Confiscation and Colonization: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property

By Ugur Ungor
The Armenian Weekly
April 2011 Magazine

“Leave all your belongings—your furniture, your beddings, your artifacts. Close your shops and businesses with everything inside. Your doors will be sealed with special stamps. On your return, you will get everything you left behind. Do not sell property or any expensive item. Buyers and sellers alike will be liable for legal action. Put your money in a bank in the name of a relative who is out of the country. Make a list of everything you own, including livestock, and give it to the specified official so that all your things can be returned to you later. You have ten days to comply with this ultimatum.”[1]

—Government promulgation hanged in public places in Kayseri,
June 15, 1915.


This article is based on a forthcoming monograph on the expropriation of Ottoman Armenians during the 1915 genocide.[2] It will paraphrase some of the main arguments of the book, which details the emergence of Turkish economic nationalism, offers insight into the economic ramifications of the genocidal process, and describes how the plunder was organized on the ground. The book discusses the interrelated nature of property confiscation initiated by the Young Turk regime and its cooperating local elites, and offers new insights into the functions and beneficiaries of state-sanctioned robbery. Drawing on secret files and unexamined records from eight languages, the book presents new evidence to demonstrate how Armenians suffered systematic plunder and destruction, and how ordinary Turks were assigned a range of property for their progress.


This two-way policy is captured in the two concepts of confiscation and colonization. The book uses the concept of confiscation to capture the involvement of an extensive bureaucratic apparatus and illustrate the legal facade during the dispossession of Armenians. Furthermore, it will deploy the concept of colonization to denote the redistribution of their property as a form of internal colonization. Together, these concepts best encapsulate the twin processes of seizing property from Armenians, and reassigning it to Turks.[3]

The book is situated in the field of genocide studies, and starts off by asking questions that have been answered fairly satisfactorily for other genocides such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide: Was confiscation of the victim group’s properties economically motivated as a mere instrument for material gain? Did the Young Turk regime distribute Armenian property to local elites in exchange for support for the genocide? In other words, did they simply buy their loyalty by appealing to their sense of economic self-interest? Or did the local elite support the destruction and expropriation out of ideological convictions? Finally, what was the scope of the dispossession process? In other words, how wide was the circle of profiteurs? Did just the Young Turk elite, from the imperial capital down to the provincial towns, profit from it, or did much wider classes in Turkish society benefit?

The book consists of seven chapters that can be divided into three sections. Chapters two and three constitute the first section and will discuss main issues such as ideology and law. Chapter two, entitled “Ideological foundations: constructing the Turkish ‘national economy,”’ will trace the evolution of the Turkish-nationalist ideology of building a purely Turkish “national economy” within the multi-ethnic Ottoman economic landscape. It will discuss how the Young Turk Party envisioned such a Turkish economy to come into being by analyzing the writings of leading Young Turk ideologues. Rather than macro-economic analyses of Ottoman financial policy in the early 20th century, the chapter will investigate how the party imagined the role of the state and the economic progress of the ethnic Turkish population.

Immediately following it is chapter three, entitled “Legal foundations: using the justice system for injustice.” This chapter will closely analyze the many laws and decrees that the Young Turk regime passed to provide a veneer of legality to their crimes. It will seek to answer the question: Why did the Young Turk regime feel the need to pass elaborate laws on the status of wartime Armenian property? It will discuss not only the laws that were adopted by the regime, but also the legal status of Armenian property. The chapter will distinguish the legal provenance of land and immovable property versus movables.

Chapter four, “The dispossession of Armenians during the genocide, 1915-1918,” constitutes a section in itself. It will examine the development of the genocide and trace Young Turk economic policies towards the Armenian population from the Young Turk coup d’état in 1913 to the fall of the regime in 1918. It will chart how this policy moved from boycott to discrimination, into confiscation and outright plunder, resulting in the mass pauperization of the victims. It identifies main currents and developments of this ruthless policy and how it affected Ottoman Armenian communities. The chapter is meant to be a general introduction to the next three important chapters.

