Unless otherwise indicated, the articles here and in the Archive appeared on www.globalresearch.ca

Erdogan’s New Year’s Resolutions


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By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach –Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — January 1 is always a good time for pledging better behavior. It is a time for political leaders to reflect on the outgoing year and project plans for the immediate future. Turkey was no exception. In his New Year’s Eve address, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that after a hard year, he was looking forward to being a friend of Europe again. His country would like to minimize the number of its enemies and increase the number of its friends, he said. There were actually no problems, he continued, with European countries, like Germany or the Netherlands; indeed they were old friends.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu flanked the president’s pronouncements with a guest editorial to the Funke media group.  After having experienced a difficult year, he wrote, both Germany and Turkey should seek a new beginning in relations which had gone on “for 300 years in friendship and cooperation.” This, he continued, could occur “only if we break through the current spiral of crisis.” Identifying four preconditions for this, as summarized in the Turkish wire service TRT, he said the two must relate as equal partners, and Germany should recognize the progress Turkey has made over 15 years. The political dialogue, he suggested, should take place at the highest level “in trust and, if necessary, through informal back channels.” Instead of “megaphone diplomacy,” and “avoiding populist, egocentric and short sighted internal political aims,” the dialogue should be pragmatic. What was required was a “language of empathy” for the other side. Germany, he wrote, had “not fully realized” the “trauma for the Turkish population” created by the coup attempt in 2016. Turkey would expect Germany to adopt a “determined attitude” towards the Gülen movement and the PKK.
Echoing Erdogan’s expressed desire for winning friends, Çavusoglu pledged that if Germany took one step in the direction of Turkey, his country would take two steps towards Germany.

Tea Time in Goslar
That said, the two top diplomats prepared to make their way to Europe, for high-level meetings with their counterparts in Germany and France. Foreign Minister Çavusoglu travelled to Goslar on January 6, the hometown of his German colleague Sigmar Gabriel. It was a return visit, as Gabriel had been his guest in Antalya last November. Prior to the meeting, Gabriel’s spokeswoman said he would take up the “whole gamut” of issues, and “not least the difficult issues.” The reference was to the remaining 8 Germans being held hostage as political prisoners in Turkish jails, the most prominent of whom is journalist Deniz Yücel. Though glad that several others had been released, the spokeswoman said, Germany wanted bilateral relations to return to “sail in normal waters.”
The German foreign minister went all out to make his guest feel welcome. Instead of meeting in a formal setting, he received him in his home, and served Turkish tea out of Turkish tea pots in his winter garden. Photos of the event showed a Turkish foreign minister beaming like a child on a birthday, delighted with what “my friend Sigmar” had prepared for him. Later, they took a walk through the old city, where they visited the Kaiserpfalz, an imperial palace complex from the 11th century. In the historic Reichsaal, where a statement for the press had been planned, they took a few questions as well, which was interpreted as a sign of easing tensions. Çavusoglu entered his name in the golden guest book.
The tone was markedly different from that of recent months. Gabriel praised Turkey for the contribution its guest workers had made to Germany’s post-war reconstruction, as well as Turkey’s role in current efforts to help Syrian refugees. Press accounts noted that he spoke of “respect” and relating to each other as equals. At the same time, he said the two were “not always of the same opinion” and had differences. Çavusoglu wanted to put differing views in parentheses, but Gabriel made clear this was not possible.

