Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s definition of “Turkishness” was “anyone who is attached to the Turkish state as a citizen”.Turks came from a clear ethnic identity, untainted by racial minorities or doubtful lineage.Almost the entire Armenian community had been liquidated. For the stunned reaction of Turks to the sudden and unexpected opening of population registers on an online genealogy database three weeks ago was so immediate and so vast that the system crashed within hours.Rather a lot of Turks, it turned out, were actually Armenians – or part-Armenians – or even partly Greek or Jewish.Ataturk had supposedly inherited an Armenian-free Turkey, just as Hitler intended to present his followers with a Jew-free Europe.The Armenian genocide of 1915 – denied by the Turkish government today – destroyed a million and a half Christian Ottoman citizens in the first industrial holocaust of the 20th century.That’s one reason why the Nazis lavished praise on Ataturk’s republic, their newspapers mourning his death in black-bordered front pages.
For the registry proved that many of them – through their families – were still alive.Just think: you think you are a red-blooded Turk but turn out to be a pure-blood Armenian.” Journalist Serdar Korucu told Al-Monitor that “if they had done this a few years ago when we were [becoming more tolerant], conspiracy theories would not have been as strong as today, when the state believes we are in a struggle for existence.This is how Turkey reinvigorates the spirit of the Independence War” – to inspire patriotism and pro-government thinking. Korucu recalled how the director of the Turkish Historical Society threatened minorities in 2007. I have a list of converts I can reveal down to their streets and homes.” The director later became a politician in the rightist Nationalist Action Party.She forgot her mother tongue and her religion…she never ever forgot her name, her village, her mother, her father…She lived until the age of 95.” Relatives in America read the death notice and Heranus’ sister – still alive – called Cetin in Istanbul. Perhaps two million Turks have Armenian grandmothers.But they are supposed to believe that the genocide never happened.
Most of the men in her village were slaughtered, Seher (her real Armenian name was Heranus) said. Fethiye Cetin, a human rights lawyer who acted for the soon-to-be-murdered Hrant Dink, posted her grandmother’s death announcement in Dink’s paper, : “Heranus lost her entire family and never saw them again,” she wrote.