Recently Tony Blair, ex Prime Minister apologized for the lies to start the occupation of Iraq.
Humankind never faced such a giant and organized lying machine.
These liers are the locusts of the world.
History had repeated itself again as 100 years before when British Wellington House produced 37 propaganda books in 1916, 1917 and 1918 against Turks in order to start the occupation of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.
Links are clickable to retrieve the texts of the 37 propaganda books
General Sir Edmund Allenby’s Despatch of 10th December, 1917, on the Operations in Egypt and Palestine from 28th June, 1917, till the Capture of Jerusalem (11th December, 1917), reprint from The London Gazette of January 22, 1918, London, H.M. Stationery Office, 1918. http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog?start=1012658459&topic_id=1106183
Great Britain, Palestine, and the Jews: A Survey of Christian Opinion, London, The Zionist Organization, 1918.
Basil Mathews, The Freedom of Jerusalem, London and New York, Hodder and Stoughton,1918.
R.W. Seton-Watson, Serbia, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: a School Address, Vacher and Sons, 1916.
Syria During March 1916: Her Miseries and Disasters, London, Sir Joseph Causton and Son 1916. [listed separately]
Josiah Wedgwood, M.P., With Machine-Guns in Gallipoli, London, Darling and Sons, 1915.
Chaim Weizmann and Richard Gottheil, What is Zionism?, two chapters from Zionism and the Jewish Future, London, The Zionist Organization, 1918.
Concepts in Wellington Anti-Turk & Islamofobic Propaganda Books:
- Holy Lands
- Pan-Turanian Movement
Wellington House and the Turks; by Justin McCarthy
During World War I there were many reasons for propaganda, but the most common was simply the desire make your enemy look bad. Any propaganda organization intends to downplay the good side and emphasize the bad side of its enemies. The most well known example of this is the anti-German propaganda of World War I–the babies on bayonets, the starving Belgians, the rape of nuns. The primary intention of this propaganda was to draw neutrals to the side of Britain, the primary neutral of course being the United States. But propaganda is also useful as a morale builder for one’s own side. It can make people feel they are fighting a holy crusade against evil. In some cases, especially in the second world war, this was true. There was a definite evil to be opposed. In the first war it was much harder to identify one side as more evil than the other, and thus propaganda was all the more needed. . .
In addition to the general desire to defame one’s enemies, there were very specific grounds for a British propaganda campaign out against the Turks. One of them was the traditional British public opinion. Britons had a very ambivalent feeling towards Turks. This had been true for some time. The best example of this is probably the period of the 1876 Bulgarian War, when Disraeli’s and Gladstone’s visions of the Turks alternated in the public mind. At first, the public image was negative; the Turks were blamed for the “Bulgarian Horrors.” But soon after the British changed their minds and the public cried out for war with Russia to defend the Ottoman Empire (and British self-interest). From that time until World War I, a number of travelers, diplomats, and others wrote kindly of the Turks, balancing the writings of others, especially British missionaries and other clergymen, whose opinions were not so favorable. A feeling developed that the Turks, while bad in some ways, still had many good qualities. They were not Christians, but they were honest and could be relied upon. The word of a Turk was good.
Consequently, at the beginning of World War I the British feeling about Turks was not necessarily negative. This was even true after the Turks and the British went to war. Favorable reports of Turks began to come back to Britain, even appearing in some newspapers that were allied with the government. These reports described the Turks as men of honor, the “clean-fighting Turk.” The British officer corps and the Turkish officer corps had very much in common; honor was a very important thing to each of them, and each could rely on the word and the action of the other. This evaluation was conveyed to the British people.
This was not the kind of thing that the British government wanted its people to believe about one of its arch enemies. It is very difficult to fight a war against decent men whose only crime is that they are oppose you politically. Something had to be done to change the image of the Turks.
Another intent of British propaganda was to counter the image of Russia in the United States. Britain wanted the United States to take its side in the war, or at least to remain a friendly neutral. Russia, Britain’s ally, had a well-deserved poor image in the United States, due to persecution of Jews. In 1915, Russian soldiers had massacred large numbers of Jews during Russian campaigns against the Germans. Reports of these atrocities had come to the United States, and Russia had become a negative factor in American perceptions of the Allies. The British feared that the Jewish influence in America was so great that the Russian actions would harm Britain and keep America out of the war. This was ridiculous, as Jews in America at that time had little real power. Belief in the “Power of the Jews” in fact reflected British prejudices more than political realities. But the belief in a great and powerful international organization of Jews was strong even in the British government, which took action based on its belief. The Russian outrages against the Jews were real and undeniable. The only way to counter them in the American mind, it was felt, was to present an even worse image for the Central Powers, a manufactured evil image of the Germans and the Turks.
The British also had a great fear that Indian Muslims would engage in a jihad, a holy war, against the Allies, alongside their brother Muslims in the Ottoman Empire. There was never really a chance this would happen. With hindsight, one can see that, but at the time the British Government feared a Muslim revolt. If they could make the Turks look evil, then they could convince the Indian Muslims that the Muslim Turks were really bad Muslims, not the sort who should be followed into war.
