of my researches have been published in French or German, comprehensively in the recent book Der verpasste Friede. Mission, Ethnie und Staat in den Ostprovinzen der Türkei 1839-1938, Zürich: Chronos, 2000. Back.

ii: Cf. "Kizil-Bash" in EI2, V, pp. 243-45, and the author's article "L'Alévisme kurde", Peuples Méditerranéens 68-69, Paris, 1994, pp. 57-76. Back.

iii: Riggs, Henry H., "The Religion of the Dersim Kurds", in: Missionary Review of the World, 1911, pp. 741-742. Back.

iv: The first letter dealing with the Kizilbash was probably that of George Nutting, Arabkir, 24 October 1854. He wrote to Rufus Anderson, the secretary of the ABCFM in Boston: "There [Çemi?gezek] is a sect of nominal Moslems scattered through this region of whom I think you have not heard. They bear the name Kuzulbash, which means literally 'readhead'. ['] They never or almost never go through the Muslim forms of prayer; nor do they keep their fast. They are a people by themselves. A peculiar people and open to the Gospel. ['] The Turks seem to regard them very much as they do the Koords, as worthless heretics, and not worth caring for." ABC 16.7.1 (Archives of the ABCFM, Houghton Library, Harvard). Back.

v: From the viewpoint of Armenian nationalists the Protestantism damaged the Armenianism: Those "of the village who embraced Protestantism were pulled away from Armenianism ['] Protestants were no longer Armenians; they were 'Prod', illegitimate, apostate." Dzeron, Manoog B., Village of Parchanj. General History (1600-1937), Boston: Baikar Press, 1984, pp. 150-51. Back.

vi: Cf. Missionary Herald, 1855, pp. 338-340; 1856, pp. 295-298; 1857, pp. 83-85, 220 and 395; 1858, pp. 23-24 and 112-115; 1860, pp. 45; 1861, p. 72; 1863, pp. 116-118 and 309-312; 1866, 67-69; 1872, pp. 315-317. The Missionary Herald reproduces excerpts of letters and station reports. The originals are in the ABCFM archives. Back.

vii: "The oppressions which they suffer from the dominant race are more severe than those endured by any class of the Christian subjects. In this respect they are the most abused people in Turkey. They are industrious and frugal, and with protection would become rich and prosperous; but as it is now, they are eaten up by greedy pashas and other exorbitant officials", Sanford Richardson wrote 1856 from Arapkir (Missionary Herald 1856, pp. 295-98).. Back.

viii: Decree issued by the Sultan that laid down such liberal principles as that of religious liberty. Back.

ix: "The Moslems do not consider them as Moslems, and the only reason why they should oppose their evangelization is that now they have often opportunity to oppress them in various ways, in respect to taxes, etc., and they fear that when they become Protestants we shall inform the powers above them of their oppressions, and bring them to punishment, or prevent such wrongs", Nutting wrote in the Missionary Herald, 1860, p. 347. Cf. 1857, pp. 144-145; 1858, pp. 110; 1861, pp. 71-73 and 100-102. Back.

x: Cf. Akarli, Engin Deniz, "The Tangled End of Istanbul's Imperial Supremacy", in: L. Fawaz (ed.), European Modernity and Cultural Differences: from the Mediterrenean Sea to the Indian Ocean, 1890s-1920s, Columbia University Press, forthcoming. Back.

xi: Cf. Deringil, Selim, The Well-Protected Domains. Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire. 1876-1909, London: I. B. Tauris, 1998, p. 68-111; Verheij, Jelle, " Die armenischen Massaker von 1894-1896: Anatomie und Hintergründe einer Krise", in: H.-L. Kieser (ed.), Die armenische Frage und die Schweiz 1896-1923, Zürich: Chronos, 1999, pp. 69-129. Back.

xii: Cf. Sunar, Mehmet Mert, "Do¤u Anadolu ve Kuzey Irakt'ta Osmanli Devleti ve A?iretler: II. Abdèlhamid'den II. Me?rutiyet'e", in: Kebikeç, no. 10, Ankara, 2000, p. 123 Back.

xiii: "The villages near Arabkir: were plundered 6 times, &endash; once by Dersim Koords who seldom kill and do not molest women. The slaughter was by the Turks and Kurds of the vicinity, who are cruel in the extreme." Report from Harput, November 1895, written probably by Caleb F. Gates, ABC 16.9.9; cf. also Riggs, Henry H., Days of Tragedy in Armenia. Personal Experiences in Harpoot, 1915-1917, Michigan: Gomidas Institute, 1997, p. 111. Back.