The third and last section of the book comprises chapters five and six. They are each in-depth case studies of several important provinces in the Ottoman Empire. Chapter five, “Adana: the cotton belt,” will be the first of two case studies that describe the organized plunder of Armenians and the subsequent deployment and allocation of Armenian property to Turks. It will focus on the southern city of Adana, where Armenians were employed in cotton fields, and describe how the local Young Turks dispossessed Armenians and assigned the property to Turkish refugees from the Balkans.

Chapter six, “Diyarbekir: the land of copper and silk,” is the second and last case study, concentrating on the southeastern region of Diyarbekir, famous for its copper and silk products. Here, economic life in the bazaar was dominated by Armenian artisans. The chapter will de­­scribe how the local perpetrators participated in the destruction of their Armenian neighbors and were rewarded by the central authorities. It will also focus on large-scale corruption and embezzlement.[4]

Finally, chapter seven, the conclusion, will re-center the main questions posed in this introduction and draw the general conclusions of each chapter together. It will report in a direct style how and why the Armenians were dispossessed during the genocide, how this affected local economies, and how ordinary Turks profited from the expropriation campaign.


The Armenian Genocide consisted of an overlapping set of processes: elite homicides, deportations, massacres, forced assimilation, destruction of material culture, and our current theme, expropriation. Although these dimensions of the genocide differed and were carried out by different agencies, they converged in their objective: destruction. By the end of the war, the approximately 2,900 Anatolian Armenian settlements (villages, towns, neighborhoods) were depopulated and the majority of its inhabitants dead. What made the massacres genocidal is that the genocide targeted the abstract category of group identity, in that all Armenians, loyal or disloyal, were destroyed.

The qualitative leap in the elimination of the Armenians from the Ottoman economy reached an important acceleration with the proclamation of war and the abolishment of the capitulations. The abrogation of the capitulations was a unilateral breach of international law and a catalyst that channelized high levels of power into the Young Turks’ hands. “Turkification” could now be systematized into a comprehensive empire-wide policy of harassment, organized boycotts, violent attacks, exclusions from professional associations and guilds, and mass dismissals of Armenian employees from the public service and plunder of their businesses in the private sector.

The confiscation process began right after the deportation of the Armenian owners. As a rule of thumb, no prior arrangements were made regarding the properties. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) launched both the deportation and the dispossession of Armenians well before the promulgation of any laws or official decrees. The deportation decrees of May 23, 1915 and the deportation law of May 27, 1915 were issued after the deportations had already begun. Decrees and laws merely served to unite the hitherto diverse practices and render the overall policy more consistent. So too was the CUP’s approach to confiscation. Telegrams to various provinces ordering the liquidation of immovable property were followed by the streamlined program of June 10, 1915 that established the key agency overseeing the liquidation process—the Abandoned Properties Commission (Emvâl-ı Metruke Komisyonu). These were not yet christened “Liquidation Commissions,” but nevertheless mostly fulfilled that function.

Officially, there were 33 commissions across the country, and in towns without any, the local CUP chapter often took charge of the tasks. These consisted of inventorizing, liquidating, appropriating, and allocating Armenian property. The most detailed and reliable information we have about the commissions is from Germans stationed in the Ottoman Empire. For example, Deutsche Bank staff members recognized that the Ottoman Bank collaborated in the endeavour.[5] From its correspondence with the provinces, the German ambassador concluded that the confiscation process went through two phases: the direct liquidation of all unplundered Armenian property by the Abandoned Properties Commission, and the transfer of the revenues to the Ottoman Bank that held responsibility for the money.[6] According to André Mandelstam, in 1916 a sum of 5,000,000 Turkish lira (the equivalent of 30,000 kilograms of gold) was deposited by the Ottoman government at the Reichsbank in Berlin. This astronomic amount of money was most probably the aggregate of all Armenian bank accounts, as well as the total sum gained from the liquidations in the provinces.[7] Furthermore, German diplomats argued that the commissions worked in tandem with the Grand Vezirate, the Finance Ministry, and the Justice Ministry.[8] The entire operation was supervised by the Interior Ministry, which was tasked with an enormous amount of coordination and recordkeeping. These records have survived and I will draw on them extensively to outline the process of dispossession.