Deep Discord
The differences are numerous and they are serious. At the top of the list of concerns in Berlin is the continuing imprisonment of German citizens, who have been jailed in Turkey for political reasons. Yücel, correspondent for Die Welt, has been in detention for more than 10 months, until recently in solitary confinement, while no charges have yet been formally presented. The Turkish constitutional court is however expected to rule on a complaint presented by Yücel regarding his conditions in prison.
In addition, German government leaders had been treated to verbal abuse by both Erdogan and his foreign minister, after Germany had refused requests that they appear at campaign events for the controversial presidential referendum in Turkey. Both the government and Chancellor Angela Merkel personally were accused of using “Nazi methods.” In response to continuing arrests of their citizens in Turkey in the context of expanding authoritarian rule, and this sort of mudslinging, the German government effected a foreign policy shift. While Gabriel advised Germans tourists to display special caution in their travel, financial institutions cut off precious assistance to projects in Turkey. The negative economic impact was immediate and enduring. Most sensitive perhaps was that German weapons deliveries to the NATO member country had been suspended as well.
As promised, all these “difficult” issues were addressed, over tea presumably. The Turkish foreign minister made clear the desire for resumption of arms supplies. Press reports had mooted this would depend on Yücel’s release, but Gabriel reportedly made clear there would be no simple quid pro quo, whereby arms would be exported in exchange for Yücel’s freedom. “I have in no way linked the two things,” he said. The two sides would have to solve their multiple problems together. In the next breath, he said that in the following days, the Berlin government was scheduled to examine in detail the delivery of equipment for protection against mines, for Turkish soldiers engaged in the fight against IS.
Considerable political pressure had been building up on the Berlin government to maintain a principled position. Vice-chairman of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) Alexander Lambsdorff had called for Çavusoglu “to bring the German hostages with him in his plane to Germany.” Green Party leader Cem Özdemir also demanded Yücel’s release saying, “Until that happens, there can be no normalization.”
Whatever words were exchanged in Gabriel’s winter garden, there must indeed have been some give and take, and presumably a good deal of giving on the part of the guest from Turkey. Following the tête-a-tête, clear signs emerged of relaxing tensions. Gabriel said one wanted to suggest to the Economics Ministry that it reconvene the bilateral economic commission after Germany had suspended its meetings in 2016. Gabriel noted that the strategic dialogue at the Foreign Ministry level could also be resumed, indicating this had been agreed upon by the government.
Lunch in Paris
Almost in parallel to the foreign ministers’ meeting on German soil, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed Erdogan in Paris on January 5. It was the first such visit since the failed coup attempt in 2016, and similar pressure had been building in France for the president to adopt a hard line, especially regarding the repression of human rights activists and journalists. In his first New Year’s address as president, Macron announced to the press that he would demand the release of such prisoners, on the occasion of Erdogan’s scheduled visit to the capital.
For his part, the Turkish leader had made his bid for normalizing relations with France in an opinion piece in Le Figaro. The excellent relations between the two countries, he wrote, had started centuries ago, with the letter by King François I to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in the early 16th century. But perhaps Erdogan was viewing France and its new president more as representatives of the European Union, and hoped that in his capacity as self-proclaimed EU reformer, Macron would be sympathetic to Turkey’s bid for membership. Erdogan wrote that it was due to France’s “rational policy” towards Turkey that “Europe remains a great hope” for him. At the airport in Istanbul before takeoff, he had told reporters, “France is a country whose views and positions on regional and global challenges coincide with ours to a great extent.”
The other issues on the agenda were regional conflicts (Palestine/Israel in the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem), Syria, and the fight against terrorism.
Following lunch at the Élysée Palace, the two presidents held a press conference, which was full of surprises. First, Erdogan had been welcomed in Paris by protesters, not only Amnesty International (which had taken out an ad in the daily Libération demanding action to defend human rights), but also the women’s rights group Femen, who had greeted him at the Élysée in topless attire, handing out menus featuring “minced human rights” and “boiled journalists.”
In the meeting with the reporters, Macron announced he had indeed addressed these issues with his guest and had protested arrests of teachers, students, journalists and so forth.
“Our democracies must be strong standing up to terrorism,” he stated. “But at the same time, our democracies must completely protect the rule of law.” He said he had presented a list of jailed journalists, drawn up by the organization, Reporters sans frontières. Erdogan’s response was to go on the offensive, accusing the press of nurturing terrorists. “Terror doesn’t form by itself. Terror and terrorists have gardeners.” And to explain, he added, “These gardeners are those people regarded as thinkers. They water terror with their columns in the newspapers.” He warned, “And one day you find, these people show up as terrorists in front of you.”
It did not end there. After a French journalist asked him about reports in 2015 in Çumhuriyet that Turkey had smuggled weapons to Islamist terrorists in Syria, he lashed out, “When you ask your questions, be careful on this point. And do not speak with the words of another. And I want you to know,” he concluded, “you do not have someone in front of you who would easily swallow this.” The reporter answered that he was speaking as a journalist.
Worse than the altercation with a reporter, during which he was visibly out of control, there was the cold shower Macron had prepared: Erdogan’s highest hopes of progress on the EU front were dashed, and announced to the press. “It is clear,” said Macron, “that recent developments and choices in Turkey do not permit any progress in the process of accession to the European Union.” He would be lying, he said, if he were to claim otherwise. What he proposed instead was “perhaps a form of cooperation, a sort of partnership,” which may have recalled Merkel’s offer years ago of a “privileged partnership” rather than full membership.
Erdogan was livid and, again, this was visible. “One cannot permanently implore,” he said, “and wait to be finally included.” He said his country had “unfortunately taken the first step in 1963. And it has now been 54 years that Turkey has been waiting in the ante-chamber of the EU.” Quite convincingly, he stated, “This is exhausting us. Maybe this will force us to take a decision.”
Conclusion: it was not the best way to begin a new year. Sometimes resolutions don’t work out quite as they are planned.



