Dr. Gabriele Yonan's Lectures in Sweden

By Mr. Augin Kurt - Sweden

Translated by: Mr. Özkan Akgüc

Historian Dr. Gabriele Yonan:

The Jihad of the Young-Turks in 1914 was a German Idea

- Jihad, the Muslim holy war against the Christian minorities in Turkey in 1914-18, was directly initiated by the German foreign ministry, whose embassy in Constantinople was a center for the Young-Turks propaganda material.

This sensational news was delivered by the German journalist and historian Dr. Gabriele Yonan at three lectures in Sweden from December 7th - 9th 2001.

Yonan, who has written inter alia the book “Ein Vergessener Holocaust” about the Genocide against the Assyrians during World War I, has found a series of documents in German archives to support her assertion.

She was invited to Sweden by the Assyrian Democratic Organization, ADO, and gave three highly appreciated lectures at the Assyrian associations in Jönköping, Hallunda and Södertälje. Her book about the holocaust is being translated to English, among other languages, and will bear the title “The Assyrian Genocide”. The translation will be completed with even more documents surrounding the role of the Germans in the Genocide against the Christians in Turkey.

Dr. Gabriele Yonan asserts that the Young-Turkish regime that came to power in the Ottoman Empire in 1908 was actually secular and wanted to break the reign of the Caliphate over Turkey. Up until then, says Yonan, the Caliph in Baghdad had enjoyed great power over the Ottomans for centuries.

To the Assyrian listeners at the lectures, this sounded like news no one had ever heard before and a smaller belief, that Christian Germans would initiate a holy war against their Christian brothers in Turkey in the name of Islam. But Yonan patiently explained why:

At the time of World War I, Turkey and Germany were allies and were part of the Axle-powers. In opposition to them stood the great powers of the time, Great Britain and France, with their large colonies encompassing millions of Muslims. The French had a large Muslim population in e.g. northern Africa and the British had the Muslims of India (who later on founded Pakistan) within their domain. The documents, which Dr. Yonan has found in the German archives, show that a few young intellectual Germans sat down with the leaders of the state and discussed their proposal to split up the “enemy camp” by creating Jihad and hoping that the Muslims in these colonies would switch sides to the Axle-powers

In other words, says Yonan, the main intention of the Germans was not to let the Young-Turks murder the Christians in their country, but only an egoistic game in the world politics of that time. As evidence for the claim that the Young-Turks had not planned to use Jihad in their fight, Yonan presents the fact that the Turks had recently ended the wars in the Balkans against the Christian groups in 1912-14, without proclaiming Jihad. Nor in the Turkish-Russian war were there any such tendencies. The proclamation did not come until Germany proposed it and greatly heightened the propaganda.

One of the documents Dr. Gabriele Yonan has brought forward and presented at her lectures is a magazine in Arabic named “Al-Jihad”, which at the time was published by the Germans in Berlin. In Berlin, all Muslim prisoners of war caught by the Germans were gathered and treated as honored guests. Besides, from the magazine “Al-Jihad”, the Germans also built the first mosque right outside Berlin to please their Muslim “guests”. These were, later on, meant to be used in Germany’s favor in Jihad, says Yonan.

The reason that this information is commonly unknown, in spite of the great research conducted by e.g. the Armenians, is explained by Yonan as follows:

- The Genocide against the Armenians, Assyrians and Greek in 1914-18 was actually just as much a way to exterminate the country’s Christian minorities for their faith, as for their ethnic origin. In actuality there was no way for the Millets of the empire to separate faith from ethnicity. But the Armenians do not support this view. They say that their Genocide was a political Genocide, caused by the ethnic origin of the Armenian people and nothing else. They do not want to hear of any Jihad, which would, in their view, come to diminish the value of the Genocide, says Dr. Gabriele Yonan, who is well acquainted with several influential Armenian scholars in the subject. But the German documents stating that Jihad was a German idea, is still something that cannot be ignored, says journalist and author Dr. Gabriele Yonan.

Encouraged by the strong interest of the Assyrian listeners in Sweden, she returned home after an intensive weekend, a few weeks before Christmas. Unfortunately, there were no Swedish journalists present. In the Stockholm area, this was probably because the organizers had forgotten to notify the media in time. That should be something to keep in mind for next time. Yonan herself emphasized the need to spread information about the Genocide also outside the Assyrian community. On a whole, she is convinced that the Assyrians have a possibility to come further in this aspect in Sweden, than anywhere else. In conclusion Dr. Gabriele Yonan says that, considering the “skeletons in the German closet” concerning the creation of Jihad, one should not count on any help from Germany today.

Back to the Main Page