At the outset, the problem of property was a concomitant effect of the deportations and there was probably no blueprint for it written by Talaat Pasha and his henchmen. Throughout 1915 and 1916, the Interior Ministry issued hundreds of directives, orders, decrees, and injunctions to provincial, district, and city authorities. When deportation came, it recorded the names, professions, and properties of Armenians, before expropriating them and liquidating their immovables. Several empire-wide decrees sketched the contours of the confiscation policy. Liquidation entailed auctioning and selling the property to the lowest, not highest, bidder. To this end, on Aug. 29, 1915 the Interior Ministry wired a circular telegram summoning authorities to auction abandoned Armenian property for the benefit of the local Turkish population.[9] As this order sufficed for the ongoing deportations, preparations were made for future ones. On Nov. 1, 1915, the ministry ordered the drawing up of lists of “Armenian merchants from provinces who have not yet been transported to other regions,” including details on their trading firms, real estate, factories, the estimated worth of all their belongings, information on their relatives living abroad, and whether they were working with foreign business partners.[10] To preclude jurisdictional disputes from arising, the ministry admonished that the only agency authorized to organize the expropriation was the Abandoned Properties Commission.[11]

Talaat and the Interior Ministry he presided over were soon facing two acute problems: ambiguity regarding the forms and provenance of property, and delimiting the scope of the expropriations. An example of the former trend was a question asked by the provincial authorities of Aleppo, namely whether only Apostolic Armenians were to be expropriated or also Protestant and Catholic ones. By then, the definition of the victim group had already transformed from a religious definition based on the millet system, to a national definition. Thus, the ministry arbitrated that the targets were not only Apostolic Armenians but all “Armenians.”[12] The German consul of Trabzon remarked that under this law, technically, “an Armenian converted to Islam would then be deported as a Mohammedan Armenian.”[13]

Other provinces wondered what to do with the property of undeported Armenians, often military families. The ministry ordered that for now, they would be allowed to keep their property.[14] In another case, three governors asked for advice on how to handle the sowed fields of Armenian farmers. The ministry admitted that the abstract decrees did not always correspond to the existing conditions on the ground and ordered: “These need to be reaped and threshed under the supervision of the Abandoned Properties Commissions and provided for by the funds for the expenses of the settlers. Report within two days how many soldiers or labourers from the population, and which kinds of machines and tools and utensils are needed to harvest the crops.”[15]

These prescriptive provisions were supplemented by prohibitive rules. Those Armenians who anticipated that the deportations were a temporary measure counted on renting out their houses, stables, barns, or shops to neighbors and acquaintances. But the ministry prohibited this practice.[16] Those Armenians who attempted to sell their property to foreigners and other Christians (such as Greeks or Christian Arabs) were also counteracted. It issued a circular telegram prohibiting “decidedly” (suret-i katiyyede) the sale of any land or other property to foreigners.[17] Furthermore, the government prohibited Armenians from a whole host of strategies to avoid seizure of their property. These included transferring property to non-Ottoman Armenians, sending it abroad to family members, giving valuables to American missionaries and consuls, mailing it directly to their new residences at their final destinations. It is these kinds of prohibitions that shed light on the rationale behind the expropriations. They strongly suggest that there was no intention of either compensating Armenians fairly for their dispossession, or offering them any prospect of a future return to their homes. Hilmar Kaiser has rightly concluded that these restrictions were “a plain admission of official criminal intent.”[18]