xiv: "The Shia Turks", in: Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol. 40, London, 1908, pp. 225-26. Abdulhamid saw also a separatist danger in missionary attempts to reach Kurdish people. Printed gospels in Armeno-Kurdish (Kurmandj-Kurdish written with Armenian letters) and later in Arabo-Kurdish, modest Kurdish village schools and Christian instruction appeared as dangerous attacks on Islamic unity and as germs of ethnic self-consciousness. Cf. letter of A. N. Andrus, Mardin, 8 August 1914, to James Barton, Boston, ABC 16.9.3. Back.

xv: Tankut, Hasan R., 'Zazalar hakkinda sosyolojik tetkiler', in: M. Bayrak, Açik-Gizli/ Resmi-Gayriresmi Kürdoloji Belgeleri, Ankara: Özge, 1994 (1935), pp. 470-3. Cf. White 1908, p. 230, and White, George E., "Some non-conforming Turks", in: Moslem World, 1918, p. 246. Back.

xvi: Öz, Baki, Alevilik ile ilgili Osmanli Belgeleri, Istanbul: Can, 1997, p. 148. Back.

xvii: Missionary Herald, 1909, pp. 211-212. Cf. James Barton's optimism in Missionary Herald, 1908, pp. 467-469. Back.

xviii: White, George E., 'The Alevi Turks of Asia Minor', in: Contemporary Review, 1913, vol. 104, p. 698. Back.

xix: Riggs 1997, p. 110. Back.

xx: "Abdülhamit zamaninda Ermeniler bu Kizilba? Türkler'e musallat olmu?, onlari, Ermenisiniz, diye diye kandiriyorlardi. Muvaffak oluyorlardi. Bu hal devam etse bu Kizilba?lar, Ermeni olup gideceklerdi. Zaten böyle neler kaybettik" (Riza Nur, Hayat ve Hatiratim. Riza Nur-Atatürk Kavgasi, Istanbul: Ð?aret, 1992, vol. 3, p. 112). Back.

xxi: Tankut 1994, p. 472. Back.

xxii: Birdo¤an, Nejat, Ðttihat-Terakki'nin Alevilik Bekta?ilik Ara?tirmasi (Baha Sait Bey), Istanbul: Berfin, 1994, p. 11. Sait's texts (cited in Birdo¤an) were the first Turkish attempt to understand the Alevis primarily as "Old Turks". Back.

xxiii: Gökalp, Ziya, Türkçülü§ün Esaslari, Istanbul: Sebil Matbaacilik, 1975, p. 21. Back.

xxiv: Köprülü, Fuad, "Bemerkungen zur Religionsgeschichte Kleinasiens", in: Mitteilungen zur Osmanischen Geschichte, 1922, vol. I, p. 215. The Turkish and Kurdish speaking Alevis used actually in their djem liturgical texts in old Turkish that was free from the excessif Arabic and Persan mixture of the Ottoman language. Back.

xxv: But they enyoyed in fact much more protection through Turkey's German ally than did the "non reliable elements" in the remote Eastern provinces. Cf. Auron, Yair, The Banality of Indifference. Zionism and the Armenian Genocide. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2000, pp. 67-95. Back.

xxvi: White 1918, p. 248. Back.

xxvii: See Dersimi, Mehmet Nuri, Kürdistan Tarihinde Dersim, Aleppo, 1952, p. 41-42 and 292; Riggs 1997, p. 112-116, and the unpublished paper "Account of the events in Turkey during the past three years as I have seen them and as they have had an effect upon our work in the Annie Tracy Hospital" by Tacy W. Atkinson, 1917 (ABC 16.9.7.). See also Davis, Leslie A., The Slaughterhouse Province. An American Diplomat's Report on the Armenian Genocide. 1915-1917, ed. by Susan K. Blair, New Rochelle: Aristide D. Caratzas, pp. 98-99, 108, 111-12, 170. See autobiographical accounts by Armenian refugees: Jafarian, Boghos, Farewell Kharpert. The Autobiography of Boghos Jafarian, 1989, pp. 105-117, and Alexanian, Jacques der (ed.), Le Ciel était noir sur l'Euphrate, Paris: Robert Laffont, 1988, pp. 132-144. Back.

xxviii: Christoffel, Ernst, Aus dunklen Tiefen, Berlin, 1921, p. 68. Back.

xxix: BOA (Ba?bakanlik Osmanli Ar?ivi) DH.?FR 54-A/354. Back.