Armenians Hold Aurora Dialogues in Berlin


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The Aurora Dialogues were attended by a high-ranking audience. Joining former President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammert as speakers and debaters were the former Chair of the Council of the German Protestant Church, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Huber, former president of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, UNICEF’s regional director for Middle East and North Africa, Geert Cappelaere, the German Chancellor’s Personal Representative for Africa, Günter Nooke, the Head of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, Christof Bosch and Nobel Prize laureate Laymah Gbowee, alongside many more speakers and participants.


By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach – Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN — It was a refreshing change to see such an initiative in the German capital. As Aurora Humanitarian Initiative cofounder Ruben Vardanyan remarked, participants “were happy to see the representatives of a developing country thinking about universal humanitarian values and expressing concern about dangerous processes unfolding today around the world.” The developing country in question is the Republic of Armenia.
What most Germans know about Armenians has to do with the 1915 Genocide and the ongoing campaign to have Turkey recognize it. But this time, the focus was not Armenia or the past; it was a current and pressing issue facing the entire world: the challenges of global migration and how to meet them.
The Aurora Dialogues, which took place December 4-5 in Berlin, were titled, “Millions on the Move: Need for Development and Integration.” Experts and humanitarian aid organizations shared their experiences and knowledge about global migration with representatives from the political world, business community and civil society. The aim was to develop ideas on how Germany and the European Union might find solutions to deal with the migration and refugee crises.
The choice of Berlin as a venue for this meeting, organized by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative together with the Global Perspectives Initiative and Robert Bosch Stiftung, with the help of Stiftung Mercator, was not by chance. Considering that Germany has welcomed the lion’s share of refugees over the past several years — one million came in 2015 — and that Europe is the main destination sought by the current generation of refugees, Berlin was the right place.
Staggering Statistics, Lamentable Misconceptions
The sheer dimensions of the problem are mind-boggling. As the conference documented, there are an estimated 65 million people who have left their homes and 700 million worldwide who would do so if they could. In addition, there are groups of people who do not even appear in such statistics, including Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who have been uprooted from their homes by war or other disasters but are still in their native lands. Then there are about 200 million people who could be displaced by the effects of climate change by 2050.
Before addressing the needs of these desperate populations, one needs to have a clear picture of the phenomenon. “To talk about migration often means to talk about misconceptions,”said Norbert Lammert, former president of the German Bundestag, in his speech. That misconceptions prevail in the public perception of migration is demonstrated by the results of the Aurora Humanitarian Index 2017, a survey of attitudes and trends related to humanitarian matters. The results of the survey, which was conducted worldwide with 6,500 participants from 12 countries, indicated that most people think their own countries have done more for refugees than they actually have. In addition, persons surveyed displayed widespread skepti-
cism regarding the ability of individuals or collective agencies to make a significant difference. Only nine percent of those asked said they thought that their actions could make a difference when it comes to finding a solution to the global refugee crisis. More optimism was displayed by those belonging to the younger generation, particularly regarding the contribution migrants can make to society.
The existence of such misconceptions means that a new approach must be adopted to present a realistic and balanced view of migration, flight, integration and religion. As Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Ireland said, “Stories are important, but unfortunately we hear too little about the people involved. What actually happens to the people whilst on the move as refugees, is important.”
In her view, the media often portray a one sided, negative image. “Such distortions, often politically shaped, had an impact on the success of integration, the participants concluded. “We must succeed in bridging the gap between perceived emotions and actual facts,”said Rita Süssmuth, former president of the German Bundestag.