A more precise explanation perhaps lays in a revealing telegram sent by the government to Balıkesir District. It read that the expropriation needed to be carried out to “ensure that the transported population will no longer have any connection to possessions and ownership” (nakledilen ahalinin alâka-ı mülkiyet ve tasarrufu kalmamasını temîn).[19] In other words, the relationship between Armenians and their property needed to be definitively severed to bring about a lasting “de-Armenization” of the land. Three years later, the German consul at Trabzon, Heinrich Bergfeld, correctly noted that the most important decision had been depriving the landowners of the right to dispose of their immovable property. At the end of the war, he reflected on the fate of the Armenian deportees: “If one believes they cannot be allowed to definitively return to their old homes, one should at least give them the general permission to make use of their real estate through sale or rent, and temporarily allow them to go to their homelands for this purpose.”[20] This would turn out to be a naive proposition.


The appropriation of Armenian property by the Young Turk regime, or to be more precise, the Young Turk regime’s mass theft of Armenian property, is closely related to the morphology of the organization, coordination, and implementation of the genocide. Recent studies have challenged the convention that the genocide had a uni-polar pyramid structure. On the contrary, the genocide was a multi-polar process: radicalization came from within and without, and emanated from different perpetrating power centers, such as civil and military organizations, the party, the nexus Talaat-Enver, and local elites.[21] Competition and conflict between these sectors shaped the genocide. As a result, the confiscation of Armenian property and its allocation to Turks became a bone of contention between the Ottoman army and the Interior Ministry. The army attempted to acquire movable and immovable Armenian property for its military ends, but the ministry followed its ideological prescript of forging a “national economy” and adamantly assigned the property to the upstart Turkish middle class.

The confiscation of Armenian property was followed and supplemented by the colonization by Ottoman Muslims of the empty spaces they left behind. As Armenians trudged along the deportation routes southwards, their property was being redistributed by the Interior Ministry. Analytically we can distinguish two dimensions to this process: property that ended up in private hands, and property that stayed in possession of the state.

In 1916, the CUP expanded its existing “Turkification” campaign to practically all sectors of Ottoman society. Starting with geography, the CUP began Turkifying place names. On Jan. 5, 1916 Enver Pasha ordered the Turkification of all Armenian, Greek, and Bulgarian place names, including cities, towns, provinces, districts, villages, mountains, and rivers. This was an attempt to wipe out the geographical imprints of non-Turkish cultures. Although the decree was suspended for reasons of military practicability, the practice was picked up after the war and continued well into the 1980s and changed tens of thousands of Armenian place names.[22] The 2,900 Armenian settlements were now not only emptied of their population, but also stripped of their names. It was as if Armenians had never lived there.

A day after Enver’s decree, on Jan. 6, 1916, Talaat ordered an empire-wide decree about the businesses confiscated in the genocide. The order read:

The movable property left by the Armenians should be conserved for long-term preservation, and for the sake of an increase of Muslim businesses in our country, companies need to be established strictly made up of Muslims. Movable property should be given to them under suitable conditions that will guarantee the business’s steady consolidation. The founder, the management, and the representatives should be chosen from honorable leaders and the elite, and to allow tradesmen and agriculturists to participate in its dividends, the vouchers need to be half a lira or one lira and registered to their names to preclude that the capital falls in foreign hands. The growth of entrepreneurship in the minds of Muslim people needs to be monitored, and this endeavor and the results of its implementation need to be reported to the ministry step by step.[23]

This order constitutes perhaps the most unequivocal document attesting to the intentions and policies of the CUP. It encapsulates the ideology of “Turkification” and “national economy” in a single, explicit, incontrovertible formulation.