xxx: Riggs 1997, pp. 116-17 and 195; Dersimi 1952, pp. 94-98, 115, 118, 280 and 291. Back.

xxxi: Cf. Birdo¤an, Nejat, Çelebi Vemalettin Efendi'nin Savunmasi (Müdafaa), Istanbul: Berfin, 1996, pp. 49 and 132. Back.

xxxii: BOA DH.?FR 54-A/128. Back.

xxxiii:Özkök, Bürhan Osmanlilar devrinde Dersim isyanlari, Istanbul: Askeri Matbaa, 1937, p. 35; Dersimi 1952, pp. 103-109. Back.

xxxiv: Riggs 1997, pp. 177-184. Back.

xxxv: Riggs 1997, p. 184. Back.

xxxvi: Cf. the author's "Le soulèvement du Koçkiri-Dersim et la question identitaire (1919-1921)", in: Les Annales de l'autre Islam, no. 5, 1998. pp. 279-316. Back.

xxxvii: Letter of 7 December 1919, ABC 16.9.9. Back.

xxxviii: Cf. Kieser 2000, p. 377. Back.

xxxix: Dersimi 1952, p. 45. Back.

xl: Koçgiri was the name of a confederation of Kurdish-Alevi tribes, the name of the region to the east of Sivas, where these tribes lived, and, third, the name of the district of Zara in the midst of that region. Back.

xli: Dersimi 1952, pp. 123-125, and BOA DH.KMS 55-3/15. Back.

xlii: Cf. TBMM (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi) Gizli Celse Zabitlari, vol. II, Ankara, 1980, p. 270. From Jin. Kürtçe-Türkçe Dergi. 1918-1919, Istanbul, 1918-1919, there is a new edition by Mehmet E. Bozarslan: Uppsala, 1985-1988. Back.

xliii: To this topic cf. Kieser 2000, pp. 364-70. Back.

xliv: Cf. Sonnenaufgang, Frankfurt, June-July 1931, p. 48; and October 1933, pp. 2-3. Back.

xlv: Cf. Be?ikçi, Ðsmail, Tunceli Kanunu (1935) ve Dersim Jenosidi , Ankara: Yurt, 1992, p. 45. Back.

xlvi: Cf. "Yüz Senelik Dersim Ð?i ?ifa Yolunda" by Ahmed Emin Yalman in Tan, 15 June 1937, reprinted in Akgül, Suat, Yakin Tarihimizde Dersim Ðsyanlari ve Gerçekler, Istanbul: Bo¤aziçi Yayinlari, 1992, pp. 241-43. The Inspector of Civil Services Hamdi Bey used in 1926 the word çiban to call the "boil" that had to be cut out for the salvation of the country: "Dersim Cumhuriyet Hükümeti için bir çibandir. Bu çiban üzerinde kesin bir ameliye yapmak ve elim ihtimalleri önlemek, memleket selamati bakimindan mutlaka lâzimdir" (cited in Be?ikçi 1992, pp. 50-51). Back.

xlvii: Cf. Bulut, Faik, Belgelerle Dersim Raporlari, Istanbul: Yön, 1991, p. 193; Akgül 1992, pp. 120-21 and 163; Kieser 1998, p. 294. Back.

xlviii: According to Nuri Dersimi, his friend, Seyit Riza leader continued to believe that the Dersim could not be conquered militarily (Dersimi 1952, p. 269). Back.

xlix: Cf. Akgül 1992, p. 125. Back.

l: A lot of examples are in the press of those years (Tan, Ulus, Cumhuriyet, Kurun etc.). The journalist S. Gezgin saw it as a particular sign of backwardness that the "fanatical" Dersim chief Seyit Riza (ye?il sarikli, ye?il cübbeli yobaz), wore a cross around the neck, and had a New Testament and several religious Armenian books with him (Kurun, 2 November 1937, p. 2). Back.

li: Tan, 15 June 1937, in Akgül 1992, pp. 244-45. For the Kemalist propaganda of that time see Ulu¤, Na?it, Tunceli Medeniyete açiliyor, Istanbul, 1939; cf. the analyses in Be?ikçi 1992, and Bozarslan, Hamit, "Der Kemalismus und das Kurdenproblem", in: H.-L. Kieser (ed.), Kurdistan und Europa, Zürich: Chronos, 1997, pp. 217-236. The ideal (mefkure/ülkü) of Kemalism was in fact European culture. An idealized and superficial reception of the Swiss legal, educational and sanitary systems served as model; many Young Turks had studied in Switzerland, for example the lawyer and minister of the interior Mahmut Esat Bozkurt who introduced the Swiss Civil Law in Turkey. Back.

