Mustafa Çolak

Keywords: Critique of Sources, Regarding the Deportation, Misrepresentation of Documents, The Johannes Lepsius Example


The judgments by Western public opinion, concerning the "Armenian Question" and the "Deportation", have been greatly influenced by the way archival material has been used as a basis for historical studies. Within this context, two important scientific criteria like the "selection of documents" in historical methodology concerning the use of archival material related to the "Armenian Question" and the "critique of sources" have not always been evaluated as much as necessary. The great majority of the research done on the subject of Armenian related events during the First World War in Ottoman territory was based on reports prepared during those years by Western consulates and embassies or interviews with Armenians who had lived through those events. We see that the way such reports have been presented to the Western world has played an important part in influencing the scientific method used to study the "Armenian Question". Unfortunately we also see that these reports have not always been done in accordance to professional scientific ethical values and historical study methodology, there being frequent distortions and misrepresentations. One of the best examples of this is Johannes Lepsius's work. In this work we have analysed from the point of view of the "critique of sources" and the "selection of documents", which are two important criteria of historical methodology, Johannes Lepsius's "Deutschland und Armenien 1914-1918. Sammlung Diplomatischer Aktenstücke" (Germany and Armenia 1914-1918. Collected Diplomatic Documents), which has frequently been referred to in Western studies of the "Armenian Question". We have come to the conclusion that in this work, which has been frequently been used as a primary source both in local and foreign studies concerning the "Deportation", Lepsius has made a "selective" use of documents. We have also established the facts that in this "selective" use of documents Lepsius has not been impartial and that the documents published by him do not correspond to the original documents in German archives.