The order was followed up by several other prescriptive ones ordering the redistribution of Armenian lands to Muslim merchants. The CUP sanctioned “the complete transfer of business and industrial enterprises” to the upcoming Turkish middle class in each and every locality. Special care was to be taken that the workbenches, implements, and furniture in the many stores and workshops were not dispersed but stayed in their places.[24] Other decrees were concerned with norms and rules for correct usage. For example, auctioning needed to be properly carried out for the long-term development of the businesses, according to the Jan. 6 decree. During an auction in Kayseri, a Turk bought a formerly Armenian workshop for 200 Turkish lira, only to sell it for 2,000 lira two days later and pocket the difference. The ministry strongly condemned this act and instructed the Abandoned Properties Commission to rectify the situation.[25]

After this event, a circular was wired to all provinces prohibiting similar practices and underlining again the importance of “Muslims’ familiarization with commercial life” and the “build-up of Muslim-owned business enterprises in our country.”[26] Long-term goals had absolute priority above short-term benefits. Dilapidation, waste, and negligence were unacceptable too. The ministry admonished the Abandoned Properties Commissions to take proper care and assist the new Muslim owners as much as possible. If any help was needed, the commissions should turn to the ministry.[27] As a result of this policy, a whole generation of Turkish-owned firms—“established in 1916”—mushroomed across the empire.[28]

Before the Young Turks seized power in the 1913 coup d’état, hatred of Armenians (and Greeks) was particularly widespread in the commercial middle class. Curtailing the economic livelihood of Armenians was in their interests. “Turkification,” therefore, had particularly favorable economic consequences for these (lower) middle-class Turks, as the liquidation of Armenian middle-class enterprises relieved the pressure of economic competition. It foresaw the promotion of a new generation of Turkish businessmen who enriched themselves from the vulnerability of the persecuted Armenians. The newspaper İkdam published an article openly exhorting Turks to “get rich” in the “economic revolution”:

Pharmaceutics, grocery shops, dentistry, transportation, contracting is rapidly spreading among Turks. Our friends have begun competing with many nations in employment branches that are as yet new fields of activity in our country, like electricians’ work, engineering, and similar… It is the revolution in this nation’s society and economy, rather than the political changes, that will save this nation (bu milleti kurtaracak) and will provide him with an eternal life.[29]

The government offered ordinary Turks incredible prospects of upward social mobility. With a giant leap forward, a nation of peasants, pastoralists, soldiers, and bureaucrats would now jumpstart to the level of the bourgeoisie, the “respectable” and “modern” middle classes. The groups who benefited most from this policy were the landowners and the urban merchants.[30] When shortages arose in 1916, the party leadership allowed that group of merchants close to the party to monopolize import, supply, and distribution. Defraudation and malpractice occurred in this alliance by individual party members and merchants who enriched themselves at the expense of the Istanbulites.

As the genocide was raging in full force, Turkish settlers were on their way. Local preparations were needed in order to lodge the settlers successfully. The ministry iterated its request for economic and geographic data on the emptied Armenian villages. In order to send settlers to the provinces, the local capacities to “absorb” them had to be determined. The Interior Ministry requested information on the number of Armenian households deported, whether the emptied villages were conducive to colonization by settlers, and if so, how many.[31] It also demanded data on the size of the land, number of farms, and potential number of settler households.[32] The books were kept precisely. According to Talaat’s own notebook, in 1915 the amount of property allocated to settlers was: 20,545 buildings, 267,536 acres of land, 76,942 acres of vineyards, 7,812 acres of gardens, 703,491 acres of olive groves, 4,573 acres of mulberry gardens, 97 acres of orange fields, 5 carts, 4,390 animals, 2,912 agricultural implements, and 524,788 planting seeds.[33]

Last but not least, the CUP elite took the cream of the crop of Armenian property for itself. Ahmed Refik observed the colonization process:

Silence reigns in Eskişehir… The elegant Armenian houses around the train station are bare as bone. This community, with its wealth, its trade, its superior values, became subject to the government’s order, emptied its houses…now all emptied houses, valuable rugs, stylish rooms, its closed doors, are basically at the grace of the refugees. Eskişehir’s most modernized and pretty houses lay around the train station… A large Armenian mansion for the princes, two canary-yellow adjacent houses near the Sarısu bridge to Talaat Bey and his friend Canbolat Bey, a wonderful Armenian mansion in the Armenian neighborhood to Topal İsmail Hakkı. All the houses convenient for residing near the train station have all been allocated to the elite of the Ittihadists.[34]

Even Sultan Mehmed Reşad V received his share. This process of assigning the very best property to Young Turks was intensified after 1919 by the Kemalists. Indeed, possibly the most important recipient of the redistribution of Armenian properties was the state itself.