lii: Cf. McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, London und New York: I. B. Tauris, 1996, p. 209, and Bruinessen, Martin van, "Genocide in Kurdistan? The Suppression of the Dersim Rebellion in Turkey (1937-38) and the Chemical War against the Iraqi Kurds (1988)", in: Andreopoulos, George, Genocide - Conceptual and Historical Dimension, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994, pp. 141-70. Back.

liii: A fact deplored by Halide Edip, a Young Turkish novelist and pioneer in the emancipation of women in Turkey (Adivar, Halide Edip, Memoirs, London, 1926, p. 372). Back.

liv: Cf. Akarli, Engin D., The Long Peace. Ottoman Lebanon, 1861&endash;1920, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1993, pp. 184-192. Back.

lv: Cf. Riggs, Henry H., A. B. C. F. M. History 1910-1942. Section on the Turkey Missions, 1942, ABC Ms. Hist. 31, chap. IV: Beginning again in the Turkey Missions, p. 13 (manuscript). Back.

lvi: "Misyoner Tehlikesine Kar?i", in: Sebîlürre?ad, vol. 15, no. 366, p. 36-37, Aug. 1334 (1918). Hypocritically or not, the same person gave the American hospital staff in Harput a war medal for its great services on behalf of wounded Turkish soldiers (Missionary Herald, 1917, p. 28). Back.

lvii: Cf. Moranian, Suzanne E., The American missionaries and the Armenian question: 1915-1927, Wisconsin-Madison, 1994, pp. 549-80. Back.

lviii: Riggs 1942, p. 20-21. Back.

lix: Kocabao¤lu, Uygur, Anadolu'da Amerika. 19. Yüzyilda Osmanli Ðmparatorlu¤u'ndaki Amerikan Misyoner Okullari, Istanbul: Arba, 1989, p. 220. Back.

lx: Grabill, Joseph L., The Protestant Diplomacy and the Near East, Minnesota, 1971, p. 170. Back.

lxi: Braude, Benjamin, und Lewis, Bernard, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society, vol. 1: The Central Lands, New York, 1982. Back.

lxii: Erik Jan Zürcher's The rise and fall of "modern" Turkey
(http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/tcimo/tulp/research/lewis.htm) is a thorough and polite deconstruction of Lewis' Emergence of Modern Turkey. Back.

lxiii: Cf. L. V. Thomas and R. N. Frye, The United States and Turkey and Iran, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951, pp. 61-62, and Kieser 2000, pp. 498 and 528. Back.

lxiv: I fear the missionaries on the ground were quite accurate in their desciption of those mass murders, e. g. Corinna Shattuck in Urfa (ABC Indiv. Biogr. 54:21, cited in Kieser 2000, pp. 540-43). Cf., as a divergent approach, Salt, Jeremy, Imperialism, Evangelism and the Ottoman Armenians, 1878-1896, London, 1993, pp. 97 and 100-101. Back.

lxv: "Ist das alles?", in: Münchner Allgemeine Zeitung, 6 February 1909. Cf. H.-L. Kieser, "Schweiz des Fin de siècle und 'Armenien': Patriotische Identifikation, Weltbürgertum und Protestantismus in der schweizerischen philarmenischen Bewegung", in: idem (ed.), Die armenische Frage und die Schweiz 1896-1923, Zürich: Chronos, 1999, pp. 148-49. Back.

lxvi: Cf. K. Ehrhold, "Aus der Schularbeit des Deutschen Hülfsbundes in Wan", and E. Sommer, "Erziehungsarbeit im Orient", in: 25 Jahre im Orient, Deutscher Hilfsbund. 1896-1921, Frankfurt, 1921, pp. 117-127 and 134-35. Back.

lxvii: 25 Jahre im Orient, Deutscher Hilfsbund. 1896-1921, Frankfurt, 1921, pp. 3-4. Back.

lxviii: Sonnenaufgang, Frankfurt, no. 5, 1922. Back.

lxix: Künzler, Jakob, Im Lande des Blutes und der Tränen. Erlebnisse in Mesopotamien während des Weltkrieges, Zürich: Chronos, 1999 (first edition Potsdam: Tempelverlag, 1921), pp. 101-104. Back.

lxx: Cf. Kieser 1999, pp. 136-37. Back.

lxxi: ABC bh; fully cited in Kieser 2000, p. 336. Back.

 

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