To the British, the most important of all things was to turn Americans against the Central Powers. Those who have looked over the archival record know that the Wilson administration was in favor of the British and the other Allied Powers long before America entered the war. There was also a opposing desire not to enter and European War, an isolationism that had been an American creed since the days of George Washington. Americans needed justification before they would enter the war. The had to be convinced that the Central Powers should be opposed. The Turks were a ready target, because propaganda against them was already ubiquitous in America. For a generation, American missionaries and their supporters in the United States had been painting the Turks as enemies of Christianity and persecutors of Christians. British propagandists could play upon the great respect Americans held for the missionaries who had gone to the Ottoman Empire, and who often appeared in the newspapers as national heroes for a Christian Nation. The American feeling of affection and respect for the missionaries could be mobilized as a force to oppose the natural anti-Allied feeling among many Americans, a feeling especially prominent among the Germans and the Irish in America. If the Turks could be portrayed as the persecutors of missionaries and murderers of Christians, the taint would also pass to the Germans. Portraying the Germans as a nation that would befriend and support the “evil Turks,” and indeed lead those evil Turks into battle, would show the American public how bad the Germans were. This policy was to be greatly successful in affecting American public opinion.
The British agency entrusted with changing public opinion was at first called the War Propaganda Bureau, a section of the Foreign Office. In 1914 the bureau was stationed in Wellington House. Its Director was the Right Honourable C. F. Masterman. In December of 1916 it was made a Department of Information under Colonel John Buchan, with Masterman as his deputy. Later, in 1918, a Ministry of Information was created, under Lord Beaverbrook. But to the people who were involved in British propaganda the propaganda office always was the same. It was simply called Wellington House.
Wellington House drew on some of the best minds in the British government. The historian Arnold Toynbee was an adviser to Wellington House from 1914 and sat until 1917 on the committee that met daily and set propaganda policies. He was joined on the policy committee by other eminent historians, Lewis Namier and J.W. Headley Morley, and by Edwyn Bevin, an Oxford Classicist, and others. Other private and public figures and members of ostensibly non-governmental patriotic organizations cooperated with or acted under the direction of the official propagandists. British Universities provided propaganda pamphlets and expertise.
By the standards of the time, the British propaganda effort was a major undertaking. By 1917, Wellington House had a staff of 54 and could call on help from other departments and ministries. Existent records show that Wellington House was engaged in a massive undertaking. These records show the numbers of publications distributed. (Unfortunately the records do not usually list the names of individual publications.) The first report (June, 1915) of Wellington House listed distribution of approximately 2.5 million copies of books, pamphlets, and other written propaganda in 17 languages. The second report (February, 1916) listed 7 million copies circulated. In 1914, British Propaganda distributed 45 different publications; in 1915, 132; in 1916, 202; in 1917, 469. Unfortunately no record of distribution beyond 1917 exists. It can be assumed that the numbers continued to grow. All was done in secret and was done creatively.
The Wellington House brief was simple, the same brief as that of all propagandists. They were to make the enemies look as bad as possible and make their friends, and especially the British themselves, look as good as could be. Their main focus was, naturally, Germany, but much effort was expended against the Turks. Propaganda was not considered to be a gentleman’s game. Toynbee himself remarked that he would have like to get out of it for that reason. Nevertheless it was something that had to be done. and British gentlemen did it. They were probably always ashamed of their work, however, as indicated by the fact that they destroyed all the records of the Propaganda Office immediately after the war. This has made it difficult to reconstruct the activities of the wartime propaganda office. Luckily, some Wellington House records were sent to other offices in the British Government. Although the originals were destroyed, copies were sometimes kept in relevant Foreign Office departments, especially in the Foreign Office records for the United States. The number of documents is modest, but they indicate some small part of Wellington House operations against the Turks.
Despite the effort to blot out the historical record, a good source on the actual publications of Wellington House exists: The record of the propaganda books distributed by Wellington House was kept in a hand-written ledger book, carefully bound. It contains a list of the books subvened or distributed by the propaganda office–books that were written for them, and books, written independently by others, which they bought and distributed. Although they destroyed everything else, Wellington House exempted copies of bound books, which they must have seen no reason to destroy. These books were sent off to the Foreign Office Library, which was eventually opened to researchers. One can theorize that the bound record of publications was taken to be an ordinary bound book, and thus was not destroyed. There is reason to believe that the ledger is not complete; a large number of wartime books bear the intellectual stamp of Wellington House, but do not appear in the ledger. Some of these were even written by members of the Wellington House staff. Nevertheless, the ledger affords a picture of British propaganda office activities.
Table One. Wellington House Books on the Ottoman Empire
E.F. Benson, Crescent and Iron Cross, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1918; New York, Doran, 1918.
E.F. Benson, Deutschland über Allah, London and New York, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917.
British Palestine Committee, Palestine, reprint of article from November 24, 1917, London, Hayman, Christy, and Lilly, 1917; New York, Doran, 1918.
The “Clean-Fighting Turk,” a Spurious Claim. reprinted from The Times of February 20, 1917.
Israel Cohen, The Turkish Persecution of the Jews, Passmore and Sons, 1918.
The Commercial Future of Baghdad, Complete Press, London, 1917.
Edward Cook, Britain and Turkey, London, Macmillan, 1914.
Delegates of the Red Cross, Turkish Prisoners in Egypt, Red Cross, London, 1917.
Leon Dominian, The Frontiers of Language and Nationality in Europe, New York, Henry Holt, 1917.
Fa’iz El-Ghusein, “Bedouin Notable of Damascus” [sic], Martyred Armenia, London, C. Arthur Pearson, 1917; New York, Doran, 1918.
General Sir Edmund Allenby’s Despatch of 10th December, 1917, on the Operations in Egypt and Palestine from 28th June, 1917, till the Capture of Jerusalem (11th December, 1917), reprint from The London Gazette of January 22, 1918, London, H.M. Stationery Office, 1918.
S. Georgevitch, Serbia and Kossovo [publisher unknown].
Germany, Turkey, and Armenia: Selections of Documentary Evidence relating to Armenian Atrocities, London, J.J. Keliher & Co., 1917.