The various Ministries (Education, Health, Justice) greatly benefited from the colonization process. The Interior Ministry granted them permission to choose from Armenian property buildings it wanted to use as their offices. The state, led by the CUP, was lavished with property up to the highest levels. A famous example of confiscated Armenian property is the story of the Kasabian vineyard house in Ankara. In December 1921, amidst the Greco-Turkish War, Mustafa Kemal was touring the area when he noticed the splendid house of the wealthy Ankara jeweler and merchant Kasabian. The house had been occupied by the noted Bulgurluzâde family after the Kasabians had been dispossessed and deported. Mustafa Kemal liked the house and bought it from Bulgurluzâde Tevfik Efendi for 4,500 Turkish lira. From then on, the compound has been known as the Çankaya Palace (Çankaya Köşkü), the official residence of the president of Turkey up to today.[35]


The expropriation of Ottoman Armenians was necessary for the destruction process in general. Dispossessed and uprooted, the Ottoman Armenians’ chances of survival and maintenance gradually shrunk to a minimum. Every step in the persecution process contributed to the weakening and emasculating of Armenians. It robbed them not only of their possessions, but also of possibilities for escape, refuge, or resistance. The more they were dispossessed, the more defenseless they became against Young Turk measures.

The structure of this process can be analyzed at three levels: the macro, meso, and micro-levels, bearing in mind the relevant connections between the three levels. The macro-level concerns the context and structure of the political elite that led the empire to war and genocide. They launched the policies out of ideological conviction: the war offered an indispensable opportunity to establish the “national economy” through “Turkification.” They created a universe of impunity in which every institution and individual below them could think of Armenians as outlawed and their property as fair game, up for grabs. If it is the opportunity that creates the crime, then Talaat created an opportunity structure in which ordinary Turks came to plunder on a mass scale.

Now the second level enters into force. Within the structure of national policy were nestled developments such as complex decision-making processes, the necessity and logic of a division of labor, the emergence of specialized confiscation units, and the segregation and destruction of the victim group. This level was characterized by competition, contestation, and clashes over coveted property. Local elites and state institutions such as the army, several ministries, the fiscal authorities, the provincial government, and the party, collaborated for their own reasons. The main agencies were the police, militia, and civil administration. Several ministries were involved in the expropriation process and benefited greatly from it, most notably the Ministries of Education, Justice, Finance, Health, and Interior. The Ottoman Bank and the Agricultural Bank exploited the process unscrupulously for their own ends. The effects of the economic war against the Armenians raise questions about the implication of these institutions.

At the micro-level, the process facilitated hundreds of thousands of individual thefts of deported victims, carried out by ordinary Turks. The mechanisms that propelled plunder were horizontal pull-factors and incentives (zero-sum competition with other plunderers), and vertical pressure (the beginning of the process did not contain precise decrees but was open for liberal interpretation). Thus, ordinary Turks profited in different ways: Considerable sections of Ottoman-Turkish society were complicit in the spoliation. Whereas in the countryside a Hobbesian world of unchecked power was unleashed, in the cities, the CUP launched a more careful, restrained path due to firmly established and complex social and bureaucratic structures. This level is in particular important to study the material benefits that accrued to figures within the Young Turk Party. In an in-depth study of the phenomenon of class in Turkey, Çağlar Keyder concluded that “there was usually one-to-one correspondence between the roster of the Committee of Union and Progress local organization and the shareholders of new companies.”[36] Yusuf Akçura too, reflected after the war on the CUP’s economic policies in the past decade and concluded that in Anatolia, “the Muslim real estate owners and business elite have completely embraced the Committee of Union and Progress.”[37] These arbitrary, corrupt, and nepotistic activities took place behind the juridical facade of government decree.