Challenges for Europe
For Dr. Ingrid Hamm, founder of the Global Perspectives Initiative, those addressing the problem “have to begin thinking in much more global terms. When it comes to topics of migration and reasons for flight, there remains a huge lack of information, as well as an increasing need for a stronger dialogue between Africa and Europe.” The conference participants agreed that Europe should define a collective approach, and this involves drafting clear immigration legislation as well. Süssmuth noted that better regulation of migration is the key to fighting xenophobia. She noted the fact that Germany currently “lacks a formal immigration law”which would be needed, to “increase clarity, ensuring an easier, more coordinated process.”
One problem discussed was the lamentable lack of cooperation and coordination on a European level in addressing the refugee crisis.
But not only: participants criticized the attitude of several European states that are engaged in denial — not willing to accept reality. Lammert rejected the notion that there is a problem of “absorption capacity,”as some suggest. What is lacking, he said, is a shared responsibility and commitment to solve the problem. “If there is one country in which there is broad awareness that migration cannot be hindered by walls, then it is Germany. Migration is not a sudden state of emergency but, with respect to historical context, a normal aspect of our history — presenting both problems and opportunities,”said Lammert. In fact, a significant proportion of older Germans remember the post-war refugee crisis and were among those fleeing to the West.
If governments are called upon to face the challenges presented, there is a meaningful role to be played as well by private initiatives. The conference discussed how the private sector could promote and accelerate growth, while public initiatives could better conduct projects on a larger scale. Anja Langenbucher, director of the European office at the Gates Foundation, underlined the importance of private initiatives in the development sector: “Private initiatives act as catalysts. At the same time we decrease risks for investors and have clear, quantitative goals. This is an advantage in contrast to public investments.” John Prendergast, US human rights activist, pointed to the need for monitoring flows of public funds, saying, “Public funds are not tracked strictly enough on the way to the recipient countries. Many public investments are affected by money laundering or get lost along their way.”
The Armenian Role
Embodying the spirit of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues offer a platform to experts and dedicated personalities who are engaged in seeking solutions to the global challenges of our time. Now in its third year, the Dialogues provide the stage for an intellectual and interdisciplinary exchange, based on the notion that we should learn from the past in order to make the right choices in the present, to pave the way for a better future together.
Ruben Vardanyan put it this way, “They (the participants) saw our willingness to share our experience and use it for changing the world around us. I think that we were able to look to the future without forgetting our past.” And if in the past Armenians have experienced the horrors of expulsion, war and genocide, they have also recently had the experience of welcoming refugees into their country.
“Holding the Aurora Dialogues in Berlin,” Vardanyan said, “we wanted to show the world what we are doing. We also wished to inform people that Armenia has made a significant contribution in welcoming refugees, as very few people know that Armenia has already accepted about 20,000 refugees from Syria.”
Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviors to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid and thus continue the cycle of giving
internationally. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is Gratitude in Action. It is an eightyear commitment (2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) to support people and promote projects that tackle the needs of the most helpless and destitute, and do so at great risk. This is achieved through the Initiative’s various programs: The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the Gratitude Projects and the 100 LIVES Initiative. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have, already in the second year, been joined by several dozen new donors and partners. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is represented by three organizations — Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Foundation, Inc. (New York, USA), the 100 Lives Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the IDeA Foundation (Yerevan, Armenia).
Further information is available at www.auroraprize.com