Great Britain, Palestine, and the Jews: Jewry’s Celebration of Its National Charter, London, The Zionist Organization, 1918; New York, Doran, 1918.
Great Britain, Palestine, and the Jews: A Survey of Christian Opinion, London, The Zionist Organization, 1918.
A.P. Hacobian, Armenia and the War, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917; New York, Doran, 1917.
E.W.G. Masterman, The Deliverance of Jerusalem, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1918; New York, Doran, 1918.
Basil Mathews, The Freedom of Jerusalem, London and New York, Hodder and Stoughton, 1918.
Esther Mugerditchian, From Turkish Toils: an Armenian Family’s Escape, London, C. Arthur Pearson, 1918; New York, Doran, 1918.
Martin Niepage, The Horrors of Aleppo, Seen by a German Eyewitness, London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1917.
The Ottoman Domination, London, Fisher Unwin, 1917.
Canon Parfit, Mesopotamia: the Key to the Future, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917; New York, Doran, 1918.
Pavle Popovic, Serbian Macedonia, The Near East, Devonshire Square [sic, no other information].
Report on the Pan-Turanian Movement [no information given].
R.W. Seton-Watson, Serbia, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: a School Address, Vacher and Sons, 1916.
George Adam Smith, Syria and the Holy Land, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1918.
Harry Stuermer, Two War Years in Constantinople, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917; New York, Doran, 1917.
Subject Nationalities of the German Alliance (with a Map Drawn from German Sources), London and New York, Cassell and Co, 1917.
Syria During March 1916: Her Miseries and Disasters, London, Sir Joseph Causton and Son 1916. [listed separately]
S. Tolkowsky, The Jewish Colonisation in Palestine, London, The Zionist Organization, 1918.
Arnold J. Toynbee, Armenian Atrocities: the Murder of a Nation, London and New York, Hodder and Stoughton, 1915.
Arnold J. Toynbee, ed., The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915 1916, London: H.M. Stationery Office, 1916; London and New York, Hodder and Stoughton, 1916.
Arnold J. Toynbee, Turkey: A Past and a Future, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917; New York, Doran,1917
Arnold J. Toynbee, The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917; New York, Doran,1917.
Josiah Wedgwood, M.P., With Machine-Guns in Gallipoli, London, Darling and Sons, 1915.
Chaim Weizmann and Richard Gottheil, What is Zionism?, two chapters from Zionism and the Jewish Future, London, The Zionist Organization, 1918.
J.S. Willmore, The Welfare of Egypt, London and New York, Hodder and Stoughton, 1917.
The publications listed in the ledger are only books or large pamphlets. They do not include press releases, articles, and other materials. The general themes of the propaganda are consistent from work to work:
Turks are illegitimate rulers who have destroyed all lands in which they have ruled. European rule over the Middle East would be far preferable.
Turks are Muslims who hate all other religions, particularly Christianity. They have always treated Christians badly.
Turks are guilty of inhuman atrocities against Christians, including mass murder and awful sexual crimes.
The Germans stand behind Turkish evil deeds, either because they ordered the deeds or because they had the power to stop them and refused to do so.
The mass of the people of the Ottoman Empire look to the British for salvation. This includes Muslims, who appreciate the good government the British have given Muslims in Egypt and India.
British propaganda made special efforts to tie the Germans to the Turks. This was an intelligent ploy, especially in the United States, where there was much pro-German sentiment but Muslims were held in disdain. British propaganda “proved” that the Germans could not be true Europeans, because they consorted with evil Muslim and Asiatic Turks.
Wellington House publications were often published by Hodder and Stoughton in Britain. In America, the chosen publisher was Doran, a company that was partly owned by Hodder and Stoughton, although Hodder and Stoughton also published some volumes in New York under its own imprint. According to Wellington House, George H. Doran, head of the publishing company, was “in close cooperation with Mr. Geoffrey Butler [resident head of the British propaganda effort in the United States ], in New York, and has been in touch with Lord Northcliffe–the head of the American Mission.” “Messrs. Doran have produced and distributed a large number of books and pamphlets for Wellington House in the U.S.A., and, so far as these are concerned, Mr. Doran may be said to be the representative of Wellington House . . .” Toynbee’s short books against the Turks, The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks , and Turkey: a Past and a Future, were both republished in America by Doran, as were anti-German books by Toynbee and others. Doran also published a number of missionary tracts directed against the Turks, including work for Near East Relief. Doran published other propaganda literature that was not on the above Wellington House list, including others by the British Palestine Committee. Because of the destruction of most Wellington House records, it cannot be known if these were also “sponsored” by British Propaganda.
Due to the destruction of the archival record, it is impossible to know how extensive was Wellington House involvement in the production of individual pieces of propaganda. It is known that the Toynbee works were prompted by his position with the propaganda bureau, and from that and from study of other books printed by Hodder and Stoughton it seems that most, perhaps all, of those book were instigated by Wellington House or other governmental agencies. It cannot be an accident that Hodder and Stoughton books uniformly justified British rule in Palestine and Iraq, which it was British policy to retain after the war. Nor could it have been accidental that Masterman, the head of propaganda, himself published with that house. Other books were most likely distributed by the British because they fit into British propaganda aims. The Frontiers of Language and Nationality in Europe, written for the American Geographical Society of New York by an American Armenian, was one of these. The works from The Zionist Organization were probably also produced by the Zionist Organization itself, although the group did cooperate with the Foreign Office. On the other hand, the works by Toynbee and Masterman and those without listed authors are the product of the propaganda bureau, as probably are those of Benson, which read like a catalogue of British political agendae. Basil Mathews produced other propaganda, including Christ and the World at War, a collection of sermons which was just what might be expected from a book with such a title. Because of the close connection of the Hodder and Stoughton and Doran publishing houses with Wellington House, it is probable that all their publications on the list were instigated by the British government.