But history is full of unforeseen and unintended consequences of policies and ideologies. The great unintended consequence of the Young Turk government’s dispossession of Armenians was the opportunity it offered local Turks for self-enrichment. To the Interior Ministry, this was not acceptable nor accepted: Individual embezzlers were punished by having their rights to Armenian property revoked. Those with ties to local Young Turk Party bosses or enough social status and potential to mobilize people got away with their “crime within a crime.” One can perhaps even conclude that the Young Turk government bought the domestic loyalty of the Turkish people through these practices—initially irresponsible, then outright criminal. The Armenian Genocide was a form of state formation that married certain classes and sectors of Ottoman society to the state. It offered those Turks a fast-track to upward social mobility. So the knife had cut both ways, for the Young Turk movement represented the drive to couple social equality with national homogeneity and political purity.

As Armenians went from riches to ruins, Turks went from rags to riches. But Armenian losses cannot simply be expressed in sums, hectares, and assets. The ideology of “national economy” did not only assault the target group economically, but also in their collective prestige, esteem, and dignity. Apart from the objective consequences of material loss, the subjective experiences of immaterial loss were inestimable. Proud craftsmen, who had often followed in their ancestors’ footsteps as carpenters, cobblers, tailors, or blacksmiths, now lost their livelihoods. The genocide robbed them not only of their assets but also of their professional identities. Zildjian, the world’s largest cymbal producer, was headed by two brothers who escaped persecution because during the war they happened to be in the United States.[38] The Zildjians are world famous and renowned. But entire generations of other famous artisan families disappeared with their businesses, extinguishing the name and quality of certain brands. Gone were the Dadians, Balians, Duzians, Demirjibashians, Bezjians, Vemians, Tirpanjians, Shalvarjians, Cholakians, and many other gifted professionals.

The assets of these and other Armenians were re-used for various purposes: settling refugees and settlers, constructing state buildings, supplying the army, and indeed, the deportation program itself. This leads me to the grim conclusion that the Ottoman Armenians financed their own destruction.

More information about the book is available at

[1] Mae M. Derdarian, Vergeen: A Survivor of the Armenian Genocide (Los Angeles: Atmus, 1996), p. 38.

[2] Uğur Ümit Üngör and Mehmet Polatel, Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property (London/New York: Continuum, 2011).

[3] For an argument along these lines, see: Donald Bloxham, “Internal Colonization, Inter-imperial Conflict and the Armenian Genocide,” in: A. Dirk Moses (ed.), Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History (New York: Berghahn, 2008), pp. 325-42.

[4] For a study of Young Turk rule in Diyarbekir, see: Uğur Ümit Üngör, The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[5] Politisches Archiv Auswärtiges Amt (German Foreign Ministry Archives, PAAA), Botschaft Konstantinopel 98, Bl. 1-3, Deutsche Bank Istanbul branch to Germany embassy, Nov. 17, 1915.

[6] PAAA, Botschaft Konstantinopel 96, Bl. 98-105, Hohenlohe-Langenburg to Erzurum, Sept. 3, 1915.

[7] André Mandelstam, La Société des Nations et les Puissances devant le problème arménien (Beirut: Association Libanaise des Universitaires Arméniens, 1970), pp. 489-3.

[8] PAAA, Botschaft Konstantinopel 98, Bl.4, Vice-Consul Ziemke to Istanbul Consulate, Nov. 16, 1915.

[9] Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (Ottoman Prime Ministerial Archives, BOA) DH.ŞFR 55/330, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Aug. 29, 1915.

[10] BOA, DH.ŞFR 57/241, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Nov. 1, 1915.

[11] BOA, DH.ŞFR 57/61, Interior Ministry to Eskişehir, Oct. 17, 1915.