Small Town Politics in Germany Raise Diplomatic Fuss


POHLHEIM, Germany — Pohlheim is a small town in Germany, near Giessen in the state of Hessen, with just under 20,000 inhabitants. But a local initiative has attracted the attention and protest of a high-ranking Turkish diplomat. The city council had agreed to a proposal presented by the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Socialdemocrats (SPD) for a “Monument Commemorating the Victims of the Genocide against Christians in the Ottoman Empire 1915 – Remembrance and Admonition.” The final decision was announced in early November, the same day that Nohman Nohman, a city councilor and member of the Aramean community, passed away. Over 200 Aramaens attended the session, to pay their respects and to thank the city for its gesture. A central location for the monument has been identified in the area near the Old Church. This would be the first time that such a monument commemorating the Armenian, Aramaen and Pontos Greek genocide victims would be erected on public land. And that was
evidently the spark that lit the fire of protest. The Turkish reaction was swift and energetic. Turkish General Consul Burak Kurarti in Frankfurt dispatched a letter to Pohlheim Mayor Udo Schöffmann, protesting the decision of the city parliament, as an insult to the Turkish population “in your city and in all of Germany,” which would not contribute to reconciliation. On the contrary, he suggested it would provoke hefty reactions. He called for the mayor and the city to rethink the move and decide against it.
The chances are less than slim that his demand may be met. Not only does the German Constitution guarantee the rights of city administrations to make such decisions, but the German Bundestag, the parliament of the Federal Republic, passed a landmark resolution on June 2, 2016 officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
Matthias Jung, CDU faction leader, said, “I don’t jump on orders from Erdogan or anyone else.” Deputy leader of the SPD faction, Prof. Ernst Ulrich, asked rhetorically, “If a German consul in Istanbul or Ankara had written that, how would the government in Ankara have reacted?”
Cehver Tan, an Aramaen who is chairman of the local body representing foreigners and immigrants, commented calmly: “We have not told any lies, these are facts. The Turkish government should not be upset by that and should rather look into the archives. It is only a monument, it is not aimed against Turkey, it is planned to commemorate the victims. We have no intention thereby to provoke anyone. The city of Pohlheim has not insulted any nationality.”



Martin Luther and the Armenians


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By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach – Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BOCHUM-LINDEN, Germany —
This year 2017 Germans celebrated the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Dubbed as “Luther Year,” it hosted hundreds of commemorative events, lectures, special church services, festivities, concerts and exhibitions throughout the country.
Few would have thought that “Armenia in Luther Year” could have been among the celebrations. And yet, on November 11, the Evangelical Church in Bochum-Linden hosted just such a festive gathering. Together with the Armenisch-Akademischer Verein 1860 e.V., the oldest Armenian association in Germany, the Church of Christ parish presented a program of lectures and music. Pastor Rolf Schuld, who coined the title, spoke of the connection between two themes that are very close to his heart. In his welcoming remarks, he pointed to the warm relationship his parish has developed with Armenia over many years. Since the construction of the bronze sculpture, “Ode to Peace – Pulsar” by artist Albert Vardanyan in 2006, this Protestant parish feels so closely bound to Armenia that, especially over the past years, various concerts, exhibitions and other events commemorating April 24 have taken place in the community center, in cooperation with the AAV. And the parish is also known in Armenia: outside the Berlin Art Hotel in Gyumri, which hosts artistic activities, one can admire the same statue representing “Pulsar” – an ode to peace. Sculptor Vardanyan comes from Gyumri.

Luther in Mesrob’s Footsteps…
The intimate links between Armenia and Luther reach back centuries, as Prof. Armenuhi Drost-Abarjan illustrated in a wonderful address titled, “Invention of the Armenian Alphabet and Bible Translations in the Mother Tongue in the 5th century.”