The list of publications in the ledger is long, but for the Middle East there are a more limited number of books. The table gives only those volumes, but it provides an idea of the breadth and the scope of the Wellington House interests. They include Palestine, Jews and Zionism, and especially the Turks. Table One does not include a number of other books in the ledger that have multiple topics, such as the Germans and the Turks or what the Germans were doing in the Middle East. Even with those excluded, there is a large number of books. Some have been selected below for analysis as examples.
The Propaganda of Arnold Toynbee
In nothing Arnold J. Toynbee wrote for Wellington House was there ever an indication of who his employers were, that he was a stalwart of the Propaganda Bureau. He retained the image of a scholar who was writing on his own.
The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915 1916 was Arnold Toynbee’s greatest contribution to the efforts of British propaganda. Ostensibly, the book was the work of Viscount Bryce, but actually was almost completely Toynbee’s own creation. The official story, printed in the book’s introduction, was that Bryce was dismayed when he read accounts sent him by Armenians. He decided to collect the facts and write a book. He asked Toynbee if he would compile the book. They then presented the book to Lord Grey, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Lord Grey in turn presented it Parliament. Parliament was so impressed by it that they asked it to be published as a “command” book. In fact that is not what happened. In reality, Wellington House asked Bryce for a propaganda volume, and suggested that it be compiled by Toynbee of their Bureau.
The Bryce Report was supposedly a collection of reports by objective observers. In fact, a major source of the reports that were published was the letters of individual Armenians and Armenian organizations. Armenian newspapers, such as Ararat and Gotchnag, were also a source. But the main sources of documents were American missionaries and missionary organizations. In order to understand why this casts doubt on the materials they provided, one must examine the missionaries themselves.
American Protestant missionaries engaged in an eight-year policy of vilifying Turks, from 1915 to 1923. To build their missionary organization was one of their purposes, but their main purpose was a good one. Their main purpose was to collect money for what indeed were starving Armenian and Syrian (Assyrian) Christians, to try to make sure that these people had food and the orphans had shelter. It was a good purpose. They used less laudable means to get the money. Their propaganda vilified the Turks in every way, because there is nothing that draws in funds like the portrayal of a horrible enemy oppressing those who will die unless you contribute to their salvation.
In all of the writings of the missionaries, Turks were never victims, Armenians were always victims. Armenians never killed, Turks always killed. Turks supposedly persecuted orphans, Turks were cannibals, Turks held auctions of Armenian women, Armenians were a majority all over the east of Anatolia, all young Armenian males had been killed by Turks, all Christian women, every one, had been raped by Turks. The Turks hated education and always persecuted the educated. No Christians had ever been part of the Ottoman government. Turks needed Christians because the Turks were racially incapable of being “doctors, dentists, tailors, carpenters, every profession or trade requiring the least skill.” And the missionaries wrote that, now that the Turks had killed the Armenians, Westerners who were going to have to govern the Ottoman Empire, because the Turks had rid themselves of the only people with brains, the Armenians, and the Turks could not run the country themselves.
As the missionaries described them, Armenians were happier than the other inhabitants of the Near East. The Muslims had “pinched faces, pale faces, anxious faces, careworn faces, listless faces, hungry faces, sickly faces of little children, and older faces that had grown sour and sullen.” But Armenians smiled.
The main Protestant missionary propaganda was, or course, religious. James L. Barton, the leader of the American relief organizations, wrote “[Armenians] are suffering for no fault of their own, but because their lot was cast in a land where no Christian power was able to protect and because, forsooth, they would not remove the Lord Jesus Christ from their altars and put Mohammed in his place.”
There was complete cooperation between the missionaries and the British Propaganda Bureau. They sent materials to Toynbee; in turn the missionaries distributed Wellington House propaganda material. For example, three thousand copies of Toynbee’s Armenian Atrocities were distributed in America by the missionary relief organizations. The United States Government sent missionary materials on using government distribution systems. The government gave secret documents to the missionaries, who extracted sections from them. These eventually made their way to Toynbee with the statement, “Under no circumstances reveal source.”
The missionary establishment leaders most involved in providing propaganda to Toynbee were James Barton and William Rockwell. James Barton had been a missionary in Anatolia. He was a Congregational minister and the head of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the biggest of the American missionary groups. He had become the head of the main relief organization, the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief. William Rockwell was also a minister, at Columbia Theological Seminary. He was the Chief Propagandist of the American Committee. They were joined as Toynbee’s prime sources by a gentlemen in Switzerland, Léopold Favre, who had created the first of the World War I Armenian atrocity collections, Quelques Documents sur le sort des Armeniens en 1915. Boghos Nubar Pasha, who had been the Prime Minister of Egypt and was now the head of what was called The Armenian National Delegation, also contributed documents.
Barton, Rockwell, Favre, Nubar, all these people provided materials to Toynbee, read the manuscripts, suggested emendations, and read the proofs. At one point Nubar wrote to Toynbee concerning one document that was, he felt, too sympathetic to the Turks. Toynbee deleted the offending section.
The Blue Book, as the Bryce volume was called, was a collection of letters, pamphlets and articles with an introduction by Bryce. This introduction was a summary of Armenian history with a view to excoriating the Turks.
In the documents in the Blue Book, many of the sources were not identified. This, it was alleged, was because of the need to protect them, which could indeed have been reasonable. They were called: A,B,C,X,F or words were used, such as, “a traveller” or “a foreign resident.” The place names were also disguised.
