A Turkish Professor told US Consul General in Istanbul that there were efforts to “purge” the Ottoman Archives of incriminating documents on the Armenian Genocide, according to a cable recently released by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks.
In a cable dated July 12, 2004, Sabanci University professor Halil Berktay told then US Consul General to Istanbul David Arnett that “there were two serious efforts to “purge” the archives of any incriminating documents on the Armenian question.”
“The first” Berktay explained, “took place in 1918, presumably before the Allied forces occupied Istanbul. Berktay and others point to testimony in the 1919 Turkish Military Tribunals indicating that important documents had been ‘stolen’ from the archives.”
“Berktay believes a second purge was executed in conjunction with Ozal’s efforts to open the archives by a group of retired diplomats and generals led by former Ambassador Muharrem Nuri Birgi (Note: Nuri Birgi was previously Ambassador to London and NATO and Secretary General of the MFA),” Arnett wrote in the cable.
“Berktay claims that at the time he was combing the archives, Nuri Birgi met regularly with a mutual friend and at one point, referring to the Armenians, ruefully confessed that ‘We really slaughtered them,’” the cable read.
“Tony Greenwood, the Director of the American Research Institute in Turkey, told poloff separately that when he was working in the Archives during that same period it was well known that a group of retired military officers had privileged access and spent months going through archival documents. Another Turkish scholar who has researched Armenian issues claims that the ongoing cataloging process is used to purge the archives,” said Arnett in the cable.