Drost-Abarjan is professor of Armenian Studies at the Halle-Wittenberg University.
Since “Luther Year” has been recognized as a celebration not only of the German Reformer, but of Christianity as a whole, it is fitting to consider other figures as well, whether co-thinkers or forerunners, whether relatively unknown or world famous.
In this context one must place the figure of the great Mesrop Mashtots (360-440) who, almost 1,100 years before Luther, translated the Bible into the vernacular, thus contributing to the development of an Armenian national literature.  But, she added, it is not only in this pioneering work of language creation that they are similar; there are also cultural, political and religious aspects that are comparable. Both fought to defend their “heathen tongues” — Armenian and German — in contrast to the sacred languages of the scriptures.
Drost-Abarjan noted that the early Reformers, in establishing their own theological stances and concepts of the church, looked to the experience of the autocephalous churches, those that had become independent of the Roman or Byzantine churches. When they sent envoys to the Orient, to contact representatives of the autocephalous churches, they soon became aware of the Armenians, who had translated the Bible into Armenian (grapar) in the 5th century, using the alphabet invented by Mesrop. In 1520 Luther wrote about the “Greeks and many others who hold mass in their own languages,” and Thomas Münzer, his contemporary and comrade-in-arms, mentions the Armenians by name as among these “many others.” The methods used by Mesrop and by Luther, to conduct the necessary research to craft a vernacular were also strikingly similar, Drost-Abarjan showed.
She sketched a concise yet thorough overview of the history of the Armenian language, stressing the role it has played in shaping the political, economic, social as well as religious and cultural life of the people. Thus, it became clear why Armenians attribute such a profound and emotional meaning to the language and the church, and how a veritable “book cult” could develop, as institutions like the Matenadaran testify.
And with the language of the church came music: it was a happy coincidence that the talented soprano Lusine Arakelyan from Gyumri and Yerevan was in Germany at the time, and could accept the invitation to perform at the event. Singing a cappella, she presented by Mesrop Mashtots the sharagan Megha Kes Ter and by Komitas Krunk. Her rich, powerful delivery overwhelmed the audience. “When have we ever heard such singing here?” asked one listener, “A voice that sends tremors through you.”
Prof. Ute Gause, professor of evangelical theology (Church History) at the Ruhr University in Bochum, then spoke on “The Significance of Martin Luther’s Bible Translation into German,” the sensational achievement which has been at the center of this year’s celebrations. As a musical tribute, soprano Andrea Kampmann sang chorales from Martin Luther, accompanied on the piano by Martina Fleischer.
In his concluding remarks, Azat Ordukhanyan, president of the AAV, spoke about the activities that his association has organized in the Church of Christ in Bochum. These included the commemoration of the 500,000 Armenian victims of World War II, and the planting of 155 trees that he had brought from Armenia to Bochum in 2015. They have been planted in various locations, including the graveyard for war prisoners and forced laborers in the Bochum cemeteries, the Jewish cemetery and in front of museums and schools. In 2015, he noted, it was the first time that a German institution had commemorated the victims of the genocide, “The Friends of Nature from Bochum-Linden”. (See “Armenian Trees Planted in Germany to Bear Fruits of Friendship and Reconciliation,” May 25, 2015 and “Armenia and Germany Renew a Thousands-Year-Old Friendship,” September 17, 2015).
(Material for this article was provided by Heide Rieck-Wotke, a co-organizer of the event.)







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Historian Fred Kautz (l.) and Gen. (ret.) Eckhard Lisec at the grave of Liman von Sanders

Reclaiming the Good Name of Liman von Sanders


By Muriel Mirak-Weissbach, Special to the Mirror-Spectator
BERLIN, NOVEMBER 16, 2017 —
On November 4, retired Gen. Eckhard Lisec delivered a lecture in Darmstadt, Germany entitled, “Marshall Liman von Sanders – An Honorable Soldier?” The question mark reflects the doubt cast on the role of the German First World War commander by authorities of the city Darmstadt, where von Sanders is buried. Until 2015 he had been given a “grave of honor” in the historic cemetery, but then the city decided to remove the designation, on grounds that military achievements alone (he was the “Hero of Gallipoli”) did not warrant such a commemoration. Worse, the findings issued by an experts’ committee charged with examining the issue, contained accusations that von Sanders had been implicated in the Armenian Genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire during the war.
Lisec was the right person to address the matter. He retired recently after a long career in the German military, serving in ministerial and diplomatic capacities in Belgium and, from 2002 to 2005, as brigadier general was assistant chief of staff support of the NATO Rapid Deployable Corps in Istanbul. Sparked by curiosity, he delved into study of the history of the Ottoman Empire, beginning as a hobby in 2002, and, thanks to his newly acquired language capabilities, has been able to consult source material in Turkish as well as other languages. He said he had read more than 1,000 works on the subject since retirement.
Several books of his own are the result of this effort, ranging from a study of a century of cooperation between the German and Turkish air forces (1911-2011), to a volume entitled, The War of Independence and the Founding of Turkey (2016). This year, Miles-Verlag in Berlin, a publisher specializing in military studies, released his book, The Armenian Genocide in the First World War – German Officers Involved? And in early 2018 his newest work should appear, entitled, History of the Turkish Army from 209 B.C. to the Present.