Once the sources were disguised, the documents in the Blue Book did indeed make the Armenian Question seem very one-sided. But when one knows the identities of the sources the picture changes. The identities of the secret sources were discovered in a small booklet housed in the British Public Record Office. The booklet identifies Toynbee’s sources. Recently, Arnold Toynbee’s papers on the construction of the Blue Book have also become available in the Public Record Office.
The booklet and Toynbee’s records reveal an interesting story, a story of duplicity. Toynbee and Wellington House may indeed have been trying to protect sources. But it also must be faced that they did not say who the sources were because the truth of their deception would have been obvious if they had. Instead, in his Introduction Bryce wrote, “All possible sources were seen” and “The respondents do not know each other.” This was an outright lie. Some of the authors were missionaries who had compared notes before they wrote. In his letters, Toynbee remarked how similar the accounts seemed. He found that the authors had read other the pieces of others or had spoken to other authors before writing. Yet the Blue Book stated that because the accounts were completely independent the similarity of their stories proved that they were true. The similarities avowedly proved their reliability.
Stating that the authors did not know each other was more than disingenuous, since sometimes they were the same people entered under different names. One example is Professor Xenides, a professor at the American missionary college in Mersovan. Three quotes from him were used. In the first two quotes he was identified as “a professor at the College of X.” He actually was a professor at a college in which all the students were Armenians, and he himself was a Greek. It might have helped readers to evaluate his writings if he had been identified, but it is easy to understand why he was not. He also was the source of another completely separate statement in which he was identified as “a traveller not of Armenian nationality.” That was objectively true, though deceptive. He was a Greek and he was sometimes a traveller, because he had occasionally gone some miles away from his home. According to the Blue Book, however, he was two different people. It is undoubtedly true that Professor Xenides number one did indeed agree with Professor Xenides number two.
The missionaries who heard things–they almost never actually saw the things they reported–were sometimes described only as “American travelers.” Indeed, if one believes this book, one will find that there were an incredible number of American travellers going through Anatolia during this period of the First World War. They were in fact all missionaries, or their wives, or their sisters. They were all described as travellers. Readers reading this would have thought these were travellers from America, but indeed they were not.
A number of authors were listed only as “An Authoritative Source.” This included the Armenian patriarch, described only as “An Authoritative Source.”
The largest group of authors were American missionaries, fifty-nine out of a hundred and fifty documents. Next came individual Armenians, fifty two. Many times only the name was known–not who they were, only their name. Many times not even that was known, because they were identified only as “An Armenian.” Many reported what they heard; very few reported what they saw. In an amazing assertion of “objectivity,” six documents were forwarded by the Dashnak party, the sworn enemies of the Ottomans. This was the party of revolutionaries who were most responsible for the rebellion in Van, the ones who had attempted to take that area and many other areas from the Turks and the Muslims, and those who persecuted the Muslims of the East. Other articles were provided by newspapers, including Dashnak and other newspapers sympathetic to the Armenian Cause. Documents were also forwarded by other Armenian political representatives.
Describing these sources as X, Y, and Z hid much. Many of the authors were unknown. For many others, only the name of the person who had forwarded the quotation, such as an American Consul, were known. Neither Toynbee nor anyone else knew who had actually written the statement. One source, known to Toynbee only as the wife of an American missionary, was a woman who had never left her mission station during the troubles. She was identified only as a “refugee.”
Toynbee wrote to Bryce, “I do not know the real authorship of thirty-four, twenty-three per cent, of the documents.” But these unknown writers appeared in the book in exactly the same way as the known. It must be said that Toynbee did indeed try to find who these people were. He wrote to Barton trying to find the names of sources Barton had forwarded. Barton said he did not know. Not only did he not have the names, he had never seen the original letters and did not know how he could get them. Where Barton did give some information it often was sketchy: “It is written by a citizen of a friendly power,” “A statement forwarded by a United States consul,” or “Statement by an American official unnamed.”
Rockwell, lead propagandist for the American missionary establishment, wrote Toynbee that he had published many of the stories himself, but he had no idea who their authors were. Favre did the same thing. He knew some, not others. The Dashnak Party, when asked about the statements they had forwarded, said they did not know the identities of any of the respondents. None of them. Toynbee used them all anyway. He did not know their identities, so he called them A,B,C or “A Traveller,” and he used them all.
The major problem with the Blue Book is not that all that was reported was untrue. Some of the documents were surely accurate. The major problem was that the other side was never told. No Turk ever died; no Armenian ever killed. There was no mention of chetté bands, of Ar. members of Ottoman Parliament joining Russians and leading armed bands against Turks, of murders of Ottoman officials, of cutting of Ottoman supply and communications lines, of attempts to capture Ottoman cities, of mass murder in Van, of the forced migration of more than a million Muslims forced to flee by the Russians and Armenians. Yet Bryce stated, “All possible sources were seen.”
Toynbee’s The Armenian Atrocities, the Murder of a Nation, need only be considered briefly. In Armenian Atrocities he summarized the charges and evidence he placed in the Bryce Report, but made a great effort to blame all on the Germans, using evidence such as “cables from Cairo” and letters in New York Armenian publications to prove his point. The small book was an catalogue of “evils” of the Turks, typical of its sort of propaganda. However, one facet of Toynbee’s writing is worth mention: In the book, Toynbee wrote that the Armenian refugees who had come to Alexandria were suffering terribly, that they were starving, that they were “dying of disease, exposure and starvation.” This caused the British in Alexandria who were taking care of these people to he a bit upset. The heads of the British agencies in Alexandria wrote back to the Foreign Office bitterly complaining that they were feeding the Armenian refugees and the Armenians were not dying of starvation and disease. Both births and deaths among the Armenians were completely normal. Toynbee apologized.
