To mark the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies will present a lecture by Professor Taner Akçam. “On Truth and Memoirs: The Case of an Armenian Soldier in the Ottoman Army” will explore the subject of a vigorous debate over the authenticity of a memoir recently published in Turkey.
Akҫam will discuss the case of Sarkis Torossian who served as a lieutenant in the Ottoman Army during World War I. According to his memoir, Torossian was a graduate of a military college and a decorated Ottoman officer who served at Gallipoli and other important battle fronts. Learning that his parents and sister were deported and died in the Armenian Genocide, Torossian changed allegiance. He joined the Arab rebellion in Palestine and Syria and fought with a French battalion against Kemalist forces in Cilicia. Akçam will consider the veracity of Torossian’s account and interpret the public debate surrounding the memoir in Turkey. Turkish scholars Ayhan Aktar and Edhem Eldem will comment and respond.
Torossian immigrated to the United States in 1920. In 1947, he published his memoirs in English, “From Dardanelles to Palestine: a true story of five battle fronts of Turkey.” Following the Turkish translation published in 2012, reactions in the Turkish press have been intense. Some discredited the memoir as fabricated. Others championed its authenticity. Akҫam will discuss the veracity of Torossian’s account and interpret the public debate surrounding the memoir in Turkey.