[12] BOA, DH.ŞFR 57/37, Interior Ministry to Aleppo, Oct. 16, 1915.

[13] Quoted in: Ara Sarafian (ed.), United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide 1915-1917 (London: Gomidas Institute, 2004), p. 154.

[14] BOA, DH.ŞFR 70/79, Interior Ministry to Diyarbekir, Nov. 23, 1916.

[15] BOA, DH.ŞFR 54/301, Interior Ministry to Sivas, Diyarbekir, Mamuret-ul Aziz, July 5, 1915.

[16] BOA, DH.ŞFR 56/269, Interior Ministry to Canik, Oct. 3, 1915.

[17] BOA, DH.ŞFR 55/280, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Aug. 28, 1915.

[18] Kaiser, “Armenian Property,” p. 68.

[19] BOA, DH.ŞFR 55/66, Interior Ministry to Karesi, Aug. 17, 1915.

[20] PAAA, R14104, Trabzon consul Bergfeld to Reichskanzler Hertling, Sept. 1, 1918.

[21] Hilmar Kaiser, “Genocide at the Twilight of the Ottoman Empire,” in: Donald Bloxham & A. Dirk Moses (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 365-85.

[22] Kerem Öktem, “The Nation’s Imprint: Demographic Engineering and the Change of Toponymes in Republican Turkey,” in: European Journal of Turkish Studies, vol.7 (2008), at:

[23] BOA, DH.ŞFR 59/239, Interior Ministry to all provinces, Jan. 6, 1916.

[24] BOA, DH.ŞFR 60/129, Interior Ministry to Trabzon, Jan. 26, 1916.

[25] BOA, DH.ŞFR 60/275, Interior Ministry to Kayseri, Feb. 8, 1916.

[26] BOA, DH.ŞFR 61/31, Talaat to all provinces, Feb. 16, 1916.

[27] BOA, DH.ŞFR 64/39, Interior Ministry to all provinces, May 16, 1916.

[28] According to one study, the CUP’s economic “Turkification” official, Kara Kemal, set up 70 firms during the war. Osman S. Kocahanoğlu, İttihat-Terakki’nin Sorgulanması ve Yargılanması (Istanbul: Temel, 1998), p. 33.

[29] “Ey Türk! Zengin ol,” in: İkdam, Jan. 11, 1917.

[30] Çağlar Keyder, “İmparatorluk’tan Cumhuriyet’e Geçişte Kayıp Burjuvazi Aranıyor,” Toplumsal Tarih, vol.12, no.68 (1999), pp. 4-11.

[31] BOA, DH.ŞFR 53/113, Interior Ministry to all provinces, May 25, 1915.

[32] BOA, DH.ŞFR 59/107, Interior Ministry to Ankara, Bursa, Kayseri, Konya, and Sivas, Dec. 27, 1915.

[33] Murat Bardakçı, Talât Paşa’nın Evrak-ı Metrûkesi (Istanbul: Everest, 2008), p. 95.

[34] Ahmed Refik, Kafkas Yollarında: İki Komite İki Kıtâl (Istanbul: Temel, 1998), p. 136.

[35] Soner Yalçın, “Çankaya Köşkü’nün ilk sahibi Ermeni’ydi,” Hürriyet, March 25, 2007.

[36] Çağlar Keyder, State and Class in Turkey: A Study in Capitalist Development (London: Verso, 1987), p. 63.

[37] Yusuf Akçuraoğlu, Siyaset ve İktisad Hakkında Birkaç Hitabe ve Makale (Istanbul: Yeni Matbaa, 1924), p. 27.

[38] See

ugurAbout Ugur Ungor
Uğur Ümit Üngör is Assistant Professor at the Department of History of Utrecht University and at the Institute for War and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. He specializes in genocide, mass violence and ethnic conflict. His recent publications include Confiscation and Destruction: The Young Turk Seizure of Armenian Property (Continuum, 2011), and The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950 (Oxford University Press, 2011).