Another Toynbee book, The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks is interesting for some of its quotes and as an example of the kind of book that was created by Wellington House. A few representative selections: Toynbee stated the Turks were engaged in the “maiming and warping of more gifted peoples.” This, he asserted, had occurred throughout Turkish history; from the beginning, Turks had maimed and warped “more gifted” peoples. The racist qualities of such a statement needs no elaboration. In 1913, according to Toynbee, Turks had been engaged in exterminating the Albanians, an absolute and obvious lie. After the Balkan wars, according to Toynbee, Turks had “exterminated all Greeks and Slavs left in their territory.” This might have surprised those Greeks who survived to fight against the Turks in the Turkish War of Independence–according to Toynbee they had all been killed. He related that Turks had attacked the Arabs, and that Turks were indeed planning right then to exterminate all the Arabs. Turks, according to Toynbee, had no civilisation: “They had nothing but the military tradition of violence and cunning.” In fact, this was an incredible diatribe of a book, unworthy of an historian.
In Turkey: a Past and a Future, Toynbee was more temperate in laying blame, accusing the Germans only of complicity, not of ordering the deaths of Armenians. The Turks were compared to the Germans, to the benefit of neither. The quality of the scholarship is indicated by the map that accompanies the book, which indicates all Eastern Anatolia as “Armenian” in population, when more than three-quarters of the population of the region was, in fact, Muslim.
Other Wellington House Publications
Another Wellington House book that based itself on the Bryce Report was Armenia and the War by A.P. Hacobian, which featured a preface by Bryce. 12% of the book was taken up by quotes from the Bryce Report. The remainder was stated to hav been the product of “an Armenian gentleman belonging to a family originally from Ispahan in Persia, but now settled in England. He spoke with what appeared to be intimate knowledge as well as patriotic feeling, . . .” Once again, an anonymous informant, and this time a member of an Armenian family from Isfahan in Iran (far from any Turkish-Armenian conflicts).
Armenia and the War repeated basic themes of British propaganda: Germany was largely at fault for siding with the Turks and agreeing to massacres. The Muslims of the world would welcome political rule by Britain, France, and Russia–all three of which had been a blessing to the Muslim populations they rule. An entire chapter was given to a refutation of the “clean-fighting Turk,” with quotes from Mark Sykes. A plea was made for America to enter the war. The hand of Wellington House is obvious. Other sections of the books describe Armenians and Turks from a racialist viewpoint; the virtues of the former and vices of the latter are irredeemable features of their national characters which nothing can change:
The Turk as a race has added yet another and vaster monument to the long series of similar monuments that fill the pages of his blood-stained history, in proof of the unchangeable brutality of his nature. You cannot reason or argue with him. Nor can you expect justice or ordinary human feelings from such a nature.
Hacobian presented as proof a selective and inaccurate history that included tactics such as portraying the Mongols as Turks, demonstrating the constant nature of “the Turk.” This allowed him to portray the stories in the Bryce Report as yet another evidence of basic Turkish character.
E.F. Benson’s Deutschland über Allah did not offer evidence, not even spurious evidence, against the Turks. The book simply stated that the Turks were guilty of massacres of Armenians, and that further actions against Greeks, Kurds, and other non-Turks were entrain. Moreover, the Turks were bad Muslims who were perverting Islam as the Germans had perverted Christianity. Benson vilified the Germans by asserting that they knew all about Turkish villainy, could have stopped it, and did nothing. If the Germans had complained, he stated, the Turks need only have reminded the Germans of what they did to the Belgians. Benson reproached the German for their purpose in supporting the Ottomans, which was to take over the Middle East after the war, a humorous criticism in the light of Britain’s own intentions.
Were it not that its intended audience must have known nothing of the true situation, Germany, Turkey, and Armenia would have been a particularly ineffective piece of propaganda. It is difficult to see how it could have been taken seriously. The book was published with no author, editor, or sponsor listed. Some of the material was taken from the Bryce Report, and most of the other material was anonymous (“Fraulein O,” “a German Eye-witness,” “two Swiss ladies”), no source of the material described. The majority of the reports were labelled as originating from German missionaries. Like their American colleagues, they only noticed dead Christians, never dead Muslims. The most incredible part of the book was two short “Reports by Mohammedan Officers” (“A.B.” and “C.D.”) that reported entirely spurious orders to kill Armenians, one of them from the Şeyhülislam (the chief religious leader of the Ottoman Empire), a more than unlikely occurrence, given that in the Ottoman system the Şeyhülislam never had the power nor the position to give such orders. There was, of course, no indication of how these reports reached England. Neither the language nor the form of the reports was typical of Turkish documents or even letters. For the officers to have had access to the secret documents they would have had to have been high officials, yet they made mistakes such as saying that an officer of the Ottoman General Staff was assigned as the administrator of a small city. And if the two were high officers, could even the public in 1915 believe that they were somehow sending reports on the Armenians to the British? The answer is probably yes. Those who read the propaganda would have no one of checking its veracity.
The volume by E.W.G. Masterman , The Deliverance of Jerusalem, is an example of relatively harmless propaganda. It did little injury to anyone, because it really was a celebration of the fact that Jerusalem was now once again in the hands of the Christians, thanks to the British, who had succeeded where the Crusaders failed. It was primarily a positive statement about the British. Whether one feels that the British conquest of Jerusalem was a good or a bad thing depends on which side one is on, but this book did not do much damage to the Turks or anyone else. There were a number of publications like this. Their primary purpose was to extol the British.