The Germans’ Dilemma
German officers who had been engaged to train the Ottoman army were told by Emperor Wilhelm II to stay out of internal Turkish politics. This created a dilemma, Lisec said: should they blindly obey the emperor or should they obey their conscience? At a time when the anti-Armenian massacres were well underway, most of them obeyed their emperor. Then there were those, like General Friedrich Bronsart von Schellendorf, who did interfere or, rather, participate in Turkish internal politics, de facto supporting the deportations. Lisec showed how the command structure was supposed to function, and underlined the complexity of a situation with mixed troops and officers. In his book, he describes the “complicated situation of responsibilities and duties to obedience which … led to conflicts between Enver Pasha and Liman von Sanders.” In addition, he showed the differing interests and viewpoints even among the three members of the Young Turk leadership.
Liman von Sanders displayed independence of judgment and action on repeated occasions. As for the military decisions, he vehemently opposed the Caucasus campaign, which in fact turned out to be a disaster.
Lisec provided several examples of instances in which Liman von Sanders followed his conscience and made the right moral decision. “His behavior was to a large extent correct,” he said. In March 1915, he refused to expel Jewish and Armenian translators from his staff, and in the following year intervened more than once to prevent or stop deportations of Greeks from Urla and from coastal regions, for example, and of Jews and Armenians from Edirne, again of Armenians from Smyrna (Izmir). In this latter case, as is known, he went so far as to threaten the Vali with the deployment of weapons to stop the deportations. And his threats were effective. It is estimated that through his forceful actions, von Sanders saved the lives of 7-8,000 Armenians. In Smyrna, thanks to the assistance he lent the governor during a cholera epidemic, Greek lives were spared.
Citing the work of Christoph Dinkel, Lisec noted the cruel irony of the accusations made by the British, who imprisoned von Sanders in Malta, that he had been co-responsible for the genocide, when in fact he was the only officer who actually saved Greeks and Armenians.

Honor and Role Models  
In the lively discussion that accompanied Lisec’s lecture, the issue of honor, especially in relation to the military, was central. One participant raised the example of British Marshall Arthur Harris, famous for the firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, which devastated the city and caused mass deaths of civilians. Yet in 1992, a statue was erected in London, at the RAF Church of St. Clement Danes, by something called the Bomber Harris Trust. Opponents then and now consider Harris not a hero but a war criminal.
Then there are the graves of honor, for example, in Berlin, which hosts over 500 such graves, paying tribute to statesmen, artists, poets, scientists as well as military; the Forest of Remembrance in Potsdam is dedicated to the memory of German armed forces. Finally, there is the case of Darmstadt’s old cemetery, where military men have had their graves stripped of this honor.
Asked for his views on the matter, Lisec said that Germany is a special case, because of the Shoa. Germany started two world wars, he said, and as a result, “We have a broken military history.” In light of this, he asked, “Do we need personal role models?” He answered in the negative, suggesting instead that what are needed are “philosophical” examples.
Although the case seemed to be closed in the Darmstadt cemetery, discussion of the principle, and of the specific case of Liman von Sanders, is sure to continue and spread, thanks to Lisec’s new book and lectures. The recent talk was covered prominently in the Darmstädter Echo, by Rüdiger Gilbert.