One of the most notable books is Martyred Armenia by Fa’iz El-Ghusein. The book stated this El-Ghusein was “a Bedouin notable of Damascus,” the son of one of the “heads,” whatever that might mean, of a Bedouin tribe that lived in the Hawran. He had been educated in Istanbul and was employed as a bureaucrat in the Ottoman government. He was put on the staff of the Vali of Damascus, then he was made Kaymakam, or the district leader, of Mamuretülaziz. He then became Member for Hawran of “the Assembly in Damascus.” Fa’iz stated he was arrested by Cemal Paşa, the governor of Syria. He was imprisoned in Diyarbakır, and then was released. In Diyarbakır, according to his story, he heard much of the massacres of Armenians. He thought he had to do something to record it. So he escaped to Basra and then to India, where he wrote his report. And it made its way to the British Foreign Office. The book did not ever say how the manuscript made its way to the British Foreign Office; it only stated that it made its way to England, where it was published. There was no indication of its delivery to Wellington House, London.
There are a number of internal inconsistencies in this story, errors that should not have been made by a supposed Ottoman official, such as placing cities in the wrong provinces. But forgetting those, if one reads the book he will notice that Fa’iz wrote about things that he never could have known, such as the secret conversations of high Ottoman officials. (In fact there was almost a closet industry in making up quotes from Talat Pasha that goes on until the end of the war.) While he was in prison in Diyarbakır, Fa’iz seems to have heard what Talat Paşa was telling Enver Paşa in the cabinet in Istanbul, writing it all down for later publication. He also knew of secret activities of Armenian revolutionary leaders, news of which must also have reached him in his prison in Diyarbakır. Obviously this is more than unlikely.
Fa’iz gave great detail. He related what was done to Armenians, who stole their goods, and which Ottoman official was present. Some of this is hard to evaluate. When he writes accusations such as, “Ahmet Bey took the Armenians’ goods,” it is naturally impossible to tell which of the hundreds of Ahmet Beys he was discussing, and whether the author knew himself. Outright falsifications are easier to spot: He stated that after the Balkan Wars large numbers of Turks were settled in Zeytun. None were settled there as a matter of fact, but who among the readers would have known? The stories he told of what the Turks did to the Armenians were, even under the category of war stories, absolutely horrible. They included tales of Turkish soldiers copulating with Armenian corpses.
From reading the book alone one can see that it was an invention, but the most telling thing about “Fa’iz al-Ghusein” comes from an investigation of Ottoman records: There was no such person. If he indeed was employed in the government in either Syria or Mamuretülaziz he would have appeared in the list of government officials. Not only was there no Fa’iz al-Ghusein, there was no Fa’iz at all. The man simply did not exist. Because Wellington house burned their records, one cannot know who actually did write the book, but one can trust that it was not the mythical Fa’iz.
Another exemplar is The Clean-fighting Turk, a Spurious Claim, written by an unidentified Mark Sykes. Mark Sykes was a great traveller and a very intelligent man. He was one of the two people that negotiated the Sykes-Picot Agreement that was to lead to the dividing up of the Middle East by the British and French after the war. The value of the Sykes effort was attested by Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, who did not like Turks very much. Lloyd George was very interested in defaming the Turks and was personally interested in the propaganda bureau. He instructed the propaganda office that certain topics should be developed: “[The Turk’s] incapacity for good Government; his misrule, and above all, his massacres of all the industrious population.” He added that the propaganda should be surreptitious: “I need hardly point out that it is very important that all this should be done gradually and that the articles should be spread over a considerable period of time, so as not to make it too obvious what we are driving at. Sir Mark Sykes’ article in the ‘Times,’ the ‘Clean-Fighting Turk,’ is just what we want.”
The Sykes article can be considered the template for what was produced for the press. Unfortunately, we may never know what all the other articles were. One can read the American and the British press and say, “That must be Wellington House work,” but it cannot be proven. No record of newspaper and magazine articles corresponding to the ledger of books has been unearthed. The Sykes article was an exception, because record of its provenance was retained elsewhere in Foreign Office records.
The Foreign Office saw a problem, the problem mentioned above–the Turks looked too good to many people in Britain. They were especially bothered by the image of what was called the “Clean Fighting Turk”, the image drawn from the fact that the Turks did a good job as soldiers and could be relied on as men of honour. Something had to be done about it. Someone had to negate this image, write against it. And so their Foreign Office masters directed Wellington House to do something about the image of the Clean Fighting Turk. The writing of the original message was somewhat mistaken. Wellington House received an order that said they were to propagandize and bring out the image of the Clean Fighting Turk. Wellington House wrote back and said, “Why in the world would you want us to prove that the Turks are clean fighting?” The matter was finally cleared up.
Wellington House went to Mark Sykes and asked him to write an article attacking the good image of the Turks. He agreed and wrote an article. It is not known if what he wrote was much changed by Wellington House, but we know he wrote the basic article. We also know that once Mark Sykes’ article was done a deal was made with the London Times to not only have it published, but also to buy a hundred thousand off-prints. The Times patriotically suggested a good price and the Foreign Office then patriotically haggled with them for an even lower price. Forty pounds was paid for a hundred thousand copies.
The article, which was printed by The Times and reprinted all over the United States and elsewhere, used words such as “a merciless oppressor,” “a remorseless bully,” “pure barbarians,” “degenerate,” and “has strewn the earth with ruins.” Sykes fabricated quotes from Ottoman government ministers, unless one believes that Talat Paşa kindly told Sykes of his plans. Among the truly amazing things in the article are easily corrected historical inaccuracies, such as the “fact” that the Turks (not, as in fact happened, the Mongols) had invaded and destroyed Baghdad. Sykes knew much better. Conflate the history of the Turks and the Mongols? Put all the harm caused by the Mongols on the shoulders of the Turks? One can write such things if he knows that those who read the article have no idea of the true history. But Sykes knew the truth.
Lloyd George and the Foreign Office were both very happy. Thirty two thousand copies of this publication were sent to the United States alone.
Hoddard and Stoughton/Doran published From Turkish Toils, reportedly an extended letter from Mrs. Esther Mugerditchian, the wife of an Armenian Protestant Pastor who was appointed British Vice-Consul in Diyarbakır in 1904 who, although not stated in the book, was serving at the time with British forces in Egypt. The book stated that it was “translated from the Armenian,” with no mention of the translator. Its foreword, again by an unknown hand, blamed the Germans for the Armenian troubles, although they were unmentioned in the text–typical evidence of British propaganda work. The text itself is an excellent piece of propaganda, mixing believable elements (Ottoman soldiers torturing Armenians so that they would reveal arms caches) with other elements which, on analysis, seem questionable (unlikely feats of torture, speeches made to Armenians by Turkish soldiers in which they reveal long-held secret plans to exterminate Armenians, as if ordinary soldiers were privy to secret government plans, etc.–all of which somehow reached Mrs. Mugerditchian.) It is doubtful if readers would have made such analyses.
The Ottoman Domination was a short, anonymous work reprinted from the Round Table Magazine. It was primarily a set of slogans: “The breaking up of Turkey is not the destruction of a living commonwealth, but a liberation of enslaved peoples from prison.” “[The Turk’s] hand was against every man man’s, and none they conquered became reconciled to their rule.” “The first phase of Ottoman policy towards subject peoples was neglect, the Hamidian [rule of Abdülhamid II] was attrition; but the Young Turkish phase is extermination.” It claims that the Turks had killed 2,000,000 Armenians [considerably more than existed in the Empire] first, and were now beginning to exterminate the Arabs!
British propaganda on the Middle East had purposes other than vilification of the Turkish enemy. It also cast the British in the best possible light. Britain and Turkey was a justification of the British declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire. The Welfare of Egypt, which praised the British administration of that colony, was intended to justify British rule over Muslims. According to Wellington House, the book “shows that the Mussulman prefers to be under English rule.” Turkish Prisoners in Egypt accurately portrayed British humane care for prisoners of war. The Freedom of Jerusalem and The Deliverance of Jerusalem were both short encomiums to the British defeat of the Ottomans and conquest of the Holy City. They were intended to elicit support from Christians in Europe and America. Those publications on Jerusalem and those of the Zionist Organization were distributed both to elicit Jewish support, particularly in the United States, and to provide justification for British occupation of Palestine. They included testimonials by British politicians and leading men supporting Zionism and Zionism statements supporting Britain and thanking it for the Balfour Declaration. It is important to note that Britain had already committed itself diplomatically to long-term occupation in the Arab World when these publications were distributed.
Syria During March 1916: Her Miseries and Disasters was a set of translations of articles first published in Cairo, which was under British control and press censorship at the time. It related the supposed terrors of life in Ottoman Syria. Directed primarily to Arab sympathies (and thus not published in the United States), the book advanced the thesis that the British have real affection for the Arabs, while the Turks have the opposite (“The Young Turks bear deeper malice against the Arabs than against any other race in Turkey.”). The characterizations were less than subtle attacks on the Turks, or, as they were called, “Constantinopolitan blackguards.”
Table Six. An Example of Books Recommended in Today’s Bibliographies.
E.F. Benson, Crescent and Iron Cross
E.F. Benson, Deutschland über Allah
Fa’iz El-Ghusein, “Bedouin Notable of Damascus”, Martyred Armenia
(J. Lepsius), Germany, Turkey, and Armenia: Selections of Documentary Evidence
A.P. Hacobian, Armenia and the War
Esther Mugerditchian, From Turkish Toils
Martin Niepage, The Horrors of Aleppo
Harry Stuermer, Two War Years in Constantinople
Arnold J. Toynbee, Armenian Atrocities: the Murder of a Nation
Arnold J. Toynbee, ed., The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915 1916
Arnold J. Toynbee, Turkey: A Past and a Future
Arnold J. Toynbee, The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks
Source: Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian Holocaust
The propagandists of Wellington House did their work well. Not only were they effective during the war, their propaganda has lived ever since. Today the books of Wellington House are still recommended to American school children and university students. They remain a basic element of school histories and advocacy by Armenian scholars. Selecting one topic of Wellington House propaganda, probably the topic that has had most effect, the table is a selection of the Wellington House whose particular subject was the Armenians. Every one of these books except one is in the standard bibliography of Armenian History published by Richard Hovannisian, and all are listed as recommended books. The only one that in the bibliography is the book by Benson, perhaps because titles such as Deutschland über Allah no longer appeal. Every other one, including Toynbee’s books and the imaginary Ghusein, is recommended.
By no means have the products of World War I British propaganda disappeared. World War One propaganda from Wellington House is routinely reprinted, quoted, and believed. Much of it has found its way onto the world wide web, where whole books are sometimes copied. In France and the United States, World War I propaganda has appeared in testimony before, and comments by members of, legislative bodies. It forms a basis for history as taught to schoolchildren in America and Europe.
The lies that were told during wartime have had half a century and more to incubate. Now they are the accepted wisdom. Many believe they know what the Turks did in World War I. In fact, what they know is what the British Propaganda Ministry wanted them to believe.